Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Program #445

As mentioned previously, I'm a fan of political cartoons. When the best cartoonists hit one on the sweet spot, nobody does a better job of getting to the heart of an issue—and they manage to add in a smile as well. Can't beat that.

Here's a recent one from Tom Toles of the Washington Post.

All politicians are essentially hypocrites; after all, it's built into the system. But it seems clear that the Bush Administration is carving out new territory, which wouldn't necessarily be so terrible except when you consider the thousands already dead or maimed, and who knows how many more still to be added to the list.

I mean, what do Bush & Co. really expect to have in Iraq when this is finally over (it has to be finished some day, right?)? I wonder if they even know, or care at this point. You get the feeling they just don't want to admit they were wrong about the whole thing, and that's what's keeping them from seriously looking at alternatives. So sad.

NELSON RIDDLE ORCHESTRA . . . . . Route 66 Theme (opening theme)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND . . . . . All Tomorrow’s Parties
SONIC YOUTH . . . . . I’m Not There
LUNA . . . . . Friendly Advice
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE . . . . . 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
CAMERA OBSCURA . . . . . If Looks Could Kill
THE JAM . . . . . (Love Is Like A) Heatwave
THE SUPREMES . . . . . Stop! In The Name Of Love

JOE COCKER . . . . . Hitchcock Railway
BETTYE LAVETTE . . . . . Before The Money Came (The Ballad Of Bettye LaVette)
DEREK & THE DOMINOS . . . . . Tell The Truth
SON HOUSE . . . . . Pearline
LEO KOTTKE . . . . . Tilt Billings And The Student Prince
THE ROLLING STONES . . . . . No Expectations

ROXY MUSIC . . . . . More Than This
CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG . . . . . Every Thing I Cannot See
DONOVAN . . . . . Wear Your Love Like Heaven
A BAND OF BEES . . . . . A Minha Menina
ANA MARTINS . . . . . Brigas Nuncas Mais
AK-MOMO . . . . . World Traveler
BERTRAND BURGALAT . . . . . Biscarrose
THE BEATLES . . . . . Flying
THE DUKES OF STRATOSPHEAR . . . . . The Mole From The Ministry

BIG STAR . . . . . Nightime
M. WARD . . . . . Today’s Undertaking
THE WALKER BROTHERS . . . . . The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)
TEENAGE FANCLUB . . . . . Flowing
THE CLIENTELE . . . . . Somebody Changed
ROY ORBISON . . . . . Only The Lonely (Know The Way I Feel)
NICOLE ATKINS . . . . . Together We’re So Alone

The soundtrack to I'm Not There has been a source of inspiration for quite a bit that's been played on the program over the past two months, and that was the case with this opening set. Sonic Youth's version of the title track has become a favorite; I love the way it recalls Dylan's mid-'60s sound without simply imitating it, and surrounding it with the Velvet Underground and Luna seemed to make perfect sense. This set's flow started to build nicely from here; the Jefferson Airplane-Camera Obscura segue seemed a good one, and the soul rhythm of "If Looks Could Kill" naturally fed into the Jam covering Motown (and then, of course, the real McCoy).

Bettye LaVette's disc has been out since last month, and I've been annoyed with myself for not getting to more of it. Every track is a winner, and the guitar work on the one we heard made me think of Derek & the Dominos. That started a run of slide guitar tunes, including an obscure one by Leo Kottke that's always given me a real kick, both for the slide work and the funny/sad story it tells of Tilt Billings, whose magical Student Prince guitar, which he found in a pawn shop for $20, is destroyed after a trashed bar patron sits on it.

I recently had an opportunity to watch Lost In Translation again, and found that I enjoyed it even more the second time around. One of the film's many standout sections takes place in the karaoke bar, where Bill Murray sings "More Than This" to Scarlett Johansson. That's why this set began where it did, and the Charlotte Gainsbourg tune that followed seems like a fitting coda to the movie, even though it actually has nothing to do with it. The Ana Martins bossa nova tune was a nice breath of fresh air in the middle of the set, and was fun to pair with AK-Momo's mellotron/orchestran/optigan-fueled take on international cocktail music. At the end was something from XTC's mid-'80s side project that looked back fondly to the psychedelic sounds of 1967, etc., in this case quite specifically to "I Am The Walrus."

The finale kicked off with a beautiful tune from the last of the three albums that Big Star released in the '70s. From there it was simply a bunch of pop songs about the heartbreak of love gone bad, probably the subject covered more often than any other in the history of pop music.

Here's another one from Roxy Music (when Brian Eno was still in the band)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Program #444

Conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote a piece on the fragmentation of music culture that's taken place over the past few decades. Brooks offers some of the causes behind this situation, and then sums it up by saying that the problem can be traced to the various factions of our music culture having lost touch with their common roots. He then takes that idea and expands on it, saying that he's interviewed many people on a wide range of issues, and that all express the same anxiousness about fragmentation and are searching for cohesion within American culture.

I'm usually wary of conclusions that tend to have an air of blanket generalization about them; too often people will say one thing and then behave in a way that's totally contrary as they live their lives every day. I will say this though, there's no doubt that 21st century life in the good old USA certainly seems to have more than enough stressful moments.

On the music front, among those Brooks spoke with was Steve Van Zandt, who spoke about a plan he's created for music education in high school. It would use music as a basis for teaching American history, with the ultimate goal of establishing a musical "canon, a common tradition that reminds students that they are inheritors of a long conversation."

Sounds pretty good to me. After all, discovering the connections between musicians and songs that cross all kinds of musical boundaries is what Lucky Dog Radio is all about. I feel fortunate to be of the generation that was exposed to a wide variety of music styles over the radio, before music culture began to splinter. That exposure set me off on a journey of musical exploration that has become a vital part of my life. If somehow more folks can gain a greater exposure to the amazing depth and breadth of our shared musical history, well, I'm all for it.

You can read the David Brooks column here.

NELSON RIDDLE ORCHESTRA . . . . . Route 66 Theme (opening theme)
BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS . . . . . Give Thanks And Praises
MARCIA GRIFFITHS . . . . . Children Of Israel
RUTHIE FOSTER . . . . . Up Above My Head (I Hear Music In The Air)
CURTIS MAYFIELD & THE IMPRESSIONS . . . . . It’s All Right
LEVON HELM . . . . . Feelin’ Good
STEVE EARLE . . . . . I Feel Alright
ROD STEWART . . . . . Every Picture Tells A Story

SYD BARRETT . . . . . Love You
ROBYN HITCHCOCK . . . . . Cause It’s Love (Saint Parallelogram)
THE TROGGS . . . . . I Can’t Control Myself
ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA . . . . . Do Ya
RICHARD LLOYD . . . . . Only Friend
THE HOLD STEADY . . . . . Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND . . . . . Frankie

GEORGE HARRISON . . . . . Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)
CLEM SNIDE . . . . . Fill Me With Your Light
JOSH RITTER . . . . . Right Moves
JOHN CALE . . . . . Reading My Mind
LORENZO JOVANOTTI . . . . . Piove
THE REAL TUESDAY WELD . . . . . Ruth, Roses And Revolvers
VICTORIA SPIVEY & HER CHICAGO FOUR . . . . . Any-Kind-A-Man
BILLY WARD & THE DOMINOES . . . . . Sixty Minute Man
MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT . . . . . Candy Man

GRAHAM PARKER . . . . . Almost Thanksgiving Day
DAN BERN . . . . . Thanksgiving Day Parade
LONNIE JOHNSON . . . . . Sweet Potato Blues
BOB DYLAN . . . . . Country Pie
RAY DAVIES . . . . . Thanksgiving Day
LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III . . . . . Thanksgiving

ARLO GUTHRIE . . . . . Alice’s Restaurant

This was the final show before Thanksgiving, so that's where the Bob Marley song came from, and the Marcia Griffiths' tune that followed is one of my wife's favorites, so that one was for her. The entire opening section had a nice optimistic feel, and was built upon the inspiration provided by the new one from Levon Helm.

Next up was me satisfying my urge to hear some Syd Barrett, and it seemed reasonable to follow it with Robyn Hitchcock, who has acknowledged Syd's influence on his own work. The Troggs made a nice bridge to ELO, which I wanted to play because the guitar riff in the new Richard Lloyd tune is very similar to the one in "Do Ya." The Hold Steady covering Bob Dylan flowed well coming out of Mr. Lloyd's latest, and it was only natural to finish with a Bruce Springsteen tune that, although it was recorded in the early '80s, has always sounded to me as if it belonged on his second album, or maybe Born To Run.

The George Harrison tune has always been a favorite, simply because he was writing about his house and the man who built it. (Must be some house.) The Italian dialogue that erupts in the middle of John Cale's road trip is what led to Lorenzo Jovanotti, which has some thunderstorm sound effects to help you understand what he's singing about (if you don't understand Italian). After that things veered off quite a bit, mostly due to the horns and woodwinds in the Real Tuesday Weld song. Nothing wrong with that, however, as nothing beats Victoria Spivey, Billy Ward & The Dominoes and Mississippi John Hurt.

The closer was all about music suitable for Thanksgiving, which is complete for many (including myself) without hearing Arlo Guthrie cultural cornerstone from the '60s.

Here's another one from Bob Marley & The Wailers