Archive for February, 2012

Redemption songs (Johnny Cash: Feb. 26, 1932-Feb. 26, 2012)

February 26, 2012

Happy 80th, Johnny, wherever you are.

First I knew about Johnny Cash, when I was, seven, eight years old, was on the radio — my parents’ old-folks station, WATR in Waterbury, Ct., which was always on in the morning when we were getting ready for school, Albie was getting dressed for work and Mom was getting breakfast going.

And this song started being played pretty regularly — some pleasant-voiced Southern guy singing this funny song about a boy named Sue and yelling “My name is SUE! How do you DO? Now you’re gonna DIIIIIIIIE!” It was the first song I’d ever heard with a bleep in it.

It was also a pretty cool bonding moment. And a great introduction to one of the great musicians of my time. Or anyone else’s. And while I wish he could’ve been around for his 80th birthday today, I’m glad he got to know how he impacted people.

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Five Songs, Part 68

February 24, 2012

Okay, this year’s moving fast, isn’t it? After this edition of Five Songs, 2012 will already be one-sixth over, winter is two-thirds done, and it’s now T-minus 10 months to the end of the Mayan calendar …

So, onward. Get yourself lifted and blast off for parts known. And happy Friday.

I Get Lifted — George McCrae

Rocket Number Nine Take Off for the Planet Venus — Sun Ra and his Arkestra

Prepare to Energize — Torch Song

Blast Off! — Stray Cats

Hyperactive! — Thomas Dolby

Five Songs, Part 67

February 17, 2012

Well, welcome to this week’s Five Songs.

A couple tunes have meanings cryptic to anyone but me. One is just here because it’s a great song (and an overlooked ’90s gem). One is a tribute to Kearney Barton, the recently departed Seattle sound engineer who sat on the boards for some of the best of the early punk sounds of the Pacific Northwest, including The Sonics and The Wailers … and this obscure garage classic my New Haven pals The Double Naught Spys used to play in the day. And one is for Mardi Gras.

Now go have fun … or, as they say in New Orleans, laissez les bon temps roulez!

Celestial the Queen — Blue Oyster Cult

Sally Wally Woody Waddy Weedy Wally — Hasil Adkins

V — Golden Smog

Flash and Crash — Rocky and the Riddlers

Hey Pocky A-Way — The Meters

Five Songs, Part 66

February 10, 2012

Hi. Welcome to another Friday of Five Songs. Songs with random connections, subconscious connections evident only to yours truly (unless you dare to ask). But at the very least, I hope you can get some enjoyment out of them. Happy Friday …

I Saw the Light — The Raspberries

Happy — The Rolling Stones

Starry Eyes — Roky Erickson (two versions; second w/Lou Ann Barton)

I Enjoy Being a Girl (from the film Flower Drum Song) — Nancy Kwan

Hello Dolly — Louis Armstrong

What’s it like?

February 8, 2012

What’s it like?

What’s it like to be beautiful?

What’s it like to be wanted?

What’s it like to be loved?

What’s it like to roll over in the morning and see someone next to you who cherishes you and accepts you, even though you look like hell and (s)he knows and has seen all your shortcomings?

What’s it like to have friends who actually call you and say “Hey, let’s do something”?

What’s it like to not worry about friends vanishing on you when their life turns fabulous or yours turns to shit?

What’s it like to have a regular job with a decent paycheck?

What’s it like to have a stellar resume and have an employer snap you up in less than a heartbeat?

What’s it like to have healthcare, so you don’t have to worry about being able to afford the simple luxury of taking care of yourself without falling into a financial hole from which you’ll never be able to climb out?

What’s it like to be able to live in a place surrounded by good, decent, nurturing people, without negative energy in every room?

What’s it like to have a car where you never have to worry about what’s gonna break down next?

What’s it like to be able to wake up in the morning and never have to think about money?

What’s it like to travel and dine where and whenever you please?

What’s it like to know that you’ve truly accomplished something, or know you’ve made a difference in the world?

What’s it like to be happy?

What’s it like to never have to question whether you’re a man, a woman or just some mutant strain that’s both and neither?

What’s it like to not beat yourself up over every single mistake and misstep you’ve made in your life, or constantly wonder what you could have done differently?

What’s it like to wake up in the morning and just never, ever have to question whether life is really worth living?

What’s it like?

Inquiring minds like to know.

I’d like to know.

Yep — just like old times (Super Bowl 46, the Sequel: Giants 21, Patriots 17)

February 7, 2012

Every football-playing kid wants to grow up to be the one who scores the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. Well, maybe except Ahmad Bradshaw. Photo: AP.

Well, the parallels between Super Bowls 42 and 46 were many: Low score. Defenses that stepped up. Long, sustained scoring drives. Eli Manning leading the Giants down the field in the final minutes. A pass for the ages to keep the winning drive going. A last-minute touchdown by New York. And a desperation heave by Tom Brady that was broken up.

And Bill Belichick being a sore loser. While this time he actually stayed around to effusively hug his old friend Tom Coughlin after the game, he blew off the NBC crew, rather than give the network the two-minute losing-coach interview.

Some things were different. An early brainfart by Brady. A Madonna halftime show where Madge wasn’t the center of controversy, but a rapper who quickly flashed the bird (which I didn’t see until later on, on YouTube, because the screen was so small). The Patriots’ most reliable receiver, Wes Welker, making a huge drop when it counted most. The most reluctant winning touchdown in the history of football. Watching the game from the office, a funeral home-quiet place most days, where my reactions were, well, a lot more muted than they would have been had I been at a party, my original game plan.

And Coughlin hugging Flavor Flav. An image for the ages. (Had the coach said “Yeeeeah, boyeee!” I would’ve fallen out of my chair.)

But for all intents, we have, indeed, been there before. Giants over the Patriots in the big one, by less than a TD in the final minute. And Eli winning the MVP trophy again, only this time in the house his brother built.

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Seems as if we’ve been here before (Super Bowl 46)

February 5, 2012

"What choo talkin' 'bout, Willis? We're going to the Super Bowl!" Lawrence Tynes (9) and Steve Weatherford (5) and Patrick Willis follow the flight of the the NFC Championship-winning field goal. Photo: The Star-Ledger.

Well, this was unexpected.

Up until three weeks ago, I was so mentally prepared all season long for the rematch I had anticipated since the NFL’s opener on Sept. 8: my New Orleans Saints against the Green Bay Packers, back on the electrically heated tundra at Lambeau, this time for the NFC championship. I was ready for Drew Brees, in his record-setting passing year, to outduel Aaron Rodgers, in his MVP year, gain the ultimate revenge for Green Bay’s 42-34 opening win, and take on the Patriots this Sunday. I was ready for the Saints to spoil me with their second Super Bowl in three years.

No way in hell had I prepared for my other team, the New York Giants, to be running the table to this Sunday’s Super Bowl 46 (someday they’ll stop with the pretentious Roman-numeral crap). Even though the parallels between this year’s NFC champs and the Goliath-slayers of 2007 are many, I wasn’t even prepared for them to be in the playoffs. In fact, I said good riddance to them with five minutes left in the first Dallas game on Dec. 11.

And here we are, feeling as if I’ve been here before. And I have — Giants vs. Patriots. There’s no unbeaten season at stake, but just as was the case four years ago, it’ll be a tight one. A classic. And Big Blue, again in their road retro-’50s/early-’60s white jerseys with the red numbers and stripes, will be on the winning side. Did someone say overtime?

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Five Songs, Part 65

February 3, 2012

Time for five new Five Songs. Well, maybe not new chronologically, but songs that have never made it to this space before. I think.

The leadoff spot this week goes to Blake Jones & the Trike Shop, who played an Arthop gig last night at Tokyo Garden in Fresno. Blake and his equally wonderful better half, Lauri, showered a straggler from the Northeast with hospitality and love, as always.

And one of the songs the group played was “Everybody’s Got an Andy Story,” from their 2010 album, “The Underground Garden.” Every music scene has that one person — living, dead or incapacitated — whom friends recall with outrageous stories years later.

True story about Andy, a punk from the early ’80s Fresno days. The opening story was from a Clash show in ’82 at the Wilson Theatre. Blake’s late brother, Brian, was a bigtime DJ at a commercial alternative FM station in town at the time, and Andy excitedly showed everyone at the show a Polaroid of him and Joe Strummer on Brian’s Vespa. Andy hasn’t been the same since an accident a few years back, but he occasionally gets out, as he did to see the CD release show.

So that was my unexpected springboard to this week’s installment. And the version here isn’t from the album; it’s from their performance last May at the Bull & Gate in London, as part of the annual International Pop Overthrow. Enjoy it — and the rest. Happy Friday:

Everybody’s Got an Andy Story — Blake Jones & the Trike Shop

You Baby — The Turtles

Tilt-A-Whirl — 1313 Mockingbird Lane

Save My Love for a Rainy Day — Marv Johnson

Goodbye Baby — Bob Brady & the Con Chords