Posts Tagged ‘The Cowsills’

Cygnus Radio playlist 6/14/13: The rain, Newtown and other things

June 17, 2013

Franorama 2.0 airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT Fridays (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and forever and ever in the archives. To listen to the archived link to this and all other Cygnus shows, click here.

Last Friday’s episode of Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio revolved around three spheres

The Rain. It had rained heavily the two previous days, and Friday began just as dark and wet until the sky cleared considerably just around lunchtime. In fact, as I sat here in the cellar home studio, I would leave the laptop aside every half-hour or so and turn on the wet-vac and suck another buckets of water from the carpet near the cellar door. (Yes, multitasking.)

The spring here in Connecticut has been full of weather stops-starts like this, with intermittent storms and sharp temperature drops

Anyway, I had a lot more songs about rain , both literally and metaphorically, than I realized, but I kept it to two sets’ worth. Notables: ending one set with the Dead (“Box of Rain”) and beginning the next with the Dead, from their earliest recording session as The Warlocks (“Early Morning Rain”). And, of course, I had to play The Cowsills.

Sandy Hook SchoolNewtown. It was six months to the very hour — also on a Friday morning — that the news crawls on local TVs began running the news that there were reports of a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown. And as morning progressed into lunchtime into afternoon into mourning, the disbelief that usually goes with such horrific events — and Newtown, as well as most of western Connecticut really IS a sleepy town where little ever happens — was countered by the wretched enormity of what had happened.

And living a half-hour away, and having the privilege of having a microphone on this milestone day — and having known a couple whose daughter was one of the murdered teachers — I couldn’t let the day pass unnoticed. But how to commemorate it? The TV stations were gonna milk it for all they could — the maudlin piano chords, the “Tragedy at Sandy Hook” graphics, all of which I find pretty damn offensive.

I didn’t want to get bogged down in the politics of it, but I read aloud the eloquent-but-angry op-ed piece in the morning;s Newtown Bee. It came from Tucson — from Gabby Giffords and Roxanna Green. (Green’s young daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was killed in the shooting that critically wounded Giffords.) The words speak for themselves.

I don’t have a lot of kid-related music. But I do have parts of They Might Be Giants’ album NO! It was a children’s album, and my favorite song on the album was a Lovin’ Spoonful-style tune written about one of the great many questions a curious kid would ask about the world. And it sounded as if it were something that a first-grader would ask. Where do they make balloons? So that’s what I led with.

I also played one of Marvin Gaye’s most poignant songs from one of his most troubled and brilliant times, along with some of the childlike innocence from Brian Wilson at his most vulnerable and troubled period, and finished the set with Judy Garland. It was all I could do to not lose it. Had I played the version of “Over the Rainbow” that the surviving Sandy Hook students recorded (at Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth’s home studio in Fairfield), I most definitely would never have made it through the song.

And other things. Well, some of the other threads:

Arturo Vega. The Saturday before, Arturo Vega died. Technically, there were eight men who were Ramones at one point or another — Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Marky, Richie, the short-stinted Clem Burke (aka Elvis Ramone) and C.J. But in reality, Arturo was the fifth Ramone. He designed their iconic logo; he was a confidant; the band rehearsed and recorded demos at his East Village loft; and Joey and Dee Dee lived with him at various points. I remembered him by playing some better-known songs and some early and little-heard demos as well.

Jet-setting. Saw Los Straitjackets a few nights before at Cafe Nine in New Haven, and since their latest album is Jet Set, I put together the three songs I have with those words in the title — them, Joe Jackson and The Fleshtones.

Dock Ellis. Last Wednesday was the 43rd anniversary of one of the greatest feats in baseball history — Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates throwing a no-hitter against the Padres in San Diego while tripping his brains out. Barbara Manning and her group, The SF Seals (named after San Francisco’s legendary pre-Giants minor league team, whose most famous alum was hometown boy Joe DiMaggio), recorded a three-song 7-inch Baseball Trilogy single for Matador 20 years ago already. A wild trip of a song called “Dock Ellis” was part of it.

The Style Council: It was 30 summers ago already, about this time, that Paul Weller’s post-Jam group made its American vinyl debut with the EP Introducing … The Style Council, a compilation of songs already released as singles in England. Still a favorite piece of my library. Played three SC songs — a killer instrumental called “Mick’s Up” from the EP, plus two of my favorite later tunes. From 1983-85, Weller, Mick Talbot and Dee C. Lee were the shit.

So that’s it. On to this Friday’s show, the first show of summer. Get your sunscreen ready …

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Cygnus Radio playlist, 3/8/13: Before I was so rudely interrupted …

March 18, 2013

cygnusNewlgMarch 18, 2013

For a link to this and my other archived Cygnus shows, click here.

So, a funny thing happened on the way to doing my second Franorama 2.0 show on Cygnus Radio:

Nothing.

I was prepared for March to come roaring in like the proverbial lion; instead, the first of March greeted me with deafening silence — except for the frenzied voice of yours truly, wondering what the hell happened and trying for three hours over the phone to fix what was wrong.

Remember when I said last post that technology could be pretty cool sometimes? Well, I lied. It could be pretty fucked-up.

Apparently, the broadcasting software didn’t like the fact that had gone out and bought a new USB mic/headphone headset from Target, and even though I plugged the new set into my laptop a couple days before, just to make sure everything was on the same page, when it came time to do the show that first Friday, I was on for about four seconds — then nothing. The software froze.

A quick, frantic call to Gary Gone? No good. Same with Swannie down in Maryland. The three of us wasted three hours trying every diagnostic thing they knew, tried improvising and running every possible contingency … nothing. The software somehow was totally corrupted. I felt badly because I had talked up the show so much to everyone, and then it didn’t even happen.

Anyway, the following Monday, I was over at La Casa de Gone, and we ripped out the offending software and downloaded an updated version. A little tinkering, some abracadabra, and that was more like it. And, that Friday, a week late, my second show was good to go. The mic volume controls and the delay echo in my headset are still a little boggling, but I’m slowly adjusting and ironing out the sound levels..

Anyway, it was an ugly late-winter Friday morning. I had driven in the snow down to Bridgeport the night before to do a midnight-to-2 a.m. show on WPKN as part of its special Speaking of Women programming, coinciding with International Women’s Day. A 40-minute drive home became an hour-and-a-half ordeal, driving very slowly in second gear uphill on state roads that hadn’t even been plowed. When I pulled into the driveway, there were three inches of snow; there would be about nine more by the time it ended in the afternoon (twice what the TV weather clowns had predicted — true to form for them this winter).

I got to bed around 4 and was up at 8 to get the Cygnus show ready and make sure the software was simpatico with the headset. And outside my window, the snow was damn near horizontal. Didn’t let up ’til about 2. So, thanks to the magic of radio imagination, I was able to give a summery feel to the show, especially early on to set the tone.

Also threw in some CDs that musicians had sent me (Edward O’Connell, Stark Raving Lulu, The Zambonis). In addition, I had received a huge care package of CDs from Sharon, a Facebook friend in Minneapolis. Some things I had, some files I had lost in the midst of a couple mass computer file transfers the past year, so I stocked up on my early Stones material, as well as The Left Banke.

A couple of visual elements also worked their way into the show. Earlier in the week, guitartist extraordinaire Deke Dickerson had posted a YouTube video compilation of the legendary R&B group The Treniers; while they were one of the most underrated musical acts of the rock’n’roll era, you just have to see them in action, too. Also, a couple nights before the show, I watched the Showtime premiere of the intense, totally depressing, yet somehow inspiring documentary Family Band: The Cowsiills Story.

And, the fun thing about doing this here show is that I’m starting to find mp3s of really cool songs that are awfully hard to find in physical form. There was The Ronettes’ original version of “I Can Hear Music” — which, until recently, was omitted from Phil Spector compilations. Or “Guess I’m Dumb,” the song Brian Wilson gave to Glen Campbell when he was launching his recording career. And especially Johnny Cash’s “The Folk Singer” — a very obscure song he recorded in 1958, which Nick Cave recorded as a 12-inch B-side at the time of his Kicking Against the Pricks album in ’88.

Anyway, technology sucks, but radio is fun. The show airs live on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern (7-10 a.m. Pacific, 3-6 p.m. GMT).  Hope you can drop in and keep me company. And please pass the word to your friends and loved ones — we want to grow this show and this station.

And if you’re a musician who has a CD and wants to get some airplay here — well, if I like it, I’ll play it. Drop me a message here on or the Cygnus Radio Facebook page and I’ll get you my mailing address.

I’ll finish catching up to playlists asap.

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Five Songs, Part 81 (Paul Weller birthday edition)

May 25, 2012

I had my Five Songs for the week all done and set to go this afternoon when I realized — today’s Paul Weller’s birthday (54th, not that anyone’s counting). Not sure why — maybe because of a lot of his solo career has left me cold, or perhaps because he’s been around since my late teens — but I kinda take Weller for granted. Which makes no sense because a lot of my favorite songs of all time have something to do with The Jam or The Style Council.

So anyway, I tacked a dozen-minus-one extra songs at the last minute to the five Five Songs all set to go — five from The Jam (for my favorite Jam song, “Town Called Malice,” I went with one of my favorite movie dance moments of all — Billy Eliot’s “Footloose” moment), three from The Style Council and three solos, the last one from his latest album, Sonik Kicks.

And enjoy your long weekend:

The Rain, The Park and Other Things — The Cowsills

Pretty Baby — Blondie

Land of 1,000 Dances — Cannibal & the Headhunters

Richard Cory — Simon & Garfunkel

Run, Run, Run — The Velvet Underground

In the City — The Jam

Going Underground — The Jam

That’s Entertainment — The Jam

The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow) — The Jam

Town Called Malice — The Jam

The Paris Match — The Style Council

Shout to the Top — The Style Council

Walls Come Tumbling Down — The Style Council

You Do Something to Me — Paul Weller

Written in the Stars — Paul Weller

That Dangerous Age — Paul Weller