Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson - Rock With You

I've always been fond of this one. Sorry about the video quality, there. What can you do?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal

I guess I was never a huge Michael Jackson fan, but no doubt, when this one came on I was in the mood to dance.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson - Black or White

This may feel a bit like a corny pick for us, but honestly it's a pretty solid reminder of what it is that made him the King of Pop. By the eighties, rock and roll was essentially controlled by white artists, and hip hop was becoming the new music for the black community. The industry had become extremely racially balkanized since the late 60's, and it took a young black man to remind everyone that great music could be enjoyed across color lines.
It's also significant as one of Michael's several impressive music videos. It was still a pretty disrespected art form, but Michael got big directors to use his videos to do more than sell the song; he gave them the freedom to tell full stories, including dialogue before and after the song, almost like mini-musicals; this would eventually pave the way to the medium's golden age of the 90's, when aspiring directors used the medium to experiment with style and work their way toward film.
This video, as well as any other, and better than most, shows a man who was not just an extremely gifted musician, but also an enormous phenomenon. It's easy to forget Michael Jackson the Movement, especially when these issues persist in Iran. Anyway, just enjoy:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson - Billie Jean

Everyone knows this already, and this clip is going to be played over and over again, but I still think it's fascinating that you can pinpoint the exact instant that Michael Jackson went from interesting pop singer to international superstar, and it happens at 3:39.

I bet some of you remember the Jackson 5 cartoon. They dug it out from the vaults when MJ became a big star, and ABC stuck it into their Saturday morning rotation in 84-85.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Secrets Between Sailors - Little Birds

Haha, incomprehensible text! Well, fuck, I'm not going back and redoing that mess, you're on your own now.

Monday, June 22, 2009

John Klemmer- Free Soul

Oh, I'm supposed to post something today. Well.

This was sampled on the half of Lost & Found: Hip Hop Underground Soul Classics that nobody cares about, the album by Deda. I actually just found that out, right now, looking for this video, and seeing the comments on youtube. And nobody knows what I'm talking about, so I'll stop now.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sammy Davis, Jr. - One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)

I've been on a pretty big Sammy Davis, Jr. kick lately, you guys. Not only is he a very talented singer, but he's sort of a consummate entertainer in a way that Frank never was (Dean came close). He came up a hoofer, and his performances tended to blend song, dance, and comedy. He really should have starred in a sitcom, or something -- his film roles really underused his talents (for example, see Ocean's 11 -- no, don't). Anyway, here's him singing "One for My Baby...," a standard, and by his account, to be sung by someone performing after him in the same show (Dean, I think EDIT: Whisk E. Bear reminds me that it was almost definitely Frank coming on; he's almost definitely right). The idea of just singing the song straight must not have appealed to him, so he does impressions of different celebrities singing various verses. It's a hoot, it really is.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Zombies - Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)

I've been watching "Band of Brothers" for the first time (actually, I just finished it). The 2nd World War is a great "war movie" war and a lousy "war song" war, because even at its bleakest it can still be cast as a clash between good and evil, and that's rousing in a movie and horrid and saccharine in a song. The 1st World War is the opposite - a lousy "war movie" war but a great "war song" war. There are a few great WW1 movies but there just aren't that many WW1 movies in general, because the war doesn't provide a rooting interest so you have to kind of make one up. But songs (and novels) - brutal, all-encompassing and so supremely unnecessary, WW1 serves the pathos up on a silver platter for writers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bill Cosby - Little Ole Man (Uptight/Everything's Alright)

Today we find a train song in a most unlikely of places -- a 1967 R&B album by Bill Cosby. Yes, that Bill Cosby.

First, a little history: Four albums into his firmly rooted comedy career, Bill Cosby released "Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings," a collection of mostly straight covers of soul/R&B songs (with a modified lyric here and there for the sake of humor); I know of it only because I found it rattling around in a record bin at Goodwill for a dollar. The reviews on allmusic and wikipedia and the like pretty much universally pan it as a self-indulgent vanity project, which of course it's a self-indulgent vanity project, what about the fake mustache and giant ass sombrero on the cover could convince one otherwise?

But I sort of like it -- there's a wry, self-effacing humor to it. And then there's this song, which essentially repurposes Stevie Wonder, and which was a surprise hit for Cosby, briefly reaching No. 4 on the U.S. charts and achieving gold-record status as a single, if the wiki is to be believed. And it's got a train in it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bruce Peninsula - Crabapples

How about a music video, handcrafted, to set it off. Let the era of crabapples continue.

*Comment, or die.*

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Up yours Krabappel!

(Well, I have two things due tomorrow...then.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Mountain Goats - Woke Up New

This is a song I played incessantly the last time I was as lonely as I am now, so I find myself returning to it as I face the prospect of an entire summer like this. So I'd like to make a request:
Watch this video twice. The first time, go ahead and be mildly impressed by the camera tricks, for which music video is really the only medium to allow exploration. It was directed by Rian Johnson, who directed the incredibly awesome Brick, and the recently-released and in MY OPINION similarly awesome (it bears repeat viewing, like this video -- I'll get to that in a second) The Brothers Bloom. And even though (Dan) c. 2007 or so was unimpressed by it, I think it's cool.

For the second viewing, pay more attention to the lyrics. It expresses really well the way, after a breakup, you keep accidentally letting yourself fall into your same relationship habits, and how you sometimes need to develop a new routine, even if it doesn't make a practical difference in your life, just to establish that you have a new life going on. Anyway. Onwards and upwards.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Randy Newman - Rednecks

I'm a big fan of mixing it up, so today I'm going to start off with a fucking showtune.

That's "Molasses to Rum" from 1776, a song about the Triangle Trade. It's pretty over-the-top (it's even crazier on stage/in the film, where the guy playing Rutledge really milks the whole auctioneer thing for all it's worth) but it's the really the beating heart of the show's conflict, the removal of Jefferson's anti-slavery language from the Declaration of Independence in order to secure the vote of the Southern states.

The theme is the same as this one (my actual song), which is that Northerners act high-and-mighty, but they have been complicit actors in the disenfranchisement of blacks in America. But I confess that the reason I picked this song is because of the whole Palin/Letterman kerfuffle, because any time I see or hear about the Palins I sing the chorus of the song to myself. I claim artistic license for treating a subversive song as if it was completely on the level.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Carole King - He's a Bad Boy; Neil Young - Pocahontas

I like connections; I like to be able to listen to Maggie's Farm or Hard Times in New York Town and know they're adapted from old songs on the Anthology of American Folk Music. Shared melodies and lyrical evolutions are one of our foundations. I found one the other day, while I was listening to One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Groups Lost and Found, a box set I borrowed once that comes in the form of a hatbox.

I recognized a melody I'd heard before in Carole King's He's a Bad Boy, a quiet musing song in its own right and form.

It seems that Neil Young reworked it for his Pocahontas, a song that's always fascinated me...

...ever since I heard it first on the late career Johnny Cash box set.

And I posted these because I went and saw Terrence Malick's The New World today.

It was quiet, and very, very beautiful, and somewhat in the winsome spirit of the song. That's what I have for today; I hope the links all work.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Roy Acuff - Night Train to Memphis

I am keeping up the train meme today. Between the hillbilly hand-clapping and the tie-on-a-string, there's a lot to like here in just two minutes.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Over the Pond - The Album Leaf

Let's bring it down now. Real quiet and nice.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Toofer Saturdays

Sorry everyone, maybe this isn't cool, but I've got two songs for you today, both by women from the 70's or whatever. Here's the thing about these two songs:
  1. They're both good songs
  2. The first song describes the state I am in the process of moving too, and the second song describes the specific place I am moving too.
It's a tough week, moving, especially if it is literally across the country away from every person you've ever cared about. So I'm letting myself have two, describing my excitement and trepidation. Apparently California is a really nice place, but Redondo Beach is where lesbians go to commit suicide. Things to look forward to.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Kinks - Last of the Steam-Powered Trains

Trains! Not waiting for one, not riding one, being one. No embedding, I'm afraid


(There's a bonus song on that video, since it's a TV performance.)

The Beatles - Eleanor Rigby

I'll finish the train trifecta later but first, it's my wife's birthday today, so here's a dude doing "Eleanor Rigby" in sign language:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Shangri-Las - Train From Kansas City

"I don't know what else I can do."

Bad Girls! Tragic love! The train! Drum bits that shout like a train! This song has it all.

LastFm will let you hear the whole song, on the right.

Bonus Neko Case live cover (you can also hear it on her album The Tigers Have Spoken):

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Al Green - Love and Happiness

As promised, a little late. The song I had intended to post all along, until I remembered the Dennis Brown track and decided they made a good set. Al Green: kills.

Dennis Brown - Westbound Train

I first heard this song on a reggae compilation that received serious rotation during my college days. It's not my favorite track on the comp, but it does have an interesting etymology. There are the references to Eric Donaldson's "Cherry Oh Baby" (which also appears on the aforementioned comp, and which has its own interesting origin as the winning entry in the 1971 Jamaican Festival Song Contest [Incidentally, I admire Mr. Donaldson's mugshot.]).

But I'm more interested in the guitar part that opens the song. It's borrowed from an American soul song from the early '70s. So you get a 2-for-1 today -- I'll post the latter sometime this afternoon. No cheating.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Clutchy Hopkins - Horny Tickle

In the soundtrack of my life, I would be loving you, softly, to this track.
Do you feel that? It's only what you need, baby...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ornette Coleman- (....)

The things I actually looked for today were unavailable on youtube, but in my various searches I did find this (and a few others from the same performance). Ornette Coleman, earlier this month in Chile.