Monday, February 25, 2008


Spring is almost here? Really? Man... we fucking get it: it snows in winter.

Okay. OKAY. OH-EFFING-KAY. Why do I feel like Lewis Black? Can we just get some 40's? Upper 30's even? Hell, I'd take freezing without the snow. But... come ON. Whew. I feel better.

Okay. OKAY. Oh-Eff-


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reflections on Music

I made a strange mix today...

A random mix that consisted of the following: I Shall Be Released (The Band w/Dylan-Live) Family Life (The Blue Nile) I Shall Be Released (The Band) Cowboys (Counting Crows) Hey Hey What Can I Do (Led Zep) Stronger (Kanye) 1492 (Counting Crows) You Know You're Right (Nirvana) Pink Moon (Nick Drake) I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (Wilco) Ashes of American Flags (Wilco) 

Listening to this mix while going to and from teaching today got me thinking about these songs... so, in the spirit of this selection, I will give you some random thoughts about the random songs on my random mix:

I Shall Be Released (Live from Before the Flood): There's something about this version... it's similar to the one from the Last Waltz musically, but with Richard Manuel (I think) singing it all in a gritty falsetto that is so fundamentally different from the original version that it really sounds like another person... which I guess he was by then, some 6 or 7 years down the road (literally). Still... so haunting and weathered and weary...

Family Life: Is this the saddest song ever written? It could be argued... Doug McBride from Gravity paid me a high compliment last week in comparing Look Alive to The Blue Nile... and it made me go back and download this song. It is so heartbreakingly simple and beautiful and... just so so so... spare. The trumpet (or brass synth?) in the bridge... the crack in the voice... the implied tragedy and desperation of the lyrics.

I Shall Be Released (Studio): Interesting to listen to this out of order, chronologically, from the live version. This take on it sounds much purer... but again, Richard Manuel's vocals supported by gorgeous playing...

Cowboys: This is from their forthcoming record and if it's all like this tune... produced by Gil Norton, who has done a lot of wonderful albums (and I think turned up at the Grammys because he produced the Foo Fighters' album)... this tune is so angry and filled with great guitars and great singing...

Hey Hey What Can I Do: Interesting hearing this tune after a super-modern 21st century mixed/mastered thing... still sounds great. Wonderfully sloppy. I really enjoy Robert Plant singing as much in his lower register as he does in this tune... it's easy to just remember his I'm-falling-down-the-elevator-shaft swoops (which, of course, are present here too) but his lower voice is so effortless and haunting, even on a simple tune like this.

Stronger: Ah Kanye... I thought the performance of this at the Grammys was a little weak... especially in light of the heartfelt and fantastically faulted version of Hey Mama that followed... but shit: the production on Stronger is just sick.

1492: Another tune from the new album... another angry, raging guitar tune. Not quite sold on the lyrics, but the delivery makes the content almost irrelevant.

You Know You're Right: For some reason I always forget about this tune... I believe it was recorded on one the band's last days in the studio. Talk about angry. Scary.

Pink Moon: Kind of a jarring transition from anger to melancholy... more of a fall than a winter song, but still... it worked today. The intimacy.

I am Trying to Break Your Heart: We're going to see Wilco Monday at The Riviera... so I needed to get in the mood... or rather, the right mindset. We watched the movie of the same name this weekend... I guess I didn't pick up in my previous viewings the implication that Jay Bennett was more or less responsible for the first round of mixes of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot that got scapped in favor of the Jim O'Rourke finals.

Ashes of American Flags: What a strangely triumphant song... guitar tones? It's got them. Lyrics? In code? So mysterious yet not... and in light of the fact that it seems like the last 5 seconds of this song were the straws that broke the camel's back...

So those are my random thoughts on my random mix.

How... Random.


Friday, February 01, 2008