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Monthly Archives: April 2008

American Idol is to WWF Wrestling as…

…Chris Daughtry is to Nickelback.

When I was much younger, many of my male friends (and some female friends, too) LOVED to watch WWF Wrestling. They honestly believed that all of the pile-drivers and chicken wings were seriously real and that heroes like Junkyard Dog and Kerry Von Erich were truly beating the crap out of the bad guys like Afanseca.

Of course, what we all know is that wrestling is scripted….fake. Excepted as theater rather than sport. We all know that the matches are pre-determined and that the audience is manipulated into believing the script.

Enter American Idol. The parallels to WWF Wrestling are striking and last night, Ms. Abdul basically proved the point. If you missed it, here is the “gaffe” that has tongues wagging today.

Paula basically “judged” Jason Castro’s second song before he even sang it. She tried to pass off the “mediocre performance” remarks by saying that those were remarks for David Cook but then said that David was fantastic. WTF?

Now, I’m sure she’s going to say that those were her notes for Jason from the rehearsal where they sing and are taped for the end of the show snippets, but I ain’t buying it. Why would she critique the rehearsal when he could have been much different on the live show? Because it’s planned and pre-scripted. All for the benefit of manipulating the lemmings that are the viewing public.

However, Paula’s faux pas is not going unnoticed. EW has an eye witness account and if you still have doubts on if you are being manipulated, check out this article from the Dallas Morning News. The sad thing about American Idol is that it is a great concept. It would work without the manipulation. So, you have to ask why do they do it?

I know why, but that’s for another post….

 
10 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2008 in american idol, Uncategorized

 

All Decked Out

Life truly is about simple pleasures.

Three years ago, when we moved into our new house, we figured that in a few months, we would add a new patio and/or deck off of the back of our house. Well, being the procrastinators that we are and due to my unfortunate accident last summer, it just hadn’t been done….until now.

I wish that I could claim that this was a “weekend” project that me and Mr. D whipped up, but alas we are way too old and way too inept to produce such a fine relaxation platform, i.e., deck. Long ago, we realized that our lives are too short to be frustrated, so we needed really good jobs to pay other people to provide us with quality craftsmanship. So far, so good.

However, I will do the “landscaping” myself. The empty plant buckets are from the re-do of my front bed. Now it’s time to turn attention to the deck. It’s a bit sparse at the moment, but we’re working on a nice table and chairs with umbrella. Also, I have a few more potted plants to add, like a darling red maple and several large ferns to make it “just right”.

However, I’m more than just a little excited by our addition. It was basically finished on Friday, and we BBQ’d for three nights straight. We have so enjoyed the warm sunshine and soft breezes, basking in the twilight and listening to great old tunes while we braise a little mammal flesh. Ahhhhhh…..

A fitting tribute to our new relaxation platform.

We’ll Sing in the Sunshine, Gail Garnett

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2008 in oldies, that's life

 

Let’s Throw Some Fish

It’s Mullet Toss Weekend in South Alabama. On the Florida/Alabama state line, there’s a little place called The FloraBama Lounge & Package. It’s a pretty famous roadhouse with even a few songs written about it. And, each year on the last full weekend in April, the FloraBama sponsors the Interstate Mullet Toss.

The Mullet Toss is exactly as billed. People enter and compete in various age divisions (similar to 10k races) to see who can literally throw a mullet the farthest. Competition is serious and intense. To reward the victors, and the losers for that matter, is music and ice cold libations a plenty.

Mullet Toss Champion shows excellent form

The weather is absolutely gorgeous today, so it should be a very successful “toss”. Just the ambiance of the FloraBama is worth the trip.

…all roads lead to Wet Willie, baby.


 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 26, 2008 in florabama, Good Stuff

 

Jazz Fest Opens Today!

The 39th Annual Jazz Fest opens today to gorgeous skies and springtime excitement in New Orleans. If you ever get the chance to attend one of the weekends of Jazz Fest, do it. There’s no better time in New Orleans. It’s generally a time of joie de vivre, but this year seems particularly special as many New Orleans residents, like Aaron Neville, are finally home and the debacle of Katrina is ebbing some. The Spring continues to bring new growth in flora and fauna, as well as re-built homes and lives with more people and businesses popping up all over the place.

Here’s a sampling of today’s performers….

Gone, Gone, Gone — Robert Plant & Allison Krause

featuring T-Bone Burnett

Earlier Bagdad

Drunken Angel, Susan Cowsill Band

Kim Carson

Angel from Montgomery, Theresa Andersson Group

and the star attraction for tonight’s set, Sheryl Crow (with a nice little NOLA homage):

Love is Free

and on the other stages, a few MM favorites….

The Iguanas

The Zydepunks

Doyle Bramhall, featuring C.C. Adcock (a Lafayette boy):

C. C. Adcock

Ellis Marsalis

Buckwheat Zydeco

Bruce Daigrepont (a great profile that gives you the essence of a Cajun)

Tab Benoit

Terrence Simien (another great Cajun example)

Of course, there is always great Gospel, as well:

Paul Porter & The Christianaires

Should be a great weekend for sun and fun in The Big Easy. Next weekend, AT&T will carry portions of Jazz Fest Live at The Blue Room, so check it out.

 

‘Tube Tuesday

Busy traveling today, but here’s a few Music Maven favorites to keep you company.

  Tiny Dancer, Elton John

  Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Jerry Lee Lewis

  Time After Time, Eva Cassidy

  Man Smart, Woman Smarter, The Grateful Dead

  The First Cut is the Deepest, James Morrison

  Sea of Love, Cat Power

  Long Black Veil, The Band

  I’d Rather Go Blind, Etta James

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 21, 2008 in smorgasbord, YouTube

 

I Believe in You

From the Gentle Giant, the great troubadour Don Williams, the Platinum hit from 1980, I Believe in You.

I can’t help but smile when I hear this song. Perhaps I identify with the lyrics and the kun-NECK-shun that they make.

I don’t believe in superstars,
Organic food and foreign cars.
I don’t believe the price of gold;
The certainty of growing old.
That right is right and left is wrong,
That north and south can’t get along.
That east is east and west is west.
And being first is always best.

But I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in Mom and Dad.
And I believe in you.

Well, I don’t believe that heaven waits,
For only those who congregate.
I like to think of God as love:
He’s down below, He’s up above.
He’s watching people everywhere.
He knows who does and doesn’t care.
And I’m an ordinary man,
Sometimes I wonder who I am.

But I believe in love.
I believe in music.
I believe in magic.
And I believe in you.

Well, I know with all my certainty,
What’s going on with you and me,
Is a good thing.
It’s true, I believe in you.

I don’t believe virginity,
Is as common as it used to be.
In working days and sleeping nights,
That black is black and white is white.
That Superman and Robin Hood,
Are still alive in Hollywood.
That gasoline’s in short supply,
The rising cost of getting by.

But I believe in love.
I believe in old folks.
I believe in children.
I believe in you.

But I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in Mom and Dad.
And I believe in you.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 19, 2008 in Country, kun-neck-shuns, music dudes

 

Ding, Dong….

Sony BMG announced late yesterday that Clive Davis has been de-throned as Chairman and CEO of the dinosaur BMG label, replacing him with Barry Weiss — the wonk who brought us NSync, Justin Timberlake, Brittany Spears, and The Backstreet Boys.

Wow. What a brave move… Move Clive to Chief Creative Officer so that all of the artists like Whitney Houston, Barry Manilow and all of the American Idols who adore the King of Creep won’t revolt and storm the offices with torches demanding retribution. (Big ole eye roll.)

Not to worry, the guy who single-handedly created the fantastic music business we see before us today will survive to continue to collect millions off the backs of the artists that he indentures, likely until he slithers away and dies.

In the revolutionary move of turning the helm over to Barry Weiss **insert sarcasm** , Sony BMG has given a loud and proud answer to all of its critics about where they sit in terms of changing their business to meet the needs of the buyer.

IT. AIN’T. GONNA. HAPPEN.

If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, look for Mr. Weiss to amp up the volume (pun intended) on manufactured, high gloss, synthesized, bubble-gum pop, which will in all likelihood put them out of business.

The world is changing guys…the asteroid is coming.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on April 18, 2008 in music biz

 

A Diamond in the Rough….

Neil Diamond announced on Tuesday that he is releasing a new, technologically different CD in early May titled, Home Before Dark.  

I think Neil Diamond is one of the most under-recognized and under-praised singer-songwriters of our time, so I decided to do a post on him.

Neil DIamond seemed to be destined for the upper echelon of music right out of the gate.  He grew up in Brighton Beach and rumor has it that he sang in the choir with Barbra Streisand.  He started writing songs at 18 and signed an early contract with Columbia that never really panned out.  He intentioned his writings to be his recordings, but before he could record them himself, The Monkees released I’m a Believer, A Little BIt Me, A Little Bit You, and several others.  I’m A Believer ended up being a smash hit and the top song of 1966.

 

Mmmmm….Davey Jones.  But, I digress.  If Neil would have released it first, here’s what it would have sounded like.

In 1966, Diamond signed with Bang Records.  He scored his first hit with Solitary Man.

 

While this song was very “Moody Blues” and indicative of the some of the music of that time with rich, full, dramatic sound, his follow up hit, Kentucky Woman, showcased Diamond’s solid baritone with a simple guitar accompniment.  His voice was strong and determined, his belief in the song totally believeable.

During this time, Neil Diamond played on the same bill as many of the industry’s stars such as Herman’s Hermits and The Who.  He soon had a falling out with Bang Records and was embattled in a lawsuit over the rights to his music until the mid-70s, when he finally won them.  It was worth the fight, as Neil Diamond is one of only a handful of musical artists who actually own the copyright to his songs.  For the most part, labels own the copyrights of most songs.  One of his most well-known hits, Cherry, Cherry was one of the last recordings he did under the Bang label.

As the video mentions, Neil Diamond has been continually overlooked by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, despite his large and wide influence on rock and his prolific song-writing skills.  Lefsetz did a nice piece on Neil and Cherry, Cherry recently.  Now, the fact that Madonna is in the Hall of Fame and Neil Diamond is not is just a downright tragedy.

While he fought Bang Records over the rights to his songs, Neil Diamond signed with MCA Records and released likely his best-known hit in Sweet Caroline, inspired by young Caroline Kennedy.

While it’s not our nephew, Michael Paul’s awesome beach rendition, Neil handles it pretty good. :)

One of Neil’s anthems from this era, Holly Holy, was immortalized in Saving Silverman as Neil is accompnied by Steve Zahn, Jack Black and Jason Biggs who worship Neil Diamond and have a Neil Diamond Tribute Band in the movie.

He scored hits with Cracklin’ Rosie , I Am I Said and Song Sung Blue, before experiencing a lull in his career.  However, on a magical Thanksgiving night in 1976, Neil Diamond joined The Band for The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s rockumentary chronciling The Band’s farewell concert.  Neil performed Dry Your Eyes and joined the star-studded encore of I Shall Be Released.

Then, he scored a mega-hit with his old friend, Barbra Streisand with You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.

He starred in a remake of The Jazz Singer, which produced four top ten singles for Neil Diamond:  Forever in Blue Jeans, America, Love on the Rocks, and Hello Again.

  Forever in Blue Jeans, a la Will Ferrell.

Released in 1980, I remember going to see The Jazz Singer and how America  was subsequently used as a patriotic theme, after the decade of disaster that was the ’70s.

 

Neil Diamond’s last Top 10 hit was in 1982 with Heartlight from the movie, E.T., however he has been successful touring and performing his vast and adored songbook.  Also, his songs have been used in many movies. Like Urge Overkill’s version of Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon in Pulp Fiction.

TODAY’S TRIVIA:  Neil Diamond wrote and recorded the song Red, Red Wine in 1968….who knew?

  Red, Red Wine

I knew it would only be a matter of time before American Idol would get to the Neil Diamond songbook.  Supposedly, it’s coming up on one of the remaining theme nights.  Perhaps this will give Neil the exposure needed to finally get him into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Neil Diamond’s mark on music has been significant and prolific.  It’s time he’s rightfully honored along with the greats of the last 40 years of Rock & Roll.

 
 

Across the Universe

WARNING: Spoilers included in this post. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

Admittedly, I am sometimes a little slow on the uptake. And, as for movies, I’m really slow. Our movie experience revolves around Comcast’s On Demand movies, so we are at the mercy of their “New Releases”. Me and Mr. D are usually good for one or two per weekend and we usually take turns choosing the movie. You know, love-story-friends and lovers-chick flicks vs. aliens-shoot ‘em up-fast cars-pyrotechnics.

Over the past few weeks, I had acquiesced to alot of action/slasher/super hero/pirate flicks, so Saturday night was my turn. After agonizing between The Waitress and No Reservations, I saw Across the Universe. Because I knew of my husband’s odd penchant for sublime musicals, I chose the Oscar-nominated flick that featured a plethora of Beatles’ tunes to set the backdrop for the turbulent times of roughly, 1966 – 1971. Those years just happened to be when Mr. D “came of age”, so I figured he would at least be able to identify with the story and the music. (I’m selfless like dat.)

Across the Universe opens with the lead character, Jude, sitting on the beach. He introduces the movie with the wonderful Lennon lead, Girl that transitions into Helter Skelter:

The scene sets up the story which begins with the character of Lucy (played by Evan Rachel Wood), boppin’ to the crocodile rock at the prom with her soon-to-be-soldier boyfriend. They rock it out in a 50′s white-bred naivety to Hold Me Tight, while Jude rocks out to the same tune across the Atlantic in a Liverpool dive with the band looking oddly familiar, playing at Liverpool’s Cavern, where The Beatles performed in the early days.

Hold Me Tight, Jim Sturgess & Evan Rachel Wood

Not a bad rendition when put in the context of the times that the song would have been heard by anxious young teenagers embarking on life and the radical changes about to bestow those lives.

Hold Me Tight, The Beatles

Jim Sturgess is the young actor who deftly plays Jude. His vocals are reminiscent of Ewan MacGregor in Moulin Rouge, but his acting a bit better. Set in Liverpool and then New England and New York, the movie chronicles young Jude’s quest to find his father, a U.S. soldier stationed in England during WWII.

Jude hops a freighter to America on his quest to find what’s missing and upon arriving to find his father is actually a maintenance engineer at Princeton, he meets Lucy’s brother, Max (played by Joe Anderson). Max is a hard-partying, never may care rogue who is decidedly uninterested in remaining in college. Of course, a rousing version of With A Little Help from My Friends sets the perfect college frat party.

With a Little Help from My Friends, Joe Anderson

A bit more manic than the original, it conveys the appropriate emotion. There’s a certain parallel between Max and Ringo, in that Max is a background character that becomes the thread that holds it all together.

With a Little Help from My Friends, The Beatles

Now, Across the Universe incorporates 34 Beatles’ compositions throughout the movie, so I’ll try to stick to the most prolific and why I deem them to be so.

Max takes Jude home with him for Thanksgiving where Jude becomes smitten with Lucy, however Lucy is still wrapped up in her boyfriend who has been recently shipped off to Vietnam. Max informs his parents that he’s dropping out of school and he and Jude decide to move to The Village in NYC.

At the same time, we are introduced to a couple of new characters whose lives will shortly intersect with Max’s and Jude’s lives. Prudence is introduced as a lesbian cheerleader who longingly sings I Want to Hold Your Hand from afar to her head cheerleader love. (I cannot make this up)

I Want to Hold Your Hand, T.V. Carpio

Director Julie Taymor does a fantastic job of using Beatles’ song in a non-traditional way and conveying a totally different feel from the songs that are so ingrained to the psyche of America. Comparing this version of I Want to Hold Your Hand to The Beatles’ smash inaugural hit, creates a stark juxtaposition.

I Want to Hold Your Hand, The Beatles

Likely my favorite song of the whole movie is the touching and absolutely appropriate use of Let it Be. Used for the backdrop of the Detroit race riots of 1967, it introduces the character of Jojo, played by Martin Luther McCoy.

The song informs us of the death of Jojo’s young brother and in a world away, Lucy’s soldier boyfriend.

Let it Be, Carol Woods/Timothy T. Mitchum

While Let it Be has always been a passionate song, the slow, disconsolate version pierces the soul in a way the original does not.

Let it Be, The Beatles

Leaving the destruction and despair behind, both JoJo and Lucy head to New York, where they also come to live with Sadie (Dana Fuchs), the Janis Joplin-ish landlord. In Come Together, we are treated to a perfect cameo by Joe Cocker as a homeless man in the subway.

Come Together, Joe Cocker

It’s amazing how all of these Beatles’ tunes inspire such passion in others. While they were revolutionary in the late 60′s, they are mild when compared to today’s fare. However, all of these songs provide such passionate and highly musical versions.

Come Together, The Beatles

The story gets a little complicated from here on out but we are treated to another cameo, this time by Bono as spiritual guru “Dr. Robert”:

I Am the Walrus, Bono

This is one of the few songs in the movie that actually is very similar to the original.

I Am the Walrus, The Beatles

Dr. Robert takes them all on a “trip”, in more ways than one, to see Mr. Kite, but alas find the wonderful Eddie Izzard as the ringmaster.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite, Eddie Izzard

While Eddie doesn’t really sing the song, he gets the point across. I’ve often marveled at The Beatles obvious escape from the norm on Sgt. Pepper’s.

Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite, The Beatles

Through all of this Lucy and Jude are in love and Max is caught by the draft and sent for induction into the U.S. Army. Now, this is where the symbolism and hyperbole get a little out of control, but hey…it was the 60′s. Everything was out of control.

I Want You

Mr. D and I were having a running conversation throughout the movie and with this scene, he recanted to me his experience that he says was eerily similar to this scene, except for the fact that nobody was wearing underwear. He said that there wasn’t one person there the day he and his brother went for physicals that was NOT deemed 1-A. If you knew your name, you were in. As it happens, Mr. D and his brother happened to be switching colleges and were “caught” between semesters. A few phone calls from his grandfather and they were luckily deferred, however the memory was still very vivid for him even after 40 years.

At this point, I share with him that these scenes bring back vivid memories for me too. From 1964-1974, my formative years, the evening news brought war, corruption, poverty and violence into our living rooms each and every night. I remember getting Christmas cards as a kid and thinking that there would never be “peace on earth”. I thought this was the norm and for Mr. D, a child of the idyllic 50′s, this was absolutely abnormal.

I think that’s why my generation is so cynical, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. While we were privileged to experience some of the best music ever, the times we grew up in sucked. From a war nobody believed in to multiple assassinations to Watergate to leisure suits to the Iranian Hostage Crisis, all I can recall from the events of my childhood was pretty depressing. Whereas for Mr. D, the tough stuff didn’t start until he was an adult. His childhood was full of hundreds of Father Knows Best moments and glory days of American expansion.

But I digress…

A lot transpires, but Sadie and the Po-Boys, which includes Jojo gets a gig at The Filmore and a smokin’ version of Oh Darlin’ is delivered by both, including some Hendrix-esque licks from Jojo.

Oh Darlin’, Dana Fuchs & Martin Luther McCoy

I think the director did a fantastic job in putting these songs in context and they all flowed very nicely into the story….or perhaps the story flowed into the songs. Nevertheless, it brought new meaning to many of the old Beatles’ standards and definitely “worked”.

Oh Darlin’, The Beatles

Another of my favorite uses of a Beatles’ song to convey a point in this movie was Jim Sturgess’ delivery of Revolution when Lucy is more occupied in the protest culture than with him.

Revolution, Jim Sturgess

Perhaps it’s the visual implications of the song, but the movie version of this song really brings home a significant meaning to a song that had significant impact, but in more of a generic way. Even through turbulent times and distinct messages in their songs, The Beatles’ songs still had an upbeat, hopeful sound.

Revolution, The Beatles

The movie includes one of my absolute favorite Beatles’ songs, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Director Julie Taymor deftly uses the tune to display Jojo’s reaction to the assassination of Martin Luther King and his longing for his lady love, Sadie.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Martin Luther McCoy

Likely George Harrisons’ crowning glory, his version in enhance by the lead guitar being handled by one Mr. Eric Clapton.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, The Beatles

After Jude gets deported back to England and Max returns from Vietnam and recovers from his wounds, he reminisces about his good friend and hopes for his return. Of course, it is captured in the great Hey Jude.

Hey Jude, Max Anderson

It’s hard to ever top Paul McCartney’s vocal on this classic and while Max’s version was passable, it doesn’t rival the original.

Hey Jude, The Beatles

The whole story ultimately culminates in a rooftop reunion concert of Sadie and the Po-Boys with a rousing rendition of Don’t Let Me Down that is in parallel with The Beatles’ famed impromptu rooftop concert in London.

Don’t Let Me Down, Dana Fuchs & Martin Luther McCoy

However, nothing will ever compare to this original.

Don’t Let Me Down, The Beatles

Remember, these are only a fraction of the 34 Beatles’ songs included in the movie. I’m not a big fan of musicals, but this one was enjoyable. Maybe it was the familiarity of music and the times, but both Mr. D and I thought it was definitely worth the $4.99 on Pay-Per-View.

The synergy of themes and characters are fun, with all the characters’ names straight out of Beatles’ song lore. That, and the use of the prolific Beatles’ songbook set against the turbulent times and this story, make it thoroughly enjoyable.

If you are a Beatles’ fan and haven’t seen this, I highly recommend doing so. If you’ve seen it, I encourage your comments on what you thought about the movie. If you are anywhere between the ages of 60 and 40, you’ll likely enjoy this movie, as well, as you can surely identify with all of the happenings and the historical context of the story.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on April 13, 2008 in Music History, music legends

 

Live from Sun Studios: Adam Levy

Yet another session of Live from Sun Studios is up, this one featuring Adam Levy.

  Interview

As mentioned in the Amber Rubarth post, Adam Levy is part of Norah Jones’ Handsome Band.  In the Sun Studio piece, he performs In the Morning, which he wrote and Norah included on her Feels Like Home CD.

Adam is an accomplished guitar man, providing the solo on Tracey Chapman’s Give Me One Reason:

I knew I liked this guy from the Amber Rubarth vid, and then it is confirmed with the fact that he played guitar on Amos Lee’s debut CD:

  Colors

You may recall that Amos opened for Norah Jones for a while and that debut CD was produced by Lee Alexander, Norah Jones’ bass guitarist and shack-up.

Here’s Washing Day, performed by Amber Rubarth and written by Adam Levy.  Yes, it do go ’round in circles….

Through the wonders of YouTube, I even found this rendition of Johnny B. Goode performed by Levy and his high school band, back in the glorious year of 1982.

 
 
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