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Monthly Archives: June 2008

Old Dog….New Tricks

For months now, I have been receiving James Taylor’s monthly newsletter. Click on the link to be directed to JT’s newsletter library. They are informative and entertaining.  June’s newsletter talks about “shed” tours and the richness of the artists who are currently touring with the wily grandfather.

He also goes into detail a couple of times about affordable tickets and trying to ensure that people who want to see him/them have the opportunity to do so.  It’s evident that JT’s career is more about the music than the money.

Now, this is not a new concept but admittedly, JT isn’t usually correlated with new and progressive music marketing and promotion.  However, he hasn’t survived and thrived in the biz for the last 40 years simply waiting for Carole King to write him another hit.

At least JT has some vision and is adapting to the new world. While not earth-shattering, in itself, his newsletters show his desire to embrace new approaches and technologies to “kuneck” with his fans….you know, folks that have been following him for 30 to 40 years.

If an icon like James Taylor gets it, you’d think younger, supposedly “hipper” artists would too.

Added bonus: JT performing his non-conventional rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at Game 1 of the NBA Championship.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2008 in james taylor, music biz

 

Jumpin’ Jack Flash

We interupt this vacation to bring you a urgent announcement.

Our family welcomed an impatient, but very much anticipated new arrival today.  Jackson Alexander deClouet entered this world about 10 weeks early, much to the chagrin of his parents Amy & Michael Paul

I’m happy to report that 3 lb. 11 oz., “Jack”, is doin’ great (in the words of his Daddy) and is breathing on his own.  Since he was born to ONE of the best families in the world, he couldn’t miss.

We welcome young Jack to the fold and look forward to many a beach party with our newest family member.

 Jumpin’ Jack Flash, The Rollin’ Stones

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2008 in family, that's life

 

Gone Fishin’

Five O’Clock Somewhere, Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett

Margaritaville

Bama Breeze

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2008 in florabama, jimmy buffett, the beach

 

Mission Possible: Beach Blanket Bingo

Ok, peeps.

This weekend begins our summer vacation in beautiful L.A. (Lower Alabama). We’ll be at the beach for 7 lovely days. A time to relax, have some fun and take stock of our lives. Given this objective, I need some music. Can you guys help me to construct a killer playlist for the beach? I hope so.

Simply contemplate this image….

then, give me your best. No limit on the number of songs, particular genres, or artists. Only restriction is time. I need the list by Friday night to add the music to my beach playlist. Here’s a start….

Brown-Eyed Girl, Steel Pulse (Reggae)

Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond

Red, Red Wine, UB40

The Lion Sleeps Tonight, The Tokens

If It Don’t Matter, Donavon Frakenreiter

I’m In Love, Wilson Pickett

A Beautiful Morning, The Rascals

Fire On The Mountain, The Grateful Dead

But It’s Alright, J J Jackson

Stir It Up, Bob Marley

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2008 in ipod, smorgasbord, summer, the beach

 

Amos Lee: “Last Days” Podcasts

ETA2:  The vids are back with a few extra delicious tidbits (see below).  Don’t mean to pre-empt Colette’s Corner spotlight on David Cook, so make sure to visit the post below this one.

ETA: Sorry folks, Amos evidently pulled these off of YouTube.  Believe me, they WERE really good stuff.  I’ll try to find them elsewhere…

YEAH!

Amos does it again. In anticipation of his coming new CD, Last Days at the Lodge, Amos Lee provides a podcast for most of the songs on the CD. He gives an explanation of the song and some of the history behind who, what, when and why. Now, some may not be interested in the detail, but as a liner note junkie from way back, I LOVE THIS STUFF.

I like to understand where the artist was coming from when they wrote the song and what they were trying to convey or what the story is behind a key change or rhythmic riff. I know this is a lot of YouTubeness, but each one is only about 2 minutes long and gives some wonderful insight to this CD, that I’m predicting will be even a bigger hit than the first two.

Amos is a very “real” guy who is very transparent in his artistry. No hidden or mysterious innuendos or aloofness, just WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get, for all you post DOS folks). It’s guys (and gals) like these that I truly appreciate. They “make the sausage” and show us all the parts, then let it stand on it’s own for us to enjoy the flavor.

He talks about music influences by Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Paul Simon, and the fact that his music comes more out of practice than theory. There are some real nuggets of insight to the artist that Amos Lee is.

So, when you have a little time this weekend, check out the podcasts for Last Days at the Lodge…right here, at Music Maven:

Ease Back

It Started to Rain

Jails & Bombs

Kid

Listen

Street Corner Preacher

Truth

What’s Been Going On?

Won’t Let Me Go

Superb.

Don’t forget to pre-order your CD at Amazon or to download the tracks from iTunes on June 24th. You will not regret it.

Here are a couple of “hot off the press” vids done expressly for YouTube by Amos, IN HIS LIVING ROOM!  I love this guy….noice couch.

  Baby I Want You

  Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight

Notice the invitation to respond to Amos via a song “cover” and his acknowledgement that he listens to the heartfelt covers that people do of his songs on YouTube.  That, is making a kun-NECK-shun. 

 

 
 

Colette’s Corner: “Cook”in’ Wid Gas

Consider this post a testament to my Libra tendencies for fairness and balance.

Somewhat reluctantly, I watched American Idol this year even after I expressed my outrage at the “fix” AI was trying to put in to improve the talent and to avoid jumpin’ the shark for another year. I never did really land on a “favorite” and sort of ended up on the side of David Cook because I would have been for anyone but David Archuletta.

However, I noticed that many people went ga-ga (technical term) over David Cook and I really don’t know why. Really. I think he’s O.K. and can carry a tune, but I don’t see him as a particularly special talent. But, I respect other’s opinions and certainly, Colette’s, so…..Mr. Cook has a forum.

David Cook & His Idol Songs

Yes, I got roped into watching American Idol this year. I hold David Cook responsible.

The guy has an extraordinarily agile and expressive voice. He’s a genuine musician, seasoned and soulful. He blossomed before the eyes of viewers, getting more interesting, vocally various, likable and attractive as the contest ground on. And he knew how to pick a song, and make it his own.

The last quality is particularly special (and rare) in this kind of talent jamboree, which forces an array of young singer contestants to hack good (and mediocre) tunes of their choosing down to two-minute wonders. And many times, as Bobby McFerrin mentioned in a concert I recently saw by him, they feel encouraged to “over-sing” and imitate the vocal acrobatics of such uniquely gifted singers as Stevie Wonder or Whitney Houston.

But Cook figured out how to win by doing his own thing superbly, and much of the fun this season was wondering what he’d perform next and how.

A good song withstands many interpretations, in many styles. And once I started digging back to find clips of the tunes he sang, renditions by their composers and other major interpreters, I renewed my fascination with how an artist puts his/her own stamp on a melody and words sturdy enough to withstand many interpretations. So here are some of Cook’s songs, delivered by himself and others. I post them not in the spirit of, “Who did it better?” but “How does an artist shape a song to his or her own musical dimensions?”

“Billie Jean” was a mega-hit for Michael Jackson, his first really adult solo smash to me. It went to #1 on the charts in 1983, and told a dark, haunting story of being seduced and wronged. Legend has it that Jackson recorded his remarkable hiccupy vocal in one take, for producer Quincy Jones. Here is his most famous performance of the tune, on a TV show saluting Motown:
— “Billie Jean” — Michael Jackson

The remarkable Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, a seminal Seattle grunge band, seized upon the Jackson two decades later. He had the smart and gutsy notion to slow it way down, and sing it with an acoustic guitar and a mournful wail in an “unplugged” concert in Sweden. Here’s a beautiful live version of a tune he also recorded on his first solo disc:
— Chris Cornell

David Cook was inspired by Cornell’s version, and in a brilliant move adapted it for American Idol. Though he made sure that host Ryan Seacrest credited the arrangement to Cornell, Cook caught (unfairly) some flak from fans who felt Cornell was slighted by one the lavish praise by Idol judge Randy Jackson, about Cook’s creativity. Sorry, but I think Cook was very creative just for finding this arrangement, and singing the hell out of it in his own way:
— David Cook

“LITTLE SPARROW.” During Dolly Parton Week on “Idol,” Cook surprised many (including Parton) by turning to “Little Sparrow,” a tune often performed a capella by Parton. Very much in the style of an Old English ballad, on the archetypal theme of advising a young woman to retain her virtue and be wary of men, the song has a lonely beauty in this live version by Parton (clip has bad visuals, but fine vocal):
— “Little Sparrow”

But “Little Sparrow” also got a very different, deeply wrenching airing by the fabulous soul singer Bettye Lavette. She squeezes every ounce of emotion from the tune, here in a live performance of keen intensity:
“Little Sparrow” — Bettye
Lavette

What distinguished Cook’s arrangement, despite his audacity and the novelty of having a man sing it, was his use of a high, ethereal falsetto. AT first hearing, I didn’t think he nailed it. By the 10th listen, I knew I was totally hooked:
— “Little Sparrow” — David Cook

“Day Tripper” is one of my favorite Beatle songs, in the “Ticket to Ride” vein of strutting rock. The 1965 Lennon-McCartney classic, about a “Sunday driver” of a gal, who is “a big teaser” and “left me half the way there” — presumably, got him very hot and bothered, and then didn’t come through sexually. Hey, whatever– it’s got a killer guitar riff, a great vocal with Paul on leade. And here it is with a lot of silly go-go dancers, lipsynched by the Beatles:
— “Day Tripper” – The Beatles

The 1970s band White Snake grabbed the tune, and gave it a harder-edged rock treatment. That really cooked. Here’s a rare video of them performing it:
— “Day Tripper” — White Snake

Cook had great fun tweaking the White Snake version, with a streak of heavy metal and a totally hip wha-wha voice box solo. He seems to be having a blast, and it’s infectious:
— “Day Tripper” — David Cook

“Happy Together.” Early in the season, Cook showed his originality by taking on a peppy novelty tune that just exudes good vibes. It was a huge 1967 hit for The Turtles, and wound up in the soundtracks of numerous movies. The Turtles were never the greatest live band, but they’ve kept on going to this day, and here they are doing their biggest single on a TV gig in the ’60s:
— “Happy Together” — The Turtles

Though Cook wasn’t yet the heart-throb he evolved into this early in the Idol contest, his version of the song was a favorite for me. I love the playful slyness, the flirty quality, and the audacity of the final note that goes on forever. And that lifting up the mikestand like a sabre! Too too cool:
— “Happy Together” — David Cook

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for.” I’m not very conversant with U2′s music, mainly because around the time they really hit I took a long vacation of pop music. But I’m so glad that Cook re-introduced me to “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” — which anyone who was listening in at the time recognized as a mesmerizing, questing yet enigmatic ode (as I’ve discovered many U2′s songs are). Here’s the inimitable Bono and band, on a VH1 telecast performing it with Bruce Springsteen:
— U2 with Bruce Springsteen

How do you follow that? Very credibly, in Cook’s case. The swooping soaring note at the end, and the fervent intensity throughout justifies the cover completely. At the very end of the contest, and his assurance and power are hot:
— David Cook

“My Hero”: Formed by Dave Grohl after the death of Kurt Cobain and break-up of their band Nirvana, the Foo Fighters have reflected Grohl’s interest in blending music with political activism, and also provided a showcase for his songwriting skills. The hit tune “My Hero,” recorded by the Foo Fighters in 1997, is so touching, in its elevation of humble, “ordinary” people to heroic status. Here’s the band’s acoustic version:
— “My Hero” — Foo Fighters

Cook did not sing “My Hero” on American Idol, but he did his own sensitive acoustic version during the three Idol finalists’ visit home week. It wasn’t aired on TV, but it’s available on youtube, and I really hope he’ll cover it in concert and/or on disc later. The sincerity of the vocal is lovely:
— David Cook

“The World I Know”: I really dig it when people turn me on to great music I’m unfamiliar with, and I knew nothing of the Georgia-based band Collective Soul until I heard this thoughtful song of theirs on “Idol.” Once again, it demonstrated Cook’s preferance for tunes with inspiring lyrics, about things that matter — in this case, the search for meaning and tenderness in a troubled world: “Has our conscience shown? Has the sweet breeze blown? Has all the kindness gone? Hope still lngers on.”
— “The World I Know” — Collective Soul

David Cook’s rendition, clearly from the heart:
  — “The World I Know” — David Cook

“Always Be My Baby”: Finally, this is the song I believe sealed the deal for Cook winning American Idol, even though it was quite a few weeks before the finale. For him to be able to rearrange a pleasant but not remarkable 2006 Mariah Carey hit into a soulful anthem of love and support triumphing over heartbreak, was really breathtaking. I hope Cook the worthy new American Idol winner, becomes Cook, the constantly evolving recording and performing artist in his own right.
— “Always Be My Baby” — Mariah Carey

— “Always Be My Baby” — David Cook

So, there. Welcome to the Music Maven “No Spin” Zone. Fair. and Balanced.

 

Fathers

It’s not particularly easy to write about Father’s Day as this year is truly our first “fatherless” Father’s Day. Having lost Mr. D’s Dad back in late January, there are no cards to buy nor phone calls to make to express appreciation for all of the love and patience over the years.

When my own father passed away in the fall of 2005, I shed very few tears. Perhaps it was the detachment of making all of the arrangements, assisting my mother through her own grief, or a disbelief that he was really gone, but I remember feeling very strange about my outward lack of emotion.

However, just over two years later at my father-in-law’s services I was near inconsolable. I’m not a very demonstrative person emotionally, so I think my visible sadness was a little concerning to my husband’s family. While I was sad for my husband and his loss, I think the grief I was expressing was more for my own father and my own loss that I was finally able to “see” and feel only after time had passed.

So, lately, I’ve been reflecting on my father and his impact on me and my family. First, this is/was my Daddy…

For me, this picture epitomizes my father. From the cynical smirk on his face, to the ever-present cigar, the camera in his pocket and surrounded by the plants that defined his life. A horticulturist for nearly 60 years, he saw beauty in plants and flowers and loved growing and propagating all types of flora.

My Daddy experienced a significant amount of hurt and disappointment in his life, but he never used it as an excuse for anything. He was highly intelligent and intellectual with a side order of honesty and sincerity. He was a very principled man and he expected no less from his children.

In preparing this post, I scoured my vast library of pictures for a picture of he and I together when I was younger and I could not locate one. He was usually behind the camera and he wasn’t very demonstrative with us when we were growing up. A quiet and private man, he didn’t go in for a lot of hugging and kissing, so we were left to just “know” that he loved us. As an adult, however, he became much more “open”, particularly with his grandkids. In the one picture I could find of he and I together, look who is the center of attention.

He dearly loved his grandchildren and was so proud of each of them. This is one of my favorite pictures. It’s Mini-DD with my Daddy for Easter, when he was two and a half.

The joy on both of their faces is so evident. Also true to my father’s nature was his sense of “habit” and routine. Just about every picture I could find of my father in later years has him wearing this burgundy plantation shirt with all of his “essentials” packed into his breast pocket.

When he died, my mother gave Mini-DD one of my father’s pocket knives. For those who knew him, the significance of those knives is relevant as he was never without one and could always be relied upon to open a box or cut an apple. It is one of his grandson’s prized possessions.

As for his daughter….his youngest child….the girl he called “BooBoo”….I wasn’t left with a prized possession. More importantly, he left me an understanding of living a life of integrity, a love of family and history, and an example of loving a partner until your last breath.

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do

Daughters, John Mayer (from Where the Light Is DVD to be released July 1st) — performance at The Nokia, L.A., 12/07.

 
 
 
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