Dreams keep calling, dreams keep calling
After yummy sushi at Hirozen, Mary Beth and I paid a visit to the Coronet Pub, which I've usually depended on to be fairly empty even on a Friday night. No such luck tonight, as it was packed to the gills with people enjoying brews surrounded by Emmett Kelly sad clown posters. We were catching a 10:30 play, anyway -- a thirty minute production of the entire Star Wars trilogy, and yes, it was wonderful -- so we just leaned into a booth and chatted.
The first few minutes, they were playing AC/DC -- "Highway to Hell," as I recall -- but then I heard it. It being "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds. A song that can't be considered without also considering The Breakfast Club, the best thing John Hughes ever did, bar none.
Those opening "Hey Hey Hey Heys," followed by an Oooooooh.
Immediately I watched as more than one person at the bar pumped their fist in the air, mimicking the final gesture that Bender, the Judd Nelson character, makes as he walks across the football field in the last image of the movie.
posted by Anon. 11:54 PM
Oh to be back in the land of Coca-cola
Forgot to post this. Saw Comedian two weeks ago -- it was fine -- but one of the stranger soundtrack choices in the movie was, as it was showing Jerry Seinfeld travelling from city to city honing his new comedy act, the presence of "When I Paint My Masterpiece," done by the Band. (I think it was the Band.)
This is easily one of my favorite Dylan songs anywhere. And, when he still had a voice, pre-throat cancer, Levon Helm could sing the hell out of it.
But seeing Jerry Seinfeld going around in his private jet with this song playing? Uh-uh.
posted by Anon. 1:01 PM
Rocking toward '04
John F. Kerry. Senator. Vietnam Vet. Family man.
posted by Anon. 12:47 PM
Memphis in the meantime
Well-regarded travel writer Tim Cahill has been writing about his journey to Memphis and Sun Studios for, of all places, Slate.
posted by Anon. 6:07 PM
For all of you who have grown weary of typing "blogspot" into your browser all of these years, we at Palmermix LLC are glad to report that we have finally invested in a domain name.
Yes, now you can come to us by just typing in "http://www.palmermix.com." It's that simple.
Thank you, and enjoy the show.
posted by Anon. 3:41 PM
You better hurry 'cause it may not last
I'm being haunted this week on the Warner Brothers lot by Badfinger.
Yesterday, at the gym, "Day After Day" was playing in the locker room. You can slag it, and Badfinger, all you want, but the fact is, it's a great song. Yes, it is. Shut up. "I remember FINDING out about you..." and then those drums lead in to, "Looking in from my lonely room... DAY AFTER DAY."
Okay, I'm calm, I'm calm. Then today, at the Grill, the piped in radio on the lot started playing "Baby Blue." Which isn't even a gigantic hit for Badfinger. Which isn't even one of their four biggies -- "Day After Day," "Come and Get It," "No Matter What," and "Without You," which Nillson later had a huge hit with. I think.
If I hear "No Matter What" on the lot tomorrow, I'll know that there's a conspiracy a foot.
posted by Anon. 2:48 PM
In eager anticipation of Standing in the Shadows of Motown, I've been thinking a bit about that Motown sound. What are your favorite Motown songs?
Here's my quick list, off the top of my head.
"I Second That Emotion," Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
"The Tracks of My Tears," Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
"The Tears of a Clown," Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
"Walk Away Renee," The Four Tops
"Ain't Too Proud To Beg," The Temptations
"The Way You Do the Things You Do," The Temptations
"You Can't Hurry Love," Diana Ross and the Supremes
"Someday We'll Be Together," Diana Ross and the Supremes
"I Was Made to Love Her," Stevie Wonder
"How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)," Marvin Gaye
"I Want You Back," Jackson 5
"ABC," Jackson 5
I'm not including songs from the Stevie and Marvin albums of the 70s -- as great as some (or in the case of Stevie, all) of those records are. But just the fact that I couldn't stop at 5 -- couldn't stop at 10 -- should say something. And I'm even a self-proclaimed fan of the Memphis and Muscle Shoals sounds of Atlantic, Stax, and Volt.
posted by Anon. 12:46 PM
Me, a lyric guy?
My pals often accuse me of being a lyric guy: of over-valuing the lyrics of songs, while under-valuing and estimating the contribution of the music itself. I admit that banal lyrics can prevent me from enjoying an otherwise fine song -- it's hard to shimmy when you're busy cringing -- but I certainly love some songs where the lyrics contribute nothing. Case in point: Toots and the Maytals' "Pressure Drop." I was listening to it yesterday while driving into work, courtesy of the Harder They Come. Which has always seemed a strange record to me -- here's Jimmy Cliff singing about many rivers to cross, and standing here in limbo, yet it's for a movie about drug hoodlums in Jamaica.
But "Pressure Drop" -- featuring some of the best mmm-mmms ever set down to acetate -- is an indecipherable, incomprehensible 3 minutes of great groove and rhythm, with a great melody to back it all up. (Toots, after all, loved melody enough to do an album of Stax/Volt covers, called Toots in Memphis I think. I never owned it, just listened to it once while staying at Jessica's in Boston. Liked it, though.)
The summer I was 20, I was living in New York City. I was working for almost no money as an editorial intern at a now-defunct glossy political magazine. I did not have a good fake ID -- in fact, I wish I still had the bad ID that I did have, because I'd frame it and hang it over my desk to remind myself of boondoggle ventures of my past. This -- as well as living in the heart of Midtown, across the street from MOMA, not exactly a thriving young-person's paradise -- cut down on my enjoyment of the City that summer.
But Josh was living in New York that summer, too, and one night we went to Tramps to see Toots and the Maytals. The show was supposed to start at 9 p.m. It wasn't until 11 when the opening act went on stage, and they proceeded to break up right there on stage. No kidding. Tantrums and everything. Toots was also delayed -- airplane, maybe.
Long story short, Toots does not go on stage until 1:30, by which time even the guy who was walking around whispering "Smoke smoke, crippy crippy" to the young'uns was getting tired. Toots' opening number was "Pressure Drop." Which was kind of him. Josh and I listened to the song, realized we were dead tired, and went home. I have had many better concert experiences.
posted by Anon. 7:45 AM
Mickey has been driving across country, and I'm jealous. I haven't had a lengthy road trip -- meaning, 500 miles or more -- since 1996. He writes that he's been enjoying the Palmermix 2000 Year in Review CD that I gave him...
I took the second CD you gave me on my road trip -- it hadn't turned me on before, but now of course I've discovered that it's FANTASTICALLY GOOD. Especially, and unexpectedly, "Daddy I'm Fine." (and belle and s. and dylan) But they're all excellent. Except for that Coldplay song. I did like the U2 one, though, even if it's a hit. Thanks. This CD and one other got me across 600 miles of West Texas brush country.
"Daddy I'm Fine" would be the rocking, anthemic Sinead O'Connor song from her Faith and Courage album of 2000. The Dylan song was "Things Have Changed"; the U2 song was "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of," and I put it on my year-in-review CD months and months before it was released as the third single from All That You Can't Leave Behind. No, I really did.
If Mickey Kaus could come around and embrace Palmermix 2000, could his turning around to oppose welfare reform be that far behind?
I'm starting to collect and decide which songs released in 2002 will be on this year's Palmermix YIR CDs that I give out to friends. After a 2001 where there were few albums I loved -- resulting in my only making one YIR disc -- this year has yielded a great harvest. Looking forward to putting that together in the weeks ahead.
posted by Anon. 12:34 PM
Coming down on you, coming down on me
The trailer for the new Spike Jonze-Charlie Kaufman extravaganza Adaptation makes the movie look great -- smart, funny, and weird, but not Lynch weird. The film is about Charlie and his brother -- both played by Nicolas Cage -- having a hard time adapting Susan Orleans' novel the Orchid Thief. But the best thing about the preview might be its use of "Under Pressure," a song which kinda returns every five or six years or so. I'm not a Queen fan. I'm not a Bowie fan. Yet I've always loved this song, especially its explosive bridge that just builds and builds, with Mercury singing, "Why can't we give love that one more chance."
And of course, the bassline, such a monument that not even Vanilla Ice could corrupt it.
posted by Anon. 9:52 AM
Ich Bin Ein Jerk
On the same flight, I also viewed (and reviewed) the footage of Michael Jackson dangling what turns out to be his youngest child from a fourth story hotel window. Here's the latest CNN update.
It's even worse when you watch the footage -- Jackson holding the kid with only one arm and holding the kid a foot away from the balcony rail, the baby's legs shaking. This only confirms two things that we have had confirmed already fifty times: Jackson isn't just strange, he's a bad person with no sense of reality. And these children are props to him. I don't know if there are social workers in Berlin, but when he comes back to the United States, the entire Social Services Department of Santa Barbara should be ready to take the kids away from him. Leaving him to play with chimpanzees and Elephant Man skeletons.
(On a lighter note, if you can find it, the Robert Smigel TV Funhouse Michael Jackson bit is well worth tracking down.)
posted by Anon. 8:10 AM
The hardest part
Got to JFK much earlier than I planned, and was able to squeeze onto an earlier Jet Blue flight. I took advantage of the individual Direct TV service, and watched some Classic VH1. Which I guess is a new Vh1 stream that only has videos from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. (Since music videos only became mass produced in the 80s, I think that means there's a lot of footage from Ed Sullivan, Top of the Pops, etc (Though probably not Bandstand, 'cause Dick Clark is holding all that for American Dreams)) They were airing a two for Tuesday thing -- two classic videos by particular artists. You know the drill.
First, finding out that there actually was a second Til' Tuesday video from the breakthrough album. After watching "Voices Carry" and realizing a) it's a great song and b) Aimee Mann looks about twelve in the video, I then watched "Looking Over My Shoulder." The premise of the video was wacky: Aimee's three other Til Tuesday bandmates show her the "Voices Carry" video, and then tell her, "Well, that's great -- for YOU." And shun her because the "Voices Carry" video so focused on her. And then she falls into some dream sequence where she runs around in a strange dress, while interacting with her three other bandmates. She's definitely the center of this video, too, but at least the other folks got some airtime.
If this video sounds a little familiar to you, it might be because No Doubt completely ripped off the whole "band dissension due to female lead singer getting most of the hype and press" concept for their "Don't Speak" video.
Later on, they aired Tom Petty's "Refugee" video, which I've seen many a time, and then aired his video of "The Waiting," which I haven't seen -- and perhaps could not see -- enough of.
"The Waiting" ain't just one of my favorite Tom Petty songs -- it might be one of my favorite songs by anyone, period. What's funny is that I don't even own Hard Promises, the album that it originally appeared on (and I own pretty much every Petty from the first album through She's the One), or any of the Greatest Hits anthologies. I do have a version of it on the not-sure-if-it's-still-in-print Pack Up the Plantation Live!, a very, very good live record that features covers of the Searchers' "Needles and Pins" and another one of my all-time favorite songs, John Sebastian's "Stories We Could Tell" (most famously recorded by my beloved Everly Brothers). (Update: it's still in print.)
"The Waiting" has surpisingly understanding lyrics -- not exactly a Petty trademark -- with a great melody and wall-to-wall Rickenbacker chimey guitar sound. In fact, one reason I love the video so much (besides the very end when Benmont Tench and Ron Blair just trade positions behind the bass and organ -- ah, the early eighties and the lampooning of lip-synching) is that Petty plays a Rickenbacker 6 string that is ... exactly like mine. Blonde, kinda wood colored. Mike Campbell plays a more traditional sunburst colored Rick in the song.
All reasons for me to love the song and even love the video. But with this song, it's really all about the chorus.
"The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith
You take it to the heart
the waiting is the hardest part."
The lyrics talk about never feeling as good as he does right now. But then what exactly is he waiting for? To meet someone with whom to fall in love? Or has there been a split, and he's waiting for reconciliation? Or are they just taking time off? (And, while we're at it, what's the card?)
I'm not sure; but like many of the best songs, I think its vagueness allows us to get what we need to get out of it no matter where we're at. It provides different joys and different meanings to us depending on our state. Musical Rohrshach.
posted by Anon. 8:04 AM
I couldn't have asked for a better day yesterday. I had an impromptu lunch with my college roommate, Dorian, at a small diner in the East Sixties. He showed me baby pictures of his 10 month old son. I ate a chicken cheese steak. We talked about God. Everything was great, except when I asked for mayonaisse at the diner, they brought out a bunch of the little tear-them-yourself packets. (There's a story I once heard involving mayonaisse packets, a train ride, and New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, but it's not for the faint of heart.)
Then I took the subway down to the far west, west Village, and met up with Thomas, my architect friend. In his small, winding apartment, he showed me his latest purchase: a 1965 Silvertone electric guitar. He hadn't really known how to play guitar before. (He, like me, was all set to play at the age of 13, but his parents, like mine, interceded.) But in the midst of his living inexpensively in New York, he completed a gallery assignment that gave him, suddenly, some extra cash flow. Thomas, much like I would have done, decided that a good expenditure for that money was an electric guitar. So he could learn how to play. And be happy.
I fiddled with the guitar -- managed to eek out a nice version of "Quinn the Eskimo" on the hollow-body Japanese instrument -- and showed him a few websites -- Whole Note, AltCountryTab -- that I've written up here before where he could find chords and tablature. We then walked out of his apartment building, and after a brisk stroll up the Hudson River Park -- past the new Richard Meier condominium towers at Perry and the river -- a brief walk up one of the few open piers (taking in the Magritte clouds hanging over unlikely Jersey and the patch of sky at the south end of Manhattan where once the towers stood) we came back to have coffee at a small West Village coffeehouse. There we were the only ones not plugging away on laptops. They were playing old David Bowie records, which normally don't do much for me, but there, warming up inside among people hard at work, tappity tap tap, it fit.
Then I met up with Lock for dinner at Blue Hill. If you're in New York, and can afford a meal of $140 for two, including a bottle of wine and dessert and appetizers (which is actually quite a bargain in NYC), Jesus, man, go. The design was great -- simple without being coldly minimalist, with brick and wood a plenty in a space that once was a basement speakeasy. The food and service were even better. For music, they were playing the Norah Jones disc -- a record which B gave me and which, I've come to realize, is better enjoyed in the company of someone than alone with your headphones or car -- and then put on some old Sinatra.
We stumbled our way over to Tom and Jerry's, where this time the jukebox was at least lit up -- but was still not working. They were playing the Stones' 40 Licks. I would have preferred more audacious choices coming from that wonderful jukebox. Lock reports that there's a bar called Magician that has a jukebox that can go head to head with Tom and Jerry's. I'll believe it when I see it. Then again, even if it's an inferior jukebox, if it's working and being used it could beat T&Js abandoned juke the two times I sailed in this weekend. Also ran into Jake, a nice guy and a musician (drummer for the Minneapolis band Semisonic) that I had met the other night at a book party for the Alternatives to Marriage Project, an organization founded by my college pal Marshall.
I still love the fact that you can run into people in New York several times over the course of a few days, even people you just met. Saturday morning, four hours after I had arrived in New York, I boarded the subway at Spring Street, and looked over and there was a screenwriter I once had a date with. Small world. We smiled, touted our recent career developments in a self-aggrandizing way that's acceptable when running into a set-up that didn't quite click, and then disappeared onto opposite sides of the same subway car.
I'm heading back to Los Angeles today, rejuvenated, rested, and restored after an unpleasant series of weeks and ready to get back into work. It's a good time for projects, and I have a few on my list. Finding a new apartment and moving (I'm thinking finally leaving Melrose Fairfax after 4 years and moving to Venice or Ocean Park.) Knocking off about 20 pounds. (Ambitious, yes, given the holiday season, but man thrives on goals!) Writing the other four fifths of a novel. And having a great time at work.
posted by Anon. 7:11 AM
Try to see it my way
Rainy, rainy weather in New York. After dinner at Annisa -- a favorite restaurant in the West Village where we opted for the five course tasters menu -- we headed over to my beloved Tom and Jerrys, at 288 Elizabeth Street. This is the bar that has, for my money, the best jukebox of this side of the galaxy. But -- what is this! -- the jukebox wasn't working last night. Or wasn't on, at any rate.
Instead, they played the Beatles singles anthology, followed up by Sticky Fingers. I couldn't help but sing along to "We Can Work It Out" -- a favorite -- and then the always wonderful "Get Back" and "The Ballad of John and Yoko." "Eating chocolate cake in a bag," oh yes.
As we walked out to get cabs to go home, "Wild Horses" was playing. The rain was coming down hard, but all the autumn leaves on the sidewalks distracted me from the cold.
posted by Anon. 8:12 PM
Have been getting a much needed escape in the great city of New York, and having a wonderful time. Today, I managed to catch 8 Mile over at the Union Square Cafe cinemas. The minuses are that the story is predictable (if you saw Purple Rain, or, hell, any early Elvis movies...) and that there are some stretches where nothing much happens -- kinda strange to have a hip-hop character study. The plusses are that it's beautiful to look at (well, beautiful cinematography -- the movie makes you never, ever wanna go to Detroit), they surrounded Eminem with some other compelling performers, Eminem himself does some nice work, and it's fairly smart. What's strange about it for me is that there doesn't seem to be enough rapping in the film. This might be the by-product of non hip-hop fan Curtis Hanson directing the film; on the other hand, the movie does not smack of the exploitation of most hip-hop films in the past. It's worth seeing, and after L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys, and this, Curtis Hanson is making it into my special Ang Lee/Peter Weir eschelon of directors whose movies I'll go see no matter what. 'Cause even when they fail, they fail in interesting ways.
posted by Anon. 8:09 PM