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Sleep when I'm dead

Jon Pareles has a terrific piece in Sunday's NY Times Magazine on Warren Zevon, in a race against time to write and record songs before he succumbs to cancer.

posted by Anon. 9:45 PM


In the city

5:55 p.m. on a Friday night. Burbank. My uber-boss has already gone home, because he has to pack to fly off to DC tomorrow where our show is shooting for a few days.

Productive afternoon, which means more light blogging. I just spent a couple hours researching the Gullah communities off the coast of South Carolina, and also re-igniting my memories of the Stono Rebellion from old American history classes.

Well, I spent about twenty minutes on that. The rest was spent looking over some rental ads for apartments in Venice, listening to the Jam's Snap!, and exchanging phone calls with my peeps.

I don't really have any peeps.

In truth, the peeps have me.

I was supposed to post a special ten questions with a Web Celebrity tonight, but he hasn't emailed back his responses. So that will have to wait. C'mon, Mickey.

Should be a light weekend for blogging, as I'm heading up to a friend's condo in Malibu tomorrow during the day to read and catch up on some writing -- a first draft I have due in about two and a half weeks.

Sunday morning, I'll go to the 10 AM mass at St Agatha's for the first time in a couple weeks, and then head over to a friend's Super Bowl party.

More soon. Right now, I'm just listening to Paul Weller's loose, jangly guitar.

Oh, this: listened a bunch yesterday to the Tift Merritt record, Bramble Rose. I was lent an advance copy of it last summer, and didn't really listen to it. Listened to it more this week, and it's good -- her voice is very reminiscient of Emmylou Harris, and the songs themselves are varied in their moods and tempos. If you like any alt-country women, you'll probably like this quite a bit. It might be hard to find in stores, so use the above Amazon link and keep me from going homeless.

Tift's kinda what Shelby Lynne woulda been like if she'd ever lived up to any of her ample hype.

posted by Anon. 6:09 PM
My office

is a mess. Perhaps predictable. I am, after all, me. To my right, on some ugly book shelves but within arm's reach, are abou twenty CDs. But on my desk itself, lots of CDs outside of their cases.

I listened to the David Johansen Live record that David lent me. (Sadly, it's no longer in print.) There's something to be said about how David Johansen and Peter Wolf spent much of the 70s covering classic rock and roll oldies before there really was such a thing as rock and roll oldies. Then again, so did Mr. Springsteen, playing such numbers as "Quarter to Three" at a time when Gary "U.S." Bonds was stuck playing garden parties.

I'm now listening to Phish's Farmhouse. A strange band, Phish. The large, homogenous, and semi-self-congratulatory scene built around the band has always prevented me from appreciating the music. I've never found their recorded output interesting enough to bring me to buying a ticket to one of their famed concerts. But there are two exceptions: one, the album Billy Breathes, produced by Steve Lillywhite (U2, Pogues, Dave Matthews Band) a mostly acoustic affair that only at the end of the record falls into the goofy fantasy lyrics that have always prevented me from getting into the band. The other is this record, which isn't consistent, but in the title track and "Heavy Things" and a few other songs takes pleasant melodies and inoffensive lyrics and -- makes them into songs. I don't listen to music for jams. I listen to music for songs. And on these records, Phish found them.

posted by Anon. 1:48 PM


The new Lucinda

I'm happy to report that the new Lucinda Williams record is quite, quite good. I found her last album, Essence, disappointing -- she had never sang better, but the songs themselves were dull, with lyrics that felt half-hearted.

The lyrics on World Without Tears aren't up to the snuff of Car Wheels on a Gravel Road or her self-titled record, her best albums. (I like Sweet Old World, too, as well as her first album of originals, Happy Woman Blues, but feel that they're a bit more inconsistent.) And her singing is much hoarser, rougher than on Essence. But World Without Tears is easily her best album musically -- in the melodies and also in the performance by the players.

There are a few bad blues songs -- every Lucinda record has 'em, from "Can't Let Go" and "Joy" on Car Wheels to "Get Right With God" off Essence -- but otherwise, it's an album of soft ballads and melodic rockers. "Bleeding Fingers" tears the roof off, and "Those Three Days" might be one of the best songs she's ever recorded. As usual, Lucinda ain't having much luck with love, as on "Over Time" -- a record that takes the advice anyone who's gone through a break-up has gotten and turns it on its head.

Overall, a pleasure. I'm looking forward to listening to it more in the week ahead.

posted by Anon. 10:00 PM

About to listen today to Lucinda Williams' 2003 release, World Without Tears, which ain't being released until April 8, according to Lu's site.

posted by Anon. 9:58 AM


Later today

I'll try linking all the albums mentioned in the Year in Review post to my Amazon partner site, so you can easily find 'em there. Except, that is, for Rufus King.

posted by Anon. 11:03 AM
Jam Master Jay

Watching the Golden Globes on Sunday night with my officemates, I caught the Diet Dr. Pepper ad that features Jam Master Jay. At the end of the ad, there's a "In Memoriam: Jam Master Jay" tag. I'm used to seeing those things at the end of TV episodes after a member of the cast died -- like Coach on Cheers -- or even at the end of a music video where the director or a band member passed away shortly thereafter.

But very, very strange to see "In Memoriam" at the end of an advertisement.

posted by Anon. 9:27 AM
Too good to pass up

Lock already posted on this, but it's too wonderful to ignore here, especially since it's music-related content: Moby photoshop fun. And, an added bonus: Moby's own response to the shenanigans.

While staying with Lock in NYC, I walked past Teany, Moby's vegetarian teahouse, several times.

Twice I caught glimpses of the Mobster himself. Once, he was sitting with someone on the fence outside the patio area, wearing a green parka. The second time was about 8:30 P.M. on New Years Eve: Teany was closed, and Moby was in Teany... talking to an attractive woman.

Man, I hope Moby got some action on New Years Eve. (For the record: I didn't. Also, my contacts were killing me by 3:30, so I went home.)

Go, Moby!

posted by Anon. 9:14 AM

One of my co-workers wrote about music before he started writing for TV this year. David still gets advance copies of records, and some of my favorite albums of last year -- the Peter Wolf, the David Baerwald -- came through him. Yesterday, he lent me the new Jayhawks record, which isn't coming out until April Fool's Day. I only gave it a single spin, but I did like it.

That's a band that I've always felt I'm meant to enjoy more than I actually do. Part of it is that I've never felt that Gary Louris (and Marc Olson when he was with the band) has the songwriting chops of Tweedy or Tweedy-Farrar (the obvious comparison, as Uncle Tupelo very much "arrived" at the same time, maybe even a little later, than the Jayhawks, and the two were the first generation "No Depression" bands). Also, sometimes the high-pitched harmonies of the Jayhawks can be a little bit twee.

That said, Tomorrow the Green Grass was a beautiful sounding album, one of those records which made you realize exactly why CDs are better than tapes or records. Beautifully recorded, and some of the songs -- "I'd Run Away," "Ten Little Kids," "Miss Williams' Guitar" -- were true gems. I didn't like the follow-up -- Sound of Lies -- but I did like a few of the songs on 2000's Smile, particularly the irresistable sing-alongs of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" -- the optimist's answer to Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me," I guess -- and "Queen of the World."

I'll listen to it some more today. Meanwhile, David has received also a copy of the new Lucinda Williams. I'd like to get my hands on that. He liked Essence, her last one, more than I did. My worry on the new Lucinda is that she seems to do better the more time she has for the songs to percolate -- Car Wheels and her self-titled, I think, are superior records to Essence and Sweet Old World, and I think the time in prepping them helped.

posted by Anon. 8:17 AM


Experiment, part two

Last week, I talked about using my blog as a means of contacting friends with whom I fell out of touch. I haven't heard yet from Chris Otto, but the update is that things are now in place: my post is now the fifth entry on Google for a search on "Chris Otto."

I woke up this morning swearing I heard a harmonica outside my apartment building. Then I thought it might have been an accordian. I'm hoping for the harmonica. I love accordians, but I don't want to be living in the same building as an accordian player. Does that violate civil rights in housing laws?

posted by Anon. 8:56 AM