October 31, 2007

It Begins Tomorrow

The 77 Santas holiday season kicks off tomorrow. We’re going to be at it everyday until Christmas. Dare we say better than last year? Well, it just might be. Check back in then.

But before we kick it off, I had one last post I wanted to make. Over the weekend, I had the chance to see The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. If you’ve never heard of this movie, you’re not alone. Warner Bros. has gone out of their way to not market this film, even though it stars Brad Pitt, one of the biggest movie stars in the world. What little promotion they have done makes the film look like a shoot-em-up western. This film is anything but. The film is akin to Terrance Malick’s beautiful mood pieces like The New World and Days of Heaven—it is slow and contemplative, full of meandering plot. Yes, something mainstream audiences won’t like. But those are the types of films I love and Jesse James will become a forgotten masterpiece. Roger Deakins is without a doubt the finest cinematographer working in film today. His compositions and lighting are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in a movie. The myths and legends of the Old West are obliterated in the film—though the sweeping shots of the prairie and wide open sky are beautiful, this is really a character film and a reflection of American society from over a century ago. There is deep loneliness in the characters—they are haunted by their past and by what they had once aspired to become. And they are obsessed with fame and how they will be remembered. If you are in the mood for essentially a tone poem on film, check this movie out. It’s definitely not for everyone’s tastes, but it earned a solid A from me.

One of the standouts of the film was the gorgeous score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Cave already dabbled in westerns, writing last year’s The Proposition, and is a perfect choice for this very literary film. Cave’s songs read like brilliant and dark short stories. His delicate and brooding score should at least get him nominated for an Oscar. The score comes out November 13, but here’s a preview of three tracks.

Rather Lovely Thing – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

Song for Jesse – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

Song for Bob – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

Buy on Amazon

October 29, 2007

The Thin Man from West Plains

Sorrow on the Rocks

Committed to Parkview

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- Porter Wagoner was known for a string of country hits in the '60s, perennial appearances at the Grand Ole Opry in his trademark rhinestone suits, and for launching the career of Dolly Parton.
Like many older performers, his star had faded in recent years. But his death from lung cancer Sunday, at 80, came only after a remarkable late-career revival that won him a new generation of fans.
The Missouri-born Wagoner signed with RCA Records in 1955 and joined the Opry in 1957, "the greatest place in the world to have a career in country music," he said in 1997. His showmanship, suits and pompadoured hair made him famous.
He had his own syndicated TV show, "The Porter Wagoner Show," for 21 years, beginning in 1960. It was one of the first syndicated shows to come out of Nashville and set a pattern for many others.
"Some shows are mechanical, but ours was not polished and slick," he said in 1982.
Among his hits, many of which he wrote or co-wrote, were "Carroll County Accident," "A Satisfied Mind," "Company's Comin'," "Skid Row Joe," "Misery Loves Company" and "Green Green Grass of Home."
The songs often told stories of tragedy or despair. In "Carroll County Accident," a married man having an affair is killed in a car crash; "Skid Row Joe" deals with a once-famous singer who's lost everything.
In 2002, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In May, after years without a recording contract, he signed with ANTI- records, an eclectic Los Angeles label best known for alt-rock acts like Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Neko Case.
Wagoner's final album, "Wagonmaster," was released in June and earned him some of the best reviews of his career. Over the summer, he was the opening act for the influential rock duo White Stripes at a sold-out show at New York's Madison Square Garden.
"The young people I met backstage, some of them were 20 years old. They wanted to get my autograph and tell me they really liked me," Porter said with tears in his eyes the day after the New York show. "If only they knew how that made me feel -- like a new breath of fresh air."
To many music fans, Wagoner was best known as the man who boosted Parton's career. He had hired the 21-year-old singer as his duet partner in 1967, when she was just beginning to gain notice through songs such as "Dumb Blonde."
They were the Country Music Association's duo of the year in 1970 and 1971, recording hit duets including "The Last Thing on My Mind."
Parton's solo country records, such as her autobiographical "Coat of Many Colors," also began climbing the charts in the early 1970s. She wrote the pop standard "I Will Always Love You" in 1973 after Wagoner suggested she shift from story songs to focus on love songs.
The two quit singing duets in 1974 and she went on to wide stardom with pop hits and movies such as "9 to 5," whose theme song was also a hit for her.
Wagoner sued her for $3 million in assets, but they settled out of court in 1980. He said later they were always friendly, "but it's a fact that when you're involved with attorneys and companies that have them on retainer, it makes a different story."
At a charity roast for Wagoner in 1995, she explained the breakup this way: "We split over creative differences. I was creative, and Porter was different."
He said in a 1982 Associated Press interview that his show "was a training ground for her; she learned a great deal and I exposed her to very important people and the country music fans."
She was present at the ceremony in May 2007 honoring Wagoner on his silver anniversary with the Opry. At the time, he called Parton "one of my best friends today." She also visited him in the hospital as he battled cancer.
Wagoner, who had survived an abdominal aneurysm in 2006, was hospitalized again this month and his publicist disclosed he had lung cancer. He died at 8:25 p.m. CDT Sunday in a Nashville hospice, said Darlene Bieber, a spokeswoman for the Opry.
Country singer and Opry member Dierks Bentley visited Wagoner in the hospice over the weekend and said Wagoner led them in prayer, thanking God for his friends, his family and the Grand Ole Opry.
"The loss of Porter is a great loss for the Grand Ole Opry and for country music, and personally it is a great loss of a friend I was really just getting to know," Bentley said. "I feel blessed for the time I had with him."
Pete Fisher, vice president and general manager of the Opry, said the Opry family of musicians and performers was deeply saddened by the news. "His passion for the Opry and all of country music was truly immeasurable," Fisher said.
Wagoner was born in West Plains, Mo., and became known as "The Thin Man From West Plains" because of his lanky frame. He recalled that he spent hours as a child pretending to be an Opry performer, using a tree stump as a stage.
He started in radio, then became a regular on the "Ozark Jubilee," one of the first televised national country music shows. On the Opry since 1957, he joined Roy Acuff and other onetime idols.
At one point his wardrobe included more than 60 handmade rhinestone suits.
"Rhinestone suits are just beautiful under the lights," he said. "They've become a big part of my career. I get more compliments on my outfits than any other entertainer -- except for Liberace."
While he continued with the Opry, and even had a small part in the 1982 movie "Honky Tonk Man" starring Clint Eastwood, his recording career dried up in the 1980s -- until his return this year.
"I stopped making records because I didn't like the way they were wanting me to record," he said. "When RCA dropped me from the label, I didn't really care about making records for another label because I didn't have any say in what they would release and how they would make the records and so forth."

October 27, 2007

October 26, 2007

Break Me Off A Piece of That Football Cream!

32 hours away. So, number 2 Boston College survived last night. That means number 1 Ohio State has to fall, at least in terms of keeping up with the tradition of this season. I’m going to put on a little costume tomorrow night and wish I had a digital camera so I could show everyone—though there’s no Halloween party, I have to wear this during the game.

Dancing On Our Graves – The Cave Singers
More like dancing on Ohio State’s grave! Snap!

PC, your boys ready for a trip to Linebacker U?

Tomorrow, we will continue an old tradition at Beaver Stadium. To win.

There is no name on our jerseys.

We are...

October 23, 2007

Forecast: White Out Conditions

For the next five days, this blog will be about one thing: Penn State vs. Ohio State.

I am a Penn State fan. PC is an Ohio State fan. For three and a half hours Saturday, we will hate each other. But until then, we will be relentless in our verbal tirades and taunts. If you come here for the great songs we usually post—allow us this indulgence. The Christmas extravaganza will start November 1. We’ll return to our sane, thoughtful selves then.

Right now, our minds are focused one thing: Beaver Stadium, 8 pm, Saturday. OSU is perched atop the number one spot. Penn State is crawling up from the bottom of the rankings. But these teams always play each other hard. It’s Big Ten and college football at its very best.

Of course Ohio State will walk away the losers—if I’m not mistaken, I believe the state’s motto is “Ohio Is for Losers.” And I’ve heard that recently, ever since the 2005 ass-kicking delivered by Penn State, Ohio State’s buckeyes have gotten a little smaller, if you know what I mean.

Nothing But A Heartache – The Detroit Cobras
That’s what OSU are going to have.

I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News) – Eagles of Death Metal
Yes, I do want it hard. And PC, we’re going to be bad news for your crew.

I’m Not Like Everybody Else – Chocolate Watchband
Nope, Penn State isn’t like one of the imposter teams OSU has rolled over this year.

October 18, 2007

24 Country Songs

If you’re too snobby for another installment of our country showcase, then just keep on moving. Though I compiled these songs, much credit goes to PC for making me dig out some great music by Dwight Yoakam and Hank Williams III. Rather than blather on, I’ll let you check out the songs.

The Late Great Golden State – Dwight Yoakam
The first track off Population: Me, this track features background vocals that sound like something from a 1960s country album—nothing in country music is doing any kind of throwback like this.

Things Change – Dwight Yoakam
Off A Long Way Home—Yoakam is one of the most underrated writers of love songs in the past twenty-five years. The man knows how to pen a great country ballad.

Population: Me – Dwight Yoakam
I love the shuffling drumbeat and the sparse acoustic guitar. Once again, nothing on modern country radio sounds like this—and you can year the influence of Buck Owens on Yoakam’s voice. Wait for the tuba and banjo to play. Together.

Nothing – Dwight Yoakam
Gone featured Yoakam during his creative peak—this music couldn’t be classified as any genre. That’s why Yoakam will remain a cult figure—you can’t pin him down, and that’s refreshing.

A Long Way Home – Dwight Yoakam
This is an acoustic version of dwightyoakamacoustic.net, an album whose title I’ve never figured out. This version showcases the man’s trademark voice. One of his rawest and very best albums.

The Back of Your Hand – Dwight Yoakam
Another mournful, yet hopeful, ballad. The title of the song says it all.

A Thousand Miles from Nowhere – Dwight Yoakam
One of my favorites from the man, off 1993’s This Time, my personal favorite by him. I was twelve or thirteen when I heard this and… well, if I would ever finish my little country music essay, you could read all about this and many other songs from the time.

Suspicious Minds – Dwight Yoakam
An incendiary cover of The King from the forgettable Nicholas Cage movie Honeymoon in Vegas. The electric guitar just tears it up.

Ain’t That Lonely Yet – Dwight Yoakam
Another beautiful country pop song—pretty much a perfect number.

Fast As You – Dwight Yoakam
A killer guitar riff, rock organ, and a great beat—rock radio wishes it could find something like this. Is there still rock radio?

The Blue Collar Rock – The Tractors
In 1994, I loved The Tractors. Their first single, “Baby Likes to Rock It,” was a swinging, shuffling number that scored heavy rotation on CMT. This country downer features a chorus that would make Merle smile. And my favorite line of the day: “My life is certified solid rock hard.”

I’ve Had Enough – The Tractors
Always loved this song—just the perfect rural lament about life and love. You’ll hear more of The Tractors in a few weeks—I’m one of a handful of people who probably own Have Yourselves A Tractors Christmas.

Semi-Crazy – Junior Brown (with Red Simpson)
Red Simpson was perhaps the greatest singer of trucker songs. Junior Brown—with his deep baritone sounding like a roaring eighteen wheeler—tears up the slide guitar and waxes poetic about a “slap-happy, gear-jamming, coffee-drinking truck driving fool.”

White Lightening – George Jones
Might, mighty pleasin’, Pappy’s corn squeezin’s.

4th of July – Shooter Jennings
Waylon’s song released one of the best country albums this decade with Put the O Back in Country. Think about that title if you don’t get it.

Manifesto No. 1 – Shooter Jennings
Sex, Jesus, and rock music. That’s a combination.

Satan Is Real – The Louvin Brothers
Since we had Jesus, we need some Satan to balance it out. Maybe the best album cover ever?

Medley: Satan Is Real/Straight to Hell – Hank Williams III
Straight to Hell is Hank III singing about drinkin’, screwin’, and druggin’. What did you expect a Williams to sing about?

Country Heroes – Hank Williams III
A tribute to the legends who’ve inspired Hank III. The first time I heard this song was about 10 at night in my car alone. It gave me the chills, but the electric guitar alone was enough to coax me to buy this record.

D. Ray White – Hank Williams III
D. Ray White was widely thought to be the best mountain dancer in America before his murder in 1985. He’s still a legend in Boone County, West Virginia and beyond. His son, Jesco White, is the Dancing Outlaw. If you’ve never seen this documentary, track it down. Jesco is an American original.

Pills I Took – Hank Williams III
This song is pretty much about exactly what the title says.

Crazed Country Rebel – Hank Williams III
Overdose of drugs, overdose of sin, I’m gonna live it to the fullest like I’m on in ten.

Lifetime to Prove – BR5-49
Junior Samples used to call BR5-49 on Hee Haw—yeah, I liked Hee Haw. Sue me. And it’s a great name for this country band. They mix cowboy punk, swing, and raw country for a sound that’s amazing.

One Long Saturday Night – BR5-49
I wish every Saturday night sounded like this.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Some sad news today—Teresa Brewer has died. Below is her obituary from The Associated Press, followed by a song.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Singer Teresa Brewer, an Ohio native who topped the charts in the 1950s with such hits as "Till I Waltz Again with You" and performed with jazz legends Count Basie and Duke Ellington, died Wednesday. She was 76.

Brewer died at her home in New Rochelle of a neuromuscular disease, family spokesman Bill Munroe said. Her four daughters were at her bedside.

Brewer had scores of hits in the 1950s and a burgeoning film career but pared down her public life to raise her children. She re-emerged a decade later to perform with jazz greats Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis.

"She was just a wonderful, lovely lady," said Munroe, a longtime family friend. "Her career was always a hobby with her; her family always came first. She always considered her legacy not to be the gold records and the TV appearances, but her loving family."

Brewer had close to 40 songs that topped the charts, Munroe said, including "Dancin' with Someone," "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall," "Ricochet" and "Let Me Go Lover."
Throughout her decades-long career, Brewer performed on TV with Mel Torme, sang with Tony Bennett and guest-hosted several variety shows, including "The Ed Sullivan Show," according to her Web site.

She was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1931, and her mother took her to her first audition at age 2 -- for a radio show called "Uncle August's Kiddie Show." Brewer sang "Take Me Out to The Ball Game" and performed for pay consisting of cupcakes and cookies from the show's sponsor.

Brewer continued appearing on radio shows off and on until high school, when she quit and moved to New York. There, she started performing in a string of talent shows, which eventually led to a recording career.

By 1952 she had her first hit, the single "Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now," on Coral Records, and her first child.

In 1953, "Till I Waltz Again With You" sold more than 1.4 million copies. That year she also won a poll conducted by Paramount Pictures to select the country's most popular female singer to cast in the studio's 3-D Technicolor movie, "Those Redheads from Seattle."

She landed one of the title roles, and reviews were rave. Paramount offered her a seven-year contract, but she declined, choosing instead to stay in New Rochelle.

Brewer continued to record and make TV appearances, but she had four girls by then and spent most of her time raising them, Munroe said. Her popularity waned until the 1970s, when she became reacquainted with jazz producer Bob Thiele and began recording jazz standards with jazz greats. The two eventually married after she and her first husband divorced.

Funeral arrangements weren't complete, Munroe said. Brewer's survivors include her four daughters, four grandsons and five great-grandchildren. Thiele died in 1996.


Brewer sang my favorite version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” For the longest time, I couldn’t pin down the exact date of this song. But today I found Teresa Brewer Center. The site offers a pretty comprehensive look at her career. And I found out when the 45 was released—1953. This was a year after Jimmy Boyd’s original single. So, Brewer was 22 when she recorded this song and her voice sounds wonderful. Though it’s a few days our scheduled Christmas laungh, I’m going to post the song anyway.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause – Teresa Brewer

I’ll be back later today with some more songs.

October 11, 2007

TRG #2

Ok, Here's another sampling of this week's train ride tunes.

The 1900s: When I Say Go

Off their newly released debut album. It's great. Go buy it!

Bruce Springsteen: Girls in Their Summer Clothes

Ok, so I went to the record store this weekend. This off of "Magic." Thanks, JV, for haggling me until I bought it. It's awesome.

Such grace.

This is the only album I know or own by them. It's kind of irresistable. Not many of the songs are over two minutes, but they all pack a wallop.

This from the album that brought about the change in name and sound for the ever solid and prolific Jason Molina. Wonder how many ghosts I've ridden with on the train.

This might be my favorite Hip Hop song of all time. So much fucked up American history packed into five wickedly beat and horn driven minutes.

From the great album of the same name. Pairs well with canned, cold beer. My favorite brand of beer by the way.

What? You don't own "Fear of Music"???

What? You don't own everything they ever made?

Nothing like ending with two classics.

That's it. I just got this Phil Spector Box Set. Look for some of these tracks soon. 4 discs, one of which is the Christmas Album. It also comes with a bonus button for your collar and mine came with a handgun too. Strange.

My friend Crow also posed the desert island 5 album challenge on me. I'm thinking it over. It is not easy. When I've decided, I will post.

Til Then Kiddies,

A Quick One

The annual Christmas inventory is coming along nicely. I’m discovering that I have more holiday songs that I ever imagined. But of course, that is good news for you lovers of Christmas tunes. We’re kicking it off November 1 this year. Be here. Be ready to download. Be ready for Santa. 77 of them in fact.

Until then, I’m still compiling my tracks, taking a little respite before the main action starts—much Santa in this picture.

But, here’s a quick, non-holiday related post.

Hold On Tight – Electric Light Orchestra
I couldn’t get it out of my head after seeing the commercial.

Whispers (Gettin’ Louder) – Jackie Wilson
Sad story: he suffered a massive heart attack while performing in New Jersey, collapsing head-first onto the stage. He was comatose for the next eight years until he died. What a voice.

Everybody Knows – O.V. Wright
Southern soul at its best.

My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors – Moxy Fruvous
Name-checks about every author you could imagine, including just-announced Nobel Price winner Doris Lessing. Yeah, I’m a nerd.

Slug Line – John Hiatt
Commercialism and main-stream music labels ripped apart. “First we sterilize it/ Then we merchandise it.”

October 02, 2007

Train Ride Gleanings

If I had the energy, I would post a few of the tunes I listen to on my iPod each day while commuting on the CTA. Since I don't, take this post and deal. Quick shout out to my brother, who bought me said iPod. The thing has changed my life. I used to lug around a portable cd player, and could only listen to one album all day. While JV plans to pack it up til November, I will try to stay as current as I usually do until the season of jingle bell music descends. Then I'll kick it into high gear, especially when Christmas break comes. It can't come soon enough. Here ya go:

Don't turn right, that's Boredom Avenue.

Didn't 311 cover this? Why did 311 cover this? Why is 311?

Such a great song. For Nicole. As is this next one:

Deep Purple: Hush

I was listening to "Welcome to the Jungle" last week and recalled the first time I heard this song, and the entire Appetite album. I was in 5th or 6th grade and I dubbed it (remember that! High Speed Dubbing!) off my brother so that my parents wouldn't know. I was listening to it through headphones and once that opening riff, followed by the whispered "Oh My God," followed by that primal as primal gets scream made their way through my ears my life immediately accelerated. I'll never forget it. What a fucking kick ass album of rock and roll music. Axl may be a bit difficult (could I have put that any more lightly?) but still, these guys did it. I'm not upset that they no longer put out albums because what they put out squashes so much. So, after all of this Appetite talk, I'll give you a few from their also awesome Lies album.

"She bitched so much, she drove me nuts, and now we're happier this way."

You're Crazy

"You know you are. Bring it down. You're fucking crazy!"

All my life I've always wondered if Axl was singing his true feelings or singing in character .... I have no idea. What a bizarre fucking song. Still, I sing along with it in my head, which makes me feel weirder than usual. Weirder than usual. Right.

I'll end it with the Boss, who has a new album out today. JV is buying it tonight and he will post some of it in the next couple days or I'll send dead thrushes to him through US Mail.

10th Avenue Freeze Out

I fucking love this song. Tasteful horns, that driving piano line. It reminds me of my buddy Crow back in Cleveland. This is one we'd put on the jukebox and sing along to, a couple of nice cold ones at our side.

Go Fuck Yourself San Diego,

Country Music Stars Challenge Al-Qaeda with Patriotic New Song ‘Bomb New York’

As previously mentioned, we’re going to start our Christmas bash on November 1. Between then and now, our posts might be a bit sporadic since we’re combing through our reservoir of holiday goodness, writing new content, and preparing our tracks. Making our lists, checking it twice. We’ll do our best, but no guarantees.

And now for something completely different.

I first started visiting The Onion in high school, probably after first reading about it in Entertainment Weekly. It was exactly what I needed at that point in my life. Every Tuesday the talented staff updated the site with a new week’s worth of content. I even drew inspiration from the satirical site, creating my own parody of a high school newspaper (though my high school didn’t have anything artsy like that) on my home computer. I printed out copies and handed them out at school. It mocked the students, teachers, and social mores until the principal kindly took me aside and told me to never, ever do such a thing again. Principals have no sense of humor.

Over the years, The Onion has still proven itself relevant and brilliant. Their first day back after 9/11 remains their greatest hour, in my opinion. Often times their articles are dead-on funny yet also overwhelmingly sad—and that’s what good satire is all about. Their article about Rudolph Giuliani, “Giuliani To Run For President Of 9/11,” becomes more and more prophetic as his campaign drags on.

Today, The Onion has one of my favorite stories in quite a while as part of their video section, The Onion News Network. At first, I thought the videos were a bit obvious, going places where The Daily Show had been for some time. But, as the writers adapted, they have put some great content on the videos that wouldn’t have been capable as a print-only story.

Such is the case with “Country Music Stars Challenge Al-Qaeda with Patriotic New Song ‘Bomb New York’.”

This is a pitch-perfect parody of country singers such as Aaron Tippin, Toby Keith, and Darryl Worley, artists who made their “patriotic” anthems such as “Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagles Fly,” “Angry American (Courtesy the Red, White, and Blue,” and “Have You Forgotten.” These songs profited from 9/11 while trudging out jingoistic, xenophobic, and sappy lyrics. And, modern country music fans devoured this aggressive language. Of course they probably also endorsed a president who told our enemies to “Bring it on.”

This video and song speak for themselves. And, if you’re one of the people who hasn’t read The Onion, do yourself the favor.

Country Music Stars Challenge Al-Qaeda With Patriotic New Song "Bomb New York"

Go Ahead (Bomb New York) – Tayna Bertram, Wayne McMurtry, and Friends (The Onion)