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Sporadic Reviews: Old No. 1 – Guy Clark

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Does this ever happen to you? You’ve owned a piece of music1 in your library for a while, and you like it, but your relationship to the songs is tenuous, ephemeral, noncommittal. And then for whatever reason, you rediscover that particular artifact, and it grips you, forces you to play it over and over, compels you to swirl the songs in your ears. Is it that certain music takes a few plays before it sinks in? Is it a factor of your changing brain? The music is the same, but your response to it has altered, deepened.

Last week, a song came on my iTunes shuffle while I was photostrolling, a song from Guy Clark’s Old No. 1 LP. I had added this album to my library July 15th, 2008, the same day I added Nigeria 70 Lagos Jump, Ry Cooder’s I, Flathead, Alejandro Escovedo’s Real Animal, and had played Old No. 1 a few times since then, but I couldn’t say it was a particular favorite of mine. I had played it five or six times, and particular songs shuffled a few more times than that, but nothing more.

However, last week, that particular song smacked me2 and would not relinquish its hold on my imagination. So I was compelled to listen to it a few times, and then enticed to listen to the entire album multiple times. Great tunes through and through. My favorites are L.A. Freeway, She’s Ain’t Going Nowhere, A Nickel for the FiddlerDesparados Waiting on the Train, Like a Coat From the Cold. Maybe others too. The shaggy-dog story on Texas, 1947, about putting a nickel on the train tracks as a six year-old boy has some great lines, as does That Old Time Feeling. What I’m saying is there are no skippable songs on Guy Clark’s debut album, Old No. 1

Maybe I’m about to start my mid-life crisis, though only if I concede to not living past the age of 120, maybe it is because so many of my formative years were spent in Austin, or maybe because I’m such a fan of Townes Van Zandt, but for whatever reason, I am adding this album to that best albums of 2014 post that I will probably never get around to writing…

Guy Clark Old No 1

Guy Clark pushes a fading, black and white photograph across the table. In it, a man leans against a 1939 Packard, foot propped up on the bumper in the dusty streets of Monahans, Texas. “Jack Prigg” reads the inscription on the back. He’s smiling and sharply dressed in a black suit, a gleam of success in his grin. The image is striking for its sheer contrast to the portrait of Prigg immortalized in Clark’s “Desper­ados Waiting for a Train,” the old, busted oil-driller crying at the kitchen table to broken memories and songs. “Well, that must have been a Sunday,” laughs Clark, looking at the photo as he carefully takes a toke from the last vestiges of a joint and lets loose a rattling cough.

The workshop in the basement of Clark’s west Nashville home collects such memories. His father’s Randall knife sits on the workbench alongside his tools for making guitars. Behind him, shelves of cassettes with handwritten labels display a country songwriters hall of fame. A black and white photo of Townes Van Zandt, his haunted eyes somehow tracking around the room, stares down from the wall. Clark pinches a clump of tobacco and begins rolling a cigarette. The 71-year-old songwriter’s eyes sharpen as he takes in the room, his lips pursed together between the faint stains of yellow on his white mustache and goatee.

“Shit, I’d go back to Texas in a second if I could break even,” he says. “But the music business is here, and if I could just pay back what they’ve given me, or advanced me, I would love to live in Texas. At this point, though, I don’t know. I’m too fucking old to move back, pack all this shit up.”

Clark’s lack of sentimentality is deceiving. What the songwriter submerges in person surfaces in the deeply personal poetry of his songs, from “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” to the elegy for his father in “The Randall Knife,” and the title track of his new album, “My Favorite Picture of You,” an ode to his wife Susanna, who passed away last year after an extended decline from cancer.

Guy and Susanna’s marriage stands as one of the great relationships in music. As strongly devoted as it was tumultuous, their union and the art it produced became the locus for a new community of songwriters that emerged in the Seventies, a wave of scrappy expatriate Texans overtaking Nashville that included Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and most notably, Van Zandt, whose lifelong friendships with both Clarks remain inextricable from the couple’s relationship.

Those days feel impossibly far away in the quiet of Clark’s house as he draws slowly on his cigarette.

“If you want good friends, they’re gonna cost you,” he notes as he exhales a thin line of smoke.

(click here to continue reading We Were From Texas: Guy Clark and the high price of inspiration – Music – The Austin Chronicle.)

from Thom Jurek’s review at Allmusic, where I learned that Steve Earle played on this album…3

If only every country songwriter could release a debut album as auspicious and fine as this one. Houston’s Guy Clark, well known to the outlaw movement for his poetic, stripped-to-the-truth songs about ramblers, history, the aged and infirm, the drunken, the lost, and the simple dignity of working people who confront the darkness and joy of life quietly, issued Old #1 when his compadres had already been making waves with his songs. Jerry Jeff Walker had already cut “L.A. Freeway” and other tunes by Clark, as had Gary Stewart, Billy Joe Shaver, and others. But the definitive versions come from Clark himself. On this disc with help from Emmylou Harris, fellow Houstoners (a young) Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell, guitar wizards Chip and Reggie Young, Mickey Raphael on harp, pianist David Briggs, fiddle boss Johnny Gimble, and the angel-voiced Sammi Smith, Clark executed a song cycle that is as intimate and immediate as it is quietly devastating with its vision of brokenness and melancholy, loose wild times, and unforgettable characters.…Old #1 was unequaled in 1975 for the depth of its vision and the largeness of its artistic and empathetic heart; only Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run came close to it in terms of aesthetic merit.

(click here to continue reading Old No. 1 – Guy Clark | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic.)

I’d listen to this album a million times more than having to plod through Born to Run again.

  1. album, usually, but sometimes a particular song, or artist []
  2. Desperados Waiting for A Train []
  3. Steve’s first known professional recording was with Guy Clark on Guy’s 1975 album Old No. 1. Steve sang back-up vocals (along with Rodney Crowell, Sammy Smith, and Emmylou Harris ["The first time I met Emmylou, she came in to sing on Guy Clark's first album. She gave me half of her cheeseburger. I wasn't the same for weeks."]) on the song Desperados Waiting For A Train. Steve toured with Guy from early ’75 until late ’76. Steve also may have appeared in Robert Altman’s 1975 film, Nashville (he was part of a large crowd scene in Centennial Park, but it’s not clear whether he actually shows up in the film via []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 24th, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Music,Suggestions

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2013 Year End Reviews – Miles Davis Quintet – Live in Europe 1969

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Miles Davis Quintet – Live in Europe 1969

Rating: A-

Warning; not for fans of smooth jazz. If your taste runs more towards the Kenny G. side of the fence, you’ll hate this Jazz Rock Fusion; full of squawks, skronks, flats, sharps, and beautiful dissonance by Miles Davis and company, from a tour that occurred right before the recording of Bitches Brew. Not that there aren’t quiet moments here too, only that there are many crescendos of intensity which cannot be ignored. In certain states of mind, I love this album’s complexity and energy.

Window Jazz Band - Ilford HP5
Window Jazz Band – Ilford HP5

More details via:

LIVE IN EUROPE 1969 lives up to the Miles Davis Bootleg Series mission of presenting live performances that are previously unreleased, have previously only been bootlegged, or are very rare. This new set is the first collection of Miles’s Third Great Quintet, the “Lost” Band of 1968-1970 with Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette at their peak (they were never recorded in the studio). The album captures the short-lived quintet in three separate concert settings, starting with two full-length (one hour-plus) sets at the Antibes Jazz Festival in France, in Stockholm as part of “The Newport Jazz Festival In Europe,” and completed with a stunning 46-minute performance at the Berlin Philharmonie, filmed in color.

and from the liner notes:

“After we finished In a Silent Way,” Miles told his biographer Quincy Troupe (in the definitive Miles The Autobiography, Simon & Schuster, 1990), “I took the band out on the road; Wayne, Dave, Chick, and Jack DeJohnette were now my working band. Man, I wish this band had been recorded live because it was really a bad motherfucker. I think Chick Corea and a few other people recorded some of our performances live, but Columbia missed out on the whole fucking thing.”

LIVE IN EUROPE 1969 lives up to the Miles Davis Bootleg Series mission of presenting live performances that are previously unreleased, have previously only been bootlegged, or are very rare. The new box represents the first major collection to be devoted exclusively to the short-lived ‘third great quintet,’ sometimes referred to as Miles’ ‘lost band’ of 1969-70: Shorter on soprano and tenor saxophones, Corea on electric piano (and occasionally acoustic piano), Holland on acoustic bass, and DeJohnette on drums.

The Miles-Shorter-Corea-Holland-DeJohnette lineup (in tandem with other players) began to solidify during the 1968-‘69 recording dates that became the Filles De Kilimanjaro and In a Silent Way albums. And they were at the core of the dozen or so musicians joined together by Miles in August 1969, for the principal sessions that became the landmark turning point of his Grammy Award®-winning Bitches Brew.

(click here to continue reading ‘Miles Davis Quintet – Live In Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2′ Coming January 29th! | Miles Davis.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 20th, 2013 at 2:26 pm

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2013 Year End Reviews – Mick Ronson – Play Don’t Worry

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Mick Ronson – Play Don’t Worry

Rating: B


Mick Ronson, guitarist and arranger extraordinaire, was famously screwed out songwriting credits by David Bowie, rocked out on Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour (Hard Rain), recorded with Mott the Hoople and/or Ian Hunter, arranged John Mellencamp’s hit Jack & Diane, played in Morrisey’s band, etc., before dying of pancreatic cancer in 1993.

Mick Ronson and Hard Rain

So how is this, Mick Ronson’s second album? Not quite as tasty as his first solo album, Slaughter on 10th Avenue, but still well worth hearing, especially if you like melodic hard rock with moments of wah-wah guitar. There is a pretty rocking cover of White Light / White Heat that was an outtake to David Bowie’s Pinups album.

  1. maybe a B+ []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 20th, 2013 at 11:50 am

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2013 Year End Reviews – Joseph Kabasele – Le Grand Kallé: His Life His Music

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Joseph Kabasele – La Grand Kallé: His Life His Music

Rating – A

I’ll admit to knowing next to nothing about Congolese master, Joseph Kabasele, prior to purchasing this 2 CD set1, but I’m so happy I picked this diamond up. CD 1 is comprised of songs recorded from 1951-1962; CD 2 tracks were recorded from 1964-1970. If you are familiar with Brazilian samba, Haitian kompa, Dominican merengue, or Cuban rumba /  mambo you are familiar with Congolese music. New Orleans? Funk? Jazz? Likewise. Infectious, joyous, polyrhythmic bliss.

I’m not sure if King Léopold II of Belgium2 has a direct effect on the life of Joseph Kabasele, though it is plausible. An essay for another time perhaps, including discussion of Zaire, Mobutu, and colonialism.

From the Amazon listing:

In the turbulent and euphoric times that surrounded Congo’s independence in 1960, Kallé and his rumba band, Orchestre African Jazz (which included such luminaries as Manu Dibango, Dr. Nico and Tabu Ley Rochereau) was the most influential in Africa. Their sound has rung around the world ever since.

Le Grand Kallé is the latest in Stern’s Africa’s acclaimed series of boxed sets devoted to the greatest Congolese stars. (Previous titles include Francophonic, The Voice of Lightness and Bel Canto.) Graced by recordings that have been out of print for decades as well as Kabasele’s most famous and enduring works, this double album features a keenly researched and illustrated 104-page book that reveals the man, his music and its context as never before.

(click here to continue reading Amazon.com: Le Grand Kallé: His Life His Music (2-CD + Book): Music.)

The Guardian U.K. is where I heard of this album:

If Franco was the finest musician in the Congo, and indeed Africa, then his rival Joseph Kabasele was the most influential band leader. Known as Le Grand Kallé, he was a singer, songwriter and businessman whose band African Jazz were the best-known exponents of Congolese rumba, and included such celebrities as guitarist Dr Nico, singer Tabu Ley Rochereau and saxophonist Manu Dibango. They all feature on this 38-track set that includes intriguing sleeve notes detailing Kallé’s sometimes controversial life, friendship with Lumumba and uneasy dealings with Mobutu. It starts with a charming track from 1951, previously available only on a shellac 78, and ends with his final recordings with Dibango in 1970, including the funky Africa Boogaloo. And it of course includes Indépendance Cha Cha, the delightful soundtrack to Congo’s bloody and chaotic independence in 1960, and the glorious dance song Tika Ndeko Na Yo Te. An African classic.

(click here to continue reading Joseph Kabasele: Le Grand Kallé, His Life, His Music – review | Music | The Guardian.)

  1. with a 102 page booklet – 46 in English! []
  2. Heart of Darkness, and inspiration of Apocalypse Now []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 17th, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Posted in Music

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2013 Year End Music Reviews – Johnny Marr – The Messenger

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Johnny Marr – The Messenger

Rating: C

I wanted to like this, because, come on, it’s new music by Johnny Marr! Instead, screechy guitars, mixed too loudly. Maybe if there were better vocals, or interesting lyrics, or less bombastic production? But there isn’t, and this is fairly generic Brit-Pop, disposable, forgettable. 

Steve Hyden on the legend aspect…

Declaring a man to be a “god-like genius” several months shy of his 5oth birthday implies he has no more worlds left to conquer. It’s been like this for Johnny Marr since before his 25th birthday, when he co-wrote a couple dozen perfect pop songs with Morrissey and then departed for a series of celebrity rocker odd jobs in other people’s bands (including Modest Mouse, the Pretenders, Talking Heads, and Pet Shop Boys). To say Marr ran up the score on his legacy with the Smiths, and has been treading water ever since, would be reductive. But Marr has been playing with house money for as long as many of today’s indie-poppers chasing “Hand in Glove” and “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” have been alive. Johnny Marr is an institution now.

(click here to continue reading Johnny Marr: The Messenger | Album Reviews | Pitchfork.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 17th, 2013 at 12:31 am

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2013 Year End Music Reviews – David Bowie- The Next Day

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David Bowie – The Next Day

Rating: B+

Anytime an artist of David Bowie’s stature releases a new album, there is discussion of it. Endless discussion. All the rock snobs want to trip over their tongues praising the new release whether or not the new work even deserves it.

Unfortunately, for me, The Next Day doesn’t come up to the standards of David Bowie’s string of near-perfect albums, and thus suffers in comparison. It’s pretty good, though when I want to hear a Bowie album, I still queue up Low, or Heroes, or Station to Station, or Ziggy Stardust, or you get the idea. That said, if you are familiar with those other, better albums, The Next Day is quite listenable. There are no obvious duds here. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years, it will have burrowed deeper in my brain. Sometimes music takes a while to get embedded.

Rob Sheffield:

The Next Day has a strong connection to the late-1970s period when Bowie and producer Tony Visconti made their Berlin trilogy of Low, Heroes and Lodger. It also has the low-register guitar attack of Scary Monsters. The songs are in the reflective mode of his excellent (if crazily underrated) midlife LPs: Earthling and Hours in the late 1990s, Heathen and Reality in the early 2000s. The sharp-edged guitars suit the tunes – wry, soulful, adult, resistant to maudlin hysterics or overwrought sentiment.

“The Next Day” sets the tone right from the opening moments, rocking out as Bowie snarls, “Here I am, not quite died/My body left to rot in a hollow tree.” Even though he sings, “I can’t get enough of that doomsday song,” Bowie has never sounded further from doomsday. Instead, he ranges from a furious anti-war rant (“I’d Rather Be High”) to compassion for doomed youth (“Love Is Lost”) to marital love (“Dancing Out in Space”). The album ends with the spaced-out electronic drone of “Heat,” as he repeats the words “I tell myself/I don’t know who I am.”

Though he sings most of The Next Day in his staccato rock voice, Bowie holds back his torch-song theatrics for two big ballads, the goth doo-wop of “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” and the majestic New Romantic love song “Where Are We Now?”

(click here to continue reading The Next Day | Album Reviews | Rolling Stone.)

Cole Morton recounts how producer Tony Visconti wandered around Manhattan listening to the rough mixes on his headphones:

Still, Tony Visconti thought his friend had given up writing songs, so was “totally surprised” to receive an email from Bowie in November 2010, while he was producing the Kaiser Chiefs’ album in London. “He said, ‘When you get back, do you fancy doing some demos with me?’ This was the first time since Reality [in 2003] that it was even suggested that we do anything in any studio, so I was quite taken aback. There was no preamble, no warning. It was really weird.”

A few days later, Visconti found himself in “a small, grimy room” at 6/8 Studios in Manhattan, close to Bowie’s home. “Sterling Campbell was on drums, I was on bass, David was on keyboards, Gerry Leonard was on guitar. By the end of five days we had demoed up a dozen songs. Just structures. No lyrics, no melodies and all working titles. This is how everything begins with him. Then he took them home and we didn’t hear another thing from him for four months.” Why was that? “He wanted to listen and be certain he was on the right track.” They returned at last to a more upmarket studio called the Magic Shop, also within walking distance of the Bowie home. Now the drummer Zachary Alford and bassist Gail Ann Dorsey were involved. The guitarist Earl Slick joined in later.

“We only recorded for two-week periods and then we would take months off again while David analysed it all,” says Visconti. “I was walking around New York with my headphones on, looking at all the people with Bowie T-shirts on – they are ubiquitous here – thinking, ‘Boy, if you only knew what I’m listening to at the moment.’ ” Everyone involved in the project had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
“For the older members of his tribe, we didn’t really need to do that.”

(click here to continue reading David Bowie is healthy and may even sing in public again, says Tony Visconti – Telegraph.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 16th, 2013 at 10:24 am

Posted in Music

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2013 Year End Music Reviews – The Seeds – Future

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The Seeds – Future

rating C+

The Seeds, L.A. garage rockers from the 1960s, included on the Nuggets series, with the great song, “Pushing Too Hard“, and the even better song, “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine“. Both of those are worth seeking out…

but this album does not do much for me. More than a couple of songs sound nearly identical to each other, or to “Pushing Too Hard“. I think they just ran out of ideas by this, their third album. If you want to get a Seeds album, their self-titled is better. Much better.

or as Mark Deming puts it:

The Seeds had long hair, a gloriously lamentable fashion sense, an attitude that was at once petulant and lackadaisical, and music that sounded aimless, horny, agitated, and stoned all at once. Is it any wonder America’s delinquent youth loved them? The Seeds’ aural signature was as distinctive as any band of their era, and they got a bit fancier with their formula as they went along, but they never captured their essential seediness with more impressive concision than they did on their self-titled debut album from 1966.…there are few albums of the era that mirror the delicious arrogance of a beer-sodden teenage misfit with the effortless simplicity of the Seeds, and it’s justly celebrated as a classic of first-wave garage punk.

(click here to continue reading The Seeds – The Seeds | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 16th, 2013 at 2:18 am

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2013 Music Reviews

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Tickets Available
Tickets Available

As the year starts coming to a close, I’m going to attempt to write about some albums I encountered this year. I do like to read those End of Year lists that people write, but I find the categorization game difficult, so I’ll not play that way. The only rule I’m giving myself is that I added the song to my library in 2013. There is no way I’ll be able to write about everything, especially because earlier this year I inherited a large stash of CDs at a cut-rate price: music that I probably would not have purchased myself, but the price could not be beat. I now have a larger than expected library of “Album Rock” issued in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and even the early 90s. Artists like Graham Nash, George Harrison, J. Geils Band, Jay-Z, Joan Baez, The Proclaimers, Joe Walsh, The Scorpions, and so on. Not horrible, but not something I would have probably sought out on my own. The best discovery1  has been Jerry Jeff Walker.

And as I’ve done since a teenager, I usually add a couple albums to my collection every week, on average, through more normal channels.

Thus, I have made a playlist of all the new-to-me music I’ve been listening to this year, and as I get around to it, I’ll try to write at least a few lines about as many albums as time allows. Or not. 

  1. so far – I’m still wading through boxes []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 16th, 2013 at 2:04 am

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Lou Reed Record Sales Spike After Death

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Proving that old adage that sometimes death is good for one’s career…

Lou Reed famously didn’t sell many records during his five decades in the music business, but after he died Sunday at age 71, sales increased significantly. So did radio play of “Walk On the Wild Side,” “Sweet Jane,” “Perfect Day” and “Dirty Blvd.” Reed’s album catalog sold 3,000 copies on Sunday alone, compared to fewer than 1,000 the previous week, an increase of 607 percent, and his solo digital-song sales jumped from 2,000 to 17,000, a 590 percent bump, according to Nielsen SoundScan. His Spotify streams increased 3,000 percent in the first day after his death, radio spins went up 140 percent, and Transformer and Rock N’ Roll Animal hit Amazon’s Top 25.

(click here to continue reading Lou Reed Record Sales Spike After Death | Music News | Rolling Stone.)

I noticed on Monday that most of the Lou Reed albums were back-ordered at Amazon, with the exception of Lulu…

Lou Reed Sold Out 2013 10 27 at 10 13 21 PM
Lou Reed Sold Out 2013-10-27 at 10.13.21 PM.PNG

Lou Reed Sold Out 2013 10 27 at 10 13 40 PM
Lou Reed Sold Out 2013-10-27 at 10.13.40 PM.PNG

and this is good news for crotchety rock snobs like myself, even though White Light White Heat is my 3rd favorite Velvet Underground record, ahead of Loaded, and behind the other two…

Reed’s best-selling posthumous titles, according to SoundScan, were Transformer, the Velvet Underground & Nico and tracks “Walk On the Wild Side” and “Sweet Jane.” But it’s unlikely that demand will lead to a wave of new box sets.

A 45th-anniversary edition of the Velvet Underground’s classic White Light White Heat, which Reed helped compile, will come out December 3rd as scheduled, according to a Universal Music spokesperson.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 30th, 2013 at 12:07 pm

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Linda Ronstadt Is Not A Republican

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Linda Ronstadt is one of those artists whose name is familiar, but I don’t have a deep understanding of their oeuvre. I own, and like, her California country-rock album Heart Like a Wheel, but I cannot say much about the rest of her output, other than Phillip K. Dick always raved about Ronstadt’s voice. That said, she sounds like an interesting cat, I’ll have to dig a bit deeper into her music.

Ms. Ronstadt was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and acknowledged her singing career was over because of it. Stephen Deusner of Salon asked her a few questions…

SD: The descriptions of your childhood in Tucson are very poignant, but also very melancholy in the way the desert has changed culturally, geographically and especially politically. 

When you’re desert born, you love the desert. It’s a harsh environment. People ask me why I don’t go where there are trees and streams and mountains. But when there are too many trees around me, I can’t see and I think somebody is going to sneak up on me. It makes me nervous. And I love the desert. I love those big, wide, sweeping vistas. During the time I was gone, developers came in and scraped it all away with bulldozers. They put up the ugliest tract houses you’ve ever seen, which aren’t built to last. They’ll be tomorrow’s slums because people won’t be able to live in those houses very long. They’re starting another Dust Bowl era by scraping away the topsoil. People don’t realize how serious that is. The Dust Bowl was the biggest natural cataclysm of the 20th century, and it’s starting again and no one’s taking an interest in it. They just continue to scrape off the topsoil and turn the desert into a wasteland.

Is there anything that can be done?

They have to stop scraping up topsoil. We lose in topsoil the equivalent of the size of Texas every single year. Without topsoil you can’t even grow any food. But people are making money and they’re greedy. There’s no regulation because the Republicans who control those areas don’t want any regulation on anything. They want developers to be allowed to operate in a completely unbridled manner and make as much money as they can — even if that means taking it from other people. That’s wrong. If we’re going to have capitalism, we have to carefully regulate it.

That sounds very similar to the fracking controversy in Appalachia, where they continue to use this technique despite its horrible consequences.

They’re going to do fracking in the Central Valley in California, and there won’t be any regulation. The pollution will get into the water and destroy the farmland. It’s a terrible thing to do, but people are only thinking in the short term and the Republicans are full of climate change deniers and science deniers. They don’t want to deal with inconvenient facts.

Early in “Simple Dreams,” you write very briefly about the immigration controversy in Arizona, comparing the border to the Berlin Wall. 

What’s going on on the border is a disgrace. It’s just pure racism. They put the fence up as an affront to a country of incredibly rich cultural tradition. They didn’t put one up on the northern border. There’s no fence between the United States and Canada. So it’s just based on skin color. It’s racism.

Your diagnosis with Parkinson’s was so recent it didn’t even make it into the book. You’ve said that it has taken your voice. How else has it affected your day-to-day life? 

I’m now experiencing life as a disabled person. It’s quite a shock. The hardest thing is that I just can’t get things done without depending on other people to help me. It’s hard to ask, and I feel like I’m always imposing. But I really am limited. Falling and choking are big danger for people with Parkinson’s. I’ve already had a couple of spills, and I don’t want to have any more. It’s not easy moving. You try to turn around, and you’ll fall down. So going through airports and just living in hotel rooms is difficult. When I came out on this press junket, I didn’t know how I was going to survive it, but it turns out I can do a little more than I thought I could. I won’t be doing it very much in the future. There is no cure. I don’t expect them to find a cure either, unless we get the Republicans the hell out of Congress so they stop holding up stem cell research. That’s what’s most promising in terms of finding a cure for diabetes, for Parkinson’s, for MS, for all kinds of things. It’s a shame to have to suffer from something that we don’t have to suffer from.That’s what’s most promising in terms of finding a cure for diabetes, for Parkinson’s, for MS, for all kinds of things. It’s a shame to have to suffer from something that we don’t have to suffer from.



(click here to continue reading Linda Ronstadt: “There are always predators around, and you have to keep an eye out for them” – Salon.com.)



and from Mary Jordan of the Washington Post:

A 67-year-old woman in a black hoodie stepped gingerly down from a golf cart at last weekend’s National Book Festival on the Mall. Battling Parkinson’s disease, she steadied herself with two walking sticks, and headed, one careful step at a time, toward the stage.

The applause started as a small ripple as the first few people in the audience spotted her. Then it grew into a full-throated ovation by more than 500 fans as she stepped up onto the stage, smiled shyly, and flashed the luminous chestnut eyes that made America fall in love with Linda Ronstadt.

“I guess I have friends here,” she said, to the roaring approval of a crowd that skewed a little gray, many still with a bit of a crush on the woman who sang such songs as “Blue Bayou” and “You’re No Good.”

As part of the festival program, I interviewed Ronstadt onstage about her new memoir, “Simple Dreams,” which focuses on her upbringing in a musical family in Tucson and the evolution of her career. One of America’s most popular recording artists of the 1970s and 1980s, she has been called the most versatile singer of her generation, a talent who could master rock and country and mariachi. Because of Parkinson’s, she’s no longer able to sing.

As we spoke before a crowd of fans, many of whom had lined up hours early, Ronstadt’s backstage shyness faded. Onstage, she seemed stronger, a force — and very funny.

“We weren’t all having orgies and smoking a big spliff,” she said, when I asked her to talk about the “sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll” lifestyle we all associate with rock stardom. Those stories are exaggerated, she said, and her nightlife was often cuddling up with her stuffed panda reading “Anna Karenina.” She admits that she did drugs, like so many others in her orbit then. But she said they weren’t really her thing: “My addiction was to reading.”

The jet-set days, a different city every night, were not always glamorous. Her luggage often didn’t arrive in time for the next gig, so she kept a favorite striped dress rolled up in her purse. She even wore it on “The Johnny Cash Show” and tossed it only because it was made of a “strange synthetic material that kept shrinking and shrinking” after so many washings in hotel sinks.

Millions of men in were in love with Ronstadt, but she never said “I do” to any of them. “I’ve had lots of nice boyfriends,” she said, describing herself as a devotee of “serial monogamy.” And, then to the delight of the crowd, she added, “with emphasis on the ‘serial.’ ” She was faithful to one boyfriend at a time, but never to one for all time.

“It just wasn’t a requirement for me. I’m not gifted that way. I have great respect for people who do make those kinds of compromises and really build each other up. The only reason to be with somebody is that they make you a better person and you make them a better person.”

Ronstadt famously dated California Gov. Jerry Brown in the late 1970s; they appeared together on the cover of Newsweek. In her memoir she said he was unlike many of the men she met through her music: “He was smart and funny, not interested in drinking or drugs, and lived his life carefully, with a great deal of discipline.”

Ronstadt said she is not political, per se, but she is a Democrat who gets fired up about the immigration debate, which hits close to home. Her father’s family has Mexican roots, and she told me she has many relatives in northern Mexico and Mexico City.

(click here to continue reading Linda Ronstadt, coping with Parkinson’s, reflecting on life in memoir, ‘Simple Dreams’ – The Washington Post.)

Written by Seth Anderson

October 7th, 2013 at 8:16 am

Posted in Music,politics,science

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Tim Maia – Nobody Can Live Forever

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Tim Maia

Picked up a fun, buoyant new-to-me album of Brazilian funk and R&B, called The Existential Funk of Tim Maia, put out on the great Luaka Bop label in 2012. As a side note, I wish all music labels made web pages for every album they release, complete with liner notes, photos and lyrics.

In the early 1970′s, Brazilian popular music was approaching a high water mark of creativity and popularity. Artists like Elis Regina, Chico Buarque and Milton Nascimento were delivering top-shelf Brazilian pop, while tropicalists Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes (see World Psychedelic Classics 1) were entertaining the college set with avant-garde fuzz-pop poetry.

Enter Tim Maia with a massive cannonball into the pool. It was the only dive Tim knew. Standing just 5’7 (6′ with the Afro) Tim Maia was large, in charge and completely out of control. He was the personification of rock star excess, having lived through five marriages and at least six children, multiple prison sentences, voluminous drug habits and a stint in an UFO obsessed religious cult. Tim is also remembered as a fat, arrogant, overindulgent, barely tolerated, yet beloved man-child who died too young at the age of 55.

Painted Trees Overlooking LSD
Painted Trees Overlooking LSD

From the liner notes of the Tim Maia compilation, we laughed at this:

In 1971, fresh from the big hit of his first album, Tim went to London and spoiled himself. He smoked, inhaled, drank, traveled on acid, listened to music, argued with his wife and returned to Brazil with 200 doses of LSD to distribute amongst his friends. As soon as he arrived, he went to (recording company) Philips’ offices, which he called “Flips,” where he visited various departments, beginning with those he considered most “square,” like the accounting and legal departments, where he acknowledged the boss and repeated the same introduction, in a calm and friendly voice: “This here is LSD, which will open your mind, improve your life, and make you a better and happier person. It’s very simple: there are no side effects. It is not addictive and only does good. You take it like this . . . ”

He would place the acid in his mouth, swallow it and leave another at the front desk. Since he was one of the best-selling artists for the company, everyone thought it humorous. In the production and journalism departments, the gifts were a success. Even Andre Midani, the president of the company, received his.

Tim returned home in his jeep, certain that he had saved “Flips’” soul.

(click here to continue reading Tim Maia – Nobody Can Live Forever.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 17th, 2013 at 8:53 am

Posted in Music

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David Bowie art exhibit coming to the MCA

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Hunky Dory
Hunky Dory

Cool, we’ll have to go to this…

David Bowie is the Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, as well-known for his five decades of music as for his slippery personas. David Bowie begat the shape-shifting of Madonna, who begat Lady Gaga. David Bowie, who earlier this year released his first album since 2003, is also likely not touring any time soon.

But “David Bowie is” … coming to Chicago.

“David Bowie is,” the blockbuster retrospective on the life and influence of the iconoclastic artist — which closes Sunday at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London — will open at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in September 2014. Right now, the MCA is the only U.S. stop for the exhibit, which travels to Toronto next month and has drawn more than 300,000 visitors to the V&A since it opened there in March.

The show, which features 300 objects culled from the artist’s personal 75,000-piece archive, will include set designs, video installations, music-video storyboards, handwritten lyrics, photos and, of course, decades of his wardrobes — including pieces from designer Alexander McQueen and Bowie’s legendary Ziggy Stardust tour. The show, which unfolds as a kind of biography, aims to place the singer in a larger context, reflecting on Bowie’s own avant garde influences while pointing toward Bowie’s prescient merging of sound and vision.

…Asked if the MCA would try to recruit Bowie — who has lived in New York City for many years, and become increasingly known for his reclusive, elusive, J.D. Salinger-esque existence — to attend the Chicago opening, Darling said: “Of course. Of course. We will do everything we can, but then, I don’t know …”  

(click here to continue reading David Bowie art exhibit coming to the MCA – Chicago Tribune.)

from the MCA website:

David Bowie is presents the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie—one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 300 objects, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades are brought together from the David Bowie Archive for the first time. The exhibition demonstrates how Bowie’s work has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design, theater, and contemporary culture and focuses on his creative processes, shifting style, and collaborative work with diverse designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, and film. The exhibition’s multimedia design introduces advanced sound technology, original animations, and video installations to create an immersive journey through the artistic life of one of the most iconic figures of our time, David Bowie. This exhibition was organized by the V&A Museum in London.

(click here to continue reading David Bowie is | Exhibitions | MCA Chicago.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 7th, 2013 at 7:51 am

Who killed the music industry

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 iTunes Cover Project #4
iTunes Cover Project #4

Interesting discussion of the digital music industry, including this breakdown of what the artist gets from three of the largest digital options, iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify. Selling a single on iTunes is much, much more lucrative to the artist than streaming. 

Here’s where we stand with iTunes, Pandora and Spotify royalties (because the numbers are dependent on individual contracts and licensing deals, these are estimations):

Per track, iTunes pays $0.105 in performance royalties (15 percent of what the record label keeps) and $0.09 in songwriter royalties, totalling $0.19 per download.

Pandora pays $0.0011 per play in performance royalties, of which approximately 45 percent goes to the artist, resulting in $0.000495 per play. The songwriter royalties are harder to estimate, but if we go by Lowery’s statement, it’s $42.25 for 1 million plays, or $0.000042 per play, resulting in a total of $0.000537 per play. A song would have to be streamed about 350 times to catch up to iTunes 19 cent per download rate.

Spotify’s negotiations are more opaque and variable so we’ll have to go with the best estimates we have. For paid listeners, the average is about $0.006 per stream. Let’s say half of that goes to the artist (that’s how Lowery says his contract works), which would amount to $0.003 per play. But only 6 million of its 24 million users pay for the service. For streams from non-paying users, the rate is estimated to be only one-tenth of that, or $0.0003 per play, which is actually worse than Pandora’s rate. That’d be over 600 plays to catch up to iTunes.

That’s why artists like Thom Yorke have removed their music from the platform. Yorke tweeted, “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will no[t] get paid. Meanwhile shareholders will shortly [be] rolling in it. Simples.”

(click here to continue reading Who killed the music industry? An interactive explainer | PandoDaily.)

Tickets Available
Tickets Available

The whole discussion is worth reading if you are curious what happened to the heyday of musicians being able to fly in private jets. Hint, it wasn’t Napster’s fault…

Since 2000, the amount of revenue created from selling or streaming music in America has been cut in half, from $14.3 billion to $7 billion, according to that most despised trade organization, the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA. And yet listeners have more access to music than ever, and there’s nothing to suggest that demand for music is down. 

So what or who is to blame?

Is it Apple’s fault for launching iTunes and forever severing songs from albums? Is it the record executives’ fault who, facing this shift from $17 albums to $0.99 singles, continued to rely on old, byzantine licensing and sales models, even as their industry hemorrhaged money before their eyes? Is Internet piracy to blame, with Napster forever changing the way we find and consume music, and BitTorrent bringing about the record industry’s worst nightmare? What about Internet radio stations? Are the rock-bottom royalty payments the result of corporate greed or government meddling? Do we blame Spotify and other music streaming services for striking opaque, unsustainable deals with record labels? And what about the unchecked proliferation of copyrighted material on YouTube and other platforms?

For this explainer, we looked to identify and unravel the complex network of industry stakeholders — the rightsholders, including performers, songwriters, record labels, publishers, and licensing agencies, all of whom play a part in the process of making music, and all of whom expect a cut of the proceeds. There are the digital music sellers like iTunes and Amazon, which have supplanted brick-and-mortar stores and play by a different set of rules. And finally, the webcasters and streaming services, which struggle to achieve profitability even though they only pay artists fractions of pennies per song per play.

Follow us on a trip through recent music history as we try and figure out how we got here, where we’re headed, and whether today’s industry slump is a disruptive dip or the new normal.


(click here to continue reading Who killed the music industry? An interactive explainer | PandoDaily.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 6th, 2013 at 7:50 am

Posted in Business,Music

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Black Sabbath and Louder Than Hell

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As a long time fan of Black Sabbath1, I’ll have to look for this book.

“Louder than Hell,” the massive (and massively entertaining) new oral history of heavy metal by Jon Wiedenhorn and Katherine Turman, reminds us where the musical portion of this cultural embrace of the demonic began: in the bombed-out ruins of the British Midlands. The founders of Black Sabbath, half of the musicians in Led Zeppelin, and the key members of Judas Priest were all raised in Birmingham and its suburbs, surrounded by the wreckage of Germany’s attacks on Britain’s manufacturing centers. It’s a bleak heritage, but the city should consider building a tourism trade around it, as Liverpool has with the Beatles. “BIRMINGHAM: CRADLE OF HEAVY METAL: COME SLEEP IN THE JAIL WHERE OZZY OSBOURNE DID TIME.”

As the Sabbath front man tells Wiedenhorn and Turman, the Summer of Love never reached England’s second city:

When I was a kid, I was hungry. I had my ass hanging out of my pants I hated the fucking world. When I heard the silly fucking words, “If you go to San Francisco, be sure to put a flower in your hair” I wanted to fucking strangle John Phillips [of the Mamas and the Papas]. I was sitting in the industrial town of Birmingham, England. My father was dying of asbestos from industrial pollution and I was an angry young punk.

It wasn’t just a mood. The industrial surroundings directly influenced the development of the heavy metal sound. Sabbath’s lead guitarist, Tony Iommi, who’d gone to school with Osbourne, lost the tips of two of his fingers in a workplace accident in (ironically enough) a metal-fabricating plant.

“I had to come up with a different way of playing because I couldn’t play the conventional way anymore,” Iommi says in “Louder than Hell.” He created his own fingertip prostheses from melted liquid-soap bottles, tuned down the strings of his guitar and combined them with banjo strings, which bent more easily. Not long after the accident, Iommi came up with a composition that tapped into a dread that was centuries old.

Discussing the opening song on Sabbath’s self-titled début, Wiedenhorn and Turman explain:

The three-chord riff in “Black Sabbath” has been credited as the first use of the tritone, or diabolus in musica, in heavy metal. In the Renaissance era, the tritone was feared by the Church because of its ominous sound. Later on, various classical composers—including Richard Wagner and Gustav Holst—would incorporate the tritone into their compositions.

(click here to continue reading Black Sabbath and ‘Louder Than Hell’ : The New Yorker.)

Black Sabbath’s new album, 13, is not bad. It isn’t as great as their classics, but it doesn’t suck either. As a lot of folks have noticed, the long-time Sabbath drummer, Bill Ward, sat out this album and tour, and his jazzy, swinging rhythms are sorely missed. Any drummer who modeled his sound after Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich is all right by me. Ozzy’s voice is even worse than you’d think, but the album is decent.

  1. And no longer in the closet about it because who gives a shit what someone listens to after a certain point []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 5th, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Music

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Reading Around on June 26th

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Life Stinks - I Like the Kinks

Life Stinks – I Like the Kinks

Some additional reading June 26th from 17:22 to 17:22:

  • Interviews > Moby: Wait For Me – I love a good old Clash record and I love listening to Pantera, I love listening to the Rolling Stones but the music that I adore the most is Nick Drake or Joy Division or Sigur Rós, quieter records and music that really aspire to be beautiful.I tend to think of it in terms of there’s social records and personal records. I love the Clash, it’s very social. If you had 20 people over on a Friday night and you’re all drinking beer put on a Clash record and it’s great. Lying in bed at 9 o’ clock on a rainy Sunday morning you want something that is more personal, and, as much as I love social records, it’s those personal records that I tend to really cherish. I listen to a lot of classical music, a lot of quiet electronic music, everything from Nick Drake to Leonard Cohen. I mentioned Sigur Rós, some Radiohead songs, songs where you really feel the artist, whether they are or whether they aren’t, but you feel as if the artist is making themselves vulnerable through their work.

Written by swanksalot

August 3rd, 2013 at 8:00 am

Posted in Links

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