The Cars were one of the first bands I ever knew. As a 7th grader, I owned a cassette tape of “Shake It Up”, one of about 5 albums I played on my boom box. Rick Ocasek died recently. What does that mean for my solipsism?
Rock stars die all the time, but The Cars lead singer passing away from cardio-vascular complications? Yikes.
Is this going to be a year/decade where the cultural icons of Gen-Xers die? Probably, if human life doesn’t change. I mean, who were the icons of our era?
The plan is just to let my station run for a while, as I’m playing music in my office pretty much all the time, whether or not I’m there, or sleeping or dancing on the grave of my enemies.
About the only annoying thing with using a free service is that twice an hour I have to play a two minute track that I had to change the artist and title to “Advert:”. From my understanding, the SHOUTcast server overlays advertising on top of these tracks, depending upon the country. If you are in a country where they don’t display ads, you hear the music, but in the US, you’ll hear some ad. I’m using “Funky Nassau (Part II)” by The Beginning Of The End on the LP “What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves (1967-1977)” and also Ry Cooder’s “Seneca Square Dance” from the soundtrack for The Long Riders.
Currently, I’m playing three tracks at a time from LPs that I’ve read about at the Pitchfork website. I made a big playlist of all their Best LPs of the decade, and added other albums that I first heard of on their site. Stuff like Cal Tjader, Superchunk, Sex Pistols, Bootsy Collins,Miles Davis, Camera Obscura, Dukes of Stratosphear, Bob Dylan, Fela Kuti, Big Star, Talking Heads, etc. etc.
Typical stuff for me, in other words. I frequently play entire albums in sequence too, if that’s your thing.
This sucky blog has been a bit moribund recently due to my lack of engagement with the outside world. No strike that, just a long, long winter and my body has made the leap1 from young to not-so-young, and with it, nagging health issues of various kinds that I won’t bore you with. Anyway, to jump start me writing here again, I’ve assigned myself topics based on the day, starting with Music Monday.
An Overstuffed CD Shelf.
I may be one of the last citizens of America who still purchases music CDs on a regular basis. Streaming music is well and good, I don’t participate. I’d rather indulge my nascent horder tendencies, and have my own copies of things, especially since “used” CDs sound identical to “new” CDs 99% of the time. I also have wider, more varied tastes than the streaming algorithms encourage. I’ve only dabbled with Spotify and the Apple Music channels, but an hour of music via Spotify seems artificially constricted to my ear. You can change your musical directions by seeding new stations, but every “next track” is via a linear progression from the preceding song.
When I am the DJ of my own radio station, which truth be told, runs 20 hours a day2 whether or not I’m in the room(s), I queue up 500 or 1,000 songs at a time. If you are listening to Radio Seth3, you should expect to hear deep cuts from Funkadelic followed by Alt-Country maesters The Jayhawks followed by Brahms concertos followed by outtakes from Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti followed by whatever. Or 50 songs about rain, or 24 hours worth of David Bowie or Prince or Merle Haggard. Or albums released in 1985. Or albums released last year. I liberally use randomizing AppleScripts from AppleScript guru Doug Adams to top up my playlists, I change direction on a whim, and of course alter playlists when I have an audience4
CD shelf in need of an alphabetization project…
There was a mythical era in commercial radio when DJs had the freedom to play what they wanted. By the time I was interested in music, this FM free-form radio era seemed to be on its last legs, so I don’t actually know if there were radio stations that played all sorts of music with only the taste of the DJ linking them together, or if that is another bullshit myth perpetuated by aging Baby Boomers. I don’t even care, in my mind, there was such a time, and I want to have my own radio station that plays all the hits as defined by my own idiosyncratic charts.
CDs in need of a re-org…
One last thing, the age of the CD box set has encouraged record labels and musicians to open their vaults, reissues and repackaging are attempts to cash-in, but also mean that much music is available that I’ve never heard before. I’m not one of those who claim “music today doesn’t have the same soul”, I seek out new music from current artists just as much as I seek out classic albums from garage rockers of the mid-1960s or obscure Nigerian funk musicians from the 1970s. I try not to have preconceptions over what I’ll explore, but of course, there is plenty of new and old music I am not interested in. As someone on Reddit said:
People think old music is better than new music because people have already stopped listening to the old music that sucks
Last night Sticky Fingers1 came up on my shuffler2. Within a millisecond of the opening riff of “Brown Sugar”, I instantly knew what I was listening too, and went into a reverie. Here’s an edited version…
I cannot quantify the number of times I’ve heard this album in my lifetime. When I was a child living in Toronto, or Frostpocket, whenever there were parties hosted by the Ragnarokr generation, Sticky Fingers was a frequently spun disc. When I was 8 or 9, Sticky Fingers was one of the albums I would play when I was alone in the house – I distinctly recall sitting on the Frostpocket front porch in a rocking chair listening, loudly, to Sticky Fingers played through the house speakers, reading some book or other, and not reading but just listening.
When our family moved to Austin when I was a teenager, I remember Sticky Fingers playing at dinner parties or other occasions for guests to mingle.
I started attending The University of Texas a few months after my 17th birthday, I also moved out of my parents’ house. My first financial aid check was blown on frivolities/necessities like a stereo for my car, and a receiver, speakers and record player for my apartment. Sticky Fingers was one of the first LPs that was played on that stereo system.
Chios – or Mutiny On The Aegean
For a few years while a student at UT, on Saturday’s, I would go have breakfast with Honoria, strike poses (fully clothed) and she would sketch line drawings while we listened to music and chatted. Sometimes I brought friends, but mostly, just me and a few records made the journey. Sticky Fingers was a frequent companion.
My friend Trey Buck3 would come over and we would spin records, drink wine, shoot the shit. Sticky Fingers was a frequent companion.
I made several dozen mix-tapes4 of music that played while I worked at Magnolia Cafe South, at least until the ASCAP people came by and harassed Kent Cole, the restaurant’s owner. Songs from Sticky Fingers were often in the mix.
I rebuilt my iTunes Library last in 2002, but since then, I’ve played songs from Sticky Fingers 122 times, using this particular library, or on an iPod/iPad/iPhone. This doesn’t take account of the many times the album or songs from it played in a car, either with a mix-CD, or someone else’s iPod on road trips.
Like everyone, my musical tastes have changed over time, but surprisingly, Sticky Fingers has not gotten tiresome to me, despite the constant playing over my entire life. There aren’t many albums I can say the same about.
Ok, so it’s my birthday more or less. No need to congratulate me for living this long without jumping off a building, or swallowing a pistol, I’m happy to still be here on our decaying planet, more or less. If you see me, buy me some wine or something.
I think I discovered what my epitaph should be:
ok, so I learned how to play “Smoke on the Water” on ukulele, I should probably go to sleep now
And for no particular reason, some people you might of heard of who share this birth date, allegedly. We are all so similar…
1770 – William Wordsworth, English poet
1772 – Charles Fourier, French philosopher
1860 – Will Keith Kellogg, American businessman, founded the Kellogg Company
1893 – Allen Dulles, American lawyer and diplomat, 5th Director of Central Intelligence
1897 – Walter Winchell, American journalist and broadcaster
1915 – Billie Holiday, American singer-songwriter and actress
1920 – Ravi Shankar, Indian-American sitar player and composer
1927 – Babatunde Olatunji, Nigerian-American drummer, educator, and activist
1928 – James Garner, American actor, singer, and producer
1931 – Daniel Ellsberg, American theorist and author
1933 – Wayne Rogers, American actor, producer, and screenwriter
1938 – Jerry Brown, American politician, 34th and 39th Governor of California
1938 – Spencer Dryden, American drummer (Jefferson Airplane, New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Dinosaurs, and The Peanut Butter Conspiracy)
1938 – Freddie Hubbard, American trumpet player and composer
1939 – Francis Ford Coppola, American director, producer, and screenwriter
1939 – David Frost, English journalist and game show host
1954 – Jackie Chan, Hong Kong actor, martial artist, director, producer, and screenwriter
1954 – Tony Dorsett, American football player
1964 – Russell Crowe, New Zealand-Australian actor, singer, director and producer
A slightly different way to play the random music on a Friday game, I started with a song I wanted to hear, and used the Create Genius Playlist on my iPhone to generate a list.
I’ve talked about my deep love for Guy Clark’s version of Desperados Waiting on A Train previously, instead of repeating that, I’ll just add that these songs do fit well together. Vocals and literate lyrics front and center, lots of stringed acoustic instruments, guitar, fiddle sometimes, lots of empty space. If I had been older instead of younger, I’d probably have seen all of these acts multiple times when I lived in Austin, as it is, I don’t remember ever seeing any of these acts live (maybe Joe Ely, but my memory is fuzzy). I really wish I had seen Townes Van Zandt at least once, his music can bring a tear to my eye.
Clark, Guy– Desperados Waiting For A Train Old No. 1
Steve Earle– Mercenary Song Train A Comin’
Townes Van Zandt– Pancho And Lefty Rear View Mirror
Jerry Jeff Walker– Pissin’ In The Wind 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best Of Jerry Jeff Walker
Slaid Cleaves– Broke Down Broke Down
Ray Wylie Hubbard– Conversation With The Devil 107.1 KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 7 (disc 2)
Ely, Joe– Me And Billy The Kid Live At Liberty Lunch
Earle, Steve– The Mountain Just an American Boy
Townes Van Zandt– Tecumseh Valley Live and Obscure
Jerry Jeff Walker– Desperados Waiting For The Train Viva Terlingua
Mary Gauthier– I Drink Bob Dylan – Theme Time 3 Drink
Marty convinced me I should use Vine occasionally, so I’ve made a couple rank amateur posts to the service. Amusing, not deep. That is my motto after all.((irony alert))
If they auto play, I’ll shake my tiny fist at Marty…
Also a test to see if WordPress 3.7 is working correctly
Andy Hinds review of Foreigner’s oeuvre made me chuckle.
Although punk rock’s furious revolution threatened to overthrow rock’s old guard in 1977, bands like Foreigner came along and proved that there was plenty of room in the marketplace for both the violent, upstart minimalism of punk and the airbrushed slickness of what would be called “arena rock.” Along with Boston, Journey, Heart, and others, Foreigner celebrated professionalism over raw emotion. And, looking back, it’s easy to see why they sold millions; not everyone in the world was pissed off, dissatisfied with the economy, or even necessarily looking for a change. In fact, for most suburban American teens, Foreigner’s immaculate rock sound was the perfect soundtrack for cruising through well-manicured neighborhoods in their Chevy Novas.
I wouldn’t say that Battle Bend off of S. Congress in Austin was exactly well-manicured, it wasn’t really urban grit either. When I was a teenager living at 306 Sheraton Avenue, I had a copy of Foreigner’s Greatest Hits, on cassette tape. Amusingly enough, my friend and next door neighbor did have a car which might have been a Chevy Nova, or similar.
Your Arms Were Shaking I wonder how many photos of the West Loop at sunset I’ve taken? A lot, I’m sure.
My first ever Vesper James Bond doesn’t have the best taste in cocktails. Martinis should really be shaken, not stirred, so he got that right, but vodka and martini are two words that should never be joined in the same sentence.
Each Has His Burden Lovely white birch in front of the lovely Bahá’í Temple in Wilmette.
We Have Never Been Very Pure Manhattan Beach, LA. I’ve mentioned this photo before. I should make a print of it too.
Feel of rain in the face Manhattan Beach, LA.
Birthday Pie I wasn’t kidding, I did have a birthday this month. Cherry pie, of course.
Pinhole Self Portrait Circa 1994 I scanned this recently, unfortunately, the print is fairly damaged. Some friend of a friend who was a grad student at the ARTIC back in the mid-90s built the pinhole out of a coffee can, and brought a flash. I just posed.
I’ve gotten lazy about blogging the periodic requests to use my photos in a commercial setting without compensation. I have no concern with websites or blogs using my photos, even quasi-commercial sites like Chicagoist, Curbed Chicago, or the like, as long as these usages don’t require payment to view. In my reasoning, I get benefit from such exposure, not to mention I read most of these sites anyway, or could. However, printed use is different: the targeted audience has to pay a fee to read the magazine or book, thus I should get a slice of the pie. Does this make sense?
I work as a writer for Black Card magazine. We are doing a feature on America’s Best Street Foods and we want to feature The Wiener’s Circle in Chicago.
They don’t have any images of their hot dogs, but I found the one on your flickr page. Was wondering if you might be willing to let us publish it in exchange for a photo credit in the article and a free copy of the magazine?
We are on an urgent deadline.
My first reaction was irritation at the forced urgency. Why do I have to rush to respond? I’m not the one who waited until the last minute to secure photographic rights for a story assigned months ago. An admission: I’m that guy on the highway who slows down when drivers tailgate me. Especially if I’m driving by myself, I’ll block irritating drivers from passing me for twenty minutes (alternatively slowing down and speeding up, as traffic changes) or longer. Unless you have a flashing siren on your vehicle, I doubt sincerely your time is any more valuable than mine, and no, I won’t get out of your way if you are rude. Of course, if Illinois caves in, and allows concealed handguns to be carried, I may alter my behavior. Probably not though. I hate being told to hurry up. I have enough deadlines of my own without incorporating yours as well.
Secondly, Black Card Magazine is a trade publication solely for the upper echelon – for instance, American Express’s Centurion Card, which requires cardholders willing to pay an annual fee of $2,500 just to have the card, plus a $7,500 application fee. Not for the peons, in other words. American Express had an operating income of $33,800,000,000 last year, I think they could afford to pay photographers if they chose to.
Wieners Circle Rages at the Dying of the Light
So I replied that I would be happy to allow one-time usage of my photograph for the fee of $800. I’m not holding my breath for a response (it’s been 24 hours).
Cool! Another photo has made it into Flickr Explore, and with even more favorites than the last photo got. I take and process photos every day, or attempt to, and I always do the best I can to transform the images into art. But prior to these two photos making Explore, I hadn’t been selected since April 2012. I realize the Explore algorithm is mostly computerized, and that there is an element of chance in making the cut – but still. Odd. And nice.
Funny, as I only sort of randomly selected this photo of the CTA tracks near Graceland Cemetery as a means to test new perspective tools in the Lightroom 5 Beta, and then tweaked the image a bit using the Google Silver Efex Pro plugin. The subject is a bit of cliché to tell the truth – high contrast black and white image of shadow perspectives, yadda yadda. I’ve taken many similar photos that didn’t get so much appreciation from Flickreenos. Still, I am happy with how this one turned out…
My dad turned 70 last weekend on the Ides of March, so without much consideration, I flew down to visit and help celebrate the occasion. I had forgotten that Austin was currently hosting SXSW, but since mostly the plan was just to hang out with family, SXSW turned out not to matter. Travel was a bit more crowded than a normal flight to Austin, but my plane was only 1/3 filled with hipsters. Like the two girls in front of me, who consumed at least 10 drinks each in the 3 hour flight, and discussed, with ever increasing volume their plans. I was amused to hear one admit that she was just going to leave her suitcase in a friend’s car, and keep a change of clothes with her as she found an evening companion. More power to her, I was young once. Her friend never once put her iPhone down, not even during the sacrosanct take off and landing times. The frazzled flight attendant just ignored this transgression.
Today’s edition of Random iTunes Friday has been brought to you by the letters Y, H and F…
Baaba Maal– Souka Nayo (I Will Follow You)
• part of the charm of this track is Baaba Maal’s voice contrasted against his female chorus. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this is traditional Senegalese music, more of modern pop with Senegalese accents.
Pavement– Angel Carver Blues/ Mellow Jazz Docent
Westing (By Musket And Sextant)
• and now for something completely different…can one write about Pavement without resorting to such cliches as angular guitar? Hmm. I’ve listened to this song hundreds of times over the years, and I still have no idea what it is about.
Conet Project, The– Phonetic Alphabet – NATO
The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations
• If you like scratchy radio recordings of an accented woman repeating “Yankee, Hotel, Foxtrot” over and over, before switching to some other phrases equally as opaque, this is a great track for you. I’m guessing Jeff Tweedy is a fan…
Six Planes Over Marina City
Talking Heads– The Great Curve
The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads
• If you haven’t picked up a copy of this live album, and you like The Talking Heads, then what is wrong with you? Dense, unrelenting grooves, a band at the peak of their power, expanded touring lineup and all. Love it. Adrian Belew goes wild on the electric guitar.
Stills, Stephen– Song Of Love
• probably the last interesting Stephen Stills album, at least that I’ve heard. Catchy tune.
Camper Van Beethoven– Ambiguity Song
Telephone Free Landslide Victory
• agh, takes me back to my callow youth in Austin. “Everything seems to be up in the air at this time.”
• ooh, a double angular guitar cliche in one sitting! This great song is only 1:18 long though.
Williams, Lucinda– Changed The Locks
Live @ The Fillmore
• live, this song is a lot more powerful than the original version. Ms. Williams voice is on the verge of hoarseness, but she muscles through.
AC/DC– If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)
Highway To Hell
• Angus Young has some fun with Bon Scott…an update of The Doors song, Peace Frog. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure this is the very first album I ever purchased with my own money – on cassette tape no less. I was living in cultural wasteland of East Texas, going to middle school, but this album helped ameliorate some of the ennui.
Temptations, The– Don’t Let The Joneses Get You Down
• a good sentiment, and a great, funky track
Big Bill Broonzy– Glory Of Love
Uncut: Soul & Fire – Compiled By Paul Weller
• Paul Weller has good musical taste, this is a favorite song of mine as well. Great acoustic blues guitar too. Don’t confuse it with the pop tune by Peter Cetera.
Coup– 5 Million Ways To Kill A CEO
• a Proto-Occupy Wall Street song, though with a little more imagined violence against CEOs than Occupy would be comfortable with.