Sing Their Souls Back Home

This is currently a favorite song of mine from Billy Bragg’s new album Mr. Love & Justice. The Deluxe version comes with both the standard studio album and a second disk of the same songs performed completely solo. Take a few minutes and just listen to it:

Monday Miscellany

An Unexpected House Guest

When I got home from work Friday, I was greeted by a Praying Mantis; not in the yard, or on the patio, but inside the house, just sitting on the table like he belonged there. After having a short conversation (“what do you think you’re doing in here?”) & nudging him onto my hand, I was able to safely move him outside and snap this picture:

Man, I need a new camera with a better macro setting!

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Barbeque on the River

On Saturday, we spent some time in Paducah, Kentucky at their annual BBQ competition. My wife and I are self-proclaimed BBQ snobs, and frankly none of the pork we tried quite lived up to our expectations. Not that it was all that bad. We were just expecting better, being a fairly respected regional BBQ competition. Maybe we expect too much.

The real fun happened spontaneously though. As we sat on the steps of the levy eating our que, a small group of people pulled up in a van, quickly set up speakers and a small sound system, and suddenly started to DANCE. They just looked like regular home-town people with taps on their shoes and they danced a sort of 2-step, electric slide, riverdance hybrid; clicking and clacking on the concrete banks of the Ohio River. I searched the entertainment itinerary and saw absolutely nothing that sounded like what we were watching. Which only leads us to one possible conclusion; we witnessed another incarnation of Spike Jonze’s guerilla dance troupe, the Torrance Community Dance Group. That’s right – we got PUNK’D! I laughed out loud and promptly took an elbow to the side, “hush, you might offend someone!” To which, “they’re offending me right now” was not an acceptable answer, just in case you were wondering.

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Paul Newman 1925-2008

Most of us try to be charitable people. And usually that manifests itself in fairly small ways according to our means. Paul Newman’s philanthropic contribution to our world should be an inspiration to us all. It is probably one of the aspects of his career that I admire and respect the most. He will be missed by more than just fans of his movies, but by all of those who have benefitted from his charities. His legacy will live on.

As far as his movies go though, here lies a fundamental difference between me and my wife. Her favorite is The Long Hot Summer because according to her, he was sexy before people said “sexy”. Mine on the other hand is his portrayal of the deadpan businessman Mr. Mussburger in the Coen Brothers holiday classic the Hudsucker Proxy;

Friday Five – Mind On My Money

The country’s current economic crisis crosses all boundaries of class, race, geography; from the poor getting poorer to CEO’s having to settle for muti-million dollar severance packages. So this week’s five is going all over the place, genre’ly speaking. (Hey look – I made up a word!)

Money Honey – Eddie Cochran, I have Little Richard’s version on the iPod, it was originally a hit for the Drifters, but Eddie Cochran certainly does a bang-up job on it too!

Cash on the Barrelhead – The Louvin Bothers, covered several times by the likes of Gram Parsons and Dolly Parton, but the Louvin Brothers were the original! Good stuff!

Thousand Dollar Wedding – Gram Parsons, It’s Gram. And in the end, isn’t that enough?

Small Change – Tom Waits, Maybe not one of his finest songs, but it’s still undeniably Tom Waits, and the title track of a very good album.

For the Love of Money – Bulletboys, a little 80’s big hair rock for ya!

BONUS: It’s hard not to go down the path of the rap/hip-hop when thinking about money songs. I could’ve busted out a little Snoop Dog (mind on my money & my money on my mind), 50 Cent (I Get Money, Money to Burn, Money Could Kick Your Ass), Nelly (Must Be the Money)… But I decided to go with Notorious B.I.G. – because no matter how much you don’t like Hip-Hop, this song can get stuck in your head for days!

What’s on the iPod?

Charlie Haden Family & Friends – Rambling Boy

Charlie Haden takes a step back in his own history on his newest release, and brings his family and friends along for the ride. Haden is a much celebrated Jazz double-bassist who got his start by singing and yodeling at the tender age of 2 on his parent’s radio program, The Haden Family Show. Rambling Boy is a throwback to those days with beautiful country classics, standards & even some originals that feel like they belong. In addition to his family, wife Ruth Cameron, son Josh & triplet daughters Rachel, Petra & Tanya, he also features an assortment of friends including Vince Gill, Bruce Hornsby, Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Ricky Skaggs, Pat Matheny, and even his son-in-law Jack Black.

I really like this album with its eclectic mix of styles and influences while remaining rooted deeply in the traditions of country music. It almost makes you want to gather up the family to sit around the radio & listen to the whole show. It’s just that good!

AND you can stream the whole thing HERE before you buy it, if you so desire.

I did!

(Hat-tip to my friend Cassie for telling me about this album release!)

Music Meme for Monday Miscellany

Now that’s a lot of Ms! In lieu of the usual Monday fare, I am following Art’s lead today by participating in a Music Meme. It took some thought, but it was kind of fun to think about for a few minutes.

Just so you know – I ripped the questions and answered them before I read anyone else’s responses. It’s pretty funny to see if there were any similarities that way – which there were!

1.       Of all the bands/artists in your record collection, which one do you own the most albums by? Without actually counting, I would say it is a close race between U2, REM, and Tori Amos. (I was w-a-a-a-y into her several years ago and she put out tons of albums.)

2.       What was the last song you listened to? Well, I haven’t listened to anything so far today. I think John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change” was playing on the radio when we got home last night if I’m not mistaken.

3.       What’s in your record/CD player right now? Cowboy Junkies “Trinity Revisited”.

4.       What song would you say sums you up? Uh, Weird Al “White & Nerdy”

5.       What’s your favorite local band? Depends on your definition of “local” I guess. I don’t frequent the local music scene, but I’m hoping to catch Lou Jetton & 61 South next weekend at a BBQ festival in Paducah, mostly because he used to be my favorite weather man on one of our local news channels. But the best to come out of these parts, in my opinion, would be Uncle Tupelo.

6.       What was the last show you attended? I wish I went to more shows – I love live music. I’m just getting too old for it. I think the last one was The Wallflowers and that was a few years ago.

7.       What was the greatest show you’ve ever been to? Hands down, the best show was U2’s Pop-Mart tour in St. Louis!

8.       What’s the worst band you’ve ever seen in concert? I saw some pretty pathetic Christian bands back in high school, but all I can think of right now was Red Red Meat, who opened for Smashing Pumpkins. That was pretty painful.

9.       What band do you love musically but hate the members of? To paraphrase author Sarah Vowell, most of the musicians that I enjoy seem like pretentious, arrogant a-holes. But I don’t really hate anyone – just wouldn’t want to hang-out with them.

10.   What show are you looking forward to? I would like to go see John Prine next month, but I doubt if I will be able to.

11.   What is your favorite band shirt? I think the only band shirt I still have that almost fits is a reprint of a Rattle & Hum shirt. But back in the day I loved my Mellencamp Scarecrow Tour shirt! It was a play on the FFA logo on a baseball jersey style shirt. I rocked that one a lot!

12.   What musician would you like to hang out with for a day? Probably Jack Johnson. That would be a very mellow experience filled with tropical beaches & ukulele playing.

13.   What musician would you like to be in love with for a day? “In love” is kinda strong, but uh… Norah Jones.

14.   Commodores or solo Lionel Ritchie? Is this a trick question?

15.   Punk rock, hip hop or heavy metal? If those are my only three choices, I would have to pick Punk.

16.   Name 4 flawless albums: Wow. That’s a tough one! I don’t think flawless is even possible, but four that mean something to me & that I can listen to from beginning to end, over & over, are;

U2 – Achtung Baby
Counting Crows – August & Everything After (defined the 90’s for me!)
Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley
Lyle Lovett – Pontiac

17.   Did you know that filling out this survey makes you a music geek? I knew that long before I started filling out this meme!

18.   What was the greatest decade for music? Every decade has its ups and downs. I would have to say late 50’s early 60’s when much of what we call rock & roll and R&B were born.

19.   How many music-related videos/dvds do you own? Again, without counting, I’m going to say in the neighborhood of 25-30. Maybe more.

20.   What is your favorite movie soundtrack? That would be Christopher Guest’s “A Mighty Wind” – I can sing along with every song, laugh out-loud, and get cheered up every single time I listen to it!

21.   What was your last musical ‘phase’ before you wised up? (Have I actually wised up? Really?) The one when I was too scared to listen to anything not labeled “Christian” for fear of accidentally worshipping Satan was particularly bad. But I guess my last actual phase was Grunge, though I hesitate to admit, I still like some of the music from that scene.

22.   What’s the crappiest CD/record/etc. you’ve ever bought? Ooooh, I’ve bought some doozies in my time. I once bought a cassette in a bargain bin that I thought was an Elvis Christmas Album, but when I got home I realized it was a Christmas album by just the Jordanaires. That was just awful.

23.   Do you prefer vinyl or CDs? I prefer CDs I guess – but I still love the vinyl too! The feeling of playing those old records on a turntable just can’t be matched! Sound quality be damned!

The End…

Oh yeah, I almost forgot the obligatory meme “tag”: anyone who reads this is hereby officially tagged! So there!

Friday Five – ‘ere be Pirate Songs…

AHOY Land Lubbers! It be International Talk Like A Pirate Day. So smartly scrape off yer barnacles, swill a pint o grog, and enjoy me list o five pirate-themed songs;

Shipbuilding – Elvis Costello & the Attractions, every good pirate has a ship, though most be pillaged instead of built.

Sunken Treasure – Jeff Tweedy, what every pirate is either after or protecting. Hands off me treasure, Bilge Rat!

Silver & Gold – U2, what above treasure consists of, me beauty.

Down By The Sea – Men at Work, the sea be calling me, Matey!

Booty Call – G. Love & Special Sauce, Aye, it be the wrong kind o booty. And I care not.

Pirate Yoda, May the Faaaaarrrrce be with Ye!

Pirate Yoda, May the Faaaaarrrrce be with Ye!

Random iPod Shuffle

So what is the proper number of songs for a random shuffle anyway? Somehow the songs and artists I think will be picked never come up. I have the entire U2 catalog on there, and they’ve never even made the list! Bizarre… much like this list…

  1. Baby Blue Eyes – Stray Cats
  2. Just Another Day – John Mellencamp
  3. Night Moves – Counting Crows (Live, Bob Seger cover)
  4. Raunchy – Bill Justis & His Orchestra
  5. Goddamn Lonely Love – Drive-By Truckers
  6. Another Postcard – Barenaked Ladies
  7. Don’t Look Back – John Lee Hooker with Van Morrison
  8. Hells Bells – AC/DC
  9. Could You Be Loved – Bob Marley
  10. Alloway Grove – Paulo Nutini
  11. Martini Five-O – The Blue Hawaiians
  12. Wolves, Lower – R.E.M.
  13. Someone Keeps Moving My Chair – TMBG
  14. Heaven – Live
  15. You Might Die Trying – Dave Matthews Band

Wow! Alrighty then… Back to work!

Pointing Elsewhere

I’ve been drawing a big blank when attempting to write blog posts this week. So I thought I would take this opportunity to point you around to some of the stories and other blogs that I have found interesting instead.

1.) Humorist and former Daily Show contributor Mo Rocca offered a very funny and unique analysis of the Sarah Palin/Charlie Gibson interview on his always entertaining blog. Fair warning; it is for adults only!

2.) According to a survey of 1000 parents in the UK, economic hardships don’t just affect businesses or adults, they also trickle down to the most innocent of victims; toothless kids! Read how even the poor tooth fairy is having to cut back!

3.) Having trouble with lunch thieves at the office? A friend of mine always carried his lunch to work in a tackle box secured with a padlock. But if that doesn’t appeal to you, you can always try the Anti Theft Lunch Bag. It’s a sandwich bag that discourages theft, as well as appetite!

Friday Five – Pigs in Lipstick

Art decided to go the direction of the Pig this morning, since references have been all over the news this week. I will play it a little safer, since I’m short on time, and go with the most common color associated with lipstick; RED;

(I know, it’s a little too easy – I’ve had a rough week – give a guy a break!)

Deep Red Bells – Neko Case

Red Light – Jonny Lang

Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes – Elvis Costello

Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache – Bob Dylan (Warren Smith cover)

Red Dust – Calexico w/ Iron & Wine

Have a great weekend!