So I'm sitting in traffic on MOPAC, the north/south expressway in Austin, listening to Willie Nile sing "Streets of New York," a tune that can be thought of as his "Jungleland" from his latest album, Streets of New York, on the CD player of my rented Jeep Liberty.
Today I got The Essential John Denver and a newly remastered reissue of Boz Scaggs Silk Degrees in the same package. Mercy! I got a chill pulling them out of the envelope. Denver and Scaggs together again! What kind of subtle coding was Sony/BMG sending by pairing this dynamic duo? The Seventies really did suck? We're out of ideas so here's two surefire golden oldies? If you thought the George Winston reissues were great then check out these two?
How anyone was surprised that Britney Spears has shaved her head is beyond me. As Stereophile's assistant editor, the intrepid Stephen Mejias reminded me, she was brainwashed as a toddler thanks to that malevolent mindfuck known as The Mickey Mouse Club. Add to that she's a piece of unreconstructed white trash from Louisiana, who's now been coddled beyond all description and suddenly head shaving looks like the least of her worries.
Today Kurt Cobain would have been 40. Seems like yesterday when we were seeing that searing image of his suicide: the photo taken in the room where he died, of his Converse All Stars, still on his feet, sticking out from behind a piece of furniture.
Last week I went to an advance screening at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) of Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life, a new film about the short, creative, and ultimately kinda sad life of songwriter/arranger Billy Strayhorn. "Strays" or "Sweet Pea" as his friends knew him was part, some would say most, of the brains behind Duke Ellington's success in the forties and fifties. The film will be shown on PBS around the country in February.
As history goes, the U.S.A. is weird shape these days. But not all is lost. Yeah, we got our shit: the war in Iraq, a warped, unconnected, hilariously inarticulate jackass for a president, a porous border with Mexico (oh wait, the republicans billion dollar fence will solve that). But just when it looks like it's all sliding down a rat hole it's good to remember that hey, we still got Ted Nugent. U!S!A!U!S!A!U!S!A!
Watched James Brown's widow Tomi (not Tammy, she’s touchy), on Larry King last nite. Larry, who was at low ebb last nite and looked real bored by being used as a platform in a marriage dispute, wasn't buying any of it. Larry, bad manicure and all, looks like he's interviewed enough grieving, flaky–as–hell rock star widows.
Except for Al Sharpton's shameless hogging of the spotlight, James Brown's funeral was quite a production. Televised live on NY1 (New York One), the local cable news channel, this extravaganza was held in the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Georgia.
There's almost no gray area when it comes to Christmas music. You either love it and feel it's charming, or it's a holiday plague that you endure, cringing instinctively every time a bell jingles and someone wants a "figgy" pudding.
I was very sad to learn of the death of Ahmet Ertegun, one of the three visionaries behind Atlantic Records. Having met him several times, it makes perverse sense that he would have met his end due to complications from a fall at a Rolling Stones concert. He was a man of music to the end.
It was one of those New York days when all you want in the world is for something, anything to come down fromBetwitched or Zeus' cloud or the time space portal to Northern New Mexico and transport you like smoke to somewhere far, far away. It was also one of those days when John Atkinson and I were torturing each other with visions of our old home in Santa Fe and the steaming bowls of green chile stew we each now crave like dogs. "Hurry up, Tie off the vein, get the sopapillas ready for after…"
Whenever I fly into one of those, "I gotta get rid of some of these CDs" moods, I inevitably settle on my seemingly endless boxes of blues records. But then like magic, hard–edged questions like "Do I really need 15 B.B. King records" eventually morph into expressions like, "Damn, I haven't heard this record in a hundred years." I am genetically unable to dump blues records.
Now that O.J.'s come out with his TV interview and his book, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. The DVD/CD tie-in. How about a soundtrack album featuring OJ enthusing about he "may" have done it. Or a tribute record: "Song for OJ." Or possibly "OJ sings the hits of …" Don’t laugh (or gag). Anyone unbalanced enough to write this book, presumably for the money, no matter what it's doing to his children, is ego-blind enough to think he could make it in the music business. Hey, he's already been an actor.
Heard a fairly scary rumor this week that I'm trying to confirm. Supposedly, you now only need sales of 50,000 units to jump into the upper third of the Billboard album charts. Consider that number against the fact that the two largest selling albums ever, Thriller and the first edition of the Eagles Greatest Hits have sold something north of 25 million copies and you get some idea of how shocking this stat is if true.
Had the old boy lived past the ripe old age of 27 (thank you tequila and morphine), Gram Parsons would have turned 60 last week on November 5.