It’s a sure thing that Michael Jackson’s life was not going to end pretty. In fact, it can be argued that this mode of death is not the worst thing that could have happened. Seeing him waste away from cancer or die in prison, or collapse and die onstage would have all been worse. You could feel that how ever it was going to occur, Michael stood a good chance of going out in spectacularly tragic fashion. If the rumors are true, it was a shot of Demerol and he stopped breathing. At least it was mercifully fast. Can you imagine the mad scramble that’s now going to occur for his assets being carried out while he was still breathing? And who gave him this alleged shot? I have a feeling that a number of Dr. Nicks are about to be uncovered. At least his poor tortured soul departed quickly for what I hope is a better life somewhere else.
Sad to hear of the death of guitarist/keyboard player/singer/songwriter/mad genius Jay Bennett at age 45. I don’t want to be a hater here but like many others, his portrayal in the Wilco film, I Am Trying To Break Your Hearthas always been very problematic for me.
Tribute records are only as good as the person being feted. Their success or failure is also directly linked to how much energy the performers put into the project. Most tributes operate via telephone and UPS, meaning everyone uses the telephone to figure out what song they want to cover, and then UPS (or if you’re really sexy and rich, Fedex) delivers the finished tape. Actually, in some really impersonal cases, the music might be sent via email. Gee, ain’t this `ol digital world great?
There wasn't space in the May issue of Stereophile for all these photos of the gorgeous and very talented Eliane Elias so here are a few more to ogle. And while you do, I know you'll all be doing it because you respect her as an artist. Seriously though, her new record Bossa Nova Stories is wonderful.
Another South by Southwest is in the books. My 21st out of a possible 23 festivals. Let me start with three acts that were among the most prominent participants there in terms of appearances. It seemed like every time I turned aroundday, night, those sunny, warm Austin spring afternoons when the free drinks flow freely and the good times rollthere would be Raul Malo, the Heartless Bastards and/or M. Ward playing yet another gig.
I can see the scene now, Gary, the mighty Max, the Big Man, all standing around the studio, looking at their feet, afraid to tell Bruce that one of his new songs, the otherwise very charming, “Outlaw Pete,” has a melody very similiar to the one found in KISS’ “I Was Made For Lovin’ You Baby,” their successful quasi-disco single off their otherwise weak 1979 stylistic stumble, Dynasty.
The minidustup over Etta James saying she “can’t stand” Beyonce and was gonna “whip” or “whoop” her ass is a hoot. First of all, Etta’s legacy is in no danger. No one will ever top her rendition of “At Last.” That performance, her greatest single track, is in no danger of being superseded.
How great was it to hear all the music at the inaugural. Maybe music and the arts will once again be valued in the country. Maybe someone else than right wing country singers can get a tune in edgewise.
As soon as we pulled up, I knew that this was gonna be the highlight of my trip to New Orleans. When the door to Snake and Jakes Christmas Club Lounge swung open, I got tears in my eyes as I beheld the kind of unclean, unsafe booze shack that I've wasted many an hour in.
One night last week, a bout of channel surfing brought me to the Grammy nomination concert. Not the Grammys mind you, that’s in February, but a televised special to announce the nominations. And only the nominations of the celebritydriven stuff like Best New Artist which is when LL Cool J, who was hosting, walked across the front of the auditorium and ask the Jonas Brothers how it felt to be nominated. As the bile rose in my throat I changed the channel. I found it to be very strange that this was proceeded by a showing of the venerable 1964 stop motion animation special, Rudolph, The RedNosed Reindeer which is narrated by Burl Ives and contains a couple of indelible toon icons in the prospector Yukon Cornelius and a Yeti called a “bumble.”
Perhaps the most interesting thing on satellite radio has been Bob Dylan’s Theme Time radio show on XM, where he uses big themes like “baseball” or “eyes,” and builds shows around music that somehow connects to the theme. The idea for this show, which is worth listening to if only for Dylan’s raspyvoiced patter, may have come from a previous Fortiesera radio program hosted by one of Dylan’s heroes, Woody Guthrie.
A hit abroad but relatively unknown at home. That describes Cheap Trick who I wrote about here recently and also, believe it or not, Otis Redding. He was a big hit in the U.K. and even it seems in Paris before he hit at home with his final single, “(Sittin’ on the) “Dock of the Bay.”
I live by the axiom, “So many records to listen to, so little time.” That’s not an excuse; just reality. And it has nothing to do with being a music writer. If you’re a voracious music fan, there’s no way, no matter how many records per day you slug through, that you can hear it all. If today, I started listening to just my Beethoven Symphony cycles, it would literally be months before I could come up for air.