Friday, October 30, 2020

Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin

Listen to this song without singing along. I dare you.

You can't. You may think it's silly. You may think it's stupid. You WILL sing along.

Both Paula and I always adored this song. While it's a secular song, I also think it's a very Christ-like song. God is aware of our needs, and wants to be able to meet them. It is sinful for us to fret about what we'll wear, or what we'll eat, or whether we will get this disease or that disease, because we are in God's hand.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Mummers' Dance - Loreena McKennitt

Everyone's heard this song at one time or another, but a lot of people don't know where or why. I had to find this album again in the clearance rack, but when I did it went back into my favorites pile quickly. Ms. McKennitt is also in my "collect everything" list (and I'm very close).

I love the pseudo-Celtic, medieval sound of the song. You can listen to the song, and imagine going across the moors with the actors, essentially begging for extra food and money to suppliment the year's crops and wages.

(I had to skip the official video because the audio track on it is a terrible version. You're stuck with an audio-only version.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Another Way To Die -- Jack White and Alicia Keys

For a lot of people, this is a forgetable theme song from a forgettable Bond. Quantum of Solace suffers from second-child syndrome. It wants to introduce Spectre, but can't (because they don't own the rights yet). It wants to expand upon this underworld empire that appeared in Casino Royale, and it does some, but it also tries to tie too neat a bow on that group too.

I'm not sure why people dislike Another Way to Die. It's guitar-heavy for a Bond song (I'd rather have heard trumpets), but Alicia can keep up with many of the Bond singers, and Jack White can hold his own here. It's not great, but it's catchy and I like to sing along with it, and that's enough.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Highwayman — The Highwaymen

Before the Wilburys went for creating a supergroup, Cash, Jennings, Nelson, and Kristopherson were making great albums and having yet another excuse for touring together.

This of course is the primary hit (but hardly the only good song) off their first album The Highwaymen. I always loved the combination of historical fiction (Willie as the 17th century Highwayman, Kris as a sailor) and sci-fi (Johnny's astronaut), all in a "traditional" country song.

Monday, October 26, 2020

I Don't Have A Name For It -- Steam Powered Giraffe

This is another Wesley band, and I love their stuff. They play as a neo-steampunk band (they're supposedly robots created about a hundred years ago), but their songs are all over the place.

I like how this song describes the two people. I always considered this a "Paula" song as well, and I would never consider dating anyone else if I couldn't feel the same way about her as the singer feels about his love.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Better In The Video -- Weapon Of Choice -- Fatboy Slim

We're going to conclude our current set of Better In The Video weekend specials with my favorite video of all time, Weapon of Choice.

The song: This song is about Doom. The main character has a voice implant that's a weapon. Walk without rhythm, and you won't attract the sandworms. Etc. The song is neat and rhythmic, but I wouldn't have fallen in love with it like I have.

The video: Thriller by Michael Jackson was important to the music industry and to music videos, but it's more like a movie novella than a music video. Weapon of Choice is an incredible video that has little to do with the song, but makes the song an incredible statement about travel and trying to break free from the monotony.

Christopher Walken plays "the business traveler". There is little more mind-numbing than business travel. You're flying to the same airport, driving the same rental car to the same hotel in the same business district, with the same fast food restaurants around you. It is practically impossible to keep it from feeling soul-crushing. Then the traveler starts dancing to the song.

Apparently, Spike Jonez and the film crew shut down an LA Marriott at 3AM to film this video, and it shows. Walken himself created much of the dance moves (he got a coreography credit), and he did practically every move in the video despite being about 57 (you can catch a stand-in on some of the roughest stunts).

And then he jumps off the balcony around 2:54. Jonez and Walken had to go to a wire harness company that specialized in green screen flying, and then they digitized the lobby of the hotel to stick Walken back into it. However, Walken really is bouncing from wall to wall in the green screen room at 2-3 stories up, and that sheer look of amazement and joy wasn't made up.

In the end, the traveller has to end the trip into the fantasy world, and return to his chair.

Walken loved doing this video so much that he considers it a highlight of his career, and tried to turn down his paycheck (his agent finally said "I need to get paid"...). Walken even went on the MTV Music Awards that year to accept the coreography award the video won.

Friday, October 23, 2020

It's Probably Me - Sting and Eric Clapton

From the era when Eric Clapton was writing everything, this is the ultimate buddy song from the third best buddy movie, Lethal Weapon 3. I like the theme of friendship in the song, and Clapton's guitar work is better than average. It has stayed in my favorites collection a long time.

Sting re-recorded this song without Claption et. al., but I don't like that version nearly as well....

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Breaking Find -- Can't Find My Way Home -- Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George, et. al.

This is a 2015 release, but I just found out about it a few minutes ago, so I'm sharing. My other post for tonight gets moved to Monday.

In 1972, Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George, John Hammond, etc. were all together at Ultra-Sonic Studios, recorded for a live broadcast on WLIR. I'm still looking for the actual recording for sale (it does exist), but the Internet Archive has a hissy version of it up here. (Given the transmission path on the 2nd CD of one commercial version, the Internet Archive version may be the best version there is.)

This isn't the only version of Can't Find My Way Home she's done, but it's awfully good, and it's good company.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Drive On -- Johnny Cash

Paula and I were fortunate enough to see Johnny Cash on tour to support American Recordings (his last full tour, I believe) at Memorial Coluseum in Lexington. As I posted to a story by Otis Gibbs on YouTube, WS Holland was Johnny's long-time drummer. In between songs in the "old songs" set, Johnny and WS started pretending as only old men and old friends can to tell a "new" story for the umpteenth time:
JC: By the way, you never told me why you had to quit from Carl Perkins.
WS: Carl told me two words that I just couldn't stand, and I had to leave.
JC: What were those two words?
WS: You're fired.

I'm not a war vet, much less a Vietnam vet, but I suspect Johnny gets as close in the American Recordings version of the song as any non-combat vet can get. (There are alternate versions of this song; the lyrics are inferior and should be skipped.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

I Gotta Get Drunk -- The Little Willies

Once again, we're featuring a cover. This one is by The Little Willies, Norah Jones' alt country sideline group (before she went country in her solo career). This is an old Willie Nelson standard, in the "let's get drunk" country genre. It's a bit silly, but it's a fun party song, and when I'm in the right mood, it's a fun song to sing along to.

I'm going to break tradition a bit to show a live version of this song. The audio's not perfect, but the video really shows just how good of a guitar player Jim Campilongo is, especially on this song:

And for those who insist, the album version:

Monday, October 19, 2020

Bang Your Drum - Dead Man Fall

I can't even call Bang Your Drum as a one-hit wonder, because it wasn't even a hit. It was just the song that Craig Ferguson used to open his last show on The Late Late Show. Craig was well-known for promoting Scottish bands, and Dead Man Fall had a song that somewhat fit the point of the end of the show.

I'm fond of this song in spite of Craig using it, not because of it. The song is about continuing to move forward with your dream despite opposition. It's a "getting started" song, not a "finish the job" song like Craig used it. Even so, I'm very glad that I heard the song then, and that I downloaded it.

I'm currently scheduled to go to Scotland next April, and I intend to take in a Dead Man Fall show if at all possible while I'm there.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

If I Had a Heart - Fever Ray

This is Wesley's favorite song. (Just ask her.)

No, not really, she actually hates it. This is one of my "creepy songs" that came about because I received the video free on iTunes. I thought the video is very artistic, and the song is neat too. Even if Wesley makes me turn it off if she's there to listen to it.

Friday, October 16, 2020

El Shaddai - Amy Grant

I am conflicted by this recording. The song as written is spectacular. It was one of the first contemporary Christian recordings that I fell in love with, and I still love the recording today. The lyrics are simple, powerful, and praise God unabashedly with zero "I"s.

My problem is that I love the song, and I love this recording, but Amy Grant is still unqualified to be in a public leadership roll as a Christian. I don't object to her "going pop"; she's free to sing what she wants and is lead to do. However, she is still unrepentant about divorcing Gary Chapman and marrying a divorced Vince Gill. Her divorce may have been unavoidable; I will not claim to know the details enough to make an opinion. I do know that doesn't excuse a marriage to Gill, who probably wasn't eligible to remarry himself either.

This all can be repented from, and I wouldn't dare judge Ms. Grant's salvation. However, IMHO it does disqualify her from any form of leadership in Christian ministry, and that includes gospel music. I won't listen to her new albums or buy anything she participates in otherwise.

However, there are no alternatives IMHO. Michael Card is an incredible songwriter, but he's not in Amy Grant's league as a singer. The cover by Eden's Bridge is just not the same, and I can't bare to even try to find the Pat Boone version. Most non-commercial covers on YouTube have mediocre recording qualities (one exception is below). Therefore, I present the original version of El Shaddai by Amy Grant:

As a bonus, the one non-commercial version I've found that I liked, by a musician named Hannah Milchak. I can't put this in the favorites playlist because she doesn't sell her music or give it away for downloads. Here it is on YouTube though:

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Tools For the Soul -- Danny Flowers featuring Emmylou Harris

Danny Flowers is an example how one song can make a songwriter. He's the writer for Tulsa Time, and between Clapton's version and the various covers, he's got enough money to do what he wants for the rest of his life.

In 2007, Danny Flowers decided to record a Christian-themed album that Paula discovered, and then of course sent me to download. The lead song for that album is Tools For the Soul. Paula loved this album. The entire album is worth listening to (especially the "hidden" end track after "I Was A Burden"), but Tools For The Soul has entered and stayed in my favorites playlist.

(I was going to link to a live version, but Emmylou was having issues that day, and it wasn't very good.) You're "stuck" with the album version.

Bonus second song: the hidden end track from YouTube. Listen to it, then skip back to I Was a Burden:

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Rusty Cage -- Johnny Cash

Yesterday was a song that I thought was a cover, and wasn't. Today we listen to Johnny Cash cover a Soundgarden song, and take it completely over. This was a heavy metal guitar-fest that Mr. Cash (backed by Petty and most of the Heartbreakers) managed to completely make his own.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Old Friend - The O. C. Supertones

Our old friends the OC Supertones are back, with the song Old Friend. I always thought that this was a modified cover (like Christian groups singing "Spirit in the Sky"), but it seems I was wrong. This song sounds like several 60s songs, but appears to be unique to the Supertones.

I'm just happy to listen to it again while typing this up for you.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Needs to Be a Video - Last Night -- Traveling Wilburys

Listen to the song, and then visualize this script:

Prelude and First verse:The song starts with The Hero singing at the bar, flashing back to The Hero selling 3 of 4 gold coins to Mr Big (Mr. Big wants all 4). The Lady is walking around the bar, until she comes up to the Hero and whispers in his ear. Orbison's second verse: The camera is pointed out the window to the party in the street, then pulls back to a romantic moment in the bedroom, and steam dripping onto the dresser mirror.

a Petty's third verse: set up next verse

a Orbison's fourth verse: the Lady pulls a knife on The Hero and wants the fourth coin.

a Fifth verse: the Hero is back at the bar, drinking a whiskey. He tosses the fourth coin to the bartender ("to pay for the mess"), and drives his motorcycle off into the sunset.

Song Ending: The bartender goes up to The Hero's room. The door is shut, and the bloody knife is sticking out of the door.

Fade out to the Hero driving into the sunset.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Vacation Day 5 -- Jet Airliner — Steve Miller Band

I really tried to come up with a fifth story, mostly about flying, but I just couldn't manage to come up with something that wasn't mean or nasty. I used to be OK with flying, but I had managed to not fly from about 1999 or so until after 2010, and I have maybe flown 10 times since then.

s I am not a fan of the city of Atlanta, and I hate having to make a connection in ATL. This is the first time I've actually driven into ATL, and I don't want to do that again.

The song Jet Airplane went with the day though.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Vacation Fiction Day 4 -- You're Beautiful - James Blunt

When you reach my age, you start keeping track of the gas left in the tank, and you keep track of how long you have before needing the bathroom. I was driving I-65 north at 0-dark-30, and both were starting to hit the warning signs. Just as I passed the sign saying "Exit 57 return ramp is closed", the radio started playing "You're Beautiful". Great, my prostate's trying to do a fandango on my bladder, the next gas station is miles down the road, and I get to hear Mr. Millenial whine because he saw a pretty girl while stoned out of his head, and how they had a cosmic connection for five minutes. I almost threw up my Baconator.

Finally, there's a gas station, and I can pull in. Gas first, bathroom second. Yes, it was a mistake, but it sounded good at the time. I'm hurrying to pull up the mask and turning the corner to the bathrooms, barely noticing that there's no one in my way. After a few minutes in the restroom, I stop by the water cooler for another bottle, and the candy bin for cherry slices or orange slices. Then I look up.

I think I owe the idiot Blunt an apology. I looked up into the kindest, most gentle pair of eyes I have ever seen, and she smiled kindly to me. I couldn't tell you her name, what color her eyes were, or what she was wearing. I don't even know what city we were in. At that moment, all I could think is "Boy, she is beautiful.".

Then I paid my bill, told her "Thank you", and drove off into the night.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Vacation Fiction Day 3 - I Don't Care -- Darius Rucker and Brad Paisley

It's Saturday, 4PM on the beach, Spring Break week 3. I'm sitting on a chair near the water line, keeping warm and trying to soak up the last rays of sun before I have to leave and go home. The circus is in full force, and I'm not sure I want to come back.

Then I look to my left, and just stop.

I've seen a lot of strange sights involving alcohol. I've watched an old man wash a bucket of KFC down with Jack straight out of the bottle. I've seen thousand dollar wine and Mad Dog 20/20, and never seen either help their owners. This young man took them all.

He was walking down the beach at the slow, rolling gait of someone one drink away from holding the ground with both hands to keep from falling off. One sandal had survived the exercise, but the other was gone to the wind. He was carrying the dregs of a $10 plastic gallon of cheap scotch in one hand, but his precious treasure was in the other hand.

He was dragging a white plastic card table like it was a pirate's chest. Three of the legs were gone, and every usable surface of the top and bottom were covered with Sharpie signatures. He must have spent all week partying and collecting names. Now he was almost out of time, almost out of whiskey, and almost out of places to sign, but he wasn't quite done yet.

I watched him heading down the island towards Mobile, dragging his prized possessions off to his next destination.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Vacation Fiction Day 2 -- When The Coast Is Clear -- Jimmy Buffett

George loved Orange Beach, and he hated crowds. Vacations were such sweet torture. Nearly every inch of beach at Orange Beach had high rise condos, so the ocean beaches stayed covered in people year round. If he had liked Gulf Shores, he could have at least gone to the part of the island that was only houses, but it wasn't the same. It wasn't Orange Beach.

Then George's chance came. The Chinese took a page from the Russian book: if you can't come up with the technology yourself, steal it from the Americans. If there was a man from whom one could steal a super-virus, it was George. His work on engineering viruses for cancer treatment was the best in the world, and the easiest to weaponize. When the CIA found out that the Chinese wanted it, they asked George to help them give the Chinese broken information. The Chinese were barely able to make something infectious before they accidentally released the virus in Wuhan.

Of course George got the call when the US started making a vaccine, and that's when his plan could go into motion. His vaccine introduced a small gene into the population that made you vulnerable to the next virus. Three months later, George made a few plane trips...

George looked out across the white, empty sand. The manditory evacuation orders had sent the tourists running, and most residents had left or died at home as well. This pesky raspy cough and shortness of breath was an annoyance, but he had plenty of time to deal with that. The coast was clear, after all.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Vacation Fiction Day 1 -- It's Five O'Clock Somewhere -- Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett

I've seen the same four walls for 93 days straight. My wife is one room over, fighting with her boss over a report that no one will ever read about a product no one will ever buy. The kids have finished what they're pretending is school these days, and they were fussing about whether to watch Disney or PBS.

It wouldn't take much to open that box hidden in my underwear pile and simply lubricate this problem away. I'm not an alcoholic, after all, haven't had much of anything to drink since college. It was always more fun to watch the other idiots get drunk than spend the next morning hugging the toilet myself.

Nah. Alan does have a point; I think I need a vacation, and now's just as good as a time as any. Click on Skype here, and send the boss "Feeling sick; need to take the rest of the day off". I close the laptop before he can respond.

"Kids, grab a basketball and your mother, and let's go up to the park"

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Fiction Week — Vacation Songs

I have a travel playlist I listen to every time I head towards Gulf Shores. I also listened to my normal playlist, and a couple of albums I'd downloaded recently. When I started thinking about this week's posts, I decided to try something different: song-inspired short stories.

Be aware that they are all fiction, and I'm not going to even claim I like them all...

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Better In the Video -- Groove Is In The Heart -- Deee-Lite

The Song: I'm a sucker for 90s alt-pop, in the B-52/They Might Be Giants vein. This is a neat proto-electronica techno pop song that has an interesting dance beat.

The Video: One YouTube commenter hits the nail on the head: it's a 90s video that looks like an 80s video, pretending to be a 70s video. It is an incredible fusion of funk and techno to go along with the song. It also doesn't hurt any that Lady Miss Kerr has the Diana Rigg style catsuit thing going on....

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