Friday, September 30, 2005

Played to death

This week, Route 1 readers determine there can be "too much of a good thing," as they answer this FRIDAY QUESTION submitted by loyal reader Kerstin H.: "Have you ever played a song you liked so often you grew sick of it?"
Ellen B. -- Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca." I know, embarrassing...
Ann M. -- "Redneck Woman." When I was on vacation in San Diego, my friends played that song over and over and over.
Jill H. -- How do I answer that!?! There are so many the author of the question has played to death, I don't even know where to start... Maybe it is with Cher... the whole CD.
Roseanne H. -- Any Elvis Presley song. I wore out my 45s and never want to hear them again.
Rick T. -- "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks. Done it so many times it got real OLD!"
Dave B. -- When I was in high school I played Def Leppard's Pyromania so much that the tape disintegrated. Every time I hear a song from that album I try to switch the radio station.
Emily S. -- I do this with EVERY song! When my boyfriend and I were going through hard times earlier this summer, I would constantly play DHT's "Listen to Your Heart," and now, when I hear it, I groan because it is on every 5 minutes! The novelty has definitely worn off!
Rob K. -- "Escape"... the pina colada song, from the 80s. I can't remember which made me sicker... the song or the terrible morning afters.
Kerstin H. -- "Kids in America" (by Kim Wilde). I just played it too much.
Erik H. -- I actually enjoy listening to some Christmas songs. However, there is a limit for even my favorite Christmas songs -- probably around 10 plays during one Christmas season. Unfortunately, my 10-year-old daughter (and the author of this particular FRIDAY QUESTION) thinks nothing of playing a Christmas song 100 times... in June, July and August. She will play any Christmas song at any time... even during the most searing heatwave in a decade. Just days ago, in fact, I walked past her room and cringed. Band-Aid's "Do They Know it's Christmas" was blaring from her CD player. Do they know it's Christmas? Possibly not. Do you know it is September? "There won't be snow in Africa this Christmas..." and there probably won't be snow in Iowa when this song gets played in my house, either.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bollywood Bad News Bears

Or perhaps "Hoosiers in Hindi."
Last night I stayed up late to watch "Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India."
What a marvelous film!
Villagers in Victorian India face a desperate choice: Create a makeshift cricket team and defeat the side of the local British garrison or face paying a tax on their drought-depleted crops that would surely lead to starvation.
Aamir Khan stars as Bhuvan, the villager who leads the village team, teaching them the game and showing them how to justly stand up against tyranny.
"This is not a game we are playing for fun and entertainment," Bhuvan tells the villagers when they are reluctant to let a spin-bowling "Untouchable" join the team. "This is a fight we must win."
Unless there is some hidden gem about Notts versus Hants out there somewhere that I don't know about, I would say "Lagaan" is easily the GREATEST FILM ABOUT CRICKET EVER.
By the film's conclusion, as the smug Brits take wicket after wicket and the villagers' chances appear slimmer and slimmer, the viewer can't help feeling that cricket is the most exciting sport in the world.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How could I have missed them?

It dawned on me today at work: I had loaded the iPod and failed to include the Decemberists.
No matter. I have rectified the situation, loading "Her Majesty the Decemberists" on the iPod now that I have returned home.
The Decemberists are everything I look for in a band.
Colin Meloy writes smart lyrics... the band plays a pleasant indie pop style that never grows stale... and they are from Oregon, for gosh sakes.
We lived in Oregon for five-and-a-half years and our oldest was born there. I have an uncle, an aunt, cousins and more in Oregon.
Yet, until today I didn't have Oregon's top indie heroes on the iPod. That's just plain silly.
No Ripchord's 9 out of 10 review called "Her Majesty the Decemberists" a "glorious triumph" and "the brilliant sound of a band taking their first steps to greatness."
That may be true. All I know is, their songs consistently sound fresh. They deserved to be on the iPod. Easily.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Grey music for a grey day

I know it is bad, but I can't help it.
Far too often, I let the prevailing weather conditions dictate my musical choices.
Why? Well, I am the type of person who needs my music to reflect my surroundings.
Today is cold, overcast and decidedly gloomy. I just couldn't listen to the Beach Boys of the languid rocksteady of Carlton & His Shoes. It just wouldn't feel right.
So, as I am preparing to head for work, I am also preparing to cue up The Cure's 1981 mope-rock masterpiece "Faith" on the iPod.
Long before Robert Smith was dancing around telling the world how much he was in love on Fridays, he was belting out beautifully sad dirges about funeral parties.
I try not to be much of a moper, but I have loved "Faith" since it debuted. I even have my first copy of it -- an imported cassette from New Zealand (one of the rarest artifacts in my collection).
I would never think of listening to it on a brilliantly sunny day. On a grey day, though, there is nothing better than "Faith's" sullen soundscapes.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Tir Eoghain!

I know it must seem like "Annual Obscure Sports Weekend" here at Route 1, but I can't help it. Once again it is raining today, so I made the best of being cooped up inside by following today's All-Ireland Gaelic Football Final live online. Tyrone (Tir Eoghain) defeated defending champions Kerry (Ciarrai), 1-16 to 2-10.
Let's see here... goals are worth three points and points are worth, well, a point, so Tyrone's 1-16 equals 19 points and Kerry's 2-10 equals 16 points. Paul Canavan scored the decisive goal for Tyrone.
Gaelic Football is a bit of a strange beast, with a ball that looks like a small soccer ball, goals that look like a cross between soccer goals and rugby posts and loads of fisticuffs. While it might lack the blood-letting of hurling (players swing heavy wooden sticks at each other while trying to strike a ball called a "sliothar"), Gaelic football does have its charm. For example, players can run down the field with the ball only if they bounce it every four steps or if they "solo" it, which means dropping it onto their foot, then kicking it back up into their hands. Nifty, eh?

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I always try to tune in to the Australian Football League Grand Final.
Sometimes I have had to follow the Australian equivalent to the Super Bowl online. Once, just before moving to Iowa, I sat in an otherwise empty house in Oregon and listened to the match on a crackly shortwave radio.
Last night, I stayed up and watched the Grand Final live on digital cable, thanks to Fox Soccer Channel.
I am so glad I did.
After a week of grief -- my college roommate passed away this week age 37 -- I was in need of a great sports fix to take my mind off my sadness.
This match worked wonders.
The Sydney Swans defeated the West Coast Eagles, 8.10 (58) to 7.12 (54), to claim their first Premiership title for 72 years. The Swans played in South Melbourne back in 1933 (the franchise moved to Sydney in 1982) and this dramatic Grand Final victory ended the longest title drought in the sport's history.
The Swans led by 20 points at halftime but the Eagles clawed their way to within a goal (which is worth six points) of victory. Somehow, the Swans managed to hold on in what was very easily the greatest AFL match I have ever seen.
The victory was particularly sweet for Tadhg Kennelly (pictured). I stayed up until 3 a.m. to watch the medal and trophy presentations. Kennelly danced a jig, as he became the first Irishman to win an Australian football Grand Final.
You beaut!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Route 1 recommends

For your listening pleasure...
I know, I know. Every music blogger on Earth (well, almost) has been gushing about Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! I didn't really know what all the fuss was about... until I downloaded the album after attending a funeral today.
The band is great. Singer Alec Ounsworth sounds like a cross between early David Byrne and Bends-era Thom Yorke, backed by a band that is as likely to jam on harps and accordions as they are on Stratocasters and Les Pauls.
Check out the band at their Web site, located here. You might like them. Or love them.
For your reading pleasure...
To take my mind off my grief this week, I delved into Lawrence Donegan's "No News at Throat Lake." It is a fabulous memoir.
Some background...
1) Donegan played bass in two of my favorite bands in college, the Bluebells and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. When Lloyd Cole went solo, Donegan entered journalism school.
2) Donegan became a reporter for the Guardian.
3) He took breaks to live in rural Ireland, sell used cars in California, and caddy for a golf pro.
All three of those breaks resulted in side-splitting books.
"No News at Throat Lake" details his time at Ireland's Tirconaill Tribune, a small newspaper in County Donegal. I loved this book not only because it is hilarious, but also because Donegan's experiences seemed to mirror my own toils while serving on the staff of the Lake County Examiner newspaper in rural Oregon.
Seek out this book. Enjoy!

There are places I remember

The death this week of my college roommate, Pat Hannan, prompted me to seek comfort in music. This week's FRIDAY QUESTION asks readers to consider what music comforts them during times of acute sadness.
Jill H. -- For me, it's listening to Chet Baker, just something about that music that feeds the soul.
Roseanne H. -- Something classical.
Rick T. -- The song "Family Bible" by Porter Wagoner, also sung by Willie Nelson. Porter's version is better. If you never heard it, give it a listen.
Erik H. -- The song that helped fill the numb void in my soul, that helped snuff the flames of my anger and that helped stem the tears of my grief this week was "In My Life," John Lennon's ode to The Beatles' home, Liverpool. When I uploaded "Rubber Soul" onto the iPod so many months ago, I must have known "In My Life" would always be held in reserve for me, whenever I would require it during a time of emotional need. That time arrived this week.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Seeking some comfort through music

The wake services for my college roommate, Pat Hannan (pictured) will be held tonight.
I still can't believe he has gone. When I was younger, death only seemed to come to older people or people I don't know. Now I have lost a father, a mother-in-law, several grandparents and now two college friends, all since I graduated.
During the past couple of days, I have tried to avoid listening to music that would amplify my sadness. No "Faith"-era Cure, no Joy Division, etc. I don't want to drive around listening to the news (as yet another hurricane threatens untold death and destruction on yet another part of the country), so I decided to listen to music that has comforted me since high school. I have been listening to the sunsplashed reggae of the early 1970s and such classic albums as "Rubber Soul" by the Beatles. It was surely difficult listening to "In My Life."
I am not sure what I will listen to as we drive to the funeral home this evening. I won't turn the music off, though. I don't think I could bear the sound of complete silence.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

There's life everywhere but here

Birds are singing, squirrels are busily packing away nuts for the winter and there is not a cloud in a brilliantly blue sky.
So, the news that my college roommate passed away last night in a farming accident feels like a hammer blow. I feel more numbed and dumbfounded than despondent. I can't understand how tragedy could strike on such a beautiful day.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A sound I can feel

The sun broke through the clouds this morning and I started listening to pop reggae, reggae aimed at UK singles consumers of the early 1970s. Songs such as "A Love I Can Feel" by John Holt (pictured), "Red Red Wine" by Tony Tribe, "Wonderful World Beautiful People" by Jimmy Cliff and "Love of the Common People" by Nicky Thomas have never seemed to age since their release more than 30 years ago.
They also serve as a perfect accompaniment to a sunny day.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

It's the start of another busy day

It is 6:53 a.m.
I am waiting to wake up Kerstin to take her to a baby-sitting class.
We will be attending the wedding of two dear friends later today, and there are plenty of errands to run before a big wedding reception caps this busy day.
No one else is awake, so Junior Parker's "Mystery Train" plays on the iPod as I cruise the wonderful world of blogs to pass the time.
The Kunsthaus Zurich Web site, located here, has a fabulous online exhibit of vintage photographs from the archives of the Los Angeles Police Department. The photos all boast a stunning "noir" look to them.
Take a look at the photograph above, shot by the LAPD in 1953. It looks like the scene from some long lost cinematic classic!
The actual caption: "In this training aide, a variety of clues are placed around the supine form of a woman playing the role of a homicide victim."

Friday, September 16, 2005

I know a place...

Route 1 leads readers on a musical geography lesson this week, as the FRIDAY QUESTION wonders: What is your favorite song about a place?
Inger H. -- Elvis Costello's "London's Brilliant Parade" is so effortlessly evocative. It somehow manages to capture all the city's hustle and glitter and squalor and ends up really reminding me of what it's like there. "I wouldn't want you to walk across Hungerford Bridge, especially at twilight."
Brian C. -- I'm partial to "Sweet Home Chicago" because I'm a product of the Chicago area. I like Foghat's rocking cover best. However, for a sense of music history, I enjoy listening to Delta bluesman Robert Johnson's original version, recorded in 1936.
Scout S. -- "Maps and Legends" by R.E.M. "The map that she's made him doesn't seem real/He just sees whatever he sees/Point to the legend point to the east/Point to the yellow red and green."
Ann M. -- One of my favorite songs is the Iowa Hawkeyes Fight Song because it reminds me of a lot of football games and tailgating.
Rick T. -- "Cincinnati Ohio" by Connie Smith. I have been to Cincinnati and it does "shine like a jewel in the valley below." Great song!
Mike D. -- Although there's "a lot of nice girls" out there at La Grange (ZZ Top), I might have to bypass the homage to the Texas bordello in favor of Supertramp's melancholic "Take the Long Way Home." The music and lyrics perfectly express the song's wistful yet woeful theme.
Diane H. -- "Luchenback, Texas." It makes me want to actually go to Luchenback, Texas, wear a cowboy hat and have a drink at the bar. Whiskey, of course.
Dave B. -- "Midnight in Montgomery" by Alan Jackson. The song is very eerie and dark.
Kerstin H. -- "Portland Oregon" by Loretta Lynn with Jack White. Because it is about Oregon and I am from Oregon.
Erik H. -- When I was a kid, nothing said "California" to me quite like the First Class gem, "Beach Baby." As a kid growing up in the suburbs of San Francisco, I could really relate to this song reflecting on the glories of the sun and surf. Well, I almost could relate. We didn't have much money for traveling when I was a kid, so we ended up spending more time in the agricultural Central Valley than the golden sands of the coast. Still, "Beach Baby" referenced L.A. and San Jose and I had been to both those places. For me, First Class had perfectly evoked a place I knew I would always love.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned many years later that First Class' 1974 hit was entirely rendered by veteran British session musicians in rainy old London -- about as far away (geographically and metaphysically) from the "Beach Baby" ideal as possible. It's a funny old world.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pure sonic joy

I used a prepaid iTunes gift card last night to score some essential reggae tracks, including a pair by Ken Boothe.
If he had been American, people might talk about Boothe as they converse about Marvin Gaye or Smokey Robinson.
With his emotional, gritty tone, Boothe would have easily swept aside most other R & B chart contenders.
As it happened, most Americans probably haven't experienced the beauty of a Ken Boothe song treatment.
Boothe specialized in reggae versions of American hits, and it was one of these covers that I would place in my top-10 of all-time greatest songs.
"Everything I Own" was penned by David Gates and his band Bread performed the first version of the song in 1972. Two years later, Boothe took his sublime version to the top of the UK charts.
A soft-rock to reggae transformation sounds logical enough. It still doesn't begin to express the pure sonic joy of Boothe's "Everything I Own." He sings it with all the feeling of the greatest gospel vocalists. And you can even (slow) dance to it!
"Everything I Own" hit the top spot on Oct. 26, 1974 and remained at the pinnacle of British singles' sales for three weeks. Then, in 1987, Boy George took a note-by-note remake of the song back to the top of the charts.
That's quite a testament to a truly wondrous tune.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Oh Canada's twin odes

Perhaps today's hint of autumn weather prompted me to scroll the iPod to two of my all-time favorite songs about Canada. Whatever the reason, today I have been listening to Stompin' Tom Connors' "The Hockey Song" and Hank Snow's "My Nova Scotia Home."
Stompin' Tom's song is (overly?) familiar to hockey fans throughout North America. Lines such as "They storm the crease like bumblebees!" sum up Canada's national obsession with palpable glee.
Snow's song might be less well-known south of the border. Too bad... it is absolutely beautiful.
"There's a place I'll always cherish, 'neath the blue Atlantic sky," he sings, "where the shores down in Cape Breton bid the golden sun to rise. And the fragrance of the apple blossoms sprays the dew-kissed lawns back in dear old Nova Scotia, the place where I was born."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

That's the beauty of music

I watched "The Shawshank Redemption" on DVD last night. It is amazing to me that a truly classic film could have been made as recently as 1994. Usually, when I think of a "classic" film I think of something in the pre-1979 era. But "Shawshank" is truly amazing.
As a music fanatic (in case you haven't guessed), I was particularly struck by the scene when Andy (Tim Robbins) emerges from a period of solitary confinement and the other prisoners wonder how he managed to hold up so well.
"I had Mr. Mozart to keep me company," he tells them. When they wonder how he heard Mozart "in the hole," Andy points to his head.
"It was in here," he says. Then he points to his heart. "And in here."
"That's the beauty of music," he tells them. "They can't get that from you. Haven't you ever felt that way about music? You need it so we don't forget... that there are places in the world that aren't made out of stone, that there's something inside that they can't get to, that they can't touch. It's yours."
Oh yeah... I love that part of the film.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Just a Closer Walk With Thee

I'm uploading Mahalia Jackson (pictured) and some other Golden Age gospel singers on the iPod.
Now my iPod contains both Iron Maiden and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Stranger things have happened... I think...
I don't care. The songs I heard today -- on a CD titled "The Great Gospel Women" that I checked out from the library -- match anything by Ella Fitzgerald or Aretha Franklin. Those two artists can be found on my iPod, so why shouldn't I include Dorothy Love Coates or Clara Ward?
I have been immersing myself in soul music, and decided to investigate some gospel music from 1945-1975 so I could hear the roots of my latest musical obsession.
As I drove around listening to these songs today, one memorable track seemed to strike me like... well, like a thunderbolt from above. Goldia Haynes' "This Old World," recorded in 1950, poured out of the car speakers and I was hooked. Her voice fused with those inspirational words convinced me I had to keep this song and similar tunes handy, so I can hear them more often.
Now, if I grow tired of "Anarchy in the U.K.," I can revel in "The Last Mile of the Way."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I might have overdone this "soul" thing

Yeah... I probably did overdo my "soul" music playlist on the iPod. It might be a little... much... a little too much.
A steamy Sunday morning seems to be the perfect time to listen to my soul playlist... all SEVEN HOURS and 55 MINUTES worth. I am going to see how long I can listen. I am shooting for at least five of the seven-plus hours. Perhaps longer. I don't know. I suppose I need to watch some football at some point. Maybe I could listen to the football with the sound muted and the soul music blaring? There's an idea!
The problem with this gargantuan playlist is that I ABSOLUTELY ADORE all 135 songs.
Consider the top 12 tracks...
1. SAM & DAVE - "I Thank You," 2. RUFUS THOMAS - "Walkin' the Dog," 3. WILSON PICKETT - "In the Midnight Hour," 4. THE CONTOURS - "Just a Little Misunderstanding," 5. PHIL UPCHURCH COMBO - "Can't Sit Down (Parts 1 & 2)," 6. RODGER COLLINS - "Foxy Girls in Oakland," 7. BOOKER T. & THE MG'S - "Time is Tight," 8. ISAAC HAYES - "Theme from 'Shaft,'" 9. SAM COOKE - "Shake," 10. OTIS REDDING - "Respect," 11. ARETHA FRANKLIN - "Respect," and 12. EDDIE FLOYD - "Knock on Wood."
I'm telling you, there's not a weak track among the 135. Some may argue that some of the songs are "rhythm & blues" rather than "soul." I don't care. All this stuff oozes "SOUL," so it's soul music to me. Now... on to the hours and hours of music... aah yes...

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Today's Route 1 theme? Exploration!
This morning, the girls and I visited the Mines of Spain Recreation Area near Dubuque for some hiking. In the span of an hour, we traveled from a steamy wetland full of skittish frogs to a bone-dry area surrounded by canyon-like bluffs.
Back home, I have been unwinding from our excursion by listening to Roland Kirk's 1962 album "Domino."
Blindness never stopped Kirk. Indeed, his lack of sight probably propelled Kirk to greater levels of musical exploration. Kirk is (in)famous for playing instruments simultaneous -- on "Domino" he plays tenor saxophone, manzello, stritch, flute, nose flute (?!?!) and siren whistle... sometimes all at once.
An ability that could have been a novelty trick instead elicits wonderful sounds, as Kirk expands the boundaries of jazz.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Stop me if you've heard this one before

Route 1 promotes originality. That being said, this week's FRIDAY QUESTION seeks readers' best cover versions.
Rick T. -- Alan Jackson's version of a George Jones song, "It's a Good Year for the Roses." They are both as country as can be. George did a remake of it and had Alan sing with him on his CD. Now that's REAL country right there!
Scout S. -- "Mrs. Robinson" by the Lemonheads. Poor, poor Evan Dando, such a talented songwriter and singer but the only hits he ever really scored were covers.
Kerstin H. -- Lindsay Lohan did a version of the David Bowie song "Changes." I like both versions, but I like Lindsay Lohan's because it is more of a "rock" version.
Mike D. -- "Smokin' in the Boys Room" by Brownsville Station was certainly a fine song in its day, but Motley Crue revved up the draggy tempo with its sassy remake.
Diane H. -- I love the Cake cover of "I Will Survive." It eliminates all the cheesy disco trappings of the original and adds profanity. What's not to love?
Brian C. -- "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix. Even Bob Dylan, who wrote and originally recorded it, later said he preferred Hendrix' version. Another candidate is The Beatles' arrangement on "Money (That's What I Want)," originally recorded by Barrett Strong.
Inger H. -- "Wonderwall" by Ryan Adams. This version has all the longing that the Oasis one missed.
Erik H. -- I had always adored Scottish singer/guitarist Roddy Frame, so when I heard his band Aztec Camera's mid-80s version of Van Halen's "Jump," it served as a musical revelation. Frame slowed the tempo and infused the song with emotion, altering a tune previously associated with grown men leaping about in catsuits.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Good Morning, McLusky!

There is nothing quite like getting dressed in a mosh pit.
Of course, it is a one-person mosh pit, as I getting dressed for work alone here in the room. Still, I'm moshing. I'm moshing to McLusky!
When the Welsh three-piece indie band officially called it quits on their Web site (here) earlier this year, the news barely caused a ripple in a music world where so-called "punk rockers" (who are about as "punk rock" as your grandmother) show up for awards ceremonies in stretch limos and have beautiful actresses for girlfriends.
McLusky have always been different. Angry... raging... lo-fi... and very, very funny.
I'm currently listening to their 2004 album called "The Difference Between Me and You is That I'm Not on Fire." Huh?
The first track? "Without MSG I am Nothing." Huh?
Singer Andy Falkous screams and talks his way (sometimes he even sings) his way through classics such as "Forget About Him, I'm Mint" and "Falco vs. The Young Canoeist."
McLusky are freakin' hilarious. In an earlier single, "To Hell With Good Intentions," Falkous sings that the band "takes more drugs than a touring funk band."
You don't get that from the present-day, cookie-cutter punk bands. No way.

Monday, September 05, 2005

More than Yesterday, Less than Tomorrow

I have been indulging a recently realized passion for 1950s R & B the past couple days. While listening to a doo wop CD mix given to me by a Scottish bloke, I discovered a song that has since become an obsession.
Checkers Records single release No. 858 was a 1957 release by East Chicago, Ind. doo wop group The Dream Kings.
The enigmatically titled "M.T.Y.L.T.T." only managed to become a local hit in the Chicagoland area. Now it shows up occasionally on doo wop or Checkers Records compilations, but for all practical purposes it has slipped into dark obscurity.
Sad... because "M.T.Y.L.T.T." is a masterpiece.
A beautiful lead tenor pours a helluva lotta soul into this song, augmented by subtle backing vocals and a solitary electric guitar. Simple but effective.
And forgotten.
Try finding information about the Dream Kings on the Internet, and the scant returns hint at the group's obscurity.
On a Web site devoted to the United Records label, I read that a doo wop group called The Drakes
failed to make much of a mark when first recording material in May 1955.
Tom Daniel was the group's tenor lead, and the composer of the songs they recorded for United. The other members were Lincoln Mabins (baritone) and three brothers, William Anderson (baritone), Robert Anderson (tenor), and Ira Anderson (bass). The group's work languished in the United vaults.
Perhaps that is the reason William Anderson bolted from the group. We can only speculate the reason, but his replacement by Larry Crues coincided with the Drakes changing their name to the Dream Kings.
They released "M.T.Y.L.T.T." and it became a local hit. The singer proclaims his current love for his lover as "more than yesterday" but "less than tomorrow." Does this mean the love has flowered but will fade? Perhaps the Dream Kings wished for the exact meaning to remain open to interpretation.
I have tried in vain to learn anything more about the Dream Kings or their lost-classic of a song.
A fine Web site devoted to R & B vocal groups, located here, mentions the Dream Kings in passing while detailing the careers of groups such as the Midnighters, the Dells, the Magnificents, the Five Chances and the Five Echoes.
Does this small reference make the Dream Kings more obscure than those groups? I think so.
Does this small reference diminish the power of "M.T.Y.L.T.T.?" Not a chance.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

"Your eyes, they're red and bloodshot"

"You ought to see them from my side." -- Kid Shelleen.
I just finished watching "Cat Ballou" on DVD. Although many people have probably forgotten it, I consider this film one of the great cinematic works, both for what it is and for what it does.
Released in 1965, "Cat Ballou" took a common film form, the western, and subverted it from the inside. Schoolmarms turn to a life of train robbery... Gunfighters prepare for battle by lacing up corsets... ranchers mistake Indians for Hebrews... women lead dancehall fights by swinging corn stalks at each other.
Lee Marvin plays a pair of roles and won the Best Actor Oscar. Before seeing this film, you wonder how an actor could win top honors while performing in a comedic western. Then you see Marvin at work. His Kid Shelleen is a drunken outlaw played for laughs and Marvin could have walked through this role rather easily. Instead, Marvin's expressive take on the character adds sad self-awareness and a flickering pride to the mix.
Music lovers can revel in "Cat Ballou" as well. Nat "King" Cole teams with Stubby Kaye (Marvin Acme in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit") to act as a "Greek chorus" of sorts, providing singing narratives that act as transitions between important scenes. Cole possessed one of the smoothest voices known to man. Add his prowess to "Cat Ballou," and the film easily sits among the pantheon of great films.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Day off with Dylan

Days off are great. Especially when you can do something out of the ordinary.
Today I perused the latest issue of MOJO Magazine: It includes a feature on the 100 greatest Bob Dylan songs.
As I read descriptions of the songs, I hauled out a couple of Dylan CDs and listened to them while sitting outside sipping brandy.
Believe me... that is definitely out of the ordinary!
I love "Highway 61 Revisited." From "Like a Rolling Stone" (MOJO's top song, not surprisingly) to "Desolation Row," Dylan packed this record with nine bona fide classics. It's actually difficult for me to choose a favorite track from this album. They all rule.
If pressed, however, I would select "It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" as my pick of the bunch. I have always loved the blues, and this song is one of those instances when Dylan shows that he loves the blues, too.
I also adore the line:
"Well, I wanna be your lover, baby/I don't wanna be your boss."


Everybody loves a good shower. Unless it's cold, of course. Or if there is a maniac stabbing you. That's no good.
This week, the FRIDAY QUESTION seeks your sudsy anthem: What do you sing in the shower?
Clint A. -- "TROGDOR" by Strongbad. There is no better way for this dragon man to start a full day, uh, I mean a full night of burnination of peasants and slashing of cottages. TROGGGGDOORRR COMES IN THE NIGGGGGGHT!!!!!

Mike D. -- The soprano-esque "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" by Leo Sayer, because it's about the only place in the house where I'm out of earshot of my wife, who likes to say "quit singing like a girl." (And it's no problem if the hot water runs out. It just makes hitting the high notes that much easier.)
Kerstin H. -- I make up my own songs. I like to sing about my feelings.
Mark H. -- I don't sing in the shower, but what song am I always humming? That frickin' cell phone ring from Kettering's phone!
Sandye V. -- Hymns. A hymn pops into my head and it ends up being one we sing on Sunday and I think, Oh my goodness.
Rick T. -- "Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head," because it's dumb and I'll bet a lot of others sing it too, if they'll admit it.
Dave B. -- I sing the last song I heard before I get in the shower. I only sing on a Saturday night before leaving for a night on the town.
Mary Rae B. -- "Stormy Weather," because the rain is falling on my face.
Rob K. -- I don't sing in the shower. I sing in the car. The acoustics are better.
Tom J. -- "Rubber Ducky" by Ernie of Sesame Street.
Dave K. -- Probably what I've just got done hearing on the radio.
Erik H. -- Vintage "Madchester" tunes often do the trick for me in the shower. "Kinky Afro" by Happy Mondays is a good one, because Shaun Ryder can't really sing and neither can I.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Amadeus rockin'

Last night I watched "Amadeus" on DVD. The script, acting and music combine to make this 1984 release a great film (it won a slew of Oscars).
I already knew the story, so last night I concentrated on the aura surrounding Mozart, as portrayed by Tom Hulce.
As I watched the interaction of the characters, it became clear to me: Mozart was a "rock star" for his age.
Charismatic... Talented... Egotistical... Spoiled...
Mozart shared the attributes of a David Bowie or a Marc Bolan. He seemed very "glam" to me. He chose the most outlandish wigs, he partied and manically composed in equal measure. Heck, he even died the young "rock star" death!
F. Murray Abraham's Antonio Salieri, when compared to Mozart, comes across as a staid practitioner of some dying art. Mozart really seems like a rockin' revolutionary.