Saturday Odds & Sods: Hand Of Kindness

Still Life with Onions by Paul Cezanne

March is the cruelest month in New Orleans for allergy sufferers like me. The weather has been sunny and cool; perfect for outdoor activity. The rub is the oak pollen that can be found everywhere. It coats cars, sidewalks, and any surface it can light on. It makes me feel itchy and my nose run like a broken faucet. The most dramatic symptom involves my eyes, which resemble red gravy in sockets if such a thing is possible.

Enough bitching about my allergies. This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson and was the title track of his 1983 solo album. It was his first record after breaking up personally and professionally with Linda Thompson. It’s one of his finest albums featuring some of his best songs and that’s saying a lot.

We have two versions of Hand Of Kindness for your listening pleasure. The studio original and a live version from Cropredy circa beats the hell outta me.

Now that I’ve extended the hand of kindness, it’s time to jump to the break. Given the RT album cover, we may have to do so at the Chelsea Embankment. Splash.

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Quote Of The Day: Dead Parrot Edition

If it’s Friday, it’s time to quote an eminent Guardian columnist on the shit show that is Brexit. Here’s how the formidable Polly Toynbee described a speech Theresa May gave in the House of Commons earlier this week: Listening to her outburst, you heard the mood music of an angry farewell, a croaky swan song. As she nails her dead parrot of a plan to the perch again next week for yet another vote, she surely knows that battering on with her way or no way, petulantly obdurate to the last, she will be rejected yet again. Polly nailed the petulant … Continue reading Quote Of The Day: Dead Parrot Edition

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Look Now

Dresden Street by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

I don’t usually go in for cross-cultural generalizations about the state of the world but for every rule, there’s an exception. And 2018 has been an exceptionally bad year. Hell meet hand basket.

The US, UK, and France have gone to political hell and back in 2018. Our main problem is obvious: a corrupt and deeply stupid president*. In Britain, they’re still paying the price for the Brexit referendum catastrophe, which has resulted in bad leadership in both of the “big parties” and political paralysis. In France, Emmanuel Macron compared himself to Charles DeGaulle once too often, now there are riots in the streets just like in DeGaulle’s day. In 1968, they waved red flags. In 2018, they wear yellow vests. There’s a good chance that Macron will be France’s third consecutive one-term president. Burning it down is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I wish I had solutions for these problems but I’m a pundit, not a prophet. I don’t even have a prophet and loss statement. I can hear them groaning all the way to Bunkie, so it’s time to move on.

This week’s theme song was written in 1969 by John Fogerty for CCR’s Willy and the Poor Boys album. The title has been shortened over time from Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You or Me) by dropping the parenthetical aside. You may have noticed that I live for parenthetical asides but I can live with the deletion of this one. In fact, it’s a delightful deletion.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Creedence original and a 2005 cover by my main man Dave Alvin.

Don’t Look Now is also the title of a fine film by director Nicolas Roeg who died last month. And don’t look now is excellent advice when one jumps to the break: every time I peek, I get dizzier than Tommy Fucking Roe.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Tears Of A Clown

Circus Sideshow by Georges Seurat.

The big local news of the week was a non-event that I alluded to yesterday: Tropical Storm Gordon. I was reasonably confident it wouldn’t pay us a visit. For whatever reason, storms in the Gulf tend to jog to the east as they approach New Orleans. I’m much more concerned when the early bullseye is to our west than on us.

The new Mayor’s team surprised me with a calm reaction to Gordon:

Mitch Landrieu was prone to overdramatize storm threats by dressing in combat-like gear and declaring unnecessary curfews. Team Cantrell played it cool. If they can transfer this mojo to other city issues, I might be less critical. I’m not holding my breath because I don’t feel like turning blue. It’s a bad look for me.

A depressing local story took place across Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville. A synagogue was defaced with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi graffiti. Anti-Semitism is fashionable on the alt-right and, in some quarters, the hard left. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has damaged Labour’s reputation as an anti-racist party with remarks such as the ones described by the Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone:

He mentions an impassioned speech made at a meeting in parliament about the history of Palestine that was “dutifully recorded by the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience” (audience members he presumably knew nothing about). So far so bad. But it gets worse. He goes on to say that these unnamed Zionists in the audience “clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either … So I think they needed two lessons, which we can perhaps help them with.”

This is classic anti-Semitism as it treats British Jews as the unassimilated OTHER. It was too much for Jewish Labourite Josh Glancy who stated categorically in the New York Times that he wouldn’t vote Labour again until Corbyn is ousted as leader. He describes Corbyn’s views as follows:

I’d always thought that if Mr. Corbyn was ever nailed down on this issue, he’d be spouting the anti-Semitism of the international left: Shadowy Zionist lobbyists. Omnipotent Rothschilds. Benjamin Netanyahu glorying in the slaughter of innocent children.

Instead we got something much closer to home. This was the anti-Semitism of Virginia Woolf and Agatha Christie. It was T.S. Eliot’s “lustreless” Bleistein puffing on his cigar and Roald Dahl insisting that “there is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity.” The comments were more redolent of the genteel Shropshire manor house where Mr. Corbyn was raised than the anticapitalist resistance movements where he forged his reputation.

Ouch. Labour’s anti-Semitism controversy has derailed efforts to oust the inept and incoherent Tory government of Theresa May. It’s a vivid illustration of how the far left and far right can converge. It’s happened before: the dread Oswald Mosley was a Labour MP before forming the British Union of Fascists.

A final note before moving on. I am staunchly anti-Netanyahu: his government’s moves against Israeli-Arabs are repugnant and amount to imposing an Apartheid regime in Israel. Having said that, anti-Netanyahu-ism shouldn’t morph into anti-Semitism. Many Jews in both the UK and the US are opposed to the current Israeli government. But even those who support it, should not be othered in their own country. Genteel bigotry is just as bad as synagogue desecrating bigotry. Now that I think of it, it’s worse: the genteel bigots should know better.

It’s time for me to dismount my sopabox and move on to this week’s theme song. The Tears Of A Clown is one of my all-time favorite records. It was written by Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Hank Cosby for the Miracles in 1970.  It’s one of the songs that made me into the music geek that I am today. It’s on Smokey with Pagliacci as an unindicted co-conspirator.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original Miracles single and Smokey with Daryl Hall on the latter’s teevee show.

Now that we’ve wept the tears of a clown, it’s time to dry off, then jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Dimming Of The Day

New Orleans Window by Lee Friedlander.

Happy Bastille Day. I’m not planning on storming anything, it’s too damn hot for that. I *am* spending some time in the heat by attending San Fermin New Orleans. It’s our zany version of the running of the bulls in which the bulls are rollergirls with plastic bats. I’m not running, I’m drinking mimosas, eating donuts, and hanging out with Dr. A, our friend Cait, the child army, and whoever else shows up. It’s a sweaty, fun, and deeply silly time.

I predicted that the president* would make an ass of himself in the UK and he has done so. He gave an inflammatory interview to the Murdoch owned Sun wherein he praised Boris Johnson, criticized Theresa May, bashed immigrants, and wished people would call the country England again. He apparently re-annexed Ireland while he was at it. The next day, he denied attacking May and called The Sun “fake news” even though it’s owned by his pal Rupert. It was just another day in Trump World.

The featured image is one of my favorite photographs from the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Lee Friedlander in Louisiana exhibit. The New York based photographer has a passion for New Orleans, which is on display at NOMA until August 12th.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for Pour Down Like Silver the third album he and then wife Linda recorded together. We have three versions for your listening pleasure. The original version followed by covers by the Neville Brothers and Bonnie Raitt. RT plays on the latter recording.

Now that we’re feeling a bit on the dim side,  let’s brighten things up by jumping to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Together

Flying Eyeball by Rick Griffin.

To say that New Orleans is a football town is a grotesque understatement. Between the Saints and LSU Tigers, gridiron love runs deep in the Crescent City. But last Monday, local sports fans were talking about the NBA Pelicans. Our local hoopsters lost 2 players to free agency: Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins. The latter Boogied to the Warriors and the surly Rondo signed with the Lakers. I was one of the few  local hoops fans to take this in stride. Rondo was a team leader last year after 12 years as a locker room cancer and occasional gay basher. Boogie Cousins had a torn ACL, which is an injury that usually diminishes big men when they return. I had a torn ACL myself. It ended my unpromising career as a little leaguer. So it goes.

In other local news, new Mayor LaToya Cantrell continues her incomprehensible PR campaign:

I still haven’t the foggiest notion as to what “being intentional” means. Of course, I may just be unintentionally dim. I had an intentionally amusing twitter exchange inspired by the Mayor’s tweet. Two of my twitter friends evoked the image of Matt Foley, Chris Farley’s failed motivational speaker, culminating in this tweet from my old pal Liprap:

This week’s theme song is a bona fide hippie anthem. Get Together was written by Dino Valenti who is best known as lead singer for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Valenti was a man of many names: he was born Chester Powers and also wrote songs as Jesse Orris Farrow.

We have three versions of Get Together for your listening pleasure. First, the Youngbloods, a band so hippie dippy that their keyboard player was nicknamed Banana, followed by the pre-Grace Slick Jefferson Airplane, and a recent live version by Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

In case you’re wondering, the featured image is by Rick Griffin who was one of the legendary Sixties rock poster artists. The image itself was originally on a poster for a Youngbloods show at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

Now that we’ve discussed the Flying Eyeball, let’s make like Evel Knievel and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Spirit In The Dark

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s full-bore summer in New Orleans. We’ve had our share of heat advisories this week. All one can do is drink buckets of water, keep out of the sun, and stay in an air conditioned space. It’s a good thing that I’m essentially an indoorsman. It’s too bloody hot to be all outdoorsy and shit.

I usually write about matters personal and local in the Saturday post intro, prologue or whatever the hell this is. But I cannot resist taking a swipe at the idiot president* over his recycling the “Black Jack Pershing pig’s blood on bullets to ward off Muslims” story. First, unlike the Insult Comedian, Black Jack Pershing was an intelligent man who never said or did such a thing. Second, who the hell, with the possible exception of Frank Gaffney, believes this crapola in 2017? Only a very superstitious moron, that’s who. Third, there *is* a New Orleans connection. There’s a General Pershing Street not far from Adrastos World HQ. Some of the streets in my neighborhood were named after Napoleon I’s battles: Cadiz, Bordeaux, Milan, and Marengo to name a few. General Pershing was originally Berlin Street but was renamed while the country was in throes of anti-German hysteria during the Great War. We go through times like that periodically. We’re in one of them now thanks to the Kaiser of Chaos. So it goes.

As to the featured image, I usually steer clear of using an artist’s best known work but how could I resist Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks for this nocturnally named post? Like Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, I Can’t Help Myself.

This week’s theme song was written by Aretha Franklin for her 1970 album of the same name. It’s perhaps the best song the Queen of Soul ever wrote. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Aretha’s original and a duet with Ray Charles from her fabulous 1971 album, Aretha Live at Fillmore West.

It’s hard to top the Genius and the Queen of Soul, y’all. I won’t even try. Well, maybe after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: One Way Out

Part of the Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence.

It was politics Thursday here at Adrastos World HQ. In addition to Comeypalooza,  Oscar and I watched the British election returns. It’s always great fun to see the BBC’s venerable David Dimbleby at work in what are the wee hours in the UK. He gets a bit punchy whereas the young uns are falling out. I dig their graphics, especially the virtual House of Commons. It’s uncommonly cool.

The Tories ran a dreadful campaign and fell short of a majority in the House of Commons. The Maybot has vowed to soldier on with help from the Ulster Unionists but Tory knives are sharpening after her big gamble flopped. I’m not a huge Jeremy Corbyn fan BUT the man is a good campaigner and Labour made impressive gains. If the Maybot attempts to stay indefinitely there may be another election sooner than the British people would like. Stay tuned.

We return to our regularly scheduled Saturday programming.

The topic of who wrote this week’s theme song is the subject of considerable debate. One Way Out has been credited to both Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson. I haven’t the foggiest idea who the real songwriter is but it’s a helluva tune. There was even a 1965 variation by GL Crockett called It’s A Man Down There.

I’m not getting involved in the authorship fracas other than posting multiple versions of this blues classic. In fact, I’m staying out of the Sonny Boy/Elmore thicket altogether by posting the Allman Brothers Band, Crockett, and a rendition by John Hiatt from a Gregg Allman tribute. We begin with the version that I first heard on the radio longer ago than I care to admit. There ain’t nothing better than live Allman Brothers:

There’s only way out here at First Draft as well. I’ll show you the exit after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Roll With It

Composition VIII by Vasily Kandinsky.

It’s April Fool’s Day. I’m not planning to prank y’all but if I were I wouldn’t tell you. I like to keep my readers off-balance with this offbeat and off-kilter feature. I hope the previous sentence wasn’t off-putting.

We’re going to a kid’s birthday party/crawfish berl today. That’s boil to you auslanders. It’s young Harper’s second birthday and she’s already out of fucks to give. She actually reminds me of Della the cat. That’s how she is. Of course, the toddler will stop being a cat whereas Della Street is defiantly feline for life. It’s a good thing that she’ll never learn how to speak: she’d never shut up.

We’re back in same title, different song country with this week’s theme songs. I hope y’all can Roll With It, baby. We begin with Steve Winwood’s tribute to Stax-Volt soul music followed by Oasis and *their* song Roll With It.

I’m keeping it relatively light this time around. It’s going to be heavy on the magic and light on the Nazis and such. Of course, *that* could be the April Fool’s joke. You’ll find out after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Promised Land

Marbotikin Dulda by Frank Stella.

We seem to have hit peak pollen this week in New Orleans. Achoo. As a result, I awaken each day with watery eyes and a runny nose. Achoo. It’s most unpleasant as is my daily sinus headache. The good news is that we’re supposed to have some rain to wash away the sticky yellow stuff. The bad news is that it won’t happen until later today when we have plans to attend a festival not far from Adrastos World HQ. Oh well, that’s what umbrellas are for.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or watching teevee with the Insult Comedian, you know that Chuck Berry died at the age of 90.  This week’s theme song, Promised Land, is my favorite Chuck Berry tune. I was introduced to it at the first Grateful Dead show I ever attended. It was a helluva opening number.

I have three versions for your entertainment: Berry’s original, the Band’s rollicking piano driven take from Moondog Matinee, and the Dead live in the Nutmeg State. It’s time to jet to the promised land, y’all.

I remain mystified as to why Chuck wanted to get out of Louisiana and go to Houston town. There’s no accounting for taste. Let’s ponder that as I insert the break, but not where the moon don’t shine.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Liar

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Heaven and Hell by heavy metal quilter Ben Venom.

It’s been another weird week in New Orleans. The weather has been yo-yo-ing to and fro. We reluctantly ran the AC on a particularly steamy day and we’re back to the heater right now. The kitties, of course, prefer the latter. So it goes.

There was a lethal shooting last weekend on Bourbon Street. It doesn’t happen that often but when it does the media, city government, and tourism establishment lose their collective minds. This time there are suggestions of metal detectors and limited access. That’s typical NOLA think: propose something that would be simultaneously costly and unenforceable. We live in a country and a state with an armed population and when you add booze and crowds to the mix, violence is not surprising. It’s difficult to prevent an asshole with a concealed weapon from discharging it. That may sound cold and harsh but “to live in this town, you must be tough, tough, tough, tough.” Thus spake Jagger and Richards. She-doo-be.

The mendacity theme here at First Draft continues with this week’s theme songs. That’s right, my obsession with different songs with the same title continues. We begin with Todd Rundgren’s 2004 tune Liar. It’s followed in quick succession by Queen, the Sex Pistols, Argent, and, of all people, Three Dog Night who covered the Argent tune.

I had no idea there were so many songs with liar in the title and that’s the truth. There will be more prevarication after the break, but first I need to find that lying sack of shit that we’ve heard so much about over the years.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: God’s Comic

man-ray-glass-tears
Glass Tears by Man Ray, 1932.

Facebook killed me off earlier this week. I even got a death notice from them but neglected to take a screen shot. I was not alone in receiving a premature memorial page notice from the Zuckerdudes. Facebook even whacked blog pun consultant James Karst:

Karst is dead.

I’m pleased to report that, unlike the late Johnny Winter, Karst is still alive and well:

I’ve heard several explanations as to what went wrong but there’s one I like. And I’m sticking to it even if it’s debunked as de bunk. Consider it my Ford factory relocation moment. Here it is: It may have been concocted by trolls who wanted to metaphorically liquidate people whose content they dislike. I wear their scorn as a badge of honor even if I have long believed that “we don’t need no stinking badges.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, y’all. Facebook and fake news go together like Lennon and McCartney before Yoko and Linda or Rodgers and Hart before Hammerstein. Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.

This week’s theme song is an obvious choice: God’s Comic by Elvis Costello. It’s written from the perspective of a dead guy. This may make EC the Nostraelvis of rock and roll since it was written for the Spike album in 1989 long before Facebook existed. Or is that Nostradeclan? I cannot for the life or death of me keep that straight. First the song followed by a few  lyrics:

EC is a notoriously wordy songwriter so there are a lot of lyrics.  Here’s the first verse followed by the chorus :

I wish you’d known me when I was alive, I was a funny feller
The crowd would hoot and holler for more
I wore a drunk’s red nose for applause
Oh yes I was a comical priest
“With a joke for the flock and a hand up your fleece”
Drooling the drink and the lipstick and greasepaint
Down the cardboard front of my dirty dog-collar

Now I’m dead, now I’m dead, now I’m dead,
Now I’m dead, now I’m dead
And I’m going on to meet my reward
I was scared, I was scared, I was scared, I was scared
He might of never heard God’s Comic

On that mordantly morbid note, it’s time for the break. We should move expeditiously before Facebook kills me off again and I go on to meet my reward.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Winding Stream

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The Hailstorm by Thomas Hart Benton, 1940.

It’s been a scorching hot and depressing week in New Orleans. The Alton Sterling case is too close to home for comfort. The reaction from some white Gret Steters has been dispiriting while not altogether surprising. Apparently, it’s okay for a white dude to pack heat but not a black dude. The distinction eludes me. Additionally, the events in St. Paul and Dallas have cast a bloody pall over the week. I don’t usually let the news affect my mood but these events have. If you missed it, please read Doc’s post No Lives Matter. It sums my mood up quite well.

The good news is that I wrote most of this post before the appalling police shootings in Dallas. The combination of that city’s name and the word sniper has some bad juju for many of us. The post was already rather somber, so let’s get back to what passes for normality at First Draft.

The heat has been oppressive even by NOLA standards. When you step outside, it hits you in the face like a damp washcloth. It’s August level heat and humidity, and my body hasn’t even adjusted to the high 80’s let alone the mid-to-upper 90’s. There’s a huge difference between the two. When it’s 95 here the “feels like temperature” goes as high as 105-110, which is like Phoenix, AZ only wet, wet, wet. Dare I make a Wet Willie joke? Nah, I’ll skip it since it could get obscene and I’m not in the mood.

We spent some time outside last Saturday at a one-year-old’s birthday party. I found a shady, comparatively breezy spot, and in the feline manner staked it out as my own. My friends pointed out that cats seek out sunbeams but I hissed and declined to move.  The birthday girl is named Luna and one of the Spanksters made a piñata that looked like the image from Georges Melies’ landmark 1902 flick A Trip To The Moon:

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Piñata by Lara Desmond.

It was decided that it was too beautiful to be smashed to smithereens, so it’s now hanging on a wall at Luna’s folks crib. As Mad Men’s Weird Glenn would put it, Nice digs. Have I mentioned lately how much I miss Mad Men?

This week’s theme song is something of a bucolic antidote to my urban angst. It was written by AP Carter and has been recorded by oodles of artists. It’s also the title of a recent documentary about the Carter Family but more about that anon. The first version is by the original Carter Family: AP, Sara, and Maybelle. The second version features Carlene Carter, June Carter Cash, and a grand total of four generations of Carters:

Old-time Country music can be so comforting, in between tales of drunken depravity; of course, the Carters weren’t in to that sort of thing. They were traditionalists in the best sense of the word. On that note, it’s traditional for us to go to the break at this point.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Better Things

Japser Johns flag
Flag by Jasper Johns.

It’s been a steamy and sweaty week in New Orleans. It’s what we expect in late June; expect but dislike. Yuck. I’ve been consumed with British politics all week and have tried my damnedest *not* to write about it too much at First Draft; to paraphrase an old song, we’re an American Blog. The intrigue and backstabbing is irresistible to a political junkie like me. The whole Boris Johnson-Michael Gove story is like something out of the original, and superior, British version of House of Cards. I wonder if the knife is still in BoJo’s back as a reminder not to trust your “wingman” but I guess that’s a Goven now. I’ll give the Guardian’s Marina Hyde the last word on Gove who turns out to be a Tyrion fanboy:

“In the notorious words of Michael Gove, “people in this country have had enough of experts” But have they had enough of expert shits?”

The column title is just as scathing: In the Tory laundry basket, Michael Gove is the dirtiest item. Marina should really stop mincing words.

The Labour leadership struggle has gotten rather Pythonesque. If they don’t work things out, Labour risks being branded as the neo-Silly Party. The Corbynites are as mathematically challenged as their American brethren and even more vitriolic. They’re adamant that 250k leadership votes for their Jeremy trumps the 9.3 million votes Labour received at the last general election. Holy Fuzzy Maths, Batman.

I hate to quote the lame duck Prime Minister as he limps out the door but he summed Corbyn up quite well at the last Prime Minister’s Questions:

“We all have to reflect on our role in the referendum campaign. I know the honourable gentleman says he put his back into it. All I’d say, I’d hate to see him when he’s not trying.”

<snip>

“It might be in my party’s interest for him to sit there. It’s not in the national interest. I would say – for heaven’s sake, man, go.”

Snap. Even a posh pigfucker is right some of the time. I guess that makes him sooey generis. I suspect that y’all only laughed at that one if you’re in a generis mood…

Enough talk of what the French used to call Perfidious Albion. Let’s move onto this week’s theme song, Better Things. It’s the closing track on the Kinks brilliant 1981 LP Give The People What They Want. The album starts off on a dark note, and gets progressively bleaker until the opening chords of Better Things signal that it’s safe to come out of hiding. It’s a signal we could all use in the wake of the Istanbul attack and the rest of this week’s news in bleak.

We begin our betterment with the original recording. It’s followed by a version Ray cut with Bruce Springsteen in 2012. Last and probably least is a rendition by Fountains Of Wayne. Actually, it’s a cracking version but I was possessed by the spirit of snark.

How Dar I forget this lovely 1997 cover by Ms. Williams:

Now that I’ve given the people what they want, it’s time for the break. See you on the other side.

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