Category Archives: Music

Saturday Odds & Sods: Wooden Ships

A New Frontier by Alan Bean

Summer colds are the worst. I have one so I’m keeping this introduction brief. This time I mean it.

This week’s theme song, Wooden Ships, was written in 1968 by David Crosby, Paul Kantner, and Stephen Stills. There are two original versions of this song but I’m posting the Crosby, Stills & Nash one first because it was released in May of 1969 whereas Jefferson Airplane’s version came out that November.

Now that we’ve fled planet Earth, let’s jump into the void, I mean, jump to the break. I’m not sure if Kantner, Crosby, and Stills provided parachutes. They were hippies so I have my doubts. I’ll guess we’ll find out on the other side.

Continue reading

Louisiana Tunes: An Unexpected Fan

I shouldn’t still be going on about my Top 50 list at the Bayou Brief BUT I have an unexpected fan:

I’m glad the Senator or whoever does his social media (it also turned up on Twitter) enjoyed the list. I somehow doubt they know that the Bayou Brief is a liberal publication or that I’m a pro-impeachment blogger who calls his president* the Insult Comedian and the Kaiser of Chaos. Thanks, Double Bill.

Since the river is dangerously high in Baton Rouge, the last word goes to John Boutte’s live version of the number one Louisiana Tune:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest

The Fugs were an underground band formed in 1964 by poets Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg. This is the first time I’ve selected an album in this space because of its title: It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest. It makes me laugh every time I think of it. There are worse reasons than that, y’all.

Here’s the album in the YouTube playlist format:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: I Want You Back

Rayograph by Man Ray.

This is the week Mother Nature flicked the celestial switch to turn on the steam bath that is summer in New Orleans. It hit 90 degrees for the first time in 2019. The cats slowed down, and your humble blogger started sweating like Bogie in the greenhouse scene in The Big Sleep. This sort of heat is why people in more sensible countries such as Spain and Greece take siestas. Did I just call the Greeks sensible? There’s a first time for everything.

The big local story was the death of writer, raconteur, and local character Ronnie Virgets at the age of 77. His prose style was unique as was his voice, which landed him on local teevee and radio. Ronnie was a man about town so I ran into him from time-to-time over the years. The last time was at the Krewe du Vieux captain’s dinner. Ronnie was our king in 1996. I told him how much I missed his Razoo column in the Gambit. His reply: “I ran out of shit to say.” It was said with a wink so I didn’t believe it for a second. Our mutual friend, Clancy DuBos, wrote a lovely tribute to Ronnie in which he compared him to both Damon Runyon and Jimmy Breslin. Yeah, you right, Clancy. They broke the mold when they made Ronnie Virgets.

Motown May continues with this week’s theme song. I Want You Back was written in 1969 by “The Corporation” aka Berry Gordy, Freddie Perren, Alphonso Mizell, and Deke Richards. The song was originally intended for Gladys Knight & the Pips but ended up being the Jackson 5’s first hit. Let me address the monster in the room: Michael Jackson did monstrous things as an adult but he was an abused child in 1969. Besides, my favorite thing about I Want You back is the production, especially the guitar riff that propels the song.

We have two versions for your entertainment. The Jackson 5 original and a cool cover by Graham Parker:

I hope you’ll still want me back after we jump to the break. If you don’t, who can blame you?

Continue reading

Spotify The Louisiana Tunes

By popular demand, here’s *my* Spotify playlist of my  Top 50 Louisiana Tunes. There are a couple of different versions based on spotty Spotify availability:

  • The Garth Brooks catalog is not on Spotify so I’ve replaced his version of #45, Callin’ Baton Rouge, with one by Brooks Jefferson.
  • Connie Boswell’s rendition of #32, Way Down Yonder In New Orleans, was unavailable so I substituted a live version by Louis Armstrong.
  • At #20 we have some Louis Prima lagniappe, a medley of Basin Street Blues and When It’s Sleepy Time Down South. More of the Wildest is always welcome.
  • # 2c, Zachary Richard’s No French No More is not available on Spotify.

I suspect I’m the only one who cares about these details but I do. Like the list at the Bayou Brief, it’s in reverse order.

Enjoy the playlist, y’all.

Bayou Brief: Louisiana Tunes

My latest for the Bayou Brief is another listicle, Louisiana Tunes: The Top 50 Songs About the Gret Stet. It could also be called the Son of the Louisiana Movie List.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bob Kames

Bob Kames nee Kujawa was a polka musician operating out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he was, apparently, a local legend. I’d never heard of him until my friend Marko Romano suggested one of the Bobster’s campier album covers. I went in another direction but I’d like to thank him for putting some polka into my life.

Here are two album covers:

What’s not to love about a happy organ, beer, and the chicken dance?

Saturday Odds & Sods: You Keep Me Hangin’ On

Golconda by Rene Magritte.

After a deluge on Mother’s Day, we’re having Indian spring in New Orleans. Is there such a thing? If there’s not, there should be. The best thing about it is that the oak pollen that plagued me got its ass kicked by the rain.

I’ve never re-used an Odds & Sods featured image within a month before, but it’s a perfect fit with this week’s theme song. Besides, if you blog long enough, you end up repeating yourself, repeating yourself, repeating yourself. One side benefit of the vinyl revival is that everyone knows what a broken record is, what a broken record is, what a broken record is. It’s time to lift the needle and move on.

Motown May continues with the Supremes. The crack songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote You Keep Me Hangin’ On in 1966. It was a number one hit song with a bullet, with a bullet, with a bullet. The preceding was an inside joke for hardcore Zappa fans. Everyone else can move on to the next paragraph.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Supremes original and a 1967 “psychedelic rock” cover by Vanilla Fudge, which was also a  top ten hit. I put psychedelic rock in quotes because it’s one of those phrases that’s like ketchup or mayo: some people slather it over everything.

Now that we’ve hung on as well as out, let’s jump to the break. Perhaps all this hangin’ means we’ll land in a hangar. One more thing:

Continue reading

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Love Me Or Leave Me

I did a search for Doris Day album covers. They were all flattering head shots and not terribly interesting. The cover of the soundtrack album of Love Me Or Leave Me was as atypical as her performance as torch singer and tough broad Ruth Etting. Does this look like a “professional virgin” to you?

Here’s a glamorous lobby card as lagniappe:

Finally, here’s the whole damn album:

 

Not Everything Sucks

This man is out there making gorgeous music, that speaks to how hard and hopeless everything seems, and how you get up and do the damn job anyway.

I had the good fortune to meet him at a show last fall, during a torrential downpour, like a 7-year rainstorm. He was playing a show in the upstairs of a small bar on the north side of the city and I got there like an hour early because I’m a huge dork so that gave me plenty of time to try not to look like a huge dork and think of things to say to him, and all I came up with was “thank you, I’m pretty sure this is making the world worth living in right now.”

A.

Doris Day, R.I.P.

My parents were both Doris Day fans, so I grew up watching her eponymous sitcom, then her movies on the late, late show. They owned some of her records and my mom was known to sing along with Doris. She got a kick out of informing me that Doris Day was my dad’s celebrity crush. His response, “She’s my type. She’s a beautiful Midwestern blonde. Just like your mother.”

Doris Day died today at the age of 97. She lived a long, productive, and difficult life. She was a survivor: she made it through a series of bad marriages and outlived her only child, Terry Melcher, by 15 years. Terry was Manson’s real target on the night that Sharon Tate was murdered. He was never quite the same again but his mother persevered. People who grew up during the Great Depression and lived through World War II were as tough as nails; even America’s Sweetheart.

As much as I loved her movies with Rock Hudson and Tony Randle, it was a revelation when I saw her in the two movies whose lobby cards are this post’s featured image. She was a mom and wife in the Hitchcock flick but her turn in Love Me Or Leave Me as Ruth Etting, a torch singer married to a gangster, was unlike any other part she ever played. Ruth was one tough cookie as was Doris.

Doris Day was a legend: singer, movie star, actress, and animal lover. What a life, what a broad. She will be missed.

The last word goes to Doris herself with the theme song from Love Me Or Leave and the song from The Man Who Knew Too Much that became her signature number, Que Sera, Sera:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: You Haven’t Done Nothin’

Der Vogelmensch by Max Ernst

It’s been a good news, silly news week in New Orleans. I’m a good news first person: with the help of Governor Edwards, Mayor LaToya Cantrell has secured millions in tourism money to help fix our aging infrastructure. Here’s what I mean by aging infrastructure:

In silly local news, the Krewe of Nyx is planning a summer parade. Just what we needed: a sweaty-n-steamy faux Carnival parade. This is why I call them the krewe of mediocre themes and bad ideas. The only good thing is that they won’t be sweat-rolling on the traditional parade route near Adrastos World HQ. It’s a terrible idea: the allure of Carnival is enhanced by its seasonality. This is like eating oysters in a month without an R. Shorter Adrastos: Nix on Nyx.

Motown May continues with this week’s theme song. Stevie Wonder wrote You Haven’t Done Nothin’ in 1974 in response to the news of the day: Watergate. That’s right, it’s about Nixon. I’ve used it before but never as an Odds & Sods theme song. Since we’re in a slow-motion constitutional crisis, it works. Just think of Trump instead of Tricky Dick.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Stevie’s original and a 2018 cover by Roger Daltrey.

Now that we’ve trashed talked Tricky-n-Trumpy, let’s jump to the break.

Continue reading

Not Everything Sucks: Springsteen At Jazz Fest 2006

An early high point of the Katrina/Federal Flood recovery era was when the Boss played the first Jazz Fest after the storm. It was one of the best sets I’ve ever seen.  It closed in a way that guaranteed there wasn’t a dry eye at the Fairgrounds:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

A friend of mine recently criticized me for rarely posting heavy metal covers in this feature. It’s true: I’m not a fan of the music BUT the genre does have its share of cool covers. This week’s entry is one of them.

1973’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was Black Sabbath’s fifth studio album. Here’s how the cover was, uh, covered in the album’s Wikipedia entry:

Drew Struzan (who would later create the iconic cover to Alice Cooper‘s Welcome to My Nightmare LP) was the artist requested to do the cover painting, under the direction of Pacific Eye & Ear’s Ernie Cefalu. The idea behind the artwork was to depict a man dying a horrible death on the front cover, and on the back cover the same man dying a “good” death. It depicts a man on a bed, seemingly having a nightmare or a vision of being attacked by demons in human form. At the top of the bed is a large skull with long, outstretched arms and 666 (the Number of the Beast) written below it. The other side of the album features the opposite of the front cover, as shown here. Inside the gatefold sleeve there is a photo of the band members shown over a photo of a bedroom. In his autobiography Osbourne enthuses, “I fucking loved that cover.”

I fucking like the cover. I’m not wild about the gatefold so I skipped it. Sorry, Ozzy.

Here’s the title track:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: What’s Going On

Jazz Fest is in its second weekend. I used to love this event, but it’s like an ex-girlfriend who I still like but am not always eager to see.  It’s become just another pop/roots rock/kinda sorta jazz festival in the last decade, which has made me lukewarm about attending. I broke up with Jazz Fest a few years ago and have an awkward relationship with it. I still may go this weekend but the thrill is gone, y’all.

In other New Orleans news, a water main broke a few miles from Adrastos World HQ. We had no water pressure for a few hours and are still under a boil water advisory. The pipe was laid in 1905. I should make a crude joke at this point but I try to ignore my inner Beavis and Butthead.

This week we celebrate the music of Marvin Gaye who would have turned 80 on April 2nd, which was the day that the USPS issued the Marvin Gaye stamp. I remember the dark day in 1984 when I heard about Marvin’s death at the hands of his father. It was April Fool’s day so I wondered briefly if the news was a cruel hoax. It was not. I even shed a few tears. I rarely cry but I wept that day. Rage, jealousy, and firearms are a toxic combination. For Marvin, they were fatal.

This week’s theme song was the title track of Marvin’s best album.  We have two versions of What’s Going On for your listening pleasure: Marvin’s original followed by a swell 1986 cover by Cyndi Lauper who really rocks Marvin’s composition.

Now that we’ve seen what’s going on, let’s jump to the break with our eyes wide open. I’ll skip the obvious Kubrick joke.

Continue reading

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Blues After Sunset

Since it’s the second week of Jazz Fest, it’s time to feature a New Orleans artist. Henry Butler was a much-loved pianist and all around nice guy who died last year at the age of 69.

The cover design of 1998’s Blues After Sunset was a throwback to the jazz album cover art of the 1950’s. Fittingly, the great Herman Leonard, who did the photography on many such albums, took the cover photo of the man and his piano.

Here’s a somewhat bedraggled scan of the back cover:

Finally, here’s the whole damn album via YouTube:

 

Not Everything Sucks: Music Edition

There’s a lot of dumbassery out there today. Have something beautiful:

A.

Quote Of The Day: Bill Weld On Trump

I’m a hardcore Democrat so I’m not supporting Bill Weld, BUT I got a kick out of that slogan when I saw it on the book of faces. As a longtime observer of presidential politics, I’m keeping an eye on Weld’s nascent challenge to the Insult Comedian. In the primary era, presidents who face a serious intra-party challenge lose re-election. By serious, I mean someone who can poll enough votes early on to inflict political damage such as Pat Buchanan or Gene McCarthy neither of whom expected to win the nomination. But Poppy Bush lost and LBJ withdrew. Mission accomplished.

Weld is something of an anachronism: a moderate New England Republican. They used to be plentiful but now they’re as rare as the dodo bird. Weld, however, is no dodo.

Massachusetts pols have traditionally done well in the New Hampshire primary. It’s also one of twenty states where unenrolled voters can vote in a party primary, which gives Weld a chance to bloody Trump’s nose with the help of  independents. And they’re plentiful in the Granite State.

Weld sat down for an extended interview with the NYT’s Jeremy W. Peters. I got a kick out of this exchange:

There’s conservatism and Trumpism. One is an ideology, the other is more of an attitude. But increasingly a lot of conservatives worry that the two have become inseparably linked. Are they?

They shouldn’t be. Trumpism is frankly devotion to Mr. Trump’s megalomania. I mean, he’s got a lot going on in his head. The man is so angry so much of the time. It’s hard for me to see how one single head could contain so much anger, so much wrath.

He says, “I’m a counterpuncher.” He is not a counterpuncher. He will take off with tweets or action after any slight, real or imagined. My read is the guy is terrified maybe he’s a loser, which is why he lashes out at anybody. I don’t know everything that’s going on there. But I do know that I would not want to have the president’s demons. I feel for the guy in a way. They’re not normal.

That reminds me of some venerable Neil Finn lyrics:

There’s closets in my head where dirty things are kept
That never see the light of day
I want to drag them out, go for a walk
Just to see the look that’s on your face
Sometimes I can’t be straight I don’t want to hurt you
So forgive me if I tell a lie
Sometimes I come on cold but don’t believe it
I will love you till the day I die

I guess the last line could be the president* referring to his true love, himself. Hell, the next couplet fits as well:

I believe in doing things backwards
Take heed, start doing things in reverse

That concludes what one could call the sub-quote of the day. I believe I just did.

The last word goes to Crowded House:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Back In The High Life Again

Mesas In Shadows by Maynard Dixon

I had a stupid kitchen accident this week. The sink was full-ish so I decided to pour boiling water into an airborne/hand-held colander. I missed and mildly scalded my left hand. It hurt like hell for a day or so but barely qualified as a first degree burn. I did, however, feel like a first degree dumbass. It was not unlike being an honorary Trump.

I just finished reading John Farrell’s fine 2017 biography of Richard Nixon. I learned two positive things about Tricky Dick. First, he broke his arm as a young politician after slipping on the ice outside his DC area home. The break occurred because he held onto his daughter instead of bracing for the fall with his hands. Second, Nixon was a good tipper. He tipped 25% in the late Sixties when 10% when standard and 15% was a big tip. Hell has frozen over: I just said something nice about Nixon.

After last week’s sad theme songs, I decided to elevate the tone a bit. Back In The High Life Again was written by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings in 1986. It was a big hit; surely aided by James Taylor’s gorgeous harmony vocals.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Winwood’s chirpy original and a mournful interpretation by Warren Zevon, another wry and sardonic guy. We’re everywhere, y’all.

Now I want some Miller High Life, which is my favorite cheap beer. It’s even good enough for my beer snob/home brewer friend Greg. On that note, let’s take a swig of Miller, then jump to the break. Try not to spill any. Wasting beer is a sin.

Continue reading

Album Cover Art Wednesday: One Size Fits All

I spend a lot of time in my formative years listening to Frank Zappa. I was attracted to his oddball sense of humor and his wry and sardonic stage patter. Wry and sardonic sums me up quite well. Above all else, I loved his tricky music and the virtuosity of the musicians who worked with FZ.

One Size Fits All is my favorite Zappa album. The songs are tight, well-constructed, and perfectly arranged. It’s one of the last albums released using the Mothers name. It’s also one of the best bands Zappa ever assembled: the vocals by George Duke and Napoleon Murphy Brock are to die for. One Size Fits All flat-out rocks.

The cover art is by Cal Schenkel who designed 16+ Zappa covers. He was FZ’s artistic alter ego and described his style as “ragged surrealism.”

Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube: