Thursday, November 27, 2008


William DeVaughn-Be Thankful for What You Got

On this day of thanks in 2008, I thought I would blog some things that make me thankful to be alive. Stay positive!

Things I am thankful for:
My wife and kids
My small but very special group of friends
Bob Dylan and his Theme Time Radio Hour
My new Guitar
Barack and Michelle Obama and the smart 52.8% of the voting population
My family
Jon Stewart
My sweet motorcycle
Jerry Garcia
Jack Kerouac
John Coltrane
Woody Guthrie and the book Bound for Glory
Fleet Foxes (Best new band of 2008)
It's a Wonderful Life (Movie)
Bob Marley
Lower gas prices
The Hold Steady-Stay Positive (Best disc of 2008)
Satellite radio
Hunter S. Thompson
30 Rock
My health

Now relax and watch the classic South Park Thanksgiving Special by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Acoustic Dead

For an entire month in October 1980, the Grateful Dead took over Radio City Music Hall in New York city for a series of shows which culminated with the excellent official releases "Dead Set" and "Reckoning".

Besides the month-long residency, what made these shows so special is that each of them began with a set of all acoustic music; something The Dead hadn't done live since 1970. The release "Reckoning" captures those acoustic sets magnificently and if you don't own it, it is a must have for music fans; whether you're into The Dead or not.

Luckily, the 10-31-80 show was video simulcast to theaters around the country and of course, is widely bootlegged. Thanks to the magic of You Tube, I present some of the acoustic set highlights.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Bruce Springsteen Track

I am absolutely loving this new Bruce Springsteen track that came out last week. The song is called "Working on a Dream" and it will also be the title of his new album dropping on January 27 (Five days before he performs at the Super Bowl, btw).

The new disc will feature songs written right after the material on Bruce's last disc, "Magic". I'm hoping the rest of it is as good as the title track.

“Towards the end of recording Magic, excited by the return to pop production sounds, I continued writing,” Springsteen says in a statement. “When my friend producer Brendan O’Brien heard the new songs, he said, ‘Let’s keep going.’ Over the course of the next year, that’s just what we did, recording with the E Street Band during the breaks on last year’s tour. I hope Working on a Dream has caught the energy of the band fresh off the road from some of the most exciting shows we’ve ever done. All the songs were written quickly, we usually used one of our first few takes, and we all had a blast making this one from beginning to end.”

"Working On a Dream" Tracklist
1. “Outlaw Pete”
2. “My Lucky Day”
3. “Working on a Dream”
4. “Queen of the Supermarket”
5. “What Love Can Do”
6. “This Life”
7. “Good Eye”
8. “Tomorrow Never Knows”
9. “Life Itself”
10. “Kingdom of Days”
11. “Surprise, Surprise”
12. “The Last Carnival”
Bonus Tracks
13. “The Wrestler”
14. “A Night with the Jersey Devil.”

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Dark Side of Al Franken

While we all know that 57 year old comedian, writer, radio talk show host, and politician Al Franken is in the middle of a tight Senate seat race for the state of Minnesota; what you may not be aware of is his sorted, checkered past.

In his youth, Al Franken paled around with Deadheads. Yes Deadheads; the most hairy and smelly of human beings who frequently espoused the evil practices of peace, love, and twirl dancing.

And Franken did not just pal around with Deadheads, but high ranking members of the Grateful Dead themselves. God only knows what subversive practices Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh instilled in him. Sources tell me that Franken has a tape collection of Grateful Dead material that totals in the thousands and that he can rattle off setlists from the 80's off the top of his head.

Below is proof of Franken's checkered past. We can only hope the pure Norm Coleman prevails....

EDIT-This just in: Norm Coleman celebrated his 20'th birthday at the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Acoustic Cardinology

In the middle of a European tour in support of his fine new "Cardinology" disc, Ryan Adams and fellow Cardinals played a short but very sweet acoustic set of new tunes.

I have to say that I'm enjoying these versions much more than the takes on the actual album; which isn't to say I don't like it, but these versions sound much truer to how I imagine the songs were written. Or something like that....

Watch and hear for yourself below.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wilco Love You Baby!

I know I'm really late to the blog party with posting this one. A couple of weeks ago, my favorite band in the land Wilco played a new song on The Colbert Report called, "Wilco: The Song". Besides the fact that it's too cool to have a song with your band name in the title, the song is great. Check it out below.

It also got me thinking what other bands have had song titles with their band name in the title. I came up with Talk Talk, Wang Chung, Black Sabbath, and The Clash. I don't think "Who are You" counts. Surly, there has to be others.....

Wilco: The Song Download

Friday, November 14, 2008

Election Night-Behind the Scenes

John McCain supporters stop reading now (sorry).

I'm a sucker for historic photographs, and it doesn't get more historic than these. Barack Obama's campaign photographer, David Katz, has uploaded tons of behind the scenes pictures to the photo site Flickr. Many of these are just fascinating but none more so than the series from election night. This is a rare, inside look at a historic day. And you know what? Obama looks like he may as well be watching the results of his stock portfolio on CNBC. Cool, calm, and collected. Just the kind of leader we need these days (in my useless opinion).

You can enjoy the election night photos here:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy B-Day Neil Young!

The ever-awesome Neil Young turned 59 today. Here are some of my favorite clips to celebrate. Keep on Rocking in the Free World indeed.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Astral Weeks Live

Last night and tonight at the Hollywood Bowl, Van Morrison played his classic 1968 album "Astral Weeks" in its entirety featuring most of the musicians who played on the original.
This is amazing news for Morrison fans. Van has long disliked revisiting his back catalog let alone playing an album in its entirety. I found a great blog site where last night's show is chronicled in obsessive detail.

Astral Weeks is not just my favorite Van Morrison album, but is one of my top 10 albums of all time. Words cannot describe the emotions one feels while getting lost in the words and music. If you do not own the original, go online NOW and purchase it.

These shows are being recorded for an inevitable CD/DVD release. In the meantime, I found some clips of Van playing a few of the tracks from this past summer. These should tide us over until the real deal comes out. I can't wait!! Meanwhile, I go to search for the bootleg copy......

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thunder On The Mountain-Bob Dylan in Milwaukee

So after having my appendix out on Monday afternoon, I drove 90 minutes each way to see my favorite musician of all time last night in Milwaukee, WI. There was no way in hell I was going to miss a Bob Dylan concert that I had tickets for. Bob doesn't come to the Wisconsin area a whole heck of a lot so it's always a must see for me when he does.

So how was old Bob last night? I won't lie to you; he was as baffling and brilliant as he always is. For those who don't follow Dylan live anymore, he rarely plays guitar anymore and tends to confine himself to stage-left hunkered down behind a barely audible electric organ. The barely audible part is a good thing, believe me!

As far as the set goes, it began with a rocky start with Bob's mic being far too low in the mix for most of the first song. This was fixed quickly however and the grizzled, well worn garble of the 67 year old genius came through loud and clear warning us all about the coming "Thunder on the Mountain".

Throughout the show, Dylan's vocals ranged from horrible to amazing, sometimes all within the same song. And when I say "horrible" or "amazing", I don't mean the quality of the singing but the care that he puts into the words. Sometimes I get the feeling that he's just trying to get the words out but not even thinking about their meaning anymore. Which for someone with words as great as Bob Dylan, is a shame. I realize this comes with the territory when you have sung these songs as many times as Bob has. My point is you can really tell when Bob is "into" the words that are coming out of his mouth and when he isn't. The success or failure of a Dylan show depends on this.

Luckily, for the most part we got a Dylan who was engaged in the materiel and who picked a fantastic setlist. I am such a crazy fan, that Bob playing one specific song could make seeing a whole show worthwhile. For me last night, that song was "Just Like A Woman". He could have stopped right there and I would have gone home satisfied. But we also got classics like "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, Girl of the North Country, and Tangled Up in Blue" as well as two of his best recent songs in the apocalyptic "High Water" and "Ain't Talkin'".

There were lots of nice harp solos and unfortunately, some of Bob's attempts at organ solos as well. I don;t mind if Bob wants to lean on a keyboard these days, but they should leave it unplugged. I felt it added nothing to the sound and if anything, tended to distract from it. Bob's rhythm section is top notch, but one wishes he would let his guitarists stretch out more like they did in the explosive "All Along the Watchtower".

So all in all it was a typical 2008 Dylan show. Brilliant and frustrating all at the same time. But watching Bob Dylan sing the evening's emotional set closer "Blowing in the Wind", I realized that through all these years, Bob has done whatever Bob wants to do. And I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Riverside Theater, November 6, 2008

1. Thunder On The Mountain
2. Love Minus Zero/No Limit
3. Lonesome Day Blues
4. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
5. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
6. Girl Of The North Country
7. High Water (For Charley Patton)
8. Workingman's Blues #2
9. Just Like A Woman
10. Tangled Up In Blue
11. Love Sick
12. Highway 61 Revisited
13. Ain't Talkin'
14. Summer Days
15. Like A Rolling Stone
16. All Along The Watchtower
17. Blowin' In The Wind

Here is a version of "Blowing in the Wind" I found from the election night show the other night. The video is a bit corny, but it's worth it just to hear Bob tell the crowd that it looks like "Things are gonna change now"....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Changing of the Guard

I am still trying to put words together to describe the amazing range of emotions I feel today. While I sat watching President-Elect Obama's speech from my hospital bed last night, I felt more connected to my country then anytime in my 38 years. All of my emotions were captured in the eyes and faces of the celebrating crowds that were shown in Chicago, Harlem, Washington, and Kenya. I felt like the entire world let out a collective breath last night and that America showed that we are indeed a better nation that the one we have displayed the last 8 years.

I have never looked at Barack Obama as a black man. I have always looked at him as an inspirational American. But seeing the complete shock and tears of happiness on the faces of our African-American population last night brought home to me just how historic this election was. It brought home how far we have come as a nation and how thirsty we are for a positive figure to (as Bruce Springsteen recently commented in Obama rallies) "rebuild our broken house".

There is no doubt in my mind that we have made the right choice at this time in history. As I type this, Sam Cook's "'A Change is Gonna Come" happens to be playing on my satellite radio (thanks to the awesome Vin Scelsa) and tears are streaming down my face. I am thinking about all the wrongs we need to right in the country and throughout the world. I know this will not be easy, but I know in my heart of hearts that we have picked the right person to lead us in the right direction.

Below, you can enjoy a music mix I threw together to try and express some of the emotions I feel today.