Monday, November 23, 2009

Music Collaboration of the Year?

OK, so there is some music project out there called N.A.S.A and while I don't know a ton about it, I found this video featuring Tom Waits and Kool Keith together. It may be the coolest thing I've seen and heard all year. The project also has M.I.A. and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeah's contributing. Anyway, this is a little of what I pulled from the MySpace page:

N.A.S.A., and their worldwide debut The Spirit of Apollo, is an ongoing creative collaboration between two lifelong music aficionados, Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon, and their friends, friends of friends and musical heroes.

While N.A.S.A. stands for North America/South America and contains a number of superstar artists from both coasts of the U.S., it is about as far from a tension-building geographical showdown as a record can get. Rather, The Spirit of Apollo was born with the righteous goal of bringing people together through music and art, and that is exactly what masterminds Sam Spiegel (Squeak E. Clean) and Ze Gonzales (DJ Zegon) have done.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Wish That I Knew What I know Now......

Well today indicates that I have been on this earth for 40 years. It really is staggering if I analyze it too much.

My birthday. Yes We're Going to a party party. Yey.

As with most things in my life, it is easier for me to let music describe how I'm feeling more than I can express it. So Happy Birthday to me and I leave you with this perfect song for today....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gram Parsons Tribute

Tribute albums can be a tricky thing to pull off, but my all time favorite is Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons. Gram was one of the brightest bulbs to burn out the fastest in music history. I'm sure he would hate this, but the guy basically invented the genre of music that has become known as Alternative Country. That basically means the music is rooted in traditional country music, but has a modern spin on it. Now it sounds commonplace, but back in 1968-1970 when the guy was recording this stuff, he must have seemed like an alien life form.

Anyway, the album is a must and features great versions of Gram songs by the likes of Beck, Wilco, The Pretenders, Cowboy Junkies, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, David Crosby, Steve Earle, Chris Hillman. What I wasn't aware of is a 1999 PBS special that aired for the record which featured live performances by most of the artists. I have posted all the clips I could find of this great special. As a bonus, I found a great version of Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris doing Gram's classic "Love Hurts" on the Letterman show.

Enjoy and have a Gram weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Streaming Springsteen

OK, just to prove that my post from the other day wasn't just hyperbole I offer up Bruce Springsteen's magnificent show from Sunday night in Milwaukee for listen. This thing sounds great considering it was in a huge basketball stadium and a big thanks to the taper (Ademotte)!

I hope you enjoy this half as much as I did hearing it in person. If the one-two punch finale of "Rosalita" and "Higher and Higher" doesn't get you, you have no soul!

If you would like to download the individual tracks, you can do so here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Merry Early Xmas from Bob Dylan

Okay, I don't what the hell goes on at Bob Dylan's Christmas parties, but based on this new video from his bizarre Xmas album I really want to be invited!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Mighty Mighty E-Street Band!

So Sunday night I saw Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band blow the roof off of the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI. It is almost a cliche at this point to say Bruce and the band are the best live act on the planet, but fact is it's true. On Bruce's best nights, there is nothing that can match the shear power and celebration that exists between him and the audience. I am not a religious person, but the only thing I can compare it to is being in rock and roll church. For at least 3 full hours, Bruce made me forget all my troubles (there are many) and I truly celebrated life, love, sorrow, and joy all with 30,000 of my temporary best friends.

I am not a huge fan of arena rock shows anymore, but Bruce Springsteen is the only artist I can think of who can make you literally forget where you are while he is onstage. His shows are that transforming. We may as well have been in a 150 seat bar instead of a huge arena. Bruce is able to connect to the guy in the last row of the venue the same as he connects to the lucky folks in the front row.

Bruce is also the only artist I can think of who somehow bridges the gap between Woody Guthrie, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Motown, and the psychedelic "Nuggets"-era garage rock of the 60's. For this alone, he is truly special and an artist I don't think we will ever see the likes of again. He is my Elvis. My Beatles. I will be showing my grandchildren videos of him and telling tails of his amazing concerts, whether they like it or not!

I have seen him 7 times now, ranging all the way back to the mid-80's, and Sunday's night's show is maybe the best one. Sometimes it is hard to tell with Bruce because even his "bad" nights are transforming experiences, but this one was jaw-droopingly good. One of THOSE nights for sure.

You know it is a great night when he plays his best album "Born to Run" in it's entirety, and it isn't even the highlight of the show!! My personal favorite moment was Bruce pulling a sign from a new father in the crowd that said "Two weeks Ago I found Living Proof". A picture of the newborn's onesie said "Future Bruce Fan". So what does Bruce do? He totally stumps himself and the band and plays the song "Living Proof..." for the first time since 2003.

The song is a father's poignant meditation of the emotions that come with having his first child. Serious stuff for rock and roll and one of the many reasons Bruce is so special. I am still buzzing about this show two days later, even with the flu. Such is the power and the glory of (to quote Bruce himself); "THE heart-stoppin’, pants-droppin’, hard rockin’, booty shakin’, earth-quakin’, love makin’, Viagra-takin’, history makin’, legendary E STREET BAND!!!"

November 15, 2009 : Milwaukee, WI

Cadillac Ranch
Hungry Heart
Working on a Dream
Thunder Road
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with Curt Ramm)
Born to Run
She's the One
Meeting Across the River (with Curt Ramm)
Darlington County
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Loose Ends
Jole Blon
Growin' Up
Into the Fire
The Rising
No Surrender
* * *
Living Proof
Kitty's Back (with Curt Ramm)
American Land (with Curt Ramm)
Dancing in the Dark
Rosalita (with Curt Ramm)
Higher and Higher (with Curt Ramm)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Beck and Wilco Cover Skip Spence

In one of the coolest musical endeavors of the year, Beck has been covering entire albums with his musician friends and making them available song by song on his website. So far, he's covered "The Velvet Underground and Nico" and "The Songs of Leonard Cohen" with a wide mix of artists including members of MGMT and Devendra Banhart.

Well, now Beck has tackled former Moby Grape member (and famous acid casualty) Skip Spence's 1969 underground masterpiece "Oar". And this one features members of Wilco and Leslie Feist, which means my interest is officially peaked! Enjoy the first track and cool video below.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy 40'th to the Best TV Show Ever

Ah...where would we be without Sesame Street? I certainly wouldn't know any Spanish words at all. To celebrate their 40'th year on the air teaching our kids, I started looking at all the great musical artists that have been on the show. Here are just some of the cool ones I found.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Please Please Please......

Just watched the excellent film "500 Days of Summer" last night which uses this song to great effect. One of the best sad songs ever from a band that wrote a few of them....

Friday, November 6, 2009


Thanks to Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, I was exposed to this song today which I now consider to be one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Call me corney.

Fact: the melody was written by Charlie Chaplin for his film "Modern Times". Thanks Bob!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rickie Lee Jones-Balm in Gilead

One of the most underrated singer/songwriters of all time has to be Rickie Lee Jones. Ask 20 people off the street to name one song she does and you might get one to mention 1979's FM radio hit "Chuck E's in Love". Meanwhile, since her stellar debut 30 years ago (wow) Rickie Lee has released masterpiece after masterpiece all while flying criminally under the radar. And with each release, she has always tried new directions that challenged both herself and her audience; like any great artist should. Her softmore release "Pirates" in simple one of the best albums of all time and belongs in any serious record collection.

Today thankfully finds Rickie Lee back with her 12'th studio album entitled "Balm in Gilead". This one should absolutely please not just long time fans but the old ones who had given up on her artistic diversions years ago. Keeping in the more straightforward pop tradition, the disc is instantly likable and features such great guests as Ben Harper and Alison Krauss. I truly hope this one gives Rickie Lee the audience she deserves, but we all know how the industry works these days. This one will most likely fall under the radar unless somehow Satellite Radio miraculously picks up on it.

You can listen to the entire album streaming here for one week only. Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yes I'm Lonely!

Dig this classic grouping of John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Mitch Mitchell doing one of the best songs ever.