The major musical event of 2014 was the release of Bob Dylan and The Band’s ‘Basement Tapes’ recordings – 140 of them (if you include the two songs included in the hidden track at the end of disc six). But beyond the six-plus hours of mostly better quality versions of these songs than we’ve heard before (along with a batch of songs that haven’t made the bootlegs – at least the ones I got my hands on), a lot of other noteworthy albums were released during the year.
The list that follows is based on what I heard and what I liked. No one can listen to everything, and I don’t pretend to try. But these albums are good ones, and if you haven’t heard some of them, I hope you’ll check them out.
1 Bob Dylan, The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (Columbia): As I wrote when the set was released: Dylan’s best songs are not the straightforward protest songs from the early ‘60s – “Masters Of War” or “The Times They Are A-Changing.” Rather, it’s songs like “Visions Of Johanna,” songs that are opaque. Songs that defy literal understanding. Those are the great ones. I’ve listened to “Visions Of Johanna” 100s of times and still its mysteries remain intact. And a song such as “I’m Not There” – do you know what it’s about? … The lyrics to many of Dylan’s Basement songs are opaque too; as if they’re written in an invisible ink, or in a language that defies translation. And it’s that mystery that keeps bringing me back. One line stands out, gives up something one day, then pulls it back on another.
“Ain’t No More Cane (Take 2)”:
2 Jolie Holland, Wine Dark Sea (Anti): Jolie Holland moved into a whole other zone with the avant-garde guitar sounds that help define “Wine Dark Sea.” She takes her idiosyncratic version of Americana, integrates some wild noise (think Sonic Youth) rock guitar and the result is thrilling. Holland is an incredible singer and songwriter. Perhaps my favorite here is “The Love You Save,” which finds Holland trumping the late Janis Joplin with her take on the Stax/Volt soul of the mid-‘60s.
Jolie Holland – Full Performance (Live on KEXP):
First Sign Of Spring
On and On
Out On The Wine Dark Sea
Who Are you
3 Angel Olson, Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar): At times on Angel Olson’s moving second album, as on “White Fire,” she sounds like a female Leonard Cohen. At other times it’s the Velvets I hear a faint echo of, but on the final track, “Windows,” what I hear is Angel Olson, what I hear is an exquisitely beautiful sound, even as she sings about a man who is oblivious to those around him. Her voice has a fragile quality, but there’s strength too.
4 Wadada Leo Smith, The Great Lake Suites (Tum): A musician friend of mine compares this album favorably to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, and I agree. Over two discs composer/band leader Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet), Henry Threadgill (alto saxophone, flute and bass flute), Jack DeJohnette (drums) and John Lindberg (double bass) deliver music as intense and spiritual as Coltrane and his combo. And an hour and a half after you start listening, when the music’s over, you’ll want to start it up all over again. This is one for the ages.
5 Karen O, Crush Songs (Kobalt): This low-fi bedroom recording of Yeah Yeah Yeah front woman O’s “crush” songs is intimate and addictive. There’s a hint of the Velvets’ third album here, and that’s a good thing. Proof that anyone with the songs and the voice can make their own “Basement Tapes.”
6 Spoon, They Want My Soul (Loma Vista/Republic): The album title nails what’s going on these days, when corporate America won’t settle for anything less than turning us into unthinking all-consuming zombies. I’ve been a Spoon fan since the mid-‘90s and this album of smart poppy rock is up there with their best. “Rainy Taxi” is intoxicating, and “knock Knock Knock” as well, but the whole album is a keeper. These Austin rockers are fighting the good fight, and winning.
7 Sharon Van Etten, Are We There (Jagjaguwar): The trials of a woman trying to deal with a (sometimes not-so-good) relationship is the theme running through Are We There. Whether these songs are about Van Etten’s real life, when one listens to this album they might as well be – these songs feel so confessional. With haunting voice and music that perfectly suits her theme, Sharon Van Etten has turned pain into songs that are deep, self-reflective and at times confrontational. Check these lyrics from “Your Love Is Killing Me”:
“Break my legs so I won’t walk to you.
Cut my tongue so I can’t talk to you.
Burn my skin so I can’t feel you.
Stab my eyes so I can’t see
You like it when I let you walk over me.
You tell me that you like it.
Your love is killing me.”
“Your Love Is Killing Me”:
8 Tweedy, Sukierae (ANTI):Tweedy and his son Spencer recorded this 20 song album with help from a few musician friends. It’s beautiful and moving and wonderful. Tweedy says it’s a two record set and suggests the vinyl version is the best way to listen. Very Beatlesque at times – check out “Summer Noon.”
9 Ex-Hex, Rips (Merge): Mary Timony’s new band delivers a garage-rock explosion of a debut album. There are echoes of The Ramones and Patti Smith and Timony’s friends, Sleater-Kinney in the 12 songs. Great guitar riffs from Timony. There’s a priceless energy in these tracks. This trio is on fire.
10 tUnE-yArDs, Nikki Nack (4AD): Merrill Garbus has voice, a big soulful voice and she can really sing. And when you can really sing, and you have the knock for writing catchy songs with loads of hooks, you can go wild with the music and make it work. Sometimes it sounds like Garbus has utilized every object in the junkyard to make her unorthodox tracks, and at other times only her voice.
11 Lykke Li, I Never Learn (Atlantic):
12 Lucinda Williams, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone (Highway 20)
13 The Hold Steady, Teeth Dreams (Razor & Tie)
14 The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground – 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (Ume):
15 The War On Drugs, Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)
The Velvet Underground, “I’m Waiting For The Man”:
(In no particular order – these are all great!)
The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll In Ten Songs, Greil Marcus (Yale University Press): Greil Marcus’ latest book is all about what Marcus hears when he listens to ten songs, and what he hears is unexpected and sometimes revelatory. It’s not any kind of history of rock that you or I have ever read before, because Marcus sees no point in revisiting the same old story that we’ve read numerous versions of since the ‘60s. Not a history so much as a theory about rock ‘n’ roll, and then ten examples that, in different ways, back up that theory. Amazing.
I loved You More, Tom Spanbauer (Hawthorne): Tom’s Spanbauer’s book is 466 pages of heartbreak. Think about the love affair that went so wrong for you, the one that tore you down, left you devastated and in pieces. Yeah, that’s this book. Beautifully written. Every sentence is a gem.
A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, Holly George-Warren (Viking): A superbly written biography of Alex Chilton, who is best known as one of the leaders of Big Star. If you start to read it, you soon will find yourself deep into both the Big Star recordings and Chilton’s solo work before you know it.
Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay, Elena Ferrante, (Europa Editions): The third in what looks to be a four book series that follows two girls in Italy from childhood to old age. With this book, Ferrante adds politics to the volatile mix of love, sex, family, money and friendship that fuels the first two.
Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues, Joel Selvin (Counterpoint): More than just a biography of Bert Burns, who wrote such classics as “Here Comes the Night,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Twist and Shout,” discovered Van Morrison, produced records including “Under The Boardwalk” for The Drifters and so much more, Selvin also manages to detail the history of the New York-based rhythm and blues business.
My Struggle (books 1, 2 & 3), Karl Ove Knausgaard (Macmillan): This year I read the first three books of this six volume epic semi-fictional autobiography. Knausgaard goes deep into his first person narrator’s psychology, as he lays out his life for us in minute detail. Somehow it’s fascinating, even when it seems like he’s telling us way more than we need to know. Mesmerizing.
On Highway 61, Dennis McNally (Counterpoint): Actually, I’m only a third of the way through this incredible book, but it’s so good I have to include it. McNally has written the history of how blacks and whites influenced each other musically, as they created what he calls cultural freedom. Along the way he tells the stories of Mark Twain, Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, John Hammond, Sr., Thelonious Monk and many, many others. More on this book in 2015.
Editor’s note: I believe I first came across the excellent writing of Roy Trakin in New York Rocker during the heyday of punk, towards the end of the ’70s. A few years later he did some writing for a magazine I edited at the time, Boulevards, and much later, decades later, he contributed to my online magazine, Addicted To Noise.
Roy has been writing about pop culture since the early ’70s. He was most recently a staff writer/columnist at Billboard. His writing has appeared in numerous publications including New York Rocker, Creem, Musician, the L.A. Times, the L.A. Herald Examiner,Newsday, the N.Y. Daily News and USA Today.
Today he sent me his column, “Trakin Care Of Business,” and I was excited that he’d led with a review of my novel.
He also writes in this column about Spoon, Ty Segal and the film “Cavalry.”
TRAKIN CARE OF BUSINESS: SEARCHING FOR THE FOREVER INFINITE ECSTATIC
By Roy Trakin
1. Michael Goldberg, True Love Scars (Neumu Press): Just call it a portrait of the rock critic as a young freakster bro, coming of age in the glorious peace-and-love innocence of the ‘60s dream, only to crash precipitously, post-Altamont into the drug-ridden paranoia of the ‘70s, characterized by the doom and gloom of the Stones’ sinister “Sister Morphine” and the apocalyptic caw-caw-caw of a pair of ubiquitous crows. The one-time Rolling Stone journalist turned-Internet pioneer with his groundbreaking mid-‘90s Addicted to Noise site has always been on the cutting edge and here he perfectly captures a horny, but romantic, teenager growing up in Marin County back in what he calls the Days of the Crazy-Wild, where getting your parents to let you grow your hair long was proof alone of your manhood. Michael (Don’t call him Mike) Stein grows up enraptured with Dylan and Fitzgerald, the Beatles and Kerouac, so it’s no surprise his friends call him “Writerman,” in search of “un moment decisif,” the “ghost of ‘lectricity” or just plain getting laid by his mythic “Visions of Johanna” chick, with whom he hopes to experience the “Forever Infinite Ecstatic.” Yes, this is Goldberg’s version of Almost Famous, except he’s a little less callow than Cameron Crowe and a little more on the prowl, and you feel for his fumbling first attempts at romance and the ultimate betrayal which follows. This is the first part of his Freak Scene Dream trilogy, and the veteran rock scribe has adapted a quick-paced, be-bop, repetitive style of relating his tale that takes a bit of getting used to, but eventually kicks into a seductive rhythm very much his own. If you lived through those momentous times, or even if you didn’t, Goldberg conveys that rush of ideas, music and literature that made it such a heady era, while still ruefully acknowledging its fleeting, self-destructive aftermath.
2. Ty Segall at the Echo, Los Angeles: Is he the Great White Hope of psychedelic, garage, grunge-punk or merely the Great White Hype of aging boomer rock critic types trying to hold on to their glory? It’s funny when you start to get noticed, especially for this young veteran from Laguna Beach who looks more like a surfing Dennis the Menace with requisite gleam in his eye than a no wave/metal/avant rocker intent to wrench the pop culture buzz back from DJ and place it back squarely (and loudly) on the guitar hero. After all, he’s been putting out critically acclaimed albums on his own for about seven years now, not to mention spawning a whole sub-group of bands he’s championed (including one of the evening’s opening acts, the powerful, compact Zig Zags, who he’s produced, and offer a fine combo platter of Motorhead, the Ramones, Black Sabbath and the Stooges). What passes for the mainstream rock media have been championing this as Segal’s time, mainly on the strength of his 17-song, double-album on renowned indie Drag City, Manipulator, which combines all his many previously demonstrates strengths – a distinctive lo-fi guitar fuzz rumble, thrashing wall of sound backdrop and penchant for melodies – into actual songs. So, this four-night sold-out engagement at the tiny, packed to the gills and where’s the fire marshal Echo, served as his coming out party for a rabid, moshing young following that proves rock and roll may be a loser’s game, but it still mesmerizes and don’t ask me to explain because I’ve been trying to for four decades now, and still can feel the buzz from greatness. Not that this was in that category, but the potential is certainly there, though world domination might have to give way to cult appeal, given the fragmented state of what we still call the music business in some quarters. You certainly won’t hear me complaining about the “Good Vibrations” opening for “Manipulator,” the first song of the evening, nor the “Sweet Jane” nod and keening falsetto of “Tall Man, Skinny Lady,” with its nods to Iggy, Ziggy and Hendrix. There’s a loping bluesy rockabilly feel to “The Singer” and a “Raw Power” urgency to “The Clock,” while “Don’t You Want to Know?” sounds like a girl-group song as performed by The Ramones (Joey always was a big Ronnie Spector fan). The Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman” is evoked by “Susie Thumb,” while Segall introduces “The Crawler” as “a song about friendship.” The closing “Slaughterhouse” is a bludgeoning heavy metal extravaganza, as a girl from the audience jumps on-stage and is handed the mic by Ty, and goes into some Yoko-styled caterwauling before she stage-dives back into the crowd. The encore consists of Replacement-like covers of “Sweet Home Alabama,” with some random dude called up to supply the vocals, followed by “Paranoid,” two choices which I felt fit their aesthetic perfectly, but my erudite pal Gary Stewart found too self-consciously ironic to support what he’d heard before. No, rock and roll stars will no longer conquer the world, but for this one night, Ty Segall might’ve been declared the Mayor of Echo Park.
3. Spoon, They Want My Soul (Loma Vista/Concord): Britt Daniel and company’s eighth studio album, and first for Tom Whalley’s imprint at Concord Music Group, finds the band confident in its quirkiness, wearing its stylistic conceits on its collective sleeve. The veteran group has been around long enough now to feel confident in their quirkiness and it shows on this return to semi-major label status, as Spoon isn’t afraid to let their freak flag fly, so to speak, while still offering tuneful appeal. “The Rent I Pay” starts off like “Street Fighting Man,” all menace and Jim Eno’s thumping drums leading into Daniel’s drawling vocals, with jokey lines like “And I lost all my tapes of back masking” in a song about the toll of living. “If that’s your answer/No, I ain’t your dancer” is a rallying cry for the modern age. “Inside Out” is a headphone track of the first order, a Squeeze-style “Black Coffee In Bed” faux R&B number with glistening, cascading synth harps and Lennon-esque lyrics about love, gravity and religion. “I don’t got time for holy rollers/Though they may wash my feet/And I won’t be their soldier.” There’s a Motown beat, nourish twang and discordant piano in “Rainy Taxi,” and end-of-world lyrics like “And you’ve been sleeping through the brightest flash of apocalyptic ruin.” The catchy first single, “Do You” opens with some Fifth Dimension doo-doo-doos, leading into a raspy, ‘80s Psychedelic Furs new wave vibe, before closing with some clanging guitars and what sound like flutes, all insisting “That’s the way love comes,” just when you’ve given up hope of ever finding it. The Bowiesque “Knock Knock Knock” thumps along at its own casual pace with a whistled backdrop, faint ghostly cries and pneumatic guitars, comparing life to a movie and finding it comes up wanting. The Radiohead shimmer, pumping organ and Flamenco acoustic guitar of “Outlier” finds Daniel once again playing the role of film critic: “And I remember when you walked out of Garden State/Cause you had taste, you had taste/You had no time to waste.” He returns to the theme of those who’d usurp his soul in the title track, including card sharks, street preachers, up-sellers, palm-readers, post-sermon socialites, park enchanters, skin tights, enchanted folk singers, Jonathon Fisk (apparently a bullying middle school classmate of his), “and on and on and on.” The Beatles-ish “I Just Don’t Understand” could have come right off Rubber Soul, once again pointing out the Daniel-Lennon comparisons, while “Let Me Be Mine” has a shaggy dog, sawing feel to its acoustic strum and drang that is underlined by some Chuck Berry riffs in a song once more about being run out on: “You’re gonna take another chunk of me with you when you go.” The closing number, “New York Kiss,” sports some “Under My Thumb” vibes and a Dolls-y swagger to its tale of fading memories about time and place, which represents a pretty good description of Spoon’s ever-expansive stylistic palette as any.
4. Calvary (The Weinstein Company): Written and directed by Irishman John Michael McDonagh (brother of In Bruges’ Martin McDonagh), this metaphysical black comedy shares his sibling’s love of a good polemical argument, as Brendan Gleeson stars in an Oscar-worthy turn as a troubled priest who tries to keep the faith in a small town nestled in God’s country on the Emerald Isle against a stunning backdrop of the ocean pounding the rocks. Those scenes of natural beauty are juxtaposed against the dark, hidden secrets of the small village itself, filled as it is with abusive husbands, philandering wives, bitter virgins, spoiled rich guys, atheist doctors, feckless priests, dying writers, bankrupt pub owners, serial killers and even a suicidal daughter thrown into the mix. Gleeson’s Father James is the object of an anonymous confessor who, at the very beginning of the movie announces his intention to kill an innocent member of the Catholic church to make up for the abuse he suffered at the hand of a priest. “I first tasted semen when I was seven years old,” he says, with Gleeson answering, “That certainly is a startling opening line.” The movie proceeds like that, with many debates ensuing both for and against the presence of a higher being. The cast is outstanding, particularly Chris O’Dowd as the cuckolded butcher, a grizzled M. Emmet Walsh as a feisty aging author, Game of Thrones’ Aidan Gillen as a heartless surgeon, Flight’s Kelly Reilly as Gleeson’s reconciled daughter and his real-life son, Domhnall Gleeson, as a convicted murderer. There’s a relentlessness to the narrative that seems preordained, but that is fitting with the movie’s theme about martyrdom and accepting the inevitability of fate. The soundtrack (available on Varese Sarabande), with an original score by Patrick Cassidy, as well as some great Irish songs, moves the film along with a deceptively Gaelic lilt, finding the salvation in the dark void at its center.
5. The Punk Singer (Opening Band Films/Netflix): Produced by Tamra Davis and directed by poet/performance artist Sini Anderson, with help from Kickstarter, this documentary tells the story of Riot Grrrl provocateur and Bikini Kill lead singer Kathleen Hanna. Hanna, who went on to form electronic rock act Le Tigre and her most recent project, The Julie Ruin, is a fascinating subject, from her earliest days as a punk rabble-rouser to her recent incarnation as a revered artist and feminist pioneer. Along the way, the movie veers into a love story, with her marriage to the Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz (band mate Mike D’s wife, veteran film director Tamra Davis, produced, making it a family affair), and a Lifetime-style triumph over an eight-year battle with, of all things, Lyme disease, something she has in common with Daryl Hall, among others. Thrust into the feminist political atmosphere of Olympia, Washington, in the late ‘80s, the charismatic, idealistic Hanna was one of the earliest influences on a young Kurt Cobain, scribbling the phrase, “Kurt smells like teen spirit” on his wall, after the deodorant spray, spawning the mainstream breakthrough of punk that, ironically, led to his ultimate disenchantment. Her formation of Le Tigre in the early 2000s also anticipated the EDM movement, and her recent welcome comeback provides a feel-good ending to what is a fascinating story whose ramifications are still being felt today.
6. Derek (Channel 4/Netflix): Although he received an Emmy nomination for his performance in the title role, Ricky Gervais’ latest series hasn’t seemed to catch on with the tastemakers, largely because of what is perceived as its overly sentimental view of a mentally challenged, maybe autistic helper at an old people’s home in an English suburb. Not quite what you’d expect from the Gervais who has suffered a bit of backlash from his celebrity skewering as since-deposed Golden Globe host, but once you hook into its subtle rhythms, the show warms the heart as well as tickling the funny bone. The now-available second season of six episodes features the same characters, some lovable, others loathsome, but none unredeemable, in this sometimes biting, but often moving ensemble piece. While Gervais’ Derek, with his Ish Kabibble bangs, lopsided grin and constantly moving fingers, is the heart of the series, the emotional center is Kerry Godliman’s Hannah, who selflessly runs the place and considers it a privilege to be with people when they die, barely concealing the sadness and worry in her eyes. David Earl’s Kevin “Kev” Twine has a larger role this season as Derek’s best friend, a sex-obsessed drunk who surprises us as a gifted painter and sculptor. The conceit of a film crew at work, like in The Office, allows the characters to speak directly to the camera, exposing their innermost feelings, and offering the chance for those sideways glances that reveal the truth beneath the appearance. The Netflix subtitles are also most welcome, not just because of the English accents, but many of the best lines are mumbled throwaways that you can’t quite catch on first go-around. There may be something a little dishonest about Gervais’ Derek, for whom kindness is the key to a happy life, but he is so committed to the character, you must give in. And, any series capable of making you laugh and cry, sometimes at once, is good enough for me.
7. Houdini (History Channel): With director Uli Edel and a screenplay by Nicholas Meyer, The History Channel goes for broke on this two-part, three-and-a-half-hour mini-series about the famed magician, but the result is a typically overblown Classics Illustrated version of the story, enlivened somewhat by the great casting of Adrien Brody in the title role. One of the key elements in the movie is the use of CSI-style graphics to explain how some of the tricks were done, and the breathless narrative does touch on all the basics – the love of his mother, the spying during World War I, the great escapes and his latter attempts to disprove spiritual mediums. Most of the cast passes by in a blur, though soap opera veteran Kristen Connolly, late of House of Cards, does have her moments as Houdini’s much-beleaguered, pot-smoking wife, who is only worried that she may be a widow before her time. Despite its pulp elements, Houdini is never boring, thanks to an energetic performance by Brody, who evokes the great magician in all his Semitic glory. Houdini is not exactly magical, and more trick than treat, but – pun intended – escapist entertainment at heart.
8. NFL Opening Weekend: There’s something about the start of pro football that is like anticipating a new year of Game of Thrones. You know there will be plenty of mayhem, unexpected casualties and more than a little blood spilled along the way. With just 16 regular season games, every one seemingly counts for something, and the sheer limited amount lends itself to hopes and dreams for a momentum-fueled short-term run unlike the more extended baseball and basketball seasons, which groan along until the playoffs. For the 46th consecutive year, I hold up hopes for my woebegone New York Jets, waiting for the next Joe Namath no less hopefully than Beckett did for Godot, with just as much chance of that happening under QB Geno. Hey, at least it rhymes with Godot. The team is already going into the season crippled at the crucial cornerback position after skin-flinting GM John Idzik failed to welcome back estranged all-pro Darrell Revis, who proceeded to take his talents to – of course, the hated New England Pats, our chief rivals for AFC East domination. And it hurts to see yet another coach the NYJs let get away – Pete Carroll, start to build a dynasty with the Seattle Seahawks, much like another deserter, Bill Belichick, did with the Patriots. In fact, the Seahawks look like that rare beast in the NFL, a team capable of a repeat, which hasn’t been done since, right, the Patriots under Tom Brady and, yup, Belichick. There still doesn’t look like there’s a team that can challenge this hard-hitting bunch, who have already been compared to the ’85 Bears in terms of their defense, and their Russell Wilson offense, no with speedster Percy Harvin, ain’t too shabby, either. Still, the games must be played, and like Game of Thrones, you never know who might get beheaded along the way.
9. Lakeview Garden Restaurant: In search of some old-school Noo Yawk Cantonese Chinese? This step back into the past, say, Kwong Ming in Wantagh, for the traditional Sunday night meal for a middle-class suburban Lawn Guyland Jewish family within a won-ton toss of Levittown. Yes, this find, located in a cranny of a Westlake Village strip mall, is the real deal, a true OG Jew throwback to a previous time, when crispy noodles came with duck sauce and mustard, and you could choose from Group A or Group B from pepper steak, shrimp with lobster sauce or moo goo gai pan. With the closure of Uncle Chen’s on Ventura Blvd. in Encino, I was bemoaning the fact there were no traditional Chinese Cantonese restaurants to be found. Hell, you’d have a hard time finding a decent Chinese restaurant in this town period, what with the proliferation of Thai, Korean barbeque and sushi joints, but this place is a welcome remembrance of times past, down to the blue-haired 80-something ladies at the table across from us, immersed in their cell phones, naturally. And, best of all, it’s right next to the Regency Twin Theaters, a pair of old-school art-houses that show indie films and offer a tray of mints at the end of each screening. Make an evening of it. (4700 Lakeview Canyon Road, Westlake Village, CA)
10. Gripe of the Week: Who knew punk had such staying power? Imagine my surprise to hear the dulcet tones of Sid Vicious croaking, “My Way” in the new TV ad for the luxury Acura, the Mercedes clearly in its sight? Imagine the well-heeled young buyer attracted to buy the car on the urging of one John Simon Richie? Malcolm McLaren is doing the pogo in his grave as we speak. And that was only topped by the NFL going to Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” over a commercial break from opening night in Seattle. Or Martin Scorsese signing up to do a Ramones documentary. Not to mention Ty Segall’s current heat. Guess my phrase, “The Persistence of Punk” is true… Hard to believe the force of life that is Joan Rivers won’t be around any longer. The woman was fearless; nothing stood in the way of a good joke, and she is the role model for today’s crop of young female comics, whether they want to admit it or not. She sounded so alive a few weeks ago on Howard Stern, joking about dying. If this was elective surgery, it just goes to show, going under the knife is never a slam dunk, especially when you’re 81 and work as tirelessly as Joan did right up until the end… It’s not a dog-eat-dog world. It’s a dog-doesn’t-answer-the-other-dog’s-email universe… It’s been a rough couple of weeks for music journalist types. First, the death of Chuck Young, then the shocking layoff of Edna Gunderson after three decades at USA Today, via a phone call, no less. The secret is to work for yourself. Unfortunately, I learned that lesson a little late in life, but it’s better late than never. The days of corporations offering you a cradle-to-crave employment are long gone, and the sooner we realize it the better… Like Al Hirschfeld working the name of his daughter Nina, into his N.Y. Times caricatures, I have promised my wife Jill to mention her in every column…
Continuing the advance promotion of Spoon’s upcoming album, They Want My Soul, Britt Daniel performed acoustic versions of two of the songs, “Rent I Pay” and “Rainy Taxi,” on BBC Radio 6.
Talking about being a musician Daniels said:
“There was a long time where there was a lot of not-fun stuff we would do and a lot of scrounging, but I knew this was the only thing I wanted to do and I just kept pushing forward. Now there’s a little more success and it really does make things easier when you get to spend a few more bucks to record a record. You can stay in a hotel instead of a friend’s floor.”
Spoon’s Britt Daniel Plays Acoustic ‘Rent I Pay,’ ‘Rainy Taxi’ On BBC Radio.
[In August of this year I’ll be publishing my rock ‘n’ roll/ coming-of-age novel, “True Love Scars,” which features a narrator who is obsessed with Bob Dylan. To read the first chapter, head here.
And if you’re interested the book is now available at Amazon.
–- A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-