6/20/17: CDs and OCD

I own many many CDs. LPs and cassettes as well, but it’s probably less than a hundred records versus a couple hundred cassettes versus over a thousand CDs.

I keep most of the CDs in these big zippable folders that hold about 200 each. They’re organized by artist (last name first), in chronological order by release date. Compilations and unclassifiable go at the end. Classical music is separate from jazz and rock/pop, and is organized by composer’s last name or artist’s last name. CDs with packaging that I like are not put into folders, but stored elsewhere.

This is the only area of my life in which I display any ability to be neat and organized, by the way.

But my weird control issue with CDs stops the minute one leaves the folder. After that, it can go drifting around the apartment for months before it gets re-filed.

Unfortunately, a few of my favorites are missing now, and have been for some time. Thanks to music streaming services and the internet, I can always listen to the music, but there’s something special about the actual physical object that you associate with the source of a musical experience. Also, I have a gap in my collection where a CD should be.

Image – publicdomainpictures.net

6/14/17: Walking the Blues

At the age of 15, I was listening to Culture Club and ABC and Prince and Heaven 17 and Sheila E. Everything was shiny and clean and super-produced.

But I also listened to the Rolling Stones, and that led me down a really interesting musical path.

My nature, when I run into a new band or style of music, is to learn everything I can about it. So when I got into the Stones at the age of 13, I got every book and magazine article I could find. I knew how Keith strung his guitar, I knew about the sleazy apartment he and Brian and Mick lived in, I knew Mick went to the London School of Economics, I knew Charlie Watts didn’t drive and collected Civil War memorabilia.

I also read about what kind of music they had been into. That’s where I first heard the names Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson and Willie Dixon.

We had cassette tapes back then, and cassette Walkmen, and I took my cassette Walkman on very long walks listening to the blues or maybe some Culture Club or Fun Boy Three. I think comparing the two kinds of music really got me interested in the blues; I’d rather hear the comparatively simple production value of a Muddy Water or Sonny Boy Williamson album than the shiny, shiny highly produced sound of Eighties Pop.

I’m not talking abut that hissy sound you get from all old recordings. I’m talking about remarkable songs, beautifully performed, and recorded simply. That’s what got me.

Ebeth fun fact: My uncle, Pete Welding, had a blues-based record label called Testament Records. That’s not why I got into the blues, but it was always cool to look on the back of an album and see liner notes written by Uncle Pete.

“Blind” Connie Williams: “Trouble in Mind”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqi_7bGwy-U

This is from Uncle Pete’s label. Williams, an extraordinarily talented guitarist and accordion player, attended the same school for the blind as Ray Charles (that’s according to Uncle Pete’s liner notes). The song itself has been recorded by a lot of folks; I know Nina Simone does a great version.

To many people, “Rollin’ Stone” is is the “Stairway to Heaven” of blues music, but I love it. I can remember walking around the suburbs of northern New Jersey with this on my headphones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T2hygHu8CI

There’s a whole Rolling Stones subtext to this post (as with my life), and if you ever wondered where the album title “Get Yer Yas Yas Out,” ask Blind Boy Fuller. Holy cow, listen to that playing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ciH8BULldU

If you let it, music will take you on some amazing journeys – this is where being a Stones fan has brought me. And there’s so much more to know! I’ll never know everything about music, and that what makes it so magical. Every day, it’s something new.

 

 

Image provided by Kevin Dooley, CC License 2.0.

6/12/17: Monday Funday Dance Party

The Eighties were a very fashionable time. Lots of evening wear, rhinestones and stiletto heels.

We had to do that, you know. We’d just spent close to ten years marinating in seventies fashion, which featured all of the beards and denim we see today, but without the man buns and rompers.

Thank goodness for ABC, and David Bowie, Klaus Nomi, and other fashion-forward non-beard wearers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a70yJwgQtzo

By the early nineties, we were sick of all those shoulder pads and hair gel, and grunge had to happen. Then it was back to glamour with the resurgence of cocktail music.

So, man bun people, be careful with your fashion. One day, and it will be soon, all those buns and beards will be converted to dinner jackets and cuffed evening trousers. The future is inevitable, and it will be fabulous.

 

Screencap of Klaus Nomi from “Lightning Strikes” video

So I was making a song mix for a friend of mine, all stuff from the nineties. I would say “mix tape,” which is obsolete, but I was actually making a CD, which is also obsolete. And then Chris Cornell died.

I hadn’t planned to put any Soundgarden on the mix – I sold my only Soungarden album, Superunknown, for grocery money back during the Lean Times of 2008 – 2013. Nevertheless, that’s a classic album and I love the way they play together.

They played really well together. I never made the effort to see them; I think I missed something pretty special. This is an ongoing problem for me. I keep not seeing bands, and then someone dies and that’s it. Rule of thumb – if you like a band’s album, go see them live!

Audioslave, too. Another really good bunch of players. We lost a terrific musician.

My thoughts are with his family and friends during this time.

An album that did make the mix (and also survived the Lean Times, the Great Purge, the Hurricane, and all sorts of recession-related adventures) is Lucious Jackson’s Natural Ingredients.

I clearly liked the album enough to hang on to it, but don’t remember liking it as much as I do now. I may have been burned out on music a little at the time. I used to work in radio, and listened to as much new music as I could. But these days I’m not inundated with music anymore. I have a chance to step back a little, and revisit albums that I heard but maybe didn’t listen to.


The nineties was when you started seeing women in bands who weren’t just lead singers. Nothing against lead singers – I have been one frequently. But we also play guitar and bass and drums, and produce albums and haul gear.

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of very silly conversations with beered-up guys about how I can possibly manage to play the bass without a penis. So I love that now it’s not even an issue.

 

 

Image courtesy of pexels.com

5/12/17: There’s Something Happening Here

I found out about this from Ken Michaels’s social media feed. Ken hosts the Beatles radio show “Every Little Thing,” which you should check out ASAP.

Eric Burdon of the Animals has released a cover of the Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth.” Very appropriate, given the political crisis here in the U.S.

 

First of all, the drums. I love them. They’re just really interesting, and a nice sound.

And I like where Eric’s voice has gone. At 72, it’s only become more interesting. Of course, it’s always been unique. There’s a sternness to it, but he’s a good blues singer, too. He’s always kind of sounded like an old man. Here he is in 1965.

 
In 1970, Eric sat in with War for “Spill the Wine.” He is having so much fun in this video. I’m not sure it’s the original recording, but this is one of those songs where I think it really doesn’t matter too much as long as it’s a great performance, which it is.

 

And here’s the original “For What It’s Worth,” released in 1966 during a different time of political crisis. There are a lot of wonderful protest songs out there, but I wish there didn’t have to be any.

5/6/17: Rock & roll for grownups

There’s a lot of Who music going around the house these days. One of us is making a mix for a friend, and I just bought a Pete Townshend greatest hits album.

I’ve heard that girls supposedly don’t like the Who. I’ve also heard that about Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull, two bands I love, but in my case it was kind of true with the Who.

I always liked their singles, and I saw and loved both “Quadrophenia” and “Tommy.” But that thing that makes you really connect with an artist’s music was just missing from my relationship with the band.

Things are changing now that I’m old and pruny. I’ve grown to appreciate Ringo Starr’s drumming and Bill Wyman’s bass playing, and I’m listening to lots of Pete Townshend. There’s that emotional connection now, and I keep going back to his music.

So you know what’s going to happen now. I’m going to be hitting all the Who albums, and inflicting them on you. But that’s a great kind of infliction. Like getting hit in the face with a bag full of awesome.

In the meantime, here’s Pete. I love the lyrics – they’re great in his songs – and also the chord choices. Not too elaborate, but sophisticated.

This is a duet with Ronnie Lane (of the Small Faces and also the regular Faces).

 

And here’s “Rough Boys,” because it’s fun.

 

 

 
Image by Annie Mole. License: Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

 

5/1/17: Monday Funday Dance Party

It’s going to be one of those weeks; I can just feel it. The week when you do the thing you need to do.

This is the week when you’ll make that call, find that great job, finish the project and make it awesome. This is the week when you ask out that cute co-worker, sign up for skydiving lessons, or start a rock band (or all three). This is the week when you grab the world by the tater and twist until it does what you want.

With that in mind, let’s listen to some nineties Japanese electronica. Because it is AWESOME.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Elizabeth Walsh

4/26/17: The happiest man on earth

There’s a game going around Facebook today where you list nine bands you saw and one you didn’t. Your friends have to guess which band you didn’t see. Music nerd that I am, I’m having a blast with this (incidentally, the answer to mine is “Queens of the Stone Age”).

Anyway, this leading to that, I started thinking about Iron Butterfly, a band I had the unlikely opportunity to see. As a Gen X-er, I’m too young to have seen them in their late 60’s/early 70’s heyday, but in 1988 they did a reunion show at Atlantic Records’s 40th anniversary celebration.

I guess as a warmup show, they played at the Chance in Poughkeepsie. And I went with some friends from college and we had a great time.

The Cult Brothers, which was two members of Blue Oyster Cult and two other guys, opened up the show. Their drummer was not a member of BOC, and looked like he was about 20. And while they were onstage, that guy was the happiest man on the planet. He was having a blast. He was twirling his sticks and throwing them up in the air and catching them, and he was playing with BLUE! OYSTER! CULT!!! it made me happy just to watch him being happy.

I hope that guy had a long happy career in music, and I’m dedicating these two songs to him.

 

 

Image courtesy of the British Library.

4/23/17: Rain and Sun and Led Zeppelin IV

Up here in the Northeast, April can feel like November. But not as bad.

The difference is what’s coming next. Flowers are already out now, and the trees are blooming. Springtime and sunshine and all that happy stuff are on their way, and nothing can stop it. No even a gloomy cold thundercloud day.

We just had one of those days; rainy and cold and grey and Novembery. So I made tuna casserole with my super-secret ingredient* and put on Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. And I heard this, the second movement of the first Brandenburg (as opposed to the first movement of the second )

 

And I thought, what a great piece of music for a gloomy cold rainy night in any month.

 

April being what it is, the next morning was sunny and warm and perfect. And this came on my iPod Shuffle and I thought, what a great piece of music for a perfect spring day:

The universe is providing me with a soundtrack.

 

 
*mustard

 

Image by Elizabeth Walsh (copyright 2013)