Posts Tagged ‘music’

Something lighter

What if the song actually described the video?

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Folk legend Odetta dead at 77

Sad news out of New York.  Here’s her low range…

And here’s her higher range…

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A lot of protest music has been written over the last eight years: some good, some not so much.  (Neil, you know I love you, but “let’s impeach the President for lying” is just lazy.)  Amidst this, the old standards have also been dragged out for a walk around the blockThe master himself recently endorsed Hopey, a surprising move for a man who disdains movement politics and once dismissed Phil Ochs as “a journalist, not a folk singer,”  (Speaking of Ochs, law students are advised to read his 1968 DNC testimony.  They ain’t makin’ witnesses like that any more.)

Hidden on the greatest album ever, Bob Dylan’s 1965 “Tombstone Blues” lacks the star power of his bigger stuff.  It’s a surrealist pastiche, aimlessly namedropping heroes and outlaws in a directionless, glancing swipe at authority.  It’s also, chewing on the lyrics, a forceful assault on the hucksters and hypocrites inhabiting the America we inherit.  And so, marginally drunk and annotated with apropos linkage (some sections more relevant than others,) Bob Dylan’s (long) Tombstone Blues:

“The sweet pretty things are in bed now of course
The city fathers they’re trying to endorse
The reincarnation of Paul Revere’s horse
But the town has no need to be nervous

The ghost of Belle Starr she hands down her wits
To Jezebel the nun she violently knits
A bald wig for Jack the Ripper who sits
At the head of the chamber of commerce

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in the kitchen
With the tombstone blues

The hysterical bride in the penny arcade
Screaming she moans, “I’ve just been made”
Then sends out for the doctor who pulls down the shade
Says, “My advice is to not let the boys in

Now the medicine man comes and he shuffles inside
He walks with a swagger and he says to the bride
“Stop all this weeping, swallow your pride
You will not die, it’s not poison”

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in the kitchen
With the tombstone blues

Well, John the Baptist after torturing a thief
Looks up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief
Saying, “Tell me great hero, but please make it brief
Is there a hole for me to get sick in?

The Commander-in-Chief answers him while chasing  a fly
Saying, “Death to all those who would whimper and cry
And dropping a barbell he points to the sky
Saying, “The sun’s not yellow, it’s chicken

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in the kitchen
With the tombstone blues

The king of the Philistines his soldiers to save
Puts jawbones on their tombstones and flatters their graves
Puts the pied pipers in prison and fattens the slaves
Then sends them out to the jungle

Gypsy Davey with a blowtorch he burns out their camps
With his faithful slave Pedro behind him he tramps
With a fantastic collection of stamps
To win friends and influence his uncle

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in trouble
With the tombstone blues

The geometry of innocent flesh on the bone
Causes Galileo’s math book to get thrown
At Delilah who’s sitting worthlessly alone
But the tears on her cheeks are from laughter

Now I wish I could give Brother Bill his great thrill
I would set him in chains at the top of the hill
Then send out for some pillars and Cecil B. DeMille
He could die happily ever after

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in the kitchen
With the tombstone blues

Where Ma Raney and Beethoven once unwrapped their bed roll
Tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole
And the National Bank at a profit sells road maps for the soul
To the old folks home and the college

Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
That could hold you dear lady from going insane
That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
Of your useless and pointless knowledge

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in the kitchen
With the tombstone blues.”

If you’ve never actually heard the song, it’s actually bouncy and fun and fantastic; it’s just a coincidence that it so neatly captures our Long National Nightmare 2.0:

And if that didn’t cheer you up, here’s what deserves to be the most overplayed song from now until January 20:

In this post alone you’ve got links for Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Sam Cooke, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Ochs, Kinky Friedman, and the Rolling Stones.  You know you wouldn’t get this from any other blog.

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Gagner épique!

A comfortable four years removed from my last French class, I’m not even sure that translates right.  But consider it your cheap setup for election year zydeco:

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As we recently discussed, the Obama team has perfected the zeitgeist campaign.  Some of it is intentional, (the text messages, the basketball,) while the rest (the internet memes) just sorta happens.  Music is another important element of this.  Everyone knows Republicans make poor DJs, and Senator Obama has collected an impressive variety of musical endorsements.

Democrats always pwn music.  Even sad-sack John Kerry had future Senator Bruce Springsteen.  But, as the BBC’s Gavin Hewitt noted today, Springsteen, the Foo Fighters, and Bon Jovi were always the headliners; fans would literally come for the band and leave from the candidate.  Obama is the star, and his campaign has picked perfect music to augment his aura:

“Two songs, however, are used to define the campaign. One is the arrival anthem, that plays Barack Obama onto the stage. It is U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” – with its line “oh you look so beautiful tonight.”

It’s a stunning song, combining a real Phil Spector sound with a crowd-pleasing hook.  They also nailed it on Biden, bringing him out to Springsteen’s “The Rising.”  It may be a little too 9/11, but Springsteen acolyte (and legitimate Reverend) Jeffrey Symykywicz makes the case for why it works, and most importantly it just feels right.

Choosing campaign songs is not as easy as it looks.  Hillary’s people flubbed it with Celine freakin’ Dion, John Edwards’ schtick was Mellencampy, and poor McCain-Palin keeps getting sued.  So back to the other song Hewitt identified as central to the campaign:

“…after his speech, when he lifts the bottle of water to his lips, in comes the heavy beat and then Stevie Wonder’s scream in “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

It’s an awesome song from an all-time great American musician – it’s easy to forget that the man’s been on the charts since 1963.

In the key of Stevie, an African-American friend of mine said something worth closing with.  I had been talking about the cultural relevence of Bob Dylan to my family, the kind of people who raise their kids on Phil Ochs and Joan Baez, edited up a “liberation haggadah” for Passover, and distribute “Rise Up Singing” as a graduation gift.  We were driving somewhere discussing this when Stevie comes on his CD player.  My friend turns to me and goes: “What Bob Dylan means to your mother, that’s what Stevie Wonder means to black people.”

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Ban Ki-Moon raps

I know you all read OGhiphop.com, so you’ve probably seen this already.  But if you haven’t, well, the United Nations Association recently gave an award to Jay-Z.  Following Signor Carter, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon dropped a rhyme of his own:

While I like to think he just freestyled that, it’s was more likely written by some exciting committee.  Full lyrics, in case you lost his flow along the way:

“Global Classrooms are a cinch
With the help of Merrill Lynch
When you put the org in Google
Partnerships go truly global
There is hope for Earth’s salvation
With the Cisneros Foundation
With Jay-Z there’s double strife
Life for children and water for life
Human health will get ahead
With the valiant work of (RED)
For the poor and doing good
Stays the job of Robin Hood
UN stays on the front burner
Thanks to our champ Ted Turner
And whole revolutions stem
From the work of UNIFEM
But tonight my special shout-out
Goes to one I can’t do without
We have travelled up and down
Frisco, Atlanta, Chicago town
Yes, the king of all the doers
Is my trusty friend Bill Luers
Bill, I cannot say goodbye
So take the floor and take a bow.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ambassador Bill Luers”

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Pimp my neighborhood

Things to do on a Sunday afternoon in Eastern Market:

-Hear the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation Band, outdoors, for free.

-Read the Sunday Washington Post that someone left on a table outside of Port City Java.

-Buy Street Sense since you already saved your $1.50 on the Post.

-Witness a street-corner argument between a Redskins fan and an Eagles fan.

-Eat what might be Washington’s only legitimate, New York-standard slice of pizza.

-Find a custom-made, 19-inch Turkish ride cymbal at the flea market for an unconscionable $199.

-Check out the rather pitiful Southeast Branch Library.

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Last week, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Corruption) introduced a resolution honoring the life and music of the late Isaac Hayes. With 20 co-sponsors, the bill praises Hayes for his “vocal performances, songwriting, humanitarian work, and television and motion picture endeavors, and as a radio show host, pianist, saxophone player, restaurateur, and cookbook author.” HRes 1425 was dropped on the Judiciary Committee and will likely come up for “debate” (read: Tennesseans patting each other on the back) this week.

While this is clearly one of those yay-my-district bills, It’s a little hard to imagine the Congresswoman’s 87% white constituents wholeheartedly embracing Black Moses. That said, she does technically represent his birthplace, and a combination of home field advantage and personal preference has been known to cause otherwise ultra-conservatives (Blackburn, Issa, Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander,) to stand with the musicians’ union on key issues.

More on Orrin Hatch in particular from teh Wiki:

In the early 1970s he was the band manager for a Mormon-themed folk group called the Free Agency. The Free Agency was made up of members of an earlier Mormon group called the Sons of Mosiah, that was formed when guitarist David Zandonatti and vocalist Ron McNeeley relocated to Utah after their San Francisco based psychedelic group Tripsichord music box disbanded in 1971.

Rock musician Frank Zappa composed a guitar instrumental entitled “Orrin Hatch On Skiis,” which appears on his album, Guitar (1988).

Yes, Tripsichord Music Box and their San Francisco values.

Anyway that’s a digression. Point was, this Congressional resolution includes such gems as:

“Whereas Isaac Hayes was a television and film actor, appearing in countless television shows and three dozen movies, including roles in `The A-Team’, `The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’, `Girlfriends’, and `Miami Vice’

It’s not quite Cynthia McKinney’s Who Shot ‘Pac? bill, but the A-Team? Any day Mr. T gets name-dropped in the Congressional Record is a good day. Also this:

Whereas Isaac Hayes created the groundbreaking musical score and theme song for the movie `Shaft’

(For the record, this is the only bill in the current Congress featuring the word “shaft” that doesn’t relate to cars, energy or homeland security. Minds out of the gutters and search it yourself.)

But most crucially, this post allows me to re-use the John Kerry Spits Hot Fire tag.

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Mireille’s post on Republican DJs reminded me of National Review Online’s list of the top 50 conservative rock songs.  The Review has a complex relationship with rock music, praising Elvis’ appeal to “love” and “heterosexual sex” while criticizing the emergence of “homosexual rock”.

So this is really too easy, but it’s worth a rundown of the top 50.  It’s also cheap, considering that the author concedes “In several cases, the musicians are outspoken liberals.”  That said, it would be understandable if a handful of the ditties were simply misplaced leftists standing athwart history.  But when it’s everyone, a pattern emerges.  So without further:

1. “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” by The Who

The Tommy rockers also cranked out “My Generation,” the classic don’t trust anyone over 30 anthem.  “Hope I die before I get old?”  This one made the list for its counterrevolutionary message, but the drug war is over and Keith Moon won.

2. “Taxman,” by The Beatles

The Review calls this “a George Harrison masterpiece,” and it is musically impressive.  What the author fails to note is that the Beatles name-dropped conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath in addition to liberal Harold Wilson.  Oh and imagine there’s no heaven, but you knew that already and it applies to the #7 song on the list, “Revolution,” as well…

Alright call me lazy but that’s only two and it’s too late in the evening to keep processing a list that claims conservatism from U2, the Sex Pistols, and for Christ-in-a-bucket’s sake The Clash.  (If Joe Strummer saw this he would never stop throwing up.)

Some of the list just sucks as music.  Der Kommissar GodzillaCreed and Kid Rock?

Sorry for all the horrible music posted above.  Here’s the full list if you get motivated to chew through it.  Or alternately, here’s Senator Bruce Springsteen performing Atlantic City to clear your system.

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Watch your parkin meters

Radio Liberty today reported on demonstrations against Iranian rock star Mohsen Namjoo.  Namjoo, who blends traditional Persian music with rock, jazz, and blues, is under fire for including verses from the Koran in his lyrics.  Religious leaders call it an “insult:”

“When the Koran is being read, everyone should remain silent and listen,” [Islamic scholar Abbas] Mohajerani says. “If there is music playing, then the listener’s attention is largely caught by the music.”

While the Judiciary has, officially, remained silent, complaints from prominent Koranic scholars are increasing.  The Koran Council has already spoken out against him.

Namjoo says that he respects the laws of the Islamic Republic, and denied an interest in living abroad. Interviewed in Europe last year, he stated:

I live in that country, I ‘m committed to the laws, and I don’t want to be seen as an anarchist or a troublemaker.”

The New York Times referred to Namjoo as “Iran’s Bob Dylan,” and it’s a fitting comparison.  He writes poetry on the side and has the look.  When pressed by the Times, he rejected this label: “I’d rather have no adjective in front of the word musician,” Namjoo says. “I’m only a musician. That’s all.”  Sounds familiar.

The original article is here, and Namjoo is here.

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