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Dream to the Rhythm

A brilliant Grace Jones and David Bowie mashup.

Riff Raff

I bought Powerage rather than one of the other, more obvious choices because it includes “Riff Raff,” hands-down my favorite AC/DC song. There’s much to love about this song — the opening crescendo, Angus’s riffs, the driving 8th-note bassline, the unimpeachable beauty of a 3-chord song

Seven Songs

The Seven Songs “Boots of Spanish Leather” by Bob Dylan “Inside a Boy” by My Brightest Diamond “Spirits (Having Flown)” by Bee Gees “A Letter to Both Sides” by The Fixx “Elegie in C Minor, Op. 24” by Gabriel Faure “Tel Que Tu Es” by Charlotte Gainsbourg “Revolution Earth” by The B-52s Bob Dylan Professor […]

Vermicide

“I think it’s Mars Volta. . . . Rush for the new millennium.”

Can I Go Home Now?

Watching this video it occurs to me that, instead of the presidency, this guy would have been much happier if he’d inherited a West Texas Chrysler dealership. I have to admit that I more or less supported Bush’s immigration plan. It’s the first time in six-and-a-half years I’ve been able to say that about a White House policy.

By the Time It Gets Dark

First great show of 2007: Lambchop and Yo La Tengo. Unfortunately, YLT’s last visit to Knoxville was memorable for reasons having little to do with the amazing music that was played that night. But they came back anyway, God bless ’em, and this time they played to a large and rapt audience at the Bijou. […]

YouTube (Instead of) Memory

Here’s an odd clip I just stumbled upon. I witnessed that exact event after stepping out of a film at TIFF this year. It was in the Paramount Theater, at the top of the long escalators. And now I no longer need to remember it. My memory has been captured, uploaded, tagged with metadata, and stored safely away, where it can be retrieved immediately — by anyone. And I played no part in the process.

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

William Wyler’s The Big Country (1958) is one of those westerns about men proving themselves in the unforgiving and sublime conditions of the American southwest.

Aimee Mann at the Bijou

I’d brought along Joanna’s bite-sized Sony Cyber-shot camera in hopes of getting some decent stills, but the light was too low (even from the third row) and, as a result, all of the photos were streaked by motion blurs. So, instead, I experimented with the video capture, and I’m really pleased with the results — especially with the sound.

The Origin of Love

This is the second time “The Origin of Love” has been a Long Pauses Song of the Moment. Again, I was inspired by seeing a live performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch — this time here in our own “scruffy little city,” Knoxville, Tennessee. K-Town did me proud. The Actors Co-op’s production is funnier, […]

Drunken Butterfly

Or, Random Observations Provoked by Seeing Sonic Youth Live for the First Time

Inner City Blues

If I’m remembering theory notation correctly, the change for “Inner City Blues” is i-IV. Two chords. It opens with twenty-four straight measures of the minor root before finally changing to the major IV, where it stays for all of four measures before returning to the root. Would have bored me senseless a decade ago; now, I’ll be damned if that change ain’t transcendent. The song is a chant-like, soul-filled lamentation. An angry prayer.

Silence (and a New Mix)

I had two main goals with this mix. First, I decided to divide it evenly between older and newer music. There’s always a jump of at least 15 years from tune to tune. But I also wanted the mix to be coherent, so I was looking for a tone that could maybe be described as “Songs that might actually sound better if they were played on an old, hissing record player.”

Everything is Copasetic, Now

At Girish’s request, I’ve pasted together a mix of music that features the Fender Rhodes.

Also Sprach Zarathustra

I only know of Deodato because of Being There (1979). Hal Ashby drops his needle on “Zarathustra” during the long sequence near the beginning of the film when Chance leaves his now-dead employer’s estate and wanders, umbrella and suitcase in hand, through the streets of Washington, D.C.

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Sufjan Stevens’ recent performance on Morning Becomes Eclectic is now available in streaming video. It’s a fantastic set.

Safeway Cart

The new Song of the Moment, Neil Young’s “Safeway Cart,” scores a scene in which the Legionnaires march through a rocky desert, one of their many meaningless exercises in the film. It plays like a dirge and is one of Beau Travail’s few explicit references to the Christian allegory at play.

Missing

“Missing” won Song of the Moment honors in a close race with “Black Tambourine” and “Hell Yes,” both of which, it must be said, are even more ass-shaking than “Missing” but not quite as perfect. All three sound even better in multi-channel.

Notes on “Sonny’s Blues”

Like a soloist, Baldwin introduces an idea, a phrase, then he explores it, explodes it, develops it until he finds something new, something more precise or melodic. Baldwin accomplishes in his story what Sonny accomplishes in that jazz club. And, really, isn’t this just the most beautiful “vanishing evocation” (as the narrator describes music) of what art is capable of doing?

Evening on the Ground

Joanna and I just made what we hope will be the last of many recent trips to southern Alabama. It was another rough one — the type of experience that is supposed to give us “closure.” Everytime someone says that to me (and always with the best intentions, I know), I think of Philip Roth’s […]

Riff Raff

The Song of the Moment was supposed to be Mark Kozelek’s version of “Riff Raff” from What’s Next to the Moon, his album of Bon Scott-era AC/DC covers. Something in that combination of Kozelek’s voice and his tasteful acoustic guitar arrangements unearths the roots in AC/DC’s rock. That album is borderline bluegrass–not the arrangements or […]

Strange Waters

I asked Bruce about “Strange Waters” yesterday, and his answer was a tense, beautiful sermon.

God Rest His Soul

iTunes just landed on “God Rest His Soul” by The 31st of February, which was a happy coincidence given the content of yesterday’s post. Recorded in 1968, it’s a beautiful prayer for Martin Luther King, Jr., sung by Greg Allman of all people.

Right Back Atya

Karen Hughes will, I assume, deny that this is the real President Bush.

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

Yeah, I know. There’s nothing less hip than Elton John, but while walking through Toronto last month, my iPod randomly landed on “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” and it was, at that moment, the single greatest song I had ever heard.

La Villa Strangiato

“Listen to this song,” he told us. “It’s the coolest.” Robbie was something of an authority on such things, and so I listened. Intently. Sitting stone upright on Dave’s bed. And Robbie was right. It was most definitely the coolest. This wicked keyboard sound introduced a simple, shuffling drumline.

The Shadowlands

I would like to play piano/keyboards in a rock band, and I would like that band to sound as much as possible like Ryan Adams’ “The Shadowlands.” I would also be perfectly content if it sounded like “Political Scientist” or “English Girls Approximately” or almost any other track from Love is Hell.

Snow

Since watching Caveh Zahedi’s In the Bathtub of the World on Sunday, I have probably listened to The Innocence Mission’s “Snow” thirty times. Hopefully I’ll find time to write about Bathtub in the next day or two. It’s been a long time since I was so moved by a film.

Tombigbee

If you’re too hip to like Tori, do me a favor and tell me what you think of this song. It’s a nice change of pace for her. No acoustic piano. A bit of distortion. Borderline lo-fi.

Bartok’s Fifth String Quarter

Several years ago, in a seminar on modern and postmodern lit, I wrote a fun paper on Ezra Pound’s music criticism. In particular, I was interested in Pound’s admiration for Bartok’s String Quartet #5.

Holland

It’s a heckuva song from Greetings from Michigan. I’ve added it and Stevens’ latest, Seven Swans, to my Amazon Wish List. Can anyone make a strong case for one album being better than the other? Any other Sufjan fans?

South Side of the Sky

When I was 19 I played piano in a big band. One night, during a break, I started playing part of “South Side of the Sky” and within a minute the rest of the rhythm section joined in. It was really sloppy, but we made it from the end of the piano solo through most of the “la la la la la la la la” part.

Glenn Tipton

I’m pretty sure that this will be the last time I post a Song of the Moment that is named for one of Judas Priest’s guitarists. This song is what the inside of my head sounds like these days.

America

“America” will always be my favorite Paul Simon song. There’s something so beautifully melancholy about the chorus.

Chain

“Chain” by The Fire Theft. Why? Because the world needs a good emo waltz, that’s why.

Cross Bones Style

The oft-repeated but still-juicy line from Godard: “The history of cinema is boys photographing girls. The history of history is boys burning girls at the stake.” You can confirm the second sentence by watching TV for three minutes. To confirm the first sentence, watch the Cat Power videos available here at the Matador website.

I’ll Be Gone

I have no idea why I’ve been listening to American Music Club’s San Francisco so much lately — I mean, other than because it’s a great album. “I’ll Be Gone” is a damn fine song.

Big Dipper

“Big Dipper” is one more track from a mix CD that I received recently. I’ve never been a big fan of Cracker, but this song really works for me. I love the spare arrangement, especially the acoustic piano and steel guitar, but mostly I like this song because of the lyrics and because of David Lowery’s delivery of them.

Wayfaring Stranger

“16 Horsepower is a Gothic country-rock quartet from Denver, but their version of “Wayfaring Stranger” feels so fated, so instinctual, it spreads the South all over the American map, a dusting of damnation on wherever you might be as you listen.” — Greil Marcus

The Wind

A friend and I exchanged mix CDs this week, and apparently I now have to go buy PJ Harvey’s Is This Desire? You know you’re dangerously obsessed with a song when WinAmp is set to repeat and the playlist includes only one track. “The Wind” is totally that song.

The Gloaming

Radiohead broke with routine on Monday night by opening with “The Gloaming.” Like so much of the material from Hail to the Thief, it played better live than on the album. I especially like Colin Greenwood’s new walking bassline.

Mary

I just discovered that Supergrass will be opening for Radiohead Monday night. Very nice! I know that this opinion is terribly unhip, but I’ll say it anyway: More bands need keyboard players, and more songs need keyboard riffs like the one in “Mary.”

Sneakin’ Sally

Robert Palmer has passed away. For years, I knew him only as the “Addicted to Love” guy, but then a friend with a killer CD collection moved into the dorm room across the hall from mine and fired up Sneakin’ Salley Through the Alley (1975). The first three songs on that album are as good as it gets. Of course, that might have more to do with his collaboration with Little Feat than with his own talent, but Palmer obviously had good taste.

Blood on My Hands

I just didn’t get the whole groupie phenomenon until about ten years ago, when I caught The Sundays at a club called The Moon in Tallahassee. Looking up at Harriet Wheeler, my elbows resting on the raised stage, I fell instantly and deeply in love. Or maybe it was lust.

Little Feat Mix

Let me make this point perfectly clear: Little Feat is the great unsung American rock and roll band. The July mix is a collection of songs from their golden period — roughly 1972 – 1978 — the years when founder Lowell George was at his peak.

Resplendent

What to hear a perfect song? “Resplendent,” by Bill Mallonee and Vigilantes of Love, is as close as it gets. There’s the Bruce Cockburn-like guitar, that sweet snare drum shuffle, and Emmylou’s harmonies.

Until the End of the World

I usually use the “Song of the Moment” to promote music that readers might not hear otherwise. So why U2? I’m just stuck on “Until the End of the World” right now, and I’m not sure why.

Therefore, I Am

This track is just so rock and roll. I love it. A little advice: the louder you play it, the more transcendent it becomes.

The Sweet Sting

I’ve never been one to miss high school, but I do occasionally find myself longing for something from those days, something lacking in the day to day management of adult life.

A Mid-’80s Mix

A mix of music I loved between roughly April 1987 (a month before my 15th birthday) and June 1988 (a month after my 16th).