everything you ever wanted to know about nothing at all...

Monday, December 22, 2008

As those of old have sung...

Happy Christmas, friends. Christie & I didn't get around to sending out Christmas cards this year & I kind of regret it, so, as corny as it sounds, I'll try to make up for it here. What's a Christmas card without a poem?

Christmas Bells

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Christmas Bells
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Grand Haven is a wonderful place to live at Christmas time. Downtown is particularly festive, with lights on all the trees. My favorite place to eat is at the Dee-lite, because you can sit by the window & look at the lights & watch the people walk by. The Snug is also pretty good, & you can look at the nativity scene on the hill & there's always Christmas music you can here from across the channel.

We got a wonderful looking tree this year, we cut it down ourselves. We received some great Christmas decorations for our wedding, including an embroidered tree skirt & ornaments from the Tommelins & of course the nativity scene from my sisters.

Speaking of weddings, Christmastime is a good time to look back at the year just past. What a year 2008 was. There are almost too many blessings & highlights to mention, & some challenges too, but we're only here to talk about the positives. I'll never forget the way Christie looked in her wedding dress or how blue the ocean was. I'll never forget dancing with my mother or listening to my dad's sermon. I could never have imagined how much I'd like a dog or how welcoming in-laws could be. I could never have imagined how much fun it is to come home to my wife every night.

Christmas can be an orgy of consumerism & greed, but only if you let it be. I hope everyone can look past all that & truly find peace, the peace of Simeon at meeting his Savior or the peace of hearing your grandparents belting out the nunc dimittis on Christmas day.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Christmastime is here-Vince Guaraldi

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas-Judy Garland

Put the Lights on the Tree-Sufjan Stevens

I Saw Three Ships-Sufjan Stevens

Lo! How a Rose E're Blooming-Sufjan Stevens

Happy Monday, friends...


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ring Them Bells!

Great news, friends. Nathan Crede Siegert was born Tuesday, December 16 at 6:15 pm. Seven pounds 10 ounces, I'm told & I hear everybody is happy & healthy. I can't wait to see the little shaver, I hear he's really something. I couldn't be prouder of Holly & my old pal Ryan.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Amazing Grace-Sufjan Stevens

I know this song is always played at funerals, but why not play it when someone is born?

Come Thou Font of Every Blessing-Sufjan Stevens

Is this a Christian Reformed song? I don't remember ever hearing it when I was a kid, but I've heard it quite a bit in churches around here. It's a good one.

Danko/Manuel-The Drive By Truckers, The Dirty South

If you've been standing within earshot of my shower the last couple of days you would've heard this song.

Forever Young-Bob Dylan & The Band, The Last Waltz

Forever Young

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Copyright ©1973 Ram's Horn Music

Empty Hearts-Josh Ritter, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter

A great song for the new year, if you ask me.

Josh Ritter
Empty Hearts lyrics

So save all of your light
For those who can't sleep at night
And who can't even sing to their shadows
Oh they ride into town
And they throw the shots down
And they save the last round for the windows

Singing don't let me into this year with an empty heart
With an empty heart
Don't let me into this year with an empty heart

I'm inside with my friends
We build fires and pretend
That the night could just bend on forever
While outside in the frost
Are the wolves and the lost
And we sing to the dogs or whoever

Singing don't let me into this year with an empty heart
With an empty heart
Don't let me into this year with an empty heart

There's a friend that I have
And for her I'll go back
You see all of these empties that I'm holding
They're too much for a man
Empty arms, empty hands
And she'll know me by the sound of my hoping

Singing don't let me into this year with an empty heart
With an empty heart
Don't let me into this year with an empty heart

Happy Thursday, friends...


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Birth of the Cool

It's Tuesday morning, I have the day off & I haven't yet figured out what I'm going to do with myself today, so naturally, I'm wasting time listening to music & drinking coffee. I heard a song yesterday while I was at work & I'm trying to figure out which one it was. What a dork, eh?

I think I figured it out, I think it's Moon Dreams by Miles Davis. It's got that lazy Saturday afternoon kind of sound. Miles was bar none one of the coolest human beings to ever walk the face of the planet, but this song sounds like it should come from some parlor in 1940's New York City with some old ladies drinking tea in the afternoon.

That's what I love about jazz, there aren't any lyrics to ruin what your vision of what the song is trying to say, or even better, the song could be about what you're experiencing at the time you hear it. It's a story without a plot. It sets the mood, it elicits emotions out of the listener without explaining why those emotions are there. You'll have to figure it out for yourself.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Moon Dreams-Miles Davis

Freddie Freeloader-Miles Davis, Kind of Blue

Kush-Dizzy Gillespie, An Electrifying Evening with Dizzy Gillespie

The Friendly Beasts-Sufjan Stevens

Brother Can You Spare a Dime?-Bing Crosby

Happy Tuesday, friends...


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Our Assets are Frozen!

Happy Thursday, friends. For a bit of levity in these trying times, I bring you a few clips of the comic genius of the Muppets. I know there are some readers that may not see the brilliance of the muppets, but hopefully some of these clips might change their minds.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Back on the Chain Gang-The Pretenders

Kush-Dizzy Gillespie, An Electrifying Evening with Dizzy Gillespie

This is Radio Clash-The Clash

Rum & Coca-Cola-the Andrews Sisters

Dancin' Days-Led Zepellin

Enjoy, friends...


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. There's not much new to report, here. Work is done for four days & I'm not sure what I'm going to do with myself. I'll probably hang some lights outside & whatever Christie wants done around the house. Tonight is Grumpy Old Men night, Mike & I are going to watch that classic movie after the Thanksgiving get-togethers are over. We will try our whole soul best to talk Christie into being an honorary Grumpy Old Man, but we'll see if she's interested or not.

Tomorrow marks the one day of the year Christie gets up earlier than I. By the end of the day today, Christie & her mother with purses full of coupons will have their battle plans marked out for the Friday after Thanksgiving Massacre of Shopping. They'll be out on the road by 4 am & home by 12:00.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Long Black Veil-Johnny Cash & Joni Mitchell

We Praise Thee, Oh God, Our Redeemer Creator

Thanksgiving Day Parade-Dan Bern

Helpless-Neil Young & the Band, The Last Waltz

Alice's Restaurant-Arlo Guthrie

Happy Thanksgiving, friends & eat my shorts...


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Take what you need you think will last...

Happy Thursday, friends. Conversation about all kinds of things start up at work both with fellow employees & with customers. I try my best to stay out of politics (with customers anyway) unless someone asks my opinion. Everybody seems to have an opinion about what is wrong with the economy & what the government should do to fix it. I'm not sure there is a right or a wrong answer to this question. The only answer that seems correct to me comes from my youngest employee, 20 year old Jeff. He deftly opined that the cause of all of this is greed. We are a country that wants what it can't have & does any number of despicable things to get them. I can't think of too many people who are exempt from this disease, if any. Maybe they'll vote no on greed.

Here's one of my favorite poems, it's a bit long but worth every second. It's one of two poems that got me interested in poetry. I don't think I've been the same since the first time I'd heard this.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Dear Mrs Roosevelt-Woody Guthrie

The Big Three Killed My Baby-The White Stripes

War on War-Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Hey Joe-Jimi Hendrix

Little Green-Joni Mitchell, Blue

Happy Thursday, friends...


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don't get up gentlemen, I'm only passing through...

The sentiment of this poem could be applied to any number of things in life. For me, there are books that remain unread on my shelves, cd's that hardly get heard & yes, outdoor chairs that hardly ever get sat in. Christie often reminds me of the book she bought me for Christmas last year that I still haven't started, War & Peace. Hopefully I never have a dog I don't pet or a wife I never speak to.

The Chairs That No One Sits In

You see them on porches & on lawns
down by the lakeside,
usually arranged in pairs implying a couple

who might sit there & look out
at the water or the big shade trees.
The trouble is you never see anyone

sitting in these forlorn chairs
though at one time it must have seemed
a good place to stop & do nothing for a while.

Sometimes there is a little table
between the chairs where no one
is resting a glass or placing a book facedown.

It might be none of my business,
but it might be a good idea one day
for everyone who placed those vacant chairs

on a veranda or a dock to sit down in them
for the sake of remembering
whatever it was they thought deserved

to be viewed from two chairs
side by side with a table in between.
The clouds are high & massive that day.

The woman looks up from her book.
The man takes a sip of his drink.
Then there is nothing but the sound of their looking,

the lapping of lake water, & a call of one bird
then another, cries of joy or warning--
it passes the time to wonder which.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Boots of Spanish Leather-Bob Dylan, Hamburg 2003

Desolation Row-Bob Dylan, Wembley 2003

Shooting Star-Zurich, 2003

Tom Sawyer's Later Years-Kevin Davis

Lost Highway-Hank Williams

Christie's watching the Country Music Awards this evening & I'm reminded of the fact that Hank Williams was stripped of his membership to the Grand Ole' Opry. If Hank Williams doesn't belong in the Grand Ole' Opry no one does.

Happy Wednesday, friends...


Monday, November 10, 2008

Today is my mother's birthday, & since I have only a few pictures of her without me in it on my hard drive, I've posted some pictures I think she'd appreciate.

I now have the dubious distinction of being half as old as my mother. I'm no math genius but I'm pretty sure that can happen only once. That must mean that she was 29 when she had me. I don't know what the significance of all that is, other than the fact that I have no kids. Maybe the fact that I'm half as old as she is explains the uncontrollable urge to play scrabble & to go for a drive for no particular reason.

Happy Birthday, mom. We miss you & we love you.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Ballad of a Thin Man-Bob Dylan, Kalamazoo 11.8.08

Thunder on the Mountain-Bob Dylan, Kalamazoo 11.8.08

People Get Ready-Curtis Mayfield

Freddy's Dead-Curtis Mayfield

See that My Grave is Kept Clean-Blind Willie Johnson

Happy Monday, friends...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Keep the Car Running

There's very few things that will keep me up past midnight, especially on a work night. It's also a rare occasion where a Bob Dylan concert is not the highlight of the week, but both of these were the case this week. I stayed awake long enough to watch Barack Obama quote the great Sam Cooke song, A Change is Gonna Come. It was the biggest piece of history we've witnessed since the start of the Iraq war or perhaps September 11. I'm not ashamed to admit that I got goosebumps more than once watching the events of the election unfold.

I guess it's easy to get swept up in all the excitement & rhetoric to believe that this won't be politics as usual. T Bone Burnett wrote not too long ago:

presidents come & presidents go
they rise like smoke & fall like snow
'do you believe the things you say?
you're lofty thoughts are filled with hay
what is this faith that you profess?
that led to this colossal mess?
When you awaken from this coma
you'll find you were in Oklahoma
When you come out of this self-delusion
you're gonna need a soul transfusion.

It's also easy to be such a cynic to believe that nothing can change. Maybe it's no mistake that a president's mistakes are remembered more than his successes. Maybe it's a self fulfilling prophecy. One of the most patriotic things I can do is to keep an eye on Barack Obama's doings over the next four years & look for reasons not to vote for him the next time around. The most patriotic thing that you who did not vote for him can do is to look for the positives as reasons why you might want to re-elect him in four years. Maybe we'll meet somewhere in the middle & something might get done.

I look at it as though five of us are collectively purchasing a car. The cars we have to choose from fit some of our needs, others not as much. Maybe the best car to choose from has things we don't like about it. After we've handed over our money it's ours & we've got to live with it whether it was our first choice or not. The better we maintain it, the better it works for us, but we still have to ultimately decide whether it will safely get us where we want to go. If not, we'll have to get rid of it & get us a new one. Okay, it's a stretch, but it's the best I can do for now.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Goin' to Acapulco-Jim James & Calexico, I'm Not There Soundtrack

Palestine, Texas-T Bone Burnett, The True False Identity

There She Goes, My Beautiful World-Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, The Abattoir Blues Tour 2004

Blowin' in the Wind-Bob Dylan, University of Minnesota, November 4, 2008

Keep the Car Running-The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible

Happy Thursday, friends...


Monday, November 03, 2008

the loser now will be later to win...

I'm sure I'm not the only blogger in the world to reference the song "The Times They Are a Changin'" today or tomorrow. A great song transcends the time frame & the circumstances for which it was written. This performance is from 1981 on one of Bob Dylan's gospel tours. The song is not out of place when seen through the lense of Bob Dylan's conversion to Christianity. It's a bit corny to think of this song the day before an election, but I can't help it.

I know it's cliche, but I truly believe that tomorrow's election is the most important of my lifetime. I believe that one of the positives that will come out of the past eight years is that the citizens of this country will no longer be passive about what their government is doing. There is too much at stake for the future of this country & in people's lives to sit idly by without taking an active interest in what's going on. A lady I work with told me that at 60 years old, this is the first election she has ever voted in. Another gentlemen told me that even though he is kind of "racist" he can't help but vote for Barack Obama.

Here's why I'm voting for Barack Obama.

He opposed the war from the start when it wasn't politically beneficial for him to do so & he wants to bring the war in Iraq to a close.

He is respected throughout the world & will restore our broken reputation. He sees a value in communicating with our enemies, knowing full well that it is easier to speak ill or do harm to someone when you don't have to look them in the eye.

He has pragmatic, holistic solutions to this country's ills. The environment, our economy, our infrastructure & our national security are all intertwined.

He doesn't shine a light on or hide from his race. He doesn't see things in black & white, literally or figuratively.

He's willing to be honest with people about the sacrifices they may have to make & about the fate of the economy.

He has no major ties to lobbyists or corporations.

He gives intelligent, well thought out answers to hard questions & sees both sides of issues.

He instills hope in people, & doesn't use fear as a campaign tactic.

He believes that everyone who wants it should have health care, & I believe he'll do everything he can to make sure they can get it.

His economic policy favors the middle class rather than large corporations.

He has run an honest & an honorable campaign that isn't based around negative attacks on his opponent.

I'm excited to cast my vote tomorrow.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

The Times They Are a Changin'-Bob Dylan, Avignon 1981

Evil Urges-My Morning Jacket

It Makes No Difference-The Band, the Last Waltz

A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall-Bob Dylan, Brixton 2003

Anthem-Leonard Cohen, The Future

Happy election day, friends...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Maybe I'd a done some good in the world...

A coworker recently said something along the lines of "I just want to do good things for people & get paid well for it". I think there's both an oxymoron & some truth to that statement. The oxymoron comes from the fact that I half believe that a good deed is one that doesn't get rewarded. The truth comes from the fact that I believe it's what just about everybody in the world is looking for. Selling paint isn't the most rewarding of occupations at the moment, if it ever was. I have a job, though, so I shouldn't complain. But I do, 'cause I can.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

The Pick-Up-Sufjan Stevens, The Avalanche

Ring Them Bells-Bob Dylan, Tell Tale Signs

This song has been in constant rotation lately. On the way home from Detroit the other day, I posed the question to Christie, what is the difference between two people's brains that makes one of them think this is brilliant & the other to think it's crap?

"they're breaking down the difference between right & wrong"

Stop Breaking Down-Robert Johnson

"this stuff I got's gonna bust your brains out, gonna make you lose your mind"

Frankie & Albert-Mississippi John Hurt

We Call Upon the Auther-Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Dig! Lazarus Dig!

Happy Wednesday, friends...


Sunday, October 19, 2008

The sun gets passed from tree to tree...

Happy birthday, old man! I'm not sure if you read these things or not. I wouldn't blame you if you didn't. It's better to talk to people in person. I don't think it was a coincidence that they had a John Deere tractor at the church pumpkin sale yesterday. One of the really nice couples at church were giving hayrides through Duncan's Woods (not that Duncan). The man restored a 1947 John Deere he got from his in-laws & now he gives rides to people buying pumpkins every Saturday & Sunday & to senior citizens. I can't help but think that you two would make good friends, his name is Bill, & he was the janitor at St John's for a long time before he retired a couple of years ago. It was a great unexpected ride through the woods, even though Christie was a little embarrassed to be riding on a hay ride with a bunch of little kids.

You gave us alot of memories in the fall. I especially remember that cart that you made out of those big old iron wheels that we used to take the leaves from the yard out to the woods. Every year you'd tell me stories about how big a deal it was when pheasant season came around & it sounded like the most wonderful thing. I sure am glad you used to take me out to the farm on Saturday's to work. I'm not sure I appreciated it then, but I sure do now. Anyway, we'll miss you today & we love you.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Muzzle of Bees-Wilco, A Ghost is Born

Freight Train Blues-Elizabeth Cotten

Mama, Your Papa Loves You-Elizabeth Cotten

Screen Door-Uncle Tupelo, No Depression

When I Get Home-Elizabeth Cotten

Happy Sunday, friends...


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sittin' on Top of the World

Well, Winston, it's just you & me. Christie has class & is hanging out with a friend tonight so I'm left to fend for myself. Winston & I decided to take a drive to see Mike's new roof, I just realized that I should've taken a picture of it, but since I don't have before & after pictures it probably wouldn't do it justice. He did a good job, it almost looks like a brand new place.

I don't know what it is about the fall that turns me into a big sissy, but I get all giddy about seeing the town & my neighborhood in a whole new spectrum of colors. The colder weather makes me want to get outside that much more, believe it or not. Everything seems more, I don't know, well preserved. Winston is an excellent riding companion. He sits contentedly, not leaving his seat except to put his paws on the side of the door to look out the window. Tonight, we rode like kings.

So, greetings from our little corner of Grand Haven on a beautiful fall evening.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Sitting on Top of the World-Bob Dylan, Good as I Been to You

Sunset Soon Forgotten-Iron & Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days

Each Coming Night-Iron & Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days

Love & Some Verses-Iron & Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days

Flightless Bird, American Mouth-Iron & Wine, The Shepherd's Dog

Happy Thursday, friends...


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Something's Burning Baby

Christie & I had a wedding to go to on Saturday in my old neighborhood in Grand Rapids. On my way there I saw a house on fire on Lake Michigan Drive, it was fully engulfed in flames. The fire trucks were there & about 15 cars sat by & watched. I wish I could've stopped to take a picture but I would've been late for the wedding.

On my way home (Christie was in the wedding so I was by myself), I stopped by the old house on Valley. It looks to be vacant & there's a for sale sign in the big front window. I always regret not having the time or the money to fix the place up proper. I always thought that if I had $10,000 & a couple more years I could've turned it into a great little house. If if's & buts were candy & nuts we'd all have a wonderful Christmas. The place looked to be in poor shape. Not that it was great when I left it but the yard was in good condition.

On the way back to Grand Haven, I stopped by to see what the burning house looked like. All that was left was the chimney, everything else had burned to the ground.

I don't know what these things have to do with each other, but it got me to thinking. Our culture is very obsessed with newer, bigger & better things. Perhaps one good thing that could come out of this economic mess we're in is that people will start to appreciate the things they have rather than always wanting something new. I'm a hypocrite, however, because after I realized I didn't have the time, money or skills to fix up an old place, I bought a brand new condo that requires absolutely no maintenance.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Red River Shore-Bob Dylan, Tell Tale Signs

32-20 Blues-Bob Dylan, Tell Tale Signs

Keep an Eye on Other's Gain-Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Thunder Road-Bruce Springsteen

This Heart's on Fire-Wolf Parade, Apologies to the Queen Mary

Happy Sunday, friends...


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Most of the time, I'm halfway content

Darn this digital age we live in, no longer do I have to wait until an album is in my hands. No longer do I have that annoying packaging to work through before I can pop a cd into the player to hear it proper. Now, you can usually hear songs from a new album long before it's released. I've always resisted this so that I can hear it in it's intended sequence from start to finish.

For Bob Dylan's latest "Bootleg Series, Vol 8, Tell Tale Signs", though they are making the album available for preview on NPR.ORG. If it weren't NPR & if it weren't available in full, I probably would wait until it comes out next week. So, as we speak & for the first time, I'm sitting down by the computer for a listen. Here's my thoughts so far, we'll see how far I get.

The two disc set is a collection of studio outtakes, soundtrack releases & live performances between the years of 1989-2006. The live performances don't excite me because I've heard many of them before, same goes for the songs released for various soundtracks. The meat of this collection comes from the studio outtakes. 1989 is often seen as a return to form for Dylan as far as studio albums go, many of the albums from the 80's were abysmal. Most of Dylan's albums had outtakes that surfaced as bootleg recordings (also 99% of his concerts). After 1989, however, he clamped down on the recordings so that his recordings wouldn't be heard against his wishes. The ironic thing about this is that during the eighties many of his best works were left off his albums. For many of the albums released post 1989, rumors swirled about outtakes of certain songs but nobody could hear them like they did in the past, until now.

Many of these songs are hard to evaluate without comparing them to their official album versions.

Mississippi-As I mentioned during the last blog, this version is older than the album version that was released. This version swings slowly, much more laid back then the album version. This is everything I'd love to imagine about Dylan performing in the studio, confident in his song, simple without any frills a producer can add.

Most of the Time, Oh Mercy Outtake-The album version of this song proves that if Dylan had started his career in 1989 when Oh Mercy was released, he'd still make it. The original album version doesn't rest on Dylan's legend nor does it try to sound like a Dylan song. The version featured here sounds much like a Bob Dylan song, complete with acoustic guitars & harmonicas. Again, a much more laid back performance, not without it's own merits, although I still think the original fits the feeling of the lyrics more.

Dignity, Oh Mercy Outtake-This one sounds just like a studio demo, unlike the first two songs on the album which could stand by themselves as fully realized, completely finished songs. It's fun to hear him work out the lyrics & melody to this song, playing it solo on piano. Without the band backing him on this one, however, it's stripped of it's power.

Someday Baby, Modern Times Outtake-It's well known that this song's melody "borrows" (some call it the folk process, others call it theft) from a Muddy Waters version of a song by the same name. Muddy "borrowed" the melody from someone way down the line & of course the copyright rules have expired. Dylan adds some new lyrics of his own & copyrights the song as his own. A lot of people have a problem with this, & probably for good reason, but it's a practice that many blues, folk & rock & roll artists have done for years. This song is a blatant example as it sounds so much like the original. The version here sounds much different than Muddy's version, it's as if Dylan was pushing the envelope of what he could get away with, as he has for years.

Red River Shore, Time Out of Mind Outtake-Musicians & producers who worked on "Time Out of Mind" have raved for years about this song. Us goofy fans have drooled over the possibility of this song being released & here it is. On first listen, it has all the earmarks of a masterpiece, but we'll have to wait & see.

Tell Ol' Bill, North Country Soundtrack alternate version-I've heard this version before, this is one of the rare occasions since 1989 that outtakes have surfaced. It's a minor song, to my ears. The official version swings along nicely, this one's a bit more sinister.

Born in Time, Oh Mercy Outtake-This is another example of a song coming out of a session for one album & being released later on 1990's Under the Red Sky. He should've stuck with the original. This version has much more grit & fire to it, the album version is weak in comparison.

Can't Wait, Time Out of Mind Outtake-This version smokes the album version. Bob Dylan has command of his vocals & the band follows closely behind. It sounds like a three piece band, piano, minor guitar frills & minimal drumming. It doesn't fit the swampy sound of Time Out of Mind, it's much more straightforward. To boot, it's almost a completely new set of lyrics which gives us use for both versions. One of the highlights so far, Dylan's voice soars higher than anything that came after it.

Everything is Broken, Oh Mercy Outtake-No amount of improvements can make this song more than a clunker to my ears.

Dreamin' of You, Time Out of Mind Outtakes-What fascinates me about this collection is the number of discarded songs from Time Out of Mind that are built around lyrics that were used for other songs. This song would've fit well on Time Out of Mind if it weren't the fact that it shares many of it's lyrics with the officially released (& superior) Standin' in the Doorway. I hate to say it, but this song is more dynamic than anything from Time Out of Mind, listen to Dylan's guitar fills!

Huck's Tune, Lucy You Soundtrack-I've heard this song before. This song shares a lyrical trick with many of Dylan's later songs that a seemingly beautiful song throws a couple of absurdist lyrics in it to show he's not getting soft. "all the merry little elves can go hang themselves"

Marchin' to the City, Time Out of Mind Outtake-This song shares many of the same lyrics with the officially released Till I Fell in Love with You, although believe it or not, this song sounds like a gospel song. This one could be special.

Highwater (for Charley Patton), Live version from Love & Theft-This is the quintessential live version of this song, his voice is full of fire & grit & all the while Freddy Koella's guitar teases him to push it a bit further. I've heard this one many times before.

Stay tuned for disc two, or pray for it to be over so you don't have to hear about it anymore, whichever you choose.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Girl from the Red River Shore

Can't Wait

Romulus-Sufjan Stevens, Greetings from Michigan

Men of Good Fortune-Lou Reed, Berlin

Amazing Grace-Sufjan Stevens

Happy Tuesday, friends...


Sunday, September 28, 2008

We've no less days

Christie took me to see a documentary about Hospice where she works last night. It was quite interesting to me, I always love a good documentary. It was part infomercial for Hospice, part snapshot of hospice workers, & most importantly part snapshots of lives that ended with hospice care. The documentary shows what I hope I've always known, which is that every life has an interesting story. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about the lives highlighted in the movie except that they are genuine & sincere. The main character of the documentary was a regular guy, albeit very funny, but the most moving scene came when the dying man's stepdaughter drove him in his four wheeler out to the pond just to sit & soak it in. Having had two grandparents die in the care of hospice workers, the documentary hit home for me. Those workers took care of all kinds of little details for my grandparents that I can't even imagine & for that I'm incredibly grateful.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Blind Willie McTell-Bob Dylan, Brixton Academy 2003

The song that may have killed my ipod, I was at work today for a couple of hours & my ipod was plugged into it's dock & playing incredibly loud when all of a sudden it stopped & it still isn't working. I suppose if it has to be blown, this is as good a song as any to accompany it's demise.

Keep an eye on Other's Gain-Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Amazing Grace-hymn

Fish & Whistle-John Prine

People Puttin' People Down-John Prine

Happy Sunday, friends...


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Everybody moving, if they ain't already there...

It's been quite the year for my pal Ryan. He found out he's going to be a pappy, he bought himself his first house & now he's going to be a married man. He called me last night & gave me the big news. I couldn't be happier for him, Holly he is a real peach & the perfect gal for him.

Just to give you an idea of how good a friend Ryan is, I called him after I proposed to Christie & told him that she turned me down & he said "oh man, I'll be right over". What a jerk I can be. I can't wait to see them in a few weeks.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Mississippi-Bob Dylan, Tell Tale Signs

Here's a sneak preview of the upcoming Bootleg Series release, it's an outtake from 1997's Time Out of Mind. The song was left off the album & reappeared on 2001's Love & Theft in a vastly different arrangement. I've only heard this one a few times, but I still say that the Love & Theft version is superior. It's a great song either way, & each arrangement evokes different meanings. "All my powers of expression & thoughts so sublime could never do you justice in reason or rhyme."

Someday Some Morning Sometime-Billy Bragg & Wilco, Mermaid Ave Vol I

It was a perfect morning for a walk with the doggie.

For the widows in Paradise, for the fatherless in Ypsilanti-Sufjan Stevens, Greetings from Michigan

A Change is Gonna Come-Sam Cooke

The Bends-Radiohead, The Bends

Girl in the War-Josh Ritter

Happy Saturday, friends. I hope it's as lovely where you are as it is here.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

These are not my tunes but there mine to use...

Well friends, fall is here & that means new seasons of all the top rated television shows. For me, it means I'll hopefully be avoiding the television as soon as the election is over. I don't know why, but television series don't do it for me anymore. Either the shows are getting worse or my taste isn't evolving.

I often think about oldies radio stations & how a great many of the people that listen to them have been listening to the same group of songs since they were originally released so many years ago. Every now & then, if I'm in the Detroit area, I'll turn the radio to 89x, which was a new station when I was a teenager, & they are playing the same songs they did back in the early '90s. Now, I like Pearl Jam & Nirvana as much as the next guy, but I don't think I could listen to them & bands like them exclusively for the rest of my life.

As my wife watches the season premiers of "Ugly Betty" & "Grey's Anatomy", I'm sitting here at the computer listening to some songs I haven't listened to in a long time.

Child's Song by Tom Rush

A song about a teenager leaving home, most likely prematurely, & not necessarily on the best terms. Rush in this song doesn't allow you to see things from the parents perspective, if he did it would make the song too complicated & the message would get lost. If you could find one lyric in the song that would capture it's essence it would have to be "ain't no use in shedding no more tears, mama, ain't no use in shouting at me pa, I love you but that hasn't helped at all".

Dress Blues by Jason Isbell

I still haven't bought Jason Isbell's album because it bothers me that he had to leave one of the finest rock bands around, The Drive By Truckers. This song makes me want to change my mind. It has the simplicity of a great country song, if I had my way this would be the kind of country music played on the radio. I'm not sure if the song is anti-war, it merely paints a picture & lets you draw your own conclusions.

What can you see from your window?
I can't see anything from mine.
Flags on the side of the highway
and scripture on grocery store signs.
Maybe eighteen was too early.
Maybe thirty or forty is too.
Did you get your chance to make peace with the man
before he sent down his angels for you?

Mamas and grandmamas love you
'cause that's all they know how to do.
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
or sleeping in your dress blues.

Your wife said this all would be funny
when you came back home in a week.
You'd turn twenty-two and we'd celebrate you
in a bar or a tent by the creek.
Your baby would just about be here.
Your very last tour would be up
but you won't be back. They're all dressing in black
drinking sweet tea in styrofoam cups.

Mamas and grandmamas love you.
American boys hate to lose.
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
or sleeping in your dress blues.

Now the high school gymnasium's ready,
full of flowers and old legionnaires.
Nobody showed up to protest,
just sniffle and stare.
But there's red, white, and blue in the rafters
and there's silent old men from the corps.
What did they say when they shipped you away
to fight somebody's Hollywood war?

Nobody here could forget you.
You showed us what we had to lose.
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
or sleeping in your dress blues.

No, no you never planned on the bombs in the sand
or sleeping in your dress blues.

After the War-Dan Bern

In contrast with Dress Blues, you can throw subtlety out the window with this song about a veteran of the Iraq war forced into a wheelchair for the rest of his life. My only hope with this song is that Bern took an actual veteran's perspective & turned it into a song rather than taking liberty with how he thinks a disable veteran must feel. Every great song has that one lyric that grabs you & keeps you coming back to it. There's something that strikes me about "I hope the blisters on my fingers turn into callouses before too long".

Keep Your Light Trimmed & Burning-Blind Willie Johnson

Every now & then if I know someone's coming from a distance to where I am, I'll throw out the phrase, "I'll keep my lamp trimmed & burning for you". People probably think I'm crazy, which I probably am. Nobody sings the gospel like Blind Willie Johnson, his voice is fire & brimstone & his background singers sing like the gospel.
Upon this Tidal Wave of Young Blood-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

I can't think of any song that makes me want to go out & conquer the world quite like this one. It's the voice of dissent, of youthful rage that needs a place to be heard.

Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie-Joanna Newsom

I don't know a single soul who likes Joanna Newsom's voice. I know there must be someone out there otherwise she wouldn't have sold any copies of her three albums. It starts me to wondering if my ears are filled with tin. But then I give a listen to the way she sings, "that's why I love this town, just look around" & then I realize it's the rest of you who are missing out :).

Nature Boy-Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Christie & I often have arguments about music because our tastes are so different. I tell her that if the (country) radio stations she listens to played some of my music as much as the stuff they usually play & passed it off as a "hit" that she would like it just as much. I'm probably wrong about this, but every now & then I'll play a song like this over & over again & she starts singing along. Believe it or not, Christie likes a song by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. At other times, though, I'll play a song that I think she'd love & she tells me she hates it, so what do I know?

Nick Cave is an interesting character, one whom I think if I ever met him, I wouldn't like him. I'm pretty sure he's an atheist, at the very least he isn't a Christian. Either way, he seems enamored with the language of the bible. On his latest album, he has a song called Dig Lazarus Dig in which he takes the story of Lazarus & puts it in America & posits the idea that Lazarus didn't really want to be raised from the dead. Maybe his fascination with the bible will sink in some day, if not, I believe you can learn alot about yourself from someone whose beliefs are the opposite of your own.

I realize that none of this has anything to do with the song Nature Boy, but you're just going to have to take my word for it, it's a great song.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

One By One-Billy Bragg & Wilco, Mermaid Ave

Blood in my Eyes-Bob Dylan, World Gone Wrong

Subterranean Homesick Blues-Bob Dylan, Bringing it All Back Home

Inflammatory Writ-Joanna Newsom, Bridges & Balloons

I Got Mine-the Black Keys, Attack & Release

Happy Thursday, friends...


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Leave the wine glass out & drink a toast to never...

Christie complained that I haven't blogged in a while, & as a result of sitting around & doing not much of anything all weekend I've got nothing to say. Normally, I wouldn't be proud of this fact, but the most productive thing I got accomplished all weekend was hang my dartboard in the garage & updated my ipod. I played some video games, watched a couple movies, went to church, did some reading, listened to some vinyl, played with the dog. The worst thing is, I don't feel guilty about it at all.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

After Hours-the Velvet Underground

September of my Years-Frank Sinatra

Tangled Up in Blue-Bob Dylan, Modena 1987

Rock of Ages-Bob Dylan, Santa Cruz 2000

If Dogs Run Free-Bob Dylan, 2001

Happy lazy Sunday, friends...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Another Man Done Gone...

Happy Sunday, friends. There's nothing much to add today. I got up early this morning to watch Man in the Sand, the documentary about the long lost Woody Guthrie lyrics put to music by social activist & singer/songwriter Billy Bragg & the band Wilco. It was quite moving, especially the first hand accounts from Guthrie's daughter Nora.

The documentary is a perfect example of how, as hard as it seems, you can't look at a person's life & condemn it based on certain behaviors. Woody Guthrie's life has been romanticized by some, demonized by others. He was a womanizer & considered to be a communist by many but also stood up for anybody who was having troubles. I guess we're all that way, there's something about all of us to like & probably something just as easy not to like about everyone. Why focus on one & not the other?

The pastor gave a pretty good sermon today about following the bible as a blueprint in the face of many hardships & challenges. That's a pretty good metaphor for how I'd like to relate to people, as though maybe there's some sort of struggle I don't know about so I hope I can just look for the good in people.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Another Man Done Gone-Wilco, Mermaid Ave Vol. I

At My Window Sad & Lonely-Wilco, Mermaid Ave Vol. I

All You Fascists-Billy Bragg, Mermaid Ave Vol. I

The Unwelcome Guest-Billy Bragg, Mermaid Ave Vol. I

Dignity-Bob Dylan, MTV Unplugged

Happy Sunday, friends...


Friday, September 05, 2008

I was free as the sun shining on our faces...

The air conditioner is off, the windows are open & I've got a sweatshirt on. This is when I like Grand Haven the most, most of the tourists are gone, things have cooled down a bit but things are just as beautiful as ever. After dinner, we picked up the dog, stopped by to wish Gloria a happy 60th birthday & then went for the ol' pier walk. It's nights like this that I realize how lucky I am to live where I do, not that I'm bragging (okay, maybe I am). Every Friday night should be like this.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Spirit on the Water-Bob Dylan, Modern Times

Slow Down-Alejandro Escovedo, Real Animal

Thank You Too!-My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges

Romulus-Sufjan Stevens, Greetings from Michigan

I Am Still What I Meant to Be-Will Oldham, Joya

Greetings from Grand Haven, friends...


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gotta stand up close to the teacher if you ever wanna learn anything...

It's been seven long years since I had to go back to school, & I think I've almost completely forgotten what it's like to have new classmates, new teachers & new subjects. Come to think of it, the last good friend I ever made in a classroom was one of my best, Ryan. We shared an American History class my freshman year in college. The professor, ironically, was Japanese & could not pronounce my name very well. It was also my first college class. I sat by these two football players who hit on this other gal & cracked bad jokes the entire time. I figured this didn't bode well for my college career. Luckily, it got better, thanks to friends like Ryan.

Nowadays, the new school year hardly registers on my calendar, & except for the few minutes it takes for me to get from my house to my car & my car to the store & the weekends Summer hardly registers. There's all sorts of summer activities I missed out on this year, through no one's fault but my own. I've only played golf about five or six times, no tennis. I don't think I've hopped on my bike once & I haven't hit the hiking trails either. I have seen the ocean for the first time (okay, that was in the spring) & swam in it numerous times, traveled to Indianapolis, Detroit & Charlevoix, & walked my dog, though.

We've been hearing alot about Alaska, lately. In the past few weeks I've heard of two groups of people I know of that have rented RV's & driven around Alaska. A customer of mine recently moved to Holland from a town north of Fairbanks. He was a cop, & he said there was a ton of crime for a small town of 3000. Then there's that Vice Presidential candidate. Why am I mentioning all of this, you ask? Well, it's an excuse to play a clip from Northern Exposure. Sicely is my idealized vision of Alaska; a small town surrounded by wilderness filled with quirky characters that all know each other & where the arts flourish.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

The End of the Innocence-Bruce Hornsby

This song has been in heavy rotation lately.

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didnt have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standin by
But happily ever after fails
And weve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyer dwell on small details
Since daddy had to fly

But I know a place where we can go
Thats still untouched by men
Well sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in th4e wind
You can lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the ned of the innocence

Obeautiful, for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening
Theyre beating plowshares into swords
For this tired old man that we elected king
Armchair warriors often fail
And weve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers clean up all details
Since daddy had to lie

Bt I know a place where we can go
And was a away this sin
Well sit and watch the clouds roll by
And the tall grass wave in the wind
Just lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair spill all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocnece

Who knows how long this will last
Now weve come so far, so fast
But, somewhere back there in the dust
That same small town in each of us
I need to remember this
So baby give me just one kiss
And let me take a long last look
Before we say goodbye

Just lay your head back on the ground
And let your hair fall all around me
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence

Passenger Side-Wilco, AM

Blue is the Color of a Broken Heart-Old '97s

I Hear a Voice Calling (It Must be my Lord)-Bob Dylan, Toronto 2002

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds-The Beatles, Sargent Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band

Happy Tuesday, friends...

Blog Archive

About Me

Grand Haven, Michigan
the sun shines on a dog's ass every now & then...