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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...



Pam said...

I'm grateful for your disdain of "Ugly Betty" and "Grey's Anatomy" because it gave you some time to blog again. But I have to admit, I watched them (at least until I fell asleep).

Pam said...

P.S. I have to admit that I've never listened to Joanna Newsom before and I have to say I liked it--I've heard voices I like better, but I like her style--much better that whiny guitars!

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