Saturday, December 20, 2014

Okay, I Couldn't Resist

Tom Lehrer rhymes "Shavuous" with "East St. Louis" in honor of the Jewish holidays.



This actually may be the last new recording Lehrer made; it first saw the light of day on Rhino's essential 2000 box set The Remains of Tom Lehrer.


And I hate to admit it, but until I heard this, it had never even occurred to me that Lehrer was a fellow Red Sea Pedestrian. Which is really kind of funny, because in retrospect his whole esthetic has a fairly obvious scent of the Borscht Belt, and always has, the Gilbertian word play not withstanding.

In any case, Happy Hannukah, Tom and in the immortal words of Gov. Scott Walker -- molotov!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

I'm Spending Hannukah in Santa Monica

Actually, no I'm not -- and in fact that's a Tom Lehrer song that for some reason isn't in my iTunes library -- but in any case, please enjoy the incomparable Gefilte Joe and the Fish and their anthemic "Hannukah Rocks," which has the same seasonal feel.




I actually had the colored Star of David vinyl edition of this back in the day, if truth be told.

In any case -- Mazel Tov till next week.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

M is For the Million Things You Gave Me.....

Taking another day off.


You can probably guess why.

Back on the morrow, with a Weekend Listomania of some sort, assuming I'm not incarcerated first.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Taking the Day Off...

...to work on my memoir/self-help book Unusual Matricides.

Back tomorrow, the authorities permitting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cry the Beloved Country

From 1996, please listen -- more in sorrow than in anger, if you can do it (at the moment I can't) -- to Iris DeMent and the greatest (or at least most prescient) protest song of the last several decades "Wasteland of the Free."




I hadn't thought about this one for ages, but the events of the last several weeks brought it suddenly to mind for some reason (heh).

We got preachers dealing in politics and diamond mines
and their speech is growing increasingly unkind
They say they are Christ's disciples
but they don't look like Jesus to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got politicians running races on corporate cash
Now don't tell me they don't turn around and kiss them peoples' ass
You may call me old-fashioned
but that don't fit my picture of a true democracy
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got CEO's making two hundred times the workers' pay
but they'll fight like hell against raising the minimum wage
and If you don't like it, mister, they'll ship your job
to some third-world country 'cross the sea
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let's blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars
So what do we do, we put these little kids behind prison doors
and we call ourselves the advanced civilization
that sounds like crap to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got high-school kids running 'round in Calvin Klein and Guess
who cannot pass a sixth-grade reading test
but if you ask them, they can tell you
but if you ask them, they can tell you
the name of every crotch on MTV
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he's standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let's blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

While we sit gloating in our greatness
justice is sinking to the bottom of the sea
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free

Like I said, prescient. She got everything except cops getting away with the murder of black people with impunity and torture as merely a question of semantics.

God, I barely recognize this place lately. Which may merely be a tribute to my own naïveté, but still...

Monday, December 15, 2014

I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Rain

So a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance was going through her closets a few weeks ago -- the moving process never seems to end -- and she found this towel tucked away with some other household stuff she had forgotten about.


And yes, it's from the renowned McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, the loony bin immortalized by James Taylor in which he was institutionalized in 1965 and consequently introduced to the delights of Thorazine.

I don't know why I find this souvenir so hilarious, or whether thinking it is makes me a bad person. But I do.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How They Did It (An Occasional Series): Special Saving the Best For Last Edition

From 1978, prepare to have your mind blown by the original instrumental track to Elvis Costello and the Attractions' indelible rock masterpiece "Pump It Up."




Words fail me, except to add that if Nick Lowe, as producer, had never done anything else in his career besides slathering this track in the most wonderfully cheesy compression ever heard by sentient mammalian ears, than he would still deserve to be considered one of the immortals.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How They Did It (An Occasional Series): Special Punk Karaoke Edition

From 1979, please enjoy in slack-jawed disbelief the original instrumental backing track for The Clash's anthemic "London Calling."





You know, listening to this with the benefit of several decades of hindsight, you almost have to wonder how these guys ever got mistaken for a punk band, especially given the scope of their influences. In any case, this is an absolutely perfect rock 'n' roll record, as fresh and powerful as the day it was committed to magnetic tape.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How They Did It (An Occasional Series): Special Stop -- What's That Sound? Edition

From 1967, please behold in breathless the instrumental backing track for the Buffalo Springfield's epochal "For What It's Worth."




Two things immediately come to mind. 1) Yes, that's pretty much the greatest bass and drum production in the history of recorded music. And 2) It occurs to me that I have no idea whether it's Stephen or Neil playing the lead guitar.




Tuesday, December 09, 2014

How They Did It (An Occasional Series): Special The Funk Brothers Rule! Edition

From 1969, please enjoy in breathless wonder the instrumental backing track to the Jackson 5's debut single "I Want You Back."




Jeebus, listen to that piano player -- baby, that is rock-and-roll.