Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Desperate Weekend Cry for Help!

Hey good people -- like a putz, I neglected to download that free official mp3 of Springsteen covering "Purple Rain" that was posted during the week.

And they seem to have pulled it from the website.

If any of you out there managed to grab it, could you please send it to me?

I'll make it worth your while, if you know what I mean.


Friday, April 29, 2016

When Schmucks Cry

[From our Department of Why Conservatives Make Lousy Rock Critics: This originally appeared, in a slightly longer version, on Wednesday over at Roy Edroso's invaluable ALICUBLOG. The subject is a thumbsucker about Prince by a loathsome piece of shit named David French, who scribbled it in crayon for the National Review website. The stuff in blockquotes is French; the running commentary is by Edroso. -- S.S.]

But French just keeps finding new ways to be wrong. Take his Prince column. Yes, seriously, this horrible wingnut Jesus freak wrote one.

Prince died last week, and America overreacted. No, I’m not diminishing Prince’s talent. He was one of pop music’s most gifted songwriters and musicians. As millions shared his more memorable performances, I realized I’d forgotten what a great guitar player and showman he was. He could write hit songs like few others, and he shared his talent freely, “gifting” songs to other artists. In short, he was one of the few pop stars whose fame was fully justified.
You can really feel his pleasure at Prince's work, can't you? You can't? Well, of course not; this is exactly the sort of thing I would write about a NASCAR driver ("I had forgotten what a great NASCAR driver he was... he could turn left like no other") if I were trying to pretend I liked him as a way to win the confidence of someone whose intelligence I didn't respect.

But to spend time on the mainstream and left-wing Internet last week — or to listen to some of the web’s more popular podcasts — you would have thought America lost a national hero, and not merely an immensely gifted artist.

You heathens didn't cry like this when Andrew Breitbart died!

...In our post-virtue culture, we worship celebrity and talent not for its own sake but for ourselves. Their talent is all about us. Their fame is for our amusement. Pop music fills the hymnals in the temple of the self. We are the stars of our own biopic, and we just lost someone who wrote part of the score.
Can't you see how selfish, how narcissistic it is to enjoy music? I mean, music that isn't hymns?

The sentimentality is understandable, given the millions of people who could remember some significant moment in their lives that happened to the sounds of “Lets Go Crazy” or “When Doves Cry.”
(You know he had to look them up.)

Our country doesn’t lack for heroes, but our true heroes certainly lack for fame. Even on the Left’s terms, valorizing Prince for his transient activism disrespects those who spent their lives in the trenches, fighting for their vision of “social justice.”

Hmmm -- I don't remember "the Left" telling me not to mourn Prince; maybe I missed a meeting... but hold on, brother French has taken up a snake:

For conservatives, Prince was ultimately just another talented and decadent voice in a hedonistic culture. He was notable mainly because he was particularly effective at communicating that decadence to an eager and willing audience.

...I don’t say any of this to denigrate Prince or his talents.
Fuck you.

And I don’t say this to shame people out of listening to music they enjoy, though not all music is worth hearing.
You heathens ever hear Three Doors Down?

Rather, it’s time for a dose of perspective. Music has its place...

...and gifted musicians undeniably enhance our lives...

You know, like air conditioning or wall-to-wall carpeting.

...but if our hearts are given to these songs and those who make them, then our lives are unnecessarily impoverished.

And then it hits you -- French isn't just ignorant of Prince, or even just of music -- this poor, twisted freak literally doesn't know what art is. He doesn't know its place in human history, or why human beings invented it, or why it persists even when it doesn't make money or is suppressed. He thinks it's upholstery. He thinks it's some sort of trivial comfort. And he thinks so because he's been taught that all you need are Jesus and Bill Buckley and the pleasure you can take from the suffering of your inferiors, and anything else that has a claim on the human soul, whether it's justice or sex or art, must be crushed lest it steal their thunder.

[I would like to add, at this juncture, that Edroso is a genius; on my best days I couldn't have come up with something as hilariously snarky and perceptive. In any case, regular self-penned postings resume on Monday, including a long over-due video roundup. Have a great weekend everybody!!! -- S.S.]

Thursday, April 28, 2016

And Speaking of Gorgeous....

From 1967, please enjoy the original incarnation of The Kinks and the stereo backing track of their classic "Waterloo Sunset."

Or as I like to call it, perhaps the most beautiful song written in English in the second half of the Twentieth Century. And, as you've just heard, spine-tinglingly gorgeous even without vocals.

Also, how did those guys ever get the reputation for being sloppy? I mean, that track is all but perfect.

And yes, that was me a few years ago enjoying an actual Waterloo sunset. One of the most transplendent moments of my life.

[h/t Gummo]

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Apparently It's Prince Week Edition

The Kid in Osaka, Japan in 1990. Fooling around with Gershwin's "Summertime" at a soundcheck.

This guy was so abundantly talented it's almost unbelievable.

[h/t Steve Schwartz]

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

And Speaking of Saints...

A friend writes:

Clyde Stubblefield was James Browns's drummer and is considered one of the best in the world. Clyde has also been a friend for over 30 years. Back when he was 60 and battling cancer, he and [wife] Jody racked up nearly $80K in medical debts. Then he was approached by Prince's "people". They told Jody that Prince's favorite instrument was drums and he considered Clyde to be a mentor. He offered to wipe out Clydes's medical debt, which he did. His one proviso was that it remained anonymous. 16 years later, Jody finally told the story.

Stubblefield, who was born in 1943, is, I am happy to report, still with us.

I should add that his drum solo, from Brown's 1970 "Funky Drummer" single, is perhaps the most sampled 20 seconds in music history.

And good for Prince, obviously, is the point of the story. Apparently on top of all his other talents, he was a mensch.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Bruce Springsteen -- Living Saint Edition

This has gone viral, so you've probably already seen it, but in good conscience I have to post it anyway.

Ladies and germs -- The Boss, in Brooklyn last Saturday night, with the Prince tribute of your dreams.

Actually, I was betting he'd do "Little Red Corvette," but on balance this one was probably a more appropriate choice. And my god, is Nils channeling the song's auteur on guitar or what?

For what it's worth, this has never been my favorite Prince song; the actual record (i.e., the track he's lip-synching in the movie of the same name) is a great performance, but (for me, anyway) the central lyric metaphor of the thing is dodgy enough that its repetition gets a little annoying. Which may explain why most of the earlier covers I've heard don't quite work (there's a live Hollies version, for example, that while well sung just seems kind of silly).

But this one...well, let's just say that if it doesn't raise the hair on the back of your neck you probably are not somebody I want to know.

And have I mentioned that Nils is clearly channeling the guitar solo from the Great Beyond?


Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince Rogers Nelson 1958 - 2016

You know, this death shit has really jumped the shark.

I was gonna post one of my fave Prince songs -- "Guitar," maybe -- but of course The Artist famously pulled everything of his off YouTube ages ago. Fortunately, his "Baltimore" -- from 2015, and maybe the most powerful politically-themed topical song since CSNY's "Ohio" -- is still up. What a great, and moving, record.

And here's my favorite Prince cover (I'm only half kidding about this).

And I'll give my cartoonist pal Dave™ the last word.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home

In case you didn't hear -- Andrew Jackson is moving to the back of the twenty dollar bill. To be replaced by on the front by abolitionist Harriet Tubman starting in 2020.

Truly wonderful news on several levels, and I only wish I'd had the stomach to listen to hate radio yesterday after it was first announced. The sound of Limbaugh/Hannity/Levin/et al's collective heads exploding over this must have been absolutely glorious.

[h/t Brett Milano]

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2008 and somewhere in the Mystic East, please enjoy in breathless wonder the incomparable OreSkaBand...

...and their mysteriously catchy "What a Wonderful World."

An all-girl Japanese ska band? And a terrific one to boot? As Christina Applegate famously said on Married With Children -- the mind wobbles.

BTW, the music in the clip doesn't start until 43 seconds in, so feel free to fast forward. In any case, this is about the cutest thing I've seen in years.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Closed for Monkey Business

Totally exhausted (for obvious reasons). But the medical news for a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance is all good.

Regular dressed and peppy postings resume on the morrow. On my honor, as unreliable as that may be.