music friday: sleater-kinney

It’s just a few weeks until we see Sleater-Kinney’s New Year’s Eve show. Here’s my latest attempt at the S-K Top Ten:


10. “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”. Pictures of me on your bedroom door.

9. “Let’s Call It Love”. Show me your darkest side, and you better be my bloody match.

8. “No Cities to Love”. It's not the weather, it's the nothing we love!

7. “Entertain”. We're not here ‘cause we want to entertain.

6. “Modern Girl”. My whole life is like a picture of a sunny day.

5. “Words and Guitar”. Take take the noise in my head.

4. “Good Things”. Why do good things never wanna stay?

3. “One More Hour”. Oh, you've got the darkest eyes.

2. “Youth Decay”. I'm all about a forked tongue and a dirty house.

1. “Sympathy”. We're all equal in the face of what we're most afraid of.

music friday: covers

John Lennon, “Jealous Guy” and Elliott Smith, “Jealous Guy” and Roxy Music, “Jealous Guy

Dolly Parton, “Jolene” and The White Stripes, “Jolene” and Miley Cyrus, “Jolene

The Crickets, “I Fought the Law” and The Bobby Fuller Four, “I Fought the Law” and The Clash, “I Fought the Law

Arthur Crudup, “That’s All Right” and Elvis Presley, “That’s All Right” and Rod Stewart, “That’s All Right

Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Garth and Wayne, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Pink, “Bohemian Rhapsody

music friday

Wilson Pickett, “Hey Jude”. Remembered now for Duane Allman’s guitar.

Johnnie Taylor, “Disco Lady”. They don’t write ‘em like this anymore.

Lyn Collins, “Think (About It). Remembered now for the zillion times it was sampled by hip hop artists, most notably by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock.

Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, “It Takes Two”. What the heck.

Dorothy Moore, “Misty Blue”. Speaking of versions (not samples), Bob Montgomery, who wrote the song, claims there are over 200 versions of this one.

Claudia Lennear, “Let It Be”. Remembered now as one of the top backup singers of the early 70s (the link is to her singing with Mad Dogs and Englishmen), and as the supposed inspiration for “Brown Sugar”. She recorded one album on her own, back in 1974, which got decent reviews but, as far as I can tell, no sales.

Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, “Cherchez la Femme”. Honestly, I don’t know what they are remembered for now. Cory Daye should have had a bigger career, but you can say that about many of the women on this list.

Minnie Riperton, “Lovin’ You”. Unfair to say she was a one-hit wonder. She began with Rotary Connection, and as a solo artist she released six albums (one posthumous). But she died of cancer at 31, and her “one hit” indeed was her biggest (the only one to make the Top Ten). Remembered for singing in the “whistle register”, and for being the mom of Maya Rudolph (she sings “Maya Maya Maya” at the end of the song).

music friday: 50 years ago today at the fillmore

bola sete 1966

On November 11, 1966, Bill Graham put on the first of three shows headlined by the Brazilian musician Bola Sete. The opening acts were Country Joe and the Fish, and Buffalo Springfield.

Buffalo Springfield had been formed earlier in the year, and featured Neil Young and Stephen Stills. These were their first shows at the Fillmore, and took place around the time their first album was released. Here’s a song from that first album, recorded a couple of months before the concerts: “Flying on the Ground Is Wrong”, written by Young and sung by Richie Furay. 

Country Joe and the Fish were a Berkeley band who had yet to sign with a record label. They had self-released two EPs which were popular on the “underground” radio stations. Here is “Section 43” from one of those EPs ... it was re-recorded for their debut album, which came out the next year:

Headliner Bola Sete ... well, first, give it up for Bill Graham, who in those early months of the Fillmore would book shows like this, with a country-rock band from LA, a psychedelic band from Berkeley, and a jazz guitarist from Brazil. Sete was 43 years old at the time of this concert. He had at least a dozen albums going back to 1957, along with a few when he played with Vince Guaraldi. Here he is with “Baion Blues”, released in 1966:


(Poster art by Wes Wilson)

music friday: 80s rap

Someone on Facebook was kind enough to put together a set of 80s rap and hip-hop classics. Here is a selection:

1980: Funky 4 + 1, “That’s the Joint

1981: Spoonie Gee, “Spoonie Is Back

1982: Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force, “Planet Rock

1983: Crash Crew, “On the Radio

1984: Run-D.M.C., “Rock Box

1985: Double Dee and Steinski, “Lesson 3

1986: Beastie Boys, “Hold It Now, Hit It (Acapulco)

1987: Public Enemy, “Bring the Noise

1988: Biz Markie, “Pickin’ Boogers

1989: Digital Underground, “Doowutchyalike

music friday: david johansen

Yesterday, I posted a Throwback Thursday item about a David Johansen concert I attended 35 years ago, and that got me think about one of my favorites. So here are ten David Johansen songs.

The New York Dolls:

Personality Crisis”: “Your mirror’s gettin’ jammed up with all your friends”

Looking for a Kiss”: “When I say I'm in love, you best believe I'm in love, L-U-V!”

Trash”: “How do you call your loverboy?”

Human Being”: “If I want too many things, don't you know that I'm a human being?”

David Johansen:

Funky But Chic”: “Get out of bed baby, let's get on down to the boutique!”

Girls”: “Girls! I like them seizing the power!”

Frenchette”: “You call that love in French, but it's just Frenchette”

Bohemian Love Pad”: “Broken records all over the floor, who could ask for anything more?”

Buster Poindexter:

Hot Hot Hot”: “Ole ole - ole ole / Ole ole - ole ole”

David Johansen and the Harry Smiths:

Somebody Buy Me a Drink”: “Let me tell you a story that's sad but true”

new york dolls1

music friday: charlotte caffey

There is something a bit unsettling about learning that Charlotte Caffey, who joined The Go-Go’s early in their history, was born the same year that I was. I can’t believe one of The Go-Go’s is as old as me ... I can’t believe I was ever as young as The Go-Go’s are in my mind when I think of them. Caffey was a bit older than her band mates, which may explain at least a little of all this. She was asked to join the band because she could actually play her instrument.

For The Go-Go’s, Caffey wrote “We Got the Beat”. The original version appeared on a Stiff records single:

The band re-recorded it for their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, and here is where I admit I’m never too sure about which version is which.

Among the many other songs Caffey wrote, she and Belinda Carlisle wrote “Skidmarks on My Heart” on the first album:

With Kathy Valentine, she wrote the title song from their second album, Vacation:

From the third album, Talk Show, Caffey and Jane Wiedlin wrote “Turn to You”, written about Caffey’s ex-boyfriend, baseball’s Bob Welch:

Later, Caffey was in The Graces with Meredith Brooks (“Bitch”) and Gia Ciambotti (Bruce’s “Other Band”). “Lay Down Your Arms” was their biggest single, co-written and sung by Caffey:

Finally, Caffey and fellow Go-Go Jane Wiedlin co-wrote “But for the Grace of God” with the singer, Keith Urban:

music friday: shout

I’ve been posting music videos on Facebook for my cousin, and he recently responded with a great old Sister Rosetta Tharpe video. Sister Rosetta was one of the first big gospel music stars, and her willingness to crossover to mainstream audiences meant she was a seminal rock-and-roller, which some thought wasn’t appropriate for gospel music. To my ear, her music was always gospel, no matter what she added (her guitar is always great, as you can see here):

The Isley Brothers had a hit in 1959 with one of the most durable songs in rock and roll, “Shout”. The fervor and call-and-response structure identified it as gospel, but they weren’t singing about the Lord. This was sex.

“Shout” has been a part of American music culture ever since, with perhaps its most famous appearance being with “Otis Day & The Knights” in Animal House:

And it still gets played today:

like a rolling stone

Dylan has written a lot of fuck-you songs over the years. This song begins, poking a stick at Miss Lonely, and then the chorus hits and we think, yes, I've been feeling like that for a long time, without a home, a complete unknown. And suddenly we no longer identify with the singer ... we realize he's singing about us. And we sing along on that chorus, asking ourselves and everyone else in the audience, how does it feel? I've felt a connection to the complete unknown since the first time I heard this song. It isn't masochism, it's just a recognition of community. When you ain't got nothin', you got nothin' to lose. This isn't "Positively 4th Street" or "Idiot Wind" ... this is a national anthem.