music friday: 1996

Sleater-Kinney, "Good Things".

why do good things never wanna stay?some things you lose, some things you give away

Nas, "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)".

If I ruled the worldI'd free all my sons

Everclear, "Santa Monica". Cheating ... single released in December of '95.

We can live beside the oceanLeave the fire behindSwim out past the breakersWatch the world die

Bonus: Crystal Waters, "The Boy from Ipanema".

When he walks he's like a sambaThat swings so cool and sways so gentle

music friday: 1995

PJ Harvey, "Down by the Water". It's not that I missed the boat on Harvey, it's just that I never appreciated her as much as she deserves. I have been known to play "Rid of Me" videos over and over again, though.

Bruce Springsteen, "Across the Border". We saw Bruce twice on his Tom Joad tour, although I admit I've preferred the live E Street Band versions of many of those songs. This is my favorite song off the album. Bruce's idea of God is different from mine, but I love the ending of this song so much, I wouldn't mind if they played it at my funeral:

For what are weWithout hope in our heartsThat someday we'll drink from God's blessed watersAnd eat the fruit from the vineI know love and fortune will be mineSomewhere across the border

TLC, "Waterfalls". The single came out in 1995, the album '94. Yes, Bette Midler recorded a cover of this one.

Bonus: Coolio, "Gangsta's Paradise". Coolio takes a piece from Stevie Wonder; the song ends up on the soundtrack to a Michelle Pfeiffer movie. Yes, Weird Al Yankovic did a parody, "Amish Paradise".

music friday: 1993

Salt-n-Pepa, "Shoop". From Wikipedia: "Salt stated: The objective was to turn the tables on men - make them the objects. When writing my verses, I was thinking of tongue in cheek ways to objectify men. When you really like a song, it's easy to record. Fun fact: I had my daughter Corin in my arms while recording Shoop.''.

Radiohead, "Creep". The "1993" part is a bit of a cheat ... the single came out in '92, the album on which it was featured in '93. The band got tired of the song ... hard to blame them, I guess, but it's their own fault for making such a perfect record. This video has more than one Billion views on YouTube.

R.E.M., "Everybody Hurts". I identify with "Creep", but I once put "Everybody Hurts" on repeat and listened to it about a dozen times in a row.

Bonus: Liz Phair, "Fuck and Run". The one person on today's post that I saw live. It was 1995. "I can feel it in my bones. I'm gonna spend my whole life alone."

music friday: 1992

Arrested Development, "Tennessee".

House of Pain, "Jump Around".

En Vogue, "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)".

Bonus: Bruce Springsteen, "Living Proof". Yesterday was my son's birthday, and this one goes out to him. Bruce wrote this about the introduction of a son into his family's life.

Well now on a summer night, in a dusky room

Come a little piece of the Lord's undying light

Crying like he swallowed the fiery moon

In his mother's arms it was all the beauty I could take

Like the missing words to some prayer that I could never make

In a world so hard and dirty so fouled and confused

Searching for a little bit of God's mercy I found living proof

music friday: 1991

R.E.M., "Losing My Religion".

Michael Jackson, "Black or White".

Bonnie Raitt, "I Can't Make You Love Me". In 1989, at the age of 39, Bonnie Raitt finally hit it big, after a couple of decades of fine music. The album, Nick of Time, won a Grammy for Album of the Year, with Raitt winning two other Grammys for her performance. I've been a fan of Bonnie since the beginning, and I'm here to say that she made at least half-a-dozen albums before 1989 that were better than Nick of Time, which had a handful of good tracks but was otherwise nothing special. No, it was the follow-up to Nick of Time, 1991's Luck of the Draw, that was the classic album. One song from that album, "I Can't Make You Love Me", has become perhaps Raitt's signature tune, an especially remarkable achievement considering it came 20+ years into her career.

Bonus: The KLF with Tammy Wynette, "Justified & Ancient (Stand by the JAMs)". The KLF were one of the more out-there artists in the popular music of their day. They were the top-selling singles act in the world in 1991 ... in 1992 they announced they were quitting the music business, deleting their entire back catalogue. I'll let the All Music Guide pick up the story:

In August 1994, the artists formerly known as KLF managed to outdo themselves yet again. After physically nailing £1,000,000 to a board -- an act which necessitated the largest cash withdrawal in U.K. history -- Cauty and Drummond showed the money around England as a work of art entitled "Nailed to the Wall." Then, on the island of Jura, in the presence of one journalist and one cameraman, they burned the entire sum as yet another bizarre commentary on the art world.

When there is an unexpected pairing of artists, I often wonder about the initial conversation where the two parties decide to work together. In any event, in late 1991, The KLF issued a remake of "Justified & Ancient", which had been on an album earlier in the year. They chose Tammy Wynette to perform on the new version. She later said, "Mu Mu Land looks a lot more interesting than Tennessee.... But I wouldn't want to live there."

let it be (michael lindsay-hogg, 1970)

It's about expectations. The basic footage for Let It Be was filmed in January of 1969. The film was released in 1970. Between the time it was filmed and the time it was released, the Beatles recorded and released Abbey Road, and then, in April of 1970, announced they were breaking up. The album and film Let It Be came out a month later. Thus, expectations were that the film would document the falling apart of the beloved group. That the film was recorded more than a year before the breakup, that the Beatles, having mostly finished Let It Be, then made Abbey Road, all factors that argued against the resulting film as being the story of a breakup, well, expectations ... all audiences of the film knew was that the band was finished.

Then, 50 years later, Peter Jackson, given access to all of the footage, created a massive 8-hour version, called Get Back. The take on Jackson's take was that it showed the Beatles in a much happier place than the original documentary. Since few people had seen Let It Be over the decades, we took Jackson's word for the positive feels, and indeed, Get Back is much more than a film about a band in crisis.

This inspired Jackson and Michael Lindsay-Hogg to finally re-release Let It Be. As he had with Get Back, Jackson used technology to clean up the audio and video ... it's been more than 50 years since I saw Let It Be on its release, but it's easy to imagine that the film has never looked or sounded better. But where Get Back was a reworking of the footage, the Let It Be re-release is "just" the original film, cleaned up.

But our expectations have changed. Get Back convinced us that the Beatles weren't in such a bad place at that time, and now we go into Let It Be looking, not for signs of a breakup, but for signs of a great band working together. And, of course, it's there. But again, as far as the basics of the film are concerned, nothing has changed. Only our expectations have changed.

Does Let It Be stand up? Sure. There are some great songs, fun moments, and the rooftop concert is iconic. Is it a great film, the way A Hard Day's Night is a great film? Not even close. Lindsay-Hogg takes his fly-on-the-wall techniques to an extreme, never stopping to explain anything. So the film begins with the band rehearsing on a sound stage ... later, the recording switches to Apple headquarters. We now know this is because the sound stage wasn't working for the band, but Lindsay-Hogg doesn't provide us with this context. Similarly, Billy Preston turns up, adding keyboards and spirit to the sessions, but Lindsay-Hogg makes no comment on this important difference in the band and the music. Let It Be without context invites us to insert our expectations into the experience, and so the film seems much different in 2024 than it did in 1970.

music friday: 1990

Sinéad O'Connor, "Nothing Compares 2 U". I have never been a big fan of music videos ... curse of being old before they became popular. But this video has knocked me out from the first time I saw it.

Bell Biv DeVoe, "Poison". The band a spinoff from New Edition, the sound New Jack Swing, one of the defining genres of the era.

Sonic Youth, "Kool Thing". I am not the biggest Sonic Youth fan, although I've seen them twice in concert. Outside of the inevitable "Teen Age Riot", this is probably my favorite of their songs.

Bonus: Faith No More, "Epic". A local band that once had Courtney Love as a lead singer, they got played a lot on college radio, with "We Care a Lot" featuring vocalist Chuck Mosley being the biggest hit. Mosley was replaced by Mike Patton, and this song became a lot more than a local college radio hit: