music friday: high fidelity the series

High Fidelity the TV series is yet another version of Nick Hornby's creation. The trick here is that the lead character, a man in both the novel and in the 2000 movie with John Cusack, is now a woman played by Zoë Kravitz. The show is never a simple gender flip, but it still needs mentioning, since Hornby is sometimes considered the first "lad lit" writer. At least as important, though, is the updating of the story to 2020 (if nothing else, the idea of a show focused on a store that sells only vinyl records has a different feel nowadays). The casting is solid ... Kravitz is wonderful as Rob, showing all facets of her complicated and not always "nice" character, and the primary supporters, Da'Vine Joy Randolph (Cherise) and David H. Holmes (Simon), are equally fine. And Kravitz pulls off the "Fleabag" style of talking to the camera without being annoying.

Here is a Top Five Songs Featured in the TV Series list:

"Heart of Glass" turns up in a scene with Debbie Harry that matches a scene in the movie with Bruce Springsteen, right down to the dialogue being almost an exact match:

Bowie's album The Man Who Sold the World is featured in a mid-season episode where Rob fetishizes the album's original pressing (she is thinking of buying a collection from a woman played by Parker Posey who is getting revenge on her husband by selling his records). The album turns up at the end of the season, as well.

At one point, Rob puts on a Swamp Dogg record in the story, claiming "I will now sell five copies of Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune". Immediately, people in story ask, "who is that?"

In a marvelous episode written by Solomon Georgio, Rob gets a suggestion as a DJ to start her night by playing "Automatic":

In that same episode, Simon offers this analysis of Sylvester and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)": "In the 70s, the only way to get a disco song on the radio was if the DJs at the gay bars played it. That was the first time we ever had any say in the record industry. Disco was the sound of liberation."

music friday: valentine's day

I'm driving a big lazy car rushin' up the highway in the dark
I got one hand steady on the wheel and one hand's tremblin' over my heart
It's pounding baby like it's gonna bust right on through
And it ain't gonna stop till I'm alone again with you
A friend of mine became a father last night
When we spoke in his voice I could hear the light
Of the skies and the rivers the timberwolf in the pines
And that great jukebox out on Route 39
They say he travels fastest who travels alone
But tonight I miss my girl mister tonight I miss my home
Is it the sound of the leaves
Left blown by the wayside
That's got me out here on this spooky old highway tonight
Is it the cry of the river
With the moonlight shining through
That ain't what scares me baby
What scares me is losing you
They say if you die in your dreams you really die in your bed
But honey last night I dreamed my eyes rolled straight back in my head
And God's light came shinin' on through
I woke up in the darkness scared and breathin' and born anew
It wasn't the cold river bottom I felt rushing over me
It wasn't the bitterness of a dream that didn't come true
It wasn't the wind in the grey fields I felt rushing through my arms
No no baby it was you

So hold me close honey say you're forever mine
And tell me you'll be my lonely valentine

music friday: the clash

This is at least the fourth time I've milked a blog post out of this: 41 years ago today, I saw The Clash for the first time, at their United States live debut in Berkeley. As has become custom over the years, I'll indulge in a little cut-and-paste for the oft-told story.


The band was asked who they wanted to have as an opening act, and they said they'd love to play with Bo Diddley. And they were told hey, that might not work, can't you come up with an up-and-coming punk band? But no, they wanted Bo Diddley, he was one of their idols and they wanted him to play. And they got their way, which is why, on February 7, 1979, I saw Bo Diddley play for the first and only time. He was great, of course.

Time sure does fly. I remember that part of Bo's act that night was to make fun of his age ... he'd bend down and as he did so, he'd have his guitar making creaky noises like his bones were too old to take the stress. Well, I just looked Bo Diddley up on Wikipedia, and damn, he sure was old back in 1979 ... 50! Yep ... Bo Diddley was younger the time I saw the old geezer than I am now. Geesh.

Bo Diddley in 2002, when admittedly his memory might have led him to embellish just a little:

I posted both of those items last year when the 40th anniversary came around. Here's something different, an article about the concert, by Bryan Wawzenek: "When the Clash Finally Played Their First U.S. Show".

Finally, all setlists I have seen are incomplete, but here's a Spotify playlist with the songs from the show that we know of:

music friday: capitalist blues

"Resist false hope: America under Trump is in big trouble, and there's no going back"

In a time of crisis such as the Age of Trump, what the American people need the most are "hope warriors." These are journalists, pundits, writers, activists, elected officials and other opinion leaders who will tell the truth about the state of their country and society, and about what must be done to heal it. Empirical reality and context must come together with sustained analysis and critical thinking. A slavish devotion to "both-sides-ism" must be jettisoned. Hope warriors connect institutions and structures to the daily challenges being experienced by real people. Hope warriors explain that power is not neutral or something ineffable. It is real. It works through, by and on individuals, groups and communities.

-- Chauncey DeVega

music friday: tim buckley

On the final episode of The Monkees TV show, Tim Buckley was invited to sing.

Jim Farber wrote a good overview of Buckley's career at the Music Aficionado site, "Who Remember's Jeff Buckley's Father?" It includes a Spotify playlist. Here are a couple of my favorite Tim Buckley songs. First, from my favorite of his albums, Goodbye and Hello:

From Happy Sad:

And, from 1974, a cover of Fred Neil's "Dolphins":

music friday: the doobie brothers

The newest inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been announced: Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex.

I agree on Depeche Mode, Whitney, and Biggie, although only the latter actually mattered much to me. Kraftwerk is the biggest snub, especially if they are starting to include more synth music.

Rationally, I think the Doobie Brothers are the worst of this group of six. I mean, I was never a fan of Whitney Houston, but it's hard to argue with any woman managing to get inducted. I'm pretty sure I'd only recognize one Depeche Mode song, but that's on me, they clearly belong. But the Doobies?

And yet ... in terms of the amount of enjoyment I took from all these artists, the Doobie Brothers probably rank at the top. And I should recognize that fact, before I consign them to the pit of overrated bands.

Basically, I'm talking about the pre-Michael McDonald Doobies, i.e., fuck Yacht rock.

I lived near Santa Cruz in 1970-71, and the Doobie Brothers were in the air. They released their first album in '71, and they were something of a house band at the Chateau Liberté in the Santa Cruz mountains. I really started to notice them when the hits arrived. Any band that came up with "Long Train Runnin'", "China Grove", and "Black Water" is OK by me, and I listen to those songs to this day. (Their covers of "Jesus Is Just Alright" and "Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me)" are good as well.) Whether this amounts to a Hall of Fame career is something I'm not prepared to say. But in honor of those three songs, I can at least give them a Music Friday.

music friday: kookie

Edd Byrnes died on Wednesday.

In the mid-1950s, Warner Brothers began producing television series that were versions of their old B-movies. There were Westerns like Cheyenne, Maverick, and Sugarfoot, detective shows (77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye), and the like. 77 Sunset Strip, which ran for six seasons, was about a private detective agency in Los Angeles. A supporting character, Gerald Lloyd Kookson III, known as "Kookie", worked as a parking attendant next to the agency offices, and he, as well as actor Edd Byrnes, who played him, became breakout stars.

Hawaiian Eye was a similiar series that took place in Hawaii and ran four seasons. One supporting character, photographer and singer Cricket, was played by Connie Stevens.

What followed was inevitable, given Byrnes' popularity with teenagers: a hit single, "Kookie Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)", performed by Byrnes and Stevens. Here they are lip syncing on American Bandstand:

A clip from 77 Sunset Strip:

And an episode of Family Feud featuring the casts of Hawaiian Eye and Lost in Space:

music friday: fillmore west, january 3, 1969

The Fillmore West, 51 years ago today. Opening was Spirit, who had just released their second album, which included this, their greatest hit:

Blood, Sweat & Tears were also touring behind their second album, but they might as well have been a new group with a debut record. After their classic Child Is Father to the Man, Al Kooper and two others left the group. The most important replacement was singer David Clayton-Thomas, who wrote "Spinning Wheel" among others. Some of us lost interest after Kooper left, but with Clayton-Thomas, BS&T became one of the biggest hit makers around.

The Grateful Dead also had two albums out, the most recent of which, Anthem of the Sun, was more psychedelic than their debut. (Their third album, Aoxomoxoa, took this several steps further.) A couple of weeks after this gig, they appeared on Hugh Hefner's TV series Playboy After Dark. We'll let Bill Kreutzmann tell the story:

music friday: delaney bramlett

Just a quickie ... the holidays are taking up all of my time.

On this date in 2008, Delaney Bramlett died. He is best known for the work he did with his then-wife Bonnie Bramlett. Here is a show from 1969. A list of the musicians should whet your appetite:

Bonnie Bramlett vocals
Delaney Bramlett vocals, guitar
Eric Clapton guitar, vocals
George Harrison guitar
Carl Radle bass
Jim Gordon drums
Bobby Whitlock keyboards, vocals
Billy Preston organ
Jim Price trumpet
Bobby Keys tenor sax
Rita Coolidge vocals
Tex Johnson percussion

Here's a nice clip from 2010. Arguably Delaney's best composition was "Never Ending Song of Love". Here, Bonnie, along with Bekka Bramlett (daughter of Delaney and Bonnie) are joined in the backyard by Spooner Oldham and others for a casually lovely rendition:

And I'll toss in one more that's not Delaney-related. It's another backyard session, from the series Roseanne. The family and friends are singing in the backyard, and out comes one of Roseanne's co-workers, who was played by Bonnie Bramlett. She belts out a brief segment of "You Really Got a Hold on Me", and she is great.