Wednesday, October 18, 2017

3 Songs from The Tragically Hip

The Tragically Hip are one of the great rock bands of the modern era and are nationally celebrated in Canada. Singer Gord Downie, second from left, has died the band announced today, following a lengthy and public battle with cancer. 

Rather than looking back in sadness, I would rather celebrate the life of someone I deeply admired. The Hip's magical second album, Road Apples was released in 1991 and it remains one of my favorite rock releases of all time. Characterized by simple - superb guitar, intelligent, well-written lyrics, Road Apples offers great use of classic rock instrumentation and a top singer in his prime.  Here are three big reasons why it should be in your music collection:

Little Bones
Twist My Arm
The Luxury
Born in the Water
Long Time Running
Bring it All Back
Three Pistols
On the Verge
Fiddler's Green
The Last of the Unplucked Gems

Little Bones is probably the Tragically Hip's most rockin' song. For many years the band fit the song into live sets, where it found a place near the end of the night. It was a fan favorite. Little Bones is important for its significance to the band. Unlike the majority of the songs on the Road Apples album, Little Bones was written during the recording of the album and kind of acts as a snap shot of where the young band was in 1991. Little Bones was written in New Orleans, where Road Apples was recorded in studio. The band took the trip down from Nova Scotia and found themselves in the Bayou heat. (Which is mentioned on this track.)

According to fan folk tale, Little Bones was written for a New Orleans cabbie of some renown. A friendly and extremely knowledgeable older man who could not retire despite his years of work because of his noted passion for gambling. The use of guitar on this one is amazing. This remains an immense classic.

So regal and decadent here
Coffin-cheaters dance on their graves music,
All it's delicate fear
Is the only thing that don't change
Two-fifty for an eyeball
And a buck and a half for an ear happy hour,
Happy hour happy hour is here

Fiddler Green is an all-time favorite song from the Hip and appropriately it may be one of the most mythically charged. Fiddler's Green is an old Irish folk lore based on the sentiment that old die-hard sailors and roving Irishmen never truly find their place. There are several old folk songs about sailors, one retired from the sea, trying to find their lot and place on solid ground. The story is that sailors are supposed to place an oar over their shoulder and walk inland until someone asks them what it's for. There - is Fiddler's Green. The song is a metaphor for many Irish as well - as a great many had to find their way through Canada to finally gain entrance into the US and finally a future for their families. A great many Irish whom entered Canada never crossed another border - they staked lives for themselves and found their place in Canada. (Like my great-great-grandparents did.)

The lyrics for Fiddler's Green interestingly mentions Falstaff. He is a literary figure used in three of Shakespeare's plays - acting as an adviser or overseer to the Prince or King. Shakespeare used Falstaff, a jolly but prideful fellow, as a comedic vessel to show that incompetence and vanity often go unpunished.

September seventeen
For a girl I know it's Mother's Day
Here son has gone alee
And that's where he will stay
Wind on the weathervane
Tearing blue eyes sailor-mean
As Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler's Green

Cordelia is Shakespeare's second reference on the album. It's an amazing song. Cordelia was the third daughter of King Lear. The youngest and most hopeful of the lot, she was disowned by her father for refusing to flatter him as her sisters had. Cordelia is held in extremely high regard by all of the good characters in the play—the king of France weds her for her virtuousness, overlooking her lack of dowry.

Angst on the planks, spittin from a bridge
Just to see how far down it really is
Robbing a bank, jumping on a train
Old antiques a man alone can entertain
It takes all of your power
To prove that you don't care
I'm not Cordelia. I will not be there
I will not be there, I will not be there

As with most Tragically Hip albums, Canadian themes appear in the Road Apples lyrics. "Three Pistols" is an English translation of the name of the Quebec town Trois-Pistoles. "The Luxury" refers to the fleur-de-lis - the provincial symbol of Quebec - the most independent of the Canadian provinces. "Born In Water" concerns itself with a Canadian drama of the early 1990s; of whether the Canadian territories should be English-speaking only - or decide for themselves. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Our Sweet New Tattoos!

Pretty Sweet, huh?

Here are 2 new Podcasts. 
Kill some time!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

21 Million Views in a Day

How many views did you account for?
(And who had the bright idea for the "porgs"?!!)

Monday, October 09, 2017

7 Songs from the Tom Petty Songbook

For me it's kinda simple.. If you've never had your heartbroken and then gone for a long drive with tears in your eyes listening to the music from Tom Petty, chances are you were never a American teenager during the period from 1977 to 2007.

The three decades at the center of Petty's insanely brilliant career, contains his greatest works with The Heartbreakers, professional collaborations with Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, and the Traveling Wilburys (amongst many others) and his most celebrated solo material.

Tom Petty was music's Everyman. Now as we say goodbye and look back at the expanse of Petty's works, I've found seven standout music memories to highlight out of a remarkable life. Tom, thanks for loving us as much as you did.

Song 1 - Refugee. Who hasn't felt left behind by the world or simply by love itself? Love lost and feeling out of place for many of Petty's songs. He was the master of explaining how the characters in his songs were feeling at the moment. I could have just as well selected American Girl, but I wanted to keep this growing list, small.

Song 2 - There's a song for every mood. As a youthful songwriter, Tom's passion drips from every word and note. A great example of this was 1981's lusty Stop Dragging My Heart Around collaboration With Stevie Nicks. Later, Petty would be wiser and his characters had a more-knowing tendency to reflect.

Song 3 - The Apartment Song. I absolutely adore this song. It's a burner of a pop song, checking in well under 3 minutes - making it a guilty pleasure for the jukebox because it meant you weren't getting a lot of bang for your buck. This is a number that Petty used to perform on the road with Stevie Nicks. I actually think they sound a whole lot like Shovels & Rope on this one. I've included the album version as well. Love this song about living large and carefree with a minimal amount of everything at your disposal.

Song 4 - You Don't Know How It Feels. Tom the storyteller. Tom the reliable narrator. He's been hurt by life and the most Shakespearean manner possible, he explains why you need to change your ways.. Re-set your coordinates son, you have been foretold and forewarned. Irresistible as it is simple. Just perfection.    

Song 5 - Don't Come Around Here No More. On this song Petty continues to leverage his personification of a storyteller and use Mtv and this music video to drive his career to a whole new level. The iconic music video - which remains one of the most important ever produced for it's lasting imagery and style has an interesting back story. The song was cowritten by the Euthymics' David Stewart. As soon as you know that fact and consider the music he and Annie Lennox were making, the sound profile on "Don't Come Around Here No More" - which inspired the video which resulted from it, makes a whole lot more sense to fans.

Song 6 - Last Dance With Mary Jane. Another huge win for Petty. Decades into his professional career and he managed to dodge cultural debates, racism, and politics. And on a record that re-wedded country music's past with rock and roll, Petty did something well ahead of his time: he penned a song that had millions singing in their homes and out on the streets - about marijuana. Now that's power.

Song 7 - Walls. Tom Petty's masterpiece. Appearing on the She's The One Soundtrack, it's Petty executing on a whole other level from his peers. The song is capable of making folks fall in love and collapse in despair. Simple, elegant and powerful.. That's not something pop music is supposed to be capable of. Certainly a candidate for the best pop song of all time.

Some days are diamonds
Some days are rocks
Some doors are open
Some roads are blocked

Sundowns are golden
Then fade away
But if I never do nothing
I'm coming back some day

'Cause you got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can't hold out forever
Even walls fall down

All around your island
There's a barricade
It keeps out the danger
Holds in the pain

Sometimes you're happy
And sometimes you cry
Half of me is ocean
Half of me is sky

But you got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can't hold out forever
Even walls fall down

And some things are over
Some things go on
Part of me you carry
And part of me is gone

But you got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can't hold out forever
Even walls fall down

You got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can't hold out forever
Even walls fall down


Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Big Lebowski by Ruiz Burgos

Late last week, red hot poster artist Juan Carlos Ruiz Burgos leaked the poster image he has created for a Big Lebowski private art commission. I can't imagine it being much better.. this is a stunning new piece well and a perfect look and feel for the Cohen Brothers classic. 

Burgos has made big waves this year for his fan art protrayals of Ghost In The Machine, Star Wars, Wonder Woman and Westworld. No telling if there will be any public offerings for this art - keep a keen eye out for this work. It's hard to keep art of this quality a secret for long. 

Web / Fb / Tw / Inst

Burgos did this 16-color HBO approved poster for Westworld

Nice lines on this Star Wars piece: Rogue One art with Jyn Erso and K2SO

Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Qualia - Too Well Taught

The music of New York-based trio The Qualia speaks to the heart as much as to the head. Reflecting the passionate and analytical personalities of Lars Casteen, Rossen Nedelchev, and Matt Raymond, the group’s music combines a wry humor and dancefloor sensibility with lyrical depth and jangle to create their own brand of modern new wave. Songs are steeped with contemporary New York references.

Their latest, Too Well Taught - which features the trumpet from player Marco Coco, is a bit more indie pop than prior releases and thoroughly enjoyable. It's the perfect foil to the garbage playing on repeat on regular radio. Four years since our first post on the band, they're definitely still heading in the right direction.  
Soft chin,
deep lines,
and sad eyes.
It's not a noteworthy smile,
but I guess it's mine.
Everything I've tried -
cigarettes in '99.
It was fine.
I only did it to know what it was like,
to feel the bite,
and I backed off every time.
It's such a difficult life,
when you live it part time.
I've been too well taught to ever go crazy,
ever get nuts,
but you help me loosen up.
When you load in,
your phone rings,
oh, those strings.
You fight for a moment to sing anything.
Years ago, my brother
was on the LES 'til 3,
but now there's me,
a decade later,
working overtime in Queens,
a philistine,
dying for some sleep.
It's such a difficult life,
when you live it part time.
I've been too well taught to ever go crazy,
ever get nuts,
but you help me loosen up.
It's such a difficult life,
when you live it part time.
It's such a difficult life,
when you live it part time.
I've been too well taught to ever go crazy,
ever get nuts,
but you help me loosen up.

The Qualia
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Friday, September 29, 2017

Thanking Charles Bradley

Photographic Evidence 
by 5342 Studios

Charles Bradley at Newport Folk
Fort Adams State Park
Newport, RI 
Sun July 29, 2012

Seems like we're doing a disproportionate amount of saying-our-goodbyes to all the good ones these days. It's incredibly sad to lose Charles Bradley. But to lose him during the context of today's cultural strife, this revived racism and all the social anxiety that politics can provide; .. well it just seems extraordinarily cruel. 

A Legend who touched the lives of three generations of fans and fellow musicians over his impressive career, I can't help but listen and conclude he still had more to offer us. And while I didn't know the man personally, I have loved his music, witnessed his live shows and got to feel "the cheer" up close. Both Bradley's set and his spirit were incredibly contagious.. He emanated a quiet joy. 

These images were captured by 5342 Studios during the first of Charles' appearances at Newport Folk. It was the summer of 2012. Charles was a beloved figure, but especially so this day.  And all it took was to watch his exchanges with his fellow creators (almost all of their faces young and wide with smiles) to know this was a guy who got it. Seeing Charles Bradley channel energy to and from a crowd of like minded music lovers is something I will never, ever, forget. Thank you Charles Bradley." - Ryan Spaulding

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