Saint Cloud by Waxahatchee

Today, I had a wonderful exchange with my friend TK:

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TK and I have been friends for 12 years. Our friendship is very much marked by the aughts.  Having first been introduced on MySpace, we met for the first time in person in New Orleans when he was visiting with his wonderful friends and bought my 2008 Bonnaroo ticket. We’ve stayed in touch ever since with ebbs and flows mostly because I ebb in most of my relationships (still working on this, friends).

Suffice to say, he is wonderful friend and knows me well. Thus his recommendations are some I hold in highest regard. When he texted me about the latest Waxahatchee album, Saint Cloud, I immediately turned it on.

I love this album and captures all the feelings and cultural trappings I feel so personally to boot.

 

Vinyl Day 8: Spyro Gyra “Morning Dance”, Beach Boys and more “Shut Down”, & Barbara Streisand “Guilty”

Hello! I needed to take a break from the internet for a few days. Welcome to day 8 of an investigation of my vinyl. Catch up on the other days here.


Artist: Spyro Gyra
Album: Morning Dance
Year: 1979
Genre: Jazz, jazz fusion
Record Origins: Mum and Dad

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Haha oh my god. I thought I knew who Spyro Gyra was, and I was expecting a more Jethro Tull sound. That expectation was extremely wrong. I don’t want to spend too much time on this as it reminds me of songs form a 70s porno or perhaps a beach love montage. I understand why jazz fusion gets such a bad rap at times.

NEXT.


Artist: Beach Boys, Robert Mitchum, The Cheers, and The Super Stocks
Album: Shut Down
Year: 1963
Genre: Hot rod rock (yes, this is a thing).
Record Origins: One of the parents. I don’t think they acquired this together.

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I get the feeling this is a special album. I cannot find a lot of information about it besides on some auction sites, and I read it is scarce. I am not really interested in selling these. So, I don’t care how much it is (and it may be nothing). It is a very fun album. The Beach Boys are an enigma to me. The Wilson brothers (er, at least Brian and Dennis) were drinking their lives away while writing these superficially chipper sounds. Honestly, there is nothing so sad or relatable to me at times as artists who are making pieces that are so opposite of what they are feeling inside.

Infamously and sadly, Dennis died in 1983 while homeless, nomadic, and hammered. He drowned after blacking out in shallow water trying to retrieve some of his ex-wife’s items, which he had thrown off of his yacht 3 years earlier.

Here are the Beach Boys performing “Shut Down”, the title track from the album I have, in happier times.


Artist: Barbara Streisand
Album: Guilty
Year: 1980
Genre: Pop
Record Origins: Mum and Dad

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This is a hell of an album cover: Barry Gibb, of the Bee Gees and producer of this album, hugging Barbara Streisand. Glorious manes of hair all around.

The top single of this Guilty is “Woman in Love”, and it was written by 2/3 of the Bee Gees, Barry and Robin. And you can hear the Bee Gees EVERYWHERE on this album. So even thought the album is Babs, it is very fitting that Barry Gibb is on the cover of the album, holding Babs, and probably whispering “Yes…you and the is album are my little baby.”

Here is the powerful single “Woman in Love”. I didn’t want to like it, but I really to like it.

“Whistle & Fish” by John Prine: Choosing Lightness in Time of Crisis

29 March 2020 EDITOR’S NOTE: Just heard today that John Prine is in critical condition with COVID-19, and I don’t even know what to say.


It seems that things, while still absurd, have gotten a bit too heavy lately. And, it is good to step away from the heaviness, no matter how serious it is.

Even legends like John Prine stepped away from heavier songs about social commentary to record songs like “Whistle & Fish”, a song that’s most simple message is about gratitude and not taking anything too seriously.

Fish and whistle, whistle and fish,
Eat everything that they put on your dish,
When we get through we’ll make a big wish,
That we never have to do this again, again? again?

When we’re used to going so fast, how do we lighten up?

During these times, I’ve appreciated the funny or simple things I notice on my runs more because, well, I ain’t got nothin’ but time. I’ve enjoyed “hanging out” with my South Side Hit Pen mates a lot. There are more home-cooked meals. More reading. More music. Less ruminating. It is a cliche, but it has made me want a different kind of life and have the time flesh out what kind of life that might be.

While the world seems like it might be coming apart, it is a quiet time and there is much to behold, and I am in awe of how quickly things that societal paragons and powerhouses crumble without us all to keep it afloat. The phrase “tiny but mighty” is more true now than ever. I am reveling in my smallness and appreciating the small delights.

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We cannot control much right now, and it is important to maintain a lightness of being and sense of humor in this time like our dear friend John Prine. Stay well, friends.

Guest Post: “Music or Misery” with Tommy Barbee

Today, we’re trying something new because what better time to experiment in the middle of a societal breakdown?

Tommy Barbee is my former professional colleague, current colleague over on South Side Hit Pen, a daily source of creative inspiration, an excellent partner in conversation (ranging from modern philosophical and moral issues to extremely low brow humor), and, most importantly, we can get into fights and recover. I would certainly refer to him as one of my besties. Is the feeling mutual? Who’s to say? 🙂

Recently, he shared some musings of his own about this strange time and how it relates to a question originally posed by High Fidelitya book turn movie in 2000 (and seminal Chicago film) now turned show on Hulu. Enjoy.


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“What came first, the music or the misery?” – High Fidelity

As I sit here observing the now commonly accepted social distancing in affect as we attempt to offset the latest wave of impending doom that 2020 has thrown society’s way, I find myself coming back to this question. It’s a simple question, but an indelible idea that has stuck with me since my formidable teenage years. Sure, like every other angsty teenage boy that is now on the older fringe of Millennials, I spent more time than I’d care to admit listening to the likes of Weezer, Radiohead, and Coldplay mixed in with the more socially accepted hip-hop music of the time.

Was I anxious and depressed because I listened to OK Computer and later Kid A one too many times? Sometimes it felt that way, and I still refuse to listen to a Radiohead album from beginning to end so as not to spark a sudden bout of existential crisis.

As an adult that has distanced himself from the awkwardness of adolescence, I find myself feeling as isolated as ever in this time of unwavering panic. Once again, I’m turning to music to make sense of things.

It’s true, too much Elliott Smith can bring you down. Even so, he conjures such depth of emotion that somehow your life, or a generational experience, can be summed up in mere minutes. Right now, finding something– anything– that can help reflect or make sense of the emotions felt today is exactly the kind of “misery” needed.

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Feel free to connect with Tommy on Twitter: @kindableu.

Vinyl Day 7: Tyler, the Creator “Wolf”, Country Joe & The Fish “Greatest Hits”, & Deafheaven “Roads to Judah”

Welcome to Vinyl Day 7! Catch up on the other days here.


Artist: Tyler, the Creator
Album: Wolf
Year: 2013
Genre: Alternative hip-hop
Record Origins: I bought this one.

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I highlighted Tyler, the Creator on Day 3Goblin was a fun album, and it was expressive. It was also a lot more angry. Wolf is Tyler’s step into genius. This is the rap-version of a rock opera. A rap opera if you will. It chronicles  The songs are emotional and unapologetically vulnerable– something a lot young black men aren’t often allowed by many different aspects of society. This is all balanced with some humor, and yet it all remains so relatable.

The album art is equally endearing. It shows a little baby Tyler on his bike (Slater?).

This is one of my favorite songs from the album. I was going through a difficult time with my dad, and this song was relatable at the time.

Another one of my favorite tracks on this album is “IFHY”. The video is also very interesting, and the pain is visceral.


Artist: Country Joe & The Fish
Album: Greatest Hits
Year: 1969
Genre: Psychedelic rock, folk rock
Record Origins: New Orleans- Christmas gift for my dad (that I got back!)

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I bought this album for my dad from a record shop in New Orleans. Perhaps it was a bit of a misguided attempt at me trying to connect with him because I am not even sure how he felt about Country Joe & The Fish, and I don’t even know that he listened to records. Luckily, this record came back to me.

I first learned about Country Joe & The Fish from the incredible PBS documentary Woodstock (apparently there is a new version of the doc, and I am sure it is just as good). This is the most popular song “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” (if you can’t tell from the song, it’s about the U.S.’s involvement in The Vietnam War and how stupid it was):

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.


Artist: Deafheaven
Album: Roads to Judah
Year: 2011
Genre: Country, Americana, Indie Rock
Record Origins: One of mine, but I don’t remember where she came from.

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Here is the debut album from Deafheaven. I wrote about one of my all time favorite albums, Sunbather, on Day 5. I bought this album at the same time I bought Sunbather, and my friend was working in the record shop. He said he liked this album more. Roads to Judah is a great album, but I listened to Sunbather first and was tainted. However, both are very rich and powerful. And fuckin’ sick.

Here is “Unrequited” from Roads to Judah.


Thanks for tuning in here on Day 7!

Vinyl Day 6: Loretta Lynn “Van Lear Rose”, Curtis Mayfield “Back to the World”, & Bobby Sherman “With Love, Bobby: The Scrapbook Album”

Welcome to Vinyl Day 6! Catch up on the other days here.


Artist: Loretta Lynn
Album: Van Lear Rose
Year: 2004
Genre: Country, Americana, Indie Rock
Record Origins: One of mine, but I don’t remember where she came from.

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Loretta Lynn (along with Dolly) is one of my favorite song writers and performers in the world. As a younger artist, she was way ahead of the field in terms of songwriting with greats like “The Pill“, “You’re Lookin’ at Country“, “Coal Miner’s Daughter“, and my favorite “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man“, featuring Conway Twitter.

And these facts from Loretta’s wiki are some of the primary reasons I lover her so much:

Lynn focused on blue-collar women’s issues with themes about philandering husbands and persistent mistresses. Her music was inspired by issues she faced in her marriage. She pushed boundaries in the conservative genre of country music by singing about birth control (“The Pill”), repeated childbirth (“One’s on the Way”), double standards for men and women (“Rated ‘X'”), and being widowed by the draft during the Vietnam War (“Dear Uncle Sam”).

Country music radio stations often refused to play her music, banning nine of her songs, but Lynn pushed on to become one of country music’s legendary artists.

As I have mentioned in another post, I love a good ol’ country rebel. Loretta checks those boxes.

With 60 years in the business under her belt, Loretta’s 42nd(!) studio album was a crossover album produced by indie greatness Jack White. The song most people will be familiar with is “Portland, Oregon”, which also features Jack White.

Loretta and Jack also won two Grammys for this album, and one of their acceptance speeches was adorable.

This album is excellent, and although I think we will continue to look back upon the aughts as a less than tasteful decade, this album surpasses and, I think, will stand the test of time. I can’t believe it is already 16 years old.

Though, I will say- the album cover and back always drove me a little nuts as it looks like Ms. Loretta is wearing that big heavy dress on a hot day in the South. It makes me itch just looking at it.


Artist: Curtis Mayfield
Album: Back to the World
Year: 1973
Genre: Funk, Soul
Record Origins: Slam from some thrift shop in Chicago

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This album was acquired from the donated collected of one, Alyce J. Landry. Who is she? I don’t know, but several of her records found their way into my house. So, thank you Alyce, whoever and wherever you are.

Alyce has great taste in music, and I like to imagine her spinning this record in the 70s. Maybe she smoked a little weed while doing it. Gettin’ woke. I certainly hope she danced to it as one must do with Curtis Mayfield.

This album peaked at #1 on the hip-hop and R&B charts and #16 on the US Billboard 200.


Artist: Bobby Sherman
Album: With Love, Bobby: The Scrapbook Album
Year: 1970
Genre: Pop
Record Origins: Mom

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I had no idea who Bobby Sherman was before I wrote this. However, I have now learned he was a teen idol and experienced hearing loss because of all the ladies who used to scream for him.

I feel a little indifferent about this one, but here is a video of one of Bobby’s hits “Julie, Do Ya Love Me?” with a bunch of girls flipping their ever loving shit about Bobby.



 

Thanks for joining me for day 6!