Category Archives: Shorties

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Linda Ronstadt, Mac Davis, Jose Feliciano

The fourth episode of the final season of the Johnny Cash Show aired 50 years ago today on October 14, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Linda Ronstadt, Mac Davis, and Jose Feliciano along with the usual regulars: June Carter and the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

R.I.P. to Mac Davis, who died a couple weeks ago at 78. He was a big songwriter who by the time of this show had already written a bunch of hits for Nancy Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and others. I will always think of him for his 1980 single, “It’s Hard To Be Humble,” which was one of my dad’s favorite songs. “I can’t wait to look in the mirror ’cause I get better lookin’ each day.”

Davis was considerably more humble in 1970 with no crossover hits yet as a performer. His single from earlier in the year, “Whoever Finds This, I Love You” had peaked at No. 53 on the Hot 100, and the single he’s promoting here did not chart. Both songs he performs would eventually see release on 1972’s I Believe in Music album, which flopped. But you can already see the twinkle in his eye.

There’s a great story about the first time Linda Ronstadt was on the show back in 1969. It was the third episode of the very first season and 22-year-old Ronstadt had a bit of a wardrobe tussle with June Carter. Entertainment Weekly shared hairdresser Penni Lane’s version of events: “At rehearsal, June noticed that Linda didn’t have any panties on, so she came running back to the dressing room, [saying], ‘Somebody get down the street and buy her some bloomers, she’s out there showing herself! When Linda was told she would have to wear underwear, she was very upset. She said, ‘I sing better bare-butted.’” June’s response at the time? ‘Not in front of my Johnny!’”

This time, a year and a half later, Ronstadt had a lot more clothes on.

Johnny Cash – “Five Feet High and Rising”

• June Carter shares a poem [Note: this segment is unfortunately not included in the GetTV broadcast.]

Linda Ronstadt – “Long Long Time”

LINDA RONSTADT ~ LONG LONG TIME 1969 HD VIDEO

From Silk Purse (Capitol, 1970).

Continue reading 50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Linda Ronstadt, Mac Davis, Jose Feliciano

New Quasar Wut-Wut video: The Tramps of Taro Sound (quarantine version)

Video: Quasar Wut-Wut- “The Tramps of Taro Sound” (quarantine version)

Quasar Wut-Wut- "The Tramps of Taro Sound (quarantine version)"

Original version on Taro Sound (Glorious Noise Records, 2004).

What are you supposed to do when you can’t hang out with your pals in real life anymore? Well, one thing you could do is take over your daughter’s bedroom and zoom your pals. Or take off your clothes and hide in some bushes. Whatever. The choices are endless, really, if you use your imagination.

I miss my friends in Chicago so much. This is the longest I’ve gone without at least visiting Chicago since I was a kid. Maybe ever. My folks had friends there who we would visit at least once a year. It’s where I learned to not take shit from bullies. (I’m looking at you, Randy.) I spent my twenties crashing on couches and inflatable mattresses in people’s studio apartments. Finally moved there right before my 30th birthday and spent my thirties there: Lincoln Square, Lakeview, Albany Park, back to Lincoln Square. Made so many great friends, including the Quasars. We had so much fun. Always a band playing a club somewhere. Big Horse, Gunther Murphy’s, Martyrs’, Beat Kitchen, Lily’s. Oh Lily’s, what a glorious shithole. That big shoe. Weird, hidden rooms upstairs where people could do bad things. Five-dollar Long Island iced teas. Bloody Mary’s made with human placenta. So many good times.

Now we’re all so damn old I can hardly believe it. But hey, at least these four guys still look good. And they’re still able to conjure up the mojo that inspired us to start a record label to release their album.

And maybe the lyrics are as applicable to today as they were back in the day.

They’re handing trophies out to all young things
Who can distract their country for the King,
And keep the vultures occupied…

Go out and earn some trophies, everybody!

Quasar Wut-Wut: web, bandcamp, fb, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Listening to The Drifters in the Age of COVID

Back in the 1960s, there were a number of songs that were about places rather than people, many of which were performed by The Drifters, a group that was highly influential but for some reason not as widely known as they should be (e.g., “Who’s singing that song?” “Don’t know.”). Their performances of these songs is often heard in things ranging from commercials to movies—and if it isn’t The Drifters, it is by performers who cover it close to The Drifters’ approach.

In 1962 The Drifters recorded “Up on the Roof,” written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, which became a hit in 1963, and later became named by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame one of the “500 Songs that Shaped Rock”. (The Drifters also made the list with “Money Honey” and “There Goes My Baby.”) The lyric of that song could have been written to describe this past summer, when New York City was a COVID-19 hotspot:

When I come home feelin’ tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet (up on the roof)
I get away from the hustling crowd
And all that rat race noise down in the street (up on the roof)

In 1963 The Drifters had a hit with “On Broadway,” a song written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller. While they weren’t the first to record the song—as The Cookies and the Crystals had beat them to it—their version was the most popular, having reached 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

What’s interesting about this song is that while “Broadway” connotes what is referred to as the “Great White Way”—the section of the street between 42nd and 53rd streets—because of the lights that shine from the theater marques (“They say the neon lights are bright/On Broadway”. . .”I’ll have my name in lights”), the lyric goes on to say that while the protagonist/narrator is told that the possibilities are dim—“They say that I won’t last too long on Broadway”—he (in The Drifters’ version) doesn’t believe that:

But they are wrong, I know they are
I can play this here guitar
And I won’t quit till I’m a star
On Broadway

While Bruce Springsteen performed at the Walter Kerr Theatre from October 2017 to December 2018, the notion of someone making it performing on Broadway with a guitar is certainly something that seems unusual today, as it must have been back in 1963, when shows that opened that year included Brigadoon, Oliver! and Pal Joey, things that are more of bravado than ballads.

Continue reading Listening to The Drifters in the Age of COVID

New Sincere Engineer: Trust Me

Video: Sincere Engineer – “Trust Me”

Sincere Engineer - Trust Me (Official Music Video)

Directed by Deanna Belos. Single out now on Hopeless.

Watch Deanna Belos recklessly ride her bike no-handed around suburban streets while mowing down some Hot-N-Ready from Little Caesars. Safety third, kids!

This is the band’s first single for Hopeless Records. Presumably an album will follow but no announcements have been made to date. Sincere Engineer’s previous album, 2017’s Rhombithian, was great and seeing them open up for the Hold Steady in Chicago was a highlight of 2019 for me.

Super excited to hear more! But listening to the lyrics makes me wonder, how can someone so young sing words so sad?

I wanna go outside. I wanna ride my bike, but I feel dead on the inside.
I put too much trust in future me. She can’t be trusted.

I get it. But I’m a jaded old grump, beaten down by life and a mean, uncaring world. It feels weird to identify with a young girl with such mad no-handed-bike-riding skillz.

Deanna take a bow. Boot the grime of this world in the crotch, dear.

Sincere Engineer: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Jeff Tweedy: Gwendolyn

Video: Jeff Tweedy – “Gwendolyn”

Jeff Tweedy "Gwendolyn" (Official Music Video)

Directed by James Fleischel. From Love Is The King, out October 23 on dBpm. Vinyl/CD due January 15.

Featuring the mouths and noses of Fred Armisen, Courtney Barnett, Elvis Costello, Jeff Garlin, Tavi Gevinson, Jon Hamm, Robyn Hitchcock, John Hodgman, Yuka C Honda, Abbi Jacobson, Norah Jones, Gaelynn Lea, Scott McCaughey, Seth Meyers, Nnamdï, Nick Offerman, Molly Sarlé, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, Jay Som, Alex Winter, Sammy Tweedy, Spencer Tweedy and Jeff Tweedy.

Who knows what’s going on underneath those masks? There could be some very attractive people hidden under there. Or maybe not.

If this new video proves anything, it’s that one’s nose and mouth drastically affect your appearance. It also proves that Tweedy knows a lot of famous people!

Continue reading New Jeff Tweedy: Gwendolyn

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Joni Mitchell and Joe South

The third episode of the final season of “The Johnny Cash Show” aired 50 years ago today on October 7, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Joe South, George “Goober” Lindsey, and Joni Mitchell along with the usual family of regulars: June Carter and the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

Joni Mitchell had been a guest twice in the show’s initial run in the summer of 1969, but since those appearances she had written a lot of new songs. Her classic album Blue wouldn’t be released for another eight months but she already has two of its highlights ready to go. Alone with a dulcimer on her lap (“California”) or seated at a piano (“My Old Man”), we see a songwriter completely in control of her craft. She’s still a good enough sport though to sing a Bob Dylan cover as a duet with her host!

And how about Joe South? He was a songwriter who wrote a bunch of hits, including my all-time favorite 70s Elvis jam: “Walk A Mile in My Shoes.” Once in college I was making a mixtape in a somewhat elevated state of consciousness and decided it was the perfect song to include on a deeply funky side that featured Funkadelic, Sly Stone, and something off Paul’s Boutique. The next day with a clear head I discovered that “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” wasn’t quite as funky as it had seemed. Oh well, it’s still a jam.

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of the Statler Brothers’ “Bed of Roses”? It’s wild. Basically the story of a young orphan who can’t get any help from any of the local churchy people, so he ends up crashing with a charitable sex worker named Rose. So the title of the song is missing the possessive apostrophe in order to appear less scandalous (and because country songwriters love a good pun)!

Johnny Cash – “Southwind”

• June Carter – poem: The world’s first fleas

• George Lindsey – comedy

Joe South – “Why Does a Man Do What He Has to Do” [Note: this segment is unfortunately not included in the GetTV broadcast.]

Joe South (with Johnny Cash, June Carter, and George Lindsey) – “Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home”

Joni Mitchell – “California”

Joni Mitchell - California

From Blue (Reprise, 1971).

Continue reading 50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Joni Mitchell and Joe South

New Mountain Goats video: Get Famous

Video: the Mountain Goats – “Get Famous”

the Mountain Goats - Get Famous (Official Music Video)

Directed by David Hollander. From Getting Into Knives, due October 23 on Merge.

I love the Mountain Goats. There were a few weeks this spring when Songs for Pierre Chuvin very likely kept me from losing my marbles. Everybody I know has struggled with the anxiety, anger, and depression that this pandemic has caused. We all deal with our emotions in different ways. I listened to the Mountain Goats and fired up my chainsaw (don’t ask).

But before John Darnielle recorded that lifesaving effort on his Panasonic boombox at home, alone, in lockdown, his band had already wrapped up recording a new album in Memphis, with special guests like guitarist Chris Boerner from Hiss Golden Messenger who plays on this new single, as does legendary organist Charles Hodges.

The belief that you’re destined to become famous is a weirdly American thing, and this song picks up on some of that desperation, and hints at some of the dangers. Or does it? Darnielle doesn’t typically dabble in sarcasm and it’s easy to hear this celebratory jam as affirming that little Kardashian on your shoulder, encouraging you to go ahead and post that selfie.

The bobbleheaded video comes across as super earnest as well. How can you not root for these nodding little guys? I sincerely want them to be famous!

Darnielle says:

David Hollander and I met last year and I saw a fellow traveller in him — a guy who likes to get an idea and wrestle with it until something weird and cool happens. I played him the demo of “Get Famous” last July and he picked it up immediately — this would have been within a week or so of writing it, which is kind of a special time in a song’s life — and I knew I’d want him on board to express some of the dread that lurks underneath its mid-tempo Mott the Hoople-inspired jaunt. I wasn’t sure if bobbleheads could really capture that level of giddy anxiety, but David’s visions play for keeps — the first time I saw the camera resolve on my bobblehead in a way that made it look like it had changed its expression, I almost fell out of my chair. Proud to have a video this left-field for our dark little song.

So I dunno. I guess it can be read as dark. But it sure sounds fun!

(Also, the fact that the Jon Wurster bobblehead looks like Jesus is some righteous #rocknrollweirdness.)

The Mountain Goats: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Looking at Lists

Although ranking lists are common and therefore something to be ostensibly sniffed at, let’s face it: we all fall to the allure of the ad populum. We want to see what groups of other people think, either in order to justify our own positions or to maintain that the wisdom of crowds is actually the stupidity of crowds.

Or, at a more superficial but just as important level, it is like eating potato chips: non-nutritious but damned tasty. (Lists are actually less deleterious to one’s well being than the chips are, as while there may be fat in the list, there is likely no salt, so you have to bring your own grain to the assessment of the results, and the size of that chunk may be rather large.)

When I Googled “richest musicians,” the featured snippets box, that thing that sometimes shows up at the top of the results page, listed:

1. Paul McCartney
2. Andrew Llyod Webber [sic]
3. Jay Z
4. P-Diddy
5. Madonna
6. Herb Alpert
7. Dr Dre
8. Celine Dion

and while the top of the snippet indicated that the list included 17 more that were just a click away (i.e., it is a list of the top 25), I noted that the domain was “.ng,” something that I was not familiar with.

So I Googled that and discovered it is for Nigeria. I wonder if a prince who has millions of dollars that he would like to put into my bank account is in any way involved in creating the list. After all, McCartney and the others have serious money, too, so they undoubtedly hang out with that guy who needs a place to park his immense fortune and it could be that this list is simply a list that he created to keep track of his pals.

There are plenty of other sites with their versions of the “richest musicians,” including the monetary sounding “ledgernote.com,” the musical “playback.fm,” the institutional “gobanking.com” and the financially hip sounding “wealthygorilla.com.”

I don’t know if my virus protection is up to any of them, so I decided to forego additional research on that area of listed information.

Continue reading Looking at Lists

New Willie Nelson video: Vote ‘Em Out

Video: Willie Nelson – “Vote ‘Em Out”

Willie Nelson - Vote 'Em Out

Single out now on Legacy.

Originally written during the 2018 midterms in support of Beto O’Rourke’s senate run against incumbent zodiac killer Ted Cruz, “Vote ‘Em Out” just got a brand new animated video for 2020.

So please, for the love of all that is holy, listen to Willie.

Willie Nelson: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Fuzz: Spit

Video: FUZZ – “Spit”

Directed by Charles Moothart. From III, out October 23 on In the Red.

Do you love the sound of loud guitars? Do you like rock and roll? Yeah? Then you should listen to this new song from Fuzz.

Fuzz is Ty Segall’s band with guitarist Charles Moothart and bassist Chad Ubovich. They recorded III on 2″ tape at legendary United Recordings Studio B with Steve Albini.

Moothart told Mix magazine, “Ty had done a mixing session at United Recording, so that is where the idea of recording at United with Steve came from. We wanted to record in LA to stay close to home; we wanted to be able to go in and get live takes and not stress too much on mixing, and we wanted it to be fun. All signs pointed to working with Steve at United.”

In a statement, Moothart said, “When Ty and I first started working on this song, we didn’t know if it was even going to be a FUZZ song or not. We wanted to make a song that felt straight forward, but had a subtle tweak that over time gets more obvious. The verse riff almost feels like you’re falling asleep at the wheel then the chorus opens up with a melodic, but sharp riff that adds to the punch-drunk feeling of the verse.”

Riffs, man. A badass riff might not be able to solve all the problems going on in the world, but it can definitely make you feel a little better for a few minutes.

Continue reading New Fuzz: Spit