Two Separate Things: Morrison & Money

“Jim’s drinking habit had grown in parallel with our success, so the members of our band and crew rotated the chore of attempting to keep him as sober as possible on show nights. On December 9, 1967, that chore had fallen on me. . . . He wasn’t drinking more than his usual amount, but his usual amount was more than usual to most people. I had yet to discover a successful strategy to lure Jim over to moderation. Arguing didn’t work. Saying nothing didn’t work. Encouraging him didn’t work.”

That’s Robby Krieger, guitarist for The Doors (as well as a subsequent number of other groupings, although none, obviously, as influential and consequently memorable—as in making a memoir something that might have a wider audience than, say, fans of Robby Krieger’s Jam Kitchen), from his new memoir, Set the Night on Fire: Living, Dying and Playing Guitar With The Doors.

And it is fairly evident that trying to discourage Morrison from getting drunk was something that didn’t work.

The night in question was when the band played the New Haven Arena, promoted by the New Haven College.

According to Krieger, just before the show “Jim was making out with his date in a shower stall.” A police officer didn’t recognize the man who was yet to become The Lizard King, apparently thought he was someone who slipped in, and Morrison “allegedly mouthed office and the cop allegedly sprayed him with Mace.”

Krieger goes on to say of the alleged occurrences (which seems somewhat odd, given that this happened 54 years ago and presumably any legal ramifications are no longer existent so either it happened or it didn’t or Krieger is being ironic, which doesn’t work particularly well in this case if that is his intention), “Jim loved mouthing off to cops, and cops loved having an excuse.” The proverbial double-win.

Undoubtedly, someone who was essentially mouthy to cops under ordinary circumstances had his hackles at stratospheric levels after that (if he was the Lizard King, in this context he would have to be a Komodo dragon). . .but he had to go out on stage, during which performance Morrison, not surprisingly, “launched into his now-famous rant about the little blue man in the little blue suit with the little blue cap who had temporarily blinded him backstage.”

The police came on stage, arrested Morrison, and the rest is legend, especially as a writer for Life magazine happened to have been arrested, as well, and there was coverage of the band in the middle-brow weekly magazine that emphasized the outlaw nature of the band.

Morrison died in 1971 at age 27. Think about that: about four years between the arrest in Connecticut and a heart attack in a bathroom in Paris.

Continue reading Two Separate Things: Morrison & Money

Sounds Like Something You Don’t Want to Hear

A friend, Henry Melrose, is a detective. You might imagine someone who looks like Rockford, Spenser or some sleazy git. Melrose looks like a businessman. That’s because that was what he was for the better part of his career.

He worked at a firm that manages wealthy people’s money. He did quite well at it. Met lots of people who are more than a bit better off than the rest of us. He wasn’t in their stratosphere. But because he was smart, articulate and managed to make them even more somewhat filthy lucre (not all investors are on the up and up, to understate things by a massive amount, and you don’t need a precis of the Pandora Papers to know that), they would be part of one of his foursomes at the Oakland Fields Country Club or meet him in the bar for a martini after an outing. He was able to chum along with the best of them.

But Melrose had a problem in the office which led to a divorce. He spent too much time there. He would spend hour after hour at his Bloomberg terminal. The Tokyo market opens at 10 pm Eastern and the London market opens at 3:00 am Eastern, and while he wasn’t in his office from dawn to dusk, rinse and repeat, he spent more time there than he did at home.

So his wife left him.

That set him back on his heels. And set him back financially, as well.

Continue reading Sounds Like Something You Don’t Want to Hear

New Naomi Alligator video: Anywhere Else

Video: Naomi Alligator – “Anywhere Else”

Naomi Alligator - "Anywhere Else" (Official Music Video)

From Concession Stand Girl, out October 29 on Carpark.

Another adorable folkie ballad from Naomi Alligator.

Come to me you’re always finding ways to fall asleep
While I am wide awake
Maybe you will keep me on a cloud where you could blow advice
In the front of my face
But then you’ll get a bird’s eye view
Of all the lovers that you once you knew
Yes all the lovers that I hate
Maybe I should go to sleep with you instead of thinking of them
When it’s so late.

Heavy sentiment but delivered with a light touch.

“I made this video on a rainy summer day,” says Corrinne James. “It serves as a farewell letter to my life in Virginia. A week after I finished shooting the video, I moved to California. While I was editing and looking back on clips to include, I kept returning to the funny and loving moments I captured of my family before I left.”

Naomi Alligator: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Le Ren video: May Hard Times Pass Us By

Video: Le Ren – “May Hard Times Pass Us By”

Le Ren - May Hard Times Pass Us By (Official Video)

Directed by Ali Vanderkruyk. From Leftovers, out October 15 on Secretly Canadian.

Oh man, another sweet and charming song from Le Ren. This time, Lauren Spear’s reassuring voice lilts over fingerpicked guitar and strummed banjo. I’m catching vibes of Neil Young’s Hitchhiker era.

When the world is grey and our bodies old
When the forger’s fire grows ashen-cold
When the years drag on and yet pass us by
I’ll be there in hard times.

That line about the years dragging on is something we can probably all relate to lately.

Spears says, “This song is really close to my heart. It was written for someone as we worked through a turbulent time in our relationship.”

New Courtney Barnett video: Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To

Video: Courtney Barnett – “Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To”

Courtney Barnett - Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To (Official Video)

Directed by Christina Xing. From Things Take Time, Take Time, due Nov 12 on Mom+Pop.

Wow, this is the most poppy song Courtney Barnett has released in a while! I love her tossed-off slacker drawl, but it’s fun to hear her do something more upbeat. And who doesn’t love twin-guitar harmonies?

Of course the lyrics are still dark, but that’s okay.

Sit beside me, watch the world burn,
We’ll never learn we don’t deserve nice things.
And we’ll scream, self-righteously,
We did our best but what does that even mean?

I wonder if this video will inspire anybody to send some mail to a friend. Hope so.

Barnett says, “I found a deeper communication with people in my life – deeper conversations. And a new level of gratitude for friendships that had been there for so long that I had maybe taken for granted.”

Don’t take your friendships for granted, people. Send your friends some mail!

Courtney Barnett: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Wet Leg video: Wet Dream

Video: Wet Leg – “Wet Dream”

Wet Leg - Wet Dream (Official Video)

Directed by Wet Leg. Single out now on Domino.

New favorite band alert!

This is Wet Leg’s second single. I missed the first one but apparently it got a lot of attention in the U.K. when it was released on Domino in June. That one was called “Chaise Longue” and it’s awesome and features amazing deadpan lyrics like, “Hey you in the front row, are you coming backstage after the show? Because I’ve got a chaise longue in my dressing room and a pack of warm beer that we can consume.” Awesome, right?

Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers are from the Isle Wight and have been friends for almost a decade, according to an NME profile. The NME, never known to do much fact checking, says Teasdale learned to play guitar during quarantine but there is plenty of youtube evidence that she was playing guitar long before the SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected in Wuhan. Regardless, while locked down together the duo honed what we now know as the Wet Leg sound. They “wanted to have more fun than every other single band”. By the sounds of the two songs they’ve released so far, it seems like they are accomplishing that mission.

“Wet Dream” is not as silly as “Chaise Longue” but it’s equally memorable and far more melodic. Standout lyrics include:

• “You said, ‘Baby do you want to come home with me? I’ve got Buffalo 66 on DVD.'”

• “What makes you think you’re good enough to think about me when you’re touching yourself?”

• “You climb onto the bonnet and you’re licking the windscreen. I’ve never seen anything so obscene. It’s enough to make a girl blush.”

Can’t wait to hear what comes next. Count me in.

Continue reading New Wet Leg video: Wet Dream

Beatles Studies

Ringo gave an interview to BBC Radio recently in which he said, among other things, “if Paul hadn’t been in the band, we’d probably have made two albums because we were lazy buggers.”

So that would have been Please Please Me and With the Beatles, which were introduced in the U.K. in 1963 eight months apart (March and November).

As for the first, it is actually quite an impressive outing, including: “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Misery,” “Anna (Go to Him),” “Chains,” “Boys,” “Ask Me Why,” “Please Please Me,” “Love Me Do,” “P.S. I Love You,” “Baby It’s You,” “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” “A Taste of Honey,” “There’s a Place,” and “Twist and Shout.”

A solid 32:16 of music.

With the Beatles contains “It Won’t Be Long,” “All I’ve Got to Do,” “All My Loving,” “Don’t Bother Me,” “Little Child,” “Till there Was You,” “Please Mr. Postman,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Hold Me Tight,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “Devil in Her Heart,” “Not a Second Time,” and “Money (That’s What I Want).”

That comes in at 33:02.

One of the remarkable things about these two albums is that the band was able to include songs from a wide variety of genres. Consider only With the Beatles. “Till There Was You” was written by Meredith Wilson, the composer of The Music Man. “Roll Over Beethoven” came from Chuck Berry. “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” was written by Smokey Robinson. And “Money” also came out of Hitsville U.S.A., having been written by Motown founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford.

Ringo continued, “But Paul’s a workaholic. John and I would be sitting in the garden taking in the color green from the tree, and the phone would ring, and we would know, ‘Hey lads, you want to come in? Let’s go in the studio!’

“So I’ve told Paul this, he knows this story, we made three times more music than we ever would without him because he’s the workaholic and he loves to get going. Once we got there, we loved it, of course, but, ‘Oh no, not again!’”

The world would have certainly been a different place had Paul not been the pain in the ass that he must have been in order to get those guys out of the garden.

Continue reading Beatles Studies

New Dean Wareham video: Cashing In

Video: Dean Wareham – “Cashing In”

Dean Wareham: "Cashing In" (official video)

Directed by Leanna Kaiser. From I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A., due October 15 on Double Feature.

Examples of indie rockers aging gracefully are few and far between. I suppose it helps to be graceful as a young person. Can you even imagine Dean Wareham ever spazzing out?

I used to think we were on the brink
I could just watch my fortunes grow
I used to think our ship was coming in
I’m not selling out, I’m cashing in.

It’s rare that music that is this pleasant to listen to is still interesting and engaging. Wareham proves you don’t have to be aggressive or obnoxious to be captivating.

“Musically I was inspired by Michael Rother’s great, late-’70s instrumental guitar records,” Wareham says. “And also by Peter Hook; I played the new ‘Hooky 6-string bass’ I bought last year, it’s a big part of that early New Order sound.”

Dude, if you’re going for that early New Order sound you should be playing that bass way higher up on the neck though!

Dean Wareham: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Regrettes video: Monday

Video: The Regrettes – “Monday”

The Regrettes - Monday (Official Music Video)

Directed by Dillon Dowdell. Single out now.

People grow up. People change. That includes songwriters. And bands.

It’s no surprise that someone like Lydia Night who was capable of writing sophisticated, well-crafted songs at 15 years old would eventually set her sights higher than the sassy world of Los Angeles punk that she entered via School of Rock and the Donnas.

Five years after the Regrettes grabbed our attention with their girl group inspired power pop, they’re ditching the “power” and going straight pop. And Night doesn’t care what old dudes like me think of it. “For ages, I was worried about proving something to the 50-year-old dads at the back of the room,” she told the NME. “But here we are, finally growing up.” Fair enough.

The fact that she nailed me so perfectly is a little disturbing. I am literally a 50-year-old dad. When I go to a show, I can often be found at the back of the room. And I am always disappointed when scrappy bands I love take a more mainstream turn. That’s my deal. I know it’s problematic to project my own garbage onto the artists I listen to, but that’s what I do. The silly thing about it is I actually like pop music. One of the things this site was founded on twenty years ago was sticking up for Britney Spears. So why do I feel personally offended when an artist changes their sound to something more widely palatable?

It probably has something to do with the fact that I came of age in the 90s when it was absolutely anathema to seem like you were trying too hard. Or to seem like you cared. About anything. This aloofness was always a bullshit pose. Always. It was designed to mask deep insecurity and fear of failure. So phony. But here we are. All these years later. A 50-year-old dad with all the same hangups I had as a 20-year-old dork.

Anyway…

“Monday” is a good, perfectly arranged pop song. It’s got a chorus that says, “Gotta get the fuck out of L.A.” so that’s a plus. The Regrettes are still good. They’re just different.

The Regrettes: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Music Matters in the UK

“The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.” The Merchant of Venice

To say that music is important in the United Kingdom is to understate things immensely.

Consider this:

“Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the creative industries added between £110 and £130 billion to the UK economy, supported over two million jobs and, since 2010, grew at nearly twice the rate of the economy as a whole. . . . The UK music industry contributes an estimated £5.2 billion in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy per year, of which recorded music generates approximately £1.5 billion in retail revenues: a figure that is also growing year-on-year. The industry employs over 200,000 people, ranging from music creators (including over 50,000 UK artists) and their ecosystems, music venue and touring staff and employees of record labels, music publishers, music streaming services and collecting societies. . . . [I have no idea what a collecting society is, but I like the concept] Annually, the sector generates £2.7 billion in exports, and recorded music specifically generates £500 million in export revenues.”

All of that comes from a report conducted by Parliament, “Economics of Music Streaming.”

Think about that.

In the UK there is a recognition that there is a non-trivial number of citizens who make their livelihoods from music. In research conducted last year they discovered that 90% of UK festivals had been cancelled due to COVID and 93% of grassroots music venues were on the edge of shuttering. What’s more, they found that a quarter of people in the music industry didn’t qualify for Self Employed Income Support Scheme (a supplemental income program from the government, sort of like unemployment compensation in the US). And producers and sound engineers had lost an average of 70% of their income as a result of the socio-cultural-economic impact of COVID on the UK.

In the US the was the passage in December 2020 of the “Save Our Stages Act,” which provides $15-billion administered through the Small Business Administration, setup to provide six months’ of financial support to venues to keep their employees solvent. A good thing (although reportedly bolloxed in its administration at the start), but it is notable that the Brits take music so seriously that they have economic analysts looking into the impact on the finances of the country overall, as well as individual workers in the industry. Strange to think that Boris Johnson is a member of the Conservative Party. When he had an alleged conservative in charge of our government it resulted in little more than embarrassment, which continues today.

Continue reading Music Matters in the UK

Rock and roll can change your life.