Monthly Archives: September 2009

That’s the ticket

Just wanted to remind you that we’re moonlighting again over at our other blog, The Midnight Tracker.

It resurfaces at the end of every month, emerging from the haze of time, reviving an old late-night FM radio show on which one side of a new or classic album would be played.

Tonight, we have a short but sweet side from a performer I saw almost 30 years ago, in a time when we imagined ourselves so sophisticated.

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Listen, and you’ll hear that the tunes on “Look Sharp” by Joe Jackson have scarcely aged a day in all that time since.

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“Happy Loving Couples,” Joe Jackson, from “Look Sharp,” 1979.

Check out the rest of Side 2 over at The Midnight Tracker.

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Filed under September 2009, Sounds

The voice of experience

Al’s Pour House was a working-class bar on the main drag in our central Wisconsin town. People went there for a shot and a beer … or five or six.

My pal Marty tended bar at Al’s, so we were there often. We were 19 or 20 then, a time when the drinking age was 18. We got quite an education, in just about every way you can imagine.

Part of that education came from the jukebox, which ran heavy on outlaw country. Those lived-in voices gave us kids some clues about making your way through life, about dealing with The Man.

Johnny Cash is gone now. Waylon Jennings, too. So is Johnny Paycheck. Who’s that voice of experience now? Still gotta deal with The Man. Still gotta make our way through life.

Guy Clark has come along with that kind of a record. “Somedays The Song Writes You” points the way for those of us still needing direction.

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I don’t know about you, but I still can use some guidance, especially from a 67-year-old guy from West Texas who has one of those lived-in voices — and who happens to be one of America’s finest songwriters.

I didn’t know much about Clark, but cut after cut on this record took me back to those long-ago nights at Al’s, sitting on a stool, soaking in the wisdom of those outlaw elders. Dig ‘em.

“Hemingway’s Whiskey” and “The Guitar,” Guy Clark, from “Somedays The Song Writes You,” 2009. The former is Clark’s nod to one of his elders. The latter is just one of those great country stories.

They’re from one of the best records of the year.

Wish I could say that about Charlie Robison’s record, “Beautiful Day.” It’s an album written in the wake of his divorce from his wife, Emily, she of the Dixie Chicks. I like Robison and don’t doubt his pain, but he’s just too young. Give him another 30 years, after his voice gets lived in.

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“Yellow Blues,” Charlie Robison, from “Beautiful Day,” 2009. A nasty little bit of psychedelic country that I’d love to hear with a stripped-down, acoustic arrangement.

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Filed under September 2009, Sounds

Where you been, man?

Would you believe …

– Buried by work, including final edits on a new book, a photo history of the Green Bay Packers?

– Caught up in the whirlwind that is the beginning of high school with a freshman in the house?

– Frequently behind the wheel, chauffeuring said freshman all over town in the Dad Taxi?

– Trying to break in new Rollerblades just a few days before skating still another marathon?

All that, and kinda taking a break from listening to a lot of music.

It might be a seasonal thing. Our Wisconsin summers are so short that we spend a lot of it outside, playing. As the weather turns cooler, then downright cold, that’s the time for more spirited ripping and blogging.

Little by little, I am getting stoked for more tunes.

Our trip to Duluth this weekend will keep me from digging for dollar records in the tents in my friend Jim’s back yard. Bad timing, Jim. However, the trip to Duluth will mean a return visit to Electric Fetus, digging downstairs for records.

Today, Al the mailman brought a postcard announcing next month’s record show here in town. We’ve had only a spring show in recent years, but this spring’s show was such a success that they added a fall show.

Finally, one of the advantages to driving the Dad Taxi is that one of our regular destinations is close to Amazing Records, our local used vinyl emporium. Found today while killing time at Amazing Records:

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“Rock of All Ages,” Badfinger, from “Magic Christian Music,” 1970.

This is the terrific B side to “Come and Get It,” which I had on a 7-inch single when I was 12. I’ve always loved its wild guitars and pounding piano. I’ve been looking for this LP for a long time, and I found a nice copy in the dollar bin. That was pretty exciting.

One more thing: I also have resurfaced over at The Vinyl District with another ’70s album post. This time: “School Days,” by Stanley Clarke.

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Filed under September 2009, Sounds

Saturday Single, still alive

In the sometimes bizarro landscape of the Internet, one of our regular stops has gone missing.

Our friend Whiteray’s fine blog, Echoes in the Wind, was — as we say in the newspaper biz — spiked the other day. It apparently had been on double secret probation with the Blogger folks.

Thankfully, it is only temporary insanity. Whiteray says he’ll be back next week with a new blog host. Echoes in the Wind returns Tuesday, thanks to our friends at WordPress.

One of the regular features we enjoyed at Whiteray’s blog was the Saturday Single.

Here, then, is a Saturday Single to tide you over until Echoes in the Wind returns to its regular programming. Whiteray graciously sent it our way when we needed it a while back. We’re delighted to return the favor.

It’s delightfully appropriate, too. We invoked it last summer when a certain gunslinging quarterback wouldn’t stay retired. I suspect Whiteray might want to invoke it regarding his former blog host.

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“I’m Doin’ Fine Now,” New York City, from “I’m Doin’ Fine Now,” 1973. A delightful slice of early ’70s R&B/soul/pop, produced by Thom Bell and released on 7-inch single as Chelsea 0113.

(The buy link is to a 1993 CD reissue with five extra songs. Buyer beware, though. The sound quality is said to be lacking.)

Oh, and one more thing: Happy birthday, Whiteray.

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Filed under September 2009, Sounds, Sounds like bull to me