Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Beck + Rod + Wood = Truth?!

I felt compelled to wash off the stink of the post-1975 music of Rod Stewart. It's not that I own any. I don't. But, I did refer to it. And, that felt sleazy enough to require some form of redemption. Enter Jeff Beck's 1st "solo" album, TRUTH (1968).

For all you Led Zeppelin haters, here's the album to blame. For all you Zep fans, get this album immediately, if you want to see the blueprint.

I have to start by reprinting here Jeff Beck's own liner notes from my vinyl LP. They have just the right combination of devil-may-care, aw-shucks, and yet complete confidence, make that cockiness. They're a trip in and of themselves:
Shapes of Things 3:17
Let Me Love You 4:41
Morning Dew 4:38
You Shook Me 2:28
Ol' Man River 3:57

Greensleeves 1:47
Rock My Plimsoul 4:11
Beck's Bolero 2:50
Blues De Luxe 7:32
I Ain't Superstitious 4:53

Produced by Mickie Most
Arranged by Jeff Beck
Engineer: Ken Scott

Guitar: Jeff Beck
Vocals: Rod Stewart
Bass: Ronnie Wood
Drums: Mick Waller

Jeff Beck - Bass on "Ol' Man River"
J.P. Jones - Hammond Organ on "Ol' Man River"
Timpani by "You Know Who"
Nicky Hopkins - Piano on "Morning Dew" and "Blues De Luxe"

The "Truth" About This Album Is:
SHAPES OF THINGS Rearranged, but the same Yardbirds hit. This must be played at maximum volume whatever phonograph you use. Makes very appropriate background music if you have Vicar over for tea.

LET ME LOVE YOU Heavy number, tambourine played divinely by Micky Waller. Written partly by me and partly by another geezer. Multipurpose tune.
MORNING DEW Everyone knows Tim does this wonderfully, but so do we.
YOU SHOOK ME Probably the rudest sounds ever recorded. Intended for listening to whilst angry or stoned. Last note of song is my guitar being sick--well so would you be if I smashed your guts for 2:28.
OL' MAN RIVER Arranged by me, but credit must go to all, everyone was super, especially Rod Stewart. Again played loudly gives maximum value.
GREENSLEEVES (Aye, that's a lovely "toon") played on Mickie Most's guitar which by the way is the same as Elvis'.
ROCK MY PLIMSOUL Re-recorded flipside of "Tally Man." Much better feel and more spontaneity than the original.
BECK'S BOLERO Not much to say about this, excuse same track on here as on the "Silver Lining" B side, but we couldn't improve on it.
BLUES DE LUXE Thanks to Bert and Stan, we were able to give you a perfect example of "live" blues music that we sometimes give forth, and please let's own up about the piano solo.
I AIN'T SUPERSTITIOUS Stolen riff from old "Howlin' Wolf" tune, but he doesn't mind because I asked him. This number is more or less an excuse for being flash on guitar.

Well, that's it honeys, here's our first LP -- called "Truth" -- Jeff Beck

There's not a lot to add. This is a great album that I hadn't listened to for at least 12 years until last night. Rod Stewart, man, you could've been a contender. Also, the "You Know Who" on timpani was Keith Moon of The Who. ("You Know Who"...get it? Got it. Good.)

Back to the Led Zeppelin thing: Though uncredited in the liner notes, it has been reported that Jimmy Page (Beck's bandmate from The Yardbirds) added some guitar on "Beck's Bolero". In any event, he was clearly close to Jeff Beck in 1968. John Paul Jones is credited on "Ol' Man River", but is also reported to have played bass on "Beck's Bolero". Robert Plant, at that point in time, would've been an amazing approximation of Rod Stewart. Add the sledgehammer drumming of John Bonham, and you've got all the ingredients of Led Zeppelin.

Now, which songs to record for your 1st album? Well, let's could do "You Shook Me", the Willie Dixon tune Jeff Beck covered on Truth. You could adapt an instrumental version of a traditional folk song, "Blackwater Side", and call it "Black Mountain Side" (see Jeff Beck's version of "Greensleeves" from Truth). There are other striking similarities in tone and feel. Of course, Zeppelin did add a few twists. Probably two are most significant. For one, they picked up the pace considerably on a couple of the heavier tracks (e.g., "Good Times, Bad Times", "Communication Breakdown"). The other is the increased "psychedelia", primarily on "Dazed and Confused".

In any event, Jeff Beck was prone to do his own thing. Although his follow-up, Beck-Ola, continued in much the same vein, it was clearly Page's Led Zeppelin that capitalized more on the heavier sound of the late '60s and early '70s. However, if you're interested in tracing it back, there's the Truth. (You knew I had to make some sort of clever comment.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Meet Me In St. Lou-ey, Screw Me... me at the fair...

At least, that's how we used to sing it in Music class. Aren't 6th graders clever? Now, I have a soon-to-be-7th grade daughter. The reminders of how "clever" I must've seemed to my parents are painfully embarassing. Ah, well...I'm aging with such grace!

I spent the weekend with the family in St. Louis, MO. Let me just say that I love that town. There are many, many things to do with the family, and it's relatively inexpensive, and incredibly easy to get around. At least, that's been my experience. Yours may vary, I suppose.

We stayed at the Hyatt in Union Station, which is a very convenient location. We went to the St. Louis Zoo (approximately 5 minutes from our hotel...well, that is, after waiting 30 minutes for the ridiculously understaffed Valet Parking crew to retrieve our vehicle). St. Louis has a great zoo. Parking was $9, and admission was free. Yes, I said FREE. It was hotter than (something very hot) and HUMID beyond imagination. Baby Emily (11 months old) LOVED the penguins.

The St. Louis Science Center is another of our favorite stops (also about 5 minutes from Union Station or the Zoo). Parking was $7, and admission was free. (There's that word again!) We did have to pay for the Omnimax movie "Walking on the Moon". But, it was well worth it.

Anyway, the original point of my post...

It just so happens that, unbeknownst to us, the 7th Annual RibAmerica(?) Festival was happening downtown (approximately 3 blocks from Union Station). Live music on Saturday evening included Candlebox and Puddle of Mudd. We strolled through, apparently *just* after Candlebox had finished (I tried to summon a feeling of regret for missing them...I was unable to summon any feeling at all). Admission was nominal. However, food tickets were pricey, and the number of tickets required for each food/beverage item was insane. We left almost immediately, with the wife and girls walking back to the hotel while I lingered in the adjacent park. I just had to hear Puddle of Mudd for myself. I mean, there was live music to be heard. I had to give it (them) a shot.

I'm straining for something clever to type. All I can muster in the limited time allowed is "Puddle of Muddiocrity". Sorry. It's not that they were completely unlistenable. Not completely. With the appropriate amount of beer intake, I might be giving a glowing review. Alas, I was stone sober.

I knew nothing about the band beforehand. However, I did end up recognizing several songs in their set...something about "I can't control you/You can't control me"...or something like that. I think that's also the one where he loves the way his girlfriend smacks his ass. Then, there was "You take it all away" (repeat seemingly without end). I'm not going to look up the actual song titles. The lead singer attempted some banter with the crowd. I particularly enjoyed his LAME attempt at rebelliousness (I think that was the point?) as he relayed, "I just wanna let you guys in on a little secret. You know you can stick a lighter in your pocket and get right through the airport security." Only the absolute drunkest members of the audience could muster a half-hearted cheer. Brutal.

The final encore song was, of course, their "masterpiece": "She f*ckin' hates la la la". I made the solitary walk back to the hotel in somber contemplation.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Date Rape For Dummies???

One of my more common "hallucinations" is to personify music...that is, to imagine a song or album as a person. Additionally, I am somewhat fascinated by the concept of having an "evil twin".

Accordingly, I propose to you that Neil Young's "Tonight's The Night" has an evil twin, and that evil twin is Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)", which I think should've been subtitled Date Rape For Dummies. Read for yourselves:

TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT (Gonna Be Alright)
(Rod Stewart)

"Stay away from my window
Stay away from my back door too
Disconnect the telephone line
Relax baby and draw that blind

Kick off your shoes and sit right down
Loosen off that pretty French gown
Let me pour you a good long drink
Ooh baby don't you hesitate cause

Tonights the night
It's gonna be alright
Cause I love you girl
Ain't nobody gonna stop us now

C'mon angel my hearts on fire
Don't deny your man's desire
You'd be a fool to stop this tide
Spread your wings and let me come inside

Tonights the night
It's gonna be alright
Cause I love you girl
Ain't nobody gonna stop us now

Don't say a word my virgin child
Just let your inhibitions run wild
The secret is about to unfold
Upstairs before the night's too old

Tonights the night
It's gonna be alright
Cause I love you woman

Ain't nobody gonna stop us now"

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Is this real? This sounds made-up to me.

"HIV's Ancestry Traced To Wild Chimps"

This seems odd. Is this a hoax?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Collins

Apologies to Bob Dylan, for inappropriately bastardizing one of his song titles (and, on his 65th birthday nonetheless). I know it's dangerous to comment on albums that I've yet to hear. However, I'm curious about larger issues than just this album itself. At least, I think I am. Please read the following quick "review":

Public Enemy, featuring Paris, Rebirth of a Nation
(Guerrilla Funk/Groove Attack)

Hattie Collins
Friday August 5, 2005
The Guardian

Nearly two decades ago, Public Enemy revolutionised rap. Steering the apathetic masses toward a more socially aware sensibility, Chuck D and co turned a nation of millions into fist-pumping radicals ready to fight the power. Today though, the only hype hip-hop fans are concerned with is 50 Cent and Game's on-going beef and whether Eminem really is retiring.

In light of this, Public Enemy's politically fuelled poetics feel depressingly outmoded. The ridiculous raps of Flavor Flav, better known nowadays for rambling appearances on reality TV shows, are no longer irreverent observations, merely ubiquitous non sequiturs. The siren-heavy sonics, meanwhile, sound stale compared with contemporary hip-hop beats. Granted Chuck D is still a convincing commentator, but his resolute rants that governments are corrupt and the police are racist are of little interest to the kids.

I bought this CD in Chicago over the weekend, and I’ll listen to it soon. Luckily for me, I suppose, I haven’t kept up with hip-hop. Thus, I can’t/won’t be comparing to “contemporary hip-hop beats”. Further, the only song of any meaning that I ever remember Flavor Flav providing lead vocals on was “911 Is A Joke”. The others were all “merely ubiquitous non sequiturs”, as I recall. Of course, I’ve missed the last four Public Enemy albums. Perhaps Flavor Flav had somehow become more than the caricature he always was before. Finally, it is very easy for me to believe claims of government corruption and institutional racism. So, Chuck D’s lyrics will likely resonate with me.

I guess it’s that last sentence Ms. Collins wrote that gets me the most. Maybe someone out there reading this can help me understand. Are “the kids” disinterested in social and political commentary? Or, has Public Enemy allowed themselves to become outdated musically to the point that it is preventing younger listeners from being interested at all, regardless of the message? I’m very curious. Again, I have yet to listen to the album, which I bought over the weekend. If it just sucks, well that’s too bad. However, if it’s being dismissed because “the kids” would rather hear about “50 Cent and Game’s on-going beef”, then that’s REALLY too bad.

Back In The (USA, Saddle, USSR)

Choose your own title. It really doesn't matter. In fact, life is fairly meaningless at this point. On a brighter note, Eleventh Dream Day is still an amazing band. I had the pleasure of seeing them perform a killer set at the Empty Bottle in Chicago last Thursday night. They followed this with an approximately 40-minute in-store appearance at Tower Records on Saturday afternoon. They were incredible again at Tower, and WAY too loud for the setting...which was perfect. Their latest album is Zeroes and Ones, and it is excellent.

Rick Rizzo, the lead singer and lead guitarist, is the embodiment of rock and roll. He's an intensely honest and excellent performer, without a pretentious bone in his body. Unbelievable.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I searched for "Gone Fishin", hoping to find a semi-humorous cartoon. Instead, after wading through all the crap on the horrible 1997 movie of that title, I found this interesting piece of SRV's history. Apparently, it's a recording of a show from New York in 1986, with some bonus tracks from Austin in 1983. It's an interesting looking 2-CD set.

OK, that was a neat little sidebar. Here's the deal:

I'M OFF TO THE WINDY CITY!!! Eleventh Dream Day, live at the Empty Bottle tonight...the new album ROCKS...this should be SWEEEEEEEET!!!

I'll get back to the album reviews soon. It's been a nice break this last couple weeks, after the nearly one-a-day pace since January. This little road trip should be the reinvigoration needed..."Just what the doctor ordered," as 'they' say.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Nothing To Say...I Just Like The Picture

Pete Rose, in his glory days...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Public Service Announcement: Condom Use

Haahnster's Hallucinations would like to remind our readers to do their part to prevent the spread of STDs. While abstinence is clearly the best policy, condoms should be used in case of actual sex. We quote Ice Cube, as he addressed (in song) an unfortunate woman at a health clinic, admonishing her as to the foolishness of unprotected sex, and the undesirable result it had on said woman's health:

"You shoulda put a sock
On the pickle
Then your p*ssy wouldn't be
Blowin' smoke signals"

That is all.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bonds and the Babe

Barry Bonds will move past Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list, barring a miracle, er--I mean, disaster. Some have expressed surprise that Major League Baseball is not planning any special ceremony for the event. I'm not sure why anyone's surprised, as I don't believe there's a long history of celebrating 2nd place. Not to mention, I'm fairly certain Bud Selig and company don't want to deal with the steroids/potential asterisk issue any sooner than necessary. Hell, if I were Selig, I'd probably be praying for a high ankle sprain for Barry (oops, I'm hoping for that anyway). Maybe people are confused with 1998, when MLB officially recognized the passing of Babe's single-season mark of 60 home runs...oh, wait. That's right, they waited until McGwire passed Maris for the actual record. As an added precedent, when Sammy Sosa hit his 62nd a few days later, there was no ceremony (now, had Sosa passed McGwire in the same season, things might've become awkward, especially given Selig's propensity for fucking things up).

Have I mentioned how disgusted I am with the whole steroids in baseball issue? I'll admit that I was caught up in the home run fever of 1998. I was a die hard Cub fan transferred to St. Louis. McGwire and Sosa were locked in a home run race. The Cubs were on their way to the playoffs, and the Cardinals were losing in spite of 'Big Mac' hitting home runs like he was playing wiffle ball. It was an amazing summer.

Certainly, I noticed the difference between McGwire and Sosa as rookies (both incredibly thin) and as veterans (hugely muscular). Perhaps I was naive. Clearly I was guilty of the sin of ignorance...I assumed that baseball was testing for steroids. Obviously, the joke was on me. Which brings me to Bonds.

Now, I'll freely admit that I've never been a big fan of Barry Bonds. From all I can read, see, or hear, he's a petulant and spoiled crybaby of a superstar athlete, born to a major league star father, and raised with every advantage and opportunity to be the best. The crazy thing is, he probably WAS the best player in baseball (Top 5 at the very least) BEFORE he bulked up. In 1996 Barry Bonds hit 42 home runs and stole 40 bases...awesome. But, it appears Bonds was jealous of all the attention on Mac and Sammy in '98 (a year in which Bonds batted .303 with 37 homers and 122 RBI, 120 runs scored, drew 130 walks, and slugged .609). So, Barry decided being an all-around ballplayer wasn't getting him the attention he craved, not in competition with other players using performance-enhancing drugs. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I suppose.

I can't say I don't understand his motives. I can't say what I would've done in the same situation (WAY too far from my reality--haven't played organized baseball since I was 13). But, I can say it sucks. The guy was a first-ballot hall-of-famer ALREADY. He was an asshole, but that's not unique. Now, he's going to be at least the #2 all-time home run hitter, and I can't bring myself to cheer for him. Worse yet, he's given me a legitimate reason not to even acknowledge this accomplishment.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Living With War

The lyrics to the title track to Neil Young's latest album are printed below, with my interpretations and musings (some will certainly say my "hallucinations"). In some cases, I will openly speculate. In other cases, I will speak authoritatively, but in tone only. In other words, I certainly don't claim to speak for Neil or anyone else but myself. End of disclaimer.

2) Living With War
I'm living with war everyday
I'm living with war in my heart everyday
I'm living with war right now

Pretty self-explanatory title and opening lines, I'd say. But, I think that Neil could be pointing out that we all are living with war everyday. Obviously, those (soldiers and civilians) in Iraq are "living with war" in a much more immediate fashion than Neil Young, or you, or I. However, unless you purposely ignore all matters of a geopolitical nature (and how could you, really?), you are living with war at all times.

And when the dawn breaks I see my fellow man
And on the flat-screen we kill and we're killed again

These two lines capture a lot, in my eyes. "And when the dawn breaks" indicates the start of a new day, and fresh hope. "I see my fellow man" brings to mind the obvious fact that real human beings are involved, on all sides. "And on the flat screen" is a shot at materialism, but also an indication of how easy it is to forget that this is really happening. To those of us watching comfortably in our living rooms, we must remember this is life, not just a movie. "We kill and we're killed again"...oops, so much for the fresh hope of a new day. It's the same shit over again: loss of life by all sides.

And when the night falls, I pray for peace
Try to remember peace (visualize)
I join the multitudes
I raise my hand in peace

"And when the night falls" both literally, and figuratively (darkness, violence, the opposite of brightness and hope), "I pray for peace", which is a return to hopefulness and optimism. "I join the multitudes" is another key point; the MAJORITY of those living in the U.S. are now against the war. But, really, even those "in favor" of the war should still hope for peace. Only a truly psychotic individual would prefer war to peace, all other things being equal.

I never bow to the laws of the thought police
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
To never kill again

Interesting lines, and I'm certainly just speculating here. "Thought police" must refer to those in charge trying to intimidate the public into supporting the war (with charges of being "unpatriotic", etc.), and is also a very thinly veiled reference to the domestic wiretapping program.

I'm living with war in my heart
I'm living with war in my heart and my mind
I'm living with war right now are we all!

Don't take no tidal wave
Don't take no mass grave
Don't take no smokin' gun
To show how the west was won

The "tidal wave" has to be Hurricane Katrina, no? Thus, the "mass grave" could easily be on the Gulf Coast of the U.S., or in Iraq, or elsewhere. I love the "smokin' gun" reference, which is a self-referential nod to Neil's song "Mideast Vacation" from Life (1987), but also a reference to the "missing" WMD. "To show how the west was won" is a great line, as it points to "Cowboy" Bush (Mr. "I'm from West Texas" himself), as well as the United States' rather shameful history of westward expansion (genocide?). Many view the current Iraq situation as just one more chapter in what they would call U.S. "colonialism".

But when the curtain falls, I pray for peace
Try to remember peace (visualize)
In the crowded streets
In the big hotels
In the mosques and the doors of the old museum
I take a holy vow
To never kill again

More hopefulness, thoughtfulness, and prayer for peace..."In the mosques" seems like an obvious effort to remind us that there are Muslims right here in the USA. Or, maybe Neil is meaning this to be able to be sung from the point of view of someone in Iraq as well as the U.S. Again, the hope for peace can only be more immediate to those in Iraq than it is to those of us in the U.S.

Try to remember peace
The rocket's red glare
Bombs bursting in air
Give proof through the night,
That Our flag is still there
I'm living with war everyday
I'm living with war in my heart everyday
I'm living with war right now.

Ah, the master stroke of genius...the inclusion of lyrics from "The Star Spangled Banner." The United States is in complete control of how long its troops remain in Iraq. Now, you might argue that Iraq's civil war will only be more bloody if the U.S. pulls out its troops. That's one argument for extending the war. However, there's no debating that we (the U.S.) are the only ones keeping ourselves in Iraq, rightly or wrongly. Sadly, it seems to be more and more apparent that it's been that way from before we even went in to start.

Is "W" Burning?

Scene from Mississippi Burning (recreated from memory, and I haven't seen it in many weeks--apologies for slight word variations)...

Local redneck (the Sheriff?): Some people say there's things worth dying for. Round here we say, "Some things are worth killing for."

FBI Agent (played by Gene Hackman): Rest of the country doesn't see it that way.

Local redneck Sheriff: Rest of the country don't mean jackshit, boy. You in Mis'sippi now.


Let's create an analogy to recent U.S. foreign policy out of that scene!

Local redneck Sheriff = "W" Bush
FBI Agent = the United Nations
"Rest of the country (that doesn't mean jackshit)" = the opinion of the nations in the rest of the world


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Mighty Fine Piece Of Political Satire

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

No Respect For Boston

It's interesting, the extent to which your world view is shaped by the year you were born, especially coupled with where you grew up. The debut album from BOSTON (1976) was considered by many to be just about the coolest thing in the world in its day. I think it's sold something along the lines of 17 million copies. To a certain degree, Tom Scholz developed a unique guitar sound, primarily the result of technical gimmicks. He basically succeeded in capturing the essence of '70s mainstream rock, but with just a slightly updated twist.

In any event, I can't remember the last time I pulled this album out to actually listen to it. However, I would imagine I wouldn't have to go too long without hearing something from it, if I were willing to tune my radio to a "classic rock" station. Look at the song titles:

Side One
More Than a Feeling (Tom Scholz) - 4:46
Peace of Mind (Scholz) - 5:02
Foreplay/Long Time (Scholz) - 7:47
Side Two
Rock and Roll Band (Scholz) - 2:59
Smokin' (Bradley Delp, Scholz) - 4:20
Hitch a Ride (Scholz) - 4:13
Something About You (Scholz) - 3:48
Let Me Take You Home Tonight (Delp) - 4:43

The entire first side was a staple of FM radio from release until at least the mid-'80s. "Rock and Roll Band", "Smokin'" and "Let Me Take You Home Tonight" all received heavy airplay as well.

It is just absolutely WILD to me that this album did not a find a home anywhere in the "Top 500 Albums" of all time. Wild. But, I was born in 1970. This album, released late-summer '76, was really HUGE in 1977, which is about the first year that I really became aware of music: what was on the radio, what my friends' older brothers liked, etc. This was the time of "We Will Rock You"/"We Are The Champions" by Queen, "Come Sail Away" by Styx, the live version of "Ridin' The Storm Out" by REO Speedwagon, "Night Moves" by Bob Seger, "Closer To The Heart" and "Xanadu" by Rush...I could go on, but you get the gist.

Now, I look back on the list above, and other tunes running through my head right now, and I'll freely admit most of it hasn't aged well. I was certainly just a kid at the time. Like I said, it's interesting, the extent to which your world view is shaped by the year you were born. At least, that's been the experience of this Peoria boy.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mission: Media Manipulation???

I have not seen Mission Impossible III yet. So, I'm not going to talk about the movie itself. But, I am intrigued by headlines such as this. My wife saw this last night and began reading it to me. My immediate reaction from across the room, "But didn't MI-2 open over a holiday weekend?" The answer is yes, Memorial Day 2000. And that is in the's just buried in the middle.

So, apparently, there has been a decision that backlash against Tom Cruise's recent, odd behavior will be the story...even if the backlash takes a little spin to be created.

Maybe this will be the first installment of the Mission Impossible series that I actually go see in the theater.

NOTE: I have big-time wrap-up work to do on a major project for my job...blogging certain to be light this week. All Apologies.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Camelot In Smithereens

Apparently, the Kennedy* gene pool isn't what it used to be. The idiot genes are now completely dominant. Read here about Teddy's kid's latest misadventure. No alcohol involved, though...


Is it just me, or does this picture of the Congressman from Rhode Island look more than a bit like Jeff Daniels, of Dumb & Dumber fame? "Gimme that beer, you little pumpkin-pie-haircutted freak...You'd keep your mouth shut, if you knew what was good for ya."

Maybe he just needs more time to grow into his late uncle's more Ask not what your country can do for you-type of guy.

*PS - I certainly mean no offense to any readers who happen to have the last name "Kennedy" didn't even occur to me at first.

"For Now's The Time For Your Tears"

With the recent revival (of sorts) of protest music, I decided to go back to what I consider the grand-daddy of all protest records, Bob Dylan's THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' (1964). This was Dylan's 3rd album, and it was recorded from August through October of 1963, released in January of 1964.

This is classic, solo-acoustic (with harmonica) Dylan, telling stories to illustrate social and political ills, while simultaneously issuing rallying cries that would define an entire generation.

The tracks are as follows (all written by Bob Dylan):

The Times They Are a-Changin –3:15
Ballad of Hollis Brown –5:06
With God on Our Side –7:08
One Too Many Mornings –2:41
North Country Blues –4:35
Only a Pawn in Their Game –3:33
Boots of Spanish Leather –4:40
When the Ship Comes In –3:18
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll –5:48
Restless Farewell –5:32

The title track is one of the "rallying calls" to which I referred above. It is certainly among Dylan's most famous song titles, as it captured the spirit of upheaval that was well underway with the civil rights movement of the early '60s, and which would later grow with protests of the war in Viet Nam. It is probably the most positive song on the album ("For the loser now/Will be later to win/For the times they are a-changin'"). Little did Dylan know when he wrote and subsequently recorded it that one of the biggest "changes" of all-time was about to occur, the assassination of JFK. The song's message of inevitable change served it well in the face of such tragedy, specifically its appearance of speaking for youth ("Come mothers and fathers/Throughout the land/And don't criticize/What you can't understand/Your sons and your daughters/Are beyond your command/Your old road is/Rapidly agin'/Please get out of the new one/If you can't lend your hand/For the times they are a-changin'"). Dylan later denied that the song was written specifically to address any "generation gap", but the die was already cast.

"Ballad of Hollis Brown" has a rather funky, bluesy guitar part, and tells a horrific tale. Hollis lives on a failing farm in South Dakota, and cannot find work to generate needed income. His family is starving. The images are overwhelmingly powerful (e.g., "Your babies are crying louder/It's pounding on your brain/Your wife's screams are stabbin' you/Like the dirty drivin' rain"). Let's just say that Hollis owns a shotgun, and uses his very last dollar to buy shells for said shotgun. The story does not have a happy ending.

"With God on Our Side" is a powerful anti-war song. Unlike "Masters of War", in which Dylan expressed utter contempt for the makers of war through a bitter diatribe, this song is slower in pace, and uses irony to illustrate the senselessness of war ("For you don't count the dead/When God's on your side"). Dylan walks through a list of wars from U.S. history, highlighting hypocrisy at every turn (e.g., "When the Second World War/Came to an end/We forgave the Germans/And we were friends/Though they murdered six million/In the ovens they fried/The Germans now too/Have God on their side").

"One Too Many Mornings" is a quiet little tune. It basically serves as a goodbye note to a lover ("You're right from your side/I'm right from mine/We're both just one too many mornings/An' a thousand miles behind").

"North Country Blues" is a harrowing song describing the collapse of a mining town. If this song doesn't depress the shit out of you, then you're just not listening. There's a reason that the recent movie describing horrid events at a mining company was called "North Country". Actually, there might've been several reasons, but one certainly must've been to leverage the feelings of anguish and anger already associated with this song. The movie specifically addresses sexual harrassment, whereas this song deals with devastation in the wake of closing a mine, which is relocated to South America, where labor is cheaper. The song, however, is told from the point of view of a woman, the wife of a former mine worker ("I lived by the window/As he talked to himself/This silence of tongues it was building/Then one morning's wake/The bed it was bare/And I's left alone with three children"). Bleak.

"Only a Pawn in Their Game" starts with the assassination of Medgar Evers, and proceeds to address the crooked system in place in the South, which served to oppress all of its poor people, pitting white against black ("He's taught in his school/From the start by the rule/That the laws are with him/To protect his white skin/To keep up his hate/So he never thinks straight/'Bout the shape that he's in/But it ain't him to blame/He's only a pawn in their game"). Dylan played the song at voter registration rallies and other civil rights events, where it was very well received.

"Boots of Spanish Leather" is the story of a woman who sails away on an overseas trip, asking her lover if there's anything she can bring him back from the trip. Later, he receives a letter in which she states "...I don't know when I'll be comin' back again/It depends on how I'm a-feelin'." At this point, he asks her to bring him "Spanish boots of Spanish leather", a desperate attempt to win her return, I suppose.

"When the Ship Comes In" is fairly quick-paced, and provides a needed respite from the gloominess. The imagery is vibrant (e.g., "Oh the foes will rise..." but, "Then they'll raise their hands/Sayin' we'll meet all your demands/But we'll shout from the bow your days are numbered/And like Pharaoh's tribe/They'll be drowned in the tide/And like Goliath, they'll be conquered").

"The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" should come with a spoken word intro along the lines of Now, let me bring the house down a bit. Talk about a depressing song! According to some, it's an exaggeration of a true story. In any event, it serves as an incredibly effective allegory, highlighting racial injustice. You really should hear it. It's astonishingly moving, in my humble opinion. The last line of this song serves as the title of this post (see above).

"Restless Farewell" is an apology of sorts. As the finale of this 10-song set, it could easily be read as a suicide note. However, more likely, it's just a final "fuck off" to anyone and everyone ("So I'll make my stand/And remain as I am/And bid farewell and not give a damn").

Bottom line: Out of sheer, morbid curiosity, I checked the RS "Top 500 Albums" list. This album is #___. Oh, wait, it's not on there at all...fucking disgrace. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend listening to it if you are feeling the least bit like offing yourself. It's a depressing mother of an album. However, it's also one of the most socially and politically aware albums to ever be released. So, while I really like the new Neil and PJ albums, and appreciate their sentiments (I mean, at least someone is saying something), let us not forget that they don't make 'em like they used to.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Odds & Ends...Tidying Up

Sorry for the distractions, but the Colbert situation was/is fascinating to me. Also, I've had a couple discs on continuous play(!) But, I am now ready to take a brief respite from the new Neil Young and new Pearl Jam albums. So, I'll be posting a review of something else (currently listening to a Dylan classic, by the way) by tomorrow at the latest.

Also, I saw the request for a post about something by Ween. I double-checked my collection, and the closest thing (alphabetically) was Weezer...sorry.

A quick follow-up on the Public Enemy/Nation of Millions as the Sgt. Pepper's of rap concept:

I originally took Amillionmonkeys-Rob's comments at face value, deferring to his admittedly deeper knowledge of rap music, particularly post-mid-'90s. However, a thought has occurred to me (I know, I know, it doesn't happen often!) subsequently, regarding the relative influence of Chuck D's vocals and the Bomb Squad's production. That thought is, "How much rock music really sounds like Sgt. Pepper's since it was released?" And, I think the answer is "Not much". To the extent that Sgt. Pepper's had some grand influence, wasn't it more in the concept of designing an album as something more cohesive than a mere collection of songs? And, spending more time in the studio on production gimmicks? And, multi-track layering of sound? And, the introduction of sound effects as something other than a novelty? Etc.

In other words, it wasn't that too many talented artisits copied the Beatles' sound. It was that they started to pay more attention to the things to which the Beatles were paying attention. That's where I think the similarity exists. Prior to Public Enemy creating a cohesive album of socio-political message songs, rappers mainly concerned themselves with themselves, especially their "skillz" as rappers. Prior to Nation of Millions, most rap sampling was very limited and simplistic, never this multi-layered. So, while certainly true that not much else sounds like Nation of Millions, subsequent albums by other artists might have been influenced by many of its aspects, tangible and intangible. Or, maybe the Dust Brothers were already concocting the multi-layered samples that would become the tracks for the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique, and De La Soul/Prince Paul were already on track to produce 3 Feet High and Rising, which was both sample-intensive and a "concept" album. I don't know, just a thought.

Good Move, Now Sue The Bitch

"A Harvard University sophomore's debut novel has been permanently withdrawn by the book's publisher and her two-book deal canceled after allegations of literary borrowing piled up against her."

HOWEVER, "Little, Brown...declined to comment on whether Viswanathan would have to return her reported six-figure advance."

SUE! SUE! SUE! Sue that no-talent bitch for the return of the cash.

But, I'm sure I just don't understand the pressures on a teenage Harvard student with a book deal (boo hoo)...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Titanic vs. Hindenburg

Admittedly, in terms of death counts, the Hindenburg (36 deaths) really can't stack up against the Titanic (1,523 deaths). However, pictures like this one do not exist of the Titanic. All it has is that crappy, love-story movie with "Leo" (remember when teenage girls knew who he was) that happens to be #1 all-time at the box office, but that's another story...

Props to Stephen Colbert for once again doing what the mainstream media refuses to do, acknowledge his presence at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Last night on the Colbert Report, Stephen replayed the "rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg" clip (enhanced by cricket sound effects when the dinner-audience was on camera), and noted the correspondents had displayed a "very respectful silence". Hilarious...again.

It's just too bad that it highlights the gutlessness of today's U.S. mainstream media. Oh, the humanity...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stephen Colbert Is A Maniacal, Comedic Genius

Word is that "W" was not pleased. This was way beyond the usual look-how-big-we-are-to-roast-ourselves. This was truly biting. Read for yourselves:

STEPHEN COLBERT: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Before I begin, I've been asked to make an announcement. Whoever parked 14 black bulletproof S.U.V.'s out front, could you please move them? They are blocking in 14 other black bulletproof S.U.V.'s and they need to get out.

Wow. Wow, what an honor. The White House correspondents' dinner. To actually sit here, at the same table with my hero, George W. Bush, to be this close to the man. I feel like I'm dreaming. Somebody pinch me. You know what? I'm a pretty sound sleeper -- that may not be enough. Somebody shoot me in the face. Is he really not here tonight? Dammit. The one guy who could have helped.

By the way, before I get started, if anybody needs anything else at their tables, just speak slowly and clearly into your table numbers. Somebody from the NSA will be right over with a cocktail. Mark Smith, ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, Madame First Lady, Mr. President, my name is Stephen Colbert and tonight it's my privilege to celebrate this president. We're not so different, he and I. We get it. We're not brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say I did look it up, and that's not true. That's cause you looked it up in a book.

Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works. Every night on my show, the Colbert Report, I speak straight from the gut, OK? I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the "No Fact Zone." Fox News, I hold a copyright on that term.

I'm a simple man with a simple mind. I hold a simple set of beliefs that I live by. Number one, I believe in America. I believe it exists. My gut tells me I live there. I feel that it extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and I strongly believe it has 50 states. And I cannot wait to see how the Washington Post spins that one tomorrow. I believe in democracy. I believe democracy is our greatest export. At least until China figures out a way to stamp it out of plastic for three cents a unit.

In fact, Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, welcome. Your great country makes our Happy Meals possible. I said it's a celebration. I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.

I believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I believe it is possible -- I saw this guy do it once in Cirque du Soleil. It was magical. And though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe it's yogurt. But I refuse to believe it's not butter. Most of all, I believe in this president.

Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.

So, Mr. President, please, pay no attention to the people that say the glass is half full. 32% means the glass -- it's important to set up your jokes properly, sir. Sir, pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means it's 2/3 empty. There's still some liquid in that glass is my point, but I wouldn't drink it. The last third is usually backwash. Okay, look, folks, my point is that I don't believe this is a low point in this presidency. I believe it is just a lull before a comeback.

I mean, it's like the movie "Rocky." All right. The president in this case is Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed is -- everything else in the world. It's the tenth round. He's bloodied. His corner man, Mick, who in this case I guess would be the vice president, he's yelling, "Cut me, Dick, cut me!," and every time he falls everyone says, "Stay down! Stay down!" Does he stay down? No. Like Rocky, he gets back up, and in the end he -- actually, he loses in the first movie.

OK. Doesn't matter. The point is it is the heart-warming story of a man who was repeatedly punched in the face. So don't pay attention to the approval ratings that say 68% of Americans disapprove of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the job he's not doing? Think about it. I haven't.

I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound -- with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.

Now, there may be an energy crisis. This president has a very forward-thinking energy policy. Why do you think he's down on the ranch cutting that brush all the time? He's trying to create an alternative energy source. By 2008 we will have a mesquite-powered car!

And I just like the guy. He's a good joe. Obviously loves his wife, calls her his better half. And polls show America agrees. She's a true lady and a wonderful woman. But I just have one beef, ma'am.

I'm sorry, but this reading initiative. I'm sorry, I've never been a fan of books. I don't trust them. They're all fact, no heart. I mean, they're elitist, telling us what is or isn't true, or what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914? If I want to say it was built in 1941, that's my right as an American! I'm with the president, let history decide what did or did not happen.

The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man's beliefs never will. As excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story: the president's side, and the vice president's side.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super-depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good -- over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!

Because really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write, "Oh, they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!

Now, it's not all bad guys out there. Some are heroes: Christopher Buckley, Jeff Sacks, Ken Burns, Bob Schieffer. They've all been on my show. By the way, Mr. President, thank you for agreeing to be on my show. I was just as shocked as everyone here is, I promise you. How's Tuesday for you? I've got Frank Rich, but we can bump him. And I mean bump him. I know a guy. Say the word.

See who we've got here tonight. General Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff. General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They still support Rumsfeld. Right, you guys aren't retired yet, right? Right, they still support Rumsfeld.

Look, by the way, I've got a theory about how to handle these retired generals causing all this trouble: don't let them retire! Come on, we've got a stop-loss program; let's use it on these guys. I've seen Zinni and that crowd on Wolf Blitzer. If you're strong enough to go on one of those pundit shows, you can stand on a bank of computers and order men into battle. Come on.

Jesse Jackson is here, the Reverend. Haven't heard from the Reverend in a little while. I had him on the show. Very interesting and challenging interview. You can ask him anything, but he's going to say what he wants, at the pace that he wants. It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.

Justice Scalia is here. Welcome, sir. May I be the first to say, you look fantastic. How are you? [After each sentence, Colbert makes a hand gesture, an allusion to Scalia's recent use of an obscene Sicilian hand gesture in speaking to a reporter about Scalia's critics. Scalia is seen laughing hysterically.] Just talking some Sicilian with my paisan.

John McCain is here. John McCain, John McCain, what a maverick! Somebody find out what fork he used on his salad, because I guarantee you it wasn't a salad fork. This guy could have used a spoon! There's no predicting him. By the way, Senator McCain, it's so wonderful to see you coming back into the Republican fold. I have a summer house in South Carolina; look me up when you go to speak at Bob Jones University. So glad you've seen the light, sir.

Mayor Nagin! Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city! Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I'd like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., the chocolate city with a marshmallow center. And a graham cracker crust of corruption. It's a Mallomar, I guess is what I'm describing, a seasonal cookie.

Joe Wilson is here, Joe Wilson right down here in front, the most famous husband since Desi Arnaz. And of course he brought along his lovely wife Valerie Plame. Oh, my god! Oh, what have I said? [looks horrified] I am sorry, Mr. President, I meant to say he brought along his lovely wife Joe Wilson's wife. Patrick Fitzgerald is not here tonight? OK. Dodged a bullet.

And, of course, we can't forget the man of the hour, new press secretary, Tony Snow. Secret Service name, "Snow Job." Toughest job. What a hero! Took the second toughest job in government, next to, of course, the ambassador to Iraq.

Got some big shoes to fill, Tony. Big shoes to fill. Scott McClellan could say nothing like nobody else. McClellan, of course, eager to retire. Really felt like he needed to spend more time with Andrew Card's children. Mr. President, I wish you hadn't made the decision so quickly, sir.

I was vying for the job myself. I think I would have made a fabulous press secretary. I have nothing but contempt for these people. I know how to handle these clowns. In fact, sir, I brought along an audition tape and with your indulgence, I'd like to at least give it a shot. So, ladies and gentlemen, my press conference.


Colbert shows a video of a mock press conference. It opens with him at a podium, addressing the assembled Washington press corps.

COLBERT: I have a brief statement: the press is destroying America. OK, let's see who we've got here today.

COLBERT (acknowledging various reporters): Stretch! (David Gregory nods)

Sir Nerdlington! (reporter nods)

Sloppy Joe! (reporter nods)

Terry Lemon Moran Pie! (Terry Moran nods)

Oh, Doubting Thomas, always a pleasure. (Helen Thomas smiles)

And Suzanne Mal -- hello!!

(Suzanne Malveaux stares at Colbert, looking unhappy. Colbert mimics putting a phone to his ear and mouths "call me.")

REPORTER: Will the Vice President be available soon to answer all questions himself?

COLBERT: I've already addressed that question. You (pointing to another reporter).

REPORTER: Walter Cronkite, the noted CBS anchor, . . .

COLBERT (interrupting): Ah, no, he's the former CBS anchor. Katie Couric is the new anchor of the CBS Evening News. Well, well, how do you guys feel about that?

You, tousle-haired guy in the back. Are you happy about Katie Couric taking over the CBS Evening News?

DAN RATHER: No, sir, Mr. Colbert. Are you?

COLBERT: Boom! Oh, look, we woke David Gregory up. Question?

DAVID GREGORY: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

COLBERT: I don't know. I'll ask him.

(Colbert turns to Rove) Karl, pay attention please! (Rove is seen drawing a heart with "Karl + Stephen" written on it.)

GREGORY: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003 when you were asked specifically about Karl, and Elliott Abrams, and Scooter Libby, and you said "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me that they are not involved in this." Do you stand by that statement?

COLBERT: Nah, I was just kidding!

GREGORY: No, you're not finishing. You're not saying anything! You stood at that podium and said . . .

COLBERT (interrupting): Ah, that's where you're wrong. New podium! Just had it delivered today. Get your facts straight, David.

GREGORY: This is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell the people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk. You've got to . . .

(Colbert is seen looking at three buttons on the podium, labeled "EJECT," "GANNON" and "VOLUME." He selects the "VOLUME" button and turns it. We see Gregory's lips continue moving, but can't hear any sound coming out.)

COLBERT: If I can't hear you, I can't answer your question. I'm sorry! I have to move on. Terry.

TERRY MORAN: After the investigation began, after the criminal investigation was underway, you said . . .

(Colbert presses a button on the podium and fast-forwards through most of Moran's question.)

MORAN (continuing): All of a sudden, you have respect for the sanctity of a criminal investigation?

COLBERT (seen playing with rubber ball, which he is bouncing off attached paddle): No, I never had any respect for the sanctity of a criminal investigation. Activist judges! Yes, Helen.

HELEN THOMAS: You're going to be sorry. (Laughter)

COLBERT (looking vastly amused, mockingly): What are you going to do, Helen, ask me for a recipe?

THOMAS: Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands (Colbert's smile fades) of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime.

COLBERT (interrupting): OK, hold on Helen, look . . .

THOMAS (continuing): Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is why did you really want to go to war?

COLBERT (again interrupting): Helen, I'm going to stop you right there. (Thomas keeps talking.) That's enough! No! Sorry, Helen, I'm moving on. (Colbert tries to turn her volume off, but the knob falls off his controls.)

(Various reporters start shouting questions at Colbert.)

COLBERT (agitated): Guys, guys, please don't let Helen do this to what was a lovely day.

(Reporters keep shouting at him.)

COLBERT (putting his fingers over his ears and shouting in a high-pitched voice): Bllrrtt! No, no, no, no, no. I'm not listening to you!

Look what you did, Helen! I hate you!

(Helen Thomas glowers at Colbert.)

COLBERT (frantic): I'm out of here!

(Colbert pulls back the curtain behind him, desperately trying to flee. He says, "There is a wall here!" The press corps laughs. Colbert has difficulty finding a door from which to exit the room, echoing Bush's experience in China. He finally finds the door and hurries through it.)

COLBERT: It reeks in there! Ridiculous! I've never been so insulted in my life! Stupid job.

(Colbert continues walking away. We hear sinister-sounding music playing. We see Helen Thomas walking behind Colbert.)

(Colbert looks behind him, sees Thomas, and starts running.)

(Colbert trips over a roller skate, and yells "Condi!" We see a close-up of Helen Thomas' face, looking determined and angry. Colbert, increasingly panicked, gets up and continues running, running into a parking garage. He reaches an emergency call box, and yells into it.)

COLBERT: Oh, thank God. Help me!

ATTENDANT: What seems to be the problem, sir?

COLBERT: She won't stop asking why we invaded Iraq! ATTENDANT: Hey, why did we invade Iraq?

COLBERT: NO!!! (runs toward his car)

(We see Helen Thomas, still walking toward him.)

(Colbert reaches his car, and fumblingly attempts to open it with his key. He is in such a desperate hurry that he fumbles with the keys and drops them. When he picks them up, he looks back and Helen is even closer. In his frantic rush, Colbert just can't get the keys into the lock.)

(Just as his anxiety is getting completely out of control he suddenly remembers that he has a keyless remote -- so he just pushes the button on the keychain and the car unlocks immediately with the usual double squeak noise. Colbert jumps in and locks the door, and continues to fumble trying to get the car started. He finally succeeds, and looks up to see Helen standing in front of the car, notepad in hand.)


(Colbert puts the car into reverse and drives off, tires squealing. Thomas smiles.)

(Colbert is shown taking the shuttle from Washington, D.C. to New York. A car and driver are waiting for him at Penn Station. The uniformed man standing alongside the car opens the door and lets Colbert in.)

COLBERT: What a terrible trip, Danny. Take me home.

(The driver locks the doors, turns around, and says, "Buckle up, hon." IT'S HELEN THOMAS!!!)

COLBERT (horrified face pressed against car window): NO!!!


STEPHEN COLBERT: Helen Thomas, ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Smith, members of the White House Correspondents Association, Madame First Lady, Mr. President, it's been a true honor. Thank you very much. Good night!