Category Archives: Uncategorized

Musical palate cleanser, the king is dead, long live the king edition

Yesterday marked the 44th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, and every time I see a clip from his 1968 comeback special, like this one…

… I’m reminded of Steve Simels’ observation that everyone who thinks Robert Plant is a great vocalist needs to listen to Elvis to find out how it’s really done.


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Musical palate cleanser, another RIP edition

A pure voice is stilled.

Nanci Griffith, a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter who kept one foot in folk and the other in country and was blessed with a soaring voice equally at home in both genres, died on Friday. She was 68.

Her death was announced by her management company, Gold Mountain Entertainment. Its statement did not say where she died or give a cause of death, saying only, “It was Nanci’s wish that no further formal statement or press release happen for a week following her passing.”

While Ms. Griffith often wrote political and confessional material, her best-loved songs were closely observed tales of small-town life, sometimes with painful details in the lyrics, but typically sung with a deceptive prettiness.

She was as well known for her covers of other artists’ works as her original material.  Her take on Townes Van Zandt’s “Tecumseh Valley” is stunning.

She told The New York Times in 1988: “When I was young I listened to Odetta records for hours and hours. Then when I started high school, Loretta Lynn came along. Before that, country music hadn’t had a guitar-playing woman who wrote her own songs.”

One of my favorite songs of hers was a roundabout tribute to Loretta Lynn, “Listen To The Radio”.  Here’s a live version:


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Musical palate cleanser, get well soon edition

Well, shit.  This ain’t good.

Just a reminder that age affects everyone.  Well, except Keef, obviously.

Here’s a little Charlie for today.


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Musical palate cleanser, romantic music player edition

iTunes cranked these out back to back last night… in a mood, of sorts.  Maybe I should have lit a couple of candles.

As a bonus, I never thought of “In A Manner of Speaking” as a sing along, but I guess I’m wrong about that:


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Musical palate cleanser, no hit wonders edition

The Remains were your classic ’60s American garage band, with a crazy resume that ended with a twist.

The resume:

The Remains formed in 1964 at Boston University, where all four members were first-year students living in the same dorm in Kenmore Square. Singer-guitarist Barry Tashian and keyboardist Bill Briggs were from Westport, Connecticut, drummer Chip Damiani from Wolcott, Connecticut, and bassist Vern Miller from Livingston, New Jersey. They began playing r&b and rock’n’roll covers, as well as some Tashian originals, at The Rathskeller, a tavern across the square from their dorm. Soon, fans were lining up from Kenmore Square to Fenway Park to see them, and management had to clear out a disused basement to accommodate the crowds.[1]

The band became a popular live act throughout New England and appeared on the CBS TV program The Ed Sullivan Christmas Show of 1965. After signing with Epic Records, they enjoyed local hits with a catchy, swinging Tashian original, “Why Do I Cry”, and their hard-driving version of the Bo Diddley/Willie Dixon classic “Diddy Wah Diddy“.[2] In 1965, the Remains relocated to New York City—where they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show—and then, after about a year, moved on to California.[2] They recorded an album, The Remains, appeared on NBC TV’s ‘Hullabaloo‘, and released the soulful, hard-rocking single “Don’t Look Back”.[3]

In 1966 came the opportunity which might have broken the band nationally, but proved instead to be their last hurrah: they were offered a three-week stint as an opening act for the Beatles, on what would turn out to be the Fab Four’s final tour.

So, in less than two years, they formed, became a regional fave, signed with a national label, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and opened for The Beatles.  Impressive, no?  So why haven’t you heard of them?

The band broke up in late 1966, and Epic released their self-titled debut album to little fanfare.

That’s it — they broke up and then their record was released.  A truly American success story.

Here’s their appearance on the Sullivan show.

And this is their first single, probably my favorite tune of theirs:

A garagier, live version of “Why Do I Cry”, in case you’re interested:

(FWIW, the only reason I know about ’em is because they had a song on Nuggets.)


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Musical palate cleanser, another one left the building edition

Dusty Hill, R.I.P.

ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill, who played with the Texas blues-rock trio for over 50 years, died Tuesday at age 72. His rep confirmed the musician’s death, but said a cause of death was currently unknown.

“We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, Texas,” surviving members Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard said in a statement. “We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature, and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top’. We will forever be connected to that ‘Blues Shuffle in C.’ You will be missed greatly, amigo.”

Hill and Beard actually got their start together in a garage band called American Blues, which also had Hill’s brother as the lead guitarist.  They moved to Houston, the brother left and ZZ Top came into being.

Can’t say I was a big fan, but I do like this number:

Those of you who are, share in the comments.


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Musical palate cleanser, reader request edition

Quaildawg had a suggestion he emailed me:

Thought two Rare Earth songs might be appropriate for the Big 12 Breakup and OK-TX Sec Entry.
“I’m Losing You”
“Get Ready”
PS:Always thought the heavy horn upbeat “Get Ready” would’ve been a great Dawgs creating a beautiful Turnover rift from The Redcoats. Especially if they brought back the 70’s Bass in the stands.
Bring in the crowd chorus of “Get Ready cause here I (we) come!!”

Rare Earth’s claim to fame was being the first white group signed to Motown Records.  They had a couple of big hits along the way, including “Get Ready”, which was a cover of a Smokey Robinson song.

The album version clocked in at over 21 minutes, so we’re not going there; however, they did release a live version as a single, which ran a far more manageable 2:46 in length.


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Musical palate cleanser, doin’ er’rything edition

Prince, playing “Crimson and Clover” like he was born to it:

I’m not sure there was a style of pop music he couldn’t nail.


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Musical palate cleanser, one word edition

One reason I love this country is because of our ability, even in trying times like now, to come together and lose our collective shit over trivialities like one word in the first verse of a Bruce Springsteen song.

I mean, this is priceless.

In case anyone is wondering why this became a matter of grave national concern in the summer of ’21, you can thank the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, who knows grave national concerns. She apparently hadn’t previously recognized this one as such, though, when she attended “Springsteen on Broadway” July 3 and innocently tweeted out what turned out to be the correct “sways” line, instantly enraging about half of America, as some Haberman tweets are wont to do.

The firestorm continued on social media for close to two weeks before Los Angeles Times contributor Rob Tannenbaum published one of the most riveting pieces of investigative journalism in the music space since Jim DeRogatis’ R. Kelly reporting. Tannenbaum’s inquiries, though, led to a “Rashomon”-ic dead end. The writer noted that Sotheby’s had two years ago auctioned off Springsteen’s original handwritten lyrics, which read, “The screen door slams Anne dress sways,” which did seem revealing but also raised the question of whether to trust a guy who’d promised both Anne and Mary he would take them away. Artists who’ve covered the song over the years aid they’d always sung “waves,” and Melissa Etheridge, who sang it as a duet with Springsteen on “MTV Unplugged,” told the Times she discussed the lyrics with him then and “he would’ve told me if it wasn’t ‘waves.’ He would’ve said, ‘You’re singing it wrong, honey.’ So it’s definitely ‘waves.’” Declared country star Eric Church, who’s also often covered the tune: “‘Sways’ is sexier.” Assessing the empirical evidence at hand, Tannenbaum firmly concluded: “Springsteen is not one of rock’s great enunciators.”

Meanwhile, Steven Van Zandt, who could have ridden to the rescue, and who expounds on so many subjects on Twitter, had found one he considered beneath him. In response to queries, the E Street Band guitarist wrote: “Oy vey. Get this Bruce lyric shit outta my feed!”

Two weeks of this!

This is healthy.  No, really.  It restores my faith in mankind that we can still lose ourselves in irrelevancies like this.  ‘Murica, you go, girl!

Eh, what’s that?  The song… oh, yeah.  Here you go.


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Musical palate cleanser, you can never go home again edition

It is with some trepidation that I share this news.

My head tells me that Stewart hasn’t recorded anything worth a damn in three+ decades.

My heart says:

I suspect this isn’t going to end well, but that doesn’t mean I won’t give a listen first.


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