...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

New contest: Stranger Than Fiction Soundtrack

So you may recall that I enthusiastically adored the movie Stranger Than Fiction (previous post here). I had an in-depth conversation with my hairstylist gal yesterday about it whilst she snipped; she also loved a movie called "The Prestige"? Hadn't heard of it, but now I've Netflixed it. The effeminate gent (read: corset, ribbon around his neck, and more makeup than me on prom day) who owns the little salon was also going on and on about how fat Kate Winslet was (obviously he doesn't drive a Jaguar) but how he'd "do" Salma Hayek. It was an interesting conversation.

Anyways. All that to say that I now have a copy of the Stranger Than Fiction soundtrack (which was a very very good compilation) to give away to one of you lucky cats. PLUS you get an engraved travel mug, to use on your mind-numbing commute to your staid job.

Here's how I want to run it. In keeping with the plotline of the movie, in the comments I want you to tell me: If you were writing a book, what would the title be? That's it, just the title. Think about it and let's see what you got.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Elliott Smith covers The Kinks: August 3, 2003

I recently stumbled across a nice little repository of live Elliott Smith and I am loving this little 4-song set of Kinks covers that Elliott performed 8/3/03 at the famed Derby in Los Angeles, just a few months before he sadly died. It would be one of his last shows.

Sound is just a little bit fuzzy, but it's so cool that I count it as worth it. One often thinks of Elliott with breathy whispered tunes, rich in that lovely sadness, but he could also bring the rock. Details of the show (which was a multi-artist affair) are quite sketch, but it doesn't sound like he's singing on all of these; some he's merely playing on I think. But he's definitely singing on Big Sky, and I enjoy the loose vibe to all of these:

Do It Again (Kinks cover) - Elliott Smith
Dead End Street (Kinks cover) - Elliott Smith
Here Comes Flash (Kinks cover) - Elliott Smith
Big Sky (Kinks cover) - Elliott Smith

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Odds & ends

I love you, Colorado. But I've decided you are a wuss.

There is (a beautiful and powdery) 3 inches of snow on the ground this morning, tops. And it's a snow day. I say everyone should get some snowshoes and 4-wheel-drive, and life should continue as normal. Thank you.

In the shutdown interim, here are a few odds & ends that are entertaining me this morning:

۞ A reader pointed me in the direction of mp3s from the KEXP session with The Rosewood Thieves (my previous post here, definitely check them out). They performed 5 songs, including a Dylan cover. I am strongly digging their bluesy rocker sound.

۞ My new friend Adam wrote about his new supercool fancy tracker thing for runners that goes in your shoe, wirelessly connects with your iPod, and tracks your running stats, even TALKING TO YOU while you run. I need that (it should say pugilistic things like, "Frickin wuss! DO NOT WALK UP THIS HILL!" Maybe yell obscenities at me to keep me moving). It appears to be reasonably priced at $29, but then you also need the special Nike shoes with a pocket to hold the sensor (can I do it myself with an x-acto knife?) and an iPod Nano (mine's a 60). Drat. (wait, or not).

۞ A couple of interesting "from the studio" news bits:

-Shirley Manson (Garbage) goes solo, Jack White and Billy Corgan are involved

-Norah Jones finishes third album, M. Ward guests

-Mike Watt plays bass on Kelly Clarkson's new album (for real)

-!!! Sign to Warp Records (same label as my new love Jamie Lidell), new LP Myth Takes coming in 2007. If you haven't heard their unique disco-funk sound (and I think you say their UnGooglable name Chk Chk Chk), here's an mp3 of their song Take Ecstasy With Me from 2004's Louden Up Now. You wanna dance around, don't you?!

۞ There's a new Contrast Podcast you should listen to, this one on the fun ornithological theme of Chickens and Other Birds. I was going to contribute either Cake's wonderful song that I can hear playing in my head just typing it: "Comfort Eagle" (but someone else submitted it, yay!) or the fantastic boogie "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens."

But coulda woulda shoulda I'm lazy.

۞ There's a new documentary out called American Hardcore; maybe I want to punch someone after just watching the preview. It's open now in selected theatres, and it features folks like Henry Rollins, Jesse Malin, Ian MacKaye, Flea, Mike Watt, Moby, and Tommy Stinson. Like a microcosm of the Punk: Attitude documentary from last year, this one focuses on the specific aspects of the American punk-rock scene within a 6 year period from 1980-1986. Looks interesting.

۞ Here's the perfect Christmas gift for that world-renowned air guitarist on your list. Now they just need to make the corresponding sensor pants for us air drummers and I will be one happy camper.

۞ I am liking this new song from distinctive Liverpool band Clinic, off their upcoming 4th album Visitations (January '07, or on iTunes now).
Listen to Harvest.

۞ Finally, one more reason to love the (gratuitious and borderline creepy) internet: A MySpace group for those who love it when everyone's favorite prolific alt-country rocker turns around: Who Wants To Look At Ryan Adams' Ass?

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

Okay, so perhaps you, like me, enjoy some chuckles from the audacity and obvious illiteracy of the spam that you encounter in your daily email life. I always wonder to myself, "Hmmm, self. Could 'Lotts of plesure waits for you right after you take this medicine ' from a Romanian email address be, in fact, honest medical advice? ORRR perhaps that 'small-cap ivesssting hint!!!' that I've been needing is just right there in my inbox!

I never have the guts to actually engage the spammers, mostly for fear that they will somehow firebomb my inbox, but one courageous soul from the Best Of Craiglist feature did just that. And he rocks my world. I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

While you read that, listen to these:

Lord Don't Slow Me Down
This is a new song that Oasis has graciously bestowed upon us from their aforementioned tour documentary Lord Don't Slow Me Down, which is currently being screened for fans in locations across the U.S. You know how nutso those Oasis fans are -- someone smuggled this (fairly decent other than one quiet muffle at the beginning) recording of the new song somehow, since it's not released in any official way yet. Written by Noel and recorded during the Don't Believe The Truth sessions, Gallagher described it in typically lavish hyperbole as being "one of the best things, like The Who, The Yardbirds and the Jeff Beck Group combined, and it's got two drum solos on it!" He has also said that his girlfriend thinks it's the only Oasis song you can dance to. It sounds huge and stomping and ready for a big arena show, and I must admit a bit grudgingly that it may be growing on me.

If I
Piers Faccini
I am pretty sure I found this guy over on the excellent (and of late legally beleaguered) Aurgasm blog. Piers Faccini's first full-length American release, Tearing Sky, came out this month, and it is a fascinating interweaving of singer/songwriter rocking-acoustic music (like Everloving labelmate Jack Johnson, or tourmate Ben Harper) with global rhythms and vocals. With Faccini's low whispered voice, it's bedroom music with a touch of the exotic. You can download two more of his songs on his MySpace. He's got some European tour dates (he is loved in Belgium), then a few on the West Coast, including the musty allure of the Hotel Utah in SF.

Get Into My Life
The Winnerys
So shut up -- these guys are from Madrid?! In a highly entertaining retro-power-pop throwback that I'd swear was from Liverpool, this Spanish quartet is making some sweet '60s sounds. Listen to those harmonies on this track (especially on the lyric "More than one night, more than one day") from their Daily Urban Times album (2006, Rainbow Quartz/Redeye). Uplifting and highly recommended, you'd have to be dead inside not to like this one. Thanks to Bruce's post on Power Pop for this.

In The Countryside
Benjy Ferree
Here's one that I would never have expected to sound the way it does. Benjy Ferree looks like Sam Beam from Iron & Wine (think = melancholy bearded strummy music) and the album cover leads me to think that we are going to hear songs on the lute about the Sherwood Forest. However and happily, this is a rousing march replete with ebullient instrumentation and strong British Invasion overtones that tells me to put my happy hands in the air, which is exactly what I just might do. From the 2006 release Leaving The Nest (Domino).

Hard Luck Tom
The Bees
Oh, so confusing. So this is The Bees (US), not the UK fellows from the Isle of Wight that I have enjoyed in the past. The American Bees are from Nashville and this song is pure sunshine and feel-good vibes that makes you want to roll down a hill in the dandelions. But you try it and see. From the 2006 album High Society that now I really must get (thanks Neiles for the rec).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"Being so kind / To let me ride": Pearl Jam Live Mix #2

Last week when I celebrated my one year blog-birthday, I compiled a list of twenty of my favorite tunes that have been featured here in the past 365 days. A couple of you were wondering why there was no Pearl Jam on that list, of a blog that is named after a Pearl Jam lyric, and whose author is admittedly a bit PJ-obsessed.

Well fear not, faithful reader.

I am pleased to present the second installment of a 10-song live mix of some choice cuts from the Pearl Jam stage. I have had a great time weeding through my hundreds of live selections to make this (completely arbitrary and highly selective) playlist of some of the best of the best. Part One is still active if you wish to take a look there too. It's good for the constitution.


Big Wave
San Francisco 7/16/06
(pictured above)
This is such a tightly-wound celebration of surfing and the power of the ocean, but moreover, of life in general. I think it's an underrated song on the new album and I would have loved to be able to see it live, sandwiched here in the second encore; surely the crowd was simultaneously exhausted and elated at this point. The guitar solos in this live version are outstanding, absolutely searing -- the caged feel to the riffs reminds me of the best parts of "Do The Evolution."

I Am Mine
Live debut, 10/21/01 - Bridge School Benefit
The melancholy richness in this version just slays me. This was the live debut of the song, which arrived on the scene following the trampling deaths of 9 fans at the Roskilde Festival in 2000. I have no proof that this song is about that tragedy, but the lyrics seem to me to imply as much: "All the innocents [innocence] lost at one time / There's no need to hide . . . We're safe tonight." Where the album version is soaring and anthemic (and highly recommended if you've never really dug into it), Vedder's voice here is gentler, more sincere, and a great deal sadder. It literally arrests me in mid-word to listen to this. Although it may sound a bit sappy, I also love the settled feeling of self-surety that I get when I hear the fantastic lyric, "I know I was born and I know that I'll die, the inbetween is mine. I am mine."

9/22/06, Prague, Czech Republic (pictured above)
A welcome re-introduction back into the Pearl Jam setlist, this song was first released as the b-side to the "Go" single, and then not played live for ten years (from 1994 to 2004), but lately they've started bringing it out of semi-retirement every once in a while. I could listen to this song over and over; not only does it have incisively descriptive story-lyrics ("Wide awake and he shakes in a panic, never woke up alone ever before . . . out of bed and he dreams in the shower, she's standin' naked and apologizing. Reaches for her and the water turns red hot, woken up to be burned, burned again"), but also a guitar riff that I adore -- I feel that the best description I can offer is that it keeps pulling out from underneath you. It's great to hear them doing this one live again.

In My Tree (with Jack Irons)
10/28/03, Santa Barbara, CA
Even though Jack Irons left as Pearl Jam's drummer following the release of Yield in 1998, he completely owns this song and it has never been the same without him. One of my favorite studio cuts off of No Code, here Jack joins the band back on-stage to hammer out this organic, intricate and pulsating rhythm line in an acoustic setting. Listen to how it just rides and builds once he brings his magic.

I've Got A Feeling (Lennon/McCartney)
Den Haag, Holland, 3/2/92
Going waaay back for this one, I used to have this show on cassette, one of the very first bootlegs I owned. Pearl Jam recorded their bluesy, rocking, marvelous cover as a b-side for the Alive single/import, and it is an energetic and sometimes funny foray as they insert biographical trivia into the song. They had just finished their cameos in Cameron Crowe's Singles, hence their lyric: "Everybody made a movie / Jeff Ament had one line (no, two!)" and there is a nice "Say Hello The Heaven" tag in the middle. I also love Eddie's youthful-voiced diatribe at the beginning of the recording, wherein he basically tells the record company execs in the audience to "f*ck-off" and then almost comically covers himself by saying, "You know I don't mean that." No, actually Eddie, you did. And we love you for it. This is nine minutes that epitomizes the best of the early-90s PJ.

Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys cover)
4/3/94, Atlanta radio broadcast
I have fond memories of recording this concert off the radio with my pink and grey tape deck. My world kind of stopped the night this was aired, and I spent many, many hours in high school playing this live show over and over until the tape started slipping. As many times as I've heard it, I still feel the tension and the glory in this absolutely thrashing song, which was one of the earliest covers to become a staple of the Pearl Jam live set. Even though the lyrics talk about some sort of time machine, they also talk about alienation and youthful angst and the things I loved Pearl Jam the most for back in those days.

Thumbing My Way
12/6/02, The Showbox, Seattle
This song is another understated, wistful pick from the otherwise somewhat off-putting Riot Act album. A special rehearsal/warm-up show in the tiny Seattle venue The Showbox (which I totally stalked out once on a college visit to Seattle), this was the very first performance of this song. The opening lyrics "I have not been home since you left, long ago" have a richer meaning, hearing them sung in their hometown on the eve of a long departure for a world tour. Such a gem, one I don't foresee getting tired of anytime soon.

In Hiding
Halloween 2000, Shoreline, Mountain View, CA
A grand song from Yield, the darting opening notes of this song always sound so fantastic live, like they hold some secret of what's to come. And what's to come is a swelling, expansive chorus that is best sung along to at the top of your lungs and makes me feel like I am flying. Seeing Pearl Jam (with Supergrass supporting) on Halloween was a festive, fantastic affair. I was lucky to score the best seats I've ever sat in at the cavernous Shoreline, and came in costume (devil finery from the Moon Zooom thrift shop) along with most everyone else, including the band who appeared for the encore dressed as The Village People. No, seriously:

I Used To Work In Chicago

10/21/06 Bridge School Benefit
Speaking of sense of humor: Trying to "slip one by the kids" at the annual Bridge School Benefit show, Vedder fools to crowd the into thinking he is lapsing into something beautiful, then undertakes a traditional drinking ditty instead -- complete with the lyrics, "I used to work in Chicago, I don't but I don't anymore . . . A lady walked in with porcelain skin, I asked her what she came in for. 'Liquor' she said, and lick her I did. I don't work there anymore."

So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star (Byrds cover)
7/2/06 Denver, CO
This was only the fourth live performance of this song ever, and I was there for the first two performances of it as well (San Jose & San Diego, 1995), which just tickles me pink. This is a tune about fame and "the business" of music originally recorded by The Byrds, then as the Pearl Jam website says, "[covered] by countless others including Patti Smith, the Move, Crowded House, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and anybody with a Rickenbacker 12 string." The first time I saw them do it live, I recall it being a somber and introspective affair, but this time it was a solid full-band jam.

And that's (still) why I love them.


American Idolatry

Ahh, my first post in days and it's on a completely embarrassing (albeit entertaining) topic. I have something huge and amazing in the works later today though, so sit tight.

The fruits of the last season of American Idol are finally hitting the record stores with pretty predictable results this December. You KNOW you've been waiting for it, if only to find that perfect Christmas gift for your mom (mmmmm, I plead the fifth).

Gravel voiced rocker Chris Daughtry recently stopped by the Rolling Stone studios, and laid down this live version of his new single It's Not Over. If you're curious. I'll admit I liked Chris but it still sounds like he's having a bit of a hernia when he sings, doesn't he?

Season winner Taylor Hicks has streams of two of his new songs available now over on the Gray Charles blog (or on his verrrry slickly-designed MySpace page).

I have to say, these songs are not what I anticipated leading towards a redeeming album. I knew when he won that he actually DID have true passion for the music, combined with some musical chops, and --if he aligned with the right folks-- could have made a solid retro soul album. But of course, the AI producers (oh, they of the "Do I Make You Proud"-variety songs) got their claws into him and he's made something that makes me wonder if he is, indeed, walking on sunshine.

Stream three songs from Taylor Hicks, if you're curious:
The Runaround (my mom danced when I played this for her, it was awesome)
Dream Myself Awake
The Right Place

And the hot(t) Katherine McPhee also has an album coming out in December. Far as I can tell she's basing her ability to sell records on the glossiness of her lips. She can also sing, but that AI first single "My Destiny" is so bad that it makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit. AI is completely incapable of producing a seriously good, quality album. It's all over-produced slick pop drivel. I guess that's kind of necessarily what you get from this type of show, which has been a musical joke from the beginning. I just started watching the really bad auditions and got hooked, like a poor little fish wriggling on the line.

PS - Speaking of Idols, was this really, truly necessary? The snarl cannot redeem you Billy.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick post to say happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating it today! I cooked a feast for 12 (with the help of my mom, sister, and friends) and we are all absolutely stuffed to the utmost, thankful indeed. But I ran that Turkey Trot 5K again this year, so I figure I can replenish my caloric needs in high style.

My day has pretty much been a carbon copy of last year's turkey day, which is to say it was fantastic. The notable musical addition this year was that we listened to Simon & Garfunkel all afternoon for the cooking -- doesn't that just seem like Thanksgiving music? I think it got started when I was giving Ichabod (our turkey, yes we name it) his butter rubdown and due to the spices I was using I started serenading him, "Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyyyyyyme . . "

Here's what I wrote last year and it is absolutely true this year as well -- I laughed the whole time I was preparing the turkey (well, alternating with making that face above, inadvertently. What a wuss). It's rare in life that one has to follow instructions such as:
  • Press one leg down near leg clamp to release.
  • Remove neck from body cavity.
  • Remove giblet package (giblet package?!) from neck skin area
  • Using your hands, gently separate the skin from the breast at both ends. Smear the meat beneath the skin with the herb butter mix.

It was hilarious. I was talking to this little headless turkey on my counter, "sorry buddy" as I slid my fingers under his skin. In spite of the distatefulness of the beginning of the ordeal, after 3 1/2 hours in the oven, it all turned out quite well.

Red Wine, Success! - Cold War Kids

I hope you are all taking time today to remember all the myriad things that we have to be grateful for each and every day. It was a beautiful sunny day here in Colorado Springs, with good food, a table full of good friends, and good family. Happy Thanksgiving!

I Will Not Take These Things For Granted - Toad The Wet Sprocket

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Whatever happened to Marcy Playground?

When I was in California last month I made two trips to the fantastic stacks of Streetlight Records in San Jose, and one of the things I picked up was the Marcy Playground self-titled CD from 1997. I don't remember what made me think of it, but suddenly I had to have it and it was worth the $4 I laid down.

I used to have a copy of that album, and even saw Marcy Playground live once (opening for someone?) but in a moment of cash-neediness I must have sold the album -- in an ironic twist, it was probably to Streetlight.

I was pleased to hear that the album still sounds exceedingly pleasant to me (although I must say that I didn't remember the lyrics being quite so silly). There's a quirky mid-90s alternapop feel to the whole disc, with infectiously good melodies -- and so much more than "Sex and Candy." In fact, I don't even like that song. But I like these:

Cloak of Elvenkind - Marcy Playground
This one has a hypnotic, dreamy, mid-summer feel to it, like a waltz in slow motion. Really fabulous stuff.

Ancient Walls of Flowers - Marcy Playground
And this one will stick in your head. In a good way.

If you see this disc in the bargain bins, I recommend picking it up. In addition to the self-titled album, they've also got some music on eMusic (including their 2004 disc, cleverly titled MP3). And lead singer John "Woz" Wozniak is still making some pretty catchy music as a solo artist now. Visit his MySpace to hear all about it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Jesse Malin: new songs from Glitter In The Gutter

Jesse Malin is set to release his third record titled Glitter In The Gutter on March 6th 2007 on Adeline/East West. This album follows his two previous critically acclaimed releases: 2004's The Heat, and 2002's The Fine Art of Self Destruction.

Glitter In The Gutter was recorded in various studios over the summer in Millbrook, New York; North Hollywood, CA; and in Jesse's native borough of Queens, New York (and was accompanied by a running blog over on Jesse's MySpace). The album was recorded with members of Jesse's touring band "The Heat" and also includes special guest performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jakob Dylan, Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and long time pal Ryan Adams.

JoJo Pennebaker, son of legendary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker (Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix) documented the making of Glitter on film and will be putting that together as a half-hour piece to coincide with the release of the record. [source]

Don't Let Them Take You Down
2) In The Modern World
3) Tomorrow Tonight
4) Broken Radio
5) Prisoners Of Paradise
6) Black Haired Girl

7) Lucinda
8) Love Streams
9) Little Star
10) Bastards of Young
(Replacements cover)
11) Happy Ever After
12) NY Nights

Sample mp3s of album versions (one minute):

Don't Let Them Take You Down
In The Modern World (or stream on MySpace - recommended)

Or, full demo versions of 2 songs:
Don't Let Them Take You Down
Black Haired Girl
(radio rip, highly recommended)

If you are already planning ahead for New Year's Eve (my usual; a bottle of vodka and a shotgun), Jesse is playing at NYC's Don Hills, 9PM Dec 31. Tickets went on sale yesterday.


Monday, November 20, 2006

If you want a show, just let me know and I'll sing in your ear again

Today marks one year (!) since I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS took its first tentative steps with an initial post, and I've been contentedly rolling along ever since, gathering steam as I go.

I know that downloading music (and absorbing all that I have to say here) can sometimes be like drinking from a firehose, so I thought to compile you a 20-song mix of my absolutely favorite tracks that I have featured in the first year of this blog.

Some of these tunes I posted up way at the beginning when I think my readership was about 30 people a day. Since y'all have literally multiplied yourselves a hundred-fold since then, lots of you may have missed these excellent tunes the first time around.

So if you haven't heard these, they get my highest recommendation, each and every one. If I had a radio station I would absolutely be playing each of these on a near-daily basis for the enrichment of the world's eardrums at large. Here they are, along with what I originally wrote about them during this past year:

01. Powers - Blackalicious
"This track makes me jump up and dance in my stripey socks like nobody's business. The ultimate summer party song, droning deep lead vocals, a sick backbeat, teasing electric guitar licks, and a gospel-y chorus. Uh huh. Shake it. This song ROCKS." (6/19/06)

02. Somebody Ease My Troublin' Mind - Les Paul with Sam Cooke and Eric Clapton
"Les Paul is best known for creating the first solid-body electric guitar for Gibson. This cut pairs Les (now 90) with Sam Cooke on vocals and Eric Clapton on guitar. Although Cooke died in 1967, they’ve revived some old vocal tracks of his, stripped out the backing instrumentation, and laid down new material here. Sam Cooke always makes me want to slow dance barefoot in the kitchen." (1/9/06)

03. The First Single - The Format
From my concert review: "The final song, anthemic and sweaty and once again, everyone sang along. (Who names their first single 'The First Single'? These guys do.)" (8/23/06)

04. I Will Be Free - Nil Lara
"Lara is soulful and passionate and sings like his heart is burning. Add in heavy doses of warm & layered Latin percussion, traditional Cuban and Venezuelan string instruments, and his soaring chants and vocals (in a combination of Spanish and English) - and I was hooked." (7/19/06)

05. So Hard To Find My Way - Jackie Greene
"A fantastic upbeat, retro-sounding tune combining piano, banjo, and Memphis horns. With his new album Jackie is delving into more poppy arrangements than the harmonica-folk of his previous efforts, but it sounds good to me. I really like this chap and think we will be hearing a lot more from him." (6/12/06) (video performance here)

06. Unnamed - Leona Naess
"This new one from Leona's upcoming album is definitely her most singable, radio-friendly, and excellent sounding song in a while. With great couplet lines like "Shake these hips and let them persuade you / Take my songs - they're always about you" . . . the lyrical writing style is classic but the sound is uptempo & fresh." (5/15/06)

07. Crack The Whip - Spinto Band
"Pitchfork's description of this song, by current Arctic Monkeys tour opener The Spinto Band, caught my attention: "Four-on-the-floor 'Crack the Whip' lashes the make-up alternapop zeitgeist, whippin' the Killers at their own neu-dance-wave game before ascending to a gates-of-heaven Beach Boys chorus like this was the Biblical, non-DFA Rapture." That is one of the best-written music review sentences I have read in a while, and I am digging the song in a big way." (3/20/06)

08. Walt Whitman Bridge - Marah
"Hey there, Marah. Where've you been all my life? This is a really, really great folk-punk/roots/garage-rock band making some quality tunes, a largely undiscovered gem in the lexicon of rock music today. Listen to the harmonica in this one, and the story in the lyrics." (1/28/06)

09. Under All The Bright Lights - Ryan Auffenberg
"This song sails effortlessly into my top ten favorite songs of 2006 thus far. Seriously, I love it and you will too. It is a stellar, evocative, emotional tour de force set against a lush backdrop of gorgeous strings and wrenching piano. But for all the prettiness of the melody, listen closely to the lyrics for a dose of jarring reality." (8/14/06)

10. Something In The Way - Nicolai Dunger
"Neither a Nirvana cover, nor a Beatles cover, this ex-footballer (and by footballer I mean soccer player) Swede has a pleasant backyard BBQ vibe, which is something I can appreciate in the cold brown of winter." (2/6/06)

11. Love You In The Fall - Paul Westerberg
"I find this new track very enjoyable - the opening is fantastic vintage Westerberg, with a similar feel to tunes like 'Be Bad For Me' or the recent 'Mats track 'Message To The Boys.' The lyrics are admittedly a bit simplistic, but I don't listen to him to discern the meaning of the universe or anything, so this will do just fine." (9/15/06)

12. Take What's Mine - The Shore (fixed)
"A certain musical know-it-all recently recommended that I take a listen to The Shore, an L.A.-based trio who somehow slipped past the mainstream musical scene but are definitely worth some of your time. Their dusty, beautiful music does indeed incorporate many elements of, say, Stereophonics or The Verve (including all the oooh, ooooohs you can shake a stick at) but after you give it several listens it gets richer each time, until it truly stands out on its own and you forget the comparisons." (7/18/06)

13. Only A Fool - Marit Larsen
"Shimmery plucky guitar pop from Norway's Marit Larsen with wheezing harmonica and a wide-open happy vocal that reminded me of a few Sheryl Crow tunes that I enjoy. Ridiculously infectious with handclaps and banjo and all kinds of goodness." (5/8/06)

14. You Are The Everything (R.E.M. cover) - Redbird
"I believe that there are a handful of truly flawless, perfect songs in this world. One of those songs which I love front to back and throughout each note and lyrical turn is R.E.M.'s 'You Are The Everything' . . . Upon hearing this cover, within the first ten seconds I was blown away - this is excellent. Whereas R.E.M.'s is sublimely sweet & dulcet, this is an aching and honest version with a touch more twang, and a female vocalist (Kris Delmhorst) harmonizing earnestly." (6/16/06)

15. I Can Get Us Out Of Here Tonight - Lucero
"To me it's like the best signatures of a young, urgent Springsteen written all over this song. When Ben Nichols sings 'I can get us out of here tonight,' it's that same burning twinge that Springsteen makes you feel in your soul that makes you want to throw caution to the wind, roll down the windows, and take off on the interstate." (7/11/06)

16. Only You (live version) - Joshua Radin
"This is a cover of the early '80s synth-laden junior high slowdance favorite 'Only You' by Yaz (remember it from Napoleon Dynamite?), which Radin said he chooses to perform because he liked it when he was a kid. However, he completely reinvents it into something that is absolutely beautiful, a flawless little gem of a song that I think I've listened to 15 times today." (8/10/06)

17. Become The Enemy - The Lemonheads
"Just hearing Evan Dando sounding this good makes everything rosy in my world. I think that the new Lemonheads sound absolutely fantastic - rocking, melodic & interesting. As good as I would have hoped." (8/17/06)

18. Thin Blue Flame - Josh Ritter
"This song clocks in at almost ten minutes, and I personally enjoyed listening to it on repeat while drifting off to sleep. It starts slow and builds several times and then fades, and it contains some stunning lyrics that create beautiful mental images. The production on this song includes background chatter and glasses clinking, which adds to the sense of immediacy, as if this song is being performed live for you in a small coffee shop or dark bar." (12/10/05)

19. Plastic Jesus - Paul Newman (from Cool Hand Luke)
"Here is where I reveal my true colors - I harbor a *serious* crush on the Paul Newman of 40 years hence. Have you SEEN Hud or Cool Hand Luke? If not, you must. I think he smolders better than any actor today. And I love the fact that I just got to post a Paul Newman song on my blog." (1/4/06)

20. Listen To What The Man Said (Wings cover) - Ron Sexsmith
The story: "After chatting to his buddy Paul McCartney about Sexsmith, Chris Difford of Squeeze took Ron over to the ex-Beatle's house for an impromptu jam session. Maybe you've heard this story, but you know you want to hear it again. Difford makes the introduction, they all have breakfast and before you know it, Ron's singing 'Listen To What The Man Said' with Paul taking the harmonies. 'Well, I didn't know what to play,' Ron says, 'And [McCartney] does this thing when you talk to him -- if you say something humorous, he's got these huge eyes, and he sort of gave me this look like I was being a wise guy or something. Well, it's a song I've always played for myself... and it was cool. I was singing lead and he was doing the harmonies and stuff.'" (7/14/06)


Ta-dah! Do enjoy, trusty reader. Thanks to all of you for a fantastic and eye-opening year. You all rock, perhaps a little bit more so now.

I would be acutely interested in hearing some feedback from those of you who have been with me for a while -- what are some artists or songs or albums that you have especially enjoyed that you read about here? What do you recall as your favorites featured here this year?

(Onward ho!)


Damien Rice contest winner

I don't know why I do this to myself.

"Judging" those Damien Rice contest entries was like reading through a bunch of peoples' diary entries and coolly picking the "best." How hard-hearted is that? In any case, it was almost impossible, and thanks for all the dozens of thoughtfully incisive entries. If you want some great reading, look them all over and appreciate the depth and the heartbreaking elegance of Damien's writing. If Rice wasn't a musician, he could be the greatest Irish poet and author in a long time.

Winner Because I Don't Know Why (it just grabbed me the right way)
BRETT writes:
"I haven't heard the new one yet, so I'll have to choose from 'O'.

And I die when you mention his name
And I lied, I should have kissed you when we were runnin' in the rain

I die when he comes around to take you home
I'm too shy, I should have kissed you when we were alone

- Cheers Darlin'

"Both of these really capture those 'missed opportunities' in life and love. Those rare moments that come along and you know you should follow your heart (and often your whole being) and capture them, but you dont. You hesitate, you waffle, you listen to that doubtful little voice in your head and then, its too late. All you can do is watch that magical moment - that possibility of true love - pass painfully by. All you can do is think of what could have been, if only youd had the 'balls' to step up and embrace that ephemeral spark. Its a lesson we could probably all learn from."

Brett's entry spoke to a belief I have about embracing the moment when you can and while you can, and fully appreciating life. Plus he used the words "ephemeral spark," and I loved that.

Runners Up (would be pretty much everybody else, who, as usual, get nothing but the satisfaction of leaving an excellent comment):
Sorry I couldn't give the print to Myk, who was hoping to give it to a lost love and win her back (!). Honey did me the awesome favor of sending me a link to the performance of her best song, "Insane." I too love the lyric "Sometimes you're breathing all over my skin...You always end up much closer than close...That's where I give in." R-O-Dub writes a novel, a literary dissertation on "The Professor" which was fantastic and would best be shared over a cuppa coffee, while Lucie just says that if someone quoted a certain lyric to her, she'd burst into tears. Succinct but perfect.

I appreciated what JBS from San Francisco State had to say about "Rat Within The Grain" because I love the aching honesty of those same lyrics (plus, he offered up a comparison with another song from a different artist; great foil). And two of you guys brought up the overlooked gem "I Remember" in all of its raging angst, drawing me back to this song I had kind of forgotten and renewing my desire to see Damien Rice live.

Every entry was great. Thank you to each person who took the time to add to the dialogue and respond.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Duncan Sheik: More than barely breathing

When I used to work as a clerk-gal / shelf-stocker / sweep-if-they-need-it person at Longs' Drug Store in San Jose, I remember that they used to play a lot of Duncan Sheik over the PA (along with Del Amitri and other soft-pop hits. Maybe "On The Wings Of Love" too). In fact, Sheik's 1996 song "Barely Breathing" was apparently the most-played radio song that year. I guess there's nothing wrong with that tune, but for me it just became background music.

All this to say, I didn't realize the depth of Duncan Sheik's talent in producing richly multifaceted music that has some serious quality behind it. In the last few years, I've opened my mind a little more and been exposed a few of his other tunes which underscore his ability to craft these gorgeous symphonic songs with penetrating lyrics. (His tribute song to Jeff Buckley is astounding, as is "In Between" from 1998's Humming, among others). Perhaps you, like me, had erroneously dismissed Duncan Sheik as boring or overly-vanilla, and maybe you missed his contributions to the Repertoire Of Good Music?

From an early age, Sheik was schooled in piano by his grandmother, a Juilliard graduate. He continued in music through his school years, but graduated with a degree in Semiotics from Brown University (trivia fact, same program as Damian Kulash from OK Go). Semiotics is the study of language, communication, and semantics -- so I think it leads to some dang good songwriting.

Recently when I was in California, I stumbled by chance upon a sort of "MTV Unplugged" lunchtime session with Sheik in the Fess Parker Theater at my university. This hour-long conversation was peppered with audience questions and several acoustic performances of songs that Sheik has penned for his current musical theater endeavor, Spring Awakening.

This musical was performed at Santa Clara University last year, hence the connection and the resulting (very interesting) appearance. It is a re-imagining of a controversial German expressionist play by the same name from Frank Wedekind, and Sheik worked on the musical score for the past eight years before it finally opened in New York's Atlantic Theater this past August, and just arriving on Broadway this past weekend.

Here is a partial transcript of the "interview" portion with the audience. I related to much more of what he had to say than I thought I would, being from a completely NON-theatre background myself (except for that junior high stint in the Anne Of Green Gables play, which I totally rocked). I always find it fascinating to see how music can permeate so many aspects of life and culture.

October 20, 2006
Fess Parker Theater, Santa Clara University

Sheik opened with acoustic performances of two exceedingly lovely songs from the musical.



How has it been working in theatre, which is so much more collaborative than the individual songwriting model? I imagine it must be a struggle to find solitude sometimes.

Yeah, yeah. Well, I lock people out of my house all the time. We lock the director [Michael Mayer] out of the recording studio, he'll be banging on the door (laughs).

But I do think that in the end, it's really great to have people's ideas in the process because left to our own devices, [lyricist] Steven [Sater] and I -- the whole show would just sound like what you've just heard, it would just be completely sad and melancholy and tragic, and it would not be very exciting. Having other people to force us to give the songs more energy -- in the end that's very helpful.

How did you get into the theatrical process, and how do you think it changed your writing and the concept of what a song is to go from a world recording albums to the theater?

Initially it was very difficult for the reasons I was saying, where it was so much more collaborative. When I go into the studio, I have great people around me who all give really great ideas, but at the end of the day it's still my record so I can make the call at the end. But in the theater scenario . . . you kind of have to be political and negotiate things all the time for what your agenda is versus their agenda.

I mean, the initial thing that was exciting about the project was that, normally, being on tour and playing with four or five musicians every night is a great thing, but there is some limitation to it. You know, five guys, on stage, playing some songs. That's what happens when you go to a rock concert. For me, it was very exciting to think that there could be this really cool narrative that you're telling over the course of the evening, and that within the context of this story, you're using this music to up the emotional ante of that story.

So even though sometimes it was really painful and really difficult to hear these songs -- you know, I'll be really honest with you, we had some kids who were really very "Broadway" in the initial workshops, and even some of the kids who are in the show now, they've done Les Mis and Ragtime and things like that. So they sing in that way, and -- it was torture for me. I had to kind of crack the whip with them, "You're not Cosette, you're Fiona Apple." You know, "Pretend that you're Thom Yorke. You're a kid in your bedroom who wants to be a rockstar."

So the concept was that the music would be completely contemporary and modern, and it was a difficult process to get to that place. And in the end I think it did end up as kind of a hybrid, because whenever you have eleven people singing a song on stage, there is an aspect of musical theatre around it, I mean -- you can't get away from it.

But I think in a way, I've kind of come around a little bit and started to embrace some aspects of [musical theatre]. We started working on this almost eight years ago, and since then I've come to appreciate the genre a lot more. For example, seeing things like Dancer In The Dark, the Bjork movie, seeing how music can function there. Laurie Anderson did a great musical piece about Moby Dick and -- to see all these kinds of possibilities within the form that are really cool. So even though it was difficult and a lot of the times I just wanted to say "Ugh! I can't do this!" in the end, to see it on the stage at The Atlantic, it was the best and most satisfying creative feeling I've had. Ever.

[My question] Do you think that the experiences working with Spring Awakening affected your writing on White Limousine at all?

Yeah, I think it definitely did. I think anytime you work on your process in a different way --like, say, working with eleven singers instead of one-- it changes the way you think about harmony, vocals, what the possibilities are. And I think also lyrically, it changed a lot of the ways I think about writing songs. Steven [Sater] is a lot more of a poetic writer than I am -- I can tend to get more heady in my own writing, and so I think it's helped me move away from that intellectual writing zone and to just do something that's more about feeling.

How was it working with this project which had existing themes and lyrics that you had to include in your songwriting, and integrating them with the melodies or chords in your mind?

Actually, I tend to write chords first almost always and then the melodies kind of reveal themselves from that. But that's just my own personal thing, I'm not sure why that is. I'm not the kind of person that just walks about and a melody pops into my head, I'm definitely a person that hears structural things first and then the melodies kind of emerge. The lyrics do suggest a rhythmic thing no matter what, so that kind of gives you something to start with in this instance.

Do you see yourself continuing to work in musical theatre?

Yeah. Steven and I have a bunch of pieces coming up. We have a show called The Nightingale which is going to be done in La Jolla next fall, and it's based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale about a Chinese emperor and this great bird . . . it's actually a little bit more political, a piece about how the aristocracy within a given country can really ignore the needs of the common people. And then we also did a piece about Nero the emperor that was in the theatre a few months ago and we'll probably do another version of that in New York next year as well.

And finally our next big crazy idea is to do a version of Frankenstein -- but it would be not with the big green monster. Our idea is to have Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley and Byron, the three of them kind of sitting around telling stories on the shore of Lake Como, and the story of Frankenstein comes from their perspectives there. So lots of things in the works.

Johnny Depp has been rumored to play Sweeney Todd in a new movie musical -- how would you feel about Spring Awakening being made into a movie?

Oh we definitely want to make a movie of it, for sure. It's gonna be hard, as all of these things are. Between you and me, most musicals which are made into movies are not very successful -- at least artistically I find them to be off-putting. But there are some things that are cool, so it can be done, if we get the right team of people to make this movie so that it doesn't get too . . . Hollywood and too . . . stupid.

How has it been orchestrating your works for the musicians in the theatre? Has your process changed much from how you are used to doing it?

I made recordings of pretty much all of these songs before, so there were orchestral parts that I had written that existed on the recordings already. But I also collaborated with Simon Hale, who's the string arranger that I work with a lot, he actually just got involved with the project and he did string arrangements for 14 of the 20 songs. We just recorded these 14 string arrangements at my studio this past Tuesday and Wednesday, and he's amazing. I just sit there and I'm blown away by what he does. So Simon and I have kind of orchestrated it together, and it's amazing to hear what he comes up with.

You seem to be at a really revolutionary point in musical theatre in terms of reaching out to new audiences, or younger audiences, or those who wouldn't ordinarily be interested in musical theatre. How do you want to affect this change?

Steven and I have always --from the beginning-- been interested in figuring out a way to do a piece of musical theatre and have younger people come to the show, but not just younger people, but people of all ages who kind of grew up in rock music, and yet make them feel like this kind of music is still completely relevant to them.

You know, musical theatre in the '30s and '40s, that was the popular music of the day, and then something happened in the '50s and '60s where these two genres diverged. It's always been our goal to kind of bring these two musical forms back together again so that you'll have a different set of people seeing it. In addition to the regular theatergoers, we're also hoping to get a new set of people who won't be estranged by the music because it's their music, it's what they're used to hearing aesthetically.

When the kids are singing in Spring Awakening -- even though it's set in 1891, when they sing they become modern kids. And the conceit is that when they sing they're never singing to each other, they're not singing to the audience. It's similar to Dancer In The Dark; when Bjork is singing she enters this fantasy world, her own kind of internal monologue is happening. So hopefully theatregoers don't get that uncomfortable or alienating feeling of "Why is this person singing stuff that they should just be saying?"

I think that there's been a kind of a modern tradition of that in musical theatre that's always trying to get a foothold, whether it's Tommy or Rent or Hedwig And The Angry Inch -- there have been some successful attempts, but we're just trying to be part of that trajectory and just get new people into the theatre, I think that's really important.


Sheik closed with an acoustic version of the title track off his latest album, White Limousine:

Watch also for the new double-disc retrospective album called Brighter/Later that was just released (with a nod to Nick Drake) on Rhino Records.


At The Reservoir - A Live EP
(1996 US 7-track promo-only CD featuring two non-album tracks)

01. The End Of The Outside
02. In The Absence of Sun
03. Rubbed Out
04. Home
05. Barely Breathing
06. She Runs Away
07. Fake Plastic Trees (Radiohead cover)

Me with Chris Parnell from SNL Duncan Sheik

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Absolutely *loved* Stranger Than Fiction

I saw Stranger Than Fiction last night and absolutely loved it. It's been a long time since I saw a film where I wouldn't change a thing about it. I found the script and the meta-premise extremely clever, loved the literary turns and the intelligent plotline.

If you've seen the previews, you know that the film involves the (flawlessly cast) Will Ferrell as a colorless IRS agent Harold Crick, who lives a precisely organized life that one day changes when he begins to hear a woman's voice narrating his life. He has become the main character in a new novel being written, in an odd intersection of life and fiction, and learns that in the book his "character" is to be killed off. Ah, gravitas.

This extremely clever premise plays itself out in the style of Charlie Kaufman movies like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- it takes advantage of the uniquely surreal world that movies inhabit to have a little fun with the medium.

It's not just a silly comedy of a film, but instead engagingly raises some fascinating existential questions about the meaning of life, the greater good, the process of creating something wonderful, and living your life in the face of a possible impending doom. I appreciated the overexaggeration of the one-dimensionality of the characters, from Ferrell's all-beige, sterile apartment of precise teeth-brushing and no fun, to the overstated colorful quirkiness of his female foil (Maggie Gyllenhaal) in her tattooed artistic world (which included her bakery with posters for Rogue Wave and The 22-20s stapled to the wall, which is apparently what anarchist bakers listen to).

Speaking of the music, there was a suitably punchy soundtrack which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is heavy on the Spoon, with Britt Daniels and Co. contributing several songs, as well as some new materials and scoring from Daniels in conjunction with Brian Reitzell (Lost In Translation, Marie Antoinette). Here's what we loved about it:

The Book I Write (new version) - Spoon
(plays over the closing credits)
(This just begs me to listen to "Everyday I Write The Book." Or maybe to just watch Wedding Singer again.)

That's Entertainment (demo version) - The Jam
(bus scene with Will Ferrell reading the manuscript of his life and potential death, perfect musical accompaniment)

Death or Glory - The Clash
(playing in the background after Crick's first encounter with the artsy baker Ana, while he yells at the invisible narrator)

Going Missing - Maximo Park
(spot-on lyrics for Ferrell's character, sung in that appealing British lilt)

And more goodness awaits in the official soundtrack CD. And go see the movie, it was the best I've seen in a long time, and it induced me to a fervent profession of love during the closing credits for the first-time writer Zach Helm. Someone buy that man a drink.


Friday, November 17, 2006

You asked: Ray LaMontagne, live & unreleased

The single most requested re-up that I get these days is for some of the older live and unreleased Ray LaMontagne songs. I am happy to finally re-post some fantastic live unreleased stuff from him, in honor of me seeing Ray in Denver next Monday. These are mostly all courtesy of a fantastic girl named Jaimie who is relentless in collecting these, and I am appreciative for the goodness they have bestowed upon my ears.


Heaven is a Honky Tonk (1/29/05)
Amy (7/11/2005)
Lesson Learned (7/11/2005)
You Got What I Want (So Why Don't You Give It To Me) (7/11/2005)
Katie Belle (Gettin' High) (7/11/2005)
Until The Sun Turns Black (KEXP)
Still Can't Feel The Gin (9/18/04, Austin TX)
You Should Belong To Me (Folk Fest in Lyons, CO)
I Can Get High (Folk Fest in Lyons, CO)
Life Is Long (Folk Fest in Lyons, CO)
Can I Stay? (Folk Fest in Lyons, CO)
Half Alive (2/15/2005)
Simple Consolation (2/15/2005)
Three More Days (2/15/2005)
Sarah (5/4/05)

Allie You Ought To Be A Married Woman Now (1/29/05, Troubadour, Hollywood CA)
Gather Your Children (live at Merrill)
She's Your Girl (Folk Fest in Lyons, CO)
Untitled (Take Me By Surprise) (7/18/05, Wiltern Theatre, LA)
Sad And Lonesome Boy (12/7/05, Chicago IL)
Untitled (I Won't Be Around?) (Folk Fest in Lyons, CO)
Into The Sun (April 2003)
Milkweed and Honey (Austin City Limits, 9/18/04)
Tired Of Waiting For You (yes, a Kinks cover - 4/26/05, Paradiso)
Hello Hello (Bush Hall)

And a cover Ray has been pulling out of his hat lately in concert, this one 11/9/06 in Los Angeles: (a good video here from London)

To Love Somebody (Bee Gees cover, NOT Michael Bolton)



Springsteen posts re-upped

Per your requests, I updated the links on both Part One and Part Two of my Springsteen covers bacchanalia/gushy ramblings.

Pearl Jam to help Make Poverty History in Melbourne tonight

They're totally going all Bono one you: Just received word from Pearl Jam that they are playing the Make Poverty History concert tonight in Melbourne, Australia with JET and others. The concert website is not yet updated to include this information, but PJ says they're in. There will be a live webcast here, one hour delayed.

Loosely correlated tune:
I Got You (live) - Pearl Jam
(Split Enz cover - okay, they're from New Zealand but it's the closest I could get this morning)


Bono joins Pearl Jam for "Rocking In The Free World"!!
(the first hint that something was afoot was when Vedder introduced the song by saying, "It's a beautiful day . . .")

STREAMING VIDEO (7 minutes in)

MP3: Rockin In The Free World
Pearl Jam with Bono & The Edge

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

All you need is love (and a wristband from Abbey Road Studios)

A reworking of classic Beatles songs by Sir George Martin from the Cirque du Soleil show, the new album Love will be released on Monday Nov 20th. If you are one of my British readers, you have a chance to hear the album before it is released, in the famous studio that it was originally recorded in.

I've just gotten word that the first 100 fans to turn up at 1pm tomorrow (Friday the 17th) at Abbey Road Studios will get a wristband to return later that evening (6:30pm) for an exclusive playback of the LOVE album in the legendary Studio 2.

Sounds like fun to me. Anyone seen the show yet? One friend of mine who saw it wrote me that, "It was truly a surrealistic experience with the best sound I have ever heard in my life. There were speakers in front of us, on the back of our chairs, and on the side. Highly recommended even for those who are not big Beatles fans."

I've had the pleasure of listening to the album and here is a sample track:

"Strawberry Fields Forever" - The Beatles (Savefile)

(From the official description: This begins with John's original demo before going into an early take of the song and then climaxing in a musical collage including the piano solo from "In My Life" and the harpsichord pattern from "Piggies"). It is indeed kind of fun tracing all the bits that are used in each song.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Who loves ya, Bruce?

In honor of a photography exhibit that just opened last weekend at the Snap Gallery in Birmingham (Born To Run: The Unseen Photographs, by Eric Meola, who photographed the Born To Run album cover), the Telegraph (UK) asks various musicians why they love Bruce and a bit about their favorite Springsteen lyric.

Here are a few excerpts that I related to in some way:

Jeremy Vine, Radio 2 presenter
"Thunder Road and Born to Run are the best songs in rock and roll. They're cinematographic – like a movie and music in tandem. They'll still be playing those songs in a thousand years' time. In fact, I bet they're playing them on other planets right now."

Favourite lyric – from 'Hungry Heart' (1980)
Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back
Like a river that don't know where it's flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going

Billy Bragg, singer/songwriter
"I saw him at Meadowlands in New Jersey, which is a huge sports arena, and he made it seem like a little local bar. "

Favourite lyric – from 'Racing in The Street' (1978)
Tonight my baby and me, we're gonna drive to the sea
and wash these sins from our hands

Badly Drawn Boy, singer/songwriter
"The way I discovered Springsteen was pretty special: it felt like serendipity. It was Christmas and I was 14, just flicking TV channels. Suddenly I saw him on The Old Grey Whistle Test - footage of him playing Thunder Road live at Madison Square Garden in 1979. Just hearing the piano and harmonica made me think, 'Wow, what's that song?' The next day I bought the album, and then the rest of them in chronological order. I spent the next four years listening to nothing but Springsteen.

It was Springsteen who started me thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I didn't know I had music in me."

Favourite lyric – from 'Thunder Road' (1975)
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty but, hey, you're alright
Oh, and that's alright with me

Thunder Road (live from Madison Square Garden, 1979) - Bruce Springsteen

VIEW: Virtually tour the exhibit here, minus the cool art gallery ambience.


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