[ Saturday, May 03, 2003 ]
I had a dream last night that I was asked to sit in with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The weirdest part was that it was in a tiny club in Stevens Point Wisconsin, and that Little Steven was convinced that we should close the show with Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya." Not a bad idea, by any means, but I woke up before we got there. Last thing I remember is eating dinner in one of the club's tables with Bruce, Patti and Matt Cepress.
Anyway, I'm in the middle of finishing a paper on the American Communist Party during World War II, a depressing story if ever there was one. "We HATE fascism!"..."Wait a minute, Stalin and Hitler did what? You know, now that we think about it, Hitler's not all that bad. What we REALLY hate is the 'Second Imperialst War!"..."Hitler invaded the U.S.S.R.? Let's GET him!" Apart from ideological flip-flopping, there was also a big-time abandonment of what should've been core Commie principles. One example is the way that party leader Earl Browder pushed through a moratorium on strikes during wartime. Another was the removal of race issues from the dialogue. I'm convinced, if the Left wasn't so damn dumb all the time, we'd actually have a shot...
So that's what I've been doing, and, with few exceptions, that's what I'll be doing for the rest of the day. If I get to a point where I'm satisfied, I might go check out Arrested Development on the Terrace for free tonight at 10. I've always liked A.D., and I'm amazed that they're back together. (Speech's solo career must not have been going too well.) I even pulled out 3 YEARS, 2 MONTHS... (or whatever the numbers are) this morning, and found that I still liked it as much as I always did. But, the Communists are my first priority, so I'm reserving judgment until the hour draws nearer.
In the box right now: Talib Kweli
Dove With Claws [12:21 PM]
[ Friday, May 02, 2003 ]
First of all, READ THIS:
The Truth Behind The War
We all knew this in our hearts and minds, anyway, but now we have some truth to go behind it. The arrogance of the Bush regime (unelected of course) is reaching full-throttle now, and at least some in the mainstream media have the gumption and the skill to poke holes in the armor. That dirty son-of-a-Bush, as Chuck D would say...
2002 was a great music year....so why has 2003 sucked so far? Sure, there've been a few good-to-really-good releases (White Stripes, Sounds of Blackness, Dan Bern, Lucinda Williams, Field Mob), but they all pale in comparison to the output of the previous 12 months. 50 Cent, whose popularity is an almost complete mystery to me, put out a decent record, but it's actually fallen up on the quality scale thanks to the lack of truly compelling listening material. ("In Da Club" is a great single, no doubt, but "Wanksta" is the only other notable track on the album, and that already appeared on the 8 MILE soundtrack.)
I've also found myself playing The Jayhawks' new album (RAINY DAY MUSIC) far more than I would in a better climate. I've always liked the 'Hawks, and I cannot resist the sound of high harmonies, jangly guitars and catchy melodies. Particularly in this world at this hour, sunny Beatles-and-Byrds pastiches are always welcome. "Save It For A Rainy Day," the first single, is also the band's best song since their heyday. (In other words, since the departure of Mark Olson, whose musical relationship with remaining leader Gary Louris was described by a smarter writer than me - whose name I forget - as reminiscent of the Parsons/Hillman partnership in the Flying Burrito Brothers.) Still, as much as I like some of the album's tracks, others are simply too washed-out and mellifluous, and are further crippled by unsuccessful melodies (and a band like this is absolutely dependent on strong and memorable melodic content) and cliched lyrical themes. Still, I dig the record, and a few of the songs will work their way onto my eventual Jayhawks mix.
I'm a big fan of Dan Bern, and his new album is excellent. Lucinda's is good, better than her last one. Ditto on the White Stripes. Robert Belfour, a great acoustic bluesman from Fat Possum Records (available for clicking in the Links on the left), made a strong second album, but nothing that galvanized me the way his debut did. Still, I've been disappointed by much this year, and I'm still waiting for the year's first "oh my god, how great is this?" release. Hopefully the OutKast record due by the end of May will reverse this year's mediocre trend. If anybody can do it, it's them, and I'm counting on Big Boi and Dre to come through.
Finally today, Bill C. Malone, the dean of country music historians (BUY HIS BOOKS
) who has recently become a friend of mine, suggested that I use this space to help him in his quest to get Woody Guthrie in the Country Music Hall Of Fame. He doesn't need to ask twice. As you can imagine, the Country Music Hall Of Fame is probably a little bit reticent about putting an avowed Communist in their Hall of Fame; unfortunately for them, Woody Guthrie is also one of the greatest songwriters to ever live, an American voice the likes of which we have seen very few of. He spoke the truth with deliberate, graceful, righteous poetry, and did so with an emphasis on rural Americans (black, white, or otherwise) that made him as hillbilly as anybody. His words still resonate, and his songs are now part of the American landscape. He absolutely SHOULD be there, and maybe we can all do our part to get him there.
What's your part? Start by visiting the Hall's website (Country Music Hall Of Fame
) and dropping them a line. It's easy, painless, and it'll make you feel good. Here's a brief sampling of some of my favorite Woody Guthrie lyrics:
"I've been all around this world, I've seen lots of funny men
Some rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen
But as through this world you ramble, as through this world you roam
You'll never see an outlaw throw a family from their home."
"The gamblin' man is rich and the workin' man is poor
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore."
"When Jesus came to town, all the workin' folks around
Would listen to what he did say
The bankers and the preachers, they nailed him in the air
Yeah, they laid Jesus Christ in his grave."
"Race hatred will not stop us, this one thing I know
Your poll tax and Jim Crow and greed has got to go
You're bound to lose, all you fascists are bound to lose."
For more lyrics and info, visit WoodyGuthrie.org
(Also check out Billy Bragg and Wilco's MERMAID AVENUE and MERMAID AVENUE, VOL. 2, two albums of previously unreleased Guthrie lyrics set to music written by Bragg, a radical British folksinger, and Wilco, one of the best rock and roll bands in the country.) It'll be good for you.
That's it for today. Holla back in the "Shout Out" section (or by e-mail) if you so desire.
In the box right now: Flying Burrito Brothers just ending, about to put on Van Morrison
Dove With Claws [1:11 PM]
[ Thursday, May 01, 2003 ]
Click "Shout Out" to comment...
In the box right now...Flying Burrito Brothers.
Dove With Claws [8:11 PM]
"These are scoundrel times."-Lillian Hellman
She's right, and she wasn't even talking about 2003. She was talking about the middle of the last century, when blacklists, right-wing psychotics and one senatorial motherfucker from my home state (WI) were wreaking havoc on anybody who disagreed with them or had the audacity to suggest that one's political beliefs should not be fodder for public consumption and condemnation. Old Joe McCarthy may be dead, but the hateful seeds which he helped spawn are alive and well.
So, direct from the heart of darkness, live from the terrordome, comes Shot of Rhythm, the occasional ramblings of an unrepentant radical bastard, an all-American traitor. The world's too fucked up not to comment on anymore, even if it's just an another in a sea of blogs that dot the virtual map. "It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under." Melle Mel said that...he's right. And he wasn't even talking about 2003.
Of course, I also love rock and roll. And soulcountryblueshiphopbluegrassgospelreggae et cetera. So I'll be chiming in on those issues, probably as much (or more) as the political tip. And I might hit y'all with some other stuff too, depending on if I feel the spirit...
So welcome to Shot of Rhythm. Stop by often, stay awhile, and be sure to tip your wait staff.
Dove With Claws [7:07 PM]