Shot Of Rhythm

[ Saturday, December 18, 2004 ]


I blow my nose on your cultural stereotypes

I was with a mixed-race, pan-gender group last night, at a quiet Madison bar called Wonders that we quickly turned into...a rowdy Madison bar. The main reason for this was the jukebox, which had many of our favorites, ranging from the best of 90s rock to absolutely golden soul and R&B choices. We banged the table and sang these songs, with the halfway on-key enthusiasm that only such gatherings can engender in their participants.

Apart from the fact that it was too much fun, it was a more-than-slightly illuminating clinic in the fallacy of cultural/ethnic stereotype. One moment in particular stuck out in my mind. Two songs followed each other on the jukebox: Bon Jovi's "Living On A Prayer" and Al Green's "Love and Happiness." (Yeah, it was that kinda night.) The black women at the table, and only the black women at the table, sang along to every word of "Living On A Prayer," while the white guys at the table were loudest during the Rev. Green. This, of course, flies in the face of all those who would claim music is culturally homogenous (whether they are folk snobs or Clear Channel marketers.) Now, it wasn't a consensus split. A few of the white people at the table were comfortable enough in their hipness to quietly appreciate the sugary pop brilliance of the Jersey boys, and there ain't nobody in the world (at least who I want to be around) who doesn't like Al Green, I found it a certain socio-cultural clinic. Which ain't bad for a Friday night in December.

Postscript: I also realized that everybody - including the artsiest members of our party - listen to Pearl Jam.

On the box right now: Chuck Berry, THE CHESS BOX. Herein lies the Word...


Dove With Claws [8:42 AM]

[ Tuesday, December 14, 2004 ]


Link Heartthrob

I changed around some of the links on the left. I added a link to Pupy Costello and the Big City Honky Tonk, said goodbye to three sites that are no longer updated (R.I.P. Pumphandle, Junkers and Smokin' with Superman...we hardly knew ye), finally set the Nick Lowe link to the right address, and added the great comic Boondocks, by Aaron Magruder. For those not familiar with Magruder's work, "Boondocks" is riotously funny and righteously political...always worth reading.

On the box right now: Michael Jackson, ULTIMATE COLLECTION, Disc 3. It's been a strange experience revisiting Jacko's career. (See below) The first disc, which covers everything from the J5 through OFF THE WALL, is fantastic. The second disc, which spans THRILLER and its ancillary releases, is surprisingly spotty; "Wanna Be Startin Somethin," "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" are maybe the only three songs on that disc that are worth revisiting. The 3rd disc, from BAD through DANGEROUS, is surprisingly consistent. I actually find myself enjoying that one most of all, which is not what I would've predicted. (I mean, who can argue with "The Way You Make Me Feel" or "Black Or White?") The fourth disc, which is HIStory through his last record, is so-so, but definitely made sad by all his personal weirdness. One nice thingis that, on all four discs, there's some really good unreleased stuff. Interesting journey, this...


Dove With Claws [7:39 AM]

[ Sunday, December 12, 2004 ]


Things I like right now

-Go read THE ROSE AND THE BRIAR, a wonderful collection of essays/poems/artwork concerning various American ballads (from "Barbara Allen" to Springsteen). The contributors, with only a couple exceptions, are unfailingly brilliant and interesting in their analyses, and the occassional intellectualism (i.e. when musician Rennie Sparks suggests that "Pretty Polly" represents the creation of a new American manner in the way female sexuality was presented) somehow never manages to get pretentious. Sold separately is an equally great disc (also called THE ROSE AND THE BRIAR) of many of the songs covered in the book. This is easily the best book on music I've read this year.

-I was at a used-CD store yesterday, since it's the only place in reasonable distance where I can buy guitar strings. While I was there, I saw a copy of the new Michael Jackson career-spanning boxed set on sale for $20 (it normally retails for $50). I couldn't resist, and I'm glad I didn't. The only thing that's bad about this set is the inevitable sadness that comes when the heights of his heyday are replaced by the bizarre mediocrity of his most recent work. Still, you simply can't argue with his best work (either with his brothers or solo), and I'm not gonna try.

-I think "That's How I Got To Memphis" is my new favorite song. Or, at least, the song I'm most likely to play when I pick up my guitar.

On the box right now: Michael Jackson, ULTIMATE COLLECTION, Disc 1. How fucking great are "I Want You Back" and "ABC"?


Dove With Claws [10:50 AM]