Shot Of Rhythm

[ Thursday, October 27, 2005 ]


Memo to the Prez

So, under pressure from seemingly everybody and in bad need of some good political mojo, Bush withdrew his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. I can't say I blame him, although I always hate to see the hardcore right-wing get anything they want.

I do have a suggestion, though, for a new nominee: Charlie Murphy.

On the box right now: Various Artists, MUSIC CITY SOUL. Surprisingly uptown-sounding soul from Nashville, another weird and wonderful entry in the world of obscure soul collections.


Dove With Claws [8:19 AM]

[ Tuesday, October 25, 2005 ]



-Rosa Parks died yesterday. I almost hesitate to even comment on her passing, simply because she is such a well-known figure in the freedom struggle, and because her canonization as "the spark that started the civil rights movement" (as a famous poster inscription reads) denies the fact that there were (literally) hundreds of activists in Montgomery and elsewhere who were creating the circumstances for the kind of bus boycott that Mrs. Parks' arrest ultimately led to. There were previous arrests (Claudette Colvin most famously) which Montgomery's black activist leadership decided were not the horse to hitch the entire struggle to (for various reasons both fair and unfair.)

Not only that, but it also denies the important history of activism that Mrs. Parks had participated in for decades in Alabama. Apart from her position as NAACP secretary, she had - in the previous decade - participated in anti-rape agitation that sets her precedent as an activist far before Jo Ann Robinson, E.D. Nixon or others had even concieved of what happened in December 1955. Mrs. Parks was certainly not some mystical angel sent down to set off a holy crusade; instead, she was an active and engaged person who was willing to take a tremendous risk, and make a tremendous sacrifice, in order to further goals of justice and equality that she had long been concerned with. Rest in peace, Mrs. Parks.

-The 2000th American soldier to die in Iraq was killed yesterday. Further blood on the hands of the Bush Administration, who are finally paying the deep karmic debts they owe to society and humanity (Fitzgerald indictments, desolate poll numbers, conservative backlash). May God be with the dead and dying, and also with the live and living.

On the box right now: Destiny's Child, #1 HITS.


Dove With Claws [10:29 AM]

[ Monday, October 24, 2005 ]


With The Beatle

Last night, accompanied by Kenneth (, I saw Paul McCartney in Milwaukee. It was an opportunity I'm glad I was able to take; after all, there are but 2 Beatles left, and - while he's a great drummer - Ringo ain't exactly known for scintillating live performances. On top of that, I've recently realized that (after years of stupid, small-minded Paul-hating) Macca's probably my second-favorite Beatle, behind George Harrison. So, armed with those justifications, I made the commitment.

He's really quite good live, with a band that's surprisingly thunderous and a set that managed to strike that elusive balance between parade of greatest hits (most of which made an appearance) and surprising obscurities (from "In Spite Of All The Danger" to "Too Many People" and beyond). He played for almost 3 hours, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 songs, and covered basically every phase of his career (although his post-Wings, pre-new album solo career got but one selection - "Flaming Pie," of all things).

Other thoughts:
-The opening act was wonderfully bizarre, an unintroduced DJ playing surprisingly good dance/hip-hop remixes of McCartney songs.
-He looked to be in good shape, with some great bass/guitar/piano playing, although his voice seemed to weaken as the night went on. (He also couldn't handle the high falsetto of his new song "Jenny Wren," a really lovely tune, making it the one disappointment of the evening.)
-The Wings-era stuff all sounded great, making me actually wish for more of it. "Let Me Roll It" was a particular highlight, with great three-guitar work and a nicely soulful vocal from Sir Paul. "Let Me Roll It" is one of my favorite McCartney tunes, and it was nice to hear it explode on stage the way it did. I also dug the pyrotechnics (literally) of "Live And Let Die," which rocked like a motherfucker, and anybody who isn't a fan of "Maybe I'm Amazed" can kiss both sides of my ass.
-The other great vocal performance may very well have been a surprisingly bluesy "Fixin' A Hole," played solo on piano.
-He actually had three different guitar freak-out jams: one at the end of "Let Me Roll It," where he teased "Foxy Lady," one during a full-blast "Helter Skelter," and one during "The End," which closed the show.
-Several of his Beatle choices were real surprises, from "I'll Get You" and "I'll Follow The Sun," to "Got To Get You Into My Life" and "Good Day Sunshine," to "For No One" and the aforementioned "Fixin' A Hole."
-I was expecting to have several of those oh-my-God-it's-really-a-Beatle-up-there moments, but I really only had two, and they both surprised me. The first came when he asked for a moment of recognition for "the loved ones we've lost, specifically John, George and Linda." The other came when he opened his second encore with "Please Please Me," which, for some reason, made the moment more clear to me than any other Beatle song he played.
-I can't deny the fact that I'm glad I lived long enough (and so did he) to hear Paul McCartney play "Yesterday," "Blackbird," "Get Back" and "Let It Be" in the same room as me.
-I also can't deny the power of "Hey Jude," which became the kind of anthemic call-and-response that I'd always tried to ignore, due to the song's ubiquity.

It was a really good show, and it was a really worthwhile experience. Right in the middle of "Eleanor Rigby" or "Drive My Car" or something, I realized that I was closing a kind of biographical circle by finally seeing one of the Fab Four. My mother loved the Beatles, my father loves the Beatles, most of my friends love the Beatles, and I love the Beatles. Rare that a a rock and roll concert (and a fierce one at that) can have such weirdly existential meaning. I'm glad I had the chance to be there.

On the box right now: Fiona Apple, EXTRAORDINARY MACHINE.


Dove With Claws [7:01 AM]