Shot Of Rhythm

[ Saturday, December 17, 2005 ]


Such sweet sorrow

I've got a problem: I've had Sara Evans' song "Suds In The Bucket" in my head for four days. Now, it's a good song, but any song for that long will begin to grate. Any suggestions?

On the box right now: Various Artists, LOWE PROFILE: A TRIBUTE TO NICK LOWE, Disc 2.

In my head right now: Sara Evans, "Suds In The Bucket."


Dove With Claws [8:32 AM]

[ Thursday, December 15, 2005 ]



-Thanks to Kenneth, who hyped this blog, the gig last week, and (most important by a mile) the National Voting Rights Museum in the ISTHMUS this week. Any publicity is good publicity, but good publicity is great publicity.

-Hey Caryn, I think I'm gonna fool around with a bit torrent. Any recommendations?

-Things I like right now, as I sit here laid up:
-Nik Cohn, TRIKSTA. A fascinating examination of New Orleans hip-hop, written with a shockingly personal perspective by Cohn, one of the last of the great beat-generation rock-crit hipsters. The stories are great, the analysis is great, and the writing is always evocative of the city, its people, and its culture. It's not always a happy story, and it is always a desperate one, but lifeblood runs deep throughout this story.
-Ken Emerson, ALWAYS MAGIC IN THE AIR. Just starting this one, now that I've finished Cohn's book. Looks to be a nice, comprehensive discussion of the Brill Building pop juggernaut of the early 1960s, told with both respect and spirit.

-Various Artists, OUR NEW ORLEANS. Selfish as it may sound, I'm not really interested in any of the post-Katrina benefit albums...except for this one. New recordings by a variety of the Crescent City's best and most legendary (Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Preservation Hall Jazz Band), all of which manage to sound both mournful and celebratory. This is certainly not a lighthearted collection, but it's gospel transcendent and highly dignified. My particular favorites are Allen Toussaint's recording of his classic composition "Yes We Can Can," and Buckwheat Zydeco's fantastic version of the old Nashville soul song "Crying In The Streets," a song that was written after the assassination of Martin Luther King. (It doesn't hurt that, on the track, Buckwheat's backed up by Ry Cooder, Jim Dickinson and Jim Keltner.) Quite a nice collection.
-Apparently Nothing, SPRAWL. The new album from an up-and-coming pop/rock band from Madison. They've soldered off the rough edges from the first album, and the song construction on this one matches the musicianship they've demonstrated from the beginning. There's even a nice Neil Young/Drive-By Truckers-style thing at the end. (

On the box right now: Dion, BRONX IN BLUE.


Dove With Claws [8:28 AM]

[ Tuesday, December 13, 2005 ]


More on the master

Still thinking about Richard Pryor. There's a part of me that simply wants to non-intellectually appreciate what he did/said/represented, remembering back to the literally thousands of times that I laughed til I hurt at his stand-up/films/appearances. There's no comedian who even comes close to being as funny as Pryor at his best, and I've been lucky enough to experience most of his films, records and such.

Still, since thinking is kinda what I do, and since there's simply no way that such a monumental figure can pass without me trying to figure out why the hell he matters in such a large and complicated world, I've been thinking. Now, I could go on and on about how monumentally important he was in terms of bringing honest discussions of painful societal subjects (race, sexuality, drugs) into a venue where they could not only be understood, but laughed at. I could go on about how, as one of America's highest-paid movie stars in the early 1980s, he created a new model of African-American crossover success that bent the path and continues to be dominant to this day. I could simply list off all the comedians who would simply not be able to do what they do without Pryor.

But, in the spirit of a man who always kept it as much about him as possible, I think I wanna get at something else. Pryor's greatest comedic gift, I think, was the way in which he refused to give any quarter to any of his personal pain or struggle; not only did he mock himself mercilessly (could you imagine many of today's comedians doing entire routines about how small his dick is?), but he unearthed all the pain of a tortured life in the service of interrogating it and, if not laughing it off, at least laughing about it. In my own life, I've learned to do the same thing. Sometimes people are shocked at how much I can - and will - find humor in, but I find it pretty damn close to natural. I get this, as far as I can tell, from two sources: first, and most important, is my Irish family. Second, though, is Richard Pryor, who helps us all find our own humanity by so fearlessly exploring his own. His best work is as beautiful and life-affirming as any Miles Davis solo or Shakespearean sonnet...and it's deep, too.

Oh yeah, I also should mention that his version of a white man swearing has provided me with my "white guy" voice for all time. In other words, whenever I'm trying to accentuate the whiteness of someone I'm talking about, I'll use a voice that's really me doing Richard Pryor doing a white guy. If that ain't system-fucking genius, I don't know what it is.

On the box right now: Eminem, CURTAIN CALL.


Dove With Claws [8:30 AM]

[ Sunday, December 11, 2005 ]


Good news, bad news

So, as many of you know (but as some probably don't), I just got out of the hospital, after breaking my leg on Tuesday night. Surgery went well, recuperation looks straightforward. So, that's the good news.

Bad news, of course, is that Richard Pryor died. Funniest man of all time.

On the box right now: Various Artists, OUR NEW ORLEANS.


Dove With Claws [8:37 AM]