Monday, June 30, 2008

Song of the Week 6/27/08

The time: Saturday night, June 28th just before midnight.

The event: David Lame Roth vs. Sammy Haggard for supreme karaoke domination of Union Hall.

The winner: All the people there.

Sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words. This is one of those times:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Song of the Week 6/20/08

R.E.M. - “Ignoreland”

It’s rare when I can say this about a band, especially an act who I’ve been a devoted fan of for 23 years:

Thursday’s R.E.M. show at Madison Square Garden was the best I’ve ever seen them.


You might ask, "Why do you feel this way after 20 years of seeing them perform?" Well, I would reply that the set list was about as diverse as I’ve ever witnessed. The band finally seems comfortable without Bill Berry behind the drum kit. (Bill Rieflin is the second best Bill the band has ever had.) Michael Stipe, Mike Mills and Peter Buck looked like they actually enjoyed each other’s company and were having a terrific time going through their past (“Harborcoat?” “Disturbance at the heron House?” OMFG!) and their present (“Living Well’s the Best Revenge” from the great Accelerate is a quintessential set opener). And my friend and fellow baseball fanatic Scott McCaughey was his typical cheery on stage self. (Not as much bouncing as usual this time, but it's because he has a lot more to do this tour.)

Oh, and it might have helped that I had 5th row seats.

(The view from said seats via Molly’s iPhone)

There are times where I am way past my job being cool. (Well, pretty much the entire time at this point. I mean Coldplay walked around my office today and I was just annoyed.) Having someone the R.E.M. office calling me 2 hours before showtime to offer a last-minute pair of free tickets that ended up being that good? Holy shit, that is fucking cool.

It’s been five days since the show and I’m still listening to R.E.M. albums every day on my commute. It feels like a rebirth of my love of this band from Athens, Georgia. They’ve played such a huge part in my life from the moment I got to college. One of my first memories of Ithaca is buying Document (on CD--woo woo!) the day it came out at the college bookstore just after having my first classes. I waited out in a cold line for tickets for the Green tour with a bunch of friends. I was honored to be the first person to play “Losing My Religion” fresh out off the Fed Ex package. (And I’m sure there’s other stuff as well, but there are only so many brain cells left.) There have been times over the past few days when I’ve felt like that brash kid who was into radio all over again.


Anyways, on to the Song of the Week. “Ignoreland” has always been the stepchild of the mostly downbeat Automatic for the People. It’s got loud guitars, a funky clavinet part and sounds distinctly out of place next to “Monty Got a Raw Deal” and “Star Me Kitten.” Michael Stipe spits out the lyrics about the Reagan/Bush 1 era as co-producer Scott Litt makes Stipe’s voice sound as if it’s being broadcast over distorted speakers at the world’s largest political rally. It’s a song that would fit snugly on Life’s Rich Pageant or Document, yet the band never played it live until this tour. And my oh my, it really was a treat to see and hear. Stipe’s biting words are still applicable 16 years later:

“These bastards stole their power from the victims of the us v. them years,
Wrecking all things virtuous and true.
The undermining social democratic downhill slide into abysmal
Lost lamb off the precipice into the trickle down runoff pool.
They hypnotized the summer, nineteen seventy-nine.
Marched into the capital brooding duplicitous, wicked and able, media-ready,
Heartless, and labeled. super U.S.. citizen, super achiever,
Mega ultra power dosing. relax.
Defense, defense, defense, defense. yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. ignoreland. yeah, yeah, yeah. ignoreland.”

Perhaps it’s best that R.E.M. waited until now to play “Ignoreland.” The track fits in with the political motif that runs through most of Accelerate and the songs that filled out the MSG set. (“These Days” was just phenomenal.) R.E.M. will be back just in time for the fall elections and hopefully the cries of “Ignoreland” won’t be needed after November 4th.

Here’s the set list, with as many YouTube selections as I could dig up.

“Living Well is the Best Revenge”

“These Days”

“What’s the Frequency Kenneth”

“Bad Day”


“Hollow Man”

“Ignoreland” (Alas, its from Chicago, not NYC, but needs to be heard/seen live)

“Man-Sized Wreath”

“Leaving New York”

“Disturbance at the Heron House”



“Don’t Go back to Rockville”

“Driver 8”


“The One I Love”

“Until the Day is Done”

“Let Me In”

“Horse to Water”

“Pretty Persuasion”

“Orange Crush”

“I’m Gonna DJ”


“Supernatural Superserious”

“Losing My Religion”

“Begin the Begin”

“Fall on Me” (with Johnny Marr)

“Man on the Moon” (with Johnny Marr)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Song of the Week 6/13/08

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - "The Waiting"

I'm hatching a new project this fall, and "The Waiting" is a part of it (I hope). So I've been listening to the live version from Pack Up the Plantation quite a bit over the past few days. Sunday I'm at the second game of an unexpected doubleheader at Shea and the people who run the music decide to play this song (the studio version) as we waited for a Texas Rangers relief pitcher was warming up.

The live version below is tremendous. I love Petty's lengthy intro:

Friday, June 06, 2008

Song of the Week 6/6/08

Death Cab For Cutie - "No Sunlight"

Death Cab's new album Narrow Stairs is easily one of my favorite discs of the year. Ben Gibbard and company have created an album that serves the many moods of Steve--happy ("Long Division"); sad ("The Ice Is Getting Thinner"): contemplative (yeah, it happens) ("Bixby Canyon Bridge"); Beach Boys-esque ("You Can Do Better Than Me") and finally poppy, which brings us to "No Sunlight." It's a perfect pop composition--great quick piano and guitar riffs, two instantly-memorable choruses ("in sunlight" and "no sunlight"), a head-bobbing bridge that comes around twice and it all clocks in at a brisk 2:40. I kind of hope "No Sunlight" doesn't become a single. It would be nice to have a favorite song on an album not be sullied by radio play.

You know what? I'm going to listen to the song for the sixth time today. I suggest you do the same.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Song of the Week 5/30/08

The Doobie Brothers - "What a Fool Believes"

Wow, what a fun night of Yacht Rock at Union Hall. Hearing my friend Jed Parish sing this song live with Joe McGinty of Loser's Lounge was awesome. And then seeing Yacht Rock co-creator JD Ryznar do a William Shatner-esque take during the Hawl and Oatz Soft Rock Karaoke was fantastic.