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My own and other people's.
READIN started out as a place for me
to keep track of what I am reading, and to learn (slowly, slowly)
how to design a web site.
There has been some mission drift
here and there, but in general that's still what it is. Some of
the main things I write about here are
listening to (and playing) music, and
watching the movies. Also I write about the
work I do with my hands and with my head; and of course about bringing up Sylvia.
The site is a bit of a work in progress. New features will come on-line now and then; and you will occasionally get error messages in place of the blog, for the forseeable future. Cut me some slack, I'm just doing it for fun! And if you see an error message you think I should know about, please drop me a line. READIN source code is PHP and CSS, and available on request, in case you want to see how it works.
I've been listening to various tracks from the Apostropher's latest mix tape here and there for the past week or so; this morning I gave it my first deep listen, listening to all the tracks in order, and really paying attention. Verdict: good stuff, a productive use of your time. This is fantastic music for walking around, it would be great for working to (like house cleaning, woodworking, gardening kind of thing I'm talking about, not office work -- it would be difficult to keep your mind on your spreadsheet.) I have never heard a lot of this music -- highlights for me were "Little Walter Rides Again" by Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood, the Memphis Horns, the Bill Frisell tracks, and Bettye LaVette who to my ear sounds uncannily like Janis Joplin. (And what d'ya know, her latest album is called Take Another Little Piece of my Heart.)
"Oceanside", Robyn Hitchcock, Live at the Cambridge Folk Festival. Not produced as well as the version on Perspex Island and I think they are playing at a faster tempo.
"Keep on the Sunny Side", Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Will the Circle be Unbroken. Can't say much about this. It is totally unironic and is Maybelle Carter's signature piece; I love it but it brings back unpleasant childhood sing-along memories.
"Penny Lane", Robyn Hitchcock. Lousy. I ought to take this concert off my iPod, there is no reason to keep it. The banter following the song -- "One of the things that really distinguished the '60s from the present was that they didn't have these things that say 'if you like that, try this!'" -- struck me as kind of humorous but not really up to RH banter standards.
"Rukus Juice Blues", Big Bill Broonzy. Awesome. Broonzy says "rookus", not "ruckus"; at first I thought he was talking about "ruby juice".
"Birds in Perspex", Robyn Hitchcock LCFF. Maybe my favorite RH song ever. But again, not up to the level of the album version -- this record could probably come off the iPod as well. It is impossible not to sing along with "come alive" even though I'm in public, sitting on a bench on the street.
"Pretty Little Dog", Critton Hollow String Band. Instrumental. Just right after #5. (from the "String Theory" compilation)
"This is the Last Time I'll Say Goodbye", The Sirens -- from the Apostropher's Don't Bogart That Groove compilation. I hadn't noticed before what a remarkable song this instrumental piece is. The music has a really structural feeling to it like it's building a walled passageway that you travel through -- the notes are textural elements in the structure. This has to maybe have something to do with percussion -- I've gotten the same feeling from some tracks on Perspex Island that have really strong drums.
"Johnny B. Goode", The Dead 2/27/77 -- this random set is trending toward songs that are totally characteristic of their performers.
"Mambo Dominica", David Murray Latin Big Band, from Don't Bogart That Groove. "Cute but corny" is my initial reaction. As I listen to it for a while (it is a very long song), I start to hear the horns more individually, less as part of a mass of sound, which is pleasant. This would be good music for walking.
"Each of her Silver Wands", Robyn Hitchcock 3/14/97 Knitting Factory. I don't know this song. It sounds like it could be pretty good but like he hasn't really written it yet at this performance. Very short.
The combination of numbers 1, 5, and 7 inspired me to listen to Perspex Island, which I had not in a while. It sure gets to me -- this is my favorite record of the year. When "Birds in Perspex" came on I had to run outside to avoid embarrassing myself by singing "come alive" in the Avery Fischer Hall lobby.
...Can I analyse the structure of "Birds in Perspex"? That is sort of what I wanted to do during my Song by Song project but I don't think it really came across. Every line of that song just really touches my heart -- the lyrics to be sure and the way they fall across the canvas of music. When Andy Metcalfe came in at the end singing "birds in perspex, come alive" it actually startled me that the person singing on the recording was not myself.
So I put together a mix tape of some of the music I particularly like. If you'd be interested I could make you a copy (assuming I'm calculating correctly that not a whole lot of people will be interested) -- just drop me a line and let me know where to send it. Track list and notes available on request; it's a mix of old-time blues and country, and music by Robyn Hitchcock. They go together better than you might expect.
"Welcome to the 21st Century": On-stage patter from Robyn
Hitchcock's Hallowe'en 2003 concert at The Bottom Line, NYC
"Ragged and Dirty", Bob Dylan, World Gone Wrong, 1993
I like this album a lot, indeed it's one of my very favorite Dylan
records. Old music; this is an old tune by Sleepy John Estes, a
bluesman from Tennessee.
"Black Cat Rag", the Famous Hokum Boys (Big Bill Broonzy's first
band), April 1930
from Big Bill Broonzy: All the Classic Sides 1928-1937.
"Pancakes", Leadbelly, 1941 radio broadcast
from Lifting the Veil: the First Bluesmen. Hilarious.
"Full Moon in my Soul", Robyn Hitchcock, Spooked, 2004 (with
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings)
I just love Hitchcock and this song has all of my favorite Hitchcocky qualities.
"Sweetest Love", the Stanley Bros., April 1952
from Selected Sides 1949-1953.
"Go 'Long Mule", the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra
from A Study in Frustration: the Fletcher Henderson Story. I don't
know jazz very well but I know what I like and damn, do I like
Henderson. Early big-band jazz from New Orleans.
"Heartaches", Patsy Cline, February 1962
from The Definitive Collection.
"Pig Meat Strut", the Famous Hokum Boys, April 1930
"C.C. Rider", Mississippi John Hurt, The Best of Mississippi John
Hurt (actually a concert tape, not a best-of – Oberlin College campus,
"Pig Meat Blues", Whistler and his Jug Band, April 1927
from Violin, Sing the Blues to Me: African-American Fiddlers 1926-1949.
"Mr. Kennedy", the Soft Boys, Nextdoorland, 2002.
The Soft Boys' reunion record. Robyn wrote this song about a concert
tour he had been doing in 1999 with Sebadoh – Mr. Kennedy drove the
"Cincinnati Flow Rag", Gary Davis
from Blues & Ragtime (which has no info about dates)
"Drivin' Nails in my Coffin", Ernie Tubb, September 1946
from Early Hits of the Texas Troubador
"Little Birdie", the Stanley Bros., 1952 radio broadcast
"Risin' Sun Shine On", Big Bill Broonzy and the Cool Tones, July 1935
A bit later in his career, when Broonzy had got a lot smoother
sounding and better production.
"Polk Salad Annie", Sleepy LaBeef, Tomorrow Never Comes, 2000
Song is by Tony Joe White, also covered (not well) by Elvis. Here is
fantastic video of White: http://readin.com/blog/?id=1041
"Memphis Blues", the Mobile Strugglers, July 1949
from Violin, Sing the Blues for Me – this song is total Americana, by
"I Love Lucy", the Soft Boys, Nextdoorland
"Walkin' the Floor Over You", Ernie Tubb, April 1941
"The Yip Song", Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, Spectre
(promotional pressing of Respect with interviews), 1993
If you dig this song you need to rent the DVD of Storefront Hitchcock.
"Two Soldiers", Bob Dylan, World Gone Wrong
I respond more emotionally to this song than to any other song Dylan sings.
"Crown Junction Breakdown", the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, 1962
from String Theory –WFMU dj Jeffrey Davison gave this compilation as a
pledge premium in 2004.
Hmm, so I was walking along today and realized there's only one track out of 24 on my mix tape that's by a female artist, and two more with female backup musicians. That seems kind of improperly balanced, I ought to make an effort to listen to more women musicians.
I bought a record at Starbucks! I feel so dirty! But listen, it's a really good record: Bob Dylan, Music That Matters to Me -- a mix of tracks Bob has put together as representative of what he's listening to these days. (In the excellent liner notes, he says, "Some people have favorite songs, but I have songs of the minute -- songs that I'm listening to right now. And if you ask me about one of those songs a year from now, I might not even remember who did it, but at the moment it's everything to me.... I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.")
The track list is just great. I think I've only ever heard 5 or fewer of the 16 tracks previously -- and many of the performers I had never heard of before today -- there is blues, country, reggae, Hawai'ian, jazz and more. And what really makes the record -- what makes me happy to have it and want to listen to it as a record, rather than as a collection of songs, is Dylan's commentary. The liner notes are a small booklet, with one long paragraph for each song, and they are frankly much better writing than I have oherwise seen from Dylan's pen. The way they are written gives you a sense you're listening to him speak, and he's in a really good, congenial mood, grinning and saying "Now listen to this one, it's gonna blow your mind!"
Listening to the first song, "Do Unto Others", is funny because the opening riff is exactly the same as "Back in the USSR" -- Dylan says he thinks John Lennon probably heard the recording at a party sometime and forgot about it -- Ellen asked Sylvia if she knew what the lyric "they say, do unto others/ what you would have them do unto you" means; Sylvia nodded and said, in a bored-little-girl tone, "Yeah, what goes around comes around...."
Full track listing below the fold, mainly because I could not find it online anywhere.