Sunday, March 21, 2010

1974 - Court and Spark

This album made me fall in love with Joni Mitchell.

I'm not just talking about her music, I'm talking about HER. See, you don't listen to Court and Spark so much as you LIVE IN IT, and it in you.

I spent the winter of '08/'09 with little more than a copy of Blue to keep me company, and it was more than enough. This year, it was Court's turn. From the opening piano chords of the title track, Joni slowly worked her way into my very being, and set up shop there for the 36 minute running time. Believe me, I was happy to have her.

Of course, there are a bunch of commercial hits on the record, like the ubiquitous "Help Me," or "Raised On Robbery." In the context of the album, surrounded with lesser-known gems like "Car On A Hill" and "People's Parties" they become so much more. This is definitely a real ALBUM, one that moves from song to song with grace and poetry.

However, the thing that makes this such an intimate and affecting piece is her unfailing, sometimes painful honesty. She's insecure, neurotic, and sometimes mean-spirited, but those neuroses and faults make her, and the songs on this record, seem that much more human. Joni becomes a best friend, (or more,) one who feels more than comfortable telling you EVERYTHING. Look at this lyric from "Same Situation," where she all but pleads for help, cosmic or otherwise:

"Still I sent up my prayer
Wondering who was there to hear
I said 'Send me somebody
Who's strong, and somewhat sincere'"

It slays me every time.

With that said, my absolute FAVORITE moment on Court and Spark is in "Just Like This Train," and I think it serves as a distillation of everything I love about this album. As she delivers the line "Sour grapes, because I've lost my heart," she lets out this endearing giggle/vocal flub. It's a cute little blemish, and I just love the way it runs so contrary to the achingly cynical nature of the line. It's complicated, conflicted, and messy, but then again, so is love. Listen for yourself: (the moment in question is around 3:20)



Friday, January 1, 2010

1971 - Who's Next

This is one of my favorite albums.

Who's Next, the 1971 album from The Who, is an absolute barnstormer. Forty minutes of powerful, concentrated ROCK. Of course, when an album opens with "Baba O' Riley," and closes with "Won't Get Fooled Again," I guess this kind of goes without saying.

What makes this a GREAT album though, is the way they balance the brash, ballsy rock with slower, mid-tempo love songs that are every bit as sincere and as convincing as something like "Fooled Again." It feels raw and powerful and, perhaps most important of all, authentic. Listening to the whole thing front to back, you feel the regret, the heartbreak, the anger, the need for escape, and all the confusion that comes with.

And of course, Keith Moon is absolutely KICKING ASS behind the drums, from start to finish.

Choice track: Bargain
I love this song. From the opening notes, to the moment the drums kick in, to the cute little Townshend-sung coda... oh man oh man. Enjoy.



pazz & jop.

I'm about to start something crazy.

I've learned a long time ago that I need some sort of structured environment to work in, in order to stay productive. Being able to do anything and everything my heart chooses? Not always a good idea.

So, I've decided to give myself some structure.

The annual Pazz & Jop poll, inaugurated by Robert Christgau in 1971, is a year-end poll of music critics. Through a scoring system, the top thirty albums of the year are listed and ranked. Generally, if an album makes number one, it was pretty damn good.

What does this have to do with me? Well, I'm going to listen to, and subsequently write about all of the Pazz & Jop number ones, starting in '74. Of course, for legality's sake, I'll have to generate some sort of visual accompaniment. They may be pencil drawings, paintings, or something completely different.

That's thirty-six albums total, ranging from Elvis Costello to Hole to Lucinda Williams. Crazy? Of course. Wish me luck.

(By the way, if you want to see what's coming, here's the wiki page for ya.)


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

anchors aweigh!

Guys, I'm sorry.

It's been a while, hasn't it? Do I feel guilty about neglecting this blog? You bet I do! Time to move forward though, and as soon as I discovered this site, I knew I had found my inspiration. It's a collection of high-res promotional photos from old Hollywood films, indexed by actor. So cool. Expect to see more from this site in the days/weeks to come.

Some of you may not know this, but I harbor what some may consider to be an unhealthy obsession with Gene Kelly. The singing, the dancing, the style, the charm, the whole damn package. So, of course, his was the first page I checked. Lo and behold, this amazing shot from "Anchors Aweigh," with Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra! I haven't actually seen "Anchors" yet, which is a crying shame. Queen Video, here I come!



Saturday, June 20, 2009


I have pages and pages and pages of Prince drawings. None of them look remotely like him.

I'll keep at it though, and it'll be up when its up. Promise.

As for next week? In honor of its 25th birthday, it'll be Purple Rain week! Oh man, this is going to be ridiculous. I'll be going through one of my favorite albums, song-by-song, as the week progresses.

Monday: That elusive Friday post, plus Let's Go Crazy & Take Me With U
Tuesday: The Beautiful Ones & Computer Blue
Wednesday: Darling Nikki & When Doves Cry
Thursday: Baby I'm A Star & I Would Die 4 U

Will that be too much Prince? Probably. Do I care? Hells no. Let's do it up!


Friday, June 19, 2009


I'm going to sleep. New post after work tomorrow. What about? Well, I'm going to try and make you a Prince fan with five songs. We'll see how it goes.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

"i know i need to be in love."

It's a simple fact: I am a hopeless romantic. I know that, just like Karen Carpenter, I need to be in love, but the problem is, when push comes to shove, I can never seem to do anything about it. Why?

To put it simply, fear. It's crippling, really. You know the saying, nothing ventured, nothing gained? Well, in my mind, it's always been nothing ventured, no chance for embarrassment. I'm often reminded of a line in a Billy Joel song:

"I really wish I was less of a thinking man/
And more a fool who's not afraid of rejection."

A thinking man. Always a thinking man. More often than not, an over-thinking man.

I could blame it on a lot of other things. For starters, I wasn't exactly much of a catch through elementary and most of high school. Also, it seemed that most of the girls I have been interested were already in relationships at the time. Sure, those may, to the observer, seem like valid points. They're not. I ain't copping out of this one. It's all on me.

So where do I go from here?

That's a very good question. I'm on a journey of self-improvement, really, and this, to me, is the biggest hurdle. I'm afraid. I'm afraid of my inadequacies, (real or perceived,) I'm afraid of pretty girls, but most importantly, I'm afraid of the unknown. I don't know HOW someone may react if I talk to them, and that scares the willies out of me. If I don't want to end up as the male equivalent of a cat lady, I'm going to have to make some changes, and g*ddammit, I'm ready to make them.

Let's do this.

(Oh, and if you're wondering who those girls are... good luck. You ain't getting nothin' out of me. Suffice to say, they're all real people, people who were, sadly, never more than friends or acquaintances.)