Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hear that Train a-Comin'

So I finally saw the American Masters doc on Hendrix...  and have to say, I could listen to this all day.  So much I didn't know about him.  So much to discover.

I was talking to JS about this, and there are some artists that need to be rescued from the College Dorm Room haze (Hendrix, Bob Marley..) and others that need to stay there (Dave Matthews...). 

Salut Tom (Mitchell, 1979)

So I took J to the Corcoran on Sunday morning to see the collection (for free!) before it gets swallowed by the NGA.  Lots of good stuff - plenty of 19th Century American - Niagara Falls, the West, that Biersdadt:

But what really grabbed my attention was a massive late (France-era) Joan Mitchell - Salut Tom:

Which just _breathes_.  And, of course, is infinitely better in person.  That and the Bontecou would be well worth seeing again. 

J counted 10 horse paintings, which, of course, she duly recorded in her notebook.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mountains and the Sea (Frankenthaler, 1952)

I've been thinking of my trip lately..  And mountains.  And the sea.  And this Frankenthaler.  That room in the basement of the NGA, with Lavender Mist on one side and this on the other:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Baby, I don't care...

I've been meaning to re-watch Out of the Past..  something about the way the people move.  The way Mitchum talks.  Jane Greer.  The way the story unfolds.  Those final scenes in the mountains.  Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum squaring off.  That house on Lake Tahoe.  Mitchum caught in the nets on the beach in Mexico:

Also, I just realized the Corcoran is now free..  I should get over there.  Soon.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kendrick Lamar - i

At long last, something new from the one and only Kendrick Lamar.  And it sounds great.

Where the Spirit Meets the Bone..

First listen here.

First thoughts (of mine), to come.

This crispness in the air is deliciously invigorating.

Lucinda Memories:

  • St. Andrews Hall, Detroit, May 1999.  Driving up from Toledo on impulse and walking into a tiny room where she blew me away.  I remember her guitar player..  sinister, bluesy, menacing.  Fresh off Car Wheels and in fine form.  Encores.  I asked for water, you gave me gasoline
  • Stubbs, Austin, March 2006.  A bigger room, outdoors.  Lots of friends and family in the audience and Austin stories.  But not nearly as intense.  
I went backwards and fell in love with Lucinda Williams and Happy Woman Blues and  Ramblin.  And paid vague attention to her later albums.  Get Right With God.  Essence.  West.  But my interest has been fading..  I'm curious how this new album works (or doesn't).

In book notes:
  • In Angle of Repose there's now a move from California (New Almaden, near Santa Cruz) to the Dakotas.  She's headed east while he gets set up again.  Have I mentioned I need some time to just.. read. 
  • I also finished In Search of the Blues - which was interesting, but not as helpful as I'd have liked for my purposes.  I do have some names and leads to run down.  
  • And I picked up Eat, Pray, Love on the theory it could work as a model for a memoir based on my Arizona-California trip (which, over lunch at Le Pain Q the other day, fellow prof JC suggested I write..)  so far it's..  interesting.  Also Hiking Los Angeles..

Monday, September 22, 2014

Great Music Moments / Wanda Jackson

The great Michael Corcoran puts together a fantastic list of the best Austin shows...  ever.   Oh to have been at any one of them (though he leaves off Johnny Cash at Emo's in '94 and plenty of others). I found that picture of the Dylan press conference in the Statesman negative collection at the AHC back in my Photo Curator days (another image from the same session is here).  And used to live in what was left of the Villa Capri (that mid-century hotel turned into ramshackle apartments just off South Congress).  And there are times I miss that job..  and that city.  I love the energy of the east coast - and my old criteria for a place to live (a major league baseball team and a good art museum) still stand... but.

Meanwhile, here, in the present.   My dad in town this weekend meant lots of Gordon Lightfoot and Pete Seeger and Johnny Horton and the Beatles and the Weavers.  H Street festival adventures.  On stage somewhere along H, J watching a band with a female lead-singer said to me, quite sincerely (with a hint of disappointment) - "That's not Wanda Jackson."  She loves this song, which she first heard on that drive to Cinci, and still insists on playing over and over:

Maybe I should take her to see ol' Wanda at the Hamilton on Nov. 15..

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wait, I have a tumblr?

Wondering whether I had set up a lonesomeace tumblr, it appears as though I had..

Funny how time slips away. 

Sometimes, the Silence Can Be Like Thunder

Sometimes, I want to take to the road and plunder..  

Flashback Time:

Someone posted an amazing video of Love Sick  from Atlantic City in February 1999:

For some reason I got excited and thought I was at that show, but alas, was still in Ohio then.  I did go to the November 2000 shows (early & late) in AC though..  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Random Notes (II)

So there was a post called Random Notes that mysteriously disappeared.  I must have inadvertently deleted it when trying to clean up some recent draft posts.

But, in the spirit of that post, here are a few things of potential (future) interest:

  • A June 2000 profile of Lucinda Williams in the New Yorker.  Not long after I saw her at the lovely St. Andrews Hall in Detroit in May 1999.  Still one of the best concerts, in one of the best venues, I've ever seen.
  • The new Leonard Cohen album.  Only played twice so far, but that first track is gripping..  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ryan Adams - 9:30 Club - 9/8/2014

A cool Monday evening.  A pre-show drink then a line that wrapped around the club and down 8th Street.  The usual DC-hipster-mix, relaxed.  Happy.  Easy.

Found a spot upstairs on the balcony with a great view.  And despite no announced opener, some guys came out and ran through some ramshackle fairly standard blues-rock.  Then a long wait..

Finally, about 9:30 or so Ryan slides out.  Hair in his face.  Jeans.  Batman t-shirt.  And a lot of energy.  He was _there_.  Launched into Gimme Something Good - easily my favorite from the new album.  And it sounded so much better live.  Lots of stuff from the new album - but some classic Cardinals stuff too.  

A Kiss Before I Go:  One shot, one beer, one kiss.. 

And Easy Plateau and the incomparable Let it Ride.  But no Heartbreaker.  No Gold.

He was relaxed, present, enjoying himself.  Telling jokes and crazy stories.  Sober and happy and comfortable..   enjoyable.  But nothing extraordinary.  Here's the Post's take.  Comfort zone indeed..  but I found myself wanting to see him slip outside that zone and push the limits a bit further.. 

Flashback Section

So, thinking back - this was the third time I'd seen him at the 9:30.  The first was back in October 2001, just after Gold.  Just after 9/11.  An incredible setlist, amazing energy.  Pure sweet visceral rock and roll..

Then the two-night stand in October 2002 (what a month for concerts that was -> Neko @ Black Cat; 2 Ryan Adams shows; Guided by Voices, Wilco, Dave Eggers + They Might Be Giants).  My old notes from the first night:

Ryan came out around 10:15. Hair uncombed, flannel. cigarette burning as it would all night. Sits down at the center of stage and plays "Oh My Sweet Carolina" and you could hear a pin drop. it's the song that Gram always wished he'd written (and tried to write in Hickory Wind). it takes your breath away. From there to a plugged in resonator guitar for "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)". And we're off. He played most of heartbreaker. did "Brown Sugar" on piano in the same slow lumbering arrangement he did with Beth Orton. Played guitar along with Madonna records on a turntable in the middle of the stage (Like a Virgin no less). He was the most relaxed, most engaging, most intimate performer i'd seen in some time. 

And then the second night:

Around 11:30 Ryan sulked on stage, and started, once again into "Oh My Sweet Carolina". The energy of the crowd was type-A. Up front. Full of friday night swagger and beer and sex. you could tell right away that the mellow intimacy, the casual give and take between aud. and performer (despite some amusingly obnoxious crowd members on thursday night) would be harder to come by tonight. So he barely looks up. Then, as the night before over to the plugged in resonator for "To Be Young" - to the piano. back to guitar. back to piano. 30 minutes in he finally talks to us. responding to a drunk calling over and over for a (as far as I can tell) non-existent song, a sarcastic, half-sigh - "Wow." Then some cursory praise for Tegan and Sara. And the sulk was in full effect. He flew through the set. Hit all the structural notes of the set (playing along to "Like a Virgin") but without the sense of fun... no half-baked stab at the Stroke's "Last Night." No rambling attempt to play "The Bar is a Beautiful Place" despite having forgotten the chords to the bridge.. He didn't put on a Misfits record and rave about how he just had to play that here (on the very site of many Misfits shows..). He did stop everything and play, on request, "Damn, Sam (I love a woman that rains)" because "No one ever asks me for that one". The show was a good 45 minutes shorter and much less interesting. You got the sense you were watching an above-averagely talented brat. 

Monday's show had none of the peaks of  that first show (but also none of the valleys of the second).  It was just good.  And that's not a bad thing..  at all. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A song through time..

So there's this old Emmett Miller song (but it's even older than him):

That Hank Williams lifted (and recorded in Cincinnati no less), and launched a career with:

That Ryan Adams covered on a Hank Williams tribute album back in the 00's:

Then, of course, there's Lovesick.  Completely unrelated, yet on the same through-line.  The Grammy version (with Soy Bomb):

And speaking of Emmett Miller, he deserves his own post.  The sheer delight and surprise I felt one summer afternoon at Coney Island when I heard David Lee Roth's version of "I Ain't Got Nobody" - a song I knew only from Emmett.  Time collapsing and telescoping.   Love and Theft indeed.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Best of the Basement

At last.  A playlist.  In four categories (omitting most covers, and most greatest hits):

The Classics
  1. Crash on the Levee:  Sugar for sugar, salt for salt.
  2. I Shall Be Released:  I've seen my light come shining.
  3. This Wheel's On Fire:  King Lear.
  4. Goin' to Acapulco:  Rose Marie she likes to go to big places.. 
  5. Too Much of Nothing:  No one has control..  

The Playful

  1. Santa Fe:  My dear, dear, dear, Santa Fe...
  2. Tueplo:  A big flood.  Terrible.  
  3. I'm Your Teenage Prayer:  Take a look at me, babe..
  4. I Can't Come in With a Broken Heart:  Fuzzy funky bass line.
  5. I'm a Fool For You:  Could have been a Motown hit.
  6. All American Boy:  So you wanna be a rock and roll star?
  7. See ya later, Allen Ginsburg:  How high?
  8. Lo and Behold:  What's it to you, Moby Dick? 
  9. Yea, Heavy and a Bottle of Bread:  Take me down to California, baby..

The Sacred

  1. People Get Ready:  All you need is faith..  
  2. Sign on the Cross:  The fire sermon.

I'm Not There (1956) + Bonus

  1. I'm  Not There (1956):   So many words.
  2. Bonus:  Grand Coulee Dam (Woody Guthrie Tribute, January 68).

Thursday, September 4, 2014


I'm enjoying the new album stream a bit more, now that I have tickets.  But am still not sold.  It feels so smooth, solid, processed.  Why do I keep waiting for Heartbreaker (or Faithless Street)?

And, for fun:  a great 1997 article entitled "No Expectations" from the Austin Chronicle on Whiskeytown - capturing them in that magic moment on the cusp of something bigger..   

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Up and Coming

Here's my (wish) list...  so far:

(Tickets purchased / attended in bold).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Crown & Anchor Me

Rain now rolling in..  perhaps it's time to post this one.  Letting the storm pass before I ride my (new) bike home through rain-slicked streets.


Sophomore year of High School.  Dayton, Ohio.  Ludlow and Franklin Streets.  Study hall.  Wearing Chuck Taylor's and a P-coat.  There's a girl sitting behind me.  Probably a junior.  Maybe a senior.  Long, dark hair parted in the middle.  Probably Birkenstocks.  And a conversation that fell into music quickly.  She raved about Joni, particularly Blue (and Leonard Cohen, but that's another story).  I'd known Court and Spark  and Miles of Aisles from my dad's record collection, but was just starting to explore everything on my own. 

So I picked up a copy of Blue at a thrift shop on 5th Street and took it home and played it in my basement bedroom, cool linoleum floor beneath my feet, for days.  Weeks.   I was hooked.  Sold.  Sunk. Lost.  I had no idea someone else had felt these things. Like an old friend talking to you in the middle of the night..

There  were worlds within worlds here -  a promise of adventure, of red-haired rogues taking cameras to sell.  Of dancing on Grecian isles.  Parties down long dirt roads.  Reading the news in a park in Paris France.  She'd been to sea before..  and I wanted to sail with her.

I remember being particularly taken by Last Time I Saw Richard.  The details (Detroit in 68.  the waitress. with fishnet stockings and a bow-tie. 'drink up now, it's getting on time to close.').  Which might be an Eliot allusion ('hurry up please, it's time.'), but I doubt it .

She made love sound like a complicated, delicious, entangling thing.  I hate you some / I love you some / I love you, when I forget about me.  But she could drink a case of me and still be on her feet.  I wanted to be her.  To be loved by someone like her.  It showed me a glimpse what I thought the world might be like.  And how people moved in places that weren't suburban Kettering basements.


"I wrote the album while traveling cross-country by myself and there is this restless feeling throughout it... the sweet loneliness of solitary travel."
I'd always admired Coyote.  From the Last Waltz, among other places.  The sheer propulsiveness of the rhythm.  It's a train going somewhere fast.  Ruthlessly.  Those lines that cut deep, full of pitch-perfect details - keyholes, numbered doors, eagles, appaloosas, tides.. 

But it wasn't until years later that the whole album swallowed me.  Whole.   It's like Didion's Play it as it Lays.  Or Atwood's Surfacing.  It's elemental.  Liminal.  A person caught in a space without definition.  Or boundaries.

A series of snapshots.  A visit to Memphis to see the one and only Furry Lewis.  But not talking about his music (and certainly not imitating it) - just talking about him as a person.  His life.  His crankiness.  A plane leaving contrails on the blue sky becomes Amelia - oh Amelia - love was just a false alarm.  

But the big moment, for me, was when I sat down and listened carefully to Song for Sharon.  The story she tells.  The contradictions and overwhelming, overlapping, sets of desires. It starts so simply - "I took the ferry to Staten Island, Sharon. / to buy myself a mandolin."  And then the winding narration of a story about choices made (or not made, or allowed to be made).  Lighting a candle for your love luck and 18 bucks going up in smoke. Facing the dream's malfunction. The apple of temptation.  The lure of walking green pastures, by and by. 

It's darker than Blue (hiding behind bottles in dark cafes notwithstanding).  Sadder.  Richer.  Lives lived.  Love lost.  Back to sea.  Crown & Anchor me.  Circles within circles.  And actually has a lot in common with Yeezus - but that's for another post.

You & Me & Rain on the Roof

So I wrote up a lengthy post the other night (quite late) on Joni Mitchell and the mysteries of Blue and Heijira - but it's a sweaty, sultry, summer morning now and the tone just doesn't feel quite right.  I'm feeling a bit more Eddie Cochrane -

Oh, and the thunderstorms this weekend had me playing the Loving Spoonful again..  one of the first records from my dad's collection that I really took as my own, this song has a special spot in my formative-music-moment memory:

The thrill of getting caught in the rain.  Laughing while it soaks the flowers..   maybe we'll be caught for hours.  Moments outside of time.  But oh god.  The stock images in the video.  Maybe just listen and not watch..  or is the whole thing really that syrupy?