Category Archives: Music

Worst. Song. Ever.

Want me out of your house? Play Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”

I will go running into the street screaming, holding my hands over my ears.

It seems that a remake of “The Bodyguard” is on tap; hopefully, the offensive tune will not be included.

Some people say Houston’s rendition of the Dolly Parton song was a virtuoso turn, a ground-breaking recording that’s among the best vocal performances ever. It was described as a magnificent tour-de-force. I’d rather listen to tapes of paint being scraped from the hull of a ship.

Much has been made of the use of music as a torture device. Play “I Will Always Love You” and I’m breaking. Immediately. What do you want to know? Please just make it stop.

I decided to only include a link to the song rather than embed the video. This is so it does not accidentally begin playing while you are viewing this website. No need to thank me.

I am including Dolly Parton’s version of the song, which is very is beautiful — and X fans might like to listen to John Doe’s rendition, which is playing on the jukebox in the movie.


Segue Fever: No Rock Please, We’re French

There are many good things that come from France. Rock and roll is not one of them.

Times Union blogger Chuck Miller tried to convince me I was wrong, and even posted a bunch of examples of French rock on his blog. Thank you for proving my point, Mr. Miller, thank you.

Anyway, the only good French language rock song is “Ça Plane Pour Moi” — and that doesn’t actually count as French, because it’s from Belgium. Bands like Sonic Youth and Vampire Weekend have also taken a swing at it, making it the only rock song in French anyone’s ever bothered covering. We won’t get into the whole  “Jet Boy, Jet Girl” thing here.

In what has to be the world’s most obvious segue, the best accompaniment for this song is Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died.” Taken together it’s a pogofest!

Segue Fever: Stuck in the Middle with Sheryl Crow

The death of Gerry Rafferty last week meant that “Stuck in the Middle with You” was being played all over the place. I always loved that song, and like everyone else, Reservoir Dogs changed my relationship with it forever.

Now it’s an iconic recording — but what better to cleanse the palate of torture and ear slicing than the song’s groovy younger cousin, Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do?”

The hand claps, the bass line, and most of all, the pedal steel guitar… it’s not just similar, it’s an homage.

You Know You’re Old When…

…it’s 5:45 on Christmas morning and the kids are still asleep.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Spot On

Who knew that Pomplamoose could arouse such feelings in people?

The duo — best known for their quirky covers of pop songs on YouTube — were alternately praised and damned in the local blogosphere Tuesday for appearing in some car commercials. Jeff Wilkin at the Gazette said “Yay,” while Times Union man-about-town Kevin Marshall cried out “Nay.”

There’s no denying that the cutesy couple are almost annoyingly appealing — and the Huyundai spots are so cloyingly sweet that they make your teeth hurt. It’s like cotton candy dipped in maple syrup and drizzled with hot fudge.

Huyundai shrewdly hooked its wagon to an internet sensation, and regardless of the debates over its artistic merit, it will work. And by work, I mean make people pay attention to the commercials. Does “I love Pomplamoose, “ translate into “I love Huyundai?” Yes, sometimes it does.

But if you think selling a song to a car company is selling out, you’ll really hate this:

I don’t give a hoot about youth hockey or Subarus, but using that Pogues song makes me sit up and take notice. Sneaky? Sure. Playing the Pogues says owning a Subaru makes you cool and edgy, and driving it will turn every day into St. Patrick’s Day — except maybe with hockey instead of drunken carousing.

They should have snuck in a shot of Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan. Now that’s a guy with hockey teeth.

Segue Fever: Jacked Up

I watched Coal Miner’s Daughter the other night. Thirty years after its release it still stands as a great film — especially on account of Sissy Spacek’s Academy Award winning turn as Loretta Lynn and the inspired casting of Levon Helm as her father.

Loretta Lynn, even while part of the Nashville music factory, took creative risks and did things her way.

In 2004, she released Van Lear Rose, a collaboration with Jack White of the White Stripes. It’s a swell album, but my favorite track is the duet between Lynn and White, Portland, Oregon. The boozy May-December hook up in the song, fueled by pitchers of sloe gin fizz, goes down well with Jack Killed Mom by Jenny Lewis, a decidely dark tune. Put them together and you have a witches brew of alcohol, sex, incest and murder. If that’s not a good time, I don’t know what is?

Segue Fever: Gypsy Edition

It’s funny, the memories music trigger.

I used to tag along with my dad when he went to pick up takeout. The best was going down to Napoli’s to get a pizza, because I’d get to choose a song or two on the jukebox.

There were two tunes I’d play over and over, Yellow Submarine, and Mary Hopkin’s Those Were the Days.

I’d slide up on a stool at the bar next to my father, stare at the bouncing lights on the Miller High Life sign, and sip a Coke while my father had a grown-up drink. While we waited, I’d imagine I was actually in the song:

Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do

I’d forgotten about it until listening to Gogol Bordello’s Start Wearing Purple. Both share the same gypsy roots, and while they couldn’t be more different, they really are oddly alike.

Ladies and gentlemen, now for the strange part:

Wreckless Abandon

After seeing Wreckless Eric in 1980 at New York City’s Bottom Line, I walked out with my ears ringing and headed for the subway, Penn Station, and the LIRR. That was great. I’d like to see him again.

Flash forward thirty years.

Thumbing through the concert listings in Metroland, this jumped off the page and grabbed me by the ear: Wreckless Eric is coming to Valentine’s on November 9. Some of you are now saying, “Who the f*** is Wreckless Eric?”

Wreckless (Mr. Eric?), AKA Eric Goulden, was among the groundbreaking artists Stiff Records signed in the late 70s along with legends like Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and Madness. As a college radio geek, his songs were a staple of my show, and he was, no doubt, also loved by my six listeners.

So how can I possibly miss this? Valentine’s is a wonderfully grimy place to see music, and here’s hoping that on the verge of my 49th birthday I can stand elbow to elbow with other over-the-hill punks, music nerds, and assorted old folks, reliving my misspent youth.

He’ll be appearing with his wife Amy Rigby (no slouch, herself) and is sure to sing this popular favorite, Whole Wide World:

And another, the wonderful Take the Cash:

Segue Fever

Back in ancient days as a college radio DJ, there was nothing I loved more than finding two songs that were born to be played together. Either they sounded similar, were thematically linked, or shared some arcane thing that bonded them.

I’m sure that among my six listeners, someone got the point.

When I heard Man Man’s song Top Drawer yesterday it hit me: this is the twisted cousin of Paul McCartney’s Monkberry Moon Delight!

Both are insane rollicking carnivals of weirdness. McCartney’s mad howling on Monkberry is amazing — and I have to say, when I was a kid, this song actually scared me a little. It’s hard to say if Top Drawer’s song is an homage, but it sure sounds that way.

Hey Mr. DJ

In his awesome new book, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, Steve Almond describes a particular brand of music fan: the Drooling Fanatic. Among the identifying characteristics:

We were DJs in college and had a show with a name so stupid we are vaguely embarrassed to mention it now, though we are quite happy to mention that we were DJs in college.

Yes, I was a DJ in college. And the name of my show was Vinyl Jungle.

Playing music and getting free records was great, but by far, the most exciting part of being a college radio DJ was when people would call up and threaten to kill me. It really lent a certain air of excitement to the evening.

Once someone said they would blow up the radio station, which seemed highly unlikely, even though Plattsburgh Air Force Base was nearby and those guys could probably get explosives.

Another caller claimed he could see me walking around inside the radio station and was going to shoot me through the window with a hunting rifle. That spooked me. I spent the rest of the night crawling on the floor back and forth to the music library, rather than walking past the windows. Later, I snuck out the back door of the dorm where WPLT was headquartered.

In a way, it felt good that the music I was playing made people react so strongly. There were never calls telling me my segues were brilliant or thanking me for playing the entire side five of The Clash’s Sandinista. What I really wanted was for girls to call up and tell me they loved the Violent Femmes and that I was brilliant. But making people complain was certainly better than nothing.