Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Music Post: Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Wilco

I think I wore myself out posting all over the internet (and writing freelance and school stuff), so today I’m taking a day off. I leave you with three of my favorite bands. First came Uncle Tupelo, which split into Son Volt and Wilco.

I’m one of those fans who likes both offspring of Tupelo. I find that both Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy have taken interesting and unpredictable directions after the split. While Tweedy’s is the more popular, Farrar’s is no less daring and important.

Here’s the band’s journey in music and a few images.

Here’s Wilco and California Stars:

and Son Volt’s early romp Drown:

and here’s the Jay Farrar “lonesome sound” I love so much:

I’m going to recharge my batteries and come back tomorrow with a good (sports-related) idea to write about.

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Music Post: Townes Van Zandt

I was updating my iPod tonight, getting ready for a flight to Chicago next week. I was uploading albums I already had, so I could flesh out the new stuff I’d bought with some old faves. I ran into Townes Van Zandt (and the many, many people who covered him), and got lost for a while, just listening to all of his incredible songs.

This one is the most chilling, however. It’s “Waiting Around to Die”, which was one of the first songs he ever wrote, but it sure seems prophetic in light of the fact that Townes spent the next couple of decades working real hard at drinking himself to death.

Here’s a nice cover of Rex’s Blues, performed by Jay Farrar and Kelly Willis.

Didja know Townes wrote this one, too?

And here’s the amazing tribute to Townes from Austin City Limits. Emmylou Harris will absolutely slay you singing “If I Needed You”.

You may know me as a sports writing fella, but if there’s one thing I’m truly evangelistic about, it’s great music. And Townes was great music. Any country musician today could make a career out of songs TVZ flushed down his toilet as “not good enough”.

I’m gonna send this out to my Texas blogrollin’ homies: Semitough and Texas Gal.  I’m not a Texan, but I am grateful to your state on a daily basis for sending us Townes and Bill Hicks, amongst others.  We’ve really got to work on the poet/genius life expectancy thing, though.

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Check this out:


The man on the left is my favorite musician of all time, John Coltrane. The man on the right is Kevin Durant, who is about to find out which city in the Pacific Northwest he will set on fire for the next few years.

The thing that has always appealed to me about Coltrane is that his music hits all the important places: the head, the heart, and the soul. If we’re all lucky, we’ll be able to say the same thing about Kevin Durant’s game at the next level. The physical resemblance that strikes me between these two men is primarily in the eyes – a strong and direct gaze, and a confidence that says “I am about to righteously blow your mind”.

Coltrane had a vision for music that sounded like noise to those who were unprepared to hear what he was laying down, but he could play sweet enough to make a woman swoon when he wanted to. Perhaps one day Kevin Durant will have that same command of his instrument.

There is no doubt, however, that supporting cast is crucial. Trane had a rhythm section of McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison on many of his truly classic recordings, including his magnum opus A Love Supreme. Later he even brought in fellow saxophonist Archie Shepp when he was ready to get really radical. It wasn’t always the same guys, but it was always someone who knew how to play within Trane’s groove.

The most crucial aspect of the coming years for Kevin Durant will involve the selection of sidemen for his upcoming tour de force. Perhaps he can reach a place where that fiery ebb and flow will be his to command, just as it once was for John Coltrane. When he finds that ability to play something old in a new way, and something new in an earth-shattering way…. well, look out, NBA. That’s all I can say.

(Props to Free Darko, where Basketball is Jazz every day of the year)

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If They Were National League

goblinbat.jpgThis is a goofy little idea I’ve had in my head for a couple of days, and it looks like today is the day to try it out. I felt like it might be fun to look at the roster of American League starters for tonight’s games and try to pick out the perfect at-bat song for that pitcher if he were in the National League and had to put on a helmet at the bottom of the order. Odds are, this will be an excellent argument for why we need to retain the Designated Hitter in the AL.

KC Royals vs. Oakland A’s

KC: Brian Bannister – Bannister experienced his greatest pro success during his minor-league stints in the Mets system. The Class A Brooklyn Cyclones had Brian Bannister Bobblehead night, and retired his number in 2006. He is also very likely to give up some monster hits to wunderkind Jack Cust tonight, so Brian’s song is the Scorpions’ classic Rock Me Like A Hurricane.

Oakland: Joe Kennedy – Joe is just now beginning to recover from his difficult stint in Colorado pitching for the Rockies. Like most hurlers, he immediately dropped from good to shaky the instant he hung up his uniform in his Coors Field locker. Now that he’s escaped to Oakland, he probably never wants to see a purple peak again as long as he lives. So his at-bat music is Voodoo Child (Slight Return), and he invites you all to sing along to the first line: “I stand up next to a mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand”.

Baltimore Orioles vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Baltimore: Daniel Cabrera – Daniel gets by on three big pitches: his fastball, his curve, and his changeup. Since there is very little else to say about him, his song is the Saturday morning classic Three Is A Magic Number, as performed by Blind Melon.

Toronto: Jesse Litsch – Neither CBS Sportsline or Baseball Prospectus even has an image to go with their stats for this Unknown player, so we immortalize him now with the rousing chorus of Who Are You, from Pete Townshend and the boys.

New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox

Yankees: Mike Mussina – Moose got his degree in Economics from Stanford University in only three 1/2 years, and will soon share the dugout with a certain gun-for-hire. His song is Elton John’s Rocket Man.

White Sox: John Danks – When Danks was traded from his home-state Rangers to the southsiders, one of the other pitchers in the deal was Jacob Rasner, which makes me think of Trent Reznor. In honor of Crash Davis’ advice to rookie pitcher Nuke LaLoosh (“Don’t think, meat!”), Danks will swing the bat to the sounds of Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like A Hole.

Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Indians

Twins: Ramon Ortiz – Ramon sports the middle name Diogenes. There are a few famous ancient fellows named Diogenes, but Diogenes of Sinope was the most interesting character. DoS is somewhat reminiscent of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, so Ramon will step to the plate hearing Damage from ODB’s Return to the 36 Chambers.

Cleveland: Paul Byrd – People think Paul looks like TV’s Frasier, so he enters to Kelsey Grammer singing Tossed Salad & Scrambled Eggs from the show’s soundtrack.

Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox

Detroit: Justin Verlander – If the pitching phenom had to come up to bat two to three times a game while he was eating innings, nobody but nobody would want to see him swinging free. Just keep that arm healthy and tiptoe gingerly toward first base. Anything but a bunt would be sacrilege. Snoop says Drop It Like It’s Hot.

Boston: Tim Wakefield – For a practitioner of the knuckleball with occasional control problems, nothing fits like Rancid’s White Knuckle Ride.

Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Texas: Brandon McCarthy – McCarthy was traded from the contending White Sox to the Rangers, where pitching is always lacking. The change in fortunes surely has Brandon feeling like he’s been dropped off a cliff. Also, he was part of the trade that brought Danks to the White Sox, so we’re sticking with NIN here – Down In It.

Tampa: James Shields – James plays in Tropicana Field, every young player’s field of nightmares. Sure, you get a chance to play early in your career, but the yearly routine of losing big has to wear on a guy. James is feelin’ the Linkin Park vs. Jay Z hit Numb/Encore right about now (as featured in the Miami Vice remake! Woo!)

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Near Disneyland vs. Seattle Mariners

Angels: Kelvim Escobar – On August 15th of 2001, Kelvim took the mound on the same day as three other Venezuelan imports (Giovanni Carrara, Omar Daal, and Freddy Garcia). All four won, giving us one of those ridiculous stats that only Wikipedia and the population of Caracas could possibly find interesting. And in this game, he pitches against another of his countrymen, so he celebrates that nationalistic moment (and drives everyone crazy) by blasting It’s A Small World during his at-bats.

Seattle: Felix “King” Hernandez – The Mariners are trying to avoid putting too much pressure on the 21-year-old, and he doesn’t need to be getting geeked up about at-bats when he has a game to pitch, so the easygoing sounds of Truckin’ from the Grateful Dead will lead him to the plate. Bonus points – Felix’s dad owns a trucking company in Venezuela.

There’s just one more I wanted to throw out there, even though he’s not pitching tonight:

Royals: Zack Greinke – He’s depressed, and he doesn’t much care for baseball, so Zack’s theme song is from Garbage: I’m Only Happy When It Rains.

We’ll see how many of these come true during interleague play.

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Ladies & Gentlemen, I invite you today to join me for the inaugural class of the Flautist Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t exactly say that we have a physical location picked out for the actual building yet, but we have some really promising leads, and in the meantime, the corner of my unfinished basement will do.

Outside of classical music, the flautist doesn’t get much credit. We’re here to change that. I give to you, the inaugural class of the Extrapolater’s Flautist Hall of Fame!


iananderson.jpgIan Anderson

The genius behind Jethro Tull knew that rock n’ roll is flute music, pure and simple. He was a pioneer and iconoclast who resisted the siren song of “It’s a rock band, Ian, why don’t you just add another electric guitar?”. It is a little known fact that Mr. Anderson penned Thick As A Brick as an acid-tongued rebuke to his detractors. I dare you to listen to the roaring flute breaks in such classics as Aqualung and Locomotive Breath and not feel a tear trickle down your cheek and into the bodice of your tunic.


bjornlindhsmall.jpgBjorn Json Lindh

Known as much for his sound as for his pioneering use of the flute “power stance“, Bjorn Json Lindh contributed the haunting flute riffs to Murray Head’s 1985 hit One Night in Bangkok. His courageous and engrossing life story will be brought to the silver screen in early 2008, with the primary role played by veteran British actor Michael Caine.


menatworkham.jpgGreg Ham

Would Men at Work have been able to score a huge U.S. hit with Land Down Under without the stirring flute work of Greg Ham? I think not. Mr. Ham is also honored for his crossover work as an actor, including his appearances in the Australian TV series While You’re Down There, which certainly sounds like it may have included some sort of skin flute performance. I’ve never seen it.


burgundyflute.jpgRon Burgundy

Perhaps the most enigmatic of our inductees, Mr. Burgundy was a master of the flautist’s art who never truly reached his full potential. Devotees blame his egotistical infatuation with television newscasting for drawing him away from his gift. His marriage to fellow talking head Veronica Corningstone drove the final nail in the coffin of his career. At least we have this rare video of a live performance to show us what might have been.


And how can we mention Ron Burgundy without paying tribute to his teacher, the master flautist…

herbie-pushpush.jpgHerbie Mann

No other player personifies the raw sex appeal of the flute like Herbie Mann. He announced his presence with authority on the 1955 release The Mann With the Most, and followed that triumph with classics such as Et Tu, Flute?, High Flutin’, and Supermann. But nothing can trump the erotic flute-fest Push Push. Legend has it that this 1971 album ranks second only to Barry White’s Greatest Hits as a conception aid for infertile couples. Words fail me, just listen.


I am truly humbled to be in the presence of these great ones who serve as the inaugural class of the Flautist Hall of Fame. If you know of a small municipality that might be willing to give us a tax break on exhibition space, let me know. And please don’t forget to leave your nominations for next year’s class in the comment field.


Update: A reader named Stacey turned me on to this budding genius – he covers the theme songs to “Inspector Gadget” and “Beverly Hills Cop” while beatboxing into a flute!!!!!  I don’t know if this can be topped:

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the_residents.jpgI had a great email conversation with a friend of mine who went to the same High School as I did. She reminded me that my 20th reunion was coming up (a freaky thing to type, indeed), and said that I should go.

Now, she and I both hated high school and moved far away from our hometown, so I couldn’t imagine what her line of reasoning would be.

She said, in part: This is your one opportunity to completely jack with people. It’s like adult halloween! You can hire a spanish-speaking woman to play your wife and argue with her all night in two different languages about drugs, cousins, jail time, whatever!

Needless to say, I saw her point. I only kept up with a couple of friends from High School, and they would totally be willing to play along with something like this. The rest of them don’t know me from Adam, so I could tell them anything.

Some ideas:

  • Bring my four-year-old son with me. When someone asks “Is this your son? He’s so cute!” I look down at him, say “Nope”, and walk away.
  • Tell them I spent three years in the minors and made it to spring training with the Phillies. I had to quit after Lenny Dykstra nailed me with a water cooler and gave me post-concussion syndrome.
  • I was on President Bush’s Environmental Policy team. We were let go because we didn’t have a cool alert chart like Homeland Security.
  • I was James Frey’s fact checker. That didn’t work out so well for either of us.
  • I’m the green eyeball guy in The Residents. No, really!
  • Head of marketing for Pepsi Clear! Damn glad to meet you!
  • I’m Bjork’s wardrobe consultant.
  • I own my own bail-bonds business in Cincinnati. I was thinking about closing up shop, but the Bengals are making it too lucrative to quit. I do miss Bob Huggins, though.
  • I founded the Tri-County Society for Creative Anachronism. We really saw a surge in recruitment after Lord of the Rings came out.
  • I’m an animator on South Park.

All of these have a memorable quality, and share the benefit of being nearly unverifiable. Sure beats the hell out of telling them what your real job is. If you have some good ones, feel free to share.

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Gin N’ Juice, Texas Style

OK, I put this in my VodPod over to tha raht. However, it is so damn funny, I have to give it a feature.

Austin’s The Gourds bring you Gin N’ Juice:

How did we ever get through a workday before YouTube was invented?

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