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Any Major American Road Trip – 1

February 25th, 2016 7 comments

Any Major American Road Trip - Stage 1

A few years ago I began a series of posts that followed the itinerary of an American road trip through songs about cities and towns along the way. When it reached New York, the series fizzled out. But now I’m embarking on another road trip.

The idea will be to travel from the East Coast to the West Coast and back east. The journey begins in Boston and will end in Miami. The itinerary will be zig-zagging a bit, but it must be at least notionally plausible. So the Mississippi town of Jackson, which Johnny Cash and June Carter sang about so memorably, will not feature because it is out of our way.

We’ll spend a little extra time in New York: one song about New York City generally, and one for each borough (Dylan’s song covers Staten Island; Queens is covered by the Ramones song).

The songs that represent the towns on our way should ideally be set in those localities, but on occasion that rule may be bent, as it is at the end of this mix, when Keith Whitley puns on the name Charlotte in North Carolina.

Highland Falls, NY might be the smallest town on our tour; it’s a village of just under 4,000 people. The town is included on strength of one of Billy Joel”s finest songs bearing its name. The song doesn’t really refer to Highland Falls — Billy Joel has said it is about manic depression and a relationship falling apart. But Joel was living there at the time, and named the song after his domicile. In this mix I might also have located Billy Joel in Martha”s Vineyard, MA (The Downeaster Alexa), Cold Spring Harbor, NY (Everybody Loves You Now), Oyster Bay, Long Island (Billy The Kid), Hackensack, NJ (Movin’ Out), the New Jersey Palisades (Miami 2017), Allentown or Bethlehem, PA (Allentown), the Pennsylvania Turnpike (You’re My Home) — and, of course, many times in New York City.

Bruce Springsteen might have taken us to Fairview, NJ (Darkness On The Edge Of Town), Atlantic City, Baltimore or, though a bit off course, Kingstown MD (both Hungry Heart), besides many places in NYC. In the end the obvious choice was Asbury Park.

Any Major American Road Trip 1 - map

In the first stage, we leave from Boston with a song that features the city’s name in the title and first verse, but isn’t really about Boston but places all over the USA. Sung by Joan Baez (whose version is lovelier than Dave Loggins’), it seems like a good way to set out on our American road trip.

And, yes, the contradiction between the songs for Washington DC and Arlington is deliberate — the latter hints at a mentality I am uncomfortable with, but which is nevertheless part of what I suppose is the American experience.

So, here we go, with a mix times to fit on as standard CD-R. Covers included; PW same as always.

1. Joan Baez – Please Come To Boston (live 1976, Boston, MA)
2. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Woodstock (1970, Woodstock, NY)
3. Over The Rhine – Poughkeepsie (1996, Poughkeepsie, NY)
4. Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls (1976, Highland Falls, NY)
5. Bob Dylan – Hard Times In New York Town (1961, Staten Island, NY)
6. Black 47 – Our Lady Of The Bronx (1992, Bronx, NYC)
7. Neil Diamond – Brooklyn Roads (1968, Brooklyn, NYC)
8. Prefab Sprout – Hey Manhattan! (1988, Manhattan, NYC)
9. Ramones – Rockaway Beach (1977, Queens, NYC)
10. Odyssey – Native New Yorker (1977, New York City)
11. Bruce Springsteen – 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) (live 1980, Asbury Park, NJ)
12. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Fall In Philadelphia (1972, Philadelphia, PA)
13. Gram Parsons – Streets Of Baltimore (1973, Baltimore, MA)
14. Parliament – Chocolate City (1975, Washington, DC)
15. Trace Adkins – Arlington (2005, Arlington, VA)
16. Mat Kearney – (Young Love) Virginia Is For Lovers (2011, Richmond, VA)
17. Sonic Youth – Chapel Hill (1992, Chapel Hill, NC)
18. Townes Van Zandt – Greensboro Woman (1972, Greensboro, NC)
19. Keith Whitley – Charlotte”s In North Carolina (released 1994, Charlotte, NC)

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Any Major Unrequited Love

February 18th, 2016 7 comments

Any Major Unrequited Love

Last week we celebrated reciprocated love in all its giddy black & white glory; today we deal with love on a more twisted basis: the unrequited kind.

Most people have had a bout of unrequited love in their lives. If it was infatuation, they got over it fairly soon. If it really was love, they bear the scars forever “” or at least until they find another true love.

The trouble with unrequited love is that double kick in the face: the crushed hope of ever finding happiness and the gut-wrenching feeling of rejection. And if one doesn”t get the over latter swiftly, the former executes true torture on the poor victim.

Unrequited love comes in many forms: the object of desire might not know that you even exist, or just doesn”t like you, or thinks you”re not in their league (or you might fear you”re not). Or he or she might be in a relationship that you can”t (and probably shouldn”t) break up.

Perhaps the worst is when you are friends with them. Guys might know that one well: “I love you”¦as a friend”, perhaps with the soul-destroying addendum: “Why can”t all guys be like you?” as they cry on your shoulder, a compliment that provides a particularly nasty kick.

So this collection of songs deals with various forms of unrequited love; some are still hopeful (such as Earth, Wind & Fire”s Wait), others are realistic about emotional desolation wrought by being in love with somebody who doesn”t want you.

Anyway, if he or she doesn”t love you back, remember to love yourself.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes covers made from home-wept tears. PW same as always.

1. Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him? (A Cappella Version) (1988)
2. The Band – It Makes No Difference (1978)
3. The Holmes Brothers – I Want You To Want Me (2007)
4. Warren Zevon – A Certain Girl (1980)
5. Wilco – I”m The Man Who Loves You (2002)
6. Damien Jurado – Simple Hello (2005)
7. Ani DiFranco – Untouchable Face (2007)
8. Linda Ronstadt – Long Long Time (1970)
9. Ray Charles – You Don”t Know Me (1962)
10. Sam Cooke – Cupid (1963)
11. The Temptations – Just My Imagination (1971)
12. Earth, Wind & Fire – Wait (1979)
13. P.P. Arnold – To Love Somebody (1968)
14. The Association – Cherish (1966)
15. Cat Stevens – Here Comes My Baby (1967)
16. Bob Dylan – Most Of The Time (1989)
17. The Cardigans – For What It”s Worth (2006)
18. Matthew Sweet – Farther Down (1998)
19. Mazzy Star – Give You My Lovin” (1990)
20. Nick Drake – Man In A Shed (1970)

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Any Major Love in Black & White

February 11th, 2016 6 comments

Any Major Love in B&W

Last year”s Any Major Love mix featured a general spread of songs about being in love. For this year”s Valentine”s Day I”ve created a mix of songs about being in reciprocated love spanning the era between 1933 and 1962 (equivalent to a time span from 1987 to today, if I may make you feel very old).

Many of these are standards performed by the big names of that era, though not all are obvious choices. So we have Sinatra singing a song which 14 years later would be a hit for Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby sings with his wife at the time, both of whom are billed below the bandleader.

So grab your one true love, and get jiggy in the ways of a 1990s romantic comedy. It would work particularly well if you are a Harold and have a Maude.

Next week”s mix will provide an antidote to all the amorous happiness.

As always, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes covers made by a sweatshop-full of cupids. PW in comments.

1. Sammy Davis Jr. – Face To Face (1961)
2. Anita O”Day & Billy May – I Could Write A Book (1960)
3. Peggy Lee – Cheek To Cheek (1958)
4. Ella Fitzgerald – I Only Have Eyes For You (1962)
5. June Christy – The First Thing You Know, You”re In Love (1954)
6. Tony Bennett – Happiness Street (Corner Sunshine Square) (1956)
7. Frank Sinatra – Everybody Loves Somebody (1948)
8. Margaret Whiting – Come Rain Or Come Shine (1946)
9. Billie Holiday – Let”s Do It (Let”s Fall In Love) (1941)
10. Lena Horne – As Long As I Live (1944)
11. The King Cole Trio – I”m In The Mood For Love (1945)
12. Victor Young with Bing & Dixie Lee Cosby – The Way You Look Tonight (1936)
13. Mildred Bailey – These Foolish Things (1944)
14. Doris Day – Again (1949)
15. Gene Kelly – I”ve Got A Crush On You (1951)
16. Julie London – You”re Getting To Be A Habit With Me (1958)
17. Chris Connor – Embraceable You (1957)
18. Dinah Washington – What A Diff”rence A Day Makes (1959)
19. Ray Charles – It Had To Be You (1959)
20. Eddie Fisher – So In Love (1955)
21. Mel Torm̩ РOh What A Night For Love (1961)
22. Billy Eckstine – No One But You (1954)
23. Dean Martin – I”ll Always Love You (1950)
24. Sarah Vaughan – These Things I Offer You (1951)
25. Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra ft. Anna Boyer – I Concentrate On You (1940)
26. Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye – Let There Be Love (1940)
27. Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra – I”ve Got The World On A String (1933)
28. Joe Turner”s Orchestral with Pete Johnson – Baby, Won”t You Marry Me (1948)

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In Memoriam – January 2016

February 4th, 2016 19 comments

It was utter carnage in January, especially if you add all the thespian deaths to the reaper’s music victims!

0116 IM gallery-1In the In Memoriam series I like to feature little-know artists who have died, such as English singer, songwriter and actor David Bowie who started off his career as Davie Jones, made a name for himself as an occasional painter, as leader of early 1960s band The Konrads and eventually as the husband of supermodel Imam.

Well, to be honest, everything that can be said about Bowie has been said. The tributes were glowing and generally paid due respect to the master”s lifetime achievements, right down to his refusal to accept medals and knighthoods from the queen of England. Alas, all that honour will be brutally urinated upon at the Brits later this month. For the occasion a “supergroup” has been put together. Noel Gallagher, Bono, Damon Albarn, Coldplay and Adele on one stage beating the career of David Bowie with sticks. I can hear Bono intoning: “Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with [insert gratuitous lyrics change here with reference to other twats on stage]…” The Oasis goon will perform Suffragette City with that whiny voice, stripping the song of its explosive energy. Coldplay will play… sorry, I forgot, I fell asleep just imagining it. And Adele will foghorn her way through Life On Mars, holding long notes at inappropriate moments. There”ll be an acoustic version of Let”s Dance before they all go on to slaughter Heroes (of course, Heroes!) and do the “we”re not worthy” shtick “” bowing for Bowie, so to speak “” that always indicates that they think they are in fact very worthy indeed. Bowie”s cremated ashes will flurry in their urn like glitter in a snow globe.

Exactly a week after Bowie, Mott The Hoople drummer Dale Griffin died, aged 67. The band, of course, got their breakthrough thanks to a Bowie track, All The Young Dudes. Bowie had known Hoople bassist Peter Watts and upon learning that the band was going to split due to their lack of success, he offered them Suffragette City. The band turned down the track (luckily so: where would “˜70s pop be without Bowie”s frenzied “aaah wam bam thank you ma”am”?). Bowie took the rejection, graciously sat down on the floor and wrote All The Young Dudes for them. It came out just three weeks after the Ziggy Stardust album and was a huge hit. Drummer Griffin, who went on to produce many John Peel sessions for the BBC, was diagnosed with Alzheimer”s, the disease that eventually killed him, at the age of 58.

Colin Vearncombe, who has died at 53 after being in an induced coma following injuries sustained in a car crash in Ireland, was best known by the moniker Black, under which he enjoyed a couple of UK hits in 1987. One of these was the beautiful Wonderful Life which was accompanied by a gorgeous video that looks like a coffee table book of exquisite black & white photography. If you”ve never seen it, you will want to (Click here). He had some success with the follow-up albums to Wonderful Life, but then left his major label to record independently. Last year he released to good reviews an album, Blind Faith, which was financed by crowd-funding. Buy it HERE.

The unlikely figure of the Georgian-born, Swiss-raised Giorgio Gomelsky was instrumental in the success of the Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds. It was his blues club, the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond (near London), where the young blues fans that would spearhead much of British rock first congregated. The unknown Stones were his houseband. When they left for bigger things, he replaced them with The Yardbirds, whom he also managed and produced (including their biggest hit, For Your Love). Other acts that played at Crawdaddy included future stars Led Zeppelin, Long John Baldry, Elton John and Rod Stewart. In 1967 Gomelsky set up the Marmalade Records label which gave starts to Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger and Graham Gouldman, Kevin Godley and Lol Crème, who”d become central parts of 10cc.

0116 gallery-2With Jefferson Airplane, the band he co-founded, Paul Kantner played at the five most important or famous music festivals of the 1960s: The Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival (the first-ever real rock festival) in June 1967 , Monterrey (held a week after), Woodstock and Altamont in the US in 1969 plus the Isle of Wight festival in 1968 in Britain. The band’s dynamics were complicated Read more…

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