Saturday, September 25, 2004

The other side of the equinox

Somewhere other than the Sonoran Desert, leaves are probably changing colors (and shit).
Here, it's dipped below 90 (most days).
Still, that equinox thing is over and it's fall dammit (or autumn for whoever the hell says that). And in the fall all sorts of people decide it's time to release new albums (and in recent years, various hot-ticket DVD items).
So here's what to expect as the days grow shorter:

Elliott Smith - From a Basement on a Hill (which apparently offers few clues to his death).
I'd probably rank this as the most-anticipated. What a strange story this singer made for himself. I'd just gotten into his stuff when he played a solo-acoustic gig in Tempe, mumbling something about how his band's bus didn't make it. His stoned, barely competent slacker persona as a complete contrast with his amazing performance. Like Zevon and Cash last year, posthumous equals intrigue.

Johnny Cash - American Five
I doubt there's much surprising here, but we'll see he songs he selects to cover - always the most exciting part of his American recordings and damn near always stunning.

Will Beck continue his yo-yo style and come back with a zany dance album? Truthfully, I hope so. Sea Chance was great, but his talen lies so much more with the upbeat music.

Social Distortion - Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll
What about the drugs? I've heard a live version of "Don't Take Me For Granted" and it's great. Critiques of this song are off base: Mike Ness has always been heartfelt and honest in his lyrics, so this isn't new, he's just never had a best friend's death to write about.

Tom Waits - Real Gone
If "The Day After Tomorrow" from Future Soundtrack for America is any indication, Tom Waits again proves he's among the best there ever was.

U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Eh. We'll see. Honestly, I don't expect much. Their last one was good-not-great, and they've released enough of those. I'd love to hear a turn back to Achtung-style stuff, but we'll see whether ego will let them go there.

Green Day - American Idiot
It's apparently already out, and while I'm curious, I'm obviously not that curious.

R.E.M. - Around the Sun
I lost interest after Automatic for the People. Still, it might be worth a look...

There's also the interesting Pavement and Clash re-issues, a star-packed Warren Zevon tribute,
and some promising hip-hop releases from Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Nas, Ludacris and the Black-Eyed Peas

It looks like I've already missed fall releases by Drive By Truckers, Old 97s and Rilo Kiley...

What I will not be listening to: System of a Down, Gwen Stefani, Destiny's Child, Eminem, Good Charlotte, various other shite.

Any other albums to look out for?

Down the stretch

It's a damn shame my D'Backs (and yes, there's a bit of hesitancy in that proclamation) tanked their season so damn long ago, but as we close in on October there's excitement galore in baseball:
Playoff hunt - Between division and wild card chases, six American League teams and seven over in the National League are realistically thinking about the playoffs. Of course, from my point of view, playoff spots are much more frequently lost than won, so we'll see who doesn't blow it.
Bonds - Spectacular. Again. It's time to put a mercy rule on the NL MVP award and let Adrian Beltre walk home with the honor.
Redbirds Row - As if Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds weren't enough, they can still count on an aging-but-deadly Larry Walker and an above .300 Tony Womack.
Ichiro - Are you kidding me? Hitting .374, eight hits away from the Major League single-season record, with plenty of games left. This may be the most interesting aspect of the rest of the season.
Shilling - It's a shame he won't take the Cy Young now that he's finally free of pitching in the same league as Randy Johnson. But I'd love to see Curt in the playoffs again.
Johnson - Randy has pitched better than anybody in the majors this year (again) but will not see the playoffs or anything resembling the Cy Young. This is the price of that 2001 Series win and it's a damn shame.
Whither D.C.? - Are the collective known as Major League Baseball owners so incompetent they can't even figure out how to move the Expos franchise out of Montreal? It's not like they didn't know this was coming.
Hillenbrand - Yes, it's extremely unremarkable, but the brightest bat in Arizona's lineup is still hitting above .300 (though at .302, a couple bad games can knock him down yet.)

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Another project

Sufficient months have passed since I finished collecting Five Favorite Songs from more than 100 people, so what the hell, it's time for a new music endeavor, and another call for help.

One disc, 20 (or so) songs, the best, most distinctive covers of Bob Dylan songs out there.
The idea is to bring together songs that were so remarkably and uniquely done that the artist or band doing the cover truly came to own the song.
I'd like to avoid the absolute most famous ones, but it's hard to imagine a disc of such nature would leave out Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower.
Still, as you folks make suggestions, focus on the rarer tunes: Clancy Brothers - When the Ship Comes In and Echo & the Bunnymen - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.

Now, I know there are Web sites out there that list covers (like here), but the point of soliciting suggestions is to get recommendations, personal favorites.

To join in, simply email or comment with any suggestions ya got.

Friday, September 10, 2004


It's a few days late, but I just wanted to mention that I spent Monday listening to socialist anthems, courtesy of Billy Bragg.

'We come in peace' they said
'To dig and sow
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste land grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it can be
A common treasury for all

The sin of property
We do disdain
No one has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Rise up at their command

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feeds the rich
While poor men starve

We work, we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to masters
Or pay rent to the lords
We are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
Al people one
We come in peace -
The order came to cut them down

Outstanding. A loud, one-man sing along in the car makes up for having to work that day... 'course I got the last two Saturdays off in exchange so there's little complaint there.

The reason for this post is simple.
To tie the song to current politics is easy in my mind. The messages of peace, freedom, courage and the idea of the Earth as a "common treasury for all" are true to me, ideals at the core of my person, built by honest, noble, unmaterialistic parents who instilled an open mind, which reads and gives things careful thought.
The vile, power-stained, power-hungry minds of the Bush administration know none of this. It's riches and favors for them and their friends, shit for the rest. It may not be by "theft and murder" that they have 'ruled' but their crimes are nonetheless severe - outright lies, almost unfathomable secrecy and the idea that God is guiding their hand in war.

And in recent cd purchases, we're (not) surprisingly turning political:

"livin' in the motherfuckin' USA"


"Yeah, I believe the war is wrong
I don't believe that nations can be steered
Lead the world with smarts and compassion
By example, not coercion, force or fear"

Damn simple and damn right.