Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chango Malo & Garboski @ Plush TONIGHT

Chango Malo and Garboski, two of Tucson's best bands, are gonna be tearing up the stage tonight at Plush.

If anyone's curious about the bands, I've interviewed both, so check them out: Chango Malo. Garboski. And rock out.

Chango Malo - The Gospel
Garboski - Roommates & Sitcoms

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friends' mixes

I've written a good deal here about making mixes, and offered up several (want to sample my Favorite Singers anyone?), but I've never really brought up what it's like to receive a mix, or how I relate to the songs that I can directly trace to a particular friend.

And since I've never really received the "I got a crush on you" mix (though there's one I kinda think/wished might've been close) there's no way I can touch on that. And I don't mind never being a recipient of one of those kinds of mixes. Making a full mix specifically for someone else is a fun but highly stressful endeavor, and one I've rarely done. I prefer to get beyond the subtle "I might like you" mix, and instead give the "Since I like you, here's a sampling of really great music that I think you'd like. Really. Don't bother looking for any meaning or message, and just enjoy the good tunes."

What I'm writing about here is the mix exchange among friends, which is precisely what I love to do most. I make mixes for myself, and then share them widely. And I love getting them.

My most frequent mix trader is the estimable Mr. Chair, now a Colorado resident, though we've been friends, neighbors and roommates throughout the years. I have, at this count, nine Mr. Chair mixes, and yesterday I went through those old CD-Rs and handwritten song lists and recreated all of them in my iTunes library. A couple were from the new and remarkably efficient sendspace-and-xml variety, so that was helpful.

What I found looking across those playlists (some 175 songs) were the snapshots of several moments in time, as Mr. Chair put it in an email exchange about the subject. Several of those snapshots are, and I know this for certain, of profoundly important times in his life. It's not all great music - damn close, but a few lesser emo tunes are scattered throughout, and I'll never like Aphex Twin - but I'm surprised at how many tunes in that big bunch rate very highly, very personally, with me. Some I reckon he picked up from me along the way, and conversely several were jumping off points as I jumped into some new band he recommended for me.

The greatest musical thank you I have to give Mr. Chair is for Warren Zevon. I'd heard next to nothing of Zevon's music before that night, barely a month after the legendarily stubborn and caustic songwriter died of cancer, when we sat in his Tempe apartment, playing the I'll Sleep When I'm Dead anthology, because the Bob Dylan show we just saw featured a poignant version of "Accidentally Like a Martyr."

And, branching out, I can point directly to three other longtime Catfish Vegas favorites, courtesy of a single mix tape from a friend in Portland. She didn't give the tape a title, but used the term "petty pop" in a short accompanying note, so that's what I call it. And it was the first I heard of Elliott Smith, Modest Mouse or Luna. It was my enthusiasm and exploration that made those favorites, but I can't overstate the value of a tape that made those startlingly important introductions, and ten years later I not only listen to that mix from time to time as I've recreated it in iTunes, but the tape itself is still around.

Backtracking even more, I see it's the Soundtrack to Adam tape I got for Christmas my last year of high school that first introduced me to Steve Earle, Uncle Tupelo, the Pogues and Social Distortion. This is important shit, people!

Scott 'til 3:30 is one of the best-put-together mixes I've ever heard, and I've never copied someone else's mix for other friends so many times. It's freakin' legendary! He wove together trip-hop, jazz, Nashville Skyline Dylan, the Beatles, French chamber pop and 1990s Brit-pop, and hit it out of the park.

The point here, folks, is to keep making mixes, and to keep passing them around to your friends. And in the back of your mind, remember that after the original thanks is when people actually start listening to the music, and it's something they don't ever forget. Everyone's favorite bands came from someone else...

The Drakes - Later On (from my mix, Corduroy Cowboy Hat)
Warren Zevon - The Hula Hula Boys (from Mr. Chair's Summerland mix)
Elliott Smith - Waltz #2 (from Petty Pop)
Uncle Tupelo - Sandusky (from Soundtrack to Adam)
Mandalay - Please (from Scott 'til 3:30)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Hump Day Shuffle: 1994

1. East River Pipe - Axl Or Iggy - Shining Hours In A Can
I think I came to this album about 10 years late, but it fight right in with that Flaming Lips/Modest Mouse/Wilco surge I was on. This song is on my Time & Space Lounge mix, right in between Clem Snide and Low. Great shimmering indie rock guitars, and it opens one of the best lines I've ever heard: "You thought you were Axl, or Iggy, but you were nothing like that."

2. Tom Petty - A Higher Place - Wildflowers
This is one of the albums I could never live without, and this song is one I've put onto several mixes. I'd consider this a career achievement for Petty, even given how constistently outstanding he's been for 30 plus years. Petty sings "When I add up what I've left behind, I don't want to lose no more," and makes the damn thing sound hopeful... Now that's a skilled performer.

3. Lyle Lovett - Hello Grandma - I Love Everybody
I don't think anybody has ever married clever songwriting with honey smooth vocals like Lyle Lovett. This shuffling, jazzy country tune has a guy calling the grandma of an old flame, only to find he's dialed wrong and has to backtrack, saying "I ain't called this number in too many years." A throwaway song in somebody else's hands, it's a subtle charmer here.

4. Rusted Root - Ecstasy - When I Woke
I don't really listen to Rusted Root much these days, but I had my era of fandom. I saw them live at the HORDE Festival, and definitely dug what they were doing. It's a full and frantic type of intensly rhythmic acoustic music that I once called "organic techno," full of energy and definitely danceable.

5. Weezer - Only In Dreams - Weezer
(So I admit it, I cherry picked on this list... I thought it was getting obvious... the shuffle went to about 30 songs before I got my 10... just wanted to clear the air.)
I don't think I ran into anyone throughout college who didn't like this album. It was an undeniable classic within about four years, one of those albums you could (and I did) put on at a party and play straight through, and not only please the crowd, but have folks arm-in-arm in the living room, hoisting beers and singing every word. It's an album I caught the first time around and loved even more on the second wave... and this 8-minute album closer is pure joy.

6. The Refreshments - Down Together - Wheelie
A storied band around these parts, the Roger Clyne-led Refreshments mixed an extra bit of pop sensibility into the mix of country, rock and punk that bands like the Gin Blossoms and Sidewinders had established under the fairly nonsensical label of "desert rock." "Down Together" is one hell of a song, and you gotta love this shout-out: "We could all wear ripped up clothes / And pretend that we were Dead Hot Workshop." This version is from the band's self-released debut CD (which was apparently a run of only 500 copies - I snagged a download from the excellent AzLocal blog)

7. Johnny Cash - Flesh & Blood - Unearthed
Johnny Cash's resurgence through his partnership with Rick Rubin is amazing and fitting for a legendary musician, and I don't doubt that I'd know next to nothing about Cash myself these days if it weren't for the five volumes of his American Recordings albums and this five-disc box set. On the VH1 Storytellers disc, Johnny talks about writing this song in 1971, on a trip to a lake with June: "It was one of those magic days, you know, when the sun was just right and the temperature was just right and the breeze was just right and she was just right. I let her drive on the way back and I wrote a song called 'Flesh & Blood'."

8. R.E.M. - Strange Currencies - Monster
For some reason, this is one of the most sold-back CDs ever, one of those albums you see a stack of for $5.99 in any used rack, to this day even. I still have mine, and while it's not my favorite R.E.M. (that would be it's predecessor, the stunning Automatic for the People) it has plenty of high points and not much in the way of low points. The third of five singles, "Strange Currencies"

9. Meat Puppets - Severed Goddess Hand - Too High To Die
What a hell of a record - more melodic and self-assured than the Meat Puppets more experimental and punk albums, this is one that I'll always hold dear. It's a hodge-podge of sounds, even for the Meat Puppets, and there were years that I couldn't get enough. "There's a gleamin hope for an understanding / Timing's gone and there's been no planning / Two heads, one dream / Two-thirds a crowd it seeems." Man, I love this song.

10. Green Day - Burnout - Dookie
A slightly more palatable album title than Turd, Dookie is the perfect major-label debut for the Beavis & Butt-Head age, of which I was a full and willing participant. For some reason, I'll always associate this album with that cartoon duo, and it makes perfect sense. Because no matter how irreverent and juvenile the humor was on Beavis & Butt-Head, those two shitheads wouldn't for a second tollerate any shitty music. And Green Day was definitely not shitty music.

Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow & Mary Chapin Carpenter - Flesh & Blood (Johnny Cash cover)
Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers - Down Together (live)
Meat Puppets - Severed Goddess Hand (live)
Rusted Root - Ecstasy (live)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Anti- contest: signed Middle Cyclone

Kevin at So Much Silence (who I just met after the Andrew Bird show a week back) points the way to a great new promotion from Anti- Records.

The label's blog is celebrating one year, and has a fantastic giveaway: five signed copies of Neko Case's highly anticipated Middle Cyclone will be given away at random. To enter, simply leave a comment with your email address.

A special bonus of every Neko album on Anti- goes to one of the winners.

And the blog promises more special giveaways throughout the week, so check back daily.

Last, and certainly not least, is the actual music. The title track is now available as a free download from Anti-. Middle Cyclone drops next week.

And the indispensable folks at All Songs Considered are streaming the entire album.

Neko has tour dates scheduled for the South, East Coast and Midwest, so here's hoping for a swing back to Arizona soon after.

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
Neko Case - People Got A Lot of Nerve

Avetts do Bruce; Magnolia Electric added to tour

The folks over at BruceSpringsteen.Net have discovered that the Boss' "influence has broadened outside of the mainstream rock community." Gee, really? But despite the lame-as-it-can-get introduction, the whole notion of Hangin' On E Street is great.

Musicians, from the frequently Boss-compared Gaslight Anthem to the rather unexpected Wyclef Jean (who's hardly up-and-coming, but anyway), sit down to talk about what inspiration they draw from Springsteen's music. Bring a video camera and throw in an exclusively recorded cover version and there you have it.

I think I'd go apeshit if the Avett Brothers were to bust out "Glory Days" for their May 7 show at the Rialto:

And I just saw that Magnolia Electric Co. is added to the bill. I've seen this Jason Molina project twice - at Club Congress and at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland - and the Neil Young comparisons definitely ring true. This is going to be one hell of a show...

Avett Brothers - Swept Away
Magnolia Electric Co. - Lonesome Valley
Magnolia Electric Co. - The Dark Don't Hide It (live)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mike Watt @ Plush, April 17

This one isn't even showing up yet on the Plush calendar, but Stateside Presents has an April 17 listing for Mike Watt, the legendary, tireless and rightfully worshiped bass player for the Minutemen.

I've never seen Watt play, and I finally heeded the advice of so many people and just a few months ago really started listening to the Minutemen, so I'm definitely stoked about this show.

In November, Watt received a lifetime achievement award from Bass Player Magazine, presented by Flea, a Watt disciple whose best-selling record probably tops the sales of everything Watt has ever done by a hundred times.

But there's a reason they call it underground music, and Watt has earned the adoration of band after band after band, for showing them what was possible. He's spent his life making music, his way, which is something few others in this world can say, and based on what I've read about Mike Watt, is something I'm sure he values more than all the record sales in the world.

Mike Watt - The Red And The Black (live)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kelvin-Helmholtz Records artist showcase

Tonight, Club Congress is hosting a showcase for artists on the local Kelvin-Helmholtz record label collective, which is releasing a new compilation album, In Robust We Trust.

I caught up with David Lane, singer and guitarist for Blankets, to talk about Kelvin-Helmholtz and the new album.

Blankets will headline the show, which also features Lazy Lungs, Caleb Christopher, Irregular Instrument and Jessica Crocker. It's an early show, starting at 6 p.m.

Catfish Vegas: How did the Kelvin-Helmholtz label/collective come about?

David Lane: Kelvin-Helmholtz Records was created in 2003 in Prescott, Arizona to express appreciation for and aid the exposure of the music that was being created there. These motives created the "Prescott Made Me Do It" compilation, which was first sold in a large warehouse with almost every band appearing on the compilation performing to celebrate its release. Further plans for the label focused mostly on a small quantity of artists originally appearing on the first sixteen-track compilation.

CV: Are there any sort of shared approaches to music and songwriting that tie together the label's artists?

DL: Every artist currently associated with the label treats album creation as a primary concern of their expression, so their musical desires are satisfied in the recording process. Songwriting intended more for recording than live performance will inevitably yield a different result than the inverse intention.

CV: The approach seems to be very much in the spirit of collaboration. How do the K-H artists influence, encourage and inspire each other?

DL: Whilst avoiding obvious influences on each other such as consistently performing each others songs live or creating compilations of inter-label covers, there is a constant inspiration in the fact that we all may rely on each other for individual recording specializations and encouragement in invitations for performance or recording events. Why, I remember Sam from Lazy Lungs calling me one day for a show and within four hours I was playing drums with several strangers on the Café Passé patio. It was quite a pleasant Saturday afternoon.

CV: Is there any sort of particular Kelvin-Helmholtz spin to the indie DIY spirit?

DL: Many DIY communities seem to be very desperate to set themselves apart as unique entities. I can only speculate as to their mental process, but it seems they choose a persona to embody and then force it into reality as much as possible giving the actual music and recordings much less thought than, say, a gimmick such as a costume in which to perform. Perhaps it is simply a passive nature inherent in those who have grown up in slightly-mountainous, slightly-rural, slightly-northern-Arizonan Prescott, but our focus has always been on creating albums and making them available.

In fact, the majority of musical artists on the label have recorded more albums, most of which are not actually for sale on our website since we must have some discretion in how much of ourselves is actually appealing to the public, than they have played live shows. We are sort of like seventeenth-century, English pamphlet-makers with poor distribution publishing under semi-anonymous titles, only not political. Poetic pamphleteers, one might say.

CV: This is the second Kelvin-Helmholtz compilation. How would you describe the creative process behind In Robust We Trust? What makes this compilation different from Prescott Made Me Do It?

DL: Since the aforementioned creation of Kelvin-Helmholtz Records, the label has transformed into entirely a different operation. Control has shifted from two people to nine (although this number is flexible). The second compilation reflects this. Two people recorded all the songs for "Prescott Made Me Do It", and almost every artist on "In Robust We Trust" recorded themselves. The compilation was put together more democratically and inefficiently, which is representative of the label in general. But the music itself is definitely much more united under one hissy umbrella.

CV: Describe the label's ongoing covers project?

DL: The cover projects began when the members of Blankets, which is the only active Kelvin-Helmholtz artist playing in the same form now as they did when the label commenced, wished to see how like-minded they truly are; so they engaged in a secret cover-making project to see if two selected the same song. It was a secret kept from one another, so that recordings were unveiled between the three without knowledge of what song would be covered. It is like receiving a present or a love letter: a song written only for each other to hear to create a stronger bond between us. More artist participation has only created more enjoyability and childish secrecy in the project, and eventually we decided to share them with whomever might be interested on the internet. I met some Gainsbourg fans who liked 'em.

CV: What can we expect at the showcase on Sunday?

DL: We will be trying to translate what usually begins as a song for a recording into a live performance. It will be a unique event, and I hope some might have their interest piqued into searching the deepening, unstable cave that is filled with us and our thoughts on what an album or a song or a pamphlet should be. It is an invitation, and I hope it is attractive.

Charles Myers - Tangled in Fiction Dance
Lazy Lungs - Oh, The Joy of Having You
Andrew Lane - Living With Them
And check out the Kelvin-Helmholtz cover songs project here

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Band & album generator

Here's a meme I picked up from Facebook, and since the results in this particular case are pretty damn fascinating, I thought I'd share:

Hardouin de Péréfixe de Beaumont - Reading Is Not Passive

1 - Go to "wikipedia." Hit “random... Read More... Read More”
or click
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to "Random quotations"
or click
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use photoshop or similar to put it all together.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Scott Scharf: Composer

One of my oldest and best friends is coming to town for the weekend, and what better reason than that to share some of his music.

Scott Scharf is a composer living in Chicago, where he's working on his dissertation for a doctorate in music from Northwestern. He plays guitar and piano, but it's the realm of composing where he excels the most.

A wildly creative and ruminative composer, Scott composes electronic and acoustic music, with a background in both popular and classical music.

What I know most about Scott are his humor and his dedication to music, and listening to some of his latest work I'm struck at how advanced and intricate he's become as a composer. Some of his pieces sound ageless, while others are thoroughly modern, but throughout his work is an amazingly careful focus on detail, which demands a careful listener.

Scott Scharf - The Charm of 5:30
Scott Scharf - ttctia ttoc pétesal itk
Scott Scharf - Low
Scott Scharf - ... because like you are breathing...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Hump Day Shuffle: 1993

1. Flaming Lips - She Don't Use Jelly - Transmissions From the Satellite Heart
I clearly remember liking this song back in the day, marveling at how something so weird could be so cool and so catchy, simultaneously. And I actually had friends who were really into the Flaming Lips overall, not just this random hit. But I took probably another seven years before really catching up with the band. Then after another few years I watched Fearless Freaks and couldn't get enough. As my friend Marc says, Wayne Coyne would be the ultimate cool uncle.

2. Tom Waits - Carnival - The Black Rider
For some reason, the theatrically oriented Tom Waits albums are the ones that have taken me the longest to get into, and in the case of The Black Rider, I don't think I've even listened to it straight through. It's not that the album is too weird, but man I just like those earlier folky albums so much better. As this instrumental sails on by, I can't help but think of people in weird costumes dancing some strange, impressionistic thing that I don't understand...

3. Archers of Loaf - Plumb The Line - Icky Mettle
I'm a huge fan of Eric Bachmann's solo album and pretty much everything he's done with the Crooked Fingers, but I've hardly listened to the Archers of Loaf. Like the Tom Waits song previously, this is one of those albums that gets me thinking about how musicians with consistently excellent but widely varied projects throughout long careers are approached by fans, who inevitably come in from all sides. I happened to hit Bachmann in about 2002, and it's that era of his music I like most, but there's always more to explore. And this one, with the anthematic chorus "She's an indie rocker, and nothing's gonna stop her," just calls out for more exploration.

4. Nirvana - Milk It - In Utero
Between this song and the Flaming Lips, it could hardly be more clear how much more interested record labels were in actual music during the early 1990s. Nirvana would never have been on a major label if they'd hit about six years later. Rock music of this sort, this hard, this slanted, this passionate and this alienated is an amazing thing, and to hear it everywhere made my early teens a very exciting time (strictly speaking in hindsight, of course).

5. Stone Temple Pilots - Plush (acoustic) - Thank You (originally released as B-side to UK version of Creep Single)
I always liked this song - both the album version as well as this acoustic performance - and I wasn't in any sort of place as a budding music fan to start in on the backlash that has since doomed STP to a second-tier status. Now I can easily see how derivative they might have been, and I don't to this day have a single clue what this song might be about, but none of that is the point when you're 13.

6. Phish - Sparkle - Rift
A bunch of years back, when I was living in Phoenix for a short stint, I forced a buch of my closest friends to pick a favorite song or few, and from that I burned a CD of their favorite music, an effort which made the distance and time significantly easier to manage. Well, my friend Rod, who was going to school in Madison and still lives there, picked this as his tune. I never saw Rod as a big jam-band fan, but there's something mischievous about this song, with it's chorus of "Laugh and laugh and fall apart" that makes perfect sense.

7. The Cranberries - How - Everyone Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?
For a while I've thought this is one of the great underrated albums of the 1990s. I started turning back to it heavily as a college freshman, when Brit-Pop was huge and this album was kind of a footnote on the front wave of that trend. It's powerful, atmospheric, catchy and the right mix of sensitive and edgy (or so I thought). "How" is part of the albums very strong closing trio of songs that would surprise anyone who thought the band was summed up by the sappiness of "Linger." The Cranberries might not have been a band with a ton of staying power, but this first record is a masterpiece.

8. James - Say Something - Laid
My favorite 1993 album is Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne, but this is a very close second. It was one of my staple albums from a bit after it came out, straight through college, and has seen a resurgence in the last year or so. It's a masterpiece of brooding, thoughtful alternative rock. The lyrics of this have always grabbed me, from the openining line " You're as tight as a hunter's trap / Hidden well, what are you concealing," straight through to the refrain: "I'm open, wide open, wondering." This is the type of song and album that makes you a music fan for life.

9. Jackson Browne - Sky Blue and Black - I'm Alive
This song is an absolute heartbreaker, and perhaps Browne's most powerfully poetic song. The whole album is a wrenching emotional wreck, but this is its core, a simple piano ballad that is the very dictionary definition of lost love, with its echoing pain and disorientation that makes even the sky look a different color.
You're the hidden cost and the thing that's lost
In everything I do
Yeah and I'll never stop looking for you
In the sunlight and the shadows
And the faces on the avenue
10. Bruce Springsteen - Living Proof - MTV Plugged
This is the live album that rescued his otherwise doomed Human Touch/Lucky Town period, and showed a defiant Boss still itchin' to rock. "Living Proof" will never be mentioned among Bruce's best songs, but thanks to this heartfelt performance, it feels like a song worthy of someone with his talent. It sure beats the façade-slick and soulless version from Lucky Town.

James - Say Something (live)
Jackson Browne - Sky Blue and Black (live)
Bruce Springsteen - Living Proof (live)

Avett Brothers in Tucson May 7

With a highly anticipated - and as of yet unnamed - new Rick Rubin-produced album scheduled for release this summer, The Avett Brothers are in good position to make huge waves in 2009.

Today comes good news from both the band, who announced a big U.S. tour starting in April, and NPR's All Songs Considered, which announced The Avett Brothers will be one of their featured acts March 18 at SXSW. The show will be streamed live and archived for podcast, and NPR promises previews of songs from the band's upcoming release.

On May 7 the band hits Tucson for a show at the Rialto Theatre. I missed them the last time around, opting to see all four bands on the bill for The Swim's CD release show, and received such glowing reviews later that night that I wished I'd tried to cram more into that already packed night, so there's no way I'll let this one go by.

Check out the All Songs Considered blog for more news on SXSW podcasts.

The Avett Brothers - Will You Return?
The Avett Brothers - If It's The Beaches

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dylan's Gospel

This is the first time I've posted a full-album link that I found elsewhere, but I came across an utterly amazing record today, a gospel band covering Dylan.

The long out-of-print Dylan's Gospel comes from the group Brothers & Sisters of Los Angeles, and I'll be damned if I can dig up much, other than the fact that they put out this album in 1969. It was a five-piece band with a nearly 30-person choir. It was produced by Lou Adler, who co-wrote Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World," and arranged and conducted by Gene Page, who has worked with Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and The Four Tops, among many, many others.

Apparently Mojo magazine put this on a list of musical buried treasures a few years back and there was some stir then, but interest seems to have diminished. There was a CD reissue in the UK in 1990 and later in Japan, but this has been an LP-only release in the U.S. There's a bit more detail here.

I've been a ravenous and dedicated listener, seeker and appreciator of Dylan covers for quite some time (with close to 800 different cover versions of Dylan songs in the iTunes library) and I've never heard anything quite like it: an album-length series of reinventions that ignite these songs with an entirely new fire. There's nothing in the sound of this album to suggest that these are re-appropriated songs instead of traditional spirituals, or originals from a multi-singer choir and band that knows how to bring the house down.

Usually covers like these - in which the performers completely transform and own the song in their own right - show up one at a time. Hendrix doing "All Along the Watchtower." Nico doing "I'll Keep It With Mine." Nina Simone doing "I Shall Be Released."

I have full albums of Dylan covers from Odetta, Joan Baez, Jerry Garcia, the Dead and The Byrds, and while there are great moments scattered throughout those records, they're almost all the type of performances that are fully expected.

This gospel group breaks through on every song, with a heavily percussive and organ-based treatment that just gives this multitude of voices the chance to soar. A lot of it sounds so much like a precursor to Dylan's own Christian/gospel-rock period that I can't help but think he heard this album and and brought some elements into his own recording sessions.

"Just Like A Woman" opens with a steady and stately organ, then builds and builds, with several singers taking time to "ooh" and "ahh" as the drummer pounds out fills as the music swells to bring back the chorus, all the voices tying together, with a call-and-response developing as the men throw back "Yes she does."

On "I Shall Be Released" I can't help but think at times of the all-star group during The Last Waltz, that sort of swaying, arm-in-arm joyousness that this song brings out so well.

There's an extra R&B touch to "The Mighty Quinn," but what I love most is how the lead singer - who can belt out a song as well as any I've ever heard - adds in a "Hallelelujah!" to the end of the line "When Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everybody's gonna jump for joy." It sounds like it belongs because it does.

Brothers & Sisters - The Mighty Quinn (Bob Dylan cover)
and click through to Cousin Mike for the full album

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dan Bern's presidential agenda

Dan Bern would be a pretty radical president, and I'm pretty sure I'd vote for him with an agenda like he lays out in song.

Dan Bern - President (live)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My walls

I thought I'd open up with a different sort of topic since it's an overcast winter Sunday here in the desert. This is primarily about my walls, but tangentially about music, since I couldn't avoid hanging posters about bands even if I tried.

The posters, pictures, paintings and calendars that anyone throws on his or her walls are just about the most straightforward a statement of personality and interests a person can make, so here's what I've put up, both now and in the past.

To build up a little suspense, I'll start way back toward the beginning, with the childhood era. In a word, my walls were dominated by sports. But the only thing I still have from my pre-college era is a poster of the 1988 Dodgers, now laminated, that's rolled inside a tube. I know I'll keep it forever, but I don't really think I'll ever hang it up again.

In college, it was all music all the time, cut outs from magazines even, anything that showed a favorite band or album or in some way or another made me feel like I was cool. Free or $1 promo posters from record stores rounded out the purchases from the early-semester poster sales. This, of course, is when the Bob Dylan posters started showing up on my walls.

Bob Dylan remains a big presence in my house, but the living room is anchored by beautiful, large black & white photos of old Dodgers. One is a close-up profile of Jackie Robinson in his minor league uniform, one of the all-time greatest athletes on the verge of making history with pride, determination and an unwavering talent. Next is shot of Jackie and manager Walter Alston, side-by-side on the dugout steps. Next I have the famous one of an exhausted and ecstatic Sandy Koufax, holding four baseballs, each marked with a zero to celebrate his then-record fourth no-hitter.

The Dylan ones are two huge ones, studio shots from the Highway 61 era, one featuring Dylan noodling on a Fender bass, while another is a hazy, out-of-focus shot of him glancing sideways, harmonica rack around his neck and cigarette in his mouth. The third is and another shot from the same period, London 1966, with Dylan scrunched up in a leather jacket, his hair boisterous and wild, wearing hipster shades to hide God-knows-what.

They're all black & white, and I gotta say it, all six go together very well. I've always loved black & white photography, Bob Dylan and the Dodgers, and it's a damn classy living room.

The Jackie Robinson theme continues in the kitchen, with six framed 8 by 10s, some famous and some not. One is of a retired, white-haired Jackie, on a Civil Rights march, holding a sign demanding jobs today, not tomorrow.

The old Dodgers photos are courtesy of my dad, a photographer who years ago, out of the blue, got a job reprinting large photos for a display of the team's history at Dodger Stadium. And figured that printing a few extra ones didn't hurt one bit.

Around the corner are three Ted DeGrazia prints that used to hang in my grandparents' house. They're both gone now, and while the DeGrazia pictures aren't the type of things I associate most closely with them, it's a comfort to have those prints around.

Over my CD shelves in the hallway are two show-specific posters: the first a one-of-a-kind Calexico poster from the 2007 Reid Park show for Bookman's 30th birthday, signed by not only Calexico but by many of the Mariachi Luz de Luna players who sat in for the lengthy and joyous show (I hung around afterwards for long enough to not only collect the signatures, but also share some tequila with Ruben Moreno). The next is a poster from Bob Dylan's 2002 Tucson show at AVA amphitheater, complete with my backstage pass sticker affixed to the front.

Near the door I have a poster from Calexico's special 2008 benefit show for Congresswoman Giffords' campaign, signed by the congresswoman. And on the opposite wall I have a poster for Son Volt's Wide Swing Tremolo album, signed by all four members of the band (in my pen jar to my right I have a drumstick from that same October 1998 Rialto Theatre show when Heinecke and I met the band, and drank Heineckens on their tour bus. Mike Hiedorn is a tremendously nice guy, though Jay Farrar was kind of expectedly sullen).

Then there's a 2009 calendar of black & white New York City photography, which breaks my several year streak of Ansel Adams calendars (I have an uncle in the calendar business who never fails to give a monthly page-flipper for Christmas). The framed photos are one of me and my Grandpa, pretending to sleep in a move typically goofy of the two of us, taken by my dad and given to Grandpa for Christmas in 1983, and one of a fog-shrouded Thumb Butte, taken by my friend Cynthia, from her and Zach's porch on a winter's morning a few years back. A pennant from the 1980 All-Star game at Dodger Stadium completes the bedroom wall art.

So that's it for now. For a while I've wanted to gravitate toward having more actual art on display, but the question is where to start. Ideally I'd have work by people I know personally, or local artists whose work I've seen before. And for years I've had this notion that I'd love one day to get somebody to put together an impressively detailed Diego Rivera-style painting that shows all the close friends I've had over the years.

Calexico - Guero Canelo (live)
Bob Dylan - Sitting On A Barbed Wire Fence (Highway 61 outtake)
Count Basie Orchestra - Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball
Son Volt - Medicine Hat (live)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Robyn Hitchcock talks 'Oslo'

Robyn Hitchcock and his new band, The Venus 3, have a new record out Tuesday, and Yep Roc has a short interview clip of Hitchcock talking about the inspiration behind Goodnight Oslo, his work with Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married and what it means to "celebrate the ghosts of the smoke age."

Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey & Bill Rieflin have led Hitchcock on a new creative surge, starting with the group's first record, 2006's Olé Tarantula, an outstanding album that I had as No. 6 for the year.

Robyn Hitchcock - Up To Our Nex (live)
Robyn Hitchcock - I'm Falling (live)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Hump Day Shuffle: 1992

1. Stone Temple Pilots - Wicked Garden - Core
I've been up and down on this album so many times over the years. I was big into it right away, for all the reasons any 13-year-old would dig a hard rock album that was blowing up all over the place. Then I grabbed onto the "copycat" backlash. Then jettisoned it from my collection all together. Then reacquired it, for old times' sake. Then listened to it occasionally for a couple years. Then re-thought the flaws - chiefly how obviously derivative it was. Then watched Weiland's ridiculously made-for-tabloid personal life take more and more strange turns. Then found Velvet Revolver turning my stomach. Then kinda forgot about STP all together. Then found it on shuffle, and remembered every bit of those ups and downs.

2. John Mellencamp - Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat - Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration
Yikes. As much as I like the idea of an all-star blow-out tribute to Bob Dylan, this thing reeked of exploitation from the outset. Dylan was skeptical and hesitant from the beginning, and on a whole separate plane of existence musically, in the midst of a rather uncommercial folk revival period. And the guest list had plenty of wrong choices. But despite all the problems, there are some impossibly excellent gems from the project. Not this Mellencamp number, mind you. I'm thinking more the excellent "Masters of War" from Pearl Jam and the bury-all-egos "My Back Pages," which is what an all-star blow-out tribute should be all about.

3. Emmylou Harris - Smoke Along the Track - At The Ryman
I only started digging into Emmylou (besides the greatest hits album) after seeing her play in San Francisco a year and a half ago, and I snagged this live album mostly because I wanted to hear her cover Steve Earle's "Guitar Town." It's excellent, but I stopped there for some reason. The fact is nothing she's ever recorded has been bad, and the backing band on this one is excellent, so a brand new track like this one seems familiar and comforting right off the bat.

4. Flaming Lips - The Sun - Hit To Death In The Future Head
I still find it hard to believe that the Flaming Lips have spent nearly 17 years on Warner Brothers Records. But in 1992, major labels actually were willing to sign left-field acts. This isn't the earliest Flaming Lips record I've managed to acquire, but it's the earliest one I've listened to with any regularity, and I got to say, it's just plain weird. I love that about the band, but I love it much more when the music reached higher peaks. This song kinda sounds like the Meat Puppets, if they grew up a few states further east, which up until the Soft Bulletin is a description that could've been applied to just about anything the Flaming Lips came up with.

5. Arrested Development - Mama's Always On Stage - 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of...
Another album I had from pretty much when it came out, but this one I've actually managed to keep to this day, to my endless surprise. I liked the hits, and as a young teen never had the patience for anything else. Just a bit too commercial to fit in with the Native Tongues bands, and too much of a one-hit wonder to fit in anywhere else but made-for-TV 90s compilation albums, this is a curious album to hear after so many years.

6. Bob Dylan - Diamond Joe - Good As I Been To You
See, this is what Dylan was all about when Columbia tried filling Madison Square Garden with hosanas in a transparent attempt to move a double album of Dylan covers. A collection of traditional folk covers (with a horrible album front) must've been the last thing the label wanted their legendary act to deliver, but damnit if the songs don't sound fantastic. The chameleon struck again...

7. Beastie Boys - Groove Holmes - Check Your Head
Wow. When this one came on I thought I'd stumbled onto a Medeski, Martin & Wood track I didn't know I had. I've never been a huge Beastie Boys fan, and though over the years I gladly copied all their albums from Mr. Chair I think I've only ever listened to the songs I already knew from radio. This is funky organ-driven jazz. Weird.

8. Mary J. Blige - Intro Talk - What's The 411
It was Mike Doughty's cover of "Real Love" on his Skittish album that finally made me check out Mary J. Blige, and while the album has never thrilled me, I found enough unexpected features to come out with thumbs up. For one, she brings in Busta Rhymes as a prominent contributor, which is never a bad thing. Still, "Real Love" is the album's highlight, and I have to confess I'll always prefer Doughty's version.

9. The Pharcyde - Officer - Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde
Another early (mid?) hip-hop classic that I never got passed the hits on. Jazzy and funky, it's an interesting notion in 2009 to stand this album alongside The Chronic, which brought a sort of paranoid intensity and an entirely new theory of sound to West Coast hip-hop. (The proceeding sentence was courtesy of the fact that I only really know "Passin' Me By" from this album, and the fact that I'd rather any song from The Chronic have come up on shuffle instead.)

10. Morphine - You Speak My Language - Good
Even thought I'll never see Good as anything other than a warm-up for the excellent Cure For Pain, one of the albums I played to death for several years and would still call one of the top 10 records of the 1990s, it's worth remembering how out of place a sax-bass-drums trio was in the early 1990s. I love the band, and even though I did get the opportunity to see them play once, I remain heartbroken by Mark Sandman's death, which was mere weeks before Morphine was supposed to join Soul Coughing for a show at Phoenix's Celebrity Theatre. I have no doubt that would've been a show I'd still be talking about in 2009.

Morphine - You Speak My Language (live)

Odds & Ends

I've got a few good recommendations for everybody from some of the other great blogs out there.

First up is Captain's Dead, which has a live set that Neko Case played for KEXP in Seattle last month. The show has six songs from the highly anticipated Middle Cyclone, which Case will release March 3 on Anti- Records. My bet is this one will be even better than Fox Confessor and factor highly into the best-of 2009 lists. My only concern is that the tour stops announced so far in 2009 don't include Tucson, but I don't think she can bypass her old home. Plus, it's my guess that a stop in D.C. will lead to another NPR broadcast.

Next I'll direct everbody to I Am Fuel, You Are Friends, a favorite of mine for quite some time, to hear Bon Iver covering Feist's "The Park." As Heather says, "it’s unexpected, and uncanny."

And the good folks over at Spin have an exclusive new song from the Felice Brothers, which suggests the upstate New Yorkers have another gloriously ramshackle blend that sounds like the Old Weird America of Dylan & The Band in Woodstock.

And finally a nugget from my inbox: the new single from The Thermals. The Portland band will release their new album on Kill Rock Stars on April 7. This is power pop of the highest quality, a little like Weezer when Rivers only knew of the color blue. I'd love to see these guys tour with Bishop Allen...

The Thermals - Now We Can See

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Richard Buckner reissues

Richard Buckner is among the many musicians to have earned honorary Tucsonan status by hiding out here - under circumstances good, bad, extraordinary or unspeakable - and letting the desert calm sink in. This is a creative place - these Arid Madlands - and seekers seek it. They come in search of the strange and unusual, and without fail, they find plenty of it.

Buckner came here to record his 1996 record Devotion + Doubt, teaming with the ever-present Joey Burns and John Convertino, a pair Buckner describes as "one of the finest rhythm sections in musicdom." On the way he created and then lost the music that would later become The Hill, an experiment in breathing new life via music into Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology.

Lost in his glove compartment for four years, the tape was apparently just waiting for the right moment to make itself known, and once again found a comforting home in the desert air. Buckner describes coming back to Tucson to re-record the songs, again with Burns and Convertino, who were under orders to record without bass or drums, resulting in an unusual and atmospheric cello and anything-that'll-make-a-sound percussion combo.

Still, The Hill is the only Buckner album I've never been able to really get into, perhaps because it was put on CD as one 34-minute track, perhaps because it seemed like a tangent, perhaps because I'm impatient and just liked Since too much to break out and give it a chance.

Now Merge Records, Buckner's home for his last two albums, has announced that The Hill, 1995's Bloomed and 2002's Impasse will be re-released. All out-of-print now, the albums should get much needed notice via the Merge imprint.

On the Merge blog, Buckner describes the four-day Lubbock recording session that saw both 112-degree heat and a raging hail storm. And going back to the album with that in mind, I have to say the music sounds like a product of that hectic and schizophrenic weather.

The album opens with "Blue & Wonder," as solid a display of songwriting talent to ever lead off a debut record. The storytelling style that marks his songs is right there at the beginning. He's veiled and vague, using loosely connected moments to sketch tales with staggering levels of emotion:
"Well I've been stunned
And I've been turned
I've been undone and burned
I saw you as the answer to
Years of blue and wonder"

The chorus - "What's that word / I forget sometimes / it's the one that means / the love has left your eyes" - shows as well as any song that where Buckner drops off a tale is rarely where he picks it up again. His songs have holes - big, mysterious holes that lend more to the song's essence because they're there. Buckner uses those holes as dividers, leveraging powerful and evocative statements from sparse words.

Eight records in, Buckner has established himself as a songwriting force, a unique and compelling guitar player and a singer who uses every bit of his deep, gruff voice to deliver his songs with a passionate immediacy.

I've seen Buckner a half dozen times or so, but it seems like it's been at least two years since he came through Tucson, touring for Meadow. Merge lists just a few dates for a spring 2009 tour, and promises more, so I don't doubt Buckner will swing back this way soon.

Richard Buckner - Gauzy Dress In The Sun
Richard Buckner - Emily Sparks
Richard Buckner - Born Into Giving It Up
Richard Buckner - 2007 KCRW performance

Friday, February 06, 2009

Crooked Fingers & DeVotchka TONIGHT @ Rialto Theatre!

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fantastic double bill of Crooked Fingers and DeVotchka playing down at the Rialto Theatre tonight.

I'm going in new to DeVotchka, so this is really a Crooked Fingers / Eric Bachmann post. Tonight will be the fourth time I've seen the band, and lately I've been absolutely soaking up Forfeit / Fortune, easily one of the best records of 2008 and, along with Dignity & Shame, the band at its peak.

In fact, I'd rank Eric Bachmann right up there with Jeff Tweedy, Craig Finn, David Berman and a few others as the top songwriters in the general indie rock field. For just one exhibit, check out "Man O' War," from his 2006 solo record:

This is the type of pin-drop song that can freeze even an unfamiliar crowd in rapt attention, which is exactly what Bachmann did opening for a devoted Neko Case crowd at the Rialto back in August. I missed the Crooked Fingers' last swing through Tucson (stupid Guy Toronto and his stupid wedding), so tonight has been circled on the calendar since the show was announced a couple months ago.

Forfeit / Fortune is a full-band affair, with the type of exotic flourishes that Bachmann has gravitated to more and more on the last two Crooked Fingers albums. Folk elements more Spanish in origin are everywhere, and while he doesn't really hit that Eastern European thing that DeVotchka has going for it, I do sense a kindred approach in recombining very different musical styles into a new and unique sound.

Bachmann has about three different singing voices, from an increasingly more seldom used falsetto to the yelp he used mostly on the Archers of Loaf albums to a gruff, almost Neil Diamond-esque vibe.

The slower songs lean on Bachmann's intricate finger-picking style, but the band also busts out some straight-ahead rockers, most notably "Cannibals" and "Your Control," featuring guest vocalist Neko Case, who I'd love to see join Bachmann on more projects.

Crooked Fingers - Your Control
Crooked Fingers - Phony Revolutions
And check out Crooked Fingers' session at Daytrotter.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Hump Day Shuffle: 1991

1. Bob Dylan - Seven Curses - The Bootleg Series, Volume 2
I can't fathom why Dylan left this off The Times They Are A-Changin' album. It's a song of mystery and the sort of dreamy, psychedelic storytelling that characterized "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall." Dylan's early songs had tremendous structure - here the entire song is rooted in numbers and counting (Seven Curses, of course). Any other songwriter alive would have this song at the top of a Best Of album. But not Dylan; he tossed it, and let it sit there for nearly 30 years. And here's how that translated: only one person to my knowledge has covered "Seven Curses" (Tom Russell), while my collection has more than a dozen covers by nine bands of "Hard Rain," and nearly 20 versions by a dozen different people of "Blowin' In The Wind."

2. Guns N' Roses - Garden Of Eden - Use Your Illusion I
What was bold and a marketing coup in 1991 seems especially unnecessary now. This is one of the songs that could've easily been clipped to make one really kick-ass Use Your Illusion album. Then, nowadays - perhaps right before the release of Chinese Democracy - Geffen could've put out the ultimate Deluxe Use Your Illusion, and pull all those purged songs back out of the vault. Instead, no matter how great the keepers are, the Use Your Illusions are remembered as the ultimate "filler" records.

3. U2 - Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses - Achtung Baby
This has long been my favorite U2 record, by a long shot actually, despite the fact that I got into it about eight years after it came out. I can cite the general atmospherics, I suppose, but it's not like U2 never brought that sort of dreamy soundscape before. More than anything, it just really hit me, and "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" is a big part of that. Bono sounds like a wiseman and a searcher simultaneously on this song, and it's one of the bigger "builders" of the band's catalog. When I kicked off this weekly shuffle with a prologue picking my favorite album for each year of my life, Achtung Baby came out on top for 1991, and this is just the second time in the weekly shuffles that a song from the year's favorite album has come up (X's "When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch," from 1981's Wild Gift)

4. De La Soul - My Brother's A Basehead - De La Soul Is Dead
I don't know this album as much as Three Feet High And Rising, and it wasn't part of my teen years, so hearing this song fresh so far removed from the album's time definitely creates a disconnect. Regardless, De La Soul brought at least two amazing albums to the world in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and it takes a blind, stubborn dismissiveness to ignore that fact. Rural Northern Arizona isn't the most enlightened place to grow up, and the anti-rap pull was strong there, so I missed a lot the first time around.

5. Sebadoh - Rennaissance Man - III
I got the reissue of this a couple years back, trying to figure out exactly what the big deal was with Sebadoh, and I think I'm still searching. My freshman roommate had the Rebound EP, which I still love, but with the stubbornly low-fi recording approach, the band's earlier stuff seems to throw up a deliberate veil that I can't seem to get around to actually find the songs.

6. Billy Bragg - Rumours of War - Don't Try This At Home
It's not like Billy Bragg got political as his career went along - quite the opposite, in fact - but those political songs just started seeming so much heavier. The strings (cello especially), the spare piano and the hazy slowness of Bragg's vocals make this sort of song a far cry from his frantic strumming and shouting of the early 1980s. But unlike most musicians, Bragg handled the disparity in styles without skipping a beat.

7. Gin Blossoms - Just South of Nowhere - Up And Crumbling
What the world got to know of the Gin Blossoms was a band just passed its peak, about to embark on a heartbreakingly steep decline. The jangly bar rock that sent the band soaring to begin with had all its edges sanded away by the major label executives (A&M in this case, long since having lost its rep as an artist friendly label). Then the band's creative force, Doug Hopkins, was kicked out of the band, killing himself not long after. It's a heartbreaking and amazing story, chronicled in great detail by Hopkins' friend, Brian Smith. Seriously, if you want one of the best pieces of music journalism around, read Smith's Jusus of Surbubia. The Gin Blossoms will always remain one of my favorite bands; check out Dusted if you want one of rock's all-time great unheard records.

8. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Summertime (reprise) - Homebase
This is what I knew of rap in 1991, instead of De La Soul, but Summertime has had a bit of a rennaissance with me over the last couple years as it hit me that aside from all the Fresh Prince hype, it's one hell of a song. With Jazzy Jeff and Quincy Jones on hand, this fell right in between the goofy kid rap and the Hollywood blockbuster musical commercials that defined the rest of the Fresh Prince's career.

9. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Suck My Kiss - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Now we've come to my favorite 1991 album at the time. Nothing was cooler in junior high in my mind, not even Pearl Jam's Ten or Nirvana's Nevermind. It's still a high-water mark for alternative rock. That "Suck My Kiss" was about the fourth single really speaks to the album's quality. This song is bouncy, hard (but not heavy, an important distinction then), with just about the most authoritative bassline in alternative music.

10. Pixies - Head On - Trompe Le Monde
I've always had a hard time remembering whether this was a Pixies song covered by Jesus & Mary Chain, or the other way around. Hopefully this little exercise will serve to make it stick in my mind that it's a Jesus & Mary Chain original, covered excellently by the Pixies. "Head On" might be from the band's swan song, but it's as strong as anything the Pixies ever did.

Bob Dylan - Seven Curses (live)
U2 - Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses (live)
Gin Blossoms - Just South of Nowhere (live)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Odds & Ends

Bishop Allen played a hell of a show in Tucson last July, and now the Brooklyn band has new record on the way. I have no doubt it'll be more of the ultra-catchy guitar pop that they're known for.

The band's preview singles fall right in line with the Bishop Allen catalog, which includes the 2006 monthly EP project.

Grrr... is out March 10, the same day the band launches a six-week tour. And right smack in the middle, there's a four-day gap between an appearance at Austin's SXSW festival and Los Angeles. Let's hope there's a Tucson stop in the works...

Bishop Allen - The Ancient Commonsense of Things
Bishop Allen - Dimmer


The resurrected Clem Snide, one of my favorite live bands, will be out on tour this spring, and have an April 6 show at Plush. Oh, and a new album, Honey Bird, due out this month.

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Eef Barzelay played this summer at Plush, with a stripped-down set of solo material that showed the tremendous range and versatility he has as a performer.

But a full Clem Snide is a good thing in this world, and I welcome them back with open arms.

Eef Barzelay (of Clem Snide) - Ballad of Bitter Honey


Photo by Alissa Anderson

San Francisco's Vetiver are newly signed to SubPop, just about to release their first record for the venerable indie label, and are Tucson-bound, with a gig at Plush on April 10.

Tight Knit, the band's fourth album, is due in two weeks, is a sunny mix of folk, pop and rock, the type of tunes that are normally associated with the Southern California burgs instead of Vetiver's San Francisco. Rest assured, Tight Knit will land on a lot of year-end lists, especially after the folk-rock breakthrough SubPop had in 2008 with the Fleet Foxes.

SubPop announced the new record with a press release titled "At last! Vetiver is ours."

Vetiver - Everyday


Also in the about-to-release-a-record-and-headed-to-Tucson group is former Drive-by Trucker Jason Isbell, who has a March 31 gig at Club Congress.

Isbell is now on Lightning Rod Records, alongside the should-be-legendary James McMurtry, which is nothing but a good sign for his artistic intentions.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Seven-Mile Island


The Rialto Theatre has booked Franz Ferdinand for an April 19. The Scottish dance-rockers haven't ever been my cup of tea, but I'll definitely give 'em a chance live...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Monday Morning QB: Super Bowl Rock

Was Bob Dylan softening up the American football audience for a performance at next year's Super Bowl by agreeing to appear in a commercial during this year's broadcast?

Why not speculate about a Dylan halftime show, considering that the last five years seem to be paving the way: Paul McCartney (who Dylan introduced to pot), the Rolling Stones (who covered Dylan when their career needed a shot in the arm), Prince (who actually snuck in a Dylan song during his halftime performance), Tom Petty (a fellow Willbury and Dylan tourmate) and now Springsteen (who reveres Bob and is perhaps the only living rock musician whose name can be rightly used alongside Dylan's).

So here's that commercial, which I kind of liked, if for no other reason that because it dusted off the alternate version of "Forever Young," a somewhat inferior take that sounds completely fresh after so long listening to the more classic rendition:

And now for a collision course of "Forever Youngs," culminating in one that joins The Boss and The Bob, which is served up here as more proof that Dylan will play at next year's Super Bowl. Or so I hope.

Neil Young & The Grateful Dead - Forever Young (live)
Eddie Vedder - Forever Young (live)
Bob Dylan - Forever Young (live on David Letterman)
Bob Dylan & Bruce Springsteen - Forever Young (live)