Archive for the ‘Gnarls Barkley’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: JOHN PRINE-Tiny Desk Concert #717 (March 12, 2018).

For all of the legendary status of John Prine, I don’t really know that much about him.  I also think I don’t really know much of his music.  I didn’t know any of the four songs he played here.

I enjoyed all four songs.  The melodies were great, the lyrics were thoughtful and his voice, although wizened, convey the sentiments perfectly.

The blurb sums up things really well

An American treasure came to the Tiny Desk and even premiered a new song. John Prine is a truly legendary songwriter. For more than 45 years the 71-year-old artist has written some of the most powerful lyrics in the American music canon, including “Sam Stone,” “Angel From Montgomery,” “Hello In There” and countless others.

John Prine’s new songs are equally powerful and he opens this Tiny Desk concert with “Caravan of Fools,” a track he wrote with Pat McLaughlin and Dan Auerbach. Prine adds a disclaimer to the song saying, “any likeness to the current administration is purely accidental.”

I thought the song was great (albeit short) with these pointed lyrics:

The dark and distant drumming
The pounding of the hooves
The silence of everything that moves
Late in night you see them
Decked out in shiny jewels
The coming of the caravan of fools

That song, and his second tune, the sweet tearjerker “Summer’s End,” are from John Prine’s first album of new songs in 13 years, The Tree of Forgiveness.

He introduces this song by saying that.  This one is a pretty song.  It might drive you to tears.  He wrote this with Pat McLaughlin.  We usually write on Tuesdays in Nashville because that’s the day they serve meatloaf.  I love meatloaf.  We try to write a song before they serve the meatloaf.  And then eat it and record it.

For this Tiny Desk Concert John Prine also reaches back to his great “kiss-off” song from 1991 [“an old song from the 90s (whoo)…  a song from the school of kiss off 101”] called “All the Best,” and then plays “Souvenirs,” a song intended for his debut full-length but released the following year on his 1972 album Diamonds in the Rough. It’s just one of the many sentimental ballads Prine has gifted us.

He says he wrote it in 1968…when he was about 3.

Over the years, his voice has become gruffer and deeper, due in part to his battle with squamous cell cancer on the right side of his neck, all of which makes this song about memories slipping by feel all the more powerful and sad.

“Broken hearts and dirty windows
Make life difficult to see
That’s why last night and this mornin’
Always look the same to me
I hate reading old love letters
For they always bring me tears
I can’t forgive the way they rob me
Of my sweetheart’s souvenirs”

The musicians include John Prine, Jason Wilber, David Jacques and Kenneth Blevins.


[READ: December 11, 2017] X

I really enjoyed Klosterman’s last essay book, although I found pretty much every section was a little too long.  So this book, which is a collection of essays is perfect because the pieces have already been edited for length.

I wasn’t even aware of this book when my brother-in-law Ben sent it to me with a comment about how much he enjoyed the Nickelback essay.

Because I had been reading Grantland and a few other sources, I have actually read a number of these pieces already, but most of them were far off enough that I enjoyed reading them again.

This book is primarily a look at popular culture.  But narrowly defined by sports and music (and some movies).  I have never read any of Klosterman’s fiction, but I love his entertainment essays. (more…)

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Like the entire world, I am in love with this song.  I have long postulated that songs with cursing in the chorus are almost by definition catchier than songs that have none.   And this song is one of the most catchy fucking songs ever.   (I of course admit that the censored radio version “Forget You” is equally as catchy but we can’t forget that the curse version came first).

I have listened to this song dozens of times now and I simply haven’t grown tired of it.  It has a simple construction with an interesting descending musical motif and a killer killer hook.  But of course the key is Cee-Lo’s voice.  I first heard him with Gnarls Barkley and I considered getting some of his solo stuff based on the amazingness of his voice.  (I never got a round to it).  And now this song has pretty well solidified him in my esteem.(Actually his appearance on The Colbert Report where he sang Fox News in the chorus was the real solidification for me.

This song transcends genre (it’s played all the time on an alt rock station by me).  And I think that’s why it is so appealing and such a big hit.  And now I’m going to be whistling the chorus for the rest of the day.

[READ: November 20, 2010] “Two’s Company”

This story follows Franzens “Breakup Stories” rather nicely because it too is about a breakup.  This time, though, the story itself is much longer than the others (4 whole pages!).

The story is about Pam and Paul, a couple who married young and were immediately successful as TV scriptwriters.  They worked together, created memorable sitcoms and owned a company whose logo shows their names with a heart between them.

But as they settle into greater success they begin to look for something slightly different to occupy them.  I love that they said Paul stopped appearing in public because he had trouble “remembering whether the ‘O’ in ‘Michael Ovitz was long or short.”  And their public persona, just like their logo, shows them to be perfectly content and in love.  Of course, as seems inevitable, some cracks begin to surface in their perfect facade.

They are to cowrite a movie.  He has always be the more highbrow of the two (and usually gets the bigger laughs), but it is her common, even cliched, sensibility that makes all the money.   And Pam more or less takes the reins of the screenplay, writing about a couple who is perfectly happy together (the husband doesn’t even glance at the hot women that his friends are constantly ogling).  Paul feels that the story is supposed to be about them, and he starts to resent her.  He thinks her script idea is crap (a bland comedy for older ladies) and he begins to think that Pam is less attractive than she used to be.  The speed with which their partnership disintegrates is rather astonishing.

I enjoyed the story–Franzen has a great way with character.  Although I admit I was a little sad that the story went this way.  It would have been nice (like her purposed movie script) to see a couple who could work together, be successful and remain happy (I guess I’m a bland old lady).  But, as Paul seems to think, that’s just a fantasy.

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SOUNDTRACK: PRINCE-Purple Rain (1984).

I resisted Prince for most of my high school and early college years.  He was just so, so, so.  Well, actually I think he was just so popular.  Plus, my freshman year of college, someone on our floor used to blast this CD at full volume every time he did laundry.  It was pretty oppressive.

As I grew less strident, I learned to appreciate his talent (and his absurdity), and even to like Purple Rain.  And when I divorce Prince from the hype, the overplay, the excess, the quirks (yes, I’m talking 2 U) this is a damn fine record.

It’s also somewhat surprising that it was as big a hit as it was.  Musically, it’s all over the place (or is that something for everyone?).  I think in today’s specialized market, this may not have sold as well (or else it would be like Gnarls Barkley and be a hit regardless).

“Let’s Go Crazy” is poppy sure, but it rocks really hard (and showcases Prince’s guitar virtuosity).  But it’s the  second half of the disc that is just berserk with great music. “When Doves Cry” has that insane guitar solo opener.  The rest is simple keyboard pop (until the ecstatic screams at the end).  “I Would Die 4U” is the poppiest thing on the disc.  And the disc ender, “Purple Rain” is just a great rock track.  Delightfully pretentious in the beginning, full-bodied by the middle.  It’s quite genre defying.

I’m obviously not the biggest Prince fan in the world.  I have a few discs from this period (and the greatest hits).  It’s more than enough Prince for me.  And while I don’t listen to this disc while I do laundry, sometimes, when it’s warm, I’ll open the windows and crank this up.

[READ: May 14, 2010] “1999”

This story opens with the line “I wouldn’t fuck [the artist formerly known as Prince] if he was the last man on Earth.”  This turns out to be excellent foreshadowing.  The year is 1999, morphing into 2000.  And the unthinkable has happened.  There is no one left on the planet.  Except for the voice of TAFKAP on the radio, exhorting women to cum 2 him and b with him.

Although Sonya wouldn’t fuck him, several other women in the story most certainly would.   And so, the story follows four different women, each with her own agenda as they travel across the continent to Minnesota, to Paisley Park. (more…)

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So “Crazy” was Gnarls Barkley’s ubiquitous and fantastic single from 2006. The rest of St. Elsewhere was nowhere near as catchy, although it was all quite good. It was funny to see the backlash for this record because there was no “Crazy” on it. And yet, the rest of the album is not too different from the rest of St. Elsewhere. The same themes are there: lunacy, insecurity. And the production feels kind of claustrophobic like the first one did.

“Crazy” was a great single because Cee-Lo was able to unleash his mammoth voice. There are a couple of songs on The Odd Couple where Cee-Lo gets to unleash: “Surprise,” and “Neighbors.” But they’ve also got some great, subdued songs as well: “Blind Mary,” “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul.”

The music from Danger Mouse seems to be busier and more complex on this one, too. There’s all kinds of samples on the record, but they are hard to distinguish from the original music: a true sign of great sampling. There’s a background chorus of some sort on “Surprise” that is just fantastic, and I can’t tell if it’s the sample or not (since I’ve never heard the original).

Perhaps it’s because The Odd Couple is fresher in my mind, by I think I like it better than St. Elsewhere, even without “Crazy.”

[READ: July 1, 2008] “The Perfect Game”

As I said, I don’t usually review articles in magazines. This one, however, had special resonance. (more…)

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