Archive for the ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MERRY CLAYTON-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #222 (June 9, 2021).

Merry Clayton is a woman who every music fan has heard but probably doesn’t know it.

 Clayton has been making great music for almost 60 years. Clayton is one of rock’s most important backup singers (for starters, see The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Carole King’s Tapestry). She recorded several excellent solo albums that never broke big, but eventually received the recognition she deserved in the 2013 documentary 20 Feet From Stardom.

Clayton is not singing rock in this set, she is firmly in the gospel tradition.  And her voice still sounds amazing.

Members of The Waters and Take 6 (Maxine Waters, Julie Waters, Oren Waters, Alvin Chea and Alfie Siles) provide excellent backing vocals.

Merry Clayton’s Tiny Desk concert begins with the essentials. After a brief piano intro, she begins to sing “Beautiful Scars” — the title track of her new album — in a powerful and knowing voice.

Terry Young plays the slow piano and Nathan East provides the soft bass.

In 2014, she was in a serious car accident that required months in the hospital and extensive rehabilitation. With encouragement from her longtime friend and producer Lou Adler she decided to record a new album.

“Oh What a Friend,” written by Terry Young, features soaring call-and-response vocals between Clayton and the vocalists.

Charles Fearing’s guitar is not really noticeable amid the piano and bass but Harvey Mason’s drums snap and pop on the beat.

They conclude with a stirring and joyous version of Sam Cooke’s 1956 classic “Touch the Hem of His Garment.”

This song is acapella with the backing singers providing all of the music (including the foot stomps, maybe).  I love the bass notes from Alvin Chea.

[READ: July 1, 2021] “Spirit at Summer’s End”

This month’s issue of The Walrus is the Summer Reading issue and features three pieces of fiction and three poems.

The final piece is a poem.  And it is summer themed.

Indeed, it is a visceral account of the end of the season:



bent straw

bee music

shrunken honeysuckle


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[ATTENDED: December 30, 2019] Phish

After last night’s show, I really didn’t have high hopes for knocking out a bunch of songs.  I realize they don’t know what’s on my list, but it sometimes feels like they do and they keep spacing them out to make sure I come back.

For this show I had seats that I bought in the lottery.  I never get good seats in the Phish lottery, but the tickets themselves are very cool–colorful and quite lovely.  But I was up in the 200s for this show.  And once again my row-mates were lame.  Or maybe I’m the lame one.  Whatever the case, this was my first show where I could see the video screen.  The video screen is pretty terrible because the audio and video are out of synch.  However, it did allow me to take a few good pictures of the guys.

Tonight’s trip into the city was much better.  I’d picked a garage in the village, six blocks from Le Poisson Rouge, and this time I knew I’d be able to make the afterparty (Garcia Peoples, Chris Forsyth, Ryley Walker).  I also managed to go into MSG through a different entrance (I really wish I could keep track of which entrances are the best).  I managed to get the shirt that I liked (sold out last night) and get to my seat with ample time to spare.  Let it be known that there is FAR LESS ROOM in the 200s than in the 100s!

But the lights soon dimmed and Trey played the four opening notes that can only mean one thing–“Wilson!”  The very first time I saw Phish, they opened with “Wilson” and it was a wonderful moment.  And sure, I’ve seen it four times, but it is such a great, exciting song live–so much crowd interaction–that I knew it would be a fun night. (more…)

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2016-12-05-21-06-09SOUNDTRACK: MIGUEL-Tiny Desk Concert #260 (December 31, 2012).

I’d published these posts without Soundtracks while I was reading the calendars.  But I decided to add Tiny Desk Concerts to them when I realized that I’d love to post about all of the remaining 100 or shows and this was a good way to knock out 25 of them.

miguelI didn’t know Miguel before this.  I’d heard of him, but I didn’t know any of his songs.  Given the above blurb I assume that his songs are poppy and really dancey.  But this acoustic performance is fantastic.  Miguel’s voice is great and he has amazing presence up there.

Miguel turned up in the NPR Music offices early one morning, after playing a show late the night before. He appeared light and calm, and betrayed no hint that he was nervous about stripping his highly produced hits down to their bones. Accompanied by just his guitarist, Dru DeCaro, Miguel eschewed flash and went big on small gestures — ingratiating ad libs, only one full spin and voice control that kept the songs close to his chest but emotive enough to translate to the back of the room.

He commands the room with little gestures like when he takes off his sunglasses or lifts his hat briefly.  And then there’s his winning smile.

“Do You…” opens with a fun lyric: “It’s Friday and I’m feeling good.” Then he turns to the audience and asks, “It is Friday right?”  The chorus is also fun, and rather unexpected.  “Do you like drugs?  Do you like drugs?”  “Well, me too”(too much laughter) “Do you like hugs?  Do you like hugs?  Me too.”  He hits an amazing falsetto in the middle of the song and then keeps it up high as he sings the next section.

“The Thrill”is his favorite song off his second album.  It feels like an anthem or a dance song that people might love.  It’s about being at a club, and this line struck me as interesting:

Jamie, Johhny and Jack know
Shoot ’em up, shoot ’em down, jus-jus-just sh-sh-shoot up
Dance it up, we never black out

It’s not quite as successful as an acoustic song, although he sounds great and comfortable singing it.  He does some small dance moves during the quiet end section.

“Adorn” was apparently a Grammy nominated song. I wish I knew the original for comparison’s sake.  But the song works really well with an acoustic guitar.  Frankly, Dru DeCaro is masterful at playing these songs–heavy strumming and even harmonics when called for–nice accents too.  Miguel hits some great falsetto hoooos and the ending where he goes high on adore and then ends with a quietly spoken “you” is nicely dramatic.

I don’t know what’s become of Miguel in the last four years, but if the pop music thing doesn’t work out, he’s got a  great career with just a guitar and his voice.

[READ: December 23, 2016] “The Lunacy of Gumbo”

Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar.  Which is what exactly?  Well…

The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas.  This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.

I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

This was the least story-like story of the collection.  Honestly, I’m not even sure what to make of it.

The narrator says that back in 1980, he was in Louisiana.  It was 11PM and they had been drinking all night.  Finally someone said they should have a gumbo and the narrator thought that that was insane. (more…)

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rich nameSOUNDTRACK: AN OLDE WORLD CHRISTMAS (European Holiday) (1990?).

olde worldWhile yesterday’s Norwegian Christmas album was awesome, this one falls very very short.  The premise of the album is so promising: Christmas songs from around the world.  There are Spanish, French, English, German, Scandinavian and Italian songs here!

Well, the problem is that this entire record was recorded (apparently) by one guy on a keyboard with five preset sounds.  It is so disappointing.  I mean sure it’s pretty (sort of).  But there is no sense at all that these are different countries’ songs.

For instance, “Angels We Have Heard on High.”  Who knew that that was originally a French song?  Not me.  And in no way does this keyboard instrumental version of “Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes” convey that it is anything other than “Angels We Have Heard on High.”  How about the fact that we get “O Tannebaum” instead of “O Christmas Tree”?  Well, without words, what’s the difference?

So, there are pianoish sounds and harpsichordish sounds and a flute-ish sound.  And this would probably be a nice thing to put on as you were falling asleep on Christmas Eve and wanted visions of synthesized sukker plomme dancing in your tête.  Thank goodness I got it for 99 cents.

[READ: December 16, 2014] What in God’s Name

When I grabbed Simon’s Rich’s last story collection, I also grabbed this novel, assuming that, you know, it would be hilarious.  And it is.

This story is set in Heaven, Inc.  The CEO, God, is more interested in watching NASCAR than actuality attending to any miracles or crises on earth.  In fact, we learn that Earth was created primarily to produce Xenon, and that humans were just a pet project of some angels.

Angels, yes.  The entire story is written from the point of view of some angels working in heaven.

We meet Craig who has been in Miracles for a few years.  And there’s a new addition to the team Eliza who spent many years working in Prayer Intake but really wanted to move up to Miracles because it just sounded so much more interesting.

One of the best parts about the story is the way Rich envisions angels performing small miracles every day–adjusting the world without transgressing any of God’s major laws (gravity, physics, that sort of thing).  When an angel goes too far (like when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 pints in a game because God liked him and the angel wanted to impress Him), that angel gets punished.  So I loved watching the convoluted ways angels did things to make people act or react.  Small things to help avoid getting a paper cut or assist in catching a fish. (more…)

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