Archive for the ‘Nick Lowe’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: NICK LOWE AND LOS STRAITJACKETS-“Christmas at the Airport” (2014/2013).

I probably like Nick Lowe a lot more than I realize.  I know I like his songwriting more than I realize.  And I love Los Straightjackets.  A perfect pairing.

This is not a moving, treacly holiday song.  And yet neither is it a bitter, what-has-the-season-come-to song.  It’s just one of those things that happens, and he’ll take in (humorous) stride.

It wasn’t until celebrated songsmith Nick Lowe’s 2013 curio, “Christmas at the Airport,” that someone expressed in song what it was like to watch the hopes of holiday cheer fade right before our eyes, on a snow-covered runway in late December. Recorded live in 2014, at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club, backed by Nashville’s neo-surf band Los Straitjackets, Lowe takes us through all the stages of Christmas-time travel grief, one verse at a time.

Stage One: Bemusement. Gazing out the window of his cab upon arrival at the airport, Lowe notices that the place is beginning to look more like the front of a Christmas card than an international travel hub. But even as the tarmac takes on ever-increasing layers of soft, white, wintry down, the full gravity of the situation hasn’t yet sunk in enough to truly unnerve him yet.

Stage Two: Realization. The cold, hard reality of the protagonist’s circumstances suddenly hits home. The fickle finger of fate is pointing at everyone in the airport as if to say, “Nobody’s going anywhere this Christmas. Have you seen that snow outside?” Tempers flaring all around him, Lowe sneaks into a secluded spot for a catnap, maybe hoping things will somehow look better when he awakes.

Stage Three: Transcendence. We’ve all had to buck up sooner or later in this kind of situation, find a way to make a homebound holiday fun. For Lowe, that process entails playing with the TSA equipment in the agents’ absence, turning the baggage carousel into an amusement-park ride, and even scrounging some fast food from the refuse.

And all set to a chipper, surf rock tune.

[READ: December 24, 2018] “Christmas Eve, 1944”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection, although this song is an NPR curio.

At first I was concerned because this is a Christmas war story (and those really only go one of two ways).  But in fact it turned out to be awesome.  One of the most moving stories I have read in a long time. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 14, 2018] Letters to Cleo

When Letters to Cleo first put out Aurora Gory Alice back in 1993  I was really excited about them.  They were punky and fast but they were poppy and intriguing.  The chorus of “Here & Now” is somehow really catchy and impossible to sing.  I lived in Boston, they were based in Boston.  They were getting much buzz in the Boston Phoenix and on WFNX (“Here & Now” was inescapable–it was even used on Melrose Place).  And their name was weird and mentioned my childhood dog (Cleo).  I also thought their album title was funny so I bought a copy on Cherry Disc records (one of dozens of CDs I bought on an indie label only to later find out the major label pressing aided like five more songs and a gold chain or something).

Their second album had an even weirder name Wholesale Meats and Fish but was equally as strong, if not stronger.  Their third album was the amazing Go!–it added so much depth to their songwriting and was really just fantastic.

Then they appeared in 1999’s movie 10 Things I Hate About You.  They had songs on the soundtrack and were filmed playing “I Want You To Want Me” over the closing credits.

Wikipedia says that “the band then recorded 13 new original songs for the Kids’ WB cartoon, Generation O!, which aired from 2000 to 2001″ and which I’ve never heard of.

Then they broke up. (more…)

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1961SOUNDTRACK: NICK LOWE-Tiny Desk Concert #87 (November 1, 2010).

lowe Nick Lowe is legendary.  And yet I don’t really know that much about him.  I knew he did “Cruel to be Kind” which is very dated sounding but still great.  I didn’t know that he wrote my favorite Elvis Costello song “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?” (which he first recorded with his band Brinsley Schwarz).  He also produced a bunch of Costello’s albums.

This Tiny Desk is a mellow affair, with Lowe gently playing acoustic guitar and his low, smooth vocals singing interesting lyrics: “His heart’s a prune / when it once was a plum / If you know him / that’s the kind of man that I’ve become” (from “Man That I’ve Become”).

“Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day” is done in the same vein.  Cathy, mellow pop, with an almost countryish feel.

“All Men Are Liars” is a pretty typical song about lying men, until you get this fascinating lyric: “Do you remember Rick Astley?  He had a big fat it.  It was ghastly.  He said I’m never gonna give you up or let you down.  Well, I’m here to tell you that rick’s a clown.”

“House for Sale” was a then new song.  And it’s just as sharp and strign as the rest.

At the time of this recording, Lowe was 61 and he sounds great.  His voice has changed, but it hasn’t lost anything.

[READ: October 29, 2015] The Complete Peanuts 1961-1962

By this book, Peanuts had been in print for nearly 12 years.  And the core group has remained Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, Schroeder, and now Sally.  And to a smaller extent Shermie, Patty and Pig-Pen are still around.   But in 1961 he added a new character: Frieda, the girl with naturally curly hair.

One thing I hadn’t noticed so much in previous books is that he has been getting some very funny “jokey” punchlines.  Most of the Peanuts punchlines have been funny/thoughtful/amusing.  But I felt like this book had a few that were really funny.  Like Lucy saying in response to beauty being only skin deep “I have a very thick beauty.”  Or this funny groaner: Linus: “Do they always bring the cows in from the pasture at night?” Lucy: “Of course you blockhead, if they leave them out over night they get pasteurized.” I especially like that it isn’t even the final panel.  And in 1962, Charlie asks this question when he turns on the TV and sees reruns: “What would happen if comic strips had nothing but re-runs all summer?”

And of course, there’s a lot of baseball strips.  Including this one with a great set up and punchline.  Charlie is talking about the game and how “For one brief moment victory was within our grasp.”  To which Linus says, “And then the game started.” (more…)

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