Archive for the ‘West Memphis 3’ Category

1973SOUNDTRACK: LUCINDA WILLIAMS-Tiny Desk Concert #412 (December 20, 2014).

lucindaI set tiny, manageable goals for this blog.  They often change over the course of the year, but I like to see if I can complete them.  One such goal was to write about all of the Tiny Desk Concerts from 2014.  And here’s the final one.  (Another such goal is to write about the remainder of the 2016 shows, which is doable).  I also want to write about all of the rest of the First Second Graphic Novels (there’s about 20 of them left).  Insignificant goals that I find satisfying to complete.

I’ve never been a fan of Lucinda Williams.  Although, while I’d certainly heard of her, I obviously didn’t know any of her music. The blurb talks about her distinctive voice.  And it is certainly that.  About 20 years ago a sort of friend of mine saw her open for somebody else and she dismissed Williams as trying to sound like a different singer (wish I could remember who it was).  The irony that Williams has been around since the late 1970s was not lost on me.

But Williams has changed her style over the years.  She originally sang country and has morphed into more of a folk and now a blues style.  This Tiny Desk Concert focuses on her bluesy songs.  I know she’s something of a legend, but I found her demeanor through the whole show off-putting until the end, when she loosened up a bit.

She sings four songs.  “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is rocking blues song.  And I have to say I was pretty shocked by her voice–rough and raspy and sounding not a little hungover.  Her lead guitarist was really the start for me, effortlessly playing some great groovy licks.

For “Cold Day in Hell” (she laughs at saying the title) she straps on an acoustic guitar and then sings like Tom Waits.  That seems like a joke, but the structure of the verses is pure Tom Waits–I would have even suggested he wrote the song.

The third song is the more bluesy “Protection.”  There seems something so inauthentic about this song.  I just don’t believe her rendition of it–I don’t believe that she actually needs protection.  It’s really disconcerting.

She finally smiles after this song and says “Now I’m kinda getting used to this … I’m not a wake yet, that’s what the thing is.  She straps on her guitar and says this is based on the story of the West Memphis Three.  It’ my favorite song of the four–she seems to really get into it.

But all the same, I really don’t like her voice all that much–she’s got a weird drawl and sounds like there are some marbles in her mouth. It’s very strange.  I listened to a bit of a song from a live show from 1989 and her voice was quite pretty–deep, yes, but very pretty.  By 2007, her voice has changed–it’s deeper, with a pronounced drawl.  At a show in 2013, she sounded kind of pretty again.  So, I don’t know what to make of it.  I’ll have to just go back to not listening to her.

[READ: June 8, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974

I really enjoyed this volume a lot.  There were a lot of really funny jokes and the characters are really nicely distributed by now.  I don’t want to say that Schulz hit his stride around this time, because he’s been pretty solid right from the start, but this book was easily my favorite so far.  Possibly because it contained so much of Marcie and Patty who have easily become my favorites.

The year starts off somewhat inauspiciously with the anticlimactic return of Poochie.  She shows up, realizes that Snoopy isn’t a cute puppy anymore and leaves.  Never to be seen again.

More interesting is that Linus decides that since Charlie has been their manager for so long and worked so hard that they ought to throw him a commemorative dinner. They plan it for a couple of weeks and when he finally hears about it, his smile is awesome.  They even get Joe Schlobotnick to agree to come. Of course, then Marcie starts saying that they’d all be hypocrites if they actually showed up and said nice things about him since he’s a terrible manager.  And so they cancel it at the last-minute–while Charlie is there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PEARL JAM-East Rutherford, NJ 6.3.06 (2006).

This concert was a free download with the purchase of Backspacer. I chose this because this is the show that I should have gone to.  [How many concerts have I seen at the Meadowlands–or whatever it is called now?].  Not to mention, this is the last concert date of the first leg of the tour, and the last concerts are usually a little longer, a little wilder, a little more fun.

And there’s a number of reasons why this is true during this show.

The first is the technical flaw.  Midway through their fifth song, “Animal” there is some kind of power failure (the flaw with audio from concerts is that you have no idea what’s really going on).  The song shuts down, there’s some crowd chanting and then the power comes back on.  This gives Eddie Vedder a chance to make a Springsteen joke (did he leave for tour without paying the electric bill) and the band resumes, even more intense than before.

There are a number of Springsteen moments during the show.  They thank him for introducing them to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey–where proceeds from this night’s show go).  Later, Eddie’s explains that his failure to figure out the chords to Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” led to his creating the song “Gone”.  And Eddie’s “Pre-Opener” (sadly not on the download, but you can hear it here) is a cover of Springsteen’s “No Surrender.”

Springsteen aside, this is a great show.  The download is three discs long (the first disc is 25 minutes or so and comprises the audio from up to the power failure).  But even with the confusion, the band sounds wonderful.  They run through all kinds of songs from throughout their career, “Even Flow,” “Alive,” “Why Go,” “Black,” “Porch,” and “Garden” from Ten.  “Animal,” “Rats” and “Leash” from Vs. “Last Exit,” “Whipping” and “Corduroy” from Vitalogy, “Habit” and “Lukin” from No Code, “In Hiding” from Yield. “Love Boat Captain” and “I am Mine” from Riot Act, and about half of the songs from Pearl Jam.  There’s also a whole bunch of songs from Lost Dogs: “Hard to Imagine,” “Yellow Ledbetter,” “Last Kiss” and “Don’t Gimme No Lip” and even “State of Love and Trust” and “Crazy Mary.”

The show is a pretty rocking show overall.  In fact, as you can see above they don’t even play their more crowd pleasing ballads (“Betterman,” “Daughter”).  And the set in no way suffers from it.

This show also has a special guest and a special announcement.  Vedder explains that June 3 is West Memphis 3 Recognition Day.  Wikipedia says The WM3 are three teenagers who were tried and convicted of the murders of three little boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993 by a prosecution team that put forth the idea that the only purported motive in the case was that the slayings were part of a Satanic ritual. In July 2007, new forensic evidence was presented in the case, including evidence that none of the DNA collected at the crime scene matched the defendants, but did match Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the victims, along with DNA from a friend of Hobbs’ whom he had been with on the day of the murders.

The WM3.org site shows that many musicians are behind them, offering support and free music.   A new trial date has been tentatively set for October 2011.  If they are found not guilty they would have spent eighteen years in jail for nothing.  Damien Echols (who was sentenced to death) co wrote “Army Reserve” with Vedder, and Echols’ wife says a few words on stage.

Another great moment comes in “Crazy Mary” when Boom Gaspar and Mike McCready have a kind of dueling organ vs guitar solo.   It goes on for several minutes and Gaspar’s Hammond sounds great.  Later in the show, Vedder toasts the crowd for being great.  It may also be the only toast to incorporate the phrase “fucking assholes” (as in if people don’t think you were amazing, they’re fucking assholes).

One of the great things about Pearl Jam shows is that they pack a lot of music into them.  I was especially mindful that when they came out for their second encore, they played nine more songs for about 30 minutes.  Not a bad encore at all.

This is a great set if you’re looking for live Pearl Jam.

[READ: May 24, 2011] Breakfast of Champions

I read this whole book during my trip to BEA.  I read it while on the bus (two and a half hours total) and then while waiting on line for various author signings.  I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book in such a short period before.  It’s not a long book by any means and it is full of illustrations (more on that later).  It was an ideal book to choose for a day of book reading.

So the novel is actually set up as a story within a story.  The Preface explains that the story is written by Philboyd Stuge (Vonnegut has a lot of fun with names).  It explains that “Breakfast of Champions” is a trademark of General Mills and he is neither  associated with GM nor disparaging them by using the phrase so much (it doesn’t occur frequently until much later in the book).  Stuge explains some of the background information about ideas in the book (that people are actually robots and how Armistice Day was a better name for the holiday than Veterans’ Day).  He also explains that he is writing this book as a 50th birthday present to himself (Vonnegut was born in 1922).  And for his 50th birthday, he is going to act childishly and draw illustrations in the book.  So I found this picture from the novel

That may give you an idea of what to expect inside (although most of the illustrations are “better” than that one).

What is especially helpful about the story is that it tells you what will happen as it goes along.  So the novel starts:

This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast.

One of them was a science fiction writer named Kilgore Trout.  He was a nobody at the time, and he supposed his life was over.  He was mistaken.  As a consequence of the meeting, he became one of the most beloved and respected human beings in history.

The man he met was an automobile dealer, a Pontiac dealer named Dwayne Hoover.  Dwayne Hoover was on the brink of going insane.

And that is literally the story.  So why is the book 297 pages long then?  Vonnegut is really out to talk about contemporary society:  America mostly, but not exclusively.  And does he ever. (more…)

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