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Archive for the ‘John Doe’ Category

[ATTENDED: February 8, 2020] The Exile Follies

There are some musicians who I’ve often thought I’d like to see but who I wouldn’t really want to travel too far too see.  This trio of artists are each musicians that I loved back in the 90s but whom I’ve lost touch with since then.

I used to love Throwing Muses and I have her first two solo albums.  I often thought about going to her live, but I wasn’t sure if it was worth it if I didn’t know her new stuff.

Same with Grant Lee Phillips.  His song “Mockingbird” is one of my favorite songs of all time, but I don’t love all of his material, so I wouldn’t want to have gone for a whole show, I didn’t think.

And John Doe.  X is one of favorite bands from back in the day and seeing them live was amazing.  But I was never sure if I’d want to see just him because I don’t know much of his solo work.

So this tour with all three of them (and in a nearby venue) was perfect.

Kristin came out first.  She sat on a stool center stage and played her acoustic guitar. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PEARL JAM-“Santa Cruz” (1993).

On December 2, Pearl Jam announced that their fan club holiday singles will be released to streaming services.  Their first holiday single was released back in 1991.  It was “Let Me Sleep (Christmas Time).” They are rolling out the songs one at a time under the banner 12 Days of Pearl Jam.

These releases are coming out as a daily surprise.

Pearl Jam released a song called “Santa God” the other day. This song also has Santa in the title, but it is not about Santa Claus.  It is indeed about Santa Cruz.

This song appeared on the b side of the band’s terrific take on the John Doe song “Golden State” (co-sung with Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney).

This song also has a folkie feel–acoustic guitars and multi-tracked vocals from Eddie.  It even opens with a harmonica!

It’s a delightful road song abut travelling to Santa Cruz:

Heading South a compass reads
Look at our speed, we’re going sixty-three
Look out the window as the trees go green
I look at them and they look at me
Got Neil Young on the stereo
He comes along whenever i go

It’s a really pretty song and deserves to get more airplay.  Frankly if Santa Cruz hasn’t used it their official anthem, the town leaders are fools.

[READ: December 9, 2019] “The Snow Man”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This story, written over a hundred years ago, felt rather timeless.  Aside from a few word choices and spelling, this story could have been written this year.

It’s also amusing that it is a Christmas story but is actually about a thief doing a job on Christmas Eve.

He starts the remembrance saying that he has both good and bad reasons for remembering Christmas of 189-.  He’d had his eye on Wharton manor “as a crib worth the cracking” (being ahead of MTV Cribs by over 100 years).  This particular job ended his thieving career and set him on the path to good.

The narrator assures us he was never the mere midnight marauder who is supposed to “lurk under the bed until the family is asleep.”  He fancied himself better than that.  He never carried a weapon and trusted fortune to be his guide:

if i were dolt enough to walk into a trap or let another man’s wits outwit mine…I ought to yield him the palm like a gentleman.

The manor was well protected–a large wall and a winding drive kept it hidden from sight.  The wall was there more as a protection from the precipitous drop on the other side of it than to keep people out.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JAY FARRAR-NonComm (May 17, 2019).

I didn’t like Uncle Tupelo back in the day. So when they broke up I didn’t really care.  I was supposed to care about the alt-country movement, but I didn’t. So I wasn’t interested in Sun Volt or Wilco.

Years later I have really gotten into Wilco and I feel like I’m supposed to dislike Jay Farrar because of the acrimonous split back in the day. But heck without the split, there’d be no Wilco.

I’ve never given Jay Farrar or Son Volt much thought.  So here’s my first real listen to him.

In this setting I find that he sounds a lot like John Doe, a deep soulful voice with acoustic guitar and electric accompaniment.

Jay Farrar‘s soulful folk sound graced the NPR Music stage Friday afternoon for the last day of NonCOMM. While he softly strummed his acoustic guitar, his Son Volt bandmate Mark Spencer backed him up on electric.

This set was made up of Son Volt songs.

He started with “The Reason” a thoughtful song and an indicator of what the rest of the set would sound like.  Calm music, lovely harmonies and pretty backing guitars.

Up next was “Reality Winner” which he introduced as saying “she was put in jail for sharing the truth.”  It’s a powerful song about a real incident that made news at the time but, like so many other things, it was eclipsed by the daily insanity of our government.  From The Boot:

Reality Winner, born in the South Texas town of Alice, is a veteran of the United States Air Force. On June 3, 2017, Winner was arrested after leaking a confidential document to an online news site, The Intercept.  “It’s a really unjust situation where Reality Winner leaked information for the right reason,” Farrar tells The Boot. “She proved that there was Russian interference in the 2016 [presidential] election.”

The lyrics:

What have you done, Reality Winner?
Reality Winner, what have you done?
This jail is a stone-cold answer
The biggest mistake of a Texas lifetime
In this ballad of the commander-in-chief
Is there any mercy for this standing belief?
Felt like gaslighting, not something to just accept
Proud to serve, just not this president
Those that seek the truth will find the answers

Up next was “Devil May Care”

Spencer harmonized with Farrar on a few songs; their vocals joined beautifully together for the chorus of “Devil May Care.”

There isn’t a lot of diversity in these songs.  Farrar’s voice is great but doesn’t change all that much.  They are good folk/country songs.  But I think it might be his presence that makes these song work so well:

The crowd was singing along to Farrar’s set and there was a feeling of mutual respect flowing between the performer and his audience. He has a stage presence that’s just plain cool. Not everyone can wear sunglasses inside without looking like a total jerk.

He introduced the next song saying that these songs are on the new Son Volt album of protest songs.  You may say “What is there to protest and I’d say Just about everything.”

Before singing “Union,” Farrar made a statement about there being protests about everything lately. He continued to tell this story through song while Spencer killed it on steel guitar.

This is a simple song that lays out our country’s divide and recounts Farrar’s father’s belief about the need for something to bind the country together: “He said national service/ Will keep the union together.”

“The 99” is also straightforward.  It may not be timely in the title (I don’t think people use that phrase as much anymore), but the sentiment is spot on:

Journalists in jail covering the scenes
The profit columns rise for the corporate machines
Take the stand now, protest and holler
Desecration of the land for the almighty dollar
Ninety-nine percent
Ninety-nine percent
It’s a trickle-down world
Like you’re stuck in cement

All of the songs were from the new album Union, but he ends the set with an old song.

The mood was brought back up as the set concluded with “Windfall”, a two-decade-old Son Volt song [from Trace].

It is certainly more positive, I guess from back when things were a bit better (the 90s).

[READ: June 3, 2019] “A Dream of Glorious Return”

It’s not often that people intentionally read twenty-year old news.  Maybe for historical reasons or, in my case, because you want to read a piece by a particular author.

So here is a twenty-year old essay from Salman Rushdie about the first time he returned to India after the fatwa had been put on his head twelve years earlier.

He returned to India in April 2000 (I guess the 90s weren’t great for Rushdie).

But first he talks about the many times he left India.  First when he was thirteen and went to boarding school in Rugby, England.  While he was away his father sold their family home in Bombay.  Salman was devastated and is still angry about it.  He believes he would be living there today if they still owned it. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JOHN DOE AND EXENE CERVENKA at KEXP December 31, 2010 (2010).

X toured the Los Angeles album back in 2010–the 30th anniversary of the album.  John Doe and Exene Cervenka came to KEXP to do an acoustic set and to talk…a lot.  The DJ tells them of when he saw them at age 16.  He had his camera and wanted to be a rock photographer.  He was getting pushed around in the pit and Exene pulled him onstage (he got great photos which I’d love to see).  Surprisingly, Exene does not seem as moved as one might expect by that story.

This is a simple, acoustic set–John with his guitar and he and Exene singing.  They play a few songs from across their career: “Because I Do,” “In This House That I Call Home” (a personal favorite), “True Love” (another favorite) and “See How We Are.”  John still sounds great, although Exene’s voice sounds a little worn on “Because I Do” and is actually hard to listen to on “True Love.”

There’s some really long interviews–talking about drugs and The Germs and the heyday and how Exene can’t wait for 2011 to start.

[READ: August 27, 2012] The Emily Dickinson Reader

This book is “an English-to-English translation of Emily Dickinson’s Complete Poems.”  What?  Well, basically Paul Legualt has taken all of the “poetry” out of Dickinson’s poems and has left us with what the poems might mean to contemporary readers.  But he also reduced them to basically one line summaries as well–or as McSweeney’s says: “ingenious and madcap one-line renderings.”

So you get “translations” like: #314

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity, It asked a crumb – of me.

Which Legault translates as: “Hope is kind of like birds. In that I don’t have any.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February, 20, 2012] Dan Zanes at State Theatre

President’s Day was Family Day in New Brunswick.  And despite the bitter cold, we had a nice time walking around, seeing the Philadelphia Zoo exhibit and, most of all, seeing Dan Zanes.

We have loved Dan Zanes since we were first introduced to him (like everyone else–as soon as we had kids).  I knew that Zanes was in the Del Fuegos, although (even though I lived in Boston for many years) I’d never heard them.  I have since listened to them but found them to be lacking, especially compared to Dan Zanes’ solo stuff.

So Dan Zanes has been releasing children’s albums for a number of years, now.  He has access to some pretty high-profile guests (his album Night Time features Aimee Mann, John Doe, Lou Reed and Dar Williams).  But even without the high-profile guests, the records are fun, warm and very inviting. (more…)

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