Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Madonna’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 24, 2018] Wesley Stace

Wesley Stace once recorded  under the pseudonym John Wesley Harding and released some 20 albums.

He has somewhat recently reverted to his real name for performance and wrote about the pseudonym in the New York Times

I’m the last person who should have bothered with a fake name in the first place. I didn’t need a Bowiesque persona, nor did I have a drab real name, but I did need a disguise, assuming that my “career” would tank in about two weeks, proving an embarrassing obstacle to a more attainable-seeming future in academia.

So “John Wesley Harding” it was, founded purely on the coincidence of my Christian name and a Bob Dylan album title. Both I and the cowboy John Wesley Hardin were named for the founder of the Methodist religion (though of the two of us, I’ve probably followed his teachings slightly more closely, having killed fewer people.) For some reason, Dylan misspelled Hardin “Harding”; no one knows why and to my knowledge no one’s ever bothered to ask. (My own favorite theory is that Dylan omitted so many “g”s from titles like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’” that he decided on a little restitution.)

And after a coincidentally precise 25 years, I have decided, for my new record, to ditch the tried and tested “John Wesley Harding” brand in favor of my real name. Why? I am hardly a household name, but whether you’re a Cougar, a Prince or a Harding (and unless you’re a Will Oldham who changes his name from Bonnie-Prince-this to Palace-Songs-that at the drop of a hat), it’s the sort of decision that doesn’t come lightly.

The reason is simple: I wrote a couple of autobiographical songs, and then I kept writing them. It was the first time that I’d ever bothered to write that kind of confessional song. All songs are autobiographical, but these were also true: things that happened to me. It wasn’t an aesthetic decision; it was something that just presented itself, because I was feeling low and stuck in hotel rooms on a dull book tour. I wrote to comfort myself; you could go so far to say, as a form of therapy.

This move has been facilitated by the fact that I’ve been writing novels for the last 10 years under my real name: that decision was a no-brainer. The first novel, “Misfortune”, was a Dickensian kind of thing, and having the misspelled name of an outlaw on the spine would have been silly. That extracurricular use of my real name means that Wesley Stace has continued to exist on some level over there on the bookshelf. But it gets tiring having two names. Introductions to readings are too long anyway without that added complication: time to get it all under one roof.

That’s a long introduction for a short set (about 30 minutes). (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: January 25, 2018] Tennis

I had only ever heard of Tennis once or twice in passing on NPR.  I noted them as a poppy, synthy band whose songs were catchy.

I wasn’t sure how much I would like their main set, and I was prepared to head home early if I didn’t enjoy it. But Tennis proved to be delightfully sweet and a perfect match for Overcoats (they clearly mutually respect each other).

Tennis are the creation of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley.  They play sweet synthy pop songs. Because of the way they were dressed I think I heard a lot more disco overtone than was actually there.  There’s an 80s synth pop sound throughout their songs, but I think the heavy basslines brought a real disco swagger.  And the guitar was always interesting.

And their drumset lit up as well! (Check out how they put their logo on the drum head).  I really liked their merch, I thought it was very simple but very cool. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS (1987).

I remember when this album came out.  I think it was one of the first Christmas albums in which a lot of very popular musicians contributed to it. Of course proceeds went to charity.  By now, 30 years later, many of these songs are deemed classic enough that you will hear them regularly at Christmas.

Suffice it to say I hated this when it came out.  Now, I have grown to appreciate (some of it) it more.

THE POINTER SISTERS-“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
I really didn’t like this song back then.  I think it has grown on me enough that I just don’t mind it any more and it is certainly a staple.

EURYHTMICS-“Winter Wonderland”
I really like Annie Lennox’s own Christmas album.  This song is fine, it’s a little too 80s sounding, but over all its enjoyable.

WHITNEY HOUSTON-“Do You Hear What I Hear?”
People really like to overdo this song.  This version is okay.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E. STREET BAND-“Merry Christmas Baby”
This is a classic Christmas song by this point, but boy do I dislike the sax.

PRETENDERS-“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
This version I don;t thin I hear too much.  Probably because it’s understated and quite nice.

JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP-“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
I don’t particularly like this song.  I love the musical style that JCM plays, although I don’t like the way he sings it.

STING-“Gabriel’s Message”
I don’t know this at all, I guess everyone skips it.  It’s rather pretty if you can get past the fact that it’s Sting at his more pretentious.

RUN-D.M.C.-“Christmas in Hollis”
This is an all time favorite.  The song is fantastic and must be heard every year.  I live that I write a Christmas card that goes to someone in Hollis.

U2-“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
I’ve heard this a million times.  I don’t particularly like this song, but I do like this version.

MADONNA-“Santa Baby”
My most hated Christmas song, done by Madonna at her most grating.  Ugh.

BOB SEGER & THE SILVER BULLET BAND-“The Little Drummer Boy”
Can Bob Seger ever do anything that doesn’t sound like him?  I don’t really like this song, but this version is kind of fun given how over the top it is.

BRYAN ADAMS-“Run Rudolph Run”
Never liked this song either.  It’s a lame lyrics to make into a rock n roll Christmas song.  All versions sound basically the same to me.

BON JOVI-“Back Door Santa”
I do not know this song at all.  Is it always skipped because it’s so bad?  Man the synths are awful.  Although it makes me realize just how unfair it was to both Bon Jovi and heavy metal that they were lumped into the same category.

ALISON MOYET-“The Coventry Carol”
I think Alison Moyet is the only artist here who most people probably don’t know today.  Her voice is really great though and this song is very cool.  Not exactly my favorite here, but certainly the most interesting.

STEVIE NICKS-“Silent Night”
It’s entirely possible that Stevie Nicks forgot how to sing on this song.  She seems really flat and then doesn’t even do most of the lead vocals half way through the song.  The “grace notes” are appalling too.

So it seems that the songs that were pretty good have stayed with us, the rest have faded away.  And there are a couple that need to be brought into rotation again.

[READ: December 23, 2017] “How to Be a Slut”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection. (more…)

Read Full Post »

carrieSOUNDTRACK: CATE LE BON-Tiny Desk Concert #337 (February 18, 2014).

cateCate Le Bon has a very interesting style of singing–it reminds me of Grace Slick in her enunciation, but also like someone whose speaking accent is very strong and is somewhat masked by her singing (like the way she sings “reason” as “ree-sun” as opposed to “reezun”).

The blurb explains that her “phrasing is completely tied to her Welsh dialect — in fact, her first record was in Welsh…. The enunciation is completely tied to the loneliness and the questioning.”

 For this concert it is just her and her fellow guitarist H. Hawkline (both wearing super cozy sweaters).  They share the guitar licks very nicely–it’s not always clear who is playing what–with her sometimes finishing his lines (I believe).

“Are You With Me Now?” has a very catchy chorus (with an “ah ha ha ha ha” part that makes it sound like an olde English ballad).

“No God” plays with very simple guitar lines (chords played very high on the neck of her guitar and a simple accompanying riff).  Hawkline plays keys (and sings some great falsetto backing vocals) to flesh out this song.  Everything is so clean you can hear each note from the guitar and her voice.

“Duke” opens with some interesting slightly off sounding from Cate while Hawkline plays a simple chord pattern (his fingers are enormous, by the way).  Hawkline’s falsetto is almost as engaging as the vocal lines that match the guitar line which Cate plays.  And when she says “I’ll see you here” in that unexpected pronunciation, it’s totally captivating.

I like Le Bon a lot and want to hear what she wounds like on record.

[READ: May 18, 2016] Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

After finishing Bob Boilen’s book and thinking about how I don’t really love music-based books, I immediately read Carrie Brownstein’s book.  Carrie Brownstein is one of the two guitarists in Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag.  She is also one of the leads (writer and actor) on Portlandia.  And she wrote for NPR for a while, too.  Basically, Carrie is the shit.

One thing I took away from this book is that I’ve read a few musician memoirs (Mötley Crüe and Marilyn Manson to name a few) and this is the first one I’ve read that was filled with so much sadness.  Not “I was stoned and regret sleeping with that person with an STD sadness,” but like, real family problems and even a dead pet.  And, as Carrie herself jokes, her stories of being on tour and ending up in the hospital are not based on drugs or other debauchery, but on anxiety and even worse, shingles.

The beginning of the book starts in 2006, around the initial break up (hiatus) of Sleater-Kinney.  Carrie is in pain–emotional and physical–and she can’t take much more.  She starts punching herself hard in the face. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: July 28, 2014] Beck

As I mentioned, I was pretty psyched to get tickets for Beck.  Although for some reason he’s not an artist I ever considered seeing before.  Recently I went through his back catalog which reignited my interest in him and I realized just how many great songs he had.  I figured it would be a fun show (although it never occurred to me just how dancey the show would be!)

But then I heard that his recent shows were spending a lot of time with his songs from morning Phase.  I really like Morning Phase, but it’s not an album I’d want to see performed live.  My friend Cindy saw him in NYC a few months back and said that the first half of the show was all Morning Phase stuff.  And I thought that might not have been the most fun show in the world.  So in the days before the show I was a little less than super psyched.  But, as with Band of Horses, I was blown away by what a great and fun and rocking show he put on.

Unlike at the NYC show, he did not spend the first half of the show in Morning Phase.  In fact, he launched right in with a loud, rollicking version of “Devil’s Haircut” and I was in motion for the next 45 minutes. (more…)

Read Full Post »