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Archive for the ‘The Clash’ Category

[ATTENDED: April 7, 2019] SWMRS

I was unfamiliar with SWMRS when I heard they were announced as Muse’s support act.

They formed in 2011 as Emily’s Army.  They recorded two albums under that name, then changed it  to SWMRS.  The band features brothers Cole and Max Becker (They are both singers and guitarists, with Cole taking more lead vocals (and hypeman) and Max playing more lead guitar).  The drummer is Joey Armstorng (obligatory mention that he is Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong’s son).  They also have had Joey’s brother Jakob on rhythm guitar.  Brother-to-no-one Seb Mueller is the bassist.

But it was their politics that made me excited to see them.  From a bit in Rolling Stone:

the subversion of patriarchy is part of what drives the band. They are a product of their respectively progressive upbringings in Oakland, where the young band members grew up loving riot grrrl and entrenched in feminist teachings. “I became aware at a pretty young age that I was benefiting too much from the patriarchy,” Becker, a current Berkeley student, explains. “It’s one of those things where you don’t think about it until you play a hundred shows and only see aggressive, hyper-masculine dudes crowd surfing on top of 14-year-old girls. We feel like it’s our duty to uplift the voices that aren’t as easily heard as ours.”

That’s pretty awesome.  And an encouraging sign for the youth of tomorrow. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 18, 2018] Pearl Jam

Two summers ago Sarah and I took the kids to Boston.  It was a vacation that was centered around we adults seeing Pearl Jam at Fenway Park.  When Pearl Jam announced that they were doing a short summer tour, I thought it would be fun to try to get tickets to the Wrigley Field Shows.

I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I used to enjoy baseball and always wanted to see Wrigley Field.  So when the tickets were announced I took a chance and scored two tickets to each night of their dates.  And so we built another vacation out of travelling to see Pearl Jam.

Ironically we’ve never seen them in our home state.

Sarah wrote a great post about all we did in Chicago (a city I had never been to before).  But in sum, in the five days we were there, we went to Navy Pier, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park (and saw The Bean), Portillos, The Sears Tower, an architecture cruise, Shedd Aquarium, The Museum of Science and Industry, a wade into Lake Michigan (that’s 4 of 5 Great Lakes for me), and Nuts on Clark.  And of course, Wrigley Field. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 9 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 16, 2005).

This was the second to last night, the 9th night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.

This show seems to be a confluence of technical difficulties and goofs.  The band is probably loopy after eight nights.  They even got under way late, apparently.

They open with “Saskatchewan.”  The song sounds great, the band is really into it. The backing vocals are great and the song soars.  But then they spend nearly 6 minutes trying to figure stage issues out.   Martin says, “Tim’s acoustic guitar is strung in Nashville tuning.  You should try it sometime.” (I wonder what that means).

Thanks to Great Aunt Ida for opening for us tonight.

Martin says “This is the Cazostatics.  Hugo Boss’ line of clothing. You notice Tim’s flannel shirt.”  Dave and Martin talk about “guys touching their nipples, a  21st century phenomenon.”  Martin: “It was funny 12 years ago.  There’s one person who can do it I love him.”  (I wonder who that is).

After a few minutes, Dave says, “Be careful or I’ll start talking about merch….  All right, I’m talking about merch (merch bassline).

This song (Tim’s new song) is worth it, I like it a lot.  Tim: “this better be a good fucking song is all I have to say.”  “Sunshine At Night” sounds good.

Don’t forget the bongos.  Martin:  “last night, I got to play the bongos with a black turtleneck on.”  Dave: “I think you mean you got away with playing bongos wearing a black turtleneck.”

Then comes two songs from Introducing Happiness.   “Fish Tailin'” and “Me and Stupid.”  At the end, Dave says, “Tim, a little horn pipe on the bass.”  Which he does.  And then Dave says, “one thing we don’t know about Ford Pier–have you ever recited poetry?”  “Never have done, sir?” Anything that rhymes?  Greeting cards?”  When pressed he comes with a verse from 7 Seconds’ “Colourblind.”

There’s nothing funny when you think about
All the hate in this world makes me just wanna shout
Whether Black, White, Brown, Red, Yellow, or Blue
All the caring in the world will depend on you
We gotta fight to change things; help rearrange things
Get along; stand together; live as one
But the only way to do it is to get right to it
Communicate, ?, and getting things done

Martin: “This is a weird night.”  Dave: “Here’s “Marginalized.”  The bass is off.  After a verse, Dave stops the song.  “The bass is really out of tune and the bass is vital.  I wouldn’t have stopped if it wasn’t really out of tune.”  Tim: “That’s the “Palomar” tuning form like two nights ago.”  Dave: “Sorry this shows gonna take 14 hours.  Have you heard about the merch?” (jazz chords).

Pick it up at the first chorus.  Dave stops it again.

Tim: “Hang on a sec, I think you might have just been playing the wrong notes.”
Dave: “Even a moron like me can play a G.”
Martin: “Cazostatics”
Dave: “I could fucking kick this bass with my foot and G would ring out.”
Tim: “That’s the approximate bass.”

Tim just picks up again and finished the song with “Little Caesar” by Vic Chesnutt.

Martin has a lot of fun with the goofy voice saying “Hi there.”  They play a great version of “The Tarleks” and then “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson.”   Near the end of the song Dave says, “let’s rock.”  Then pauses and says, “but first let’s reluctantly rock.”  Tim: “may we rock?”  Dave:  “Not yet.”  Martin: “Sorry.  May we sheepishly rock?”  Dave: “Martin is exhibiting a slight degree of frock on his very unrock guitar.  Tim’s digging in.  Ford has put away that nasty French horn and is coming to the dark side.  Now we must rock.”

At the end, Martin takes off with “RDA” but after he starts it gets shut down.  “Aww, wrangler Dave.”
Mike: “It’s only good when Dave calls out the chords.”
Martin: “Sorry dad, I didn’t mean to come out like that.”

Martin:  “I’m playing a double neck guitar.  The upper neck has 12 strings.  The lower four of which are in octaves although two appear to be missing.  The lower neck is a normal 6 string guitar.”  In a cheesy voice: “I love this axe.  It has rocked me through many a show.  Check this out.  The lower neck resonates in the upper neck.  That’s no gizmo.  That’s in the axe.  Have I blown your mind?”

Ford: “Your inner pedagogue has really reared its head for this last Fall Nationals.  You’ve been giving away all your shit.  Kiss wouldn’t even tell people how they kept their make up from running.”

Dave says he wants to make a parody instructional guitar DVD.  Ford: “Parody my nutsack.”  Would anybody buy that?  Tim says he would buy it if it was called “Parody My Nutsack: Dave Bidini on Rhythm Guitar.”

Ford says we’re demonstrating the chatter-to-music ratio.

This one’s called “Smokin’ Sweet Grass.”  They start “Making Progress” which Tim says is “for the guy who just shouted ‘fucking play.'”  It’s followed by a nice “Little Bird Little Bird.”

Ford tells a story about finding moth larvae on his suit pants.  Every time he pauses, Dave plays a rim shot.
Tim tells his own story (Dave still doing rim shots).  He says they  got a dog which the cats hate.  The vet gave him something you plug in the wall to release pheromones to make you cat feel good.  Like cat prozac.  Dave: “I snorted that backstage at the Duran Duran reunion.”  Tim: “He gave us a sample and we’re on it tonight.  So everything is okay.  Until the end of the world.”

“Here Comes The Image” features MPW on the synth.  Martin: “Mike forgot his mustache wax.  It’s followed by “Who Is This Man and Why Is He Laughing?” with Jennifer Foster (better known in some parts as JFo).  Tim: Dave Bidini on drums for two songs in a row.  Pretty awesome.”

“Pornography” starts slow, but the end picks up and rocks.  Martin says “Tim Vesely, the lizard king.”

Tim says this night is full of a crowd full of people who came from shitty office parties.  Dave: “Our office party was tonight, two clubs over.”

“In This Town” rocks and is followed by “PIN”  Dave says it’s from Night of the Shooting Stars, the black album.  At the end, Martin starts making goat noises (??).  Eat me, feeeeeeeed me.

Next comes “Four Little Songs.”  Martin sings his verse like a goat.  For our third little song, last night’s comedy guests The Imponderables.  Their bit is all about dreams.  Three guys tell their dreams.  The fourth guy comes out.  He’s certainly naked, possibly with an erection. Everyone reacts appropriately. Dave: “That’s The Imponderables and that’s John’s cock.”  In Dave;s verse he sings “your voice will ring out like a giant…schlong.”  He ends the song saying, “There’s certain things that make our Horseshoe stands that much more memorable.”

Ford plays a roller rink version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”  After two minutes, Tim starts singing “Shangri-La” (by The Kinks) which segues into “Bad Time To Be Poor.”   Man someone’s guitar is way off playing sour notes through the whole thing.

Then the return to “RDA.”  It rocks and they have guests from Lowest of the Low Steve Stanley and Paul (can;t find his last name).  Mid song they launch into a heavy version of “I’m So Bored With The USA.”  Paul rails about middle management and wants cultural diversity he wants middle management to get out of public broadcasting.  Dave: “Will someone save Canada from itself?”

Ford sings The English Beat’s “Save It For Later.”  And then they end with a 20 minute medley

“Takin’ Care Of Business” (anybody bring a cowbell?), into “My Generation.”  Martin sings “One More Colour.”  It jumps to “P.R.O.D.” with Mr Ron Koop.  Over to G.  after a few bars, Ford says, “the suspense is killing me.”  So Dave plays “Bud The Spud.”  He kind of mumbles it very fast, “that’s the closest I’ve ever come to rapping.”  It turns into “Radios In Motion” and then into “Blitzkrieg Bop.”  Dave: Take it down to Bflat… never mind take it back to A.  Ford sings “Monkey Man” by Amy Winehouse.  It becomes “Green Sprouts.”  Dave: “You know what I hate in this song?”  The bridge?  Tim: “Take it to the bridge.”  The audience chanting 1,2,3,4.  Tim instructs them.

Thanks to the Lowest of the Low, Great Aunt Ida, The Imponderables and TruthHorse tomorrow.

[READ: August 8, 2017] Demon Vol. 2

I really enjoyed the far out and rather over the top premise of volume 1 of this series (of four in total).

Volume 2 is much larger than Volume 1 (about 50 pages larger).  And that extra size allows for more complexity.

And I admit I was a bit confused from time to time.  The whole premise of the story is a little confusing in a wrap-your-head-around-it kinda way, but he added a new element that was a major Wha?? moment.

So Jimmy Yee, is a boring 44-year-old actuary.  He didn’t realize that he was actually a demon until the day before when he tried to kill himself.  Now whenever his body dies, the demon jumps into the nearest body.  His personality transfers to the new body, and Shiga represents this by having Jimmy’s face on each new body (but if someone else looks at that person he still looks like what the now-possesed person’s face.

Jimmy has been experimenting with this whole Demon thing.  And that means inhabiting various body and killing them (which looks like suicide).  The police are after him for the series of murders he has committed (even though he himself is technically dead). (more…)

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klosetrSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICSFall Nationals The Horseshoe Tavern Toronto, ON. Night 1 of 13 (November 10, 2003).

This was the 1st night of their 13 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  Rheostatics Live has recordings of nights 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7.

 The sound quality of this show is great, although it’s quite disconcerting how quiet it is between songs—must be soundboard with no audience pick up at all.

Dave chats with the crowd of course: “Always exciting on opening night—a tingle in the air.  We’re basking in the glow of David Miller’s victory tonight even if he doesn’t know the words to “Born to Run.”

David Raymond Miller is the president and CEO of WWF-Canada, the Canadian division of the international World Wildlife Fund. A former politician, Miller was the 63rd Mayor of Toronto from 2003 to 2010. He entered politics as a member of the New Democratic Party, although his mayoral campaign and terms in office were without any formal party affiliation. He did not renew his party membership in 2007.  After declining poll numbers, Miller announced on September 25, 2009, that he would not seek a third term as mayor in the 2010 election, citing family reasons.  He was replaced by Rob frickin Ford.

They play a lot of songs from their not yet released album (not until 2004, in fact) 2067.

They open with “The Tarleks” which is follows by 2001’s “Song of the Garden” and then back to 2067 with “I Dig Music.”  The new songs sound similar to the release but perhaps the words might not be solidified yet—there’s also no “too fucking bad” in “I Dig Music.”

Tim’s “In It Now” comes next with that cool opening riff.   It segues into one of my favorite Tim-sung songs “Marginalized” also from 2067.  I love the drums, the guitar riff, everything about it—although they are off-key as they start.

Dave says, “We’re surprising ourselves a little by playing new stuff.   But when Martin asks for requests and people say “Saskatchewan” Martin starts playing it (see, the squeaky wheel…).

“Fan letter for Ozzy Osbourne” (also from 2067)  it sounds a bit more spare and sad (with no wailing vocal at the end).  It’s followed by “a very old song we wrote in 1989, I think, but it still applies on this special occasion.”  He says it’s called “You can’t go back to Woodstock baby you were just 2 years old you, you weren’t even born.”

There’s a quiet “In This Town” that’s followed by a lengthy “When Winter Comes.”  This song features a remarkably pedestrian guitar solo (sloppy and very un-Martin like).

Dave says they were recording audio commentary from a show two years ago (for what?  is this available somewhere?).  He says that night wasn’t a very good patter night.  Good music night, though.

Tim says, “So we overdubbed good stage banter. … Till I sparked up a fattie and giggled like a moron.”
Martin: “till you sparked up a fattie and the ridiculousness of the situation became glaringly apparent.”
Dave: “Martin I can’t believe you just said ‘sparked up a fattie.'”
Martin: “The times they are a-changing.”

Martin introduces “Aliens” by saying “This would be a b-minor chord.  The whole thing seems a little weird–Martin does some odd voices and weird guitar noises—it almost sounds out of tune or like it’s just the wrong guitar.

Back to a new song with “Polar Bears and Trees” and they have fun chanting the “hey hey ho ho” section.

Dave calms things down with some details: We got some stuff planned over the next 13 days. Lucky 13.  Thursday there’s going to be 25 guest vocalists.  We’re gonna mail it in, basically.  And then on Saturday we have “Tim Vebron and the Rheostars.”  According to a review, this “band” is a goof: “Martin was wearing a lei and suspenders, MPW looked like an extra from THX1138.”   You can also get a pass to all 13 shows for $75.  For some good old live live Canadian shield rock.

Dave asks, “Tim did you get a contact high during aliens?  Some wise acre lit a marijuana cigarette.”  Tim:  “It’s just kicking in now.  I’m hungry.”

“PIN” sound great although in “Legal Age Life,” the sound drops out at 58 seconds and comes back on at 1:35.  During the song, Dave shouts G and they shift to “Crocodile Rock.”  It kind of clunkily falls back in to “LAL,” but it’s fun to see them jamming and exploring a bit.

Dave says “Crocodile Rock” was a very complicate dance, but it didn’t catch on.  I think the dance involved implements didn’t it. Tongs?”

“Stolen Car” starts quietly but builds and builds to a noisy climactic guitar solo.  Its pretty exciting.

During the encore break there’s repeated chants for “Horses.  Horses.”

You can hear Dave say, “‘Soul Glue?’ We’re not going to do that tonight, we’re going to say it for a special occasion.”  The audience member shouts, “the hell with you.” Dave: “Ok, bye. Yes I am going to hell.”

What song do you think cleans the palate for the song to come after it—A sherbet?

There’s some amusing commentary between Dace and the audience.  And then a little more local politics: “Did you think that was good speech by David Miller?  I didn’t. I don’t want to be a bad guy coz it’s his night but…”  Then Dave imagines a “David Miller ascension-to-power film starring Ed Begley Jr.”

The encore includes a rollicking “Satan is the Whistler” followed by a solid cover of The Clash’s “London Calling.”  Tim’s a little sloppy on the bass, but the guitar sound is perfect and Dave’s got the vocal sound just right.  As they leave you can still here that guy calling for “Horses.”

[READ: July 1, 2016] What If We’re Wrong?

I have enjoyed a lot of the essays I’ve read by Klosterman.  But I’ve never read one of his books before.  I saw him on Seth Meyers one night and this book sounded cool.  And then I saw it at work, so I grabbed it .

Klosterman is clever and funny and this book is clever and funny.  Although I found it a little long–every section of the book felt like it could have been shorter and it wouldn’t have lost any impact.  However, I loved the premise and I loved all of the examples.  I just got a little tired of each section before it ended.

So what is this book (with the upside down cover) about?  Well, as the blurb says, our cultural is pretty causally certain about things.  No matter how many times we are wrong, we know exactly how things are going to go. Until they do not go that way any more.  “What once seemed inevitable eventually becomes absurd.”  So what will people think of 2015/16 in 100 years?  And while some things seem like they may be obvious about how tastes change, he also wonders if our ideas about gravity will change.

This came out before the horrors of the 2016 election and I read it before them, so the whole premise of the book is even more magnified. (more…)

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basoonSOUNDTRACK: THE MUSIC TAPES-Tiny Desk Concert #182 (December 20, 2011).

musictaopesJulian Koster released an album in 2008 called The Singing Saw at Christmastime.  It was a complete CD of Christmas songs played on the saw.  That should tell you that Koster is an unusual fellow. But that doesn’t prepare you for what he unleashes during his Tiny Desk Concert with The Music Tapes.

Koster has a very high-pitched voice (I have a recording of him doing “I’ve Got My Love to Keep me Warm,” which is almost unbearable.  His singing is really close to the fine line of unique and bad (and I imagine for many it crosses the line). He’s also got a fascinating way of looking at things and of storytelling.  So this Tiny Desk show winds up being quite long (20 minutes) with quite a lot of different things going on.

First he tells a lengthy story about his great grandpa.  And how his great grandpa told him that baby trees can walk.  But they are tethered to the ground by an umbilical cord. And when we cut them down, we sever the cord.  And a Christmas tree is adorned and worshiped for two weeks and then set free to roam the earth.  It is a warm and strange and delightful.

Then he and a second member of the group play “The First Noel” on two saws.  It’s weird ad wonderful.  At the end of the song he has his saw bow, and Bob says he didn’t know a saw could bow.  Julian says they do and in fact that singing saws sing by themselves but we encourage them by petting them and placing them in our laps.

I don’t enjoy everything Koster does, so the second song “Freeing Song For Reindeer,” a banjo based piece about a tired old reindeer transporting Santa is slow and kind of sad and not my thing.

But then he tells a story of growing up with all kinds of culture and Holiday traditions which leads into a version of Gavin Bryars’ “Jesus Blood.”  I enjoy the original and didn’t know what to expect here.  They begin with a tape loop of an old man singing the song (possibly the one Bryars used, but I don’t know).  And then Koster starts playing the banjo with a bow.  And then a second guy does the same. Then the percussionist stars playing the toy piano and the noises build.  He switches from piano to trumpet and plays along.  Meanwhile the second banjo player switches back to the saw for the end. It’s really quite a lovely performance.

“Takeshi And Elijah” is another slow and keening banjo based song.  It’s pretty long, I don’t really like it, but by the end, as it builds with trumpet and toy piano, he ends the song sith a puppet Santa doing a tap dance as percussion.  It’s a great ending to an okay song.

The final song is “Zat You, Santa Claus?”  It’s played on bowed banjo and sousaphone.  It’s a fun and crazy rendition.   It’s one of the weirdest Tiny Desk shows and certainly the weirdest Christmas set.

[READ: December 5, 2015] The Bassoon King

I really liked Rain Wilson in The Office, but I haven’t seen him in much else (I forgot he was in Six Feet Under and Galaxy Quest) . I wanted to like Backstrom, but it got cancelled before we even watched an episode.

So why did I check out this memoir of an actor I like a little bit?  Well, primarily for the title.  The Bassoon King had an absurd ring that I really gravitated towards.  When I saw there was an introduction by Dwight Kurt Schrute, I knew this would be a good book.

The introduction (by Dwight) is very funny.  I love Dwight and I love thinking to myself “FALSE!” whenever I disagree with someone.  Dwight wondered why anyone would read a biography of a young semi-famous actor.  “Fact. NO. ONE. CARES.”  But then says he doesn’t care either because he is making a lot of dollars per word for this thing.

Rainn begins his memoir by making fun of his big head (especially when he was a baby).  It’s pretty funny.  And then he describes his hippie family and his weird name.  His mom changed her named from Patricia to Shay in 1965.  She wanted to name Rainn “Thucydides.”  But his dad always liked Rainer Maria Rilke.  Now, they lived pretty close to Mt Rainier, so they went for Rainn (“Tack an extra letter on there for no apparent reason”). (more…)

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modernSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Media Club, Vancouver, BC (October 22, 2004).

media clubEvery year, the Rheostatics would perform what they called Green Sprouts Week in Toronto.  In 2004 they did a West Coast version. Five nights in a row at The Media Club.  This recording is from the fourth night.

Once again, the recording quality isn’t great (although it’s better than the previous night’s).  And once again the show is edited down (it’s barely 90 minutes–just long enough for a cassette).

It feels like perhaps Martin’s voice was hurting by this night.  As an introduction he says, “I’m going to try to sing a song called ‘P.I.N.'”  Even though most of the banter has been removed, there is a funny part with Dave talking via the cymbals (being very silly indeed).

They play the first version I’ve heard of “Here Comes the Image” with a very long synth solo.

They cover XTC’s “Radios in Motion” with vocals by local musician Paul Myers.  They also play The Clash’s “London Calling” and while Myers vocals are great, Tim can’t seem to get the notes on the bass right.

Strangely, for an edited show, it accidentally repeats “Aliens” twice and leaves off “Fan Letter.”

The intro to “Stolen Car” gives Dave a chance to throw in an “obligatory Beatles reference” when he starts singing the words to “Norwegian Wood.”  And the end is scorchingly good.

The final song is a fun version of “Legal Age Life.”  It starts with him asking someone to blow into his beer bottle for notes.  The song ends with a twist contest.  And the prize is the new Sting CD, which they love mocking.  They even joke that Sting has a song called “Stolen Car” but it has a parenthetical “(Take Me Dancing)” which makes it an entirely different song.

It’s another great fun night of Rheos music

[READ: July 14, 2015] Modern Romance

I was really excited to see this book in the bookstore.  Although I like to keep up with new books, I had no idea Aziz had a book out.  And since he is hilarious and other recent Parks and Rec folks have had hilarious books out I was prepared for a lot of laughing.

Well, it turns out that this book isn’t exactly funny. I mean it’s funny because Aziz wrote it, but it’s actually a sociological book about modern romance.  Really.  He has enlisted the help of NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and they have compiled and studied all sorts of data.  They have sponsored panels and had discussions and really tried to discover how romance has changed in the last 50 or so years.

It sounds like it might be dry, but again, Aziz throws his snark and wit all over it so just as you get a little tired of statistics, there’s a funny joke about a rapper or some such. I mean any book that opens with “OH Shit!  Thanks for buying my book!” has got to be funny right? (especially if you imagine Aziz saying it). (more…)

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karl2SOUNDTRACK: BRASS BED-Tiny Desk Concert #339 (February 24, 2014).

brass bedI expected Brass Bed to be a goofy band because of the snapshot image of them singing into toy microphones.  I was initially disappointed by how normal they were, but I was soon won over by their interesting floating sound. They have this overall trippy underwater vibe (which seems to be accomplished by a bowed slide guitar). This is especially notable on “Yellow Bursts of Age” their best song in the set.  Later the guitar solo is echoey and also underwatery. It’s a very wild sound for a fairly simple song.

They tell a funny story about being from Louisiana and encountering Washington DC snow and (of course) not having an ice scraper (although they did have bag of sand).

“Cold Chicory” is an upbeat sounding song musically although it is kind of a bummer lyrically, but again there’s the great sound of the bow on the slide guitar and the echoey lead guitar. “Please Don’t Go” is a slow song—with more interesting effects from singing into that slide guitar.

The plastic mikes do come out in the last song “Have to be Fine” in which they sing into the echoey mikes for the intro (with very nice harmonies).  They sing the intro for about a minute, and then the slide guitar player takes lead vocals on this simple but pretty song (I don’t know any of their names).

At the end, the NPR folks gave them an honorary NPR ice scraper.

[READ: June 24, 2014] My Struggle Book Three

boyhoodI read an excerpt of Book Three just a few weeks ago.  And in the post about it I said I wouldn’t be reading this book for quite some time.  But then the book unexpectedly came across my desk and I couldn’t resist grabbing it while it was here.  So it appears that I will now have to wait well over a year before Book 4 (which is, I think about 1,000 pages–yipes).  I also see that Book Three is fully called “Boyhood Island” in Britain.

At the end of Book Two, Karl Ove was more or less caught up to the present–writing about what he was then up to (with a few years gap, of course).  So it makes sense that this book is about his childhood–showing us how he came to be the man he is.

The book, amusingly enough, starts off with memories that he cannot possibly remember, and he even says as much.  He is using memories of his parents and piecing together pictures from when he was an infant.  In 1970, (Karl Ove was born in 1968) his family moved to the island of Tromøy tromo(and check out the idyllic picture that Wikipedia had).  This is where Karl Ove spent his (rather traumatic) formative years.  Their island is small, so he knows everyone in his school, but there are some amenities around like the Fina station and the B-Max, and there’s lots of soccer to be played and bikes to be ridden.

Things seem normal at first–he runs and plays with his friends, there is ample green space to run around in, and they have boats to sail on.  And we meet two of Karl Ove’s earliest friends: Geir and Trond (so many people are named in the book, I’m very curious to know if any of them remember him).  In an early scene they chase the end of a rainbow looking for a pot of gold (and have a discussion about what happens to it when the rainbow vanishes (the boys even play a prank on Karl Ove that they actually found the pot,a dn while he doesn’t initially fall for it, he is compelled to go back and they tease him).

But the looming figure here and throughout the book is Karl Ove’s father, who, at least according to Karl Ove’s memory, is pretty much a monstrous dick.  He is demanding and exacting, unforgiving and seemingly uncaring.  He is either bipolar or a drunk, jumping from goofy to outright rage in a mater of seconds.  Karl Ove and his brother Yngve fear him unconditionally and, by the end of the book they both seem to hate him.  The scene where their dad tries and fails to teach Karl Ove to swim is heartbreaking, especially when the dad goes home and tells their mom right in front of him “He’s frightened of water.”  There are dozens of instances of fear and intimidation (often accompanied by a wrenching of Karl Ove’s ear).  Like when Karl Ove turns on the TV for his grandparents (he wasn’t allowed to touch the TV but he wanted to do something nice for them).  After a few minutes, the TV fizzed out and, naturally, he was blamed for it and sent to bed without supper (after some minor physical abuse). (more…)

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