Night Music: Rufus Thomas, “Can Your Monkey Do The Dog”

Saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes tonight. It’s kind of painful to realize how grateful we are for a movie that pretends to have a plot and gives the characters a sliver of emotional stake in the outcome.

I loved the original book, The Planet of the Apes, by Pierre Boulle, and the original 1968 movie wasn’t bad. It has one of the corniest and most effective endings, which I won’t describe in case you don’t know it.

Didn’t see the Tim Burton version, or Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which leads into this one. I don’t think you’ll be unhappy with this one, but I really recommend the book.

I also recommend this Rufus Thomas sequel to his own Walking the Dog franchise.

Night Music: The Smithereens, “Behind The Wall of Sleep”

I promise you I haven’t thought of this song in a long time, though I think I own the 45. Still, I don’t have a story really, and can only say it came up today randomly while I was making dinner and it floored me anew.

Quote of the day (28 years later):

“She stands there like Bill Wyman
I am her biggest fan.”

The song came out in 1986, on the band’s first full length elpee, Especially For You. Opinion’s vary about the album, which sounds great, but also wears its influences fairly heavily. The most famous song from the album is Blood and Roses, which has a wicked bass line, an explosive lead guitar, and darkly foreboding lyrics. But was it a mistake for lead singer Pat DiNizio to adopt a style that was either Maynard G. Krebs or Brother Theodore or a combo of the two?

Breakfast Blend: Squeeze, “Cool For Cats”

I didn’t like this song when I first heard it. It was my first Squeeze tune, I think, and it was too jittery for my taste. But of course I liked a lot of the band’s songs, which are always clever and often surprisingly moving.

I happened upon a Squeeze album today called Spot the Difference, which looked like a greatest hits album, but turns out to be the late aughts version of Squeeze rerecording their greatest hits. Kind of like Michael Haneke remaking Funny Games.

But I liked this version of Cool for Cats. Was it me, had 30 years changed me? Or was the music different. Here we find out.

Here’s the original version from the second Squeeze album, called Cool for Cats of all things. (Did you know the band’s first album was produced by John Cale? And that they took their name from that Velvet Underground album? I didn’t.)

The 2010 version, rerecorded, sounds like this:

I don’t know. Pretty close and most of the advantage goes to the original, I think. Which, it turns out, is a pretty weird and excellent song. Weird but not a novelty, exactly, and yet there isn’t really anything else like it. Is there?

Night Music: Carlene Carter with Rockpile, “Cry”

She has, as you can hear here, a big voice rich voice. A strong voice. This is from the album Musical Shapes, where she is backed by her husband Nick Lowe’s band. They’re an excellent band, she’s an excellent singer. I played this constantly back when it came out, and still have the vinyl in my basement, but it never caught fire with the public. Too retro, I’d say, but a couple albums later she was recording electronica, which wasn’t a good fit at all.

Turns out the best fit was country, but that came later.

Night Music: Iris DeMent, “There’s A Wall In Washington”

Tom’s post yesterday of the Tom T. Hall song covered by the Drive By Truckers reminded me of this Iris DeMent song.

I was young enough I only knew a few people who went to Viet Nam, but I knew a lot who came back. Back then there was at least some lip service paid to the idea that everyone served.

Tom T. Hall and Iris DeMent both point out that the price paid was not born symmetrically. Some paid, others did not, often based on opportunity and privilege. Which perhaps helps us understand a little why there is a bit of distrust of government out there, from people who you would think would know better.

Song of the Week Revisited – I’m Hip, Blossom Dearie

debbie, me and bob doroughIGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED

Today I had the privilege of hearing and meeting a living legend, the 90 year old Bob Dorough. This puts me one degree away from Miles Davis. Check it out and you’ll see. It caused me to remember this SotW posting I originally made on May 30, 2009, soon after Blossom Dearie had passed away. I wanted to repost it to share my appreciation for this great man and jazz musician.

The song of the week is “I’m Hip” in it’s definitive version by “jazz pixie” Blossom Dearie. The song was written by Bob Dorough (music) and Dave Frishberg (lyrics) in the late 50s as the “demolition of a namedropping bohemian poseur” (Stephen Holden – NYT).

Dearie was known for her distinctive, girlish voice and pageboy haircut. Her crisp, impeccable delivery and an irrepressible sense of playful swing are perfect for this song (even though it’s sung from a distinctly male point of view). This version was recorded Live at Ronnie Scott’s in 1966. Sadly, Dearie died on February 7th, 2009, in her apartment in Greenwich Village. She was 84.

The Dearie/Dorough/Frishberg collaboration went beyond “I’m Hip”. All three were involved with some of the best songs in the early 70’s, ABC “Schoolhouse Rock!” series. Dorough wrote and performed about 30 of the songs, including “Three Is a Magic Number” (my favorite). Dearie sang “Figure Eight” and Frishberg wrote “I’m Just a Bill.” Kids are still learning from those songs 35 years later.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Mama Bake A Pie (Daddy Kill A Chicken), Drive-By Truckers


There is a lot of violence in the world right now – in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and more recently Gaza. “Can’t we all just get along?”

All this fighting got me thinking about one of my favorite antiwar songs. In the early 70s country artist Tom T. Hall wrote “Mama Bake A Pie (Daddy Kill A Chicken)” as his protest of the Viet Nam war. Hall earned the nickname “The Storyteller” for songs such as his most famous – “The Harper Valley PTA.” “Mama…” is another story song that has been covered by numerous artists over the years.

Today’s SotW is the version by The Drive-By Truckers.

The song is about a guy coming home from the war after his legs have been blown off. He’s sarcastic when commenting on his sacrifice.

The war is over for me
I’ve forgotten everything except the pain
Thank you sir, and yes sir, it was worth it
For the ol’ red, white and blue

He’s hiding a bottle of whiskey under the blanket that’s covering his legs and cracking jokes to cover his embarrassment.

I can see the stewardess make over me
And ask, “Were you afraid?”
I’ll say, “Why no? I’m Superman
And couldn’t find the phone booth quite in time”
A GI gets a lot of laughs
He remembers all the funny lines

Then comes the chorus. It describes the banality of how life will go on as it always has – for everyone but him.

Mama bake a pie
Daddy kill a chicken
Your son is coming home
11:35, Wednesday night

But the real tearjerker is in the next verses when the soldier tries to predict how the girlfriend that dumped him when he went to war will react to his plight.

The letter that she wrote me said, “Goodbye”
She couldn’t wait and lots of luck
The bottle underneath the blanket
Feels just like an old friend to my touch

I know she’ll come and see me
But I bet she never once looks at my legs
Now, she’ll talk about the weather
And the dress she wore the July 4th parade
Lord, I love her and I don’t believe
This bottle’s gonna get her off my mind

That is as poignant a sentiment that you’ll hear in any song.

Mama bake a pie, daddy kill a chicken…

Enjoy… until next week.

Night Music (special BaseballHQ Podcast Edition): Rockpile with Keith Richards, “Let It Rock”

Patrick Davitt puts together’s award winning and popular fantasy baseball podcast, and he’s a great fan of your rockremnants crew. In this week’s episode, available through iTunes and directly, we talked about baseball, of course, but also lots about and why we’re here. I did my best.

It all goes back to some legendary evenings in Phoenix Arizona, sitting around and talking music.

Patrick is a fan of Rockpile, so he probably knows the band’s live version of Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock,” featuring Keith Richards on guitar, from the Bottom Line in 1978. But I didn’t. What fun!

Beatles List You’ve All Not Been Waiting For

Obligatory Preface

This was so hard. So hard. So so hard. So so so hard. Harder than life itself. Makes “Sophie’s Choice” seem like paper or plastic.

Blahbitty blah blah blah.

Three Things About The Beatles

I went through my Beatles phase later in life, post-college even. But geez, they are great. And I have a difficult time respecting any musical fan or, particularly, musician, who has never had an extended period of discovering, loving and appreciating The Beatles.

On a related note, there’s no finer place to grasp the concept of background vocals than The Beatles. And you’d be surprised how many musicians don’t get background vocals. There are musicians who can’t sing. There are musicians who can’t sing backgrounds. There are musicians who think they can sing backgrounds, but don’t really understand them past the simplest form. What’s left is fine background singers and those are few and far between, at least on the regular guy/mortal musician level.

On an unrelated note, one of my favorite parts of the must-see rock doc “Lemmy” (the Motorhead singer) is when Lemmy explains that, although the Stones always got the credit as the tough guys, in fact, the Beatles were blue collar rough-and-tumbles from the wrong side of the tracks, while the Stones were a bunch of art school prancers. We stand corrected.

The List

#1 – 5 points – What Goes On – Debate always rages over Ringo’s greatness or lack thereof as a drummer, but I love him as a singer. His clear, sincere voice always cuts through whatever else is going on on the album, whichever that may be. In addition, I love the scratchy guitar. And I’ll never tire of Paul’s decision to walk the bass on just one chorus. So cool. How many bass players would walk it every chorus? Almost all of them. (Lawr would, because he told me.)

#2 – 4 points – She Loves You – The three-part harmony on the final “Yeah” is better than most songs all by itself. A helluva fun song to sing and play yet cover quantity is slim.

#3 tie – 4 points – You Won’t See Me & I’m Looking Through You – Can’t tell you specifically why I like these more than others; it’s just that Beatles thing. And I can’t tell you which one I like more than the other either.

#5 tie – 3 points – All My Loving, She Said She Said, I Call Your Name – Same thing here as the #3 tie, but just slightly less.

#8 – 2 points – Yellow Submarine – Verse gets a 5, chorus gets a zero, averages to 2. (Actually 2.5, but the rules call for truncation, not rounding.)

#9 – 1 point – Blackbird – I’m not one for wimpy songs of beauty, but I like this one. So does Charlie.

#10 – 1 point – Revolution – The poppy one. Q: Chairman Mao? A: Anyhow.