Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson

While we go afield, here’s a tune from Saturday Night Live a bit ago.

Chris Stapleton is the biggest rock guy in country music. Think music.

Sturgill Simpson is the songwriter of country life. Think words.

Here the two of them offer awesome guitar solos, and a classic country theme. On Saturday night TV.

I’m glad to have heard it. And won’t ever likely hear it again.

The Grammy Awards 1987: Blues Jam

There is good playing here, and a minimum of offensive show biz (while there is plenty of show biz). It feels amazing that this clip is from a Grammy Awards show, but who knows? The last time I watched one of those might have been in 1986. This is fun, musically, and larded with a ton of contextual social stuff that someone else might like to unpack.

For me, it is the playing and seeing these big stars live (on tape).

Elvis Costello, Penny Lane

So, this was from a live tribute to Paul McCartney at the White House. It has the White House logo on it.

It’s new to me. And wildly spirited and emotional, partly because Costello’s mum’s connection, but also because Costello is full of fire. And so is the band, especially the horn player, who comes from the president’s own band.

This is good stuff.

Nick Lowe on Elvis Costello’s TV Show

Here’s a clip from something I’m amazed by. Elvis Costello hosted a TV show for a couple of years, and it is really good.

Nick Lowe shows up and sings his song the Beast in Me, which is pretty powerful. But the conversation matters, too. Like, what does it cost (or gain) a bass player to sing lead? Here’s an answer.

Obit: June Foray (September 8, 1917, July 26, 2017)

June Foray certainly does not spring to mind as a name anyone would associate with music, let alone rock’n’roll; however, she was an integral part of the aging of the Boomer Generation.

June, who passed away a couple of days ago, just months shy of the Century Mark, was the voice of the following cartoon characters:

  • Rocket J Squirrel
  • Natasha
  • Granny on Looney Tunes (owner of Tweety)
  • Nell Fenwick
  • Witch Hazel
  • Daisy Duck
  • Mother Magoo
  • Betty Rubble
  • Cindy Lou Who (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
  • Jokey Smurf

And, a host of other voices, participating in a list of shows that is, to say the least, overwhelming.

I am indeed a huge fan of animation, dating back to the first Jay Ward show, Crusader Rabbit wherein at the age of six I got my first puns. Crusader Rabbit featured a two-headed dragon named “Arson/Sterno” which didn’t really mean anything to me. I knew what Arson was, but it was a cartoon. (There was also a villian named “Dudley Nightshade,” a pun I never got till I was a lot older!)

One evening my mother was having a cocktail party and she had a chafing dish that needed a Sterno can to keep the contents warm and I saw her prepare the dish, read the label and a light went off in my head (it might still be going off).

From that all the cartoons of my youth became the filter for my  viewing and reading and interpretation of literature and movies and TV, for it not only taught about puns, but also how characters define themselves, often by action and nameAdditionally, I got the author gets to play with characters and names and situations to emphasize things like irony, hypocrisy, and many other personality traits.

As I delved deeper into literature as an undergrad, then grad student, and learned that Charles Dickens, for example, was among the best at portraying his characters as round or flat, modifying their names in deed and action. So, I got that the Arson/Sterno tradition was pretty old, going back at least to Chaucer in the English language.

I still watch toons. I love Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers and Adult Swim in addition to old Looney Tunes because they still push art in areas where live action human stuff cannot go.

Are they important? Just listen…

RIP June, and I hope where you are is as much fun as the shit you created!

Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter (on Ed Sullivan)

That ranking of Stones’ tunes I posted about earlier in the week ends, if you get that far, with You Can’t Always Get What You Want edging Gimme Shelter because it’s less of a cliche about the Stones. Happy song wins, dark song finishes second.

Fair enough.

But then there is this clip. The Stones on the Ed Sullivan show promoting Let It Bleed. And they do a version of Gimme Shelter without Merry Clayton! Still a good song, but stripped down, without the fire, is this close to the Stones’ best song?

I leave that for you to decide for yourself. For me the issue is how much does what we love hinge on the tangential, or not the core of the tune or the performance. Is it the singer, the song, or the backup singer and the mix? Each and every cut varies because the circumstances of the performance, the particulars of its creation, differ.

So, why rank them? If something can be both this and that, and something else also, isn’t the ranking of them a narrowing of vision, a squinting (in this case with the ears) that restricts the experience?