August 30, 2007

Memorable Moment in Music: Made-for-TV tunes

Something utterly important to today’s alchemy of popular music occured on September the 8th, 1965. That was the day when the classified ad ran in Variety Magazine to attract what would ultimately become the first musical group crafted specifically for a television audience, a ready-made pop phenomenon known as The Monkees.

The ad read, “seeking four insane boys, age 17-21 for acting roles in a new series.” Hundreds applied, and Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones were selected to form a Beatles-lookalike group for a zany television show. The hits were penned by a team of tunesmiths who began churning out sugar-sweet three minute instant pop classics. Instantly blurring the lines of television and musical reality, the Monkees sold 5 million copies of their debut album, and burned up the charts. They would go on to sell more records in 1965 than the Beatles. In 1967, I think they sold more records than the Beatles and the Stones combined. You can bet that those holding their puppet strings were pleased.

Despite the confection, I will confess a certain weakness in my heart towards these television bands of yesteryear. I am only an average woman. I cannot resist the guiles of songs like…

Daydream Believer – The Monkees
(Westerberg covered it)

I Think I Love You – The Partridge Family
(Westerberg covered it too)

Sugar Sugar – The Archies
(not Westerberg, but Semisonic + Mary Lou Lord covered it)

And yes, I can sing along each words to all of those songs, a holdover from being 11 and fervently riding my bike to softball practice with my huge pastel Walkman and my parent-approved tunes. I had a tough time once junior high started.

So it’s all just fluff and bubblegum delight, and there’s a place for that in my life, but if we’re gonna be honest, that initial classified ad profoundly changed the face of music — and one could argue for the worse. Sometimes I look at the landscape of recent years and find the ideas of everything from Making The Band to The Spice Girls to the INXS replace-our-dead-singer-on-television contest to be a bit appalling. Sure, it’s a free market, but it’s also prostituting out music to the highest bidder based on looks and sparkle, and not necessarily the quality of the music. Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees.

[a debt is owed to the excellent Performing Songwriter magazine for their piece last year called “Bands On The Rerun.” This is part of the XPN Memorable Moments In Music series.]

August 15, 2007

Memorable Moment in Music: “Ladies & gentlemen, Elvis has left the building”

[last picture ever taken of Elvis, 12:28am, Aug 16, 1977]

Tomorrow marks thirty years since the memorable (and sad) moment in music when Elvis Presley was found dead in his Graceland bathroom at the age of 42, the day before he was to start a new tour. For years he had been sadly deteriorating from the fresh faced, doe-eyed, swivel-hipped innocent of the Fifties, all enlisting for the Army and being photographed in his tightie-whiteys; so average, so loveable.

In recent years his music was swirling to new heights of camp (albeit, camp that I absolutely adore – “I’m just a hunk-a hunk of burning love?” That opening drumbeat? “The flames are now lickin’ my body?” Fantastic):

(pretty sure that’s like an early music video; studio cut, live images)

By 1977, Elvis was in really bad shape, and that ferocious swagger and cocky snarl you see above in the glitz and glimmer was all but gone. It was a feat just to get him through every show, propped up on bloated legs by a combination of amphetamines, barbiturates, and sequined bell-bottoms. Guralnick writes in his 2000 book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, “There was no longer any pretense of keeping up appearances… The idea was simply to get Elvis out onstage and keep him upright for the hour he was scheduled to perform.” His final concert would be the night of June 26, 1977 in Indianapolis.

The last recording Elvis made was a vocal overdub on “He’ll Have To Go” done on October 31st, 1976 in the “Jungle Room” at his home at Graceland. The last song Elvis performed in private was a rendition of “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain,” done on his piano in Graceland hours before his death. [ref]

The morning of August 16th, his fiance Ginger Alden found Elvis dead in his Graceland bathroom with fourteen drugs detectable in his system, ten in “significant quantity.” According to the medical examiner, Elvis had stumbled or crawled several feet before dying. What a sad ending to such an amazing, epic life that gave us some of my favorite music ever. No one can cast a bigger cultural shadow than The King. Through a combination of musical virtuosity, that irreplaceable voice, and something in the DNA of our culture – the fabric of my musical knowledge – he was without equal. Elvis is just Elvis.


Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, IN
June 26, 1977 – Final concert [
2001 Space Odyssey theme (opening) / C.C. Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Love Me
You Gave Me A Mountain
Jailhouse Rock
O Sole Mio/It’s Now Or Never
Little Sister
Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel
Release Me
I Can’t Stop Loving You
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Introduction of band members
Early Morning Rain
What’d I Say
Johnny B. Goode
Larry London drum solo
Jerry Sheff bass solo
Tony Brown piano solo
I Really Don’t Want To Know
Bobby Ogdin Electric Clavinet Solo
Jazzing in Vegas
Hound Dog
Can’t Help Falling In Love
Closing vamp / “Elvis has left the building”


I found myself at bit melancholy at watching a few more videos of the Elvis from the Seventies, starting with when he actually looked kinda hot in that white jumpsuit (ha! never thought I’d say that):



Some extras because I absolutely love this song and never tire of it:
Always On My Mind – Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
[bonus track, Jacksonville City Nights. 99% sure this is a duet with Norah Jones]
Always On My Mind (live on NPR) – Iron & Wine/Calexico


“Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.”

August 8, 2007

Memorable Moment: Jackson 5 audition for Motown Records, shimmy their way into our hearts

Okay, so I never really, truly got deep into Michael Jackson. I mean sure I adore singing along to “Man In The Mirror” in my car (shmoa) as much as the next girl, have roller-skated to “Rock With You,” and I do know the whole rap part from “Black or White” (I’m not gonna spend my life bein’ a color). However, I think I may be the only one of my generation that doesn’t know the Thriller dance (as was sadly evidenced at a recent wedding reception I attended), I was never tempted to wear a single white glove at any stage in my adolescence, and I can’t moonwalk. Truthfully, I can’t even really look at Michael anymore without thinking of that scene in South Park where his nose crumbles off.

But I do love me some Jackson 5. I have a weak spot for prepubescents singing sugarplum layers of pop-soul (that kinda sounded wrong but whatever). My fourth memorable music moment for the WXPN series is a cool snippet I unearthed showing a very young supergroup in the making, auditioning for Motown Records by covering some James Brown — and boy can Michael move even at that young age.

July 23, 1968: Jackson 5 Audition for Motown Records

The Jackson Five were signed to Motown after this audition was videotaped and sent to label founder Berry Gordy who couldn’t attend. After watching the above clip, he decided to sign them and in early 1969, the boys got to work recording in Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A. studio in Detroit.

The results of these sessions were mostly covers of other hits by artists in the doo-wop/R&B/soul catalog, such as Sly & The Family Stone’s “Stand!” and Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Loving You.” They also recorded a new version of “You’ve Changed,” a song by Gordon Keith which they had recorded for his small Steeltown label before signing with Motown. Their songwriters (known as “The Corporation“) were working on penning their original soon-to-be megahit, “I Want You Back.”

As the Jacksons rehearsed and performed in clubs around L.A., the PR machines kicked into high gear and truth-telling was not at the forefront of the agenda in promoting this new discovery. The marketing team at Motown started changing facts about the band in press kits to increase their appeal. Michael’s age was lowered from 11 to 8 to make him “appear cuter”, two band members who were not related (Johnny Jackson and Ronnie Rancifer) became cousins of the Jacksons with the stroke of a publicist’s pen.

Diana Ross was also credited with discovering the group — a fanciful bit of wishful thinking, as she wasn’t even present for any of the performances or meetings leading up to their signing. In fact, the real credit goes to fellow Motown artists Bobby Taylor (who would go on to produce most of their first album) and Gladys Knight. Ross did, however, attach her name with their very first record to help vet this new group: Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 (1969). And they were off and running.

Stand! (Sly and The Family Stone cover) – The Jackson 5
You’ve Changed – Jackson 5
I Want You Back – Jackson 5

LISTEN AGAIN: This track stands up as one of my all-time favorite remixes ever. I love the way Z-Trip strips off everything from the beginning and just brings in each instrument one layer at a time so you can fully appreciate it. It actually reminds me of a funkdafied soul version of Pachelbel’s “Canon” (no, listen) the way each sound, each instrument gets its own spotlighted solo entrance into the game. Absolutely wonderful:

I Want You Back (Z-Trip remix) – Jackson 5

In news of related tastes, Chris at Gorilla vs. Bear recently pointed out the newest album in the undeniably awesome “library of the lost” collection from the Numero Group, which I’ve lavished love on in the past. It’s called Home Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul, and is the story in song of countless groups in the same vein as Jackson 5 who have been forgotten in the halls of history but are so worth a listen. Here’s a sampling:

Can’t Let You Break My Heart – The Quantrells

August 2, 2007

Memorable Moment in Music: Ella Fitzgerald discovered at Amateur Night @ The Apollo Theatre

Maybe you’ve never really “gotten” jazz. Maybe the very mention of jazz makes you think of that weird male nanny (“I prefer child technician“) in Jerry Maguire, always trying to pass off jazz mixtape cassettes to friends, and waxing rapturiously ecstatic at the mention of his favorite bass solos. Although I am too unfamiliar with the depth of the genre to be called an actual “jazz fan,” I’ve developed a level of appreciation for the great voices of jazz, and the pathos and the richness rolled up in their songs. Ella Fitzgerald is one I particularly love, and the third memorable moment in music in the WXPN series I am contributing to is the cool story of how Ella was discovered.

Other jazz singers that I appreciate each brought something unique to their recordings. Billie Holiday was mournful and smoky. Nina Simone was the boss and always sounded like she felt a sin coming on. Etta James was gonna come and love you, honey, and it was a whole lot of woman to love. But whenever I hear Ella, I am always struck by how classy and elegant her voice was, how pitch perfect and pure, just floating above the music and not mucked down in it. It always makes me smile.

Here’s the story: In 1934, the United States was limping back from the Great Depression. Ella Jane Fitzgerald was 17 and living in Harlem. Her mama had recently died in a car accident, and where Ella has previously been a pretty good kid, she was now losing interest in school, working alternately as a bordello-lookout and a runner for Mafia-affiliated tasks (come on Ella). She had grown up deeply loving her records, listening over and over to artists like the great Louis Armstrong and The Boswell Sisters.

On the night of November 21, 1934 Ella went with some girlfriends on a lark to compete at one of the famous “Amateur Nights” at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. At the time, the competition was only a few months old, but since then it has grown to give exposure to artists as varied as James Brown, Lauryn Hill, Ben E. King, and the Isley Brothers [see full list] who were just getting started in their career.

Ella’s name was pulled from the many entrants that night for a chance to compete. She originally intended to sing and dance, but was intimidated by some earlier performers that she felt danced well, so she decided to just sing – two covers. She couldn’t believe it, but she won that night. From that performance she went on to form a band and tour the country, eventually being signed to Decca and causing the creation of the Verve label essentially around her and her music. Called “The First Lady of Jazz,” and a woman who could scat like no other (check the lesson), I love how it all started from such inauspicious, total indie-rock-dream-discovery-scenario beginnings.

I Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues – Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass
(she ain’t got no fancy to tickle)

Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Ella Fitzgerald

Flying Home – Ella Fitzgerald
I think that scatting is rad

Knowing how much she idolized Louis Armstrong when she was growing up, I also enjoy hearing their playful work together. In stark contrast to Armstrong’s raspy struggle against the song, Ella’s parts kick in with such grace:

They Can’t Take That Away From Me – Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

Even though she died in 1996, Ella definitely leaves her legacy in today’s music. One concept that’s especially dope is the whiz-bang remix series that Verve has been releasing. Everyone wants a piece of Ella and her fantastic voice, a sound that still sounds fresh:

Wait ‘Til You See Him (De-Phazz remix) – Ella Fitzgerald
from Verve Remixed

Angel Eyes (Layo & Bushwacka Remix) – Ella Fitzgerald
from Verve Remixed 2

July 26, 2007

Memorable Moments in Music: Dylan leaves the folkies dumbfounded, plugs in at Newport

In an age of Marilyn Manson and Gwar, it seems almost laughable that something as small as using an electric guitar was, at one time, a revolutionary act of heresy to hear some tell it. But there was a time in 1965 when a folksy Bob Dylan took a risk, plugged in, withstood the booing, and helped to usher in the beginnings of a whole new sound of electric sin in popular music.

The Newport Folk Festival was an annual convergence of the Hootenanny crowd in Rhode Island begun in 1959. Dylan had been a hit at both of his previous performances in 1963 and 1964. But as July ’65 came around, Dylan was beginning to experiment with a new sound, evidenced clearly on his song “Like A Rolling Stone,” which had just been released as a single to radio four days prior.

From the 1986 Shelton book No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan, a play-by-play of his set that night that stuck in the craw of the crowd:

At the festival, Al Kooper, whose session work had already impressed Dylan, was strolling about when Albert said Bob was looking for him. Dylan told Kooper he wanted to bring the “Rolling Stone” sound on-stage. Three members of the Butterfield Band were recruited: guitarist Mike Bloomfield, drummer Sam Lay, and bassist Jerome Arnold. At a party in Newport, Dylan completed his band with pianist Barry Goldberg. In a Newport mansion, Dylan rehearsed this instant group until dawn. They kept their plan secret until they walked onstage, Dylan, in a matador-outlaw orange shirt and black leather, carrying an electric guitar.

From the moment the group swung into a rocking electric version of “Maggie’s Farm,” the Newport audience registered hostility. As the group finished “Farm,” there was some reserved applause and a flurry of boos. Someone shouted: “Bring back Cousin Emmy!” The microphones and speakers were all out of balance, and the sound was poor and lopsided. For even the most ardent fan of the new music, the performance was unpersuasive.

As Dylan led his band into “Rolling Stone,” the audience grew shriller: “Play folk music! … Sell out! … This is a folk festival! … Get rid of that band!” Dylan began “It Takes a Train to Cry,” and the applause diminished as the heckling increased. Dylan and the group disappeared offstage, and there was a long, clumsy silence. Peter Yarrow urged Bob to return and gave him his acoustic guitar. As Bob returned on the stage alone, he discovered he didn’t have the right harmonica. “What are you doing to me?” Dylan demanded of Yarrow. To shouts for “Tambourine Man,” Dylan said: “OK, I’ll do that one for you.” The older song had a palliative effect and won strong applause. Then Dylan did “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” singing adieu to Newport, good-bye to the folk-purist audience.

It’s fitting as I write this on the night of July 25th, a hard-to-believe 42 years to the day of this performance. There is certainly controversy about why people were booing that night – revisionist history rages, with some saying that the booing was due solely to the poor sound quality and not the music itself. Folk music patriarch Pete Seeger has been widely quoted as saying that if he had an axe, he would have chopped the cable that night, even though he’s given varying reasons for that statement in the following years.

Hearing these performances and seeing the footage in the Scorsese documentary No Direction Home, I can lean towards feeling that there was a crackle of discontent in the air that night that I don’t think was just a PA issue. I think there’s definitely a strong argument that Dylan’s performance was an important splinter in the genres of folk and rock music that had profound and immediate implications for both. The “This Land Is Your Land” crowd went one way with the idealism and the acoustic guitars, and the rock barrelled off in another direction best summarized by Dylan himself the following year in response to the infamous heckler at the Manchester show: “Play fucking loud!

July 25, 1965

Maggie’s Farm
Like A Rolling Stone
It Takes A Lot To Laugh (“Phantom Engineer”)
Mr. Tambourine Man
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue


July 18, 2007

Memorable Moment in Music: Bruce Springsteen becomes rock and roll future

For the next six Wednesdays I’ve been asked to contribute my thoughts to the WXPN 885 Memorable Moments In Music series. Along with their listeners, they are working on creating a massive list of moments that we remember from music. A list of 885 means a lot of variety, so there will be plenty of room for all the possibilities that this daunting list implies. Here’s where I feel like starting today.

I wasn’t alive when this article below was written, and for most of my life I edged away from what I saw as the bombastic jangle of Springsteen until my eyes were recently opened a few years back; I’ve seen the light of his gorgeous songwriting and performance skill (even if I still don’t care for the bandanna-as-sweatband look). This article is one of the best pieces on music that I’ve ever read, by a Jon Landau at my age, feeling old, listening to his records, going to shows to feel that fire in his soul kindle again. This article was pounded out late at night (when the rawest and most honest missives are penned) after seeing rock and roll’s future in a fresh-faced guy from Jersey trying to carve out a name for himself.

Growing Young With Rock and Roll
by Jon Landau
May 22, 1974

It’s four in the morning and raining. I’m 27 today, feeling old, listening to my records, and remembering that things were diffferent a decade ago. In 1964, I was a freshman at Brandeis University, playing guitar and banjo five hours a day, listening to records most of the rest of the time, jamming with friends during the late-night hours, working out the harmonies to Beach Boys’ and Beatles’ songs.

Real Paper soul writer Russell Gersten was my best friend and we would run through the 45s everyday: Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By” and “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” the Drifters’ “Up On the Roof,” Jackie Ross’ “Selfish One,” the Marvellettes’ “Too Many Fish in the Sea,” and the one that no one ever forgets, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ “Heat Wave.” Later that year a special woman named Tamar turned me onto Wilson Pickett’s “Midnight Hour” and Otis Redding’s “Respect,” and then came the soul. Meanwhile, I still went to bed to the sounds of the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man” and later “Younger than Yesterday,” still one of my favorite good-night albums. I woke up to Having a Rave-Up with the Yardbirds instead of coffee. And for a change of pace, there was always bluegrass: The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, and Jimmy Martin.

Through college, I consumed sound as if it were the staff of life. Others enjoyed drugs, school, travel, adventure. I just liked music: listening to it, playing it, talking about it. If some followed the inspiration of acid, or Zen, or dropping out, I followed the spirit of rock’n'roll.

Individual songs often achieved the status of sacraments. One September, I was driving through Waltham looking for a new apartment when the sound on the car radio stunned me. I pulled over to the side of the road, turned it up, demanded silence of my friends and two minutes and fifty-six second later knew that God had spoken to me through the Four Tops’ “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” a record that I will cherish for as long as I live.

During those often lonely years, music was my constant companion and the search for the new record was like a search for a new friend and new revelation. “Mystic Eyes” opened mine to whole new vistas in white rock and roll and there were days when I couldn’t go to sleep without hearing it a dozen times.

Whether it was a neurotic and manic approach to music, or just a religious one, or both, I don’t really care. I only know that, then, as now, I’m grateful to the artists who gave the experience to me and hope that I can always respond to them.

The records were, of course, only part of it. In ’65 and ’66 I played in a band, the Jellyroll, that never made it. At the time I concluded that I was too much of a perfectionist to work with the other band members; in the end I realized I was too much of an autocrat, unable to relate to other people enough to share music with them.

Realizing that I wasn’t destined to play in a band, I gravitated to rock criticism. Starting with a few wretched pieces in Broadside and then some amateurish but convincing reviews in the earliest Crawdaddy, I at least found a substitute outlet for my desire to express myself about rock: If I couldn’t cope with playing, I may have done better writing about it.

But in those days, I didn’t see myself as a critic — the writing was just another extension of an all-encompassing obsession. It carried over to my love for live music, which I cared for even more than the records. I went to the Club 47 three times a week and then hunted down the rock shows — which weren’t so easy to find because they weren’t all conveniently located at downtown theatres. I flipped for the Animals’ two-hour show at Rindge Tech; the Rolling Stones, not just at Boston Garden, where they did the best half hour rock’n'roll set I had ever seen, but at Lynn Football Stadium, where they started a riot; Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels overcoming the worst of performing conditions at Watpole Skating Rink; and the Beatles at Suffolk Down, plainly audible, beautiful to look at, and confirmation that we — and I — existed as a special body of people who understood the power and the glory of rock’n'roll.

I lived those days with a sense of anticipation. I worked in Briggs & Briggs a few summers and would know when the next albums were coming. The disappointment when the new Stones was a day late, the exhilaration when Another Side of Bob Dylan showed up a week early. The thrill of turning on WBZ and hearing some strange sound, both beautiful and horrible, but that demanded to be heard again; it turned out to be “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” a record that stands just behind “Reach Out I’ll Be There” as means of musical catharsis.

My temperament being what it is, I often enjoyed hating as much as loving. That San Francisco shit corrupted the purity of the rock that I loved and I could have led a crusade against it. The Moby Grape moved me, but those songs about White Rabbits and hippie love made me laugh when they didn’t make me sick. I found more rock’n'roll in the dubbed-in hysteria on the Rolling Stones Got Live if You Want It than on most San Francisco albums combined.

For every moment I remember there are a dozen I’ve forgotten, but I feel like they are with me on a night like this, a permanent part of my consciousness, a feeling lost on my mind but never on my soul. And then there are those individual experiences so transcendent that I can remember them as if they happened yesterday: Sam and Dave at the Soul Together at Madison Square Garden in 1967: every gesture, every movement, the order of the songs. I would give anything to hear them sing “When Something’s Wrong with My Baby” just the way they did it that night.

The obsessions with Otis Redding, Jerry Butler, and B.B. King came a little bit later; each occupied six months of my time, while I digested every nuance of every album. Like the Byrds, I turn to them today and still find, when I least expect it, something new, something deeply felt, something that speaks to me.

As I left college in 1969 and went into record production I started exhausting my seemingly insatiable appetite. I felt no less intensely than before about certain artists; I just felt that way about fewer of them. I not only became more discriminating but more indifferent. I found it especially hard to listen to new faces. I had accumulated enough musical experience to fall back on when I needed its companionship but during this period in my life I found I needed music less and people, whom I spend too much of my life ignoring, much more.

Today I listen to music with a certain measure of detachment. I’m a professional and I make my living commenting on it. There are months when I hate it, going through the routine just as a shoe salesman goes through his. I follow films with the passion that music once held for me. But in my own moments of greatest need, I never give up the search for sounds that can answer every impulse, consume all emotion, cleanse and purify — all things that we have no right to expect from even the greatest works of art but which we can occasionally derive from them.

Still, today, if I hear a record I like it is no longer a signal for me to seek out every other that the artist has made. I take them as they come, love them, and leave them. Some have stuck — a few that come quickly to mind are Neil Young’s After the Goldrush, Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey, James Taylor’s records, Valerie Simpson’s Exposed, Randy Newman’s Sail Away, Exile on Main Street, Ry Cooder’s records, and, very specially, the last three albums of Joni Mitchell — but many more slip through the mind, making much fainter impressions than their counterparts of a decade ago.

But tonight there is someone I can write of the way I used to write, without reservations of any kind. Last Thursday, at the Harvard Square theatre, I saw my rock’n'roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.

When his two-hour set ended I could only think, can anyone really be this good; can anyone say this much to me, can rock’n'roll still speak with this kind of power and glory? And then I felt the sores on my thighs where I had been pounding my hands in time for the entire concert and knew that the answer was yes.

Springsteen does it all. He is a rock’n'roll punk, a Latin street poet, a ballet dancer, an actor, a joker, bar band leader, hot-shit rhythm guitar player, extraordinary singer, and a truly great rock’n'roll composer. He leads a band like he has been doing it forever. I racked my brains but simply can’t think of a white artist who does so many things so superbly. There is no one I would rather watch on a stage today. He opened with his fabulous party record “The E Street Shuffle” — but he slowed it down so graphically that it seemed a new song and it worked as well as the old. He took his overpowering story of a suicide, “For You,” and sang it with just piano accompaniment and a voice that rang out to the very last row of the Harvard Square theatre. He did three new songs, all of them street trash rockers, one even with a “Telstar” guitar introduction and an Eddie Cochran rhythm pattern. We missed hearing his “Four Winds Blow,” done to a fare-thee-well at his sensational week-long gig at Charley’s but “Rosalita” never sounded better and “Kitty’s Back,” one of the great contemporary shuffles, rocked me out of my chair, as I personally led the crowd to its feet and kept them there.

Bruce Springsteen is a wonder to look at. Skinny, dressed like a reject from Sha Na Na, he parades in front of his all-star rhythm band like a cross between Chuck Berry, early Bob Dylan, and Marlon Brando. Every gesture, every syllable adds something to his ultimate goal — to liberate our spirit while he liberates his by baring his soul through his music. Many try, few succeed, none more than he today.

It’s five o’clock now — I write columns like this as fast as I can for fear I’ll chicken out — and I’m listening to “Kitty’s Back.” I do feel old but the record and my memory of the concert has made me feel a little younger. I still feel the spirit and it still moves me.

I bought a new home this week and upstairs in the bedroom is a sleeping beauty who understands only too well what I try to do with my records and typewriter. About rock’n'roll, the Lovin’ Spoonful once sang, “I’ll tell you about the magic that will free your soul/But it’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock’n'roll.” Last Thursday, I remembered that the magic still exists and as long as I write about rock, my mission is to tell a stranger about it — just as long as I remember that I’m the stranger I’m writing for.

from The Real Paper, “Loose Ends” column

There’s no boot of the actual show that Landau attended, according to some ubergeek Springsteen pals (who I love), but this show from a few months later at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania captures that bright rebel fire of a young and hungry Springsteen in what some have called “one of the most compelling performances of Springsteen’s entire career.”

This show marks the very first known performance of Thunder Road (with in-progress lyrics and a different title) and a whiz-bang version of Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.” I’ve been really deeply enjoying this version of Dylan’s “I Want You” for a while now without realizing it was from this show. Everything that is droll and straightforward in Dylan’s delivery on the original is wrenched and wrung of every bit of longing in Springsteen’s rendition, with instrumentation that sounds like a waltz or a carnival. Also, many consider this to be one of the definitive versions of “Incident on 57th Street.” Enjoy. Grow young.

Incident on 57th Street
Mountain of Love
Born To Run
Intro to E Street Shuffle
E Street Shuffle
“Wings For Wheels” (Thunder Road, first performance)
I Want You (Dylan cover)
Spirit In The Night
She’s The One
Growin’ Up
Saint In The City
Kitty’s Back
New York City Serenade
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)
A Love So Fine
For You
Back In The U.S.A. (Chuck Berry cover)

(skipping mp3s fixed throughout)

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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