February 16, 2008

Ed Vedder’s solo jaunt down the West Coast

The Ten Club wasn’t lying when they promised an exciting 2008 for members. Just a few weeks after announcing that Pearl Jam will headline Bonnaroo, we members were notified yesterday afternoon that Eddie Vedder will be doing a solo tour down the West Coast in April. The venues are small, the tickets are unfortunately not cheap, and members will have a stab at presale on Monday. A friend of mine is combining the tour with some baseball park visits; the season is right, and dang that sounds like a lovely idea to me.

Liam Finn opens these shows.

Apr-02 The Centre, Vancouver, BC
Apr-05 Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz, CA
Apr-07 Zellerbach Theatre, Berkeley, CA
Apr-10 Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA
Apr-12 Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Apr-13 Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Apr-15 Spreckels Theater, San Diego, CA

Five special ticket packages per show will be auctioned off for the legal defense fund of the West Memphis Three. On-sale to the general public is Friday through (yes) Ticketmaster.

Bruce Springsteen will also be tracing a somewhat parallel journey to Vedder, notably with his Vancouver show March 31 and the Sacramento show April 4th. Following the reliable old adage that starting a rumor on the internet is obviously likely to yield actual results, maybe there will be some collaboration like these:

No Surrender (with Vedder, Meadowlands 10-13-04) – Bruce Springsteen
Betterman (with Vedder, Meadowlands 10-13-04) – Bruce Springsteen
My Hometown (with Vedder, Chicago 9-26-02) – Bruce Springsteen

For good measure we’ll throw these in too:

Growin’ Up (Springsteen cover, 7-14-03 New Jersey) – Pearl Jam
Atlantic City (Springsteen cover, 10-01-05, Borgata Casino) – Pearl Jam**
No Surrender (Springsteen cover, 09-30-05, Borgata Casino) – Pearl Jam**

**The encoding on those last two tracks is too low to stream right (Chipmunks!) but if you download them they do sound fine, and that recording No Surrender is one of my all-time favorite covers. If anyone has better quality mp3s, please send em my way.

[top photo credit Kerensa Wight]
[Vedder/Springsteen photo 10-13-04, taken by Paul Hawthorne]

October 12, 2007

Guest post: Chris from North Carolina, redux

In August, I wrote about the fabulous reader Chris from NC who took the time to send me five mix CDs and liner notes, and I posted some of the tracks off the first rock-themed collection.

There were four more discs full of goodness that were left shivering outside the blog love, so I wanted to move on to the next offering for your distinct enjoyment.

On this Friday afternoon, I’ll share a little mini-mix of five excellent selections from mix disc #2, along with his comments, on today’s guest blog. Let me repeat how much I enjoy hearing songs through other people’s ears, filtered through their own experience. Dig these fresh tunes:

Lots of humble opinions, sad songs, and covers

We Will Become Silhouettes – The Shins
Love the Postal Service, but this one’s better

Brilliant Disguise – Elvis Costello
Not so much a fan of Bruce’s version, but I love the lyrics and EC’s delivery. In easily the most surreal conversation of my life, Westerberg once told me you can call him E, but never Declan (his real name). You’ve been warned.

I Figured You Out – Mary Lou Lord
An Elliott Smith song that I could never find him doing. I think I really like this song in no small part because I can hear him singing it in my head.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Saint Etienne
Imaginative re-working of the old Neil Young song

More Than I Can Do – Steve Earle
Stalker song sometimes mistaken for a love song, along the lines of “Every Breath You Take.” Only less played out.

September 24, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I was recently talking to a merch guy at The Bluebird, and was stoked to find out that CU Denver has a neat-looking degree program in Music Industry Studies with their very own student-run record label. Equally cool are the breadth of courses offered at Berklee (not Berkeley) School of Music. I always thought Berklee (in Boston) was just a high-falutin music performance school, like if you’re really really good on the cello, you go there. But they also have courses in songwriting, music business, music production, film scoring etc that you can take online.

They’ve got a cool new contest where you can win one course online through Berklee via a promotion for the artist’s service TuneCore, which helps musicians distribute their tunes online. It’s an interesting pairing; check it out, it only runs through tomorrow. I already have all the degrees I am gonna get (I think), but I am tempted.

We’re All Stuck Out In The Desert
Johnathan Rice

A friend recommended I listen to this guy after he recently swung through town opening for gf-Jenny Lewis’ Rilo Kiley. I’d heard his name (I always say it extra-breathy in my head with that seemingly-bonus “h” in the first name) but never listened to him before now. Wow, I like this guy: Scottish-roots, New York-dwelling Rice has an addictive, warmly catchy sound with the feel-good lyrics of the summer: “We’re all stuck out in the desert, and we’re gonna die.” Right on. He’s toured with Neal Casal of The Cardinals — see the video of them performing this song in grand festival style at Hyde Park. Further North is his sophomore album, and it’s out now. If he looks vaguely familiar, it might be because played Roy Orbison in Walk The Line. So cool.

Can’t Change Me (French version)
Chris Cornell
In honor of Chris Cornell rescheduling his date with Denver (it’s November 20th at the Fillmore), I want to share this fantastic French version of his solo song “Can’t Change Me” from his 1999 solo album Euphoria Morning. Cornell has an absolutely breathtaking set of pipes (even though yes we can admit he’s stretching them a bit after all these years) and when you combine it with a gorgeous Romance language? Ridiculous and so much fun — sexy, dangerous fun.

Modern Diet
The Redwalls

Fresh-faced Chicago retro powerpop group The Redwalls finally have an album completed and a release date! In just one month, we can all enjoy their first full-length album released since they parted ways with Capitol. Now on Mad Dragon Records (which is a student-run label from Drexel University, how cool), they have a pow-pop-bang new self-titled joint out on October 23. This first sample feels a bit more Eighties-danceable feel to me than the straightforward ’60s guitar fuzz of the past. I absolutely love their sound, love their output. They are currently on tour with Rooney and I plan to see them next month when they swing through here; they put on an excellent show.

The River (Springsteen cover)
Josh Ritter
This cover is one that has set the masses a-buzzin’ the few times that Idaho singer/songwriter Josh Ritter has performed it. Ritter gets the Springsteen (and Dylan) comparisons all the time, but still it’s a daunting task to cover this song. He earnestly and beautifully nails it. This was a bonus encore track not streamed online from the WXPN free noontime concert back in August. Friends who were there say it was absolutely magical, and that you could have heard a pin drop. Stream the rest of the main set here, and do yourself a favor by picking up his new album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. [photo credit]

Let My Love Open The Door
Joe Purdy duet with Pete Townshend

The Attic Jam series is something I’ve been meaning to write a post on, and still intend to once I find full audio from these amazing sets. Pete Townshend and his ladyfriend Rachel Fuller have hosted several of these jam-session evenings blending Pete’s performances with some of their favorite up-and-coming songwriters, as well as established artists. They’ve welcomed everyone from Billy Corgan, E from Eels and Ben Harper, along with guys like Willy Mason and California folk artist Joe Purdy. Joe is a bit of an anomaly in that he doesn’t want to be signed, but prefers to self-release — over 10 albums since 2004. He gives his stuff away for free, and has had his tunes show up on Grey’s Anatomy, my beloved LOST (come on, Feb 08!) and House. I like that refreshing spirit and the homey sincerity of his voice on this wonderful collaboration.

August 23, 2007

Bruce wonders: “Is there anybody alive out there?”

The first single from Bruce Springsteen’s forthcoming fifteenth studio album, the Brendan O’Brien-produced Magic [due October 2], leaked into the world last night — and it’s a scorcher. It’s got a dark melody that reminds me strongly of the Warren Zevon song “Splendid Isolation” (which has enjoyed a resurgence among the young folk thanks to Pete Yorn doing a whiz-bang cover of it on his latest album).

This is a straight-ahead rocker and I find myself drawn to the prominent guitars and the urgency of the delivery (Bruce is nothing if not urgent, right?). Absolutely a song to drive fast to in the misty rain, with lyrics like these:

I just want to hear some rhythm
I just want to hear some rhythm
I want a thousand guitars
I want pounding drums
I want a million different voices speaking in tongues
This is radio nowhere
Is there anybody alive out there?

Radio Nowhere – Bruce Springsteen
(free download here)

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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)

May 21, 2007

The angels love you more :: Broken Radio video

I am still in San Diego today, so no Monday Music Roundup will be coming. I’ve gotten to speak Italian to a group of folks outside the San Diego Museum of Art, meet a British guy named Usher holding a tiny Pomeranian, bowl and drink beer with my dad, and maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get a patdown at the airport this afternoon. Oh, and also I got to see my little brother graduate college, which was awesome.

This video is all the music content I can swing this morning, it’s Jesse Malin‘s new song “Broken Radio,” off Glitter in the Gutter, which is really a beautiful tune. It stars Bruce Springsteen and the parts with both of them were just recorded a few weeks ago at Bruce’s house/farm/studio in Colt’s Neck, NJ:

Jesse has foxy eyemakeup. That’s better than mine most days.

February 8, 2007

Springsteen tribute show planned at Carnegie Hall

Bruce Springsteen is set to get the tribute treatment from the musical community on April 5 at Carnegie Hall in New York. If you were lucky enough to click on the ticket sale website on January 31, then you may have already snagged yourself a pair of tickets (in what concert producer Michael Dorf is calling a “premature leak.” Those are always a bit embarassing). Tickets legitimately went on sale Monday (and seem to be sold out) with the proceeds benefitting the Music For Youth program, as with previous tributes to Dylan & Joni Mitchell.

The benefit show will feature appearances from Badly Drawn Boy, Pete Yorn, Steve Earle, Chris Isaak and Josh Ritter, among others. I can’t find any recordings of Isaak ever covering Springsteen (some fan correct me if I am wrong), and same for Ritter (although there is plenty of press likening him to Springsteen’s songwriting). But here’s some hints of what the night may sound like . . .

Thunder Road – Badly Drawn Boy

Dancing In The Dark –> Murray (live) – Pete Yorn

State Trooper (live) – Steve Earle

And if I may, how awesome would it be to see these humble suggestions added to the lineup?

Hungry Heart – Jesse Malin

For You – The Format

No Surrender (live 9/30/05) – Eddie Vedder
(yeah, I’ve posted this before, but it’s one of my absolute favorites)

November 15, 2006

Who loves ya, Bruce?

In honor of a photography exhibit that just opened last weekend at the Snap Gallery in Birmingham (Born To Run: The Unseen Photographs, by Eric Meola, who photographed the Born To Run album cover), the Telegraph (UK) asks various musicians why they love Bruce and a bit about their favorite Springsteen lyric.

Here are a few excerpts that I related to in some way:

Jeremy Vine, Radio 2 presenter
“Thunder Road and Born to Run are the best songs in rock and roll. They’re cinematographic – like a movie and music in tandem. They’ll still be playing those songs in a thousand years’ time. In fact, I bet they’re playing them on other planets right now.”

Favourite lyric – from ‘Hungry Heart’ (1980)
Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back
Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going

Billy Bragg, singer/songwriter
“I saw him at Meadowlands in New Jersey, which is a huge sports arena, and he made it seem like a little local bar. “

Favourite lyric – from ‘Racing in The Street’ (1978)
Tonight my baby and me, we’re gonna drive to the sea
and wash these sins from our hands

Badly Drawn Boy, singer/songwriter
“The way I discovered Springsteen was pretty special: it felt like serendipity. It was Christmas and I was 14, just flicking TV channels. Suddenly I saw him on The Old Grey Whistle Test – footage of him playing Thunder Road live at Madison Square Garden in 1979. Just hearing the piano and harmonica made me think, ‘Wow, what’s that song?’ The next day I bought the album, and then the rest of them in chronological order. I spent the next four years listening to nothing but Springsteen.

It was Springsteen who started me thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t know I had music in me.”

Favourite lyric – from ‘Thunder Road’ (1975)
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but, hey, you’re alright
Oh, and that’s alright with me

Thunder Road (live from Madison Square Garden, 1979) – Bruce Springsteen

VIEW: Virtually tour the exhibit here, minus the cool art gallery ambience.

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September 13, 2006

Jesse Malin’s new album to feature Springsteen, Ryan Adams & a Replacements cover

From today’s news:

Boss and More Guest on Jesse Malin CD

Jesse Malin has just finished recording his third record titled Glitter In The Gutter, to be released in early 2007 on Adeline Records/East West. This album follows his two previous critically acclaimed releases: 2004′s The Heat, and 2002′s The Fine Art of Self Destruction. Glitter In The Gutter was recorded in various studios over the summer in Millbrook, New York; North Hollywood, CA; and in Jesse’s native borough of Queens, New York.

Guests on the album include a special vocal performance by Bruce Springsteen, Chris Shifflett of the Foo Fighters, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, long time pal Ryan Adams as well as members of Jesse’s own touring and recording band “The Heat.” Many of the songs on the new album were written on electric guitar in Jesse’s basement rehearsal studio in New York City over the past year.

After working up demos of the songs, Jesse chose to work with producers Rob Caggiano and Eddie Wohl of Scrap 60. The album will include an intimate acoustic version of The Replacements‘ classic ‘Bastards of Young.’ CD will hit stores in early 2007.”

I love that title, Glitter in the Gutter. Can’t wait to hear it. He’s got a handful of shows coming up, mostly East Coast. Tomorrow night (9/13) he headlines one final show at The Continental in NYC, on 9/19 at the Barnes & Noble (!!) in Union Square, 10/1 in Ringwood NJ, 10/12 at the Tin Angel in Philly, 10/14 at the Club Cafe in Pittsburgh, and 10/18 at Schuba’s in Chicago.

Here’s the original ‘Mats track that he covers on the new album, if you don’t have it:

Bastards of Young – The Replacements

And I wrote about some demos from the new album (the fabulous “Black Haired Girl” and “Don’t Let ‘Em Take You Down”) in this post.

September 11, 2006

“The church door’s thrown open, I can hear the organ’s song. But the congregation’s gone.”

Even though I didn’t personally know anyone affected by the attacks five years ago on September 11th, it was personal. I grieved that morning as I woke up early to a phone call and stared in disbelief at the TV, as if I knew each person killed or trapped, burning or jumping. I watched the first tower fall, then the second, and all I could think about was all the firefighters and police officers who had rushed in to save people they didn’t even know. As I watched the towers fall and the massive dust clouds rise, I felt like I was going to throw up in the face of such unabashed evil.

Ten days later all the major U.S. television networks aired the America: A Tribute To Heroes telethon to raise money for those left behind in the wake of the attacks. It had some stellar, simple, heartfelt musical performances that touched me, and today I wanted to share.

My City Of Ruins – Bruce Springsteen
This was the first song of the program, and for me it just cracked open wide all the emotions that many of us were feeling in the days following the event. As many times as I listen to this song, which Bruce penned in the year before 9/11 about the deterioration of Asbury Park, New Jersey but that fits unbelievably well in this context, it still gets me. There are few who can pen a lyric of loss like Springsteen. In addition to the haunting imagery of the words in the title of this post, there’s also this line, which comes after a wheezing, lonesome, wrenching harmonica solo: “Now there’s tears on the pillow, darlin’ where we slept. And you took my heart when you left . . . “ The simple chord progression there on the last six words is heartbreaking — how do I explain that? Just listen.

As Bruce performs this, he stares off into nothing as if seeing the images from the last week and a half play over in his mind. At times his lips curl in an angry defiance, a rebellion against the destruction. And I’ve always thought that the way he furiously sings “Come on, rise up” over and over almost seems as if he is willing the dead to come back, the towers to rise. It reminds me of the futility of the lyrics in the U2 song “Wake Up Dead Man.” As Bruce nears the end of the song, his determined pleas to rise up take on an air of resignation as he stares off into the blackness of the studio.

This song turned up the following year on Springsteen’s stunning disc The Rising, along with many other songs he penned about the losses on 9/11. Hands down the other track on there that is the most devastating is You’re Missing,” about a house and a family waiting for someone to come home (who will never come home). Lyrics like, “Coffee cup’s on the counter, jacket’s on the chair, paper’s on the doorstep, but you’re not there” and this, the clincher: “Morning is morning, the evening falls, I have / too much room in my bed, too many phone calls . . .”

Peace On Earth/Walk On – U2 (VIDEO)
I was deeply touched by the show of solidarity and understanding from Irish boys U2 to their American friends with this song. The whole All That You Can’t Leave Behind album makes me think of the period following 9/11, probably due in part to this performance. I just watched it again tonight on DVD and my eyes well up when the gospel salvation of the “Halle-halle-lujah, halle-halle-lujah” addition kicks in, and then the tears tend to spill over when Bono starts shouting, “See you when I get home! I’ll see you when I get home, sister!” I also appreciated Bono’s confidence in delivering the lyrics about what they can’t steal from us.

There Will Come A Day – Faith Hill (VIDEO)
Whether you like country or not, you have to listen to this because it ain’t country, it’s some gooood gospel. I love this song as Hill performs it, with a full, enthusiastic backing gospel choir. The video always strikes me moreso than listening because it is hard to stay blue when you see the choir wiggling and shaking their arms in unison, jumping on their tiptoes in anticipation as the song nears it’s moment: “Song will ring out down those golden streets, the voices of earth with the angels will sing (pause) – HALLELUJAH!” Chill-inducing.

Imagine – Neil Young (VIDEO)
Young sits in front of the grand piano with his cowboy hat and sets into Lennon’s chords that somehow always evoke this sense of sadness and a weight of longing in me. Even though I’ve always found the utopian/socialistic lyrics of this landmark tune to honestly be a bit stupid (if there’s nothing that you feel is worth dying for, then what of value do you really have?), that melody always gets me, and Young turns in an impassioned and delicate performance here.

The Long Road – Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready & Neil Young (VIDEO)
This is such a simple song, and so lovely, really. From Pearl Jam’s Merkinball EP (1995), I love the different melodies and harmonies that Vedder rotates each time he approaches the refrain “I have wished for so long, how I wish for you today.” Neil only comes in vocally on the final refrain and response, “We all walk the long road.”

Finally, two songs that were not on the telethon but that could have been if I were programming it:

My Blue Manhattan – Ryan Adams
(from Love Is Hell, check out rbally’s live R.A. post)

America The Beautiful – Ray Charles

Walk on.

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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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