Thursday, June 11, 2009

The New Kid

Howdy. New writer here. Not from around these parts; I am neither a Cedar staff member nor a private lake owner. My qualifications for being here are only two:

1) I am a lifelong music lover, and
2) I lost a bet with Main Figurehead.

The specifics of Qualification 2 are inconsequential. I was given two options for payment but was not about to be filmed as I was grocery shopping in a Snuggie. So here I am, Olivetti unsheathed. And lo, the 'e' key sticks. I'll try to limit its use.

No log cabin story, just one random bit of personal history: the song I have played most often in my lifetime is 'I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman' by Whistling Jack Smith. A word to the wise: do not play the following clip.

This record averaged perhaps five spins a day for the second half of 1967, until my dog chewed my 45 to bits on Christmas Eve. I haunted squalid record stores for nearly two decades before finding another. Now you can buy it from dozens of sellers on GEMM. Tell me: where's the fun in THAT?


A couple of hours ago I was in a Starbucks ordering up a flamboyantly unnecessary venti iced white mocha, when on the box came The Headless Heroes' lovely cover of 'Blues Run the Game.' A moment's enjoyment gave way to two thoughts:

1) Starbucks had a real shot at being a music tastemaker. When they bought Hear Music they then owned a template: listening stations featuring expert-chosen albums, new and old, with editorial-based shelf talkers on spinner racks. Shop retrofits and existing company cachet would have made Starbucks a force in artist development. However, Wall Street thought otherwise and the rest, as they say...

2) 'Blues Run the Game' is a treasure, as is its writer, Jackson C. Frank. The song opens his lost classic eponymous album from 1965. He was an American expat in London at the time, a contemporary of Bert Jansch and Davy Graham. The album was produced by Paul Simon, who recorded a version of the song with Art Garfunkel at about the same time. It was also performed
by Jansch, John Renbourn, Nick Drake, and Eddy Reader. If any of these artists are favorites of yours, know that they were all influenced by Mr. Frank, who deserves a look-see by the uninitiated:


Just started the book 'Ripped' by Greg Kot. The author provides an overview of the past 10 years of music industry travails. If the Whistling Jack Smith debacle didn't get me fired, I'll return next Thursday to comment on the book and maybe about some music that doesn't trigger the geeze alarm. Cheers.

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