Music

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Last week I paid brief tribute to the late Jesse Winchester. His song “Evil Angel” had been going around in my head. When I finally figured out what song it was, I wanted to share it with readers who might be unfamiliar with Jesse’s work or remind fans of it. He was a gifted singer and songwriter deep in the American grain. This past Thursday I was delighted to hear »

An Overdue Prog Rock Post

Featured image Okay, this is a post about two of my favorite things: Prog rock and Hitler parody videos! I wish I had done this one, but I didn’t, and it is genius. But only if you know your 70s prog rock scene really well. Otherwise it will be a complete bore, and you should move on now. But for the rest of us. . . (It’s worth it for the “Olias »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I saw singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester perform on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota more than 25 years ago and he just bowled me over. There couldn’t have been more than a hundred people in the audience. Accompanying himself on guitar, he turned in a beautiful performance concluding with “Yankee Lady.” Although Winchester had famously evaded the draft by decamping to Canada in 1967, returning to perform only »

Over the Rainbow

Featured image Today is the anniversary of the birth of Harold Arlen in 1905. Harold Arlen may be the most underrated and innovative of the composers at the heart of the canon of American popular song. He is surely one of the greatest if least known. I want to take a brief timeout to observe his birthday in the interest of anger management. Working with a variety of lyricists, from those in »

Damn, it feels good to be a Clinton

Featured image Ted Cruz’s campaign has produced this ad called “Damn, it feels good to be Clinton.” The ad is based on a famous scene from the movie “Office Space.” It combines the scene with lyrics based on the song “Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.” I was unfamiliar with both the movie and the song. Even so, I found the ad hilarious. Tevi Troy has written that Republican candidates »

Pop culture and the GOP field

Featured image Tevi Troy has two excellent posts about the Republican presidential field’s pop culture interests. This one focuses on music. It finds that Donald Trump has “broken the GOP’s music curse.” This one focuses on pop culture in general. It finds that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have displayed a “facility to invoke images and references that go beyond politics.” Unlike Barack Obama, Cruz eschews upper-middle-brow references (e.g. to shows like »

The circle game

Featured image Tom Rush made his name in the sixties folk revival; he is a peer of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Eric Andersen, and Judy Collins. Tomorrow he turns 75. I’ve loved his music for a long time and want to take the occasion to celebrate his birthday with previously posted notes from my 2011 interview with him. I hope readers who may have missed the interview might find the notes of »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Daryl Hall made a house call on Darius Rucker in Charleston for an episode of his Live From Daryl’s House series a few years ago. By my lights there isn’t a bad song or a dull moment in the episode. The whole episode is posted here and it’s all highlights. Darius’s number 1 country hit “Wagon Wheel” was a revelation to me (video below). I was unfamiliar with the song. »

A personal look back

Featured image This past December brought to mind some of the happiest parts of my life. John Hinderaker’s retirement party accounted for a good share. Working with John turned into a friendship that has changed my life for the better. The party took me back to our professional relationship. We started writing columns and articles together on the side of our law practice at the end of 1991. In his usual style, »

From this moment on

Featured image Today is the centennial anniversary of the birth of Frank Sinatra. William Ruhlman provides an excellent overview of Sinatra’s long career. According to William Butler Yeats, “The intellect of man is forced to choose/perfection of the life, or of the work…” If there is such a choice, there aren’t many artists to whom it is available, but Sinatra would be one, wouldn’t he?Omniscient Twin Cities deejay Pete Lee calls Sinatra »

Time Between

Featured image Chris Hillman was a teenage bluegrass star on the Los Angeles music scene in the early ’60s. Within a few years he had moved from mandolin to bass and become one of the founding members of the Byrds together with Roger (then Jim) McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark. The Byrds brought McGuinn’s jangly 12-string guitar and their brilliant Beatles harmonies to the music of Bob Dylan, turning both themselves »

Bon Jovi to Waters: Drop Dead!

Featured image Some years ago, I was in the office of a straitlaced, middle-aged lady who was in charge of my law firm’s support staff. I noticed a photograph on her desk of herself with a long-haired guy who looked like a rock musician. It seemed incongruous, so I asked about the picture, and she told me this story. She and her husband had a boat in a marina on the St. »

Thoughts from the ammo line

Featured image Ammo Grrrll explains: WHY I LOVE COUNTRY MUSIC. She writes: There is a biopic about the eccentric jazz genius Thelonius Monk called “Straight, No Chaser.” I saw it years ago. In one scene that made a vivid impression on me, some snotty, self-absorbed “journalist” whose name I didn’t catch – who cares? — is interviewing Mr. Monk and asks him what kind of music he likes. Monk says, “I like »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image And now for something completely different, we turn to Italian luthier and musician Galeazzo Frudua. Mr. Frudua has produced a series of entertaining instructional videos breaking down the vocal harmonies on several of the Beatles’ best songs. His enthusiasm is contagious and his accent is endearing. If you have a Beatles song that you love because of the melody and the harmony parts, Frudua probably has posted a video to »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay occupies what is at the least a narrow journalistic niche. He’s a humorist writing a sports column or vice versa. His most recent column — “The NFL begins: Is your TV big enough” — is a good example, in a question-and-answer format. So, for example, we have this: Who will play the Super Bowl L halftime show? The head says Taylor Swift, but the »

Evingson’s Fresh Frish

Featured image We are crazy about jazz singer Connie Evingson. Yesterday we attended the second of her two sold-out productions of Fresh Frish at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis. Following up on Connie’s album Little Did I Dream, the show featured songs from the extensive catalog of St. Paul’s own Dave Frishberg. Frishberg didn’t make the show last night but he accompanied Connie on the recording. Last night Connie called on Jon »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image The End of the Tour is a film that depicts the late writer David Foster Wallace making his way to the Twin Cities for a reading from his novel Infinite Jest at the Hungry Mind Bookstore (also deceased) in St. Paul. The movie is based on David Lipsky’s book Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. I went to see the movie »