Music

The best thing…

Featured image Everyone is complaining about yesterday’s supposedly boring Super Bowl game — that would be Super Bowl LIII, if you’re counting in Latin. With the rules of the game having been recalibrated continually to favor never ending offense, I appreciated the return of defense. If the halftime show was concededly a lowlight, the singing of the national anthem must be deemed the highlight. Out strolled Gladys Knight to sing the anthem. »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Tomorrow is the anniversary of the birth of singer/songwriter Richie Havens. Richie died in 2013 at the age of 72. I want to take a walk down memory lane with a few videos and a fan’s notes this morning. Richie grew up in Brooklyn singing with a choir in church and with doo wop groups on street corners. He crossed the river to figure out how to make a go »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image This morning I want to revisit the secular pop songs that seize on Christmas in one way or another for their own artistic purposes. Last year I had notes on so many songs to choose from I thought I would continue in the same vein this year. I’m adding three more selections that fit right in to last year’s. Here they are in chronological order along with a few notes »

Thoughts from the ammo line

Featured image In the interest of humor Ammo Grrrll identifies THE WORST SONG EVER WRITTEN. She writes: It is time for another of my patented Break From Politics columns. Scott has graced us with beautiful and interesting musical offerings and commentary for many years, in an effort to preserve his – and our – sanity. Today, however, we will be talking about a very, very stupid song. And not even a recent »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I had not heard of Ann Hampton Callaway before her audacious 1999 release To Ella With Love, but I’m glad I took a chance on that disc. Ella led me eventually to Ann’s 2007 show at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York and then to the rest of her recordings. There is no arguing about taste, but in my view she is the foremost living practitioner of the »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I’ve just about exhausted my knowledge of popular music in this series. This morning I would like to turn to the the weekly John Pizzarelli/Jessica Molaskey syndicated radio show that they call Radio Deluxe to deliver the goods. I usually catch it on Saturday afternoons at 5:00 on the KBEM in the Twin Cities. I love the show. Having missed most of yesterday’s show I went looking for it online »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image With the coming of Halloween on Wednesday, it may be an opportune moment for a diversion. I certainly need one. If you listen to the right radio stations at this time of the year, you will hear a few songs associated with the holiday. On WUMB’s Highway 61 Revisited show yesterday morning, host Albert O devoted the entire four hours to songs fitting the holiday. Probably foremost them is “I »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Al Kooper is still going strong at the age of 74. If you love the music that came out of the ’60s, you may know him from his seminal work with the Blues Project, with Bob Dylan, with Electric Flag, with Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills, with Blood, Sweat & Tears, with Jimi Hendrix, with George Harrison, with the Rolling Stones and on and on. And that’s just as a »

Et Tu, Taylor?

Featured image I have long admired Taylor Swift. Beginning as a teenager, she has been a positive influence on a generation of fans, mostly young girls. My three daughters have all been major fans, and I enjoy her music. Or I did, anyway, until she abandoned her country roots for the more boring world of pop. All together, I would guess my daughters have seen Swift in concert at least ten times. »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image The anniversary of the birth of John Lennon is this Tuesday, October 9. Murdered at age 40, he would be 78 this week. What a loss. His work has always struck a chord with me. Now that so much of the Beatles’ work is available on YouTube, I thought I would take the occasion to note some of his lesser known songs just for the sheer pleasure of the thing. »

Not rusty, not young, not Neil’s brother

Featured image My high school classmate and friend Mike Frost joined me to see the group that goes under the name Poco at the Dakota this past Tuesday night. Mike and I were trying to repeat the past. We saw Poco live in Boston in 1971 or so playing in the configuration (Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Timothy Schmit, George Grantham and Young) represented on the group’s Deliverin’ album, with which I had »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image This past Sunday we went to see the great Stax artist William Bell perform at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis. Bell is 78 years old. He returned to the scene in triumph with his 2016 recording This Is Where I Live, winner of that year’s Grammy for Best Americana. Not blues, not rhythm and blues, not soul — Americana, as Bell proudly mentioned a couple of times during »

Respect, and respects

Featured image Aretha Franklin — the Queen of Soul, as Steely Dan reminded the “sweet young thing” in “Hey Nineteen” — has died. Jon Pareles reviews the record in his excellent New York Times obituary. I cannot take her measure but we can pause to remember and pay our respects. The metaphor of royal lineage was not entirely amiss in Aretha’s case. Her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, was the renowned Detroit »

At the Grateful Dead meet-up

Featured image Taking a break from the news, I attended the so-called Grateful Dead Meet-Up at our local suburban multiplex last night. The Meet-Up featured a showing of the Dead’s highly esteemed July 7, 1989, concert at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia (setlist here). I think it was the best attended film playing at the theater last night. That’s a guess. The audience for the show had the highest median age in the »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Boz Scaggs came through town again last week to perform on Tuesday evening at Minneapolis’s State Theater. Sitting in front row seats as guests of our friends Tom and Randy Edelstein, I snapped the nearby photo. Where we sat the sound was perfect. I could not believe how great Boz sounded. He must be carefully tending to his vocal instrument. At the age of 74, he has never sounded better. »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Before leaving for Santa Fe we caught Jesse Colin Young playing at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis on June 26. I have no higher purpose here than to share an enthusiasm and post a few songs that might bring interested readers some small pleasure. You may have heard of Jesse Colin Young as the founding member of the Youngbloods or as a solo artist. He founded the Youngbloods in »

Rhyming Albuquerque

Featured image This morning I’m flying to Albuquerque on my way to St. John’s College in Santa Fe to study Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man next week. I posted “A note on Invisible Man“ earlier this week. I hope to deepen my understanding of this compelling and still timely novel. My trip this morning prompts a musical question. Have you ever heard “Albuquerque” rhymed in a song? Trying to write this out now, »