Music

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image We made it to the Xcel Center this past Thursday night in St. Paul to see Daryl Hall and John Oates in concert. The Xcel Center is the home of the Minnesota Wild; it’s not built for music. The show did not disappoint, however, and the crowd filled the arena. The crowd packed all three balconies to the rafters. We were seated on the main floor. I milled around after »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image On Monday, the day after I wrote about the appearance of Daryl Hall and John Oates this coming Thursday in St. Paul, I ran into a senior officer of one of the prominent local bar associations. For my purposes here, I will identify him as Mr. K. Mr. K. asked me if I still write for “that blog.” I acknowledged I did. He doesn’t read it, he said, but Mrs. »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Daryl Hall and John Oates are about to hit the road on tour with Tears for Fears (about whom I know nothing). The tour is making an early stop in St. Paul at the Xcel Center on May 11. I’ve had a late in life conversion to the gospel according to Hall & Oates since picking up on Hall’s Live from Daryl’s House series. Just for the fun of it, »

How high the moon?

Featured image Today we celebrate the centennial anniversary of the birth of Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song. She was a remarkable artist. Each period of her long career is rewarding, though she deepened her art as she got older. She excelled in a wide variety of material and in every musical setting. There is an emotional reserve or detachment in her singing, but there is also joy and an irrepressible »

Dave Carroll was unavailable for comment

Featured image Dave Carroll memorialized his experience as a musician traveling on United nearly a decade ago. He complained in song that United had destroyed his valuable Taylor guitar (video below). The Wikipedia entry on Carroll’s videos has already been updated (footnotes omitted): “On April 9, 2017, #unitedbreaksguitars trended on Twitter. This was following the release of a video that showed United Airlines physically forcing a passenger off a plane in order »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Emmylou Harris celebrates her seventieth birthday today — the big 7-0. We haven’t celebrated her birthday for several years. Today in the world of Cosmic American Music attention must be paid. I’m a latecomer to Emmylou’s artistry, having discovered her indirectly through my love for the music of the 1960’s group the Byrds. The Byrds famously brought brilliant Beatles-inspired vocal harmonies and jangly 12-string electric guitar to the music of »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Aretha Franklin — the Queen of Soul, as Steely Dan reminded the “sweet young thing” in “Hey Nineteen” — turned 75 yesterday. The metaphor of royal lineage is not entirely amiss in her case. Her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, was the renowned Detroit preacher whose New Bethel Baptist Church provided the original venue for Aretha and her sisters, Erma and Carolyn. She became a child star as a gospel »

Spring can really hang you up the most

Featured image In the interest of anger management therapy on a day that calls for it, I’m taking the liberty of reposting this tribute to a great song with an unusual story behind it: There are a few torch songs that lament the coming of Spring. This time of year, if you’re tuned to one of the right stations, you may well find yourself listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s memorable rendition of “Spring »

Al Jarreau, RIP

Featured image I am so sad to observe the passing of the singer Al Jarrreau today in Los Angeles at the age of 76. Matt Schudel does a good job of paying tribute to Al in the Washington Post obituary . Margalit Fox provides a more ambivalent take in the New York Times obituary. I want to add a local note on Al’s death. Al was a native of Milwaukee. Once he »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Friday was a big day for me. I had looked forward to Trump’s inauguration, for sure, but what really made it special was the notification that singer Suzy Bogguss had started following me on Twitter. I’m not sure why. It can’t be politics. Maybe she’s just following me back, but I started following her a couple of years ago. I’d like to think there’s something to it. A guy can »

Those Inscrutable Russians

Featured image As previously observed here and elsewhere, it makes no sense to think that Vladimir Putin actually favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton on the merits of policy. More likely Putin’s goons were merely celebrating—even as most Never Trumpers did—the schadenfreudtastic spectacle of Hillary losing, and the chaotic potential it might augur. Perhaps Putin thinks that an inexperienced American president is preferable to Clinton, but that seems a risk. On the »

Thoughts from the ammo line

Featured image Ammo Grrrll invites someone to NAME THAT HORSE! She writes Every Tuesday night, Mr. AG and I play poker with a group of other gun nuts. (Def of gun nut according to leftists: someone who owns a gun. Owning more than one gun elevates that gun owner from “nut” to full certifiable lunatic. Also having more than 10 rounds of ammo.) Poker night includes the tradition of a light meal, »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” is a traditional African-American spiritual with a Christmas theme. It’s a song that has been covered by an impressive range of artists in a wide variety of styles. Peter, Paul and Mary have covered it. Johnny Cash has covered it. Ricky Skaggs has covered it. REO Speedwagon has covered it. I first heard it performed by the great, now disbanded Minnesota bluegrass group Stoney »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Frank Loesser prospered writing songs for the movies, for the war and for Broadway. As John Bush writes in his Allmusic profile of Loesser, “it appears that Frank Loesser had several careers packed into his one life.” Loesser wrote “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” in April 1942. It was only the second song for which he had written both the words and the music; the first had preceded »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Chris Hillman was a teenage bluegrass star on the Los Angeles music scene in the early ’60s. When Roger (then Jim) McGuinn asked him if he could play bass for the band he was forming, he said yes and then taught himself how. Moving from mandolin to bass, he become one of the founding members of the Byrds together with McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark. The Byrds brought McGuinn’s »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image They say deaths come in three, and the death of Mose Allison on November 15 at the age of 89 might be offered as evidence to prove the point. Mose’s death closely followed the deaths of Leonard Cohen on November 7 and Leon Russell on November 13. I want to seize the occasion to draw attention to his work. Allison pursued a long and almost unbelievably productive career as a »

A song for you

Featured image I am sorry to report that Leon Russell died today in Nashville at the age of 74. He was an incredibly accomplished pianist, songwriter and performer in the world of popular music. As a member of the Wrecking Crew he played behind just about everybody. He famously recruited and led the band that accompanied Joe Cocker on the raucous Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour of 1970. He followed up with »