July 4th

5 07 2010

Independence Day has come and gone… hard to believe we’re this deep into the summer already. Hope everyone had a great weekend filled with BBQs and fireworks. A few songs always come to mind when I think about July 4th. The first is Paul Simon’s “American Tune” from his 1973 solo album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. It’s a great song from his early years (I love that mid-70’s stuff). This 1975 BBC performance is very intimate and really captures the essence of the song. The tone is cool and the lyrics are full of imagery that paints the picture of the true American spirit.

The second tune is an incredible performance from one of my favorite musicians David Bowie. It’s actually a cover of yet another patriotic Paul Simon song, “America”, from the post-911 concert for NYC. This live version really displays Bowie’s prowess as not just a musician but an artist. The arrangement is really cool. He plays a toy keyboard while sitting cross-legged at the front of the stage all by himself. Although you will hear some strings behind him at points, it’s all him… out there, front and center doing what he does. I love this one so much I often bring up this clip just to check it out, regardless of the time of year.

References:

More info on Paul Simon

More info on “American Tune”

More info on David Bowie

More info on “America”

More info on Concert for New York

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Joni Mitchell | California

1 07 2010

I’ve been super busy settling in out here in CA. The last 2 weeks have been pretty crazy but yesterday we took the day to enjoy it a little bit. We took a hike with the dog up in Runyon Canyon and checked out some other areas of Hollywood. A friend took us to his old place up in the hills… a very cool area. He explained that at one point long ago Joni Mitchell used to live in one of the units in the same building. It got me thinking about this old tune, “California”. It’s from her 1971 album Blue, of which Mitchell has said the following:

“The Blue album, there’s hardly a dishonest note in the vocals. At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn’t pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy. But the advantage of it in the music was that there were no defenses there either.”

It’s a fantastic album full of great songs and was recorded with the help of some really talented personnel, including Stephen Stills and James Taylor among others. Below is a great live version of “California” from a BBC session. In this performance it’s just Joni and her dulcimer. It’s really raw and intimate, which is perfect for this material. Although, the studio version with Taylor  (guitar), Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal steel) and Russ Kunkel (drums) is pretty cool too… check it out HERE.

References:

Joni Mitchell’s Official Site

More info on Joni Mitchell

More info on Blue

More info on the Dulcimer

More info on James Taylor

More info on Sneaky Pete Kleinow

More info on Russ Kunkel

Buy Blue on Amazon.com





Still Crazy After All These Years

1 04 2010

I recently found this video of Paul Simon doing one of his best songs “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”. This is a period for Simon that I think is his best. It’s off his  album Still Crazy After All These Years, recorded in NYC in 1975. I listen to this one on the turntable a lot. Typical of Simon, the whole album features an incredible line up of sidemen including renowned session drummer Steve Gadd, jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker, keyboardist Richard Tee and bassist Tony Levin to name a few. He took most of this band on the road to promote the album, which you can see in the live BBC performance below. *Brecker is replaced by David Sanborn.

If you listen to Steve Gadd’s drum part on this song, you will hear that it’s a bit unusual. It fits perfectly into the song, even creating the “hook” but it’s unorthodox to say the least. This short video shows Gadd breaking it down… drummers will love this.

There are two other songs on this album that I really like. The first is the slow title track and the second is “My Little Town”, which actually features Art Garfunkel on the album version. It reunited the two after a 5 year split. Unfortunately, differences must have gotten the best of them by the time of this performance as Garfunkel is not in attendance. Both theses videos are from the same BBC concert as “50 Ways”.

“Still Crazy After All These Years”

“My Little Town”

Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau and his trio have recorded instrumental versions of both “Still Crazy” & “50 Ways”. They are fantastic. For a while I listened to “Still Crazy” on repeat, I just couldn’t get enough”. Mehldau and his  trio have done a lot of cool unexpected covers (for the jazz world, anyway). They have done Radiohead, Oasis, Nirvana and more… they are all spectacular. The Paul Simon covers are here if you want to check them out: “Still Crazy” & “50 Ways

More info on Still Crazy After All These Years (album)

Buy it on Amazon.com





Ruth Flowers | aka DJ Mamy Rock

13 03 2010

Amazing what you can find on the internet, just amazing. Apparently I’m the last to know that there is a 69 year old granny from the UK taking the Paris club scene by storm. Her name is Ruth Flowers and although she’s been working at this for about 4 years, she is supposedly still working on her first single “Mamy Rock”. As much as I believe this is just a clever marketing ploy, I am enjoying it nevertheless. The funny thing is, it is working. She has actually booked numerous high level gigs and is bolstering some acclaim (real or otherwise).

So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to the lovely ol’ bird herself. Ladies & gentlemen, Ruth Flowers…

The BBC did a great little piece on Ruth that catches her in some nice candid moments. It’s very charming.

To hear just a wee taste of Ruth’s upcoming single “Mamy Rock” all you have to do is click here.

For a good laugh, I strongly encourage everyone to visit her site to learn a bit more about her and her recent endeavors: Official MamyRock.com Site. There are some off-putting photos and plenty of other things that may potentially make you uncomfortable. Oh and, this is also where you go if you want to book her for your next birthday party or Bar Mitzvah.








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