Blaze Foley

The first few years that I attended SXSW in Austin, my friends and I always made a point to make a day trip to Waterloo Records. Whenever we'd depart, we'd all hop into our rental car and furiously dive into our overflowing bags. I can clearly remember one person saying, "Good god, I just spent $350". Another classic memory was San Francisco's own Jason Smoliak quickly unwrapping Richmond Fontaine's "Lost Son" and sliding it into the CD player as we headed for Club de Ville. About two songs in there was a chorus of "this is terrible". I still laugh every time I pass that clunker on my CD shelf. I bet Smoliak does as well.

The year 2000 was the one year that I went all-out at Waterloo. I recall first picking up The Magnetic Fields' "69 Love Songs" and then running around the store looking for anything that caught my eye. As I scoured the racks, I was caught by the music playing over the speakers. About three steps from the register, the cashier belted out, "Blaze Foley's 'Live at the Austin Outhouse'". A few minutes later the CD was part of my massive bag of CDs.

Now eight-plus years later, I've still only listened to this record two or three times. I recall enjoying it, but it ultimately began collecting dust amongst the other F's on my rack. Until about two weeks ago. I was riding on the bus and the song "Clay Pigeons" came on the iPod. Not knowing the artist, I ripped my iPod out of my bag to check the artist. Since that weekday morning, I've listened to "Live at the Austin Outhouse" five or six times. Tonight I listened to the entire record front-to-back. Blaze Foley's a mix of Merle Haggard, Townes Van Zandt and well, Townes Van Zandt.

As I sat listening to the music and storytelling, I began to wonder about this Blaze Foley guy. Outside of that March day in Austin, I have never once heard anyone mention his name. A little research revealed that Foley was born in 1949 and died at the age of 40 in 1989. His first record, the one that's playing right now, wasn't released until 1999. As I make it through my second listen, I'm incredibly interested in finding out more about this guy. Why did it take ten years after his death for this beautiful music to finally see the light of day? Was music simply a hobby for Foley? How long did it take him to grow that mountain beard?

I found a website that alludes to a documentary; however, I can't seem to find anything about its existence. This is going to be an interesting journey. Hopefully I'll find out more about this man. And hopefully it won't take me another eight years.

playlist: all my metaphors fell flat


Album of Week 17


Gob Iron : Death Songs For the Living
Transmit Sound, 2006

playlist: sold me an apple to william s. burroughs


To My NYC Friends


Tonight: Josh Ritter @ The Music Hall, Williamsburg

Cable Nonsense Network

My decade-long obsession with cable news ends today. Ever since the Gore/Bush campaign began, I have been a cable news junkie. MSNBC is usually my network of choice, although CNN probably gets about 25% of my news viewing time.

A few years back I was disgusted with CNN when they let go of Aaron Brown in favor of 23 hours of Anderson Cooper in a windbreaker. But the past few months, they've really outdone themselves. The additions of Tony Harris and Rick Sanchez have truly doomed any credibility that this network once had. Both men are FOX News clones, over-hyping the most basic news bite with raised voices, odd facial expressions and an American Idol-esque simplicity. These men are puppets to their corporate bigwigs and exhibit absolutely zero journalistic integrity. Toss in the gratuitous Betty Nguyen legshots and you have a network that's simply fallen to the lowest form of news coverage. And don't even get me started on that freakshow Lou Dobbs.

Tonight I remove both CNN and MSNBC from my TV options. This narrows my TV watching to The Office, Frontline and baseball. Sorry, Wolf.

One Hundred Songs

I have just under 15,000 songs in my iTunes library. I've attempted to cull the top 100 songs into the greatest playlist known to mankind. Here it is:

Isolation : John Lennon
Black Eye : Uncle Tupelo
Catch You Alive : Damnations TX
You and Your Sister : Chris Bell
The Way : Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Big Brown Eyes : Old 97's
4am : Richard Buckner
Two Hearts : The Jayhawks
Formula, Cola, Dollar Draft : Marah
Black : Okkervil River
Norwegian Wood : The Beatles
Troublesome Kind : Tim Easton
Poncho & Lefty : Townes Van Zandt
Wrong 'Em Boyo : The Clash
The Lucky One : Freedy Johnston
Powderfinger : Neil Young
Fuel : Damian Jurado
Backstreets : Bruce Springsteen
Via Chicago : Wilco
Lost Cause : Beck
Return of the Grievous Angel : Gram Parsons
Triggers and Trash Heaps : Centro-matic
Violence in the Snowy Fields : Dolorean
Bled White : Elliott Smith
Lip Service : Elvis Costello
Tear Stained Eye : Son Volt
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues : Bob Dylan
Impossible Germany : Wilco
Waitin' for a Superman : The Flaming Lips
Rise : Josh Rouse
Long Gone Lonesome Blues : Hank Williams
Jackson : Lucinda Williams
Right Moves : Josh Ritter
Trying Your Luck : The Strokes
Range Life : Pavement
The Harder They Come : Jimmy Cliff
Chickamauga : Uncle Tupelo
Every Grain of Sand : Emmylou Harris
No Matter What : Badfinger
September Gurls : Big Star
Jerusalem : Steve Earle
There She Goes : The La's
New Slang : The Shins
Migration : Jimmy Buffett
If Not For You : George Harrison
Losering : Whiskeytown
Someone To Pull the Trigger : Matthew Sweet
Stay With Me : The Faces
Sister Jack : Spoon
Orangeworker : For Squirrels
I've Been Loving You Too Long : Otis Redding
Not Dark Yet : Bob Dylan
I Shall Be Released : The Band
Misunderstood : Wilco
Thunder Road : Bruce Springsteen
Oklahoma, USA : The Kinks
Mostly Water : Bap Kennedy
New Brookland : South San Gabriel
I Can Hear the Laughs : Freedy Johnston
Cyprus Avenue : Van Morrison
Squeeze Box : The Who
Orphan Girl : Gillian Welch
Metal Guru : T. Rex
True Love Will Find You In the End : Daniel Johnston
God : John Lennon
Driving the View : Son Volt
These Arms of Mine : Otis Redding
Before the Deluge : Jackson Browne
Climbing To the Moon : Eels
Front Porch : Slobberbone
She Belongs To Me : Bob Dylan
Out of Time : The Rolling Stones
King of Carrot Flowers Part 1 : Neutral Milk Hotel
I'll Follow the Sun : The Beatles
Many Rivers To Cross : Jimmy Cliff
Settled Down Like Rain : The Jayhawks
Old Shoes : Tom Waits
Stolen Car : Bruce Springsteen
Ft. Worth Blues : Steve Earle
A Damn Good Disguise : The Mendoza Line
One of These Things First : Nick Drake
Papercuts : The Havenots
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall : Bob Dylan
Sloop John B : The Beach Boys
Put the Message in the Box : World Party
Anything You Want : Spoon
Heroes : David Bowie
Black Cab : Jens Lekman
Fade Away : V-Roys
He's Misstra Know It All : Stevie Wonder
Pilgrim : Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band
Bring It On Home To Me : Sam Cooke
Billy and Bonnie : Steve Earle
Fly : Nick Drake
Tecumseh Valley : Townes Van Zandt
Jailbreak : Thin Lizzy
Lovesick Blues : Hank Williams
Gun : Uncle Tupelo
So. Central Rain : R.E.M.

Wrapped Up In a Royal Blue


Essential Josh Ritter
Right Moves
Girl In the War
Lawrence, KS
Mind's Eye
Blame It On the Tetons (Modest Mouse Cover)
Thin Blue Flame
Snow Is Gone
Me & Jiggs
Empty Hearts
Bright Smile
The Temptation of Adam

The Musicians Fund


CD sales are evaporating. Labels are dying. Artists are searching for ways to pay the bills. All of us music-loving freaks should try and find a way to help out a little bit. With yousendit, pando, and burned CDs depleting any cash via record sales, let's look for other ways to help out the artists we dig. I've decided to pick up a minimum of two t-shirts per month from bands that I think are class. This week's purchase went to Thao.

playlist: try to, never say goodbye


Strummer & The Mescaleros


Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's Lie Down In the Light Due in May

According to the suckers at Pitchfork

one of these individuals is not Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

playlist: somewhere between right and wrong


The Death of the Indie Record Store? Not at Shake It Records in Cincinnati


From Shake It Records:

*Update for 4/23/08 *


HOLY MOLY FOLKS!!!! This past Saturday, Record Store Day, was our busiest
day EVER! In the last 2 months, we've had 4 of our 5 best non-holiday Saturday's in sales since we opened the shop. And folks aren't buying physical CDs & LPs? They are in Cincy @ Shake It!

Yup, RSD was Shake It's best sales day& best karma day. That was alot of fun! We can't wait til next years'. It not only was a great day us but the diners & other retail around seemed to be busier, too. It was great to see that
people "get it' & by that I mean they see the importance of not only indie
record shops but indie businesses in general. Its refreshing & revitaling to see that folks value what we do & our place in the cultural landscape of
the city. It was resounding clear that folks dig what we do & for us it
reminds us that there is a responsibility that goes along with that support. We end up being custodians of that support & in turn we need to support
projects & places that contribute to a lively cultural environment whether
that be a check to Publico or Lite Brite or Midpoint or some of our inhouse projects like the Hospital Records reissues or soul/r&b projects. Yup, there;s
a good chance that Best Buy is gonna beat us on price the first week. ain't
nothin' I can do about that - we aint whoring out what we take pride in carrying to lure you in to buy a refrigerator to make up the lost margin. But is
Best Buy, or Target, or FYE or Circuit City gonna reissue important music
from Cincy's past like soul singer Kenny Smith or our upcoming project from Cody Black or the highly influential no-wave releases of Hospital Records. No, they ain't. Is Border's or whoever gonna spend countless hours organizing an exhibit of underground comic legend, Justin Green. No, so we do. We do although it makes very
little very finacial sense but nonetheless its important stuff that should be done.

The turnout last saturday was a resounding "We dig what yer doing! keep
on keepin' on."

The American Electorate

Barack Obama's campaign for the presidential nomination has revealed one absolute: the American public, as a whole, is not very smart. I've reached this conclusion based on the public's reaction to the most prominent attack ads repeatedly launched at Obama. Let's take a look at a few:

1. After being ingnored by our leaders, middle-class voters become bitter and turn to religion and guns. Was the Senator not spot on? He wasn't insulting the working class, but rather highlighting the fact that they feel disenfranchised, and as a result, focus on issues that they *can* be vocal about. As Obama said, these folks have been promised time-and-again that their economic concerns would be addressed, yet jobs continue to move overseas in droves, and the lower to middle class suffer. As a result, they turn to things that they can control: spirituality, social issues, etc. Obama was correct here.

2. Not disowning Rev. Wright over his controversial comments. In his race speech, Senator Obama eloquently reminded the nation that we are all care for and love people that we disagree with on some issues. Though seemingly simple, was this not a profound statement? This landmark speech expressed more about the human condition than any president has in decades. Obama was asking us to have open-minds to those around us, especially those close to us. On a personal level, I have a few family members who have never hid their racist tendencies. I've heard the *n* word over dinner. Almost every time I excused myself from the table. But this didn't change my deep feelings for this person. He/she is a part of my family and has done many amazing and selfless things to people close to me. I vehemently disagree on this issue, but that doesn't mean that I'll disown this person.

Barack Obama has attempted to have an honest and raw discussion with the American people. The only problem is that the American public isn't up for it. We're a nation fixated on a dumbed-down version of everything. When intelligent candidates like Gore, Kerry and Obama attempt to open our minds, we call them elitists and long to have beer with the imbicile presently manning 1600 Penn Ave.

And we wonder why the republicans do little to foster education in this country. It's in their interest to keep us as dumb as the hillbilly fixated on his pistol.

NYT: The Low Road To Victory

Remember, the New York Times endorsed Senator Clinton for President. Like many former supporters, it sounds like they're having second thoughts.

Hillary's Fight

Simply put: There is nothing Senator Clinton won't do to win. She has tossed any inkling of character out the window in her ongoing effort to destroy Barack Obama.

With her campaign's livelihood hanging in the balance, the Clinton camp unleashed the Bin Laden ad. Similar to Rove and the scum on the right in 00 and 04, the subtext of the ad is that if we elect Obama, we will all die in a terrorist attack. All of us. Gone. Bin Laden will get a nuke on day one and we will all die. If she's elected, she'll catch Bin Laden within 19 seconds and we'll all be doing cartwheels on the beach.

She is absolutely pathetic. She has proven time and again that she exhibits no character. I mean, she's *still* fighting for Michigan to count? As a friend said today, "Hillary claiming victory in Michigan is akin to saying that you won a marathon when you were the only runner in the contest". It's ridiculous and she plays the American public for idiots.

I completely understand that Clinton and Obama are aligned on basically all policy issues. However, there's a lot to be said for integrity and character. That said, if Hillary happens to tear the nomination away from Obama, there's a very good chance that I will be staying home on Election Day. And that's no fear tactic.

playlist: what a mess, on a ladder of success


East Coast Pics


Albums of Weeks 15 & 16


The Feelies: Only Life
A&M, 1988

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Echo
Warner Bros., 1999

Leaving NYC

Some sporadic thoughts:

-My friendships in NYC haven't subsided a bit. This week provided some of the best laughs in months.
-I do not like Manhattan at all.
-Despite many changes, I still absolutely love Brooklyn.
-I will certainly miss Yankee Stadium, despite the moron cops.
-I'm quite proud of my sister.
-Thanks to DB for providing a home for the week.
-I haven't listened to tunes at all this week. I need tunes.
-Boy am I tired.
-A diet would suit me well.
-What in the world happened to Smith Street?
-I missed Record Store Day.
-I bet Obama wins PA.
-Ok, he probably won't.
-Man was that an amazing tuna melt.

And finally....the West Coast now feels like home. I can't wait to get back. See you NY folks at Giants Stadium in the summer.

Danny Federici 1950-2008


Truly sad news for the E Street family. Danny has played alongside Springsteen, Clarence, Steve and Max since the outset and he's the first to depart the E Street Band. I won't soon forget Danny's exuberance and charm onstage.

With Only 73 Games Left....

I made it to Yankee Stadium. Given the 3000 mile gap, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to make it out to Yankee Stadium one more time. Not only did I head out to the Bronx last night, but I witnessed a classic Yanks/Red Sox game. Yanks 15 Sox 9. Brawls abound.

All photos taken with a budget camera phone.

Brooklyn vs. San Francisco


People always seem to be comparing the two. Having lived in Brooklyn for six years and now SF for three, I do see the similarities. However, just two days back in Brooklyn has made a few differences very clear. For one, there is *far* more diversity in Brooklyn. It's actually not even close. Then again, I don't consider SF to be diverse at all. I have been in Brooklyn for a little more than a day and I've already seen so much more than San Francisco has to offer. People here are simply all over the place: different races, ages, interests, styles. It's a kaleidoscope of folks. SF is exactly the opposite. The Mission = tedious hipsters. The Marina = Hoboken-esque frat-boy sucks. Noe Valley = young, hip couples.

I realize that I might sound bitter. But I'm not. I absolutely love San Francisco, but that's based primarily on the landscape, the people in my life and the small life that I've built there. However, it is absolutely *not* the mecca of diversity in the United States. You'll find that right here in Brooklyn, where certain areas may cater more to a certain crowd, but almost all sections of this great borough offer up much more than the local flavor.

Strangely enough, I have no desire to move back. But man is it a wonderful place to be.

Escovedo Joins Springsteen in Houston

It's always unreal to see two of your favorite artists perform together.

Mahwah, NJ


Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn


NYT: Princeton Record Exchange

More and more article are popping up that highlight the indie record store that seems to be thriving. Right here in San Francisco, we're seeing *new* record stores spring up here and there. That's right, folks are opening up stores and betting on making money on physical music product. This is a great thing. The more time I've spent buying music from eMusic and iTunes (though I'm done with the latter), the more I feel stripped away from a large part of the overall experience. We need record stores. Not just for now, but for good.

playlist: where can wisdom be found


Dylan Accepting Pulitzer

Always questioning what's going on.

playlist: time is my time


Album of Week 14


Thao : We Brave Bee Stings and All
Kill Rock Stars, 2008

The Greatest American

eMusic Adds the Stones Abkco Years

This is pretty major news both on the consumer front as well as the industry front. First off, this has to be eMusic's biggest score to date. They basically added the most important records from possibly the greatest rock n' roll band of all-time. "Aftermath", "Flowers", "Let It Bleed", "Between the Buttons", "Beggars Banquet" - these are unquestionably some of the greatest records ever recorded. Consumers can now legitimately buy high-quality MP3s of these masterpieces for just over $.22 per song.

And for anyone who's spent a bit of time in the music business, Abkco is historically known as one of the most conservative of the old-time labels, especially when it comes to the cherished Stones catalog. With this move, the entire industry takes another babystep towards embracing the digital age. Abkco should be applauded for choosing the consumer over the bottom line. Finally a major player does so. (eMusic may have paid a mammoth advance, but hell, the consumer still wins.)

It took $400 million billion or something for iTunes to land the Beatles catalog. To these ears, this is a much bigger win for music fans.

playlist: he's gonna need a steady hand

I plan on doing this just about every day going forward. Simply songs that I'm digging today. Hope you enjoy.