Album of Week 47

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Linda Thompson : Versatile Heart
Rounder, 2007

27+1 Songs from 2008

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"They Were Wrong" MATTHEW RYAN
"Satchel Paige Said" THE BASEBALL PROJECT
"123" JOSH ROUSE
"Hell of a Life" EASTON STAGGER PHILLIPS
"Kept on the Sly" SOUTH SAN GABRIEL
"I'm Amazed" MY MORNING JACKET
"The Breeze" DR. DOG
"Lost Coastlines" OKKERVIL RIVER
"Stay Free" BLACK MOUNTAIN
"Modern Guilt" BECK
"Go First" DAMIEN JURADO
"Emily Smiles" BLUE MOUNTAIN
"Safe and Sorry" NATHAN MOORE
"Twenty Four" CENTRO-MATIC
"Yes, So On and So On" THAO
"Most of the Time" BOB DYLAN
"Money" APOLLO SUNSHINE
"In Love With You" EASTON STAGGER PHILLIPS
"Harvey Haddix" THE BASEBALL PROJECT
"Freeway" AIMEE MANN
"Mississippi" BOB DYLAN
"Hard Knocks" BIG LIGHT
"Starry Stairs" OKKERVIL RIVER
"Folios" THE NEW YEAR
"She Was Gone" EASTON STAGGER PHILLIPS
"No Baby I" OLD 97'S
"In Turkish Waters" THE WRENS
"Easy Does It" BONNIE 'PRINCE' BILLY

Easton Stagger Phillips (Video)

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Thanks

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To/For:

-Barack Obama.
-the greatest girlfriend in the World - someone who inspires me, makes me laugh and always says the right things.
-people who choose good over money.
-the near 65 million folks who voted for our president-elect.
-the musicians who continue to put out great music, despite the minimal economic benefits.
-my friends near and far. oh it's corny, but you enrich my life on a daily basis. you probably collectively comprise about 50% of who i am. (wow, that sounds kinda weird.)
-dogs.
-Mark Oliver Everett.
-my family. you've supported me through many ups-and-downs.
-Will Oldham and Emmett Kelly for putting on one of the best shows i've ever witnessed.
-endless, endless, endless music.
-having my grandfather's wallet. when he passed away he had $6 and a driver's license.
-barbara's fantastic gifts.
-my buddy and owner of my local coffee shop, mike.
-the road.
-country music.
-gram parsons.
-our trip to chicago.
-okkervil river.
-volunteers for Obama.
-cards.
-the beauty of California.
-records.
-the good breaks i've been afforded.

oh, and so much more. but here are the two most inspiring and beautiful videos from this year.



Gram Parsons Tribute @ Amoeba, LA (Video)

20 Hours with Music

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Our trip to LA, Joshua Tree and back, including side trips, ended up totaling about 20 hours on the road. Amazingly, we had enough music to keep us sane. Aside from about 90 minutes of quiet and maybe 30 minutes of the radio, here's what kept us fueled:

Townes Van Zandt High Low and In Between
Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Josh Ritter The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
Old 97's Wreck Your Life
Eels Daisies of the Galaxy
Richard Buckner The Hill
Rolling Stones Exile on Main St
The Shins Chutes Too Narrow
Josh Ritter Hello Starling
Bruce Springsteen The Essential Bruce Springsteen
Stone Roses The Complete Stone Roses
Wilco Sky Blue Sky
John Lennon Legend
Richard & Linda Thompson Pour Down Like Silver
Gram Parsons GP / Grievous Angel
The Smiths The Queen Is Dead
Joe Henry Civilians
The Go-Betweens Oceans Apart

And, of course, numerous mix cds made by both of us.

Album of Week 46

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Easton Stagger Phillips : One for the Ditch
Blue Rose, 2008

Richard & Linda Thompson "Hard Luck Stories" (Video)

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2008 : Artist of the Year

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As I still work out my top ten list and get comfortable with more records that I once dismissed (e.g. Walkmen, Beck), I realized this afternoon that the artist of the year is a no-brainer. Having released a fantastic memoir, hosted a moving and educational PBS documentary on his father, and recently re-released the epic Blinking Lights and Other Revelations on a four-record package with accompanying book, 2008's artist of the year is Mark Oliver Everett, also known as E of the rock group Eels.

Although the Eels did not release a record of new material this year, at the age of 45, this may have been Everett's most impressive year thus far. Now years after the hit "Novocaine for the Soul", Everett has remained a low-key indie darling for years. But this year gave us an entirely new side of his art.

First and foremost came the release of his memoir, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, an honest, heartbreaking and insightful look at his his entire near half-century on Earth, including growing up in a household as a near stranger to his oft-cited "genius" father and the loss of his mother and finally his sister to suicide, Everett's life even outside of music seems to be the work of fiction. But it's his true life and this book is a look inside his days here and how his outlook and soul have developed and brought him to some sense of peace. And that's only a small portion of the book. We also see his years in music and dealing with an industry that had moved well beyond artist's of Everett's depth.

Second came Everett's journey to understand his father, Hugh Everett, and learning of his father's contributions to the world of physics in the PBS documentary Parallel Worlds. This fantastic special is a look inside both the minds and spirits of a father and son, so different while living in the same home, yet so similar in many senses when looking back.

And lastly, the arrival of the deluxe vinyl-version of the Eels' 2005 masterpiece (yes, I'm serious) Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. The vinyl is clearly top-of-the-line and the sounds coming from the needle to the speakers are astounding. In addition, the collection comes with a beautiful book and is signed by E himself.

It's been a spectacular year for Mark Oliver Everett, and no one in music or perhaps even the arts as a whole has delivered such a diverse and lasting collection of goods.

If you have good taste and wish to buy some music or the aforementioned book, head over here.

If you're interested in the documentary, head over to the NOVA page.

Finally, although it's a bit grainy, this is perhaps the best performance ever on Letterman.

LA / Joshua Tree in Pictures

Joshua Tree, California

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After two fantastic days in LA, N and I have arrived at the hotel of Gram Parsons, otherwise known as the Joshua Tree Inn. After purchasing a Sweetheart of the Rodeo tee and chatting up the owner about the history of the place, he handed me a cold beer and I'm now sitting outside our room looking at beautiful mountains and a dry, expansive desert. The vintage moment of my chat with the 47-year-old retired UCLA/Columbia philosophy professor turned Inn owner was my quick mention of Tim Easton. The moment I said his name he replied, "Oh, we know Tim. He's getting married out here soon. We see him all the time."

I just put Mark Olson on the iTunes and we're about to head for the desert. Following sundown in the desert, we will head to Pappy and Harriet's in Pioneertown to see The Thrift Store All-Stars. Pappy and Harriet's is the local music dive and the Thrift Store All-Stars are comprised of 7-9 members, with Tim Easton, Mark Olson, Victoria Williams and even Robert Plant often being a part of the mix.

I'm feeling not only Gram Parsons right now, but I'm feeling that open road of California. It's a beautiful place.

Obama's Address Today

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I'm in the Hollywood Hills playing with two dogs, drinking some tasty beer, recovering from a draining run and about to go hit a planetarium.

Oh, and watching Obama.

LA / Joshua Tree Mix

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"The Opposite of Hallelujah" Jens Lekman
"Safe and Sorry" Nathan Moore
"Starry Stairs" Okkervil River
"I Called You Back" Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
"El Otro Lado" Josh Rouse
"Billy and Bonnie" Steve Earle
"Intervention" The Arcade Fire
"They Were Wrong" Matthew Ryan
"Girl From the North Country" Bob Dylan
"National Express" Mark Olson
"Modern Guilt" Beck
"Poison Cup" M. Ward
"Go First" Damien Jurado
"Flatness" Uncle Tupelo
"Money" Apollo Sunshine
"By the Mark" Gillian Welch
"Trouble With Dreams" Eels
"Bad Reputation" Freedy Johnston

Bush's Final Days, Foreclosures and America Today

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As the Dow dropped another 400-plus points today and the state of our economy continues to plummet, the ills of this country seemed to cascade upon me today. As I mentioned in a previous post, I spent an hour or so today with Mike, the owner of my local coffee shop. We chatted about the need for Obama now, the auto bailouts and his sagging business. But at the end of our conversation I turned to Mike and said, "C'est la vie", an adage that Mike uses often and I've found myself copying, to get a laugh out of him. Once again, Mike found it hysterical, and given how critical things are in this country, the irony of it was pretty comical.

I then walked to the mailbox to drop off my first payment of $350 to COBRA. As I walked home, I was a bit overwhelmed with uncertainty about too many things. Yes, Barack Obama is just around the corner and we can only hope that his administration can help guide us to brighter times, but things right now just appear to be getting worse, much worse.

As I opened my front door and opened the mailbox, there sat this week's issue of the New Yorker. As I sipped my coffee and turned on some music, I jumped into the first story, a horrifying predictor of what Bush will do in his final days in office. See, we may think that his time is up, but he still plans to quickly institute potentially irreversible rulings against the environment, endangered species and safe working conditions. I then moved on to the story of Addie Polk, a ninety year-old woman in Akron, Ohio facing foreclosure despite having paid off her home thirteen years ago. These stories were both horrifying and deeply saddening. There's little question that November 4th provided a jolt of inspiration that this country so desperately needed, but each day reminds us of the reality of today, and that reality's incredibly worrisome.

Failed leadership, corporate greed and unfettered consumerism brought us here. We must now hold organizations and leaders accountable, and then work together to dig our way out. The fear is that there's still plenty of time to continue sinking.

Help Restore Fillmore Grind

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This is my friend Mike's coffee shop. If it weren't for this joint, I can't imagine I'd want to remain in my neighborhood. Almost every morning I stop in for a coffee/bagel and Mike and I talk politics, world events and how to get more customers into his store. Most of the time Mike's blasting a mix of current hits, Middle Eastern tunes and sometimes even some Lou Reed. He's always in a good mood and his sense of humor and knowledge of the world often makes my day.

Mike works seven days/week, the entire day, by himself. Local folks have done amazing things to help improve the store, but he desperately needs to have his floor fixed (right now it's some sort of stone with chipped paint). If anyone knows of someone who could help out either gratis or for a nominal fee, I'll make sure that we get you endless cups of free coffee and us locals will assist in any way possible. If Fillmore Grind doesn't survive, Alamo Square will never be the same, and the character of this neighborhood will receive a potentially fatal blow. If you know of anyone who can help out, or if you have other ideas on fixing this dire problem, please send me a note.

Thanks.

Barack's Pumped for Farms and Wilco (Video)

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Obama introduces Wilco at Farm Aid, 2005. And then Wilco comes out and plays "Airline to Heaven", also known as the song that I want belted out at my funeral.

Neil Young in Charlie Rose's Green Room (Video)

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Christmas Arrives Next Week

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Thanks, Mom!



EELS BLINKING LIGHTS AND OTHER REVELATIONS DELUXE NUMBERED & SIGNED 4 VINYL LP EDITION
LIMITED TO 2500


The deluxe BLINKING LIGHTS package includes 3 LPs of the critically acclaimed album on vinyl for the first time with a fourth disc that is an exclusive 17 track live album, MANCHESTER 2005, recorded shortly after the release of BLINKING LIGHTS. Pressed on 180 gram vinyl, the 4 LPs each have their own covers, rice paper dust sleeves, and are accompanied by a hardback book of lyrics and photos, all housed in a beautifully crafted box that is numbered and begrudgingly signed by the author himself, EELS leader E. The edition is limited to only 2,500 copies and will be sold in order of lowest cover numbers first, 0001 - 2500. And this is not a fake signature like the ones often found on eBay.

Order the BLINKING LIGHTS signed & numbered deluxe 4 LP vinyl limited edition boxed set (ships Tuesday Oct. 28th).

We'll Hit the Road, Never Looking Behind

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I have dreamed of making a cross-country trip for as long as I can remember. Inspired by "On the Road", Son Volt's "Trace", Faulkner, Badlands and thousands of other nuggets, I have always wanted to hit the road for a few weeks and see what's across this country. I've never had much interest in major US cities, but have rather longed to visit desolate and obscure towns and stretches in New Mexico, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah. These are always the places that provide the memories for me. These are the images that I see while listening to American music or watching a John Ford film. And I'm getting closer and closer to finally making this trip a reality.

The research has begun, but I still have a long ways to go. That said, my (quite) tentative plan is to hit the road in the days following Thanksgiving. I plan on being out on the road for 15-20 days or so. Right now the only thing holding me back is cash, but I've used that excuse many times over, and I think the time is ripe to put that concern at bay.

Here's what I'm thinking, as far as basics:

WEST TO EAST: Hwy 1 to LA -> Route 66 to the Grand Canyon, through Arizona, onto New Mexico, North Texas and Oklahoma -> drop off Route 66 and head to Memphis and Nashville -> up through Baltimore, Washington DC and New York City.

EAST TO WEST (still very unclear, but possibly): NYC -> Niagara Falls -> Pittsburgh -> Indianapolis -> Chicago -> South Dakota (Badlands) -> Wyoming (Yellowstone) -> Utah -> SF

Again, this is all very tentative, so please feel free to share your thoughts, warnings, tips, stories, etc. If I do make the trip, or even an abridged version, I will clearly post here, take photos and ask some of you for a floor to crash on.

The Arcade Fire @ Melkweg, Amsterdam 3.11.05 (Entire Show - Video)

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Speechless.

Full-Record Day

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Whether on the turntable, CD or via iTunes, I have spent a good portion of the day listening to records front-to-back. Here are the ones I can recall:

The Backsliders Throwing Rocks at the Moon
Neil Young Comes a Time
There Will Be Blood OMPS
Uncle Tupelo No Depression
Neil Young Time Fades Away
Bruce Springsteen Lucky Town
Centro-matic Redo the Stacks
John P. Strohm Caledonia
Amy Milan Honey From the Tombs
Damien Jurado Caught in the Trees

playlist : i was dressed for success

Two Weeks Out

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Every morning since November 5th, I've opened my eyes, thought of the night of the 4th or the reality I've been trying to fully comprehend, and have had to remind myself that I'm not dreaming. And I mean that. We've had 14 days to let this election sink in, yet for me, it just doesn't seem possible. After eight years of Bush, Rove, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice, Ashcroft, DeLay, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, and hundreds of other corrupt, dirty, deceitful and unforgiveable "leaders", I still can't quite make sense of the shift this country took on November 4, 2008. Since 2001, I have become so accustomed to living under such a despicable government that I'm still having a hard time realizing that the American people actually voted against these folks. Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and their machine have been masterful at manipulating the American electorate and I remain perplexed that they lost this one.

On January 20, 2009, this country will hand over its leadership to a 47-year-old man of mixed race named Barack Hussein Obama. This man worked tirelessly for two years to convince the American people that they could trust him, believe in him and put their hopes in his hands. Even when the polls showed Obama pulling away in late-October, deep down, I still didn't think it possible. My outlook on American politics had been so damaged by the aforementioned folks that I simply couldn't foresee this change. And despite what the naysayers belt out, this is massive change. No, Obama won't do everything I want of him, and I'm certain that he'll make many mistakes, but he is worlds apart from the administration that will maintain leadership up until the third week in January.

Every single time that my thoughts turn to the election and Obama's victory, my mind has to pause for a moment and realize that yes, this really did happen. Yes, Barack Obama will be our next president. Yes, the American public voted him into office in a near landslide. And yes, some dreams are real.

Johnny Cash @ Folsom Prison (DVD Trailer)

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Marah's "Formula, Cola, Dollar Draft"

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There was a time when I didn't talk
I'd look away or I'd shrug it off
Tune it out or turn it off
Or say something short and soft

Out of school I took a j-o-b
Makin' buttons in a factory
Thinkin' what has life got in for me
And I didn't wanna know

In a city full of double deals
My boss would yawn and roll back on his heels
As if anyone could cop a feel
of lady luck

I was made with my brother Bill
Drinking Moskie Moons on top of Laurel Hill
Funny now I'd cheek a poison pill
to sober up

And no two-bit claim that I'm all right
Is gonna turn it around and make it right
So I'm reaching in my pocket for a light
And I'm standing on the corner on a Saturday night

I've seen pigeons flap their filthy wings
to a freezing sunset in the west
Rain shit down from their haunted perch
Above the bells of St. Someone's church
The Sexton drinks and dreams in bed
One eye in a line of light
Startled by a ghost he screams
His dead wife's name into the night

Which echoes down a cobbled hall
Bounces off a gray stone floor
Fired down a line of stairs
Where it's silenced by a door
Beyond which I am leaning, leaning,
Watching cars and dreaming
As steam rose round my body
Like my soul up to the stars

I guess the devil's had his way with the town
Now that Willie is in the ground
And I guess the devil made me this
When he gave me knowin' I can't resist
I got the bill today
Wrote back, I moved away
They called me up to say
They know that I'm still here

On the fifth day of the fifth month
At five o'clock in the dawn
I rolled myself in a t-o-p
And jumped out on Highway One
With a 400 engine hot as a cremation coffin
And a tailgate bangin like an airplane wing
I was rollin down the highway, doin it my way
whistlin' someday and singin this song

Formula, Cola, Dollar Draft - Marah

Most Frequented Sites

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Every day I spend at least 90 minutes scouring site after site, but there's a bunch that are on the daily radar. Here they are:

nytimes.com (news)
huffingtonpost.com (left-leaning news)
mashable.com (work)
techcrunch.com (more work)
last.fm (i love tunes, especially the ones i listen to)
facebook.com (slowing down)
gmail.com (no explanation)
flickr.com (pictures)
largeheartedboy.com (aggregated music stuff)
backstreets.com (springsteen)
bbc.co.uk (news)
youtube.com (videos)
emusic.com (tunes for sale)
metacritic.com (aggregated ratings of films, music, etc.)
pitchforkmedia.com (dying down)
blogger.com (gotta write stuff)
yelp.com (gotta rip stuff)

and the up-and-comers:
andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com (more news, sorta)
democracynow.com (news)
pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline (as good as tv gets)
charlierose.com (endless interviews)
fabchannel.com (full live-shows)
blurt-online.com (formerly harp (music))
brooklynvegan.com (music)

Album of Week 45

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Nathan Moore : You Yeah Smokin' Hot
reapandsow, 2008

"Chimes of Freedom" (Video)

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Springsteen covering Dylan, Copenhagen, 1988

Joe Pernice "Bum Leg" (Video)

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Joe Henry "Civil War" (Video)

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One of the best songs of the past few years.

Radio Cure or The Most Overrated Bands Making Music Today

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2008: The Worst in Music

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I'll need a little more time to compile my best of, but tossing together a list of the most overrated/biggest disappointments of 2008, is fairly easy. Keep in mind that many of these records fell into my own oblivion after only a few listens. And one thing I've learned is that records that at first sound terrible or contrived, can later be reborn. Nevertheless, here's my short list of records that either suck or just don't live up to the hype.

Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago

Oh how I tried. A few folks compared this record to Elliott Smith and Nick Drake. Good lord forgive those people. This is whiney, vapid crap. This man (I think Bon Iver's his "band" name) will be forgotten very soon. Yawn city.

Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes

2008's version of The Band? Seriously. Robbie Robertson must be having quite a laugh. I saw these greasers perform at the Treasure Island Music Festival and they sucked. This is generic, recycled basura.

Vivian Girls
Vivian Girls

I only made it through one listen. I doubt there will ever be a second listen.

Foals
Antidotes

Over-the-top 2008 hipster crap. The days of bands like Foals and F**k Buttons will be very short-lived.

Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend

Fine, I haven't heard the record, but like the Fleet Foxes, I caught them at a festival, and they were god awful. The wanna-be-cool Dartmouth grads in their Ray Bans and pink Polos near me almost resulted in a trip to the hospital. I'm not sure sure if that trip would've been due to my own coronary or a quick and decisive pummeling.


Vampire Weekend

The Dodos
Visiter

I suppose this one has potential, but two or so listens brought on a very solid nap.

The Bush Years : "Taxi to the Dark Side"

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Many Americans like to use the two words "never forget" when reflecting on some of the most traumatic times in our history. Whether it be September 11th or Pearl Harbor, these two words seem to elicit patriotism and a sense of reflective pride.

While I understand the importance of such feelings, it's also critical that we continue to look back and educate ourselves on some of our most troubled times, including such national travesties as slavery and Katrina. On this note, despite the hope and optimism that has enveloped this country over the past seven days, we must not for a moment forget what's happened over the past eight years. There's still so much that we don't know, and so much that has tarnished this country both domestically and abroad for decades, if not generations, to come.

As we move closer to the end of this abomination of an administration, I do think it's necessary to look back and continue to expose George W. Bush and his administration. A good place to start is with the documentary I watched tonight. More to come in the future, but if you're interested in taking a look inside Guantanamo, Afghanistan and innocence not only lost, but destroyed, watch this film.

Obama's Cabinet

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If it were up to me...


Secretary of State

John Kerry



Defense Secretary

Chuck Hagel



Homeland Security

Richard Clarke



Attorney General

Chris Dodd



Treasury Secretary

Michael Bloomberg

(And then there's Tweedy at age 18) The Primitives

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Yup, that's him in the dress.

New Wilco Song

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Best of 2008 Preview

With the year approaching its end, I'm starting to spend time with many 2008 releases that have been gathering dust. As I look to my year end best of, here are the artists in contention, for now...

Beck
Damien Jurado
Lambchop
Black Mountain
Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Matthew Ryan
Big Light
Centro-matic/South San Gabriel
Thao
The Baseball Project
Blue Mountain
Murry Hammond
The New Year
My Morning Jacket
Okkervil River
Old 97's
Easton Stagger Phillips
Apollo Sunshine
Deerhoof
Absentee
Stephen Malkmus
Aimee Mann

The West

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If I can line something up that will bring in bucks starting in January or February, I will almost definitely make a full cross-country trip and back. If not, I'm thinking of doing some pretty extensive exploration of the West. I've always wanted to visit the Badlands in South Dakota. A quick search revealed that it's about a 22 hour drive. That's not exactly short, but I think I'm up for it. I could swing slightly South and visit the Grand Canyon on the way, and then find other treasures to explore.

If you have any experience traveling throughout this part of the country, please let me know. Although the Grand Canyon is enticing, I'm more excited about the less-visited, more, dare I say, authentic, parts of the country.

I may do this soon...like within a week or two.

Nebraska

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Following explosive popularity, critical acclaim and praises the world over, in 1982, Bruce Springsteen put the band on hold, stepped away from the studio, grabbed a four-track and recorded the stunningly beautiful and haunting Nebraska in his home in New Jersey. Against the direction of his label and just about everyone in his camp, Springsteen handed his manager about 15 tracks covering the American dream lost, crime, family, despair and hope. It was as simple as it was historic. It was naked yet chock full of imagery reminiscent of Faulkner and Woody Guthrie. And not just reminiscent, but right on par.

Now 26 years later, I'm not sure there's a time since this recording when this record has been more relevant. "Well they closed down the auto plant in Mahwah late last month. Ralph went out looking for a job, but he couldn't find none. He came home too drunk from mixing Tanqueray and wine. He got a gun, shot a night clerk, now they call him Johnny 99" opens the Badlands-esque "Johnny 99". We then hear about "Used Cars", that "Highway Patrolman", "Atlantic City" and that "State Trooper". But in typical Springsteen fashion, and in the will that's in all of us, the record closes with "Reason To Believe", the one track that looks beyond the ills and sees the possibility.

Still at the end of every hard day, people find some reason to believe

Bailouts

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Let me preface anything I'm about to say by admitting that I am an utter and complete dolt when it comes to economics. I barely even understand what the DOW means. Let me clarify: I don't understand what the DOW means.

When I first heard about the $850 billion bailout, the first thing that came to mind were the mid-and-low level workers at these companies. I mean, there's little question that the top brass at AIG, etc. are doing just fine financially. But the more I hear about this, as well as Obama's push to help out the auto industry, the more I start to wonder. I mean, if GM goes under, clearly thousands of middle class jobs will be lost. But as we look to the future, are these the jobs that we want to invest in? Hasn't GM had enough time to understand the market and adapt? Instead of looking to fuel efficient cars, they've continued to spit out gas-guzzling SUVs, with little consideration for the environmental or financial ramifications of such moves. They had and continue to have little to no vision.

I understand that many, many jobs will be lost if the government doesn't continue to inject these failed companies with capital. But where does it end? What are the criteria here? Who gets money and who doesn't? And what are the stipulations of such handouts? Do the CEOs and senior execs. of these companies face any accountability? This is all starting to sound quite fishy, and with Bush in office for another 70 or so days, I don't trust any of it.

While these companies continue to flounder, where are our leaders on education, health care and infrastructure? (I won't even get into energy here.) Has our public education system ever been worse? Is 40 million-plus Americans without health care not enough? And those that do have it, could the premiums be more out of control? What about our roads, bridges and trains? They are falling apart or simply non-existent. This last area could open up millions of jobs.

I initially somewhat supported this bailout, but also realized that I wasn't well informed on the issues. But the more I learn, the more I grow queasy about these handouts. This country needs to build from the bottom-up and handouts to companies with failed leadership is the exact opposite. Hopefully our new administration will consider all of these things, and choose the people over politics.

The Archives: Jay Farrar's "Sebastopol" (2001)

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Oh the debates my friends and I had when Farrar released his first solo record following 15 years with Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt. It took most of us some time to wrap our arms around this collection, but once we did, the ferocity of our discussions was worthy of legend. Once I'd listened enough, I was one of the very vocal naysayers. What the hell was this "Voodoo Candle" song? And the groaning intro on "Damn Shame" was just silly. I wanted the rustic and bare-bones Americana Jay Farrar. Whatever this new sound was, I didn't like it.

Following Sebastopol came the even more disappointing Terroir Blues, a record so bland and predictable that I figured my time with Farrar came to a halt with Son Volt's 1998 masterpiece Wide Swing Tremolo.


Jay Farrar @ The Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 2003


Sometime early last year I took a day off work and planned a solo day trip up to the town of Sebastopol, CA. I'd heard that it was a quaint little liberal town with a great bookstore, one or two bars and a very 50's feel. As I flipped through CDs for the drive, I figured I'd toss in, well, Sebastopol. I hadn't listened to the record in years, and figured it was worth a spin on the ride up. As I pulled into town, I recall "Make It Alright" blaring through the speakers and coming to realize that I was experiencing something new with this record. Later came "Drain", "Different Eyes", "Outside the Door", "Vitamins" and then a return to the beginning of the record. Like many of the greatest records I own, I realized that Sebastopol just needed time. It wasn't a quick record to grasp and the stylistic change in Farrar's work likely caught me off guard a few years back. But now I got it. And the sound, the pounding drums and the beautiful lyrics, made it clear that I'd missed this one. Perhaps this wasn't Trace, but this certainly represented a continuation and maturation in Farrar's musicianship and songwriting. It's one of those rare records that rewards the listener as the years go by and the landscape takes shape.

Album of Week 44

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Roy Orbison : In Dreams : Greatest Hits
Virgin, 1987

View From Above

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Good and Evil at the White House

The Emanuel Brothers

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Who knew that Rahm's brother, Ari, is the inspiration for the Ari Gold character on "Entourage".

The Week That Was

Plouffe, Axelrod et al on 60 Minutes

iTunes Party Shuffle

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As N eats an apple and watches some terrible Sci Fi crap, I have the headphones on. Here's what's been playing:

"Dooley" The Gourds -- what a great one
"Sad Cinderella" Townes Van Zandt -- one of his best
"Que Onda Guero" Beck -- forgot how much i love this song
"Endless War" Son Volt -- big time SV kick of late
"Stay Free" Black Mountain -- wow
"Quiet Houses" Fleet Foxes (skip)
"That Big Orange Sun Run Over Speed Light" Deerhoof (skip)
"Tres Cosas" Juana Molina -- beauty
"The Fool" Neutral Milk Hotel -- what a back-to-back
"Lucky" Richard Buckner - i have never and will never skip a Buckner song
"Last To Know" Vigilantes of Love (skipped after about a minute)
"Because the Night" Bruce Springsteen (skip)
"Echo" Tom Petty - i do love this song
"Queen Jane Approximately" Bob Dylan -- better odds that I'd skip eating for a month than skipping this tune
"The Ghost of Genova Heights" Stars (skip)
"Extradition" Pavement (skip)
"Window Bird" Stars (skip)
"Bottle Up and Explode" Elliott Smith -- one of Elliott's best
"For You" (Live) Bruce Springsteen -- 35 years later this one still sounds brand new

Overdue Listening

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If only he was alive this week.



Mr. Cooke, that change has come.

Behind the Victory

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There are many folks who played critical roles in Obama's Tuesday victory. For one, the massive number of volunteers from coast-to-coast played an absolutely integral role in educating and inspiring voters, getting folks to the polls and warming millions to the possibility of an Obama presidency. Other key contributors were Howard Dean, Bill Richardson, Colin Powell, the media (I will not deny that most big news outlets were in favor of Obama), Jennifer Granholm, Caroline Kennedy, Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, Brian Schweitzer, Bruce Springsteen, Warren Buffett, and thousands of others, but without the following two folks, his chances of winning would've been decreased substantially.


Campaign Manager, David Plouffe (l) and Senior Advisor, David Axelrod (r)

Pre-Weekend Notes

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-Word is that a new Springsteen record will be released on inauguration day. As I typed that, Springsteen's "Independence Day" kicked in on the stereo.

-Why is John McCain unleashing all of this crap regarding Palin? 1) We're well aware that she's a moron and 2) You picked her.

-I guess The Strokes are getting back together to record a new record. "Is This It?" still stands as one of the best records of the past ten years.

-I thought Barack did pretty well for his first press conference, though he did look a bit tired.

-I am back on a major Josh Ritter kick. "Hello Starling" is one fine record.

-In many, many ways, being unemployed is a very welcome change. The money situation will get worrisome in a few months, but right now I'm savoring day trips to the park, drives, music, reading, talking to Mike in the local coffee shop and the free'd up time that I'll have to spend with N. Oh, and I'm getting closer-and-closer to green lighting that cross-country trip. Right now I'm thinking right after Thanksgiving.

-I'm also thinking about going to the inauguration. No word on a possible speaking slot.

-I can't decide if I'd rather have John Kerry or Bill Richardson as Secretary of State, though my guess is that it will be neither.

-As far as the city of San Francisco goes, this past week has revealed the greatest sides of this city.

-I need a good book.

-Every time I think about Obama winning the election, I still feel as though I could be dreaming. And I meant that; it feels that unbelievable.

-"Hungry Heart" is now on...probably my least favorite Springsteen song, aside from almost everything on "Human Touch".

-Listening to conservatives whine and continue their terrorist/racist/socialist garbage is now just silly. Sorry folks, but your time is up. You had eight years to destroy this country and you did one hell of a job.

-Bill Maher time.

Album of Week 43

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Bruce Springsteen : We Shall Overcome : The Seeger Sessions
Columbia, 2006

Just 24 Hours Ago

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About 64 million Americans cast their votes for Barack Obama. I slept a mere three hours last night and I can't imagine I'll sleep much more tonight. I can't seem to pull myself away from watching the president-elect speak. Here's a video that was incredibly risky and showed the courage that led this country to choose this man to lead.

The Election of Barack Obama and Race

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As much as last night and today mark one of the greatest steps in the history of this country, we should all note that we still have a long way to go. And my biggest fear following the election of an African-American to the highest office in this country is the minds of those who have yet to flinch on bigotry, hate and entitlement. Not 12 hours since the most remarkable moment of my lifetime, I'm already hearing race creep up, and it's coming fast. And it's not coming solely from the South, but also from "blue states" such as New Jersey, New York, California and Maryland. Some are speaking directly to their disgust with the results of this election, while others are showing some restraint, for now.

It's often the case that our greatest days can bring out the worst in us, and vice versa. Since we're a country of mixed races, upbringings, beliefs, morals, educations and countless other areas that shape each of us, opposing views should always be listened to and taken into consideration. But when it comes to judgements made based upon race, sexual orientation, religion or any host of reasons, there's simply no excuse for judgement. We are all entitled to be who we are and no one has the right to resort to violence or hate-filled language as a result.

As I've mentioned many-a-time here, my views on race in this country and the world were shaped in a number of classrooms in Boston from 1993-1996. I studied inequality, the civil rights movement, economics and literature, and realized that our people are very different, and in some cases, these differences literally and figuratively rip us apart. Those classes and the things I read and saw and the people I met changed me forever. I grew up in a small suburban town where racism was somewhat commonplace. Since many of my childhood heroes were black, I never quite understood those who spit hate. And when I left college, my views were only enhanced. In the years since, they've only grown more. As I walked through the city yesterday, I felt a harmony that I've never felt in my life. Despite not knowing the outcome of the election at the time, I felt a people coming together as one. But the things I've heard over the years and in the last 12 hours has quickly re-opened the reality of where we live.

Last night brought out the greatest in all of us, regardless of which name you chose. It showed that we've grown and progressed. It revealed the beauty of a country that as a whole is open to everyone. But we still have a long way to go. And if there's ever a day to remember that, it's today.

Final Electoral Vote Count

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Every state has been decided aside from North Carolina. If Obama ultimately wins NC, I will have called every state correctly. I am the liberal Karl Rove.

8:00 PM

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God. Bless. America.

7:40 PM

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A sixer of Lagunitas IPA is staring at me. Texts are coming in at a clip of about 448/minute and along with tens of millions of others, I'm moments away from a long night of celebrating.

7:33 PM

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It's starting to settle in. I will wait until he's hit the 270 mark, but we are likely less than 30 minutes away from the most historic day in my lifetime. The world is about to change before our eyes. This is an amazing, amazing day.

6:59 PM

6:45 PM

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A McCain path is looking almost impossible. If you toss in CA and a few other gimmies, Obama surpasses 270. We are almost there. I have yet to crack the bottle, but it's almost calling me.

6:32 PM

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OBAMA WINS NEW MEXICO. I love you Bill Richardson. And the band Hazeldine, even though you broke up about a decade ago.

Obama 200
McCain 85

6:31 PM

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Oh, and Elizabeth Dole lost. Sweeeeeeet.

6:23 PM

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OBAMA WINS OHIO!!!!

Reminder: No republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio.

Morning Joe thinks it's over. I do not.

Obama 195
McCain 76

6:10 PM

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Chuck Todd reporting that this race is a lot closer than we thought it would be. McCain is looking quite good in VA. Nerves are really kicking in.

6:03 PM

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And everything's still wide open. PA was a nice win, but McCain grabbed SC and ND to sort of even that out.

Come on now, gimme a big one.

Win or Lose

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What I'm seeing in San Francisco today is absolutely remarkable. The spirit and harmony between all ages, all races and all economic backgrounds is astounding. Today is the best that this country has to offer.