Al Franken on the Supreme Court

This is one of the most refreshing political statements I've seen in ages. This is a man who not only stands for democratic ideals, but isn't afraid to state those ideals in a succinct, passionate and honest way and at the risk of not pleasing every damn "constituent."

What logical and level-headed person could argue that Thomas, Scalia and Alito are not activist judges? These fools don't obey the law; they rule based on their personal convictions. That is activism.

Barack Obama should watch this video. It just might serve as a reminder.

Bob Dylan SACDs

I was living in Sunnyvale, CA, otherwise known as a terrible place to live when you're 31 and new to the Bay Area, when a friend told me about the release of Bob Dylan Super Audio CDs. My reaction was, "Wait, so Dylan will actually sound better than maybe the greatest ever?" "Yes," he replied.

The next day I hopped in the Jetta and hit Tower Records. Yes, remember when you could do that? Without hesitating, I picked up Highway 61 Revisited, John Wesley Harding, Bringing It All Back Home, Blood on the Tracks, Nashville Skyline, Oh Mercy, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan and Infidels. Alright, I probably didn't buy them all that afternoon, but I eventually picked up those mentioned. After a manic run through Tower, I drove down El Camino and, filled with excitement, nearly crashed into Best Buy. A friend had told me to pick up a reasonably priced Pioneer and within a minute or two I was at the register.

As I wrapped up the installation I recalled him saying, "Start with Blood on the Tracks and then you might want to call me." I positioned the speakers perfectly, grabbed the remote and sat in the middle of the couch. I pressed play, sat back and was literally inside one of those classic 80's Maxell blank tape ads. This was the crispest sound I'd ever heard. Whenever I think of the greatest music moments caught on film, the first that comes to mind is Al Kooper talking about his spontaneous organ fills in the documentary No Direction Home. As I closed my eyes, I somehow felt transported to a Dylan studio session nine years after Kooper dropped his fingers to the organ fills that would turn "Like a Rolling Stone" into one of the most known rock n' roll songs ever recorded.

Tonight I arrived home from work and went back to that night. And man if the power of those sessions doesn't sit right on these discs. Of all the lps, 45s, rare CDs (bidding on Kelly Willis' Fading Fast ep starts at $32,750), these re-issues may take the cake. In the world of MP3s, iPhones, and immediate access to all media, we sometimes forget to sit and actually absorb the sound. These SACDs are a reminder.

The Public Option

A few days ago, I vowed to leave the democratic party if they squandered this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pass health care reform. Ya know, with a few more days to mull this one, let's tighten that pledge up a bit. On the bus ride home tonight, while reading reports that the dems are coming to a "compromise," one that will not include a public option, I decided that it was time to turn to version two.

This appeared to be the dream season for democrats. After eight years of utter hell, we thought that we'd finally reached our time. Oh, we recoiled as our democratic brethren sucked up to Bush over eight years, but we remained aligned. And now it's all ours for the taking, right? Oh no. Unlike the crooks who ran the ship for the past eight years, our party has absolutely no backbone. Congressional democrats are given a wide open field to move through policies that were the impetus for landing them in office, yet they're hesitant to move in any direction at all. Oh the sad state.

So, let's revisit my promise. Forget just health care reform, if the democrats toss out the public option, well that there's enough for me to bid farewell.

Upcoming SF Shows


8/4 Alejandro Escovedo @ Bottom of the Hill
8/28 Joe Pernice @ Cafe du Nord (early show)
8/30 The Minus 5 / The Baseball Project @ Great American Music Hall
9/1 Tim Easton @ Cafe du Nord
10/23 Islands @ Bottom of the Hill

Springsteen "Jungleland" in 2001

It really doesn't get much better.

Jack Purcell's


I bought my first pair, in white, back in 1994. I think I saw a photo of Thurston Moore sportin' a pair, or maybe Steve Malkmus, and needed a pair asap. Today I picked up what must be my 15th pair or so. This is very interesting news.

Other notes of the day:
-I can never go to a mall ever again. Today was the last time.

I really have nothing else. Off to see Trevor Childs.

Bands I Used To Love

...but have now entered auto-skip territory.

Iron and Wine

The Flaming Lips

The National

Modest Mouse

Maher on Health Care

Start at 2:05.

"The problem with President Obama's health care plan isn't socialism, it's capitalism."

Eels on Kimmel


Beck and Others Cover "Sunday Morning"

I guess this is the first covers installment.

More info. at

Record Club: Velvet Underground & Nico 'Sunday Morning' from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Beck and Wilco to Cover Skip Spence's "Oar"


When two of your all-timers partner up for a covers record, well, that's pretty classic news.

Health Care Reform and the Democrats

As the days pass, it's becoming increasingly clear that health care reform is in jeopardy. The seams are weakening on Obama's number one policy initiative faster than they did under Bill & Hillary, and we all know the end result there.

The night Barack Obama was elected president was one of the most joyous nights of my life. Add to that the near sweeps of the House and Senate, the late addition of Al Franken, the scandals that continue to pound the republican party at all levels, and I doubt I'll see a more opportune time in my life for the democratic party to actually promulgate the causes that they espouse. Yet six months in, what have we seen? I mean, Obama and Gates can't take a firm position on "don't ask, don't tell?" Seriously? Holder won't go after the Bush clan when there's overflowing evidence that egregious acts were committed, acts that counter everything this country "stands for." What's going on down at Guantanamo? Haven't heard much on that front. Sure, Barack has helped to begin the process of restoring our image around the World, but if he continues with the baby steps and vacillating on issues, that temporary goodwill will quickly evaporate.

And now there's health care. If there's one cause the "left" has been waiting to win, this is it. With a democrat in the White House and wide leads in Congress, the country's never been better positioned for this vast overhaul. Yet the public still seems somehow under the illusion that private health care companies are the best option? Ummm, seriously? If I were given the option of working at a tobacco giant or a health care giant, I wouldn't bat an eye: butts. Our current health care system is the most corrupt, deceptive and despicable industry this country has to offer. Looking out for the welfare of our citizens should not be a profitable industry. And if we do have to go that route, yes, there should absolutely, without question, be government oversight. The private health care providers couldn't care less about my health or your health. They are for-profit business' and they have shareholders to answer to. More money = success. More help to their customers = failure.

If we do not see Obama and the democrats come together and pass a massive overhaul of our health care system, it would be hard to consider his presidency, or at least his first term, a success. And on a personal note, health care reform has been the driving force behind my unyielding support for the democratic party over the years. If they blow it this time, I will be heading to City Hall to change my party affiliation. (Sorry republicans, you could toss me free chicken parms for life and an in-home coke slurpee machine and I still wouldn't consider it for a second.)

Indian Runner (Photo)


, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

At My Window.... (Photo)


Born in the USA 25 Years Later

On a beautiful, warm day here in the Bay Area, as I scoured the record collection, my eyes met Springsteen's pop masterpiece Born in the USA. Released in June of 1984, USA became a worldwide sensation. Springsteen purists rarely point to this monumental commercial success as one of his best records, but there's little doubt that even 25 years later, this record stands as one of the best pure pop records ever released.

Although bouncy in sound and pace, USA remains one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented records ever to hit the masses. Songs such as "Downbound Train" and the title track are lyrically as eerie and recondite as USA's dark predecessor Nebraska. Despite being completely opposite in production and texture, USA, at least on paper, is essentially a continuation of Nebraska, both exhibiting snippets of American lives during the era of Reagan, and these themes and stories hold true to this day.

In the summer of 1985 I saw Springsteen for the first of what would be many, many times. I vaguely recall pulling into the Giants Stadium parking lot mid-day and witnessing an absolute sea of people awaiting arguably the greatest performer of this generation. Over the course of what must have been four hours, Springsteen and the E Street Band opened my eyes to a world outside of what was within reach. I remember looking around the jam-packed stadium and finding understanding in something that was one man's creaction. I remember the crowd singing along to "Bobby Jean" and the roar as the band opened the encore with "Sherry Darling." And I remember leaving the Stadium tunnel and knowing that I'd found something.

Twelve Books


My Happy Life by Lydia Millet, Fiction, 2002: 8.3

Another Bullshit Night In Suck City by Nick Flynn, Memoir, 2004: 7.7

The Jayhawks Performance/Interview at The Current


Springsteen "Who'll Stop the Rain" (Video)

About 6-7 years ago, while the rain was pouring down at Giants Stadium, Bruce and the E Street Band took the stage and blasted into CCRs "Who'll Stop the Rain." I had chills the entire four minutes. Here's Bruce and Band doing it back in '81.

Walter Cronkite




Wilco (The Near Miss) via Aquarium Drunkard

So much of this blog post on Aquarium Drunkard was/is me that it's almost frightening. In 1996, as my college days were coming to an end, I called Tony Margherita's office looking for a job. When I didn't hear back, I called again. I never heard back. A few years later, I tried again and was offered an entry-level role that I didn't accept. I was at both Irving Plaza shows. I've sat on a train from Hoboken singing "Forget the Flowers." Being There convinced me that I had to work in the music business, and for the past 14 years I have. I almost went to law school with the intention of becoming an entertainment lawyer. And through it all, Wilco have been my favorite band. I must have met this guy.

Wilco (The Album) First Week Sales


Pretty remarkable during these times. #7 overall.

playlist : midway 09

Some of my favorite songs from the first half of the year...

eMusic Adds

CNN, MSNBC and the rest are going on and on about MJ, while eMusic has oh-so-quietly added the entire catalogs of Springsteen and Dylan. This is without question the lowest point in the history of American media.

Townes Van Zandt Vinyl Re-Issues


Most would probably agree that certain artists sound better on the turntable. Bonnie "Prince" Billy, for one, has always sounded much purer when listened to on LP as opposed to CD. The same can probably be said for Neil Young, The Rolling Stones and many more (everyone?).

I have always been a fan of Townes Van Zandt, though I admit that, until recently, I only had about 4-5 records (on CD) and really only listened to High, Low and In Between and Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, TX. I've actually never been able to track down his first few full releases, and word of mouth said that there was really no need; apparently High, Low... covered all the good stuff.

While browsing the folk, country and soul sections at Amoeba a few weeks back, there sat Townes Van Zandt (1969), Our Mother the Mountain (1969) and Flyin' Shoes (1978), all freshly re-issued via Fat Possum. Despite hopping on the hipster bandwagon by signing vapid acts such as Wavves and King Khan and the Parm Show, Fat Possum has always been one of my favorite labels. It was at FP that I discovered the Delta Blues of RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. This was a moment of putting my trust in the label.

My oh sweet my. These are two of the prettiest records I've ever heard. In usual Fat Possum form, there is nothing over-the-top about the releases. You get perfectly pressed records with the original artwork. No long letters paying homage. Simple. And these records are top-to-bottom just about perfect. I've listened to each now about ten times and I've yet to track down a bad song. "Columbine," "Waiting Around To Die," "I'll Be Here in the Morning," "Why She's Acting This Way," "Snake Mountain Blues" and on and on. I did not know these songs prior to picking up these releases. I used to chuckle when I'd hear Steve Earle's classic line: "Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." Evidently Earle was kidding around. After discovering all this new Townes material, I'd probably understand if he hadn't been.