Enjoy the irony

everything is going wrong but we’re so happy.

I have no recollection for how I discovered this song, but every time it comes on my ipod, I’m happy I did.  The Wombats are a band from Liverpool who released this treasure in 2007.

Let the love tear us apart/I found the cure for a broken heart…


Cover song: I’m so lonesome I could cry

This song has been covered by everybody from Al Green to Amy Lee (formerly of Evanescence) to Terry Bradshaw.  Many take on this song with the reverence it deserves.  The song turns 66 years old this year, and still people are intimidated by tackling such a hallowed incantation.  100 years from now, I do not doubt that the name Hank Williams will still be uttered by people who are interested in hearing the ancient music of the last half of the 20th century (ok, so it was released in November of 1949…)

Enter Volbeat, a metal band from Denmark who have just enough of a rockabilly sound to even think about tackling such a vaunted classic.  In 2008, on their album Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood, they unleashed this re-envisioning of the track on the world.  Upon its release, the album topped the Danish and Finnish album charts.  Not bad for 4 guys who are a little bit country, a little bit heavy metal.

Cover song: Common People

I already posted a little bit about this song on my 25 greatest covers list in March of last year, but I just found this video on Youtube, so I’ve got to share.

The song was originally recorded by a 90s Britpop band called Pulp.  They made a minor splash here in the United States, but their version of this song is practically an anthem deriding the idle in the UK who spend their evenings “off their faces for a quiet night in” (sorry, quote from another song).  Pulp’s version is routinely mentioned as one of the greatest Britpop songs.

Enter William Shatner.  Outside his three immortal television roles as Captain James T. Kirk, TJ Hooker, and Denny Crane, he’s also widely remembered for flabbergastingly awful covers or Rocket Man and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.  Enter his album, Has Been, recorded by Ben Folds, who brought in bona fide musicians such as Joe Jackson, Adrien Belew, Henry Rollins and Aimee Mann to perform on the tracks and provide guest vocals.

Sure it’s weird that at (then) 73 he’s singing a song about trying to hook up with a woman he met at a bar.  But that’s at least part of the genius of the song.  The message still comes across and hits a new audience it may never have found were it not for Billy Shatner tackling this song and making it his own.

Gotta hand it to so-singers who “get paid for talking, can’t carry a tune”…I can get behind that.

The revolution will not be televised

I just read an article that the sentences of the 9 people who staged the first sit in at a lunch counter in South Carolina have had their sentences vacated.  It was 1961 when the the “Friendship 9” were arrested for sitting down at a “whites only” lunch counter.  Instead of paying the fine and putting money into the city/state funds, they insisted on serving their sentence in jail.  The vacating of their sentences brought a standing ovation in the courtroom today.  I’ve been waiting for a reason to post Gil Scott-Heron’s immortal classic (even if it does have dated references to “tigers in tanks” “Spiro Agnew” and “Jackie Onassis”).

I feel this is as good an occasion as any.


Misery Let Me Down

Elliott Smith was a singer-songwriter of immense talent from Portland, OR.  He had a string of critically acclaimed albums and an Oscar nomination for “Miss Misery” in 1997 (he lost to the song from the movie about a boat that sank).

In 2003, he committed suicide, but he left behind a trove of immaculate recordings.  In 2011, a previously unheard song of his, Misery Let Me Down, was discovered on an accidentally stolen mini-disc from radio station WMUC in North Carolina.

Because the Washington Post article from around this time does a better job, I’m just going to cut/past the story to explain the story about how the song was founded.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/click-track/post/elliott-smith-new-song-from-1997-wmuc-session-unearthed/2011/11/18/gIQA84UDiN_blog.html

How does a song by an iconic musician get lost and then found? Here’s one way.

One afternoon in 1997 (maybe1996?), an emerging 27-year-old singer-songwriter named Elliott Smith performed at WMUC-FM, the student run radio station at the University of Maryland, College Park. The station regularly hosted punk and indie acts on its live-in-the-studio Third Rail Radio program and Smith’s performance wasn’t anything out of the ordinary — just him and his guitar, playing around 10 songs in WMUC’s unadorned recording studio on the fourth floor of South Campus Dining Hall.

Before the performance was broadcast, Smith played a front-porch-folky song called “Misery Let Me Down.” It’s just two minutes long and ends abruptly, and few have heard it since 1997. That’s because it’s been missing for more than a decade.

Like all Third Rail sessions, the performance was recorded, transferred to MiniDisc and added to the station’s library. (As a former WMUC DJ myself, I played songs from this session in the late ’90s.) But at some point this disc disappeared. When station DJs wanted to include a song from Smith’s performance on a 2002 compilation CD, the disc with Smith’s 1997 performance was nowhere to be found.

A lot happened over those five years. At the time of the recording, Smith was garnering underground acclaim for his 1997 album “Either/Or” (it would later finish No. 20 in the Village Voice’s annual Pazz & Jop critics poll) and he would soon earn a way-out-of-leftfield Oscar nomination for his song “Miss Misery.” The lilting ballad was featured in the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck feel-good movie “Good Will Hunting,” which led to a fish-out-of-water performance from Smith at the 1998 Academy Awards. When he was finished, he shared a bow with fellow Best Original song nominees Trisha Yearwood and Celine Dion.

Soon Smith became something of a star, albeit a reluctant one. His pop sensibilities blossomed on 1998’s “XO” and 2000’s “Figure 8,” bringing him some crossover success. Even as his songs got prettier they became more heartbreaking — so sweetly sung yet filled with so much pain. Smith took his own life in October 2003, although some details surrounding his death remain unknown.

Since then Smith’s cult has grown considerably and fans have combed over his discography for unheard material. One song appeared in May of this year when Ben Weisholtz, a former WMUC DJ (and good friend of mine) decided to sell his old MiniDisc player on eBay. Before shipping it off he opened it and discovered a disc inside — “Elliott Smith/Braid” it said. (Braid being a ’90s emo band that also recorded a WMUC session around that same time.)  He immediately mailed it back to WMUC with a written note that said, “I found this in my MiniDisc player when I recently sold it. Looks like I accidentally stole it around 10 years ago. Here it is back.”

The recording made it into the hands of current WMUC DJ Vaman Muppala, who added it to the WMUC digital archive. Leila Mays, another DJ at the station, played a Smith song from that session, “2:45 A.M.” on her radio show on Oct. 29.

Meantime, Alex Teslik, 37, a devoted Smith fan living in Burbank, Calif., had long been intrigued by the mysterious WMUC session after reading about it on SweetAdeline.com, a popular Smith fan site. A Google search earlier this month brought him to a playlist Mays had posted of her Oct. 29 radio show.

He got in touch with Mays, who sent him a copy of the recording. Teslik was surprised by what came at the beginning — a song he had never heard before.

Eventually “Misery Let Me Down” made its way to the SweetAdeline community where it was confirmed that this was a legitimately never-before-heard Elliott Smith song.

“It definitely sounds like [Smith] songs from that era,” says Matt Lemay, author of “Elliott Smith’s XO,” part of the 33 ⅓ book series, noting its similarity to outtakes of that era that appeared on the
2007 odds-and-ends compilation “New Moon.”

“If you see misery going through the things in my place/Won’t you do me a favor and come invade my space,” he sings, accompanied by an almost-chipper, front-porchy guitar. The song will hardly make its way onto any best-of compilations but is reminder of both Smith’s stunning
talent and the many places where songs can go missing.

Some videos of songs from a conversation I had today

Today at work, I got into a way too long conversation about 90s bands and music.  Somehow, the topic went to largely unheralded one hit wonders like Nerf Herder (note the Star Wars reference) and King Missile.

Nerf Herder- Courtney (live 2003)

Written and released shortly after Hole covered Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” for The Crow: City of Angels soundtrack. I picked the live version from well after it was a hit because all the other videos on youtube seemed to be static photos.

Korn & Slipknot-  Sabotage (live 1/23/15)
This was first brought to my attention on rollingstone.com, and still haven’t heard it because I’m more than a little afraid.  Could be awesome, could be a catastrophe.  Slipknot are having something of a 2nd wind revival with their release of The Grey Chapter last year, and though Korn have continued putting out music, they haven’t had a serious hit since they recorded “Freak on a Leash” for MTV Unplugged with Amy Lee of Evanescence.
and of course, King Missile-  Detachable Penis
So many great double entendres.  And best of all, not a serious curse word in the whole song…(does ass count?)
But now and then I go to a party/Get drunk/And the next the morning, I can’t for the life of me/remember what I did with it
So I told them if it pops up to let me know
I really don’t like being without my penis for too long
Even though sometimes it’s a pain in the ass/I like having a detachable penis

Stop me, I’m salivating with anticipation


An early cut of the documentary Kurt Cobain:  Montage of Heck just premiered at Sundance over the weekend.  It’s set to premiere in finalized form on HBO in the coming months.  It’s the first Cobain documentary that’s been allowed access to the Cobain art, writing and musical archives.

Although there’s not yet been any announcement of a soundtrack, a piece of the above article has me crossing my fingers that such a thing will happen.

And I quote:

The film will also contain Cobain’s acoustic cover of the Beatles’ “And I Love Her.”

Pinch me, I must be dreaming.  I don’t care if it’s boombox recorded with a vacuum running in the background, I have to hear it.

Cover song: Heartless

Heartless is a song by Kanye West from his album 808’s & Heartbreak

There’s definitely complex lyrics there, but the autotune really gets to me.  Enter The Fray, a band bast known for the song How to Save a Life.  They take the song and turn it into an acoustic rager, if that can even be a thing.

I just ordered the deluxe edition of the new Sleater-Kinney album

I’ve never actually done so, but if I ever ranked my favorite bands, Sleater-Kinney would rank among my top 10 of all time.  I’m so very excited that they’re back and still vital.  I’ll be posting a vinyl review of the bonus tracks (2 of them!) once I’ve listened to the record, but this is one of several albums I’m excited about over the course of 2015.

Others I’m excited about include:

The Decemberists

Modest Mouse

Death Cab for Cutie

Radiohead (currently in the studios, but those guys are unpredictable)

Nada Surf

Tool (album being held up over lawsuits)

Dr. Dre (one can hope that he finishes tinkering with songs in time to release an album this year)