I Ain’t No Fortunate Son

This video, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the song, hit all the right notes for me.  It shows a string of people who are considered to be among the 99% of people in this country…in other words, they ain’t no fortunate sons.

Oh please, let president Orange have some complaint about this video…

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It Was 20 Years Ago Today…June 1998

Billy Bragg & Wilco:  Mermaid Avenue

Released June 23, 1998 (gimme a break, I was on vacation last weekend).  This collaborative album was brought about due to a shared love of the songs of Woodie Guthrie.  The two artists decided to record some of his songs that were written, but never recorded by him.  The result is a surprisingly cohesive album that features the strengths of folk-punk Billy Bragg and alt-country outfit Wilco.

The album highlighted the songwriting skill of Woodie Guthrie for a generation who has only heard the likes of “If I had a hammer” and “This land is your land”.

“Way Over Yonder In the Minor Key” has proven to be so popular that Billy Bragg has continued to perform it with some regularity for the last 20 years.  Plus it works because he’s not exactly known as a strong singer himself.

“Walt Whitman’s Niece” was the leadoff track on the album and featured some nice harmonies between Bragg & Jay Bennett.  It also featured some decidedly risque lyrics from the wholesome Guthrie.

The radio single to promote this album is titled “California Stars”.  Honestly, it’s not a song which has stood out from the set, at least for me…

 

Billy Bragg & Wilco have gone on to release two more Mermaid Avuenue volumes through the years, as well as a box set titled Mermaid Avenue:  The Complete Sessions.  Billy Bragg has become a folk-punk troubadour, including releasing several protest songs to coincide with the Trump inauguration.  Wilco have gone onto critical acclaim, most prominently with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, released in late 2001.

Giving 90s metal some love

I just checked out the solo album by Jonathan Davis and fell down a rabbit hole on Youtube.  In 1995, I saw Korn on the B Stage at KNDD’s Endfest.  There were about 200 people in front of the stage and it’s one of the most intense shows I’ve ever seen.  I still rate it highly on my list of concerts, even though nu-metal has kind of gotten a bad name with the likes of Limp Bizkit and Disturbed.

The first time I heard Slipknot on the radio, I thought “who the eff is this?  There is nothing else like this!”.  Their music became kind of derivative of itself to me, but this song still does it for me.

Ok, so this song was apparently released in 2000, but my god it was refreshing to see an all girl metal band doing it better than the boys.  Love those dual vocals!

The Deftones were also pretty original when they first hit the scene in 1995.  Their music also became derivative to me, but Koi Yo Nokan was an interesting album, released all the way in 2012.

 

The Kinks are reuniting?!?!?

Dave Davis recently stated that The Kinks were going to be recording new music.  For my money, “Lola” is one of those songs that has never had a bad version/cover.

And because, well, this is how I learned about the song…this too, for good measure:

Singer gets kicked out of WalMart

Brett Newski, of “Bro Country” songwriting fame (one of my top 10 favorite songs of 2017), sent his followers video footage of him an a bandmate getting kicked out of a WalMart after starting an impromptu concert.

Way to stick it to the man, Brett!

2017 Remnants

To the uninitiated, my annual remnants list is a distillation of all the songs from the previous year that I obtained after my self-imposed deadline.  One of the songs (#5) is a song that was in my itunes last year before the deadline, but never added to my playlist for end of year consideration.

5.  War is Coming (If You Want It)-  Carseat Headrest

Carseat Headrest is a young musician who is already wowing the musical world with well crafted pop-rock songs.  And then he goes an takes an old Lennon trope and turns it into a warning about the march toward war.  Well done.

4.  If All I Was Was Black-  Mavis Staples

Taken under the wing of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, gospel matriarch Mavis Staples has seen a renaissance in the past few years, with this song being similar to the message of the Black Lives Matter movement.

3.  Strong Woman-  Jen Cloher

This was the last album on my list that I actually got to hear.  I’m glad I waited until I’d listened to everything, because this song straight up rocks.

2.  Mother Mother (Modern Burdens version)-  Tracy Bonham

Without making sure this video is the same version as the one that appears on her 20th anniversary re-working of The Burdens of Being Upright, Bonham does a great job of updating the stresses of 1997 early adulthood with 2017 mid-life challenges…such as “Trump is winning”.

  1.  Benjamin Franklin (Hamildrop)-  The Decemberists

I said this when the song first came out, but of course Ben Franklin, in the world of Hamilton, would have been hip to the indie rock stylings akin to Colin Meloy!  Good on Lin Manuel for sensing that, and great job to the Decemberists for nailing the track.  Easily the best song of 2017 that I didn’t hear/didn’t come out until after the first day of Hanukkah last year.