Archive for the ‘Music’ category

RIP Guy Clark

May 17, 2016

There are some people who become type specimens.  They’re the folks who define the characteristics of the category of folks to whom they belong.  Guy Clark was — or rather, given what remains — continues to be the type specimen of the singer-songwriter.

Charles Pierce has already written his remembrance of this artist, who died today of what sounds like complications of a hard-lived, powerfully felt life:

He was a craftsman in all the best senses of the word–in the way he created his songs, and in the way he told his stories, and in the places the music took you…

That’s exactly right.  And yeah, go read the rest, and listen to Charlie’s picks of the Guy Clark songs that resonate for him.

For me?  Well, the first number I recall was his biggest mainstream hit, “L. A. Freeway” — which holds up OK, but isn’t what drew me back to Clark when I started listening to him with intent a few years ago.  This is the one that got me started, at a time (as I face again this year, dammit) when too many people that mattered in my life were dying on me:

This one got me next, and still does:*

And this is the one I think of on the day Guy Clark left us; he’s taken his place in the room he’s singing us into:

All of which is to say that Clark couldn’t have a good time. He loved a party** — just ask him:

The list goes on. The Hon. Pierce has it right: Clark was a meticulous song writer and a brilliant one (the two modifiers don’t describe the same quality). Dive in anywhere, and the worst you’ll get is fine fun. At his best….

Dammit — it’s been a crap year for musicians here in these United States.

I’ll leave you with one more favorite, one that captures the heart of what I love most about Clark — the way his music inhabits a story and vice versa:

Rest in peace, Guy Clark.

*And here’s a lagniappe.  Check out this tune, the one Clark sends us to in an homage and something of a statement — a recognition of the league in which Guy himself could play.

**In the old days, when it was Clark and Townes Van Zandt and some more bad boys and girls I don’t think I could have come close to keeping up, had I had the amazing fortune to be in the right bar at the right time.  But that’s another story.  If you want to read up  on Mr. Clark — this is a fine and recent profile.

May Day!

May 1, 2016

Happy International Workers Day!

That’s one incarnation of a classic — and here’s another, with a lovely story to frame it.

So, to channel my inner President Obama, talking to Senator Sanders last night “this is the time and place” in which I wish all my comrades a happy, peaceful, easeful international labor day.  We may all Tikkun Olam again tomorrow.

Palate Cleanser

April 14, 2016

Here’s some tunes I reached for this afternoon, all to get the texture of Kasich’s narishkeit in Brooklyn out of my brain.

First up: Itzhak Perlman’s got some swing:


Next, for a bit of joyous culture mixing, check out the Barcelona Gypsy Klezmer Orchestra, here doing a killer take on Djelem Djelem:

And last, because where would we be without people with too much time on their hands constructing glorious improbabilities, enjoy this (h/t @joi_the_artist):

And with that: top of the evening, all!

This’ll Hurt…Preceded by Thanks

April 8, 2016

First — thanks again to everyone around the social-media-verse for all the kind thoughts thrown my way on my Guggenheim news.  I’ll post on the sweet/bittersweet backstory to that when I get back to the computer that has the photograph I need.  Here, I’ll just say that yup, it’s been a good week, the more so because there is no gift I value more right now than that of time.


That said, on to the fun stuff:  cheering the discomfiture of our foes (while regretting any collateral damage) — and hoping against hope that this kind of news will, in not-too-long-a-time, have the right effect.

What news, you ask?


The Boss took no prisoners in explaining his decision:
To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them.

It does suck for NC Springsteen fans — many-t0-most of whom I’d bet loathe this law as much as Bruuuuuuuuce does.  But public and bitter consequences are the only way I see of driving the point home.  The legislative assault on civil rights led by Republicans all over the country is exactly the kind of crap up with which we will not put.

So, to celebrate Mr. Springsteen — and to give just a little salve to our North Carolina pro-E-Street-anti-bigotry cohort, here’s a little something from 1978:

Image:  Antonio de Pereda, Allegory, c. 1654


October 4, 2015

It’s not confined to the NFL, you know:

You can thank me later.

Bows In The Hood

September 17, 2015

Here’s something to wash away the taste of last night’s DerpFest extraordinaire.

From the NPR story on Black Violin:

Kevin Sylvester says that when most people see a 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound black man, they don’t expect him to also be a classically trained violinist. A recent exchange with a woman in an elevator, when he happened to have his instrument with him in its case, drove that point home.

“She’s like, ‘What do you play?’ ” he recalls. “I’m like, ‘I’m a violinist.’ And she was like, ‘Well, obviously you don’t play classical, so what kind of style do you play?’ ”

Sylvester says he explained that while he does have a degree in classical music, he plays all kinds of styles. “She didn’t mean it maliciously,” he says, “but I hope she gets to see us in concert and we can change her perception.”

A not altogether non sequitur.  As I watched this video, I was reminded why I’m a member of the Democratic party.  It’s got a lot of problems, lot of positions espoused by leaders at every level of government at which I wince.  But the party that nominated and elected Barack Hussein Obama is one that can envision an America that looks like the country Sylvester and his co-conspirator in gut and horsehair, Wilner Baptiste, want to help create.  I’ll leave the “and the other party….” half of the duology unmentioned…its would-be leaders said all that was necessary last night.

Plus, and for your early evening pleasure — these guys can play.

Because I Love You

December 3, 2014

Working on a bunch of stuff, so almost no time to blog, but in eavesdropping on a Twitter conversation about the various awesomenesses of the Scots, combined with the lethal power of bagpipes, I came across this:

It seems to me we could use — certainlly can — a daily leaven of the absurd to help confront the weight of all the stupid/evil that so dominates the rap, Jack, these days.

You can thank me later.