Category Archives: Elvis Costello

Songs That Move Me, 50-41

50. Indiscipline – King Crimson.
“I repeat myself when under stress, I repeat myself when under stress…” Tom, my boss at FantaCo, described this song as his description of the store. Last song on the first side of the Discipline LP.
Feeling: feeling: feeling: feeling:

49. Would I Lie To You – Eurythmics.
There’s the insistent beat, the horns, the vocals, the guitar line, specially on the bridge.
Feeling: truthful.
It’s HERE.

48. High School- MC5.
A decade before the Ramones, the MC5 from Detroit, a three-chord band. This live version doesn’t exude the sheer raw energy of the original.
Feeling: you better get out of the way.

47. Tell Me Something Good – Rufus.
Chaka Khan! Has that wonderful descending chromatic scale. Stevie Wonder-penned funk. Love the Bob Hope intro.
Feeling: good.

46. Logical Song – Supertramp.
I love the way the sound gets fuller on the verse before the break, the doubling of the vocal on “a vegetable” and the sax solo.
Feeling: paranoid.

A better video but lesser sound here.

45. Uptight – Stevie Wonder.
My first all-time favorite Motown song. First that bass line with drums, then the horns. I’m also fond of the background vocals, and that machine gun-like drunm fills. So good that Bill Cosby, long before Weird Al, copped it for “Little Old Man”.
Feeling- joy.

44. Tomorrow Never Knows – the Beatles.
Insistent bottom, weird tape loop sounds, odd vocal, strange bridge. Oh, I love it.
Feeling: floating.
It’s here.

43. Our Prayer – Beach Boys.
About 68 seconds of stunning vocalese.
Feeling: reflective.
A snippet here.

42. Satisfaction – Rolling Stones.
Anthemic, copped by lots of other bands.
Feeling: as though I tried and I tried.

41. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding?-Elvis Costello.
I STILL hear this both as the driving anthem it is and as an a cappella doowop. From a greatest hits CD.
Feeling: like begging for peace.


Eddie Mitchell Makes Me Go Country

Eddie called me out to comment on EW’s top 25 country albums you have to hear, even if you don’t like country music. Since I pretty much do whatever Eddie requests – he asks so nicely – I could do naught but respond, albeit reluctantly. I am not what I’d call a big country fan; I don’t dislike it, just don’t follow it much.
Once, though, I did. Back in the days when AM radio was king, there were many stations that operated pretty much from sunrise to sundown. Then there were these mega “clear channel” stations that one could hear from a great distance at night. From my home in Binghamton, NY, I could hear stations in New York City and Cleveland. I could also get WWVA, Wheeling, West Virginia, a country station.
Also, my grandfather brought home this album “50 Stars, 50 Hits” on “two long-playing albums”, as the pitchman said it.

Now to the list:
*means I Have It

*1. Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash
Maybe it’s because I heard it first, but I prefer San Quentin. Not that this is a bad album. I also liked the American Recordings John R. did later in his life. In fact, if you considered that best of American Recordings album that came in the posthumous box set, I might pick that.

*2. Home, Dixie Chicks
As I mentioned recently, bought this to protest the protest of the Dixie Chicks. Ironically, this album has one mighty patriotic tune in particular that was on the charts when the controversy developed. I like it, but it seems terribly high in the pantheon of all country music.

3. Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., Dwight Yoakam
I like him when I see him on TV or when he appears on a compilation album I have, but have none of his albums.

*4. Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn
I’m quite fond of this Jack White-produced disc.

5. Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson
Have some Willie, not this.

6. Carnegie Hall Concert, Buck Owens and His Buckaroos
No Buck except on 50 Stars.

7. Modern Day Drifter, Dierks Bentley
Don’t know him. See he already has a greatest hits album.

8. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Miranda Lambert
I heard her name mentioned in a positive review on CBS Sunday Morning, I believe.

9. The Complete Reprise Sessions, Gram Parsons
The only Gram I have is on the expanded version of the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo CD.

10. Time Well Wasted, Brad Paisley
Know the name. He’s playing around here soon.

11. Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton
Eddie will probably hate me, but I own no solo Dolly.

*12. Elite Hotel, Emmylou Harris
Own it on LP, haven’t played it in years. Prefer Blue Kentucky Girl from that era.

13. Georgia Hard, Robbie Fulks
Don’t know.

*14. Trio, Dolly Parton/Linda Ronstadt/Emmylou Harris
Bought unheard based on all those great Emmylou harmonies on Linda’s albums, and Dolly’s harmony on Linda’s “I’ll Never Be Married”. Very fond of this album.

15. Gold, Hank Williams
For all the covers of Hank Williams songs I own and songs referring to Hank, from Johnny Cash to Neil Young that I have, unless I got one in the end days of my LP collecting, I just don’t have any collections.

16. Hag — The Best of Merle Haggard, Merle Haggard
I think that I didn’t get the parody that was “Okie from Muskogee” and dismissed him out of hand. Know better now, but haven’t rectified the void in my collection.

17. Come On Over, Shania Twain
I do remember some sultry video from this, which I did hear as country particularly. And that “Man, I’m a Woman” song’s from here, too. The album sold 20 bajillion copies. My feeling: meh.

*18. Guitar Town, Steve Earle
My first Steve Earle was a live album I didn’t much like. The second was I Feel Alright, which just love. Guitar Town is a really good album, but it was so hyped in my circle of friends, it couldn’t bear the weight.

19. These Days, Vince Gill
Own none Like to watch him on TV occasionally.

*20. Almost Blue, Elvis Costello
It was an acquired taste for me. Grew to like and respect it, rather than embrace it.

21. Here for the Party, Gretchen Wilson
I know who she is, but not this album.

22. The Definitive Collection, the Flying Burrito Brothers
Know them, have heard them on FM radio, but own none.

23. Revival, Gillian Welch
If there’s one artist on this list I’m mostly likely to purchase, it’s Gillian Welch. I’ve heard her music at other people’s houses.

24. Horse of a Different Color, Big & Rich
Know them only by reputation, not all good.

*25. Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
My wife loves Alison Krauss, and we saw her in April 2003 at the Palace Theater in Albany. There are tracks of hers on albums I like but I haven’t loved a whole album since that greatest hits album she put out back c. 1994 when she was still brunette and more zaftig, until this one. But is it country?

I have eight out of 25.

What, no Patsy Cline? I would also found room for Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter and maybe Rosanne Cash.

Your turn, Eddie.


Robert , Declan and Amos

Negotiations and love songs: a couple weeks ago, Carol and I received tickets to go to the Albany Symphony on September 28. Bereft of babysitters, it meant one of us could go, but one would have to stay home with Lydia. Since my friend Rocco, who I’ve known since my FantaCo days in the early 1980s, had finally secured tickets for him, his girlfriend Kara and me to see Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello at the Times Union Center on October 6, guess who went to ASO? Hint: she went with one of her girlfriends.

On October 6, Rocco picked me up at home, having already dropped off Kara and another couple. We parked only three blocks away, on Madison Avenue, but the rainstorm of a couple hours earlier returned, so Rocco got a little wet; I was wearing my rain slicker, just in case. I went looking for cheap souvenirs; in the land of $35 and $40 T-shirts, there were none.

Amos Lee and his band started; I must admit that, though he must have at least two albums, I had never heard of him. The music was somewhat folky and jazzy, sometimes sounding like The Band, maybe because of the heavy organ sound. He did five uptempo songs, then two slower sons – a mistake for an opening act, I think, because, in anticipating the headliners, everyone knows he’s not going to end with a ballad. That said, I really liked the band and all the vocals; on at least one song, he sounded eeriely like John Hiatt. I enjoyed the songs, too, except the slower What’s Going On Here, which just couldn’t stand up next to the song it evoked, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.

There’s a 10- or-15-minute break, then, without warning or introduction, Elvis Costello, all dressed in black, launches into The Angels Want To Wear My Red Shoes, followed by Blue Chair; I was trying to remember if he had any songs with the word Yellow in them, so that he could cover all the primary colors. During these two songs, streams of people were pouring back to their seats, more or less in our sight line, so this was a bit distracting. Elvis then did a great set on solo guitar. On Oliver’s Army, and later songs, he did a false ending that milked the applause.

Elvis talked a bit about how his father always told him to “look down on a note”; he admits that he STILL has no idea what he’s talking about. After Down Among the Wines and Spirits, which I presume is a (great) new song, he talked about his twin boys, who had turned ten months old that day, and American citizens, and he expressed his hope that, someday, his sons will be President and Vice-President, something, he noted, the current governor of California cannot do. He mentioned, not by name, his wife, who is “a piano player” (Diana Krall), who was backstage with the boys, and that the sons were “carny kids”. I theorized that Elvis was particularly chatty because of his long history in Albany, going back over a quarter century.

He ended with Veronica; Radio Sweetheart, the “first song I ever recorded”, which effectively segued into Van Morrison’s Jackie Wilson Said; Peace, Love and Understanding, surprisingly maintaining its anthemic quality with just guitar and vocal; and the moving The Scarlet Tide.

A somewhat longer break took place, and I went out to try to figure out something. As I noted, we were in Section 102. So there was a sign in the hall that read 102 – 101, then another that read 103-102, 104-103, etc. This meant that the higher number was on the left and the lower number was on the right. This explained why no fewer than 10 parties came into our section telling people that they were sitting in their seats, when in fact, THEY were in the wrong section. One person sat in Kara’s seat while she and Rocco were in the lobby, and I redirected her. In retrospect, the designers should have numbered the sections from left to right, rather than from right to left, but we figured it out; why couldn’t the others?

I also ran into my friend Bill and his wife Brenda. I’ve known Bill since kindergarten in Binghamton, and attended their wedding near Albany 20-some years ago. While we were talking, the auditorium got dark and a voiceover came on, so I rushed back to my seat. The narrative was about an icon of the ’60s and Christianity, and losing his way, only to come back, starting in the late ’90s with three great albums; something like that. Then Dylan (also in black) and his band (in maroon suits) began.

I checked with people later, and the sense of the people in the cheap seats, not necessarily the people on the floor, was the same. While the band was solid, Dylan’s vocals were even more indecipherable than usual. Worse, the sound was muddy. My experience was not enhanced by a woman behind me and to my left yelling, at least six times, “Play something we grew up with,” peculiar, because the second and fourth songs (Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right and Simple Twist of Fate) certainly should have qualified; but he deconstructed them so much that maybe she didn’t recognize them. The people behind me and to my right were bored, as they were talking throughout, and not about the music; one woman was text-messaging. The guy immediately in front of me, probably in his mid-20s, had a a hash pipe he was sharing at least a half dozen times with his girlfriend or wife and another couple. None of these enhanced my experience.

It wasn’t until they, and lots of others that I could see, left, that the show became halfway enjoyable to me. Summer Days, the 13th song, was a crowd favorite. By the time of the second encore tune, a tremendous All Along the Watchtower, which somehow cut through the sonic mire, another woman behind me was dancing. Afterwards, I thanked her for appreciating what the music was rather than what she wanted it to be. Rocco asked if I knew her; no, I did not.

It was the consensus of everyone I talked to, including Bill and Brenda, that Amos Lee was excellent. There was generally positive opinions about Costello; I enjoyed him a great deal. But it was unanimous that the Dylan experience was disappointing. Rocco thought the show started strong, hit a lull in the middle, then ended great. Bill had gone to find another couple, who had better seats, still along the sides, and the sound was MUCH better, which makes me theorize that, depending on where you sat would have HEAVILY influenced how you felt about Bobby Z. and his band. Indeed I checked with someone with seats on the floor, and the sound was fine, though Dylan’s words were not, and even he suggested that the music didn’t really gel until the sixth or seventh song.

Still, I really enjoyed the first two acts, and the latter stages of the third, I got to meet Rocco’s girlfriend and hang out with Rocco, so it wasn’t a
s though the night were a total bust.
Sarge Blotto’s review and Dylan’s and Costello’s playlist.


Zimmerman and MacManus

I just heard this weekend that Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello are performing together in Albany on October 6. My wife seems not only disinclined to go, but unimpressed with the teaming, even though she actually bought me Costello’s North, mostly, I think, because it was, in part, a love letter to one of her favorite singers, Diana Krall.

So, I want to go, but I don’t particularly want to go alone. If you’re in the area (or you want to travel to Albany to see them, please e-mail me.