Thursday, May 31, 2007

116/365 Blue Moon Revisited (Song for Elvis)

Hey, it’s a blue moon today, at least in our time zone, which makes me think of Helen and of the song “Blue Moon” and of one of my favorite Cowboy Junkies songs, in the middle of which they sing “Blue Moon.” It’s freakin’ yummy.

It took me awhile to find someplace where you could listen to it, but I finally did, on Rhapsody, and it really took me less than a minute to download the software, even to my Mac, and I’m a computer idiot. It’s worth a listen, if you’ve got the time. Of course, I have actual time about once in a blue moon.

It’s overcast, so I might not see our blue moon tonight at 9:04. Nice to know it’s there, though.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

115/365 Deep Elem Blues

Hey, fellow northerners: Have you noticed that we’ve been having Grateful Dead weather lately?

I love their covers of old tunes, like, say, “Deep Elem Blues.” It’s good to get fair warning about a place, where to keep your money, and what the standard cop bribe is.

I couldn’t find a clip all by itself, but here it is with “Dire Wolf” for your double-Dead pleasure.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

114/365 19th Nervous Breakdown

Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown

That chorus is the only part of the song that really applies to me. I’m both too much of an introvert and from too middle class a background for the verses to reflect my life. But whenever I’m overcommitted work- and schedulewise, this song eventually begins to repeat itself in my brain, like a mantra.

Which may mean this part applies too:

Oh, who’s to blame? That girl’s just insane.
Well, nothing I do don’t seem to work.
It only seems to make the matters worse. Oh, please.

Monday, May 28, 2007

113/365 Angel Band

I got word today that my cousin, whom I barely knew, died yesterday. He was 32. I’m still waiting for details.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but I love some of the old bluegrass gospel—“Angel Band” especially. Lyrics tend to vary a lot, but most versions start close to this way:

My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run
My strongest trials now are past, my triumph has begun
Oh, come, Angel Band, come and around me stand
Oh bear me away on your snow white wings to my immortal home
Oh bear me away on your snow white wings to my immortal home.

Hear the Barrel House Mamas sing a sweet a capella version here.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

112/365 The Look of Love

The look of love is in your eyes
The look your smile can’t disguise
The look of love is saying so much more
Than just words could ever say
And what my heart has heard

Well, it takes my breath away

Yesterday, around 4:00, I saw Tim relaxing on the couch in the living room. Relaxing. In our own home. Before dinner. This is a rarity for either one of us, it seems.

He suggested martinis, but because we were planning to see a show, we opted for the less intense but refreshing gin and tonic. Tim picked the music (knowing that for me, it had to be jazz), even picked out the track on the CD, and said This one’s for you.

It was Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “The Look of Love” on the same-titled Diana Krall CD.

The reason Tim would pick this one out for me is that eons ago I informed him that this was among the first songs I ever knew lyrics to in their entirety.* My parents had at least one album with lots of Bacharach/David tunes, and I became very familiar with them long before my age neared double digits.

Now, these songs are totally evocative of the 60s for me, and listening to them, I can almost imagine I know what it was like to be an adult then, even if what I’m really doing is remembering wanting to be an adult then and being sure I knew what it would be like. Popular music always feels like it’s informing you, and sometimes part of the story is the only part you want to know anyway.

I love Krall’s cover of this tune, but for Maureen, here’s a link to Dusty Springfield.

*Or maybe he was just trying to be romantic.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

111/365 I Am the Walrus

Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.

What I love most about the Beatles is how much their music evolved over only eight years, and how, for me, it only got better and better. I’m definitely more of a fan of the later stuff, but when I listen to the early, more pop songs, I find myself thinking, Damn, that’s good, in spite of myself.

Here’s a little 1967 ditty, kind of midlife Beatles.

Friday, May 25, 2007

110/365 Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore

Part of my morning ritual is scanning New York Times headlines/articles online. As you might imagine, this can get quite depressing. I feel an obligation to be semi-informed, though, however semi it is.

Some things about the world don’t seem to change much. One of those things is that I still love this John Prine song from his 1971 album.

While digesting Reader’s Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag with gum on the back
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I’d tell her how good I feel.

But your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.
They’re already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don’t like killin’
No matter what the reason’s for,
And your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

109/365 Buckets of Rain

Buckets of rain
Buckets of tears
Got all them buckets comin’ out of my ears.
Buckets of moonbeams in my hand,
I got all the love, honey baby,
You can stand.

Hey, it’s Dylan’s birthday. (This is the beauty of subscribing to Writer’s Almanac. You wake up, they tell you.)

Pick a song, any song. This is the one I picked this morning.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

108/365 Blue in Green

Did Bill Evans write it? Did Miles Davis?

A jazz trio played it in the sanctuary at John’s memorial service.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

107/365 Bad Touch

My co-worker John left town on my 40th birthday. I try to not take that personally; he really needed to get away from Vermont. He’s since lived in Kentucky and Nova Scotia, spending long stints in metro DC and on his lover’s sailboat.

Before he left, he made me a mix tape—OK, CD, but I’m not letting go of the mix tape verbage yet—full of ridiculously fun songs, including the previously noted “I’m Too Sexy” and Bloodhound Gang’s “Bad Touch.” I do so enjoy the silly, self-centered, and raunchy.

Now, Youtubewise, should I link you to the ridiculous and rather visually uninteresting Bloodhound Gang video or the possibly overly hot Buffy and Spike footage?

Love—the kind you clean up with a mop and bucket
Like the lost catacombs of Egypt only God knows where we stuck it
Hieroglyphics? Let me be Pacific. I wanna be down in your South Seas
But I got this notion that the motion of your ocean means “Small Craft Advisory”
So if I capsize on your thighs high tide, B-5, you sunk my battleship
Please turn me on I’m Mister Coffee with an automatic drip
So show me yours I’ll show you mine “Tool Time” you’ll Lovett just like Lyle
And then we’ll do it doggy style so we can both watch X Files

Monday, May 21, 2007

106/365 Ain’t Misbehavin’/Honeysuckle Rose

After reading Writer’s Almanac this morning and discovering that it’s the birthday of Fats Waller, well, I think he needs a second recognition in this blog. I started listening to him just about the time I turned legal age, and I never looked back. Actually, I probably wasn’t quite 18, so I was listening illegally for a little while.

Here’s a back-to-back Youtube of two classics.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

105/365 I’m Too Sexy

I’m too sexy for my shirt too sexy for my shirt
So sexy it hurts
And I’m too sexy for Milan too sexy for Milan
New York and Japan
And I’m too sexy for your party
Too sexy for your party
No way I’m disco dancing

To me, this song is Wayne and Sue’s son Derek, all six-foot-five of him, dancing around, truly believing in his own sexiness. I wonder what it feels like to be so sure.

I can’t help it. I find this Right Said Fred song hilarious.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

104/365 Afternoons and Coffeespoons

Someday I’ll have a disappearing hairline
Someday I’ll wear pyjamas in the daytime
Afternoons will be measured out
Measured out, measured with
Coffeespoons and T. S. Eliot

I had a physical on Thursday. I admit it: I’m as obsessed with death as the next guy. So far no one else seems to think that my death is imminent. Of course, I haven’t heard anything about the bloodwork or the EKG.

My arm still hurts from the tetanus shot.

I love how Crash Test Dummies sing [what may or may not be considered somewhat] pessimistic lyrics to such an optimistic tune.

Maybe if I could do a play-by-playback
I could change the test results that I will get back
I’ve watched the summer evenings pass by
I’ve heard the rattle in my bronchi . . .

Friday, May 18, 2007

103/365 Black Friday

When Black Friday comes I’ll fly down to Muswellbrook
Gonna strike all the big red words from my little black book
Gonna do just what I please, gonna wear no socks and shoes
With nothing to do but feed all the kangaroos

Once I met Tim, way back in college, I started listening to a lot more Steely Dan. In retrospect, they seem like a rather light group for a skateboard rocker to have liked. I didn’t realize how jazz driven they were until much later on, after I realized I might be a jazz freak. Loved the crazy lyrics.

I assume you know what a Steely Dan is. If you don’t, you have some Internet homework to do.

My favorite album is probably Katy Lied. This tune starts it off.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

102/365 Mas y Mas

Have you ever bought a CD on a whim and then were unable to decide if you liked it? That happened to me with Los Lobos’s Colossal Head. I’d listen to it, there’d be a song or two I knew I liked, but the CD was all over the place. The few times I’d go through my CD collection to attempt to cull the herd, I always pulled it as a possible throwaway. Then I’d listen again. I was never sure I really liked it, but I couldn’t quite let it go.

Then something happened. I don’t know what. One day I put it on and loved the whole thing. The all-over-the-placeness of it now sounded like a brilliant mix tape.

This is one song I always loved.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

101/365 Get Up Offa That Thing

I can’t get going this morning. I need someone like James Brown to insist that I get up offa that thing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

100/365 The Weakness in Me

Being in love with two people sucks. Joan Armatrading tells it well.

Monday, May 14, 2007

99/365 Walk This Way

Seesaw swingin’ with the boys in the school
and your feet flyin’ up in the air
singin’ hey diddle diddle
with your kitty in the middle of the swing
like you didn’t care
so I took a big chance at the high school dance
with a missy who was ready to play
wasn’t me she was foolin’
’cause she knew what she was doin’
when she told me how to walk this way

This song is so high school in the seventies. It’s hanging out with Cheryl, her mom, and her sister (to this day, those three travel hours to hit the metal concerts). Best Aerosmith song ever. The Run DMC collaboration is tight.

Just gimme a kiss.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

98/365 Cover of the Rolling Stone

Wanna see my picture on the cover
Wanna buy five copies for my mother
Wanna see my smilin’ face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone

For Mother’s Day, I was trying to think of some song to post with the word mother in it. What does it say about me that the first song I thought of was Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s “Cover of the Rolling Stone”?

Perhaps it says that as a childfree individual, I’m not likely to come up with some heavydeepandreal song about the miracle and joys of motherhood. Perhaps it says that I’m still looking for validation and approval from my own mother. Perhaps it says that I’ve always been a big Shel Silverstein fan (don’t you just love Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book? I recommend it to anyone about age 15 and older with a sense of [sexual, dark] humor).

For the record, I am not the Cocaine Katy mentioned in the song.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

97/365 Pomp and Circumstance

This year, I have a best friend whose daughter is graduating from college and another best friend whose daughter is graduating from high school. It’s shocking, really. (Especially that I could push such grammatical limits here, in a public blog. Still, I reserve the right to call multiple people best friend.)

Whenever I hear “Pomp and Circumstance” (apparently the “Land of Hope and Glory” part), my head automatically fills in silly lyrics that I’m convinced will never leave me. At my own high school graduation, there were several guys who, during rehearsals, insisted on singing these words nonstop: I wanna smoke reefer, I wanna get stoned.

These were sophisticated times. These are the words bubbling up in my brain as the music swells.

With enough repetition of the tune, my mind then jumps to the words college pal Dave used to sing:

My reindeer fly sideways
Your reindeer fly upside down
My reindeer fly sideways
Your reindeer is dead.

I have no explanation whatsoever for those lyrics. None.

Here’s an abbreviated cover of the tune.

Friday, May 11, 2007

96/365 My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose

I had lunch with my friend Rosalind while I was in New York. I moved in with her in 1986, when I migrated to DC. She lived in a big house on Klingle Road, between Cleveland Park and Adams Morgan, and was renting out rooms to help pay the mortgage. Tim moved in a couple of months after I did. We were planning our wedding, and Rosalind helped. We continued to live there for more than half a year after the nuptials.

Rosalind often sang with the Washington Opera Chorus. One of the songs she sang at our wedding was the Robert Burns classic, “My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose.”

More than twenty years later, Rosalind doesn’t look any older than the day I met her. She made a Dorian Gray joke, which felt synchronistic, as somehow, during my insomniac thought ramblings the night before, I had been thinking about Dorian Gray and that crazed canvas from the film version. That painting looks like how I feel when I know insomnia has settled in.

I’m back home in my own bed with my own luve, and the insomnia’s gone (of course, so are those pesky nocturnal cats). And I still love this sweet and simple Scottish song. I just wish you could hear Rosalind sing it a capella.

O, my luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June.
O, my luve’s like the melodie,
That's sweetly play’d in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

95/365 Up a Lazy River

Up a lazy river by the old mill stream
That lazy, hazy river where we both can dream
Linger in the shade of an old oak tree
Throw away your troubles, dream a dream with me

Have I really only blogged one Hoagy Carmichael tune? It feels like more, because others of you have already covered “Georgia on My Mind” and “Stardust.”

Carmichael gets a nod today because last night his son, Hoagy B. Carmichael, and I both showed up at an event honoring Stan Bogdan, the great American fly-reel maker. Unfortunately, a last-minute conflict meant that this Hoagy Carmichael could only stay for the cocktail hour.

He arrived carrying a big brown paper bag with a handle. Inside was a copy of his book, The Grand Cascapedia River: A History, Volume 1. I had run an excerpt (in the small fly-fishing journal I edit) as the book was going to press.

This copy was for me. It’s leather bound and slipcased. It’s beautiful. I was thrilled (and frankly, quite touched—a word that here means “emotionally stirred, as with gratitude”) to receive it.

Later, as I stashed it away, I noticed the shrink wrapping. It must not be signed, I thought sadly.

But after dinner, after I caught a cab at Grand Central, after I switched from high heels to Dansko clogs while riding in said cab, after I climbed the five flights of stairs to my sister’s apartment, I took a closer look. The shrink wrap was slit along the slipcase. I tilted the case and let the book slip. Opened it. It was signed. Of course it was.

When I met Hoagy in person last year, only after dinner did I get up the nerve to mention that I was a big fan of his father’s work.

Connections through the world of fly fishing can be strange, wonderful, and full of characters.

Here’s Up a Lazy River (with some unnecessary silly banter up front).

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

94/365 Sleep Keeps Me Awake

Sleep comes creeping in
At four in the morning
Sneaking up the stairs
Shoes in her hands
Don’t you know what time it is?
I’ve been worried ’bout you baby
Seems the least you could do was
Phone to say you’d be late

Night 2 in New York. Full-fledged insomnia. Maybe it was that late dinner with Leyla. Even so, Dudley and Isabella are back at it. I forgot that this same thing happened last year, and it wasn’t until night 3, utterly exhausted, that I finally fell asleep. Tomorrow. I’m about due.

Michelle Shocked included this reprimand to elusive sleep on her 1989 Captain Swing CD.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

93/365 What’s New, Pussycat?

And so begin their nocturnal adventures. The felines Dudley and Isabella pounce on me, chase invisible prey through any available opening in the room. Alison snores, oblivious. This pillow feels funny. The New York City traffic isn’t bad, only a little road rage at this hour. A would-be opera star makes her way through the streets. I hope Insomnia will be distracted enough to pass me by, fade into the distance like that soprano’s voice.

This Tom Jones classic—like Dudley and Isabella at night—is both whimsical and annoying.

Monday, May 7, 2007

92/365 Private Idaho

I first saw the B-52’s on Saturday Night Live. I don’t remember what they performed, but it was probably “Rock Lobster.” At first, I thought it was a joke—I expected one of the chicks to be a wigged Laraine Newman. Pretty soon, though, it became clear that they were for real.

Now that it’s spring again, I can’t stop playing them. There’s a part of me that feels like I was born to be in a band like this, singing songs like this, that I missed my calling.

I love trying to dig meaning out of this wild potato of a song.

Keep off the path, beware the gate,
watch out for signs that say “hidden driveways.”
Don’t let the chlorine in your eyes
blind you to the awful surprise
that’s waitin’ for you at
the bottom of the bottomless blue blue blue pool.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Saturday, May 5, 2007

90/365 Colors of the Wind

I’m really enjoying it. It’s the gayest show on television. Maybe the gayest thing EVER. Gayer than Liberace giving a hand job to Paul Lynde. Gayer than Judy Garland singing a duet with Richard Simmons. Gayer than me singing “Colors of the Wind” at Walt Disney World.
—Sewa Yoleme, yesterday in an e-mail, on Ugly Betty

Sometime soon after the turn of the century (2002? SY, please help me remember), Sewa Yoleme and I took a five-day trip to Disney World and did all the parks. Believe me, if you’re going to drop yourself into some serious kitsch, it makes sense to go with a gay guy.

On some tram, somewhere, “Colors of the Wind” began to play. (Does this mean we were in the Magic Kingdom? I’m thinking yes.) Yoleme broke into song. He knew every freakin’ word.

“You are so gay,” I told him, shrinking into-ish the slippery tram bench.

As long as he was reminding me of the incident, I decided to look up the lyrics. I’ve never actually seen Pocohantas. The only thing I really know about the movie is that she’s the cartoon character men seem to want to do. (Insert obvious discussion here.)

The lyrics, it turns out, are so indicative of Sewa Yoleme’s shamanesque personality, I can no longer blame him for belting it out like a theme song.

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest
Come taste the sunsweet berries of the Earth
Come roll in all the riches all around you
And for once, never wonder what they’re worth
The rainstorm and the river are my brothers
The heron and the otter are my friends
And we are all connected to each other
In a circle, in a hoop that never ends

Is it synchronicity that he should mention this song yesterday, the day a—nay, the—Queen was visiting Jamestown?

Friday, May 4, 2007

89/365 Burning Down the House

They sure loved this Talking Heads song in the ’burbs of Chicago back in the eighties. So did I. My first night out, I got asked to dance. I was too shy and not drunk enough to say yes at that moment, and I’m convinced the guy thought I was a snob. I mean, how else could someone not dance?

My house s’out of the ordinary
That’s right don’t want to hurt nobody
Some things sure can sweep me off my feet
Burning down the house

Thursday, May 3, 2007

88/365 I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

OK, OK. It’s kinda pop. But I love this Proclaimers’ song. Ten summers ago, I threw Sunshine on Leith into the tape deck of a rental car in Scotland and drove with the windows wide open. Thrills.

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

87/365 Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

According to today’s Writer’s Almanac, it’s the birthday of Lorenz Hart, lyricist of that killer team Rodgers and Hart. Perhaps my favorite Rodgers and Hart song is “My Funny Valentine,” but I’ve already blogged that. Helen’s recently done “Blue Moon” as part of her intriguing moon series. So the song for the day is “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.” Whenever you hear this song today, scream real loud!

Ella Fitzgerald does a lovely abbreviated cover here.

I’m wild again, beguiled again…

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

86/365 The Lusty Month of May

Wishing everyone a festive Beltane with this song by Lerner and Loewe.

Tra la, it’s May, the lusty month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it’s here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear

It’s May, it’s May, that gorgeous holiday
When every maiden prays that her lad will be a cad
It’s mad, it’s gay, alive, a lust display
Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks
Everyone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May

Whence this fragrance wafting through the air?
What sweet feelings does its scent transmute?
Whence this perfume floating everywhere?
Don’t you know, it’s that dear forbidden fruit

It’s May, it’s May, the lusty month of May
That darling month when everyone throws self-control away
It’s time to do a wretched thing or two
And try to make each precious day one you’ll always rue

It’s May, it’s May, the month of “Yes, you may”
The time for every frivolous whim, proper or im-
It’s wild, it’s gay, depraved in every way
The birds and bees with all of their vast amorous past
Gaze at the human race aghast
The lusty month of May

Tra la, it’s May, the lusty month of May
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la, it’s here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear

It’s May, it’s May, the month of great dismay
When all the world is brimming with fun, wholesome or un-
It’s mad, it’s gay, alive a lust display
Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks
Everyone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May