Friday, December 31, 2004


BigRock's advice for the day: Always take two aspirin and drink a whole glass of water before going to bed on new year's eve/morning. Trust me on this one.

Two celebratory ditties for ya before a much needed two day break.

Ok, one's a poem. Wait, come back, it's not by me or Sylvia Plath. It'll be ok, I promise. I've always been a bit of a John Updike-as-novelist fan. Never paid much attention to his poetry. But this little piece just strikes me as a perfect capsule of reflection, not just for the new year, but in light of all the recent events in the world. From the Rhino/WordBeat box set In Their Own Voices: A Century of Recorded Poetry.

John Updike: An Oddly Lovely Day Alone (mp3)
(YouSendIt file)

And, since Lighnin' already wished us a merry Christmas, why not let him wish us a happy New Year as well?

Lightnin' Hopkins: Happy New Year (mp3)
(YouSendIt File)

That'll do it for this year. See ya next one.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

pick a song

Say a prayer or mantra for R.L. Burnside. He apparently suffered two heart attacks and a stroke a couple of weeks ago, and is in a hospital in South Haven, Mississippi. One of the last of the greats.

Going all out today. Sorta.

Some questions before we begin the final countdown.

1. Does Spin actually listen to the music they cover, or do they just copy down the press bios from the labels that pay them the most advertising dollars?
2. In a related vein, why did someone lie to Chuck Klosterman and tell him that his dated-the-moment-he-writes-them columns and "books" were somehow relevant, much less well written? Hey, I'm no great writer myself, but I don't get paid for it, and I actually like music. Lester Bangs may have been a fuck up and a nutjob, but,christ, he seemed to actually like the music he ranted about. If we're still talking about the social impact of the Real World 25 years from now, and how it was Klosterman who exposed the deep themes and subtext behind it, then I'll gladly eat my shoes, Herzog-style.
3. Why the hell do I read Spin?
4. Should I start footnoting all my sentences ala David Foster Wallace?*
5. Should I sell out?
6. What does selling out mean?
7. What if I'd rather buy in?
8. Who fed me the grumpy pills these last few days? (please see number 3 on the list below)

*Usually if an author has to explain himself, or draw attention to how clever he is, he's probably not a very good author.

And, finally, on the eve of the eve, everyone slap their knees or thighs together in yr best apporximation of a drumroll, please. Ladies and gentlemen, the numberonebestalltimeatleastforthenextfewminutes Top 3 albums of the year, as compiled by noted music scholar and expert lecturer, BigRockCandyMountain:

3. Tom Waits: Real Gone

Well, if you've read this blog more than once over the past few months, you should have seen this one coming. Maybe Tom was too cranky for most this year. Maybe it was all that damn noise he was makin' that kept folks away. Maybe it's the love it or hate it voice that sent people running back to the safe confines of their modern rock stations. Those are all the things I loved about this album. Perhaps only Neil Young can lay the same claim as Waits: the older he gets, the louder he gets. This is hard music. This is not music about drinking in bars and riding Old 55's. This is music about the world falling apart, in flames or in rot. It's a rusty album, full of discomfort or terror. You can have yr techno-terrorist beat manufacturers and yr guitar thrashers, none of them make a sound so scary as what Tom does with his mouth. In a bathroom. With a tape recorder. You're not supposed to be comfortable. This is the sound of the end of the world, made by an aging balladeer on tin cans, piss, and a whole lot of vinegar.

Tom Waits: Make It Rain (mp3)
(YouSendIt file)

2. Various Artists: From Where I Stand (The Black Experience In Country Music)

Well. This came out about six years ago. But I bought it this year. The year that Ray Charles died. And make no mistake, his spirit haunts this 3-disc box set. Tracing Black "roots" music (whatever that is) from 20's string bands, through Ray Charles, to Charley Pride and beyond, this set will make you dance, fuck, drink, cry in yr drink, repent, and sin all over again. Ostensibly, it's attempt is to show country's influence on R&B. I'd argue it goes both ways, and both are fed by the blues and gospel, fed by jazz, fed by a very unique American experience (the good kind, not the one represented by SUV's and Dubya). In the same way Sister Rosetta Tharpe oozed more sex in one song than Britney has in her entire career, Country'n' Soul have produced more sin and salvation than the entire modernindiealternative universe could ever hope to approach. If you really wanna dance, put down the synthesizers and get sweaty to this. In a box set that includes Etta James, Staples Singers, Fats Domino, Al Green, Professor Longhair, Solomon Burke, Wynonnie Harris, Brother Ray Charles himself, and a ton more, it was hard to narrow down to one sample. So, here's a mega (for me) sampling from each of the three discs.

Mississippi Sheiks: Sittin' On Top of the World (mp3)

Big Al Dowling: Down on the Farm (mp3)

The Staple Singers: Will the Circle Be Unbroken(mp3)

Charley Pride: Snakes Crawl at Night (mp3)

Otis Williams and the Midnight Cowboys: How I Got to Memphis (mp3)
(YouSendIt files)

1. Loretta Lynn: Van Lear Rose

Some call it a comeback. I say she never left. Somehow, Jack White managed to get away from a photo shoot to play Steve Albini for a bit. What resulted could have been very bad. Instead, it was stunning. Not a wasted note. I'm gonna assume that Jack just turned on the machines, set up the mikes and let Loretta do all the directin', cuz really, what could Jack tell Ms. Lynn about makin' records? In a year when it seemed every band dreamed it was 1985 again, it took a little ole coal miner's daughter from Kentucky to drop the purest album of the year. And she did it her way. As usual. With class. I can't even begin to pay proper respect to this album. You've heard Portland Oregon by now, I assume. It's mighty, and no song suffers a letdown from that high. Really, the album is life, in all it's joy and sadness. The grandest statements are sometimes the smallest.

Loretta Lynn: Story of My Life (mp3)

Bonus old song

Loretta Lynn: Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (mp3)
(YouSendit Files)

Well, that does it. Opinions? Do all my choices sound the same? Am I completely out of touch with the youth vote? Stay tuned tomorrow for a special tribute to the New Year. Gonna take a few days off after that, regroup, and return with some of that old timey music we had here before all that Xmas and Top 10 nonsense. How does a little Hank Snow sound? He's on his way.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

a good time was had by all

It turns out that Deni from Last Girl on Earth has quite a musical resume. She kindly pointed me to her professional site, which contains a ton of audio samples. She's a violinist who has played with REM, Daniel Lanois, Robyn Hitchcock, Warren Zevon, Richard Thompson, and a ton of others. The biggest treat can be found when you click on the TV Show link on her site. There you can find a fantastic video of Deni performing "De Chirico Street" with Robyn Hitchcock.

Ok, on with the big show. Top 10 most favoritest albums of the year accordian to the 'Mountain, continued.

5. Entrance: Wandering Stranger

Did I mention I like Fat Possum? Entrance is Guy Blakeslee, a 23-year-old Baltimore native who plays his guitar upside down. Sounds like a gimmick, but it aint. Apparently that's how he learned to play. I have no idea what was in his baby formula, but it made him a little strange. His voice, only matched in its loneliness by his rather astonishing guitar playing, suggests what Jeff Buckley might've sounded like if he grew up in the mountains listening to Blind Lemon Jefferson with Will Oldham in a leaky outhouse. The music is that of a long journey, through swamp and desert. Definitely my Rookie of the Year. It was impossible to narrow down the album to a one song sample, so I closed my eyes and pointed.

Entrance: Train is Leaving (mp3)
(Yousendit file)

4. Richard Buckner: Dents and Shells

I wasn't real thrilled with the last couple of Buckner releases. They seemed kind of directionless and pointlessly messy. Here, he returns to the type of album that made Devotion + Doubt and Bloomed such treasures. Pedal steel and piano have moved to the front of the mix, and Buckner's high loneseme voice still strings the kind of inscrutable phrases together that leave you scratching yr head, but knowing yr hearing something sad. It's all leaving and loss, the burning of deserts, the sound of never and the taste of love.

Richard Buckner: Invitation (mp3)
(YouSendIt file)

Bonus Song

Here's my top single of the year, released over 50 years ago. What can I say?

Hobart Smith: Fly Around My Blue-Eyed Girl (mp3)
(yousendit file)

get thee behind me satan

Here's more of the much talked about and highly anticipated BigRockCandyMountain Top 10 albums of the year. BigRockCandyMountain: The brand you trust for all yr happenin' sounds in modern hi fi. Ask for it by name.

8. Lambchop: Aw Cmon/No You Cmon

Seems as if these two albums got a bit lost in the shuffle. Or people just didn't enjoy them as much as myself. Whichever, they were never too far from my stereo. Lambchop has been making great, understated albums for a decade now, getting quieter as they've added more and more members. With Aw Cmon, in particular, they've made the kind of album(s) Wilco were aiming for with A Ghost is Born. Orchestral in the finest Nashville tradition, without ever going over the top, the songs demand close attention. Mainman Kurt Wagner is the finest observer of the small, good (and not so good) things we have today. Perfect albums for winter nights and spring dusks.

Lambchop: Nothing But a Blur From a Bullet Train (mp3)

7. Various: Good Girls Gone Bad

I'm not really cheating on this one, cuz it was released this year (2004). Ace Records has been issuing astounding packages for years, from rockabilly and old weird country to soul, blues, jazz, classical, and all points round and inbetween. This particular collection collects, and I quote, "Weird, wild and wonderful women in a wigged-out collection of stone rockers and the occasional walk on the strange side." Most of the tracks were cut during the late 50's heydey of rockabilly, and you can see Wanda Jackson's influence. Neko Case was definitely paying attention to these recordings. It's underproduced and gloriously raunchy, all the things we beg for in rock'n'roll.

Billy Jo Spears: Get Behind Me Satan and Push (mp3)

6. American Music Club: Love Songs For Patriots

I never thought they'd get back together. American Music Club were one of my favorite bands growing up. I think Mark Eitzel was my Morrissey. When they broke up, I kinda ignored the rest of the bands' projects, opting to follow Eitzel,alone, through his rather curious solo path. When I heard they were indeed reforming, recording, and touring, I was skeptical. Didn't think it would work, just another sad attempt at a cash-in like the Pixies. Needless to say, I was more than pleasantly surprised. All the elements that made AMC great are here in abundance, honed, even, by their time apart. The pedal steel is sadder than ever, Mark's grumpier than ever, the whole feel is vintage AMC. Live, they clicked even more remarkably, even managing to rein in (slightly) Eitzel's notorious digressions and self-effacement. Welcome back, boys, ya mopey gits.

American Music Club: Another Morning (mp3)

(All files are on target, and download accordingly)

Monday, December 27, 2004

so it begins

Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Before I start on my top 10 list, found a few new excellent blogs you might want to take a look at.

Last Girl On Earth is, according to Deni, "the wacky musings of a girly New York musician who is attempting to prove that you don't have to be a 19 year old anorexic model babe to be successful." The site is a ton of fun to read. Hopefully, she'll put some of her music up for us to listen to (hint, hint).

Fire of Love is, well, his description at the top of the blog is this: "Rock - Pop - Punk - New Wave - Soul - Country - Fuzz - World Music - Reggea - Blues - No Depression - Jazz - Bluegrass - Cajun - Gospel - Garage." Pretty much covers it all too. Right now, he's got The Swingin' Neckbreakers, The Saints, Greg Oblivian, the Coal Porters, and many more of the kind of bands I can't get enough of.

Now for the moment both of you have been waiting for.

I gotta tell ya, I really don't much care for what's referred to as indie rock these days. A quick glance at top 10 lists around the web and in print seems to conjure up all that was tedious about the mid to late 80's. If irony is truly dead in music, it's because bands are attempting to be ironic about groups that weren't very good to begin with. We've got lots of albums littering the landscape that just scream one hit wonder. Maybe it's all about being grabbed by the balls. Andre Williams and The Replacements grabbed me. Husker Du grabbed me hard. The Nuggets box set and the Hank Williams box sets never let go.

Maybe it's technology, which has divided music into too many sub-categories, that's to blame ('Course, I'm working here(barely, some might note)in that thar modern technology myself). Is Enimen, whom I quite like, really the voice of a generation in the same way that Dylan, or the Stones, or the Beatles, or even the Velvet Underground were? Who is our James Brown? Our Sam Cooke, our Ramones, our Clash, our NWA? Are Public Enemy and Nirvana the last bands that most of us could agree on? Is it a bad thing that music has sprayed itself on so many different walls? Maybe not. I don't know, to be honest. I would be more than happy to be wrong about the current state of music. Really, if you've got an opinion, share it. Convince me. I'm an opinionated bastard, and love a good argument.

That said, over the next few days I'm gonna work through my High Fidelity obsession and post my Top 10 favorite albums of the year. Can't really say best albums. These are the albums I listened to most consistently over the year. It's a little skewed toward the end of the year, sorry. And there are a few that weren't even released this year. Oh well.

10. Hard Headed Woman: A Tribute to Wanda Jackson

I'm generally not real keen on tribute albums, but this one's a corker. Helps that I'm a big Wanda Jackson fan. Wanda was a pioneer, a woman working in a "man's medium", writing many of her own songs, and doing other's songs her way. She may just be the true missing link between country and rockabilly. Bloodshot Records, always a fine label, pulls out all the stops with this one. All yr fave rave altcountry types are here, but, naturally, it's the women who really step up and do ole Wanda justice.

Laura Cantrell: Wasted (mp3)

9. Thee Shams: Please Yourself

And yet another album from one of my favorite labels. I would shill for Fat Possum any day of the week. Thee Shams remind me of an earlier 'Possum band, The Neckbones. White boys, raised on punk'n'garage, then discovering that the blues is more punk than punk. Cue up the organ, distortion to 11, make like it's yr last fucking nite on earth.

Thee Shams: In the City (mp3)

Friday, December 24, 2004

i built my dreams around you

Final day of Xmas posts.

I said I'd post my favorite Christmas tune today, so here it is. Shouldn't be much of a shock to those who've been reading awhile.

I'm not a religious man. Religion and Atheism require a degree of faith. I'm not really given to great leaps of faith. I'm often shocked when my computer actually turns on in the morning, when a book is actually good, when a cd is worth more than two listens. People leave. For some, Christmas means an expression of their faith. For others, it's a time to get stuff. For still more, it's a time to gather with family. Others don't celebrate it at all. Some people kill themselves. In many ways, Christmas has become a very uniquely American holiday, something else we've stolen from other cultures. The crass consumerism, the blatant hypocrisy of proclaiming peace on earth, while engaging in mini-wars throughout the world, and exercising untold human rights violations. We have the gall to complain if we don't get the right IPod, while the missions are full of the poor and homeless. It's below zero degrees here in Chicago, and some have died because they have no home. But enjoy that goddamned mp3 player, cuz you've earned it, by god. This is 'Merica, and we like our stuff. Me too.

Shane MacGowan is, with apologies to Mr. Heaney, Ireland's last great poet. Well, maybe not. I'm sure many of our Irish friends will disagree. Who knows? What I know is that he's become an easy target for mockery. Some of it he's earned. Shane enjoys a drink now and again. What I find interesting, as I've read the several bios of him, is that everybody wants to discuss Shane drinking, but the question never asked is "Why does Shane drink?" Of course, it's none of our business. I've seen Shane, shirt covered in vomit, barely able to stand, gripping the mic like it was the Virgin Mary, full cups of beer (no bottles at Shane shows) being tossed at him. And he still found the time and/or strength to bend down and sign anything offered up to him for his autograph. In those moments, the fan was more important than his cigarette, the song, the drink. Beat that, Bono. It's popular to place bets on when Shane's gonna die. Ignorant. I don't know the man, never spoke with him, don't what he thinks, what his favorite food is, where he stands on the great Jay Z vs. R. Kelley debate. I know that his songs, even the so-called minor recent work, contain all the passion, confusion, hypocrisy, joy, anger, sadness and life that make up humanity. Yeah, we make fun of the man. Shane's got his very publicly displayed problems. Shane's not a hero. He's not, by any stretch of the imagination, a god. But he might be a saint.

In Fairytale of New York, an immigrant couple, separated from their homeland, broke, drunk and disillusioned, spend Christmas Eve in a drunk tank. They sing, they love and they fight. That's about it. Like a Raymond Carver short story, we start in the middle and end before the end. I'm of Irish descent (who isn't?), but I cannot speak to the mindset of the thousands of immigrants passing through Ellis Island on their way to New York City, the land of dreams. Other Christmas songs are often cast in blacks or whites. Christmas is great, yay Jesus, Christmas sucks, etc. Fairytale takes all the sentiment, mixes it, and creates the most uniquely human of all Christmas songs. It's coarse and beautiful. All the dreams, the Sinatra songs, the dashed hopes, the glimmer of redemption. You know this couple; There's a little bit of all of us in them.

"I could have been someone.

So could anyone.
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you.

I kept them with me, babe
I put them with my own.
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you."

The Pogues: Fairytale of New York (mp3)

(YouSendIt on from site)

Reposts by request

The Rimshots: Santa Stole My Whiskey (mp3)

The Dalheart Imperials: Old Man Spivey's Egg Nog (mp3)

The Pogues: Fairytale of New York (live in London) (mp3)

(Yousendit on from site)

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Figgered I'd finish off the Xmas posts over the next two days with my two favorite musical gentleman. Tommorrow will feature my favorite Xmas song of all time. Can't wait, can you?

Today, we've got Tom Waits. Sentimental Tom and Preachin' Tom with The Blind Boys of Alabama. On the first tune, note the background singers. What producer talked him into that?

Anyway, even if you dont' like Tom, The Blind Boys of Alabama are more than worth your attention. The song is pure, perfect soul, with Tom bringing a little coal from down the mountain.

Tom Waits: Silent Night (mp3)

Tom Waits and The Blind Boys of Alabama: Go Tell It On the Mountain (mp3)

(yousendit from site)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

like, christmas

So, she who is most beloved cheated last nite. She looked in her xmas stocking. Shame. When people start snooping in their xmas presents early, the terrorists have won.

Sympathy For the Record Industry has been doing it long before Spin (whom I have some opinions about that I plan on sharing at the start of my upcoming top 10 list)dropped their industry-approved band of the month to give the White Stripes ("hey, they're telegenic!") a cursory listen. Like Norton, In the Red, Bomp!, and countless other small labels, SFTRI never forgot that rock (what some easily categorize as garage) was all about a snarl and a killer,loud guitar riff. They never forgot that country and blues were as much a part of the musical landscape as plastic lighters and devil signs. If you think U2 or a bunch of well dressed folks rehashing 80's dance beats are what rock is all about, this aint for you. The devil does have all the good tunes (Well, except for old gospel. And soul. And Mozart. and...oh nevermind).

From Sympathy's double lp, Happy Birthday Baby Jesus.

Rocket From The Crypt: Cancel Christmas (mp3)

El Vez: Feliz Navi Dada (mp3)

Supersuckers: Call It Christmastime (mp3)

(yousendit on from there)

This picture has nothing to do with the music

Super quickie today.

Both the following are taken from the Stax/Volt album "It's Christmas Time Again", which you should be able to find easily at yr local record shop. One's a classic. One should be. Both are sad sad songs. With soul.

Read about the legendary Stax/Volt here.

Little Johnny Taylor: Please Come Home For Christmas (mp3)

The Emotions: What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas (mp3)

( from site).

Longer posts over the next few days as we work up to my favorite xmas song of all time. Yep. Feel me tremble.

Monday, December 20, 2004


It's the final week, and I'm having to chop off a bunch of songs from my list. More for next year, I guess, assuming I'll still be around.

Don't forget to check yr local listings for the 24-hour "A Chritsmas Story" marathon.

Red Red Meat is one of those bands I referred to earlier as "burnt desert music." Seems odd, since they're based in Chicago. But not at all. It's a frame of mind, a tuning of the guitar, a slide of the beer bottle. Or something. Red Red Meat sorta "broke up" a while ago, but morphed into Loftus for an album, and can now be found as the awe-inspiring Califone. You can read all about the bands, the morphing, the albums, the lyrics and free (FREE!!!!) mp3's at their website here.

I know I posted one of the following tunes before as part of a bootleg medley by the original artist. But Neko Case is just about the finest artist around. I love Neko. You love Neko. The voice that makes grown men quake in their boots (cowboy and doc martens alike). And what could be better than Neko? Neko covering Tom Waits. Oh my.


Red Red Meat: There's a Star Above the Manger Tonight (mp3)

Neko Case: Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis (mp3)

(yousendit from site)

Saturday, December 18, 2004

it's jack and meg

My heartiest kudos to those who manage daily posts on their blogs. It's tough.

We're in the home stretch.

I have to admit to not being the biggest White Stripes fan these days. I thought their first couple of albums were really quite good, but their last one, in particular, left me kinda bored. I guess it's a matter of taste. I will give a preview,though, and say that Mr. White will make an appearance on my upcoming Top 10 list. If you've been following this here blog for awhile, you can probably make a guess as to what album.

I'm surprised the following tunes haven't made the rounds yet this year. They're a bit off, but perversely enjoyable. Listen for Meg's rendition of Silent Night, and her comments to Jack on the last tune.

Peppermint Patty's Gift to Marcie on Christmas

The White Stripes: Candy Cane Children (mp3)

The White Stripes: Story of the Magi/Silent Night (mp3)

(YouSendIt on from site)

Friday, December 17, 2004


Yep. That's a tractor.

It's getting harder to keep up with all the other blogs hosting xmas tunes. I apologise if'n I post something that's already been covered elsewhere. The upside, of course, is that we're all flush with new tunes to get us through the elevator music usually associated with the season.

More blues today. I'm not a big indie rock guy anymore, which will be noted on my upcoming top ten list. Muddy is the new clean.

Lightnin' Hopkins. Well, what can I say? One of my favorites, up there with Mississippi John Hurt and Howlin' Wolf, despite an REM song named after him.

I know Pete Mayes is from Texas. That's about all I know. Not a whole lot on the web. If anyone has more info, lemme know, I'll post it.

Santa was in the house when the house burned down

Lightnin' Hopkins: Merry Christmas (mp3)

Texas Pete Mayes and His Houserocker Blues Band: Christmas Holidays (mp3)

(YouseSendit on from site)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

ah, love

Gene Autry, America's Favorite Singing Cowboy.

Realize this isn't the coolest of Chirstmas posts, but I think Autry's a genius. I grew up listening to the Gene Autry christmas album. Sitting in front of my parent's old record player.

Autry was first billed a "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy" before making his mark in films. One can argue the value and "truth" of the westerns he made, but he's an icon, as much a part of the the weird old American landscape as Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Howlin' Wolf, Charlie Parker and Sonic Youth. Plus, the songs are fun.

Rootin' and Tootin' on Christmas eve

Gene Autry: Here Comes Santa Claus (mp3)

Gene Autry: Santa, Santa, Santa (mp3)

(Y'allsendit on package from site)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

might get in trouble for this one

Anybody got any ideas how to to hide a large christmas present in a small apartment?

There's a segment of 60's garage rockers who's main influence was not the blues or British rock. For some of these scroungy trailblazers, Bob Dylan was king. The scene is riddled with bad Dylan impersonations. The Wailers (not the Reggae gentlemen), though, took the Dylan fetish to great heights. Enjoy their hot sounds of Dylan Christmas love.

Detroit Junior plays some funky ass greasy blues 'n' r&b. The following tune has a nasty sax that would comfortable on any Las Vegas Grind collection.

Felice Nasal David

The Wailers: Christmas Spirit (mp3)

Detroit Junior: Christmas Day (mp3)

( on from site)

anyone figger out my favorite drink yet?

Good lord, it's a record. Christmas shopping done.

Got an email from a genleman directing me to his new blog. You really must stop what you're doing here and git on over to Yule Shoot Your Eye Out. Not only does it reference one of the top 3 films ever made, but the songs are brilliant, too. Excellent leftfield Christmas stuff, and I'm interested in seeing where he goes after the holidays (for god's sake, though, don't change the name).

For those interested: Xmas tunes will end on December 24th. From then til New Year's Eve, I'm going to throw my Top 10 albums of the year into the ring(yeah, I know...everybody's doing it...what can i say? We're all list makers.). After a special New Year's post, it's back to the old timey, greasy, and slightly off exploration of the more rustic side of America.

It's occurred to me, as things often do, that I've been a bit lax on posting any Irish tunes, outside of dear ole Shane.

The Chieftans have done amazing work in spreading traditional Irish music to the masses. Unfortunately, some of what they've done has been a bit harmful, I think. Bringing in Sting (Stink) and Mick Jagger, among other "rockers", to sing along sometimes leaves a bad taste of Lord of the Dance in my mouth. But The Bells Of Dublin , from which the following tune is taken, is a fantastic album. All the singers are perfectly chosen, and the music contains all the joy and sadness we've come to expect from great Irish music. That's the inimitable Burgess Meredith narrating and Kevin Conneff singing on the tune.

The Clancy Brothers have been the voice of the American Irish yearning for home for almost 50 years. From songs of drinking and blackguarding, to new compositions, to Danny Boy, The Clancy Brothers have carved themselves on the Mount Rushmore of Irish traditionalists. Below is their take on Jingle Bells. As only the Irish can.

Nollaig Shona Duit

The Chieftans: Don Oiche Ud I mBeithil (mp3)

The Clancy Brothers: Buala Bas (mp3)

(Yousendit on from there)

Sunday, December 12, 2004


So, inbetween paying an obscene amount of money today for a gin-u-wine vintage aluminum xmas tree (she who is most beloved has excellent taste in all things retro), and watching the Pittsburgh Steelers clinch a playoff berth(pleasepleaseplease), I'm gonna give you some more tunes.

Note, I've have reposted some expired songs at the end of the post.

Longer post tomorrow, with a calendar of events. Whooppppeee.

Today we've got two of my favorite mopers and sad boys.

Read more about the Appalachian-loving Palace boy Will Oldham here.

Read more about Mean Mark Eitzel here.

Moping around the Christmas Tree

Mark Eitzel: Xmas Lites Spin (mp3)

Palace Songs: Christmastime In the Mountains (mp3)


Dalheart Imperials: Old Man Spivey's Egg Nog (mp3)

Jimmy Smith: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (mp3)

(All songs are YouSendIt on track, and download from site)

Saturday, December 11, 2004

boot rockin'

As promised, I return ready and refreshed.

I hate working on Saturdays. Happy Holidays. Christmas brings out the worst in people, at least from a shopping standpoint.

Some great new blogs out there. Check out Mangos and Mandolins. Says Jesse, the proprietor..."The main focus will be on Americana and tangentially related music, Brazilian music, and plenty of assorted interesting pop and
traditional music from around the world."
True to form, its got Tom Ze and The Wayfaring Strangers up at the moment. Great stuff. Bookmark it.

Got a slight theme running through these holiday posts. Anybody got a guess?

Rockabilly's a strange hybrid. Little bit country, little bit r'n'r. You knew that though.

There's a great vintage store in my neighborhood. They carry lots of great, odd little rockabilly, bop and garage records. I plan on spending too much money there. The following tunes are courtesy of purchases made at Chicago's own Vintage Deluxe.

One of the bands, The Dalheart Imperials, hails from the great city of Denver, Colorado. Denver's got a thriving country music scene, led by the Imperials and my favorite band of all time, Halden Wofford and the Hi Beams.

Read more about Denver's (real) country music scene at The Denver Barn Dance.

On with the show

The Rimshots: Santa Stole My Whiskey (mp3)

Dalheart Imperials: Old Man Spivey's Egg Nog (mp3)

(YouSendIt on from there.)

Friday, December 10, 2004


Sorry. Not tunes today. It was a very long night last nite, followed by Copy, Right? scooping me on a Sympathy For the Record Industry post. Will regroup and get some holiday rockabilly up for y'all tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, check out the links to yr left for good music and good reading. I'll have some new links shortly.

I hadn't checked my email in a couple of weeks, and got some very nice comments and offers. Y'all will be responded to in short time. Thank you, one and all.

My head is about to explode, I think. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


And now, for something completely different.

I used to be a huge fan of the 4AD label. Anything they'd put out, I'd obsessively collect, from the Throwing Muses and Pixies, to This Mortal Coil and today's guest. Quite a bit of that music has worn thin on me over the years, particularly as I've searched out the more...errr...rustic side of music. Elizabeth Fraser has that kind of voice. Like Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Mary Margaret O'Hara, little Mikey Stipe, and Tom Waits, her voice becomes an instrument, sometimes to the point where she would not write lyrics for a song, she'd just sing made up words. It worked. Still does. I still pull out the Cocteau Twins now and again. It's still some of the most beautiful, ethereal stuff I've heard. For your enjoyment.

Cocteau Twins: Frosty the Snowman (mp3)

Cocteau Twins: Winter Wonderland (mp3)

( on from there)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

cold merle

Man, I dropped the ball yesterday. Posting in the wee hours of the morning can do this, I think. So...everybody join me in raising a toast and wishing a happy belated birthday to Mr. Tom Waits, who turned 55 (Ol' 55?) yesterday.

Got my first repost request the other day. So in the spirit of giving, you'll find a repost of Roland Kirk and Jimmy Smith following the new tunes from today.

Regular readers will remember that I had been putting up mainly old country, blues, 'n' garage before this holiday bum rush. So a slight return today.

Merle Haggard has always been eclipsed a bit by some of his contemporaries, most notably Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. They got their starts at roughly the same time, came to be known as brilliant songwriters, forged the outlaw image in country and western, had very regrettable 70's and 80's, and recently experienced career rebirths. There's no argument from me about Johnny Cash's place in American music...he was a god. But I'd like to think that ole Hag belongs right there next to him. The craggy, unmistakable voice, the duality of god and the devil, the ability to take the common and transcend, jail time. Actually, legend has it that Hag first heard Cash while serving his own stint in the pokey. One could spend hours debating the merits and intention of Okie From Muskogee, but the truth is, it's a damn fun song to sing along with, and is, frankly, one of his lesser songs. The man has written classics, and has helped keep the legends of Bob Wills and Townes van Zandt alive. Songs:Illinois did a great post on Merle a week or so ago, with some of his more contemporary songs. Like most country and western artists, he was even known to do a christmas tune or so. Enjoy.

Merle Haggard: I Wish I Was Santa Claus (mp3)

Merle Haggard: Christmas in Cabo San Lucas (mp3)


Roland Kirk: We Free Kings (mp3)

Jimmy Smith: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (mp3)

(All files are on tune...go to site to download.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


One of my favorite commercials of all time is the one from last March where it shows these three very adult brothers waking each other up early in the morning. They're all excited, and wearing green pajamas. They run down the stairs in slow motion, just like it was Christmas morning. Lo and behold...a green tree, green lights, and Guinness in abundant quantities wrapped with bows under the tree. Happy St. Patrick's day indeed.

Not sure what that has to do with anything.

Here's Shane. Very much alive, thank you very much

Shane MacGowan and the Popes: Christmas Lullabye (mp3)

The Pogues: Fairytale of New York (live in London) (mp3)

(yousendit on from site)

Monday, December 06, 2004

naughty bits

Well, the holiday is in full swing....and my Christmas shopping is now officially half over. Phew.

Tons of blogs are joining the holiday spirit, as it were. Favorites include:, with daily recommended levels of cheese (the very very very good kind, retro kids), the increasingly brilliant Keep the Coffee Coming, with lots of soul/doowop/r&b, and Spoilt Victorian Child, who y'all probably know about already.

As promised, Beatnik Christmas Jazz today. Taken from the Rhino Records box set, The Beat Generation, Beatnik's Wish is a more than slightly suggestive hipsters paen to the ultimate cat, Santa.

And continuing in the errr...bad santa thoughts vein, legend Rufus Thomas has a present he'd like to give you.

Santa baby love

Patsy Raye: Beatnik's Wish (mp3)

Rufus Thomas: I'll Be Your Santa Baby (mp3)

(YouSendIt on song, download from there)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

ho ho howdy

Couple of quick items before we get to the tunes.

1. The Porn Orchard tune from the Tom Waits post is actually titled "This Holiday Season", not "Christmas Sucks". Thanks to Tim from Retail Blog for pointing that out.

2. I have a friend who is having trouble downloading the tunes from YouSendIt. Anyone else having problems? Also, the songs expire after about 7 days. If anyone missed earlier posts, let me know...we can work something out.

Thanks for sticking with me. Taking another turn of sorts today.

There's this type of music I like to call burnt desert music. It's usually expansive, and sort of...well...burnt sounding. Usually involving singers on the gravelly edge of things, lots of lonesome instruments, and a feeling of being a little lost. Bands I think of as burnt desert music include, not exclusively, Calexico, Giant Sand, Richard Buckner, Centro-matic, and the two bands I'm giving you today.

I've posted this song by Willard Grant Conspiracy before. But it's one of my favorite tunes. To quote myself loosely, Robert Fisher has the voice of a prophet, ragged and dusty, chanting repent from 40 days in the wilderness.

Okkervil River is kind of a mystery to me. About half their catlog strikes me as some of the best music being written today. The other, maybe needs an editor. But, my god...the tune below...pure bliss. And the chorus, which you'll recognize, brings back one of the most sublime moments of the past 50 years. Indeed.

Sandy Claws

Willard Grant Conspiracy: Christmas in Nevada (mp3)

Okkervil River: Listening to Otis Redding at Home During Christmas (mp3)

(YouSendIt on link...hoho from the site)

Coming up this week: A visit with a man named Shane, some Beatnik jazz, an old 80's favorite, and the return of blues and honky tonk. Hang on to your party hats.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

aint we got fun

Ever notice how early morning seems to be?

John Prine today. If you don't know who John Prine is, run out immediately and purchase Great Days: the John Prine Anthology. No record collection is complete without it. Really. While you're there, also pick up In Spite of Ourselves, his collection of duets with Iris DeMent, Emmylou Harris, and Patty Loveless, among others.

Prine was once billed, like Springsteen and Forbert and Mellencamp, as "The new Bob Dylan." (This seemed to be a trend with music critics for awhile. lazy gits).
While Prine did sing and play guitar, just like Dylan, the comparison really ends there. His songs tend to be more straightforward, and often injected with a homespun wink. Once the holidays are over (and I'm not constantly running late for work), I'm gonna do a bigger post on the man. He's a little bit country, a little bit folk, a little bit himself.

For now, here's two Christmas tunes that serve as a counterpoint of sorts to the Mike Ireland tune from a few days ago. Taken from the ep A John Prine Christmas.

Prining for you at the holidays

John Prine: Silent Night All Day Long (mp3)

John Prine: Christmas in Prison (mp3)

( on target, download from there)

Friday, December 03, 2004

good man

I generally try to avoid anything that reeks of cheese, but I think the Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon is one of the greatest things ever made. When he picks out the little tree nobobdy wants, i turn into a big ball of blubber. Every damn time.


As promised, we've got a Tom Waits xmas post today...partly to celebrate the bootlegs of his most recent European tour having leaked, and partly because...well, he's Tom.

The Tom song is taken from an older boot, and is a medley of'll figure it out.

The second tune has been credited as a duet between Tom and Peter Murphy, of all folks. A quick check on google confirms the rumour is still alive and well. In actuality it's a band called Porn Orchard. Apparently the attempt was to take the piss on poor Tom and Peter. It worked. Pretty good imitations, though the Tom guy sounds more like Buster Poindexter at times. Enjoy. Tell yr friends.

Santa waits for no man

Tom Waits: Silent Night/Christmas Card (mp3)

TomPornPeter: Christmas Sucks (mp3)

(YouSendIt on from site...easy)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

good morning santa

Oooops. Missed a day. I suck. I'll blame it on Blogspot difficulties.

Couple of sad ones today. I worked in retail for years, far away from what remained of my family and loved ones. Anyone who's worked retail knows the rather nazil-like approach businesses take when it comes to vacation time over the holidays. I was lucky enough, though, to have friends in similar situations themselves, so xmas came to mean drunken revelry with like-minded expatriates. But there was always an undercurrent of loneliness to the small celebrations.

I've never understood why Mike Ireland isn't more popular with the alt and non-alt country types alike. His voice is pure Bakersfield by way of Owen Bradley.

The Everly Brothers have always had a vein of country running through them, and pedal steel is the saddest instrument known to man.

Sad Santas, they mean so much

Mike Ireland and Holler: Christmas Past (mp3)

The Everly Brothers:Christmas Eve Can Kill You (mp3)

(YouSendIt on from site)

Tomorrow: Tom Waits Part 1