Saturday, January 01, 2011

on a lighter note

elvis is dead.

obviously. well...probably.

anyway, for the purposes of this discussion, it doesn't matter. because whether he staged his death and skipped off to a tropical island or died an unkingly death in1977, his music and his legacy appear to have disappeared as well.

music comes and goes, of course, and some collections hold up better than others. but didja ever think, really, that elvis would go the way of, say, michael bolton?

these days, outside some am stations in the middle of the country, elvis tunes get no play. the movies~there were 33 of them, you know~but when was the last time you saw one?

it's odd, because for at least a couple generations, elvis was a singularity. he affected light and gravity. he was everywhere and everything. all entertainment was compared to him, and no entertainment was comparable.

in another generation or so it'll be "elvis who?"

ah, well. easy come, easy go.

but i didn't sit down here to type about elvis. not really. no, that was just preamble to a review of the music of 2010. but since i have a such a limited grasp of "music 2010," this review includes only the music i added to my itunes library in the past 12 months. some of it was actually released in 2010, and some not.

i made some good choices last year. and some not. to wit...

courtyard hounds ~ courtyard hounds. this set is by two-thirds of the dixie chicks, emily robison and martie maguire, and is excellent if you like sheryl crow. which is to say, every track, as sung by robison, would sound exactly the same sung by crow. vocally, lyrically,'s all very crowian.

this isn't meant as a criticism. i mean, i like a lot of sheryl crow's music. and this album is no different. wait, that didn't come out right. i meant to say, this album shares many of the same qualities and characteristics of, um, excellence.

don't misunderstand, robison and maguire are ridiculously talented musicians, composers and lyricists. and there's not a thing wrong with robison's singing. so you should totally check out this album. especially if you're a fan of that other artist, mentioned previously.

the roots ~ how i got over. my tastes don't usually stray toward the hip hop, but on the recommendation of someone i know in the business, i downloaded this set. good decision. how i got over is lyrically intriguing and musically poetic, weaving funk, soul and jazz into something silky and muscular and edged. like a yoga master with a guitar made out of a scimitar strung with razor wire. which sounds kinda cool, but probably would be really hard to play.

carole king & james taylor ~ live at the troubador. these two have been around forever. literally. their earliest recordings have been carbon-dated to just after the big bang, and yet somehow they manage to sound not-old. this live set includes songs that have been part of pop culture for more than 40 years, and they still aren't past their expiration date. taylor's voice is strong and resonant, and king...well, she hits most of the high notes, and tries really hard to hit the rest.

unlike some of the reunion acts from the musical archives, this one actually works.

mavis staples ~ we'll never turn back. so i was shopping at the wine outlet on 15th ave., listening to whatever was playing on richard kinnsies' ipod, when mavis staples came on. the song was "down in mississippi," and it made me stop shopping. it made me walk over to the counter and ask who was singing, and what was the name of the song. it made me write "mavis staples, down in mississippi" on a little slip of paper, and go home and find it on itunes.

after i bought a case of wine, that is.

mavis staples wrings the guts out of a blues song. this set evokes segregation and civil rights marches and countless generations of african-americans who didn't live to see a black man become president. it makes you stop what you're doing and listen.

ten feet ~ everyday. this little group is well-known in the hawaiian islands, and possibly elsewhere, but i'd never heard of them before our stay on oahu in early 2009. their cover of jason mraz's "i'm yours" was getting a lot of airtime, and now it's forever part of the soundtrack of a memorable trip. at least i think that's how it went.

turns out the rest of the album is pretty solid as well. if you like music that emanates a relentless island vibe and transports you to the beach no matter how far away you are, this set does the trick. if you've never been to the islands, and couldn't care less about the vibe, steer clear of this band. and me. 'cause, you know, you're kind of bumming me out.

the beatles ~ help! i bought this vinyl when i was in fourth grade, and memorized every song. i had no idea who the beatles were, really; all i knew was the songs had a certain je ne sais quoi about them, and i could sing along and feel pretty damn happy about it. even if i didn't know je ne sais quoi from jenny sasquatch.

a lot of other people felt the same way, apparently.

the collected works of the beatles were made available, to much fanfare, on itunes in 2010. perhaps you heard about it. on that day, i bought help! and sang along again. i was pretty damn happy about it.

bad company ~ bad company. i bought this because i liked it back in high school. big mistake.

the archies ~ greatest hits. i bought this because i liked the archies when i was in grade school. big mistake.

also in 2010, i let my daughter download some of her favorite music. big mistake. my collection now includes several selections from taylor swift, demi lovato, jordin sparks, selena gomez, and i don't know who-all else. more seem to pop up every day. and mostly they're unlistenable.

but she's my daughter, and she's cute, and her music makes her happy, which makes me happy.

so, there it is. 2010 is over like elvis, but the music lives on.

unless it doesn't.

in which case there's always 2011.

Sent from my iPad


Fish and Bicycles said...

I've been meaning to get The Roots album for quite some time, but your mention of it here has pushed me over the top and I'm downloading it as I type this.

I've also been meaning to get Mavis Staples' most recent album, You Are Not Alone, because it was produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, of whom I'm a huge fan. Now I've got two Mavis albums on my list.

(p.s. I had a long response to your post on the pharmaceutical industry in the works, had a dozen tabs in my browser as I looked for supporting links...oh, I was going to post the most glorious "yeah, what you said" comment in the history of blogging, and then I recognized what was going on. I was agitated with a side of despair, the same thing that would happen when I wrote about politics. So, I deleted it and feel much better now.)

spaceneedl said...

i'm an agitator, all right. you say that like it's a bad thing.

Fish and Bicycles said...

We need both agitators and soothers, so I guess I'm more of a soother these days.

spaceneedl said...

you're entitled to soothe and soothing, but when you're feeling better, remember, "silence gives assent."

Fish and Bicycles said...

"silence gives assent."

Oh, I'm far from silent, mr. needl. I just don't agitate on my blog.

After all, not much to be accomplished by preaching to the choir of my, on average, 75 visitors per week, most of whom are probably people I know who have the same political orientation as me.