Monday, April 29, 2013

IF WILLIE SAYS "LET'S FACE THE MUSIC AND DANCE," THEN WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES

Let's Face The Music And Dance
2013

702 Miles To Go

The question is never whether or not there will be a new Willie Nelson album. It's only a question which Willie.

He can be standard country, outlaw country, country rock, Western Swing, jazz man, blues man, even reggae man, and always a crooner with a guitar style as distinctive as his ponytail no matter which songbook he's playing.

It all contributes to "The Willie Way."

My bet is that Willie could successfully remake Metallica's Kill 'Em All with a Hoagy Carmichael vibe and we would rave about its new found sensitivity and cleaner guitar sound.

His forays into standards have become as common as his country collections.

The just-released Let's Face The Music And Dance is part of the year-long celebration of his 80th birthday (April 30).

For their latest, Willie and Family waltz through 14 tracks from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, along with an update of Willie's Is The Better Part Over (1989).

With a familiar cast backing him and his trusty guitar Trigger (including "little sister" Bobbie Nelson on piano, Paul English on drums and Mickey Raphael on harmonica), all the songs are as smooth as Willie's vocals, whether it's Irving Berlin on the title track and Marie (The Dawn Is Breaking), Carl Perkins' Matchbox or one of the several instrumentals.

The message here is as simple as it is clear.

Find your partner. Put on comfortable dancing shoes. And, break out the Willie.

Licorice Pizza Notes: The first time I saw Willie and Family perform was at the Ohio State Fair in 1984 when the shows were still in the outdoor grandstand. I went with my then college girlfriend Nancy, who was working nights at the fair, and her mother.

Willie was wonderful and it was my job to get Nancy's mother back to her campus apartment after the concert, when she clocked in for her fair shift.

A smart man would have dropped her mother off and disappeared into the night.

But being a red headed stranger of sorts, I went in, had a beer or three, professed my love for her daughter and told her I planned to marry Nancy some day.

Let's just say she wasn't as pleased with me as she had been Willie. Nance was even more surprised since the someday marriage plans were news to her too.

Fortunately for me, it all worked out as well as a Willie love song.

Nance's mother eventually forgave me, in part because I took her to see Willie every time he came to Columbus. We even got to meet him a couple of times. This September, Nance and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and Good Hearted Woman is my theme song for her.

Nance's mother passed about 10 years ago, but I still play Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground for her every time it's on the jukebox.

Song For The Soundtrack: Matchbox

Running Data for Tuesday, April 23:
4.33 Miles
47:23

Mileage In The Change Jar: 0.48 Miles


Sunday, April 28, 2013

THE TWO LIVES OF WARREN ZEVON: NO FLINCHING IN THE FLAMES

Stand In The Fire
1981 & 2007 Reissue

706 Miles To Go


"As one who has abused privilege for a long time, I'm just glad to be alive."
  - Warren Zevon on Stand In The Fire (2007 Reissue)

Excitable Boy was neither just a song nor an alter ego, it was a tortured lifestyle.

The late Warren Zevon was Jackson Browne's demented little brother, sensitive and psychotic.

He was Bruce Springsteen's kooky cousin, brilliant but unstable, possibly homicidal.
Learning To Flinch
1993

He was Hunter S. Thompson's crooning accomplice, almost always amped on vodka and other jet fuels with a pistol at his side.

Read all 452 pages of his biography - I'll Sleep When I'm Dead The Dirty Life And Times Of Warren Zevon written by former wife and lifelong friend Crystal Zevon - for a complete recanting.

It's an exhausting, sometimes hilarious and often times deeply saddening tale of an evil and absolutely intoxicating genius told by those who shared in his many (mis)adventures.   

Ironically, according to David Fricke's liner notes, Stand In The Fire was recorded during one of Zevon's sober periods at a summer 1980 show at The Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood.

At this point his album catalog included Wanted Dead Or Alive (1969) Warren Zevon (1976), Excitable Boy (1978) and Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School (1980). Werewolves of London was his one hit single, though Linda Ronstadt took several of his songs to Billboard rewards for both.

A mainstream Zevon breakthrough was still just one shooting star of a song away.

And though it never really came, the performances on Stand In The Fire burn testament to what should have been just as chart-topping a career as Zevon's contemporaries.

Maybe it was the self-inflicted wounds, maybe his lyrics were just too smart or too dark for the masses. David Letterman likes to point out that Zevon is the only artist ever to work the cattle disease "brucellosis" into a pop song.

Fortunately, he never stopped trying and left us with a catalog that compares more favorably with his singer/songwriter contemporaries than he is given credit.

Try this exercise.

Take the top 10 songs of Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Eagles, James Taylor, and the various Crosby, Stills, Nash (and even Young) incarnations and lay them down against Zevon's.

Now go to 11-20, 21-30 and 31-40.

Zevon can't compete commercially, but artistically he keeps pace in the top 10 argument. From 11 to 40, Springsteen probably still rules, but Zevon blows the rest of them away with his musical .44 Magnum taken down from the shelf.

More than a decade removed from Stand In The Fire, the Learning To Flinch era Zevon is the one-man band incarnation, still relevant enough to record and tour for a devoted audience who will come to the clubs every time he does.

Recorded at a variety of 1992 solo stops in the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, New Zealand and Norway, Learning To Flinch splits between renditions of Zevon's later releases and the best of the early era.

Splendid Isolation sets the tone and The French Inhaler feels even more autobiographical almost 20 years later. The Indifference Of Heaven sings like a career self-evaluation: "But they don't live around here/Billy and Christie don't - /Bruce and Patty don't - /They don't live around here." 

Four songs make the set list for both live collections.  

Excitable Boy: On Stand In The Fire, Zevon's energetic vocals and piano pounding are further stoked by the guitar solos and background vocals. There's no doubt he "rubbed the pot roast all over his chest." On Learning To Flinch, it's done with a hurried ragtime flare to prop up a tired legend that has to be retold every night.   

Hasten Down The Wind: The Learning To Flinch version is the clear winner here. It oozes with the wounded woe of a someone who has been kept "on the limb" many more times since it was written. The introduction on Stand In The Fire is more revealing than the performance, which doesn't make it bad just a little ragged with his voice worn out at the end of the show. 

Lawyers, Guns And Money: Like Excitable Boy, this one benefits greatly from the crowd and the additional guitars on Stand In The Fire. The "Zevon!" scream as it opens is a call to arms every time. Nonetheless, it's almost a tie, as the Learning To Flinch version offers an acoustic bareness and desperation hidden in the anthem of the full-band version.

Werewolves of London: Clearly, he's having more fun with it on Stand In The Fire, calling plenty of lyrical audibles for the "werewolves of Los Angeles" and references to Brian DePalma, James Taylor and Jackson Browne - "his heart is perfect." On Learning To Flinch, it has a similar treatment to Excitable Boy. Zevon knows he has to play it and he's too much a pro to let us in on whether or not he's tired of the song.

There's no need to flinch in the flames of either album's fire. Enjoy them both to appreciate an artist who will always be an excitable boy.

Licorice Pizza Notes: I was fortunate to see Zevon several times during the 1980s and 1990s at venues varying from the Newport Music Hall to the Ohio Union to a final appearance at Ludlows.

The Newport shows were the best, but the band at the Ohio Union included The Section and Mellow Mafia member Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar on guitar,  Eagles bassist Timothy B. Schmit and (by my 50-year-old memory) Russ Kunkell , a fellow Mafia-ite, on drums.

The Ohio Union show also provided the most unexpected moment when Zevon covered What's New Pussycat? as one of the encores. His selected enunciation and eyebrow raises on "You and your pussycat lips!/You and and your pussycat eyes!/You and your pussycat nose!" made it unforgettable.

After one of the Newport shows, I was able to meet him briefly and get an autograph. He was sober, me not so much. I told him that I wanted Lawyers, Guns And Money to be the bridal dance song at my wedding, but the idea was nixed. He thought that was the right call.

I'm happy/sad to have missed his appearance at the Columbus Auto Show, if for no other reason than to see his reaction to playing at an indoor car lot.

Even as the Columbus crowds dwindled, Zevon soldiered on and never gave a bad performance, whether with a band or solo.

At the Ludlow's show, one audience member kept shouting "Play Werewolves Of London!" A perturbed Zevon eventually responded, "I'll get to it. Who do you think I am? Randy Newman?"

Shortly after playing Werewolves, Zevon disappeared behind the dressing room door and never came back.

Stand In The Fire Song For The Soundtrack: Jeannie Needs A Shooter

Learning To Flinch Song For The Soundtrack: Lawyers, Guns And Money

Running Data For Sunday, April 21:
10.00 Miles
1:42:45

Mileage In The Change Jar: 0.15 Miles

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

C-BUS SCENE FLASHBACK: THE FAVORS DROVE G.T.O. TO GLAM PUNK CROWN

the Favors
2003

716 Miles To Go

A decade ago, the Favors (with slight apologies to Invader TJ Superstar and Thee Invaders) were the undisputed glam punk kings of the C-bus scene.

Equal parts Stooges/Ramones/Guns N' Roses, the Favors had the looks, the eyeliner and the guitar licks to match.

Shannon Malone - a dead ringer for Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland - growled when he sang and strutted the stages at PromoWest Pavilion and the Newport Music Hall with as much aggressive charisma as any of the national act front men coming through.

Guitarist J.D. Dallas played fast, and looked menacing with his shaved head, leather jacket and wife beater tank top - until he broke character with his friendly smile and easy laugh.

Bassist Steve Patrick and drummer Larz Raymond romped the rhythms.

the favors is five cuts of amped up sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, just the way Uncle Iggy taught 'em.

The one-nighter gone bad in She's Insane is hilarious. She breaks his bed, his nose and marks his floor. Then, "When I hid in the bathroom, she kicked in the door." 

Going Under (heroin addiction) and Leave L.A. (silver screen dreams turn into porno scene nightmares then get worse) paint starkly graphic pictures of life in Junkieville.

The former ends with the line, "I want to live to be about 15 minutes older than I am right this very second."

One Foot In The Grave ("I'm rollin'/Till the bottom drops out") and G.T.O. (hot car is hot girl is hot car is hot girl) were the showstoppers every time they hit the stage.

Do yourself the favor and find this EP.

Song For The Soundtrack: G.T.O.

Running Data for Saturday, April 20:
2.26 Miles
23:29

Mileage In The Change Jar: 0.15 Miles


Sunday, April 21, 2013

ROCK 'N' ROLL RUNNING ISN'T EASY, BUT THE TROPHIES ARE WAY BETTER THAN MEDALS

Rock 'n' Roll Running Trophy
April 19-21, 2013
It's not always easy to keep pace with the rock 'n' roll running regiment.

Friday night was Colin Gawel's "Why Isn't Cheap Trick In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?" power pop protest at Kobo. Happy hour shows rock. Who cares if it's still light outside during the encore?

Saturday was the vinyl shopping orgy known as National Record Store Day.

Sunday was the breezy and hilly Hoover Hustle 10-Miler.

Tough schedule, but here's what the trophy includes.

One (1) "Why Isn't Cheap Trick In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?" T-Shirt

One (1) Hoover Hustle 10-Miler Long Sleeve Running Shirt

One (1) new Mike Cooley Too Pretty To Work 7-inch

One (1) used copy of James Taylor Mud Slide Slim (for my wife)

One (1) used copy of Tony Orlando & Dawn Greatest Hits (still in the plastic for my big boss)

One (1) used copy of The Beat Farmers Poor & Famous (for me)

One (1) used copy of The Section (with liner notes insert and giant poster still inside)

One (1) used copy of Jackson Browne Late For The Sky (for my wife and me)

One (1) used copy of Pablo Cruise A Place In The Sun and one (1) used copy of Pablo Cruise Worlds Away (for my wife and my buddy the G Man)

One (1) used copy of The Sound of Music Soundtrack and one (1) used copy of The Pink Panther Soundtrack (for "Musicals Scrabble" when my collegiate daughter visits)

One (1) used copy of Nancy Sinatra Country My Way (for the cover for me)

One (1) used copy of Carly Simon No Secrets (still in the plastic with the "Features You're So Vain Sticker" and for the cover for me)

One (1) used copy of Ron Wood(s) I've Got My Own Album To Do (for me)

One (1) used copy of The Marshall Tucker Band Greatest Hits (Can't cha see?)

And, in the National Record Store Day steal of the century from Elizabeth's Records for $1.60:

One (1) used copy of Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison and one (1) used copy of Mitch Miller and the Gang's Happy Times! Sing Along With Mitch (complete with three song sheets)

The total tab on this licorice pizza order? About $25 and $8 was on the Cooley Too Pretty To Work Record Store Day exclusive.

Thanks go to Colin Gawel & The Lonely Bones, Cheap Trick, Mark-O, Eich, Maddie, Kobo, Budweiser, Beth I Hear You Callin', India Oak, Ryan Bingham, Bunny Lebowski Wygle, The Favors, Twinks, Stork, Lost Weekend Records, Records Per Minute, Johnny Go's House of Music, Elizabeth's Records, Seventh Son Brewing, Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza, Four String Brewing, Gatorade, Maxwell House, Jackson Browne, Suzanne, ULTRA-Fit USA, Warren Zevon, my wife, Bell's, Susan, John, Sam Adams and Bud Light for making this weekend the exhilarating marathon that it was.

IT'S NO CHEAP TRICK: THEY'RE SCREAMING FOR A H.O.F. NOMINATION AT BUDOKAN

at Budokan
1979

719 Miles To Go

When I was 16 years old, my four favorite albums were AC/DC Highway To Hell, Ted Nugent Double Live Gonzo, Van Halen Van Halen and Cheap Trick at Budokan.

The Tokyo girls were in love with Robin Zander even though he was a little too cute for us, at least compared to Bon Scott, Reddy Teddy and Diamond Dave.

But, we loved his voice and Rick Nielson could swing the metal hammer with as much thunder as any of his guitar contemporaries and he wore a bow tie.

The drummer's name was Bun E. and he wore a regular tie.

We were music geeks who wanted to be that cool - bow tie or regular.

Being a KISS fan, I immediately fell for the "All right Tokyo ..." introduction and the adolescent screeches that followed. Outside of the Rolling Stones Got Live If You Want It, there was nothing like it and it was in Japanese ... at Budokan.

Nearly 35 years later, it's all still there - the intro, the screams, the riffs and the hooks.

The remake of Ain't That A Shame is just as infectious as the first time hearing it.

I Want You To Want Me is as clear a message as there is - teenager, young adult, middle aged and hopefully senior citizen.

Surrender tastes even more deliciously decadent the older it gets (we get). Outside of Rock and Roll All Nite, there might not be a more infectious anthem from the Seventies. (That's a debate for another day and nite.)

"Then I woke up, Mom and Dad
Are rolling on the couch
Rolling numbers, rock and rolling
Got my KISS records out.
Mommy's all right, daddy's all right
They just seem a little weird
Surrender, surrender
But don't give yourself away"

Those are my KISS records. They're original. And, I'm the Dad.

The big three hits remain album rock radio staples. The rest are even better than  I remember, all killer no filler.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame must surrender to Cheap Trick now. They're still screaming at Budokan.

Licorice Pizza Notes: This run selection was inspired by Watershed's Colin Gawel and his "Why Isn't Cheap Trick In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?" two-show protest that night in Cleveland and Friday night at Kobo in Columbus. Major gratitude to Colin for reminding me how much I still love Cheap Trick. 

Song For The Soundtrack: Surrender

Running Data for Thursday, April 18:
3.65 Miles
38:28

Mileage In The Change Jar: 0.89 Miles

JACKSON BROWNE'S RUNNING ON EMPTY THE TOUR BUS RIDE WE STILL WANT TO TAKE

Running On Empty
1977

722 Miles To Go

This is the 1970s tour bus ride minions of music fans still want to take.

Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous brought the era to the movies, but Jackson Browne's Running On Empty is the original backstage pass pressed on black vinyl.

Radically recorded for the era, it's a live collection of new songs with the venues ranging from concert halls to the tour bus to a pair from Room 124 at the Holiday Inn in Edwardsville, Illinois.

It's about the thousands of miles of driving (Nothing But Time, The Road). It's about the drugs (Cocaine). It's about the "girls in daddy's cars" (Rosie, Love Needs A Heart).

And, it's about the love triangle between the performers, the roadies and the fans.

Running On Empty launched a pair of the mainstays of Album Oriented Rock radio still heard regularly today - the opening title track and The Load-Out/Stay.

The former is a quintessential running playlister, while the later makes you believe that if we all cheer just a little louder and longer the band really will come back for one more song.

At times moody and lonely, Running On Empty romanticizes the pleasures over the pain to make every moment on stage feel like it's worth the things left behind by a life in the soft rock circus.

The real snow flurry conversation at the end of Cocaine between Browne and guitarist David Lindley remains funny today and even clearer on ear buds.

In addition to Lindley, Browne is backed by four other members of The Section a.k.a. The Mellow Mafia - drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Leland Sklar, keyboardist Craig Doerge and guitarist Danny Kortchmar (the songwriter on Shaky Town). Only guitarist Waddy Wachtel is missing.

This all stitches together a concert T-shirt that's barely faded and still fits 26 years later.

Licorice Pizza Notes: This run selection was prompted by an excellent feature called "The Knights Of Soft Rock" written by David Browne for the April 11, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone. It's a revealing and sometimes hilarious retrospective into the making of some of the biggest records of the 1970s and The Section "backing" the stars (Carole King, James Taylor, Warren Zevon, Linda Ronstadt, and Crosby, Stills and Nash).

Three days later on National Record Store Day, I found a copy of their album - The Section (featuring Kunkel, Sklar, Doerge and Kortchmar) - complete with the liner notes insert and the giant "In O So Low Me O" poster in the dollar bin at Elizabeth's Records.

Song For The Soundtrack: Running On Empty

Running Data for Wednesday, April 17:
3.69 Miles
39:24

Mileage In The Change Jar: 0.24 Miles

Saturday, April 20, 2013

TWO CRAZY HEARTS: BINGHAM BASHES & ROARS; THE DUDE CAN SING

Tomorrowland
2012

726 Miles To Go

Through his first four efforts - including the Crazy Heart soundtrack - Ryan Bingham wandered the West Texas alt-country territory of pains, trains and broken hearts.

Playing Americana earned him a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Critics Choice Award for The Weary Kind from the Crazy Heart soundtrack. 

This time Bingham's riding a completely different range.

"Well, come on honey won't you take my hand/We got a heart full of rhythm they don't understand," he implores on Heart of Rhythm.

With fewer players than his previous efforts (Matt Sherrod on drum, Shawn Davis on bass, and Bingham on guitars), Tomorrowland leaves the no depression world behind for bashes and roars of bitterness, hopefulness and political fury.

Tomorrowland is a big rock 'n' roll record with sonic Pink Floyd/Radiohead atmospheres and screeching guitar riffs from the Jack White songbook.

Beg For Broken Legs, Western Shore, Guess Who's Knocking and Heart Of Rhythm blow the windows out early. And, the ballads are played with an edge.

Flower Bomb blasts away at today's America ("How in the hell can we progress/If we're all out of work/Hooked on pills for stress") and Rising of the Ghetto is an eight-minute plus call for revolution.

It might take a crazy heart to move away from a winning formula, but Bingham says:

"I'm going to join the protest
I'm going to stand up and sing
This time once again, stand up and be a man
Cause this land was made for you and me"
  - Too Deep To Fill

We should all take the ride to his Tomorrowland

Song For The Soundtrack: Guess Who's Knocking
Jeff Bridges
2011

The Jeff Bridges (2011) record could be the post-sobriety comeback for Crazy Heart's Bad Blake.

Or, maybe it's a Maude-funded project to help The Dude recover from Donny's death in The Big Lebowski.

Either way, it's further proof Jeff Bridges can sing and write on his second full-length release; 2000's Be Here Soon was the first.

T Bone Burnett mans the production controls and keeps Bridges rooted in the folk/country style he sang so well in Crazy Heart. There's nothing here that tops Hold On You, Somebody Else or Fallin' & Flyin' from the movie soundtrack.

But, "Sometime's fallin' feels like flyin'/For a little while" does rate as an all-time classic.

None of the songs rise above a quiet rumble and the Bridges-written Tumbling Vine grows into recent Tom Waits territory. Bridges also wrote the reflective Falling Short and has co-writing credit with Burnett on the drifting Slow Boat.

The influence of his Heaven's Gate movie co-star Kris Kristofferson is evident throughout. Marc Ribot (a frequent Waits player) and Burnette take care of the guitar work, while background vocalists include Ryan Bingham, Sam Phillips and Rosanne Cash.

"It makes me happy when I'm looking back," Bridges sings on Maybe I Missed The Point. "I'm not saying my whole life feels like a joke/But I've been a master of mirrors and smoke."

Dismissing Jeff Bridges as smoke and mirrors would just as surely miss the point.

Face it, The Dude can sing.

Song For The Soundtrack: Maybe I Missed The Point

Running Data for Sunday, April 14
8.90 Miles
1:44:10

Mileage In The Change Jar: 0.55 Miles

Thursday, April 18, 2013

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON'S NOT FINISHED, JUST FEELING MORTAL

Feeling Mortal
2012

735 Miles To Go

Where Kris Kristofferson flirted with mortality on his last two offerings (2006's This Old Road and 2009's Closer To The Bone), the 76-year-old silver tongued devil greets it head on in with the opening line of the opening song on his latest.

"Wide awake and feeling mortal/At this moment in the dream/That old man there in the mirror/And my shaky self esteem"

At last summer's Ohio State Fair show with fellow road warrior Merle Haggard, a fantastic Kristofferson looked neither worn out nor a nostalgia act.

But as if to further his point, there is no photo on the cover or in the liner notes of the singer/songwriter/actor/Rhodes Scholar/helicopter pilot/Highwayman.

Produced by Don Was, Feeling Mortal features tributes (Mama Stewart and Ramblin' Jack), regrets (Just Suppose and My Heart Was the Last One to Know), and sage advice (Stairway to the Bottom).

Kristofferson's voice warbles a bit more wearily than it did on Closer To The Bone, but the quiet instrumentation never overwhelms the sing/talk storytelling of a life well lived. The Zydeco splashes in Ramblin' Jack just add to orneriness of the adventures.

It would be easy to say this closes the trilogy started with This Old Road. But, be careful to write an ending just yet.

In the aptly titled You Don't Tell Me What to Do, he sings, "So I sing my own songs/And I drink when I'm thirsty/And I will go on making music and whiskey/And love for as long as the spirit inside me/Says you don't tell me what to do."
I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive
2011

Song For The Soundtrack: Ramblin' Jack

(This day's run was truly transportation for a trip to Johnny Go's House of Music to pick up the new Willie Nelson and Steve Earle discs. Thus, Earle's I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive became the second feature.)

Inspired by the passing of his father, Steve Earle says of the songs on I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, "They are all, as far as I can tell, about mortality in one way or another; death as a mystery rather than a punctuation mark or at least a comma rather than a period."

Earle certainly knows something about edgy living and looking over the ledge of life.

He's a graduate of the Townes Van Zandt school of songwriting and hard living. Heroin, cocaine and weapons charges landed him in jail and a heroin addiction put him into rehab.

The three-time Grammy Award winner has been married seven times and currently to singer/songwriter Allison Moorer who handles back-up vocals on I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive. Moorer toured with Earle as a member of The Dukes (& Duchesses) in support of the record.

As he sings on Every Part Of Me and remarks on stage, he still can't believe his luck in ending up with Moorer: "I've Labored Long In My Travails/And Left A Trail Of Tears Behind Me/Been In Love So Many Times/Didn't Think This Kind Would Ever Find Me."

I just want to be invited to the Earle Family Holiday Hootenanny featuring Steve, his son Justin Townes Earle, wife Allison and her sister Shelby Lynne.

Lyrically, all the songs follow the theme. Musically, they range from Irish (The Gulf of Mexico and Molly-O) to shufflin' country (Waitin' On The Sky To Fall) to spooky (Meet Me In The Alleyway) under T Bone Burnett's production.

Sara Watkins' fiddle playing is the highlight of Little Emperor - one last  kick to the W. legacy.

"No Pomp And Circumstance No More Shock And Awe
You're Just A Little Emperor That's All"

This City from the HBO series about New Orleans, Treme, also appears, as did Earle in three episodes of the show.

Song For The Soundtrack: I Am A Wanderer

Running Data for Saturday, April 13:
5.70 Miles
1:02:05

Mileage in the Change Jar: 0.65 Miles


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

IF THE 'GUY IN THE ORANGE SHIRT' CAN GET UP FROM BOSTON SHOCK WAVE, WE CAN TOO

There are tears at the finish line of every marathon.

Tears of joy.

Tears of pain.

And, tears of  "we really did make it".

Runners may get the medals, but the road to the finish line is paved by family and friends who also sacrifice during the training and preparation. Then, on marathon day, hundreds of volunteers line the miles to provide precious water and fuel. Strangers cheer and offer high fives to the fast, the slow and everyone in between.

Finish line tears fell for different reasons after the inexplicable events at yesterday's Boston Marathon. Instead of runners, supporters and cheerleaders - family, friends, volunteers and strangers had to become unplanned heroes after two violent explosions erupted near running's most famous finish line.

"Bloody", "war zone" and "loss of limbs" were used in nearly every description of the scene.

Even when the television didn't play on with a continuous loop of the first bomb going off, I couldn't stop thinking about the "guy in the orange shirt" going down and not knowing if he was hurt ... badly ... or worse.

Hours later, an ESPN interview provided the needed update: 78-year-old Bill Iffrig  - the guy in the orange shirt - was OK after being sent to the ground by the bomb's shock waves. He only had a scratch and some difficulty with his ears.

An unplanned hero helped the Lake Stevens, Wash., runner to his feet and start moving again, eventually crossing the finish line and walking a few blocks back to his hotel where his wife was waiting.

All the while hosts of other unplanned heroes tended to the dozens of injured and terrified.

This morning, a photo of the fallen Iffrig surrounded by police (shot by John Tlumacki of The Boston Globe) appeared in our newspaper and undoubtedly countless others around the world. (When we look back on this years from now, I predict this image will be included every time the topic is revisited.)

The hardest part now begins as the shock wears off. Death and injury counts will become more real. Details of the bombs will become better known. The culprit(s) ultimately will be found, and the twisted rationalization for carrying out something so heinous will be revealed.

As we did for Oklahoma City, 9/11,  the Colorado movie theater, Sandy Hook Elementary, and a sadly growing list of senselessly self-inflicted wounds, we all have to do what the unplanned hero and the guy in the orange shirt did.

We have to help each other up and keep moving.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

KEITH RICHARDS' EILEEN DRINKS FROM A WICKED VINTAGE

Eileen
Released 1992

741 Miles To Go

There may never have been a better main man side project than Keith Richards' run with his X-Pensive Winos for 1988's Talk Is Cheap, 1991's Live At The Hollywood Palladium, and 1992's Main Offender.

At the time, Mick and Keith were publicly cat fighting over the future of the Rolling Stones. So, Richards grabbed his guitar case and formed a band of all-star sessions players to produce an album that easily surpassed the Stones' efforts of the era (1986's Dirty Work  and 1983's Undercover of the Night) and arguably many of the records that followed the Glimmer Twins eventual reconciliation.

The X-Pensive Winos included guitarist Waddy Wachtel, drummer Steve Jordan, bassist Charley Drayton, keyboardist Ivan Neville, singer Sarah Dash and saxophonist Bobby Keys - a longtime Stones contributor.

Eileen is a five-song CD single featuring the title track (from Main Offender), a previously unreleased cover of Little Walter's Key To The Highway and three live cuts from a December 1992 Winos show in London - Gimme Shelter, Wicked As It Seems and How I Wish.

Dash's vocal performance in Gimme Shelter overwhelms everything else on this vintage collectible.      

On Key To The Highway, featuring Chuck Berry pianist Johnny Johnson, Richards promises:

"I'm gonna roam this highway
Until the day I die"

I believe him.

If you have the opportunity to catch a copy of Eileen, grab her quick. This girl is even more wicked than she seems.

Song For The Soundtrack: Gimme Shelter

Running Data for Friday, April 12:
2.15 Miles
23:41

Mileage in the Change Jar: 0.95 Miles

Saturday, April 13, 2013

JOEY'S SECONDS MORE THAN LEFTOVERS

"... ya know?"
Released 2012

743 Miles To Go

Johnny Ramone wanted to be tough. Joey Ramone wanted to be adored.

Johnny was the band's self-appointed drill sergeant who kept the Ramones on the road long after the band could have self-destructed from commercial disappointment, Dee Dee's fatal drug daze, and the severed relationship between the two leaders with a truce that only existed on stage.

Joey was the leather-clad praying mantis sporting a mop top, tattered jeans, and singing in a New York voice with a hint of fake English.

Johnny supplied the chainsaw guitar. Joey chewed the bubblegum surf pop soul.

"... ya know?" is Joey's second solo effort, released 10 years after Don't Worry About Me and 11 years from his death from lymphoma. According to the liner notes, a nasty rights fight between Joey's estate and Daniel Rey (a frequent Ramones co-conspirator) prevented an earlier release.

"VERY special thanks to Ed Stasium. Were it not for him finally anchoring the rope - joining my mom, Dave Frey and me in our eight year long tug-of-war with the person who was withholding Joey's demo tapes from all of us - this would be a four song album," writes Joey's brother Mickey Leigh, one of the album's co-producers and art director.

Fortunately, the familiar spoils of the war are well worth the wait - 15 songs of punchy Joey jams.

Some are straight off the Ramones' assembly line, others extend into the ballad ground that Johnny so passionately despised.

A line-up super friends joins the fray including Little Steven Van Zandt, Lenny Kaye, Handsome Dick Manitoba and Bun E. Carlos. Joan Jett guests on guitar and vocals for 21st Century Girl. Meanwhile, Leigh and Stasium supply a variety of vocal and instrumental fills throughout and Ramones ex-pat Richie drums on four songs.

The lyrical view alternates between his rosy wire rimmed spectacles and that of someone seeing the finish line coming sooner and more painfully than hoped.

Rock 'n' Roll Is The Answer is a Joey-styled attitude adjuster, while New York City plays like Big Apple tourism commercial.

Holly Beth Vincent (Holly and the Italians) trades verses with Joey on Party Line, an original calling from a musical era gone almost as long as that telephone technology.

Conversely, Going Nowhere Fast, Seven Days of Gloom and There's Got To Be More To Life are as dark as their titles, but delivered with a ray of Ramones humor.

"Seven days of gloom
here in my room
if it wasn't for Stooges
my life would be doomed"
  - Seven Days of Gloom

 Joey leaves with us a simple goodbye:

"Life's a gas
So don't be sad,
'cause I'll be there
DON'T BE SAD AT ALL ..."

Johnny would have hated the tinkling wind chimes at the end, ya know?

Song for the Soundtrack: Party Line

Running Data for Wednesday, April 10:
4.52 Miles
49:31

In The Mileage Change Jar: 0.80 Miles


Thursday, April 11, 2013

DBT's STROKER ACE ALONE, BUT NOT FOOLISH

the fool on every corner
Released 2012

747 Miles To Go

Drive-By Truckers co-founder Mike Cooley finally goes it alone, but cruises a familiar route filled with guns, booze and dark Southern Charm.  

 the fool on every corner is an acoustic adventure across all but the earliest entries in the Drive By Truckers library recorded over two shows at The Earl in Atlanta and The Melting Point in Athens, Ga.

While most of the songs are quieter and slower than their DBT incarnations, they're no less compelling with Cooley's drawl and wit at the forefront, some even more so.

"Getting all excited finding nothing that was never there before
Is like bringing flowers to your Mama and tracking dog shit all over the floor
Jesus made the flowers but it took a dog to make the story good"
  - Cartoon Gold

The desolation angels in the opener Loaded Gun in the Closet (Decoration Day) and Pulaski (Go Go Boots) seem even more hopeless with the new treatment.

Playfully in 3 Dimes Down, Cooley fills out the closing line "Come back baby, Rock and roll never forgets" with a verse of Bob Seger you've waited for every time you hear the song. The cover of Behind Closed Doors is 1970s AM radio gold at its brightest and played as tribute not spoof.

Carl Perkins Cadillac - a cynically hilarious take Sam Phillips' Sun Records "Million Dollar Quartet" and the music business from The Dirty South - is the outing's centerpiece and among the finest DBT songs no matter how it's presented.

"Mr. Phillips never said anything behind nobody's back
Like 'Dammit Elvis, don't he know, he ain't no Johnny Cash'"

Then, later ...

"If Mr. Phillips was the only man that Jerry Lee would call sir
Then I guess Mr. Phillips did all of Y'all about as good as you deserve"

And, finally ...

"Dammit Elvis, I swear son I think it's time you come around
Making money you can't spend ain't what being dead's about"

The loudest audience sing-a-longs come on Marry Me and Shut Up And Get On The Plane.

The only new Cooley original, Drinking Coke and Eating Ice, closes the collection with a splash of middle class disenchantment: "It took walls to drive her crazy/It took space to drive her in."

Chants of "Cooley! Cooley! Cooley!" follow him out.

Song for the Soundtrack: Drinking Coke and Eating Ice

Running Data for Sunday, April 7
4.28 Miles
49:49

In The Mileage Change Jar: 0.28 Miles


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

THE RIVER REALLY A BRIDGE TO BRUCE'S RISE

The River
Released 1980

751 Miles To Go

Bruce Springsteen's The River is really more a bridge from his two greatest works - Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town - to the commercial superstardom that came five years later with Born In The USA and the era of one name rock royalty - Bruce, Michael, Madonna, Prince and Whitney.

Less opera than Born To Run and more hopeful than Darkness, The River lets loose the E Streeters on two albums (disc) worth of originals.

Hungry Heart (reputedly written for the Ramones) was a hit single, while Independence Day, The River and Cadillac Ranch became live show staples.

Sherry Darling, Crush On You, I'm A Rocker and Ramrod still exude an irresistible drive-in party innocence.

My brother-in-law who got me back into running used I Wanna Marry You as part of his marriage proposal. I'm sure he wasn't the only one. 

Conversely, Stolen Car, Point Blank and Wreck On The Highway foreshadow the stark and moody brilliance that was coming with 1982's acoustic detour to Nebraska.

My first of several Springsteen concerts was on The River tour at a Cincinnati show when I was 17 and Drive All Night was the achy end song when the imaginary credits rolled on my last teen years love affair.

More than three decades later, this river remains worth running through.

Song for the Soundtrack Disc I: Crush On You
Song for the Soundtrack Disc II: I'm A Rocker
The Rising
Released  2002

(This day's run was one of those "planning for six and hoping to get 10" types. My endurance held up and The Rising was only two clicks up on my iPod when The River ended.)

Of all the music inspired by 9/11, Springsteen's The Rising had to be the most expected given his geographic ties and place as the public's conscience.

In his first studio album with the E Street Band since Born In The USA, Bruce stayed humanistic when many others went jingoistic.

More than 10 years removed from that Lonesome Day, the songs' characters still feel hauntingly real even if many of them are never coming back.

"Pictures on the nightstand,
TV's on in the den
Your house is waiting,
your house is waiting
For you to walk in,
for you to walk in"
   - You're Missing

Meanwhile, the title track is the tough and lovely statement song you would expect from Springsteen.

Not everything on The Rising is dour or 9/11 related. Mary's Place has a Southside Johnny vibe that would have fit on The River and Let's Be Friends (Skin To Skin) is just as perky as the title sounds.

Song For The Soundtrack: The Rising

Running Data for Saturday, April 6
10 Miles
2 Hours "10" Minutes


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

RUMOURS STILL THE BIGGEST MAC

761 Miles To Go

The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac
Released 2002
I've never planned anything around Fleetwood Mac, let alone a run.

But, when I woke up there she was. The Welsh Witch. The Gypsy. The Twirling Bird.

A 60-something Stevie Nicks was on the cover of Weekender with Fleetwood Mac in tow for the first show of their 2013 reunion tour.

I didn't even know what a Bella Donna was, but I bought her solo album on cassette when it came out and rationalized it because of Stevie's duet with Tom Petty on Stop Draggin' My Heart Around. And, at that point, we were all on the Edge of Seventeen or at least wanted someone who was.


So, I would begin the first run of this journey to The Very Best of Fleetwoood Mac, Disc 2, chosen because there wasn't enough energy for a two-CD excursion and it was kicked off by The Chain and Don't Stop. Just on Disc 2 alone, the other gold and platinum numbers from these two collections include Second Hand News, Gold Dust Woman, and World Turning.

Because this compilation is not chronological, it becomes absolutely certain that Fleetwood Mac and Rumours deserve their classic status and the rest of of the material no matter how many copies it sold was just OK. It's not bad; it's just not Rumours or Fleetwood Mac.

Gypsy (Mirage) is an infectious earwig that burrows in and makes you sing "You see your gypsy ..." when it should just be kept inside your head. Or, not.

Little Lies (Tango In The Night) and Hold Me (Mirage) are too consciously pop for their own good. Much of the rest just runs together, no matter who the singer.

When was the last time you went to a party and someone pulled out Tusk?

For the record, Dispatch critic Curtis Schieber gave that evening's concert a positive review and a call out to Gypsy. He probably won't admit it, but he can't get it out of his head either.

Song for the Soundtrack: Gold Dust Woman  (It can't be The Chain every year.)

Running Data for Thursday, April 4
4 Miles
44:54