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viva la vinyl

New turntable & Greg dulli spinning

Just picked up one of those little Crosley turntables at Target. I have the turntable and the stereo in the living room, but there ain’t that much room in a NYC apartment. It’s got speakers and it closes up just like my mom’s old RCA and has a handle and everything. It’ll do for the occasional vinyl indulgence in my office.

On the turntable for its initial spin was the 45-only release of Greg Dulli’s tribute to Eddie Hinton. His cover of “Hard Luck Guy” is breathtaking. Dulli should get a Guggenheim to be able to work with horns for the rest of his career.


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When the band broke up, my first thought was “I’ll never get to see Matt Cameron play drums again” and, well, we know how that turned out. But there’s a difference between playing on that stuff and playing Soundgarden music. I snuck through Seattle alleys and darkened under-curfew streets to see Kim Thayil play live with Jello Biafra during the WTO riots. I flew to San Francisco to see Chris Cornell’s first solo gig at the Fillmore. I will believe it when I see it, but there is part of me that is just OVER THE MOON.

The shot above is from the 6/20/96 gig at the Showbox, right before they left for Lollapalooza. At 4pm on a Friday, tickets went on sale at the Blockbuster above Queen Anne. I got in line at 3pm the day of this show. The problem with Soundgarden, of course, is that the audience is full of Pantera wannabes. I have photos from Lolla 96 at the Gorge where the pit looks like Scylla and Charybdis were inside of it. I worry about it being emotionally void. But I also know that I will go once just to find out for sure.

I will also remind you of the site that set the standard for what a band website COULD be: The Unofficial Soundgarden Homepage, where I had to go to dig out that photograph. And you would have to have been a member of SOMMS to understand the headline of this post. For that reason, I will not explain further.


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big man talking.

Clarence Clemons is making appearances & doing book signing in support of his memoir, Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales. Despite running on 3 1/2 hours of sleep (from being down in Philly last night and then working a full day today), I headed uptown to see if I could participate in the freak show. You waited in line, you bought a book, you waited in line again, then you were escorted into a room to wait some more.

I will be honest and say that Clarence was far more lucid and articulate than I was led to believe his current condition left him in. His eyesight was fine, his hearing a little wobbly – which is of course to be expected. He was funny, he was engaged, he was happy to be there. I have to tell you, given the prevailing rumors out there, I was expecting him to be more frail.

Clarence is appearing at these events with his co-author, Don Reo. While I appreciate that Mr. Reo is a celebrity in his own right and a friend of Clarence’s, frankly, I don’t care. I do appreciate that he (mostly) got out of the way and let Clarence talk. I will leave it at that, except to say that we do not need yet another person representing the position that every E Street Band show is the BEST SHOW EVER PERFORMED. It is possible to love every minute of being at a show and still be objective. History would be better served by the latter. They then took questions from the audience.

The Big Man was gracious and gave answers that were not always the PC version. Good questions were, “What sign would you bring?” (Consensus seemed to be “Paradise by the C”) and his favorite song (again, “Paradise”). Which album was his favorite to perform? Born To Run. (This is where Don Reo noted that he didn’t think the BITUSA songs ‘worked in the middle of the show'”. Funny, they seemed to work just fine in the middle of the show in 1985.) A good question about his specific musical influences. I will spare you the stupid questions. My companion asked – when we were getting our books signed – how he felt about having Curt Ramm around. Clarence said that he didn’t like it, that he “wasn’t one of the family yet”. (Although earlier the smile on his face when talking about “Higher and Higher” from Philly seemed to be the opposite emotion.)

My question: One of my favorite parts of the Rising tour was the instrumental break during “City of Ruins,” when Bruce and Clarence would do that little soul shuffle. And you probably noticed, every night, when they did it, they were having a conversation. It wasn’t just ‘Hey, dude, what up,” it was a pretty involved conversation that went the length of the break. I always wondered what they talked about during the break. My sister also did, and her theory was that it was just, “Hey, what you doing after the show? What are you having for dinner?” – which Clarence claimed was exactly what they were talking about. (I told him that was what we thought they were doing, so he wasn’t shattering any illusions.)

Instead of reviewing the event, I will offer you hints and tips as to how to get the most out of it:
1) Think of a question before you get there, and have another in your back pocket in case someone asks a similar question.
2) Put your hand up as soon as they ask if there are any questions. Get your question in quickly, get over any nervousness you have, the sooner you ask it, the better chance you have at being called upon. Once one or two questions are asked, people that don’t really have questions decide they do and raise their hand, and then they start asking stupid questions, which will start to try Clarence’s patience.
3) Do not ask about specific shows unless they happened recently. Do not go and ask about your favorite show from 1978 – he will tell you that there have been so many and he doesn’t remember it. Do not go expecting to have an E Street Band member validate your personal opinion that Show X was the most transcendent version of X song, ever.
4) Speak loudly and clearly and make your question brief and to the point. See note above about his hearing.
5) If you don’t have a question but just want to proclaim your love for the E Street Band, save that for the signing, you will get at least a few moments to convey that information. Do not, however, take up valuable public time to make sure we know you are the biggest and best fan in the world and have seen hundreds of shows over 30 years. You are boring.
6) If your child cannot sit quietly, DO NOT BRING YOUR CHILD. It is unfair to everyone else to have a fussy, loud toddler squirming during the questioning.
7) Do not ask questions about what happens after the tour, when the next album is coming out, when the next tour is, what Bruce is doing – even if he knew that Bruce asked them all to keep their calendars open for the next 9 months, HE CAN’T TELL YOU. Don’t waste the question.

As for the book — I have seen some good reviews of this book on the internet, but they make me feel like I got a different book than they did. On the other hand, there *are* good stories and good information in there, I just would have like to have seen a higher tone taken with the actual writing in the book. It is worth a read if you are a Springsteen fan, and at a minimum, the photos worth thumbing through at your local bookstore on a rainy day. I would suggest you peruse the book’s contents before making a decision as to whether a purchase at full list price is warranted. But it goes without saying, if you have an opportunity to spend an hour in the same room with the Big Man, you should go.


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she’s the one

U2 does “She’s The One” Giants Stadium 9-23-09 from caryn rose on Vimeo.

Thanks to NJ Transit, i got home too late to write anything. More tonight.


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ben, the two of us need look no more

It was 1971. It was a little tiny town in Michigan (a town so podunk that when I visited it 25 years later, I called my mother to demand she explain where on earth we bought clothes). It was me, and a little black GE transistor radio. It was me, and a brand new school. It was me, and my friend Linda Fisher, who could dance, trying to teach me how to dance like the Jackson Five did in their Saturday morning cartoon.

My elementary school had two Jewish kids (me and my brother) and one African-American girl, who was adopted. Overwhelmingly, the music of choice in grades 1-5 was stuff like “Seasons In The Sun” and the DiFranco family or the Osmonds. I listened to it all, got the 45’s for birthdays, but hated it. I tuned into WLS across Lake Michigan, and would pull in bits of Motown coming in from the other side of the state. At that point it was just sheer feel, sheer instinct. What I loved. What I hated. What was interesting. What I couldn’t possibly understand.

But I loved the Jackson Five. I could watch them in cartoon form on Saturday mornings. I owned the singles, I did the moves as best I could (in the playground near the 5th grade classrooms, where there was a little corner out of sight). I tried to talk about it but didn’t have the words yet, not that anyone wanted to talk about the Jackson Five, exactly. All I knew as that the music made me want to dance. It made me feel happy.

It was a place to start.

When I did a list of my top 40 songs for my 40th birthday, “I Want You Back” was easily at the top of the list, without even thinking about it twice.

It would be so nice if this would be all that mattered, if the rest of it could be overlooked, and perhaps I am ungracious and unkind but I can’t sit here and innocently embrace all of Michael Jackson’s career or say that it was only the music that mattered. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth to try to do that. But I will remember how it was something else, something different, my first foray into liking something because I liked it and turning my back on what everyone else said they loved.


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kim thayil

The recent Sub Pop 20 festivities got me into a conversation with a friend about Kim Thayil. Continue Reading »


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pigs are flying somewhere

Read the whole post here.


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the jukebox project #4: The Beatles – “I Want To Hold Your Hand”

Writing about the Beatles is like writing about the sky or the sun or the moon – at least on my planet. It also appeared to be an impossible task, until I realized I had already done it without knowing I had. I was writing about George but really, everything I ever thought and felt about the Beatles is contained in that piece.

Continue Reading »


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1. Light My Fire, the Doors

This is quite possibly the most longest, pointless bridge in the history of rock and roll, just short of that plodding version of “Sweet Jane” on the Rock and Roll Animal album. I don’t know if it always bothered me (not that I was ever a Doors fan) but right now it’s enough to make me want to hurl the receiver out the window.