Todd Snider/The Magnetic Fields
What's So Funny?
Todd Snider: Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables (Aimless/Thirty Tigers)
Musically, these are not complex songs, and although Snider's boyish air never seems forced and his good humor always comes with laughs, his 45-year-old voice bears the gravelly traces of many sleepless nights. Yet for the third time since he kicked opiates in 2004, he's scored a full album's worth of new material that remains completely in a character unique to him while adding something new to that character. This time what's new is a band sound shambolically anchored by John Prine's New Orleans-raised drummer Paul Griffith and cunningly colored by fiddler Amanda Shires. What's also new but less surprising is an ever more explicit and uncompromising class animus. One song names the Abacus Fund Goldman Sachs and John Paulson conned unions with. Another begs to differ with the privileged canard that living well is the best revenge. Uh-uh, Snider sez. Revenge is the best revenge. A
The Magnetic Fields: Love at the Bottom of the Sea (Merge)
These 15 song-puzzles in 34:20 are sophisticated amusements all, although often the amusement is attenuated and one I get bored with before half its 2:38 is over. How amusing they prove over time remains, of course, to be determined. Most amusing: "Your Girlfriend's Face" and "I'll Go Anywhere With Hugh" (tie). Most‑-sorry, it's the right word‑-soulful: "Andrew in Drag." I note for the record that all three are among the first five tracks. A MINUS
I wouldn't put much stock in the mainstream rock vs. white power rock comparison. As the authors themselves pointed out, they may have confounded genre with lyrical content - I interpret this to mean that if the mainstream and white power rock songs used had been better matched for hard rock/metal content (the mainstream rock songs included Tupelo Honey, for example), there may have been no difference. Also, few respondents could identify the genre they had listened to as "white power rock" after the study, and nobody seemed to remember any lyrics.
- The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (Verve) 20
- The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin (A&M) 14
- The Flamin' Groovies: Supersnazz (Epic) 12
- The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed (Abkco) 10
- Miles Davis: In a Silent Way (Columbia) 10
- Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy and the Poor Boys (Fantasy) 8
- Amalgam: Prayer for Peace (FMR) 8
- The Band: The Band (Capitol) 6
- The Original Delaney & Bonnie: Accept No Substitutes (Elektra) 6
- The Stooges: The Stooges (Elektra) 6
- Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bayou Country (Fantasy)
- Sly and the Family Stone: Stand (Epic)
- Neil Young: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Reprise)
- Harry Partch: The World of Harry Partch (Columbia)
- James Brown: Soul on Top (Verve)
- Taj Mahal: Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home (Columbia)
- Aretha Franklin: Soul '69 (Atlantic)
- Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (Columbia)
- Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis (Atlantic)
- Eddie Gale: Black Rhythm Happening (Blue Note)
- Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River (Fantasy)
- Miles Davis: Filles de Kilimanjaro (Columbia)
- Charles Wuorinen: Time's Encomium (Nonesuch)
- Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)
- John McLaughlin: Extrapolation (Polydor)
- Captain Beefheart: Trout Mask Replica (Reprise)
- Johnny Otis: Snatch and the ****s (Kent)
- Terry Riley: A Rainbow in Curved Air (Columbia)
- Elvis Presley: Suspicious Minds (RCA)
- Mississippi Fred McDowell: I Do Not Play No Rock 'n' Roll (Capitol)
- Otis Redding: Love Man (Atlantic)
- Delaney & Bonnie & Friends: Motel Shot (Atco)
- Johnny Cash: At San Quentin (Columbia)
- Don Cherry: Where Is Brooklyn (Blue Note)
- Albert King: King of the Blues Guitar (Atlantic)
- Sonny Sharrock: Black Woman (Vortex)
- Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline (Columbia)
- Andrew Hill: Passing Ships (Blue Note)
- Tracy Nelson: Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country (Mercury)
- Les McCann/Eddie Harris: Swiss Movement (Atlantic)
- The Grateful Dead: Live/Dead (Warner Bros)
- Howard Riley: Angle (Columbia)
- John Jackson: Don't Let Your Deal Go Down (Arhoolie)
- Joe McPhee: Underground Railroad (CJR)
- Charles Tolliver: The Ringer (Black Lion)
- The Rolling Stones: Get Your Ya-Ya's Out! (Abkco)
- Illinois Jacquet: The Blues, That's Me (Prestige)
- Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson: Kidney Stew Is Fine (Delmark)
- Frank Foster: Manhattan Fever (Blue Note)
- Tammy Wynette: Stand By Your Man (Epic)
- Lee Morgan: Charisma (Blue Note)
- The Who: Tommy (MCA)
- Ahmad Jamal: At the Top: Poinciana Revisited (Impulse)
Continuation to my previous post: The music involved doesn't have to have overtly nationalistic lyrics, just a recognizable rhythm or style. Often folk music has the biggest effect. I would guess that the "white power" music probably didn't exert its influence through the words (which were likely inaudible unless you really paid attention since the music was played at soft, background levels), but more through its structure..which I'm guessing is of the angry/metal type.
Well, assuming the researchers randomized what type of music was played to each person, kept other environmental factors constant, and did the requisite tests of statistical significance, I don't think there's any doubt that the different allocations of money were caused by the different types of music.
Exactly how this happened, i.e. what the explanatory mechanisms involved were, is a matter of conjecture. I'm speculating that it involves the disinhibition of underlying predispositions to make in-group/out-group distinctions, and feel greater affiliation to the in-group (and perhaps also more aggrieved towards the out-group). The reason for my speculation is the widespread (and continued) use of music to instill feelings of nationalism in the various countries that make up the former Yugoslavia. Even family and friends who don't appear to be nationalistic act and talk quite differently if the background music is American rather than from their specific piece of the former-Yugoslav pie. It's scary.
I still can't believe there wasn't a single vote for Flamin Groovies' Supersnazz in our '69 poll. I was however pleasantly surprised to see both Otis' Love Man and Elvis in Memphis place so highly. Wilson Pickett's Hey Jude was another surprise MIA.
Which isn't, also, to say that it can't make people more invidious. In a record store in London, some Jay-Z came over the speakers, and a very old man about an aisle or so away from me said: "What is this n*gger sh*t?"
And so the fun continues. I'm loving the new Todd Snider and it was less expensive than the new Springsteen which, artistically anyhow, I'm having trouble even liking. But I'll give it several more listens.
My 1969 Ballot after whittling down the 36 I own.
1.) The Band - The Band (15)
2.) Dusty Springfield - Dusty In Memphis (14)
3.) The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground (14)
4.) The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed (12)
5.) Creedence Clearwater Revival - Willy and the Poorboys (11)
6.) Sly and the Family Stone - Stand! (8)
7.) Joe Cocker - Joe Cocker! (7)
8.) Bob Dylan - Nashville Skyline (7)
9.) Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River (6)
10.) The Grateful Dead - Aoxomoxoa (6)
So Close and Yet So Far
11.) The Flying Burrito Brothers - The Gilded Palace of Sin
12.) Wilson Pickett - Hey Jude
13.) The Beatles - Abbey Road
14.) The Jefferson Airplane - Bless Its Pointed Little Head
15.) Delaney and Bonnie - Accept No Substitute
16.) The Who - Tommy
17.) The Moody Blues - To Our Children's Children's Children
18.) Otis Redding - Love Man
19.) Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II
20.) Janis Joplin - I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
Let me clear my conscience first. Or to phrase it differently, let me state my pride in my guilty pleasure - The Moody Blues. It's the only album of theirs I care about and I love it. I guess it's the space journey concept that has sold me. Jefferson Airplane's "Volunteers" doesn't hold up for me the way it once did, but "Bless Its Pointed..." has never diminished for me. Thanks Stone Man! Plus it's one of my favorite album titles of all time. I've had the Wilson Pickett on vinyl for decades and the back of the cover credits lists "David" Allman handling guitar chores.
"Aoxomoxoa" got the points not just because of the classics "St. Stephen" and "China Cat Sunflower" but also for two eccentric treats: "Diamond Dupree's Blues" and "Mountains of the Moon". Love 'em love 'em love em. Except maybe for Rod Stewart (what ever became of him?), Joe Cocker is my favorite white male interpreter of song during that era. My favorite versions of "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" and "Darling Be Home Soon" are just the beginning. Finally, Dusty or the Velvets could have filled the #1 slot.
Thank you Patrick.
This soft bigotry toward Presence is intolerable!
Not to mention In Through the Out Door! (Seriously, I like that album)
Heh. I almost wrote post-Houses of the Holy. Really would've pissed people off then...
The cited research finding that music can prime underlying feelings of in-group affiliation is not the least bit surprising to me, and no joke where I come from (former Yugoslavia).
This soft bigotry toward Presence is intolerable!
but his work, post-Physical Graffiti, is respectable
The researchers, who tested 138 students with different genres, say the finding shows that because rock is associated with white people, people unconsciously favour their own race after listening.Being half-Mexican and quarter-German, this explains my idolatry of Linda Ronstadt.
The researchers, who tested 138 students with different genres, say the finding shows that because rock is associated with white people, people unconsciously favour their own race after listening.
Speaking of Led Zep, did anyone else read that in the Daily Mail ( goo.gl/YYH4Q )? WTH? I'm guessing the problem here is the journalist for overstating the study's conclusions, but the quotes from the researchers aren't helping either.
'Those who listened to the rock music gave more to the white group, but split the rest equally among the other three – in other words they weren't punitive against the others as were the listeners of the white power rock.'
has he ever gotten a smidge as big as Zeppelin?
Ah, I was thinking in terms of overall quality, not commercial impact or profile. I will say that in the early 80s Plant loomed pretty large in my teen, AOR ears. His first two solo albums received considerable airplay in the DFW market. I knew those two albums as well as I did any Zep.
Zep's an interesting case to me for another reason. I liked them as a teen because they were heavy. (My official favorite band of high school.) As my tastes changed--punk and funk called in college--they settled into a nostalgia I rarely listened to. But at some point in the 90s I started listening again and was struck how smart the band was sonically. In its own way, their genius formalism paved the way for similar weak-content/brilliant-sonics artists like Prince and Sonic Youth.
I think you're right, Milo, that they were probably tapped out by the end, but I've always wondered, 'What if...?'. Smart formalists have a way of lingering intelligently for surprisingly long times.
PS -To Frapton and Irene-just checked the calendar-
those days don't work for me-thanks anyway
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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