Loudon Wainwright III/Lee Ranaldo
What Do You Mean You're an Old Man? I'm the Old Man Around Here.
Loudon Wainwright III: Older Than My Old Man Now (2nd Story Sound)
A reluctant 50, he started playing the Old card with the adulthood album Grown Man; now, a saggy stripling of 65, he trumps himself with a mortality album. Wainwright has been writing death songs for years, of course, but on his eighth album and label of the young century the theme turns concept. In one song he's a ghost; another features a reflection his late father wrote about his own late father; the one that begins "Somebody else I knew just died" is followed by the one called "The Days That We Die." Family members abound, including the late Kate McGarrigle in a remake of her sole co-write with her husband, from before either was 30, which happens to be called "Over the Hill." There are cameos from Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Chris Smither, John Scofield, the winsome Dame Edna Everage; Tom Lehrer declined but loved how Wainwright fit the word "Mercurochrome" into "My Meds." With Elliott, Loud-O bids for a do-over: "You don't know what you're doin' and you can't just wait;/You go ahead and do it and then it's too late/You need a double lifetime." After he goes down on his knees and prays, as he promises he will, this album will be Exhibit A on his application. A
Lee Ranaldo: Between the Times and the Tides (Matador)
Never much of a singer even by Sonic Youth standards and always abrasive solo, Ranaldo applies his best-in-band chops to riffage and filigree so lovely his well-meaning and far from altogether tuneless plainsong has the welcome effect of situating the guitar in the same reality occupied by his lyrics, which always make sense and often seem a mere detail away from total lucidity. Throughout he recaptures the repose of A Thousand Leaves's "Hoarfrost," his will to reconciliation and renewal always palpable whether the songs reach out or recalibrate his options. Just the album you'd hope from a thoughtful 56-year-old after his band of 30 years breaks up. Best in show is "Angles," a love song to someone he knows well and can always stand to know better. Not a bandmate, either. A MINUS
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (Bill Evans' impressionistic stuff might help you out)
Miles Davis: In A Silent Way (easier listening than Jack Johnson)
Thelonious Monk: Misterioso (Mr. Christgau's very own favourite album is comparatively easy and perfectly paced)
Billie Holiday: Any one of Mr. Christgau's recommendations on his site (perhaps Lady In Autumn), otherwise her Decca stuff, in my opinion, is easiest to access.
In the middle of making cannellini and beef soup (yes, i've got Giada de's book) and I dashed off a parody of "Brenda," first few verses. I'm sure Ryan or someone can put some more funny in here.
They met on a train to write "Nowhere Fast"
He could see what she had right on
Together they build up an empire so vast
That no one, not even the NME could stop them
He looked like a man of the people
She declined to eat meat at the ball
Of course they made everybody so jealous
But no one could touch ‘em et all
It was true love
And while the Hacienda was dancing
They conquered the world and beyond
With each new insatiable ambition
They tested and strengthened their bond
He wasn’t nearly as celibate
She wasn’t nearly as fun
But together they was quite a combination
When it come down to gettin’ it done
It was true love
They amassed unspeakable fortunes and she still wasn’t satisfied
And when he wanted to play guitar for the Pretenders?
What a hell of a ride!
With Streety and Porter they recorded as often as they could
Well good love comes with its troubles
Where things, things wouldn’t always be good
It was true love
(And please work the yodeling hook from "Headmaster Ritual" in there. That's one of those ni-ni-ni-yeah things I can't get enough of.)
(Unrelated to sheepism.)
I love jazz, but I'm hardly an expert on it. Soon, I'm gonna have to start writing about my favorite jazz artists, and I hardly know what to say. It either hits me or it doesn't. I might have to study some jazz criticism to get the hang of it.
(I have similar "issues" with jazz. Well I suppose it depends on the jazz, but generally it makes me feel a bit lost. I blame rockism*. Also maybe others around my age are like me in that I associate the words "jazz" and "smooth" very closely due to 90s radio stations and parents.)
*I wouldn't be able to whip that term around if it weren't for the likes of you, witnesses.
"You see, jazz is like Jello pudding pops... no, actually it's more like Kodak film... no, actually jazz is like the New Coke. It'll be around forever. Heh heh heh."
If 2011 still seems like a bigger year, that's probably because more of those 16 are big names -- Paul Simon, TV on the Radio, Tune-Yards, Drive-By Truckers, Yuck. Less of that this year, so far anyway.
Can't check the numbers, but my impression is that my metacritic file rankings are down this year: only 10 records so far with 20+ favorable reviews, topping out at 30 (Cloud Nothings). PJ Harvey was way above that last year. But I only count 4 good records in the current top 10 (haven't heard Spiritualized yet, but I'm not counting on it), and it wasn't any better last year, so maybe that's not a good metric.
I have 27 A- or better records on my current list (11 jazz). Not sure how that compares with this time last year, but it's roughly on track.
Other than an amazing cover of LL Cool J’s “ I Need Love”, nothing else stood out for me on the one record I own of Luka Bloom. Rather bland. LL Cool J on the other hand had a big influence on me – I still think his MTV Unplugged is the best that ever was and Mama Said Knock You Out was the first rap record I ever purchased.
1. Bob & Carola- Belated salutations and birthday well wishes to you both...continued health, wisdom, love, laughter, and long may you run.
2. 2012 has been a so-so vintage thus far? Keep in mind we've got a little over 7 months left this year this too shall pass. I've got a running list going as do we all. I'll share mine.
1-Leonard Cohen- Old Ideas (death becomes him..)
2-Duke Ellington- Far East Suite (It's a left field weird selection ,I know, But I just "found" this and I can't stop playing it, and I won't stop playing it. "Mount Harissa" and "Blue Pepper" are two amazing tracks. I dare anyone who hasn't heard "Blue Pepper" to not fall into a state of uncontrollable state of giddiness and start dancing when you hear it. What took me so long to find this? It's a hard , bluesy , bop song featuring I'm guessing it's Cootie Williams going crazy on the trumpet. I bet it will move you!
3- Nicki Minaj- PFRR (two states...we want two states)
4- Todd Snider- Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables (agitator blues)
5- Vijay Iyer Trio- Accelerando (See Jason's fine review @Cerebral Decanting)
6- Spoek Mathambo- Father Creeper (still processing ...but instant sonic attraction)
7- Himanshu- Nehru Jacket (Womyn- song of the year!!!)
8- Tommy Womack- Now What! (your welcome)
9- Withered Hand- Heart Heart EP ( three fantastic songs by Dan Willson..too short, argh!)
10- Cloud Nothings- Attack on memory (is it the quarterback or the system?)
11- Oka! (highlight: the song with people slapping water is the funk song of the year, maybe?)
12- Bhi Bhiman- Bhiman (the voice! the melodies!)
13- Magnetic Fields- Love At The Bottom of the Sea (he's happy with his gender)
14- Burial - Kindred EP (dubstep wunderkind creates another sonic wonderland)
The funny thing about my silly list is that it will probably be completely different in a month.
I have a confession or two. I didn't know Jazz would ever become a love for me since I've been hanging out here with you all. Thanks to Tom, Jason, and Christopher for helping me to discover and navigate that genre.
I'm not a Loudo fan at all, and I'm embarrassed to admit that fact. Promise you , I'll give this new one a try and maybe Career Moves too. Long standing prejudices must be challenged.
Liam: What more can you tell us about Luka Bloom? The two songs you included on this week's program are nicely done but the other parts of his back catalog that I've just now sampled are way mild. Are those the two to pick or is there more out there?
And of course, that goes for anyone else with insight or advice. I'm pretty sure I've heard the name but never the music.
I fight nostalgia with almost as much vigilance as Xgau, but that is almost enough to make me cry. There are the obvious caveats, mainly the lack of diversity of both artists (although usually the Voice was good at covering black music) and writers, but I know I can't find anything close to this anywhere today.
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.