Saturday, February 4, 2012

In celebration of Black History Month, happy birthday Clint Black

I haven't really had the energy to do a birthday post in a while, but the humorous misappropriation of a time set aside to celebrate the history of African Americans (or "Blacks") as a a celebration of a non-African American in the whitest genre of popular music was too compelling to resist. I thought the Bloodhound Gang song "Fire Water Burn" had a lyric about not being black like Barry White, but white like Clint Black, but I was wrong. It was Frank Black. Ooops.

Here's what you need to know about Clint Black:

1. He's not the greatest country artist of the end of the 20th century: not the greatest singer or musician or songwriter. But he is very good at all of those things, thus warranting some kind of "best all around" superlative, should one be available.

2. His debut album Killin' Time is generally pronounced as though one is whiling away the hours doing nothing, "I'm just killing time waiting on the autopsy results." Either Becky or Chris Wilson changed the emphasis so now you should do as we do, and pronounce it as thought it is time to commence the slaughter... "c'mon Rhonda, it's killing time!" Also the album is solid, a good B+.

3. He has won several ACM and CMA awards, and been nominated for a few Grammys. His Wikipedia entry doesn't show him winning any, but he has, in what can best be described as "everybody gets a Grammy," he shares the 1998 Grammy for Country Collaboration with Vocals ("Same Old Train") with Alison Krauss, Dwight Yoakam, Earl Scruggs, Emmylou Harris, Joe Diffie, Marty Stuart, Merle Haggard, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs and Travis Tritt. I'm sure it was a clerical error that kept Liza from sharing in this as well, which is a shame if you think about it.

4. He is married to Lisa Hartman Black (but she used to be Lisa Hartman, so it's not this weird coincidence about the last name). She sang on a song on one of his albums and they shared a nomination in the above Grammy category 2 years later but she wasn't as lucky in 2000 as he was in 1998... guess they  needed more coattails (the winners that year were husband and wife duo of Mr. and Mrs. Faith Hill, so not more coattails, just BIGGER coattails). I think Lisa and Clint are a great celebrity couple, in the tradition of classic couples like Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber, not scary fame whores like Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna. And they're age appropriate (she's a little older than him) and they've been married more than 20 years. But Lisa should totally do Dancing with the Stars, I will allow that without calling her a fame whore.

5. At one point Chris Wilson and I were making lists (sorry, I need to be more specific since at many MANY points in our lives we were making lists)... we were making lists of favorite dance songs. He was pleasantly surprised to see I included 2 country songs on my list (I was living in Dallas at the time and there was no denying the vibrancy of the dance floor at the Round-Up). This is one of those 2 country songs.

Surprisingly enough, that's all you need to know about Clint Black.

Happy birthday dude! Rock on!

Song of the Day: "Whitman"

This song open Richard Swift's Walt Wolfman EP, although with 7 tracks that's a complete Blue Nile album. I think I made this very point with Sufjan Stevens, so I won't belabor it... 7 songs is the overachiever's EP.

Song: "Wolfman"
Artist: Richard Swift

Friday, February 3, 2012

Song of the Day: "I Will Not Fall Down"

Tim McGraw, Tim McGraw, where did we last leave off with Tim McGraw?

It's been a while since I tried giving Tim some career advice, and here we are with Emotional Traffic, an album that's hailed as "diverse" and "serious" by everyone at the Wal-Mart! How diverse?

There is a black man on the record. OMG BECKY!!!

By the way, "diverse" is standard issue for artists with crossover appeal. (SEE ALSO: Beyonce, Shania Twain, Shania 2: Electric Boogaloo [Faith Hill])

Anyway, I was heartened that Tim, no doubt after reading my various blog posts longing for the days when musically orthogonal (it's a word, look it up) artists were routinely combined for movie soundtracks (they still are on every Grammy show), reached out to work with R&B/pop negro (and not at all gay, no sir) singer Ne-Yo. Tim McGraw and Ne-Yo is perfect.

But this isn't that song. That song will wait.

This is the song that Tim wrote himself.


Co-wrote with 3 other actual songwriter types.

I'm sure his contribution was valuable, and not just him adding "no I won't" after one lyric and securing himself 10% of the publishing deal. I'm sure it was more than that.

It came to my attention when one review called it Coldplay-ish. Since Tim worked with Mrs. Coldplay in that movie about country singers (no, no, no, no, that's the one). I thought maybe some Coldplay rubbed off on McGraw, like second-hand (she could be a carrier even if she doesn't show symptoms). I was eager to hear how that would sound: Tim McGraw sings one of the songs that sounds like "Yellow"!!! For some reason, that appeals to me.

So imagine my disappointment to find that it isn't Coldplay-ish.

It's Snow Patrol-ish.

Which is to say Fake-Coldplay-ish.

He couldn't even copy the right one. Sigh.

Okay Tim, we'll need to try again. Can I recommend you try an album of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers covers?

Song: "I Will Not Fall Down"
Artist: Tim McGraw

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Songs of the Day: "Lay Lady Lay"/"Just Like a Woman"

The new charity album for Amnesty International, a massive collection of Bob Dylan covers called Chimes of Freedom, The Songs of Bob Dylan, is audacious: 4 discs, over 80 tracks (there are some digital-only tracks as well) and artists from A to Z (Adele to Ziggly Marley).

In honor of Groundhog's Day (the movie), kinda, I'll just post stuff that's awfully familiar... first up, the wonderful Angelique Kidjo.

Oscar winner Carly Simon channels the spiritual child of Dylan and Marianne Faithfull with his take on "Just Like a Woman."

Song: "Lay Lady Lay"
Artist: Angelique Kidjo

Song: "Just Like a Woman"
Artist: Carly Simon

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Song of the Day: "Where the Wind Blows"

I was happy to hear a new Villagers song the other day, only to discover it was new Sea Wolf from the "Back to Black Friday" Record Store Day back in November. Record Store Day is a celebration of independent record stores and the day itself is a major dilemma for hipsters: limited releases give the day an importance that they're too cool to actually care about (I'm sure many of them go "ironically" [the hipster version of a "Get Out of Jail Free" card] and also buy used vinyl from Coolio or The Jets to help mask their purchase of some Pixies b-side that's been remastered and remixed).

Regardless, I like the song, which was a double a-side with "Song of the Magpie" (or it's the b-side), released on 45. Who still has the ability to play a 45, show of hands? (I am sooo happy with the digital media world, only because I don't have to find the little center thing to hold the 45.)

Song: "Where the Wind Blows"
Artist: Sea Wolf

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Julia Sugarbaker Award for Strong Southern Women

The first Sugarbaker goes to Martha Boggs, owner of the Bistro at the Bijou, for asking Tennessee state Senator Stacey Campfield (R, TN) -- the man who sponsored the "don't say gay" bill in Tennessee and who, at age 42, is unmarried (mmm hmmm) and going to Sunday brunch (the gayest of meals) at a restaurant frequented by homersexuals (mmm hmmm) -- to leave before being seated or served.
"I told him he wasn't welcome here and I wanted him to leave. He was waiting to be seated and I walked up to him and told him to leave. I was kind of mad, so I don't really remember everything. He left graciously enough."--Martha Boggs
So kudos to Martha Boggs for recognizing a state senator (I think I'd recognize mine, Chip Shields, based on his vague resemblance to Ron and Clint Howard), and for having the courage and quick thinking to ask WWJSD? And then to do it: SDWJSWD!

I wouldn't be surprised to find her a candidate for the state senate there this year. Tennessee could do worse. And they have.

Song of the Day: "Man or Muppet"

In the first season of Flight of the Conchords, hapless manager Murray writes a love song to the leggy blonde who has stolen his heart. He previews the song to the unenthusiastic band: "'Hi....' that's all I've got so far."

Bret's response is one I've adopted for use at work: "It's better than I expected."

Bret McKenzie picked up an Oscar nomination for this track for the Muppet-affiliated movie last year (I posted so many fake out trailers I'm not actually sure, but maybe the "too easy to be right" The Muppets). EGOT pontificators note that he already has a Grammy and 6 Emmy nominations. Which is to say he has  Grammy (like Paula Abdul, but not like Liza).

I have no sense as to whether this, or yesterday's track by Sergio Mendes et al, will win. I'm kinda betting on the other, only because that's got big elaborate production, like "It's Hard Out Here (For a Pimp)" (are there parentheses in that song title?) which is the only Oscar-winning song I will reference for this morning.

Song: "Man or Muppet"
Artist: Jason Segel and Walter

Monday, January 30, 2012

Song of the Day: "Real in Rio"

One of only 2 nominees for Best Original Songs for the Oscars (the nomination process for songs is weird, including the fact that the scale on which songs are rated goes from 6 points to 10 points [by quarter point], so the worst songs get 6 points and that doesn't make sense [they should do 0 points up to 5 points and allow half points]). And there is a minimum average rating a song must achieve to be a nominee (I think 8.25 points [it's 8.25, but I had to look and edited out my 8.5 thinking--at least 1 song has to get 8.25 points, and if only one does, then that and the next highest number of points are the nominees]). Without experiencing the song in the context of the movie, it's hard to know for sure, but WTF?! How is this better than the lovely song from Albert Noobs Nobbs?!

Anyway, it's from the movie Rio and the nominees are Sergio Mendes (apparently that is NOT an after shave from the 70s), Carlinhos Brown (that's Chris Brown's real name [no it's not]), and Siedah Garrett. Not Will I. Am who may, or may not, sing on this track.

Song: "Real in Rio"
Artist: The Rio Singers

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Song of the Day: "Shoelaces"

LA-based indie due The Submarines. One of them is a descendant of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Or Gerry Fitzpatrick, I forget which.

Song: "Shoelaces"
Artist: The Submarines