It’s one thing for a sad song to bring tears to your eyes. But it’s quite another thing for a sad song to bring tears to your eyes because you’re laughing just that hard. This is the gift of the Old 97’s.
Much like most bands staffed by guys with guitars, The Old 97’s write a lot of songs about (mis)adventures with women. But unlike most every other band out there, The Old 97’s write with a trademark wit that makes their songs as insightfully funny as they are infectiously listenable.
Just a few memorable lines from one of their trademark songs, “Big Brown Eyes”…
“Well a box of red, and a pill or three, And I’m calling time and temperature just for some company. I wish you were here. I wish I was too…”
“If that phone don’t ring one more time, I’m gonna lose what’s left of my mind. You made a big impression for a girl of your size, Now I can’t get by without you and your big brown eyes.”
And now, with a brand new album described by their label as “Garage-Rock-meets-60s-British Invasion without abandoning the classic 97′s sound,” (?) the Old 97’s have stomped back into town. And, although I’m just making my way into the album, I think the critics are right: it’s a return to top form from a band that feels like a good old friend. Here’s the title track off “The Grand Theatre.” And no, I don’t know why they spelled it that way. Maybe, Madonna-style, they’ve just returned from a long trip to London. Continue reading →
With the digitally driven democratization of music creation, what can we call an instrument these days? Who qualifies as a musician?
As it often is, the purist’s argument is tempting. It’s easy to clear one’s throat, gather the right gravitas of righteous indignation, and proclaim that instruments are what instruments have been: the presence of a demo version of Garage Band on your Mac doesn’t create music any more than does Guitar Hero.
As a music fanatic, I almost feel compelled to take a stand on this side of exclusivity. The respect I have for live musicians borders on reverence, and its rarity elevates the impact of this talent.
But here’s the thing: I have (almost) enough respect for what people can create through the re-mix. The ability to take create an entire song around a sample is the background of hip-hop music. With that fact, the turntable became an instrument. And the more recent technology that enables us to create music from a hyper-kinetic tableau of pop culture (think Girl Talk) has turned the laptop into an instrument. Yes, it has.
Now just because you know how to loop a beat doesn’t mean that you have musical talent. Trust me, I know this from experience. Aside from spectacularly futile short-term jaunts with the clarinet and the guitar, I’ve had no success whatsoever with traditional instruments. I guess that’s one of the reasons that I’ve been drawn to dj-ing: considering my creation as the selection and sequencing of music. Using ideas and juxtapositions and builds to create and bend moods and atmospheres. I’m still somewhat amateurish at it, but it’s quite fun and quite the creative challenge. Here’s an old mix that I hadn’t shared digitally prior to now. Enjoy this mix from 2003, I’d imagine for some of you it will be a nice bit of nostalgia and for others perhaps a bit of a musical discovery. If all goes well, you should be able to click here and download the zip file with the music. If that link doesn’t cooperate, try this one: http://www.mediafire.com/file/ujvy1tnzydo/Holiday%20Mix%202003.zip
And here’s the track list. Do hope you enjoy it, holler if there’s anything that you’re particularly liking. Am I a musician? Probably not. But an improving dj? Perhaps.
Given that the song that I want to play at my wedding is already a matter of historical fact, I thought I’d use this post to trace a (somewhat fictionalized) relationship arc through songs that I hope will be new to you.
Stolen glances, awkward silences, and endless conversations.
When you’re angry, and I mean teeth-clenched-lip-snarled angry, what’s your go-to song? Well, I’ve got a bit of a repertoire: a grab bag of musical antidotes that match different sources of frustration and furor. And, having just gotten off the phone with the phone company, there’s no way I can hold myself to just one song about anger and frustration. So here’s a few, matched up to different occasions.
Let’s say you’re all sorts of frustrated. You’re not even sure specifically why, but to quote a phrase I’ve heard lately, you’re “over everything” and you’re ready to blow. Press play here and enjoy the clever catharsis that is the Old 97’s.
Or perhaps it was your day at work. The boss, the running around in circles, the whole employment enchilada. I’m not sure there’s a better song for that feeling than this one from Fountains of Wayne. Continue reading →