Dugout Chatter

 Posted by
Jan 262021

I finally got around to watching the Go Go’s documentary on Showtime. I liked it a lot, even though I don’t think I gained many new insights. At one point, however, Jane Weidlin was talking about seeing the Sex Pistols at their lackluster final show in San Francisco and she said something like, “It was so disappointing because the British invented punk…” She was always in the final three for my pick for favorite Go Go, but this is a frigging dealbreaker! The last person who I heard make that absurd claim was an Irish guy and I shut that conversation down very quickly. As with Rock, the British might have excelled at Punk. They might have even done a better job of it than the American bands. But like Rock (and hip hop, jazz, blues, country, and almost any form of popular music aside from reggae), Punk is an American invention. End of story. In fact, you could make a case that the British did Punk a disservice by distilling it down to a uniform and a set of rules.

Without giving any consideration to how much you like the music:

  • What do you consider to be the first punk band?
  • What do you consider to be the first punk album?
  • Is it possible for Punk to exist today? Or is the nature of Punk such that it had a natural shelf life after which it just became a parody of itself? If the latter, what do you consider to be the last punk band?
  • Is Punk a style of music or an attitude?
  • What do you think separates Punk from New Wave?
  • I’m sure Seymour Stein can point with precision t o the first New Wave band but what do you consider to be the first New Wave song/band?
  • Who is your favorite Go Go?

By the way, Philly-based Townsmen, I noticed in the credits that a bunch of the live clips were recorded at Emerald City in Cherry Hill.


Dugout Chatter

 Posted by
Nov 282020

President elect Joe Biden’s choice for Secretary of State is a guy named Anthony Blinkin and he has a band and two of their songs are on Spotify. I suspect you’re thinking the same thing I was: Great, let me brace myself for some flaccid, middle-aged blues rock fumblings along the lines of that band of hedge fund guys from a few years ago, or Joe Scarborough’s mid-life crisis offerings.

The first indication that this might be different from what I feared was the picture of Blinkin playing a Danelectro. I believe that you can tell a lot about a person by their gear choices, and this is a hip choice. Noted bassist Mike Huckabee can be seen with the occasional P-bass but there are also plenty of pictures of him with some Guitar Center Special like a Yamaha, or an overly fussy high end bass like a Warwick, or, God forbid, a 5-string. So it’s no surprise that he turned out to be a horrible human being. A Danelectro, on the other hand, says to me, “Sure, I could have gotten a Tele. They are iconic and a choice that is beyond reproach. But I wanted something just a little more left of center.” (I’ve always liked the Danelectro but, much like the SG, I frankly don’t think that I’m cool enough to pull it off.)

Then I read the bio notes:
“Singer-Songwriter and, with Eli Attie, Jay Carney, Dave McKenna and David Segal, member of studio-only bands — including Cash Bar Wedding and Big Lunch — that have recorded in New Orleans, Bakersfield, Minneapolis and Washington, DC, with contributions from Alex Chilton and Grant Hart. Perform with two Washington, DC-based occasional charity concert bands, Pink Noise and Coalition of the Willing, formed in 2004 by Andras Simonyi with Linc Bloomfield, Dan Poneman, Dan McDermott, and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers acclaim. Inspired, still, by 1970s classic rock and R&B.”

Okay, Skunk Baxter kind of makes sense since he designs missile defense technology or something these days. But Grant Hart? Alex frigging Chilton? I need more details. The word “contributions” seems intentionally vague in a way that is meant to capture almost any musical contact so I would like some clarification.

I see that he’s been in a band with Jay Carney, the former press secretary for Obama who namechecked Guided By Voices from the podium once. I’m assuming that Jay was the one that came up with the name “Cash Bar Wedding” since it sounds like it could be the name of a GBV album or song. This is an objectively great band name. “Coalition of the Willing” gets the silver medal for band names mentioned in this bio but loses out due to its wonkiness. The name “Ablinkin” must have seemed like a great idea that fell right into Blinkin’s lap but I think the cutesyness of that name causes it to wear out its welcome fairly quickly.

The songs: There’s only two songs. They both seem like they are recorded professionally. Honestly, they’re both catchy and well done. The arrangements are well thought out, and the playing is solid. His voice reminds me of someone. Do I hear notes of Elvis Costello? The songs seem like they fall into the category of Dad Rock as I understand that category to be. He seems like just a guy with a day job who never got tired of playing in bands, so in that respect, he’s not unlike me or a number of my fellow Townsmen. Are these songs changing the world or breaking new ground? Nope. But if the Donuts were putting together a show for a Saturday night with Nixon’s Head and these guys ended up on the bill too, I don’t think they’d be wildly out of place. Maybe they’d even have Skunk Baxter with them and I could confront him about the time when I was bartending and he was rude to me. (We’d probably end up laughing about it and then talking about compressors and whatnot.)

On to the questions:

  1. Are these songs legit or are they the little red sports car of someone’s midlife crisis?
  2. Is this Dad Rock?
  3. How do you define Dad Rock?
  4. Are a person’s gear choices a window into their soul?
  5. Are there any particular guitars you consider to be especially cool?
  6. Are there any guitars you consider to be inherently uncool?
  7. Between Blinkin name checking Grant Hart and Alex Chilton, Jay Carney professing his love for GBV, and people like former Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine saying the Replacements are his favorite band, are we entering the Golden Age of Musically Relatable Politicians?
  8. In terms of relatable politicians, would you rather have a beer with George W Bush, or argue the ranking of the three original Big Star albums with Blinkin?

Oct 282020

It’s time for another installment of Name That Tune! Has it really only been 7 years since we last played this?

To refresh your memory on how to play, I have taken lyrics from a well known song and run it through Google translate going from English to Greek, to Norwegian, to Latin, to German, to Thai, to Russian, to Icelandic and then back to English.

All you have to do is identify the song.

“In the dark cold wind
In your hair
Served hot In paradise
Previously in the background
He saw a flashing light.
This is a picture in my head and the thorn is so dark!
Now even at night”

The genre is classic rock.

I will provide additional clues if requested.

Feel free to stump us with re-translated lyrics of your own.



 Posted by
Apr 152020

I knew that Yo La Tengo‘s “You Can Have It All” was a cover, but until recently, I had never heard the original. I was delighted to find out it was by George McCrea of “Rock Your Baby fame,” but was shocked to learn that it was written by Harry Wayne Casey, or KC from KC and the Sunshine Band to you. Turns out he also wrote “Rock Your Baby.” Should I have been shocked by this? Probably not, but here we are. Does anyone have any delightful musical surprises that they’d like to share?


The Saddest Song

 Posted by
Feb 122016

I’ve been learning a bunch of Tom Waits songs and in the course of doing so, some of my cohorts and I began to wonder: what is the saddest Tom Waits song? There are several excellent candidates.
Georgia Lea, for instance, tells the story of a street kid who is found dead in a ditch and asks the question ‘Why wasn’t God watching?”
Alice is sung from the perspective of Lewis Carrol and addresses his inappropriate obsession with the real life inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
But my vote is for A Little Rain. It’s sung from the perspective of a grave digger who is surrounded by surreal characters. He seems to be trying to keep a stiff upper lip about his general situation, and is thankful that the rain makes his job easier by softening the ground. Then the last verse:
“She was 15 years old
And never seen the ocean
She climbed into a van
With a vagabond
And the last thing she said
Was ‘I love you mom’
And a little rain
Never hurt no one”
But this made me wonder. Is there a sadder song than A Little Rain? It doesn’t have to be restricted to Tom Waits but I’m not talking about some maudlin thing like Seasons in the Sun, or some country weeper where the guy runs over his own hound dog with his pickup on his way back his pappy’s funeral or something. (I suppose “maudlin” is probably in the eye of the beholder and you might consider A Little Rain to be maudlin, but I’m interested in hearing what you consider to be a truly sad song. If your answer is Seasons in the Sun, make your case).
Delivery and nuance seem like critical issues here.
The only one that hits me like A Little Rain is Galveston by Glenn Campbell.
So, what is the saddest song?

Nov 042015



Please assign each band member the most appropriate activity based on what you assume their skill set to be:
1. Be your guest at a dinner party
2. Babysit/pet sit/house sit for a week
3. Help remodel the kitchen/assist with home repairs
4. Pick out a wardrobe that you will then wear exclusively for the next year

John, Paul, George, Ringo
Mick, Keith, Charlie, Brian/Bill
Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young
Mercury, May, Deacon, Taylor


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