Dec 282020

I don’t know about you, but Christmas is a good time for receiving (and giving, to the appropriate loved ones) music-related gifts. Santa got me the Chris Frantz book, Remain in Love. I’ve been blowing through it. Frantz writes like he drums: direct, concise, and not afraid to land a hard accent when the content calls for it. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s good getting a totally unpretentious point of view on the typically pretentiously portrayed Talking Heads. To be fair, David Byrne was refreshingly down to earth when discussing the band in his excellent How Music Works book, which I read this summer.

Santa also got me Patti Smith‘s Year of the Monkey and what promises to be an incredibly pretentious book: Brian Eno: Visual Music. I haven’t gotten into it yet, but’s loaded with imagery that I assume is associated with Eno’s ambient music, and the text is in 3-point type. I’ll don’t often need my reading glasses, but I will in this case.

How about you? Any new music-related items in your household? Any music-themed gifts you gave your loved ones?


  75 Responses to “So, What Did Santa Bring?”

  1. I got several music related gifts.

    Although I can see that CDs are quickly going the way of late 80s vinyl, which I was also slow to abandon, I’m still getting them.

    I got two Dirty Projectors CDs, “Sing the Melody” from 2019 and “5EPS” which just came out. The former is a live studio performance by the current line up doing their current arrangements of previously released songs, the latter is 20 songs, with each group of 4 songs focused on a particular singer, line up, or style (e.g. acoustic, string arrangement, electronica).

    I’m not even sure if I like these guys anymore since Longstreth did an eponymous Dirty Projectors album that was basically solo electronica in 2017. It somehow managed to be simultaneously melodramatic and coldly impenetrable. I later heard a Song Exploder podcast episode, thanks whoever recommended that, that gave me a grudging appreciation for that record. When he reconstituted a live lineup, he started putting out records one after another, and I haven’t warmed up to any of them. The band really came across when I saw them live, probably in 2018 and 2019, so I’m still on the ride.

    I got an unrequested, unexpected, surprise, “Prairie Love Letter” by Brennen Leigh. My girlfriend picked this up because Robbie Fulks, who I really like and whose website she visits frequently “for the articles”, produced it. It’s a country/folk based singer/songwriter record, very much in the style of Fulks’ last two records. In fact the weirdest thing is that the songs, especially the opener, “Don’t You Know I’m from Here,” are so much in the recent Fulks musical and lyrical style that if the credits didn’t say she wrote them, I would assume he did.

    I also got the expanded version of the Residents’ “Duck Stab/Buster & Glen.” I’m actually very light in my Residents collection, with only the “Duck Stab” 7″ EP, Snakefinger’s “The Spot” 7,” and a Snakefinger Ralph compilation. So I requested this.

    I also requested and received a CD of “Another World” by The Flat Five. They are a group of Chicago folks including Scott Ligon and Casey McDonough from the current NRBQ lineup, Kelly Hogan, probably best known as a backup singer with Neko Case, and Nora O’Connor, occasionally a touring New Pornographer. They do whimsical songs written by Chris Ligon, Scott’s older brother, in a jazzy pop style. The playing and, especially, the singing is exquisite. If you get a chance to see the new version of NRBQ, even if you don’t care for them, I’m lookin’ at you Mr. Mod, GO. Ligon is an unbelievable guitarist and Terry Adams really delivers when called to the challenge.

    Lastly, I got Jeff Tweedy’s new book, “How to Write One Song.” I know, “Dad Rock,” Gergely’s stolen slice of the pie, etc., but I like the way Tweedy operates and I like the results. He delivers despite his lack of rock superpowers. I hope book on the creative process might help me find a satisfactory completion to several unfinished pieces I’ve got lying around.

  2. Geo, does Robbie Fulks’ website feature nudity or something? Your mention of your girlfriend visiting it “for the articles,” as you put it, raises suspicion, the way Playboy happened to attract lots of teenage boys “for the interviews.”

  3. You got the reference, but I was kidding a little since she reads it more faithfully than I do. Actually, although she definitely does like Fulks as a performer, she does read the website primarily for his writing on a wide range of topics, books, performers, politics, which is really impressive. It’s well worth checking out.

  4. I also forgot to mention that one of my brothers gave me a Skull and Roses face mask.

  5. Tweedy is one of those humorless unearned arrogance Americana bozos who should most probably wait to write a book with such a title until he comes up a with a single number worthy of a Hamilton, Joe, Frank, and Reynolds B side.

    Geo, no Aiprlane / Starship related items for Christmas? Just for the record, I keep telling people that I enjoy hearing Starship’s “With Your Love” and when I’m asked, ‘What’s that?” I sing the “Whatcha doin’ to me with your love…” chorus or whatever it is. Beyond that chunk of the song, I can’t seem to remember much else. The moderator has defined the other parts of the song, mostly instrumental noodling, as the kind of thing the Manson family would flop on the turntable before a killing spree. Do you agree with that take? Must one have some kind of Manson like mindset to really “get” that band? I think he might be on to something.

    And Moderator, I read the Chris Frantz book. After the first 100 pages or so, art takes a back seat so Frantz can concentrate on increasing his blow consumption and hanging with surprisingly interesting 80s rawk stars. Save yourself the read. A better one is And in the End. It’s an extremely well written objective breakdown of the last year of the Beatles. Very dry, but time well spent while waiting for Mark Lewisohn to finish Volume II of his proposed triloogy.

    I bring all this up because it appears to be more and more difficult to get reliable reviews. If you have what you consider to be a trustworthy source, please send it my way!

    The good news is that the third season of Cobra Kai is scheduled for release January Ist. That’s right, all ten episodes of the third season will be available for your viewing pleasure at the stroke of midnight. Bring it on!

  6. EPG,

    Describing Tweedy as mediocre would be completely defensible. Describing his as arrogant is bizarrely ill informed.

    I have nothing by the Jefferson Starship beyond the Kantner solo album Blows Against the Empire. Get your history straight, the Manson reference Mr. Mod made was to a very shambolic Jefferson Airplane performance, probably circa ’69, but before Grace got her ill-advised Woodstock perm. I can honestly say that the song to which you referred is completely unfamiliar to me.

    I would appreciate it if you could read and provide commentary on the David Byrne book, “How Music Works,” which Mr. Mod has favorably mentioned a few times. I’m certain you would hate it, but I would be very interested in your angle of attack.

  7. Done. I just placed a request via the truly excellent Lower Merion Library System. Should be getting an email regarding pick up in a few days. Know that I’ll be expecting the worst. If it’s even remotely entertaining, I’ll consider the endeavor worthwhile.

  8. Can we set up a GrimaceCam on EPG as he reads Byrne’s book?

    Kudos to EPG for taking one for the team!

  9. The book is a very fascinating, inside look at the business and art of pop music, and how Byrne has navigated his way through these rocky shoals. Entertaining? Possibly not since it’s nearly as impersonal as a textbook, which is pretty much what you would expect from Byrne.

    It’s been years since I’ve read it and I will pull it out and join you on the journey. I’ll try and finish up the very long “Nixonland” and Tweedy’s little book before you get started.

    I’m foolishly looking forward to your reaction, since engaging with you on a rational level is the proverbial bringing a knife to gunfight.

  10. Mod,

    Was EPG talking about the song “Miracles”? That’s the one I recall you posting about. If it is that one, I do know it,

  11. but apparently not as well as he does since the lyric he mentioned is completely unfamiliar.

  12. For Christ’s sake, Geo!

    You know the fucking song! And you’re probably the only one in our gang who would look forward to playing it, be it the bass part, guitar part(s), those chimes that tinkle intermittently, you name it. As a matter of fact you could and probably have already played it countless times, effortlessly, note for note, more often than not high as a kite, even though most of it is unmemorable noodling to 99.999 percent of the human species.

    Please note that I chose this particular clip of the song because the intro graphics feature the very spaceship, manned by you and Paul Kantner, that appeared in a dream I previously wrote about.

    And for once and for all, is your knowledge of the Manson family more than that of an academic nature?

  13. Don’t know it. Never heard it. Swear to God.

    I bought “Bark.” I bought “Long John Silver.” I even bought “Thirty Seconds Over Winterland.” All embarrassing, but other than “Octopus,” which includes the aforementioned “Miracles,” I have never even touched a Jefferson Starship record.

    I resent that you feel the need to stuff my straw man love of the Airplane with additional clumps of Starship manure!

  14. Geo, I’m not buying any of that. And Moderator, I need you to get on board and go after Geo, right here and now, or you’re really gonna regret it. Countless versions of Starship’s Spitfire, in vinyl and CD format, are sitting on his shelves. He needs to own up, just like you owned up to owning and enjoying LPs like Pete Townshend’s Empty Glass.

  15. I always had a soft spot for the aristocratic bearing of Squeaky Fromme,

  16. Somebody on the phone just mentioned that EPG never admits he’s wrong just like a certain president.

  17. cherguevara

    Did anyone read Tweedy’s book? It was decent. He definitely takes a few moments to talk about what happened between him and Jay Farrar and also Jay Bennett. I’ve heard good and bad about him as a person, he’s probably had to fight to protect his band and vision of what he wants it to be – and that it is really his band. I don’t think I would judge him based on his book (too one-sided) or based on people’s momentary interactions with him.

    When I was little I took that Red Octopus album out from the library a few times, Miracles was the song for sure. I wanted to take out the album that had “Jane” on it, but it was in the adult section and the librarian didn’t want to give me permission to borrow it because it had cursing or something. There were limited choices at the library, what can I say.

    Santa didn’t bring any physical media this Christmas, but there were some mp3 downloads for our son who is big into They Might Be Giants, he got a few albums that aren’t streaming, as well as a t-shirt and the 33 1/3 book about Flood. I got a few books about sound recording (nerd books) and a shoulder rest for my violin (nerd instrument). I was thinking about splurging on a digital piano for the family and synchronously, a friend asked if we wanted to buy hers because her kids quit piano, so that was a big win/win! My son also got a jaw harp, a kazoo, and a plastic pickle that makes yodeling sounds, so we’re all ready to irritate the neighbors.

  18. Sounds like a great Christmas, Che! In the future, if you feel the need to take a deep dive into the Airplane / Starship catalog, contact Geo. He’s got it all. Here’s something to whet your appetite to get the ball rolling:

    Like I said, you want it, you got it! Again, just contact Geo.

    Moderator, please rank your following three favorites from Empty Glass in order of preference: “Let My Love Open the Door”, “Rough Boys”, and “And I Moved.” I looked forward to your response.

  19. And I agree that “Rough Boys” is a return to form. Specifically, I recall you saying the edginess of the video was another selling point. Take a look and let me know if that still appears to be true:

    I also recall you saying how pleased you were that someone finally addressed the burgeoning punk scene with a sensitive pair of balls. Maybe my memory is suffering here. If it is, please let me know.

  20. A musical Christmas dad joke:

    What do you call a holiday door decoration made out of $100 bills?

    A wreath of Franklins

  21. Good one! Hey Al, me and the wife just finished lunch, playing rummy once again, and listening to something new, Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio, specifically the whiskey podcast. I can’t believe I never listened to the show before!. It’s superb: great mix of music, history, and humor. Are all the episodes that good? What’s the best way to access them via the internet? Hope to hear from you soon!

  22. cherguevara

    That “Jane” clip is funny. A female singer mostly sidelined while a man who sounds like a woman does the singing. Is that Shakespearean?

    RIP Alto Reed. He had tonight, but he turned the page.

  23. Cher,

    I did read Tweedy’s book. I agree that the book was decent and, even outside of the book, I think he comes across as basically decent.

    Although Gergely didn’t mention this, the excellent thing about Jefferson Starship was that alphabetically, it falls right behind Jefferson Airplane, and since I generally keep my individual artist sections chronologically, that stuff sits nicely on the shelf. Then they dropped the Jefferson and became merely Starship and totally destroyed my filing system

  24. Unlike you, Geo, I’m not a fan of “Jane.” That said, it’s more memorable than anything Jeff Tweedy’s ever done. Why is his work considered something within the parameters of “Art”, and everything from Starship is more or less “File Under Dogshit.” It takes just as much finesse to build a Starship song or album as it does a Tweedy project. I really don’t get it.

    It’s been ages, but I remember everyone making a big deal about that first Wilco album. Man, talk about a snoozer! No songs!

    If I was going to jump in the fray again, I’d certainly opt for a Starship-like vehicle. It would be better all around: the songs, the women, the drugs, the drama, you name it.

  25. No, no, no. You’re not allowed to claim Starship has any finesse after posting a link to Jane. Please actually watch what you posted. Everything you need is from 1:52-2:00. We get to watch leather man on rhythm guitar teach us the whole song. Looks like a total of 4 chords played awkwardly by a caveman. Love his quick shoulder shrug at 1:54 as he waits and winds up for that important 3rd chord. Then time to emphasize that dazzling drum fill at 2:00 with some head nods. When you were organizing your records you must have missed the “file under dogshit” tab and accidently dropped Starship into the “finesse” tab. I understand the mistake the files are right next to each other.

  26. cherguevara

    Do you file “Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe” or “GTR” with your “Yes” albums or wha…?

  27. I did not make a big deal about the 1st Wilco album. It was derivative and only occasionally appealing, Passenger Side sounded like a pastiche Westerberg song based on Westerberg songs written after his own songs became a pastiche of Westerberg songs.

    His Uncle Tupelo partner Jay Farrar’s first Son Volt record was way better. But Tweedy and Wilco kept improving and by the third album Summerteeth, they were really good and they’ve continued to put out interesting, quality records and do nice live shows, although that’s not possible since it happened after 1983.

    You should also know that I was more of a Hot Tuna fan than a Jefferson Starship fan., The last Airplane related thing I saw live was the San Francisco punk band, SVT, with Jack Casady on bass at Stars, a bar at 2nd and Bainbridge in 1979.

  28. Apropos of something, Musician Magazine used to have a page of very short, capsule reviews. My all time favorite:

    “GTR – SHT.

  29. Sorry, I’m behind on EPG’s latest shooting of ducks in a barrel. (Really, Plurbs, is there any point in trying to mix it up over Jeff Tweedy? The guy is the epitome of underground mediocrity. If he wasn’t so dog ugly, he’d be thought of as poorly as Beaver Brown. He does seem like a decent guy, like someone who should be hanging out with us here and causing some trouble/singing the praises of overlooked artists. Sorry, I’m getting kinder and gentler in my old age.)

    The Manson pep rally thing definitely starts with the Airplane, all that stuff like “Volunteers” and the outdoor show I posted ages ago. However, the band carried those howling cries from repeated bad trips into their classic Jefferson Starship singles of the mid-’70s: Miracles, Count On Me, and the sublime Runaway. With the aid of Mickey Thomas and Craig Chaquico, Marty Blain’s relative pop smarts could shine forth for a chorus, until they went back to howling at the thought of fresh blood. By the time of “Jane” and simply Starship, years if salt peter did its damage. There would be no more Manson pep rallies. #freesqueaky

  30. Yes, GTR, pre Yes combos, Yes proper, post Yes combos, whatever. They’re all head and shoulders way above anything Tweedy has accomplished and ever will accomplish. He’s an insufferable bore.

    Simply put, if an 11th commandment were to exist, it should be “Thou Shalt Not Bore.”

    Nothing is worse than having some bore waste another’s time with that which the bore thinks is worthy. Jeff Tweedy and everything he’s managed to put together during the last 30 years or so has been boring on a Ripley’s Believe It or Not level. Granted, I’m certainly no fan of GTR’s “When the Heart Controls the Mind”, but it’s so slick and ridiculous that it’s managed to implant itself in my long term memory. Likewise “Jane.” Again, not a fan of the song, but Starship managed to do the same and present it in such a way that I cannot take my eyes off their Friday’s performance: Slick opting for an off kilter head band, trying her best to feel and appear necessary while being sidelined by new vocalist, Mickey Thomas, who sings like he’s trying to give Pavarotti a run for his money, guitarist Craig Chaquico demonstrating that the barre chord can indeed be life changing, the drummer working overtime to compromise the overall air quality with what must be an ungodly amount of b.o.,….All that’s rocket science to Tweedy.

    And I’m more than fine with Rolling Stone’s review of GTR’s first album. When someone sees or smells shit, the memory of its awfulness remains. Not so with anything Tweedy has ever done. Nothing is gained from giving up one’s time to see what he’s all about. No lesson is learned. He takes away precious time and gives nothing in return. He’s a thief, which is probably the ultimate reason why one should steer clear from him and all known bores.

    Last but not certainly not least, istening to Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour reminded me that I get a lot of shit up here for having an in depth knowledge of that which was recorded before 1954 or so. I’ve gained that knowledge because some maniac from that time hit me like a ton of bricks with a performance that opened the doors to a slew of other entertainers who wrote, sang, and performed like their lives were on the line. I thank them continually for giving me a seat at their club and telling Tweedy he’s not welcome, that it’s a members only kind of thing.

  31. I don’t have time to get into in in depth right now but I’m unapologetically on Team Tweedy. I like disc one of their second album best but the first two songs on this video are my favorites featuring the current line up.

  32. Oh, and “Let My Love Open the Door” is the best song from Townshend’s Empty Glass LP, for the same reason that “Dancing in the Dark” is the best song from Born in the USA. U2 sang about it, although not as successfully: Desire!

  33. CDM,

    About that video. So arrogant.

  34. “Hey, I’m playing snooker here!”

  35. So arrogant indeed, Geo. Listening to those first two Tweedy songs served as a reminder of my initial problem with him years ago. Everyone of his songs sounds incomplete. Had I walked into a Carousel rehearsal with those two songs, the response would been a half assed run through a few times, bringing them to a slow death, the message loud and clear: write a real song.

    And just for the record, Jeff’s homeless bard get up is a real hard swallow.

  36. Keep going. I like the third song best. Really.

  37. Good article, cher! It sums up a big part of “our generation’s” aesthetic grounding. Thinking of ironic covers now has me thinking of bands simply playing out and being in the same room with other people. Ugh. Happy New Year?

  38. I’m so glad this came up in the same thread as the Wilco discussion. Tweedy wrote a very perceptive song about the feelings this author mentions regarding the immediate post-boom generation’s conundrum of coming of age in an era so consistently derided. I believe the song was written about an incident where Uncle Tupelo, which included Tweedy’s very serious partner, Jay Farrar, played with a local cover band who were doing 70’s era rock classics. Although Tweedy was fully on board with Farrar’s updated Carter Family update, a little nagging ambivalence crept in when he saw the fun the cover band were having. I think this song captures a lot of what the author gets at in that long article in a fairly short, light song.

  39. Looks like a post of mine diappeared.

    Yes, EPG, they are all that good. Check them out here

    And what would appear to be an obsessive amount of background information here

  40. On more the grinch side than the Santa side of the holiday season, is this an appropriate place to note that it was 35 years ago today that Rick Nelson died?

    I’ve written before on RTH of the high regard I hold Rick in so I won’t go into that again.

    Unless encouraged.

  41. “Arrogant”? “Incomplete”? This is why we need a Zoom. I can’t tell when people are being sarcastic. What is arrogant and/or incomplete about those songs? They sound like really catchy pop songs with some cool oddball elements thrown in to me (even though I hear a bit of Like a Virgin in the opening lines of Dawned on Me).

    Geo, I like Impossible Germany quite a bit too but the others are closer to the concise pop song structure that I seem to gravitate to more and more as the years go on.

    EPG, “homeless bard”? I’m sure you have your Look together, but what would you suggest for a group of successful middle aged guys who look like regular Joes and play music that emphasizes the songs rather than some visual thing like most pop bands seemed to be required to do these days? Should he work up some sort of Cirque Du Soleil thing like Pink? Should he go with no shirt like that Imagine Dragons guy? What advice would you offer him to spruce up his Look? I’ve always insisted on matching suits in my band because I recognize that even on the smallest scale, almost anything visual is a plus. But the older you get, the less options you have. So throw the guys in Wilco a bone and offer up some suggestions. It’s much easier to tear something down that it is to build something but I feel confident that you’re up for the task.

  42. Good morning, Geo. I listened to the third song. Whatever’s going on there doesn’t warrant any discussion.

    Cher, that article was great. Definitely made me go back and think about the ins and outs of cool and not cool, good and bad, and right and wrong.

    For the record, know that when I get up on my horse and blast away, it’s not a personal thing. You and CDM have a lot of the same tastes, and I think a lot of that comes from seminal growing up experiences. I started listening to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Motown records very early on. That was my thing in first, second, third grade, and it was just as consuming then as it is now. Because of all that, I became a snob very early on, very picky about what made for a good song. When the whole punk thing hit, I initially didn’t want to have anything to do with it because what I heard was mostly noise. That all changed when Furry Murray, the lead vocalist in my high school band, lent me the first two Costello albums. The same things were going on within the grooves of the Costello records that were going on in the records I had been listening to for years: great songwriting, great playing, great arrangements, and superb production. And when Costello opted to do covers, he chose things like “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself”, and that was big because that gave me the validation for loving my mom’s Dionne Warwick LPs when everyone else at that time thought it was laughable.

    My heroes were also very interesting looking in someway or another. If they had classic good looks, they had ’em in spades, if they didn’t, they found some other way to look attractive.

    Everything I’ve written about Tweedy could be said about the Replacements. The author of the piece you posted really nailed that time when the supposed cool bands started playing things like “Black Diamond” by Kiss. I too was one of the people in the crowd that heard that kind of thing going on. One of the more popular local bands in Philadelphia was the Chowderheads. Nice guys, very entertaining. One was going to have a great time out if one opted to go to one of their shows. At an Old City Coffee gig, they ended their set with a cover of “Bang Shang A Lang” by the Archies. It was great. They weren’t making fun of the song; they were acknowledging its power and more or less telling the audience, “Don’t write this stuff off. A lot of it is very good.” Yes, indeed.

    That’s not what’s going on when the Replacements play “Black Diamond”. The message is, “Look how cool we are for playing this dumb Kiss song.” And that’s it. What’s ironic about the whole thing is the reality: that early on, Westerberg was most probably a big Kiss fan, no Beatles, Stones, or soul thing kicked in until it was forced on him, and nothing in his catalog comes anywhere near the quality of “Black Diamond.”

    Again, I’m not a Kiss fan in the least, but I’d take Kiss over the Replacements any day of the week. It’s a no brainer.

    I hate to go on and on about all this, but people’s fascination for those two acts has really ticked me off for years. When I’m hanging with the Moderator, and trust me he can really get on my nerves (Chuck D? You’re still that hungry for some boring XPN asshole’s high five?), I love hearing his stories about growing up, especially any tale involving food, which was obviously regarded as an art form. Simply put, Kraft Spaghetti sauce wasn’t going to happen in that household.

  43. I saw a funny Portlandia skit last night about the punk band, Riot Spray, reforming as middle aged men because one of the members wanted to lash out at corporate culture. It was Fred on guitar, Henry Rollins singing, Krist from Nirvana on bass, and the drummer Brendan from Fugazi.

    Brendan and Krist had great Dad rock looks. You know, kind of cool shirts, but still probably from Macy’s. Maybe Tweedy could go that route. (p.s. Brendan probably ain’t vegan anymore with that Dad bod)

    What if Tweedy really leans into his name and wears nothing but tweed?

  44. The Replacements > Kiss.

  45. Excellent suggestion Chickenfrank!

  46. CDM, here’s my advice for Tweedy, and it’s the same advice I have for a lot of aging rock and rollers. Quit. Do something else. And as far as him and the Replacements are concerned, steer clear of anything in the realm of art. Nothing they’ve brought to the table thus far provides any evidence whatsoever that they have anything worthwhile to say.

  47. “KISS stinks but the Replacements are even worse.” This has been your EPG Hot Take of the Day © . Yawn…

  48. Think what you want, but I really believe that. Again, the worst Kiss track is better than any Replacements effort.

  49. Hey, Al! Thanks for the links. You just gave me a doozy of a Christmas present. The wife and I are hooked!

  50. Really, Al? You bring up Rick Nelson’s passing without acknowledging the passing of Mary Anne Summers? She spends all those years stuck on that shitty island only for the Covid to get her back on the mainland. She was never “and the rest” in my book.

  51. My apologies for that chickenfrank; I just assumed it would warrant it’s own thread.

    Now ‘fess up everyone. Who knew Mary Anne had a last name?

  52. cherguevara

    Find the worst Kiss song? A worthy challenge for a quiet NYE. Looking at two sites listing, “the 10 worst Kiss songs” reveals a funny thing: there is only a little overlap in the lists. But really, this is nowhere near as good as “I Will Dare” or “Swinging Party.”

  53. It’s also not even as good as “Gary’s Got a Boner,”

  54. And Gergely, you have no fucking idea what is going on when the Replacements do that song. The Replacements formed around Bob Stinson playing basement versions of shit like Kiss and Yes and whatever other rock was on the radio. They certainly adapted to the hardcore scene, but they did not enter it as studied punks.

  55. Thanks, once again, Geo, for shooting yourself in the foot.

  56. Westerberg, Stinson, Larry Storch, who cares? Thanks for letting me know I hit the bullseye on that pack of assholes.

  57. Go enjoy Love Gun.

  58. For those of you who have wisely decided not to waste your time reading Tweedy’s How to Write a Song, I’ll summarize what’s most probably in there.

    1) You find out about something like the Rutles and have someone force it down your throat. Why? Like Bob Stinson, Paul Westerberg, and Larry Storch, you spent your most important years of musical gestation playing Kiss and Yes covers in the basement. Because of that, the Beatle thing means nothing to you. You don’t get what all the fuss is all about.

    2) You decide to write a song based on one of the Rutles’ numbers. Why? Because it’s supposedly cool and people will think you’re cool for trying do so. You choose the following Rutles winner:

    3) You decide to rewrite the lyrics and the chorus. And that’s it. Why? Due to the absence of any kind of songwriting craft whatsoever, composing a bridge is like building a nuclear reactor. Writing a memorable lead is out of the question as well. You nor anyone else in your band has done that as of now so it’s most probably best to forget all that.

    4) Which leaves a lot of extra time to fuck off, so you spend a couple of hours smoking pot and eating Cheetos while watching something like Weeds, which you think is a masterpiece.

    5) Time to learn and record the song. Arranging is way too tough. You leave that to the rest of the band. And like you, none of them can come up with anything real memorable. They too want to hang out, smoke pot, eat Cheetos, and watch Weeds. Everyone’s satisfied with the overall work effort and end product:

    6) Everything works out well. The XPN gang and others of their ilk, who continue to have no real taste and harbor no sincere desire to develop one, play the song relentlessly. No one hears the theft, which is even better than getting a thumbs up for a tip of the hat to the Rutles. The song is seen as something highly original. That high five is just enough to pay for more dope, Cheetos, and Netflix fees. Actually, you’re doing a whole lot better than that, which is why you stick to the whole homeless bard look. It’s a hard sell for anyone with a well played copy of Hot Rocks but not for Main Line Power Mother fans. And to give credit where credit is due, it’s a pretty clever attempt at keeping the taxman away.

  59. cherguevara

    Kiss, Wilco, Replacements… Cheap Trick are better than any of them.
    **ducks and quickly exits**

  60. Happy New Year, all! We’re about to make it through 2020, and stuff like EPG turning any thread he doesn’t really care about into a freeform ducks-in-a-barrel massacre deludes me into thinking that, perhaps, nothing has really changed.

    Don’t think I’m not aware of my own tried-and-true trolling tactics. Some days I still pat myself on the back for my subtlety and sophistication, but more often, these days, I wonder what compels me to still hunt for opportunities to tout the relative wonders of “Dancing in the Dark” or “Kokomo.” The magician’s shown his hand; it’s even hard to be meta about these things while the 2020 shitshow rolled on.

    I am watching Laurel & Hardy’s Block-Heads while I catch up on today’s feces throwing, and Oliver kicked a football down a few flights of steps. It bounced up and hit the guy at the front desk in the face. THAT was good stuff! I LOL’ed, as the once-kids would say. That’s what we still pull off here on our best days. Sure, we’ll always do some dick-waving, and people like me will occasionally state horrible things that will move me up a couple places in the queue to hell, such as that it’s sad that Jeff Tweedy is cursed with god-given homeliness (it’s not a matter of his fashion or lack thereof – the guy simply doesn’t have it, and it cuts into even my mild enjoyment of his mildly enjoyable [when he’s not doing those dying Civil War soldiers who’s returned home just in time to see his wife give birth to their son {one is born as one passes} ballads] ballads that make up part of his Beginners’ Rock)… Where am I?

    What I’m trying to get at is, Wouldn’t it be nice if we could raise our game in 2021? Wouldn’t it be nice if we occasionally took a minute to try to find common ground with our fellow Townspeople before ripping them a new one? Maybe we could even sit out a thread if we have nothing to contribute.

    Or maybe not. Maybe professional wrestling melees are part of the package. A part of me still loves that characteristic of RTH. Whatever the case my be, I have greatly enjoyed resuming our activities this year, and I do hope to see if I can raise my personal game.

    Have a healthy and happy New Year!

  61. And here’s hoping that the wisdom shared at RTH throughout the year touches the hearts and minds of people like Tweedy and the Replacements, that they either call it quits or ask craftsmen like Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley to show them how to write songs. Happy New Year!

  62. misterioso

    My feeling is, if you can’t say something nice, say it at RTH!

  63. And Gergely, did you get any music related Christmas gifts?

  64. misterioso

    Ah, and for the record, I’ll take all the best of Kiss and of the Replacements, and leave to worst of both. And when push comes to shove, I’ll take Bob Seger over Bruce Springsteen, and leave the rest of the b.s. to others.

  65. Speaking of Seger, I saw that his sax player, Alto Reed, just died.

  66. Geo, I did get some music related gifts! Al posted the Dylan links, your girlfriend, who’s been reading my stuff and appears to be enamored with me, sent me a gorgeous mono copy of Baxter’s, and a librarian from Ludington just notified me that the Byrne book is ready for pick up! And just for the record, I don’t want any Jagger Altamont crybaby, “Children, why are we fighting?!!!” shit from the Moderator when I post my review of the first couple of chapters. I prefer that he steers clear. Maybe he can use that time to revisit his Zep and super cool Iggy records.

    Again, Happy New Year!

  67. To Geo, Geo’s girlfriend, Cher, CDM, Misterioso, 2000man, Chickenfrank, BigSteve, HappinessStan, and especially the Moderator who I’ve picked on unmercifully throughout 2020, I extend the following Olive Branch:

    E. Pluribus Gergely

  68. Mod, I get it now. Jeff Tweedy is too homely for his music to be interesting. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Happy New Year to you all.

    Any rock related New Year’s resolutions?

  69. Let the healing begin!

  70. 2000 Man

    Man, I’m a week late and a dollar short here, but I’ll stand up for Wilco, but just the first two albums. I really genuinely like the first album and I don’t care if it doesn’t sound like Tweedy reinvented music or not. I like the songs.

    Kiss isn’t better than anyone, anywhere, anytime. Kiss blows. The Replacements were great. The Replacements were so great that they made a Kiss cover tolerable. At least they seemed to understand how dumb the song was and and applied the ham fistedness it needed. Kiss actually thought they were bringing the Rock.

    I got a ton of records for Christmas. Sweet Apple’s Golden Age of Glitter, Neil Young’s Homegrown, a band Jarvis Cocker started called Jarv…Is and Rory Gallagher’s first record. I haven’t gotten to the Jarvis Cocker yet, but the others have been pretty great. Neil has one solid clunker on Homegrown in the song Florida, but other than that I think it’s pretty solid.

    The best thing I’ve been listening to lately is Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983 – 1987. It’s a two record set with a really nice book and is chock full of really good songs I’ve never heard. It’s on Spotify if you’re interested.

  71. chickenfrank: John Train drummer Schreiber’s 80’s band, The Darrows, is included on the Strum and Thrum compilation that 2000 Man mentioned.

  72. 2000 Man

    geo and Chickenfrank, the Darrows song is on YouTube:

    I’ve been listening to that record a lot, especially since it’s on Spotify. The weird thing is the record is right, most of these were regional scenes so it sounds like mid 80’s college radio but most of it is stuff you never heard, no matter where you live. There’s just enough stuff on it where you’ll remember the song, if not the band and it makes the first couple listens easy. The Cleveland band I remembered is The Reactions. Dave Swanson was in the band, and if you ever see Dave on something, it’s gonna be good. This is the song from the album:

  73. But the drummer in that video has a full head of thick lustrous hair. Are you sure it’s him?

    Actually, Schreiber told me about their inclusion. It coincided with them doing a reunion party/show. I would have liked to have been included on that comp! Good company including Salem 66 who I remember from my Boston nightclubbing days. If anyone knows of a particular quality Boston band compilation from the 80s, let me know. There were lots of bands from those years that I enjoyed seeing, but never bought any vinyl from.

  74. Many of us had more lustrous hair in those days.

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