Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Paul Simon Is An Asshole

Paul Simon, former songwriter and backup singer for the duo Simon & Garfunkel, completely embarrassed himself trying to sing the 1970 Simon & Garfunkel classic Bridge Over Troubled Water at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia last night.

The song, a challenge for anyone, was originally sung mainly by Art Garfunkel. Supposedly the seeds for the break-up of the duo were planted with Simon seething on the side of the stage (as people marveled at Art's vocalization on Bridge): "Yeah, I wrote this!!!! He just sings it!..."

If only Arty had been called up to come to Philadelphia for a reunion of the famed duo. He could have done this song justice...

But Simon probably put the kibosh on that, even though that would have been a better metaphor for the alleged bridge-building going on between the forces of Hillary and the Berners.

Besides spending decades disparaging Garfunkel, Simon has also been accused of ripping off Los Lobos on The Myth of Fingerprints, and there are numerous tales over the years of him being rude to random people, especially underlings.

I worked at an event where Paul was one of the performers. I passed him backstage, well before the show started. There was no one else around and nothing was going on at the time. Our eyes met and I said "hello". He did not answer and stared into the distance. The amount of energy it would have taken him to say "hello" or nod his head was infinitesimal, compared to the amount of ill will this snub generated in a one-time fan.

That's just one person's anecdote. But multiply that by the scores of similar tales told over time, and the picture emerges of an egomaniacal singer who can no longer sing, which is about as flattering as Simon's comb-over at this point.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

New Playlist July 2016: What You Should Be Listening To

Avett Brothers - True Sadness

Lin-Manuel Miranda - Hamilton: Original Cast Recording

PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project

Richard Ashcroft - These People

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Live In 1960

Band Of Horses - Why Are You OK

Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of Denial

The Claypool Lennon Delirium - Monolith Of Phobos

Diarrhea Planet - Turn To Gold

The Kills - Ash And Ice


This playlist focuses on new or newish releases for the most part.

Claypool Lennon is made up of Sean Lennon and Les Claypool of Primus. It seems like it should be getting a lot more attention than it has been. If you like Primus, you'll like this. If you like The Beatles and psychedelic music, you will like this. Sean sounds a lot like John, which is not too surprising considering they share DNA as well as a surname and the fact that John, uh, taught Sean how to speak. The music is wacky, whimsical, bass heavy (thanks Les), and trippy. Worth a listen. Wonder what this means for Sean's other cool band, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger with Charlotte Kemp Muhl...

You've heard a lot about Car Seat Headrest. Not the best band name, but in this case, the media hype is well-deserved. Check out Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales, the song of the moment. The band is basically one guy, Will Toledo, and his musical helpers. A lot of the older stuff is available for free or cheap at Bandcamp.

Lesbian folk icon Janis Ian recently posted something on Facebook stating that "a queer Black woman invented rock n roll, yes before Elvis, yes before Chuck Berry...". A bold statement. But check out Sister Rosetta Tharpe's Live in 1960 or the video below and she will wipe that smirk right off your face.

Diarrhera Planet: another good band stuck with a dumb name. Well, it is memorable, I suppose. But anyway, this band rocks. Check it out.

Hamilton - the soundtrack of a Broadway play? About Alexander Hamilton? First Treasury Secretary, author of The Federalist Papers, duel victim, and the guy on the ten dollar bill? You're getting excited about a play that New Jersey housewives are struggling to get tickets for? Really? Yes, really. Check out the songs. Catchy, clever. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a great talent. My only beef is that he left the play (he played the title role as well as writing the entire thing) before I got to see it. What right do a bunch of minorities and immigrants have to do a play about the Founding Fathers? Every damned right in the world. Miranda makes a compelling argument for Hamilton as a stand-in for the aspirations of every immigrant, minority, or person of humble origins who dreams and succeeds, against the odds, and who have an extra incentive to succeed - they literally have nothing to lose. That's the America that I want to live in. Also, Miranda posits that Hamilton's status as a bastard/orphan, abandoned by a deadbeat dad and working from a young age in the Caribbean, gave him a unique insight into the horrors of slavery, which he witnessed up-close, unlike other Founding Fathers.

Avett Brothers. I liked their other albums and saw them at Coachella once. This new album is a bit of a departure for them and it's not bad.

PJ Harvey is a legend, especially in the UK. This is basically a companion piece to Let England Shake, and well worth checking out.

Richard Ashcroft is also a legend, more beloved in the UK than the US. He's known in the US mainly for Bittersweet Symphony, for which his bad The Verve were famously fleeced by the late Allen Klein, who had previously fleeced The Beatles and The Stones. But his body of work is something that should be appreciated by old fans and new.

Band of Horses and The Kills - still checking them out, but their other releases have been good.

The photo above is of Gene Clark, co-founder of The Byrds and primary writer of Eight Miles High. He's not on this playlist but everyday is a good day to check out Gene Clark, especially his solo stuff like White Light, Roadmaster, and No Other. Sierra Records is releasing a Gene Clark rarities collection in September that promises to be wonderful.