Archive for the Music category

January 28th, 2011

Shatner & co:
I Can’t Get Behind That !

Everybody knows everything about all of us!
That’s too much knowledge!
I can’t get behind that!

Student drivers, leaf blowers …


Here’s some background on the 2004 album and recording session.

January 25th, 2011

State of the Union:
Activism is a crime


Maureen Murphy writes:

I have been summoned to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago on January 25. But I will not testify, even at the risk of being put in jail for contempt of court, because I believe that our most fundamental rights as citizens are at stake.

I am one of 23 anti-war, labor and solidarity activists in Chicago and throughout the Midwest who are facing a grand jury as part of an investigation into “material support for foreign terrorist organizations.” No crime has been identified. No arrests have been made …

January 22nd, 2011

The Little Dwarf

Posted in Music, Painting by ed


Rouault called him Le petit Nain.

Not merely a dwarf, but a little one at that.

And yet, even so, he seems cramped by life. Painted into a corner, as it were.

I find myself now and then in sympathy with the poor fellow.

He’s one among perhaps two dozen circus players that Rouault painted in similar style as a collection called The Circus of the Shooting Star.

I have them in a Mondadori book of the same name in Italian — Il Circo Della Stella Filante — a copy of which I once gave to Rickie Lee Jones on her birthday, recalling her sad daring Deep Space equestrienne in the show of same name:


These stars
no one else can see
trapeze the height of thee
vanish as they call

These blues
no one else can hear

No one else can sing
this one for you
can they, dear?

Things that you do are always with me
when you’re laughing you’re always here
What’s the use in crying?
It won’t matter when we’re old.

This tear
will finally fall

Keep your eyes here
when there’s no net at all

Where the Lord’s face
is an all-night cafe

There’s a woman who will wait on
what you have to say

And your dreams are like marbles
in the pocket of a little boy

And they whisper when you hold them
like a beautiful girl

October 31st, 2010

Note to Files: Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam gets Peace Prize from Gorby after Bush-Cheney bounce him off an airliner

Posted in American Gestapo, Music, Russia by ed


Note to Files after seeing Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens on stage with Jon Stewart at the Sanity rally in Washington yesterday.

But first — here’s a blog entry re the 60s he wrote earlier this month.

And one from today re the Sanity affair. Pretty cool.

Mikhail Gorbachev’s foundation awarded a Peace Prize to CS/YI in November 2004, months after the singer-songwriter was bounced off a jetliner by the Yanks, his name having appeared on the chaotic Bush-Cheney No Fly list.

But of course it was more than that. He wasn’t merely barred from boarding. He did board. Then the Yanks sent up fighters and guided the plane to an emergency landing and … Ludacris crap.

Gorbachev himself awarded the prize at a ceremony in Rome. Two of my favorite people on the planet.


October 27th, 2010

An obscure David Lynch?

Posted in Music by ed


John Daker is something else. And me, sometimes.

Just joking re David Lynch …

August 22nd, 2010

November 1st, 2009

Fortune Cookie

Something to chew on came my way at lunch circa 2006:

Time is Precious. But Truth is More Precious than Time.


Wow. Alas.

The Man’s too much …

Aw hell

October 28th, 2009

Rickie Lee Jones: New album / streaming live Thursday night / Carnegie Hall in December

Posted in Music by ed

Rickie Lee Jones is currently playing up and down the east coast, then is off to Europe.

A Connecticut show tomorrow — Thursday Oct 29 — will be streamed at 8pm Eastern at


Her new album — BALM in GILEAD — was completed this past summer and is now available at discount on Great Big Island.

And December 7 — she’s at Carnegie Hall!

She was there years ago — around the time of POP POP! — and was it sweet and swell.

October 28th, 2009


Posted in Goodbye to All That, Money, Music by ed


Perhaps the best tickets I ever scored on the fly outside the gate were at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, an amphitheater, for Rickie Lee Jones in 1991, near the end of the summer’s FLYING COWBOYS tour.

Third row. Most memorable was an exquisitely theatrical “Something Cool.” June Christy’s signature tune. The sad song of Blanche DuBois.

Days later, a similar score in San Diego. And then, the tour closer, in Santa Barbara — where I danced in the grass before the stage with the Celestial herself during “Ghetto of My Mind.”

Earlier on, closer to home, I once got into Madison Square Garden for Springsteen without a ticket of any sort, by paying a brazen snappy fellow, reminiscent of Michael Parks in Then Came Bronson, whom I — and four others — simply followed past an elderly black ticket-taker, a distinguished looking gent with grizzled lambchops, who granted entry to each Vandal with a sober nod, summing, I imagine, his piece of the action.

Dem was the daze.

But dose days are gone.

This past Sunday, this veteran of Gotham — and a visiting friend, under his aegis — walking south for John Hammond and The Blind Boys of Alabama at City Winery in the Village, were taken for fools and parted from their money by a pair of slicky boys hocking bogus Van Morrison tickets on 33rd and Seventh.

Marx warned us about technology. Advances in home printing have brought us to the pass where none but a box-office expert may now distinguish false ducats and the real thing.

But surely, you wonder, would even the most credulous of chowderheads not have balked at the $300 face?

Well … That’s what the high-ends were going for at the Box. Van is cashing in his chips with this Astral Weeks extravaganza. And this wasn’t the Garden’s basketball arena, but the former Felt Forum, a sideshow theater with about seventeen hundred seats.

Even so, you may wonder if something less than a perfect putz might have at least nosed a whiff of suspicion when the sellers agreed to $80 per.

Well … The thought was that showtime was ten minutes off and the boys were happy, at that point, to dump at any price, eighty bucks being better than zero by multiples indeterminate.

Imagine my humiliation …

An insult all the more peccant and piquant when perceived piling on my unemployed back.

With a friend on my arm.

Under my aegis.

Her first time in New York for anything more than business affairs.

Oh it burns. It burns. The city’s red face, and my red ass.

The fish rots from the head. Bear Stearns and Lehman. AIG and Goldman Sachs. Bernie Madoff and …

And now one can’t trust the local scalpers.

I imagine, indeed, they no longer exist — the honest brokers, I mean. For the falsifiers have burst the bonds of trust and surely none but a ditzy dunderheaded diptstick would dare, henceforth, to buy tickets off the street.

Dem daze indeed are done.

Whither hence, my friends?

Theyre selling postcards of the hanging
Theyre painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
Theyve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad theyre restless
They need somewhere to go
As lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row …

September 26th, 2009

Dylan’s poem for Woody Guthrie

Posted in Death, Music, Reading by ed

Dylan’s first (only?) reading of this lovely thing is on the first Bootleg Series CD (where every track’s a winner).

But I’ve never seen the poem in print before. Came to my attention by way of this gent.

Worth filing away for rainy days.

August 7th, 2009

Nobody Hurts You

Posted in Music by ed

While suffering with the business of a crashed hard disk, lost or busted back ups, and thus a lot of lost writing and history, I’ve been reloading music, and finding an old organ grinder, Graham Parker, medicinal.

These, e.g., soothe — from SQUEEZING OUT SPARKS, 1979, the year I gave college a second try, as the Ayatollahs revolted, and Rickie Lee Jones made her fab debut, on the eve of Reaganite destruction:

Nobody Hurts You

I try to pull my weight, study my geography
It doesn’t seem to get me anywhere
I hold a picture up, everybody thinks it’s me
I get a thrill out of tampering with the atmosphere
Hey baby, I’m out of favour
Can’t always be the right flavour
It just seems that no matter what you do
Someone somewhere’s suddenly gotta punish you

Nobody hurts you
Harder than yourself …

You Can’t Be Too Strong

Did they tear it out, with talons of steel
And give you a shot, so that you wouldn’t feel
And wash it away, as if it wasn’t real ?

It’s just a mistake I won’t have to face
Don’t give it a name, don’t give it a place
Don’t give it a chance, it’s lucky in a way

It must have felt strange, to find me inside you
I hadn’t intended to stay
If you want to keep it right, put it to sleep at night
Squeeze it until it could say

You can’t be too strong
You decide what’s wrong …

February 7th, 2009

True Colors

Posted in Music by ed

Somehow I forgot to mention that I like Cyndi Lauper.

Yow. Wow. Zow. Holy cow.


Miles Davis?

See here!

November 3rd, 2008

Wasted in the wilderness

Only thing that I did wrong
Was staying in the wilderness too long
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on

The great questions in the air — about how much lasting constitutional and foreign-affairs damage Bush-Cheney have done, about the ways and means of turning things around, and the capacity of the american people to be citizens rather than consumers — leave me for the moment speechless.

I do think the turn in the works is a major turn.

A premise there, however, is that the forces behind the Fascist Shift of the new century are not deeply rooted and are exhausted for now — leaving the new administration a horrible mess, yes, but also a durable mandate and some elbow room.

But — if the premise is false, then four years from now we may see Romney on the verge of victory, and the young Obama already a has-been.

This was one reason why, this past winter, I thought Hillary the better candidate for the Donkeys to nominate — to allow her to absorb the worst of the blast, while holding Obama in reserve.

But …  The hour of doom is at hand.  Let the sun shine

The mandate will not be large.  LBJ in 1964, riding a wave of sympathy re Kennedy’s murder the year before, gathered 486 EC votes and carried 44 states.

Nothing near that is in the cards for Obama.  Rather, somewhere between 289 and 364 votes, with 22 to 27 states, plus D.C.

Clinton got 370 votes and 31 states in ’92. And 379 and 30 in ’96. Plus D.C. in each.

Reagan has the all-time high, against hapless Mondale in ’84, with 525 votes and 49 states.  Then FDR in 1936, against Landon, with 523 and 46 (of 48 total) states. And then Richard Nixon in ’72, contra hapless McGovern.  520 votes and 49 states.

Then again … Even the greatest EC landslides were, roughly speaking, five people voting chocolate and five vanilla.  Fifty-three Pistachio, forty-seven Rocky Road.

Wasted Years

No matter what happens on Tuesday and across the next four years, there is no escaping or re-writing the fact that the failures to apply Due Process in the 2000 election, and to depose Bush-Cheney in 2004, were costly beyond measure and plain evidence that, on the national level, we are not a functioning democracy.

Only thing that we did right
Was the day we began to fight
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on

It’s an open question — whether WE can fight at all.

But … Team Obama has. They’ve run an amazing campaign — principled and potent.

Can the example revive an increasingly impoverished and brain-dead citizenry?

Too Long in Exile

Seems all my NY friends are holing up Tuesday night. Me, I think it’s the first thing in the public sphere worth celebrating since …  Can’t recall.

Let’s have a General Strike on Wednesday. And then, to the business of rebuilding.

Til We Get the Healing Done

Where’s my blue suede shoes?

Aha — a final pre-election postscript:  Great overview from a waning & weeping Laissez Faire fellow in the London Daily Telegraph.

October 13th, 2008

From the Archive:
Voting from the Outside in 1992

Democrats sixteen years ago were desperate to boot the GOP from the White House.


October 6th, 2008

Rickie Lee Jones: The Sermon
on Exposition Boulevard

Posted in Music by ed

Ed Note: After a spirit-deadening summer, Rickie’s latest album, from last year, is bringing me back to life.

Below is my original quick review — which while not lacking for enthusiasm no longer quite does the album justice.

Its depth is … reminiscent of T.S. Eliot. It takes a while to get there … Down the well …

And people who shuffle their Favorite Songs on an Ipod will never get there at all.


Rickie Lee Jones has a new album coming in early February. I posted this capsule review over at Amazon because the glib ne’er-do-tell who did the official thumbnail there couldn’t be bothered to listen or think. Odd they can’t find better help. The dud’s name is McLeese and he concluded by reporting “Some of this music is oddly affecting; much of it is merely odd.”

That’s alright, I know where he lives.




Beneficiary of an advance copy of this life-hugging album, let me say (pace Mr McLeese) that THE SERMON is not “merely” anything at all. To begin: two tracks are extemporaneous meditations expounded on the spot — neither composed nor rehearsed (!?!) — and the second of these miracles, “Where I Like it Best”, now reaches me as the richest song in the collection.

(See producer Lee Cantelon’s for the amazing story of how the record was born.)

It IS a departure from the studied studio perfection of her prior work. Much of the music is by younger collaborators, and the tracks were recorded with a “liveliness” that takes one back to the garage bands and stoop singers of foundational rock. “It was so different from a musical environment I would make,” she said in a recent interview, “and that helped me become something different.”

The mystic religiosity springs from mediations on the life & words of Jesus — another departure — but then again on stage she often refers to the songs of her mystical masterpiece Ghostyheads as “prayers.” Both albums are deep echoing wells, a bit spooky to slide down into (“Watch your elbows — I don’t KNOW how deep, watch you don’t burn your hands”) — but once down it’s heaven. I’ve no faith in the divinity of Jesus but these meditations, born out of the smouldering rubble-strewn spiritscape of America post 2004 elections, have been just what the flamen ordered.

There IS something happenin’ here, after all. And what it is AIN’T exactly clear. In a world gone wrong, post 2004, she found a way to sing. And perhaps it was the only way. Perhaps any other would have been false to the moment and have failed.

Maybe it’s like this (from Deep Space on The Magazine):

This tear will finally fall
Keep your eyes here
When there’s no net at all
Where the Lord’s face is like an all-night cafe
There’s a woman who will wait on
What you have to say

The equestrienne of the Circus of the Falling Star will be found not Born Again here, but born anew. Maybe there’s more to miracles than meets the eye. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for this troubadour, our companion voice these long years in the wilderness.


Hey! There’s a limited edition DVD on sale (the link above) for pennies more than the regular CD. Has video, a 5:1 surround mix, and high quality mp3 files for downloading. Plus an expanded booklet. Great package, less than $20.

GO ORDER A COPY! The release date is February 6 or similar.


December 18th, 2007

Go see: I’m Not There

Posted in Movies, Music by ed


The Dylan film is beginning to show across country.

Should/must be seen in a theater — the music and images flow and surround.

Tell me what you think. (My thoughts linked above)

November 22nd, 2007

The Dylan Film: I’m Not There

Posted in Movies, Music, These United States by ed


The Dylan film is spectacular. The most exciting american film in years.

Something to see and be thinking about for years.

Must be seen in a theater — the flow of music and people is joyous.

More balanced — as it looks, in its oblique way, into Dylan’s broken relationships with early fans and his first wife — than I’d expected from one or two reviews.

Indeed, one or two reviews had saddled me with worries, going in.

All worries dashed. The energy and courage laid down to make the film have paid off in spades.


Directed by Todd Haynes. Written by same and Oren Moverman. Shot by Edward Lachman. Edited by Jay Rabinowitz.

Interesting reviews online: J Hoberman at the Village Voice. John Anderson at Newsday. By Pete Travers in Rolling Stone. At Not Coming to a Theater Near You. Film Comment. And by writer Robert Sullivan in the NY Times. AO Scott is also in the Times, and applauds, but the Sullivan piece is much richer; he spent six months on it, visiting sets, the editing room, etc.


The reviewers who frowned are in a distinct minority, but include Anthony Lane in The New Yorker — who offers two basic complaints: the film is disjointed and at times confusing, and is insufficiently about the man in his world, and thus allows the “elusive Dylan, once again, to slip away.”

Although I seem to share many of Mr Lane’s thoughts about Dylan, his displeasure with the film seems a bit wooden-headed. To begin, I was never importantly confused. Jonathan Demme (I think it was) seemed right to observe that 30 seconds of confusion in a film are fine but five seconds of boredom intolerable.

What does seem true — to give Lane his due — is that the film is tightly focused on a familiar leitmotif — Dylan’s inability to live in the skin his fame wrapped about him — and thus does not fully treat much else that Dylan fans may be desperately seeking to explore and perhaps grasp.

Beneath this seeking sentiment lies, I suspect, long and commonly held disappointments in the way Dylan piloted himself through stretches of his career. Those of us who suffer with these petty resentments yearn, always, for a triumphant Apologia — a conclusive public Defense — that somehow removes from the hero’s shoe the doo and spent bubblegum he stepped in along the way.

The same desire takes shape with every reading of Hamlet. Yet the promising, brilliant prince’s trajectory always falls and fails to find redemption, or even satisfactory explanation.

Nevertheless, for good reasons, he remains one’s hero.


Mr Haynes clearly set out NOT to make a grand Apology, but rather to present the appearances at play. And this seems the essence of Mr Lane’s complaint — that the filmmaker’s vision fell short for failing to grapple with the heart of the matter.

Two reactions to this complaint:

(i) It’s a question if the grand Apology can, in any form, be mustered. We had a good shot at it a few years ago in No Direction Home, Martin Scorcese’s great documentary. Dylan spoke there at length — interesting, and moving, but confusing as ever — and around the same time had published a collection of scattered remembrances entitled Chronicles. Both doc and book, while gratefully received here, were shot through with contradiction on the familiar ticklish points re desire (to be a poet and a pop star) and responsibility (to other people).

One doubts, then, that Dylan himself has a coherent grasp of the elusive heart of the matter — which leaves Mr Haynes seeming wise, seeming to have taken the best available road, by sticking with the appearances and giving them room to exuberantly play. What Mr Lane desires (on behalf of many, no doubt) may be impossible, in any form, and almost certainly, if embraced as motive of a feature film, would lead to a treacly false artifact. Whereas I’m Not There bleeds truth, such as we have it about Bob, from every frame.

(ii) My sense, reading Mr Lane’s complaint that the history in the film is “paper thin”, is that — in his pique at finding Hamlet again tumbling toward the swordplay — he failed to notice that I’m Not There does indeed deliver the music and its world in their rich mindblowingness, even as the director/writer pursues his relatively narrow interests, and even as he allows his Dylanesque voices free range in declaring they were never a “folksinger” and that “politics” do not exist. The film brings the early music in its time to life, reigniting one’s imagination re same, and this is perhaps its prime raison d’etre, and the reason it will rocket about the world, as Pulp Fiction did a few years back, but with incomparably more staying power. It will stay as long as the Scorcese and Pennebaker documentaries do, and for much the same reasons. As long as people remain curious about Dylan and the interesting times he shared and shaped.


November 8th, 2007

Rickie Lee Jones — Happy Birthday

Posted in Music by ed

The celestial one is … can’t quite recall.

minniecunningham.jpg Here’s a nice radio show she did this past February in Minnesota while on tour.

She was here in New York in midsummer. A tremendously soulful show.

And check out this video fallingup.jpg for “Falling Up” from the new album.

Then check out her website — full of great stuff.

See a brief review of the new album here.

Then buy the album! The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard.


Her music has helped keep me alive these decades in the wilderness.