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Posts Tagged ‘music’

Hey Kids! Here’s Presidential Candidate and Old Jewish Man Bernie Sanders’ 1987 Folk Album!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 3, 2015

Heeb Magazine broke this story, and it’s reprinted here:

Hey Kids! Here’s Presidential Candidate and Old Jewish Man Bernie Sanders’ 1987 Folk Album!
Yo Semite August 30, 2015

Bernie Sanders is having a pretty great summer. The crotchety senator from Vermont is not only riding a wave of popularity unmatched by anything in his career thusfar, but according to recent polls, his presidential campaign is, amazingly, improbably, starting to close within striking distance of Democratic dauphin, Hilary Clinton, herself. While some might attribute Sanders’ newfound political relevance to his thoughtful, nuanced, policy positions, or his grassroots efforts to appeal to a wide, untapped liberal base. I have another theory.

America loves a folk musician.

Oh, you didn’t know? Bernie Sanders once released a full album of American folk standards. Yup. The (admittedly, unlikely) next president of the United States is a bona fide folker.

Sanders’ album, “We Shall Overcome” was release in 1987, while Bernie was still mayor of Burlington, VT. According to Seven Days, a Vermont-based independent news site:

Todd Lockwood, a Burlington-based author/photographer/musician, remembers sipping coffee at Leunig’s Bistro one morning in 1987 when he came up with the idea of recording then-mayor Sanders at his White Crow Audio studios. (Phish recorded early albums there.)

“I’m not sure where it came from,” Lockwood said of his brainstorm. “I thought, ‘You know, there’s an idea.’”

On a whim, he called the mayor’s office — he didn’t know Sanders — and left a message with a secretary. Before long, he got a call back — Sanders wanted a meeting.

“I was surprised he said, ‘Yes,’” Lockwood said. “When I first went to his office he said, ‘I have to admit to you this appeals to my ego.’’’

Sanders gave Lockwood a list of songs, mostly from Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, he would be willing to record.

How does it sound? Judge for yourself:

Originally, Sanders had planned to sing each song himself, but that went right out the window after he actually, well, started to sing. Mel Torme, he ain’t. Instead, his singing voice allegedly ended up sounding exactly as you’d probably expect coming from a crotchety Jewish member of the Vermont Progressive Party – Not, uh…not so great.

Still, if you’re interested/brave enough, the full album is available for purchase on amazon.

Posted in Democratic Party, democratic socialism, life, music, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oi!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 7, 2015

This is funny and painful at the same time, something the writer, Deborah Coughlin, gets in spades.

One of a new range of credit cards featuring the Sex Pistols, with the group’s name and record sleeve artwork appearing on the cards from Virgin Money. Photograph: Virgin Money/PA

One of a new range of credit cards featuring the Sex Pistols, with the group’s name and record sleeve artwork appearing on the cards from Virgin Money. Photograph: Virgin Money/PA


There is no such thing as a punk credit card
Deborah Coughlin
Tuesday 9 June 2015
The Guardian

Loads of big businesses like to think of themselves as being a little bit edgy. They’ll plunder and pillage pop culture to find inspiration then try to sell it back to us – whether it’s some kind of generic revolutionary spirit, feminism or, most often, punk.

Yet like a perfectly nice dad having a midlife crisis, most of the time this punk edge is as flimsy as a Marks & Spencer leather jacket. It ends up coming across a bit “Danger would be my middle name, if my real middle name wasn’t Derek”. Not cool capitalism, not cool.

Of course this wouldn’t be possible if punks stuck to their anti-establishment, nonconformist guns. But punk really has become a big business bitch, coz, ya know, we’ve all got mortgages to pay.
This can be the only explanation behind Virgin proclaiming on Twitter: “Introduce a little anarchy to your wallet with our new Sex Pistols credit card.”

First off, there is no such thing as a punk credit card. It’s impossible to be in the midst of an anarchic frenzy while committing to 18.9% APR. Second, for Virgin to suggest that their customers should treat this new product of theirs in anyway nihilistically seems to be a huge commercial risk. “It’s a big bit of our history”, pleaded Virgin, as Twitter went WTF? True, but that was before you became a bank. This is, as one of the card designs states, bollocks.

Here’s a rundown of four other ways in which punk has never been so unpunk.

Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon in adverts for Country Life butter. ‘This is often cited as the moment punk died.’ Photograph: Country Life/PA Wire

Former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon in adverts for Country Life butter. ‘This is often cited as the moment punk died.’ Photograph: Country Life/PA Wire

1. John Lydon’s Country Life butter advert
“It is important to realise that in all the years I have been in the music industry the only people that treated me with any real respect was a butter manufacturer,” said Lydon in 2009. This is often cited as the moment punk died – and it was way before the artist formerly known as Johnny Rotten signed up to those credit cards. I’d actually suggest that it’s last spit dried up a few years earlier, when in 2004 Lydon joined the cast of I’m a Celebrity, the series best known for Katie Price and Peter Andre getting it on. Forget punk, the only music that inspired was Andre’s “classic” single Insania.

2. Iggy Pop sells Swift insurance
I’m not sure how Iggy got away with slightly less ridicule than Lydon. Maybe he’s more likeable. Maybe internet-based insurance is a less firebrand issue than butter. Or maybe it’s because this advert came two years after Lydon’s and by this point we’d all resigned ourselves to a future where middle-aged musicians will end up selling us crap. The advert was later banned for being misleading, as the insurance didn’t cover musicians.

3. Vivienne Westward going to the 1997 Cool Britannia party at No 10 and accepting her damehood
Westwood now says that not only would she never have darkened Blair’s doorstep if she’d known what he was going to do in government, but also claims she thought she was going to the party of Tony Banks. It is very punk not knowing whose house you’re going to and not really caring. However, when she turned up at Buckingham Palace I’m guessing she knew who she was going to curtsy to – albeit knickerless.

4. PIL and Ramones merch in Primark
How was Primark going to get more rebellious, edgy teens through its doors? By flogging Ramones cushions and Public Image Ltd T-shirts, that’s how. Assuming a high level of punk ignorance in their target customer base, Primark make a handy factsheet including things like the “key looks” for being a Ramone: “Leather jackets and lots (and lots) of hair!” Plus historical background: “Fun fact: This lot are often noted as the first punk rock group. Ever.”

Capitalism bred punk; today it well and truly buried it.

Posted in life, music, music industry, punk, punk rock | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gabba Gabba Hey!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 19, 2014

Rest in peace Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny and Tommy.

Though I’m not sure heaven is the right place for the Ramones.
the-ramones

Posted in life, music, punk, punk rock | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Vic Chesnutt, Cowboy Junkies, and the cure for depression

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 23, 2014

Cowboy Junkies. Photo by Chris Lay

Cowboy Junkies. Photo by Chris Lay


Cowboy Junkies performed two sets on Saturday, June 21 at Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. The second set was devoted to playing the entire Trinity Session album in full, with the first set featuring songs from CJ’s Nomad series of four albums. Two songs–“Wrong Piano” and “Square Room”–were Vic Chesnutt covers from their “Demons” album.

Vic Chesnutt at the Bowery Ballroom in New York in 1999. Photo by Rahav Segev

Vic Chesnutt at the Bowery Ballroom in New York in 1999. Photo by Rahav Segev


I went into a depression when I stopped drinking. One of the things that helped me combat my depression was listening to Vic Chesnutt. Terry Gross did an interview with Chesnutt on December 1, 2009 in which Vic talked about his various suicide attempts in his life and how he felt about his just released song “Flirted With You All My Life:” “This song is a joyous song, though. I mean, it’s a heavy song, but it is a joyous song. This is a breakup song with death, you know what I mean?” Here’s a version of that song recorded December 14, 2009:

Vic was left a partial quadriplegic after a drunken automobile accident at 18 in 1983. Vic was in frequent pain, struggling with alcohol abuse, and depressed for much of the rest of his life. Despite feeling better at the time of the above “Fresh Air” interview, Vic Chesnutt committed suicide on December 25, 2009 from a conscious overdose of muscle relaxant pills. He had racked up some $50,000 in debt due to medical bills by then. “And, I mean, I could die only because I cannot afford to go in there again.” Vic said to Terry Gross of his choices. “I don’t want to die, especially just because of I don’t have enough money to go in the hospital.”

Singer/song writer Vic Chesnutt

Singer/song writer Vic Chesnutt

At first blush, it seems counterintuitive to listen to dark, morose music in order to alleviate one’s depression. There’s a whole subculture, called Goth, centered around depressed adolescents listening to depressing music. The Cowboy Junkies have been described not just as alt country, but as “Gothic country,” and Vic Chesnutt’s musical style has been called “Southern Gothic.” However, in The Way of the Samurai, Yukio Mishima commented that: “Hagakure insists that to ponder death daily is to concentrate daily on life. When we do our work thinking that we may die today, we cannot help feeling that our job suddenly becomes radiant with life and meaning.”

Rest In Peace, Vic Chesnutt.

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