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Wednesday, June 13, 2007
1,000 Homo DJs
TVT : 1990
YOU AND YOUR SISTER
This Mortal Coil
4 AD : 1991
Arista : 1991
Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock
Single (B-side of "Dig for Fire")
4 AD : 1990
I've been away from Moistworks again, living my life, doing the job of being me; there's been a small handful of boys, a larger one of television, and, I'm afraid to say, almost no music. The other night I went to hear a friend do a panel discussion about a genre of music on which he is considered an expert. I listened contentedly, had almost no idea what anyone was talking about (but loved the arguments and nitpicks and eye-rolls and all the things music journalists do when they talk to each other), and realized why I've barely bought a new album since 1999. I don't know how to be a casual listener.
In my teens and early twenties, I was a true fan. I heard a song I liked, found out who it was, got the record, got all the other records, listened to them chronologically, memorized the lyrics, read a book, and spent hours talking to my friends about comparisons and B-sides and who produced what and in what studio. I really don't have the time for all this now, so you'd think I'd have just easily transitioned into regular listener status like a normal adult. But no! Just thinking about hiphop, for example, totally stresses me out. I haven't bought a rap CD since A Tribe Called Quest. Imagine how long it would take me to catch up. I'd have to quite my job! It's bad enough that I'm a season-and-a-half behind on The Sopranos. My god.
Covers, back then, were often a starting point on my road to total immersion, to finding out about bands I likely would not have listened to otherwise. But it took work; I wasn't the kind of kid who could hear "Oh, that's a cover," and not ask who did the original and what record was it on, when it was from, what else did they do, etc. For example, I learned about the Velvet Underground from REM, which some version of the adult me finds somewhat cute, somewhat embarrassing. But back then in Framingham, Massachusetts in the late-eighties/early nineties, there were bigger problems.
I had black hair in my face, and Gangrene and Greenpeace stickers side-by-side on my bumper. I felt a strident need to compartmentalize everything, and to be a lover and a hater all at once (still one of my biggest conflicts). Despite my occasional environmentalist slash Gulf War protester leanings, I wanted to be a badass or at least a semi-badass, and, were it not for the Pixies and Sonic Youth, might have thrown Neil Young into a pile of boring classic rock. I'm sure I had anarchy symbols next to hammers and sickles Sharpied on my jeans, even though I swear I knew better. Parking-lot-wise, the metalheads were the most fun to hang out with during free period; we had no skateboarders at my school and they were the next best thing.
I went to Grateful Dead shows with my summer-camp counselor colleagues but told the skater friends I did have (from other towns), that I only went to make fun of the Deadheads and flirt with them in order to get free drugs. That wasn't a total lie; I hated the Dead for all the noodly shit, but when I heard Suzanne Vega's "China Doll," I went back and listened to Jerry's version. That heart-stabbing chorus at the end made me realize that those people actually did know how to write songs with words and melodies. (In this case the fact that there is only one chorus is particularly annoying, but only because it's so good you want to hear it again.)
Then, there were the straight-edge friends, the boyfriend who made me brush my teeth before making out if I had had anything to drink. I kept a toothbrush in his glove compartment; I have a very distinct sense memory of spitting toothpaste into gravel at the drive-in. He, speaking of topsy-turvy identities, ended up a drummer for a well-known Krisha-core band while working a day job at Baby Gap.
Labels: covers, joanna
posted by Joanna
Friday, May 18, 2007
Brunswick : 1965
Videos:   
The Lovin' Spoonful
Karma Sutra : 1967
I SAW THE BEST MINDS OF MY GENERATION ROCK
The Fugs' First Album
Broadside/Folkways : 1965
Incredible Force of Junior
Available on: We Can Still Be Friends
Magic Marker Records : 1998
Patti Smith & John Cale
Horses [Bonus Track]
Arista : 1975
FIGHT THIS GENERATION
Matador : 1995
Ladies and gentlemen,
On this, particular day The United States Internets is proud to host Moistworks' own Joanna Yas' birthday, on which occasion she is turning thirty-three years of hotness like you or I will never know. And so, we've opened up the website, and invited passers-by to share their thoughts about Joanna which, these are just a few things they said:
Avant-garde. Sophisticated. - JonAnd that was just passers-by. Reached over email, a friend of Joanna's had something to add, and - to the delight of United States Internets everywhere - he did so in precise Moistworks order - even to our, non-literary-critical eye, the following reads short storical. And, of course, the second-best thing in it is a cameo appearance by your editor-in-chief!:
Happy birthday! -for some reason on this occasion, at this point in time, I offer you this song. - Tom
In the 1920s and '30s, men in jug and jazz bands said "Yowza!" almost as often as they said "Yas, Yas!" - a tendency exhaustively exhibited in the late recordings of the Memphis Jug Band, viz. "Ruckus Juice and Chittlin'," "Gator Wobble," "Insane Crazy Blues." These exclamations, forever gone from the language, come to mind whenever i see Joanna Yas - and not merely for her name. Without question, Joanna embodies all the qualities any reasonable person would associate with such terms. So, in the spirit of her birthday, don't just call Joanna "Yas," call her Joanna "Yowza." I do. - Andrew
Happy Birthday Joanna. Bert Jansch is coming so I got you a ticket. xx - Sam
Joanna is impossibly sweet and refreshingly tart and really really saucy and if I were a country there would be a national feast day every May 18th where we would eat food dressed with a complex and delicious sweet and tart sauce called Joanna Sauce and then we would spend the next 364 days wishing we could have some Joanna Sauce every day. - Ethan
By Joanna Yas I am always slanted and enchanted. She is the queen of whatever borough she graces, and for her next year I and many others wish lots of further success and love and happiness, local and otherwise. Love - Matthew
WORD YOU USED TO SAYShe's 33, Mike, but I'm sure Joanna appreciates the sentiment!! And readers - this is getting to be dangerous around here, but - be sure to send your Jo your own regards, in the comments, below-
Dean & Britta
Zoe/Rounder : 2007
Last week was the Open City Magazine Spring Prom. Joanna reigned queen. For me, it was high school all over: I was drunk, idling by the bleachers, nursing sweaty-palmed crushes on people other than my date. The Open City version was held at a bookstore, so there weren't any bleachers. But they'd turned the biographies table into a bar, so I idled there. For that night I was stalking Britta Phillips, of Dean and Britta, of Luna, and of my first adolescent stirrings at the hands of a capable woman, Jem and the Hollograms.
Jem was the holographic alter-ego of Starlight Records founder and ceo, Jerrica Benton. Nights on Sunset, Jem would shatter hearts with skirts the violating shades of the Genera-brand rainbow, set pubescent imaginations afire with her rhinestone-studded fingerless gloves. During the day, a demure Jerrica padded those same fingers through Starlight's double sets of books, doing the complicated arthimetic of keeping her original indie label afloat, all the while fending off boozy passes from A and R sleazemen looking to buy their way onto the Starlight.
Jem was the inspired marketing ploy of the Hasbro Toy company, and Britta Phillips was her voice. So when Britta Phillips appeared on the invite as a patron of Open City, I set myself to finally meet Jem.
I never got to meet Britta. Or Jem. I'm not even sure if she was there. But I did meet Alex. I don't remember spilling anything on him nor borrowing any money, so I was surprised to get an email from him this morning.
I was more surprised to hear that Joanna was celebrating a birthday this week. For I was certain that Joanna and I had agreed not to age. Admittedly, this is more of my hang-up than hers; I'd been hiding from my birthday for years when the subject came up. But when I voiced the idea last summer, she seemed open to it, we tried it on that night.
I'm not pathologic about it. I had just planned on a few years off from birthdays, lingering at 28 until some greater sign was delivered upon me, something that told me it was alright to move on, call it time served. For me, birthdays always meant reconciling with accomplishment, or lack thereof, of pride in what you've achieved. Years have passed. I've remained birthdayless, as if that is all it will take to live a life where compromises and commitments don't have to be made, to live past the markers of adulthood that try to box us into predictability and labels. The labels that would have us choose between becoming a holographic rockstar or successful entrepreneur. The same labels and predictability that Jem and Jerrica laid to waste.
But Jem, if attendance at the Open City fundraiser is any indication, doesn't exist. Joanna does. Joanna, who commands the impossible task of keeping an enviable literary magazine afloat by day, who ravages the hearts of audiophillic moistdorks - and few others - by night. No holographic alter-ego. No shortage of foiled passes from drunken agents and editors, either. As for rhinestone-studded fingerless gloves, well, you can ask her.
Jem was lucky. She was a cartoon, held frozen in the slutty florescence by the colorists at Hasbro. Jem never had to choose whether or not to celebrate a birthday. But with all she had going for her, she'd be right to indulge the passing of a year with one hell of a party. So I'm certain that Jerrica Benton would never hide from her birthday. Because i know that Joanna wouldn't, either.
Happy twenty-ninth, boo.
Labels: alex, joanna, rock
posted by Alex
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
THE LAST DAY OF OUR ACQUAINTANCE
I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got
Chrysalis : 1990
GO WHERE YOU WANNA GO
The Mamas and the Papas
If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
Dunhill : 1966
A NEW ENGLAND
Life's a Riot with Spy Vs. Spy
Charisma : 1983
On the day after a Valentine's Day made glorious by your great song suggestions and a steady chocolate IV, my divorce came through. A lone piece of paper in a thin, yellow, self-addressed stamped envelope arrived in my mailbox. Seeing my own handwriting and the stamps I had, (sadly, defiantly, resignedly? which was I that day) applied only a couple months before, was very odd. As a literary magazine editor, the "SASE" as we call it, is an instrument of a not-so-different form of heartbreak and rejection (your story/poem isn't good enough so we're returning it; you failed at marriage so we're returning you).
I thought this moment would bring elation. I had even talked of a big "divorce party," where everyone I know, including my ex, would celebrate. We're still friends, after all, and this is what we both want. Most people I've heard of go through agonizingly long battles involving lawyers, financial dispute, and in some cases, custody. We had none of that. The only property (and our version of a child) we shared was a 1993 Nissan Sentra, which, due to my relocating to the impossible-to-park-in East Village and his to LA, I let him have without a fight. But all that ease did not in fact lend itself to joy or party planning. Some relief yes, particularly that I had beaten the arcane, labyrinthine New York state court system, whose representatives told me again and again, "Get a lawyer. You'll never get it right on your own." Trumping the thrill of conquest, though, was the agonizing first moment of accepting my new adjective: "divorced." Who ever expects to bear that word? It's the thing that happens to other people, most certainly not to thirty-three-year-old me. It's horribly sad, and, even if it's for the best, is another way that life has failed to resemble anything I thought it would.
Last week, at the eye doctor, I was filling out a new patient form. There it was: "Marital status: married, single, divorced, widowed." I stared at those little boxes for a very long time. Why must they know? How is this relevant to my contact lens prescription? I contemplated just checking off "single," not a lie, but felt that truth was in order and checked the dreaded d-word. Just when I thought the agony was over, the next section: "emergency contact"! My God. Who would it be now? And who makes up these questions? I'll tell you who: a cabal of self-satisfied married people. I know because I'm a former member. I'm supposed to keep my mouth shut about the whole thing, but if you're nice, someday I'll teach you the secret handshake.
Labels: classic, joanna, pop
posted by Joanna
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
RCA : 1988
HEY HEY HELEN
4 A.D.: 1989
My Bloody Valentine
EVERYDAY IS LIKE SUNDAY
Warner : 1988
Enigma : 1988
I moved recently, and this past weekend started unpacking my music. A friend came over in the middle of the mess-making and demanded "Everyday Is Like Sunday." Which, he somehow knew, I would only have on tape. I started tearing apart boxes, desperate to find Viva Hate, but instead unearthed my semi-precious collection of mix tapes. Each one with it's own clever collage cover (typically cut out from Interview, Sassy, and flyers for all-ages shows); serial killer-like titles made up of cut-out letters; and personal messages I can no longer remember the meaning of.
The oldest I could find is from 1988 (and, as luck would have it, features the Morrissey song in the middle of side B). The blurry blue-and-white snow-like pattern on the front and the brown cardboard-colored inside are distinctly reminiscent of a late-eighties Esprit ad. The tape itself says (in pencil; when was the last time you used a pencil?) "Jo's Tape (pretty mellow stuff) 11/88." The real coup would be to find those old mixes I made by holding my tape recorder next to the radio, which date, much, much earlier, as do the fake radio shows my brother and I would record, one of which bore the following call letters and tagline: "WJYJ, WJYJ, the station that repeats itself."
For now, I give you selections from this mix that are actually from 1988 (except the Abba cover "Hey, Hey Helen," but I couldn't help it). In my bedroom in Framingham, Massachusetts, it was the year REM signed to Warner, regular kids started knowing who Siouxsie was, Mike Boddicker joined the Red Sox (minor interest in baseball, major crush on him), Surfer Rosa came out, and my big brother left me alone with my parents by going off to college. Though on the day I made this mix, I was probably much more focused on the person for whom it was intended. Sadly, it's clear that I never gave it to him.
Labels: indie, joanna, pop
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
SEA OF LOVE
Phil Phillips with the Twilights
Mercury : 1959
ALWAYS ON MY MIND
The Pet Shop Boys
Capitol : 1991
Rough Trade : 1990
MAMA, YOU BEEN ON MY MIND
The Bootleg Series, Volumes 1-3
Columbia : 1991
Homestead : 1991
Last week I sent an email to about twenty friends, relatives, ex-boyfriends, new friends, old friends, and people I hardly know but thought would have good answers, asking "I'm making a list for my Moistworks Valentine's Day post...what are your favorite love and anti-love songs...?"
My main reason for asking was that I was curious to see how certain people would respond. Who would ignore it, thinking "What a stupid question." Or, who would ask "Don't all songs fit into one category or the other?" Who would respond immediately with a long, rambling list, or who would write, also immediately, with "I need to think."
My people did not disappoint; I got all of the above. Al Green (obviously) and Ween (awesomely) showed up on several lists. Bob Dylan, yes (and even I, with vast ambivalence about him, am torn apart by the last line of this song). Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra, Throbbing Gristle, Monochrome Set, Judas Priest, Orange Juice, Sebadoh, Van Halen, and the Buzzcocks, yes, yes, yes. But the best answers, which I did not anticipate, were those songs that would make absolutely no sense to anyone but me, due only to the nature of my relationship with the responder.
"Sea of Love" fits squarely into the last sentence. "That was the day I knew you were my pet," does not typically ring the bell of today's modern woman, yet the man who named that song has sent me so far to the brink of sanity and submissive lust that I could do nothing but nod and drool and wonder which version to use here. (Of course I opted for the one he had specified.) The Pet Shop Boys version of "Always on My Mind," could only be on the list of the man who held my hand at a concert in an airplane hangar in Berlin, as both of our jaws dropped at the odd and scary sight of a thousand German fists banging the air to the rhythm. "Halah" by Mazzy Star would be merely a pretty, dreamy whine were it not for the fact that the record was played over and over again to mask the sounds of the first great sex I ever had. "Kath" was mentioned by both a close friend who knows I wrote a poem after it in college and a man who has no idea how much my heart aches for him whenever I hear it.
All this to say: Love is such a specific, alchemical thing, that to merely hear someone else sing about his/her love for yet someone else doesn't quite register. To me, a love song is all about association. But anti-love, that's another story. Gut-tearing, nauseating rejection and loss, now that is indeed universal. Here, though, is where my friends did disappoint, and where I, for fear of breaking down into a quivering wreck before finishing this post, have failed. This is what I leave to you, dear readers. Tell me the saddest (or angriest) love songs you know, and by sunset (just in time for the east coasters to burn a mix for their dinnertime sweetie), I'll post a handful here.
Thank you! Here are some highlights. I wish I could post them all...
FARE THEE WELL, MISS CAROUSEL
Townes Van Zandt
Townes Van Zandt
Sunspots : 1969
ALL THE LOVE I EVER HAD
Available on The Original Singles Collection
Mercury : 1991
GIN HOUSE BLUES
RCA : 1968
Warner : 1977
HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART?
Let's Stay Together
Hi Records : 1972
And a late-stage addition, for a friend and reader who knows who he is (and whose own version I prefer but don't have a recording of):
EVERY TIME IT RAINS
Dreamworks : 1999
Labels: indie, joanna, love, oldies, pop
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
TURN ON ME
Wincing the Night Away
Sub Pop : 2007
Due to the wonders of the internet (and an unauthorized promo leak, I'm told), I've had this yesterday-released record since October. I have listened to it my requisite 67 million times; know all the lyrics of my three favorite songs (Australia, Phantom Limb, and Turn on Me); and am starting to sing along to my least favorites (Sea Legs and A Comet Appears), which are starting, now, in the fourth month, to grow on me. The Shins are the only band I've gotten excited about in a long time, and it embarrasses the hell out of me to admit that.
A friend recently said to me at a cocktail party, "I've been reading Moistworks and am liking it a lot," to which I thanked him and blushed, prompting a few other friends to ask what is it (of course they were thinking porn). I explained a bit, and he went on to say, "Joanna has, by far, the most mainstream taste of anyone on there." To which I also blushed, but in a different, much less pleasant way. My god, I thought, what has happened to me? I never in a million years would have described myself as the most mainstream of anything. But I knew he was right.
I have lost my way. The music niche of my youth no longer exists, and I haven't found another. In college, it was all about Pavement and Big Black and Guided by Voices and My Bloody Valentine, in addition to the much more obscure bands we all claimed to have been listening to longer than anyone else (and which I, often, pretended to like). But even to be into the Pixies, as "big" as they were becoming, was still to be a member of a fairly small group.
Now it's me sneaking around with the god damn Shins on my shuffle. I had heard them somewhere, perhaps a store, asked the shopkeeper or coffee server who it was, wrote it down, bought the first two CDs, fell in love, found out they were playing, and, thinking I was one of only a few who had made this find, was surprised that they were playing a venue as big as Webster Hall, and then was even more shocked to find the shows to be sold out. I got a ticket from some guy on Craiglist, went, felt like the oldest person there, stood in back singing along with every single lyric, and crying my eyes out. For how much I loved them, for how lonely I felt, that night and in my life. And perhaps, for how I no longer knew what was on the outside, and I wouldn't know where to look if I wanted to.
I admitted it out loud for the first time the other day. I was having a meeting with the editor of a very now magazine and a writer friend. The new issue of his magazine has a CD in it, which I dutifully looked at in his presence, proclaimed, "I've never heard of any other bands on here, but I love the Shins!"
The editor groaned and mumbled something about keeping the advertisers happy. I grinned defiantly, extolling their virtues: "They're writers! They're smart! The twists and turns of melody on this new record are...."
The editor groaned again, mentioning their "horrible" appearance the other night on TV, Letterman or something. (Why he was watching Letterman to begin with didn't come into question, though, in hindsight, it really should have.)
My writer friend immediately leapt to my defense. He could absolutely not tolerate being known to associate with someone who likes this band. "No, you like lots of other things, too."
"Yes," I said, "Arcade Fire!"
He blanched. (And if I had said the Decemberists he would have actually passed out). "No, but you love Syd Barrett!"
"Yes, and the Zombies," I muttered.
The editor perked up, as I knew he would. He shouted, "Yes! Odessey and Oracle!" and we were back on track. I was okay, we had redirected our cool-compass, and we were able to continue our meeting with everyone's respect for one another (rather, for me) intact.
When did it become cooler to love the British Invasion and Journey than the popular new-ish indie rock band? I suppose it's embarrassing to like something that's on a once-cool label (Sub Pop) and still fits squarely into a category (indie) that no longer has any meaning. Perhaps the kids don't want their cool handed to them in a box. They want to feel as though they've discovered it on their own, years later (and ironically) like Herb Alpert, or dragged out again (and therefore big-kid approved/ironclad) like the Boredoms.
I know what it means to have eschewed everything loved by the populace of Williamsburg, readers of McSweeney's, and all that surrounds. But for now, can I keep my cute boy indie nerdie bands while holding on to some shard of punk rock credibility? Please?
The more astute or psychodynamic thinkers of you might be wondering something, which I'll try to address in future posts (or in therapy): Why, Joanna, need you ask our permission?
Labels: indie, joanna
posted by Joanna
Friday, December 08, 2006
THE HANGING GARDEN
Elektra : 1982
J. Geils Band
EMI : 1981
Bubble and Scrape
Sub Pop : 1993
Polygram : 1994
Last night I was fucking this guy, hard and fast with my ankles wrapped around his neck...Wait! Sorry. That wasn't me. Where are we? I'm all confused now. Hi. Brian says MW is going the way of smut, and well, clearly I'm not blameless. Then again, who is?
I did used to write porn, back in the glamorous first years of living in mid-nineties New York on nine thousand dollars a year. I was paid fifty cents a word to write for gay men's magazines. I wrote fake letters and the occasional "feature." "You're making them take way too long to come," my butch lesbian editor would complain. "These are men. They don't need the whole build-up. Just have them, meet, fuck, come, and then close with something funny." I rolled my eyes at the time, but now, as an editor, I see the true brilliance of that formula. If only she could sit in on some MFA workshops at Iowa, I'd be spared piles of overwritten overly-precious overly-boring stories about people committing adultery but never actually fucking. Or being funny.
Portishead was a joke among my friends; it was the go-to seduce-a-slightly-punky-girl record back then. "Then he put Dummy on," would go the story, and we'd smirk and giggle knowingly. I was so tired of thinking of different ways to refer to a penis for my porn stories that I had very little interest in real ones. But who knows? Maybe the Portishead maneuver even worked on me. Once or twice.
Labels: joanna, smut
posted by Joanna
Friday, December 01, 2006
CRAZY ON YOU
Capitol : 1976
BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLE
Factory : 1986
Neutral Milk Hotel
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Merge : 1998
These neighbors of mine have been having really loud sex; I can hear it through the airshaft every night. Well, at least I can hear her, and I'm assuming it's a couple. It's unseasonably warm here so everyone's windows are wide open, making her operatic wailings all the more audible. All you can hear is her progressively more and more insistent moaning and an occasional "yeah"; it typically lasts for about twenty minutes. Every night. She has to know we can hear her, that must be part of it, but the silence of her partner (especially after the dozen or so times I've heard it) is confounding.
One night last week I felt the need to call out to her, though I didn't know what to say. Hi? So, like a good New Yorker looking to make contact, I posted on Missed Connections, saying (roughly) where I live and I hear them every night and just wanted to say hi. Within five minutes, ten guys had sent me photos of their penises. Now I want to know, how many girls respond to such emails? About as many as the amount of people who respond to viagra/cialis emails? More? Less? Anyway, I also got notes from three couples claiming to be "them"; two pairs asked me to join them. Over the next couple of days I started quizzing: "What time were you fucking last night?"; "What sound did she make at the end yesterday?" Correct answers: 1 am; barking. None of them got them right. The best email I got was from a guy who works at the deli counter at the grocery store across the street who liked my post and said, "I work on this block and I'm sure I see all of you every day." Now I get free sandwiches, free coffee. Every day.
Tonight, though, instead of climaxing, the girl laughed. It was as loud and hard as the other endings, but laughter still. I still didn't hear a guy, though one could guess the laughter could have silenced him. Here's hoping I'm right about her having a partner, or else she's a crazy masturbating girl laughing alone into an airshaft. Though god knows there are worse things.
After I wrote this, Alex reminded me of his post from January, similarly inspired by loud fucker-neighbors, though his take on it is, well, different from mine. But it also reminded me that I hadn't said anything about the songs. Here you go:
"Crazy on You": This whole post was basically an excuse to put this song up.
"Bizarre Love Triangle": The neighbors, me.
And wanting something warm and moving
Bends towards herself the soothing
Proves that she must still exist
She moves herself about her fist
Labels: joanna, smut
posted by Joanna
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Friends of Mine
Rough Trade : 2003
I WILL FOLLOW YOU INTO THE DARK
Death Cab for Cutie
Atlantic : 2005
CAROLINA IN MY MIND
Apple : 1968
Rough Trade : 1979
Way back when, I wrote about getting an iPod, a pink mini. Unlike then, I'm not embarrassed to tell you about this week's purchase, a shuffle. Have you seen this thing? It's basically the size of a breath strip. My three-year-old nephew thought it was a piece of chocolate; tried to unwrap it. Beyond the size, it's an odd thing, having to choose my 100 favorite songs. I was so cautious as I scrolled through my iTunes to fill it up, that by the time I got to the Zombies I still only had 48 songs on there. I left it that way and now have had the pleasure of walking around with only songs I really, really want to hear. These are a few of them.
The Adam Green track was brought to my attention by a French friend who had in on a Les Inrockuptibles compilation. We were sitting around one day and his nine-year-old daughter ran into the room, saying "Daddy, play that Jessica Simpson song!" I looked at my friend, aghast. How could he be corrupting his beautiful daughter with such garbage. Then he put on this song. His daughter knew every word, and giggled/sang all the way through.
Death Cab for Cutie: I originally heard them when they played on The OC and thought they were terrible (particularly in the context of SUCH a brilliant show). I promptly erased them from my consciousness, till recently when my brother mentioned this beautiful acoustic song of theirs. I found the song, found the video. (I just discovered YouTube. Hey, I never said I had my finger on the pulse.)
Oddly, part of the new obsession is with watching old James Taylor footage over and over again. This is the earliest I could find; it's from a BBC show in 1970, making him twenty-two years old. I've never seen JT looking so hot, so young, so nervous. The whistling, the insanely pretty girls in the audience. The sweater vest. At this point he'd fled New York for London in 1968 to try to quit drugs, failed (but managed to record his first record on Apple), returned the US, kicked in the hospital, and, by time of this footage was back in London and a massive success because of "Fire and Rain." The man worked fast.
And this Raincoats cover, well it's just ridiculous how good it is. I always wanted to love them, what with their gorgeous girly-late-seventies-British-ness, but this is the only song of theirs I've been able to get fully attached to. It's a bit all over the place, disorganized, unpredictable, but only in the messy, sexy way that the best girls can be. And the way Ana Da Silva nails the words "electric candlelight" makes Ray Davies sound like a folk singer.
Speaking of the word cover, let's talk about this. I had an argument with a friend about this recently: he took issue with me referring to Cat Power's version of "Sea of Love" as a cover. But it's on The Covers Record! I said. He insisted that it's a misnomer. We looked it up, and alas: A "cover" technically applies to the early usage of the word, which was in the early 20th century. When one record label would release a song and it would become popular, other labels would release the same song by a different artist in an attempt to capitalize on the song's success, either to "cover their bets" or even to cover the other LPs on the shelf in the store. The covers we know and love, as this one, should therefore more appropriately be referred to "versions" or "remakes." Hee ho hum.
Labels: ipod, joanna
posted by Joanna
Monday, November 13, 2006
BLUES RUN THE GAME
YOU NEVER WANTED ME
Jackson C. Frank
Jackson C. Frank
Columbia : 1965
BLUES RUN THE GAME
Live at the 12 Bar
Castle : 1996
Hear yee Jackson C. Frank, an American folk singer brought to my attention by my English colleague Adrian Dannatt, the acclaimed art critic and obituarian. He knew nothing about him, just this beautiful song, but another friend illuminated a bit: He was grotesquely disfigured on the left side of his face in a fire in childhood, so when he moved to England (from Buffalo, NY) in 1964 at age twenty-one (with money he received from the insurance settlement), he was pleased to find that he could drive around in his convertible with his good side facing the girls on the sidewalk, though he never recovered from the trauma of the fire. Paul Simon produced his first and only (self-titled) record in 1965, but shortly thereafter Frank experienced severe writer's block, returned to the States, and was, for a time, committed to a mental hospital. In the eighties he came to New York City to look for Paul Simon, but instead ended up living on the street and then at Creedmor, a psychiatric hospital and "home" in Queens (where Woody Guthrie died). One day, sitting on a bench across the street from the hospital, a stranger shot him in the face for no apparent reason. He survived but was blinded in the left eye. Frank died in 1999 at age fifty-six in Woodstock, New York. I couldn't find a proper obituary.
I ordered the record from Kim's on St. Mark's, hesitating before entering the shop where I had spent so much time as a girl. But there was nothing to fear. The adorable mod-haired boy behind the counter was appalled when I told him I couldn't find the Jackson C. Frank CD. "We always carry that!" he exclaimed. "But I guess we're out. I'll order one for you." Without looking it up, he asked, "Do you want Blues Run the Game or the self-titled?" His hair, this conversation; ignore the fact that Kim's now has three floors, and this could have been 1974 or 1995 or now.
I just recently moved back to the East Village after a long exile to Brooklyn. There are so many things that have stayed exactly the same, and in that mode I feel like Rosanna Arquette's character in Desperately Seeking Susan, right down to the broken black and white tile on my kitchen floor. Other nights I'm a tourist on my own block, watching the youngsters aim at cool in their cute and ardent way. And still others I'm an angry old woman, almost getting into fights. The other night at Botanica, I peacefully sat with a group of friends in the back room. When I got up to get a drink, I realized that the front room of the bar had been completely altered since we had arrived. It was now filled with consultants/publicists/whatevers-with-money. Out of nowhere, one said to me, "Aren't you Hermione's sister?" "Huh?" I said, trying to figure out the name. Had I entered a D.H. Lawrence novel inhabited by sorority girls? She repeated it. I frowned, then said "I don't have a sister," and tried to get past her to the bar. "Bitch," she said, quite audibly. I had a moment to decide what to do, then turned back. "Excuse me?" I asked, somewhat sweetly. "You don't have to talk to people like that," she bitched. God, it's so embarrassing to me when girls act like this. Her boyfriend tuned in. "What's going on?" he asked. "She's mad because I said I don't have a sister!" I proclaimed. He looked at me with a "I know, she's annoying," roll of the eyes and I moved on.
The next night I was at Von on Bleecker with a friend and we went outside for him to have a cigarette. We left our drinks and jackets at our table. When we returned, five or six girls were sitting there, and our belongings had been moved to a bench with no table in front of it. A typical East Village moment, at least from my time-traveler memory, would have meant an apology upon our return and them swiftly moving away, some laughs and smiles. But no. "Your stuff was no where near here!" squealed one with very expensive highlights. I tried my best "You've got to be kidding," glare, but she held strong. I really did consider getting into it with her, then realized that while we were outside the bar had transformed in exactly the same way that Botanica had the night before: turned into a frat/business-people party. My friend and I grabbed our displaced things, and walked over to my still-favorite, mostly empty bar a few blocks away, whose name I won't dare tell you.
(Bert Jansch, who was heavily influenced by Frank, will be playing at South Paw in Brooklyn on Tuesday night (November 14), tickets here. I'll be there if I can find my way back across the river...
posted by Joanna
Monday, November 06, 2006
Babes in Toyland
Reprise : 1992
THE SAME BOY YOU'VE ALWAYS KNOWN
The White Stripes
White Blood Cells
V2 : 2001
Drag City : 1992
I went to my gym this evening to cancel my membership. It was time for "Let's be honest, Joanna, you haven't been in months and you aren't going back anytime soon." The woman at the desk literally tried to pull the "You have to give a month's notice and you owe for November," but I gave her my best "Are you joking?" one-eyebrow-raised glare and she dropped it.
On my way out I noticed they were having a blood drive (my (now-ex-) gym is a YMCA). Why not? I had some time to kill, and this would be my final gesture to the institution to which I had donated so much sweat. I haven't given blood in a while (since high school maybe) and was surprised at how elaborate it was. Blood pressure, pulse, hemoglobin level, have you ever been to Africa, have you left the country for more than six months at a time, did you eat today, have you ever had sex for money, have you ever paid for sex, have you ever had sex with a man who might have had sex with a man, do you have a cold. But I passed and they agreed to stick me. The male nurse glared at my tiny veins. "Make a fist!" He said. "Tighter!"
"I know," I said, "I'd make a terrible junkie." He didn't smile, and eventually stuck me somewhere I'm imagining he thought might be a vein.
"Blood is coming out, right?"
"Yes," he said, and minutes later told me what a good bleeder I was. I beamed with pride.
Meanwhile, an attractive middle-aged woman (whose name I'd later learn to be Linda) arrived, asking if her sister could sit by her for "company." I averted my eyes to her own sticking (her veins were so much easier than mine!), and joked to the nurse that I hoped I'd get a nice "I gave blood sticker" to show off to my date in a little while.
"You have a date?" The nice woman asked. "I was wondering why you're so dressed up!" This is an oddly intimate comment to hear from a stranger. I was wearing a cotton short-sleeved dress, not particularly fancy, so I'm not sure how she was measuring the formality of my attire. "Where are you going?"
"This restaurant on Prince Street, Savoy?" I said it as a question, a little snobbishly assuming that people in the Y on Fourteenth Street giving blood might not know of a fancy Soho eatery. But I was totally wrong about Linda.
"Oh, that's right around the corner from where I live. I love that place. Upstairs or downstairs?"
"Up." He had actually made a point of telling me the reservation was for "upstairs."
Linda approved. New Yorkers really are hilarious. Then the sister asked, "Is this a first date?"
"No, it's a do-over." Linda, sister, and nurse all looked confused, so I said, "A re-do." More blank stares. The blood loss was making me coy. "We dated a long time ago and know we're trying again."
"What happened last time?" asked Linda.
"I-got-married-to-someone-else-and-now-I'm-divorced." In truth, I just filed the first of eighty-seven divorce papers earlier this week, but details in these situations are totally out of place.
This got the nurse's attention. "You're divorced? Any kids?"
"No," I said, "no kids."
He nodded in approval. Then muttered, "Lucky guy." Let's assume he meant the date rather than the ex-husband.
Then one of the other nurses, who'd been on her cell phone the whole time, shouted something about the cars back to Brooklyn/Queens being disorganized and it seemed as though my nurse was going to get screwed out of a ride. I suddenly felt so sad for him, with his bad mood, lonely eyes, and now this, the likelihood of a three-transfer subway trip. He started getting very angry, and I looked over at the huge needle sticking out of my arm. Linda had a similar concern, saying "Don't get too excited, sir!" Sir. Linda is classy.
He calmed down enough to gently take the needle out of my arm, told me I was finished and that I should go sit down and drink some juice. "What about my proof?" I asked/whined.
He frowned seriously, went into a large plastic file box, and pulled out a roll of stickers. "Is this what you're wearing later, on your date?" he asked. I nodded. He then peeled off a sticker that said "I just gave the gift of life," and planted it square on my left breast. "In case you change, here are a few more," he said, handing me three more stickers. Then, out of nowhere, he pulled out a small plastic pin the shape of a drop of blood, eyeing my other breast. I knew exactly what was coming. He slowly leaned in toward the fabric of my dress. There were at least ten long seconds during which I could have stopped him, said, "I'll put it on myself," but didn't. He reached in, literally put half his hand inside my bra, and pinned the blood drop not only to my dress, but through the fabric of my bra and my slip. Three layers. I just watched, amazed, then nodded at him as he shyly handed me six more blood-drop pins, for another day, or, perhaps, for poseur friends anxious to impress.
Labels: indie, joanna, rock, smut
posted by Joanna
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
SEASON OF THE WITCH
Epic : 1966
CARE OF CELL 44
MAYBE AFTER HE'S GONE
TIME OF THE SEASON
Odessey and Oracle
Date Records : 1967
It was raining so hard the other night that I ducked into the bar 2A to wait/drink it out. My umbrella had bitten the dust somewhere on Houston, and there was no chance of hailing a taxi. I hadn't been there in ages...possibly since the late nineties when I dated the bartender (Donovan!), the last in a short string of boyfriends much prettier than I. Sadly, he wasn't there.
"Who is this?" I asked the schlumpy guy to my left, of the amazing late-British-invasion-but-who-I-assumed-was-a-new-ripoff-version. I didn't fail to notice that he was sitting with a disproportionately hot and young blonde chick.
"The Selbys," he mumbled.
He said the same thing again. I shrugged. Then he said, "You know, 'She's Not There.'"
"The Zombies!" I yelled, of course just as there was a break in the song. Blondie looked up. It's hard to be cool.
"Yeah, this was their Sgt. Pepper's, but they never really got their due." Or replace "their due" with "the attention they deserved," or, "No one gave a shit."
Then it happened. Drunk or not, I fell madly in love, not with Mr. Guy, but with the music. God, what heaven that is, even thirty years late, to hear that angelic voice and feel that he's just singing to me.
"Are you in a band?" I asked the guy, after the song ended.
"What are you called?"
"Fountains of Wayne."
I knew I should have heard of them, but I couldn't figure out if it just sounded similar to a well-known band, or if it in fact was one. "What do you sound like?" I asked.
"Like the stuff you hear on the radio."
Sheesh. What does that mean? I listen to talk radio. This was going nowhere, but at least it explained the hot blonde.
I got the Zombies record the next day, Odessey and Oracle, which, I'm embarrassed to say, I didn't even noticed was misspelled (see, you didn't notice it either! It should be "Odyssey"). Later I'd find out it was because the cover artist spelled it wrong and it was too late to have him fix it.
The music initially sounds so sweet that I started an email to a guy I'd been seeing on a day he wasn't feeling well, "Morning to you, I hope you're feeling better baby," until I realized that that song is from a boy to his girl in jail. And then I almost sent a song to my friend Emily called "A Rose for Emily," and then realized that it's about a spinster who never finds love. And, of course, Emily is my gorgeous but single and sometimes very lonely friend.
The word "Candles," in "Brief Candles," is possibly the best struck word in a chorus I have ever heard.
Some think that they were forced to disband because of how stupid listeners are. I think it's because they failed to really show us their genius until this record (they broke up even before it was released). When, randomly, because a radio station in the US played it over and over again and "The Time of the Season" became huge, they had been broken up for a year and refused to get back together.
Happy Halloween! Okay, this post has nothing to do with the holiday. Except that witches and zombies are scary!
Labels: classic, joanna
posted by Joanna
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Sony : 2002
I have an ex-boyfriend in this (seemingly unending) war. "Special forces." I know nothing more specific than that, except that he's in Afghanistan and commands Afghani soldiers he refers to as "my brown guys." This is the boyfriend I was always a bit nervous about introducing to people, having something to do with comments like that. Once, on a trip to Vancouver, he got into a huge fight with some friends of ours about debt relief for Africa (which he strongly opposes). I believe the phrase "survival of the fittest" did in fact come out of his mouth. I said nothing, practically crawled beneath the table. Then later all I could get out was, "This is Canada for God's sake. Ruth and Tom are Canadian." He shrugged, pursed his lips in this way which means "People like you don't agree with people like me but I don't give a shit because my job is to protect you from evil."
When he was my boyfriend, pre-war, he was an Airborne Ranger who spent most of his time jumping out of airplanes looking for coke dealers in Columbia. "You mean where Bush [senior] put the drugs in the first place?" This from me, ever the charming pillow-talker. From him, same small-lip-face, though none of us knew what evil we'd need protecting from back then. Another night it was "J, did you ever kill a man?" aware that the words "a man" sounded more dramatic than "anyone"? When he'd go "to work," as he'd say, I'd worry like crazy, write stories about him, my soldier, and though I feared that he might die doing something totally futile, he was happy with his job, felt purposeful and duty-bound. Not patriotic, just committed to his work and his comrades in arms. (Can you say that nowadays?) I was proud of him, with reservations.
Then 9/11. My hero! I was married then, and my husband, who has his own very conservative streak, exhibited jealousy for the first time in our entire relationship. He's a man, he'd say, at a point where men in our culture are totally emasculated. Hmm. I didn't totally buy it, and when J. called to say he was leaving me his vintage green BMW in his will, I had a hard time feeling proud of his masculinity, instead imagined how it'd be the coolest but saddest car I'd ever own.
The answer to the man-killing question was yes back then in 1997, but "just one." I can only imagine what the answer is now. He talks about it very little, though his main story of late is about putting one of his brown guy's brains back into his head after he was shot in the head. (He survived.)
He's not my boyfriend now, but he did come out of the woodwork when I became single, as they do. It seems that the boys I dated in the nineties have gone through the last decade looking for someone better than I and failed, and now they want their second chance with me (OK, please know that I'm laughing and winking at you as I'm saying that). If our dear friend and Patron Saint Nick Tosches hadn't already done so, I would have posted "Shop Around" in addition to this great Dixie Chicks song (I really can't believe how much I like a song by a band with THE most inane name of all time, but I can't help it.)
Labels: joanna, war
posted by Joanna
Friday, February 24, 2006
ALWAYS ON MY MIND
Pet Shop Boys
Discography: The Complete Singles Collection
Capitol : 1991
(TAKE ME HOME) COUNTRY ROADS
Toots and the Maytals
Mango : 1989
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
Hollywood : 1980
GOLD DUST WOMAN
Warner : 1980
Matador : 2006
I've been away again, from Moistworks, from New York, mostly just from MW. Quietly reading my fellow M-Workers as well as the Writers-Weekers. For part of my exile, I was in the northwest.
Seattle, which had I thought I hated, was actually quite fun this time, but I don't have much to say about it, aside from the fact I learned about a delicious new coffee drink called a breve (a latte but with half-and-half instead of milk), that people there get very, very angry with if you come close to hitting them with your rental car even if they're totally jaywalking, and that on the drive from Seattle down to Portland, I heard Fleetwood Mac ELEVEN TIMES. It's only about a three-hour drive. I'm the type who thinks the only worthwhile music played on the radio these days is classic rock, so I was in heaven. There were a couple of other nice moments, which I've posted here. (Remind me to tell you later about the time I saw the Pet Shop Boys in an East German airplane hangar: fists strking the air, shaved heads, the whole thing. Okay, that is in fact the whole thing, so nevermind the reminder.)
In Portland, the radio is terrible. Lots of Christian rock. And my iPod transmitter thing didn't work most of the time, perhaps due to the rain. So I had an idea. Cat Power! I didn't yet have the new record. Plus I was a bit bored, had spent about ten hours in Powell's, had finished with my work obligations, so going to record stores with a purpose seemed a fun errand. But no. The THREE stores I went to were all out of stock. "We can order it for you!" one shaggy cutie said with a wan smile. "I don't live here," I said. They're nice in Portland, so I added "But thanks!" But wow, how disappointing. I did buy the Big Star record from last year (who knew they put one out so recently? Well, Alex probably did, but he never mentioned it). The record store guy even took it out of the plastic for me, something that would never happen in New York. But things didn't go so well when I popped it, gleefully, into the stereo of my rental car. It is perhaps the worst album I have ever bought. Seriously, I would have thrown it out window, but I didn't want to litter in such a clean city. Then something amazing happened. The rain stopped, and the most incredible rainbow I've ever seen arched over Burnside. Strangers on the sidewalk nudged each other: Hey, look. I got completely caught up in the hippie vibe long enough to erase the bad-purchase feeling. They must see rainbows all the time, but still they're nudging and stopping. Not enough to do? Perhaps, but nice nonetheless.
And then there was Mary's later that night, to put another rainbow into my mood. A sort of punk-rock strip club, I think it might be famous; people in Williamsburg wear T-shirts from there. The girls have tattoos and body fat and some have small breasts, and those with fake ones looked like they had cheap/bad surgery, which is tragic but sexy in it's way. And they dance to music of their own choosing from the jukebox. At one point it got quiet. They weren't getting enough tips to play the songs. I brought a five-dollar bill to the stage, rested it at one of the girl's feet. She smiled down at me, "Thanks, sweetheart!"; I beamed. Ordered another glass of "shiraz." I'm solidly into wine these days no matter where I am, and you know what, it was delicious.
Labels: ipod, joanna
posted by Joanna
Thursday, January 05, 2006
HAZY SHADE OF WINTER
Less than Zero (soundtrack)
Def Jam : 1987
RCA : 1961
Available on Neil Sedaka Sings His Greatest Hits
The Mamas and the Papas
Dunhill : 1967
Available on The Mamas and the Papas Greatest Hits
I'm depressed. This is my least favorite time of year. Against my better judgment, I love the holidays. The lights, the presents, the vacation days; in particular, that out-of-time week between Christmas and New Year's. I'm half-Catholic/half-Jewish, so this year was particularly acute, what with Chanukah falling where it did. I even made latkes and served them to friends next to my tree.
So. January. Christmas-tree carcasses and rain and work and nothing in sight till Memorial Day, the beginning of summer. I'm a calendar girl, I'll admit it. As much as I try to live life in the moment, I can't help but let seasons and holidays be markers for my happiness.
Am I supposed to be writing about music? I just can't do it. For that we have Alex and epic comments about Sly Stone and James' birth-year (1978) songs (my 1985 post to follow). But that's all very 2005. For now we have me in my mood, post holiday, post transit strike, post post, post post post. It's January, friends. I need you to tell me what to look forward to.
(This is already in the past for me so it doesn't count, but if you haven't read Papa John by John Phillips, run don't walk.)
Labels: holidays, joanna
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
IF I NEEDED YOU
WAITIN' AROUND TO DIE
Townes Van Zandt
Be Here to Love Me (soundtrack)
Tomato : 2005
[Unreleased] : 2005
In the spirit of end-of-year roundups, here are my two favorite discoveries of 2005. One old-but-new-to-me and the other new-new:
I just saw this movie, Be Here to Love Me, a recently-released documentary about Townes Van Zandt. I've been hearing about Townes (I feel comfortable using his first name because everyone in the movie does, including his kids and people who have never met him) for years from my friend Sam Brumbaugh (who co-produced the movie) but never actually heard the music. He was just this guy Sam seemed overly obsessed with and I couldn't bring myself to listen to the songs in case it made me think this great friend was an idiot for spending so much time on this movie. But, thank god, I loved the movie and love the songs and now I'm the idiot for taking so long to get wise to it all. Townes was a troubled soul, a drinker and drugger who believed in his own genius, who loved the search for the perfect song more than his own family. As a girl with a (past) penchant for junkies, I've fallen in love with him a little bit myself. A sort of Texan uber-American Dylan, with some Alex Chilton and Neil Young sprinkled in. A beautiful guitarist with a not-always-beautiful-but-heartbreaking voice.
And for the very new, Sahra Motalebi, a young, Brooklyn singer-songwriter with a haunting, sexy voice and a talent for all the right instruments. She's played with a variety of others, but this is the beginning of her own thing. She doesn't have a record (yet) but there's more here.
Labels: folk, joanna
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Three Imaginary Boys
Fiction : 1979
Fania : 1969
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA THEME (2004)
Bear McCreary (composer)
Battlestar Galactica Season One Soundtrack
La La Land : 2005
I feel asleep Monday night like a little kid on Christmas Eve, wondering if when I awoke, Santa would have brought me what I really wanted: a transit strike! I mean, I love the workers and I'm very sad for those whose life is made miserable by all this, both the MTA employees and the people who lose wages because they need the subways and buses to get to their jobs. But for me, someone with dubious wages no matter where I am, it's lovely to have a reason to stay home from work, skip the gym, and stare at the clock wondering when is not too early to have a beer. That was the dream at least. In reality I spent most of the day chained to my laptop doing more work that I would have at the office. The guilt of wearing a bathrobe in the middle of the day made me overcompensate.
On the radio in the background, I heard Mayor Bloomberg blasting the union's "thug" tactics, freezing pedestrians describing their walks across bridges, and stories of cabbies bribing people to get in their cars so that they'd have the four passengers required to drive into Manhattan. New Yorkers, as they do, rallied, improvised, skateboarded, smiled at each other. I stayed inside, except for a brief errand to move my car from one side of the street to the other. For one split second before parking, I entertained the idea of driving around to look for people in need of rides. But that seemed unsafe so I opted instead for a return to the bathrobe. Hence, more guilt.
My main regret today is not being able to go into Manhattan to wait in a long line to buy the season two DVD of the new Battlestar Galactica. Today is the release date. As I'm sure you all know.
posted by Joanna
Friday, December 16, 2005
TRYING TO GET TO YOU
1968 'Comeback Special'
Available on Tiger Man
RCA : 1998
HOMEWARD BOUND (live)
Simon and Garfunkel
Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits
Columbia : 1972
HOME IN YOUR HEART
Atlantic #2180 : 1963
Available on Home in Your Heart: The Best of Solomon Burke
I've been away for a while, not sure if any of you noticed. But I've been out here on my own, Moist-less, not having the greatest fall. Music has felt very, very far away. I've peeked into the MW empire now and then to see what you all have been up to, but for the most part have felt a bit alienated, to be honest. Boys, boys, boys. Music, music, music. Alex says I'm "truant," Brian's busy getting wounded down south, James thinks everything's great (just to give you a small picture of the MW innards.)
At Alex's birthday party the other night a friend kissed me on the mouth. I'm a married woman, and it was just a "hello" kiss, but it took me somewhere I don't usually go. Shortly thereafter, Alex and I were speaking to a book packager friend of ours about Moistworks. (He had never heard of it. My god! But said, "Sounds like my dream blog.") (Is this a blog? I still can't accept that word). And, in a fever of (drunken) excitement (throughout which Alex didn't fail to mention what a poseur I am for even talking about this thing I've "abandoned"), I pitched the packager guy a "Moistworks book." Then, about three seconds later (during which he looked remarkably intrigued), said, "No, never mind, there's no book." And he was like, "Wait a second," and I was like, "No, fuck off, there's no book."
So, all that to say, I guess I'm back. Songs about being back. Can you return if no one noticed you were gone?
Labels: classic, folk, joanna, rock
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
FAKE DRUG PROBLEM
Dragunsmilk : 2005
Apropos of letters this week, Moistworks' Williamsburg Bureau recently sent a package to an associate in Heilbronn, Germany, containing (among other things) a CD by George Draguns. George used to be in Don Caballero, and now works as a restorer of 18 & 19th century homes in Philly. Notably, he's (still) a ripping skater and is a perennial fixture in the East Coast Handplant Invitational.
Here's the email response we received:
yeah, jet goes slowly....thanx ones more for good stuff...lots of goodstorys and lots of pession to go over crazy punk stories and artists life...music, hm nice....what i enjoy in moment....i hear in moment lots of post rock shit, draguns are good..some parts are in somekind of surf music....nice....
those tours in last time make so crazy....you know, when you live in small tour and here is nothing going on and germoney goes in moment throught economie crise...its everthing fucked up, we loose concert room, darkroom and there is no money for youth, lots of pepole with ideas(like every year when comes time to study) are also away....so fucked up....and i i don't know way fight over moving in big citys) and try to work with people to make sach born/dead city more nice.....but pepole run every year and i start every year from begining, search for new people....ahhhhhhhh....take sometimes lots of power that you will like too to move and sometimes just also be consumer ;)
ah, lots of down feelings......tom waits make me feel common
Labels: indie, joanna
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
You Are Free
Matador : 2003
RKO : 1969
Last night I rode up to Chicago to see Cat Power. I wasn't all that into it. I mean, I would probably go to see her if she were playing in Iowa City, but it's a long four-hour drive. My friend, Mark, who had purchased an extra ticket based on the mistaken notion that Cat Power's status with Indie chicks would land him a date, was desperate for a ride. So he offered me his extra and gas money to use my car--plus he would drive both way. So I figured what the fuck.
We went straight to the best beer bar in the world--the Hopleaf on Clark and Foster--and drank a medium-sized fortune in Belgians. The Reader listed an opening act we hadn't heard of, so we figured showing up 45 minutes after the ticket's listing of 7:30 would be a safe bet to land a decent seat. How annoying that she was already playing when we arrived. It was a solo show, which I wasn't pleased about either, and the place was hipster central. There's something amusing about rapt 23-year olds with hair parted too far to one side "shhhing" each other at the slightest sound so as not to miss a single throaty sigh.
My first impression? This woman is not nearly as attractive as Mark had led me to believe. Mark is "in love" with Chan Marshall, but he admitted afterward that there was something distressingly linebacker-like about her appearance. Chan certainly doesn't look fragile. She looks like she could have wiped the floor with any of the girls in the room. "Well, she's a cracker-girl," Mark told me later, as if that explained it. As a Southerner himself, Mark calls people "crackers" more glibly--and affectionately--than I do.
The music was good, but not worth the drive. Chan has a unique voice, for sure, and a gift for creating a sense of intimacy. There were moments when my attention was totally captured, like when she played that "Good Woman" song. She mostly played new material that I didn't know. She played a lot of covers, most of which weren't on the covers album. She did an oddly melancholy version of "Sugar, Sugar," which I liked. She didn't play an encore. She was done in a little over an hour. I would have felt ripped off if I had paid for my ticket.
About half-way through the show, she started losing it, babbling under her breath about how she wasn't living up to her own expectations. This kind of talk elicited some hilariously earnest encouragement, including a totally unselfconscious "you go-girl!" shout-out from one of her midwestern fanlets. This, of course, seemed to embarrass her even more. It seemed like everyone was expecting a meltdown, wanted one even, but there was only some awkward mumbling and an occasional pointless apology.
by Matt Miller
Labels: indie, joanna, live
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
HARD TO SAY I'M SORRY
Warner Brothers : 1982
STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE WITH THE MEMPHIS BLUES AGAIN
Blonde on Blonde
Columbia : 1966
HOW CAN I LOVE YOU (IF YOU WON'T LIE DOWN)
Drag City : 2005
Oh music, music, music. It's hard to keep you in my life. The iPod, which I introduced to the world via Moistworks, has gone untouched for several weeks. I'm sorry, little pink one. I live with a vinyl junkie, and I'm sitting here in my apartment surrounded by it all, in addition to my own CD/tape/vinyl collection (from a time when I did have a genuine and strident interest) and all there is is a car going by on Humboldt Street blasting this Chicago song ("After all that we've been through!"). And the memory of being in a cafe in my neighborhood on Sunday morning, watching a pretty girl sing along to this Bob Dylan song. She couldn't have been more than 25, and I marveled at her knowledge of every single word. Bob. I think he's been a little too "around" lately, with the paperback release of Chronicles and some other scrapbook-style book, and the PBS documentary.
"Are you a poet?" a reporter asks a young Bob, looking gorgeous and young as I wish I could've kept him in my mind (had he dutifully died at 27 like all the rest).
"I'm just a song and dance man," he said.
And, with that, my mind goes to David Berman, whose new Silver Jews record came out yesterday. A poet and a musician certainly. I'm not sure about the dancing part.
Labels: folk, indie, ipod, joanna
posted by Joanna
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Kirtland : 1994
HERE COMES THE PAIN
God Hates Us All
American : 2001
Sorry about the site being down for a little bit. James said we're not supposed to blog during Yom Kippur. Also, we needed some new server action, which we got (from God), so all is well.
In response to the winners of my bands-named-after-tragedies contest, I was going to post Anthrax and Bush. But you know what? As sort of terrible as Bush is, Anthrax is terribler. I couldn't sully our beautiful new bandwith that much.
But Slayer Slayer Slayer. Just because. (Though notably, in this context at least: this record was released 9/11/01.)
Labels: joanna, metal, pop
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
LOOK AROUND YOU
I Am the World Trade Center
Out of the Loop
Kindercore : (June) 2001
YOUR INARTICULATE BOYFRIEND
Jenny Toomey (formerly of TSUNAMI, 1991-1997)
Tempting: Jenny Toomey Sings The Songs of Franklin Bruno
Misra Records : 2002
WALKING ON SUNSHINE
Katrina and the Waves
Katrina and the Waves
Capitol : 1985
Inspired by Alex's comment on James's hilarious Monday post-"James, you are the World Trade Center" (you can't see the art anymore but it was a doctored image of Lalo Shifrin towering above the Towers)-today's is an homage to bands whose names have been forever tainted by tragedy.
There's a surfer bar in my neighborhood called Hurricane Hopeful, but otherwise, the Williamsburg Bureau couldn't come up with more than this. So over to you, dear readers. The best one in the comments box gets a signed copy of the brilliant Home Land by one of the top ten funniest New Yorkers, Sam Lipsyte.
Labels: indie, joanna, pop
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
STARS FOR EYES
(originally on Sebadoh 3)
this version by Fields of Gaffney
[Self-produced] : 2003
The Freed Weed
Homestead : 1990
BOUQUET FOR A SIREN
Bubble and Scrape
SubPop : 1993
I saw Eric Gaffney last week, at Siné on Attorney Street - my old friend Jeff Halpin played drums. I was one of four people in the audience (including the bartender). It was one of the best shows I've ever seen. (These are some of the songs they played, though I wish I had recorded the show: the Muskrat Love cover was great, as was Eric's banter, including a story about getting caught stealing brie from the Super Stop & Shop on Rt. 9 in Hadley). Though I wasn't around for the heinous cheese incident, I've known Eric for a while, since living in Amherst/Northampton in the early-mid nineties (college). They were still around then, all those Western Mass. guys, but Lou Barlow never showed his face, and J Mascis stood awkwardly against the wall at parties; you couldn't really talk to him.
But Eric was the definition of "around," ready to get in the car to go to Easthampton or Canada. I liked him. He always had time and he wasn't in college like almost everyone else I knew. When my boyfriend moved away, breaking my heart with his ridiculous decision to go to grad school, I started taking long, late-night bike rides, sometimes running into Eric. At first it was coincidence, then something of an obsession. Trying to run into someone is always a little awkward. David Berman the Silver Jew was my housemate then, and one night as I was about to leave for my bike ride, he said, "I know what you're doing!" He was older and playing Dad or creepy old man or protective friend or all of the above. At the very least I was glad Berman knew what I was doing because I didn't. Eric and I would walk beside water or train tracks and talk about being sad and a little lost. I wrote a poem based on a conversation we had about pumpkins on a porch decorated with sharpie-faces.
When we said hi the other night before the show, Eric said "I was going to call you! That last time I saw you in Central Park was so weird." I've never run into him in Central Park, and I don't think he's ever had my phone number. But I think that's a great thing to say to someone you haven't seen in years and we should all try it out.
Labels: indie, joanna
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Olivia Newton John and E.L.O.
MCA : 1980
A New World Record
Jet : 1976
As I'm sure you all know because you've been following this case very carefully (since there hasn't been much else in the news lately): Olivia Newton John's boyfriend Patrick McDermott has been mysteriously missing for about nine weeks. He was on an overnight fishing trip off the coast of San Pedro. Some think he fell off the boat, though a witness saw him de-boating, alive. And that's not the only fishy thing. His ex-wife (not ONJ) was the one to report him missing--but a full two weeks after he disappeared. It seems as though Olivia herself didn't notice his absence. They've been together for nine years, but maybe they just don't talk much. And she's been photographed at tree-plantings and shit, smiling away, not looking at all worried. Foul play has not been ruled out, not that I'm casting any suspicious glances toward lovely Olivia, whose amazing movie Xanadu taught me some mean roller skating moves all the while educating me about Greek muses and gods.
I'll be carefully monitoring the McDermott situation and will be sure to keep you posted.
Labels: classic, joanna, pop
posted by Joanna
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
SHEET METAL WORKERS
Brighter Than Life
Wharton Tiers Ensemble
Atavistic Records : 1997
NINE TO FIVE
Nine to Five and Odd Jobs
RCA : 1980
originally from No Matter How Long the Line Is at the Cafeteria, There's Always a Seat!
Enigma : 1985
I AM A SCIENTIST
Guided By Voices
Scat Records : 1994
It's a hard time in America, a lot is unknown. But for us lucky ones with dry homes, one thing is as sure as death and taxes this week. Back to school. Back to work. Even if you have nothing to do with school, or even if you've had very little vacation this summer, your job has probably gotten just a bit more or a whole lot more busy and pressured today. If you're like me, getting to sleep last night was hard. Typical Sunday night blues/insomnia times a million.
My most alternately lovely and painful memory of this time is the purple Caldor corduroys and heart-patterned turtleneck outfit I desperately wanted to wear for the first day of school. Even though it was doubtless still eighty degrees in early-September Massachusetts, I wore that shit, sweated it out, loaded down with a new backpack filled with a shiny plastic-covered Velcro-closing notebook (if anyone remembers the brand name, let me know; it's driving me crazy that I can't remember), and new Erasermate pens (what happened to that whole erasable ink idea, anyway?). I hated school, but there was always a little bit of hope each year, that this grade would be better than the last.
Now it's just all about work. Those people I've been exchanging emails with saying "after Labor Day," those phone messages I've been neglecting to return, it'll all come home to roost this week. No more pretending to be in the Hamptons or Croatia. No more free Tuesday evenings (therapy!).
So. Songs about work. Get to it friends, make your country and your parents proud. I counted (and believe me, I included Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, and Thanksgiving): it's only 75 work/school days till Christmas vacation.
P.S. I was looking for a Tuesday work song, googled "tuesday song," came up with this.
Labels: country, holidays, indie, joanna, punk
posted by Joanna
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
JUST LIKE HEAVEN
Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
Elektra : 1987
Apropos of little but some late-summer nostalgia: Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me is the first CD I ever owned. My father worked for an electronics company so we were an early-adopting family. We had a VCR the size of a microwave, a microwave the size of a baker's oven, an answering machine with two full-size cassette tapes (and a beeper-like device that let you check messages by pressing it into the receiver of a payphone to check your messages--I was very cool at the mall), and a CD player, the size of, well, a late-eighties VCR. My parents didn't know what to make of it. It sat there for a while in the living room, waiting for one of us to load a CD into it's enormous five-disc cartridge. I was the first to bring one home, this one, in all it's glorious glossy-red-long-boxed-ness. It was a little sad--just this one disc all alone in there with four empty slots above it. But luckily for me, my parents heard a song or two and said, you can take that thing into your room. To them, to all of us, this one album represented all CDs. If this is what's on them, my befuddled parents must have thought, then the whole thing's just not for us.
It took me months to go buy another one--after all they were twenty bucks. But more importantly, I wasn't ready for everything to go this way. I had all their other records on vinyl, and heard all the songs everyone did from Disintegration, but I've put my hands to my ears about anything The Cure has released since then; I'm sure they've gone completely astray. But more than any other band that I feel has gone the way of suck, this is the one I've held the most allegiance to, due almost purely to the fact that they popped my CD cherry. That and the fact that I got into college because of poems I basically plagiarized from lyrics on Head on the Door.
posted by Joanna