Morgan James sings Dream On

What really brought out the voice that I have, my soul voice and true voice, was really not getting any work and being very sad and being poor and having to sit with that. I think that’s where the blues comes from.

—-Morgan James

It has been a very busy, exhausting week – the worst of it is that I haven’t been able to write as much as I want. I did have a page of notes for stuff and I sat down to write some of it out and get something for here.

But the internet interrupted me. I was reminded that years ago I used to embed Youtube videos of Postmodern Jukebox into some of my blog entries. For a moment’s entertainment I started some playing and then, stumbled across this (watch and listen to it – you won’t be disappointed):

 

It only has seventeen million views – so I suppose there are a few folks that have never seen this.

My God! That woman has some pipes!

So now I’m a big Morgan James fan. To be honest, I have never been that big on Aerosmith (though I respect their classic work, of course)  – but her version…. man. Of course, Postmodern Jukebox does a great job of the arrangement (love the cello). A fantastic piece of art.

Some comments from Youtube:

“I can make music or I can be famous”-Morgan James

I heard Aerosmith made a cover of this

What a time we live in. This level of performance used to be available to kings and queens… not the paupers.

I like how she sings with her entire body uninhibited like a toddler.
Singing in traffic pushes cars forward.
That voice surpasses all shower doors and makes the water stick to the tiles in awe.

I can cook a steak with that fire she’s spitting

I need a smoke after this one.

I didn’t believe… no. Let me start again. I thought I knew, I was sure, I kind of built my life on the fact that nobody could do this better than Aerosmith. This was THE UNCOVERABLE SONG! – – – And now this….

A doctor needs to treat me for shock, and possibly a dislocated jaw.

Damn – the moment I saw those heels I knew shit was going down!

She could sing the phone book and it would be great.

Morgan James is one of those immensely talented and pretty singers who should be a major star. Instead we get the likes of Katy Perry. There’s no justice.

Now THIS is what is called TALENT! Why isn’t Morgan James a household name? We haven Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber and all the rest of them blocking the airwaves when we could be enjoying AMAZING voices like this?!? I am so glad I just happened along this video! A beautiful woman with a gorgeous voice to match! All the best, Morgan! You’ve earned your place in music history!

There are songs out there that are classics and I always say, “You can’t mess with a classic,” but her… she can do anything she wants.

 

There are a ton of her songs on Youtube (including a cover of the entire Beatles White Album) – it’s a glorious rabbit hole.

If you are already a fan of Morgan James I’m sorry for wasting your time with this – if you have never heard her (and the world has to fall into those two categories – fans and people that haven’t heard her)… well, you can thank me.

Looking For Shelter In This Thunder And This Rain

I have been bought, I have been sold in the city.
I’ve dined with the demons, and I drank of their fear.
But you, you have known, and waited in silence.
Come, cradle my heart in a homecoming tear.
—- Jimmie Spheeris, I Am the Mercury

The musicians play next to the reflecting pool in front of the Opera House

I’ve read a couple of times lately that vinyl is now outselling compact disks. I’ve also read that digital downloads are becoming fewer and fewer and soon – vinyl will be outselling MP3s. I’ve read this on the internet so it must be true.

Everybody nowadays listens to streaming music.

For me, old person that I am, streaming music means internet radio. Hey, it’s free, there are thousands of stations… and it does leave me a bit of a link to the past… it isn’t over the air, but it is radio… more or less.

And my favorite online radio station – by far – is Radio Paradise. They have a handful of different mixes, all brilliantly curated. I listen to their main mix all the time and their mellow mix while I sleep. What I especially like is the stations ability to mix familiar excellent tracks with new and/or odd stuff that I have never heard – but will go out and look for.

The other night I was listening to the mellow mix when an old song came on that brought the memories flooding back. It was I Am the Mercury, from the album Isle of View by Jimmie Spheeris.

 

I was immediately transported back to 1974 – my freshman year of college. I could see that 12 inch album in a pile on a dormitory floor, pick it up and spin it on a cheap turntable. The quiet ethereal mysterious sound builds to a climax. Music has such an ability to bring the past back… and vinyl with a 12 inch album cover work of art especially so.

Like the Castle In Its Corner

Light the candle
Put the lock upon the door
You have sent the maid home early
Like a thousand times before
Like the castle in its corner
In a medieval game
I foresee terrible trouble
And I stay here just the same

—-Steely Dan, Dirty Work

Singers for Naked Lunch, a Steely Dan cover band, at Lee Harvey’s, Dallas, Texas

Time flies – it was six years ago that I wrote about Naked Lunch – the Steely Dan Cover Band at Lee Harvey’s.  We saw them a time or too there after that, but the last time, two years ago, they said they couldn’t play at Lee Harvey’s anymore. They simply didn’t make enough money to pay all those musicians (it takes about a dozen to do Steely Dan justice).

But, wonder of wonders, they are back. Lee Harvey’s never used to charge a cover, but now, sometimes, they do. It was only ten bucks to see greatness, so we went. As always Naked Lunch sounds more like Steely Dan than Steely Dan does. Awesome.

It’s Time For Tina

Skipper Jonas Grumby:

Ginger, I’ve got a problem… I’ve got a real problem… Now you’re a girl, right?

Ginger Grant:

Well, if you’re not sure about that, you have got a problem!

—-Gilligan’s Island

time_for_tina

I wrote about a weird radio program, available over the internet, The Retro Cocktail Hour a few days ago. Today, I received a notice that a new show was up, technically a rebroadcast, and something in the playlist caught my eye. One song was by Tina Louise, recorded in 1957 (the year I was born) – seven years before that fateful three hour cruise. She recorded one album, It’s Time For Tina… and what do you know? She can sing.

This is truly the best of all possible worlds (even if you like Mary Ann better).

Tina Louise singing Embraceable You from her album. If you don’t want to listen to the whole thing – jump up to about 2:33 – That’s the Jazz God Coleman Hawkins on tenor sax.

The Retro Cocktail Hour

“Sex and a cocktail: they both lasted about as long, had the same effect, and amounted to about the same thing.”
― D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

The bartender pouring the absinthe, note the clear green color.
Pirate’s Alley Cafe, New Orleans

 

I’m not a very neat, organized person – I live in a constant battle with chaos and increasing entropy. I’m a Marie Kondo failure.

This failure does not only apply to the real world – but to the digital one as well. Still, I try.

I have been cleaning out old computer files, found on a dizzying collection of old hard drives and USB sticks. I try the Marie Kondo test – if it brings joy, I keep it, otherwise I throw it out (delete). I don’t delete much. I do come across a treasure or two, though.

Yesterday I found a reference to a website I had forgotten about that used to bring me joy – and I am glad to find out it is still there and think I’ll visit it some more. This is an old streaming music program, produced from Kansas Public Radio, based in Lawrence, where I went to school. That is surely how I stumbled across the program, though I don’t remember.

It’s called The Retro Cocktail Hour and it features… stuff you don’t hear everyday. Let me see if I can find a description…. Ok… from the Facebook Page:

The Retro Cocktail Hour serves up the music that’s “shaken, not stirred” every Saturday at 7:00pm Central on Kansas Public Radio stations. Pour the Mai Tais and join in for two hours of exotica, crime jazz, bossa nova, Now Sound, space age pop, groovy soundtracks, Bollywood weirdness and other incredibly strange tunes. Hosted by Darrell Brogdon. Visit http://www.retrococktail.org/ to stream shows from our program archive.

Think Mad Men. I love to listen to this stuff. It is so cool and so uncool at the same time. I’m not old enough to remember hearing this stuff but I’m old enough to have heard the echoes.

So make yourself a tray of Martinis and kick back and listen to an archive or two. If you want one to start with, try the All Exotica Show from January 19. From the show – “Exotica is the fantasy music of the South Pacific and the Orient, music of a make-believe Shangri-la, white sand beaches, warm breezes, and tropical libations.”

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Mac Finds His Pride

“We immediately escalate everything to a ten… somebody comes in with some preposterous plan or idea, then all of a sudden everyone’s on the gas, nobody’s on the brakes, nobody’s thinking, everyone’s just talking over each other with one idiotic idea after another! Until, finally, we find ourselves in a situation where we’ve broken into somebody’s house – and the homeowner is home!

—- Dennis, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

For years I was aware of a television show called “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” but I didn’t watch it. No real reason – there is so much on… maybe I was turned off by the odd theme music.

One evening I was too tired to pick up the remote and actually saw a show. I enjoyed it. Basically it is the story of five people, related to each other in confusing ways, managing a shithole bar in Philadelphia. The actors are good, the jokes are funny, but mostly I liked it because the characters are such worthless, narcissistic, amoral, debauched, drug-addled, idiotic, lazy pieces of shit that it made me think better of myself. I may have my faults – but I am not as bad as these people.

Over the last year I’d watch it off and on. Mostly I’d scan the TV listings and DVR the episodes I hadn’t seen. That way I could binge watch them at odd times when I wasn’t missing anything important. With the DVR, I could fast-forward through the commercials or boring bits and see the whole episode in a few minutes.

There were a dozen seasons (It’s currently tied with Ozzie and Harriet as the longest running live-action sitcom – the only thing it shares with Ozzie and Harriet) so there was plenty to watch. I’m not sure how many episodes or seasons I’ve seen – more than a few. There isn’t much of a long-term arc, so there’s no reason to watch the shows in order.

It is fun to speculate about how dark each episode is capable of going. Usually the show doesn’t disappoint and ends up going darker than you thought possible.

And then came the thirteenth season and, especially the final, 10th episode (144th overall), Mac Finds His Pride.

And everything changes.

I was home, exhausted after work, and noticed the DVR was recording the show. I thought I would check it out and realized that there was something else on – some sort of a dance program. The stage was dark and covered in water and a muscular man and athletic woman were doing an amazing dance number to Sigur Rós music.

It was entrancing. As I watched, I suddenly realized, “Shit! That’s Mac dancing.” It was indeed It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

I immediate rewound and watched the whole show. It started out like any episode – The gang was trying to get a float in the Philadelphia Gay Pride Parade to bring in business and wanted someone to dance on the float. Mac was the best candidate, but didn’t want to do it – having trouble relating to his imprisoned father and his sexuality.

One of the running “gags” of the series is the character Mac (full name – Ronald MacDonald) and his struggle to come to terms with being gay.  At the beginning of this episode Frank (Danny DeVito) had broken his nose and was constantly shoving nasty stuff up his nostrils to staunch the bleeding.

All well and good – then it happened. Mac and Frank went to Mac’s father’s prison and Mac put on a dance with a woman to try and explain how he felt.

It was transcendent.

I was gobsmacked. This piece of artistic beauty came so far out of left field and was so unexpected… yet it was so appropriate and inevitable. I some unexplainable way it summed up everything. It was the moment that thirteen seasons – 144 shows – of unmitigated nihilistic worthlessness is redeemed by one moment of excellence.

It was the most audacious, brilliant thing I’ve seen on television since Part 8 of the new Twin Peaks.

 

 

Check out this article about how much work went into this. The actor, Rob McElhenney, can’t dance – more accurately, he can only do one dance. He spent a year learning it. And you can’t help but love his incredible partner, professional ballerina Kylie Shea.

I have always loved Sigur Rós. They sponsored a series of films of their music – The Valteri Mystery Film Experiment. There are several videos of the song in the dance, Varúð. Here’s a particularly good one: