Wednesday, January 22, 2020

THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (VOLUME 1): Lack of progress report



An infinite number of songs can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns.

As the proposal for my book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) makes its plodding way through the labyrinth of indifference and distraction, I continue to try to make it into something, as in something special and somethin' else. I completed another chapter yesterday, bringing me within 28 chapters of a complete first draft.

I mentioned recently that I had decided to expand the book's focus from 113 songs to 125 songs. I had intended to post the updated Table of Contents today, but I'm still re-thinking some of my choices. The tweak goes on. Barring an edict from a potential publisher (or another whim by this mercurial author), I think the number is finally set at 125. I'm comfortable with that number: a Hot 100, supplemented by twenty Bonus Tracks, an Entr'acte, two Encores, and a Last Call! (each on equal footing in its spurious claim as The Greatest Record Ever Made!), plus one song I would crown as my choice for GREM! if it really did have to be just one song. Shine. The weather's fine.

Somewhere earlier in the process, I made a decision to deliberately exclude a few of my very favorite tracks: "It's My Life" by The Animals, "A Million Miles Away" by The Plimsouls, "Five O'Clock World" by The Vogues, and "In The City" by The Jam, among others. I don't make any false claim of objectivity in this book--it's pop music, fercryinoutloud, so we're supposed to play favorites--but I do want to consciously step away from the notion that this book is just a collection of essays about my all-time fave raves. It's intended instead as a celebration of that immediate rush we feel when we hear a great song. This book exults in the infinite, and uses 125 songs as examples of that never-ending jangle 'n' buzz.

The most recently-completed chapter covers "I'll Be There" by The Jackson Five, a song that did not appear in any of my previously-posted Tables of Contents. I'm juggling a number of other possibilities, from Toots & the Maytals to The Shangri-Las to The Muffs. I may post an updated Table of Contents later this week.

I won't pretend I'm not discouraged by the book's lack of traction so far. Finding a publisher is a long and dreary process. But every time I look back at the work I've already done, whenever I read a sequence of completed chapters, my faith in the project is renewed. This is a book. It's a pretty good book. With a lot of luck and a lot of grit, I hope to get to a point where you'll be able to see that book, and judge for yourself. Once more into the infinite....



TIP THE BLOGGER: CC's Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin' pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio:  CD or download

Hey, Carl's writin' a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 100 essays (and then some) about 100 tracks, plus two bonus instrumentals, each one of 'em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1). 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

10 SONGS: 1/21/2020

10 Songs is a weekly list of ten songs that happen to be on my mind at the moment. Given my intention to usually write these on Mondays, the lists are often dominated by songs played on the previous night's edition of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl. The idea was inspired by Don Valentine of the essential blog I Don't Hear A Single.



This week's edition of 10 Songs includes nine tracks played on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 1009, and one track I almost played but didn't. 

ANTON BARBEAU: Jingle Jangle



Jingle jangle, jingle jangle, I've got a crush on your hand. Well, that implies a fun date, doesn't it? I hear it as a cautionary tale of the recording industry, where treacherous record label weasels will stroke you then discard you when you're no longer makin' with the hits. As Hunter S. Thompson warned us, “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.” My interpretation may or may not have anything to do with Anton Barbeau's actual intent. The ears hear what the ears hear. From Anton Barbeau's new album Kenny Vs. Thrust, on Big Stir Records.

CHUCK BERRY: Johnny B. Goode



I am so fortunate that AM Top 40 radio mixed incredible oldies like "Johnny B. Goode" into its playlists when I was a young listener in the early '70s. Hearing Chuck Berry alongside then-contemporary fare like Badfinger and Sweet instilled an inherent appreciation of the democracy of the pop airwaves, and demonstrated to me that essential records from different eras sound best when mixed up and played together. It remains one of my ongoing, oft-repeated mottoes: Great records don't care what year it is. Go, Johnny, go go go!

PAUL COLLINS: Glittering Gold



The new collection For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks (available from Kool Kat Musik) knocked me out on first listen. It's a phenomenal and sincere various-artists salute to the late John Wicks, former frontman for fabulous late '70s British power-pop stars The Records. Every track on this set is stellar, and we played a bunch of them on this week's show. I'm particularly taken with contributions from Ray Paul, Bill Berry, and producer Jamie Hoover, but each track is top-notch, and I've gotta give extra-special honors to "Glittering Gold" by Paul Collins. Specific context enhances this track for Dana and me. When Collins and Wicks were touring together in 2009, they made an in-person stop at This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, participating in a live TIRnRR interview interspersed with performances of a few of their songs. They were so nice to us, and it was such a thrill to meet these guys whose work we'd adored since we were teens. Paul's recording of "Glittering Gold" opens with a spoken bit by John himself introducing the song in a live setting, leaving not a dry eye in the house here in 2020. 

But you know what's even more wonderful about this track? Over and above all of its context and meaning to us, "Glittering Gold" is among the best things Paul Collins has done since those original, heady late '70s/early '80s days of his old combo The Beat. Given how much we love the latter-day Paul Collins songbook and cavalcade o' pop treasures, that is not faint praise. Three weeks into this newfangled new year, For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks already joins 3 by The Weeklings as an early shoo-in for the year-end list of the best of 2020.

THE CONTOURS: It's So Hard Being A Loser


Most of us only know The Contours from their classic 1962 smash "Do You Love Me," and that single side is indeed sufficient to secure pop immortality for The Contours. It was the group's only Top 40 hit, though R & B chart hits like "Shake Sherry" and "First I Look At The Purse" deserved similar crossover acclaim. After "Do You Love Me," though, my second-favorite Contours track is this swaying little number from March of 1967, a soulful woe-is-me lament that would have sounded fantastic on pop radio, mingling with "Penny Lane" and "Ruby Tuesday" during that magic spring before the Summer of Love.

ROB MARTINEZ: All I Ever Wanted


Our friend Adam Marsland's Karma Frog label recently released Maybe Miss America, the latest album from Rob Martinez. It's another pure pop winner from Martinez, and this sublime slice of heavenly hooks and harmonies freely issues wings and halos to all starry-eyed, angelic lovers yearning to fly free.

THE MUFFS: On My Own



We don't do a lot of actual planning on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio; that sense of spontaneity would be a large part of our charm, if we had any charm. I was thinking of playing this track from The Muffs' final album No Holiday (released in 2019 shortly after leader Kim Shattuck's death) on TIRnRR this week, but I held off when Dana played "Big Mouth" from The Muffs' eponymous debut album. Logistics, balance, flow, yadda yadda. "On My Own" has been buzzing in my head a lot lately, so it will be returning to the playlist soon. This is my favorite track on No Holiday, and it's becoming one of my top Muffs tracks.

THE RAMONES: I Don't Want To Grow Up


AKA The Greatest Record Ever Made! Last Friday was my 60th birthday. For all of my commutes that day, I locked my iPod into a single-song loop of The Ramones' transcendent, raised-fist cover of this Tom Waits song, and I listened to it over and over, wailin' along with Joey all the while. 60? My intent remains unchanged.

KEN SHARP: Break Down The Walls


My former Goldmine colleague Ken Sharp recently did an enhanced and beefed-up 25th anniversary reissue of his debut album 1301 Highland Avenue. The CD was originally only available in Japan, so this first domestic release is quite welcome and long overdue. "Break Down The Walls" was also included on the first Yellow Pills compilation in 1993, earning a rightful berth alongside pop luminaries like The Flashcubes, The Cowsills, Shoes, Dwight Twilley, 20/20, The Spongetones, The Rubinoos, Enuff Z'nuff, Tommy Keene, Chris von Sneidern, and more. It's ALL pop!

X-RAY SPEX: Oh Bondage! Up Yours!



Dana dedicated his spin of this punk classic to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, in recognition of that glorified Hard Rock Cafe's pathetic and persistent shortcomings in inducting deserving female artists. Oh Rock Hall, up yours!

THE ZOMBIES: This Will Be Our Year



Yep. This year for sure. It goes hand-in-hand with my determination to not grow up. 

And lemme tell ya: 60 won't even know what hit it.



TIP THE BLOGGER: CC's Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin' pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio:  CD or download


Hey, Carl's writin' a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 100 essays (and then some) about 100 tracks, plus two bonus instrumentals, each one of 'em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1).

Monday, January 20, 2020

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 1009

L-R: John Wicks, Carl Cafarelli, Paul Collins, Dana Bonn at This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, 6/11/09
I don't want to grow up.

We're told we have no choice in this matter. That is not entirely true. Sure, we have responsibilities, bills to pay, promises to keep. We get sick. We age. The precedent set by humans throughout recorded history strongly suggests we will die. Someday. No one gets out of life alive.

But growing up? Not in the contract. Not if we don't want it there.

As I write this on another Sunday night in the studio, I am 60 years and two days old. I don't want to grow up. For whatever empirical chronology the calendar claims with smug impunity, whatever nagging aches my bones endure, my mind insists I'm still that kid I'll always be: plucking new comic books off the spinner rack, singing along with frothy, catchy pop music on the radio, reading pulp fiction, head in the clouds, imagining, dreaming, stars in my eyes at the sight of the girl I love. I'm not gonna suddenly change now, no matter how many decades I've accumulated.

I mean, could you imagine trying to do This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio if I were a...[shudder] GROWN-UP? Nope. Ain't happenin'. Turn your transistor up, loud and distorted. We got a radio show to do here.

And this week's radio show is dedicated to the memory of John Wicks, the wonderful artist we lost over a year ago. John established his pop legend as lead singer with the unforgettable British groups Kursaal Flyers and The Records in the '70s; he was a stellar guy, loved by all who knew him. A superb new compilation called For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks gathers twelve songs John had written or co-written but not finished recording before his death in 2018. The world needed to hear these songs, so John's friend (and ours) Rich Rossi called on some of John's other friends to make it so. Produced by Jamie Hoover, the result is one of the best tributes I've ever heard, one of the most sincere rock 'n' roll love letters ever crafted. It's a pure thrill to listen, a pure thrill to play. That thrill will never grow old.

And it sure as hell isn't going to grow up. Neither am I. This is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here. TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS are always welcome.

The many fine This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin' pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio:  CD or download

PS: SEND MONEY!!!! We need tech upgrades like Elvis needs boats. Spark Syracuse is supported by listeners like you. Tax-deductible donations are welcome at 
http://sparksyracuse.org/support/

You can follow Carl's daily blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) at 
https://carlcafarelli.blogspot.com/

Hey, Carl's writin' a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 100 essays (and then some) about 100 songs (plus bonus tracks!), each one of 'em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of songs can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here.


TIRnRR # 1009: 1/19/2020
This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio FRESH SPINS! (tracks we think we ain't played before) are listed in bold

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
--
THE RAMONES: I Don't Want To Grow Up (Radioactive, Adios Amigos!)
EDDIE & THE HOT RODS: Do Anything You Wanna Do (Rhino, Classic Punk)
THE GRIP WEEDS: Give Me Some Of Your Ways [loud version] (Ground Up, Giant On The Beach)
JUPITER AFFECT: Loved One's Lies (eggBERT, Instructions For The Two Ways Of Becoming Alice)
RAY PAUL: The Sun Sets Over London Town (Kool Kat Musik, VA: For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks)
THE BEVIS FROND: Gig Bag (Fire, We're Your Friends, Man)
--
PAUL COLLINS: Glittering Gold (Kool Kat Musik, VA: For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks)
THE HOLLIES: King Midas In Reverse (Epic, Epic Anthology)
ANTON BARBEAU: Jingle Jangle (Big Stir, Kenny Vs. Thrust)
THE WHO: I Can't Explain (MCA, My Generation)
THE CONTOURS: It's So Hard Being A Loser (Motown, The Very Best Of The Contours)
NIRVANA: Molly's Lips (DGC, Incesticide)
--
KEN SHARP: Break Down The Walls (Jefighter, 1301 Highland Avenue)
MARY LOU LORD: His Lamest Flame (Rubric, Live City Sounds)
DON DIXON: Money & A Fu Manchu (Kool Kat Musik, VA: For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks)
AMY RIGBY: From philiproth@gmail To rzimmerman@aol.com (Southern Domestic, The Old Guys)
SLY & THE FAMILY STONE: Stand! (Epic, Greatest Hits)
BASH & POP: Anything Could Happen (Fat Possum, Anything Could Happen)
--
THE RECORDS: Starry Eyes (Virgin, Smashes, Crashes And Near Misses)
KURSAAL FLYERS: Television Generation (Rhino, VA: DIY: Teenage Kicks)
JOHN WICKS & THE RECORDS: Edges Of A Dream (JAM, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 2)
JOHNNY THUNDERS & THE HEARTBREAKERS: Chinese Rocks (Jungle, L.A.M.F.)
PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS: Kicks (Sundazed, Midnight Ride)
THE MONKEES: (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Rhino, More Of The Monkees)
--
JAMIE HOOVER: Repo Man (Kool Kat Musik, VA: For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks)
THE BENT BACKED TULIPS: I Think (eggBERT, Looking Through...)
THE WEEKLINGS: 3 (Jem, 3)
THE CLASH: Train In Vain (Epic, Clash On Broadway)
THE BEACH BOYS: Sail On Sailor (Capitol, Good Vibrations)
THE MUFFS: Big Mouth (Warner Brothers, The Muffs)
--
ROB MARTINEZ: All I Ever Wanted (Karma Frog, Maybe Miss America)
THE VASELINES: Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam (Sub Pop, Enter The Vaselines)
BILL BERRY: 1-800-Colonoscopy (Kool Kat Musik, VA: For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks)
HINDU LOVE GODS: Raspberry Beret (Rhino, WARREN ZEVON: Genius)
THE ZOMBIES: This Will Be Our Year (Varese Sarabande, Odessey And Oracle)
THE LEFT BANKE: Pretty Ballerina (Mercury, There's Gonna Be A Storm)
--
JOHN WICKS [FEATURING DAVE NACHMANOFF]: She's All I Need (Kool Kat Musik, VA: For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks)
THE CATS: Sure He's A Cat (Lovin' You Like You Wouldn't Believe) (Teensville, VA: Men Of The Moment)
THE FLASHCUBES: No Promise (Northside, Bright Lights)
THE RASPBERRIES: I Wanna Be With You (Big Beat, VA: Come On Let's Go!)
CHUCK BERRY: Johnny B. Goode (MCA, The Anthology)
DAVID BOWIE: London Bye Ta Ta (Virgin, Bowie At The Beeb)
--
PETER CASE: In & Out Motel (Kool Kat Musik, VA: For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks)
ANY TROUBLE: Second Choice (Salvo, VA: Born Stiff)
CARLA OLSON: (The Sordid Tale Of) Elvis Strange (Kool Kat Musik, VA: For The Record--A Tribute To John Wicks)
CHES BONETREES: Everybody Oughtta Meet My Baby (Teensville, VA: Men Of The Moment)
THE RECORDS: Rock And Roll Love Letter (Virgin, Smashes, Crashes And Near Misses)
X-RAY SPEX: Oh Bondage! Up Yours! (Sanctuary, Germfree Adolescents)
PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS: Melody For An Unknown Girl (Sundazed, Midnight Ride)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Tonight On THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO



In 2018, our rockin' pop world lost a true artist and friend with the passing of John Wicks. A new tribute album called For The Record assembles an all-star cast to complete some of the great tracks John was crafting before the damned cancer claimed him. The album's fantastic. We're gonna play a few of its fine songs, supplemented by more sounds by the artists we love. We have a radio show. Sunday night, 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 an 93.7 FM, on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/

Saturday, January 18, 2020

THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: "Life On Mars?"

My blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) is four years old today. My first blog post was an open letter to the late David Bowie. I have added to that open letter to create a chapter for my forthcoming book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). In celebration of this blog's fourth anniversary, I am proud to present the first public appearance of this chapter from my book.

An infinite number of songs can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!



DAVID BOWIE: "Life On Mars?"

Dear David:

I am sorry that I’ve never written to you before. I’m sorry that I never took pen to paper to scribble a fan letter, and I regret that I didn’t write about you at all during the decades I spent writing about pop music. I wrote about Gary Glitter. I wrote about Toni Basil. I wrote about Stars On 45, for cryin’ out loud. How silly does that seem now?

The thing is, I always considered myself just a casual David Bowie fan. I mean no offense when I say that you were never one of my very favorite artists. Because, casual or not, I was still a fan. I heard “Changes” on the radio, and had to own the 45. I delved a bit deeper when I got to college, starting (perhaps incongruously) with a used copy of Pinups, and falling hard shortly thereafter for “Suffragette City” and your magnificent Ziggy Stardust album. I knew a couple of other disaffected teenagers who were big Bowie fans; one was a high school pal who adored the sense of alienation conveyed in the lyrics of “All The Madmen” on The Man Who Sold The World, and the other was a college acquaintance into hard rock, metal, and David Bowie. The high school pal killed himself in 1979; the college acquaintance was a kleptomaniac with a heart of gold, and I betrayed his trust in a manner I still regret, almost 40 years later. Let me collect dust. Memories....

But if I was just a casual Bowie fan, why am I so sad that you’re gone? The news was a true shock, delivered to me in an email from my friend Gretta, under the subject heading “Bowie Departs.” I have even found my eyes stinging, watering--just a little--in memory of this artist, of whom I was just a casual fan.

And I think I’m starting to understand the reasons why.

More than any other artist, performer, or public figure I can think of, you made it okay to be different. You made it okay to be weird, or strange, or left-of-center. You made it okay to be gay, or straight, or neither, or both. You made it okay for anyone to be whomever his or her inner muse wanted to be. Sometimes it was a struggle, and sometimes our efforts would fail, but you made it okay for us to try our own way. Maybe you even made it okay to be a lonely, chubby teenager from the suburbs of Syracuse. Casual fan? I loved your music more than I even knew. I still have my copies of your ‘70s LPs; they have survived every drastic purge of my record collection, over a span of many, many years. Although I stopped buying your albums after 1979’s Lodger--casual fan, that’s me!--I had a chance to see you in concert in 1983, and you were terrific. I’ve been listening to your stuff again all week, including a few things I never really played much before. You influenced so many other artists I love, and you made wonderful, timeless music that will live on and on and on.

I took you for granted. I miss you now.

Many of us believe in forever. In your new digs, I’m sure you’ve already had a chance to re-connect with Mick Ronson, with old friends like John Lennon and Klaus Nomi, maybe Freddie Mercury, Lou Reed, or Andy Warhol, perhaps Bing Crosby...because, why not? I bet you’ve chatted with Salvador Dali and Arthur Rimbaud, and with Einstein, too. I hope you’ll have a chance to meet Buddy Holly, and James Jamerson, and Elvis, maybe play with all of them. You can play with Miles Davis, and Count Basie, and Hank Williams, and Bob Marley, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Caruso, and Leonard Bernstein--that would be really, really cool, and each would consider you a peer. Lemmy’s probably got it all set. Heaven must indeed have one hell of a music scene. We wish we could hear it down here.

But now, there’s a Starman waiting in the sky. Our minds have already been blown. And we mere mortals can only gaze upward, and note that the stars look very different today. Planet Earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do.

There is one thing you were wrong about. Unlike the spat-upon children you mention in “Changes,” I was not quite aware of what I was going through. I know better now. And I wanted to write you, just to say thanks. Thank you, David. Thank you for everything.

Sincerely,

Your fan

I didn't see it coming.

David Bowie's death in January of 2016 had far more impact on me than I would have ever thought likely. There were external factors in play; my daughter had just begun a semester in London, and it would be, by far, the longest time I would ever go without seeing her. I felt fragile, mortal. I felt sad, my pride in her accomplishments and delight in her opportunities not quite sufficient to ease the ache inside. Bowie died. I wasn't even all that much of a fan. Yet his passing hit me harder than any celebrity death since losing Joey Ramone on Easter Sunday in 2001.

I needed to release the feeling. Somehow. I wrote this open letter to David Bowie, intending to use it as commentary for the posted playlist of our This Is Rock'n' Roll Radio tribute to Bowie, which played on January 17th of '16. My 56th birthday. Look at that caveman go.

It wasn't enough. I couldn't email the playlist out and just let it go. I needed more. I started my blog on January 18th, with this letter to Bowie as my inaugural post. It had been ten years since I gave up freelancing; it hadn't been fun anymore. I promised myself I would post something, however slight, every single day. Every. Goddamned. Day. No excuses. I had largely stopped writing. I needed to get back to writing. Immediately.

Although I had always liked the track "Life On Mars?," particularly when I saw Bowie perform it in concert, it had never been one of my top Bowie tracks. "Rebel Rebel," "Panic In Detroit," and "Suffragette City" had been my go-to Bowie tunes. That changed in 2016, as I found myself listening to "Life On Mars?" obsessively, clinging to its...what? Its artiness? Its desperation? The smoke and mirror of its implied depth, the verve of its execution, the simple beauty of its being? Yes. And Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, tickling the ivories so expressively on that recording. Sailors fighting in the dancehall, a lawman beating up the wrong guy. The song felt like a connection to what was lost, to what could still be recovered, to what could always be remembered.

The drumbeat of mortality seemed just incessant in 2016. Prince's death in June felt like the last straw, but it wasn't. Trump's election was a vicious blow. On election night, Meghan texted me from college, looking in vain for reassurance as we both watched the electoral results with growing dread and horror. Jesus, 2016 wasn't even two weeks old when Bowie died. We should have taken that as a sign to return the damned year to sender, postage due.

We survived. Not intact, not good as new, but...survived. As I mourned David Bowie here, my daughter was in England mourning actor Alan Rickman, so beloved by her for his role as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. We commiserated with each other's loss. She wrote Rickman a touching thank-you note, which she placed at Charing Cross Station in his memory. I wrote a letter to David Bowie, and I started a blog. I cried. I wrote. I wrote more in 2016 than in any single year before that.

And I played a song called "Life On Mars?" Is there life on Mars? Is there life anywhere? The ache we feel is part of it. Talking about it helps. Writing about it helps. It's about to be writ again. It's a God-awful small affair. That's life.


Genius fake paperback image by Todd Alcott
TIP THE BLOGGER: CC's Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin' pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio:  CD or download

Hey, Carl's writin' a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 100 essays (and then some) about 100 tracks, plus two bonus instrumentals, each one of 'em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1).

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Sixties



Well. I've always said my favorite decade would have to be the 60s. I guess it's time I put that statement to the test.

This year will be our year. Excelsior!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

I Don't Want To Grow Up

Posted at the stroke of midnight Eastern time, January 17th, 2020.



Don't want to. Won't need to. Ain't gonna.

THE RAMONES: I Don't Want To Grow Up



Grow up? I still read superhero comic books and listen to punk rock and bubblegum. Gimme your best shot, Father Time. I am most definitely not going quietly.

PS: In addition to the song's relevance for me today, it's also The Greatest Record Ever Made!



TIP THE BLOGGER: CC's Tip Jar!

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This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin' pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio:  CD or download

Hey, Carl's writin' a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 100 essays (and then some) about 100 tracks, plus two bonus instrumentals, each one of 'em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1).