Category Archives: Friday Music Day

FMD 5/31/19 – Summer Mix Time

Not sure if I'm the one to put this together, or if someone else wants to step up (I'll happily defer, given that I won't get to it for a while), but I thought we should at least get nominations for a 2019 summer mix.

Same approach as usual - nominate 3 songs, at least 1 is guaranteed to make it, with heavy preference given to the first song you list. Or something like that.

Also, feel free to talk summer music more generally today, or drop you random 10's, or whatever you like.

FMD – Happy Birthday Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan turns 78 today. Fun fact: Bobby Z is 2 years older than my mother and they were practically neighbors during his time in Duluth, living only 4 blocks apart. She doesn’t think she ever met him at the playground or on the street.

Whatever appreciative or benign feelings you have for Dylan you have to give him his due on how he changed popular music. There’s literally a library of books written about him, so I’m not going to add any more words to his legacy. Just maybe today pause and throw a Dylan song or two on whatever music listening device you have and raise a glass to a true musical genius. May his never ending tour be truly never ending.

FMD: 5/17/1981 – We Bought A Piano!

So last week I found an old upright piano on craigslist. My family had looked at pianos for some time, but hadn't ever quite found a match. This was just a little one, without the huge full top, and it seemed like it would be perfect for the kids to maybe take lessons on. Or not. Just having a piano is awesome. Really, it's been a dream of mine ever since I was about in early high school...

See, my parents loved the idea of us growing up with a piano. They managed to find a free one, not far from where we lived, but they had to haul it. So they borrowed my uncle, and his truck, loaded it up, and set back home. I remember I was watching my brothers and sister, waiting anxiously. We had a split level, and so we'd have to carry the piano straight up the stairs immediately upon getting it in the door, and I was going to have to help. It was a big project. I remember the truck pulling in the driveway... no piano to be seen. My mom, dad, and uncle got out, and they were just laughing, harder than I'd ever seen. Eventually we were able to get the story out of them. "We were driving so slow," Dad said, "everything was perfect. But there was that curve... and as we went around it, the piano... it just started sliding to the other side of the truck... and then it just kept sliding." They held up a broken piece of wood. "It was shattered, on the side of the road," Mom continued, "and your dad gets out, and he looks at this twisted pile of wood and metal, and he says 'Do you think we can fix it?'" With this, they burst into laughter again, and directed us kids to go move the piano from the truck bed, piece by piece, to the firewood pile. Honestly, we had the best fires ever that summer.

So before I got ours, I had to figure out transport. I spent forever looking up how to move pianos, whether I should hire someone, etc. Ultimately, I arranged to borrow a truck and a trailer, and recruited my brother-in-law, after figuring out how to move a piano with just two guys. It turned out I put a lot of time figuring out the right ways to turn and flip pianos for nothing, since this was light enough that the two of us were able to carry it. We drove the 45 minutes, loaded it up - strapped it down like nobody's business - and drove back. And it was $75. Which, all told, is a pretty darn painless way to end up with a piano.

I've been tinkering on it just about every day. I don't know how to play piano, except for "Twinkle, Twinkle" or "Heart and Soul". But it's so much fun. I've decided to start teaching myself a few other songs, and already have part of "Werewolves of London" down. My kids enjoy it too, but they're less sure about it, since they know practice = work.

Anyway, we've got a piano now. And I love it.

If you've got any piano stories. Or tips. Or songs a beginner should aspire to play. Or a list you want to drop... whatever! Chime in. It's looking like a good day!

FMD — In Remembrance

So today is the 5th anniversary of my wife's death. Wow, 5 years. Anyway, are there songs that remind you of those who have gone before? Maybe it was your dad's favorite song on the radio or a song from a concert you went to with your cousin or friend from high school. Perhaps the song just is evocative of the person, reminds you of their character or the journey they went through. I have many such songs with Elaine but Ghost from Neutral Milk Hotel is one that always draws strong feelings for me. On Facebook I posted another such song, River from Patty Griffin's latest album.

Do any songs move you to remember someone?

Also drop 'em if you got 'em.

FMD: 5/3/19 – New Music

I feel like there has been a ton of new music coming my way lately. I see DK has even fortuitously selected for today's video one of the recent highlights I've had. I really appreciate this wave, especially since I'm starting my annual attempt at a summer mix.

I know we've talked new music before, but, hey, it's always a fresh topic by its nature, right?

I'm never quite sure what qualifies as "new" music. There's a lot of music that I've missed, so it's new to me. But sometimes lots of people missed it, and that makes it "new" to them too, and so if I'm starting to share it... does it qualify as new? There's also the other end of the spectrum, where you can pick up a song that has been dropped without an album yet. For example, I was listening to several songs from Alice Merton's Mint long before it was released. At this point, those songs are probably still new, but to me, they're starting to get old.

I always love being on the very front end. The flip side, I always feel a little foolish for being a late-comer.

I'm curious your thoughts on new music, how it makes you feel, how you keep up, etc.

And what new music is out there, or coming out, or maybe just "new to you" that you're looking forward to/enjoying/etc.?

FMD — Unnecessary Parentheses

I added a new tag to today's music video as this is something that has always bothered me with song titles. Today's song is a perfect example:

Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).

This just burns me. The song isn't about being "Much Too Young."  The singer wants to be young and feel young. No, the theme of the song is that he feels old. If you're going to use parentheses, it should probably be (Much Too Young To Feel) This Damn Old. But better yet, we should just get rid of the parentheses altogether.

What other examples do you have of stupid punctuation marks in song titles?

FMD – Billy Bragg

So Billy Bragg is in town for a 3 night stay at the Fine Line with a career-spanning set last night, his first 3 albums tonight, and albums 4-6 Saturday. In addition, he had a book reading at Magers and Quinn Wednesday and showed up at Driftwood Bar a couple times this week for a few songs. Quite the Minneapolis residency!

I’m going tonight and Saturday and I’m especially looking forward to tonight’s show as those first few albums were really important to me in my early 20’s. Punky urban folk that about politics, sexual relations, unions, war... all the stuff that makes an idealistic 23 year old tick. I saw him in 1986 at the 930 Club in DC and after the show he invited anyone who was interested backstage to talk about U.S. policy toward Nicaragua. Heady stuff.

Those first albums are on a collection called Back to the Basics and I would strongly urge you to take a listen. Great music that still resonates 35 years later.

Also drop ‘em if you got ‘em.

FMD — Movies songs

A couple of weeks ago I watched the movie Wings of Desire at the Walker Art Center. I had seen it when it came out in (I think) 1988 and loved it, but I don’t think I’ve seen it since. The end of the movie is at a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds concert where they perform the song From Her to Eternity. (Attached video is the scene).

I loved this movie, scene, and this song back 30 some years ago and almost doubly so now. The song is a perfect summation of the movie, which if you're not familiar, is about an angel in Berlin who gives up his immortality to be with a woman he observed here on earth. They finally meet IRL at this nightclub where the song is being performed. The song was recorded in 1984 so it wasn’t made specifically for this movie but it fits so snugly with the message, I can’t think of how a different song would work better, even if one tried. Even though one could argue that this woman (her) drove the angel “from” eternity, in fact by actually experiencing humankind and earthly desires - instead of just observing them - the angel found true immortality. The song is a lot noisier than the vibe of the movie, but that also fits. Real life is a lot noisier, grittier than what the angels from their “heavenly” perches can observe and experience. I could go on but it really is a beautiful movie.

Anyway, what does that have to do with FMD? Well, we may have covered this topic before but are there other songs in a movie that “just fit?” They sum up the movie (or character) just so, that the movie could barely exist without that song? The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind at the end of Fight Club gets mentioned a lot. Also Jumpin’ Jack Flash as the Robert DeNiro character in Mean Streets is introduced is another. (the link below demonstrates one can do a whole post on Martin Scorsese and music in his movies). Any others?

The 20 Greatest Music Moments In The Films Of Martin Scorsese

And as usual, drop ‘em if you got ‘em.