Friday, September 29, 2006

friday cat blogging

"Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it."

Abe Saffron, "colourful Sydney racing identity", died on Sept 14, 2006.

In 1962 Abe bought out Lenny Bruce, who walked out on stage in his first show in Sydney and said "What a fucking wonderful audience". He was promptly arrested and banned from performing in Australia.

On Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 12" (1967) the cover art depicts Lenny Bruce, top row, fourth from left.

His last performance was on June 26, 1966 at the Fillmore in San Francisco, on a bill also featuring Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention.

Lenny Bruce - Cat of The Week

Friday, September 22, 2006

friday cat blogging

Talking about the weed, as we were last week with Cat of the Week Stuff Smith, who wrote the most famous weed song, "Youse a Viper", in the "who'd have ever thought it" category:

On Sept 18 last week the police pulled over a tour bus on the highway in Louisiana and searched it. The search turned up 1.5 pounds of marijuana and 0.2 pounds of psychoactive mushrooms.

Willie Nelson, 73-years-old, and his 75-year-old piano-playing sister, Bobby were busted with for possession of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms. Willie was on the road again after performing in Montgomery, Alabama for a tribute to Hank Williams. Hank would have been 85.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

it's easy as abc

I only just tuned in about 30 minutes ago after getting home late. I'm listening to Lucinda Williams Live right now. I had to check the station. Yup. It's ABC AM local radio. Seems there is a strike on. No idea why they are on strike but the music sure has improved. As far as I can tell they are re-broadcasting DIG.

Keep it up. One out all out. Never give in.

Now with a bit of luck ABC FM will go on strike and music will improve there too. I wish they had a PayPal site so I could donate to keep them out.

Monday, September 18, 2006

modern times poetry in motion

At 63 Bob is still making waves, and MP3s (small digital music joke). The highlight for me is the 20 or so Theme Time Radio Hours on XM Radio I have where Bob oozes mesmerisingly and seductively through the airwaves as a late night radio DJ, in the old sense of the word, like say Wolfman Jack. The highlight for others has been his completion of the trilogy of recent albums with Modern Times. Yet to be reviewed by me, or Floppy, or the 3 Ss, Sheil, Soon and Shaun. Perhaps we'll all do it on the same day.

Not today. Today I've noticed this snippett in the
Belfast Telegraph via the New York Times. The Times has talked to a bob watcher, Scott Warmuth, a radio disc jockey based in New Mexico, who has picked up that many of the lyrics on Modern Times bear a similarity to lines by Civil War poet Confederate Henry Timrod. Warmuth said he found 10 instances on the album where Dylans lyrics are similar to Timrod's poetry.

Warmuth told the New York Times: I think thats the way Bob Dylan has always written songs. Its part of the folk process, if you look from his first album to now. But he said he still considered Dylans work to be original. You could give the collected works of Henry Timrod to a bunch of people but none of them are going to come up with Bob Dylan songs, he said.

Mr. Warmuth noted that Mr. Dylan may also have used a line from Timrod in Cross the Green Mountain, a song he wrote for the soundtrack to the movie Gods and Generals, which came out three years ago. Mr. Warmuth said there also appeared to be passages from Timrod in Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, a song on
Love and Theft.

Born in 1828, Timrod worked as a private tutor on a plantation before the Civil War. Many of his earlier poems were about nature, but with the outbreak of war he started to write about the hardships caused by the conflict and its impact on peoples lives.Though he is today considered a minor poet, the Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson described him as the Poet Laureate of the Confederacy. Timrod died of tuberculosis in 1867.

Mr. Dylan does not acknowledge any debt to Timrod on Modern Times.The liner notes simply say All songs written by Bob Dylan (although some fans have noted online that the title of the album contains the letters of Timrods last name).

Nor does he credit the traditional blues songs from which he took the titles, tunes and some lyrics for Rollin and Tumblin and Nettie Moore.

This isn't the first time fans have found striking similarities between Mr. Dylans lyrics and the words of other writers. On his last album, Love and Theft, a fan spotted about a dozen passages similar to lines from Confessions of a Yakuza, a gangster novel written by Junichi Saga, an obscure Japanese writer. Other fans have pointed out the numerous references to lines of dialogue from movies and dramas that appear throughout Mr. Dylans oeuvre. Example: Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word echoes a line from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
[Just today I heard Bob say on Themetime that Tennessee Williams was his favourite playright - fxh]

For instance, the lines in his song When the Deal Goes Down, in which Dylan sings: More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours, bear a striking resemblance to lines contained in Timrods A Rhapsody of a Southern Winter Night, which reads: A round of precious hours, Oh! Here where in that summer noon I basked, And strove, with logic frailer than the flowers. Elsewhere in the same song, Dylan sings Where wisdom grows up in strife very similar to a line in Timrods poem Retirement, which reads: There is a wisdom that grows up in strife.

Christopher Ricks, a professor of the humanities at Boston University who wrote Dylans Visions of Sin, a flattering study of the musician, said, I may be too inclined to defend, but I do think its characteristic of great artists and songsters to immediately draw on their predecessors.He added that it was atypical for popular musicians to acknowledge their influences.

Mr. Ricks said that one important distinguishing factor between plagiarism and allusion, which is common among poets and songwriters, is that plagiarism wants you not to know the original, whereas allusion wants you to know.

When Eliot says, No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be, to have a line ending to be when the most famous line uttered by Hamlet is to be or not to be then part of the fun and illumination in the Eliot poem is that you should know it, he said. But he added: I dont think Dylan is alluding to Timrod. I don't think people can say that you're meant to know that its Timrod.

No doubt about it, there has been some borrowing going on, said Walter Brian Cisco, who wrote a 2004 biography of Timrod, when shown Mr. Dylans lyrics. Mr. Cisco said he could find at least six other phrases from Timrods poetry that appeared in Mr. Dylans songs. But Mr. Cisco didnt seem particularly bothered by that. I'm glad Timrod is getting some recognition, he said.

James Kibler, a professor of English at the University of Georgia who teaches the poetry of Timrod in his Southern literature classes, was delighted to hear of Mr. Dylans use of the verse. If I were Timrod, I would love it, he said. I would say hes doing a great honor to Timrod and lets celebrate that. Mr. Kibler said he planned to share Mr. Dylans references with his classes because his students probably know more about Bob Dylan than Timrod.

Dylans debt -

Henry Timrod
A round of precious hours
Oh! here, where in that summer noon I basked
And strove, with logic frailer than the flowers ...
(A Rhapsody of a Southern Winter Night)

Bob Dylan
More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours.
(When the Deal Goes Down)

Henry Timrod
There is a wisdom that grows up in strife

Bob Dylan
Where wisdom grows up in strife
(When the Deal Goes Down)

Henry Timrod
Which, ere they feel a lovers breath,
Lie in a temporary death
(Two Portraits)

Bob Dylan
In the dark I hear the night birds call
I can hear a lovers breath
I sleep in the kitchen with my feet in the hall
Sleep is like a temporary death
(Workingmans Blues number 2)

Henry Timrod
How then, O weary one!
The sources of that hidden pain?
(Two Portraits)

Bob Dylan
Cant explain the sources of this hidden pain
(Spirit on the Water)

FXH says: Me. I'm old skool, I'm following it on r.m.d, ( where I started trading tapes years ago. Others will be stoushing on Dylan Pool. Join in.

Friday, September 15, 2006

friday cat blog

Stuff Smith, whose birthday was yesterday, was originally named Hezekiah Leroy Gordon Smith (September 14, 1909 - September 25, 1967).

He commenced playing at age 9 in the Calument Entertainers, his fathers 12 piece band. He won a music scholarship to university and worked in various bands as a vocalist and violinist in the mid 1920s. In 1927 he moved to New York to play with Jelly Roll Morton. He left NYC, got married and swung the catgut in a few bands until 1936 when he took up a residency at the Onyx Club on 52nd street. His Onyx Club Boys had a minor novelty hit, "I'se a Muggin' on Vocalion in 1936, also covered by Mezz Mezzrow, and Jack Teagarden.

Smith was one of the great swing jazz violinists alongside Joe Venuti and Stephane Grappelli. Inspired and influenced by Louis Armstrong he worked with Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and for a short time took over Fats Wallers group after the big man's death. Some sources credit him as being the first violinist to use electric amplification.

He was a respected contributor to one of my favourite genres around that era, or any era: the weed song .

He recorded Youse a Viper in 1936
Dreamt about a reefer
Five feet long
Mighty Mezz, but not too strong
You'll be high, but not for long
If youse a viper

Here Comes the Man with the Jive [sample Windows Media]

Another example of the genre:
When I Get Low, I Get High [MP3] by Ella Fitzgerald

Stuff Smith - Here's hopin' it's a smooth Mighty Mezz on your big day.
Happy Birthday Cat of the Week

Thursday, September 07, 2006

blog-oreeney not a flat foot floogie

I was reminded after the Louis Jordan cat post last week that I had been meaning to recommend a blog for those who like swing, or jazz dance music generally, or those who think they might like to explore it a bit more.

dogpossum is hip to the vout and writes knowledgably as a Melbourne fan, DJ, academic and most dauntingly of all, as a dancer. dogpossum has a special love for Duke Ellington, who will surely be a Friday Cat blogging subject one week in the future.

Monday, September 04, 2006

abc tv 6.30pm tonight sept 4 anne kirkpatrick

Australian Country Music is a funny old thing. To use the old cliché it’s a broad church, an uneasy coalition of the bush balladeers, talentless and tuneless Country Talent Club members, pop-rockers like Lee Kernaghan, bluegrass, rockabilly, real country, alt country and many more. Ask anyone who has tried to program a community radio station and had to arbitrate between the warring factions in country. As a side note, it's this balancing act that I admire John Nutting, Saturday Night Country for.

The sad part is that amidst all this it is often the artists with depth who get overlooked. Anne Kirkpatrick is a one example.

She has one of the best voices in country and a way of song delivery that puts her up with the best worldwide. She’s managed to steer through all the factions mentioned above to deliver the real thing, modern and of these times while respectfully nodding to the past and to her own past in particular.

I assume it hasn’t been an easy road, and maybe still isn’t easy, being the daughter of her father, Slim Dusty and her mother, Joy McKean. The place of women in the old school Australian country is little acknowledged and I’d guess most people don’t know that it was Joy McKean who wrote two of Slim’s greatest songs, Lights on the Hill (also recorded by Del McCoury) and When The Rain Tumbles Down in July. In Anne's song One Of A Kind she sings of her father and says: “He’d blow them all away when he’d hit the stage.”

Anne Kirkpatrick has recorded with Slim, played with Bill Chambers and performed songs by Cold Chisel member Don Walker, who also wrote songs for Slim.

I don’t know how good the program will be or if there will be enough music in her interview on Talking Heads - ABC Television, Monday 4th September at 6.30pm, but I do know I’ll be running the tape to catch it. Do yourself a favour.

Friday, September 01, 2006

friday cat blogging

This is a short quick post - I might add links and info after the weekend if anyone is interested.

Louis Jordan may well be the guy who started rock n roll, if you count sustained output, ongoing influence and not just a one off song (not that there's anything wrong with that). He possibly is also the first musician to use video clips, his were called "soundies", in a similarly sustained way, so that along with his movies we have a fairly large collection of clips of him in action. As this is a quick post you will need to look up youtube yourself to see him in action

I first heard of him at a hippy party on a farm around 1971 up in the Dandenongs. A live combo with sax was playing very tight, infectious dance music. The most requested replay all night was a song I hadn't heard before, "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens". I immediately went out and grabbed all the Louis Jordan I could find. "chickens" has been one of my favourite songs ever since. Perfect rock 'n' rhythm & blues jump pop, great sly lyrics, very adult music but kids always love it. No wonder it stayed at No 1 for 17 weeks in 1947.

Louis Jordan was born in Brinkley, Arkansas on July 8, 1908. His father was a music teacher and leader of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. (Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith also sang with Rabbit Foot Minstrels - there may have been more than one band of Rabbit Foot Minstrels). Louis majored in music at Arkansas Baptist College and started as a musician around 1920 . He was the alto saxophonist with jazz bands led by Clarence Williams, Chick Webb and others, and played with a then unknown Ella Fitzgerald. In 1938 he formed his own band.

Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five had 54 singles into the charts in the Forties. Eighteen songs that went to #1. From 1943-1950, Louis was a No 1 hit for 113 weeks - more than 25% of the time. He had his first million-seller in 1944 with "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't Ma Baby?" He still remains one of the top selling black artists ever.

It is perhaps a surprise, or maybe no surprise, that he was so popular as his songs were uncompromisingly 'black' in their content and delivery, with no concessions made to soften the message. Many of his songs had clever, smooth, hip but undisguised social comment on the problems of the day and race and poverty combined with a full on party atmosphere. Although this was radical for the day, his music was equally popular with both blacks and whites.

Mostly called jump music, this is stuff that will lift you up and set you dancing and wondering why there is so little of this quality around these days.

You can't go wrong with a any Louis Jordan album. Unlike a lot of other artists I don't think I've heard a dud from him ever. The two CD Best Of Sets around are a good buy, even the cheap ones.