Archive for September, 2006

“Right to Arm Bears”

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Paul Westerberg just came out with his first children’s record, the soundtrack to Open Season. Who could disagree about everyone’s constitutional right to arm bears?

The greatest book ever written

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

Excluding the Bible (or any other holy book you wish to name) for now to avoid controversy, the greatest book ever written is Playing the Piano for Pleasure by Charles Cooke. The book was published in the 1940s. Cooke was a writer for The New Yorker at the time (and even mentions some of his interactions with the greats at the magazine at the time, such as James Thurber). I happen to be an amateur pianist and it’s the most inspirational book I’ve ever read. Here is a sample:

Every piano, upright or grand, long owned or newly bought, is literally a treasure chest, waiting to give forth its inexhaustible gifts, to elevate and enrich the lives around it. No truer words have ever been spoken than those of Anton Rubinstein, when, in the fullness of his years and wisdom, he said: “The piano is a lovely instrument. You must fall in love with it, with its sound, and then be tender with it to make it, in turn, be sweeter to you. Herein”—and he laid his hand on the piano—“lies divine beauty.”

James Thurber, himself, had this to say about the book: “An invaluable book for amateur pianists when it first came out, and still invaluable.” Others who complimented the book include Virgil Thomson, Walter Damrosch, Deems Taylor, and Ernest Hutcheson.

It’s the best book ever written.

New Orleans Funk and Piano Music

Monday, September 18th, 2006

An introduction to some great New Orleans funk and piano music:

Capitalism explained

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Capitalism explained on The Wire: “On Getting Paid”.

Evolution of a great piano riff

Sunday, September 17th, 2006
  1. 1956: “Bad Penny Blues” by Humphrey Lyttelton (produced by George Martin)
  2. 1968: “Lady Madonna” by The Beatles (produced by George Martin)
  3. 1968: “Lady Madonna” by Fats Domino

Sorry I can’t give iTunes links to these, but they’re not available (no Beatles on iTunes for now). The Beatles and Fats Domino recordings are easy enough to find. You can buy “Bad Penny Blues” here. It’s worth it.
Beatles at the time of Lady Madonna

When the Shit Hits the Fans by the Replacements

Saturday, September 16th, 2006

When the Shit Hits the Fans by the Replacements
The greatest rock album ever made.

Squeeze concert—Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee, Wisconsin—November 24, 1987

Friday, September 15th, 2006

This was a really good show. It was in a fairly small place, this old ballroom. Glenn Tilbrook played some really great guitar solos. Jools Holland sang this one really good slow song that I didn’t know. I know it’s not on any Squeeze album, so maybe it’s on one of his solo albums. Chris’ voice sounded really hoarse and he only sang lead on a couple of songs (I know he doesn’t sing lead very much anyway, but still.)

Next Sunday, I’m seeing Hüsker Dü here in Madison.

Set list in mixed-up order, except where indicated

Hey, it’s that guy from Deadwood! (Part 2)

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Not only is Ricky Jay in a Bob Dylan video, but, I just noticed, he’s also in the Sex Pistols documentary The Filth and the Fury.

Why I love Michael Steele

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Since my name is “Paul”, I suppose I should like the original Big Star version of “September Gurls” the most. But Michael Steele sounds more like she really knows what the song is about in the Bangles cover.

Satie, Replacement Satie, and pseudo-Satie

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

A friend of mine, Nada Kolundžija, has made some excellent recordings of some of Erik Satie’s piano music. You can hear samples here.

I’ve often thought that Paul Westerberg’s (I assume it’s his, anyway) piano solo in the Replacements’ “Here Comes a Regular” has a Satie-like beauty and simplicity.

Finally, last and least, here is my attempt at writing a piece in the style of Satie. This is about a girl with an Irish name that I knew (not very well) in San Francisco. It might sound like it’s badly recorded, but I did that on purpose. I wanted it to sound like it was coming from far away and from another age: Listen to “Sive”.