Time for folk music

Autumn is in full swing and the leaves are falling and that means it’s Simon & Garfunkel season (ok, to be honest, it’s always S&G season for me, but *especially* the fall). I could literally listen to this music every day…it just makes me feel so warm and cozy and inclined to make tea even though I don’t even like tea that much.

Some personal favorites to kick off the season:


I love how one of the the top ranked comments on this video is just a copy of the lyrics. Because really, do more beautiful lyrics exist?? Paul, why must you be so poetic and Art, how is your voice THAT OF AN ANGEL? Honestly.


The way they sing this song so effortlessly never fails to amaze me. I love the breaking of the fourth wall, and the overall vibe of this video, which is Simon & Garfunkel surrounded by very serious-looking 20 year olds during a time when there was a lot to be serious about.

Also, Bleecker Street (no live performances, sad). Sigh…I want to go back to New York.

More S&G to come, for sure. In other news, I just found out what “crinoline” was…


A not-quite-review: The Bridge School Benefit Concert

Considering I didn’t even know this concert existed before reading Neil Young’s book (crazy, since it’s been going on for 26 years), I didn’t have super high expectations going into it. Which is why I had a great time. A whole afternoon/evening of music, picnicking, and joining together for a cause – what’s not to like?


I couldn’t bring my camera into the venue because apparently it was too fancy and I guess they thought I’d try to sell my photos for money or something (little did they know how much of an amateur I am). So anyway, bummer. Will make do with YouTube videos, I guess. A few highlights:

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. One of my favorite sets, for sure. Bluegrass just makes me so happy. And Steve, of course, was hilarious. They did a funny song about atheists and another one about Paul Revere’s horse.

Foster the People. These guys were fun, and Lauren and I were excited that they had a marimba and chimes in their set. Still get uneasy about “Pumped Up Kicks” ever since learning that the song is about a school shooting (umm, this was a special needs kids’ school benefit concert?), but nevertheless I enjoyed it.

Kinda zoned out during Sarah McLachlan and Ray LaMontagne, oops…

Flaming Lips. I had heard some bad reviews about their set but hey, I liked it a lot. Especially the appearance by Reggie Watts, who did some sweet beatboxing. You have to admit, 8 hours of acoustic guitars can get a little old, so the Lips’ unique (although not really ‘acoustic’) sound was refreshing. They finished with a cool rendition of “A Day in the Life.”

Jack White. FAVORITE set of the concert. I actually don’t know anything about Jack White’s solo career, but umm I obviously need to get on it. I loved his version of “You Know That I Know” (wish I could find a good live version on YouTube). The band was great, the music was great, and everyone was so into it. Thanks, Jack!

Guns & Roses. This was….strange. Axl Rose appeared: sunglasses, potbelly, and all. I heard he was much more embarrassing on Saturday; this time he was a little more together (i.e. on time). It was amusing hearing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Paradise City” on acoustic guitar…will probably never get to see/hear that again! Neil joined them for a song, which happened to be while I was in the bathroom, laaame.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse.
Have to admit, we didn’t stay for the whole set because 8 hours later we were a little burnt out. I actually liked Neil’s acoustic opening the best, he played “Heart of Gold” and “Long May You Run.” My Neil repertoire is still pretty limited (“just the hits!”), so unfortunately I can’t remember a lot of the Crazy Horse songs. I’m bummed I missed the finale of “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Good thing for YouTube.

This show has featured tons of huge names (Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, S&G, The Who, Jay-Z, No Doubt), so I’m hoping for the Stones to make it onto the bill sometime soon. In any case, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back at Shoreline next year for the 27th Annual. :)

The Many Faces of Neil Young

My rock & roll autobiography collection is slowly growing…

The latest book I’ve been reading is Neil Young’s Waging Heavy Peace, which has been thoroughly entertaining. I love the lack of linear story; instead Neil just tells whatever stories come to mind to him as he writes. It’s pretty great. Nothing too deep or cerebral (which I feel Pete Townshend’s book is going to be like)…it’s just a good read about making music and being on the road. One of my favorite parts so far has been the chapter “Stories from Topanga,” because the stories are amazingly very similar to my own experiences in Topanga Canyon (in other words, it hasn’t changed since the 60s).

Before reading this book I knew maybe two (or three?) Neil Young songs by name. Now I’m slowly becoming more familiar with his solo stuff, and even went to see him play at the Bridge School Benefit Concert this past weekend (more on that to come). Ahhh, I love becoming obsessed with musicians.
In honor of this, I’ve put together a video collection that I shall call The Many Faces of Neil Young:

Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth.” Check out Neil’s crazy sideburns at 1:50:

Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, “Down by the River.” This is just sooooooooo 60s:

Solo Neil, “Heart of Gold.” His stage banter is so rambly and excellent, I love it. This is probably my favorite song and era:

“Transformer Man” from the experimental album Trans. I’m at that stage where I don’t know the comprehensive history of a rock & roll artist yet and get really surprised when I see what they were doing in the 80s (same thing happened with The Who). So yeah, this is…different! Power to ya, Neil.
Super rock/grungy Neil with Crazy Horse:
So there you go, my first foray into the world of Mr. Young. Excited to read Pete Townshend’s book next; I have a feeling it’s going to be very different, haha. I love you Pete!

Music for the week

Current favorites:

I Cried Like A Silly Boy / DeVotchKa. Heard this song in I Love You, Phillip Morris (good movie, as long as you don’t mind Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor getting it on) and immediately had to download it. DeVotchKa also did music for Little Miss Sunshine, which is an all-time fave.

Never Going Back Again / Fleetwood Mac. Just can’t stop listening! This is one of those songs that makes me want to pick up the guitar and pretend to be a musician. :P

Country Roads / John Denver. This was stuck in my head all last weekend, and I wouldn’t stop singing it as Alex and I drove around Tuolumne County to and from the cabin. Except I could only remember half of the chorus, so I’d always stop at “West Virginiaaaaaaa…”

Leaving on a Jet Plane / Peter, Paul, & Mary. Another John Denver song. I was listening to this on YouTube, and happened to read one of the comments from a Vietnam vet: he said this was the song that was playing as he walked away from his parents at the airport to catch the plane that would take him to Vietnam. After reading that and listening to the song again, I honestly felt like I was going to cry right there in the Google shuttle. So then I made a mix inspired by songs like this, that way I could listen to it all the time and get all emotional that I didn’t get to live through the 60s (story of my life).



While we’re kind of on the topic, did I mention how much I love 8tracks? I love being able to search for a playlist by theme or mood, and that the playlists are put together by actual people, not generated by algorithms.

I think this is somehow related to my obsession with autobiographies: to me it’s less about the actual story/songs; instead, it’s the personal touch that makes an autobiography better than a biography that just spews facts, and a handcrafted mix better than Pandora. I guess I just like hearing first-hand what events and music can shape a person’s life. It’s all story-telling, but through different mediums. :)

A while ago, I made a high school playlist for fun, and realized I could pinpoint exact memories associated with each song (pep band on Friday nights, driving to the movies with drumline friends, getting ready in the morning and watching music videos on VH1). Listeners won’t necessarily know that, but somehow it just makes the experience a little more rewarding when you create a mix like that to share with others. Maybe it’ll bring back memories for them too.

Anyway, long story short – check out 8tracks and let me know if you make an account so I can listen to your mixes. :)

The end of the line

I’m sorry, but can we just take a second to recognize how awesome of a band the Traveling Wilburys were?

The band is comprised of the following people:

[Note my nifty YouTube-playlist-embedding skills]
[Also, why are there like 0 videos of Bob Dylan on YouTube? His people must have some crazy copyrights set up.]

That’s right: George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne thought it’d be cool to just kick it and record some songs together. How awesome would it be to witness them all fooling around on guitars and hanging out like this?

Moral of this post: go listen to the Traveling Wilburys (I’d suggest starting here). And then go listen to each member’s solo stuff because they were all equally awesome. And then go buy tickets to Tom Petty’s next US show (whenever it may be) and invite me along, because I WANT TO SEE HIM SO BAD IT HURTS.