Blue songs

Today I tried out Spotify’s Discover Weekly for the first time. For the uninformed, it’s a music discovery algorithm that takes songs you’ve listened to recently, finds playlists containing those songs, then chooses other songs from those playlists and presents them to you in a 2-hour bundle every Monday. It’s a surprisingly accurate way of finding music that I both really enjoy and haven’t heard before. Kudos, Spotify!

Favorite discoveries of the day included  “If I Stay Too Long” by The Creation (could totally hear this in a Wes Anderson movie) and “Boy Blue” by ELO (I have a feeling there are a lot of ELO songs I’ve never heard but would really love).

But the major discovery was this gem, which I thought FOR SURE was a Rolling Stones deep cut until I looked at the artist name:

Nope, not the Stones covering Dylan. Just a lead singer who made it his goal to sound EXACTLY like Mick Jagger.

I looked them up; they’re a Bay Area band from the 60s who had a decent amount of success. Who knew?

July sampler

Some things I’ve been digging lately, in no particular order:

Harry Nilsson’s Son of Schmilsson. I knew a lot about Nilsson way before ever listening to him, mainly because all of my favorite musicians loved hanging out with him in the 70s (seriously, look at this picture). A few weeks ago when I was at home in Vista, I pulled out Son of Schmilsson from my dad’s collection and immediately understood why all these guys loved him. Aside from being laugh-out-loud funny, the songs on this album are incredibly well-crafted and just straight up good. Fatefully, I happened to find a copy of the album at the latest Alameda Antiques Faire, and it’s been sitting on the record player ever since.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Ok, I finally watched this movie (seriously, what took me so long?) and now I am obsessed with it. It’s one of the most brilliant films I’ve ever seen…outrageous and hilarious and quite terrifying all at the same time. Can you imagine what watching this in early 1964 was like?

George C. Scott is amazing (we also recently saw him in The Hustler, the 1961 Paul Newman film, and I’m quickly becoming a fan), but no one can top the genius of Peter Sellers in this film.

For me, Sellers falls into the same bucket as Nilsson: someone I first became aware of because of his associations with the Beatles (let’s face it, everything I become interested in somehow stems from the Beatles). But I hadn’t really seen/heard much of his work until recently. After this, I can’t help but feel like I have lots of treasure to uncover.

Trivia: Sellers was one of the only people that Kubrick let improvise in one of his movies; as a result, most of his scenes are ad-libbed. Notably, this one, where you can see Peter Bull trying to hold back laughter around 3:10.

New music! Another shoutout to A Song A Day (and also Alex) for keeping me in touch with all the excellent music of today. Lately I’ve been enjoying:

Bob Dylan at the Greek, 6.9.16

(Oh geez, now that it’s July, here’s the follow up to my previous post. Sorry it’s so late; last month was cray.)

PART TWO of epic, once-in-a-lifetime shows at the Greek Theater by legendary American singer-songwriters: BOB DYLAN

Six days after Paul Simon, Alex and I were back at the Greek to see Bob Dylan. Now, I must say, I went into this show with somewhat low expectations. I’d heard multiple accounts from family and friends that Bob Dylan tends to be unpredictable, generally unsociable, and pretty much always impossible to understand.

True, I couldn’t tell what he was saying 80% of the time, and also didn’t know a majority of the songs he played, but I was actually quite pleasantly surprised (hooray for low expectations!). Bob appeared on stage in a cowboy hat, bolo tie, and what appeared to be track pants, and proceeded to serenade us with two hours of old standards and 90s semi-hits. Even if he was pretty unintelligible, just listening to the man sing was entertainment enough (à la Tom Waits). There were times when traces of that youthful folky voice surfaced out of nowhere, or when he pulled a harmonica out of his pocket and played a few bars to everyone’s delight, that reminded me that this was the same guy who emerged from Minnesota playing Woody Guthrie songs in 1960 and man, what a crazy thing to realize.

Bob’s setup was pretty simple: minimal instrumentation accented by 15 or so yellow lightbulbs positioned around the stage, which glowed every once in while and made it feel like we were all in one big backyard party (UGH the Greek is just so cool). Luckily I’m a sucker for pedal steel guitar, because there was a lot of it. Definitely a very old timey, country vibe going on.

If you went into the show knowing he’d mostly be doing covers and recent stuff, with the occasional “Tangled Up in Blue” and “She Belongs to Me,” then there weren’t really any surprises. UNTIL THE VERY END OF THE NIGHT, when we witnessed something that as far as I can tell, has never happened before and might not happen again. Bob Dylan and his band closed the ENTIRE night with the outro to “Freebird.” FREEBIRD.

Unpredictable is right.

So yeah, it was a good concert. Also, shoutout to Mavis Staples – although we only caught the last two songs from her (lots of pre-show scrambling for food and parking), she was so much fun. Unlike Bob (ha), she really knows how to work a crowd! Still going strong after 6 decades, that Mavis.

I can’t believe it took me this long to get to the Greek (I mean, I seem to be making up for it, but still). Both mine and Alex’s parents saw plenty of shows there back in the 70s and 80s (The Dead, Dylan, Tom Petty, Van Morrison…maybe they even went to some of the same ones!), and it just so happens that now we can carry on the tradition. :)

Anyway, July is shaping up to be just as crazy as June, so my posts will probably be minimal. I suppose if you really wanted to keep up you could follow me on Twitter. Until next time!