Highlights from the Barton collection

At the risk of sounding like a museum curator (actually a dream job of mine), I’m ÜBER excited to share that we recently acquired four crates worth of near-mint condition records from Alex’s parents’ house. The Barton collection, as we call it, is an extremely well-kept selection of singer-songwriter, classic rock, bluegrass, and niche LA and Bay Area recordings. The plan was that we would safe-keep the records while they renovate their living room, but I think the mutual understanding is that “safe-keeping” actually means “keeping” in this case (one of the main reasons for this is that we’re the only ones in the family with a record player, although much of our setup was also “borrowed” from Alex’s dad).

Anyway, thanks to this new acquisition, we now have near-complete discographies for the Grateful Dead, Beatles, and Joni Mitchell. And we’ve been filling in our DIY record shelf rather nicely!

We made that shelf from scratch! Not pictured: 2 more crates and a bunch more records in the stereo console waiting to be catalogued.

Classic rock aside, the majority of albums in the collection I’ve never heard before. As a result, we’ve been spending recent afternoons and evenings in the dining room/record room, drinking wine and listening to a few random picks at a time—my very favorite way to pass the time. Some highlights:

Old & In the WayOld & In the Way

I didn’t know about this Jerry Garcia/David Crisman/Peter Rowan collab until about two months ago. Then, in quick succession, not only did we acquire a cassette tape of this album while in Vista for the holidays (I picked it out of a box of my dad’s old cassettes—Alex’s car is old enough to have a cassette player and we were looking for music to listen to on the drive back), but soon after we came to possess two copies of the album on vinyl, both of them presumably from Alex’s dad’s half of the record collection. What can I say, it’s a classic Boomer Dad album, with a name worthy of many Boomer Dad jokes (“Oh that old album? Take it, it’s just getting in the way.”).

It’s wonderfully bluegrassy, a mix of originals and traditional songs, with a cover of “Wild Horses” thrown in for good measure. A fun tidbit: it was recorded live at the Boarding House, a music and comedy venue in San Francisco with quite a storied history.

Phoebe Snow – Phoebe Snow

Another eponymous first album – we’re on some kind of roll here!

I am one of those people who became acquainted with Phoebe Snow through her credits on Paul Simon songs, and waited far too long to listen to her solo work. In fact, I’ve still only listened to this debut album in full, and have yet to explore her later albums (we don’t have any others on vinyl). Anyway, don’t be like me! Listen to Phoebe Snow now, not later!! Her voice is incredible…angelic and sexy and powerful all at once, capable of slipping effortlessly between folk, jazz, pop, soul. The entire album is just so cool. A small sampling.

Can I also just say how great I think this album cover is? The font, the sparse style and delicate rainbows in Phoebe’s hair, the glasses. Instant brownie points from me for any artist who flaunts glasses on their album covers.

Strange Paradise – Cris Williamson

One of my favorite discoveries to come from these listening sessions has been Olivia Records, the first record label made for and by women. Alex’s parents had quite a few albums from Olivia Records and/or the Women’s Music Movement: Meg Christian, Margie Adams, Cris Williamson. Those I’ve listened to so far have been immensely refreshing and empowering, with Strange Paradise so far being one of my favorites. As the cover so aptly suggests, it’s the kind of album you might listen to on a solo road trip through the most sacred corners of the American Southwest.

When Strange Paradise was released, Olivia Records was based in Oakland and according to liner notes, the album was recorded partly at The Automatt in San Francisco. So I want to believe the song “On, Judah!” is about the N Judah, even though the lyrics suggest the train is maybe more of an Amtrak sort?, and the notes dedicate it to the Lion of Judah. :shrug:

I just really like the vibe of this album. With lyrics like Home, like a folding of wings and choruses that repeat Gonna kill them with kindness …it’s given me a few new personal anthems.

Silk Purse – Linda Ronstadt

Show me the discography of a popular artist I don’t know very well and ask me to pick an album, and I’ll probably choose the one that looks the most like a country rock album from 1970. I’ve still only scratched the surface of Linda’s catalog, and I knew she did a good amount of country-adjacent stuff, but I wasn’t prepared for how truly down-home this album would be. Her yodelicious version of “Lovesick Blues” pulled me in and kept me happily surprised all the way to “Life is Like a Mountain Railway”—pure Americana!

There are so many entry points to Linda Ronstadt: her music spans at least a dozen genres and she’s collaborated with so many people! My entry point, unsurprisingly, was Mike Nesmith, thanks to her cover of “Different Drum” with the Stone Poneys. But maybe you’ve heard her collabs with Philip Glass, Frank Zappa(?!), or Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Or maybe you’ve even seen this 1979 Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow duet (how relevant!) from SNL! I certainly hadn’t before now, but want to thank the YouTube algorithm for so conveniently introducing it to me. The icing on the cake is that they’re singing a song by the Roches! 😍

Ignore the circa-2004-DVD-menu graphics; no idea what’s up with that but I couldn’t find another version:

Those 1979 styles though! I wish I could pull off either look.

Anyway, it’s been too cold to go outside lately and there are stacks upon stacks of records waiting to be listened to, so I’m sure I’ll be back soon with another round.

The Upside of Goodbye

Considering how this blog got started and the recurring themes that have kept it going over the past 13 years, this is a hard one to write. :(

After hearing of Michael Nesmith’s passing last night, I spent much of today listening to the lovely McCabe’s Tapes and reminiscing about the two Nez shows I attended a couple years back, pre-pandemic. For whatever reason, I didn’t write about them at the time (or rather, I did, but never got around to actually posting about it), so figured I’d finish up and share the memories now in honor of one of my favorite underrated songwriters.

In January 2018 I saw Michael Nesmith and the First National Band (Redux) at The Rio in Santa Cruz. I went by myself, partially because no one in my extended circle shares the same fondness for pedal steel-infused cosmic Texas country rock, but mainly because my appreciation for Nez has always been more of a personal one. It’s one of those things you’re perfectly content to call your own; and in fact, you might even enjoy it more because you have it all to yourself. (See also: yearly re-watchings of You’ve Got Mail during the holiday season.)

Obligatory backstory: Late summer of 2008, in the empty weeks between drum corps ending and fall quarter at UCLA beginning, I spiraled deep into my first Nez obsession. Somehow, replaying the Monkees Greatest Hits CD turned into a full-blown obsession with the TV show (leading me to buy and rewatch both seasons ad nauseam and also to start this blog) which then turned into a never-ending Mike Nesmith side journey. Piece by downloaded piece, I loaded up my iPod with all the Nez solo albums I could find. I learned “Nine Times Blue” on the guitar and played it nonstop. While simultaneously worrying about the future and many other now-insignificant matters, I read and re-read the liner notes to And the Hits Just Keep On Coming and felt a little less angsty. In the years since, I think I’ve masked all this by telling people I’m a Monkees fan, but really ever since that summer in 2008 it’s been Nez all the way.

Anyway, even at age 30, I was expecting to be one of the youngest people at the Santa Cruz show, as per usual with these things, but to my surprise I happened to sit next to three teenage girls who had traveled all the way from Denver to be there, proof that there are bonafide Nez fangirls in every generation! They were so enthusiastic and excited, I couldn’t stop smiling while talking with them. It was like meeting a version of myself as a teenager, the version that posted unfiltered fanatical thoughts to LiveJournal and would’ve also traveled 1,200 miles just to see one of my favorite people in concert, if I could find someone to drive me. The teens struck up a conversation with the older couple behind us, and it turns out the man was a DJ at KPIG, who previously worked with Nez at Pacific Arts. In short, I felt like I was among a group of people who were all friends, and all of this even before the band walked onto the stage.

The show was a delight. Mike was so happy and goofy, which I’m sure was partly due to the fact that he was sharing the stage with his two sons and daughter-in-law, who seem like lovely people (his oldest son Christian especially got the crowd going). Nothing I love more than a family band! This was when I realized just how much I loved those First National Band albums I’d downloaded piecemeal a decade prior: song after song (“Calico Girlfriend”, “Dedicated Friend”, “Some of Shelly’s Blues”, “Nine Times Blue”) I sang along gleefully. Mike’s career spans eras and moods—1980s LA grooves, synth-forward sci-fi soundtracks, and tropical campfires to name a few—but I think 1970s rollicking roadtrip romps will always be my favorite.

I saw Nez & Fam again a year later at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, this time with my dad and a bunch of his friends who were in town for the festival. There in Golden Gate Park surrounded by a crowd full of boomers, I made my way to the front row to experience it all myself, singing out of tune to a meandering version of “Papa Gene’s Blues” and letting the pedal steel take me away.

Now that I think about it, this might’ve been the last live show I attended before everything shut down in 2020. I knew Mike’s health had wavered a bit in the past few years, so I was grateful to get to see him two times (three if you count the Monkees show) while he was touring and in good spirits. It seemed like he was doing well these last few months too, having just finished a tour with Micky. So, while I’m a bit shocked and saddened to hear of his passing, it’s nice to know he was playing music up until the end. To paraphrase “The Upside of Goodbye,” I’d like to think our dear Nez’s departure doesn’t leave us empty but instead with a fullness to lean on.

Thanx for everything, Nez. ❤️

Get Back Part 3

Mannnn, I don’t know where to start. We watched Part 3 last night but I was so overwhelmed by the end that I couldn’t sit down and knock out a post like a did with the other two parts. It’s been so long since I’ve felt this way: giddy at the thought of Brand New Beatles Content and literally unable to think about anything else. I’m sad that it’s already over, but really hope that Peter Jackson eventually ends up releasing an even longer version, which sounds very possible.

Part 3 thoughts:

  • The first 10 minutes are so joyous it’s almost unreal. George helping Ringo with “Octopus’s Garden” and everyone else gathering around and joining in is just SO WHOLESOME. And then Heather (Linda’s daughter) shows up and they just start jamming and letting her play along and it’s wonderful.
  • Also, Heather observing Yoko’s *ahem* vocal stylings and then doing a spot-on impression while the Beatles jammed was a real kick. I loved John’s incredulous “Yoko!”
  • George coming in with “Old Brown Shoe” and Ringo, Paul, and Billy proceeding to rock out with it was great. The look on George’s face when he realizes his mates are enjoying playing his song…made me so happy.
  • Wow, I wish November 27 me could go back and tell November 26 me how much more George Martin content was yet to come!! GM playing the shaker on “Dig It”…GM troubleshooting the PA setup (“I’ll fix ya lads, I’ll fix ya” 🥰 )…GM helping them come up with the track list for the album. What a treat.

Sidebar: I know this is super uninteresting to most people, but I have a theory on George Martin’s presence in these sessions. When I hear demos and outtakes from the other albums, I always think of him as the man in the box—I know he would come down and work with the band, and play piano and other bits on their songs, but he always seemed like more of a schoolteacher presence, keeping the Beatles in line and calmly directing their chaos into focused recordings. That’s why it’s super cool to see him just chilling with the Beatles in the studio while Glyn Johns focuses on recording and mixing. Without his name attached to the album, it seems like he’s able to let loose a little and just hang out (obviously while still helping a lot with the equipment and production). I just think it’s neat to see him spending so much time with them and, having had so much history with them already, knowing best how to help when they need it.

The king has spoken.
  • I’m not gonna talk about Allen Klein. In fact, we’re not gonna talk about Allen Klein at all.
A Rocky appearance!
  • There’s a part where Paul leaves for an appointment and John runs rehearsal, and it’s really cool to see him saddle up and get serious about practicing, where in the first two parts he was much more passive/disinterested. I liked hearing him sing Paul’s parts for “I’ve Got A Feeling” and giving more time to George’s song. You get a glimpse of what it was probably like in early days when John was the undisputed leader of the band.
  • I would pay to listen to 8 hours of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” jams, holy buckets.
  • I can’t lie, even though George will always be my fave and I think a lot of his pissy attitude was justified, it must be said that he was a big buzzkill during most of the Let It Be sessions. There were several parts where the band was close to agreeing on a show venue or some other decision only for George to shut it down or make some passive aggressive comment about it being a dumb idea. :(
  • But, George seems very self-aware and generally in better spirits in Part 3. It was cool to hear him talking to John about wanting to make his own album. John and Yoko were so supportive!
  • When Ringo spoke up that he wanted to play on the roof, they should’ve just called it then and there. Ringo has an opinion on it?? DO IT, BOYS!

Rooftop concert day:

  • I didn’t know there were so many cameras! I also lol’ed at George Martin immediately spotting the “hidden” camera in the reception area.
  • The way Peter Jackson used the multiple camera angles was really neat. I feel like that’s the best thing he could’ve done, knowing that each camera had something worth seeing. Rather than cut back and forth between them all, why not just show three at once? (I think the Woodstock documentary did this too, maybe he was influenced by that.)
  • Shout-out to everyone in the Beatles’ extended circle who tried to distract and/or delay the cops when they showed up. Debbie at the front desk pretending like she didn’t know what was going on, and Mal buying time by saying he’d go up and cut the PA (but not doing it?)—both were clutch. Unsung heroes.
  • When film crew on the street started doing impromptu interviews with the people who had gathered around, they were asking the same questions reporters would ask in 1964 (“Who’s your favorite Beatle?” “Do you buy their records?”), but obviously the fans had grown up just like the Beatles. They weren’t screaming and ogling, they were just like “Yeah, I think what they’re doing is pretty cool.” I also really liked this gentleman’s comments.
  • Poor Paul wanted to get arrested so bad. He kept talking about it in the earlier parts, and then when he sees the cops show up on the roof he’s positively giddy. Too bad the cops just stood in the back looking grumpy instead of doing anything.
  • And POOR MAL was put in an impossible situation; you could tell he was trying everything in his power to stall before being forced to unplug George and John’s amps.
  • I couldn’t suss out whether George was annoyed or actually enjoyed playing on the roof. But I enjoyed the Defiant Teenager Energy from him when he flipped his amp back on to keep playing. He knew the cops weren’t actually going to do anything, lol.
When the annoying cops tell you to turn down your guitar on the rooftop
  • I LOVED the footage of the band and crew and wives listening to the live recordings in the control room afterward. Mo’s energy is infectious!
  • I felt a bit like Peter Jackson rushed the ending by not giving us full takes of the slow jams (“Let It Be”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “Two of Us”) on Day 22, but I guess that’s because those already exist on the original film? It certainly wasn’t because he was worried about the dang thing being too long. Maybe they’ll make it into the extended Director’s Cut, who knows.
  • I did really love the “Let It Be” outtakes at the very end, and the little banter before “Two of Us” that melts my heart every time.

Would I recommend Get Back to non-Beatles fans? Part of me is convinced that Part 3 could be an accessible way to get to know them, and if you like that, then bring out the additional hours of footage. But I also know it’s not for everyone. Peter Jackson made this film for the fans, obviously. Sometimes even I got tired of hearing them start yet another take of “Get Back.” But seeing everything come together and all the happy joyous bits in between was more than I ever could have asked for. I still can’t quite believe we have this much footage of the Beatles working together in the studio, and in such incredible quality (sorry for not mentioning it until just now, but one million kudos to Peter Jackson and his team for restoring the film and audio!!!). It truly is a gift.

The Complete Get Back Drinking Game (revisions probable)

Take a drink when:

  • Someone plays a song that ends up on a solo album
  • The camera does a closeup of Mal Evans smiling 🤓
  • John is late
  • Yoko starts a new hobby
  • Paul’s beard is mentioned
  • The anvil makes an appearance
  • Someone makes fun of Glyn Johns
  • A Beatle drinks tea or eats toast
  • Ringo plays that drum fill
  • “And now, your host for this evening…”
  • George Martin fixes a problem
  • Glyn Johns looks like a fashionista
  • The Beatles play a version of a song that ends up on the final Let It Be album
  • Someone on the street thinks the rooftop concert is annoying

Take two drinks when:

  • Someone gets electrocuted
  • George and Paul have a row
  • Paul does parkour
  • Ringo introduces a Starkey original
  • Yoko sings

Chug it:

  • George leaves the band
  • Paul calls Glyn Johns a f*ckface
  • “Thanks, Mo.”

Get Back Part Deux

Whoof! Lots to unpack here.

  • Not gonna lie, the first 45 minutes of this part was hard to watch. Not just for the lack of George, but because it managed to be both tedious and stressful at the same time (we know George will come back, but WHEN?!).
  • The long shot of Paul after he says “and then there were two” looking like he’s about to cry was a bit too on the nose. 😭 At least we got some nice Paul and Ringo moments out of that day.
  • John really comes in strong with the droll Lennon humor on Day 9. It even makes Peter Sellers (who, by the way, just shows up) seem uncomfortable!
  • The so-called “flowerpot conversation” was super enlightening. First off, it’s pretty sketchy that the film crew secretly recorded John and Paul’s convo in the cafeteria. But I’m conflicted, because now we have this amazing insight into one of the most fraught moments of the band’s career. I didn’t realize real humans were capable of having a difficult, honest conversation like this while not blowing up at each other. Apparently this was cut down from like 30 minutes and had to be heavily edited to fix the background noise, but man, the whole thing would be amazing to hear.
  • The first day they moved to Apple Studios (the day they didn’t let the film crew record them) must’ve been crazy productive. Starting the next day, “Get Back” and “Two of Us” were so much more fully formed. And George seems so much happier. 😌
  • BILLY HAS ARRIVED. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that he saved the day/album. His presence immediately pulls the group together and gives the songs so much LIIIIFE.
  • The “by John Lennon” credits on the India footage gives me It’s Alive vibes.
  • The India footage is really cool! But you can tell Paul and John joking about some of their experiences was rubbing George the wrong way. Treading on thin ice, boys!
  • John is such a spazz.
  • The second half of Part 2 in general is just so happy and silly. I could watch the Beatles goof off in the studio in HD all day.
  • I am so pleasantly surprised by how much George Martin footage there is, considering he wasn’t actually producing this album. HE IS A LOVELY MAN and you can’t convince me otherwise. Like, what would they have done with their unusable studio if he hadn’t been there to pull in all the recording equipment from EMI?
  • The short convo between the two Georges at the end of Day 15 is so heartwarming. I love how GM makes a point to tell GH how well they’ve all been working together. “You’re looking at each other, you’re seeing each other.” Extremely wholesome Beatles content.
A screenshot of GM being lovely, with an unfortunate caption to accompany it
Here he is on the floor reading the paper while a millionth take of “Let It Be” dissolves into chaos.

Ok I need to stop before this becomes a George Martin fangirl post.

Additions to the drinking game:

  • Someone makes fun of Glyn Johns
  • Paul does parkour
  • The appearance of tea
  • Ringo plays that drum fill
  • “And now, your host for this evening…”


  • Paul calls Glyn Johns a f*ckface

Get Back Part I

This day…….

I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.

I half-jokingly told some people that I would live tweet my Get Back-watching experience, but of course I’m too chicken to broadcast all my rambling Beatlethoughts to Twitter. So here in the safety of my own echo chamber, I’ll throw all the tweet-sized thoughts that ran through my head (and occasionally out of my mouth) while watching the first part of the series with my husband, cat, and a bottle of wine.

  • I wasn’t expecting the rapid-fire history at the very beginning, but it was pretty nicely done. (And I’ll never complain about seeing Beatles footage in high quality.) Also, it conveniently provided context for quips later on: “Who’s that little old man?” “You could go back to Manila,” etc. etc.
  • Framing this as a literal day-by-day documentary worked better than I thought it would. In the Anthology book—which I definitely pulled out to cross-reference—John talks about the band being like a 9 to 5 job at that point, and it does kind of seem like that. But it’s cool to see how much the new songs progress day by day.
  • Watching the Beatles rehearsing “All Things Must Pass” was magical. And John misreading “wind” as “mind” and then George keeping it for when he eventually recorded the song…I was just a PUDDLE of feels.
  • “We’ve been grumpy for the past 18 months” – Ringo, 1969 (also: all of us, 2021)
  • MLH trying so hard to get the Beatles to do a show in Libya was a bit painful. I can’t imagine them doing that at all…but it would’ve been pretty wild if they’d pulled it off.
heavy Live at Pompeii vibes
  • It was hilarious how adamantly George didn’t want to travel by boat to a venue (“expensive and insane,” in his words).
  • Watching “Get Back” materialize out of nothing really was something to behold. So was Ringo and George’s reaction.
  • The sheer AMOUNT of music these guys blasted through in the first week of filming alone…is that normal? Like, there’s just an endless well of Lennon/McCartney songs to pull from, not to mention all the covers they run through, plus stuff that would end up on future albums…and then George and Ringo occasionally just walk in like, “Here’s a song I wrote last night”…it’s all very impressive to me, as a person who used to spend 6+ months learning 3 pieces of pre-arranged music.
  • Also, I know this is probably just normal band stuff, and of course the Beatles would refer back to their own catalog, but I still found it fascinating which songs they’d pull out of past albums and just start playing. “Every Little Thing”? I’m SO pleased George thought that was a nice song!!
  • LOL at Dick James trying to talk music biz with the guys and their extreme disinterest every time.
  • What do we think Yoko and Linda were talking about??
  • This version of “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” is hott.
  • The “No Pakistanis” version of “Get Back”, even though it’s satire could easily get the Beatles cancelled in modern times. For that reason, I’m pretty glad they went a different direction with it.
  • Honestly, I can relate to Paul’s work ethic. I get that everyone felt he was being bossy, but at the same time, if Paul wasn’t there to steer them in some direction, I’m pretty sure the album (and film) would’ve just dissolved into nothing. And I’m so glad it became something.
  • It’s easy to see John’s antics as comedic relief, but I guess what it really was was a general sense of apathy…and heroin abuse. He didn’t really want to be there but his go-to way of handling it was just being a goof. They showed a lot less of the antics in the original Let It Be film, which always led me to believe he was just completely over the Beatles at this point in their career. It’s nice to see it wasn’t always like that, though.
  • Watching George trying to speak up while Paul and John just keep talking to each other about how a song should go…that sucks. Plus, George came in with some straight up bangers and I feel like he got a lukewarm reception to all of them.
  • Also George prefacing all of his songs with “It’s really short/easy,” “It’s ok if you don’t want it” – TAKE MORE CREDIT JOJ YOU DESERVE IT!!
  • That ^ Twitter account btw is VERY VERY GOOD.
  • Ringo just really stays out of the drama, good for him.
  • The violent jamming to Yoko’s screaming (and Paul swinging from the scaffolding) after George leaves was…unexpected.
  • How exciting to have a reason for a new drinking game! I’ll be adding to this as the next 2 parts get released…

Take a drink when:

  • Someone plays a song that ends up on a solo album
  • The camera does a closeup of Mal Evans smiling 🤓
  • John is late
  • Yoko starts a new hobby
  • Paul’s beard is mentioned

Take two drinks when:

  • Someone gets electrocuted
  • Ringo introduces a Starkey original
  • George and Paul have a row

Chug it:

  • George leaves the band

#Thankful for the long weekend / giddy for part 2,


What a time to be caught without a turtleneck.

In celebration of Halloween, I would like you to please enjoy a clip from one of my favorite Monkees episodes. It’s the perfect combo of goofy dialogue, physical comedy, and the chaotic, self-aware editing that made the late second season just so completely batty (heyyy see what I did there? 🦇).

Also! I revisited my rock & roll-adjacent Halloween playlist, which was pretty sad and lame back when I first made it on 8tracks. Now that 8tracks has kicked the bucket, I’ve decided to pad it out a bit with some more psychedelic tunes and jammy spooky songs at the end. The resulting extended version lives on Spotify now:

And finally, let us all remember 2021 as the year Paul and Ringo (aged 79 and 81 respectively) graced us with Halloween selfies on Twitter, truly the best gift we could ever hope for:


Ok, so November 27th is the *actual* birthday of All Things Must Pass, but the 50th anniversary reissue just came out this past week, so like most Beatlefans, I’m celebrating now. It’s taken me til the weekend to truly listen to most of the album + extras and man, it’s a lot to unpack. (Can we also address the Uber Deluxe Edition, which includes—in addition to 8 LPs, 5 CDs, 4 gnomes, 3 books, Rudraksha beads, and a Klaus Voormann illustration—a wooden bookmark made from a felled oak tree in George’s Friar Park garden?? It’s almost enough to distract me from the $1,000 price tag.)

I have yet to listen to the whole thing in one sitting, but some initial favorites:

“Behind That Locked Door” – This has always been one of my top songs on the album. I’m a sucker for pedal steel guitar, and combined with Billy Preston on the Hammond and Klaus Voorman on bass? *chef’s kiss* A real treat. I usually feel like I don’t have the ear to comment on production, but the 2020 mix really gives those vocals life, wow!

Om Hare Om (Gopala Krishna)” – This feels like one of those songs Phil Spector told George couldn’t be on the album because it’s a little too devotional—or maybe because it doesn’t lend itself as much to the ol’ Wall of Sound. I love it, though. George’s vocal line in the verse would make a lovely lehra (the melodic line accompanying a tabla solo), which could very well have been his intention. Can’t get this one out of my head.

“Run of the Mill – Day 2 Demo, Take 1” – The album version is nice, but I think this acoustic demo version evokes a lot more feels, especially knowing that this song was a reflection of the Beatles’ pre-breakup rift.

“Art of Dying – Day 2 Demo, Take 1” – Similarly, I love this stripped down version, sans Clapton’s in-your-face wailing. I just recently read this song dates back to 1966 (when Geo was a mere 23-year-old bebe). Can you imagine if this was on Revolver? It’s too good for the Beatles, honestly. 😬 The version on Disc 5 is a jam too.

“Wedding Bells (Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine)” – DELIGHTFUL. More pedal steel please!!

“Get Back” – It’s George singing Get Back accompanied by horns, what’s not to like!

I’ll leave you with the luscious “Isn’t It A Pity” (Take 27) and its equally luscious video. Coincidentally (and unfathomably), George was 27 years old when ATMP was released. I always forget this fact, because he definitely gives off Wise Old Philosopher vibes throughout the album and in all the pictures from that era. But nope, he is the same age in those pictures as Justin Bieber is now. What is life?!

Sisters With Transistors

Movie theaters are back, baby!

And in a lovely display of serendipity, my two-weeks-post-vax mark just happened to coincide with the Balboa Theater’s reopening weekend. So Alex and I went to see Interstella 5555, Daft Punk’s 2003 animated film set to the album Discovery. I had never seen it before and thought it was delightful. And then, because the Roxie Theater was *also* celebrating its reopening, we went to a Memorial Weekend screening of Sisters With Transistors, a 2020 documentary about women in electronic music, which is what I’ve come back here to blab about.

If you are even just mildly interested in music, music history, and/or women’s history, you should watch this film! I’m now graced with the knowledge of so many artists I’d never heard of before, and got to learn more about those I may have been familiar with but hadn’t really explored much. The documentary website has a great rundown already, so here are just a few highlights…

I’d seen a video or two of Clara Rockmore (née Reisenberg), but didn’t know much of her backstory. She was a classically trained violinist who came to America from Russia to study music. Unfortunately, she developed tendonitis at a young age and had to give up the violin, but then shrugged it off and became a theremin virtuoso instead. (I love the tidbit that Léon Theremin was apparently so enraptured that he proposed to her—several times, according to some accounts—but she politely turned him down.) She went on to help Theremin develop the instrument into its modern day design and also created her own technique for more precise phrasing and articulation:

Daphne Oram became a sound engineer at the BBC during WWII and spent late nights in her makeshift sound studio experimenting with electronic music. She came up with Oramics, a method of producing music that involves drawing notation on blank 35mm film and running it through a wild-looking apparatus called the Oramics Machine. She called it “drawn sound” and it’s fascinating to me:

Pauline Oliveros made a lot of experimental music (a good amount of it featuring the accordion!) and she also has some crossover into the meditation world with her notion of “deep listening.” (While most of Oliveros’s stuff is a little too out-there for me, I’d totally buy this album.) I was interested to learn about her involvement with the San Francisco Tape Music Center, an experimental music studio headquartered at 321 Divisadero in the 1960s (it later moved to Mills College). I wonder how much, if any, the electronic music scene from the San Francisco Tape Music Center overlapped with the psychedelic rock scene in the Haight that was happening at the same time? Were there ever shows where you could experience artists from both? That’d be pretty wild.

Wendy Carlos doesn’t get much airtime in the film, but we have her to thank (in part) for the Moog synthesizer, this album of Moog’d Bach that I desperately want, and the soundtracks for A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Tron. Also, Wendy’s cat-filled Greenwich Village studio is life goals:

Suzanne Ciani was one of the early aficionados of the Buchla synthesizer (a Moog competitor). She also hung out at the San Francisco Tape Music Center and studied at both Berkeley and Stanford (then moved to NYC).

There’s a lot of good Suzanne content on YouTube and in general she is very online, so I had a hard time picking a video to share here. I chose the one below because A) part of it was featured in the documentary, and B) I just found it immensely soothing (I can guarantee it’s popped up in some ASMR community somewhere). Now, I’m sure this is partly because this video was recorded for a children’s program, and also because Suzanne seems to really enjoy sharing her knowledge of electronic music with other people, but I love how patient and generous she is with her answers. I feel like women who are experts in any field are usually more inclined to humanize the complex parts of their craft—a sort of nurturing approach, with the intention of helping someone to understand something—rather than try to impress (or mansplain, if you will). Obviously this is a generalization, but the number of times I’ve felt dumb trying to understand this stuff when men explain it is embarrassingly high, compared with my experiences watching these videos.

There are many more, like Delia Darbyshire, who arranged and performed the original Doctor Who theme; Maryanne Amacher, who created mind-bending sounds based on physical spaces; and Laurie Spiegel, who wrote a piece of music software called Music Mouse, for which the late-90s-era website still exists. I was woefully unaware of most of these women before watching the film, and am feeling grateful to have learned about their lives and work (and also more about electronic music in general!).

PS: If you’re interested in watching, it appears that the documentary is available here with a subscription. Or, if you’re in SF, there’s a second showing at the Roxie this month! See you at the movies. 🍿

Stones indulgence

I like to think I’m good at staying up to date with noteworthy Rolling Stones videos, but somehow I missed this ADORABLE video of Mick and Keith talking about their shared flat in London:

I would love more than anything to just listen to them talk about mundane things like carpets and laundry. Horrrrrrendous.

Last time I was back home I packed up a box of Beatles and Stones books from the archives so I could clear out some space in my parents’ garage (Alex and I have a house now, so I can finally fill my place of residence with as many books as I want, muahaha). One of them was Nankering with the Rolling Stones by James Phelge, described as “a hilariously disgusting memoir of living with Mick, Keith, and Brian in a squalid Chelsea flat in 1963.” I almost put it in the donate pile, but figured it might be worth a re-read. And now, inspired by the above video, I’ve had an amusing time flipping through it again. If anyone’s looking for stories from the Edith Grove days, this book is a solid gold mine.

A couple of days later we came home together and found all the pots and pans, as well as the cutlery, neatly arranged on the small kitchen table. They looked gleaming and clean, almost like new.

A few minutes later Judy from downstairs came up and entered the kitchen. “I picked up all your pans and cleaned ’em for you,” she said. “What did you throw them all in the garden for?”

“Because they were dirty,” replied Keith.

“Keith,” she said. “You can’t just throw them out the window if they’re dirty. You have to wash them.”

“We thought it was gonna rain and that would clean them,” I told her.

She pulled a face that told us she thought we were hopeless. We just stared at her and smiled.

Of course, after all this, I turned to YouTube and went down a rabbit hole of early Stones videos. In particular, the early TV performances when they were basically a cover band, like this gem:

Look at those bebes!! Mick is such an effortlessly sexy frontman, ughhh. And lol at Ed Sullivan trying to mimic Mick’s pointing at the end.

Also tucked away somewhere in my parents’ garage is a VHS tape I got from Spin Records with all of the Stones’ Ed Sullivan performances on it. I was obsessed with that VHS for a while. There are some memorable shows in that collection, like when they were forced to change “let’s spent the night together” to “let’s spend some time together,” in which I count at least five eye rolls, and the many examples of Brian Jones playing nonstandard instruments in pop songs (no comment on the sitar and mallet technique). Anyway, I’m getting a little carried away but all of this is to say, I’ve been on an early-Stones kick and it’s been very fun.

Now before I go listen to some 1970s Stones (the best era, although honestly they’re all excellent), here’s some bonus 2021 Jagger content: Mick and his cat Nero 😍

All due respect

Hello, yes, I’m 32 years old and have finally watched The Sopranos, one of the greatest television programs of all time!

I seem to recall Alex and I floated the idea early on during the pandemic, in a “the world’s on fire, let’s do something crazy” sort of way. Organized crime shows are not my jam, but I was aware that The Sopranos is consistently recommended for fans of Mad Men (🙋🏻‍♀️) or anyone who loves a good antihero, so figured it was worth a go. And it was a good excuse for Alex to get in touch with his Italian-American roots. So after almost a year of saying we’d do it, we finally took the dive.

Screencap by @oocsopranos, from this article (which I thoroughly enjoyed)

As you might imagine, I hated the violence but loved the mundane drama, mafioso home life, and family tree of complicated, layered characters. Watching one or two episodes a night became our ritual, and we slowly let the show seep into the rest of our lives. The therapy scenes inspired me to start writing in my dream journal again. We made so much pasta and fazool. Our spectacularly botched renditions of “Con Te Partiro” echoed through the house. It was great.

But also, six years’ worth of fictional mafia tension is exhausting. Not gonna lie, I was relieved when it was over. By the end, everything on the show was spiraling into bleakness, and I was ready to just go on YouTube and watch all the fan vids (because I think I enjoy that more than watching any actual show??). We finally finished the series last week, and now I’m debating whether or not I should listen to the Talking Sopranos podcast (2+ hours for each episode, that’s even more of an investment!).

Anyway, 4 dollars a pound here’s a bunch of YouTube links, thinly veiled in a list I’ll call Nikki’s Favorite Things About The Sopranos:

  • Surreal (but not overdone) dream sequences. There’s some really great dream logic/dialogue (“Where were you? We were about to call the hospitals.”) and also an extended coma scene that was probably my favorite part of the whole series, but I won’t post any clips from that because I don’t want to spoil anything.
  • The gabagool. I’ll never eat it because “it’s all fat and nitrates”, but it’s absolutely the greatest Italian word to throw around. Alex got it on a sandwich recently in honor of the show (his review: “I’m not sure I like it.”).
  • Early 2000s ephemera. Ahh, to relive the ubiquity of AOL trial CDs and Nokia phones and Big Mouth Billy Bass.
  • Silvio Dante. I’m sure Sil being my fave had at least a tiny bit to do with a mafia man being played very convincingly by Steven Van Zandt, guitarist for the E Street Band. Mostly I just loved that Sil looks like such a caricature, yet he’s possibly the least over-the-top in terms of personality: a level-headed mediator and trusted confidant (unless you’re trying to sweep cheese from under his feet).
  • Nice-guy Finn being a Padres fan. What a fun surprise for Padres fans! (Although I know it’s because the writers needed to pick a historically bad team. 😭) When we first watched this scene and Vito goes “the Pads haven’t had a team in 20 years” (the year being 2004) I blurted at the screen “EYYY WHAT ABOUT ’98” right as Finn was saying the same thing. Maybe the most relatable character in the whole show.
  • The ohs and hos.
  • Sunday dinners. Scenes at the Soprano house are my favorites. I’d watch an entire series of Carmela Soprano doing housework and yelling at Tony. This is still my favorite 45 seconds of the show:

While I’m at it, I wanted to do a little amendment to my earlier Life During Quarantine list (seeing as quarantine life may actually be ending soon?!). Here’s an abridged version of Notable Things I’ve Consumed Since Last Time:

  • LODGE 49. Equal parts inspiring and depressing, with a good dollop of anti-capitalism thrown in. And SoCal scenery! A highly underrated show, IMO.
  • DERRY GIRLS. The 2 seasons of Derry Girls were just a delight. Beyond the spastic dialogue and teen humor, it was quite educational. Between this, The Crown, and Downton Abbey, I’ve really learned a lot about English-Irish tensions. Speaking of which….
  • DOWNTON ABBEY. I really wasn’t into watching this when it first came out, but golly it was an easy binge. It also has the distinction of being the show that occupied our lives after moving into our house(!), so I think I’ll always have fond memories of watching it in our unfinished den while sitting on camping chairs and eating takeout.
  • SKETCHY, Tune-Yards. The latest Tune-Yards slaps! So grateful to have new music and video content from Merrill and Nate. I’m a bit obsessed with the video for “nowhere, man”.
  • UNCANNY VALLEY, Anna Weiner. Seemed like a must-read for anyone adjacent to the SF tech industry in the early-to-mid-2010s. And it’s a fun little game of Guess the Proper Nouns. There wasn’t really anything new to me here, and towards the end it got a little tired, but it was a good reminder to always keep a healthy level of skepticism when it comes to tech.
  • BILL GRAHAM PRESENTS: MY LIFE INSIDE ROCK AND OUT, Bill Graham and Robert Greenfield. This was research for another piece I wrote for The San Franciscan, but even if it wasn’t, it’s still right up my alley. Bill Graham’s early life was remarkable: he was orphaned and escaped Nazi Germany by way of France and a ship to New York. Then he made a home in San Francisco and became the biggest promoter in rock. You go, Bill.
  • MOBY DICK, Herman Melville (in progress). Our friend Eugene started a virtual book club, or perhaps I should say Moby Dick book club since I’m not sure if any other books are planned after this. I’ve never read MD before, but have to say it’s been a lot more entertaining than I was expecting. Haven’t yet gotten to the extended interlude about whaling, but oddly looking forward to it.

To end, the latest new names for Coop:

Counting down the days until April 15…