Posts Tagged ‘Belle and Sebastian’
To celebrate the start of the 2014 Major League Baseball post season, I conducted a web chat with notable New England minor league baseball blogger @PawSoxHeavy. You can read her work at http://www.pawsoxheavy.com.
We aimed to talk about music in baseball stadiums. We ended up talking (a lot) about John Fogerty, Australian baseball players, Rhode Island, garage rock and Simply Red.
PawSoxHeavy: Hi, I’m here.
Cam: Let’s jump right into it. John Fogerty sings “Centrefield”: friend or foe? Make that, “Centerfield” You’re American.
PawSoxHeavy: Initially, I didn’t mind it. Then, I worked at a ballpark and I hated it. But now I don’t mind it. It’s a far cry from “Fortunate Son”, that’s for sure.
Cam: Interesting. What ballpark did you work at?
Cam: Who were the Red Sox luminaries who passed through during that time?
PawSoxHeavy: It was when I was a teenager. Mo Vaughn, etc.
Cam: Who was the manager?
Cam: Seems like… Butch Hobson era. Whoa, jinx!
PawSoxHeavy: Yeah, he was scandalous.
Cam: So John Fogerty, Steve Miller, Bob Seger… who would you say is the modern equivalent of these blue-collared rockers?
PawSoxHeavy: Maybe the Black Keys? That’s a little bit of a stretch.
Cam: John Mayer?
PawSoxHeavy: Those guys are true dinosaurs. I think John Mayer is more of a Kenny Loggins type. Kid Rock, perhaps?
Cam: If you look at old pics of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, aesthetically, it’s amazing those guys ever got a record contract. I like some of their songs but damn, did NOT look like a rock band.
PawSoxHeavy: Didn’t one of them have enormous curly hair?
Cam: Yeah, big hair, tight long sleeved t-shirts with NHL logos was kinda their “jam”. And yeah, I was thinking Kid Rock too.
PawSoxHeavy: Oh, they were Canadian?
Cam: Yup. Leftovers from the Guess Who. Not sure where “Turner” came from. What is the strangest song you ever heard at a ballpark? Any hip indie rock? Explosions in the Sky?
PawSoxHeavy: Also featuring Gary Overdrive.
Cam: “The Pete Best of BTO”
PawSoxHeavy: When I was in Minneapolis, they played Replacements songs. I was surprised…
Cam: That’s pretty amazing. I like those regional cult bands who are just massive local bands in their hometowns. Like Toronto and the band, Toronto. Who I thought were from Buffalo for the longest time. Seriously.
PawSoxHeavy: The White Stripes occasionally? Around here, we hear a lot of John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, as featured in Eddie and the Cruisers.
Cam: Have you heard the Hold Steady’s version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”? Surprisingly amazing and affected!
PawSoxHeavy: I have not. In Pawtucket, they play Carly Simon’s version. I haven’t heard of Toronto the band. Do the Hold Steady sing the entire song? All the forgotten verses?
Cam: “Join us as Carly Simon sings ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ and remain standing for a spirited rendition of ‘Let the River Run’…” The Hold Steady seem to sing 70% songs and then, that dude talks through the other 30% about assorted nonsense.
PawSoxHeavy: They’re nothing, if not distinctive.
Cam: I like them. They seem like the next phase of the Replacements, Guided by Voices ilk. “Hipster bar band”.
PawSoxHeavy: I like them as well.
Cam: Is John Cafferty from New England?
PawSoxHeavy: He is from Rhode Island.
Cam: Is he still… alive? There was some college rock band from Rhode Island in the 1980s, no? Or a hardcore punk band? Necros or something?
PawSox: He is still alive. In the 1980s? I don’t know of any college rock/hardcore. How do you feel about “Centerfield”?
Cam: I like the clapping part at the start but it’s super cheesy. To your point, CCR were effin’ great so that doesn’t help. If it was some no-name singing that song, I’d probably like it much more.
PawSox: The clapping part?!? Really?
Cam: Can you think of any other songs about BEING an athlete?
PawSox: Oh, great question!
Cam: That Springsteen song? “… mumble mumble mumble…. WAS A BIG BASEBALL PLAYA”
PawSox: “Glory Days”. That Dead Kennedys song about high school football? “Jock-o-Rama”, maybe?
Cam: Ya! Totally. Also, Belle and Sebastian sings “I Don’t Want to Play Football” although technically, that’s about NOT playing sports. You know Tom Cochrane, right? His song “Big League”?
PawSox: I don’t know that one,
Cam: HIS boy’s gonna play in the big leagues. HIS boy’s gonna turn some heads HIS boy’s gonna…. knock ’em dead. Ahhhhhh-HOOOOOOOOAH!!! THE BIG LEAGUE!
PawSox: My goodness!
Cam: YouTube it. Canadian rock classic. I like it. The video is black and white, and foggy.
PawSox: Belle and Sebastian also did that Mike Piazza song.
Cam: Do you know the Pavement song “Major Leagues”?
PawSox: I don’t know that Pavement song. Which album?
Cam: I strongly dislike that B+S song. Around the time they started getting way too clever and cutesy.
PawSox: Ha. Also, Tom Cochrane was around way before “Life is a Highway”? Imagine that!
Cam: That Pavement song was on Terror Twilight. It’s fine but kinda forgettable. It sounds like a band that is pretty bored and about to break up. It is my belief that Tom Cochrane was marketed to be the John Cougar Mellencamp of Canada. Really, JCM was the evolution of the Millers and the Segers.
PawSox: Wow, [“Big League”] is is so intense! It’s like “Candle in the Wind” for hockey players.
Cam: Pretty much. Did you ever listen to that band Peter Buck created where they just did baseball songs?
PawSox: I did not! I totally forgot about that. And I read about it extensively. Also, I need to karaoke this Tom Cochrane song.
Cam: Did TC have other hits in the States other than “… Highway”?
PawSox: No. I don’t remember any. He’s no Bryan Adams.
Cam: Few are! So why did Buck do those baseball songs? Are they are sports nerds? I think a guy from the Young Fresh Fellows was in there too!
PawSox: I think baseball is one of the few acceptable hipster sports. Along with jai alai, maybe.
Cam: Is it because you can talk about yourself through the entire game and it’s pretty much fine?
PawSox: I think so! Plus you can casually bust out some Heady Topper… and vape.
Cam: Very true. You have plenty of time to do anything but watch baseball. BTW the Rhode Island band I was thinking about: Deer Tick. Not from the 1980s. Are they a big deal where you are? They are the evolution of the Replacements too. Almost laughably so, they’re so similar.
PawSox: You would think so, but no. Live music in Providence is dead.
Cam: Do any touring bands play there? Are there big summer music festivals? Newport?
PawSox: Newport Folk Festival. Colin Meloy showed up. Newport also has a jazz festival.
Cam: I get that guy and the Death Cab guy and some comedian from Saturday Night Live mixed up. Their faces.
PawSox: … and the guy who was in the last seasons of The Office.
Cam: Gary Overdrive?
PawSox: Ha, no.
Cam: What are the two most random bands you used to mix up? For me, it was Jane’s Addiction and the Leslie Spit Treeo who were a light female-fronted hard folk rock trio from Toronto who were mildly popular in 1990. Stephen Colbert?
PawSox: Grant? Wade?
Cam: Grant Balfour?
PawSox: I can’t remember!
Cam: Grant Balfour, the big Aussie hurler!!
PawSox: Haaaa yes, it was Australian reliever Grant Balfour. Or Pete Moylan.
Cam: Remember Dave Nilsson of the Milwaukee Brewers and southpaw Graeme Lloyd? Also, Moylan is Aussie?
PawSox: Nilsson, yes, Lloyd no. RE: Moylan: he is!
Cam: He’s the Braves pitcher who got hurt, right?
PawSox: … and Ryan Rowland-Smith. Yeah, Moylan was the Braves guy.
Cam: I think RRS was CANADIAN!!!
PawSox: Shut up! He was in Pawtucket last season.
Cam: Nope, you’re right. Aussie.
PawSox: He’s a sexy, sexy man.
Cam: Do you know the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers?
PawSox: The soccer song?
Cam: Damian Moss. Former Giants hurler. Aussie.
PawSox: Yeah. Who was the other Damien who was a catcher?
Cam: Yeah, is that KNOWN as a soccer song? I just heard it maybe 3-4 months ago for the first time. Great tune. Up there with “Ferry Across the Mersey”. Damian Miller?
PawSox: I prefer “Ferry…”. Miller, yeah. He played 4-eva. Like Benito Santiago.
Cam: The real question I need to ask: the Standells sing “Dirty Water”?
PawSox: Oh! It’s a good song.
Cam: Even outside Fenway, not a good song.
PawSox: That’s all I can really say. What? I do like that song.
Cam: It’s so boring though. It’s no “Psychotic Reaction” or “Pushin’ Too Hard”.
PawSox: Yeah, but it’s out of context. The Seeds’ “Pushin’ Too Hard” kicks so much ass!
PawSox: I bought the domain name deadsongs.com
Cam: Oh yeah? What’s going there?
PawSox: I haven’t figured it out yet… or how to execute it, really. It’s about songs like “Centerfield”.
Cam: So, it’s gonna be a blog?
PawSox: I think so, yeah. Songs that produce zero emotion when you hear them. Not even annoyance.
Cam: The aforementioned Kenny Loggins and his song “Nobody’s Fool” from Caddyshack 2? That’s one. I feel completely blank when I hear it. Not happy. Not sad. Not anything.
PawSox: I played “This is It” this morning!
Cam: 54-40 sings “Ocean Pearl”… another
PawSox: I don’t know that one!
Cam: More Canadian stuff
PawSox: What was Them’s big hit?
Cam: “Gloria”? Do you like Simply Red?
PawSox: Oh yeah… I do like them a little. I hear they’re despised in the UK. They’re better than UB40 by miles!
Cam: They were oddly cool. Check the video for “It’s Only Love”. Mick Hucknall getting all amorous. It’s quite the sight. Mick Hucknall wins the “unreasonable self confidence: music edition” award.
PawSox: I don’t know if I can handle that.
Cam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaGBbjDwmAc. I kinda like his shirt in the video
PawSox: Oh, okay..
The concept of “summer” has a bit of a personality crisis in the world of popular music.
Some songs about summer contain lyrics about having fun, basking in sunlight, the kind of activities that Jimmy Buffett is into, etc.
Some songs about summer contain lyrics about #heavy topics such as growing old, lost love, dying, getting ready to die, etc.
Naturally, it’s about time that somebody created a(n) (info)graphic that maps summer songs on a continuum with “partying” being the ceiling of the positive and “death” being the floor of the negative.
Criteria for inclusion
1. Must have the word “summer” in the title
2. Must be on my iPod.
The (info)graphic is below along with some observations about a few of these tunes.
The Manic Street Preachers sing “Die in the Summertime”: An easy choice as the floor. Key lyric: “I wanna die/Die in the summertime/I wanna die”. Not much ambiguity there.
Ice Cube sings “My Summer Vacation”: This popular children’s song talks about an LA turf war that spills over into St Louis and elsewhere. Personally, I like to think that Ozzie Smith’s iconic home run off Tom Niedenfuer could have been a bit of bedrock for this conflict? Maybe? Please?
Michael Legrand sings “The Summer Knows”: My choice for the most melancholy tune on this (info)graphic. Impressive considering it’s an instrumental although I will confess, I actually have the Henry Mancini version, not the Legrand original. Unrelated, Legrand’s niece is the singer in Beach House.
Banarama sing “Cruel Summer”: This song is technically not about work. However, I mainly remember the video depicting the three (uh) Banaramers working on their car as part of a gig at the gas station. In a pivotal moment, the baggy-clad beauties hijack an 18-wheeler (by dancing!) and engage in a low-speed chase from the cops. As part of the getaway, they actually throw banana peels at the officers in a callback (of sorts) to their name (cc: Fiona Apple, Peaches).
Victoria Williams sings “Summer of Drugs”: I was really on the fence if this was a positive or negative song. If it wasn’t for the part about the snake bite and the swelling that resulted, I’d probably make it the former.
Cocteau Twins sing “Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires”: Not so much about drugs. But sounds druggy. See also Mogwai and Galaxie 500.
Queens of the Stone Age sing “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”: Very much about drugs. Sounds druggy.
North Star Camp Kid’s Chorus sings “Are You Ready for the Summer?”: I’d really like to know how this song found its way on my iPod. Also, I just learned my dad hates Bill Murray. Need more details on this.
Bryan Adams sings “Summer of ’69”: If it weren’t for the CRTC and CanCon, would this song have come under more scrutiny from censors and Tipper Gore wannabes? I mean, check the song title. It’s not exactly subtle.
Much has been made of Black Panties, the lewd new album title from R. Kelly. Come to think of it, much has been made of R. Kelly in general, the lewd not-new guy.
Many feel that R. is mentally unstable or wildly creative or both. His benchmark Trapped in the Closet hip-hopera is largely to credit/blame for this opinion. However, it is my belief that this effort should be filed into history under the “widely talked about but seldom heard” category. Not unlike the Stooges’ poorly-received 2007 comeback record The Weirdness or non-traditional output from mega-stars such as the Flaming Lips, Beck or Rick Ross.
I don’t think anybody actually listened to the entirety of Trapped in the Closet, much less understood it. Upon learning about it, most would assign the “you so crazy” tag and then move on, maybe to joke or rant about it later.
There is a tendency to review this kind of art largely based on what’s been said about it rather than, I dunno, actually listening to the songs. It’s an inherent laziness that many music fans (and people, in general) have. A more recent example: hot young buzz band HAIM are similar to the Bangles since it’s a bunch of cute girls playing guitars. When (obviously) in reality, the true equivalent is the Pretenders in sound and Hanson in hair and face. I repeat: obviously.
Anyway, I digress. R. has made some “interesting” choices in his lifetime, no doubt. Namely this and also this. However, purely as a recording artist, his output has been fairly linear and exceedingly sane for somebody who has been affixed with the problematic label by far too many observers. Trapped in the Closet took some choices and fell flat/weird but in the broader context, it’s a relatively small part of the R. Kelly experience.
For fans of mainstream R&B or Top 40 or 1990s music, R. is just a superstar who made some bad decisions. Not unlike Michael Jackson or Snoop Dogg or whoever. However, R. seems to also be regarded by a totally different segment as something of a punch line-cum-savant who releases his post-Trapped output somewhere between a “come-on” and a “Come on!?!”. Note: there’s a third entendre I could probably throw in here but I won’t for the sake of good taste and SEO. Example.
His guest appearance at the 2013 edition of the Coachella Festival didn’t help diminish this image issue that exists between legit R. Kelly fans and thousands of R. Kelly observers. Taking the stage alongside headliners Phoenix, R. plowed his way through a mashed-up version of his smash “Ignition” as a sea of music fans and corporate guests looked on. Blog coverage was predictably unoriginal in its description of the #amazingness with plenty of implications that his appearance was some kind of grand self-aware gesture by R. himself.
R. was taking the stage on THEIR turf so thusly, he must be adhering to the same class of groupthink that most Coachella attendees subscribe to.
Right? No. Not right.
It would be narrow minded to think R. would think in these terms or possibly even be aware that this kind of contemplation exists at all. He’s sold 50-million albums. Why would his perspective align with a bunch of bloggers looking for bragging rights and few Instagram shots?
Personally, I doubt he gave it much thought beyond the notoriety and the pay cheque.
Smash cut to a few months later and R. was brought in to c0-headline the 2013 Pitchfork Music Festival in his hometown of Chicago. The move seemed to be a bit of a hedge for the Pitchfork folks and perhaps a sign of concern that a traditional “indie” headliner might not draw (fellow headliners Björk and Belle and Sebastian were the counterweights). Various accusations were lobbed at Pitchfork, from the increasingly-popular charge of “cultural appropriation” to the never-ending (and boring) debate about what constitutes irony. Note: we all need to recognize that irony died after 9/11, stupid.
The logic of festival organizers was somewhat sound:
#1. If R. completely flopped, Pitchfork concert goers would get to witness a “stunning” train wreck that they could later tell their fellow micro-brew fans about.
#2. If R. nailed it, they could, again, revel in the #amazingness and have a little social media fodder for flaunting both their exquisite taste in music festivals and their heightened (and superior) degree of cultural sensitivity.
All told, it was a complete win/lose-win/lose scenario!
#2 occurred and yadda yadda yadda, we’re now a week away (!!!) from Black Panties dropping. It’s an amusing album title but really , is it any more or less provocative than Isaac Hayes releasing an album called Black Moses or Prince releasing something (in the nude) called Lovesexy? It’s not that notable in an LOL sense and it shouldn’t be seen as the latest chapter in that fake “you so crazy” narrative.
Somehow vis-à-vis Trapped in the Closet, his legal issues and the aforementioned live appearances, R. has become positioned in part as an insane-but-lovable rascal for hipsters to feign mini-outrage over but ultimately forgive and embrace in a skewed sense of self-importance and “open-mindedness”. A small bolt to his broader, less-notable public persona and one that should cease to be interesting to anybody aside from that small circle talking amongst themselves.