Musings @musicandmeaning.com

See, I've only had a photograph to drag around.
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Archive for the 'Radio, NPR, etc.' category


Wednesday, 5 January 2005

Happy birthday, Morgan

Happy new year! And a belated birthday wish to my literary hero E. M. Forster, who was born on the 1st January 1879. I hope he won’t mind me calling him Morgan. In any case, I was looking through the stats for musicandmeaning.com (this will become evident in a forthcoming entry), and I found out that The Writer’s Almanac (public radio’s daily humanities blurb hosted by Garrison Keillor), mentioned Forster’s birthday and linked to my Forster site on its Web and e-mail editions for December 27, 2004 to January 2, 2005 (scroll down to January 1, or search in-browser for "Forster"). Very cool. In terms of the Almanac‘s blurb about Forster, I’m not sure where the quote comes from — it would have been nice to see a source. I’ll try looking it up, or maybe I could e-mail and ask the Almanac writers. I also noticed that Howards End is spelled with the dreaded apostrophe… <grin>

I haven’t heard The Writer’s Almanac on the radio in a while — I can’t remember when the last time was. I heard it regularly about ten years ago, when I was in high school. In the evenings I’d work on an article for the high school newspaper; I’d have my portable radio tuned to a public station (I’m guessing it must have been KUSC — I don’t remember KCRW or KPCC airing Writer’s Almanac on weekday evenings).


Saturday, 31 July 2004

Music to keep me sane and healthy VI

Continuing the list of free and legal MP3s of some of my favorite songs and artists:

  • John Wesley Harding – I first heard JWH on a compilation CD from Acoustic Guitar Magazine, performing "Kiss Me, Miss Liberty" and I’ve always meant to listen to more. His official site houses some full MP3s: check out the "Live MP3s & Rare Singles" sub-section under "Music."
       » Go to the downloads from johnwesleyharding.com (Flash required). (Which one to d/l if you’re pressed for bandwidth or time: my personal favorite is "Pull" — a performance culled from a live solo session at WUMB radio)
     
  • IvyLong Distance (2001). This album is a few years old, but I’m surprised not many people seem to know about it. Or maybe they do? In any case, I first heard Ivy three years ago, when Anne Litt played "Edge of the Ocean" a few times on Weekend Becomes Eclectic (KCRW). It’s catchy music with a lush arrangement and a cool beat; the same can be said for many of the tunes on the album. You might also be interested in the band’s cover of "Sing."
       » Go to the downloads from thebandivy.com (Flash required — click "band" and then "mp3"). (Which one to d/l if you’re pressed for bandwidth or time: without a doubt, "Edge of the Ocean" — there are two versions available, but I recommend the 5.1 Mb, 160kbps MP3 a little farther down the list)
     
  • Anne McCueRoll (2004). Admittedly, I have not heard the full album from this Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist. Anne Litt plays tracks from Roll fairly often on her show, and although I haven’t really gotten hooked to the very ’80s-sounding "I Want You Back," but I’ve been playing "Stupid" and "Crazy Beautiful Child" repeatedly over the past few weeks. If I had to choose, I’d categorize the songs as being more pop/rock with a country flavor, rather than alt-country, but that’s primarily because of the arrangements and the overall sound. Think of a less twangy Lucinda Williams, but still catchy and with interesting lyrics.
       » Go to the downloads from Messenger Records. (Which one to d/l if you’re pressed for bandwidth or time: "Stupid" — but they’re all a little different, so try all three if possible)
     
  • Patrick Park – I’ve mentioned singer/songwriter Park a few times — his site has MP3s of various clips of songs, but only recently put up a couple of full-length MP3s: the original demos (that eventually got packaged into The Basement Tapes) of "Desperation Eyes" and "Nothing’s Wrong." "Nothing’s Wrong" is one of my favorite Park tunes, and although I can listen to the fuller arrangement (and Eric Heywood on pedal steel!) on the album Loneliness Knows My Name, it’s nice to have this sparer, more intimate sounding recording.
       » Go to the downloads from patrickpark.net (Flash required — click "listen"). (Which one to d/l if you’re pressed for bandwidth or time: "Nothing’s Wrong")
     
  • Elliott Smith – I mentioned last time that PasteMusic has many free MP3s from artists, including Smith. One of my favorite Elliott Smith songs is here: "Between the Bars," from Either/Or. If you have time, you might want to grab all four of the songs (all from Either/Or or Elliott Smith) and hear the beautiful and haunting qualities in the stark, no-nonsense arrangements of his music: "Speed Trials," "The Biggest Lie," "Punch and Judy" and "Needle in the Hay."
       » Go to the downloads from PasteMusic (reg required — Smith is under the "Indie Rock/Emo" section). (Which one to d/l if you’re pressed for bandwidth or time: "Between the Bars")
     

And as always, please support the artists and their music by buying their albums and attending their shows (if possible).

Other tunes in my playlist lately:

The latest "caught in my head" tune has to be "How on Earth" by Ron Sexsmith — excellent songwriting. I haven’t heard the entire record yet, but from what I’ve heard, I think I like it better than Cobblestone Runway (2002) — not just musically speaking, but his singing even sounds stronger than I’ve heard before.

And, of course, I’m still listening to Richard Buckner (this time, the more sparse arrangements, e.g. those in Richard Buckner). His new album, Dents and Shells, will be available for pre-order on the 1st of October! From the new songs I’ve heard in his more recent concerts, I can’t wait. It’ll be interesting, as always, to hear how he arranged the music on the record.


Monday, 12 July 2004

Says You on KCRW: update

It’s official. Says You! is back on KCRW, Tuesday nights at 7:30.

After my last post speculating whether or not the show was back, I sent an e-mail to the station on Wednesday morning and asked for the lowdown. Here’s a copy of what I said:

Date: Wed, 07 Jul 2004
To: mail ( a t k c r w . o r g )
Subject: ‘Says You’ Q.

Hi there–

I know, you must have gotten asked this dozens of times in the past day, but I turned on the radio and was pleasantly surprised to hear the tail end of ‘Says You’ last night; I was wondering if the show’s back in the lineup now, in the Tuesday 7:30p slot, or if it was a one-time thing? I certainly miss hearing the show on Monday afternoons! I checked the program grid on the website, but it still says ‘The Treatment’ repeat in that slot, and the July newsletter didn’t mention it. Could you post an announcement on the site, or if possible, fire back an e-mail and confirm if the show’s being carried again?

BTW, speaking of the web site, on the ‘Says You’ page:
http://www.kcrw.org/show/sa
the show logo displayed is for ‘Satellite Sisters’ and not ‘Says You.’ (oops)

In any case, I hope SY is back on the KCRW airwaves! If it’s true, count me in as being happy to have it back, different time slot or not. I’m sure Richard Sher would be happy too.

A screen capture of KCRW.org's front page  today.  The relevant bit: 'KCRW welcomes the return of Says You!, Tuesdays at 7:30pm'I can’t remember the last time I checked the KCRW site, but no changes had been made as of, perhaps, Friday. (I’m not sure. I’d have to delve into my browser history and I’m not exactly keen on going to that length.) In any case, a few minutes ago I wondered if the show would be on tomorrow night, so I went to kcrw.org and lo and behold, there’s an announcement in the left sidebar of the front page (here it is with little context remaining).

I checked the station’s page for the show and the logo has been changed from Satellite Sisters to Says You. Also, the KCRW program grid now indicates Says You instead of The Treatment for the 7:30 p.m. Tuesday slot.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who wrote in or called about the lineup. But I wonder if anyone else mentioned the Satellite Sisters logo.

This reminds me of a few years ago when the Charlie Rose web site launched (using its current design). I’d always wondered why the show didn’t have a good site with guest info, so one day while web surfing, I was happy to discover that it finally had an online presence. But I noticed a typo in the quote that’s prominently displayed in the site banner. It showed (my emphasis): "I believe that there is a place in the spectrum of televison for really good communication, if it is informed, spirited, soulful." So I clicked on the feedback link, offered grats on the new site and mentioned the typo. I’m not sure how long the site had been live before I noticed it. IIRC, the typo got fixed quickly — I think the next day, I went back to look at the quote and it was correct. As in this case with KCRW, though, I never got a reply to my e-mail. But that’s perfectly okay, since my questions got answered in another way.

About two years ago, I noticed that KPCC didn’t air Says You for a few weeks. This was after KPCC became the "Southern California Public Radio" branch of Minnesota Public Radio. I found an e-mail address to scpr.org on the station site and sent a query about the show and its KPCC on-air whereabouts; a reply answering my question landed in my inbox three days later, from Member/Listener Services (I won’t reveal the name or the e-mail to protect the guy from spam) at mpr.org. The message in a nutshell: the show had been pre-empted for Garrison Keillor’s Night Out for a while and would be back that weekend.

But that’s enough of that tangent. The important point is, Says You! is back on in SoCal! Punsters rejoice!

Posted at 10:01 pm | Filed under Radio, NPR, etc. |  

Tuesday, 6 July 2004

Surprise! It’s Says You

For a while now, I’ve been making weekly evening trips to the local library — and the car radio typically is set to KCRW. In the past few weeks, I’ve been going home listening to Warren Olney and Which Way, L.A.? or The Treatment. So I got into the car about half an hour ago, ready to head home from the library, and imagine my double take at hearing Says You!, which KCRW had dropped from its Monday afternoon schedule only last month (much to my dismay, and madbard’s, and every other wordplay-loving NPR listener in SoCal). I was so startled by the voices of Richard Sher and the panelists (it was an old episode with Frank Farrell‘s first appearance on the panel); I had to sit there for a moment, look at the radio display, and reassure myself that, yes, it was indeed KCRW (my first thought had been, "Is KPCC carrying the show again?").

Checking the KCRW home page just now, Says You is listed for today’s schedule. However, the station’s program grid still lists The Treatment for the Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. slot. The July highlights update also doesn’t mention the panel game show returning. I didn’t hear the beginning of the Says You episode, so I don’t know if there was any special announcement explaining whether this was a one-time occurrence or if the show was back in new, regular time slot. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if KCRW brought the show back because of listener protest; but then again, Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. certainly won’t accommodate all of the former Mondays-at-2:30 fans.

I suppose I should contact the station and ask what the deal is.

[Update: I did ask.]

Posted at 9:01 pm | Filed under Radio, NPR, etc. | 2 replies »

Sunday, 21 March 2004

Mylar magic (or, to be more accurate, digital magic)

Weekend Becomes Eclectic is undoubtedly pre-taped this weekend. It’s the same deal today as yesterday.

[Image captured by the KCRW webcam, during "Weekend Becomes Eclectic" at about 2:22 p.m.]Witness the KCRW webcam: I saved this shot this afternoon while I was listening to Anne Litt speaking on air (about 2:22 p.m.). There’s no one at the mic, no CDs piled around, and if you look at the board, only the last fader is up…and it hasn’t changed position (as far as I can tell) since the show began.

Earlier today I finally realized where Litt might be, if not in the KCRW basement: the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival! I don’t know how or why I didn’t make the connection earlier — even after thinking of Richard Buckner playing there this year, and reading Scott Andrew‘s blog (he made it to SxSW this time), and knowing that Nic Harcourt is there himself, I somehow failed to mull over the possibility that Litt might be in Austin. (Perhaps that’s why she played Buckner yesterday — because he’s on the billing for the conference.)

It is interesting, though, that both shows are pre-taped and that no other hosts filled in live. I wonder what the policy is on substitute hosts. Of course, no offense to the other hosts, but when I tune in to WBE I do it because of Litt’s playlist, so I actually prefer pre-taped WBE shows when she’s away. I think I’ve only heard her pre-taped one other weekend, but I can’t be certain.


Saturday, 20 March 2004

Either way, it’s still WBE

I can’t be certain, but it seems as though today’s edition of Weekend Becomes Eclectic (KCRW) was pre-recorded. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell, except I checked the main studio cam, and Anne Litt isn’t spinning the discs — in fact, no one was sitting in the chair for the beginning of the show, anyway. I did notice very minimal talking from her between song sets, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s pre-taped her show.

Either way, it’s good to hear her music selections again, since for the first time this calendar year, I missed listening to any part of her show one day (last Sunday).

Update, 15:47: I should have said, Either way, it’s great to hear WBE again. She’s playing Richard Buckner‘s "Lil Wallet Picture" from Devotion + Doubt! It might be the first time she’s played Buckner in 2004. It’s certainly the first time I’ve heard her play this particular track. I was just listening, and I heard the unmistakable sounds of that pedal steel guitar (I think by Lloyd Maines?) over Buckner’s steel-string guitar.

It’s always good to hear Buckner getting airplay.


Thursday, 22 January 2004

Various tidbits

Just a number of random and not-so-random thoughts.

Over the holidays, I missed a bunch of Charlie Rose shows that I wanted to watch. So far, I’ve listened to the 8 Kbps Real(bad)Audio streams of his interviews with Cate Blanchett (30 Dec. 2003) and Naomi Watts (19 Nov. 2003) in the show audio archives. If you’re a Blanchett fan, I highly recommend catching this latest interview with her. Not that I’ve seen/heard many, but it’s by far the best Cate Blanchett interview I’ve heard, including the one on Fresh Air. And of the ones I’ve witnessed, I think it’s one of the best interviews that Rose has conducted, with an actor or not. I hope it airs on television again soon. The one with Watts isn’t bad, but I don’t know if I’d listen to it again at 8 kbps… Another decent Rose interview is of Nicole Kidman on 27 Dec. 2002 (also in the audio archives), when she was doing press for The Hours. Hmm. I just noticed that I’ve mentioned only Australian actresses in this paragraph…

I can’t believe we’re already in an election year. The presidential candidates seem to be cancelling each other out. Who’s it going to be? It’s still early to tell, despite what polls say. Please, please, vote this year. If you think your vote doesn’t make a difference, let me say two words: Florida, 2000.

Music still helps keep me sane. I think taping Anne Litt‘s show is one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. These days she’s pretty good about playing Alison Krauss (and she played the Sting song from Cold Mountain…and I still think that "The Scarlet Tide" is a better song), and Norah Jones‘ new song "Sunrise" as well as Clem Snide.

A few weeks ago, I watched Howards End for the first time in at least four years, and was amazed by how much it still moves me, and how beautiful and lonely and powerful it is. It must have been my ninth or tenth time watching the movie, but I still noticed new things. They really don’t make movies like it anymore, and it was made in 1991. I picked up E. M. Forster‘s novel and read bits and pieces. I have a terrible memory when it comes to books, ironically, and so even if I’ve read and studied a book intensely, a year or two later I will have forgotten much of it. So I will re-read, and I will remember some things, but I will rediscover, as "new" many more things. Howards End is an excellent book, and still my favorite. It’s interesting that something I loved as a teenager, I still love so strongly — I guess some things don’t change.


Sunday, 21 December 2003

Two extra helpings of WBE

Just a note that Anne Litt will be sitting in for Nic Harcourt on Morning Becomes Eclectic tomorrow and the day after tomorrow (i.e. Monday, 22 Dec. and Tuesday, 23 Dec.)! I don’t know if the shows will be archived, but this is a great chance to catch more of Litt’s playlists, especially if you’re not a regular Weekend Becomes Eclectic listener but do tune in to Harcourt. MBE airs 9 a.m. to noon, Pacific time. Check publicradiofan’s listing for the show for more details.


Saturday, 20 December 2003

Anne Litt = best DJ ever

IMO, of course. It’s no secret that I love KCRW’s Weekend Becomes Eclectic, but during the holidays it’s can’t-miss. Today Anne Litt played (in no particular order):

  • Nat King Cole, "These Foolish Things"
  • Peggy Lee, "Happy Holidays"
  • Tom Jones, "It’s Not Unusual"
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Sarah Vaughan, "Whatever Lola Wants" remix
  • Charlie Parker, "White Christmas"
  • Chet Baker
  • Patrick Park
  • Alison Krauss, "The Scarlet Tide" from the Cold Mountain soundtrack (Sting’s song was nominated for a Globe over this? Incomprehensible, but of course I haven’t heard his song yet)
  • Ryan Adams
  • Aimee Mann
  • Talking Heads
  • …and a good mix of bluegrass, rock and even some Yiddish music! Also some songs I’d love to hear again (but I missed their IDs, so I’ll have to wait until she does play them again or I look for them on the show’s official playlist).

And this is just one day! I hope I’ll be here to listen tomorrow.

BTW, KCRW has amazing music hosts, don’t get me wrong. Nic Harcourt, Gary Calamar and Chris Douridas are great, as are Liza Richardson and Tom Schnabel and the list just goes on…but Litt plays a very eclectic selection, from varied time periods, not just styles, and they match my own musical foundation, and I would hope quite a few other people’s. I really don’t understand why her show is not archived at KCRW’s site.


Saturday, 1 November 2003

Goodbye to an old friend

Last night, for the first time in a while, I tuned in to the KNX Drama Hour, which has been on the air here on KNX 1070 AM since the 1970s, I believe.

I "found" it when I was about 12 years old, and it was a huge part of my life during my adolescence, during the height of my old-time radio show fandom/collection sensibility. It went hand-in-hand with my then-fledgling interest in films from the 1930s-’50s, and my fascination for the media culture of that period definitely made it hard to share interests with my peers. It was difficult finding anyone my age who had heard of Orson Welles, Jack Benny, Frank Lovejoy or Norman Corwin, let alone appreciate them or the dramas in which they were involved. For me, Alad Ladd will always be Dan Holiday from the radio show Box 13 before he is Shane. William Conrad will always be Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke. June Foray, famous for (among other things) Natasha on Rocky and Bullwinkle, will always be a Stan Freberg character first (Miss Jupiter…Edna St. Louis Missouri…Lucretia). Admittedly, when I think of Orson Welles now, I tend to think of Citizen Kane before anything else, but for the longest time, he was always first Harry Lime from the radio show version of The Third Man; he was the spooky narrator from The Black Museum; he was the brains behind The Mercury Theatre on the Air radio theatre group. Needless to say, old-time radio (OTR) was a huge part of my life, and KNX was the station that introduced me to it, and provided one or two OTR shows every night at 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Anyway, I tuned in to KNX last night, and was not surprised that the regular Friday shows had been pre-empted by the annual Halloween broadcast of Orson Welles & The Mercury Theatre group’s infamous 1938 production of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. What did surprise me, however, was the canned announcement at the beginning of the show, saying that it would be the final installment of the KNX Drama Hour. Final, based on the need for news recently: the SoCal fires, strikes, recall election, continuing war in Iraq…

It’s true, KNX skipped the Drama Hour during the first Bush/Iraq war, but it came back. It came back after September 11th. So perhaps this isn’t the true end? Perhaps they will bring it back? Unless another factor was a lagging listenership over the past few years.

So many years, so many shows. I feel old, and like I just lost a friend. A constant, true friend that’s no longer there. No Jack Benny on Saturday nights at 9. Unbelievable. It’s been a part of my life for 15 years.

It means absolutely nothing to the people who have lost friends and family and homes in recent days…maybe it means nothing in the grand scheme of the world. But it’s still sad to see what had been a true staple — a rare hour of old, historic drama, on a major CBS radio affiliate — disappear.

Thankfully, today being Saturday, I tuned in to Anne Litt and Weekend Becomes Eclectic on KCRW and it helped me remember to be grateful for what’s still here in terms of radio media and culture. I hope, hope, hope that her show (and NPR and KCRW for that matter) will be around for a long time to come.


Monday, 20 October 2003

Music to keep me sane and healthy IV

I haven’t done this in a while either…I did manage to update the "What’s in my CD player?" page recently.

Music to keep me sane and healthy: (much of this is the same from June, but I won’t repeat everything)

  • Richard Buckner (all albums, really…although I still can’t get over how powerful Since is, and how all of his songs transcend their lyrics and stories)
  • Jayhawks
  • David Gray
  • Son Volt
  • Wilco
  • Pedro the Lion
  • Linda Thompson
  • Beth Orton
  • Clem Snide
  • Jack Hylton
  • Benny Goodman + Peggy Lee
  • Brad Mehldau
  • Tom Waits
  • Whiskeytown
  • Ryan Adams
  • HEM
  • Coldplay
  • New Order
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim, again in many incarnations
  • Ivy
  • Beck
  • Nick Drake
  • Hawksley Workman
  • Frou Frou
  • Erin McKeown

Thanks, as always, go to KCRW and especially Weekend Becomes Eclectic with Anne Litt. It’s like a six-hour dose of music with a dreamy effect that lasts much, much longer.

Concert recommendations: I would be remiss not to plug KCRW’s third annual A Sounds Eclectic Evening concert, which is on 22 November at the Universal Amphitheatre. Admittedly, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend it in the past, but if you love the music that KCRW tends to play and can shell out 50 bucks, do yourself a favor and go to the show. It’s basically a KCRW benefit concert and features some great artists, including some that aren’t listed (secret guests — last year, one was Pete Yorn). A few of the currently-listed headliners this year: Beck, Jurassic 5 and Damien Rice. If you can go higher than $50, you can get even better seats and access to the exclusive dance party after the show — an opportunity to mingle with some of the artists and KCRW folks.

Before that, though, there’s also Mojave 3 at the Troubadour on the 7th and 8th of November; Lucinda Williams at El Rey on 17th-18th November. And yup, Richard Buckner is still on tour, this time with a band, but no shows scheduled for the west coast yet. Check out Backyard Dusk for tour date links.

Quote for the time being:

"I kept your poem here,
with all my other gear.
But, in the end?
– I missed what it meant."

– from "Ariel Ramirez" on Richard Buckner’s Since. Dang I love this song.