All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.
"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 November, 2002

Sunday, 24 November 2002

The open road is closing in on me

I’ve been a fan of KCRW for years. Admittedly, I don’t listen 24/7, but I do tune in when possible. My favorite KCRW-produced show, if I had to choose, is Anne Litt’s “Weekend Becomes Eclectic” on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. But you knew that already.

I’ve heard promos for just about every show on the station. During WBE I’ve heard countless promos for Gary Calamar’s “The Open Road,” which airs from 8 to 11 p.m. Sundays. Confession: I have never listened to a full show, maybe not even 10 minutes. By 5 p.m. I’m usually away from the radio.

It’s not like I didn’t want to listen. But aside from schedules not meshing, there was another reason why I was, in fact, a bit scared to tune in to Mr Calamar.

I was afraid that I would fall in love with his show.

Don’t laugh, now. If you have any idea of how I feel about music — good music — then you may know what I’m talking about. That this fear was justified. Or, yeah, I could be crazy.

There’s truth in the adage that “ignorance is bliss,” that what I don’t know can’t hurt me. I’d gone without listening to his show for so long — hey, I got along fine without it. Now, if someone told me that I could never again listen to WBE, I’d be at a serious loss. The programming for that show is energizing, fun, and after listening to it I never think, “Gee, that was a waste of 3 hours of my listening time.” In fact, the opposite occurs. WBE (or should I give credit where credit is due, and say Ms Litt) never ceases to amaze me every time I tune in: her song choices, musical taste and diversity. Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard all this before on my Radio page. Okay, back to the main point.

Tonight, I happened to be at the computer working on something. I flipped on KCRW, and when Anne Litt signed off, I was still at the keyboard. “All Things Considered” and Steve Inskeep (affectionately known as Rat Boy) kept me informed for the next hour. Then it was two hours of Nic Harcourt’s “Sounds Eclectic” — and I was still at my desk. When 8 o’clock swung around, the first 20 minutes of music got to me.

“This is stuff I play all the time!” I thought, marvelling at Mr Calamar’s first set of the evening. My follow-up thought: “Great. I knew this would happen,” as I felt my heart latching on to the Open Road and not wanting to release it. My fear — as well as my hope — had become reality. But it’s not everyday that you find a musically kindred spirit.

Thanks a lot, Gary. Now I have to listen to your show, and if I don’t, I’ll feel bad about missing it. Please, don’t ever play classic (or not-so-classic) tunes from the ’20s through the ’40s, because then I’ll really become a hopeless fan, playing your archived shows back-to-back. And we wouldn’t want that to happen…

Thursday, 14 November 2002

The best things in life are free

    ‘A’-list music: David Gray‘s new album (A New Day at Midnight) sounds pretty good, from the few tracks I’ve heard. A bit more down-tempo than the last, but still very much DG. Also don’t forget Richard Buckner‘s new album (Impasse) and EP (Impasse-ette) are available now! Buckner is also touring as I type this, so be sure to catch him if you can.

     Lost & found, sorta: I’ve been listening to a lot of old songs as well recently, thanks to a few projects I’ve been working on. Aside from Buckner, my CD player right now has a CD of tunes from Peggy Lee early in her career. There are so many great non-standard standards out there — tunes you don’t hear very much these days. A songwriter whose work fits in this category (unfortunately) is one of my favorites, Ray Henderson. He wrote and/or co-wrote some great songs — some of my all-time faves — that may sound a little dated, but are still fun to listen to and sing: "If I Had a Talking Picture of You," "The Best Things in Life Are Free," "You’re the Cream in my Coffee" and "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue." In any case, I’ve thought of reviving some tunes that I personally like but are hardly ever performed these days (except by traditionalist bands). Not just Ray Henderson songs, but there are so many others out there. I’d arrange them very simply — guitars, vocals, and maybe have a friend or two play along if they don’t mind — and not get worried if the arrangements are anachronistic for the songs.

     Just because: Last week’s Says You was one of the funniest ever. I’m not sure if it was a repeat, but it sounded pretty new. I kept cracking up, thanks mostly to Tony Kahn‘s "obsession" with Paula Lyons‘ poker tell and later her turning the table on him.

     On the TV front, I am really enjoying the first-season repeats of Gilmore Girls — I really think that it is the strongest season of the show to date. The writing was just fabulous — what more can I say? I hope this season picks up a little. Alias is consistently fun and still the king of cliffhanger series.

Posted at 12:00 am | Filed under Music, Radio, NPR, etc., Television |