Every time every year, the travelers come and go; you see them landing with their pale wings and flying back to the snow.
"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 'Anne Litt/Weekend Becomes Eclectic/The A-Track' category

I go through withdrawal if I don’t listen to The A-Track (a.k.a. WBE) on the weekends.

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.

Sunday, 6 July 2003

The WBE Drinking Game

I was writing over at my other journal about today’s Weekend Becomes Eclectic show, and just how many cool things Anne Litt is putting on the air.

So I thought I’d bring over the WBE Drinking Game idea I’d written about there. (This is a version revised to better suit reality):

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Okay. Now Anne Litt is playing Peggy Lee‘s "I’m Gonna Go Fishin’."

Unbelievably cool. Will she play Richard Buckner? If she hasn’t already today…

I should create a WBE drinking game of sorts. Problem is, I don’t drink. In any case here’s a starting point:

– playing a Lizzie West song…1 drink.
– switching genres in one set…1 drinks. (Chet Baker –> Coldplay)
– switching genres twice in one set…2 drinks. (Chet Baker –> Coldplay –> Patsy Cline)
– switching genres thrice in one set…3 drinks. (Chet Baker –> Coldplay –> Patsy Cline –> Yo-Yo Ma)
– playing a Richard Buckner song…3 drinks.
– playing a Richard Buckner song from The Hill…4 drinks.
– playing Richard Buckner, David Gray, Coldplay, Peggy Lee, Oscar Peterson, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Jayhawks, Whiskeytown/Ryan Adams in one show…have a nice trip, baby.

Monday, 16 June 2003

More musical musings / Music to keep me sane and healthy III

Missed Weekend Becomes Eclectic again the past two weekends, except for about 10 bright minutes of music and chat from Anne Litt, spent sitting/waiting in the car on Sunday. It feels like it’s been way too long — three weeks, after all! My withdrawal is starting to build…

Music to keep me sane and healthy:

  • Richard Buckner, of course; in his current tour there’s no stop local for me, but I hope that’ll change
  • Hem, a group I really really want to see in concert
  • Whiskeytown
  • Ryan Adams
  • Jayhawks
  • Wilco
  • Coldplay
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim, in many incarnations, including the Morelenbaums/Sakamoto
  • Beck
  • Nick Drake
  • Leonard Bernstein‘s West Side Story and its incarnations by Oscar Peterson
  • Zero 7

Tuesday, 22 April 2003

Musically inclined

On KCRW, Anne Litt subbed for Nic Harcourt on Morning Becomes Eclectic yesterday, but unfortunately I only heard the last, oh ten minutes. Guess I’ll have to catch it in the archives.

BTW Litt was away both days last last weekend (Cathy Tamkin and Kevin Lincoln filled in), but was back this past weekend. In the few minutes that I was able to listen two weeks ago, I tuned in right before Lincoln played a Kathleen Edwards tune — I’d never heard her on WBE before, so that was neat. Edwards was Richard Buckner‘s opening act for a long stretch of his last U.S. tour (he’s playing Europe right now), so I saw her perform solo when they stopped locally last December, and talked to her for a bit after the show. She was back in L.A. a few days ago but I didn’t get to see her this time around.

Other NPR shows: On the last Wha’dya Know, one of the audience quiz contestants turned out to be a well-travelled folky singer/songwriter called Lis Harvey, with whom I wasn’t familiar. She apparently was just a big fan of the show, and didn’t resort to any self-promotion on the air, which was refreshingly odd. When I visited the site, her name was linked to her site — that’s really the only reason why I even knew about her site. Haven’t listened to any of her music yet.

And although I’ve mentioned Says You pretty often here, I don’t think I’ve ever commented specifically about the music on that show. Simply put: fabulous. I love pretty much every single group that’s been on the show: the Dactyls (all the incarnations of the Dactyls — including the Neo Dactyls and the Mighty Dactyls), Tom Eaton & Pick 3 (sp?) and Plu Perfect & the Past Participles. They all have their own styles and repertoires and they’re all acoustic. Personally I miss Plu’s many homages to music from the Roaring Twenties, but I’ve noticed that theme recently now and again.

BTW, for all Says You fans (hi madbard), here’s an article about the show (and its Boston University alumni) that you may find of interest.

Yet another Gilmore Girls reference: I was watching a tape of season 3 episodes and noticed (for the first time) that in the dance marathon ep from last fall, one of the classic tunes that got played happened to be "These Foolish Things" — which is one of my favorites. Too bad it was an all-instrumental dance. It would’ve been nice if a singer had crooned along on some of the songs, e.g. "These Foolish Things." Why not be even more authentic to the swing dance band era?

Closer to home: I finally updated the "What’s in my CD player" list, after a five-month hiatus. There’s no review for the Peggy Lee/Benny Goodman album yet, but when I do add some notes I’ll post an update here.

Monday, 31 March 2003


Thankfully, I got to listen to quite a lot of KCRW’s Weekend Becomes Eclectic during the past two days. And yes, hearing it was a welcome relief from news and grim realities. I missed the program opening on Saturday, but on Sunday, when the second song started — "No More Running Away" by the Ben Taylor Band (from what I’ve heard, my favorite from the album) — there was no doubt that Anne Litt was at the helm. She’d played the track (and others from that CD) multiple times before, and hearing it was also like hearing a confirmation that she was there, spinning music. (In the past, there have been a few times when I’ve turned on the radio to WBE, heard a set of music, and thought, "This doesn’t sound like an ‘Anne Litt set’…" — and sure enough, when it was over, a substitute host ID’d the tunes! Litt’s true, eclectic, musical palate really gives the show her own unique and recognizable brand; and I admit: a couple of those times when someone subbed for her, I turned off the radio. It’s just not the same hearing WBE without Litt — sometimes a guest host’s musical direction simply doesn’t mesh with mine, and that’s no fault of anyone.)

What else brought a big smile to my face: hearing Stan Getz and João Gilberto from their classic album (one of my all-time favorites), back-to-back versions of Burt Bacharach‘s "I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself" (the White Stripes followed by Tommy Hunt), Goldfrapp‘s "Paper Bag" (I still am amazed that KCRW does not air an edited version of that song), new material by Daniel Lanois and the (now) good old KCRW favorites "Flowers in the Window" by Travis and "Walk On" from U2 (I remember Litt playing the latter two songs during the first weekend post-9/11).

Not to say that I didn’t enjoy the other tunes — those are just some that got my particular attention. I left out Beth Orton, Lucinda Williams, Badly Drawn Boy, Pete Yorn and many more. Unfortunately, I did miss maybe 30-40 collective minutes of the six hours of WBE (so if Litt played Richard Buckner, David Gray, Coldplay, Peggy Lee, Jack Teagarden, Oscar Peterson or anyone else I would really love to have heard, I missed that). But as always, hearing the show was an uplifting and calming experience. Thanks again Ms Litt and KCRW.

Saturday, 29 March 2003

A very welcome return

For the past week and a half — ever since President Bush gave the first order to attack Iraq — NPR stations and some television networks have been pre-empting their usual programming in favor of news. For nearly a full week, KCRW shelved many of its normally scheduled shows during the day to provide special coverage of the war. Today, the station returns to normal programming, with hourly news updates and reports of any breaking news.

Last weekend I found myself actually needing to hear some Weekend Becomes Eclectic music, but when I switched to 89.9 I realized that regular programming was still on hiatus. Understandably so, of course. I appreciated the decision, but a part of me still needed to hear the music, to get some reassurance and energy. It reminded me of when the last Bush-ordered war on Iraq began over ten years ago. During that time, my main hobby was in old-time radio, and I listened without fail to the Jack Benny Program every Saturday night on KNX. Well, the war happened and I found myself especially wanting to hear Jack Benny, but it and all the OTR had been nixed for news. IIRC, KNX didn’t reinstate its daily "Drama Hour" until weeks later.

Not being able to listen to WBE last weekend also got me thinking about how I felt when I listened to WBE on the first weekend post-Sept. 11, 2001. Selfish and unsympathetic as it may sound, I definitely missed hearing the show last Saturday and Sunday. But if you read that entry from 2001, maybe you’ll understand why.

I welcome back all of the shows, but am especially grateful for the return of WBE and its uncannily healing powers. I’m looking forward to hearing Anne Litt‘s playlists for today and tomorrow.

Quote for the time being:

But give me love over,
love over,
love over this…
and give me love over,
love over,
love over this…

— from Coldplay’s "Politik," A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)

Monday, 17 February 2003

Music to keep me sane and healthy II

On Sunday (I missed it Saturday), Anne Litt had a great show on Weekend Becomes Eclectic. Here’s an example of the artists she played…this is from an actual set, in order:

  • Miles Davis
  • Nat "King" Cole
  • Richard Buckner (she called him "the incomparable Richard Buckner")
  • Lizzie West

I mean well, yeah, what else can I say? I’ve said so much in past entries already…if I give any more praise it may sound exaggerated.

Speaking of KCRW, if you’re a listener and haven’t subscribed/renewed yet, don’t forget…

Two musical artists I haven’t mentioned yet: Joseph Arthur and Paula Morelenbaum & Ryuichi Sakamoto. Their latest albums sound like keepers.

Sunday, 26 January 2003

Music to help keep me sane and healthy

I haven’t updated my “What’s in my CD player” page in a while, but here are some artists who have helped keep me going these days. Some of whom should be no surprise. Links lead to artist sites (official or not).

Ryan Adams
Richard Buckner
Frou Frou
David Gray
Iron & Wine
Kings of Convenience
Diana Krall
Peggy Lee
Allison Moorer
Oscar Peterson
Six Parts Seven
Hawksley Workman

Thanks to the friends who gave me CDs as gifts, and as always, to Anne Litt who often plays a few of these and other musicians/bands I love (she even played some Chopin last weekend…okay it was filler music but still…).

Sunday, 15 December 2002

WBE: ¡Caramba!

     I just had to add this: I’m listening to Weekend Becomes Eclectic on KCRW…I heard the end of a song, then a faint "One! Two!" count and thought, "Hey, that sounds like Peggy Lee‘s ‘Caramba’ number." Then the flutes came in, and the percussion, and I just started laughing out loud as the track played and I heard Lee’s false start (and her great "I was speaking in Portuguese" joke). I’ve heard "Caramba! It’s the Samba!" many, many times in the past month or two, ever since I rediscovered the singer/songwriter and got hooked to her music. Anyway, why was I laughing? Well, once again, Anne Litt plays something and I can’t believe how apropos it is, and I have a hard time believing that she’s playing it in the first place. My usual reaction when this happens is saying "No way!" and shaking my head, but this time I just laughed and shook my head. It’s true, a huge box set of Peggy Lee’s "singles" just came out, and Litt was offering a track from it, but that specific number…on this day…coincidences abound.

     She’s playing David Gray now. I’ve said it many times: Litt’s show is always great. But the 4 to 5 o’clock hour of WBE never, ever lets me down, since she seems to mingle more old tunes in the hour, and she knows how to close a show. No doubt I will hear some more favorite music before 5 o’clock hits. If she plays Richard Buckner…I just won’t know what to say.

     Thanks again to KCRW and Anne Litt.

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, 8 November 2001

The power of music and WBE

It’s been nearly two months since I last updated this page… the last time was just after the attacks on 11 September, and me trying to begin to deal with it, through written words.

In nearly all the difficult periods of my life, I have found music to be extraordinarily healing. I remember that on the weekend after the attacks happened on 11 Sept., I tuned in to KCRW to hear Weekend Becomes Eclectic, and was relieved to hear Anne Litt at the mic again. I think at that point, everyone was just trying to get back into some sort of post-trauma life as best as possible. But it was very, very helpful to hear the show again, and the music that Litt selected was just spot-on for the moment. I remember thinking that she knew just what to play. Some of the tunes: U2‘s "Walk On," David Gray‘s "My Oh My" — which got cut off, unfortunately, leading into an NPR news report — Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Dave Alvin, even some strong>Beatles and Kinks tunes…and music that I learned to love thanks to my dad: some Glenn Miller, Nat King Cole… she played a lot of older tunes that would definitely not be played much by any other station in the same weekend.

I felt better after listening to the shows, and I’m sure that I was not the only one. In a time of chaos and confusion — and we all felt it; no doubt the folks at KCRW were just as affected as anyone — it was good to hear my favorite radio music program on the air. When I wanted news, I’d go to a network TV station, but by the time the weekend arrived, I needed to break away from the hard reality and I needed to know that the world that I used to know wasn’t completely eradicated by terrorism — that "my" world was still intact…still going forward in spite of sustaining a huge wound. Hearing the show that weekend, live as usual, was a clear sign indicating that we would go on and we could go on.

It may seem like a small event, really, or even a non-event, but to me it was important. It wasn’t just the music that was healing (I think Litt herself said that the music she chose was for "comfort food"); it was also because of the fact that she showed up to work as usual, as did all of the KCRW music program hosts (and other programs, but I won’t go into that here). Music is an extremely important part of life — for me, anyway — and, as I mentioned, can be especially important during difficult times. So, thank you Anne Litt and thank you KCRW. And thank God for the gift of music.

Moving on to less serious things… I’ve given this some thought, and I’ve decided that at some near point in the future, I am going to start using this space (probably) to write more formal entries. More like an infrequent column. I guess you could already call this a sort of column, but they’re more newsy bulletins than personal essays. For example the opening topic of this entry (about KCRW after 11 Sept.) would actually be an ideal subject for a column, IMO. That’s the kind of stuff I would write about. But maybe more in-depth. With titles. 🙂 The last time I wrote a regular column was over six years ago. I guess that I miss the experience, so I’m creating my own opportunity here.

Other news: Was that one of the best World Series ever, or what?! Absolutely amazing.

Music of the moment: Richard Buckner is remarkably still very much a factor here. Especially "Pull," "Goner w/ Souvenir," "Lucky Buzz" and "Once." As for other music, well, I’ve been listening to a lot more than just five CDs lately. But for a sampling: I finally
updated my CD player inhabitants.

Quote for the time being:

Hey Jude,
don’t let me down.
You have found her,
now go and get her.

to let her into your heart.
Then you can start
to make it better.

— what else? The Beatles’ "Hey Jude"