Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wilco: A Beginner's Primer

If you know me and this blog, you know there's one band I really, really like: Wilco.  Sure, I've gotten mad at them from time to time, but overall ours is a love affair that will never die.

So while I'm trying to acquaint a friend to the best of Wilco, I thought I'd share my favorite cuts off my favorite records.  And a little history of my love of this awesome American band.

First off, I have to give credit where it's due.  I discovered Wilco through Bill Flanagan, an MTV/Vh1 writer and director who regularly contributes to CBS Sunday Morning.  He mentioned Wilco every time they released a new record until finally in 2007 I downloaded Sky Blue Sky.  It still remains my favorite of all their records, so I'll start there......

To people that call it "dad rock" all I can say is, those dads ain't wrong.  Best tracks on the record: Either Way, Shake It Off, Hate It Here, What Light and it's a cross between my two faves: Impossible Germany and Sky Blue Sky.  I can't really say enough about the beauty of the music and honesty of the songwriting.  And Impossible Germany probably has one of the best guitar solos of any song any time ever.  Do it, Nels.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is probably the most talked-about Wilco record if you've ever actually heard people talk about them.  It was Wilco's departure from a shitty record label with some truly magnificent material.  Best songs include: Jesus, Etc, Ashes of American Flags, Heavy Metal Drummer and one of my all-time fave and most lyrically-quoted songs: Pot Kettle Black. 

The Whole Love is what my husband calls noisy, so he really liked it.  It's not my pick of Wilco's work, but it does work on some cool experiments.  My fave pick here is I Might.

Summerteeth's best song is its title cut, but it also has the beautiful She's a Jar and a bunch of awesome live songs including Box Full of Letters and Red-Eyed and Blue.

The first volume of Mermaid Avenue was another one of my early discoveries.  These records feature the previously unreleased work of Woody Guthrie on a collaboration with Billy Bragg.  To be honest, I don't love Billy Bragg (his name says it all), but this is still a great collection.  I loved California Stars the first time I heard it and also have a fondness for She Came Along to Me, At My Window Sand and Lonely and Hesitating Beauty.

I've already reviewed the new record, Schmilco over here, but I don't mind tell you again that the best tracks are If I Ever Was a Child, Somebody to Lose, Cry Cry Cry and Nope. 

I understand why a lot of people don't know Wilco.  They're not the kind of band that gets radio airplay or attention for foolishness.  They're a group of guys that are really good at playing and have one of the best modern songwriters since Bob Dylan and Neil Young.   And this list here is only the tip of the Wilco iceberg.....there are so many more songs and albums I didn't even list.  So if you didn't know before now, that's okay.  But now that you do know, how can you not listen?  And that decision is on you, Chief. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When Kids Are A-Holes

I was in Target on Sunday and could only use the word incredulous as a listened to a young teenager come at her own mother as they shopped.  I looked at the mom with what I hoped was an encouraging look of empathy.  She looked beat down.  I'm sure she had fought this battle before.

Some know-it-alls (parents and even non-parents, btw) will be quick to sum that situation up as bad parenting, but I know for a fact it's not that simple.  I was raised well by good parents, and I remember well how hard I was on my mom when I was about 15 or so.  And my mom was a cool mom!  I've read that kids do this to their moms and dads for a number of reasons: claiming independence, testing boundaries, preparing to leave the nest, uncertainty, etc.  Those theories all sound good, and since I'm not child psychologist I'll go along with that.

But here's one more thing to consider.  Kids can sometimes turn on you.  Sometimes for no good reason they will toss that halo out into the yard.  Kids, sometimes, can be assholes.

On commercials when kids make messes, you've got some good-natured mom with her hands on her hips making that "oh, you silly pickle" face.  In reality, you've got a mom about to lose her shit with this disaster area she is suddenly confronted with. 

Maybe they are testing boundaries.  Maybe they didn't have good supervision for a few minutes.  Maybe they were just having fun.  Or maybe, just maybe, they are simply assholes.

I don't think any group tests and proves this theory more than teenage girls.  Even the sweetest of teenage girls can be mean as hell sometimes.  Remember when YOU were a teenager?  Either you were a Mean Girl or you were afraid of them.  Think know what I'm talking about.

And I don't have the knowledge or psychology to get into all the reasons why.  And that's not what this post is about.  This post is for us parents.  Those of us just trying to get through it all without losing our minds and our tempers.  As many of you know my kid has autism.  That diagnosis alone takes him out of the many "normal" teenage behaviors and experiences.  But his behavior still has the power to make me mad and hurt my feelings sometimes.  Yes, even this happy little goober can do it.

So I guess I just really want to impart to all of you parents the feeling that you're not alone.  The feeling that it's okay to get aggravated sometimes.  The feeling that it's okay to take a minute breather (as a matter of fact, I'd recommend that) and get the bad feelings out in some constructive way. 

And yes, sometimes it's even okay to call your kid an asshole.  Not to his face.  But maybe to the other parents who are feeling just like you at the moment.  You won't hear a word of judgment from me.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Netflix Pick: Maggie's Plan

Set up like a bit of a quirky screwball rom-com, this little indie flick actually delves into the complexities of divorce, blended families and complicated romantic choices.  It's a little strange for me to see my dream man, Ethan Hawke, in a role in which he's not that loveable, but I guess we can't win 'em all.  Besides Ethan this film has a stellar cast and a 6 degrees of separation that I can't deny: written and directed by Rebecca Miller who is also married to Daniel Day-Lewis.  I'm glad I have a husband that understands me when I tell him the loooong intricate story of how Rebecca, Daniel and Ethan all hang out together and how they actually call her "Becky" IRL.  On a totally unrelated note, given the number of times I've posted on Ethan and Daniel I feel like it's long past due that one of them should give me a call!!!!!  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September in Charlotte 2016, Revolution Television

actually, Gil.....
the revolution will be televised
then by social media it will be quickly trivialized
while the dark-skinned people are marginalized
and the light-skinned people are criticized
and the unknown dead are immortalized
yes, by god
the revolution will be televised

(With respect to Gil Scott-Heron, RIP)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mt. Holly Festival Today & Tomorrow

Music, food, wine and beer in Downtown Mount Holly, NC. 
David Childers will be playing Friday night at 7 pm.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

On Breaking Hearts & Brian Wilson

I just love the day after a good show.....when the music keeps playing in your head.  I see a lot of shows, so this happens to me a good bit.  But after a reeeealllly good show, it is especially true.

This was the case last night after seeing Brian Wilson's 50th Anniversary of Pet Sounds.  The music of this phenomenal record is brought to life by the 10 or so musicians surrounding Brian on stage recreating the entire Pet Sounds record as well as other Beach Boys hits of the 60's. 

I was really looking forward to "Caroline No" which is my favorite cut from the album.  Brian may not be able to hit all the high notes anymore, but Al Jardine's son, Matt, sure can.  I wasn't let down, and the lyrics keep running through my head all day today.

"Where did your long hair go
Where is the girl I used to know
How could you lose that happy glow
Oh, Caroline no
Who took that look away
I remember how you used to say
You'd never change, but that's not true
Oh, Caroline you......"

Who ever wants to believe we're ever going to change and who ever thinks we really will?  That is, until you look back years later and see that has happened without your notice.

"Break my heart
I want to go and cry
It's so sad to watch a sweet thing die
Oh, Caroline why....."

I don't think there is a stronger sentiment than to tell someone that they broke your heart.  Michael says it to Fredo.  Aiden screams it at Carrie.  My mother-in-law once said it about my brother-in-law.  I've said it to my husband.  It tells you everything you need to know.   It hurts to say it.  It hurts to hear it.

"Could I ever find in you again
Things that made me love you so much then
Could we ever bring 'em back once they have gone
Oh, Caroline no......"

And the song played all the way out to the songs of the train whistles, the barking dog and the train riding on by with its throbbing engine.  And then we're back on the street, out of the beautiful theatre to the gritty realities of life.  The train rolls on.  On and on.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Current Music Pick: Wilco Schmilco

All the reviewers are comparing it to Sky Blue Sky and calling it "pastoral" and talking about a return to roots.  I can't say I disagree.  Given that Sky Blue Sky is my fave Wilco album, this new one does take me back to the sound of Wilco I love.  Current fave track is "If I Ever Was a Child" but check back next week.....that could easily change.  I also really love "Someone to Lose" because it reminds me a lot of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. 

But for as much as I love Wilco I will still sometimes have a moment of realizing just how much.  This came to me a few days ago as I sat stuck in my morning commute.  There I was, one of many, sitting in my simple little Toyota listening to Jeff ponder about the complexities of youth and isolation.  And I suddenly realized, yeah.....that's it.....we're all average.  Back then in detention and even now in this traffic jam.  There's nothing that exceptional about any of us, despite what all that self-esteem teaching taught us. We're a generation of latch-key kids still trying to find our place. All the special snowflakes were born in the next generation, not in ours.  And as beautiful and brilliant as they are, I don't think anyone captures that simple mediocrity better than my guys in Wilco.  It sounds kinda sad and desperate but it actually wraps around me like a warm blanket with a familiar smell.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I love Wilco and why I especially love Jeff Tweedy.  Not mediocre in the least.....only in our own heads.  Geniuses among us, just like we think we are sometimes.  Misunderstood.  Mislabeled.  Misguided.  On our own path.  And happy.  Not thrilled.  But content.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

Music Tonight at Petra's!

Carolina Gator Gumbo & David Childers
tonight at Petra's......
1919 Commonwealth Avenue