Monday, September 16, 2019

Ric Ocasek, 1944-2019

I was unofficially working at a record store called Second Coming in Greenwich Village, when The Cars debut had come into the shop as a promo about a week before it was released officially. I was never hired by the husband and wife owners, but I spent so much time in the shop, Chuck the manager started given me things to do and records for doing them. He gave me The Cars album and said I should listen, that he loved it and I would love it.

I loved it alright. I couldn't stop playing it. It sounded like nothing else. There were these layered harmonies that reminded me of Queen. Maybe that had something to do with producer Roy Thomas Baker. There was a drum sound that was just perfect. Definitely real drums, but yet something electric and precise about every snare smack. There were guitar solos that rivaled some of my guitar heroes, yet on these tracks, those solos felt like their own songs. And of course, the songs, all but one to my memory, getting as much airplay as another.

The Cars debut remains a groundbreaking pop classic thanks to Ric Ocasek leading the way, The Cars went on to do it a few more times in their career. Nothing after the debut packed the same wallop, but there were still enough hits that followed to solidify the brilliance of this Boston band forever. 

Ric Ocasek.

Didn’t see this one coming. Though I’m not surprised by the outpouring of “I was lucky enough to...” posts on social media. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? We love death on Facebook. But...happiness? Good news? Expressing joy? Pfffft. Move on. "Calm down." "Relax."


“Yeah, I love that guy...(insert name of deceased.) “I was lucky enough to...”

First Cars record is as important as “Sgt. Pepper.” Not better, but as important. When was the last time you talked about it? When Ben Orr died?

Love music. All of it. All the time. Get excited by it. Listen to it every moment you can.

My friend Geoff left this as a comment on my Facebook page:

"You are the only guy I know that consistently talks about what's good for no reason other than it's what you're enjoying at the moment."

I know that is not completely true, but I love that he noticed me trying, and it was certainly a lot more satisfying than being criticized or shot down for listening to too much music.

Ric Ocasek, R.I.P.

I was lucky enough to buy and love those Cars records. And I am going to play all of them...well, maybe not "Door To Door"

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Songs Of The Week, 2019: 9/7-9/13

A Fool In Love- Frankie Miller
Black Cat Bone- Robert Pete Williams
Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)- Supergrass
Red-Tommy Hoehn & Van Duren
Come Down- The Common Cold
Redrum- Tom Waits
Physical (You're So)- Nine Inch Nails


A Fool In Love- Frankie Miller
Allen Toussaint's favorite singer, this track is not from the Frankie Miller album Toussaint produced, but a fave nonetheless.

Black Cat Bone- Robert Pete Williams
Another from those Jay Miller sessions I wrote about a few months back. Still spinning that series with great pleasure.

Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)- Supergrass
Supergrass announced a tour and both NYC venues sold out before I decided what track I felt like hearing. Considering my condition this week, this seemed like a fun choice. Certainly more fun than finding out tickets for the Webster Hall show are now going for over $400.

Red-Tommy Hoehn & Van Duren
This one took me by surprise a few weeks ago. I've had this record for ages and don't think I ever played it. I'm glad I did.

Come Down- The Common Cold
Was it a coincidence that my friend found this rare single at a shop for $3, making both me and another friend very jealous, and then that night, I come down with the most uncommon cold in my lifetime? You can find this gem on Rhino's West Coast Nuggets box, "Where The Action Is," a killer one off single by The Leaves/The Merry-Go-Round guitarist, Bill Rhinehart, aka The Common Cold.

Redrum- Tom Waits
A short bit of weirdness from Tom Waits, that for whatever reason, hit the right spot.

Physical (You're So)- Nine Inch Nails
Hopefully, you'll dig this as much as I do. As I mentioned in Friday's post, this is Trent Reznor's excellent Adam Ant cover.

Friday, September 13, 2019

"What You Talking 'Bout? You Say You Don't Like the Reggae Beat?": THE WEEKEND MIX

"You must be craa--aa-aa-aa-aa-zaay."

The title of the post and the line above, come from the lyrics to a song by Rico. I wouldn't call anyone crazy for not being a fan of reggae music. If it doesn't move you, it doesn't move you. But I will argue with anyone who dismisses this music with the old stand by, "It all sounds the same." It's unfair and untrue. It does not all sound the same anymore than all rock, soul, jazz or blues sounds the same. All Dawes songs sound the same. But I digress.

I've been wanting to put this together for some time, but always chicken out. Eleven years worth of posts and comments has taught me a few things. I don't have a lot of readers who are fans of heavy metal, Nine Inch Nails, whose killer Adam Ant cover is featured today, Todd Rundgren and reggae music. If I am wrong, let's see those positive comments on today's mix.

I thought about easing into this mix with a Six Pack. I have a sneaky feeling that many of you might only give this mix six songs. That's if I'm lucky. But I decided to go all in.  And I hope you go all in, as well.

Screaming Target- Big Youth
Freedom Street- Ken Boothe
Darker Shade Of Black- Willie Lindo
Rudy, A Message To You- Dandy Livingstone
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face- Marcia Griffiths
Double Barrel- Dave & Ansel Collins
Dr. Lester- The Maytals
I Should Have Known Better- The Skatalites
The Same Things- The Gaylads
Two Sevens Clash- Culture
Heptones Gonna Fight- The Heptones
Al Capone- Prince Buster
Police & Thieves- Junior Murvin
Where Do The Children Play- Horace Andy
French Connection- Lee Perry & The Upsetters
Take Me- Roland Alphonso
Handsworth Revolution- Steel Pulse
Run Dem Down- Wailing Souls
Psychedelic Island- Rico Rodriguez
Rivers Of Babylon- Wingless Angels


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Now Playing

When I was a kid, I documented everything. I'd get your standard black composition tablet and write it all down. Lists upon lists of everything from what TV shows I had watched, to what I had for lunch, to my favorite actors. I'd bring a smaller version to concerts and write down setlists. I'd keep track of every 45 I played and every song I heard on the radio. I was never a "cowboys and indians" kid. With my friends, it was all baseball, music, movies and TV, and I wasn't the only one who had to write it all down. Many of us did, and some still do. I still find it appealing, though now, I am lazier and older and who needs one more thing to do.

Some time in the early 90's, I started documenting every live show, with notes. It's hard to believe how often I went out. Some weeks, I would have seen 4-5 shows. It was easier then. Concerts were cheaper. I was younger. There were more clubs. I had more money. I wish I still had *that* notebook.

I listen to music every day, all day. It's on when I am working, when I am cooking, sometimes when I am reading, though that depends on what I am reading. Oddly enough, I can't listen to music when I am writing and I can't listen to something new unless that is all I am doing. I don't listen to music in the morning, when I am having coffee, and while I used to enjoy having music on in the background with dinner, I prefer eating all meals in silence. Still, I get in a lot of listening on a daily basis. I couldn't have it any other way.

So, as I slowly recovered yesterday, recumbent, hacking and sneezing, throwing my knees into the air with each honk, desperately trying to avoid another back injury, I began jotting down my playlist. It was a fun exercise. It took me back to 1974, and it kept me occupied while unable to muster the energy to stand upright. I decided I wanted to do this everyday.

"Now Playing" is now a public blog, which you can access by clicking the link in the "Now Playing" box. There is a "Read More" link on the bottom right of the first post, something I don't recall ever seeing on Burning Wood. You'll need to click that if you want to "read more."

This blog has no bells and whistles, at least not yet. It was not created because I think everyone needs to know what I listen to everyday. It's for me, a simple pleasure, a way for me to takes notes, inspire ideas for future posts, and put down in print, just how many times I listen to "The Who Sell Out" in any given week. There will be random notes that may or may not make sense. Again, this is for me. But, I do think it can be fun for you, as well.

Thanks again for the well wishes, the donations to keep all of this going another year and for the continued support.

Comments will be open on "Now Playing," because something I am listening to might inspire you, and because any discussion about music is welcome.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Very Under The Weather

Someone suggested I am allergic to ragweed. All I know is, I have never in my life had a common cold that kept me up sneezing and coughing through the night. I pulled my back out. I have an earache. I lost my voice. To quote Withnail, "I feel like a pig shat inside my head."

Fingers crossed. New post tomorrow.

Thanks for your patience.

Going back to bed.

Monday, September 9, 2019

From Louisiana To Liverpool And Back

We are about three weeks away from the 50th anniversary release of "Abbey Road," featuring another new Giles Martin stereo mix and a host of unheard material from the Fab Four. In the new issue of Mojo you will find a track by track breakdown of the album, with a number of writers offering their thoughts, including David Fricke, who shares his feelings on "Oh Darling."

"To nail the rusted might and despairing finesse of his last, great-white-soul-singer moment on a Beatles LP,  Paul ran his voice through the wringer over four nearly-consecutive days in July of 1969: arriving at Abbey Road before the others dragged in, and repeatedly attacking the pleading simplicity in his lyrics and melody as if his boyhood gods, Ray Charles and Little Richard, were sitting there in judgement."

"Oh Darling" is certainly a highlight for me, and it became moreso once I discovered those amazing Swamp Pop singles from Louisiana so many years later. So imagine my excitement upon reading this last bit from Fricke:

"It's another one of those songs McCartney has never performed in concert--although it soon returned to its spiritual home when Jay Randall & The Epics, covered it on a 1970 single for the tiny Lanor label in Church Point, Louisiana."

I love music.

Jay Randall's almost 50 year old rendition from the swamps of Church Point up top and the new 2019 Beatles remix from "Abbey Road" below.

(And check out those background harmonies on the new mix. I mean, we all knew they were there, didn't we? But man alive, did we really know they were that good? Chills.)

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Songs Of The Week, 2019: 8/31-9/6

Ram On- Paul McCartney
The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar- Bob Dylan
Thunder & Rain- Ellen Foley
What Do You See In Her- Inell Young
I Get Lifted- George McRae
The Rain Came Down On Everything- The Flashcubes
Emerald Eyes- Jimmy Page


Ram On- Paul McCartney
I saw a friend perform this on his Instagram account. He did a fine job. Here's the original.

The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar- Bob Dylan
From my favorite Dylan album that no one cares about, "Shot of Love." Actually, that's not completely true. It was a b-side, then tacked on to later pressings of "Shot Of Love."

Thunder & Rain- Ellen Foley
The great voice of Ellen Foley, singing Graham Parker, with help from Ian Hunter and produced by Mick Ronson.

What Do You See In Her- Inell Young
A deep funk track from New Orleans, it was the only single Inell Young released. $600-$1000, if you can find an original. $20 for a UK repress.

I Get Lifted- George McRae
McRae had a #1 with "Rock Your Baby," but I think this is the better track. "I Get Lifted" just barely cracked the Top 40. What's wrong with people?!!

The Rain Came Down On Everything- The Flashcubes
Social media discussion about an upcoming remaster of Roy Wood's classic "Mustard"--is it a work of genius or a self-indulgent mess? I voted for "work of genius." Many voted for "self-indulgent mess." I took myself out of the discussion when the Jeff Lynne bashing began. (I will have NONE of that.) Anyway, here are The Flashcubes with a gorgeous cover of a gorgeous tune from "Mustard."

Emerald Eyes- Jimmy Page
Page's first proper solo record "Outrider" is indeed a mess. But there are two terrific songs. This is one of them.