Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lies/Liars: Vannevar Bush's Trails

buy Walter Becker "Book of Liars"
buy Steely Dan "Reelin in the Years"
buy Fleetwood Mac "Go Your Own Way"
buy Stevie Nicks "Stop Draggin My Heart Around"

I recently revisited the Feb 2015 print copy of Wired – specifically an article about Microsoft’s new CEO. Segments of Jessi Hempel’s article worth relating seemed to resonate with where I am vis-a-vis Star Maker blogging, (and  our theme of “lies”)

When Vannevar Bush first envisioned the Internet (his memex), the idea was that “trailblazers” could share their trails – the sequence of links they followed to get to a certain (re)source. More often than not, current web files lead us to the end rather than sharing the process and all the intermediary by-paths that might add value to our journeys. For most of us, searching for information about music related to lies, this would be a likely starting point:

Of the fairly decent list of links that appeared, my trail began at the top, and- partway down the list- I locked in on Steely Dan – mostly because, well … they had their heyday when I was a radio disk jockey and… because I like the jazz-rock mix

But I couldn’t place the song “Book of Liars”. Turns out it is a Walter Becker “solo” piece from a 1994 album (Alive in America) produced by the other ½ of Steely Dan, Donald Fagan, and then brought out again in 2004.


This got me thinking about other Steely Dan songs/lyrics. If we stretch the “lies” theme to include cheating lovers, our trail could wind on over to Reelin in the Years

(where they sing: “after all the things we’ve seen and done you go and find another man…” – cheat city)


Back to Vannevar Bush and his memex and his trailblazers. My thought process continued by following Steely Dan – at which point I saw that Steely Dan appeared on the TV show Midnight Special – and so did Fleetwood Mac, at about the same time. My YouTube right-side links (your results may vary) suggested I would like some Fleetwood Mac (Vanovar Bush in action).  I am not sure I have my Fleetwood Mac timeline down all that well, but .. well … there was a certain amount of spouse sharing, and it seems to me that there must have been a certain amount of lies going on there: hence: Go Your Own Way.


Again, the YouTube right-side link. This time: Tom Petty (and one-time Fleetwood Mac member Stevie Nicks. Stop Draggin My Heart ...


link ... to link ... to link ... Many lies...


As this fortnight runs out of it's allotted, I can't resist the opportunity to draw reference to the current situation in the U.K., it being that delightful spell of arguable (and certainly arguing) anarchy between governments. Parliament is dissolved, the date of the election is just under 4 weeks hence and this is the period of the "hustings": the individual parties clamouring the airwaves and newsprint for that soundbite that will lift them above the opposition, with all dirty tricks present and correct. So what has politics to do with lies and liars? Yeah, right...........

 I'm not going to go into the minutiae of who is who and likely winners and losers; the mother of Parliaments seems now to be a real mother of a Parliament right now and I instead draw your attentions, if interested, to a book: "The Establishment: and how they get away with it", by Owen Jones, an unashamedly leftist polemic. Given the author was born in 1984, make of that date and any Orwellism as you will, it gives delightful credence to why the heart of politics is a virtue of the young, with the head maybe coming later, but it also a timely reminder of why, maybe, these times are so anodyne.

Enough talk, music play on.... Two songs. Firstly, Cream, from 1969, I was assumed this to be a Jack Bruce/Pete Brown song, surprised to read otherwise, but I think the lyric rings as true as it ever did:

And how do we respond to politicians? The Chumba's say it best, this generally being dedicated to the politician of the day, which would tend to be, in their heyday, one Tony Bliar, sorry, Blair:

Buy Politician
Buy Mouthful of Shit (from the album "Anarchy", dontcha know!)
Buy Owen Jones

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Lies/Liars: Wish it Was True

If I get a platform, no matter how small, I think I should use it. So, in reverence—I don’t know if that's the right word—I give you something beautiful and plaintive, suffused of subtle anger, a gorgeous song about lies. Lies we tell ourselves, lies that get told to us, that we have little choice other than to believe.

Wish it Was True, by the White Buffalo, is a gorgeous, end of the night, head against the wall wish that begs for more explanation than it offers--a dark, acoustic prayer, a rising hymn to heaven that asks not for help, but for answers. 

The White Buffalo serves as the band name/moniker for singer/songwriter Jake Smith. You’ve heard him if you are a fan of Sons of Anarchy. The White Buffalo plays plaintive, gorgeous, cowboy-sense-driven Americana rock. The songs are propelled by amazing, old-time-feel band, working in a unique, but traditional country western-sound scape. The White Buffalo are making true modern country western, while paying their altar boy-dues to a classic tradition. “Wish it Was True” is an  elegiac ballad, sung like a last breath effort on a death bed, asking various players why they didn’t tell the truth, saving the most pointed accusation for the speaker’s own country. It's the kind of song you have to listen to again and again, if only to feel along to Smith's simple, yet reaching lament in the song's gorgeous crescendo. This is a late night wish without an answer, heartbreaking in its honesty. He asks for polish to a 'blood and a bruise'--but there is no answer to the lies that were told, and the song shows that if we believe too much, too earnestly, we'll only end up "thrown away when you're through..." 

The White Buffalo are a modern cowboy band who transcends frontier and shame anything Nashville is passing off as ‘country-rock’ these days. Jake Smith is a gorgeous baritone with the sense and soul of a poet; his band has a thick, hillbilly backbone that grooves and pops like you’d want and expect of the most backwoods, front porch outfit. This is a true crossover band that ought to get a lot more listens than it does…a few more shootouts, a few more badass gangs riding into town, and you might just see Smith and Co. stalking down the sundown-lit street, come to gunsling you to safety. 

If you dig White Buffalo, then you have to listen to Smith's transcendent cover "The House of the Rising Sun" as well as this absolutely un-ironic cover of  the '80s metal tear-jerker  "House of Pain" by Faster's f@#$ing great...