My album of original music, Funeral Business (featuring Andrew Lee), has been available for purchase for some time. Well, now is the time when you can just listen to the whole thing for free on youtube. You can click here to get to my youtube webpage and subscribe, but below I am also putting all the songs in order for posterity’s sake. Again, thanks to everyone who contributed to this record, you know who are and I love you all. Again, if you like what you hear please follow these links to purchase. It means a lot.
Available for purchase on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon MP3 —
So yesterday, the internet was all abuzz with the debut of the “42,” trailer, the new Jackie Robinson biopic featuring the music of Jay-Z. First of all, what trailer doesn’t feature the music of Jay-Z these days. Second, the introduction of this movie’s presence into my little world, sent my movie loving heart into overdrive. Historical biopics are my absolute favorite genre of movie, even though they are almost all terrible. Quentin Tarantino said it best, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘You can’t just shove a famous person’s life into a 2 hour movie and expect it to be a good exercise of film-making.’ He’s right, practically every historical biopic is fatally flawed for this reason. In these movies, the main actor is usually too old looking for the teenager scenes, and too young looking for the elderly scenes. Think “J. Edgar.” Another problem is the level of historical accuracy. Most times, historical fact is stretched for storytelling purposes in order to sensationalize the person or their story. One scene that comes to mind is from “Nowhere Boy” where fictional teenage John Lennon punches fictional teenage Paul McCartney at John’s mother’s funeral.
Needless to say, this never happened. The director of the flick, Sam Taylor-Wood, remarked that they needed a way to show John and Paul physically bonding…you know outside of their incredible musical partnership.
Another problem with historical accuracy is that sometimes its too accurate. This is the main criticism levied at Steven Spielberg’s soon to be released historical extravaganza, “Lincoln.” The film is an early bet to win a slew of Oscars because of the combination of the commercial master Spielberg, and Daniel Day-Lewis, the actor with the world’s greatest method. Lewis is known for throwing himself into roles with extremely methodical techniques and extensive research. Naturally, the excitement level for this flick was off the charts, and when the trailer hit, the general popcorn munching crowd were stunned when they heard the great Lincoln speak at last. Day-Lewis employed a high pitched, slightly whiny, Kentucky accent. By all recorded accounts, this is how Lincoln spoke. The public, used to seeing Lincoln sit majestically in the Lincoln Memorial, or gaze stoically off their pennies and 5 dollar bills, expected this man to speak with the voice of God. There was a palpable disappointment from the trailer debut because of this one minor point. For me, I loved that Daniel decided to give his Lincoln a historically accurate voicing. My problem with the trailer was the presence of too many familiar superstars dotting the canvas. I found it distracting to see Sally Fields, Tommy Lee Jones, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt inserting their famous mugs in the middle of 19th Century America. To me, this should be a movie where Day-Lewis is the most famous face, and all the rest should be brilliant but lesser known character actors like Jared Harris, who plays General US Grant, and Jackie Earle Haley, who plays Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens. I’m not too upset though. Sometimes a trailer can’t do a great movie justice. Hopefully the film matches its hype and star power. Judge for yourself.
The next movie that I am absolutely seeing is “Hyde Park on Hudson.” The film is directed by Roger Mitchell, and stars Bill Murray as President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its set during a crucial visit of British Royalty to FDR’s palatial family estate in Hyde Park, New York right before the onset of World War II. For those wondering, yes, its the same King and Queen we all loved from “The King’s Speech,” though obviously played by different actors. A lot of “Lincoln’s” early hype came from the fact that Daniel Day-Lewis was able to physically embody the person of Abraham Lincoln so perfectly. The man transformed magically into that Honest Abe, even if his voice shocked people. When I see Bill Murray as FDR, I just see older Bill Murray with a cigarette holder and a fancy hat. He looks nothing like FDR, and frankly, doesn’t even really sound like him. Now, its actually not really important for an actor to look exactly like the historical figure he is portraying. If the movie and performance are great enough, you end up buying the whole thing no matter what people on the screen look and sound like. Bill gives Roosevelt a halting and mischievous voice, hinting at Bill’s expert comedy skills. There are hints of seriousness from Bill, and I hope there are more in the actual movie, because FDR was one of the country’s greatest and most brilliant Presidents, and it would be interesting to see Bill play a character of such historical gravitas. On the surface, this trailer looks sleight, as one of the biggest plot points seems to be the scandal at serving the King and Queen of England hot dogs and cocktails. Take that you poncy snobs! It also seems to be an awkward love story where we are supposed to be rooting for Franklin as he merrily cheats on his wife with Laura Linney, who plays FDR’s real life mistress. Could be great, could be a train wreck, either way, they have my money.
Now we’re going to end from where we began, with “42,” the story of Jackie Robinson. Ironically, of the three trailers, this was my favorite, even though I think this will be the worst film of the bunch. On top of being a huge fan of history, I’m even a bigger fan of baseball history. It was stunning to see the long destroyed monument to Brooklyn baseball, Ebbets Field, existing in full HD reality. Also, the vintage uniforms and realistic baseball choreography was like catnip to me. Jay-Z’s ode to Brooklyn, “Brooklyn (We Go Hard),” which bleats menacingly over the gorgeous imagery of late 40s era baseball is a great contrast. Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey, the real life hero who had the good sense and courage to integrate baseball with the signing of Jackie Robinson in 1947. Having seen Ken Burns’s “Baseball” documentary a hundred times, I can tell you that Ford looks and sounds just like Rickey, and based on the trailer, I’m betting on a masterwork performance. The actor that plays Jackie Robinson, Chadwick Boseman, is a dead ringer for the man, however there is one crucial difference. Boseman gives Jackie a thunderously low and powerful voice, like a cross between Shaft and Howling Wolf, when in reality, Jackie had a high pitched, almost nerdy voice. Think Tony Gywnn. The voice Boseman uses sounds great, and it makes you wonder how much more excited people would have been for “Lincoln” if Daniel Day-Lewis employed a similarly powerful voice. Now, with all that said, why do I think this film will be the worst of the three highlighted? Well, first of all, I hope it isn’t. I have high hopes that the filmmakers will be focused and clever enough to give Jackie the story he is due. The problem is that this is being marketed as a sensationalistic movie. Jackie is being presented as the toughest, most hard loving, passionate, and heroic human beings ever, all in the span of 1:47. Now, obviously, Jackie was all those things, but being a hero in a movie is radically different then being a hero in real life. In movies, heroes tend to swerve from one adrenaline spiked moment to the next, carried on the wings of ceaseless action and drama. What’s left out is the sense of tedium, loneliness, awkwardness, and randomness that makes up the majority of anyone’s life, be they an average Joe or Niel Armstrong. Like I said, hopefully this movie lives up to its great trailer.
Well, lastly, I hope you are looking forward to these movies as much as I am. I plan to be providing extensive reviews of each one once they come out to let you know how well I think they held up to their hype, so stay tuned historical biopic junkies! First up is “Lincoln,” premiering right after election day in early November. “Hyde Park on the Hudson” is coming out December 7th, and we’ll have to wait to April 2013 for “42.”
Well, I’m back in America, the land I love, and the city that made me, New York. After 48 hours of near continuous travel by boat, car, and plane, I’ve made it home to Brooklyn. Over the last five months I’ve been to Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Bangkok, and Railay Beach in southern Thailand. For someone who has never left the USA before, and never really planned to, it was an eye opening experience. I found people in the Australasia region to be both extremely warm and friendly, and positive to Americans especially because they love Barrack Obama. Thanks Mr. President for making Americans cool again overseas. I’ve also arrived just in time for the American Spring, which will lead right into summer, giving me 3 summers in a row, suck it winter. I’ve only been in New York for 24 hours, but I’m already looking for a new apartment, been invited to a musical, and eaten the most delicious NYC bagel I’ve ever had. To celebrate even further, I’m posting John Lennon’s performance of “New York City,” from his fabled Madison Square Concert live performance. I’ve already linked to performances of “Come Together,” “Mother,” and “Cold Turkey,” from the same concert, so it doesn’t hurt to keep globbing on more of the same Lennony goodness. Anyway, it’s good to be back, and it’s good to be home, and I look forward to resuming my daily activities of providing you with the best rock and roll music in the world.
Sorry for the disturbing lack of updates, but I was busy packing up my Brooklyn apartment and heading north for Maine. I’ve got three weeks in beautiful Portland before I head across the world to South Korea and Australia. I’m happy to be out of the city and hear crickets out my window, as four and a half years in New York really drains the nature out of you. I couldn’t be more excited for my trip across the Pacific, and I’m reminded of four other guys who had to get away from it all, the fab four. The rare song you are about to hear was NOT recorded by the Beatles, but rather its a solo John number from 1980 that he made reflecting on the journey he took just 12 years prior. John was beginning to feel sentimental about his life, emotions reflected strongly in his last record Double Fantasy. “India, India” didn’t survive the cutting room floor of that record, but luckily it survives the cutting room floor of history. It’s a pretty psychedelic folk ballad with a wistful haunting melody. Enjoy.
I wrote this song last fall, recorded it in the winter, started the music video in the spring, and put it away till..well…today. The reason it’s the 7th part is because it took 7 mixes for me to get it just right. Musically, this song was inspired by John Lennon’s “Julia,” and George Harrison’s “Not Guilty.” I was going to call it, “The Road to Mandalay,” but I realized that British pop star Robbie Williams already had a song by that name, and the appeal of such a title went out the window. The guitar picking was done on my ’75 Yamaha acoustic, and the guitar solo was played on my Epiphone Casino. I really wish I could have made a beautiful live version video of the song, but I don’t have the money to arrange for it to be done perfectly. What you get instead is a charming little exercise in the wonder that is Microsoft Paint. I gave up making the video many months ago because creating all the titles for the lyrics was so tedious that I lost interest until today, when I realized that I’m now unemployed, and it would have been a shame to not get it done when I had the chance. I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask. Oh, and of course, please vote me as NYC’s best local blogger in the CBS contest where I am a finalist. Thanks.
The trailer for “Bored to Death” season 3 just came out, and of course, its awesome. I have an incredibly soft spot for this show. For starters, I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the predominant location of the show’s adventures. Next, I love detective comedies, long story there. Lastly, the cast is brilliant and the show high brow and hilarious. That’s two or three things, but whose counting? Anyway, the season 3 trailer is just Ted, Jason, and Zach gallivanting around Coney Island to the Beastie Boys “Triple Trouble.” If this doesn’t make you happy, I want you to stop reading my site. Well…read my site less, or just read it the same amount, but respectfully disagree with me on the subject of liking this show. BORED TO DEATH!!!!
I was at the Park Slope Flea Market yesterday and came across this gem. It’s a vinyl LP called “Lesbian Concentrate: A Lesbianthology of Songs and Poems.” I wasn’t gonna drop 15 bucks on it, but I sure as Hell was gonna take a picture of it. When I got home, I did a little research and discovered this about this bizarre LP. First, it was created as a response to anti-gay rights advocate Anita Bryant. Anita is one of those sorry fools on the wrong side of history making a name for herself by crusading against people’s civil rights all in the name of her crazy religious beliefs. Luckily Anita was the sort of woman who would get pied in the face on live TV, which praise Jesus, is preserved for all time for you to watch.
The other thing I learned about this goofy record is that it is frequently included on lists of the “worst” album covers of all time. I find this incredibly stupid. First of all, lesbian orange juice? Fuck yea! The cover is cool. I suppose people just think the title and the whole “lesbianthology” thing is just really funny and odd. Well, none of that makes it a BAD cover, just strange and far out. Oh, in case you are curious, the whole “OJ” thing is based on the fact that “saintly” Anita hails from Florida. And did I mention how much she sucks? Haha, I’m sure she is a lovely woman…Anyway, also blessed be to youtube for having a track or two from the LP, which I’m also including. The song is “Don’t Pray for Me” by Mary Watkins. It’s a pretty funky track with some good lyrics. Best line: “Stop quoting scriptures out of context, to stir up feelings of bigotry…HATRED AND BIGOTRY!” Right on Mary, right on…
Nick Thorburn, leader of Islands and co-founder of the now deceased Unicorns outfit, is my favorite young songwriter. His 2009 LP, Vapours, is my favorite record of 2011, and the more I play it, the more I love it. In the world of indie rock, Islands is big but have yet to transcend the “scene,” whatever that is. It’s a shame because Thorburn and his gang should all be big pop stars. He’s watched groups like Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend achieve mainstream success and cultural breakthroughs when he knows he is just as good, if not superior. He’s jealous, and he’s justified. Take a look at this clip where he tears into Vampire Weekend with dry sardonic viciousness. Read more »
Part 62 takes us back to Biggie and his incredible album Ready to Die with the song “Warning.” This is a messed up perfect rap song about Biggie boasting about his awesomeness through the glass onion of revenge. The video is a lot like the song, Biggie on the phone rapping to himself, well in this case, Biggie #2 is played by Diddy. In actuality, the video is kind of redundant. Biggie was such an amazing rapper, that he never needed videos, the lyrics just unfold in your brain like the baddest movie imaginable filled with attitude. Still, its good to see Biggie and dream about what else he could have given us had he lived. It’s so unfair that he’s still not here, and the irony of this song is not lost on anybody that knows Biggie, his music, and his story.