Friday, October 31, 2008


Listen to CHANGES by 2Pac.

Jason dropping in.

I wasn't sure where this post was heading. I got a kick out of William Katt appearing in episode 2 of this season's "Heroes" (nice nod - Katt was the star of "The Greatest American Hero" TV series of the early 80s). But I didn't notice him (he was the reporter that gets "Frozen") so I went to youtube. And the youtube refs linked to other TV series' of that time - series like "The Love Boat".

That was an interesting coincidence. Because that theme song's lyrics were by none other than Charles Fox of one of my previous posts.

Maybe I could talk about the singer Jack Jones - how he was apparently "rated highly by Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé and Tony Bennett and a major influence on Scott Walker". How Judy Garland called him "the best jazz singer in the world" . How he recorded "Strangers in the Night" before Sinatra did.

Or how many celebrity guests of "The Love Boat" did so on "The Muppet Show" (another Aaron Spelling staple) - even to the point that Paul Williams wrote the music to the theme song (at my age then, I only knew him from his on-screen appearances with The Muppets - and maximum respect to the man, he wrote "The Rainbow Connection").

Or even something about where that fresh-faced crew from "The Pacific Princess" ended up (best link here).

Maybe it was the fact that Gopher became a four-term U.S. Representative for Iowa that got me thinking about the big E(lection) but 2Pac came into my head.

Once or twice a year I update my "J's top 20 songs of all time" playlist on the pod....and "Changes" has never left it. In it, he sings: "We ain't ready, to see a black President".

So for those of you reading this, and if you can vote, do the rest of us around the world a favour.

Vote. Him. In.

Or, as the Love Boat might say: "Set a course for adventure, your mind on a new romance" (Barack me Obamadeus).

Photo: Pushkar, India, 2001. Taken by Jason Bryant.


Thursday, October 30, 2008


Listen to BEFORE THIS TIME ANOTHER YEAR by Bessie Jones and Group.

It's just a house game, you know -- a fun game, to play in the house.

"Many 'fun' games are concerned with attempts to make another player 'show his white teeth.' But 'Uncle Tom,' though it somewhat resembles other, better-known games, has a plot line and a bitter hilarity all its own. It is an uproariously funny game while it is being played, but afterward you realize what you've been laughing at. Southern black children do not have to search far for the models they satirized in this game.

Here is Mrs. Jones's description of how it is played:

There's a crowd of children setting round in a place and you get you some little sticks or things and call them nails. You come around to the children and then you knock to this one's door just like you were at the door, you knock.

They say, Who is that?

You say, Old Man Tom.

They say, What you want?

You say, I want to sell some nails. How many pounds you want?

And they'll tell him one or two or three, and he'll let 'em have one or two or three of those sticks . . . or whatever it is. And then he goes to the next one and say the same way, and on and on. Then he'll go away and stay off for a little while--he may change while he's out there, dress all kind of funny ways, you know--put on old crazy ragged clothes or a funny face or old funny hat or anything, you know. Then he'll come back and knock again.

They say, who is that?

And he say, Old Man Tom.

They say, What you want?

He say, I want you to pay for my nails, please.

(He say it in a funny way, like he was so hongry and tired, you see.)

And they say, I can't pay.

And he say, You can't pay?

They say, I can't pay!

And he say, like he's crying, You ain't going to pay Uncle Tom?

And you're not supposed to laugh or not even smile, just be hard at him, and Uncle Tom have to do all kind of funny things to make you laugh. And if you laugh, then you got to give him the nails back, you see. He got to do all kind of cutting up, dancing and jumping around making ugly face and all the time asking, 'You can't pay? You ain't going to pay Uncle Tom. Poor Uncle Tom, you can't pay? and all that kind of funny way. . . . It's always who can be so hard, you know, and won't laugh, why he'll be Uncle Tom the next time."

Photo: Martin's guest appearance (4).


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Listen to SHEEP, SHEEP, DON'TCHA KNOW THE ROAD by Bessie Jones and the Sea Island Singers.

When I was a little girl, I thought Jim Crow might have been a bird, because it was "going down to the new ground," and they always shoot them birds out of the corn. "New ground" is ground where the trees have been cut off, but it's never been planted in. So that was what I understood at the time, that was my idea. But we don't know what the old folks meant, we sure don't.
John Davis: I don't believe the old folks knew what they were talking about their ownselves. Anyway, they didn't tell nobody. . . .

"Probably, to begin with, 'Jim Crow' was a bird, as Mrs. Jones and Mr. Davis suggest, but during the late 1820s the name became attached to a young white actor, Thomas D. Rice, who had invented a stage characterization of the 'jolly, carefree' plantation slave. . . . 'Jim Crow' thus developed from a dance imitating the motions of birds and hunters, and quite possibly magical in nature, into a commercial caricature. No wonder the term, when used in political context, has a bitter taste today."

Photo: Martin's guest appearance (3).


Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Listen to LITTLE JOHNNY BROWN by Bessie Jones.

If you know how to clap and what you're clapping for you can come right right out with the song. . . . You're supposed to have your music come out even with you singing. . . .

Here's how it would go if you were doing it at home:

FORM: Ring of players standing and clapping; one player in the center.

"Mrs. Jones's concern with timing showed here with her insistence, during play, that the "comfort" (comforter) be spread down on the fourth line of the verse, so that there would be no awkward time gap to be filled in by the center player. . . ."

Little Johnny Brown, Spread your comfort down (Center player walks around the ring)

Little Johnny Brown, Spread your comfort down (Center player spreads handkerchief out)

Fold one corner, Johnny Brown (Center player folds one corner per line)
Fold another corner, Johnny Brown
Fold another corner, Johnny Brown
Fold another corner, Johnny Brown
Take it to your lover, Johnny Brown (Center player dances over to partner)
Take it to your lover, Johnny Brown
Show her your motion, Johnny Brown (Center player "makes his motion")
Show her your motion, Johnny Brown
Lope like a buzzard, Johnny Brown (Center player does the buzzard lope)
Lope like a buzzard, Johnny Brown
Give it to your lover, Johnny Brown (Center player hands handkerchief over)
Give it to your lover, Johnny Brown
Give it to your lover, Johnny Brown (New player takes over)

Here's how awesome it looks on youtube:

(I would remiss if I didn't mention that earlier this summer Stu recorded and shot Sam Amidon (with Valgeir & Nico) doing a cover of this tune for Stu's East Village Radio show. Great taste, even if the effect ends up being a little different... )

Photo: Martin's guest appearance (2).


Monday, October 27, 2008


Listen to YOU BETTER MIND by Bessie Jones and Group.

From "Step It Down: Games, Plays, Songs, and Stories from the Afro-American Heritage," by Bessie Jones & Bess Lomax Hawes.

"Mrs. Bessie Jones was born in Dawson, Georgia -- a small black farming community -- and grew up like thousands of other girls of her time in the rural South. She started to work when she was still a child, helping out her big family; she chopped cotton, planted potatoes, watched out for her littler children, took her schooling when her family could spare her and as it was offered.

Balanced on the edge of real poverty all her life, she learned how to amuse and entertain herself and others. Music -- especially singing -- is not only one of the least expensive art forms; it is also one in which you can participate while you are doing something else.

I remember a hundred games, I suppose; I would say a hundred because there are so many of them. We had all kinds of plays; we had house plays, we had outdoor plays. Some of the plays have songs, some have just plays -- you know, just acts or whatnot . . . in my time coming up, the parents they would have quiltings and they would have songs they would sing while they were quilting and we would listen at those songs. And we would have egg crackings and taffy pullings and we would hear all those things -- riddleses and stories and different things. That's why I'm so loaded. . . . And then I has a great remembrance of those things, that's another thing about it.
Bessie Jones, "loaded" as she was with games and songs and her own particular and irrepresible joy in living, got married and moved to her husband's home, St. Simon's Island, one of the long strong of coastal islands that edge the Eastern shoreline of North America. There she met the Georgia Sea Island Singers. . . . The Singers, dedicated to the preservation of the old musical ways of their forebears, were so impressed with Mrs. Jones's buoyant personality, extensive repertoire, and experienced singing style that they invited her to join their group; she became one of the only mainlanders so honored. Mrs. Jones, in her turn, felt at home with the Singers' dignity and with their pride in their African and Afro-American heritage -- the same kind of dignity and pride that had been so carefully taught her by her own parents and grandparents."

Photo: Martin's guest appearance (1).


Sunday, October 26, 2008

You'll Never Walk Alone (And You'll Never Stop Talking About That Time You Beat Chelsea)

Listen to YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE by JD Sumner & The Stamps.

From the credit where credit is due department. Besides, at the rate Liverpool is going this season, I'm never going to get a chance to share my favorite new versions of the old standard. This particular version is definitely the best one yet.*

We should probably just call off the league, because I don't see Liverpool losing it now.**

* Possibly not true.
** Possibly not true.


Friday, October 24, 2008



The world of purchasing music in Japan was a bit backwards. Surprisingly, the cheapest option was to buy the imported CD which cost $20-$25. To get people to buy the Japanese release which ran about $30, the record company would add the fabled "Japanese Bonus Track". Unfortunately most of the good additional tracks were already available on the UK imported version, leaving the band having to come up with something new for the Japanese release. The result was typically a poorly recorded demo version.

Love them or hate them, you've got to give Ben Folds Five credit for recording what to my knowledge is the only Japanese Bonus Track actually recorded in Japanese. You'll notice that the curse words are still in English -- sadly, there is an insufficient amount of swear words in Japanese!

Well, that does it for my week of Japanese music. My exposure to the Far East music scene ended five years ago -- maybe Amy can shed some light on some current J-Music!

Photo: Japanese Wires (5).


Thursday, October 23, 2008


Listen to TANDEMU (VERSION 1) by Halcali.

Japan is the land of the one hit wonder. Other than a handful of supergroups, there is a revolving door of groups producing the flavor of the week. My town had only one radio station which strangely played mostly Reggae. Believe it or not, my source of exposure to new music came mainly from the music playing over the speakers in convenience stores. If I heard a song I liked, I'd have to find someone that knew which one hit wonder it was or I was out of luck. In the days before Midomi and Shazam, I was forced to attempt singing the song to one of my students, often to no avail. What was a guy to do? The answer: randomly rent CDs until you find the songs you want!

That's right, my local media rental store had a section for VHS tapes, a section for DVDs, and a section for CDs. New CDs were $4 for a week and old CDs were $2. It was a fantastic way to sample new music. I came to know "Tandemu" (which means motorcycle passenger... as in, tandem) in just such a fashion: 1. hearing it in a convenience store, 2. making a fool of myself in front of my students, 3. finding it as a rental.

I still don't know why there aren't CD rental stores in the states. If only the library had a bigger selection...

Photo: Japanese Wires (4).


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Listen to STROBOLIGHTS by Supercar.

Supercar (スーパーカ) has the distinction of making the soundtrack to my favorite Japanese movie: Ping-Pong. The film is very similar to Shaolin Soccer, revolving around a normal sport with fantastical elements popping up here and there. Supercar's light-hearted electronica fit perfectly with the quirky underdog tone of the movie.

Photo: Japanese Wires (3).


Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Listen to THESE DAYS by Love Psychedelico.

The Japanese baby boomer generation possesses a universal love of The Beatles that borders on obsession. As a Westerner, any conversation I had about music inevitably involved the Fab Four and/or Yoko Ono. Many of the Japanese teachers of English that I knew said they first got interested in learning English to understand the lyrics of The Beatles.

It is, therefore, not surprising to find a lot of Japanese bands influenced by The Beatles and marketed directly for their fanatics; Love Psychedelico is one of those bands. "These Days" is the most folk/country influenced song off their eclectic first album (ingeniously named "The Greatest Hits"). The seamless joining of Japanese and English lyrics are sung in a way that conveys the meaning even if you don't know half of what she's saying.

Photo: Japanese Wires (2).


Monday, October 20, 2008


Listen to FUNKASTIC by Rip Slyme.

My year of living in Japan taught me the basic tenet of Japanese music: it's heavy on corporate influence and light on originality. J-Pop was mostly a washed out assortment of Disney theme songs or second rate Mariah Carey ballads. J-Rock was still trying to be punk. Even Enka, Japan's traditional folk songs, seemed to be made for karaoke. Everything sounded five years behind the times. J-Hip Hop was the only real standout. (Yes, you just add a J in front of it and it becomes a Japanese genre!)

Aided by Japan's loose copyright laws, Rip Slyme and Dragon Ash sampled from a wide range of oft-unheard Western sources and brought Hip Hop out from underground status in Japanese culture. Both groups rap mostly in Japanese with a smattering of English, though you get a feeling that they don't understand much English that they are using.

Like many Japanese bands, Dragon Ash took the nonsensical English word route when naming themselves. Rip Slyme, however, is a play on the Japanese use of the same syllabary (リ) for both L and R sounds, making a tongue in cheek (as it were) reference to the phrase "Lips Rhyme".

Photo: Japanese Wires (1).


Friday, October 17, 2008


Listen to EMPTY by Ray LaMontagne.

Jason dropping in.

I'd heard of Ray. Picked up on him around the edges. And then came, of all things, a TV commercial - not a commercial endorsing a product (like Norwegian singer Ane Brun's ice-kissed cover of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colours" for cable company Sky in England) - but a commercial for an album. The song was "Trouble"* (which went on to be a top 5 single in the UK - but don't let that fool you).

By the time I'd got some tracks, I was watching him live at the Hammersmith Apollo.

I've written before of Bon Iver; Justin Vernon retreated to the woods to write his magic but Ray feels like he'd never left them. I also knew he wasn't much of a talker, for interviews or live on stage.

And so Marie and I sat down at the Apollo. Clearly, others knew his reputation as well. There was an expectant silence as he entered, eyes down, picking through the acoustic walk that begins Be Here Now. It was a beautiful start.......and his next song was "Empty".

Ray's voice will be the first thing that will get you. And then maybe you'll notice the lyrics:

She lifts her skirt up to her knees
walks through the garden rows
with her bare feet laughing innocent image brilliantly, and perhaps unintentionally, constructed (depending on whether you choose to think of a comma before the word "laughing").

But this man chooses "instead to dwell in my disasters". We begin to move through Ray's landscape of an "old and rusted Cadillac" sinking into a field, "collecting rain". He is "weary" amidst the blaze of "cut-throat busted sunsets", and can only ask:
Will I always feel this way?
So empty, so estranged?
If he spoke through his "cracked and dusty dime-store lips", would anyone hear?

My very first post on this blog was a haunting song of existential emptiness. That song was of a man facing into his own insignificance. This is a similar song of hollowness -he wonders if he spoke through his "cracked and dusty dime-store lips" whether anyone would hear. He can only numb himself with hidden hurt as the love of a simple woman (with flowers in her hair and a "country mouth so plain") goes unanswered. The tapping of the rain on leaves sounds to him like "they're applauding us", but all he can do is stare into the eyes of his demons, baring his chest and challenging them to "do your best and destroy me", admitting that even then:
I've been to hell and back so many times
I must admit you kinda bore me
For those of you listening to the mp3, you're missing one vital ingredient. Ray ditched the strings for a pedal-steel guitarist. This is how it was:

Ray seemed uncomfortable about acknowledging us, the audience, in Hammersmith.......he spoke few words, but when he did the audience held its breath.........and this song I will never forget....

Photo: Butterfly Paradise. London Zoo. 2008. Taken by Jason Bryant.


Thursday, October 16, 2008


Listen to THE NEST by Jimmie Spheeris.

I was tricked into listening to this album a few years ago by my Dad, who insisted Jimmie Spheeris was a native son of Oklahoma. At some point I heard he was from California, which disappointed me to no end.

But then not too long ago somebody updated his wikipedia page, and check this out how he got out west:

"Jimmie (James) Spheeris was born in Phenix City, Alabama, to Juanita 'Gypsy' and Andrew Spheeris, who owned and operated a traveling carnival called the Majick Empire. . . . After his father was murdered by a 'belligerent carnival-goer,' Gypsy Spheeris moved the family to San Diego, California."

Whoa! Pretty heavy. Which is not how I'd describe The Nest. It's just...pretty. But I like it usually, it's another one that sounds so time-bound that you can't help but like it sometimes (and be put off by it at other times).

At home I edit out the first 14 seconds or so, but I'll leave it alone for yous guys. Just be patient if you don't hear anything but some tinkling piano for a few seconds.

Photo: Fun Fronts (4).


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Listen to HELLO SUNSHINE by Relatively Clean Rivers.

This song title alone would be enough to put me in a great mood, er, well, no it wouldn't.

On the other hand, the band's name is a gas. What self belief they must have had! "Decently Nice Rock Group." And that's about all this song is. It's never really jumped out at me, until I checked my iTunes one day and realized I had played it about 20 times in a month. So, I thought, who cares if I thought this was nothing more than a decent tune? My ears are telling me it's great!

It's called trusting the data. That's why, when you watch the debate tonight, don't pay any attention to who the experts say won, just check the polls they pipe in from the slowundecided voters. Just gotta trust the data.

Photo: Fun fronts (3).


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Listen to BLUE RIVER by Eric Anderson.

Blue River is a song that is capable of getting stuck in my head for days at a time. Frankly, I'm not sure that's any sort of qualification for posting it here, and in fact it means I've been pretty annoyed with this little tune more than once.

Here's another thing that might sound like a good thing: "Along with Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and Joni Mitchell's Blue, it is a defining moment for the singer/songwriter genre." That's from Amazon. Frankly, I'm not so sure. There's something about that statement that's annoying to me. Like the whole "singer/songwriter" genre, and that they've put Bob in it. I think maybe they should put James Taylor, Jim Croce, and Eric Anderson in a singer/songwriter bottle and only let them out once a year. I guess today will do for this year.

Photo: Fun fronts (2).


Monday, October 13, 2008


Listen to CHRIST, HOW EASY IT COULD BE by Curt Newbury.

If by chance you thought the title was the best thing about this song (and really, who could blame you? It's as good as Champagne Supernova or You Gotta Quit Kickin' My Dog Around), you're in for a pleasant surprise.

First, he's from Dallas, which should please all you nasty longhorns out there. Second, the album cover from which this is taken is equally awesome. Third, the tune is quite engaging, if very obviously from the Sound Factory in 1970. Fourth, and I don't know how plausible this is (mind you he is from Texas), but "Hopefully this is not the same Curt Newbury who became a child erotic photographer! All over google all you can find is information about this guy Curt Newbury who is this freaky child photographer and nothing about this album. Maybe it is the same guy, some of those hippies got into some really freaky stuff after that movement dissolved."

Photo: Fun fronts (1).


Friday, October 10, 2008


Listen to PRAYIN' FOR RAIN by Soulhat.

John here again. Earlier this week I had lunch with an old colleague and, even though he's from Long Island, we ended up talking about Austin. As a programmer, he's spent quite a bit of time there and likes the town and it's food and nightlife very much. Coincidentally, Bill's series of obscurities this week brought to mind my first interactions with the unfamous - browsing the large record store chain's "local music" bin.

Ah, the "local" bin, with covers full of smiles, costumes and poses similar to its segregated, more famous brethren, it is awash in the tragedy of unrealized dreams. Must be tough when even an 18yr old kid knows it's not going to work out!

Anywho, put the two together and you get Soulhat, 1993's "Austin Band Of The Year" (runner-up). You see, when I first heard today's track back then, I liked it. Not only did I have it in the car, but I would actually take the album inside after driving... back when that was how it was done. It was an energetic description of my maturity horizon. Then came 1994, and now 2008, with barely a whisper of the track. For me, and most likely for you too, hearing it is like looking at a 1958 Cadillac: nothing you particularly like, but immediately evocative of its time. "Prayin' For Rain" is a swirl of early-90s American indie pop elements played by a group of guys who would like nothing more than to grab some Chuy's and talk to you, really talk to you, about Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Have a good weekend, and enjoy!

Photo: Barton Springs (via "Pablo Agua" on flickr).


Thursday, October 9, 2008


Listen to 'TIL THE CHRIST COME BACK by Bill Fay.

This is another obscure British folkie, though when this album was reissued a year or two ago, you may have seen his name bantered around. The key to the obscure British folkie reissue marketing game is to compare your offering to Nick Drake, and so the "uncompromising starkness" of Bill Fay's 1970 album, "Time of the Last Persecution," got compared to "Pink Moon" more than a few times.

The problem is, for me, is that the music isn't that bleak at all. It's stripped down (read: slashed recording budget) but nothing like Nick Drake. The lyrics are on the dark side, poetical, metaphorical, and (here literally) apocalyptic, but don't really evoke the submerged turmoil of "Pink Moon." It's a little more surface. Frankly, he sounds more like Cat Stevens with a thing for Black Sabbath.

These aren't meant to be criticisms! 'Til The Christ Come Back is definitely one of my favorites in my current rotation, and if telling you it was just like the song in that famous Volkswagen commercial would get you to listen to it, I would.

Photo: In repose (4).


Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Listen to SEEING THROUGH by Rick Hayward.

This is about as obscure as I can get. I downloaded this Rick Hayward album on a lark and I like it quite a bit. Let me quote a little:

"A beautiful solo debut from Rick Hayward -- a guitarist who'd played on numerous blues and rock sessions for the Blue Horizon label as a session musician, but who steps out here with a gently folksy voice of his own! The set's almost all acoustic -- and features Rick on sitar, mandolin, bass, bongos, and a bit of drums as well -- sometimes instrumental, with a lyrically jazzy inflection to his sound -- sometimes with a bit of vocals, which have a fragile quality that's quite different than Hayward's more confident guitar."

That bit of "difference" is key to the success of this song. The playing is totally confident and professional. ...And the singing is classic sideman-gets-a-song. Just like Ringo's vocals are charming in their limitedness, Mr. Hayward's vocals here are likeably modest.

Photo: In repose (3).


Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Listen to LITTLE HANDS by Skip Spence.

Skip Spence nudges a little higher up the obscurity scale, often being called the "American Syd Barrett" or maybe the "Bay Area Roky Erickson." I kid! Still, he certainly fits the template of the sixties seeker who burned out and faded away.

"Oar," Spence's solo album after leaving Moby Grape (who were super-famous for a period of time, now only among the cognoscenti) is a touchstone for many. Little Hands is the opening track, and it's in that folkie singalong anthem style I'm known to prefer.

Little Hands is one of those songs where, if you like it on the first listen, be careful because it's not actually a Hey Jude-style crowdpleaser, but if you don't like it immediately, give it a few more spins because there's a lot more going on than the simple arrangement would have you believe.

Photo: In repose (2).


Monday, October 6, 2008


Listen to MOUSE by Lambert & Nuttycombe.

There's a long back story with this track that will be of very little interest to anyone, but this album by this duo, Lambert & Nuttycombe, landed in my iTunes a year or two ago and I've been champing at the bit to post something from it for a long time. The thing is, I wanted to do it as part of an ambitious two-week series on Northern Californian folk rock, but I haven't been able to put it together. On top of that, Corbett was aware of this album too, and wanted to do his own series. But he couldn't fill it out either. Meanwhile this fantastic song (one of many) wasn't being shared.

So I give up, I'm playing it for you today. Despite the exciting buildup, there are no fireworks on this song. It's very short, and very soothing. But like the album it's taken from, "At Home," it's so well-constructed and so out of nowhere (Dennis and Craig were also alums of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, itself not exactly a world-famous band) that I really root enjoyfor it.

Photo: In repose (1).


Friday, October 3, 2008


Listen to AUTUMN IN NEW YORK by Billie Holiday.

Finally, here is a lovely little song I discovered hiding away in my itunes. I am not much of a jazz-ophile, (I admit I know nothing about jazz) but this tune and of course the vocals are really haunting. Better yet, the lyrics perfectly describe NYC’s knack for being captivating but unappealing at the same time: Here on the twenty-seventh floor looking down on the city I hate and adore! Autumn in new york, why does it seem so inviting?

I feel the same way. Apparently not much has changed around here since the 1940’s!

So, here’s to autumn in New York and all of its “adventures and battles”!

Photo: Church Lamp.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Spare a thought

Hi! I have two incongruent points to this quick post. First, to thank Laura for an excellent week of songs. Every time I've had a guest blogger I've been kind of embarassed by how big an improvement they are over the regular fare and it's been no different this week. She's got one more in the queue for tomorrow and then I'll be back muddling through next week.

Second, we were over in London this week, and while visiting the British Museum we saw a bunch of beautiful selections from India, particularly from the complex in Halebid. I remembered that I had included a few photos from my trip to India not too long ago, including a photo from Halebid, and was a little regretful I didn't give a little more context for the photos. Now I see upon our return that there's been an awful stampede at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodphur. I can attest to the steepness of the approach and I can see how dangerous it could get. We had a picture from the Fort too, coincidentally a memorial to others who died at the Fort. Spare a thought for their families.



Listen to AUTUMN LEAVES by Eva Cassidy.

Autumn Leaves is a well-known pop-standard, and of course an autumnal classic. Originally a French song, its English lyrics were penned by Johnny Mercer in 1947. It's been recorded many times, but this version is from the mysterious Eva Cassidy. When Cassidy died of melanoma at age 33, her music was pretty much unknown. But since her death in 1996, she has developed a devoted following. Stories abound of radio stations playing her music and immediately having their switchboards light up. Her posthumous album Songbird even hit number one in the UK. It features many pretty songs and one of them is the delicate Autumn Leaves.

Photo: Shawangunk Mountains


Wednesday, October 1, 2008



I've always thought this late-era ABBA single was not talked about enough. It's a bit of an under-appreciated classic from 1981 that was also the group's final American top 40 hit. Recorded at the same time that Frida and Benny were divorcing and just a few months before the band ultimately dissolved, it clearly speaks to the pain of breaking up. You can tell Frida truly feels the "autumn chill" as she's singing. But at the same time, it's a mature, almost cheerful good-bye.

So, say good-bye to summer and to ABBA.

Photo: Greenwood Cemetery.