Friday, July 23, 2004

Editorial comment

Evidently someone who works at the Middleton public library is not a Republican.

I started to read Ron Suskind's The Price of Loyalty, which is about former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, a relatively early defector from the Bush administration. But then I figured: Why do I need to read this? Is it going to make me think differently? Is it going to make me vote differently? No, and no. There is one major party I've always voted for in presidential races, and that's not going to change this year.

I've borrowed a number of books like this one from the library, including the tomes by Richard Clarke and Joseph Wilson. I haven't been able to bring myself to actually read any of them. Like the subjects of this Onion story, I'm really so tired of it all. Tired of Bush, but also tired of Bush bashing. Tired of all the negativity.

Whatever happens this November, I suspect things will be OK. You know? Even if it's not OK, it will be OK. And that's OK.
Twang 101

Yesterday, for the third year running, I delivered a guest lecture on country music to Low-Rollin' Joe Nosek's summer ESL class at the UW. The seminar is on American music and is an adjunct to the students' language classes.

After three years, I'm finally beginning to develop a thesis: country music changes a lot. That's due partly to technological developments, partly to commercial realities, and partly to back-to-basics movements that for the last forty years have emerged every decade or so.

I love these lectures. The students ask great questions: Why are country songs so sad? What's the difference between folk and country? Is Willie Nelson an Indian?

Minus a few tunes I threw in to demonstrate what particular instruments sound like, here's yesterday's playlist:

The Carter Family (formed 1926), "When the Roses Bloom in Dixieland," 1929
Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933), "Travellin� Blues," 1931
Ernest Tubb (1914-1984), "Walking the Floor Over You," 1941
Hank Williams (1923-1953), "Your Cheatin� Heart," 1952
Elvis Presley (1935-1977), "That's All Right Mama," 1953
George Jones (1931-), "White Lightning," 1958
Patsy Cline (1932-1963), "Faded Love," 1964
Waylon Jennings (1937-2002), "Good Hearted Woman," 1972
Kenny Rogers (1938-) and Dolly Parton (1946-), "Islands in the Stream," 1983
Dwight Yoakam (1956-), "Guitars, Cadillacs," 1986
Shania Twain (1965-), "That Don�t Impress Me Much," 1997
The Junkers (formed 1999), "I Always Cry at Divorces," 2003

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Good word

"It had never occurred to me that Spies Like Us would be inspiring to people."

--John Landis
We will rock you

Last night's Worlds Greatest Lovers show was a great success--thanks to all who came. I was depressed after last week's show, because attendance was down, I unprepared and under the weather, and the evening was overall a bummer. Threw me off for a week. So it was nice to get a lift. You know what I'm talking about, especially you musicians.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Over on the right there is my Isthmus preview of this Thursday's appearance by the Seattle indy rockers Xiu Xiu. The piece is called "Let me take you down." You can take that to the bank.
I'll do it ma�ana

I procrastinate. I also worry about my procrastination, which makes me procrastinate more.
It doesn't help that I read biographies of famous overachievers, like Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton. During the Revolutionary War, all Hamilton did was devise the American financial system while simultaneously serving as General Washington's aide de camp, fighting in battles against the British, and starting a family. 
As for me, sometimes it's all I can do to get up in the morning.
In an act of procrastination, I was looking at web sites about procrastination. On California Polytechnic State University's counseling web site I found the following sentence, and I like what it has to say:
Positive reinforcement for delay (a good grade) is a principal contributor to continued procrastination.
The trouble with procrastination, you see, is that it often results in work that, while not superb, is good enough. But I know I can do better. Help me, Jesus.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Worlds Greatest Movers

That's another sideline, actually, but do come hear the Worlds Greatest Lovers, my new cover band, tomorrow night at the Crystal Corner! It's our final show before a three-week hiatus, when the Hometown Sweethearts have their last stand at the Crystal.
The Worlds Greatest Lovers play all your favorite rock, disco, pop, country and salsa tunes. The Crystal Corner is at 1302 Williamson St. in Madison. Showtime is 9:30, and cover is just $3.
Good word
"The easiest thing to do is play music. When you get into that other stuff where you have to sit down for a long time in one spot, well, I get tired of being in one place that much."
--Willie Nelson

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Last night we saw Saved!, the comedy set at a Christian high school. I was curious whether it would remind me of Goodpasture, the Christian K-12 I attended through eighth grade, back when I was a lad in Tennessee. The film made me laugh a lot, and I enjoyed it. As regards my experiences, however, I was struck less by the similarities than the differences.
The chief difference is sectarian. The Christians in Saved! practice a vigorous sort of evangelicalism, with lots of swaying and bearing witess. Goodpasture, on the other hand, is strongly influenced by the Church of Christ, a Southern fundamentalist denomination that discourages enthusiastic demonstrations.
Most critically, the climactic scene of Saved! takes place, as in any high-school comedy, at a prom. But Goodpasture has no prom. The Church of Christ forbids dancing, and so does Goodpasture. The best movie about a regime like that remains Footloose, and sadly, all these years and all this heathenism later, I'm still not much of a dancer.
There also are important musical differences. The soundtrack to Saved! is dominated by the cheery pop known as CCM, or contemporary Christian music. This kind of music didn't really exist 20 years ago, when I was at Goodpasture, so a movie about my time there would more likely feature the old-fashioned hymns and gospel songs we sang at weekly devotionals--and also the Van Halen and Duran Duran we listened to when we weren't in devotional.