This Machine

Roots are neat things–they can intertwine in odd ways sometimes. I mentioned a couple of days ago that were it not for Pete Seeger, there would be no Digital Cuttlefish. Seeger’s influence, though, does not take just one direct path–Seeger influenced lots of people who (unintentionally, I assure you) shaped me in turn–Dylan, for instance, and Mojo Nixon, and Tom Waits, and Bruce Springsteen… sometimes you can see direct influences of these people in a verse I write (in such cases I usually try to apologize to Bob Dylan, for instance), and sometimes it is more subtle.

One such intermediate influence is Roy Zimmerman. He doesn’t know it, but we’ve met, a couple of times, and I have quite a few of his CD’s autographed by him (the others, not yet signed). His facility with wordplay is as inspiring as the ideas thus presented, which is saying something. Anyway, the video below was just sent out via his newsletter–if you aren’t already receiving it, click through to youtube and follow the link to subscribe (I’d link here, but I’m assuming he gets revenues through youtube as well, so give an artist some clicks)–and it is inspired by and dedicated to Pete Seeger. I’d explain the “this machine” reference, but Zimmerman does, and I don’t want to steal his thunder.

My own machine has no strings at all, but (I am reliably told) it is mightier than a sword.

I Need Some Advice…

For an upcoming funeral. The deceased was a Christmas-and-Easter churchgoer; most (a slim majority) of the extended family are atheist, with a mix of religions (mostly various Protestant Christian) a strong minority. And one daughter, Catholic, who wants to sing The Lord’s Prayer at the memorial.

The question I was asked, and which I am passing along to you… can you think of a compromise song? Something that won’t have either the religious or the atheist half of the attendees rolling their eyes?

Hmmm.. the lord’s prayer? Last time I was at a family gathering of a substantial number of people, just saying the lord’s prayer was hilarious, with a handful of us just looking around for the other atheists in the crowd, and two strange moments when different versions of the prayer collided–“debts” versus “trespasses”, and “for thine is the kingdom…” which only half the people said. When even the prayer named for your religion’s savior divides rather than unites the various Christian sects, there has got to be something better to sing to a diverse group.

Frogwhompers And Buffaloes

So… Greta is having fun with the Buffalo game. Which, frankly, is a cool game, but which I got to a bit late. My entry was “The New Vinton County Frogwhompers Marching, Singing, Strumming And Plucking Buffalo, Incorporated” (If you read Greta’s rules, you’ll understand).

The Frogwhompers (for short) were a “New-Grass” band–bluegrass, but with modern influences, from the Beatles to the Grateful Dead to The Monkees… I saw them in concert, and bought (and had autographed!) their album.

So… First off, the Frogwhompers– “Sweet Ohio”, by Jim McGaw (one of the Frogwhompers, so one of their original songs):

This was within a year of when I saw them, so these are the Frogwhompers I remember. Original songs, but also traditional and covers. I don’t know whether “Dark Hollow” counts as traditional or as cover, but the Grateful Dead did a version, and so did the Frogwhompers:

The Frogwhompers were fantastic… which musicians did you see locally, who could have (we won’t go into “should have”) made it big? I have another band I’ll save for the comments; I want to know yours.

1957 (Beep! Beep!)

On this date, little Sputnik was shot into space
Just one shot, of many, in a war-proxy race
There were thousands, or millions, who were all losing sleep
Cos an object above them was going “beep…beep…”
There were others, of course, who were not so entranced–
When they heard the “beep…beep…” they just got up and danced.

Louis Prima, “Beep! Beep!”, recorded 1957. Lyrics, if you want.

In honor of Sputnik, launched this day (October 4) in 1957.


Just passing along a link; much too busy for anything else at the moment. You may have already seen it, but NPR has a collection of 100 songs from artists at SXSW (South by Southwest), the music festival in Austin. I’ve shared this with a few family and friends, with nothing but positive feedback, and I have, myself, listened up to the 70’s (out of the 100) at this point, and have only skipped ahead two or three times–a relatively amazing percentage, when it comes to something as subjective as “good music”.

So, yeah, at the link (here it is again), there is a zip file of 100 free songs, so you have nothing to lose but time.

Of course, when I put it that way… that’s the one thing no one can ever pay you back, and arguably among the most precious of commodities. Fair enough; for me, it’s a good collection thus far. If you hate it… quit listening and go do something else.

(I do note that it is really neat, or weird, or something, that a decade can have a sound–but compare this collection to, say, the ’80s. Or the turn of the millennium. I wonder how many years it will be before this collection is … quaint.)

Paper Moon

So I was just listening to the radio, and a version of “Paper Moon” came on. This one was an instrumental, and I wish I could tell you who it was, but I don’t know. But it got me thinking… “Paper Moon” has got to be in the very short list of Best Songs Ever Written. As in, if I had done nothing else in my life but write “Paper Moon”, I could die happy with a well-earned feeling of accomplishment.

Those of you who know the song… where do you rank it? Those of you who don’t… get off of my lawn!

The immortal Ella

Nat, even better than Ella (and first in my book)

Frank, probably more popular than either, but third in my book

Some guy named Paul, who I ordinarily love, but who is up against Ella, Nat, & Frank.

Oh, my… Just found this. I already told you Nat is the best… this version is even better than the one above… so I’ll just put it here. A reminder that he was not merely a phenomenal vocalist, but a pianist of the first order. And yes, I’d trade every post of The Digital Cuttlefish for the genius in this one video. Too bad I can’t.