Donald Trump angers Neil Young in latest GOP song appropriation gaffe

trumpThese are probably not the sort of stories that Donald Trump wanted to start off with:

The New York real estate mogul arrived on stage at his campaign kickoff announcement Tuesday as the sounds of Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” blared through the atrium at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. . . .

“Donald Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ in his presidential candidacy announcement,” a statement from Young’s team read. “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America.”

But, then again, The Donald seems to be of the school that believes that any publicity is good publicity as long as they spell your name right. Continue reading

Pete Seeger

An era passes with Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger, a warrior for social justice in America, held the line until the end.

I regret not seeing Pete Seeger live in concert–I was too young to have appreciated him in the 1960s and 1970s . I eventually got to see Richie Havens on the same bill as Arlo Guthrie in 2009, but not Pete Seeger. And now he’s gone at age 94.

There was was a recent Facebook post asking people to name ten albums that stayed with them. I forgot to add in my response one important collection: Songs for Political Action. It’s a 10-disc collection of American protest songs from the 1920s through the early 1050s. One of the songs was “Hold the Line” by Pete Seeger, written about the Peekskill Riots. I first heard selections from these albums in 1998 when I participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities workshop called “Communism in American Life” at Emory University. Continue reading

Our favorite lyrics: S&R describes why we love certain lyrics, if not necessarily the song

CATEGORY: MusicPopularCultureOver the years I’ve come to a realization – some of my favorite songs have really stupid lyrics, and some of my favorite lyrics are in songs I’m not a big fan of or, in at least one case, I can’t stand. As a result, I put the following question to my fellow Scrogues: what are some of your favorite lyrics?

I’ve collected their responses below. Enjoy, and feel free to add your own in the comments.

Brian Angliss
While I enjoy Led Zepplin, they were never my favorite band. But anyone who puts a reference to The Lord of the Rings in a song is allright by me. From Ramble On,

T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her….yeah. (source)

In the last few years, I’ve come to greatly enjoy goth-influenced, techno, and industrial music. And one of the acts I’ve come to enjoy greatly is Assemblage 23. There’s one song on the album “Storm” that is very hard for me to listen to, as amazing as the lyrics are. Here’s the opening verse from 30kft:

Hello, if you’re there pick up the phone
I’m calling from thirty thousand feet above you
The captain’s just informed us that our plane is going down
So I’m calling for one last time to say I love you (source)

I’ll leave off with some of lyrics from what may well be my favorite song that I almost never listen to. Some songs just hit too close to home, in ways both good and bad:

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then (source)

Lex

In the season of boll weivel speakin evil in you ear
And pile of manure fertilizing all your fears
Yabadaba do all the way to Shangra La
Here it is with the rock and roll outlaw

Cause it’s just silly word play, otherwise I could just nominate all of the Clutch catalog for my favorite lyrics.

Lisa Wright

you’re just an empty cage girl if you kill the bird

it’s sooooo lame and cliche, and i cant believe that i am owning up to this, but the lyric has been something that i have held on to ever since i heard it when i was 14 or so.

Otherwise
Mine’s no better. Lyrics to Volunteers of America by Jefferson airplane, and the immortal, “let’s go on a picnic honey, we’ll have so much fun. You can handle the hotdog baby, I can handle the buns.” By wet willie (a regional band who got big for awhile)

saint in the city by springsteen. “rock hard look of cobra, born blue and weathered but burst just like a supernova, I can walk like brando into the sun, and dance just like a casanova…”

Alex Polombo
Call me out for being lame if you want, but “God give me style, God give me grace” sort of stuck with me from Coldplay.

Sam Smith

All the light that shines on you
Is from a dying star
The star’s been dead a billion years
Now it’s shining off your car
To light your way……

-Jeffrey Dean Foster, “Summer of the Son of Sam”

Reach out and touch me now
Aphrodite said
You aren’t the only one
with armies in your head

– Fiction 8, “Hegemony”

You’ve never dared where the angels tread
You think there’s time for heaven when you’re dead
But here’s the thing that the angels stole
A demon helix with a consecrated soul

– Fiction 8, “Winter Rain”

Now, maybe we should disqualify those last two since I wrote them….

I have argued – loudly and vehemently – that lyrics are almost never poetry. They’re simply different forms, and I don’t mean to denigrate lyrics in saying that. Painting isn’t dancing, but that doesn’t mean painting is useless. I say this as a guy who has done both.

Occasionally, though, lyrics DO stand as poetry. Like here, with Marillion’s “Pseudo Silk Kimono,” with the words by Fish:

Huddled in the safety of a pseudo silk kimono
Wearing bracelets of smoke, naked of understanding.
Nicotine smears, long, long dried tears, invisible tears.
Safe in my own words, learning from my own words,
Cruel joke, cruel joke.
Huddled in the safety of a pseudo silk kimono
A morning mare rides, in the starless shutters of my eyes.
The spirit of a misplaced childhood is rising to speak his mind,
To this orphan of heartbreak, disillusioned and scorned,
A refugee, refugee.
(Safe in the sanctuary, safe)

Mike Sheehan
John Lennon, Roger Waters, Randy Newman, Warren Zevon, Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and Andy Partridge wrote more than a few of my favorite lyrics, as I enjoy clever imagery, ambiguity, innuendo, sarcasm, and (preferably scathing) social satire. Bernie Taupin can get tiresomely overwrought but “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is still a brilliant, liberating anthem. I love Van Dyke Parks’s words in “Surf’s Up” though I don’t really understand them (nor does Brian Wilson himself, I reckon). But there is one song and one album in particular whose lyrics still deeply impress me every time I hear them.

Grace Slick, “Do It the Hard Way.” She absolutely belts this one, written and recorded in the late 1970’s as she was struggling with alcoholism. You really have to hear her tear through the last two verses, with lines like:

She said, “I’ve got to make ’em all think I’m winning, so I’ll just tell ’em lies.
That way I can make sure that no one ever knows just exactly what I mean.
Then I can beat the drums and yell it to the skies:
‘I’m the queen of the nuthouse… I’m the queen!'”

Donald Fagen, the entirety of ‘The Nightfly.’ In Steely Dan, Fagen’s lyrics typically featured saucy double-entendres, clever drug references, amusing cynicism, etc. On his first solo LP, Fagen fully bared his sentimental teenaged soul, which longed for the idyllic late 1950s with the invigorating threat of the Cold War and the promise of the Space Age. The gorgeously recorded album is laden with wry reflections on the awkward audacity of youth, to wit:

Do you have a steady boyfriend?
‘Cause honey I’ve been watching you
I hear you’re mad about Brubeck
I like your eyes I like him too
He’s an artist, a pioneer
We’ve got to have some music on the new frontier.
(from “New Frontier“)

You’d never believe it
But once there was a time
When love was in my life
I sometimes wonder
What happened to that flame
The answer’s still the same
It was you… you… it was you
Tonight you’re still on my mind.
(from “The Nightfly“)

Mexico City is like another world
Nice this year they say
You’ll be my señorita
In jeans and pearls
But first let’s get off this highway.
(from “Maxine“)

On that train, all graphite and glitter
Undersea by rail
90 minutes from New York to Paris
(More leisure for artists everywhere)
A just machine to make big decisions
Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision
We’ll be clean when their work is done
We’ll be eternally free, yes, and eternally young.
(from “I.G.Y.“)

Cat White
From left field:

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

“This Land Was Made for You and Me,” Woody Guthrie

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older
Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long
And wouldn’t it be nice to live together
In the kind of world where we belong

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Tony Asher

I see skies of blue….. clouds of white
Bright blessed days….dark sacred nights
And I think to myself …..what a wonderful world.

“Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong

Open a new window,
Open a new door,
Travel a new highway,
That’s never been tried before;
Before you find you’re a dull fellow,
Punching the same clock,
Walking the same tight rope
As everyone on the block.

“Open a New Window,” *Mame*, Jerry Herman
*Mame *was my first musical–I was 14. As I have gotten older I marvel at what a formative experience that 5 months was on my attitudes, outlook, and path in life.

Jim Booth
Hey! I want in on this “let’s promote our own lyrics” thing….

But seriously:

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Bob Dylan, “Mr. Tambourine Man”

And this:

My hypothesis is that I exist, let’s test this.
Raise your fist if you experience consciousness.
Now let me hear you say cogitamus ergo sumus
Or if you’re not down with that say hell yes.
So thinking is being and knowing is seeing
Or hearing or smelling or tasting or feeling
Or otherwise dealing with external stimuli
Wonder why I’m alive. Hey you up in the sky,
I’m guessing if I can hear myself when I speak
So can that person looking back at me and listening
Which means I need a system of epistemology
To know what to call my LP, you follow me?

“Experimental Railroad” Doco

Frank Balsinger
I’m in with 2…first, something positive. This is of those cases where I think the video actually does add something by way of clarity. As to why it’s one of my faves, it strikes a certain mystical chord with me

Peter Gabriel, Sledgehammer

You could have a steam train
If you’d just lay down your tracks
You could have an aeroplane flying
If you bring your blue sky back

All you do is call me
I’ll be anything you need

You could have a big dipper
Going up and down, all around the bends
You could have a bumper car, bumping
This amusement never ends

I want to be your sledgehammer
Why don’t you call my name
Oh let me be your sledgehammer
This will be my testimony
Show me round your fruitcage
‘cos I will be your honey bee
Open up your fruitcage
Where the fruit is as sweet as can be

I want to be your sledgehammer
Why don’t you call my name
You’d better call the sledgehammer
Put your mind at rest
I’m going to be-the sledgehammer
This can be my testimony
I’m your sledgehammer
Let there be no doubt about it

Sledge sledge sledgehammer

I’ve kicked the habit
Shed my skin
This is the new stuff
I go dancing in, we go dancing in
Oh won’t you show for me
And I will show for you
Show for me, I will show for you
Yea, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I do mean you
Only you
You’ve been coming through
Going to build that powerr
Build, build up that power, hey
I’ve been feeding the rhythm
I’ve been feeding the rhythm
Going to feel that power, build in you
Come on, come on, help me do
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you
I’ve been feeding the rhythm
I’ve been feeding the rhythm
It’s what we’re doing, doing
All day and night

Then something negative, this one from Legendary Pink Dots. I think Ed Ka-Spell does a lovely job of summing up most of my angst.
Damien

Seven seas he sailed on
With cannons blazing in the night
He had shiny medals
For his eyes in Kryptonite (with lasers)

With every nail he hammered
Came the rush of flying hands
They pasted fliers
They planted flags
We watched him hover higher (higher)

Crucifix and lyrics
Holy holy sense surround
Lord, he never touched the ground

From state to state he wandered
He could have been the boy next door
You could feel that patriotic roar
Come pouring through the cracks of our existence

He took the fear away with whitewash
And scorched earth
Majorettes and cool disciples
Cigarettes and red hot bibles
And the buses ran on time

Slaves of Kali Hari-karied
On bayonets in poison ivy
We held this torch up high
Can you see? Can you see?

All the girls he never had
And all the boys who stood and laughed
And all the dopes and
All the dealers, sheilas, peelers, squealers, feelers

Come watch me fall
Watch me drown
I’m kneeling in your mirror.
See me cower in the corner of your room.

Watch me desecrate the contents of your tomb

Tournament of Rock – Legends: Led Zeppelin vs Jimi Hendrix

Results: I suppose when a #3 seed beats a #2 seed and the #3 seed is one of the most important and influential bands of all time it’s hard to call it an upset, huh? The numbers: #3 The Who 66%; #2 Bruce Springsteen/E Street Band 34%. The Who are our first band into the Great 8.

Now let’s truck the tournament to name the greatest band of all time out to the Fillmore region and see if we can’t incite fans of incendiary hard rock guitar into a galloping hissy fit.

#1 Led Zeppelin: Listen #5 Jimi Hendrix: Listen

Continue reading

Tournament of Rock – Legends: Bruce Springsteen vs The Who

Welcome back to the Scholars & Rogues quest for the greatest band of all time. Let the Sweet 16 commence. It’s now one-on-one, and our first head-to-head features two of the most dynamic bands – both in the studio and in concert – in history. Your contestants:

x
#2 Bruce Springsteen/E Street Band: Listen #3 The Who: Listen

Continue reading

Tournament of Rock – Legends: the Van Morrison pod

The results: Three incredible competitors, three worthy showings. The Boss surges to an early lead and never looks back. The numbers: #2 Bruce Springsteen/E Street Band 50%; #10 Tom Petty/Heartbreakers 33%; #7 Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler 18%. Springsteen advances to the Sweet 16.

Our search for the greatest band of all time now slides over to the wickedly tough Fillmore region, where two exceptionally talented prelim pod winners find themselves matched up against the man from Belfast.

Continue reading

Tournament of Rock – Legends: the Bruce Springsteen pod

Results: Our final preliminary pod went more or less to form, with the top seed running off and hiding from the pack. The numbers: #5 Neil Young 68%; The Doors 13%; The Levellers 9%; The Red Hot Chili Peppers 6%; The B-52s 3%; Iron Maiden 1%; Deep Purple 0%. NY advances to the Great 48. Speaking of the Great 48….

Now, ladies and gentlemens, the Tournament of Rock – Legends edition, S&R’s epic search for the greatest band of all time, gets serious. Our 32 preliminary pod winners now join our top 16 seeds (four in each region) in the Great 48, and may the best band rock!

Our first match-up is a tough one. Really, really tough. Please welcome the #2 seed in the Hollywood Bowl region, hailing from Asbury Park, New Jersey… Continue reading

TunesDay: The best CDs of 2008, pt. 2 – the Platinum LPs

Our Best CDs of 2008 continues today with a review of the super-premium Platinum Award winners for Excellence in rocking and rolling. As with last week’s Gold Awards, these are in alphabetical order. Band Web sites link to the band name, and if the CD is available via eMusic, that links to the CD title. (Mike Smith of Fiction 8, in last week’s comments, recommended that you buy from the band’s Web site or Amazon, if possible, because the artists get a better cut of the proceeds that way. Duly noted.)

Speaking of Fiction 8, let’s get this out of the way first

Fiction 8Project Phoenix
I have a rule – I never include in my official ratings CDs that I had something to do with, no matter how great I think they are. And since I co-wrote “Hegemony,” the track that closes this disc, that means that Fiction 8 is officially disqualified. This doesn’t mean I can’t tell you what I think I’d think about the record if I weren’t laboring with a conflict of interest, though. Continue reading

TunesDay: Are The Killers the greatest band in the world? We find out today…

A lot of bands have released pretty good debut records, only to follow them up with less-than-spectacular careers. The rule used to be (before the FCC, the recording industry and the radio industry conspired to destroy all music) that you learned what you needed to know about a band with its third album. Given how things worked, you often saw a pattern that looked something like this:

  • Debut: Band (or solo artist) has been on the road for awhile, writing and building an audience and developing as a creative and performing force. Continue reading

TunesDay: S&Recommends Lucky Soul (and a few others)

A guy on one of my music lists posted a question this morning: what’s everybody digging from eMusic these days? Wow – it’s like he knew it was TunesDay and wanted to set me up for another round of S&Recommends, huh?

Well, I don’t need a lot of prodding, so here you go. I’ve mentioned a couple of these before, I know, but great music is the sort of thing it’s okay to harp on…

TunesDay: S&R recommends…

As we noted not long ago, we’re now an eMusic affiliate, and you can sign the heck up by clicking the ad in the column to the right. As part of this relationship, we’re starting a new eMusic recommendations feature, which we’ll run occasionally on TunesDay. The way it will work is simple. We’ll post something about a band or bands that we think deserve a listen and whose music can be sampled and downloaded from eMusic. Can’t get much more straightforward than that.

We’re doing this for three reasons. Continue reading

Music lyrics, even great ones, are not poetry: Hegemony, part 1

How often have you heard someone call a rock musician or a rapper a poet? As a poet and a lyricist, let me assure you that they’re not the same thing.

Reach out and touch me now
Aphrodite said
You aren’t the only one
with armies in your head

We’re fond of calling our great rock stars poets. Dylan is a poet. Springsteen is a poet. John Lennon was a poet. Jim Morrison (*gag*) was a poet. And so on. Certainly the first three (have) produced some marvelous words, but as a poet – forgive me if I call myself a “real” poet here – I’ve never quite been willing to accord their work the status of poetry. This isn’t necessarily a slam – their work isn’t architecture, either. Continue reading

TunesDay: Can music violate the Geneva Conventions (or the 8th Amendment)?

Yow. If you missed the story, US PsyOps personnel are using music as a torture tactic on captives in Iraq. How silly, you say? Torture someone with music? Well, check out the playlist.

  1. “Fuck Your God” – Deicide
  2. “Die MF Die” – Dope
  3. “Take Your Best Shot” – Dope
  4. “White America” – Eminem
  5. “Kim” – Eminem
  6. “Barney Theme Song” – Barney Continue reading

The next Springsteen?

He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus
But he talks like a gentleman
Like you imagined
When you were young

2003 and 2004 brought us the front edge what I’ve come to call the Nu Wave – a new wave of New Wave, Post-Punk and Technopop-influenced bands. For a guy like me, who hit college in the late ’70s and has the music of the ’80s forever insinuated into the soundtrack of my life, it’s been wonderful to hear all these new bands working that particular audial terrain.

Of course, when you get a new wave of anything musical (especially when the scene owes so much to a specific influence) you’re going to get plenty of rubber stampers who are more about imitation than innovation. Continue reading