"The First Fall of Snow" – Hank Williams
From Mother's Best Radio Transcriptions
This comes from a Hank Williams boxed set of a radio show he used to do many years ago. The show was sponsored by Mother's Best flour. At the end of each song Hank and an announcer sit around talking about how wonderful that flour is. Sometimes their talking is longer than the song that preceded it. It is an obvious throwback to a time gone by. It is a bit annoying to hear the advertisements between songs, but also a little nostalgic (if something can be nostalgic when I wasn't even alive when it first came out.)
Listening to it I can't help but think of the current woes within the music industry. Millions of people simply don't pay for music anymore, radio hasn't played a good song in a decade and lots of great bands struggle to get heard by the masses. Maybe it is time for another Mother's Best Radio Hour with say, Ryan Adams, or Alejandro Escovedo.
Or maybe not.
Last year Wilco put their songs on a few VW commercials and many fans went nuts calling them sellouts. The band defended themselves by saying that there was no other way to get their music heard by lots of people. Who can blame them really? It's hard to make a buck in this new world.
Did anyone call Hank Williams a sellout back in the day, I wonder?
"Rock Around the Clock" – Bill Haley and His Comets
From 20th Century Masters
Listen to the MP3
For some reason when I was about 11 or 12 my cousin Jeff and I got completely into 1950's rock 'n' roll. We spent hours jamming out to guys like Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis. I can't begin to remember or imagine why we suddenly loved all that old stuff, but we surely did. I do remember scouring through my mom's record collection looking for the good stuff (unfortunately while my mom's collection was pretty large, she hit her stride in the later '60s which was just past the time frame that we had decided was really cool.) We'd also go to garage sales and flea markets looking for killer compilation tapes and I was always proud when I could find something with better songs than what Jeff had.
When I think back on those days it seems absolutely peculiar that I, as a tween, would fall so head-long into what my peers must have thought so absolutely square, but when I plug in "Great Balls of Fire" or "Johnny B. Goode" or "Rock Around the Clock" I can't help but get lost in the youthful, exuberant bliss that those guys created. Man, I was ahead of my time, even if I was behind those hits by a few decades.
"Help"/"Ultraviolet" – U2
From U2 Live in Dublin
Taken from a bootleg recorded in the '90s, this medley starts with Bono leading a Dublin crowd in this classic Beatles song. It is a lovely moment with thousands of voices united in a solitary song.
When I was living in Strasbourg, France several years ago I can remember sitting in some Irish pub hanging out with some friends when a couple of French girls broke into a spontaneous version of "Love Me Do." They spoke very little English, yet there they were singing in the language like it was perfectly natural. Some time later something very similar happened in Shanghai – a group of Chinese girls jaunted down the road singing “Hey Jude.”
Such is the power, and beauty of good music and the Beatles. How cool is it that four lads of England created a universal language? People the world over know their songs and can sing along even if they have no idea as to what the words actually mean. My wife has a large collection of French music and most of it sounds less than stellar to my ears, but plug in some Edith Piaff or maybe a little Johnny Hallyday and you'll find me entranced. Pour me a drink or two and you might even find that I do a pretty good "La Mer."
"Pale Blue Eyes" – The Velvet Underground
From The Velvet Underground
Listen to the MP3
Being a long-haired, poorly postured, severely acned, semi-heavy metal teenager was a hard thing to be in rural Oklahoma in the early '90s. I made it through mostly due to a girl named Candy (her real name was/is Candice, but her parents seemed to think it was cute to call her "Candy." In the same way they though it was hilarious to name her twin sister Amanda and call her "Mandy.) We met at a camp one summer and immediately hit it off.
We shared similar taste in books, movies, and music. Mostly we shared a passion for everything. We felt things as only teenagers can feel things – deeply, passionately, and as if whatever was happening at that exact moment to us were the only things that mattered. It was a passion that I have long since forgotten.
Like so many other things from youth, Candy and I drifted apart. Recently she found me on Facebook and we have once again rekindled our friendship. We still share a fondness for the same music (though that music is drastically different from what we once both loved) and it has been wonderful to get to know her again and see who she has became.
Just yesterday I signed my mother up for a Facebook account and she has become giddy looking for long, lost friends. It is quite a thing to find old friends and new at the touch of the button. I am thrilled to no longer be that awkward teenager, but it is nice to rekindle those old passions, and remember and old friend.
Merry Christmas everyone, and to you too, Candy.