Author Topic: Turn it up


Turn it up
« on: September 24, 2019 »
To hell with crickets. Lately I’ve been listening to:


voices in your head now
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2019 »
My wife gives me songs. I don’t mean she picks up a guitar, or sits down at a piano, and says “This one’s for you.” Her gifts are youtube links. She’ll hear something and say, “This might be a cycling song.” It usually is. She knows me well.

The latest is The Way I Feel, by Keane, from their album Cause and Effect. The line which caught her attention: A broken link, a missing part, a punctured wheel.

A reference to the faerie isn’t enough to make it a cycling song for my purposes. It needs a good hook, a great beat, and something else indefinable (or not) to give it access to my constantly changing playlist. Tunes falling into the genre of personal nostalgia can gain free admittance, but likely passed those tests decades ago.

Keane formed in 1995, the same year we moved to the UK. They’re from Battle, not far from home.

I don’t suppose they got that rope from Webb's Home & Garden StorE.


Turn it up
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2019 »

Chip who?

Who knew Jon Voight was such a good singer.

Close call for the multitalented entertainer

Wondering if he's just fucked one of the perfect people


Puttin' down in writing what's in your mind
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2019 »
Bob Dylan. What do you think when you hear the name? 60s greatness? Nobel madness? Indecipherable warbling?

My introduction to Dylan was in the 80s, when I was working as a dishwasher-turned-baker at a fancy restaurant in Ohio. (They served shark. There aren’t a lot of sharks in Lake Erie.) The head chef bade me lend an ear to Tangled Up In Blue. This I did, growing entranced. It started a listening love affair with the lyricist which has lasted ever after.

It’s impossible to name a favourite, but it wouldn’t be something from his early heyday, heart-thumping as some of those old standards are. I came in a bit after Empire Burlesque, not one of his best reviewed albums: Tight Connection to My Heart went straight to the top of my personal charts, and is intertwined with memories of that time. (I’d link to the video, but it’s terrible.*)  Possibly Tight Connection. No, Brownsville Girl. No, Nettie Moore. No, Jokerman. No, Mississippi, definitely Mississippi. Maybe...

That he could still mine gold during his much-derided born again period speaks to his talents.

His catalogue is incomprehensibly huge, bigger with every new iteration of a song, as some of them turn into almost completely different songs. There’s one for every mood, provided his vocal instrument isn’t a deal-breaker and give you the blues in the first place. “I was born with the gift of a golden voice,” sang contemporary Leonard Cohen. Little Bobby Zimmerman wasn’t. I don’t care. It aged to perfection, at least in the studio; not sure I could sit through a live show now in that neverending tour of his.

I bumped into Bob, almost literally, when I was at Scribner’s bookstore in Manhattan shortly before it vanished. Scribner’s was a grand institution, though its glory had faded before I arrived. It attracted all sorts of celebrities over the years. Patti Smith even used to work there, before she became that Patti Smith.

One day the floor manager informed a few of us that that we were in the presence of Dylan, and so we were. I grabbed an armfull of bestsellers and headed out. Spotted him. Bustled by, which necessitated his having to move out of my way, bending over a table of I’m going to say Trump’s latest ghostwritten memoir, to add colour, but who knows. That’s not a story I’ve been dining out on. He bought a whole stack of books, including one on lesbian nuns. (Probably this one.)

As one of those young interns at The Village Voice, I once had a short chat with Nat Hentoff about him. The noted jazz aficionado and civil libertarian had written the liner notes to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. If I remember right, he didn't seem much interested in anything that had come out of the bard since Blood on the Tracks.

Here’s today’s offering, from the album Time Out of Mind, exquisitely produced by Daniel Lanois. It's not a turn it up kind of song: it needs the volume just so, to insinuate itself into the soul.

* As are most of his official videos. Must Be Santa is amusing though.


Tick tock
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2019 »

Letters from Rome has been a favourite ever since I heard it on Treme. At some point I gave this a listen, then set it aside… only to pick it up again the other day. Probably not a great cycling song, I thought, until I queued it right after Not Dark Yet, as if daring myself to fall either asleep or into a pothole of introspection.

It turns out to be brilliant on the road, if you're happy with a placid metronome. I’ve never followed racing, but it made me think of Miguel Induráin’s unrushed, durable heart beating as he won Tour after Tour.


Turn it up
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2019 »
I've not had occasion to call anybody baby. It comes so naturally in songs.


Dancing Khan
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2019 »
Or Village People, if you prefer. I would add this to my ride playlist, but it really needs the video to make it complete. If you don't spot Andy Gibb and a young & more carefree Putin you're not trying hard enough.

"Who doesn’t like Germans dressed as Mongol invaders singing songs about Russia?" Who says YouTube comments are all rubbish.

I see no reason that can’t coexist peacefully in the same post as


Red white & blue highways
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2019 »
Were I emperor across the pond, in my great and unmatched wisdom I would replace the not always unsingable but not worth singing Star Spangled Banner as the national anthem with

because my mother country, aside from everything else packed into it for better or for worse, means road trip.

Inspired in part by William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways, I hitchhiked

and drove from sea to shining sea in my early 20s, when putting as many miles on the odometer as possible was my mission. You might say no destination was too far.

Never seriously fancied cycling it, though. It’s not really the length that puts me off, Homeric as that would promise to be. Crawling through otherwise appealing big sky country like an ant, getting buffeted by thousands of cubits

of wind across the Monsanto fruited plains states, and worrying about 327.2 million texting motorists (everybody drives, even the unborn on the way to the nearest picketed abortion clinic) and country roads sprinkled with mad dogs, not all of the canine variety, doesn't even make my extended bucket list.

The Godfather of Soul's anthem to a nation ceaselessly on the move (pity about the Rocky bits in that otherwise brilliantly edited vid) always strikes just the right note when I’m feeling, well, good!


Turn it off
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2019 »
Some people have great names. Don Howland is one of them, thanks to that embedded howl. Don stocked shelves alongside me at a B. Dalton (though I had a talent for snagging the information desk, a much coveted job because everybody hated stocking).

Oh, it wasn't that bad

He contributed reviews to Spin and the Voice and others. He's had a radio show, a mission to expand musical horizons. I had no idea he played until googling him. His music is rooted in brutally honest expression.

He's not coming anywhere near my ipod.

This guy might've:

Daryl “Buck” Dull used to sit behind me in one of my classes in high school. That voice came as a complete surprise. He died at the beginning of the year; reading between the lines of the condolences, I get the feeling it was suicide.


Elbow room
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2019 »

This still comes back to me nearly word-for-word a very long time after hearing it break up Saturday morning cartoons and commercials for

All of us kids lapped it up. It was only later, with some Howard Zinn under my belt, that I started feeling distinctly uneasy about manifest destiny. Call it horribly catchy.

It took a move to England, then rural East Sussex, with our nearest neighbour comfortably out of sight, for me to once again be able to sing the praises of elbow room.