03 Jul 2012

Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson - ‘Ring Of Fire’ (live on VH1 Storytellers, 1997)

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Today we feature two American greats coming together for a VH1 Storytellers hoedown, a veritable all star, country singing, guitar playing, bonanza.

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On 12th May 1997 Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson recorded an extremely special ‘special’, with each of them performing their own classic tracks, ably supported by the other on guitar, and then coming together for some classic duets. Enjoy…

NC



02 Jul 2012

Hall & Oates - 'Maneater' (live at the Liberty Concert, 1985)

Daryl Hall and John Oates met at Temple University, in the US City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, in 1967. A shared love of the same music saw them initially performing together in an array of R&B and doo wop groups.

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This is a fabulous rendition of their massive Maneater, recorded live at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, as part of the Liberty Concert. The Liberty Concert was a benefit event to help the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. It became a major music event drawing an estimated crowd of over 60,000 people.

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Talking of fabulous, check out Daryl’s hair!

NC



29 Jun 2012

Oscar Brown Jr - 'Signifyin' Monkey'  (live on Chic-A-Go-Go, 1996)

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I’ve written about Oscar Brown Jr and his brilliantly witty songs on here before, but I heard this song yesterday and thought it was definitely worth looking further into.

Initially the lyrics reminded me of 'Straighten Up And Fly Right' (mainly because of the monkey, I’ll be honest) so I thought I’d take a look at the similarities. What I found was even more interesting though, so hang in there, we’re about to get into some hardcore literary theory.

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The Signifying Monkey is a character in Afro-American folklore and has appeared in lots of songs, usually talking to his friends, the Lion and the Elephant. The stories usually unfold like this:

"The Signifying Monkey insulting the Lion, but claiming that he is only repeating the Elephant’s words. The Lion then confronts the Elephant, who soundly beats the Lion. The Lion later comes to realize that the Monkey has been signifyin(g) and has duped him and returns angrily" (wiki)

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In case it’s not clear what “Signifyin’” is, let me elucidate for you…

Signifyin(g) (vernacular) is a practice in African American culture, involving a verbal strategy of indirection that exploits the gap between the denotative and figurative meanings of words.” (wiki)

Clear? No? Well, what if I told you it’s also very closely related to the concept of signification put forward by Swiss Semiotician Ferdinand de Saussure?

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"Thinking about the black concept of Signifiyin(g) is a bit like stumbling unaware into a hall of mirrors: the sign itself appears to be doubled, at the very least, and (re)doubled upon ever closer examination. It is not the sign itself, however, which has multiplied. If orientation prevails over madness, we soon realize that only the signifier has been doubled and (re)doubled, a signifier in this instance that is silent, a "sound-image" as Saussure defines the signifier, but a "sound-image" sans the sound. The difficulty that we experience when thinking about the nature of the visual (re)doubling at work in a hall of mirrors is analogous to the difficulty we shall encounter in relating the black linguistic sign, "Signification," to the standard English sign, "signification." This level of conceptual difficulty stems from – indeed, seems, to have been intentionally inscribed within – the selection of the signifier, "signification." For the standard English word is a homonym of the Afro-American vernacular word. And, to compound the dizziness and giddiness that we must experience in the vertiginous movement between these two "identical" signifiers, these two homonyms have everything to do with each other and, then again, absolutely nothing"

(Henry Louis Gates, Jr. ‘The Signifying Monkey: a Theory of African-American Literary Criticism’ P44—45)

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Still no? Basically, it’s a series of taunts or boasts that are made in such a way as to obscure, mislead or misdirect about the speaker’s intention. Or, as in the case of this Oscar Brown Jr number, someone’s who’s just trying to stir it up. Got that? Right. Phew. Good. 

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Just take a look at the lyrics, they’re cheeky and a whole lot of fun!:

"Said the signifyin’ monkey to the lion one day:
"Hey, there’s a great big elephant down the way
Goin’ ‘round talkin’ ,I am sorry to say,
About your momma in a
scandalous way.
He’s talkin’ ‘bout your momma and your grandma, too
And he don’t show so much respect for you.
You want to chat?I sure am glad.
'Cause what he said about your momma, it made
me mad”.”

(Read the rest of the lyrics on Pancocojams)

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And that, may be the only time today you experience an unintentional linguistics lesson via a monkey making "yo’ momma" jokes. Enjoy!

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KS



28 Jun 2012
11 notes

Eddie Vedder - ‘Hard Sun’ (live from Water on the Road DVD, 2011)

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Eddie Vedder recorded 'Hard Sun' for the soundtrack to Into The Wild. While it was 'Guaranteed', taken from the same album, that was the award-winner, 'Hard Sun' was also released with a video and managed to reach #13 on the US Modern Rock chart. 

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'Hard Sun' was one of two cover versions on the album (the other being 'Society', originally by Jerry Hannan) and is actually very faithful to the original, by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Peterson.

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Peterson released the song under the name of Indio on 1989 album, Big Harvest. While the album was a bit of a flop, it’s notable that some pretty significant musicans played on it—including Joni Mitchell providing backing vocals on 'Hard Sun'. Peterson faded back into obscurity and became a bit of a recluse after being dropped by his label, but came back into the public eye recently to bring a court case against Eddie Vedder for changing the lyrics to 'Hard Sun':

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In a Manhattan federal-court suit, Peterson alleges that "Vedder altered certain key lyrics of ‘Hard Sun’ … eroding the integrity of the composition."
(NYPost)

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Let’s take a look at those lyrics changes then…

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Vedder sings:

"When she comes to greet me
She is mercy at my feet
I see her inner charm
She just throws it back at me”

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Peterson sings:

"When she comes to greet me
She is mercy at my feet
When I stay to pillage her
She just throws it back at me”

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…and that is it. Has that eroded the integrity of the song? I’m not convinced.

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Either way, have a listen to the song. It’s big, it has beautiful harmonies, it bounds and it exudes the heat of the big, hard sun it describes. It’s great!

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KS



26 Jun 2012

The Clash 'Train In Vain' (live )

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Today we are wishing a very Happy Birthday to Senor Mick Jones, a founding member and stalwart of The Only Band That Mattered, The Clash.

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Michael Geoffrey “Mick” Jones was born 56 years ago today, June 26, in the London Borough of Wandsworth. As a teenager he attended the Stand School in Tulse Hill, Lambeth, before going to art college to find himself a band.

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When Mick was 21 he and Paul Simonon were introduced to one Joe Strummer and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Happy birthday Mick, we salute you!

NC



25 Jun 2012

Christy Moore ft. Shane McGowan - 'Spancil Hill' (live on The Late Late Show )

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Just found this gem recorded on Ireland’s The Late, Late Show featuring two legends of Irish music, Christy Moore and Shane McGowan, performing a duet of 'Spancil Hill’.

In 2007, Moore was named as Ireland’s greatest living musician in RTE’s (Ireland’s equivalent of the BBC) People of the Year Awards, and is still releasing records and touring to great acclaim.  

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William Harrison “Bill” Withers always sounds fantastic on his studio releases, but his live performances are sublime.

Two movies have been released that show off his skills to the full. 2008’s Soul Power tells the story of the Zaire74 festival, when the cream of the US and African music worlds came together to play at a festival originally organized to coincide with Muhammad Ali’s Rumble In The Jungle with George Foreman. The fight was delayed, but the festival went ahead anyway, and featured Bill Wither’s performing live, as well as performances by James Brown and BB King amongst others. Then, in 2009 a film of his life, Still Bill, was given its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival.

Here is Bill performing ‘Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone' on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test, enjoy.

NC



22 Jun 2012

Cypress Hill - 'Rock Superstar' (live at Glastonbury, 2000)

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Rock? Check. Superstars? Check. Glastonbury has both in abundance!

In part 2 of our Glatso special we have those West Coast Latino lovers of the ‘erb, Cypress Hill, performing 'Rock Superstar' for the Pyramid Stage posse back in 2000. Man, they had the place bouncing! 

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Next up is country music’s legendary singer-songwriter, author, poet, actor, and activist, Willie Nelson, performing the Fred Rose penned Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain to a sunshine bathed Pyramid crowd in 2010. Delightful.

According to Wikipedia, (also says citation needed next to it) this was the last song Elvis Presley sang before he died on August 16, 1977, sang at the piano in the rest area of his Racquetball Court located to the rear of Graceland. 

NC


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