Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 31 - Meet On The Ledge

So the year is coming to an end, and I was able to keep the commitment to myself of posting at least one song a day - for 366 days (it was, after all, a leap year). I only repeated one song - and that was Fairport Convention's Now Be Thankful, which I believe could be played just about every day of the year, including today, New Year's Eve. Anyway... I have looked at the numbers for this last year, and for those of you who like statistics, you might enjoy hearing that I had 371 postings this year, featuring 227 different artists. I played 10 songs by Motorpsycho, 9 by U2, and 8 By David Bowie, which really represents three of my absolute favorite artists. But as much as I have been able to give you a good cross section of the music I like and listen to, there is so much more left.

But before I get there, I would like to spend a little bit of time reflecting on this past year. What I have done this past year has also really been to reflect on my life in general. It has sometimes been self indulgent, sometimes been a vehicle to show appreciation to important people in my life (and no, if I didn't show you appreciation, it doesn't mean that you aren't important, just that it wasn't your time yet). It has been cathartic for me at times - I have opened up about quite a few things that I hadn't talked too much about - sometimes even therapeutic. But most of all, it as allowed me to start believing in my writing again. The number of readers of this blog isn't huge, but it is steady, and I have really appreciated seeing the numbers change from day to day - especially on the days that I set personal records. On average, I would say that about 25-30 people may have read this, and to me, that is more than I expected. I was, after all, writing this for myself more than anything, and that some of you have at least found it interesting to listen to the music I have presented has been a great honor to me.

And then there are ripple effects. Because I develop a belief in both my writing and my ability to stick to it when I started, I decided to sign up for the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I can't say how long I have wanted to have written a novel - it has been something I have been dreaming of for years and years, but this year I did make it a reality. It is not a long novel, but it is a complete one, one that I look forward to start editing and refining, to see if there is something in there. But I did it.

2016 has been a year of great music, some pretty good movies, and some pretty good books. All of it is something I will be sure to cover once we hit 2017. Speaking of 2017, there will be more coming. I have plans for the new year, but I am not sure if I will keep the song a day up (although I suspect I will). What I do know already is that every Monday, there will be an album of the week. I won't play the entire album, but I will find a representative song from an album that really means something to me - and trust me, finding 52 albums isn't going to be a problem.

And then we have the great losses of 2016. We lost David Bowie. Prince. Leonard Cohen. George Michael. Carrie Fisher. And so many more. And we lost the soul of America.

And it is with those losses in mind that I decided to end this year on a hopeful note. A hope that we will keep on creating, keep on making music. It is a song that can be interpreted in many ways, but I look at it as a symbol of hope. It was also one of the very first songs Richard Thompson wrote, back when he was 17 years old, and it was Fairport Convention's second single ever, taken from the album What We Did On Our Holidays (1969). The song Meet On The Ledge seems like a great way to end 2016. Happy new year!

Friday, December 30, 2016

December 30 - She Said Yeah

So today is a special day. It's the last of the birthdays in my family, and it's reserved for the man responsible for my existence: My dad. 67 years ago, my grandparents had apparently not seen enough boys - or maybe they were trying for that very elusive girl - and my dad arrived just in time for the new year - more than 8 years after his middle brother and 12 years after his oldest. The year before, Sporveisbygget, which my farfar (grandfather) had been instrumental in getting built, had been completed, so as far as I know, that little two bedroom apartment was the only place he lived growing up. But all of that was before I knew him. He was only 22 when he had to deal with me, and I must say he has done a remarkable job (just don't judge him by the product - that won't give him enough credit).

There is so much to be grateful for when it comes to my dad. Like I have said before, I've been blessed with an amazing family, and my dad is no exception. While my cousin, Britt Jorunn, taught me how to read, it was my dad who taught me to love books. Every night he would read for my sister Elin and me. He would take us all across Scandinavian children's literature, and we have some spectacular authors both in Norway and Sweden. He also let me "graduate" to adult fiction with the books HMS Ulysses by Alistair MacLean and Døden På Asylet (Death At The Asylum - or Puzzle For Fools, as the original title was) by Quentin Patrick. His book collection was wide ranging in taste, but he did pass on a love for mysteries that still is going strong. Thanks to him, I am on my fourth book by Lars Kepler in four days this Christmas break.

He was also the my private chauffeur throughout most of my teenage years - until I got my license at 18 (which is when you can get it in Norway). That meant calls from me at all hours of the night - including when he was getting ready for work, asking if he could pick up me and a friend or two at one friend's house and drop us off at another friend's house (which was just a couple of minutes' drive from his work - and the place we were at was also along a possible route to his work). I cannot say how grateful I am that he hardly ever told me no - not even after I missed the last bus home on occasion (probably more often that I'd like to admit).

And then he turned me on to Legos. Not just once, but twice. Once in childhood - he used to take me to get my hair cut, as he loved rewarding me (or himself) with either a jigsaw puzzle or Legos. And then he came to visit here on year, talking about an old fashioned fire station. He helped me discover the Creator series - rated for expert builders ages 16 and up. After getting me the Paradise Cinema for my birthday one year, I was hooked again - and now it is a slight obsession.

But now, as I supposedly am an adult, he is also my friend. Yes, I still lean on him (and my mother) for support, but what's more important to me is the very close relationship we have - despite the fact that my calls home are less frequent than they should be - and often after he is in bed. Americans often look at me strangely when I tell them that my parents didn't tell me they loved me as a child or when I was growing up - but the truth is they didn't have to. I never doubted it. Not once. And if I had any doubts (which I didn't), they would have evaporated during my toughest years - the years I thought that ending it all would be the best thing to do. My parents gave me life not just at birth, but also in my early to mid twenties - and my dad was very much there. When I moved to Bergen in the middle of it all, he would go there for work and make sure that he spent time with me - much like he used to come home and play with us before going back into work again as kids - only this time, he would take me out with his colleagues, including one who also suffered from depression. Through hearing about his struggles and seeing that he still could be a part of things, it was possible to see that it could work, even though it certainly didn't feel like it.

So that's the kind of man my dad is. That's the kind of man I aspire to be - although I have stopped wanting to be him. And I love him, even though I don't say that either. But today, as he turns 67, it seems to be very appropriate. And since he loves The Rolling Stones, I thought I'd play one of MY favorites from one of the two Stones albums in his collection, an album called Out Of Our Heads (the US album title was December's Children), here is She Said Yeah, a raucous and raggedy rocker that I can't get enough of. Gratulerer med dagen, kjære pappa!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

December 29 - Sweet Ride

I am feeling a tad pensive today. The year is almost over, which means my commitment to myself of posting a song a day is almost over. However, the blog isn't going anywhere. I have ideas for my next project as well - but then again I am also open for suggestions and challenges. So today I want to open up for comments and suggestions for 2017. I have thoughts for a summary of my personal experience writing for New Year's Eve, and before that there is a birthday to celebrate, so I still have things left for this year as well. The project for next year will also be unveiled on New Year's Eve - or rather it will be finalized then, as I am still not certain what the plan will be.

But before all of that, there is today. And to match my pensive mood, I have picked out a fantastic little song. I encountered this song during my time in Studentradion i Bergen, and I have played another song from the same collection earlier this year. It is a song from Rare On Air Vol 2 (1995), and it is a song that originally was by the band Belly as a B-side to the Gepetto EP (1992) from their first album, Star (1993). However, in this very sparse and emotional version, it is the leader of Belly - and the song's writer/composer, Tanya Donelly who performs it, and wow, what a performance it is... Please enjoy this Sweet Ride!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 28 - Pictures Of Matchstick Men

This Christmas was rough. I've talked about George Michael, and two days later, my very first movie crush also died, following a massive heart attack on December 23. Princess Leia Organa was the first female movie character I remember any interest in beyond just watching, and although Ross and Rachel in Friends really took any childhood dream I might have had well into a more mature version, there is a reason so many of us boys who grew up watching Star Wars during our formative years nodded and laughed more of embarrassment than anything else during that episode of Friends. When I realized that Carrie Fisher also played the crazy ex-girlfriend of "Joliet" Jake Blues in another of my favorite movies, The Blues Brothers, the movie crush was complete.

However, lost between the news of Carrie Fisher and George Michael's death was the news that Rick Parfitt of Status Quo died on Christmas Eve. I remember Rockin' All Over The World and Whatever You Want from the seventies and a cover version of Bolland's In The Army Now from the eighties, but it wasn't until fairly recently that I realized that they started in the sixties playing some heavy duty psychedelia. My favorite Status Quo song is bar none Pictures Of Matchstick Men from the album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From The Status Quo (1968), which I gladly will share in memory of Rick Parfitt.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December 27 - Great King Rat

Today we're going to go back in time. The year was 1973, and  after having worked on their debut album for just about a year starting back in December 1971 and finishing The recording of it in the latter part of 1972, Queen's debut album, simply named Queen, was finally released. It didn't sell well initially, having a hard time reaching any of the charts,  but as Queen grew in popularity, so did the album, which finally peaked at number 24 on UK album charts in 1975, the same year they released A Night At The Opera featuring the classic Bohemian Rhapsody. Their debut album is certified gold both in UK in the USA, but it's still not a very well-known album.

 I was introduced to their debut album by Jan Are.  He had both Queen and Queen II on tape, and I borrowed them and play them half to death. I was initially blown away by the sheer aggression and power that I heard on their first two albums. It was very different from the Queen I already was familiar with, like the albums News Of The World and the aforementioned A Night At The Opera.  Of the songs on the album, it is really just Keep Yourself Alive and Seven Seas Of Rhye, which really was an instrumental teaser for the Queen II, that was played live extensively throughout their career. To me, that is a shame because the song like Great King Rat, which is the song of the day, really deserves a broader audience.

Monday, December 26, 2016

December 26 - Cowboys And Angels

2016 is not done kicking us in our teeth yet. Yesterday the news came that George Michael had passed away. If you had met me 30 years ago, while Wham! was on top of the charts, I wouldn't give you the time of day if you wanted to talk about George Michael.  And that was despite the fact that Careless Whisper was the ultimate last song on pretty much any party I went to, official or not, in my teenage years.  I was way too into the hairbands and heavy-metal to give the lightweight pop music George Michael was emblematic of at this point in his career. However, all that changed when I was tasked with reviewing the aptly named album Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 in 1990. in order to give it a proper review, I really needed to do just what he asked, to listen without any of the prejudice that I had carried with me when I first heard his solo debut album, Faith from 1987. I was blown away. His artistic vision was never clearer then it was on his sophomore album.  He released solo albums after this as well, but I was never as drawn to any of them as I was to Listen Without PrejudiceVol1. 

After Freddie Mercury's death, I was really hoping that Queen would carry-on with George Michael on vocals. His performance of Somebody To Love with the remainder of queen was absolutely mind blowing. His duet with longtime friend Elton John on the classic Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me is another stellar George Michael performance.  So today I mourn the loss of a great voice, an artist who was a lot deeper than I ever gave him credit for, especially during his early years,  and a very gifted songwriter. George Michael will be missed, and I choose to remember him by the track Cowboys And Angels from Listen Without PrejudiceVol1.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

December 25 - Do They Know It's Christmas

That was it. That was the end of the advent calendar. It's been quite a journey so far - and I am kinda proud to have been genre-hopping to the extent I was. The answers from yesterday's question were as follows: Bob Geldof organized the Band Aid project in 1984. He got Midge Ure to write the song Do They Know It's Christmas with him, and he gathered a virtual who's who of British pop and rock to perform it. I loved this song when it came out, and I love it today. It is my defining pop/rock Christmas song - despite horrible lines such as "There won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time". Well, duh! Most of Africa is tropical, which generally doesn't get snow, and a significant part of Africa is south of the equator, which means that Christmas comes in the middle of summer and not the middle of winter. Of course, there is snow on Kilimanjaro year round (although the glacier is shrinking), but Africa as a whole tends to not have a lot of snow in December...

Now, let's take a look at the final score board... Unsurprisingly, the big winner is Jon Inge, and he already did his annual trek to my parents' house and has received his prize. Well, ok - it's a Christmas present, but if I can call it a prize, I will do so. It sounds better, anyway. Here is the final scoreboard:

1. Jon Inge (68 points)
2. Snorre (37 points)
3. Steffen (10 points)
4. Jan Are (5 points)

For those of you who played the game this December, thank you for playing along, and for those of you who just read it all, I appreciate that as well. Merry Christmas to you all!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

December 24 - Ballroom Dancing

So the band was, of course, The Beatles - still the greatest band of all time - and I was looking for Paul McCartney's Ballroom Dancing from Give My Regards To Broad Street (1984). I actually really like this song - it is very catchy in an unmistakable Paul McCartney way. It was originally on Tug of War, which was the first album he released after Wings disbanded and John Lennon was shot. In a world where so many singers deteriorate over time, it is very refreshing to see how Paul McCartney is able to perform so many of his classic song with a very youthful fervor even at 74 years old. My biggest disappointment of 2016 is still in many ways that I was unable to get tickets to see him when he played in Grand Rapids - although I did try.

As for tomorrow - or rather todays window of the musical advent calendar - I am looking for a song where Paul McCartney didn't participate, as one of very few in Britain at the time. However, I remember buying the single and listen to the phone message from him on the b-side. This single launched an avalanche of collaborations in a model that is still used today. It is a very appropriate song for Christmas day. I think that's all the help I will give you. I want to know who started the collaborative project (and was knighted because of it, I believe), what was the name of the project, what was the song, what year, and, since it wasn't on an album, who wrote the song along with the person who started the project?

Friday, December 23, 2016

December 23 - Kashmir

I knew it would be easy. The guitarist was of course Jimmy Page, the band was Led Zeppelin, and the song was Kashmir from Physical Graffiti (1975). I love this song - the riff draws me in fully every time, it is one of the all time greatest rock riffs in my opinion. And while Jimmy Page shines here, it is the arrangement work of John Paul Jones that is the star in my opinion. I believe he is one of the most underrated musicians of all times, and his contributions to Led Zeppelin cannot be overstated despite that Page and Plant get the spotlight and the tragedy of John Bonham also overshadows him. I love the way he plays the bass - but his keyboard work on many songs (take No Quarter, for instance) is also spectacular.

Now as for tomorrow's question, the link is John Paul Jones. He played on a song by THE elder statesman of British rock and pop (he was always more pop than his counterpart in a very popular band). Since it's Christmas, I will give you an easy one and ask for this person's band as the fifth question. I am still looking for a song, album, and year from this artist as well. I would like to give you one more hint about the song - it was originally on his first solo album following the demise of his second band, and the first album after his counterpart was shot - but the album I am looking for, where John Paul Jones plays bass on the song (which is kinda ironic, given...), was also a movie soundtrack. I haven't seen the movie, and to be honest, I don't think I want to... That should do it...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

December 22 - Heart Full Of Soul

The answers to the 21st set of questions was that Jeff Beck replaced Eric Clapton in The Yardbirds, and their first single with him was Heart Full Of Soul which later was featured on the American album Having A Rave Up With The Yardbirds from 1965. It's a remarkable song, especially given that its writer, Graham Gouldman, who penned a boatload of great 60s British rock and pop hits still only was 19 that year. But the performance of the song is also great - The Yardbirds was a very underrated band that really deserves the credit for launching three (!) guitar gods into the pantheon of rock music. We have covered Clapton and Beck. The third one's band was initially called The New Yardbirds, but changed name following a tour of Scandinavia in 1969.

And now we are on to the question of the day. This band became one of the biggest bands of the 70s, with its own jet taking them from gig to gig. They wrote one of the greatest rock songs ever (at least in my opinions) named after a hotly contested region in Asia, although the lyrics are more ethereal. So... Who was this third guitarist, what is the band, song, album, and year I am looking for?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

December 21 - Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Charles Mingus' Goodbye Pork Pie Hat was written about Lester Young, and I was looking for Jeff Beck and his Live At Ronnie Scott's from 2008. He won the 2009 Grammy for best rock instrumental for his interpretation of A Day In The Life by The Beatles.

And now that we are firmly in rock territory again, we'll stay with the Brits for a little while. We are going back in time to a band that spawned three of rock's greatest guitarists - but only two of them at a time. Jeff Beck was one of them - but who did he replace? On their second American album, Jeff Beck plays lead guitar on side A, while the other guitarist plays lead on side B. The song I am looking for was the first single of this band after Jeff Beck joined them, and it was written by Graham Gouldman, a teenager who a few years later went on to form 10CC. So, to sum up: What band, what song, what American album was it on, when was this album released, and who did Jeff Beck replace?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

December 20 - In France They Kiss On Main Street

The fantastic bass player on Birdland and today's song, In France They Kiss On Main Street is Jaco Pastorius. The documentary Jaco, produced by Metallica bassist Rob Trujillo, gives a very fascinating portrait of a troubled soul but an incredibly gifted bassist. In France They Kiss On Main Street shows his style, filled with staccato notes but weaving a rich tapestry built around the chords played at all times. I highly recommend checking out more of his music. Anyway, the album was Shadows and Light by Joni Mitchell from 1980. I am not a huge Joni Mitchell fan, but I am really appreciating some of the work she has done, and the band she assembled here with Jaco Pastorius on bass, Pat Metheny on guitar, Don Alias on drums, Michael Brecker on saxophone, and Lyle Mays on keyboards is really solid.

So where do we go from here? Well... One of the tracks from this album appeared on Joni Mitchell's album with music by a giant in jazz - and it is a tribute to another jazz great. This song has also been done by a great rock guitarist (I know, word choice - I shouldn't put so many greats together, but rather vary my verbiage, but it's almost the end of the year, so please cut me some slack), and the most recent version he did was on a live album where he earned a Grammy for a recording of a Beatles song. However, I am looking for the song that is shared with Joni Mitchell, the jazz great that wrote it, the guitarist that covered it, and what live album and year. Got it? You should. This one isn't that difficult - I am giving far too much away...

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19 - Birdland

The link was Alex Acuña, who provided percussion on the song Famine from Opeth's Heritage album. He also played drums in Weather Report, and he was the drummer on their 1977 album Heavy Weather, which featured the massive hit Birdland. I had the opportunity to play bass on an arrangement of that as part of a medley when I played in Breidablikk Skolekorps - the band for a school I never went to, but where a neighbor was the director/conductor. I have some regrets about that time - mainly about a lack of commitment. I really wish I had committed more - they were really a great group of people and I had a very good time there. But I got a chance to play Birdland, and I still remember the part. It's pretty much the only part I know by heart - although I hadn't heard the song much yet at that time. That came later. But I enjoyed my time in this school band - even though I do wish I had been more committed.

I will make this next question easy - because the man whose bass parts I had to play was such a great man. Obviously, my bass parts were simplified versions of what he played. But I want to know his name. I also want to know what great folk singer he played with when this folk singer turned to jazz. And they released a live album that also was a televised concert. What was the name of this album, what year did it come out, and what was the name of the opening track (after the introduction)?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

December 18 - Folklore

So the song was Folklore from Opeth's fantastic Heritage album from 2011, and the musical project was Storm Corrosion, which is a very different project than most of the other music in my collection - but it is one I really enjoyed. Heritage was the first album where Opeth embraced a progressive sound and stripped away the cookie monster vocals - and really turned into the band they are today, two great albums later. Folklore to me has a very Scandinavian sound to it, which is present throughout the album. On one of the songs they use Bjørn J:son Lindh on flute as one of the guest musicians. This has a special significance to me, as he was the person playing the flute on the music to the radio drama Tordivelen Flyr I Skumringen - or The Scarab Flies In Twilight - written by Swedish authors Maria Gripe and Kay Pollak. It was aired in the summer of 1979 with 12 episodes, one every Saturday during Saturday Children's Hour, one of the longest running radio shows in the world, running from 1924 to 2010, only interrupted by World War 2. I loved listening to this radio program, and my favorite part was always the radio dramas - and the long summer ones were my favorite.

However, there is a second guest artist on the track featuring Bjørn J:son Lindh. This guest artist is a legendary jazz musician who played on one of the best known fusion songs ever, and I am looking for this musician and this song. The song was a tribute to a well known New York jazz club - although that might have made this too easy. So... Who is this musician, what is the band he played in that recorded this song, what is the song, what is the album, and what year was it from?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

December 17 - Shesmovedon

The song is Porcupine Tree's beautifully haunting Shesmovedon, originally on Lightbulb Sun from 2000 with Chris Maitland on drums, but rerecorded in 2004 in time to make the 2005 album Deadwing featuring the unimitable Gavin Harrison on drums. As I am writing this, I am reminded of the thought of talking about musicians I would want to play on my album, and from yesterday, Tony Levin would definitely play bass with Gavin Harrison on drums. I am growing more and more fond of his playing - he's got the jazz inspiration that really makes everything he plays very interesting. Deadwing is a great Porcupine Tree album, and I am really hoping that they do find their ways back together for another album. To me, their crowning achievement is still Fear Of A Blank Planet from 2007 - but I am confident Steven Wilson can top that while maintaining Porcupine Tree's sound rather than take it in the direction of his solo career.

Now, on Deadwing, there is a guest singer who has collaborated with Steven Wilson quite heavily. Wilson has produced music for this man's band, but the collaboration even went to the point of releasing an album that is a musical project completely different than anything either of them has done before. What is the name of that album? And what is the name of this mystery man's band? I am also looking for both a song and an album title that reflects on tradition - but the song I am looking for is not the title track. I think that should be enough. So - musical project album, band, song, album, and year. Is it clear? As mud, you say? Well, I can't give them all away either...

Friday, December 16, 2016

December 16 - Easy Money

I might have been cryptic, but it seems like the answer was possible to find... The shared musician was Tony Levin, the bass player with the well groomed mustache, also referred to (by himself) as Papa Bear. He is one of the hardest working musicians I know of, and he has lately been on tour with King Crimson, which is a band he has played with pretty much in every incarnation since the 80s. The album was Larks Tongues In Aspic (which always makes me think of the Larks Vomit flavor of chocolate in Monty Python's Crunchy Frog skit) from 1973, and the song was Easy Money, which I here am including from the video accompanying their latest live release, Radical Action To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind, which simply is mind blowing. Watching the interplay between the three drummers up front is alone worth the entire set, but the playing throughout is superb - I would go so far as to say that this is the ultimate King Crimson.

And, it features a link to more modern prog. One of the members in this lineup of King Crimson is the drummer in one of my favorite "new" prog band - although it's leader has put the band on hold as he is focusing on his solo career. The musician I am looking for also released a cd with big band arrangements of this band's music last year. So we are looking for a progressive rock band that ventured a little bit towards progressive metal, although it never got too heavy, who is currently on hiatus (may or may not be a permanent hiatus). The song I am looking for was recorded twice, once with this band's previous member in this spot of the line-up (the only line-up change in this band's history from when it first was assembled to be a full band and not just a name for the front-man's musical project) and once more on the American edition of an album where this member in particular plays. It is this last version I am looking for. Who is this musician that is shared between King Crimson and this band, what is the name of the band, what is the song I am looking for, and what is the album and year?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

December 15 - Digging In The Dirt

The producer was Daniel Lanois, one of my absolute favorite producers. I have long held that if I were to record an album of my own songs, I would want Daniel Lanois to produce and Emmylou Harris to sing with me (although I probably should just let her do all the singing). I might have to revisit that idea after Christmas - that sounds like a great theme for the final few days before new years... Anyway, he produced Peter Gabriel's album Us from 1992, where the lead off single was Digging In The Dirt. It is a dark album, which might be why I like it.

It also has a lot of Gabriel's usual suspects playing on it, and one of those musicians provides a link to a truly great progressive rock band, one that is known almost as much for its long hiatuses as it is for its music. We are looking for a song from an album that has an "edible" title (I am not saying appetizing here) that reminds me of a Monty Python skit (see - now you even have to figure out my association). The album title is also the title of two songs that bookends the album - Part I and II respectively - and this band would expand into part III and IV, but in later decades and later incarnations of the band. The song I am looking for opens side 2 on the vinyl version of the album. So, to sum up, I am looking for the musician that is shared between Peter Gabriel and this progressive band, the name of the band, the song and album I am thinking about, and the year. Do you need any more hints? I didn't think so.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December 14 - An Cat Dubh

Today's song is indeed An Cat Dubh - or the black cat - by U2 from 1980's Boy, a blistering debut album filled with youthful energy and political fervor. An Cat Dubh has a wonderful dissonant opening riff from The Edge, followed by a driving bass riff by Adam Clayton over a very steady groove laid down by Larry Mullen Jr. As with a lot of U2 songs, the tight interlocked play of drums and bass allows for The Edge's guitar to wander all over the place, all held in place by Bono's voice. I simply love this song - I think it is one of their best real deep tracks, buried in their discography, but not forgotten.

Now, the next artist is another who was a featured guest artist on the Robbie Robertson album from yesterday. He also shared the stage with U2 on the Conspiracy of Hope tour for Amnesty International. The main link is the producer, who in 1986 produced this artists biggest selling album. They teamed up again for the last time so far on another album that didn't sell quite as well, but still was a very solid album. The lead single off of this album also featured Claymation, which this artist had employed in the video for his biggest hit ever on the previous album. So what I want is the producer, the artist, the album, the song, and the year. Easy enough?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 13 - Somewhere Down The Crazy River

I know it got a little cryptic there, but the song was Somewhere Down The Crazy River from Robbie Robertson's debut album, Robbie Robertson, which was released in 1987, ten years after he left The Band, whose drummer, Levon Helm, was from Arkansas as the only non-Canadian member. I love this song, I have ever since we received this album at Radio Ung back in 1987. I didn't know Robbie Robertson or The Band much at all back then, but there is one song on it that was written and performed by Robbie Robertson and a very famous band, which were one of my favorite bands then and remain one of my favorite bands today, despite having released what I would consider quite a few mediocre albums lately, and that is where we are heading with the challenge of today...

We are looking for that band. They come from a bilingual country, and they have released one song with a title in the non-English language of that country. It happened to be on their debut album. The question is what is this band, what is the song's title, what does the title mean, and what was the name and year for this debut album?

But before we get to today's video, let's take a look at the scoreboard at the halfway point:
1. Jon Inge (35 points)
2. Snorre (15 points)
3. Jan Are (5 points)
3. Steffen (5 points)

Jon Inge has a solid lead, but he can still be beaten. Now enjoy Robbie Robertson...

Monday, December 12, 2016

December 12 - I Shall Be Released

The answers were The Band with I Shall Be Released from the 1968 album Music From Big Pink - and the concert in question was The Last Waltz, which also was released as a movie directed by Martin Scorsese. The band did have considerable success on their own, with songs like The Weight, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, and Up On Cripple Creek to their name, all worthy of a thorough listen.

As for today's little question, I might have another good one for you... When The Band disbanded in 1977, only one of the band members never joined back in when they reunited. When that band member released his first solo album, that album spawned four singles. One of those songs was about hanging out in Arkansas with a fellow band member, the lyrics are mainly spoken, but the chorus is sung. It charted as high as #15 in the UK and 24 in the US, and while that isn't the highest charting single, it is my favorite song on the album, so that is the one I am looking for. And, finally, who was the band member he is singing about?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

December 11 - Blind Willie McTell

Bob Dylan just won the Nobel prize in literature, and his song Blind Willie McTell was an outtake from Infidels from 1983, which was produced by Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits. Now, I am not one of Dylan's superfans, but I eventually arrived at a place where I even like his singing on some of his music. I used to say that he was one of the world's greatest songwriters, but that he should leave the singing to others.

Now, Blind Willie McTell was a song I heard about long before I heard it. It was finally released in 1991 on Bootleg Series Vol 1-3, the first in a long series of releases with outtakes and live recordings. In my days at Radio Ung, I had at least two significant Dylan fans in Svein Ola and Leif Roger, and I believe they were the ones who talked about Blind Willie McTell with reverence. When it finally was released, I believe Leif Roger played it for me, and while I did appreciate it, I didn't quite see the greatness. However, that is now rectified, and I truly love this brilliant song - and I hope you will like it too!

The question today is as follows: Bob Dylan had a backing band that also performed on their own. One of Dylan's songs ended up being first recorded by this band as the last track on their debut album. I want the name of the band, the album, the song, the year, and I want to know what the title of their final concert was.

Bob Dylan & Mark Knofler- Blind Willie McTell (Acoustic version) from Abhilash Baruah on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

December 10 - Money For Nothing

Yesterday's question proved easy enough that it was solved in about two hours or so - which means around 2 am Eastern Standard Time. The event was absolutely Live Aid, and Sting's contribution to Dire Straits' Money For Nothing was one of the biggest MTV hits of the 80s much due to the inventive animated music video. The year was 1985, and Dire Straits' album Brothers In Arms, which, by the way, should be required listening and a staple in any music collection, was often cited as one of the biggest instruments in selling the new invention: The CD player. The album was one of the first to be fully digital - digital recording, mixing, and mastering (although there are some concerns with the accuracy of the mixing being labelled digitalaccording to an uncited paragraph in Wikipedia) - and as such it was a prime example of the clarity of sound that the CD medium could offer. Whether analog or digital sound is better is a debate that still rages on, especially with the resurgence of vinyl and the dwindling of CD sales due to streaming or digital downloads, and I will be happy to leave it elsewhere and just hint at it here. But if you want an example of an underrated Dire Straits song, check out one of my personal favorites, The Man's Too Strong from Brothers In Arms. I included it here just because that's how much I love it.

For tomorrow, we are going to look for a song that is legendary, but wasn't on the album it was recorded for. It was an album outtake from an album produced by a member of Dire Straits. The artist has won a very significant award/prize recently, to some controversy. The song reached legendary status in that it was such a stellar piece of work that it was hard to imagine any reason it would have been left off the album. So... What is the award/prize, who is the artist, what is the name of the song, and what album is it an outtake from - and what year was that album released? Am I sounding cryptic? It might be easier than you think...

The Man's Too Strong:

Friday, December 09, 2016

December 9 - Murder By Numbers

So yesterday's challenge was related to Frank Zappa's 1988 tour again. On this tour, it seemed like he had two major agendas. One was to register people to vote. I don't know how many voter registrations his concert gathered, but he did have voter registration booths at all his US shows. The second was to rail against Jimmy Swaggart, who really embodied the hypocrisy of televangelism - which became painfully obvious to all after he was caught with a prostitute, leading to a famous confessional speech ("I have sinned"), repeatedly and mercilessly mocked by Frank Zappa and his band. And then he met Sting at a hotel in Chicago in March 1988 and was joined on stage doing a great big band version of Murder By Numbers, which originally was on The Police's 1983 album Synchronicity.

I kinda stumbled backwards into the Police after listening to some of Sting's music. I was a slow convert to Sting, but from there, Police quickly became a staple in what I was listening to. In my opinion they delivered a stellar debut and final album in Outlandos D'Amour from 1978 and Synchronicity from 1983, but the albums in between were so-so with intermittent stellar tracks (I consider Outlandos D'Amour to be one of the best debut albums ever, right up there with The Doors). Sting, of course had a solid solo career, but is currently filed under boring old fart in my book. I haven't even bothered to listen to his latest album yet - but I have listened to some live recordings from this summer's tour with Peter Gabriel, and that was pretty good stuff. The Police also reunited a few years back, and the fire they played with then was nothing short of spectacular - and it was caught on tape on Certifiable: Live In Buenos Aires.

However, it is time to move on to tomorrow's song. Sting guested on a song by a British band that became a megahit partly due to its animated music video. He also performed with this band on a massive concert event. No more hints should be necessary. What was the concert event, what was the band, song, album, and year?

And a Police live version for good measure...

And, finally, the version with Zappa...

Thursday, December 08, 2016

December 8 - Ring Of Fire

The artist was Frank Zappa, who in the lead-in to Ring Of Fire over a vamp at the end of Heavy Duty Judy talks about meeting Johnny Cash and his wife in the hotel, and mentions that Cash was supposed to sing lead, but that June Carter Cash had taken ill and he was unable to come. They played it anyway, and it was released on the album The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life in 1991.

Frank Zappa's 1988 tour was spectacular. The music released from the tour are found on three main albums: The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life, Broadway The Hard Way, and Make A Jazz Noise Here. He includes covers of Cream and Jimi Hendrix - and he does a version of Stairway To Heaven where the horns play a transcribed version of Jimmy Page's guitar solo note for note. On one of these albums, he did indeed bring a guest singer up on stage, and it is a legendary singer, who happened to just release a new solo album this fall. He used to be the front man of a huge trio, and according to the intro to the song he performed with Zappa, someone claimed that the song was written by Satan and performed by the sons of Satan: Lucifer, Beelzebub, and the Horned One - but the singer confesses that he wrote the song. The questions for today shouldn't be too difficult given all this information: Who is this someone who made the claim about who wrote and performed the song, what is the name of the song, what was the name of the band, what album was it originally on, and what year was it released? It is a great song that was the b-side of this band's greatest hit (which all of you know, by the way - it was that huge), and it was only available on the CD and cassette version of the album in question, which, by the way, is a great album as well!

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

December 7 - Solitary Man

Of course Rick Rubin was the link. The bearded producer who has produced just about everyone. I love his production style, and what he did to resurrect Johnny Cash's career was nothing short of magic. He allowed him to do what he did best, sit with an acoustic guitar and sing songs. Bringing in Tom Petty's Heartbreakers as a backing band was also brilliant, and the result was six CDs and a box set (and possibly some more hidden gems). Solitary Man was on American III: Solitary Man from 2000, and he won his third Grammy for this performance in 2001.

Now Johnny Cash was no stranger to collaborations, as a member of the Highwaymen with Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson, or just with Willie, or with his wife, June Carter Cash, to name but a few. However, for me, the ultimate collaboration never happened. After a chance meeting in a hotel, or so the story goes, he was going to perform one of his earliest hits with an avant garde composer/rock musician/jazz musician who is best known in Norway for a hit song about sexual deviances - or rather a sexual deviant. If you heed his advice, you will not eat any yellow snow. And the concert where Johnny Cash was supposed to appear happened during his last tour with a rock band. He only worked in public with orchestral works after this. So the questions are as follows: Why didn't Johnny Cash appear on stage with this musician and his band, who is the musician, what was the song he was supposed to sing, what album was the recording of this song on(without Johnny Cash singing), and what year was it released? It is a fairly loose reggae version of the song - this band was spectacular, but it fell apart between the European leg and the second North American leg of the tour.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

December 6 - No Sleep Till Brooklyn

So yesterday's song wasn't too hard to get to. The Beastie Boys' No Sleep Till Brooklyn from 1987's fantastic debut Licensed to Ill did feature a guitar solo from Slayer's Kerry King, and as Steffen suggested, it might not have been the only solo he contributed, as the solo on (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) also sounds a lot like him. To me, Licensed to Ill brings me back to the summer of 1987, when I went on a language tour to England. It was the year of my confirmation, and both my cousin Stein and I got a language tour for a confirmation present from our parents. We were planning it all out - we were going to go together, we were only starting from different places. He would travel from Oslo and I would travel from Trondheim.

It was a three week trip, I think, and we were going to stay with host families there. I was very excited when I got my host family information - and we were both eager to share our assigned family information. The area we were going to was Isle of Thanet, which is the southeastern tip of England, part of Kent. The two main towns in the area are Margate on the northern coast and Ramsgate on the southern coast. What we didn't know was that his group was going to Ramsgate, whereas mine was going to Margate. That meant that we'd have separate trips, with separate groups, and we would be completely on our own, at age 15. Well, not completely - there were tour guides and teachers for the classroom part, and there were host families - but we wouldn't come with any buddies to hang out with from the get go. I was nervous, but I was still very excited.

My vacation was a blast. I am not the most social of beings, so being on my own meant I had to at least partly come out of my shell a little, and I think I did that. I remember Stein coming to Margate on at least one occasion and me travelling to Ramsgate on one occasion, but I also remember spending time with my host family. I am not sure they necessarily appreciated that I wanted to spend time with them - I think they were used to their guests travelling around a lot more - but I greatly appreciated spending time with them. I learned about the wonderful game of cricket, although I don't remember the rules that much anymore, and I even discovered new music, the Irish bluesman Rory Gallagher was found in their record collection, and I really liked his work.

And then there was the Beastie Boys. I bought the tape at His Master's Voice in London. I also remember convincing a couple of the guys I was travelling with to walk with me into the seedy alleys of Soho, looking for the record store Shades, which was famous for it's ads in Kerrang!, the premier heavy metal magazine, and which was rumored to carry bootleg recordings as well. I think we turned around before making it all the way there - but I know I visited the store on one of my visits to London. But Licensed to Ill was the soundtrack for me that summer. I played it in my Walkman as I was walking from my host family into town, on the tour buses as they drove us around, and while on the beaches, the great beaches. It was a great summer, and now that winter is hitting Michigan, it is the perfect time to think back on it.

But I can't get all nostalgic either. It's time to take today's song and find a way to get to tomorrow's, and I think I just did that. There is a link between the Beasties and a very famous singer. That link helped this singer revive his career in such a way that he earned his third Grammy award 31 years after his second - and two years later, he earned a fourth Grammy award. I would really like to know what the link is, what the song was that he earned his third Grammy, the singer, the name of the album and the year of the album.

Monday, December 05, 2016

December 5 - Dissident Aggressor

So I threw out a red herring in yesterday's little question. I was hoping that someone would assume I was talking about the Danish pastry drumming in Metallica, but given that Dave Lombardo from Slayer (and the only person I recognize as a legitimate Slayer drummer) was born in Havana, Cuba, I enjoyed the opportunity for subterfuge quite immensely. Slayer's version of Dissident Aggressor was released on the album South Of Heaven in 1988. Jan Are had introduced me to Slayer through their earlier albums, in particular Hell Awaits and Reign In Blood, the latter being considered one of thrash metal's absolute masterpieces, and I liked some of the songs, but I wasn't completely sold on them yet. That all changed for me when I took home South Of Heaven in the summer of 1988. I played it over and over and couldn't get quite enough. When I then revisited their earlier work, I got it. I got all of it.

I got the chance to see Slayer live in the fall of 2004. Dave Lombardo was back in the fold after having been out for quite a few years, and they played Reign In Blood in its entirety - which was pure awesomeness. However, I think the intro riff to South Of Heaven was the part that really gave me the full goosebump effect. But on the album South Of Heaven, Dissident Aggressor was another song that really blew me away - and I still think this is the version I prefer of the song.

Now for today's question, we will change genre quite dramatically. One of Slayer's members played on a single that I was convinced was a number one hit. It didn't get quite that high, it only reached in the 20s in European charts and lower than that in the US, but the album it was on did indeed get to #1. So... Who was the Slayer member, song, band, album, and year. This should be easy-peasy.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

December 4 - Green Manalishi

Now I first heard Judas Priest's version of The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown) on their Unleashed In The East album, that Jan Are had on tape. It was originally found on the album Hell Bent For Leather from 1979 (the US version of their album Killing Machine, which didn't include the song). I think this live version from 1982 is a great example of what Judas Priest could do - and it showcases Rob Halford's stage presence as well.

Now, speaking of cover versions... I do realize that this is an easy way to find connections between bands, but I still think it works, so I am about to do it again. This time, I am looking for a Judas Priest song that was covered by one of the "big four" thrash bands of the 80s. This band has a foreign born drummer, and I have to admit that I actually prefer their version to the Judas Priest version of the song. So... Who is this drummer, what is the band, what is the song, and what album and year? Too easy? Maybe... If you find it difficult, please don't worry... We will depart metal soon...

Saturday, December 03, 2016

December 3 - Oh Well

The answer to yesterday's question was the Iron Maiden producer Martin Birch who engineered Fleetwood Mac's 1968 album Then Play On, which on the 1969 US edition featured the song Oh Well. This album was one of my uncle Erik's favorite album, and the song is one of my absolutely favorite songs of theirs. With Peter Green as the main songwriter and guitarist they were a completely different band than they became, and this is just one of many great examples of that.

For tomorrow, we are going back to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Another band with the twin lead guitars was led by someone who at least was the first openly gay heavy metal singer I knew of. It took him a long time to come out - the heavy metal community wasn't always the most open and embracing community to homosexuality - but he has since become embraced and is absolutely considered one of the elder statesmen of metal. They did a cover of a Fleetwood Mac song. Who is the singer, what is the band, what song am I talking about, and when and on what album was it released?

Friday, December 02, 2016

December 2 - Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

I told you all yesterday was easy... The link was the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who inspired Iron Maiden to write The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner for 1984's Powerslave album. Watch the advent calendar score board for current standings...

This is one of the songs I love. It is a long song, but the movements are weaved perfectly together by Steve Harris' bass. It is a masterful exercise in storytelling if you ask me, and one of the highlights on the Powerslave album. And the production of this song is awesome.

Speaking of production, Iron Maiden long worked with a producer whom I first am aware of having worked as an engineer for an old British blues band that eventually got reborn as more of a pop band. To make it easy on you, I will say that the band is named from the rhythm section (drummer and bassist), and that they reinvented themselves as a pretty slick sounding pop/rock band, which also is what they are most known as. The song I am after was released as a single with part 1 as the a side and part 2 as the b side, but it was originally left off the album it ended up on. Who is the producer/engineer, what is the band, what is the song, and what year and album did it appear on?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

December 1 - La Villa Strangiato

It's December, the last month of the year. I have 31 days left to meet my challenge to myself of writing one post per day, which I should be able to do. I have a plan for the next few days - it will be my musical advent calendar with a new question every single day until Christmas - a little bit of trivia hasn't hurt anyone yet... The answers can be posted in the comments here or on my Facebook page. I have a scoreboard page here (check right hand margin) where I will be keeping track of the score. The blog will be updated with a new post at midnight EST every day, while Facebook updates are manual and will typically happen a little bit later. The rules are pretty simple. I am looking for a connection between the artist of the day and another artist. It will usually result in a song, with some additional information required.

But before I get to the question for today, let me just say that I am very happy to play yet another favorite instrumental of mine. This time we are going to the album Hemispheres by Rush, which is one I picked up without having heard much from it when I found it at one of the few used vinyl stores in Trondheim in the 80s. This one was hidden behind EPA, which was a great department store that also sold my favorite soft serve ice cream growing up, because you could get a twist of vanilla and strawberry, and that, to me, was just spectacular. The song of the day is an exercise in self indulgence (that's actually the subtitle for the song), it is La Villa Strangiato by Rush.

Now, since I mention Rush, there is a link between them and a New Wave of British Heavy Metal band. That link is a 18th and 19th century British poet who inspired songs for both bands with poems written at the end of the 18th century. What I am looking for is the name of the poet, the name of the band, the name of the new band's song, the album it first appeared on, and what year that happened. Like I said, I will take the answers here or on my Facebook page. It shouldn't be difficult if you know your 80s heavy metal bands, but if you don't, please don't worry. There will be questions for you coming as well... But please enjoy La Villa Strangiato while you ponder away...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 30 - The Golden Core

The final song of November is also the final song featuring Anneli Drecker - at least for now. In 1994, Motorpsycho released Timothy's Monster, an album I have written about several times this year already. It is quite remarkable to me that I have spent so much time on an album that I really only have a casual relationship with - not because the songs are weak, but because I don't care for the production of it - the lo-fi sound simply isn't for me on all songs. However, when the songs work, they work beautifully, and that is the case with The Golden Core, which appears on top of lists of favorite songs for many psychonauts (Motorpsycho fans). I'm not a psychonaut in the traditional sense, as I haven't been travelling around Europe with them - but I am still considering myself a pretty solid fan - and most people taking a look at my record collection would probably agree with me. The Golden Core is the final track on Timothy's Monster, and it features Anneli Drecker once again. It is a long song, but it is well worth listening to in its entirety.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 29 - Becoming More Like God

After drawing some serious attention to herself as the voice of Bel Canto, Anneli Drecker got some very interesting offers to join forces with other musicians, and luckily she took advantage of some of them. The first of the two collaborations she did that I will play for you to round out November was with Jah Wobble's Invaders Of The Heart. John Wardle was one of the four Johns in Johnny Rotten's circle of friends - he writes a lot about the other three in his autobiographic books (that are well worth reading). The other three Johns were John Lydon - or Johnny Rotten, John Ritchie - better known as Sid Vicious, and John Grey, Legend has it that Sid Vicious was the one who in a pretty drunken stupor pronounced Wardle's name wrong, and thus Jah Wobble was born.

Wobble was one of the original members or John Lydon's post Sex Pistols band Public Image Limited, a band that almost deliberately set out to be as abrasive as possible. He didn't stay in the band very long, and Lydon has some choice words to say about how it all ended, but they appear to have mended fences since then. In the late 80s, he formed Jah Wobble's Invaders Of The Heart, and in 1994 they released the song Take Me To God, an eclectic collection of songs that features today's song, Becoming More Like God - and the dreamlike voice of Anneli Drecker. I remember hearing this for the first time a little later, after I started working at Studentradioen i Bergen, but this song may even have hit me harder than Shimmering, Warm, and Bright had a couple of years earlier. Wobble's bass lines drives this song forward, and while the lead vocals on the verses might not be much to write home about, Drecker's vocals on the chorus certainly are.

Monday, November 28, 2016

November 28 - Shimmering, Warm, and Bright

In the mid 1990s, you couldn't go anywhere without hearing the voice of Anneli Drecker, who was the female voice in the Norwegian duo Bel Canto. The other half was Nils Johansen, who was responsible for the programming - and while they did have a couple of other musicians helping them out, they were predominantly the two people heard on today's song. They came from Tromsø, way up north, past the arctic circle, which clearly influenced their music. It has an icy and cold quality to it, but they were not afraid to bring in other influences, like the clear eastern scales on the song selected for today, and the result was magic, even for a grumpy antipop person like me. The song is incredibly danceable, yet it has a tonal and melodic quality that really draws me in and intrigues me. Shimmering, Warm, and Bright brought Bel Canto to the top of the Norwegian charts in 1992, and it is not without reason...

Sunday, November 27, 2016

November 27 - Become Ocean

Today's music is an orchestral work by composer John Luther Adams. I will gladly admit that this might not be for everyone - and it is a long piece. However, it is a piece I frequently sink into, just letting myself drift away really following the instruction from the title: Become Ocean. It is a droning piece, which means that there isn't much in terms of very obvious melodic structure, but it is heavy on dynamics and changing timbre, and there is really a lot going on under the surface - and as I wrote that, I realized how apt that really is for this piece of music. There is so much more than initially meets the ear, and if you are patient, you may indeed be rewarded, provided you keep an open mind.

Become Ocean earned John Luther Adams a Pulitzer Prize in music, which I didn't know existed before hearing about it on NPR a year ago, maybe two - and that's really how I came in touch with it. I am so completely fascinated with everything going on here - and I keep discovering new things in the very dense composition.

I encourage you to take about 42 minutes out of your otherwise busy day and try to follow this orchestral work all around. All the way from the swell in the beginning to the quieter moments interspersed throughout, until the swell finally subsides in the end. Take the time to truly Become Ocean.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

November 26 - The Day Before You Came

Sometimes you need a new take on a song to fully realize it's genius, and today's song is an example of that for me. I was familiar with Abba's original, but I didn't fully realize how brilliant this song was before I heard Steven Wilson's version. What really stands out to me is the lyrics. I think this is the perfect way to describe an earth shattering meeting - without talking about the meeting at all. Instead, the song describes a series of assumptions based on the fact that life before this meeting was simply dull routine all along. "It's funny, but I had no sense of living without aim the day before you came." It is brilliant. Simply brilliant.

I went back to listen to the original as well, and I must say that to me, this is the highlight of Abba's career when it comes to songwriting. I can even deal with a very dated production. But there is a purity to the vocals, and there is a certain soreness there as well. However, I think Steven Wilson's take on it lifts it even further. He released it on his album Cover Version in 2014 - and that is an album that is well worth exploring. But to me, the highlight, the song that stops me dead in the tracks and simply makes me listen, is The Day Before You Came. I included the lyrics below the video. Please read them. It is so extremely beautiful, haunting, and mundane, all at the same time. Genius.

I must have left my house at eight, because I always do
My train, I'm certain, left the station just when it was due
I must have read the morning paper going into town
And having gotten through the editorial, no doubt I must have frowned
I must have made my desk around a quarter after nine
With letters to be read, and heaps of papers waiting to be signed
I must have gone to lunch at half past twelve or so
The usual place, the usual bunch
And still on top of this I'm pretty sure it must have rained
The day before you came

I must have lit my seventh cigarette at half past two
And at the time I never even noticed I was blue
I must have kept on dragging through the business of the day
Without really knowing anything, I hid a part of me away
At five I must have left, there's no exception to the rule
A matter of routine, I've done it ever since I finished school
The train back home again
Undoubtedly I must have read the evening paper then
Oh yes, I'm sure my life was well within its usual frame
The day before you came

I must have opened my front door at eight o'clock or so
And stopped along the way to buy some Chinese food to go
I'm sure I had my dinner watching something on TV
There's not, I think, a single episode of Dallas that I didn't see
I must have gone to bed around a quarter after ten
I need a lot of sleep, and so I like to be in bed by then
I must have read a while
The latest one by Marilyn French or something in that style
It's funny, but I had no sense of living without aim
The day before you came

And turning out the light
I must have yawned and cuddled up for yet another night
And rattling on the roof I must have heard the sound of rain
The day before you came

Friday, November 25, 2016

November 25 - Paperback Writer

I am very excited today. I decided to forego the Thanksgiving Day shopping last night and instead focused on writing some more. And I am proud to say that I, in my pursuit of writing a novel, actually reached 50,000 words. The total word count is in the right hand margin. Reaching 50,000 words by the end of November seemed like a very lofty goal on November 1, but looking back at it, it is really all about sticking to it. Now, my novel isn't done yet, but I still thought I'd celebrate the milestone of actually winning National Novel Writing Month (everybody who reaches 50,000 words by November 30 is a winner) by playing an old Beatles song. However, I could not find the original version on YouTube, so I have to do two songs from Paul McCartney's 2009 tour, with the same stellar touring band he still has backing him. They start with I've Got A Feeling and then the final song is Paperback Writer. Although I have to say that I'd like mine in hardcover...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

November 24 - Now Be Thankful

So today is Thanksgiving. I think I planned on writing something new, but I am thinking that I like this recycling business. I may have talked a little bit about this earlier this year as well, but I think I covered this really well back in 2008, so I am going to use it once again.

My road to Fairport Convention goes through Richard Thompson, and I can guarantee you that both will be revisited in this blog, as I have gained an enourmous respect for both. However, in order to get there, I have to go back to the band that started my Thanksgiving series of songs - ZZ Top. I have already talked a little bit about the start of my civil service in Norway. What I didn't say was that I didn't last 16 months at Hustad Leir. As soon as 1995 rolled around - I had been at Hustad Leir for six months - I was able to leave for Bergen and an assignment at Centre for International Health (CIH), a research institute under the University of Bergen. I moved into a room at Fantoft Studentby, which essentially was an apartment style dorm room way outside the university campus and Haukeland Hospital, which was where CIH was located. I was nervous - I was on my own for the very first time, and although I had very good friends in Bergen, I was far away from home. Some of those nerves were mitigated when I heard familiar music through the wall - it was La Grange from ZZ Top's spectacular Tres Hombres album.

I had been living in Bergen for a very short time when my friend Vegard Nørstebø told me that the local student radio station, Studentradioen i Bergen, were interviewing - and that they were looking for engineers. Studentradioen was an all volunteer radio station - the only paid members were the editors - and I had background from Radio Ung in Trondheim, both as an engineer and a DJ, so I thought it sounded like a good idea. Vegard had already been working there for some time (we had both background from Radio Ung) and was enjoying it, so I saw it as a great way for me to get to meet people as well. I was able to join them, and among the shows I was the engineer for was Plog (the norwegian word for Plow - the noun, not the verb). Plog was an eclectic music program, drawing heavily from traditional music from all over the world - I envision the name as an indication that the music was whatever turned up after one had plowed all corners of the earth. It was hosted by cantankerous Thomas Ekrene - at least he appeared cantankerous to me initially - and I have to admit that I was a little afraid of him. After the show was over, both of us would walk separately down to the bus terminal, get on the same bus (still separately), and take it to Fantoft Studentby, where we both would walk separately to our rooms. Except his room turned out to be right next to me - and he was the guy who had been playing ZZ Top when I first moved in.

After a few weeks of walking separately to the same bus and then the neighboring dorm rooms, we finally started talking to one another. How it happened I don't remember, but the endresult was that we became fast friends - we played together in ad hoc bands assembled for Christmas parties and we eventually became roommates. And in the midst of all this, Thomas introduced me to Richard Thompson, the spectacular British guitarplayer who is a "musician's musician," one who rarely gets the acknowledgment he deserves by the general public, but who is revered by musicians in a variety of genres. The first song I heard was Shoot Out The Lights, and the first album I heard was You? Me? Us?, an ambitious double album produced by Mitchell Froom featuring an electric disk (voltage enhanced) and one acoustic disk (nude). The first Richard Thompson album I bought was Watching The Dark, a 3-cd set stretching from 1988 back to his beginning in a British folk-rock band called Fairport Convention. Among the songs from that time was a song written by Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick, Now Be Thankful, a beautiful ballad that seems to be a fitting song for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November 23 - Thank You For Hearing Me

I think I did pretty good with this one too in 2008, so here is yet another recycled entry...

I remember watching Sinead O'Connor's video for Nothing Compares 2 U, the Prince-penned love song, in my grandparents' living room. They were the only ones in my family who had cable TV, and it included MTV, which I always found curious, being that the cable deal was negotiated with the association where they lived - and they lived in a retirement community at the time where there was no interest for MTV (I should note that cable TV in Norway was about picking channels you wanted at that time - there was no basic distinction between 'basic' and 'expanded' as main package deals. 

While I did like Nothing Compares 2 U and her entire 'I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got' album, I was not prepared to hear 'The Lion and the Cobra', which was her debut album. My very good friend Nina Skaaden (now Schefte) had the album and taped it for me (along with Let Love Rule by Lenny Kravitz, another stunning album). When I popped it in the tape deck and heard Troy for the first time, I was so completely blown away - in fact, I was so enamored by this cute Irish chick with her shaved head that I kept checking out her music even after releasing 'Am I Not Your Girl', an album of standards that was lackluster, to say the least.

Fast forward a few years to 1994. The Norwegian military is based on conscription, which means that all males must serve their country through military service. However, they do allow for conscientious objectors, and as I was (and still am) a pacifist, I was doing my civil service in place of military service. In order to get this approved, I had to be interviewed by the police (I remember a pretty arrogant police officer who certainly didn't appreciate a giant long-haired peace loving guy's perspectives) - and when it was approved, I had to do 16 months of civil service in place of the by then 9 months of military service that was required. 

I showed up at Hustad Leir, a camp that originally had been used for the internment of traitors after World War II (and that now has been turned back into a prison - it wouldn't be a major adjustment), in the summer of 1994, thinking that I was going to the civil service 'boot camp' that lasted six weeks and then find placement for the rest of the time. When I got there, I was in for a surprise. First it was the geography. When you look through the gates of the camp, you see a vertical mountainside. No vegetation, just rock. On the other side was the ocean. There was maybe a mile or so between the camp and the coastline, but you could still almost smell the saltyness of the water. And, to make things even worse, the mist often came rolling in from the sea - or the clouds were trapped by the mountain side and pressed downward, creating an eerie light reflected by the vegetation around the camp (I seem to remember mossy rock, but that may not be true) and sucked up by the dark mountain side. The other part of the surprise was that I was there to be part of their staff. That's right, sixteen months at this desolate place instead of the six weeks. 

My initial assignment was working in the kitchen. While I liked it, I did have another job in mind, and I soon got the opportunity to work in the library there. It was the perfect job for me, surrounded by books and music, with a snooker table and cable tv at my fingertips. The snooker table was heavily used, and it was while playing snooker late at night that Sinead O'Connor's next album was played over and over again. It was called 'Universal Mother', and it is a fairly unknown masterpiece. It spans spoken word set to music (Famine), an excellent cover version of All Apologies (although not as sore as Nirvana's Unplugged version, which was released around the same time), political lyrics (they are all over), and the closing track is this excellent little song called Thank You For Hearing Me. It is built around a programmed drum loop, then instruments are added (mainly programmed on a synthesizer), and the lyrics are sung like a chant with each of the following lines repeated four times:

Thank you for hearing me
Thank you for loving me
Thank you for seeing me
And not for leaving me
Thank you for staying with me
Thanks for not hurting me
You are gentle with me
Thanks for silence with me

The next verse has four different lines

Thank you for holding me
And saying "I could be"
Thank you for saying "baby"
Thank you for holding me

Then she sings the next line four times before finishing a verse that turns the meaning of the song upside down:

Thank you for helping me

Thank you for breaking my heart
Thank you for tearing me apart
Now I've a strong, strong heart
Thank you for breaking my heart

While it can be argued whether this song truly captures the spirit of Thanksgiving, it is nonetheless a spectacular song. She plays around with dynamics and instrumentation, but it is the same melody that is repeated over and over again. So simple, yet so complex - and it adds emphasis to the lyrics.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November 22 - Thank You

I am repeating what I did yesterday and digging out a post from November 2008. I might continue this at least tomorrow as well, and then we'll see when we get to Thanksgiving. Anyway, here goes:

There are so many love songs out there that it is sometimes hard to find the right one. However, this little song by Led Zeppelin, found on their momentous second album, Led Zeppelin II, has just about everything I could ask for in its lyrics. Yes, it is sappy, but it is sappy in such a good way - just listen to those words:

If the sun refused to shine
I would still be loving you
When mountains crumble to the sea
There will still be you and me

I have to confess that I don't remember the rest of the words, but after looking them up, I decided against citing them here. It did turn a little sappier than I expected - but the four lines above have always moved me deeply. Add to it a cute melody and a spine-chilling guitar workout by master Page, and you have a true masterful love song. And Plant's vocals are outstanding - I have always liked the Unledded version where he goes "bam ba-bam ba-bam ba-bam - I wanna thank you" over the organ punctuated by the guitar/rest of the band. 

However, the Unledded version does lack the rhythm section that really made Led Zeppelin great. John Bonham is unfortunately no longer with us, but John Paul Jones, to me the true unsung hero of Led Zeppelin is still around - and the footage from London's O2 Stadium in 2007 with Jason Bonham on drums was spectacular.

The last time I published this, I used the version from Unledded, but today I am going for the original from Led Zeppelin II. Please enjoy Thank You!

Monday, November 21, 2016

November 21 - I Thank You

I originally wrote and posted this Thanksgiving week 2008, but I am thinking it still holds up today... And reposting it is in the spirit of ZZ Top - after all they did release an album called Recycler...

It's Thanksgiving week here in the United States, and with that in mind, I start a series of songs about thankfulness - or sort of thankfulness. The first band out is that lil' ol' band from Texas -
 ZZ Top. It really is a shame that most people I grew up with only knew about them from flashy MTV videos with a spiffy car and scantily clad models. At that point they had almost abandoned their trademark blues/boogie rock and were all about click tracks, heavily treated guitars, and synthesizers. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but when you contrast songs like Gimme All Your Loving', Sharp Dressed Man, and Velcro Fly to classics like La Grange, Tush, and I Thank You (and the list goes on...), there's just no comparison if you ask me. 

Anyway - I would in all likelihood have been completely oblivious to the splendor of ZZ Top if it wasn't for Arve Hjalmar Holmen, who has been among my closest (if not the closest) friends ever since he decided that he wanted to take on the biggest kid in class upon returning to our school in sixth grade after a three year absence (that's what living on the wrong side of town for a few years can do to you). A teacher broke us up, which probably was for the better, as I was getting my rear whooped. We were taken inside and told to make nice, and the conversation that started that day has really not stopped - the pauses only get longer, as neither one of us lives in Norway anymore. 

I don't know where Arve got his interest in ZZ Top from or where he had heard them, but the result was that for every birthday and Christmas through middle school I bought him a tape of an old ZZ Top record. ZZ Top's First Album, Rio Grande Mud, Tres Hombres, Fandango, Tejas, Degüello, and El Loco all found their way into his collection of tapes - and I copied them to tapes of my own. Years later, after buying a CD player, the ZZ Top Sixpack was purchased as soon as I could afford it - but Degüello had to be purchased separately, and purchase it I did. It is packed with spectacular songs. I Thank You opens the album, and it hardly ever slows down. Yes, there are a few fillers in there, but most of the songs are so good that Degüello has to be ranked among the best ZZ Top albums. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November 20 - Hey Jupiter

It's been twenty years since Tori Amos released Boys for Pele, and it sounds just as good today as it did then. There is a new release with lots of bonus materials out, but I think I will stick with my original copy, which has been quite worn out over the years. I played this album left and right, up and down, when it was released, and digging out again now, I think my standout track and personal favorite is different than it was 20 years ago. Back then I would probably have gone for In The Springtime Of His Voodoo, which is another fantastic track, but today I feel the raw emotion in Hey Jupiter really hits the spot.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

November 19 - Where Is My Mind

 I keep hearing the Pixies on commercials on TV, and every time I hear it, I am reminded that it's feeling like I'm losing my mind following the election. I don't think I'll see much more. The Pixies was a band  that released for very strong albums, and the song Where Is My Mind? Is from one of their very best.  The album Surfer Rosa came out in 1988 and is still one of my two favorite Pixies albums, along with Doolittle. Here are Black Francis, Kim Deal, David Lovering, and Joey Santiago with Where Is My Mind?

Friday, November 18, 2016

November 18 - This Is Not America

"I can't believe the news today,
I can't close my eyes and make them go away"

U2's opening lines from Sunday Bloody Sunday describes how I have been feeling since a minority of voters elevated a racist, sexist, xenophobic bigot to the highest office in the land. Knowing that there were more people voting for his opponents than him, and knowing that there was one candidate who received a significantly larger number of votes, I have to concur with David Bowie for a second day in a row, as this really is not the America I thought it was. He says it more succinctly on the soundtrack from The Falcon and the Snowman from 1985. He has the full backing of the Pat Metheny Group when he sings This Is Not America.