kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stupid List Deux

I'm confident that people offer lists in this kind of context because they don't have anything else to say. Other than wondering about degrees of truth--can the bumpersticker "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" become more true?--that's probably correct.

(In my logic class, I've sometimes referred to the "George Bush (pére) fallacy," committed by believing that if "p" is true, saying "p" louder makes it "more" true.) My guess is that I will be returning to politics next week.

In the meantime, I offer a second list, now of my favorite top ten concerts. A couple of provisos, of course: I tend not to list very small club dates, and I haven't listed "classical" shows, like the amazing performance of Kathleen Battle doing the "German Requiem" with the Chicago Symphony. I also didn't list the show I saw with my friend Goober at Stanford, around 1978, which was some group of folks playing very rhythmic music for about 3 hours; it was a "rave" before there were raves, I guess. Since I don't know who they were, I skipped it.

Here's the list, leaving out many great shows (some of which I give as "honorable mention"), and limiting myself to an alphabetical list, with--again--brief but superfluous comment. Some of these dates are, well, guesses.

Canal Street Tavern, Dayton (OH); (~1995)
The place was packed, and you know the show was good if I was dancing. So was my favorite Frege scholar, who danced with Robyn and me.

George Jones/Patty Loveless
Star Theater, Merrillville (IN); (~1986)
George did his standard set, although at the time I didn't realize how standard that set was. Not many at this time had heard of Patty Loveless (I know I hadn't); she was powerful. This was after George had sobered up, and the audience was no longer at risk of hearing him talk like a duck all night.

Grateful Dead
Memorial Hall, Kansas City (MO); (~1974)
I couldn't get anyone to go to this with me; the one guy who liked the hipper stuff (and this was, at the time, pretty hip) was worried that they were a country band (as if that's a drawback). So I went alone; my Dad took me, I called him before the encores, he picked me up. There really isn't anything else like a Dead show, as they say, and this was my first of a few.

Hüsker Dü
Riviera (?), Chicago (IL); (~1988)
Loud and amazing. This was the "Warehouse: Songs and Stories" tour; I found out about them way too late, because they played Chicago a lot while I was in graduate school, and this was the only time I got to see them. It must have been good: I bought a t-shirt!

Lightnin' Hopkins
Mother Blues, Dallas (TX); (~1976)
He was old, and no doubt had seen better days, but the presence of the man spoke volumes about what he'd done, what he'd seen, and who he'd done it and seen it with. I'm proud I got to shake his hand.

Los Lobos
Riviera, Chicago (IL); (~1983)
They hadn't been touring long, and this was, I think, one of their earliest national tours, just after "Will the Wolf Survive?" came out. They were loose, jammed quite a bit, had a good time, and just pumped out amazing song after amazing song.

Lucinda Williams
Emmajoe's, Austin (TX); (~1980)
$2 cover, $1 Shiner Bocks, about 20 people in the audience. This was back when Lucinda played mostly Delta blues, and I remember to this day a riveting version of Robert Johnson's "Malted Milk."

Muddy Waters
Some dinner club, Kansas City (MO); (1970)
I got my parents to take me to this when I was 13. About 15 people in the audience, the band (including Pinetop Perkins) played a couple of songs, then Muddy Waters came out with his guitar and put on a show, including playing a good bit of slide guitar. The band seemed to notice this weird little white kid, with eyes the size of saucers, taking it all in. Formative, I tell 'ya.

Public Enemy
Mandel Hall, Chicago (IL); (1988)
Touring on "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back." A very bizarre show, 2/3 of the audience serious rap fans from the South Side, 1/3 University of Chicago dorks. This was the whole deal, with guys marching with guns, Professor Griff, etc., and one of the best shows I've ever seen. After the show, Chuck D. took questions from the audience, including a number about the Nation of Islam and its views of Israel; Chuck (Mr. D?) was informed, patient, humorous, and the discussion was civil if a bit hostile. Quite a night.

Metro, Chicago (IL); (~1988)
One of my favorite bands, this was the only chance I got to see them. I don't remember the details too well (hmmmmm), and Billy Zoom was no longer with them; but Exene and John Doe were really great together, and unlike many bands they get lumped with, X drew on a long and deep history of music (which one can see by their work with the Knitters).


Honorable mention (alphabetical):

Allman Brothers (Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City)
Bluerunners (Fitzgeralds, Chicago)
Bob Dylan and the Band (Checkerdome, St. Louis)
Brave Combo (Bluebird Cafe, Fort Worth)
Del McCoury (Ryman Auditorium, Nashville)
Jimmie Dale Gilmore (Canal Street, Dayton)
Joe Ely (Some bar in Dallas)
Leo Kotke and Emmylou Harris (Star Theatre, Merrillville)
Little Charlie and the Eager Beaver Boys (AusTex Lounge, Austin)
Quicksilver Messenger Service (Memorial Hall, Kansas City)
Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (Taft Auditorium, Cincinnati)
Sleepy Labeef (Fitzgerald's, Chicago)
Tish Hinojosa (Canal Street, Dayton)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Lists Are Stupid

Lists, I repeat, are stupid. So I shall be offering one of my own.

I took a couple of weeks off from writing anything here, mostly because I was too busy with the beginning of the school year, but also because I didn't have much to say (even relative to what I say here), and because I get apoplectic (can one get a bit apoplectic?) about the Bush administration and its approach to the U.S. Constitution. (The line I hear now, for the most part, is that a) we are at war [and, according to Donald Rumsfeld, evidently channeling George Orwell, we always will be] and that b) the American people are willing to give up (some unspecified number of) their rights for security [although they probably aren't getting increased security, and this is an administration that doesn't look at polls, except those polls that support its violation of the law]. The temerity of doing something that increasingly appears to involve a substantial violation of the law is somehow not exacerbated by the Administration bragging about it. Quite a strategy.)

So I decided to offer a list. Stupidly.

I was in Starbucks this morning, visiting my drug dealer, and saw that Elvis Costello has a CD subtitled "Music that Meant the Most to Me." So I decided it would be kind of fun to imagine Starbucks calling me with an offer to do one of my own.

I limited myself to 20 songs, and to "popular" songs (so no Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras, no Bartok Concerto for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, no Mahler Eighth, no Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue), whatever the hell "popular" means. What this mostly shows, of course, is how great song #21 is (my guess is that is would be Tammy Wynette's "I Don't Want to Play House"), and reveals a long list of names that didn't make it, as if they are somehow inferior. They aren't. This, again, reveals how stupid lists are, and odd that it makes one feel as if he or she is lacking integrity or violating a moral rule by leaving off someone--immediately I see monumental lacunae: James Brown, George Jones, Talking Heads, Merle Haggard, Memphis Minnie, The Rolling Stones, Duke Ellington, Tampa Red, Emmylou Harris, Louis Armstrong, Professor Longhair, Joe Ely, and on and on and on. And on.

So here's the list, in alphabetical order, with a brief (albeit superfluous) comment. And if you're that guy in the suburbs of Coeur D'Alene who reads this, offer up one of your own!

Ain't That Peculiar (Marvin Gaye)
What? No Tammy Terrell?

Bee Bop A Lula (Gene Vincent)
So Pure. So very Pure.

Body and Soul (Bill Monroe)
I heard Ronnie McCoury sing a very soulful
version of this last night.

Bye Bye Blackbird (Miles Davis)
From "'Round Midnight," as good as a jazz
record--any record--gets.

Can't Stop Now (New Grass Revival)
If only to hear John Cowan hit that closing note.

Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground (Willie Johnson)
Ry Cooder does a nice version of this, which he
then adapted into the soundtrack for "Paris, Texas."

Deep River Blues (Doc Watson)
Right. Only one song from Doc.

Don't Worry Baby (Los Lobos)
I could choose another thirty, easy, from these guys. A rare group,
as good live as they are in the studio; very creative, very sound
musicians, always stretching themselves. I chose this
because the "hook" reminds me of Texas.

Georgia Rag (Willie Mctell)
The master of the 12-string.

Head Over Heels (Flatt and Scruggs)
Many to choose from here. Earl is soooooooo cool.

Hellhound on My Trail (Robert Johnson)
I once had to take this record off (back when there
were records); too intense.

Love and Happiness (Al Green)
My friend Polly Hoover said Al Green was the only
artist who could sing gospel music that would make
you want to take your clothes off.

Love Minus Zero, No Limit (Bob Dylan)
Knockdown evidence that lists are stupid.

Maybelline (Chuck Berry)
I heard a guy once say that it was not all that suprising
that one of the great love songs of all time was written
to a car.

Rosalita (Bruce Springsteen; live)
If you've seen Bruce do this (especially in the "olden days"),
you know what I mean.

She Watch Channel Zero?! (Public Enemy)
Another one of my "greatest concerts" (uh-oh--I sense another
list coming)--I wonder if this was inspired by Gil Scott Heron?

The Weight (Staples Singers)
Specifically the studio version from "The Last Waltz." Before I
got married, I told my wife-to-be that Mavis Staples was the only
woman I would leave her for.

Viva Sequin (Flaco Jimeñez)
There's got to be some dancing, right?

Whippin' Post (Allman Brothers)
As Duane closes out this number, up around fret # 20, we
understand: this is the blues.

Yellow Rose of Texas (Ry Cooder)
This song got me through some rough rough times once.