The River by Bruce Springsteen

As I get older, I appreciate Bruce Springsteen more and more. He speaks for every man-straightforward and sincere.

The Boss makes some busker’s day on a street in Copenhagen, singing one of my favorites, “The River.”

I used to spend summers with my aunt in a small town called, Parker, Arizona just below the Parker Dam, along the Colorado River. Every afternoon, during the hottest part of the day, we’d sit in underneath the swamp cooler and listen to Bruce. And his words still ring true as ever:

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse that sends me
Down to the river though I know the river is dry”

Psycho Killer by Talking Heads

Wherein I further chronicle moments in my cultural education.

A few years ago a good friend, JDLRM, pointed out a gaping hole in my music collection: the complete absence of anything by Talking Heads. At the same time, I was reading “Fortress of Solitude” by Jonathan Lethem, in which Talking Heads:‘77 plays an important role in the life of Dylan Edbus. Needless to say, that album got heavy rotation on my iPod. (Is that even possible? Is the phrase “heavy rotation” now an anachronism? Discuss.) I even played “Burning Down the House” and “Uh-Oh Love Comes to Town” at my wedding.

Psycho Killer is my favorite Talking Heads song. I like the above performance for its purity. This slowed down performance is closer to album version of the song.

The more famous performance is the iconic David Byrne/Boombox rendition from Jonathan Demme’s seminal, “Stop Making Sense,” arguably the best concert film ever. Enjoy. Fa fa fa fa, fa fa fa fa…

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Not Great Men by Gang of Four

I know what you’re thinking. And the answer is no. This isn’t a Franz Ferdinand song. It’s always a wonderful moment when I’m able to fill a void in, what I like to call, my “cultural education.” Gang of Four kept popping up when I was reading about some of my favorite bands: Fugazi, Les Savy Fav, and the aforementioned Franz Ferdinand (to name a few).

Gang of Four was a band from Leeds, who recorded together from 1978-1984. With signature funk rhythms and discordant, staccato guitar riffs, Gang of Four were of one of the most influential bands from the post-punk era. This a performance of Not Great Men from their debut album, Entertainment!, during their brief reunion from 2004-2008. If you care at all about independent pop/rock, I suggest you spend some time with this album.

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The Black Angels

This recommendation was forwarded to me from a friend via another friend:

“Go out right now and buy the Black Angels’ new album. Skip out on work if you have to. It is worth it. Because when you are listening to it, you will want to kick yourself in the balls for every second you weren’t listening to it and could have been. “

This video is from a performance at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. The song is entitled, Doves, and it’s from their new album, Directions to See a Ghost. I find it ironic that they’re opening for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club because I’m pretty certain they blew BRMC off the stage.

(Thanks for the recommendation, Lucas! Now my balls hurt.)

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The GZA, the RZA, and Bill Murray

The Mt. Rapmore post reminded me of this amazing scene from Jim Jarmusch’s “Coffee and Cigarettes.” Only Jarmusch could get these three cats together.

“Your’re the GZA. The Genius. And you’re the RZA the…” “Dodododododo” “aka Bobby Digital” “Yeah, he know his hip-hop.” “And you’re Bill Groundhog Day Ghostbustin’ Ass Murray.”

I love it. And for your listening pleasure: one of my favorite Wu Tang joints ever.

Angeles by Elliott Smith

I try to avoid getting too much into the tortured-artist-was-just-too-sensitive -to-survive-this-world type of mythologizing, but this video makes me a little sad. The intimate sincerity of Elliott Smith’s music is truly moving.

I noticed just the other day that I work just a few blocks from the “Figure 8” wall. I’ve been driving past it for months.

This video is from Jem Cohen’s short documentary, “Lucky 3.” It’s just Elliott with his guitar, playing Angeles from his 1997 album, Either/Or.

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Stuck Between Stations by The Hold Steady

Craig Finn, of The Hold Steady, reminds me of an 8th Grade substitute teacher who strolls into class and announces, “kids, according to your teacher’s lesson plan we’re supposed to discuss Chapter Four from ‘Of Mice and Men,’ but I’m not going to do that. Instead I’d like to introduce you to someone else, his name is Charles Bukowsksi…”

This is the video for Stuck Between Stations from The Hold Steady’s 2006 album Boy’s and Girl’s in America.