Archive | October, 2015

Certain Songs #357 : The Dream Syndicate – “Halloween”

Dream Syndicate Days of Wine and Roses Album: The Days of Wine and Roses
Year: 1982.

The only song on The Days of Wine and Roses not written by Steve Wynn, “Halloween” became somewhat of a staple cover on the indie underground circuit, due to the fact that it was simple to play and open-ended in structure.

It was also seasonal and eternal: you could learn it for a Halloween show, but play it year-round, due to the fact that it technically about the film Halloween, not the holiday.


Some Thoughts About Grantland


I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and — for me at least — I can’t think of pop culture event in a very long time that has made me sadder than the sudden killing of Grantland.

Sure, some of my favorite TV shows have gone away. Goodbye Deadwood, so long Mad Men! Sure, bands break up and artists die. R.I.P. Lou Reed and R.E.M. And except for eight times in my entire life, my favorite teams aren’t going to be the World Champs.

But there are always other TV shows and other musicians and wait ’til next year!

But Grantland was unique. I realize that Bill Simmons is a polarizing figure, but his great insight — that there is an intersection between the pop culture nerd and the sports nerd — spoke directly to me.

Every single god damned day for the past few years, I could go to Grantland and never know what I was going to find: Andy Greenwald or Molly Lambert writing about a TV show I should be watching, Steven Hyden raving about the latest punk rock band or country artist he’d discovered, Wesley Morris with some insight films, Jonah Keri breaking down the best teams in the MLB.

Or all of the weird mash-ups and brackets and fake hot takes and deep insights. And the podcasts! At their height, I never missed an episode of The Hollywood Prospectus or Girls in Hoodies or Do You Like Prince Movies?

For me, this is like like the ends of Trouser Press and Creem. Or like the cancellations of Police Squad!, Twin Peaks and The Middleman! Or like the deaths of Kurt Cobain and Warren Zevon.

Like Grantland, all of these things were unique and unfinished. There was potential for so much more. And that’s what makes me sad.

Certain Songs #356: Drive-by Truckers – “Goddamn Lonely Love”

DBT Dirty South Album: The Dirty South
Year: 2004

Jason Isbell’s last great Drive-by Truckers song was so strong they had it close out The Dirty South.

After the all of the folklore and Southern mythos that covered the album like so much kudzu, it felt fitting to close it all out with a melancholy love song written by one member of the band to another. Like a reminder of what’s truly important.


Certain Songs #355: Drive-by Truckers – “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac”

DBT Dirty South Album: The Dirty South
Year: 2004

Set at the very dawn of rock ‘n’ roll, Mike Cooley takes a look at the famous Million Dollar Quartet — Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, for those of you keeping score at home — and their even more infamous record producer, Sam Phillips.

Probably if you like Drive-by Truckers, you know all about the explosion that came out of Sun Records in the mid-1950s, and while the impetus for the song is the fact that Sam Phillips gave Carl Perkins a Cadillac when “Blue Suede Shoes” sold a million copies, Cooley has more than just that on his mind.


Certain Songs #354: Drive-by Truckers – “The Day John Henry Died”

DBT Dirty South Album: The Dirty South
Year: 2004

If Decoration Day was a conscious effort to tell smaller, more personal stories, then its follow-up, The Dirty South, found DBT feeling both their oats and their ambitions again.

While not quite a concept album — there isn’t really a through line here — The Dirty South tackled several Southern-oriented myths, large and small, and one of the key tracks was Jason Isbell’s “The Day John Henry Died.”