Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “It Doesn’t Matter” by Khashoggi:

Khashoggi — “It Doesn’t Matter” — Live EP

I saw Khashoggi as part of a free night of music in the basement of a pub last weekend. My friends’ pop-punk band was on the bill, and Khashoggi was the first act of the night. They grabbed the audience by the scruff of the neck pretty much from the get-go. Jessica Craig has a very good voice, and Michael Webster plays guitar well, but more to the point, they write good songs and have found a sound for that voice and that guitar, which is a different thing to saying she’s got a good voice and he plays well. I like the percussive style of Michael’s guitar sound and the way Jessica’s voice here rides on top of that sound, but there dips in to join it. It’s not easy to turn a guitar and a voice into a compelling musical performance, but listening to Khashoggi, you can hear the thought they’ve put into crafting not just songs, but a sound that breathes life into those songs.

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Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Memphis Blues” by Morton Hunter:

I recently read Beale Street Dynasty by Preston Lauterbach, which is basically a history of Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, and the political machine that grew up on and around that street in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lauterbach traces the transformation of a Beale Street song called “Joe Turney’s Been Here and Gone,” about a Tennessee penitentiary agent, into a campaign song “Mr Crump,” used as a rallying number in support of Edward Hull Crump, who would become boss of the powerful political machine that ran Memphis, and eventually into W.C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues.” While “Memphis Blues” isn’t the first blues song per se, it is the song that brought the blues, and in particular the twelve-bar, three-line structure, to a wider (and whiter) audience.

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Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Dipper Mouth Blues” by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band:

I’ve loved listening to King Oliver for years, probably more or less since I started learning to play cornet, or maybe a little bit later, when I’d listened to a lot more types of music; I’m not really sure. Recently I started to learn to play “Dipper Mouth Blues,” which I always think of as “Dippermouth Blues,” but anyway. When you learn to play a song you really start listening to it in all kinds of different and interesting ways, and one of the things I’ve really grown to love about “Dipper Mouth Blues” while stumbling through it is just how wonderfully the rhythm and darting pitches work together to create what to my mind anyway sounds like a small bird darting around.  The song is attributed to Joe Oliver, but often believed to have been composed by Louis Armstrong. It’s tremendous fun to listen to, and even tremendouser fun to (try to) play.

 

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Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Better Ways” by 1000 Homo DJs:

Last weekend I went to see Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax Records, a really wonderful documentary film about Wax Trax record store in Denver, which became Wax Trax record store in Chicago, which also became Wax Trax Records, a record label that released all kinds of heavy, noisy bands in the 1980s and 1990s. The film, by Julia Nash, serves as a loving portrait of Wax Trax itself, but also of the founders of the store and label, Jim Nash (Julia’s father) and Dannie Flesher, and of their relationship as well.

Wax Trax was kind of a legendary place and label for a kid growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the late 1980s and early 1990s. My friend Rob was really into the kind of music they put out, and I spent a lot of time at his house (and other friends’ houses, but especially Rob’s) listening to KMFDM and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and Revolting Cocks and Ministry and and and and and and and and.  I also remember one of my classmates, Nathan, coming to school one day with both a new, better, discman (16 bit? I can’t remember) and a copy of a 1000 Homo DJs album he’d just gotten, and basically slapping the headphones on me before I could say anything and telling me I both had to hear how much better the sound was than on other discmans (discmen?) and also, more importantly, how mindblowingly awesome the song “Hey Asshole” was. Nathan was right about 1000 Homo DJs and “Hey Asshole”. My mind was blown.

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