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 “Crummy Christmas Tree” by Fred Schneider and the Superions:

I’m not convinced that “Crummy Christmas Tree” is going to become a classic of the holiday season, but I am convinced that Fred Schneider is the kind of goofy uncle you’d probably enjoy having around at Christmas. This song reminds me of a Christmas Eve several years ago when my friend Robin and I went all over town looking for a tree, but couldn’t find one and had to settle for a tiny fake one we bought at a florist. Happy Holidays.

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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 “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” by XTC:

No, not that XTC, but the 1970s/1980s/1990s band from Swindon, England. “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” is the first XTC song I remember hearing, though it may well have been 1979’s “Making Plans for Nigel.” At any rate, “The Ballad of Peterpumpkinhead” pumped out of my WXRT-tuned radio in 1992, and it seemed strange and enthralling to me. It seems less strange to me now, but no less an enthralling piece of guitar pop/rock.

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Song of the Week: “Functions on the Low” by XTC

by Douglas Cowie on 7 December 2018

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 “Functions on the Low” by XTC:

No, not this XTC but the grime producer. I was rereading and teaching Jeffrey Boyake’s superb Hold Tight last week, and relistening to this infectious groove. I love its computer game esthetic. You might recognize “Functions on the Low” as the track that Stormzy freestyled over for “Shut Up,” the song that brought him to the attention of middle aged people like me.

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Song of the Week: “Ballad for a Child” by Archie Shepp

by Douglas Cowie on 30 November 2018

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 “Ballad for a Child” by Archie Shepp”

Last week I went to the Barbican Centre to see and hear Archie Shepp. He’s 84 years old now, and plays and sings beautifully. For this concert he was playing with an ensemble, a choir, and organist Amina Claudine Myers. You can read the program here. It was an excellent, thrilling concert, and towards the end they played “Ballad for a Child,” from Archie Shepp’s 1972 album Attica Blues.

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