God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise

I stopped by Music Matters this evening and dropped $23 then headed home and dropped the Ortofon on the 180-gram vinyl of Ray LaMontagne’s most recent release, God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise.  I was blown away by this album once again.  I’ve been listening to it on my phone for weeks and it’s the album I’ve liked most since Sound of Silver.  From start-to-finish (other than the last song on the album, Devil’s in the Jukebox) each song is better than the last.  Bravo, Ray.

Go Get the Ax

My grandfather had a very vivid imagination. He was a superb story-teller who was constantly making up stories about creatures in the forest around our ancestral home in northern Michigan (subsequent posts will highlight some of them).

When my brother and I were about ten years old, grandpa taught us the following song:

Peeping through the knothole in father’s wooden leg
who’ll wind the clock when I am gone?
Go get the meat ax, there’s a fly on baby’s bean
a boy’s best friend is his mother.

This is another set of lyrics for the same verse, which grandpa called “The Harvard Version”:

Peering through the aperture in father’s artificial appendage
who’ll tighten the chronometer when I cross the bar?
go procure the viand dissector, there’s an insect on baby’s cerebellum
one of the greatest sociological factors of the development of the male of the species Homo sapiens is his immediate maternal ancestor.

Anderson (in Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications the textbook for my current TC course) would call this song a semantically “anomolous” specimen, but it was always fun to sing a cappella with grandpa.

Update: Hal Beeby’s song is a variation of “Go Get the Ax” by Lesley Nelson-Burns (which according to contemplator.com dates to the early 1900’s). That site had a midi file, which is an approximation of the tune that he taught us (Go Get the Ax – midi).

Top Ten Tunes (2007)

It’s the end of the year so that means it’s time for lists! This has been done before, but I’m taking a shot at it for the first time: my top 10 albums of 2007 based on ipod play counts.

As some of you know, I commute for about two hours a day on the MTA’s NYC subway. I do a lot of reading, but I also listen to podcasts and songs on my iPod (a fifth gen “video” model). According to my ipod, I’ve played 1,356 songs this year (some them numerous times, so I approximate that I listened to about 4,000 songs all told). Over 800 tracks were added this year and of those nearly 500 were played an average of three times each.

The following list might be embarrassing, but it is scientific because a track isn’t counted as “played” unless it plays completely to the end. (In my opinion, Apple should modify the software so that a track is counted as “played” if it’s, say, 90% complete, but that’s another matter).

So here are the top seven played albums that were released in 2007 (there wasn’t enough valid data to select ten full albums). Christmas is coming and each album would make a great gift for the geeky music-lover in your life.

  1. Kill To Get Crimson – Mark Knopfler (208 there were a total of song-plays from this album)
  2. Wincing The Night Away – The Shins (205)
  3. Raising Sand – Robert Plan and Alison Krauss (82)
  4. In Rainbows – Radiohead (68)
  5. Sound Of Silver – LCD Soundsystem (44)
  6. In Our Bedroom After The War – Stars (38)
  7. In Our Nature – José González (30)
PS – the accompanying image was touched-up using “Splashup“, a pretty incredible online image editing program.

Etymotic ER-6 Review

M got me these Etymotic ER-6 headphones about a year ago. I’ve been using them during my daily hour-long MTA commute ever since. They sound great. That is, if you don’t mind the “ear plug” design and if you can ignore the noise that is transmitted directly to your cranium when you walk or when you touch the cable. Despite these formidable cons, I really do like these earbuds and I don’t know how anyone can use those shoddy, wide-open earphones that come standard with popular MP3 players in noisy environments (except for while running or if they need something with which to block a drain).

This morning I was stranded standing next to a far-too-hip, iPhone-toting kid with sculpted sideburns and spiky hair who had his cheap white earbuds spewing Hot97 rips jammed up to “13”. The tinny, dentist-drill treble and flapping-in-the-wind bass were enough to drive me to plug my ears with the ER-6es and turn In Rainbows up to “4”. 

This is a plea to my fellow New Yorkers: if you’re going to splash out $400 for an ipod, please drop another $70 (or even $30 for altec lansing branded etymotics) on a decent set of plugs so that the noise stays in your own head and deafens you rather than those around you. (Thank you).


I went and saw Rush with a bunch of fellas (who else?) from work on Monday. The setlist was, as G described it, perfect. Geddy and the boys presented a very tongue-in-cheek show with intros by Bob and Doug and South Park. I have to hand it to Rush because they don’t play only crowd-pleasers… many of the songs from their new album are quite good. That said: Spirit of Radio was by far their finest moment. (Photo credit t4el. Note the chef basting rotisserie chickens in a Mashall-amp-like “henhouse” setup on the right side of the stage… I don’t know what it means, but it’s brilliant). Update: This is a very truncated version of Neil Peart’s drum solo, but very worth seeing.

Richard Thompson in Prospect Park

CIMG0675.JPGM and I went to see Richard Thompson Thursday night. Ollabelle opened. There were a couple of heavy squalls, but the show was great and Thompson (and the band) sounded incredible. I think I heard somewhere that Bob Boilen from All Songs Considered would be recording this show… I’ll let you know if I can find a link. Update: Turns out that NPR’s show was recorded the next night at the 9:30 Club in D.C., not at Prospect Park on Thursday (too bad… it sounded better out in the open). Visit NPR’s music site to hear a recording of the D.C. concert.