South Austin Moonlighters – 29 Miles

South Austin Moonlighters – 29 Miles

Just heard this song from the South Austin Moonlighters on a local radio station this morning and really loved it. It was a great way to start the week. The performance took place at Austin’s legendary Threadgill’s in September of 2013. The band is comprised of Lonnie Trevino Jr, Phil Hurley, and Josh Zee of The Mother Truckers as well as Phil Bass. Enjoy . . ....

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U2 – Christmas – Baby Please Come Home

U2 – Christmas – Baby Please Come Home

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is my all time favorite Christmas song. It was originally recorded by Darlene Love in 1963. It’s now become an annual tradition – she appears each Christmas season on Letterman and performs it. Here’s her first appearance in 1986. And here she is in 2013. It was U2’s 1987 cover that I first connected with, however. I like Darlene Love’s performances – and her vocals are amazing – but there’s something joyful, something triumphant about her renditions. You know her baby is going to come home, or if he isn’t she’s strong enough to manage without him. Plus she’s got an entire orchestral community as an emotional support system in case things don’t work out. It’s just hard to imagine her crying herself to sleep. The U2 version is much different. Sure, the boys have fun with the song, but there’s something much more plaintive in Bono’s vocals. You know he’s not going to get the girl, even though he’s desperate to have her. And it’s the one time of the year that it really matters. You can hear the longing and the heartbreak in his voice. He had a taste of what he wants more than anything else in the world (last year), but that’s all he’s going to get. There’s no return to innocence, no re-creating or re-experiencing the magic. It’s all just nostalgia and pain. Damn – no wonder I love this version so much . . . U2 Performing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)...

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Robert Earl Keen – Merry Christmas from the Family

Robert Earl Keen – Merry Christmas from the Family

Here’s one that’s always fun to listen to. Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from the Family” has become a modern Christmas classic. What’s Christmas without a little family dysfunction? Or a lot? My favorite line: “Fred and Rita drove from Harlingen/I can’t remember how I’m kin to them.” Enjoy!   Merry Christmas from the Family!     Official Robert Earl Keen...

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Otis Redding – Merry Christmas Baby

Otis Redding – Merry Christmas Baby

The first time I saw Otis Redding was at the Monterey Pop Festival – well, the video of it anyway. He held nothing back at Monterey, from the high energy “Shake!” to his cover of the Stones’ “Satisfaction” to his soulful, electrifying performance of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” But in the spirit of Christmas, I’m posting a different Otis Redding song – his famous version of “Merry Christmas Baby.” Enjoy!  ...

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Tracy Nelson – Down So Low

Tracy Nelson – Down So Low

My good friend Dillon turned me on to this song. Actually, I wasn’t even familiar with Tracy Nelson to begin with, so he turned me on to her as well. Nelson, who has continued with a solo career, formed the blues-rock band Mother Earth in San Francisco in 1968. They’re remembered most for Nelson’s signature classic, Down So Low. It’s been covered by a number of artists over the years, most famously by Linda Ronstadt in the mid ’70s. The Etta James version is pretty cool as well. And more recently, Cyndi Lauper did a good cover of it, too. In this 1987 live performance in conjunction with the Kentucky Center of the Arts‘ Lonesome Pines Specials late ’80s/early ’90s concert series, Nelson delivers a stirring rendition of the song. It begins plaintive and ends – in defiance of the title – quite buoyant. Her vocals are amazing. Tracy Nelson Performing “Down So Low” – Lonesome Pines Special (1987 )       Tracy Nelson Encore Why stop at just one song? Here are a couple more performances from the Lonesome Pines performance . . .   Drowning in Memories     Walk...

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Remembering Lou Reed – New York Album

Remembering Lou Reed – New York Album

American singer-songwriter and punk pioneer Lou Reed died yesterday (2013-10-27) at the age of 71 from liver-related complications. Although he will be most remembered from his time with the highly influential Velvet Underground, it was Reed’s 1989 solo album New York that most influenced and amazed me. To me, Lou Reed’s New York album didn’t just sum up New York at the end of the ’80s – it summed up the entire decade. It blew me away the first time I heard it and remains a personal favorite. While I’ve simmered down over the years, I once had a seething hate-hate relationship with the 1980s and spent way too much energy criticizing that Wasteland of a decade.   And, yes, it was a Wasteland.   When you look at any artist – whatever the genre, whatever the discipline – whose work spanned more than one decade and included the 1980s, the best and most meaningful art was never produced in the ’80s (the only exception I’m aware of is U2’s Joshua Tree album).   No one ever peaked in the ’80s.   There’s a reason why Bruce Springsteen stopped singing Born in the USA a long time ago, why no one ever watches the 1987 Oscar-nominated film Children of a Lesser God, and why we’ve all pretty much forgotten that Bulgarian maniac artist Christo wrapping islands in pink plastic.   A Wasteland is the antithesis of a Renaissance and what we end up with if we fail to conjure, coax, and cultivate a Renaissance.   I’ve since made my peace with the 1980s and can pretty much listen to any music from the period (except Madonna, Michael Jackson, Van Halen, The Smiths, and especially The B-52s).   Still, it’s important to remain vigilant, children . . . because I’ve seen firsthand what happens when we don’t. 🙁   You can listen to Lou Reed’s New York album below:...

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