Putting the “X” back in Christmas
Don't believe the hype: The Philadelphia Eagles will win the Super Bowl. Terrell Owens or not, this team, born of a city founded on stubborn Quaker irrationality, will circle the proverbial wagons and make you a big winner if you have the foresight. Vegas had the Eagles at 3-2 odds last week, and I imagine that's going way up. Jump on it, trust me.
If you'll recall, last week I promised that I'd have a guest columnist this week. Unlike those who rely on me for such things, I am in the pleasantly surprising position of having had my request fulfilled. I asked Liggett for a couple of hundred words and he gave me 600, so it's almost like having a holiday this week. Almost. So I'll keep it brief, and you keep in mind that everyone will be closed on Saturday, except the die-hards at Scoot'n Blues, who'll open the doors at 5 p.m. for dinner, with karaoke to follow.
Friday night, Scoot 'n Blues has handbell-free live music with Sugarhouse. That seems to be about it. I do hear that many area churches will be open for business on Friday and Saturday, and some of them will even stay open on Sunday. No word on drink specials, but at least the cover charge won't kill you. They do pass that plate around, but it's pretty anonymous, and you can just throw in a button or a Canadian nickel and call it good. And the Catholics even give out free wine - all you have to do is agree that it's Jesus' blood. Suckers!
Now for my guest. In keeping with the year-end countdown thing, one can't ignore the year in music. I, however, am not one. I haven't kept up with the new stuff since the passing of the great Sammy Cahn in '93. Whatever newfangled sounds appear on this list can't hold a candle to "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" or "Anchors Aweigh," but I've got to stay hip for the kids, I guess. So I turned to my good friend and notorious recluse Bryant Liggett for help in keeping it real. As to his credentials, Liggett is the Program Director at KDUR and a renowned critic for some other paper. He's also a jerk. Take it away, Liggett.
OK, before you read on I am aware there is no hip-hop or metal on this list. This should probably be a top 20. Let's not forget Neko Case, Dangermouse, Snoop, Motorhead, Trans Am, RJD2, Camper Van Beethoven and much more.
10. Jon Langford "All the Fame of Lofty Deeds" - Maybe the hardest working man in music, Jon started with punk's The Mekons and releases or has his hands in about four records a year. "All the Fame of Lofty Deeds" is a short opera about one musician's attempts to get famous via music city. It's actually quite reflective of the life of Hank Williams up-tempo rockers and cryin' in your beer ballads. Quite a record.
9. Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby "The Original Jam Sessions 1969" - OK, this was music made in 1969 that sat in a basement until June of 2004. Jones wrote and recorded all this music for Cosby's TV show. Funk. Jazz. Groove. Great.
8. The Brown Brothers "Songs of the Lost Generation" - This is on here not because this is a list produced locally, but because this is a damn fine record. Call it old time, call it alterna country, Greg Oldson is a helluva songwriter and he arranged a helluva band.
7. Sonic Youth "Sonic Nurse" - Sonic Youth is an INDY rock band that has been putting out punk, grunge, alternative and ROCK releases since the early '80s. Walls of sound. Experimental. Damn good. You kids that think you dig wacky music by only listening to Green Day have been wrong all along.
6. Por Vida "The Songs of Alejandro Escovedo" - This guy is huge amongst Texas musicians and singer-songwriters, maybe the biggest since Towns Van Zandt. Many musicians came together to help him out with medical problems, this being the result. Los Lonely Boys, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Charlie Musselwhite, Son Volt and many others celebrate this guy's vast library of great songs.
5. Nash Bluegrass Band "20 Year Blues" - As traditional as it gets, music from a band that has been around for 30 years. This was a helluva release smoking instrumentals, waltzes and gospel numbers. This will top the list of any "bluegrass-only best of '04" release and thus should be here, too.
4. Los Lobos "The Ride" - Los Lobos could be the most important band in America. They rock harder than any of the white-boy, classic rock bands that at one point had success and at this point are trying to ride that success. They've been making music for well over 20 years and "The Ride" shows they have no intention of stopping. They've hung with punk rockers and classic rockers and still get better and better.
3. Loretta Lynn "Van Lear Rose" - This woman has put out a shitload of records, but never with Jack White of the White Stripes playing and producing. She's been an icon in Nashville for about 100 years, but White brought her to a whole new audience. This is a great country record, with a handful of loud guitars here and there to boot.
2. Ray Charles "Genius Loves Company" - A duets record that came out just before the death of this American icon. Despite a handful of appearances by musicians whose own records I wouldn't own, its good. I don't need to say much more about this record, if you've heard it you agree. If not, get it.
1. Drive by Truckers "The Dirty South" - They've done it again, topping my list of releases of 2003, they hold the No. 1 spot for a second year in a row with a different release. This time, it's "The Dirty South," more songs about growing up in the South, living in the South and representing the South, all in an attempt to inform you about your misrepresentations of the South. Thinking mans' Southern rock. Three loud guitars and four-hour shows.
Thanks, Liggett. I hope this list has helped you in your last minute Xmas shopping for that music lover on your other list. And if I may preach again for just a moment, why not pick up that CD at one of our local independent joints, like The Record Man or Southwest Sound? Remember, Jesus hates Wal-Mart.
What to do on New Year's without Dick Clark? email@example.com. I wonder what Bin Laden does on Xmas ☯