Tuesday, November 24, 2015

If LSU didn't exist, Freud would have to invent it

If you're not from Louisiana, you might find this crazy. And you'd be correct.

Louisiana State University is about to fire the winningest football coach it ever had because he hasn't beaten Alabama lately. That's right, Les Miles is about to get canned after winning 80 percent of his games for LSU because he's hit a bad patch in November, dropping three straight for the first time as a Tiger.

But mostly, he's being shown the very expensive (for LSU, at least) door because he can't beat Nick Saban -- the Alabama coach who was Miles' predecessor in Baton Rouge.

It would seem the entire state of Louisiana -- which should have much bigger fish to fry, being that it's a mess on almost every front -- has gone absolutely insane due to a bad case of Nick Saban Envy, which is a lot like penis envy. As in totally.

(Insert your own joke here.)

In fact, Nick Saban Envy has left Louisiana so delusional that a bunch of LSU "boosters" are willing to piss away $17 million -- and that's just for
starters -- to run off a coach most schools would kill to have. For LSU, this probably will end up Bobby Petrino Bad.

BUT THAT'S NOT what fries my egg. What fries my egg is that not a damn person in Louisiana, it seems, has Stuart R. Bell Envy. No one, particularly in state government, is throwing insane sums of money at LSU President F. King Alexander with the barked order "Beat that sonofabitch Bell! Victory or death!"

Of course, if you're the typical LSU football fan, you probably have no damn idea who Stuart R. Bell is. Well, to be fair, you probably have no idea which is Allen Hall and which is Coates Hall, either, because you can't play football in either of them.

OK, listen up. Stuart R. Bell is president of the University of Alabama which, according to the national rankings -- You understand rankings, of course. After all, rankings are part of why everyone's having a Miles-ocardial infarction now, right? -- is a hell of a lot better school than LSU.

And over the years, 'Bama's been getting better. And over the years, LSU's been getting gutted. Compared to the red-hot, cuss-out-your-mama, shoot-your-neighbor furor over football this week, the systematic academic crippling of LSU has been met with relative crickets over the past eight years.

Well, not totally. In the spring, the university's
executive vice president and provost laid out a particularly bold course of action that resulted in immediate results. He quit to take a new job.
Who is this can-do ex-LSU administrator?

Stuart R. Bell, president of the University of Alabama.

Friday, November 20, 2015

3 Chords & the Truth: Le fleuve de la vie

This edition of 3 Chords & the Truth is rather like life, which flows like a river. It goes where it will, swelling and ebbing, its current carrying us on its journey toward destiny.

Today, the music ebbs and flows. It goes where it will, and we're just along for the ride.

Just like every time, the Big Show is a trip worth taking. The mighty flood of good music breaks through every barrier, and it goes where we do not anticipate it going. We listen in wonder.

Just listen.

ALSO this week, we stand in the shadow of Paris, pushing back against the darkness of hatred and violence. We fight terror with joy.

Aujourd'hui, nous sommes tous français. Nous prions pour la paix de Paris.

The river of life -- le fleuve de la vie -- she sometimes carries us into darkness. She will carry us back into the light soon enough. We must have faith in the journey. . . .

And in the music. Musique joyeuse.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ein volk. Ein reich. Ein furor.

The more I see of Ben Carson, the more my mind's eye flashes back to Cleavon Little disguised in a white robe and hood in Blazing Saddles.

Blazing Saddles was hilarious. Ben Carson is just weird . . . and scary. And he's leading the Republican presidential field.
At any rate, it's come to this in America 2015 as we embark yet again on the quadrennial farce, er, campaign -- a black dude using a picture of the collapsing World Trade Center on 9/11 to race-bait Syrian refugees. You can't make this stuff up.

I WISH someone had as some sort of sick joke. Instead, the joke is on human decency and American democracy, and it's no laughing matter.

Demagoguery such as this ought to automatically disqualify any politician who stoops to it as a serious candidate not only for the presidency, but for anything. Voters who fall for it are unworthy of the responsibility placed upon them by the dictates of democratic self-government.

Meanwhile, for Ben Carson's next act, he'll stampede some cattle through the Vatican. That'll show them papists for helpin' to resettle them A-rab terrorists in 'Murica.

Monday, November 16, 2015

NOW they're worried about homelessness

The good news: American right-wingers are focused on homelessness now.

The bad news: I think the Republican Congress is about to eliminate welfare, food stamps and the rest of the "social safety net."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I have three words for this

As I write this, 129 people are dead and 352 lie wounded in Paris after coordinated terrorist attacks attributed to ISIS -- the Islamic State in Syria, Etc., Etc., and So On.

Apparently, some delicate flowers out there are upset this is taking away from the coverage of the "terrorist attack" at the University of Missouri, where rednecks wielding AR-15s and hand grenades slaughtered hundreds of students of color and left hundreds more grievously wounded. . . . Oh, wait.

Redneck idiots yelled the N-word, and somebody drew a swastika in poop.

As bad as that is, and as much as that needs to be dealt with, it's not the wanton slaughter of 129 people and the wounding of 352. And I have three words for those hysterical and solipsistic nervous Nellies who are demented enough to think it is.

Unfortunately, this is a family blog.

HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

3 Chords & the Truth: For Allen, with love

There isn't much to say about this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth.

There is much to hear during the course of this week's edition of the Big Show.

This episode of the program is dedicated to the blessed memory -- and to the divine music -- of Allen Toussaint, the soul of New Orleans and its gift to American popular song. Toussaint died this week at 77, and he brought joy to music lovers to the very end.

Every bit of this 3 Chords & the Truth will be devoted to the music this genius wrote, performed and produced. Listening to what this giant of music blessed our culture with over six decades is to realize how impoverished we all would be had Allen Toussaint never lived.

WE LIVE in a hard world, and we rely on God's tender mercies to bring us strength, solace and -- yes -- joy amid our travails and sorrows. Allen Toussaint and his music was the tenderest of God's mercies.

May God rest his soul, and may his memory, and music, be eternal.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's raining

It's raining so hard 
Brings back memories 
Of the times 
When you were 
Here with me 
Counting every drop 
About to blow my top 
I wish this rain 
Would hurry up
And stop

In American pop culture, you could look at several moments -- several grief-stricken moments -- and think they were "the day the music died."

This is one of them.  Allen Toussaint --  the legendary New Orleans pianist, songwriter, singer , producer and recording artist -- died early this morning in Spain at 77. He was on tour, and an apparent heart attack felled him.

It's raining. And it brings back memories. Wonderful musical treasures from the times of our lives -- precious gifts for which we'll never be able to reciprocate, for which we'll never be able to properly thank  the great man.

It's raining so hard.

IN POPULAR CULTURE, you cannot have avoided the work of the man. From his recording debut in the 1950s as "Tousan" to his exit from the vale of tears (and, when listening to an Allen Toussaint song, tears of joy), his work has surrounded us all. There are songs you know and love that you didn't know were his compositions. There are songs that I've known and loved that I didn't know were Toussaint compositions.

Well, with all the posthumous plaudits and retrospectives, we're going to find out now.
Allen Toussaint, the gentlemanly Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame songwriter, producer, pianist and singer whose prolific, decades-long career cast him as the renaissance man of New Orleans music, of an apparent heart attack following a concert Monday night in Madrid, Spain. He was 77.

As a young man, Toussaint was the golden boy of the golden age of New Orleans rhythm & blues, writing and producing signature songs for multiple artists. His hundreds of credits include Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-in-Law” and “A Certain Girl,” Irma Thomas’ “It’s Raining” and “Ruler of My Heart,” Benny Spellman’s “Lipstick Traces” and “Fortune Teller,” Art Neville’s “All These Things,” Lee Dorsey’s “Ride Your Pony,” and Chris Kenner’s “I Like It Like That,” as well as seminal recordings by Aaron Neviile, the Meters and Dr. John.

Acts that covered his compositions include the Rolling Stones, the Who, Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs and Phish, among many others. In the years since his acclaimed post-Hurricane Katrina collaboration with fellow songwriter Elvis Costello, Toussaint enjoyed a late-career renaissance as a touring artist.

“He was an irreplaceable treasure of New Orleans, in the ‘immortal’ category with Jelly Roll Morton, Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and Professor Longhair,” said Quint Davis, the producer/director of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. “He was a one-man Motown. He created an entire era of New Orleans rhythm and blues.”
In his songwriting and conversations, Toussaint could craft a turn of phrase with an elegance and economy that rendered it indelible. He once said that he “tries to remain as open as I can for inspiration all the time,” but preferred late-night composing. “I especially like the wee hours of the morning, like three. It’s quiet. The air is different. I like that time of night for anything.”

He was a familiar sight at functions and benefits around town, and a co-founder of the charitable New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness. He had been slated to join Paul Simon at a high-dollar benefit concert for the organization on Dec. 8 at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre.

“Allen was never not at the height of something,” Davis said. “Everything he did was at such a high level his whole career.”

Toussaint was born in 1938. He grew up in the Gert Town neighborhood as the youngest of three children. He taught himself to play on the family’s upright piano, influenced heavily by the syncopated style of New Orleans legend Professor Longhair, and Ray Charles, whom he heard on the radio. Barely 13, he joined a rhythm and blues band called the Flamingos, which featured Snooks Eaglin on guitar.

He dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music. He became a fixture around local recording studios, where he was sometimes asked to mimic the style of Fats Domino and other pianists. He learned much about the art of crafting a song from Dave Bartholomew, Domino’s producer and co-writer.

His first recording under his own name was an instrumental album called “The Wild Sound of New Orleans,” released in 1958 by RCA Records. He was billed as “Tousan,” reportedly because the record label didn’t think consumers outside New Orleans could pronounce “Toussaint.”

Under the auspices of the Minit and Instant record labels, he soon discovered his true calling: as a songwriter, arranger, producer and accompanist for other artists. At the home he shared with his parents, Naomi and Clarence, and siblings Vincent and Joyce, he often hosted rehearsal and writing sessions that resulted in a remarkable run of regional and national hits. Irma Thomas once recalled that “It’s Raining” was “written in Allen Toussaint’s bathroom.”

Not even a two-year hitch in the Army — which began in 1963 — could stem his creativity. Backed by an Army band, he wrote and recorded a breezy instrumental called “Whipped Cream.” Trumpeter Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass turned “Whipped Cream” into a massive hit; their recording also served as the theme music for TV’s “The Dating Game.”

ALLEN TOUSSAINT was a giant of music and a prince of a man. To lose that presence is to find that words are inadequate to convey the loss.

Rather than blather on, maybe it's just time to allow a small fraction of his masterpieces to express what the mere words of a Louisiana-born blogger and radio guy cannot.

Rest in peace, sir. And thank you. Thank you so much.

Friday, November 06, 2015

3 Chords & the Truth: Stacks o' shellac

This week on the Big Show, we're up to our @$$ in stacks of vintage shellac.

Shellac? Let me explain: Before there was vinyl, there was shellac. As in 78 r.p.m. records.

Way back there then, before the advent of the long-play record, a.k.a. the "LP," a record album was just that -- an album of four or five 78s. When LPs ascended and 78s eventually disappeared, the name stuck. Thus, a single LP, cassette, CD or group of digital downloads is an "album" to this day.

We're going to be playing some stuff off of albums this week on 3 Chords & the Truth. Album albums, not the faux albums we've become accustomed to the past 60 years. One of the albums features one legend and his orchestra playing the music of another legend -- Paul Whiteman, the guy who brought George Gershwin to prominence by commissioning a work called "Rhapsody in Blue," does Irving Berlin, author of huge swaths of the "American Songbook."

IT'S GREAT MUSIC. It's history. It's part of our culture and our national DNA. It's on the Big Show, and it's just a click away. Maybe two, if that's how you roll.

Of course, that's just one middling-sized part of the show this week -- we're nothing if not eclectic and full of surprises around the studio here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska. And believe me, there's plenty of amazing stuff on the program this week . . . and every week.

And it's all yours for the taking for the low, low price of nothing. It's free. All you have to do is click. Or download. Or whatever.

Now get to it. There's a world of music waiting for you here.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

3 Chords & the Truth: A ray of sunshine

It's another rainy day in River City.

Drizzly, bleak, pervasive is this pall,
It's the soggy side of fall.

Music brightens the day in River City,
The Big Show fights off the brooding sky.

And spirits, they will fly!

Music and good cheer,
Your blues will disappear.

ANOTHER rainy day in River City,
Another wet fall day in this old city,
Sitting in this cozy studio,
The tunes are good to go.

Windy, wet and gray in River City,
You're the only one want to see . . .
Here at 3C&T!

Now suddenly you feel
The music's bright appeal . . .

Another rainy day in River City. 

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I'll build a (vinyl) stairway to paradise

This afternoon's listening was . . . transcendent.

Sarah Vaughan. George Gershwin's very large segment of the American Songbook. Where could you go wrong?

Answer: You can't.

Boy, oh boy, are you in for a treat this week on 3 Chords & the Truth. My dilemma is deciding what to play off this 1957 masterpiece of an LP.

I have a couple of thoughts, but I almost feel like I'd be cheating you by not just playing the whole thing. The problem is that I have lots of other great music, too.

I'd feel like I was cheating you by not getting around to all that, too.

In brief, my dilemma is your gain. That's the Big Show for you.

Be there. Aloha.

Friday, October 23, 2015

3 Chords & the Truth: Buddy and the Beatles

The Cricket is the father of the Beatle.

This week on 3 Chords & the Truth, we explore Buddy Holly and his influence on The Beatles, which I submit was huge. In short, had Holly not lived and blown open rock 'n' roll with all kinds of then-not-rock 'n' roll influences and instrumentation  -- A full string section? Harps? Heresy!!! -- you have to wonder whether it would have been possible for John, Paul, George and Ringo to make the music they ultimately did.

Maybe so. Then again, maybe everybody would have been remaking "Roll Over Beethoven" and the greatest hits of Fabian over and over and over again.

But Buddy Holly blew it open, and the boys from Liverpool reaped the musical benefits.

THAT'S WHERE we're going this week on the Big Show. And you are going to reap the musical benefits as we revisit some classic Holly and some live Beatles, as broadcast back in the day on the British Broadcasting Corporation.

We're live on the BBC, and we're on top of lots of other exceptional stuff this go around. You're gonna love it.

So. . . .

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Friday, October 16, 2015

3 Chords & the Truth: Java jivin'

Way down among 3 Chordsians . . .
Coffee beans grow by the billions
So we've got to find those extra cups to fill
We've got an awful lot of coffee in the till


You can't get cherry soda
'cause we gotta fill that quota
And the way things are I'll bet we never will. . . .

We've got a zillion tons of coffee on the bill 

No tea or tomato juice
You'll see no potato juice
'cause the Favog in the Big O's saying "No, no, no"

A Big Show listener's daughter
Was accused of drinkin' water
And was fined a great big fifty dollar bill
We've got an awful lot of coffee songs to shill

IN OTHER WORDS, this week on 3 Chords & the Truth . . .
I love coffee, i love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup (boy!)
IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there.  Aloha.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tonight's vinylpalooza

I'm cheap enough that paying $15 for this 1959 stereo release gave me serious pause at the LP bins of an Old Market antique emporium.

On one hand, I'd rather find a gem for a song at an estate sale or something.

On the other hand, the records from this vendor are usually in marvelous playing condition.

On the third hand, a stereo rock 'n' roll record from 1959 -- the mono version of Bobby Freeman's Do You Wanna Dance album came out the previous year -- and from an indie label, no less. That's likely on the rare side, making the $15 price not a rip-off.

I'll say!

BEFORE LISTENING to this early-rock classic this evening, I did a little Internet price checking for the stereo version of Do You Wanna Dance . . . Jubilee 1086 for all you record geeks out there. And the low price I found it being sold for was something like $29.95. The high price (on eBay, of course) was . . . was . . . gulp! . . . $110. I understand a mint first pressing goes for $200.

Mine seems to be a second pressing. Sigh. I coulda been rich.

Now note that amid all this "What's it wurf???" nerd-o-mania, not a word was written about the actual music, which was great despite following the rock-album convention of the day for a hot act. That would be:

  • Cover something.
  • Cover something.
  • Cover something.
  • Original that'll never be released as a single.
  • Cover something.
  • Hit record we named the LP for.
  • Cover something.
  • Cover something.
  • Original that you'll hear nowhere else. Ever.
  • Cover something.
  • Original that sounds exactly like the big hit on Side 1.
  • Cover something inspiring. Or something.
That is all. Good night, and good listening.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

And that's the way it @#$%*&!!! is . . . .

Alrighty, folks. This is your NSFW video of the day.

Here, at wits' end dealing with a producer back at the station, British reporter Jonathan Pie gives us the real news. Which is a lot closer to the truth than the "official" news.

"Jonathan Pie," alas, is really comedian Tom Walker, as reported by the Russian-government website Sputnik News. Which is just as well, I suppose. Pity the real TV journalist who gets fed up and tells the unvarnished truth . . . and then has the outtake go viral.

Now, what I'd like to see is a real newscast by American and Russian anchors who get good and cranky, then cut the official propaganda of each superpower to shreds . . . thereby arriving at something like the truth.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

3 Chords & the Truth: Is this thing on?

We almost interrupt this program due to technical difficulties.


It's a little late this go around, but 3 Chords & the Truth is here . . . and the music is good. Really good.

IN A FEW instances, as usual, your mind will be blown by the latest edition of the Big Show. Take safety precautions to prevent ill effects similar to those occurring when the Adobe Audition audio editor comes in contact with the latest Mac OS, El Capitan.

In short, your mental state could resemble Donald Trump's hair.

Be prepared. Be safe. Hold on.

COME TO think of it, we are on, right?

Testing. Testing. One, two, three, four, five. . . . Testing.

Whew! I was worried there for a second. Carry on.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.