Check out this 1968 cover of the Charles Brown blues perennial, “Merry Christmas Baby”.
Impeccable, tasteful, intelligent and soulful, with not a note added (or subtracted) from what makes for a perfectly sublime recording: you can hear why Kenny Burrell earned a reputation as Duke Ellington’s favorite guitarist.
We’ve already started talking about how the Trump administration is going to provide a target-rich environment for all sorts of folks. (Among the most troubling possibilities: What if terrorists decide its in their self-interest to attack one or more of the Trump Organization’s highly visible properties in the US or around the world? What if foreign-controlled banks decide to call in (or threaten to call in) Trump’s business loans unless President Trump follows a particular course of action?)
Today I want to talk about how Trump’s business interests could be targeted by nonviolent campaigners in ways that could weaken his political power over the next four (or eight) years. Let’s start with his most iconic property: Trump Tower.
Donald Trump cares about Trump Tower…a lot. (Don’t believe me? Watch this 4 minute video he put out in 2014 on the building’s 30th anniversary.) The gold-plated skyscraper is Trump’s primary residence, as well as headquarters for the Trump Organization. It’s also in the heart of midtown Manhattan, where Trump received less than 10% of the votes cast for president. During the presidential campaign Trump Tower was already the target of nonviolent immigration activists from Cosecha blocking its doorways, and projecting video on its walls to spread their message. Since the election, it’s been the target of marches, demonstrations, and more arrests.
But if that’s all that New York-based advocacy groups, social movements, labor unions, and community organizations do at Trump Tower over the next 4-8 years, they’re missing a huge opportunity. Read more…
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover but back in the day, there were certain albums that music lovers could buy sound unheard and know—to an extraordinarily high degree of certainty—they had something in their hands that would bring pleasure to the ears.
The Tedeschi-Trucks Band’s 2011 debut album, Revelator, is that kind of album. First off, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks each had enviable reputations as a “musician’s musician”, navigating deftly among various roles (as singer, guitarist, sideman/woman, bandleader) and genres (blues, rock, jazz, soul, qawwali, and more); and that was before they combined their bands to cover songs they both loved.
Then there’s that audacious album title (not taken from any of the song titles). It stakes a claim to a piece of Greil Marcus’ “old, weird America“—the music forged when segregation and servitude, the debt peonage of tenant farmers and the wage slavery of company towns and tenements all mashed up against the unquenchable human drives for love, dignity, respect and community. Specifically, it stakes a claim to the inflamed, prophetic and apocalyptic visions of the Book Of Revelation as translated into sound by the likes of Son House (and millions of anonymous co-conspirators) in “John The Revelator“.
Finally, there are the song titles: “Bound For Glory“, “Simple Things“, “Midnight In Harlem“, and yes, “Come See About Me“. If you’re going to write original songs with titles drawn from that deep down in the marrow of the American songbook (and soul), then you’d best be able to deliver on the promise inherent in them.
“Come See About Me” is the album’s opening track, and it serves notice that the band intends to do just that. From Truck’s sinuous guitar leads, to Tedeschi’s powerful, bluesy vocals, to the soulful horns, funky keyboards and polyrhythmic percussion groove, “Come See About Me” invites you along for the entire, exhilarating, at times ecstatic ride.
I know I can do for you,
Anything you want me to;
So why don’t you come see about me?
When reviewing Bruce Springsteen’s breakthrough Born To Run album for Rolling Stone, music critic Greil Marcus famously called it “…a magnificent album that pays off on every bet ever placed on him — a ’57 Chevy running on melted down Crystals records that shuts down every claim that has been made“. (Emphasis added.)
You can hear where that fuel came from in The Crystals’ high-octane version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (which Springsteen and the E Street Band basically lifted wholesale—from the spoken word introduction, to the glockenspiel, to the rolling thunder drums, to the syncopated chorus, to the full-throated saxophone…basically, the entire Spectorian “Wall Of Sound”—for their own live performance, released a decade and a half later).
The Crystals also were the first to reshape the melody of the chorus from the original Harry Reser-Tom Stack recording, even further endearing themselves (if such were possible) to devotees of this little blog’s First Rule Of Cover Songs*.
*You’ve got to bring something new to it.