Liberation For Women -That’s What I Preach, Preacher Man

22 Jul

I just had a realization.  When it’s freezing out in, say, the middle of February, the type of songs about summer that I want to listen to are of the sweet variety.  But on actual days like today when it was 85 degrees at 5am and now is currently 104 (ahhh), the summer songs I want to listen to are of the slower and more hypnotic variety.  Like yesterday’s song for instance.

Or like today’s.  There is simply no better song for the moment than the steamy “Peaches” by The Stranglers.  It mixes heat and sand and sex all with the a plodding rhythm – and I say that in the most complimentary sense.  I’ve basically had it on repeat all day.   It so perfectly fits the moment that even though you may have it in your collection already, it needed to become an official resident of Margauxville.

But just in case you don’t have it, here’s something to mull over about The Stranglers as you’re downloading.  I cannot wrap my head around the fact that they started in 1974 and are still going.  Of course there have been some line-up changes, but even so…that’s crazy.

“Peaches” is from their infancy – 1977, although if someone told me it was recorded yesterday, or tomorrow, I wouldn’t be surprised.  It’s as in-your-face now as it ever was.  The only thing that could make it better for me is if I were actually walking down the beaches right now.

Your Summer Theme Song

21 Jul

Everyone was complaining about the heat today. And as I look at the 100 degree prediction for tomorrow, I’m guessing there will be even more complaints a-coming.

First thing this morning, I biked to Hot Yoga where I too complained about the heat – not enough. I thought the teacher was over-compensating and turning on the fans and opening the windows too much. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who goes to Bikram and cools down.

I just put away my down comforter a couple of weeks ago.  But I think even I may turn on the A/C tonight, mostly because I worry that my units just feel useless and unwanted and I certainly don’t want any of my inanimate objects to feel let down. I have enough living and breathing people in my life who feel that way.

So while I love the steamy, sultry, swamp-like weather, I get that most people don’t.  And so for all of you out there, here’s your theme song: “City Too Hot” by the legendary Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.


Knuckle Cracking and Other Bad News

20 Jul

I’ve been vexed all day.

The lion’s share is due to my having heard some news that has been eating away at me almost without me consciously realizing it.  My bad mood just snuck up.  Fuck you, damn news.  (Sorry, that was uncalled for.  I blame my mood.)

On top of what is really bothering me, there are the little things.  Missing yoga.  Screaming kid on the subway.  That sort of thing.  Nothing major, but because I’m already in a lousy frame of mind, all these unimportant things seem more annoying.  And on top of all that is what I’d like to refer to as The Knuckle Cracking Incident, but unfortunately will no doubt be the Daily Knuckle Cracking Incident.

I despise the sound of knuckles cracking.  It makes my skin crawl.  Even if I normally like to be around someone, it makes me want to run.  By the way, this is probably valuable information in case we are ever together and you want to get rid of me quickly.

Lately I’ve been around a knuckle cracker.  Wait, let me re-phrase.  I am around a knuckle cracker who knows how much it bothers me and still persists on cracking his knuckles.  I don’t think this is a good sign.  I think if this were a novel, his continuation would no doubt be the initial foreshadowing of some doomed future.  I don’t know – maybe it’s just my mood.  We’ll see, I guess.  I’ll check back with you in 50 pages or so.

The only thing good about the knuckle cracker is that I’ve had Hank Ballard & The Midnighters’ “Finger Popping Time” in my head because of him.  Actually, that’s not the only good thing about the knuckle cracker.  The knuckle cracker has a lot of good things about him when he’s not cracking.  But as a knuckle cracker, well, Hank Ballard is definitely the only good thing about him.


The Back Seat of My Car

18 Jul

The other day I heard that Paul McCartney was playing Yankee Stadium and I realized I would have next to no interest in ever going to that.  Now I know a lot of people who did go to the Citi Field show a couple of years ago and loved it, but I can’t help but wonder why.

Now I’m as much (or more) of a Beatles fan as the next guy though, like many of them, I’d classify myself more as a John Apple Scruff.  But there are still plenty of Paul songs I think are amazing.  And there are several Wings tracks that are great too.  So why do I have to stifle an eye-roll every time I think of Sir Paul?  I have a feeling I’ll perfect my telekinetic powers sooner than I will be able to stop that eye rolling.  It’s just that the combo of the current Paul McCartney and the vast output of schlock is so distasteful.

But I realized I do in fact have a way to surmount this problem.  I will forgive “Wonderful Christmas Time,” “Silly Love Songs” and all the other crap  because Paul McCartney is, at the end of the day, responsible for one of the most epic and beautiful songs of all-time.

The Beach Boys-esqe “The Back Seat of My Car,” from ‘Ram,’ his second solo album, will erase all that and more.  ‘Ram’ was really under appreciated when it was released, but in the years since, nearly every critic who maligned it has done an about-face on the matter.

‘Ram’ was also hated by John Lennon, who felt that there were digs at him (including the line ‘we believe that we can’t be wrong’ from “The Back Seat of My Car”).   And to top it off, many fans hearing this for the first time in 1971 felt the album was inconsequential.  But they’re wrong.  I bet if I tracked down each one of those people who heard it when it was first released, 9 out of 10 of them would, like the critics, revise their initial reaction.

2011 ears are the perfect ones to listen to this.  I think rock critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine summed it up best:  Ram now “looks like nothing so much as the first indie pop album, a record that celebrates small pleasures with big melodies, a record that’s guileless and unembarrassed to be cutesy….(it) seems more like a unique, exquisite pleasure with each passing year.”

Okay, enough talking.  Listen to the pure beauty of this song.  It’s pretty amazing.

Plus it’s about having sex in the back seat of a car.

The Night I’m Sure I’ll Learn to Move a Spoon

16 Jul

I recently discovered Telekinesis.  Let me clarify.  I discovered telekinesis with a lowercase ‘t’ years ago when I was determined to hone my talent for remote influencing.  Tried as I might, however, I never did move a spoon across the table.

But Telekinesis with a capital ‘T’ is a band I just recently heard for the first time.  It’s actually not a band, but rather one person, Michael Benjamin Lerner.  He’s from Seattle as you could probably guess once you download the song.  Unless you thought he was from Williamsburg, an easily understandable mistake for which I won’t mock you.

I love the song “You Turn Clear in the Sun” and not just because it has a killer title.  That said, you may think it’s just another piece of fluff when you hear it.  It isn’t.  I urge you to listen to this three times in a row and its magic will open up to you.  I’m sure of it.  It’s a deceptively simple song that is actually crazy irresistible.  And it just reeks of summer.

But the bigger news is that I think I just inspired myself to try telekinesis with a small ‘t’ again.  Now I’m excited!  Thank you, Telekinesis the band-that’s-not-a-band for galvanizing me.  I’ll report back!


Sadism, Masochism and Bastille Day

14 Jul

Happy Bastille Day, tout le monde!

It is one of my top two favorite holidays along with Canada Day.  One of my most treasured Bastille Day celebrations ever was when someone planned a particularly romantic froggy date complete with having a crown of flowers made for me to wear – in red, white and blue of course.  It’s France’s colors too, you know!  We dined at the now sadly defunct restaurant Provence and although I don’t remember for sure, we probably drank a super swanky bottle of Margaux.

One of the many things I love about July 14th is that this date ensures that I spend at least one day thinking about the Marquis de Sade.  I went through an obsessive period where I read every piece of his writings as well as a couple of biographies.  Needless to say, he fascinates me.  Now laymen of the Marquis de Sade may be wondering right about now why I’m bringing him up on this day.

The Marquis was imprisoned in the Bastille and it is theorized by many that his incendiary shouts (“They are killing the prisoners here!”) had a direct effect on the storming of the Bastille 12 days later.  There doesn’t seem to be much debate that those words were actually spoken.  Well, in French, not English, but uttered nonetheless.

It saddens me to know that Marie Antoinette never really said, “Let them eat cake!” but while we’re on the subject of famous quotes, I must digress.  It truly bothers me that George Washington (as I said, I’m digressing) probably never said “I cannot tell a lie.”  My mother broke this news to me quite recently.  I cannot tell a lie, it really shook my world.  But back the French…

Bastille Day and the Marquis de Sade are thoroughly intertwined in my mind and given this, I have the perfect song for today.  “He Hit Me and It Felt Like a Kiss” by The Crystals is one of the sickest and most lovely of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound outputs.  Now I’ve always loved this song for its sheer sonic force and the fact that it was the audio equivalent of a car crash.  I want to resist, but I am unable.  And this song is all I thought of during Phil’s murder trial.

Now don’t start thinking I’m advocating abusive relationships, but the balance between pleasure and pain in any aspect of life is a pretty fascinating thing to think about.  Theoretically speaking of course.  Anyway, I’m going to pour a little champagne now and toast to the Marquis de Sade, Phil Spector and The Crystals.  I encourage you to do the same.

And Happy Bastille Day!

My Name Is Margaux And I’m A….

13 Jul

I think if you were to ask most people what some of their guilty pleasure songs were, you’d get answers like some cheesy boy band or maybe some current dance schlock.  Or even Justin Beiber.  What’s weird about me is that some artists that I myself classify as ‘guilty pleasures’ really shouldn’t be.  But for some reason – maybe it’s musical pushback from my friends  or who knows what –  they end up in the ‘guilty pleasure’ pile.

WTF?  Why am I yielding to peer pressure in this one teensy area of my life when I don’t do it anywhere else?

And so I am outing myself today:

I am a Jimmy Eat World fan.

Especially their 2001 album, ‘Bleed American’ where over half the songs would be in serious contention for some Desert Island Songs List if I had one.  I’m not even sure why anyone wouldn’t think they’re completely awesome.  They had a bunch of success with this record so obviously I’m hardly the only one who gets sucked in by their rockin’ hooks.  But I don’t think people in 2011 appreciate them.

It’s been pretty had to decide which track to post here today.  In fact, I’ve been mentally debating this on and off all day which is today’s excuse for posting so late.  Finally “Sweetness” won, but man am I bruised from all the intense internal debating.  For real, to me, ‘Bleed American’ is more like a greatest hits type album than a regular ole release.  Wait, I’m questioning my choice again.  I’ll give you the title track, “Bleed American” too.

I have to post this quickly before I start fighting with myself – again.


A Rough Ball of Twine

12 Jul

I used to know what songs were my favorites by what records I intentionally chose to play.  Increasingly, I am aware of my favorites by which I don’t hit the Next/FF arrows on my iPod.  That’s kind of a sad state of affairs, made sadder still by the fact that I actually have a whole room of records to choose from as well as a great turntable begging to be used more than it is.

Even songs I adore are victim to my quick FF finger.  One of the few songs which always gets played in its entirety when it comes on, however, is Vic Chestnutt’s “Degenerate.”

Vic was an utterly amazing artist from Athens, Ga.  He was in a car accident when he was 18 and was wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life.  He had only partial use of his hands, yet they were super prolific hands.  He releasee a bunch of records before he died from an overdose on Christmas Day, 2009.

“Degenerate” is a powerful track from his 1996 album, “About To Choke.”  “About To Choke’ was his only release on the major label, Capitol, and didn’t move enough units, as they say, to warrant subsequent releases – in their minds.  Now, 15 years later, it’s bee reissued.  Snatch it up while you can.

Vic was such unique songwriter – imaginative, quirky and raw as can be.  Anyone who can write lyrics like those you hear in “Degenerate” and make them sing-along-able deserves a place in your collection, no?  Of course there’s an extra benefit; if you load up your iPod with Vic, your FF finger will get a little holiday.


Little Beaver

11 Jul

Little Beaver, aka William Hale, is a soul and blues artist who epitomizes steamy Southern-style soul.  He’s also one someone whose career was sadly put to an end by the advent of disco in the mid-late ’70s.  But before that, woo-eee.  He was born in Arkansas, but moved to Florida as a teen and basically embodied the sound of Miami soul on his recordings for the local Cat/TK label.

Here’s one:  “Funkadelic Sound.”  It’s clearly in the soul tradition of James Brown, but its sheer funkadelic sound should not be ignored.   Little Beaver was not just a solo artist.  He was also an in-demand session guitarist even long after his own career came to a close.  Just listen to the awesome riff you hear on the hit by fellow Floridian Betty Wright’s “Clean Up Woman” – and give thanks for Little Beaver.  Incidentally, when you listen to “Clean Up Woman,” here’s something crazy to think about – she was just 17 when she recorded that!

Just because this is one of the shorter posts in Margauxville history does not in any way diminish how fantastic and funky Little Beaver is.  Or how great Betty Wright is.  If anything, blame my brevity on my still harboring a grudge against Florida for the 2000 election.  Or maybe it’s just that it’s hot and I want to get away from the computer.   Whatever the reason, it’s definitely no reflection on the funky funkiness herein.


Big Troubles

10 Jul

Generally speaking, even though I love drama, I prefer to stay away from trouble.  Especially big trouble.  And also generally speaking, I like big troubles to stay far away from me.  Except for one.  I rather like the band, Big Troubles.

They’re from Ridgewood, New Jersey of all places, which would seem like a big enough trouble to surmount, but I guess they don’t let big troubles bog them down.  If you don’t know of them yet, you should.  Or should I get all predictive and say ‘you will’?  They’ve been doing a bit of a PR push lately because their second album is coming out in September, so you may have already come across a recent article or so.  Plus they’re touring this summer with a band that you better be familiar with now since they graced Margauxville on April 30th, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

That’s actually an amazing pairing for suckers of jangly pop like me.  Listen to just one example of why you should care about Big Troubles:  “Misery.”  Go on, download; misery loves company.