February 21, 2013: A shout-out to the Baltimore peops in the hood

This song was written when the country folk still used to come down from the hills to find work on the docks and in the steel mills of Baltimore. But, as with all great country, the story line happens everywhere, and has been happening for as long as people have gathered into cities: A couple moves to the big city only to find one partner takes to the new surroundings more than the other. Gram Parsons probably sang it best.

“Then I soon learned she loved those bright lights more than she loved me…”

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February 16, 2013: Joan Jett Was a Total Bad-Ass

Few remember this now, but rock n’ roll, and hard rock in particular, was pretty much entirely a sausage hang in the late 1970s. Sure the Rock Nation had the smart but wispy singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell and the occasional artpunk like Patti Smith, but rock was largely considered the practice of — as Ted Nugent once so helpfully described it — dragging your balls across the concrete. In such environs, females served mostly as muses and/or there to supply relief of unbearable urges of rock stars (& their roadies) on the road.

Joan Jett, once free from the Kim Fowley-contrived punk band The Runaways, seized the male superstar swagger and used it for her own ends. However unlikely it seems today, Joan, with a guitar dangling from her hips, unapologetically rocked out on the national stage before pretty much any other woman (Well, her and Pat Benatar, though let’s get real here, Pat had too much AOR in her even from the start).

Joan had this specialty of recasting male cock-strut songs, playing them with even greater fire and huevos than the guys who first sang them:

(Compare with the original, by Dion & the Belmonts.)

So, if serial womanizer Mick Jagger wanted to chastise some lady about “giving head to Steve McQueen” (“Star Star)”, well, fuck that nasty bit of misogyny, Joan and her band could play that song as well, and play it twice as hard as the Stones to boot.

Also, she totally reclaimed “Do You Wanna Touch Me” from the island of creepy songs:

“Do You Wanna Touch Me” is actually a cover of a U.K. hit song from 1970s glam sensation Gary Glitter. That Glitter was a convicted child molester makes the original, which was smarmy to begin with, pretty much entirely unlistenable today. But Jett totally reclaims the song as her own, and her version sounds as bold and liberating today as when she recorded it in 1982.

Joan Jett's epic free show at Coney Island last summer.

Joan Jett’s free show at Coney Island last summer.

But there are many reasons to love Joan. For instance, there was last summer’s epic free concert out in Coney Island, where she played a recording of “No Sleep till Brooklyn” before coming out on stage as an homage to the recently passed Adam Yauch. Or the way she praised the Riot Grrls (who loved her back) even as she advised them to let loose of their ideals just long enough to invest in a good set of leathers.

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February 12, 2013: When, oh When Will Manu Chao Return to Play in the U.S.?

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February 11, 2013: Walking the Streets with Female Jesus

“Female Jesus don’t walk on water”
“Lives in town, she’s a drunkard’s daughter”
“Uses manners that her mother taught her”
“No one taught her to walk the streets with me…”

“Female Jesus” was recorded in on a four-track in Jack’s house in Winder Georgia, sometime between 1979 and 1994, with some drunken co-enablers as musicians, pretty much entirely for their own amusement.

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February 9, 2013: A Lad Insane Sashays with The Prettiest Star

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February 7, 2013: Some Hard Country

No disrespect to Johnny, but we gotta say we prefer Ernest Tubb’s rendition of Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” It’s something about the sodden, lonesome way that Ernest sings about hearing a passing train whistle outside his jailhouse wall:

“I bet there’s rich folks eating in a fancy dining car”
“They’re probably drinking coffee, and smoking big cigars.”

Ole Ernest was hard country, staying on the charts and on the road for the better part of six decades. Unlike Johnny Cash, Tubb never experienced much crossover success outside of the country charts, nor any posthumous hipster lionization. Maybe it was his flat, stumpy baritone voice or his name.

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February 2, 2013: Baby let me do it, let me do it to you, let me kiss you baby…

King’s groove is tighter here than a crab’s ass, as Lemmy used to say…


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Space Age 8-Track

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