Friday, June 20, 2008


I've gotta figure out how to make in-text links here. Surely it's easy...right?

I Hear a New World

is a great blog that i found just this morning thanks to the serendipity of the internets. Googling "Cate Brothers + Lane Lindsey" in order to try to find anything on an old friend who road managed the Cates during their major label days, I found a nice short take on the musical pleasures and lyrical problematics of the song "Union Man." Now think that the lyrics to "Union Man" are a little more ambiguous than the way The Sad Billionaire reads them, but I also know that i'm fundamentally disposed to hear all things Cate Brothers in a positive light, and that it' s likely true that , as John A. Arkensawyer once said, "Union Man is a great song with lousy politics."

So on the blog I Hear a new World ( The Sad Billionaire ponders, very briefly the connection between the Cates' apparent populist anti-unionism and their proximity to Bentonville, the home of Wal-Mart, a link that I've been thinking about for awhile now. Scrolling up from this post which was put up on Feb. 7th 2008, I found a thoughtful entry that drew on Nina Simone's "Mississippi Goddamn" to contextualize those over-exploited youtube remarks by Jeremiah Wright, and a critical disquisition about the birth of the neoliberal grotesque, among other gems. This has all helped to unloose some thoughts about the neoliberal landscapes of the post-civil rights south (and Northwest Arkansas in particular) that I'll try to put together in a future post.

Just glancing through, I can tell that this is great, smart stuff. A music blog with academic smarts, a critical-left political engagement, and a sense of humor. I'm adding it to the sidebar forthwith. I can't find an easy way to link directly to the "Union Man" entry, but it's at the very bottom of the current page and it's called (quotes and all) "I've had a rough night and i hate the fucking Eagles, man." go read it and everything else written by the mysterious Sad Billionaire.

*this post brought to you by Sesame Street, and by littles, who is sitting on my lap as I type.

When We Refuse To Suffer

is a hell of a song from the new Jonathon Richman album. Bought it 2 weeks ago before a road trip (forgetting that we can only listen to "mama loves you music" [the African Dreams CD] in the car with littles these days, and that new music is only good driving music if you can really crank it) and am just now listening to it for the first time., low volume on earbuds while the rest of the house is asleep.

First thoughts: that this is the record I had been wishing Jonathon would make since I saw him a couple of times in Fayetteville around 2002 or so. No Rick Ocasek, No band (so far) just Jonathon playing that amplified gut string and Tommy Larkins on the stand up drum kit. It's very immediate and intimate and I'm certain that some jerkoff reviewer is going to call it "low-fi" when it's just the opposite. Well, maybe not the opposite : it's not "hi-fi" it's just..."fi," as in fi-delicious, as in fi-i-i-ine!

Second thoughts: that description makes it sound like it isn't rock and roll. Not true. Following Lunsford's theory of rock and roll (the more instruments you have the less each person can play) this format really frees Jonathon and Tommy to work these small-but-mighty rock and roll songs for all their worth. Oh, there is a band now, kind of, or at least some piano and electric guitar. Just enough.

Third thoughts: More on the songs after I've absorbed them. Right now the lyrics that leap out are like this from "Our Party Will Be on the Beach Tonight": "We'll spill things there, and we won't care...and we won't care." No, I know, but you have to hear him sing it.

Fourth Thoughts: by the second version, i'm pretty sure that i have some serious disagreements with the central argument in "When We Refuse To Suffer" but its still a great song.

last thoughts: nice little post about this album's special connections to the Mission District in San Francisco, where Jonathon has lived for a few years now.