Saturday, December 03, 2005


To commemorate the release of the new live CD Kicking Television (which is quite superb by the way), Jeff Tweedy of Wilco picks his 10 favorite live albums of all time...
Allman Brothers Band, Live at the Fillmore East (Polydor, 1971)
A lot of these records are just so formative for me. It's like "the sky is blue" kind of stuff. This one is one of the prime documents of rock music. It shows the chemistry of a band being so finely tuned, a band playing with one mind. And serious chops. I think I probably hated it the first time I heard it. I'd done a lot of brainwashing in the service of belonging to something I was never meant to belong to, like punk rock. The Allmans got pushed to the wrong side of the line in the sand--if you liked them, you couldn't be punk. That's the difference between listening to music and trying to fit into a mass movement. Punk was a mass movement. It required true believers to make it go. And now I see punk as just rock, another incarnation of it. In a way, it's exactly like the Allmans--people believing in themselves, and going out and doing it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Magician Penn Jillette says in a surprisingly earnest (for him) audio essay that There Is No God:
Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.
This almost makes up for NPRs post election religious kowtowing.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Like many, my first big music obsession was The Beatles. Over the years I've gone in and out of listening to them. Too many of their songs have been played to death on the radio, but on the other hand it's pretty annoying for people that are into much more derivative groups condescend to them. Like Shakespeare, it seems like it's sometimes hip to dis The Beatles. They're too popular for their own good.

In the last month or two there's been a flood of Beatles related books hitting the bookshops. There's Bob Spitz's massive new 900+ page bio, called simply The Beatles, Here, There, and Everywhere, an upcoming studio memoir by their engineer Geoff Emerick, and Memories of John Lennon, which is interesting mainly for its inclusion of unlikely folks like Jello Biafra and Iggy Pop. One of the most surprising and well written of the bunch is Harper's editor Lewis Lapham's book With The Beatles, which chronicles his trip to India with the Beatles in 1968, originally written as a piece for the Saturday Evening Post (the Post was also publishing stories by the likes of Thomas Pynchon back then, so I guess that's not too surprising). It's great to see Lapham's dry wit and good natured skepticism collide with the Beatles' insular bubble world, and it's a knowing snapshot that really sets the scene for the peak and decline of the high 60s.

Bookslut has a good interview with Lapham about the book here.