This Week’s Tracks

"Travelin’ Light"
Eric Clapton

The last stuff I loved by Clapton was "She’s Waiting" and "Forever Man" on 1985’s Phil Collins-produced "Behind The Sun".  After that, Clapton mellowed to the point where there was almost nothing there.

Oh yeah, I dug "Change The World", but the overplay made me crazy.  Eric Clapton used to be a hot guitarist, an incredible sideman, making brilliant music with the Dominos, suddenly the press said he was God, years after he truly was.

And then the boy bands came in, and Clapton and the rest of the baby boomer acts disappeared.  From MTV.  From the hip landscape.  They appealed to a demographic of old jeans-clad hippies smoking dope who wanted to relive their memories or those of a similar age who missed it the first time around and finally felt the music was safe.

The stations that used to play these old acts still did, but their OLD MATERIAL, so most of the new stuff I never heard.  You’d have to buy the album to do so.

So I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything from Clapton’s poorly-reviewed 2001 album "Reptile".  Just another useless concoction from a guy who kept saying he was retiring from the road and then going on tour.

I knew it was Clapton when this song started pouring out of my car stereo, but what it was???  I had to look at the Sirius readout.

That’s Sirius for you.  Playing to who we USED TO BE!  Not testing the limits.  But can I really complain, this is truly good.  Because of Eric’s soaring guitar playing.

I missed the first minute or two of the track. the singing part.  But when he’s done vocalizing, and starts to wail, you’re stunned.  Hell, I was stunned.  THIS was the Clapton I used to know.  I LOVED this.  I could drive CROSS-COUNTRY listening to this.

Meanwhile, thanks to the Internet, thanks to P2P, having researched and found out that the song was written by J.J. Cale, I downloaded the original.  Which was sans the guitar leads, but was definitely the same song.

We’ve been waiting forever for this era to arrive.  When we could click on the credits and CONNECT!  I wouldn’t have gone out and bought J.J.’s album after hearing a cover in the past.  And if I’d paid a buck for this track, I’d be pissed, it’s not worth a buck.  But in the new world, where music is free, there was no limit to my exploration.  Which is why the record companies should have licensed Napster.  And if you don’t think this is true, you probably believe the iTunes Music Store is their savior!  It’s not.  The new boss is the same as the old boss, only it sounds shittier and comes without a booklet!  Loosen up the music, don’t give it away, charge for exploration, the same way you need an ISP account to surf the Net, the dividends will be HUMONGOUS!

"Train To Jackson"
Jeffrey Foucault

Heard on XM’s Loft.

The difference between XM and Sirius.  XM plays deep, plays the obscure, plays shit you’ve never HEARD OF before.  Like this.  The only problem is so few people subscribe to XM you end up residing in a "Twilight Zone" where you and a handful of others are the only people AWARE of these acts.

This guy’s vocals are not James Taylor pristine, but they’re not quite Ray Lamontagne rough (meanwhile, check out Ray’s new track, "Three More Days", the playing is great), and the playing is EXQUISITE!

There’s plenty of good music out there.  Let me hip you to some recent discoveries.

Mike Krebs hipped me to Jonah Smith.

Richard Griffiths told me about the Guillemots.

Richard’s associate Will turned me on to Paolo Nuttini.

You can hear all these acts.  Via their Websites, via MySpace.  It’ll fuck you up.  They’re GOOD!

What am I supposed to do with this?  Used to be there was a radio station.  It anointed what was good.  I want to be a member of the club, of society, I want us to pull from the same pool, I want to be a member of the group.  Every day I’m bombarded with new material.  Almost all of it sucks.  But too much of it is good.  It’s overwhelming.

"I Need To Wake Up"
Melissa Etheridge

The closing credit track for "An Inconvenient Truth".  Best thing she’s done in years.

Ever since becoming the poster girl for the Democratic party, being the gay daughter, after surviving cancer, Melissa Etheridge has been a star, but she’s lost the hunger, she hasn’t written great material.

This is vintage Melissa.  The outsider trying to convince us via sheer will.  The girl who’s not pretty enough, not thin enough, not straight enough, who’s gonna show us she counts ANYWAY!

That’s artistry.

Funny to find it in a movie song.

In the old days, this would end up being a hit.

If only the blogosphere fighting Bush would gather together and show its strength by breaking this track.  If only it were streamed at the Huffington Post.  You’ve got to break records in new ways.  You can’t count on radio.  Especially when it concerns a fortysomething gay female.

Give it away and sell it on iTunes at the same time.

"Life Is A Highway"
Rascal Flatts

Speaking of the movies…

This is from the soundtrack of "Cars".  Which, despite the lack of the stellar reviews of the preceding Pixar movies, I highly recommend you see.  It’s like a two hour Dennis Miller routine.  Only you GET THE REFERENCES!

It’s cute.  It’s touching.  It’s otherworldly.  Not quite "Finding Nemo", but a touching romp nonetheless.

Lord only knows why Tom Cochrane disappeared after finally breaking through with this track, but this guy did straight ahead rock extremely well.  Not only "Lunatic Fringe", but his 1988 album "Victory Day".

Actually, I liked "Life Is A Highway" a lot less than most of Tom’s earlier stuff.  But hearing it again all these years later, it’s like running into an old friend, like slipping into a well-worn pair of shoes.

"Reason To Live"
KISS

Heard on Hair Nation on Sirius.

A power ballad that rocks just enough.  That lumbers forcefully through the ocean like the QE 2.

Fuck, what can I say.  I love shit like this.  Bombastic, with riffs that slap you in the face, bass that kicks you in the gut, stinging guitars.

I HATE KISS.  But I keep discovering more of their tracks I like on Hair Nation.

Not quite as good as this, really not in the same league, but fun to listen to, and with KISS it’s always about fun, not art, is "Crazy Crazy Nights".  Stupid verses, but a SING-ALONG chorus.  You can’t help but join in the very first time you hear it.

"Cold Hard Bitch"
Jet

A LIVE take.  From eMusic.

Someone gave me a free account.  If only they had more stuff I hadn’t already downloaded P2P.

So I searched the live albums.  I found this on a compilation of tracks from the 2005 Austin City Limits festival.

Listen to this and tell me rock is dead.  Put this on in a club and it would freeze the dancers in their tracks.  They’d look at each other, wondering what to do.  But then somebody would turn towards the sound system and start FREAKING OUT!  Not yelling and screaming, but MOVING!

This is the difference.  With today’s club music, you look at your dancing partner.  With rock music you look at the STAGE!  You jump up and start dancing in place.  You’re INSPIRED!

Wake up this somnambulant country.  Release more electrifying music like this.  With all the energy of AC/DC twenty five years ago.

"Guitar Town"
Steve Earle

Another live take from eMusic.

I know, I know, you’re turned off by the political Steve Earle.  The guy who what he stands for is oftentimes better than the music he’s playing.

Well go back to the source, Earle’s ’86 debut, "Guitar Town".

Even if you don’t like country.  Consider it my good deed of the day.  You think you don’t like country, but listen to this album three times and you’ll play it FOREVER!

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