Have y’all noticed something peculiar – and a little off-putting – about Barack Obama’s rhetorical style as president? Have you noticed how he over-personalizes shit? Makes it all about him?
I’ve noticed this for a while, but felt compelled to blog about it tonight... after President Obama’s surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Where he said this:
“I’ve made a promise to all of you who serve. I will never send you into harm’s way unless it’s absolutely necessary. I anguish in thinking about the sacrifices that so many of you make. That’s why I promise I will never send you out unless it is necessary.”
You anguish, Mr. President? You anguish? Dude, nobody wants to hear about your “anguish.” Least of all soldiers who gotta go out tomorrow and get shot at.
It’s your job to anguish about stuff like that, Mr. Obama. Being president is the hardest job in the world, and you wanted it. Now just do the job without congratulating yourself for having to do it... and without soliciting sympathy.
I found the complete text of Obama’s Afghanistan remarks online. Check this out:
“I'll tell you right now the same thing that I said at West Point last December. If I thought for a minute that America’s vital interests were not served, were not at stake here in Afghanistan, I would order all of you home right away.”
Did previous presidents talk this way? I don’t think so. Nor do I think a president should talk this way... constantly referring to himself personally, to his own feelings, to his own power.
Let’s keep an eye on this moving forward. I will surely blog about it again.
A 1950s R&B hitmaker who would influence James Brown, Little Willie John was the first to record “Fever,” a tune made much more famous by Peggy Lee. I never knew about this original version, though it was a million-seller.
Now a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Little Willie John died in 1968 as an inmate of Washington State Prison, serving time for manslaughter. Several years earlier, the volatile little man stabbed a guy during a fight.
Trombonist and composer Don Drummond, a founding member of the Skatalites, was one of Jamaica’s greatest musicians. He was also mentally ill. Drummond died in a Kingston mental asylum in 1969, put there after murdering his girlfriend, an exotic dancer.
Fiddler and bandleader Spade Cooley was a country-western star. He had a popular show in L.A. during the early days of television. This recording, “Shame On You,” was No. 1 on Billboard’s country chart for weeks in 1945.
Spade Cooley’s enduring legend, however, has not to do with music. In 1961, he beat and stomped his wife to death after an argument. Did it in front of their teenage daughter. Cooley was sentenced to life in prison, and he died of a heart attack in 1969.
Dennis Quaid has been trying for years to get a movie made about Cooley.
Catchy title, huh? Memphis bluesman Pat Hare cut this track for Sun Records in 1954, but it wasn’t released until 1990... long after Hare had actually murdered his baby and died in prison.
A guitar player with a distinctively aggressive sound, Pat Hare gigged and recorded with the likes of Muddy Waters and Bobby “Blue” Bland. Hare moved to Minneapolis in the early ’60s to perform in Mojo Buford’s new band.
Alas, in 1962, a domestic dispute ended with Hare shooting his girlfriend dead. He also shot and killed a policeman who responded to the call. Hare got a life sentence.
I’ll be like, “Ask me about my scent.” (And people’ll be like, “Yeah, dude... we been meaning to talk to you about your ‘scent.’ ”)
Anyhoo... New Orleans may look like no other city in America, but Metairie looks like every other suburb. Veterans Boulevard gots nothing going on except for convenient shopping. And I decided to make a few quick stops.
Passed by a pet store. On a window were painted the words “African and South American Cichlids.” I was like, “Ohhh shit! They got cichlids?”
Then I was like, “What the fuck is a cichlid?” (Turns out it’s a family of fish.)
I ducked into a CVS drug store. Made an impulse purchase of CVS-brand cookies. The dark-chocolate-topped butter cookies.
Know what I like to do with those bad boys? Y’all should try this. Get you some chocolate-topped butter cookies... and spread peanut butter on ’em.
One of my favorite living musicians has a new album out, and I never would’ve known except for a casual search of the eMusic database.
Keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell is way off the radar screen of today’s commercial music. That is why God invented blogs.
Having previously declared that I’ll purchase any track Bernie ever played on, I might come off as uncritical. Not the case.
Indeed, I must declare that Mr. Worrell’s new release, “I Don’t Even Know,” isn’t quite making my panties damp. The tracks sound like one-man products of a busy weekend in the home studio. For example, click here and check out “Hearin’ Dis, Playin’ Dat.”
Still... when we’re talking about a prime architect of Parliament-Funkadelic’s greatest hits, any new recording is like a handwritten letter from an old friend.
Click here to hear “Shades of The Kid.” Feel what I mean?
God bless you, Bernie. Keep on speaking through your fingertips.
Tonight is St. Joseph’s Night, and that’s a big deal in New Orleans... because the Mardi Gras Indian tribes will take to the streets in their elaborate costumes and strut.
So I’m doing a contest, like the ones I used to do. Click here and listen to a mystery track on my Vox blog. The first person to correctly name this band – in the comments section here – will win a prize. (Please, only one guess per person.)
In honor of St. Paddy’s Day, I went searching for some Dublin funk. If you saw “The Commitments,” you know that the Irish dig soul music. Matter fact, the city of Dublin sponsors a soul festival every spring.
Here are some tracks I found from funky Irish bands:
Here’s one with a bluesier vibe. Influences include Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Otis Redding. The group’s website is here. Ali De Mora and his band are coming to America, with a Baltimore pub gig scheduled for early July.
... I never knew that “All I Do” – one of the great tunes off of “Hotter Than July” – was originally written for Tammi Terrell, and that she recorded it in 1966. (Yes, Stevie Wonder was a teenager when he co- wrote that song.)
Click here to hear the Tammi Terrell version. It was never released... until 2002, when Universal Music Group put out a compilation in the U.K. called “A Cellarful of Motown!”
Meet Kayotic, a New Orleans rapper. I don’t know this cat or his music. Just stumbled on him on YouTube.
But we filmed part of an episode in this housing project, known as the Calliope (pronounced “Calio”). Master P was raised here. And as kids in the 1940s, the Neville Brothers lived in the Calliope for a while.
We’re in the midst of filming the second episode of “Treme” written by me. I titled it “Smoke My Peace Pipe.” (The old heads know why.)
Coolest part about being on set for this one? Chatting with Tim Reid, whom we cast in a guest role as a tribute to “Frank’s Place,” a great show about New Orleans.
Being a comedy nerd, I asked Mr. Reid about his early years in standup comedy... that is, his partnership with Tom Dreesen in a pioneering black-and-white comedy act. (They wrote a very entertaining book in 2008 – “Tim and Tom” – about those days.)
If I’d known about the YouTube video below, I would’ve asked Tim Reid about this. Reid’s big break in Hollywood came as a sketch player on “The Richard Pryor Show.”
Check out this uncensored clip from the final episode of “The Richard Pryor Show.” It is scan-do-lous! You’ll recognize not only a young Tim Reid... but Marsha Warfield and Paul “Miss Thing” Mooney. (“Spoon on the end” is John Witherspoon.)
To see the next clip in the sequence, where Richard flames Robin Williams and Sandra Bernhard, click here.
Bootsy Collins is cooking up something in his kitchen, y’all. He has been tweeting about various folks coming to Cincinnati and working on his new album... like Snoop Dogg, Cornel West and Béla Fleck.
Last week Bootsy wrote: “I just talked to Sheila E. about playing her Drums and Percussions on the New Album, STAY TUNED COULD GET FUNKY, REAL SOON.”
In the meantime between time... let’s have our own little Bootsy party right here.
’Twas 40 years ago that William “Bootsy” Collins, at the tender age of 18, was thrust into the limelight as James Brown’s new bass player. Bootsy was hired, along with his young bandmates, when Mr. Brown fired his old musicians in a dispute over money.
Several years later, Bootsy was taken under wing by George Clinton and became a primary architect of P-Funk. Bootsy Collins quickly evolved from songwriter and session musician to one of America’s most flamboyant stage performers.
I’m streaming some choice cuts on my Vox blog, tracing Bootsy’s path to glory. Click the titles to listen. (And if your computer speakers don’t deliver the low end... I recommend earbuds. Seriously.)
Bootsy first hooked up with G. Clinton in 1971, contributing to the Funkadelic double-album “America Eats Its Young.” Bootsy soon departed, but he rejoined P-Funk in time for Parliament’s 1974 debut on Casablanca Records – “Up for the Down Stroke.” And he was home to stay.
This track (written by Bootsy) is from the 1975 “Chocolate City” LP. Bootsy flexes with a Mu-Tron effects pedal. Around this time he started rocking a custom-made star-shaped “space bass”... and Bootsy’s reputation soared as a musician and as a showman.
As he told Bass Player magazine a few years ago: “Once I discovered the Mu-Tron... I could almost talk through my instrument.” (To hear Bootsy’s original version of “Together,” minus the Mu-Tron and minus G. Clinton’s vocal polishing, click here.)
Bootsy Collins flourished in partnership with George Clinton as a songwriter and producer. In 1980 Bootsy co-wrote and produced this track for Clinton’s new label, Uncle Jam Records. All the old heads remember.