Why you should read Mellow Gold

I don’t usually apologize for infrequent blogging because I’m not paid for it (not here, anyway) and people who want to reach me and inquire about my health can usually reach me with little trouble. But this week, I’ll apologize. It’s been the perfect storm of work and family concerns.

Whenever I find a bit of time, I’ll do my next song of the day (it’ll be Poe’s Haunted, in case you want to prepare in advance) or sum up just how utterly freaking brilliant the season finale of Friday Night Lights was.

In the meantime, if you haven’t been reading Jason’s Mellow Gold series, please start now. The guy takes forgotten musical artifacts and nails down the back story. If I were running VH1 and stumbled upon his blog, I would drive to his apartment (or house, I don’t know) and say, “Here’s $250,000. We’ll pay expenses. Please take over our prime-time programming.”



Ode to one-stick percussionists

I suppose that shouldn’t be plural. I only know of one one-stick percussionist, not counting Sheila E. when she puts a stick down to make a couple of sexy gestures before whipping through a few cowbell-and-timbale patterns. (Seriously — Sheila E. can play.)

The one-stick percussionist here is the woman in Was (Not Was)’s classic video Walk the Dinosaur.

I’m guessing she could also play. Even though Stereogum dismisses her as a “token, cowbell-hammering female … wearing David Byrne’s blazer instead of a cocktail dress,” I’m guessing she wouldn’t have been hanging with the Wases if she didn’t have some chops. I’m sure that’s news to the Stereogummers who think Was (Not Was) “paid for their hubris with obscurity,” which just goes to show you why I prefer to read music bloggers like Jason and Jefito who … you know … know something about music and research what they don’t know.

That said, I’ll admit that I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the question: Why didn’t she have another stick, at least to keep up appearances? If my college percussion teacher insisted that I have four mallets in my hands even for the simplest marimba parts, shouldn’t she have two sticks? Instead, she’s just standing there, one arm stiff against her side.

Until …

Heyyy! Fancy move!

If she could dance, of course, I’m sure she would’ve been “walking the dinosaur” with the dancers, cowbell in one hand and stick in the other. She could always wander over for the occasional cymbal crash — which is surely superfluous, since the band had a drummer in the back who seemed perfectly capable of hitting the cymbals.

I played percussion for three years in a wind symphony, with occasional appearances in pit orchestras and a symphony. That included some boring parts. In a typical rehearsal, percussionists sit around for about 20 minutes. Just when you think you’re going to play, the conductor quickly waves a hand so the group can go back over that tricky passage the third clarinet section just isn’t getting. And that “part” sometimes consisted of one good thud on a bass drum.

But never — not once — can I remember going one-handed.

Maybe men are just too self-conscious to play such a small part in a song and video, especially when the repeated close-ups draw such attention to the fact that you’re adding only slightly more to the sound than the guy in the Mighty Mighty Bosstones who just bounced around on stage all the time. A typical male probably would’ve cracked the cowbell against his head all night.

And so, almost 20 years after the fact, we salute you, One Stick Percussionist. You did more with one stick than most of us accomplish with two hands and all the gear we can buy.

music, videos

One-song VH1 Classic live blog

No time to do a full-fledged live blog, but one video just can’t pass without comment …

WOMAN ON STREET (slightly panicked): “What’s going on in there?”

STEREOTYPICAL SOUTHERN COP: “I wouldn’t worry about it, ma’am. It’s just dem Damn Yankees!”

(Damn Yankees? Hey, I heard about this band! They’ve got Tommy Shaw from Styx! And Jack Blades — well, Night Ranger sometimes rocks! And Ted Nu … NUGENT!! This’ll be some badass rock here!!!)

Cut to Jack Blades, wearing sunglasses that look like some sort of lab equipment. He sings: “I don’t wanna hear about it … anymore …”

Oh, thank heavens the police have this under control!

This video goes through more phases than Pfiesteria:

– Cops cordoning off the street with a 10-48 in progress — ’80s supergroup shooting a video for a power ballad

– Band is suddenly outside, possibly because the director realized they’re not shooting Sunglasses at Night, and the band looked silly wearing shades in the house

– Unknown couple making out. Apparently some sort of Romeo & Juliet storyline … I wasn’t really paying attention.

– Nugent reminds us that yes, he really did join up with these guys. He steps onto the porch to play a solo that causes electrical appliances to short out and soda cans to tip as if shot by BBs.

– Unknown couple is being chased by … the police? Not sure. (Coincidentally, Don’t Stand So Close to Me is now on.)

– Someone’s on Death Row for some reason. Blades and Shaw still emoting about being taken high enough. So apparently, this woman is on Death Row for … what? Not selling drugs? “Having been found guilty by a jury of your peers for failing to give ’80s rockers a steady supply of coke and pills, you have been sentenced to death …”

– And apparently Nugent is the priest reading Scripture as the woman is carted off to whatever execution method this state uses? He stops … he mugs for the camera.

Oh, that badass Nugent! Just when you think he’s gone all soft on us, there he is, subversely playing a Death Row priest!

Rock and roll!!!!


OK — NOW I might switch to Google

The latest and greatest search keywords through which someone found this blog — “diarrhea milkshake poopoo.”

But alas, this blog is NOT one of the nine results you get when searching for those keywords at Yahoo, my search engine of the past 12 years. That’s because I spelled the last word “poo poo” rather than “poopoo.”

Google is more lenient with the spelling, which is why I’m on the first page of the 287 pages of results for the same search. But note that Google does NOT return MMM if you put the phrase in quotations.

In case you’re wondering why a blog that normally steers clear of the scatological would use such a phrase, consider the context.

(And no, I’m not actually switching over to Google. My Yahoo toolbar and My Yahoo itself are just too vital. If you’re reading this and did NOT arrive via search, chances are pretty good I’ve got your blog on the first of my SEVEN My Yahoo pages.)

(And no, I DON’T know why I think it’s so IMPORTANT for me to be EMPHASIZING certain words with ALLCAPS TODAY.)