Even when they leave you and vanish they somehow can still remain there

It took me two viewings of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd to realize an essential truth: blood makes musicals awesome.

It didn't occur to me the first time I saw this story, as a 16-year-old Sondheim fan naively sitting down to watch a PBS airing of the 1979 Broadway musical, which originally starred Angela Lansbury, in a star turn as Mrs. Lovett, and Len Cariou, replaced in the televised version by George Hearn as the demon barber of Fleet. Street. (The pause between the two words is necessary.)

That first time, I was so shocked by the horror of the subject matter that I failed to appreciate the humor. It grossed me out sufficiently that I wouldn't eat meat for a couple weeks after seeing it. (I was a sensitive, late-blooming teenager who didn't see a real horror movie until the age of 22 or so.) It's been years since I've seen that version (having made my mother hide the video so I would never again have to think about human pies again.)

Years later, after a NYC Opera performance, and the 2005 B'way revival starring Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris, I was finally able to appreciate the beauty of the music and the deliciously macabre subject matter. Now a seasoned horror-movie watcher, the thought of spurting blood and ground human oozing from a grinder no longer dampens my appetite for meat, nor spookiness. Although I never got a copy of the OCR*, I downloaded enough random songs from the S.T. to appreciate most of them, and never feel like skipping past "Pretty Women" or "By the Sea" when they pop up during random play mode.

I was apprehensive about the movie, not as a Sondheim purist intimately familiar with every detail of the original, but as someone who had lately been burned by Mr Burton once too many. I am not able to forgive him for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (horror of psychedelia having replaced my horror of human butchery), but with Sweeney Todd, I am able to appreciate him again as a director.

The movie is gorgeous to look at. The grittiness of 19th-century London is palpable, and the muted colors dominating most of the movie really let that blood-paint pop. Most of the overtly theatrical elements of the stage show (the Greek chorus, the steam whistle that sounds each time a victim gets it, and, well, quite a lot of the songs) are gone, but they're not much missed, because this movie takes the story away from the stage entirely. It revels in its untheatricality, the camera following Antony down London streets and rolling with rivers of blood down London gutters.

The performances are, by and large, incredibly good. I really loved Helena Bonham Carter's blowsy, goth-sexpot Mrs Lovett, so much that I was able to entirely forgive her pathetically weak singing voice; she acted the songs, and films, unlike stages, are perfect media for gin-soaked whispers. Johnny Depp is some sort of acting god; his singing voice, though not strong, was pleasant, and like Bonham Carter, he acted the hell out of every song. His Sweeney was something new - not funny, like Cariou or Hearn, nor trembly-voiced and emotional, like Cerveris's - his Sweeney was brooding, growly and pretty fucking terrifying. His only flaw was the Bonnie-Raitt-skunk-patch they made him wear. Ed Sanders' Tobias had a gorgeous singing voice, and although he needs a little more practice stepping out of dead-eyed-choirboy mode when he starts to sing, his acting was otherwise excellent. And although I am predisposed to perpetually feeling that my secret middle-aged British boyfriend has been underused in every movie, and although this movie is no exception in that regard, I found each moment he was on the screen to be simultaneously creepy and comical; although sufficiently loathsome, his was the first Judge Turpin that I wouldn't really mind watching me undress. He just needs to trim those fingernails; no need to take the "with a gesture of his claw" line so literally. The "Pretty Women" scene and reprise, where he and Depp harmonize so sweetly, were the most satisfying, to me, of any cinematic musical since 2001's Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Pretty Women/Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman (mp3)

Purchase Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street from Amazon Digital

As for that blood: I knew the movie was genius the moment when, in Johanna II, perhaps the prettiest, liltingest tune in the bunch, the first, squelch-y squirt of blood came shooting out, and continued to spurt, almost on the beat, throughout the rest of the song. When you see that number on stage, no matter how good the special effects are in the theatre, there's just no way for it to squelch. With Burton, no punches were pulled - the blood shot right out at us, and the song danced so prettily on, and I just started to laugh; I had never "gotten" that song until that moment. Tim Burton really is bloody brilliant.

If you're new to Sweeney, try the original recording first, and see Angela Lansbury work her magic before you attempt this. If you're familiar enough with that version that you're ready to go somewhere new, see the movie. (Clicking this last link will take you to the official site, where you can sample audio. I recommend skipping straight to "Pretty Women", but, again, I'm biased as hell. Alan Rickman is my man.)

*"Original Cast Recording", for you non-nerds.

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And we all want what's his

Dear friends,

1. The first time I heard Bob Dylan I thought it was a joke. I was 15 and I was sitting on my friend's Greg's bed while he rifled around looking for something or other amongst a stack of albums. His room was cluttered and small, a giant Queen Is Dead poster on one wall, dusty Star Wars action figures on the windowsill. Dylan sounded false. Nasally and small, all cluttered talk, jumbled little asides about the hardness of things. "Is he kidding? Why is he singing like that?" No response from my host. As Dylan kept braying about cold NYC, I inspected the photo on the cover. A baby-faced young man with thin lips rocking a newsboy cap. He looked familiar. "Oh my god. You know who he looks like? Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks!" Greg walks over and says, "A little."

2. A year or so later, it might've been less, my friend Ben S. made me a mix tape with
Blood on The Tracks on one side and Desire on another. I listened to it constantly. Play, fast forward through Idiot Wind, flip to the other side, through rain, snowstorms and sunshine. Years later, I saw the White Stripes at Radio City. They started playing Isis, and even though I hadn't heard it in forever, when the time came, I shouted, too loudly, too wildly, "If you want me to...YES!"

3. I lied, the first Dylan I ever heard was
New Morning and I was 9. I bought it on cassette for 50 cents (borrowed from moms, natch) at a yard sale in Mamaroneck. I thought the photo was really nice, that the man in it had soft eyes. Listened to it once. I didn't get it. Re-gifted it to my then-stepdad.

4. J bought
Chronicles and was reading it at bedtime. He'd tell me things in it and I'd promptly forget. I tried reading Positively 4th Street 'cause Mimi Farina was a stone cold fox. I didn't make it very far. Which is weird. I'm a big fan of biographies, always have been. I like true stories and facts. But Dylan and facts? I don't buy it and neither do my eyes. They refuse to read the words.

5. When I heard about
I'm Not There, I worried. Directed by Todd Haynes, you say? Hmmm...tell me more.

6. Dylan is split into six non-Dylans or Dylan facets. Got it. It's an easy conceit to accept. The non-linear structure too; it was as if each person was giving birth to another at crucial points. Giraffes walk into frames. The Beatles explode on a grassy field in a burst of helium giggles. A man in white face sings next to an open coffin. A French waif slips on her stockings and smiles at the camera. Watching it, letting the black and whites become gold then red, I realized that for all the ideas going on, I didn't feel lost. It's an intellectual film that's quite accessible. It brings you closer to the man and his work, which is way more than I can say about all those chronological "I feel guilt over my brother's death/I'm really SAD and that is why I'm a musician" biopics out there.

7. I enjoyed the actorly interpretations, especially Ben Wishaw's steely-eyed/nervous fingers performance as Rimbaud/Dylan. Cate Blanchett is great
* though you could argue that she gets singled out for praise not so much because of her performance, but because she's playing everyone's favorite Dylan, the twitchy little black clad punk of Don't Look Back. Everyone else had to wrestle with being actors, poets, preachers, pretenders, and wise old outlaws. She got to play the rock star and that's the one persona that can be all those things at once.

8. A favorite musical moment from the film.

Blind Willie McTell/Bob Dylan (mp3)

9. Speaking of The Bootleg Series, the version of Every Grain of Sand on it = gorgeous.

10. Purchase The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 by Bob Dylan.

Love, D

* Of course, it's great, she's a fucking good actress. Interestingly, I find her best performances to be ones where she plays people who appear to be in control but are dealing with secret, mounting terrors. Their masks must stay in place despite it all.

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She's not your queen anymore

Dear friends,

Despite appearances, I am, in my own way, a girly girl. I thoroughly enjoyed playing dress up as a child, piling on my mother's shawls and spinning the way I saw Stevie Nicks do on TV. When needed, I pile on the make-up and put on the shoes. I even listen to full throttle lady music which can definitely be girly-girlier than a manicure.

Sample conversation at the Delancey subway stop this past year:

J: (Seeing me listening intently to something) What are you listening to?

D: Uh...Tori Amos.

J: Really?

D: Yeah.

J: Seriously?

D: Yes. What? There's a harpsichord!

J: (Look of disbelief)

While Bats For Lashes falls into the Tori Amos category, what with their tremulous ballads, to me the sound is more geisha than madwoman. In other words, while Tori scares some dudes, Bats for Lashes definitely wouldn't, in fact, they'll attract them. There's no great need to their sound, it's too contained, neat and pretty. Everything is curlicued, whispered and slinky in an almost deranged, feverish interpretation of femininity. Antiquated and dangerous femininity - like Theda Bara, that turn-of-the-century vamp. Someone that will seduce you, destroy you, then slowly retreat behind velvet curtains. But only after they've made you feel on top of the world.

Khan, vamping it up

That being said, taken as theatre, Bats For Lashes is aces. I love the cool, alabaster sound of lead singer Natasha Khan's voice. In Prescilla, she sings about a woman who yearns for children and stability, "to be needed, simply and with meaning" while the backing autoharp and hand claps become progressively more ominous. You know that poor fictional woman ain't going nowhere.

Prescilla/Bats For Lashes (mp3)

Prescilla/Bats For Lashes (video) (now with extra brass!)

Purchase Fur and Gold by Bats For Lashes on Amazon Digital.

Love, D

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New Year's Eve with After the Jump at Knitting Factory

With so many exciting things in store for After the Jump in 2008, including SXSW and an even bigger Summer festival, the blogger collective has decided to celebrate early with a HUGE New Year's Eve party, taking over all two floors of the Knitting Factory. And best of all, After the Jump is proud to announce that this event will be in support of the small non-profit Education Through Music. Education Through Music creates entire music programs in underfunded schools. From teaching interested musicians how to teach to buying instruments and providing a curriculum, ETM is working to ensure music touches the lives of all students.

Buy tickets here: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&pl=&eventId=231019

Main Space

11:30pm: Dirty Projectors have recently come off a heralded tour, selling out cities across the country, including NYC's Bowery Ballroom. Their 2007 album Rise Above received an 8.1 on Pitchfork.

10:30pm: Senryu have toured the southeastern U.S. since 2001, selling tens of thousands of cds and gathering a legion of obsessed fans. Recently, nationwide audiences and critics have caught on with an interview feature on TheMusicSlut.com (named by Billboard as one of the Top 20 Music Blogs) and tons of local radio play. Senryu owes a big debt of success to the guidance Knoxville music veteran Don Coffey Junior. He has produced the bulk of Senryu's releases to date, but you might know him better as drummer and founding member of Superdrag.

9:30pm: Care Bears on Fire have been everywhere lately, from guitarist Sophie playing her song on a national converse commercial, drummer Izzy on the front page of USA Today, the band named in Billboard's Top Ten critic's choice and features in New York Magazine, The Village Voice, and on NPR. At age 12, Care Bears on Fire already have the career any older musician would die for.

9pm: Pattern is Movement are the definition of "blog darlings." Receiving praise from heavy hitters such as Stereogum, who was at their recent sold out NYC show and called the band their "new obsession," and Gothamist, who chose them to play their CMJ showcase. They have recently come off some sold out dates with Dirty Projectors.

After-Party starts at 1 am - FREE with main space ticket, $10 without: hosted by Cex, with special guests Ecstatic Sunshine, Wzt HeartsCex is a musical project helmed by Rjyan Claybrook Kidwell and started in 1998 at the age of 16. Although Cex and Kidwell are frequently used interchangeably, Cex occasionally expands to several people at sporadic points, such as particular tours or albums. In the past it has included Kidwell's musical associates, friends, touring partners, or high school bandmates.

Tap Room
11pm: Foreign Islands are the best and most thrilling live dance-punk bands in NYC today according to Rolling Stone, Oh My Rockness, NME, Spin, Disorder, The Fly...

10pm: Neimo French, punk, glam, rockers are set on making you dance. All of their New York City shows have been packed to capacity. New Year's Eve is the last place stateside you'll get to see the band Tripwire, Sup Magazine, Destroyer and the NY Press have been raving about.

9pm: Poingly have been described by CMJ as "Sugar-coated punk angst served with a side of hot, sweaty electronica" and by the Village Voice as "a sassy, electro-punk one-woman band." We are pretty sure Poingly is a dude but at least the sentiment was right.

After-Partystarts at 12:30 amKaraoke hosted by Sid and Buddy! - FREE!

Over 1 million visitors a week receive their music news from After the Jump, a collective started by 22 music bloggers in New York City with the goal of helping new artists gain exposure while raising money for struggling local music programs.

Thank you to Metromix.com and WOXY.com for making this possible!



Only got these words on a stone

Dear friends,

Maybe it's my BX/Yonkers upbringing but I tend to get hung up on "realness" in music. I get the slightest touch of a sneer if I find out that musician X who likes to sing about hard times is a rich kid who grew up with two parents, three cars and five bathrooms. Reverse snobbery? Yeah, I suppose. I don't particularly love that side of me. The fact is, if you are an artist the grew up poor, authenticity is a treasured possession. Hard times are irrefutable. Shit, government cheese is irrefutable. You take that background of yours and you flaunt it.

I just saw I'm Not There last weekend and while I'm not ready to talk about that yet* it made me realize yet another valuable Bobby Z contribution to my psyche; he made middle class kids exploring the cotton fields acceptable to me. It is because of him that I can't hate on Gillian Welch for singing about leasing twenty acres and one jenny mule. Thank you Dylan.

Annabelle/Gillian Welch (mp3)

Contributor Jared sent this to me recently, he's on a dust bowl kick. I hadn't heard it in a long time. I'm still a mite uncomfortable about the over-pronounced, dry husk twang but I get over it since the singing and storytelling are so good. Sad as the tale of Annabelle may be, Welch tells it without a trace of self-pity. It sounds like someone who doesn't have the luxury to linger over their lot in life, they simply plod on, their faith their only saving grace.

Annabelle (Live)/Gillian Welch and David Rawlings (video)

Purchase Revival by Gillian Welch on Amazon Digital.

Love, D

* ...she said ominously. Nah, I loved it but I think it deserves more than a pithy thumbs up. Review is being worked on. For really reals.

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Your secret's out now, your secret's out now

Dear friends,

I swear it isn't a subconscious nod to the equine artwork for their upcoming record but when I hear Pinkies by The Big Sleep all I can think of is running horses. It's the cantering, celtic-style guitar riff that repeats throughout. It goes up and down and forwards somehow; a living carousel in a verdant field.

Not that the song is grandiose, it's fairly simple. The verses are sung by a man who sounds like he's shouting out at you across a great distance, the chorus that guitar line. Then it repeats. There's some respite from the repetition when a second guitar joins the fray, providing a steadily rising soprano counterpoint. What's being said here? The far-away man shouts "I know that you waited for this..." but doesn't provide an answer. He closes with an "Ah..." or "I..." Either way, it's a mystery, an unfinished thought. What? What am I waiting for? Curses! So you press repeat again and try to figure it out.

Pinkies/The Big Sleep (mp3)

photo by Ofer Wolberger

Sleep Forever by The Big Sleep comes out on February 19th on Frenchkiss Records.

Love, D

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After The Jump New Year's Eve!

After the Jump presents New Year's Eve 2007
New York City
taking over two levels of the
Knitting Factory
in support of
Education Through Music

Dirty Projectors
Foreign Islands

Care Bears on Fire
after-party hosted by Cex, with special guests Ecstatic Sunshine, Alan Astor, Wzt Hearts

Tickets on sale now via ticketweb or ShopText through the Knitting Factory site

curated by the people behind:
themusicslut . batteringroom . disconap . earfarm . ryspace . irockiroll . musicsnobbery . merryswankster . softcommunication . theunderratedblog . sitdownstandup . watercoolergossip . bumpershine . themodernage . productshopnyc . yetidontdance . slapyouinpublic . subinev . punkphoto . poptartssucktoasted . stereoactivenyc . fingeronthepulse

for more information, please email:

booking: booking@afterthejumpfest.com
charity: charity@afterthejumpfest.com
sponsors: sponsors@afterthejumpfest.com
publicity: publicity@afterthejumpfest.com

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There's a skirt in the bedroom that's pleasantly low

Dear friends,

I touched upon this song already in this old post, so today I'll just say listen and enjoy the prairie wind goodness of this uncharacteristically wistful number from Palace Music aka Will Oldham aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy.

New Partner/Palace Music (mp3)

Purchase Viva Last Blues by Palace Music.

Love, D

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If you gonna love somebody

Dear friends,

Skip the spoken intro and get right into it. The opening piano, the step up to the mic and the line "I used to cry like a baby." Cue background singers going "Crah-ah-ah-yyyyy." The singer spends the rest of the number assuring us, her lover, that she's all grown up. We've treated her shamefully and that's caused her to grow up. Perversely, she argues that this means she's ready for love at last. Her voice rises, she stamps her feet, she looks at us through tears.

I'm A Big Girl Now/Mable John (mp3)

I heard this song in a movie a long time ago. A character kept playing it over and over on one of those plastic portable turntables. I didn't catch the name of the song in the credits so when I was recently pointed in the right direction by an intrepid colleague, it was like Christmas X 100.

Mable John, younger sister to the awesome Little Willie John, was the first female solo artist signed to Tamla/Motown. Some time later she signed to Stax. Her voice isn't pretty or showy but it has a startling authenticity. She really gives herself over to her songs, giving the sometimes trite stories real depth. I highly recommend I Love You More Than Words Can Say, I Need Your Love So Bad (also recorded by Little Willie John) and I Taught You How. Her performances on those songs are straightforward and sexy. She simply tells you what she wants and that is that.

Purchase Stay Out of The Kitchen by Mable John at Amazon Digital.

Mable John on Wikipedia.

Love, D

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Too late too late a fool could read the signs

Dear friends,

Please Read The Letter by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss is a country/folk march about a Dear John/Jane letter, though perhaps that's a misnomer because it sounds like no one will be surprised by the goodbye. The writer of the note really, really wants to explain themselves to their former partner but only succeeds in being maddeningly unclear. The more they talk, the less they say. And like all over-emphatic, one-sided fare-thee-well epics, they're really trying to convince themselves that ending things is the right thing to do. This, you and me, wasn't in vain. Was it?

The song itself doesn't change much, there's nothing that startles or sounds out of place. It soldiers on much like the uncertain narrator. Plant keeps himself in check on the vocal, which is oddly unsettling because you know the kind "PUSH!" squealing caterwauling he is capable of. As much as I appreciate the restraint, part of me wishes that he'd really let loose at the end. It's the desperate "Please" in the title that's repeated throughout the song, I want it to explode. The word is not so much a plea to be let off the hook, but a final attempt to hold on to that lover's connection. I can imagine the entreaty reverberating on repeat inside the narrator's head. Please, please, please.

Please Read The Letter/Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (mp3)

(courtesy of the wonderful An Aquarium Drunkard)

photo by Pamela Springsteen

Purchase Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

I really do love this song. J tells me he's heard it before, possibly on an album Plant did with Page. I'll look into it.

Love, D

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Why all the little kids are dressed in dreams

Dear friends,

1. Here's a poem I didn't write.


Should I get married? Should I be good?
Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustus hood?
Don't take her to movies but to cemeteries
tell all about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets
then desire her and kiss her and all the preliminaries
and she going just so far and I understanding why
not getting angry saying You must feel! It's beautiful to feel!
Instead take her in my arms lean against an old crooked tombstone
and woo her the entire night the constellations in the sky-

When she introduces me to her parents
back straightened, hair finally combed, strangled by a tie,
should I sit with my knees together on their 3rd degree sofa
and not ask Where's the bathroom?
How else to feel other than I am,
often thinking Flash Gordon soap-
O how terrible it must be for a young man
seated before a family and the family thinking
We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou!
After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living?

Should I tell them? Would they like me then?
Say All right get married, we're losing a daughter
but we're gaining a son-
And should I then ask Where's the bathroom?

O God, and the wedding! All her family and her friends
and only a handful of mine all scroungy and bearded
just wait to get at the drinks and food-
And the priest! he looking at me as if I masturbated
asking me Do you take this woman for your lawful wedded wife?
And I trembling what to say say Pie Glue!
I kiss the bride all those corny men slapping me on the back
She's all yours, boy! Ha-ha-ha!
And in their eyes you could see some obscene honeymoon going on-
Then all that absurd rice and clanky cans and shoes
Niagara Falls! Hordes of us! Husbands! Wives! Flowers! Chocolates!
All streaming into cozy hotels
All going to do the same thing tonight
The indifferent clerk he knowing what was going to happen
The lobby zombies they knowing what
The whistling elevator man he knowing
Everybody knowing! I'd almost be inclined not to do anything!
Stay up all night! Stare that hotel clerk in the eye!
Screaming: I deny honeymoon! I deny honeymoon!
running rampant into those almost climactic suites
yelling Radio belly! Cat shovel!
O I'd live in Niagara forever! in a dark cave beneath the Falls
I'd sit there the Mad Honeymooner
devising ways to break marriages, a scourge of bigamy
a saint of divorce-

But I should get married I should be good
How nice it'd be to come home to her
and sit by the fireplace and she in the kitchen
aproned young and lovely wanting my baby
and so happy about me she burns the roast beef
and comes crying to me and I get up from my big papa chair
saying Christmas teeth! Radiant brains! Apple deaf!
God what a husband I'd make! Yes, I should get married!
So much to do! Like sneaking into Mr Jones' house late at night
and cover his golf clubs with 1920 Norwegian books
Like hanging a picture of Rimbaud on the lawnmower
like pasting Tannu Tuva postage stamps all over the picket fence
like when Mrs Kindhead comes to collect for the Community Chest
grab her and tell her There are unfavorable omens in the sky!
And when the mayor comes to get my vote tell him
When are you going to stop people killing whales!
And when the milkman comes leave him a note in the bottle
Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust-

Yes if I should get married and it's Connecticut and snow
and she gives birth to a child and I am sleepless, worn,
up for nights, head bowed against a quiet window, the past behind me,
finding myself in the most common of situations a trembling man
knowledged with responsibility not twig-smear nor Roman coin soup-
O what would that be like!
Surely I'd give it for a nipple a rubber Tacitus
For a rattle a bag of broken Bach records
Tack Della Francesca all over its crib
Sew the Greek alphabet on its bib
And build for its playpen a roofless Parthenon

No, I doubt I'd be that kind of father
Not rural not snow no quiet window
but hot smelly tight New York City
seven flights up, roaches and rats in the walls
a fat Reichian wife screeching over potatoes Get a job!
And five nose running brats in love with Batman
And the neighbors all toothless and dry haired
like those hag masses of the 18th century
all wanting to come in and watch TV
The landlord wants his rent
Grocery store Blue Cross Gas & Electric Knights of Columbus
impossible to lie back and dream Telephone snow, ghost parking-
No! I should not get married! I should never get married!
But-imagine if I were married to a beautiful sophisticated woman
tall and pale wearing an elegant black dress and long black gloves
holding a cigarette holder in one hand and a highball in the other
and we lived high up in a penthouse with a huge window
from which we could see all of New York and even farther on clearer days
No, can't imagine myself married to that pleasant prison dream-

O but what about love? I forget love
not that I am incapable of love
It's just that I see love as odd as wearing shoes-
I never wanted to marry a girl who was like my mother
And Ingrid Bergman was always impossible
And there's maybe a girl now but she's already married
And I don't like men and-
But there's got to be somebody!
Because what if I'm 60 years old and not married,
all alone in a furnished room with pee stains on my underwear
and everybody else is married! All the universe married but me!

Ah, yet well I know that were a woman possible as I am possible
then marriage would be possible-
Like SHE in her lonely alien gaud waiting her Egyptian lover
so i wait-bereft of 2,000 years and the bath of life.

- Gregory Corso

2. Here's a song I didn't write.

The Diamond Sea/Sonic Youth (mp3)

Purchase Washing Machine by Sonic Youth.

Love, D

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Don't underestimate the power of a punch

Dear friends,

The topic of the first music post I ever wrote here was Bearsuit, a wild and woolly Norwich sextet that consistently delivers excitingly peculiar pop punk. Since then, I've kept my fingers crossed, prayed to the indie gods and sent the band whining little emails of wheeeeen?. As in, wheeeeen are you going to cross the pond and come visit us? I know there's a million of you and the airfare will be brutal, but trust me Bears, it will be worth your furry time.

Foxy Boxer is a terrific example of why I adore this band. Much like the titularly cited fighting ladies, Bearsuit distracts you with prettiness. All those opening coos and woos surround keyboard and guitar lines that become, steadily and subtly, hard little jabs. Those cutie pie chorines aren't playing, they WILL bruise you. A sweet little knock-out.

Foxy Boxer/Bearsuit (mp3)

photo by Jenny Allison

Befriend Bearsuit on My Space.

Purchase other Bearsuit MP3s on Amazon Digital*. Trust me.

Love, D

* I particularly recommend 14>28 What Are You, The Magic Man?

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And I for one, and you for two

Dear friends,

I have a chronic disease. I've lived with it for a long time. Usually, it just hangs out, watches TV, eyes me coldly, then falls asleep. Lately, it's been wanting to be more active, more involved in my life. It wants my attention and my service. It makes my chest hurt, it hurts to breathe. This is a new development. I fall asleep imagining my heart exploding and in my dreams, when it does, it's like a magician producing a dozen roses; a sudden bloom of crimson fabric.

I know, I know. This is a little heavy for a Wednesday morning but this is a heavy song. Townes Van Zandt knew sick. He seems to have willed himself to become an itinerant alcoholic the way some kids wanna be astronauts. He also wrote some incredible numbers along the way like Nothing* (a gorgeous, haunting tune inspired by The Last Temptation of Christ, not that you'd know that from the lyrics) and Be Here To Love Me (covered wanly by Norah Jones.) When I listen to Van Zandt's songs, he sounds SO aware of how his choices affected his relationships, that living the way he did seems crueler and harsher because of its indifference. He documents things the way he saw them; barren, desolate and beautiful just the same, despite the absence of hope.

Lungs (Live)/Townes van Zandt (mp3)

Purchase A Gentle Evening with Townes Van Zandt by Townes Van Zandt.

Amazingly, despite my predilection for sad bastard music, I am a hopeful sort. My pessimism only goes so far. I'll continue to share my house with the unwanted roommate. Eventually, I'll figure out how to keep it out of my dreams.

Love, D

* Definitely my favorite Van Zandt track. Highly recommended.

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After The Jump New Year's Eve

The December 8th Winter Fest is DEAD

Long live After the Jump's New Year's Eve Party!

New York City, New Year's Eve 2007

Taking over two levels of the Knitting Factory in support of Education Through Music

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