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Music News - October 2006



Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006.

Now, don't get me wrong here....I think "Living With War" is a great album. But I mean WTF!!! Neil is remastering, adding videos and repackaging it when it has been out less than a year. Something gives me a feeling this isn't Neil's idea. It is probably the record company that is just after more $$$. Ch-Ching - and just in time for the holidays. I know I won't be buying this one. (See the article below for more of the same type of record company ripoffs.)

NEIL YOUNG TO RELEASE NEW VERSIONS OF 'LIVING WITH WAR' ALBUM

Neil Young will release two new versions of his recent album Living With War in the coming weeks. He's remastered the original tapes he recorded live last spring with bassist Rick Rosas and drummer Chad Cromwell, and will put them out as Living With War-Raw starting November 7th on iTunes, along with videos for the songs "After The Garden," "Families," "Lookin' For A Leader," and "America the Beautiful."

Young will follow that up with a CD/DVD combo on December 19th that will have the trio recordings and videos for every song on the album, with footage from the war in Iraq, from demonstrations here in the U.S., and from the Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

As always, comments are welcome. e-mail the webmaster.


Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006.

I guess they never considered just lowering the price of a CD to sell more? No, that would be too logical. Let's keep the price up there and make people buy it multiple times by repackaging the CD three and four times with additional bonus tracks.

EMI Music CEO says the CD is 'dead'

Last Update: 8:38 AM ET Oct 27, 2006

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- EMI Music Chairman and Chief Executive Alain Levy Friday told an audience at the London Business School that the CD is dead, saying music companies will no longer be able to sell CDs without offering "value-added" material.

"The CD as it is right now is dead," Levy said, adding that 60% of consumers put CDs into home computers in order to transfer material to digital music players.

But there remains a place for physical media, Levy said.

"You're not going to offer your mother-in-law iTunes downloads for Christmas," he said. "But we have to be much more innovative in the way we sell physical content."

Record companies will need to make CDs more attractive to the consumer, he said.

"By the beginning of next year, none of our content will come without any additional material," Levy said.

CD sales accounted for more than 70% of total music sales in the first half of 2006, while digital music sales were around 11% of the total, according to music industry trade body the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

CD sales were worth $6.45 billion and digital sales $945 million, the IFPI said.

Levy said EMI is continuing to hold talks with Google Inc. (GOOG) on an advertising-revenue sharing partnership with the community video Web site YouTube, which the Internet search giant acquired in October for $1.6 billion in stock.

EMI's rivals, Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG), Sony BMG - a joint venture between Sony Corp. (SNE) and Bertelsmann AG - and Universal Media have all signed content deals with YouTube.

"The terms they were offering weren't acceptable," Levy said, adding that EMI continues to be concerned about copyright issues.

As always, comments are welcome. e-mail the webmaster.


Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2006.

Well, that time of year is almost here again. No, not the holidays....the annual tour of the US by the Trans Siberian Orchestra.

If you have not experienced a show by them, I highly recommend that you do so. Last year, I saw them for the first time at an almost sold out show by them and it was fantastic. You couldn't ask for better quality sound and the light show was fantastic. In 2004 the first year they played here, they drew about 3500 people in an arena that holds over 15,000. In 2005, those numbers went up a bit....the place had 15,000 people in attendance and was just short of a sellout. I guess word got around. Needless to say, I already have my tickets for this year's show since they are selling fast.

Some interesting facts about TSO: TSO only tours in the US between November 1st and December 31st of each year. You'll notice from their tour schedule that on many dates they are playing in two different cities. How do they do this? Actually, there are two different groups - TSO East which tours cities east of the Mississippi River and TSO West which tours west of the Mississippi River. Regardless of the group you see, the setlist is the same.

As I said, check them out. You won't be disappointed.

As always, comments are welcome. e-mail the webmaster.


Posted Saturday, October 14, 2006.

In addition to letting you know about new releases and music that you should check out, I think it is also my duty to steer you away from releases that are "dogs". I won't do this very often so you can rest assured that when I do, you should avoid it at all costs.

One such release came to me the other day. It is a new Eric Clapton release titled "After Midnight: Live". It is available as a double CD and a DVD. I have not seen the DVD, but I have definitely heard the CD and I don't want to hear it again. I consider myself a fan of Eric Clapton and his recordings, so I was excited about this release. Initially, this appears to be an interesting release. It was recorded in 1988 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California and features many of Eric's classic songs. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits is a guest performer at this show. They even play a Dire Straits song "Money for Nothing".

So what is so bad about the CD? The sound. There is little to no stereo separation. In fact, I even question if it is a stereo recording. I suspect this is a two track recording from the soundboard and a very poor one at that. This definitely is not from a multi-track recording. It actually sounds like a bootleg soundboard recording. In fact, I personally have a bootleg soundboard recording from this same tour that sounds ten times better than this disc. I would be surprised if Eric Clapton approved this release. If he did, he needs to pull it from the marketplace immediately. What more can I say? You have been warned - avoid this one at all costs.

As always, comments are welcome. e-mail the webmaster.


Posted Tuesday, October 03, 2006.

Ahhh....yeah.....a "new" Beatles album. Something tells me they are screwing with history here and the results won't be good. Just my opinion.

"New" Beatles album to be released

LONDON (Reuters) - A "new" album of Beatles music mixed by their legendary producer George Martin and described as a new "way of reliving the whole Beatles musical lifespan," will be released in November.

EMI Music and Apple Corps Ltd. said on Tuesday that Martin and his son Giles began work on the album, called "Love," after getting permission from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison representing John Lennon and George Harrison.

The music has already been used as the soundtrack to the theatrical Cirque du Soleil show called "Love."

"This music was designed for the Love show in Las Vegas but in doing so we've created a new Beatles album," George Martin said in a statement.

"The Beatles always looked for other ways of expressing themselves and this is another step forward for them.

"What people will be hearing on the album is a new experience, a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period."

The Martins worked from the original master tapes from the Abbey Road studios to produce a medley of Beatles music by remixing favorite songs, such as Harrison's "Within You Without You" being played to the drum-track of "Tomorrow Never Knows."

EMI Music, part of EMI Group Plc, and Apple Corps Ltd., the English company that administers The Beatles' interests, said the album would be released worldwide in November. Additional information such as the track listing will be released later.

As always, comments are welcome. e-mail the webmaster.


Posted Sunday, October 01, 2006.

Well, this explains part of the problem with today's music. Below the first article is another article which goes into more detail with examples from several Rush CDs. It takes a bit of patience to read these articles since they go into quite a bit of detail. But, it is worth the time.

Reposted from Austin360.com

XL Recording Studio Guide 2006

Everything Louder Than Everything Else

Have the loudness wars reached their final battle? By Joe Gross

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like static."
Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone magazine

The ranting of a cranky old man? Perhaps.

One man's opinion? Hardly.

In August, an open letter from a music industry executive on the state of commercial compact disc mastering and manufacturing was sent to an industry tip sheet/e-mail list run by a music pundit named Bob Lefsetz.

The letter was written by Angelo Montrone, a vice president for A&R (the folks who scout and sign music acts) for One Haven Music, a Sony Music company.

"There's something . . . sinister in audio that is causing our listeners fatigue and even pain while trying to enjoy their favorite music. It has been propagated by A&R departments for the last eight years: The complete abuse of compression in mastering (forced on the mastering engineers against their will and better judgment)."

This compression thing has been a topic of discussion among audiophiles and music fans for nearly a decade. But hearing a music industry executive cop to it was pretty unusual.

The letter was almost immediately reprinted online in audio discussion forums.

"The mistaken belief that a 'super loud' record will sound better and magically turn a song into a hit has caused most major label releases in the past eight years to be an aural assault on the listener," Montrone's letter continued. "Have you ever heard one of those test tones on TV when the station is off the air? Notice how it becomes painfully annoying in a very short time? That's essentially what you do to a song when you super compress it. You eliminate all dynamics."

For those already confused, Montrone was essentially saying that there are millions of copies of CDs being released that are physically exhausting listeners, most of whom probably don't know why their ears and brains are feeling worn out.

He continued, citing an album that proved very popular with Austinites.

"Just to prove that the 'super loud' record has no correlation to actual sales, when we mastered the first Los Lonely Boys record I went to the session and specifically told our mastering engineer NOT to make this a loud record. Could it be that a record that actually had dynamic range could compete? Two and a half million records and a year of constant airplay of 'Heaven' confirmed my suspicion. Loud records are for the birds."

Loud records? Can't you just turn it down? Well, yes and no.

Let's say you go to the store to buy a CD, a brand-new CD of a popular rock band. The group is your favorite, you've been looking forward to this CD for some time. You have the band's other recordings, you've seen them live, perhaps you've even heard the new songs once or twice at a show.

You buy the CD. You take it home and throw it in the CD player. You couldn't be more excited as it starts to play.

But something weird happens as you listen to it. You like the songs, but you don't really want to listen to it for very long and you're not entirely sure why. You take it off. A few minutes, later you put it back on. Same thing happens: You like the music, but you still want to take the CD off. It's more than a little weird.

Condolences. You are officially a casualty of the loudness wars, the ongoing competition among bands, labels and A&R folks to make ever-louder albums.

Artists, recording engineers and record companies have been trying to make the loudest possible record since the dawn of 78 rpm technology back in the early 20th century.

When 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm became the industry standard, engineers strove to make those records as loud as possible as well, often using something called compression during the mastering stage.

Compression means squeezing the dynamic range of an audio signal, usually to boost the perceived volume of a song or performance. Compression works on recorded music the way MSG works on food: It makes everything sound more more. Used with discretion in the recording stage (and even in the mastering stage) it's an invaluable tool for recording engineers.

The idea was the greater the perceived volume of the record, the more attractive the sound would be to the listener. Which meant more attractive to potential DJs, which meant more airplay, more exposure and more sales of the record.

But there were literal physical limitations to this process when vinyl was the primary recording medium the music's dynamic range was naturally restricted by the medium itself. During mastering, you could only compress so far; if the sounds were too extreme, the needle would pop out of the groove.

With the advent of compact disc technology in the early 1980s, almost all of this went out the window, as CDs lacked the physical limitations of vinyl.

In theory, this was a good thing. The dynamic range of CDs was far larger than vinyl, and could closer replicate the highs and lows of actual performance. But something else happened.

For the past 10 or so years, artists and record companies have been increasing the overall loudness of pop and rock albums, using ever increasing degrees of compression during mastering, altering the properties of the music being recorded. Quiet sounds and loud sounds are now squashed together, decreasing the recording's dynamic range, raising the average loudness as much as possible.

As Jerry Tubb at Austin's Terra Nova Mastering puts it, "Listening to something that's mastered too hot is like sitting in the front row at the movies. All the images are in your face."

This is why the reissued X album 'Los Angeles' (see story at right) sounds louder at the same volume as the old version, why you turn the 2005 X album down and still hear music, parts that are supposed to be quieter and louder, up front and buried in the mix, at the same time.

For some of you, this difference might be hard to notice at first. Consider yourselves lucky. For some of us, hearing this sort of mastering is like seeing the goblet between two faces in that classic optical illusion once you perceive it, you can't unperceive it. Soon, it's all you can see or hear.

Erik Wofford is a producer and mastering engineer in Austin at Cacophony Recorders. He's worked on albums by such local bands as Explosions in the Sky, Zykos and Voxtrot, and finds the loudness wars exhausting to deal with.

"Over-compressing stuff gives everything a flatness," he says. "If loud sounds are the same as quiet sounds, you've destroyed any excitement or natural dynamics that the band creates."

We're sitting with Wofford in Bruce Robison's Premium Recording Service studio, listening to various CDs old and new, running them though the ProTools computer software and looking at their relative loudness. The studio has a woody, '70s vibe. You can totally see Fleetwood Mac recording here (which seems fitting for a man related to the Dixie Chicks). It seems a weirdly inappropriate place to talk about the limitations of modern pop music.

We're looking at the wave forms generated by a number of modern albums. Sound waves should look like what they're called: waves, with sharp peaks and valleys. But the music we're looking at is all peak. It's like looking at a butte or a brick.

"These square waves are a very unnatural occurrence," Wofford says. "It sounds wrong to the ear. You can't hear detail."

There are all sorts of metrics usable to measure loudness, but the Root Mean Squared (RMS) number is a reasonably useful one. It's a measure of average sound level. A smaller RMS number means higher average level; i.e., minus 10 dB RMS is 2 dB louder than minus 12 dB. The maximum RMS value is zero.

Here's the weird part. In the early to late '80s, most pop records averaged around minus 15. (The peak level we see for the old version of "Los Angeles" is minus 14.4 dB RMS.)

Now, modern CDs average at around minus 12 to minus 9 dB. Average.

When a soundwave squares off, something called "clipping" can occur. Clipping in the digital realm means digital distortion, which different CD players handle different ways. Some just won't play that frequency, resulting in loss of dynamic range (you're literally not hearing the whole song). Some digitally distort, which is quite an unpleasant, static-like sound indeed. Some really old CD players skip the song entirely.

There's plenty of clipping on the contemporary songs Wofford and I look at; a red light goes on and stays on the screen when a song clips. Christina Aguilera. Red Hot Chili Peppers. Mastodon. Brick, brick, brick. Clip, clip, clip.

Wofford sighs. "Clipping should just be forbidden," he says. "You used not to be able to turn a redbook CD (the CD from which all others are made) into a manufacturer with clipping on it. That's not true any more."

Thanks to folks on the Internet, there are lists of famously loud CDs. The Red Hot Chili Pepper's 1999 album "Californication" is a notorious example. It clips constantly, and the title track peaks at a whopping minus 5.6 dB, which was really uncomfortable for almost everybody.

That Los Lonely Boys CD Montrone was so proud of? The song "Heaven" averages at around minus 12.5 dB, and peaks at minus 8.9, completely reasonable for modern records.

But the song "Diamonds," on the band's new album "Sacred," clips throughout, averaging at about minus 8.9 dB, peaking at minus 7.7 db RMS.

"I wasn't able to go to that mastering session for the second one," Montrone says from his New York office. "The first record came out when I was with Or Music (the label that released the first Los Lonely Boys album before being acquired by Sony). I wasn't as involved with this new one. I wish I had been."

Who knows if consumers are sick of the band, or the songwriting isn't up to snuff or it has something to do with that louder sound, but "Sacred" thus far has sold about 185,000 copies, and continues to drop on the Billboard albums chart.

So why aren't more people noticing this sort of thing? One word:

lifestyle.

We listen to music in completely different ways than we did 20 or 30 years ago. For most people, music is listened to on the go, in cars, on headphones while running, on computers at work. Music has to compete with the sound of your car's engine, has to punch through the background noise of street traffic or a loud office.

"Ours is a culture of competition," Wofford says. "Maybe labels think the music has to be super aggressive, super bright, like a kid screaming in a supermarket, to get your attention."

The idea is that louder recordings automatically sound better on low-quality reproduction systems, but this isn't really true in practice. MP3 players such as iPods have their own compressors and limiters, further reducing the dynamic range of recordings, as do computers. A CD doesn't have to be mastered loud; the iPod can make it as loud as everything else it plays.

This is especially true of radio, which, in order to make sure that every song played has a uniform loudness, uses its own compressors and limiters. The idea that a sound has to be mastered loud to be noticed on the radio is just false.

"It's a myth," Tubb says. "Actually, a really loud CD might sound worse on the radio after being fed through a station's processors. (This is what Montrone was talking about with "Heaven.")

This is why the Christina Aguilera song "Ain't No Other Man" (average RMS: about minus 8.4, peak: minus 6.3), which sounds OK-to-irritating on the radio or an iPod, sounds like you are being punched in the face on a real stereo system.

Yet, bands keep asking for it. That rustling you hear is the mastering community shrugging its shoulders.

"Ours is a service business," Tubb says. "If that's what the client wants, I try to explain the trade-offs in clarity. In reality, we're just trying to accommodate requests from labels or A&R guys or the artists themselves. They'll walk in with a handful of CDs and say, 'I want it to be as loud as this one.' The last five years it's gone absolutely mad."

"Ask any mastering engineer which they prefer," Wofford says, "Something that's super-compressed or not compressed. But they keep their mouths shut about it if they want to keep working."

"It becomes part of (a mastering engineer's) reputation," Montrone says. "Suddenly, you become known for your really loud records. Unless you specify that you don't want it to be loud, they just make it loud. It's become the standard now.

"And it's infected other steps in the chain," Montrone continues.

Mixing engineers often make spec mixes of songs to try and win the bid to mix a particular song or album. "Mixing engineers will turn in spec mixes of tracks that they just slam the heck out of because they think that will get them the gig," Montrone says. "And they're not wrong."

So we're at the chicken-or-egg stage. Is it changing the way we listen to music, or because the way we are listening to music has changed?

Here's the punch line: The brain can't process sounds that lack a dynamic range for very long. It's an almost subconscious response. This is what Montrone was talking about when he mentioned the TV test tone.

"It's ear fatigue," Tubbs says, "After three songs you take it off. There's no play to give your ears even a few milliseconds of depth and rest."

Alan Bean is a recording/mastering engineer in Harrison, Maine. He's a former professional musician and a doctor of occupational medicine.

"It stinks that this has happened," he says. "Our brains just can't handle hearing high average levels of anything very long, whereas we can stand very loud passages, as long as it is not constant. It's the lack of soft that fatigues the human ear."

This is part of the reason that some people are really fanatical about vinyl. "It's not necessarily that vinyl sounds 'better,' " Bean says. "It's that it's impossible for vinyl to be fatiguing."

And yet, record companies wonder why consumers are buying less of them.

"I definitely think it's a contributing factor," Montrone says. "People have a lot of entertainment options. If listening to music is not a highly enjoyable experience, we're just giving people another reason not to purchase the stuff."

Of course, that's the weird part: Consumers may not know why they are buying fewer CDs or listening to them less or are perfectly happy with low-def MP3s from the Internet.

"That's the big 'too bad' about all this," Bean says: The music is not necessarily at fault.

The story of popular music is a materialist one as playback technology has changed, so has the music.

The LP could hold about 50 minutes of sound (25 minutes a side) if you really squashed the grooves together. As a result, most albums came in at about 40 to 45 minutes. CDs can hold about 80 minutes of sound, and artists have filled them up; the majority of major label pop CDs are an hour or more. The rule seems to be, if you can do it, you should do it.

So it is with mastering: We can make it incredibly loud, so we should make it incredibly loud. Though there is talk in the mastering community of universal mastering standards, it's still just talk.

Again, there is, of course, an element of subjectivity to all this. It is entirely possible that anyone younger than 18 reading this has no idea what we're talking about. They may not bother to buy CDs anymore, such is the availability of MP3s single downloads. To them, popular music has always been hyper-compressed, square-wave stuff, able to punch through background noise with a single snare drum hit, clipping all over the place.

To them, one can say only: You don't know what you're missing.

X: A study in volume vs. loudness

Without getting technical, it's probably important here to define the difference, for our purposes, between "loudness" and "volume." (It's also important to recall that this all gets very relative very fast and that many would argue that there are few true absolutes involved.)

When we talk here about volume, we're talking about the thing which you can control with the knob on your stereo or iPod or boombox.

When we talk here about loudness, we're talking about your perception of a sound at any particular volume.

For example, if you listen to the 1988 CD version of the album "Los Angeles" by the noted roots-punk band X, you have to turn it up to a certain volume to enjoy it. Turn it down low and much of the music vanishes, which is what you might expect when you turn something down.

Now listen to the 2005 CD remaster of the same album. At the same volume as the first version, the songs seem to jump out of the speakers more. The quiet sounds sound almost as loud as the guitar sounds. Turn it down, and you can still hear the quiet sounds almost as well as the louder sounds. This is because the CD has been remastered to bring it more in line with contemporary CDs, which are often mastered louder than ever.

As one employee at a local record store put it, "When we put in older CDs into the CD changer to play in the store, you can't even hear them."

Can't you turn it up?

"Not really," he said. "Because then the newer CDs would be incredibly loud at the new volume. So we don't even play older CDs in the store that often."

Joe Gross

'If the loudness wars struck the art world'

On the Web site prosoundweb.com , Atlanta rock guitarist Lee Flier imagined a set of remastered masterpieces. Reflecting the sonic damage of pumping up the sound on modern CDs (lost subtleties at the high and low ends as everything gets louder in the middle), the original Mona Lisa and 'American Gothic' paintings become posterized cartoons of themselves. For examples, see Flier's posting at recforums.prosoundweb.com .

jgross@statesman.com; 912-5926

Another related article............ Prorec.com

As always, comments are welcome. e-mail the webmaster.


Posted Thursday, September 21, 2006.

This sounds like it could be interesting.........

JEFFERSON STARSHIP TO BEGIN RECORDING NEW ALBUM IN AMSTERDAM THIS FALL

Jefferson Starship has announced plans to begin recording a new album this fall in Europe. The band will set up and record live from November 14th through the 17th in Amsterdam, and according to an official post on the band's message board, the material will be "of a protest/social conscience nature." The group is inviting fans to attend the sessions, at a cost of $100 per day, and people who go every day will get a producer's credit on the album. Jefferson Starship will cap off their time in Amsterdam by performing at The Cannabis Cup at the Melkweg club on November 19th.

For more information on attending the recording sessions, send a note to miscon@earthlink.net with "I Want The Trip" in the subject line.

The Jefferson Starship lineup for the Amsterdam trip hasn't been announced. Founder and guitarist Paul Kantner is almost certainly on board, but the singer Marty Balin hasn't been confirmed, and drummer Prairie Prince will be on tour with the New Cars.

Jefferson Starship is next scheduled to land on September 30th in Novato, California.





Personally, I am glad to see that Bob has another hit album. His previous albums in the 90s were less successful. I have listened to his new album a couple of times now. At this point, I am going to withhold my comments. I am hoping a few more listens will help the music "grow on me".

BOB SEGER HAS TOP FIVE DEBUT WITH NEW ALBUM

It looks like there were plenty of people who were glad that Bob Seger finally released a new album last week. Face The Promise, which is his first all-new record since 1995's It's A Mystery, debuted on the Billboard album chart this week at Number Four, with sales of more than 150,000 copies. It was also the Number Five album on the Top Internet sales chart in its first week out.

Seger told us that he's pleased with how Face The Promise turned out, and he wants everyone to enjoy it: "Oh, I feel really proud of it. I think it's a real good, rockin' record, and I like it. You know, I hope everybody else gets to hear it."

Seger has been rehearsing with the Silver Bullet Band, and he's targeted an early November start for a tour, though he told LAUNCH he was waiting for clearance from his doctors before going out. More details should be announced soon.

As always, comments are welcome. e-mail the webmaster.


Posted Friday, September 08, 2006.

Flying Other Brothers

Flying Who - you say? Well, that is what I would have said prior to the end of last June. I have to give my wife - Kathy - credit for this one. As she likes to say to me "Have I ever steered you wrong?" (I always have to pause and think for a moment.)

Allow me to explain...This past summer, we took a family vacation to San Francisco. The second week we were there, on Wednesday afternoon, my wife says "There is a free concert in Union Square at five this evening with The Flying Other Brothers and special guest G.E. Smith (from Saturday Night Live). Pam (my daughter) and I are going. Do you want to go with us?" Well, the name G.E. Smith was vaguely familiar to me, but I had never heard of the Flying Other Brothers. Long story short, we went to the show and, damn, if this group wasn't great. They played for over two and half hours, virtually non-stop.

Let me tell you a bit about the group. Besides G.E. Smith as a guest guitarist for this show, Pete Sears (formerly of Jefferson Starship) was on keyboards. He was featured on a track called "Stella Blue" - a truly great song. The group also consists of: Roger McNamee, Ann McNamee, Bill Bennett, Barry Sless, Bert Keely, TBone Tony Bove, and Jimmy Sanchez. It is a bit difficult to describe the Flying Other Brothers music. There is a definite influence of The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Starship, Quicksilver Messenger Service, among other West Coast bands. Stand out tracks that they played in concert include: "Tell Me It's Okay", "Nick of Time", "Blip in the Life", and "Johnny B." They also played a rather satirical and humorous song called "Dubya" which is a hidden track on the "52 Week High" CD. I'm sure you can figure out the subject based on the song title.

During the show, my wife went to their merchandise table and came back with a free poster and bought a t-shirt. Again, I figured she was on to something. So, I asked her if they had any CDs for sale at the table. She said "yes" and so I naturally had to go buy one. The one I picked up at the show was "52 Week High" which features the track "Tell Me It's Okay". When we returned from San Francisco, I found I was listening to this CD constantly for a couple of weeks. During this time, I also decided to check out their website to see if they had any other CDs available. I ended up purchasing "San Fransisco Sounds" which contains the tracks "Nick of Time" and "Blip in the Life" among others. This is another good CD by them.

I have also managed to find several live soundboard recordings of the group. Now pay attention here.....if you want to check out several studio tracks by the group and some live tracks, follow the links below:
Studio and Live Tracks
Live Tracks

Have a listen and let me know what you think. As always, comments are welcome. e-mail the webmaster.


Posted Sunday, August 27, 2006.

James McMurtry

Tonight, I just heard this track on Beaker Street. It immediately grabbed my attention and I strongly suggest that you at least continue reading for the lyrics. Then, follow the links below to download a couple of different versions of the song.

The track is called "We Can't Make It Here Anymore" by James McMurtry.

After hearing the song, I went to my PC to find out more about the artist. I was surprised to find out that the CD that contains the song "Childish Things" was actually released in 2005. I know.....those of you who have heard of James or the song are saying "Where the hell have you been?" Anyway, here are the lyrics and the links for free downloads of the song.

You really need to listen to this song!!!

Acoustic Version

Band Version


We Can't Make It Here

"We Can't Make It Here"
by James McMurtry

There's a Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on his wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing and both hands free
No one's paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget's just stretched so thin
And now there's more coming back from the Mideast war
We can't make it here anymore

That big ol' building was the textile mill that fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors
We can't make it here anymore

See those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They're just gonna sit there 'til they rot
'Cause there's nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts around the square
There's a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don't come down here unless you're looking to score
We can't make it here anymore

The bar's still open but man it's slow
The tip jar's light and the register's low
The bartender don't have much to say
The regular crowd gets thinner each day
Some have maxed out all their credit cards
Some are working two jobs and living in cars
Minimum wage won't pay for a roof, won't pay for a drink
If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. CEO
See how far $5.15 an hour will go
Take a part time job at one your stores
Bet you can't make it here anymore

There's a high school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
She found on the floor of the laundromat
A woman with kids can forget all that
If she comes up pregnant what'll she do
Forget the career, forget about school
Can she live on faith? Live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it's way too late to just say no
You can't make it here anymore

Now I'm stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
'Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can't make it here anymore

Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in
Should I hate 'em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They've never known want, they'll never know need
Their shit don't stink and their kids won't bleed
Their kids won't bleed in their damn little war
And we can't make it here anymore

Will work for food will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
So let 'em eat jellybeans let 'em eat cake
Let 'em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore

So that's how it is, that's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper, read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind if you're listening at all
Get out of that limo, look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone tell us all why

In Dayton Ohio or Portland Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That's done closed down along with the school
And the hospital and the swimming pool
Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There's rats in the alley and trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can't make it here anymore



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