Thursday, March 17, 2005
TALES FROM THE RED-HEADED STRANGER
FORKSCLOVETOFU SEZ: The Red Headed Stranger is the nom de plume of the Hut's country music scholar.
Last evening, I awoke to a loud banging on my screen door and found a pissed off Stranger toting his rifle and practically steaming at the ears.
"Perhaps you'd care to explain why after you went and told me that I was gonna hafta give you some music on a Tuesday to put on your fancy-schmancy internet thingy on a Tuesday and that when I _DID_ give you some music on a Tuesday that YOU didn't PUT UP the GODDAMN MUSIC on a Tuesday? That was my BOWLING NIGHT and you fucked it up. EXPLAIN yourself, pardner."
I quickly told him that I had an iron on in the other room that needed to be turned off, zipped to the back of the house and slipped out the window.
The Stranger is a frightening man when he's been wronged.
Here's what you should've seen on Tuesday, still fresh for Thursday.
Julie Miller - "All My Tears"
Buddy & Julie Miller - "Little Darlin"
To my mind, the greatest compliment that can be paid to a newly-written piece of music is that it sounds like a folk song; like something that has been passed down for generations from parent to child, clung to as a cultural marker, defining those who share it. I still can't quite bring myself to believe that Julie Miller's "All My Tears" has not been forever extant, such is its primal power and perfect simplicity.
Like many gospel hymns, this one offers a salve for those troubled by the pain and sorrow of the physical world with a promise of an idyllic afterlife; as the chorus says, "It don't matter where you bury me / I'll be home and I'll be free." Julie Miller makes me want to believe in her kind of God; I only wish I could be fully swept away in her spirit of utter fearlessness and the "pie-in-the-sky" promises that "All My Tears" assures.
No matter how timeless "All My Tears" may sound, it doesn't even date back to the eighties; Miller wrote it herself and first released it on her album Orphans & Angels in 1993. It may yet become a folk standard; Emmylou Harris and Jimmy Scott have both recorded versions and Miller herself re-recorded it for her 1999 album Broken Things as well as for the '01 soundtrack for the movie Songcatcher (that's the recording heard here, with Gillian Welch on banjo).
Miller was born in Texas and moved to Nashville in 1993 with her guitarist /singer/ songwriter/ husband, Buddy. Together, they are alt-country's royal couple, collaborating on each other's albums and providing musical support to a wide variety of fellow artists. They are in demand as songwriters, singers and players (both separately and together) by artists in the country mainstream (Lee Ann Womack, the Dixie Chicks) and out (Victoria Williams, Patty Griffin).
Both Julie and Buddy's work is shot through with spiritual concerns; Buddy's most recent solo album, Universal United House of Prayer, is a more-or-less gospel album complex enough to include a raging version of Bob Dylan's "With God on Our Side." Even grimier fatal-attraction songs (like Julie's "Little Darlin'") keep the feel of that old holy ghost and of people inexorably moved by forces they cannot comprehend.
Sadly, this is thornier stuff than the pop-Christian market would likely stomach. "Come on baby, kill me with a kiss," Julie sings on "Little Darlin'," her girlish voice snaking sensually around Buddy's searing, rough-hewn harmonies. "Darlin'" is from the Millers' only credited duet release, 2001's terrific Buddy & Julie Miller. Julie accompanies her singing with a fantastic and wild trash-can percussion beat.
Once, after a show, I was escaping the after-party upstairs when I spied Julie sitting by herself on the abandoned merch table, waiting for Buddy to bring the car around (being the royal couple of alt-country has its limits). I was oddly intimidated by her; she radiates such sweetness and light that I figured if she didn't like me it must mean I truly was a bastard.
Luckily, she was very nice and we chatted until Buddy came to retrieve her. They said goodbye and rolled into the Nashville night, leaving me desperately wishing they would adopt me.
Buy the Songcatcher soundtrack or Buddy & Julie Miller from Amazon.
Visit Buddy and Julie's
Read Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale."
Be forewarned: it's kind of dirty.
Learn where all your tears (or "lachrymations," if you prefer) come from.
where credit is due
"MP3 Blogs" are back in the news again (I much prefer "musicblog" or "audioblog" as not all of us use the MP3 format, but I'm not enough of an asshole to make a big deal out of it one way or another).
Alert readers and listeners might catch a glimpse of Tofu in this Fresno Bee article, in this Fluxblog interview on NPR (again) or in the current issue of Blender, where we catch embarrassingly positive dap from none other than new daddy (congrats!) Douglas Wolk.
Thanks for all the hype, ya'll; I'm always happy to interview and discuss any old time. And readers: let me know if you catch a Tofu sighting. I'm just wack enough to be curious.
Also, props to Teaching the Indie Kids for cornering the sole musicblogger win in the 2005 Bloggies; boo to the Bloggies for lumping Stereogum, Flux and Largehearted Boy in the same category as Defamer. What the fuck; why not nominate Kanye West for best actor and "Sideways" for best new album, eh?
Apples and oranges, folks.
We're THICK and filthy with clickadocious spiffy out the proverbial Gazoo.
Get to grazin'.
My god, what kind of Clockwork droog would a baby raised by this childcare robot grow up to be?
Probably the sort to chat up the boss' Receptobot. Creepy.
Remember the good old days when you could just cuddle up to a light sensing, servo-motor run Robogrover and not have to worry about tumbling down the uncanny valley?
City Hunter was a Hong Kong adaptation of the Japanese manga, starring Jackie Chan, that has never seen wide release in the States.
One look at this bizarre Street Fighter II parody clip should suggest why; this is notable less for showing Jackie in drag (and using wires!) and more because it's a JACKIE CHUN LI moment.
This had long been one of those sequences that I had a hard time convincing people actually existed on tape; finally, I have proof!
Haters gotta hate, ballers gotta ball.
Spruce up with the video to Percao (Diplo Rhythm).
I gotta get "Florida" VERY SOON.
It was a damn sad day when I realized that even AFTER watching the trailer that I had no interest whatsoever in seeing the new Star Wars movie.
Even this Revenge of the Sith Picture Gallery and the behind the scenes makeup tests aren't doing it for me.
Guess I'll have to make do with V for Vendetta and Sin City for my geeky cinematheque jollies.
I wouldn't turn down a Lego Death Star or a Darth iPod, tho'.
The thing about girls is that if they're not armwrestling robots, they're probably off naked dog wrestling or bacon whoring.
Chicks. They're funny, ya know?
My good buddy kimdog has started a new venture: Private Booth, a sex blog that prints real stories from real people. If you're a real person who has had sex (either with a friend or on your own) and want to tell thousands of strangers about it, might I recommend you drop her a line? Operators are standing by.
Aimee Mann is offering a few tracks from her new album at her slickly designed site.
Help Suicide Sam.
Check out these incredibly intricate Snow Sculptures.
I'm VERY excited about Dual Disc; if this takes off in a big way then the recording industry will be able to stop erroneously worrying about the dread file-sharer horning in on their dollar.
The only thing that's going to change the downward spiral of the record industry at this point is new and better technology that people are willing to shell out cash for; Dual Disc looks as good a bet as any in that direction. Here's hoping a little meat thrown to the wolves makes them a bit less snappish.
The Digitiser Cartoon Strip Generator
A Katamari roll-up in order from good to bad:
* This illuminating Gamasutra article notes that the original design had the Little Prince slamming a steering wheel into the skull of an unsuspecting human and "driving" him around to pick up crap.
* The Last Katamari
* While I love the concept of a gallery of Katamari slash toons, I'm not sure I can handle the sight of The Most Wrong Picture EVAR.
* Worst of all, it looks like there's gonna be delays for the sequel.
Make no mistake, I'll be buying this the day it comes out in the States.
Kim Deitch's "The Ship That Never Came In": A Waldo Cartoon!
This page not found, so maybe you'd like to visit Inaccessible Island instead?
"I'm the only one in this room professional enough, that I know of, to carry this Glock-40..."
You got to love the DEA.
I bet these contortionists are awful good at this Interactive Body Jigsaw.
Honey Where You Been So Long? has an amazing Stagolee mix going on right now; if you miss it, Stagger will whup your ass with a hotwheels track.
He's gangster like that.
Boing Boing reports that outsider artist Judith Scott has recently died.
Take a moment to flip through some pictures of her unusual artwork, this cached biography and the J. Scott catalogue.
Lastly, here's an opposing viewpoint.
Mariko Takahashi's Super Poodle Workout
If college baller Miles Orman of the Marist Red Foxes looks a bit familiar to you, it's quite possible you grew up watching him every morning.
Miles is the son of Roscoe Orman, better known as superpimp Willie Dynamite, but MUCH better known as Gordon from Sesame Street... which makes him Gordon's son, Miles!