I have been so disheartened by the election results, and even more so every day since January 20th. I do not have the words to adequately articulate these times, so I turn to Idle Time favorite Joe Henry. He writes:
I have not read ‘Art Of The Deal,’ but have heard its synopsis by the “author,” and now witness its bizarre theatre enacted on our national stage: make an extravagant push of extremes –while flash pots deploy, distracting your negotiating advisory and leaving them to feel unmoored, hurried and vulnerable; and as the overreach is walked back, your advisory will believe themselves to have made “progress;” and will in the end gratefully settle for far less than they’d have ever first been willing even to imagine.
Is this what is happening to us now?
If so, we are about to learn whether ours truly is a country rooted by a constitution, or ruled by the whims of an autonomous regime, with its own moving agenda to which we are neither privy nor free to challenge –and of which we will never be beneficiaries.
Volatile as are these waters that toss around our little ship of state today, I assume it shall be revealed very soon whether or not our national craft is sustainable. But this much is clear right now: the storm threatening us is man-made, and means indeed to draw us silently under its loud and cold wave. We are at sea and at siege. Continue reading Hi-Fi Fifteen: This Land Is Your Land
Does aging have an effect on creativity? The great poets seemed to peak in their late 20’s to early 30’s. This seems true as well with songwriters. Forty seems to be the age when songwriters lose the muse and start declining rapidly. Artists like Tom Waits, Joe Henry, and Neko Case seem to get better with age, but they are outliers. Bob Dylan, Brian Eno and (until his death) David Bowie remain relevant in their sixties, but this is because they are artists whose work is their highest priority. Search your library and see if you can find great songs/albums by the over-the-hill set.
For this month’s Hi-Fi Fifteen, the three of us contributed songs written and recorded by artists in the 40th year of age or older.
Continue reading Hi-Fi Fifteen: Over the Hill Gang
The Top 20. The best of the best from the last fifteen years. No matter what you think of the picks, or project as a whole (I can’t believe they picked that song by that band and not..! Where’s this band? That artist? We get it. Believe me, we’ve already argued and complained enough for all of you.) …these favorite twenty tunes make for an unbelievably good mix. This countdown also showcases the power of live roulette. The presumptive number one pick, based on the preliminary ballots, succumbed to in-person enthusiasm and in-the-moment championing, finishing with the bronze medal. And the favorite tune? Hit play, and enjoy the ultimate Ultimate Mixtape.
Continue reading Ultimate Mixtape: 20 – 1
At one point, we entertained the idea of rouletting the entire list of 150 songs, forgetting that the process employed to order the 400 all-time favorite albums of the Decades project took several months of card-shuffling in locales all over Northern California. None of us are very good at math, but after postulating some variables and discovering that 150 songs would take somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty hours to complete, we opted for a plan B. The bottom hundred tunes would be ranked by silent ballot, while the top 50 would be subjected to the live bonfire frivolity. With one exception: any song that was ranked number one by an individual on his or her list would automatically be bumped up into the roulette. Enter The Killers, making this mix installment the first to feature an Idler’s favorite song. We also get the first taste of Ted Leo, one of the patron saints of The Institute.
Continue reading Ultimate Mixtape: 60 – 41