YOU ARE HERE is an exploration of diegetic music

Dec 13, 2014

The Christmas Can-Can

Here's a Christmas cure-all, an ear salve for those who have tired already of hearing holiday songs, and there are many days ahead. Vocalese group Straight No Chaser feels your pain. From their tune "The Christmas Can-Can":
"Heard this same song 20 times and it's only Halloween.
" So we offer a continually updated playlist (12+ hours worth at this posting) of originals that probably haven't been played to death, and standards that are different enough to not be annoying (mostly). It's an eclectic mix, so every song won't fit every taste. But there are 200+ songs here-- there are more than enough to give anyone some respite from moldy oldies. Some of this music isn't strictly holiday music, being seasonal or with a thematic message, but virtually every song was released on a Christmastime album.


Dec 12, 2014

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

It's as if jazz singer Etta Jones has been scrubbed from the collective memory, confused with and overshadowed by the more famous Etta James or another singer named Etta Jones, who's slightly older and performed with The Dandridge Sisters, one of whom was Dorothy Dandridge who went on to have successful movie career including being the first African American woman to get an Oscar nomination, and to further muddle the Etta Joneses, conflates* Jones-the-lead-singer's biographical info with Jones-the-trio-member's (date of birth, husband, date and cause of death).

The jazz singer who fronted jazz combos, Jones put out an amazing Christmas record which includes this 8-minute stroll through "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" featuring tasty solos by members of the band… it swings.

*at this writing

Nov 11, 2014

I Just Came Back From A War

Making note Veteran's Day, present here is Darryl Worley who threw aside a college degree in biology and chemistry, and an engagement to fulfill his dream to be a full-time country music star. After moderate success he went to entertain the troops in Afghanistan during Christmastime and came back to write a number of vet-centric numbers. One is "I Just Came Back From A War," whose dark edges do nothing to hide its patriotic shine. And he apparently had nothing to hide in his Playgirl magazine shoot.

The obverse view from a vet's POV is Rise Against's "Hero of War".

But the most heart-breaking vet-comes-home story may be John Prine's "Sam Stone" sung here by Johnny Cash.

Nov 9, 2014

Autumn Nocturne

Lou Donaldson is an alto sax player who cut his teeth on bop. Posted is a quiet blues that feels like a seventh inning stretch with an early nightfall. Tenor sax master Sonny Rollins recorded it too, though this live version is a romp of riffs where the melody plays 2nd fiddle to Rollins' fluid dexterity.

Nov 8, 2014

White Christmas

The list of musicians affected by the over-shadowed scion curse (regardless how talented one might be, acclaim is still attached to the parent) has many members (Arlo Guthrie, Jakob Dylan, Adam Cohen, Julian and Sean Lennon, Shooter Jennings, Neneh Cherry, Roseanne Cash, Wynonna Judd etc) who are lucky enough in -- and burdened aplenty by -- choosing the family business.

Teddy Thompson is such a case. The singer-songwriter son of more famous parents (Linda and Richard), is featured in this weekend's NYTimes magazine. He has a deep catalogue of music that might assure him renown on his own, but being the son of a masterful guitarist and phenomenal folk singer duo will forever asterisk his career.

He joins Rufus Wainwright, who (with sister Martha) has a similar burden/blessing being the offspring of folksingers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle (who had a career as a duo with sister Anna), on Michel LeGrande's very polished, crisply stylish and woefully middle of the road Christmas record "Noel! Noel!! Noel!!!" most notable for it's expansive use of exclamation points and having Iggy Pop sing Little Drummer Boy

Nov 7, 2014


Joni Mitchell's birthday is today. It's hard to over-state her acclaim or impact: said, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century," and Rolling Stone called her "one of the greatest songwriters ever." Her music has had a direct impact on the careers of a legion of musicians from Madonna to Herbie Hancock to Led Zeppelin to John Mayer to Prince to punkers SNFU who have this tune about a fan for whom impact has a more literal meaning.

From the album "Blue," her tune River -- with it's neo-"Jingle Bells opening-- is a Christmas song that's become a standard. As per Wikipedia <<"River" has been one of the most popular songs covered in recent years, with versions by... James Taylor (recorded for television in 2000, and for CD release in 2004), Allison Crowe (2004), Rachael Yamagata (2004), Aimee Mann (2005), and Sarah McLachlan (2006).>>

A remarkable cover done live by Dianne Reeves slows it down, opens it up, and peppers it with jazz.

She paints too.

Nov 6, 2014

Blue Jay Way

On this date in 1967, The Beatles finished recording "Blue Jay Way," thereby introducing to the world that there is fog in sunny Southern California. This cover is by Beatlejazz, a dynamic duo of Brian Melvin (percussion) and Dave Kikoski (piano) who are supplemented by a some serious jazz players on a series of four Beatles-specific albums. It ain't BeatleMania, thankfully. It's touring band playing Beatles songs treated as standards like any jazz group approaches a set list. And they're playing tonight in New York City.

Nov 4, 2014

Election Year Rag

The late Steve Goodman was a great songwriter, i.e. "(The Train They Call) The City of New Orleans", and here is sample of that in making light of the dark of election day in a jolly ragtime style commentary ("The winner's always someone else, the loser's always us").

Another darkly lined silver cloud in the form a sort of peppy country blues "Election Day", by Blaze Foley & The Beaver Valley Boys (with the under-appreciated Gurf Morlix), Foley being immortalized by Lucinda Williams' woulda, coulda, shoulda ode "Drunken Angel"

Nov 3, 2014


For Christian pop that sounds more like Imogene Heap than Sandy Patty, Beckah Shae is likely what the hipsters among the faithful are listening to, those kids with piercings who go to church. Shae and ilk are the answer to Larry Norman's question from '72 asking "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?"

Nov 2, 2014

Clocks Go Forward

James Bay is a folk/popster in the manner of James Taylor, Brett Dennen and David Gray whose contemplative songs evoke a quiet resonance. Clocks Go Forward is relevant to the return to Standard Time, where clocks go back an hour, by its reference of a couple who will couple til Daylight Savings Time. Other metaphor users include "It's Too Late to Change the Time" here being the remixed and rewrapped update from '87 to focus on Michael Jackson's career, a boppier, hookier version of the Jackson 5 original. Also Johnny Hates Jazz's "Turn Back The Clock" which in this case is to turn the clock back to the '80s, thus all comparisons to Wham and the Pet Shop Boys is intentional.

Nov 1, 2014

There's No Invisible Halloween Costume That Isn't There

To say the artist Adrien Orange performing as Thanksgiving is raw, is to understate its naiveté. To say it sounds naive implies it's simple, but that's wrong too. Imagine Nick Cave and Bon Iver were in car that crashed into John Cage and Jonathan Richman. This track is a poor introduction to this prolific musician, but "There's No Invisible Halloween Costume That Isn't There" is deeper than the scary open mike impression it gives, as per "is almost jaunty in a lonesome, loping Thanksgiving way, with a circular chain of interwoven guitar chords stringing the listener through the fields of verse and swooping choral accompaniment." It's posted for the band name and song title being bridge-making collision of the holiday just past and the one upcoming. I think it's a goodbye song, but it's hard to tell.

Oct 29, 2014

King of the Ghosts

Styled as a sort of hard-bop tango, "King of the Ghosts" by NY septet Homer Erotic is both breezy and gutsy cruise through a pop song. Song's title is possibly a reference to poet Wallace Steven's "A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts," a poem which could be an allegory of the struggle for supremacy between aggressors and defenders in the two World Wars, or maybe just it's about a cat and a rabbit who are rivals in the yard. Band's catchy songs about macabre, paranormal matters sung by female vocalists (and an over-dependence on echo), Homer fits in with Concrete Blonde and Curved Air, and stands up to the comparison.

Oct 28, 2014

A day of monsters & angels, including ….

Here's a 14-hour playlist of songs for Halloween, or songs using the day's tropes as metaphors, much like this insanely catchy Monsters & Angels by Voice of the Beehive, led by California sisters Tracey Brin and Melissa Brooke Belland. The band was an on-again, off-again troupe which when it was on, could knock-out a hook like on Scary Kisses -- which isn't metaphor enough for the Halloween playlist.

Oct 20, 2014

"Dancing the Devil Away"

"Dancing the Devil Away" by Arden & Ohman, pianists who filmed a number of their Depression Era performances and packaged on

This song appears on a few compilations packaged for Halloween. This from the dubiously dubbed "Halloween Hipster" lumping together some instrumentals (which could be about anything really) and some included for reasons that stretch the imagination, like "Jeepers Creepers" which was written in 1938 for a film with Ronald Reagan. Scary indeed.

And the record has "Headless Horseman" by Kay Starr, highlighted here earlier.

"Costume Makes The Clown"

via Live-Onstage Blog
Although not strictly a Halloween song, here's a dressing down of dressing up. Every now and again it's worth remembering that among ever-growing list of the dance-pop divas, Shakira is more consistently interesting than the others. One example is "Costume Makes The Clown" possibly only known as one of the tracks on "Oral Fixation vol. 2" that isn't "Hips Don't Lie." But it shows her control of her signing gifts include a little growl/roar dropped in like an italic emphasis, and then a bit of vocal fry that makes it modern, and instantly interesting.

Oct 13, 2014

"You Scare Me To Death"

via Amazon
It's scary season. But the only thing to fear is halitosis, so says Marc Bolan of T. Rex in this posthumous release. You Scare Me To Death must have been around before the release in '86 because the weird proto-punk/art band Fresh released it in 1970 as "Horrible Breath" on "Fresh Today" -- an LP of which is in my possession, possibly among the last ones on Earth. The record had a minor hit (it got played a couple of times on college FM radio, which in 1970 was the same as saying "never.") called "Stoned in Saigon" found here on (don't know why).

"Robot Zombies"

Halloween looms like the Angel of Death, so here's kind of surf punk latino rockabilly "Robot Zombie"  from The Benders' album "Who's Your Daddy?" The band has a low-key online presence, but what's there indicates that their live shows are anything but. Yes, they are on Facebook.
via Last.FM