Mostly music

We had some big winds and a great lightning show last night. Other parts of the region got hit quite hard, but we did OK. There were two branches in the road when we went out to pick up some dinner. (We tried a local pizza place, ordering things that weren’t pizza. The manager’s son, who looked all of 9 years old rang us up. No idea if he got the price right, but his dad was right there, cracking wise for us, so I’m sure he didn’t undercharge.

The lasagna was OK. But plentiful. I got two dinners out of it, last night and tonight, and I’m happy with that.

Anyway, this morning we found that the hydrangeas got waked by the storm. Mostly the rain, I think. One is in the back, on the eastern side of the house, but close enough to the structure that it’s hard to imagine those gusts got in there. The other is on the northeast corner. But hydrangeas will lean from the weight of water alone, and these guys were big and proud and tall.

So we went to a hardware store for some stakes and twin. Poured out a pint of blood to pay for it all, visited the grocery store to stock up on a few supplies. (How long does that take, we’re still re-stocking things. It seems a slow process. That’s fine. No one is going hungry, it’s just the idea of it, Shouldn’t there be more things in the refrigerator? There will be in time. What’s the next great meal that provides an abundance and leftovers? Thanksgiving? Will I be wonder about this in November?

Anyway, I tried my hand at staking up the hydrangea bushes. I spent a long time pondering strategies. I spent an almost equal amount of time wondering if I was up to the task. Am I kidding myself? It’s a weird question to ask yourself over such a small matter. First, they’re flowering bushes. Second, and you can look this up, it’s a common problem, and everyone has an easy peasy attitude about the solution. On the other hand, having driven most of the stakes into the ground and tied up a lot of branches, they don’t look quite as nice as they did yesterday.

Which was when I stopped, and decided to check on the peach tree. It was fine in the storm, but gravity put some more fruit on the ground, so I brought them inside. I ate six or eight peaches today. I may have a few more in a minute. The kitchen is stocked in fresh fruit.

I guess we’ll start cutting those up tomorrow.

Tonight, I’m apparently working on someone else’s project. Instead of reading about that, though, read about this.


We are still trying to catch up to the Re-Listening project, and this post is helping us make a lot of progress. Remember, the Re-Listening project is the one where I listen to my old CDs in the car, and in the order in which I acquired them. I think I am seven CDs in arrears right now. These aren’t reviews, just an excuse to post some music, recall the occasional fond memory and pad the site with some extra content. It’s fun! And musical! And there’s a lot of it, so let’s get to it.

Tracy Bonham’s first album was certified gold, earned her two Grammy nominations and in 1996 saw a single top the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart. (She was the last woman to top that chart for 17 years, if you want a bit of trivia.) “Down Here” was the delayed follow-up record, released in April 2000. I got it off the giveaway shelf at a radio station. It was a signed copy. It wasn’t commercially successful, but Bonham shows her talent throughout. Here’s the single.

Wikipedia cites a ridiculous review about how it sounds like an album recorded in 1997 rather than 2000. Hey! There’s someone who reads the industry trades!

I’d go with a line like this. It feels like a song on the soundtrack of a movie about movie soundtracks.

The important thing to appreciate about Bonham is that she’s a classically trained violinist, playing at making pop records.

Bonham put out four more records after this one, the most recent in 2017. She still plays a few live shows, and has continued her varied and impressive musical career. She’s now a curriculum developer for kids’ music education. She also produced a kids album, 2021’s “Young Maestros Vol. 1,” that is aimed at teaching music theory and confidence building.

That’s a cool followup to a pop music career.

In May of 2000, Matchbox Twenty’s “Mad Season” hit the shelves. Their second album, it entered the Billboard 200 at number three and was four-times platinum in the next 18 months. Because the music industry is, well, the music industry, this success was a quantifiable disappointment. Their debut, after all, sold three-times as many units.

There are two memorable tracks to me. One I forget about every time, until that soaring riff that sets the tone. Kyle Cook can.

And this track, which has a way of haunting you, and is best not heard on the highway at night.

They’re on tour right now, supporting “Where the Light Goes,” an album they released in May. (Also, they are apparently climbing the charts again, apparently thanks to the Barbie movie.) The new record was a surprise, I guess, because they said they were going to become primarily a touring band prior to Covid. I haven’t heard any of it yet, but it gets four-out-of-five stars on AllMusic.

And I love this promo photo. There’s Cook, a rock star, but looking like he wants to play it like he’s not. Especially so since he’s standing next to Rob Thomas, who is showing his ultra rock star confidence. On the end is Paul Doucette, looking like he’d really appreciate it if you could think of him as a rock star, too. Behind them all is Brian Yale, who is just wondering if you’re done with that drill he loaned you last week.

He’s got a project to get to and he needs his tools back.

Someone gave me a copy of the next entry into the Re-Listening project. Tracy Chapman’s “Telling Stories” came out in February of 2000 and I got it that May, when it was on its way to becoming a gold record. The title track is song one. It was also the first single of the record, and it’s laying the groundwork.

Rolling Stone has a concise 16-word summation of her fifth record, calling it a “strong and steady — clear-eyed, poetic folk/funk of the kind that first got Chapman noticed.” That’s correct, and is always the case with Tracy Chapman, it’s never enough. She’s such a unique performer to me, historically, that every song is enough, but every song leaves me wanting more.

This one was a leftover from “New Beginning,” and this is, in part, why Rolling Stone called this album strong and steady, because you could put this anywhere in her catalog.

For my money, this might be the best song on the record. The woman is a poet who happens to be holding a guitar. Oh yeah, the Songbird sneaks into the chorus, too.

I’ve never produced an album, so I don’t know how this works, but is the last song supposed to be so awesome? Because this is track 12 and it feels like a third-song sort of tune.

The summer of 2000, when I got this, was an unusual one. College was over, real life was beginning, sort of. It took a few months for things to get going — not an unusual story, not everything begins on schedule. But there was Tracy Chapman, getting a lot of plays. I was grateful for that. No idea why I didn’t buy this one myself, though.

Before that happened, there was this. I was working for a company that, at that time, had three stations in their cluster. One of those stations, the best one, I thought, was a mid-century big band/jazz music format AM station that the station owner tolerated because the old music, the sports, and the absolute legend that did the morning show paid the cluster’s bills. It was a great place to learn because you could make all sorts of mistakes and everyone left you alone. It was a difficult place to learn because everyone left you alone. But it was fun. And one night, in a bin of discard CDs, I ran across this record.

Contemporary jazz just didn’t fit the format, so they were happy to give it away. The only memory I have of this CD is putting it in a player in one of the production studios, and making a tape for a pen pal in Arkansas. She did cute things like send me a postcard made from a cereal box, and blowing up a beach ball, writing a letter on it, and shipping it my way. Then or now, I couldn’t keep up with that level of creativity.

But I did have access to studios, so I set about to see if I could talk over an entire record. And I did. I talked about everything, and about nothing, really, for the entire CD. The run time on that CD is 55 minutes.

My poor pen pal. She lives in Texas now, and she has a beautiful family. They have two daughters who are in musical theater. I follow them on Instagram. Pen pals are just one of the ways that I’m sure social media does us a disservice.

I’m going to write her a letter, using some unconventional format – not a cassette or an mp3, though. Can’t play that lame card twice, even with 23 years in between. There has to be a local good or product around here that would be a sufficiently silly novelty.

Anyway, I think I am just three CDs behind on the Re-Listening project now. We may even catch up before the week is out!

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