Indigo Girls

Dec 23

A bike ride and live music all in one day!

Last night was my last regular class of the semester. Tomorrow that’ll start sinking in. Or, perhaps, next Wednesday or so. And that feeling will be moved right out by the impending need to fixate on the spring term. Continual relaxation will be allowed for approximately 48 seconds on Wednesday morning, sometime between the hours of 3 and 4 a.m.

Monday I will be in a classroom, but only to help. No lecture offered. And finals begin on Wednesday. Grading will be done, roughly, between now and the next notable shift in continental drift.

But, hey, no lecture notes to write. No slides to change or create. Few things to monitor online. Eventually.

Today’s part in the celebration of all of this was to do chores around the house this morning, wade through some grading around midday, and go on a bike ride this afternoon.

It seemed a pleasant enough afternoon to hit the road, and so I did. Long tights over bib shorts, wind vest over long sleeve shirt. Real gloves, ear muffs. You can almost dress warmly if you put enough on.

I went about 12 miles to the county seat and got, I think, all of the markers along that road. This is the intersection of the historic district and the modern downtown. In fact, they are the same thing. In that two-block area I got, I think, 14 markers today. (So I have, now, enough on hand to get through the real cold when I’ll be riding indoors, but need material for the Wednesday feature.) There are about 19 more in that town. The rest I’ll probably find in the spring or next summer. And, somehow along the way, I hope the math of it all makes sense. Supposedly there are 115 markers in the county. I have shared 37 of them with you, I just mentioned another 23. I don’t see how there are 75 still out there. Some have been removed, so it’s really not 115, but the rest … well, I’ve surely miscounted. Badly. And more than once.

But you don’t think about that while you’re out there. The being there is what takes time. It’s all about trying to get across the road safely, being efficient, getting a good shot of the location, maybe notice something that isn’t always seen. Sometimes people want to talk. Today a woman asked me if I was sightseeing. Then she asked me for five dollars. Inflation has hit panhandlers, too, I suppose.

Getting to a location is easy. Getting back is fast — if you don’t take a wrong turn, which I often do. This impacts getting back home before the darkness falls.

I failed at that today, even though I only missed one road today. I was sprinting for the last stop sign on the way back in, about two miles or so to go, when I gave in and turned on my headlight. I was sure it would be dark. It was. I was sure it would be cold. Almost. I was sure I would be late. I was not.

Got cleaned up. We had dinner, and then we headed out for a show.

When bands you love come within 30 miles of you, you’re duty-bound to go to the show. And so we got out the map and headed to a place called the Scottish Rite Auditorium, which was having a wedding downstairs, and a folk rock ‘n’ roll show upstairs, simultaneously.

Be Steadwell opened for Emily and Amy. Creative, nice voice, quite funny. Steadwell said, a few times, how thrilling it was to open for the Indigo Girls. And then they brought her back on stage later. Amy complimented her for the audience participation part of this song, and for the song itself. It was a simple and sincere and sweet comment about that funny little love song. It was a “I know exactly what you meant. I’ve been there, too,” comment. You could hear the admiration and the understanding that came with it.

Something going on at the wedding was giving some feedback in their ear monitors, and the suggestion was made that all 1,000 of us or so go downstairs and wish the happy copy well, with two singers from Georgia. This would have been a good time, but the concert was better.

And then the tour dog stole the show.

All of that is in here, but mostly this is a quick Lyris Hung video, because I never show off her violin enough, and one of the things this particular audience was caught up in was her string work. So there’s a real fine solo in here. And then the dog part takes place at 5:45, if you’re interested.

It started because of a conversation about the band’s road crew digressed into a discussion about the dog’s genetic makeup. They had a friendly wager, tested the DNA and everyone was wrong. But, Amy said, the money they put in the pot all went to an animal clinic. And so, later, someone brought out the dog, because stage shows, it turns out, need pets.

Look at this dog.

They’re missing an opportunity here. They should do this for every show. At the merch tables, they should be selling whatever sweater the dog was wearing. It’d be a popular product.

It was a mild audience. The Friday-night-just-out-of-work crowd, maybe. But the performances were good, we had a great time, and we left singing about picking the best greens in the garden.

Oh, and The Yankee realized she’d been singing the lyrics to an Indigo Girls song incorrectly. It only took her the better part of 30 years and a dozen or so shows to notice. But that’s a different story.

Jul 23

Romeo and Juliet

I’m putting this up front because I want to. Because it is great. Because you should listen to it.

Mark Knopfler wrote this song. “Romeo and Juliet” is a big part of the Dire Straits catalog. It’s a classic song, and that means it has been covered a lot. But this is Amy Ray’s song now. Her intensity with this puts it in a class by itself. I’ve heard the studio recording, of course, and a few live recordings, but I’ve never been seen her do this song in person. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll moment, no doubt about it.


They’re playing a few hours from here in a few more months. Maybe we should go see them again. We should go see them again.

Today we made a recycling run. Always a little smelly, but also satisfying. We stopped at the local hardware store, at place that still holds the name from way back when ice and coal were the big sellers. On the sign out front they were advertising a now oddly popular horse wormer medicine. We met the owner, Doug, and his son, who looked like a young, bearded version of Gregory Sporleder, their high school employee, who’s name I did not catch, and two cats almost as big as any of the humans in the store.

They had one of the three things we went in for. We’ll get the other two online, I’m sure.

This afternoon I took a nap, dozing off while reading a Belgian poet’s journal. My second nap in two weeks, this summer is going great, thanks for asking!

And then we went for a run. Mine was twice as long, but not as good as my Tuesday run, which was my first run in seven months … maybe because I didn’t have take off seven months. I should really look into that. The Yankee had a nice run, though.

It was 84 and felt like 90 degrees and, well, it felt like it. Good timing on our part for that run.

The sunset, off the front porch, was lovely as well.

And now, at the time of night when Saturday seems long enough to mean everything seems possible, I say to you, happy weekend!

Jul 23

Yes, it involved duct tape

Today I tightened the bannisters, which were too wobbly. Now they are less wobbly. Also, they are cleaner. It’s the little things, really, finding the little things you’re actually capable of doing, and to do them sorta well. Also, I vacuumed. It wasn’t until late into the evening that I moved anything. Progress! In doing so I discovered more things I hadn’t realized were missing. Missing, in this case, meaning sitting under things in the garage. The two extra hacksaw blades will come in handy. And a box of wood stain was out of place, explaining why one of the shelves was so bare. Fixed that problem straightaway.

I still can’t find the main kitchen knife, though. Somehow it didn’t get packed with the rest of the knives. Also, the kitchen scissors are missing and this is all going to be hilarious when they turn up in October.

I set three Strava PRs this morning as we repeated the same route we rode on Saturday. Overall it was a bit faster, and less painful. The last quarter of the route is a slow and gradual uphill — nothing to write home about, but definitely something to include in your blog — and that was a slow grind. After a few more rides everything will start to feel much better. I’m willing it so.

But the views! Doesn’t this water look nice?

The Yankee was good enough to take a photo of me in a moment where my form wasn’t entirely terrible, but I wish she’d gotten one of those moments where I was leaned over the hoods, all intense.

The cranberry bogs are out there somewhere. No floating cranberries at the moment, though.

Here’s a very brief video of a few nice parts of the ride.

This evening, I’m going to try to get used to this.

Artistically, I made a hole in the waterfall. Surely there’s some rule about thermodynamics at play here. Or, perhaps, another rule about thermodynamics being violated. A hole! In a waterfall!

How cool is that?

On the subject of singalongs, as we drift back to The Ryman in June, sometimes you don’t need to pretend or preamble. Sometimes you just play the first chord and let the crowd do the rest. Sometimes it seems like everyone would be happy that way.

The self-titled, second album from the Indigo Girls was released in early 1989, went gold late that summer, platinum in 1992 and was certified double-platinum in 1997. Hothouse Flowers and REM famously appeared on the record, which won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Recording and was also nominated in the Best New Artist Grammy category. It came in at 22 on the Billboard Hot 200 that year, and there are easily a half-dozen songs or more that are deep cut classics.

But none more than “Closer to Fine.”

Amy Ray gave an interview in 2021 talking about age and longevity, and the people they look up to, and what it’s like to still be touring at (now) 60.

“When people go to concerts, it’s sentimental and fun, and reminds them of the old days,” she said. “I don’t want to be a purely sentimental act. And that’s hard. Because when you enjoy what you are doing, you don’t want to stop.

“Emily and I are like: ‘We want to keep doing this while we enjoy ourselves.’ And I’m like: ‘What if we still enjoy ourselves and we look like fools?’ And, sometimes, who cares? It won’t be the way it was 30 years ago, so what does that mean? Does it matter?”

But they’re still finding ways to share their happiness on stage, and their fans love it. (That pop song is almost 35 years old.) And it’s a multi-generational thing now. Fans bring kids. Musicians bring kids. I believe that’s Carol Isaacs’ daughter singing the last lyric.

You always wonder: what becomes of rock ‘n’ roll, the sound of noise and youth and angst and rebellion, when the performers get quieter, older and more settled? We’re now watching the third generation of rock ‘n’ roll stars hit those points. The answer is, it just gets more fun.

Did you catch the news about us moving? Did you read, with a sigh, the bit about loading and overloading cars and then driving them for 11 hours across some 20 percent of this great nation? Do you know what I did during this time? I listened to a lot of CDs as part of the Re-Listening project. And I am now well behind in writing about them here.

Remember, these aren’t reviews — because no one cares — but just a bit of reminiscence about some (occasionally) good music. Also, it’s an excuse to pad the blog and embed some videos. And the best news of all is, in six or eight more discs we’ll (finally) be out of 1999, because the joke here is that I’m listening to all of these in the order in which I acquired them. And, apparently, I picked up a lot of music in 1999. Today we’ll breeze through two records, both from California bands. This first one was released in February 1999. The second was released in September. No idea when I got them. And, in the case of this first one, why.

Wikipedia tells me Oleander is considered a post-grunge band. And on the page for this record there’s a list of some of their greatest touring achievements. None of it makes sense for me. I don’t like any of the acts they were playing with. And the writing is basic and, honestly, this sounds like a buzzy version of a Parks and Rec song.

But that could be because we’re watching Parks and Rec again. Speaking of TV, the first single was featured on Dawson’s Creek and a few movies. And, look, before we entirely fetishize the 1990s, not everything makes sense.

Somewhere around Columbus, Indiana this song came on, and I remembered this from too much radio play. But I couldn’t name the band until I fished out the disc to write about it here.

Not everything can be committed to memory.

There’s a “Boys Don’t Cry” cover that was released in the UK, and it makes you wonder how record labels make those decisions. Was it a test case for an American followup? Would this have worked on radio over here?

The record went gold, and topped the Heatseekers chart. Those two singles each did quite well on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and the Modern Rock Tracks charts. They put out another album after this, took a long break and then reunited. Oleander’s most recent album was released in 2013, but there’s not much online to suggest they’re presently performing, and that’s OK too.

That’s OK because the next 1999 act is a band still playing limited dates these days. They’re just a radio band to me, and I got this on the strength of the single, but “Nasty Little Thoughts” has good hooks all over the place, and some clever, and funny, lyrics.

This sounds much more like 1999 to me.

Both records, do, but from any distance you get to choose things.

This song got a lot of airplay on alt and modern rock stations at that time when they were the same thing.

But this is the track that I played over and over. Someone rightly pointed out that it was worth hearing, and decades later, that person is still correct. It still works.

Over the years Stroke 9 has released seven records. And this is cool, here’s a little livestream show they did in May of 2020. It’s neat to see bands when the artifice is stripped away, they’re playing on the back deck in hoodies, just being people, not trying to be the things that the industry wanted them to be.

That show, if you watch the whole thing, is basically this record. If you watch it for more than a few seconds you might notice the video is, for some reason, mirrored. It turns out that some of the songs they’re playing on this record were written right there in that house. It’s an interesting bit of personal continuity for the band, but it’s a real thing, and something authentic for fans.

I wonder how secure the handrails are in that house.

Jul 23

There’s so much here it can’t be highlighted in the title

Today was the first day I haven’t broken a sweat while moving things in the new house. I’m sure this will not turn into a streak, for there is always something to move or adjust or clean or fix. But it seemed like a good thing to note. The getting settled was more low key.

I only have three giant boxes of books left to unpack, and I am savoring the anticipation for that experience.

Which is not to say that today was a day of pure comfort and ease and conditioned air. It was all of those things, but that’s not what I’m saying here. I also “exercised.” Went for a run. This was my first run since December 27th.

I know, I know! First swim in years and my first run in months, both in the same week, all while I have been lifting and carrying things around the house. This is crazy talk!

We were going to go do something called a “track workout.” Presumably this involves a track and running. We got to the place and, sure enough, there was a track. But no workout. The patch of grass inside the track oval is a soccer pitch and it is being used for a soccer tournament. No running allowed, for whatever reasons of practicality and safety. So the few hearty and hardcore runners who showed up anyway set out for a five mile run. That’s not what The Yankee had on her training schedule today and I’m certainly not up for a five-miler this week. So we went back to our lovely little neighborhood and ran around it.

And so I got sweaty. Also, this was a much faster pace than the last time I ran so, clearly, the goal for me should be to take six or seven months off between jogs.

While my lovely bride finished up her run, I watered the plants. Also, I remembered that I took this photograph an evening or two before and didn’t use it, so I’ll use it now.

That’s our new front porch sunset views. I’ll take it.

Let’s close some tabs. This is our return to the regular Tuesday feature that lets me memorialize a few tabs that, for whatever reason, I hadn’t otherwise managed. Most of these don’t deserve a bookmark, but it might be good to circle back to them one day, and so here I am.

A little while back I found myself slipping into a deeply nuanced conversation about who wrote the song, “Apache.” This could have become something really nerdy about what really constitutes a cover, but, thankfully, the conversation was diverted away from that. And thanks are due to the person who saw that train wreck happening and leapt in with some wry observation about the weather, inflation, bowling shoes or whatever it was. Anyway, the answer is Jerry Lordan, but then Bert Weedon, importantly, The Shadows, and then famously Jørgen Ingmann, followed, influentially, by the Incredible Bongo Band and then, of course the Sugarhill Gang (twice).

Many chefs, it turns out, could be a good theme today. Who killed Google Reader?:

Google’s bad reputation for killing and abandoning products started with Reader and has only gotten worse over time. But the real tragedy of Reader was that it had all the signs of being something big, and Google just couldn’t see it. Desperate to play catch-up to Facebook and Twitter, the company shut down one of its most prescient projects; you can see in Reader shades of everything from Twitter to the newsletter boom to the rising social web. To executives, Google Reader may have seemed like a humble feed aggregator built on boring technology. But for users, it was a way of organizing the internet, for making sense of the web, for collecting all the things you care about no matter its location or type, and helping you make the most of it.

A decade later, the people who worked on Reader still look back fondly on the project. It was a small group that built the app not because it was a flashy product or a savvy career move — it was decidedly neither — but because they loved trying to find better ways to curate and share the web. They fought through corporate politics and endless red tape just to make the thing they wanted to use. They found a way to make the web better, and all they wanted to do was keep it alive.


For a while, the internet got away from what Google Reader was trying to build: everything moved into walled gardens and algorithmic feeds, governed by Facebook and Twitter and TikTok and others. But now, as that era ends and a new moment on the web is starting to take hold through Mastodon, Bluesky, and others, the things Reader wanted to be are beginning to come back. There are new ideas about how to consume lots of information; there’s a push toward content-centric networks rather than organizing everything around people. Most of all, users seem to want more control: more control over what they see, more knowledge about why they’re seeing it, and more ability to see the stuff they care about and get rid of the rest.

Google killed Reader before it had the chance to reach its full potential. But the folks who built it saw what it could be and still think it’s what the world needs. It was never just an RSS reader. “If they had invested in it,” says Bilotta, “if they had taken all those millions of dollars they used to build Google Plus and threw them into Reader, I think things would be quite different right now.”

The ending is a bit naive, but it does make you wonder how things would have worked if we’d stayed out of the walled gardens.

Speaking of social media and walls … New Jersey just made it a lot harder for police to snoop on social media:

(T)he Supreme Court of New Jersey decided Facebook Inc. v. State, which puts much-needed guardrails on police conduct in the state when it comes to law enforcement’s access to digital communications. Up until this decision, it was permissible for New Jersey police to obtain a Facebook user’s private messages in near real time with a mere probable-cause warrant. However, case law and state and federal statutes rightly recognize that real-time access to private communications demands heightened privacy protections. This type of search would generally be considered a wiretap and require the police to apply for a wiretap order. Wiretap orders require an enhanced showing, one beyond probable cause, to be granted.


While certainly a win for privacy advocates, this case reminds us of several important issues in the fight for privacy in the digital era. First, in an age in which increasingly personal information is shared via digital means, it is essential that real-time communications are afforded the highest level of protection from snooping eyes …

Moreover, it is clear that pre-internet statutes and case law that govern online activity are woefully inadequate for the realities of the digital era. Many of these laws and cases are based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1979 ruling in Smith v. Maryland, which created the third-party doctrine and held that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy for information voluntarily turned over to a third party.

That’s going to come up in a class this fall, I bet.

Finally, in Macon, Georgia, the minor league team has one of the best team names in sports, but only the second best team name in city history. The Macon Bacon shirts, however, are pretty great. (Also, their mascot is named Kevin and, while predictable, I was not ready for that degree of cheesy.)

Just four more Indigo Girls songs to go from The Ryman show, sadly. I’ve mostly just been sharing things I recorded in the order that they appeared on the band’s set list that night, but I’m jumping ahead a little to set up a big finish on Friday.

First, though, here’s “Galileo,” which was the Indigo Girls’ first song to break into the top ten on a music chart, the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, in this case. The success of this song helped “Rites of Passage,” their fourth studio album, go platinum. And ever since they released it in 1992, this song has been a fan favorite. There’s even a singalong portions.

It is one of those songs that, I think, doesn’t really belong to the performers anymore. The Indigo Girls have a few of those and (hint) we’ll have another one of those in this space tomorrow.

We have to get back into the Re-Listening project if, for no other reason, than because we are woefully behind. (Some time has elapsed and circumstances have compounded my investment into the Re-Listening project.) I think I’ll be doubling up and writing shorter bits about each album for a bit, just to try to get back on equal terms. But, for the uninitiated, the premise is simple. I am listening to all of my old CDs in the car, in the order in which I acquired them. It’s a lovely musical walk down memory lane. And, to share the fun, I’m writing a bit about it here. These aren’t music reviews, because who cares? They are a good way to pad out the page, to share the sounds and to bring up something that, perhaps, hasn’t come to mind in a while.

Kids, Widespread Panic was huge. The year is 1999 (I know, I know) but they’d been together for almost two decades by then, they’d had a concert film directed by Billy Bob Thornton, they’d been on H.O.R.D.E., they had five studio albums under their belts, they were network TV veterans and an absolutely legendary jam band already. And that’s when the regional icons got their first huge mainstream moment.

I don’t know why I have “‘Til the Medicine Takes.” Widespread wasn’t really my band. A lot of people I knew just raved and raved about them, which was probably enough for me to stay at arms length for a while. But I picked it up somehow — a giveaway, most likely, I never even had the liner notes — and put it in and this was the first song I heard.

I have three Widespread Panic memories. One, I was driving a friend and his girlfriend and her roommate somewhere and Widespread was on the radio, something from this album, on a deep cut station. His girlfriend launched into this diatribe about how she didn’t like Widespread Panic because they’d sold out. She’d put some thought and some force into this argument. The jam band from Athens was on the radio. They weren’t real, authentic, rockers, like this new band she was into, Train.

My friend, who was very much a jam band aficionado, who grew up two hours from where the band started their careers and who had probably had them as a soundtrack to most of his young life, almost broke up with her right there in my car.

Maybe that’s why he almost always insisted on driving.

Another is this. In May of 1999, just before this record was released, they were one of the Sunday night headline acts at Music Midtown. Back then it was a three-day event with six main stages and a handful of smaller venues dotting the middle of Atlanta. Just an incredible opportunity to see important bands, or check out new things. Being me, I studiously cross referenced every show and was intent on seeing the best possible act in each act of the three days of music. And the best act late on Sunday night. Your feet are hurting. You’re tired. You’re hungry. It’s May in Atlanta so anyone could be approaching their sell-by date. But this band came on proved the point about why you have to see them live.

The third is this. On Friday, June 23rd, when I loaded up my car and drove away from IU for the final time, this song came up, right on cue.

“‘Til the Medicine Takes” peaked at 68 on the Billboard 200 chart. And, yes, the CD version of “Dying Man” just rocks, but you need to see the band live. Soon to enter their fifth decade as a band, they’re still touring widely today. They play multiple shows at each venue they visit, because that’s how it is when you’re a touring monster. Later this month, three shows in Huntsville, Alabama, then three shows in Napa, California in August. Catch ’em if you can.

Jul 23

“What really makes it new is the fact that we are here”

Tomorrow I’ll put four more big plastic bins in the basement because this weekend I prepared two fo them for storage. Also this weekend, and today, I emptied six more bins of books. Tonight I finished placing them on their shelves. First, all of the Gloms are now back in order in their bookcase. (One of the bins of Gloms got dropped when we were moving things into the house. It, of course, was the bin with the 120-year-old books. They seemed to do OK, the ancient books, but that was a stressful moment.)
The Gloms are going to pop back up in a photo capacity in the not-too-distant future.

After that, there also two other bookcases, filled with dozens of books I’ve yet to read. Last night I organized them into two stacks. On my grandfather’s bookcase, right next to my desk, are the books I’ll read first. There are about fifth books placed there, and perhaps about the same amount on the other bookshelf in the far corner.

Tomorrow I’ll set up the audio equipment. After that, it’s just reducing clutter, and then making plans for how I’ll actually use the space.

Anyway, most of the house settling is coming together. I’ve got two other bookcases to fill downstairs, and there are some odds and ends to figure out, but soon we’ll be on the way to trying to figure out where to hang things.

Which is good, because talking about how you’re unpacking for days on end might be the most boring thing on the web, am I right? So, starting tomorrow, back to the other riveting things I usually talk about here.

Here’s the important part. The most delicate things have been removed from balled up newspaper.

First one, then the other.

Phoebe and Poseidon are ridiculous, and they’re doing well. Quite settled, I’d say.

We had a nice little bike ride this weekend, which allows me to use the new bike banner once again. It was a lovely pedal through farmland and close to the lower basin of the Delaware River estuary.

We rode by crops ready to be pulled from the vine, cornstalks ready to soar and over a bit of the marshy river itself.

On this particular route, I think we only passed one church, watching over the fields and the people and the carefully planted trees.

It wasn’t a hard ride, but it was not without its challenges. It wasn’t especially fast, and at one point everything hurt. I am, I reminded myself, recovering from a move, Also, despite my lovely bride’s best efforts, I still got us off to a later-than-desired start, so the sun was ready to bake us in the last few miles. But the scenery was nice, and the company was wonderful.

I’m ready for the next ride, and maybe after a few more I’ll be ready for them to be a bit faster.

We took some time out for gymnastics. Tthe former All-American still has the Focus Face and the fingers and toes do what a gymnast’s fingers and toes do. I doubt she’s even aware of them, but it always amuses me.

She stuck the landing, several times.

Today, there were laps.

I swam some laps as well. I’m easing back into this, having now my second lap swim in just under eight silly years. In a few more pool sessions I’ll be up to a respectable warmup distance.

Also, I really need my shoulder to stop spasming. This is a Memorial Day weekend thing, followed by the stress-of-a-move thing. But, hey, I can still carry things. First, heavy boxes, then books by the armload and finally, when that got old, moving entire bins of heavy books. I’m sure that has in no way contributed to this running issue.

Yes, I am going to get one more week of videos out of the concert we saw last month at The Ryman. I recorded it, you get to hear it. “Shame on You” was a 1997 single from the “Shaming of the Sun” record. Love that album, love this song, love the banjo.

There’s a reference to the year 1694 in the song, fit in as rhetorical rebuttal. Not a lot seemed to happen in colonial America in 1694, but it doesn’t make the point any less valid, but the migration was underway. These sorts of things happen slowly, until you one day look around and everything is different, and new challenges and realities are emerging. I suspect that’s what was happening in the 1970s and 1980s and early 1990s when David Zeiger released his documentary, “Displaced In The New South” which has a theme that inspired the song.

The opening line of the documentary is the title of the post. I suppose it has always been that way, as well.