Perfect Songs – “Carry Me Ohio” by Sun Kil Moon

Over the years I’ve noticed that I have a pool of songs that I always want people to hear when I make a mix disc. This continuing series will highlight these songs, provide me an excuse to write about music, and hopefully do what I love most: turn people on to new music.

This is the saddest song ever written. Not because of what has been done to the singer, but because of what the singer has done.

Sorry that
I could never love you back
I could never care enough
in these last days

I’ve spent an unfortunate portion of my life not dating people for fear of causing them pain. Certainly I’ve been dumped and it sucks, however it never sucks as much as breaking up with someone you like but with whom you know you are not in love. You feel like a monster. It is the worst emotion. The only thing that has made me feel worse is the time I shut a car door on an old lady’s arm at the grocery store where I worked in high school. This song captures hurt from the point of view of the inflicter – the pain, the sad resignation, the lingering affection…everything but the regret.

Sun Kil Moon is, of course, just Mark Kozelek. Whether he calls his group Red House Painters or Sun Kil Moon, he remains the master of melancholy. He makes Morrissey look like Norman Vincent Peale. Unlike Morrissey or Robert Smith, there’s no elaborate mask for him to hide behind. He’s just a regular guy, strong but quiet, not crotchety like Neil Young nor self-destructive like Kurt Cobain. Nor does he suffer from any of the requisite machismo of nearly every other rock musician. He’s actually kind of a blank canvas onto which those of us listeners who don’t identify with whiny English gits, emo screamers, whiskey-drunk balladeers or melodramatic dramaturgists can project ourselves. He vaunteth not himself, he is not puffed up.

>> Download the song Carry Me Ohio or the album Ghosts Of The Great Highway at amazon.com.

Perfect Songs – “I’m a Changed Man” by Otis Redding

Over the years I’ve noticed that I have a pool of songs that I always want people to hear when I make a mix disc. This continuing series will highlight these songs, provide me an excuse to write about music, and hopefully do what I love most: turn people on to new music.

Otis Redding cannot be kept down. This is known. The man who Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink introduced to the 80’s generation as That Guy Who Sings “Try a Little Tenderness” will not be restrained. And this song is Otis at his most unhinged. The man who made “got ta” an interjection can be found on this cut attacking the microphone with the kind of relentless joyous fervor usually reserved for Viking berserkers or lumberjack competitions. If you’re wearing headphones you can actually hear him moving his head back and forth from the mic. You can hear the spit.

At the 1:00 mark comes the trademark Otis scat. From the “dom dom” of Otis’s “Happy Song” to the “fa fa” of “Sad Song,” Otis loved to go off book. “Changed Man” gives us a series of “ya ya’s” to which Otis is so thoroughly committed you wonder if he’s speaking in tongues or transmitting a code.

>> Buy I’m A Changed Man from Amazon.com.

Perfect Songs – “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” by Django Reinhardt

Over the years I’ve noticed that I have a pool of songs that I always want people to hear when I make a mix disc. This continuing series will highlight these songs, provide me an excuse to write about music, and hopefully do what I love most: turn people on to new music.

Let’s get this out of the way: Django Reinhardt was the greatest guitarist of the 20th century. Done.

I’ll admit that as a young firebreathing guitar monkey I was not impressed by 1.) jazz and 2.) old recordings. So my slow immersion into the hot tub de France that is Django took a few years. I could hear the guitar gymnastics, but the rhythms were always so…polite. There’s not even a drummer! Just that same boring quarter note rhythm. Ugh.

Then I heard this song. For those not impressed by guitar histrionics, wait out the intro guitar solo. Skip ahead to 1:05 when vocalist Freddy Taylor comes in. His sweet, possibly drunken voice glides over everything, smoothing out the sharp edges of the martial guitar beat. When he starts scatting, either for fun or because he doesn’t know the words, the landing gear goes up. Shades of Ella Fitzgerald making up the words are all the more distinct for Taylor’s very feminine voice. For years I thought he was a she.

Having listened to this song hundreds of times, I still never tire of it, and it helps me approach the rest of Django’s catalog from a better point of reference. It’s not one of his better-known tunes, but I have heard it pop up in a couple of movies, so at least I know my tastes in gypsy jazz align with those of Hollywood sound editors.

>> Buy “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” on Amazon.

Perfect Songs – “Wherever You Are” by David Mead

Over the years I’ve noticed that I have a pool of songs that I always want people to hear when I make a mix disc. This continuing series will highlight these songs, provide me an excuse to write about music, and hopefully do what I love most: turn people on to new music.

I’ll admit it. I’m not generally a fan of singer-songwriters. A friend of mine once complained that a boyfriend of hers once entirely dismissed Aimee Mann as “just a singer-songwriter,” as though writing and singing songs is never quite enough. Honestly, for most guys into hard-rocking music, there are some limitations of timbre when it comes to singer-songwriters compared to full bands. As band leaders, singer-songwriters are less inclined to let their employees in the band contribute creatively with a wicked drum fill or guitar part.

Furthermore, far too many singer-songwriters take words that aren’t quite poetry and marry them to generic chord progressions, the combination of which often makes for an okay song. A kind melody forgives a poor lyric. Despite my degree in English, I listen to words last. My primary interest is music that is compositionally intelligent, melodic, and rhythmically interesting. This formula doesn’t leave much room for the Bob Dylans of the world[1].

So when I tell you that David Mead is my favorite singer-songwriter, I hope you understand what that means.

I’m not even sure what it is exactly. It’s some mystical combination of a great voice – sweet but tired, terrific chords, timbres, melodies and yes, lyrics. The inaugural song of this feature is his “Wherever You Are” from his 2005 album of the same name. My favorite line leads into the chorus: “fairy princess / feathers and dried up tar / come back, wherever you are / accidents will happen.”

Take away the lyrics and you’ve still got a beautiful composition that stands on its own as an instrumental. That’s all I ask of a song.

>> Download the song Wherever You Are or the album Wherever You Are at Amazon.com.

1.) Of course I like Bob. How can you not? But I think of him more as a great writer who plays harmonica.

Perfect Bands: The Mike Keneally Band

In The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, Buckaroo’s guitarist Perfect Tommy asks why he must give his coat to a lady, to which Buckaroo responds, “Because you’re perfect.”

The Mike Keneally Band is perfect like that. I dream of a world where musicians simply play the music that’s in their hearts, unaffected by the compromises and limitations of imitation, commerce, ego, and idolatry – a place where no one is trying to be anyone else and everyone is attempting only to be the best at being themselves. So far, to the best of my awareness[1], the sole citizens of such a place are the Mike Keneally Band.

They’re too irreverent for jazz, too smart for rock, and too silly for fusion. Everyone else has to compromise somehow, consciously or unconsciously, either by adhering to the dictates of genre or the needs of a given audience. As a natural consequence, the Mike Keneally Band are understandably obscure, but thanks to the Internet they’ve connected to enough like-minded listeners to sustain themselves.

As one of those people, having followed Mike’s career since the early 90’s, I have to say that what he does excites me to play music but not in an imitative way because Mike’s music is so idiosyncratic that it wouldn’t seem right to take his statements as my own. Most of my heroes play music generic enough to be consumed and absorbed by society at large, and their ideas are just original enough to give them a unique voice within the confines of a particular genre, but Mike exists only in Mike Land. He only makes me want to be original.

While it’s certainly true that the songs flow from the mind of Mike, several words need to be said about Bryan Beller, Joe Travers, Rick Musallum and newcomer Griff Peters. These guys are obviously Special Forces-grade musicians but they are dedicated to Mike’s cause and not to their own aggrandizement. They’re not mercenaries because Lord knows there’s no money in originality or virtuosity. Beyond that, they have achieved a level of unit cohesion that allows them to operate as a single entity. Every band wants to be what they are.

For their steadfast and more than a little Quixotic dedication to originality and creativity, for their mind-boggling musical skills, and for their refusal to be egotistical or bitter about the industry that doesn’t care about them, the Mike Keneally Band deserves to be called Perfect.

1.) Frank Zappa comes close, but Frank was forced to make his compromises with commerce and audience, so he was continually playing an artistic game of Twister — one foot in rock, one foot in classical, one foot in Frank Land.

Donald McCorkindale

“As Time Goes By: Odebolt, Iowa Centennial 1877-1977”
Printed by The Odebolt Chronicle, 1977, Page 51-52

Donald McCorkindale (Jr.), born 1842, in Killean Parish, Argyleshire, Scotland, son of Donald, Sr. and Jeanette (McNevin) McCorkindale. His father was a farmer and emigrated to America in 1865 with his family, settling in Clinton County, Iowa. In 1870 they moved to Illinois. In 1875 they came to Richland township, Sac County, Iowa, due to the fact that nearly all their children lived here. Their children were Donald; Neil; Malcolm; Mrs. Richard Shileto; Mrs. Catharine Stuart; *Angus; and John.

Donald McCorkindale (Jr.) was twenty three when he came to America in 1865. In the spring of 1874, he came to Sac County, Iowa and bought three hundred and twenty acres of land in Clinton Township for four dollars and fifty cents an acre. As early as 1885 Donald began breeding fine draft horses, having been at the time of his death, the largest livestock breeder in the county. He imported Clydesdale stallions, which cost in the thousands of dollars to import. He exhibited his horses at county fairs. He was also a breeder of purebred Aberdeen Angus cattle.

Donald McCorkindale was married in 1876 to Mary Bremmer, also a native of Scotland, daughter of James and Margaret (Kennard) Bremmer, who came to America in 1866.Children of Donald and Mary were Jennie (Mrs. John Morton): Daniel, married Anna Story; Margaret (Mrs.Will McQuiston); Mary (Mrs. Alexander Nickolson): James, married Helen Graham; Isabelle (Mrs. George Mattes); William, married Vinta Clark; and Hannah.Mr. and Mrs. Daniel McCorkindale were parents of Francis, married Margaret Hix, and Mary (Mrs. Byron Swain).Mr. and Mrs. William McCorkindale were parents of Robert and Virginia. *Angus McCorkindale married Florence Maloney, daughter of J.S. and Frances Maloney.*Children of Mr. and Mrs. Angus McCorkindale: Kate, married Dr. H.C. Pelton; Jessie; J. Donald, married Vera McCracken; Florence (Mrs. Robert Miller); William, married Lucy Foard; Dorothy (Mrs. Clark Tilden); Kenneth; and John.

Donald McCorkindale Source: Source: Sac County, Iowa, by William H. Hart B.F. Bowen and Co., Inc, Indianapolis, IN, 1914, p. 658

In Donald McCorkindale, of Clinton Township, we had a true representative of the empire builders and one who accomplished more than the ordinary man since he came into the county nearly forty years ago and purchased a tract of unbroken prairie land. His herds of cattle and droves of horses now feed over thousands of acres of Sac County land where at first it was necessary for him to be content with a few hundred acres purchased on a time contract similar to that of the other settlers in his neighborhood.

He was known far and wide as one of the largest land owners and one of the ablest financiers of the section in a decade – yet, he was just a plain farmer, shrewd and intelligent, a son of Scotland who naturally inherited the excellent traits peculiar to his forbears.

Mr. McCorkindale was born on the 14th day of the month of March 1842, in Killean parish, Argyleshire, Scotland, the son of Donald and Jeanette (McNevin) McCorkindale. His father was a farmer in the old country who emigrated to America in the year 1865 with his family and settled in Clinton County, Iowa. Here Donald, Jr., worked in a sawmill for a period of five years and in 1870 Donald, Sr., removed to White County, Illinois, and purchased a farm. He resided in White County for five years and then moved to Odebolt, Sac County, in 1875. He was doubtless influenced to make this move because of the fact that nearly all of his children were settled in Sac County near Odebolt and he wished to be near them in his remaining days. The father died in 1895. He reared five sons and two daughters, namely: Donald; Neil, deceased; Malcolm, now a resident of Nebraska; Mrs. Richard Shileto, of Alberta, Canada; Mrs. Catharine Stuart of wall Lake, Iowa; *Angus, who died in Clinton Township in June, 1912; John a rancher in Alberta, Canada, deceased in the spring of 1914.

Donald McCorkindale was twenty-three years of age when he came to America, landing in New York City in the month of June 1865. He came west and was employed in the saw mills at Clinton, Iowa, for a period of five years. He went to Illinois in 1870 and spent two years there engaged in farming in White County. In the spring of 1874 he came to Sac County and invested his savings in three hundred and twenty acres of land in Clinton Township at four dollars and fifty cents an acre. During the first two years of his residence here he boarded and then married. Several years after marriage he made his next purchase of land and continued making additions to his holdings until he had over two thousand eight hundred acres in all.

His most recent purchase was a portion of the Cook ranch, which he bought in 1909, and consisting of five hundred and sixty acres at prices ranging from one hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and thirty-five dollars an acre. As early as 1885 he began breeding fine draft horses and met with wonderful success in this venture, having been at the time of his death the largest live stock breeder in the county. On his farm are two imported Clydesdale stallions, which cost in the thousands of dollars to import; thirty-five head of fine thoroughbred draft animals which have been exhibited at the county fairs and have carried off ribbons on several occasions. He was also a breeder of Aberdeen Angus cattle and had over three hundred and fifty head of pure breds on his home far. In addition he was an extensive feeder and shipper of live stock, handling from three to five carloads annually.

Mr. McCorkindale was the owner of a total of two thousand seven hundred acres of farm lands, two thousand five hundred acres of which is in Sac county and two hundred acres in Crawford County. This land is now being farmed entirely by the sons of Mr. McCorkindale. Practically all of the land is being devoted to the live stock breeding and now is rented out except the Cook and Wall Lake lands. It is the second largest farm in the county which has been cultivated almost entirely by the owner and is at the present time the second largest farm in Sac County in the number of acres devoted to exclusive farming and live stock raising.

Mr. McCorkindale was married in October, 1876, to *Mary Bremner, also a native of Scotland, born December 10, 1856, a daughter of James and Margaret (Kennard) Bremner, who emigrated to America from Scotland in 1866 and settled in Cedar County for seven years and then came to Crawford County in 1873, where both lie buried.

The following children have been born to Mr. And Mrs. McCorkindale: Mrs. Jennie Morton, of Alberta, Canada; Daniel, on one of the home farms; Mrs. Margaret McQuistin, of Nebraska; Mrs. Mary Nicholson, of Jefferson, Dakota; James, at home; Isabel, William and Anna, at home with their parents.

Mr. McCorkindale was an independent in politics and had definite and pronounced views on matters affecting the government of the people. He usually voted for the man who seemed best fitted for the office than for the representative of any political party. He and the members of his family have naturally espoused the religion of their forbears and were members of the Presbyterian church of Odebolt. His devoted and competent wife, who has been a wise and careful mother to her children, is still hale, hearty and intelligent, despite her advanced age. It might well be said of them that they were not old excepting in years. The home is a comfortable and hospitable one and, despite the tendency of the times for the farmer to retire to a life of ease and comfort in the towns, they preferred to remain on the farm, Donald desiring to be near the farm work and his fine live stock, and the mother desiring to care for and look after the welfare of her sons.

Donald McCorkindale passed away Monday night, May 18, 1914, at about ten-thirty o’clock before medical aid could be summoned. On the Sunday preceding he had attended church, as was his custom, and had appeared to be in the best of health. The funeral services were held on the Thursday following, May 21st, from the Odebolt Presbyterian Church in the presence of a large concourse of relatives and friends. Rev. Robert McInturff officiated at the ceremony. Burial followed in the Odebolt cemetery. Rendition of the services with song and discourse was beautiful and impressive and in keeping with the character of the deceased.

This Blog Is Closed.

So it’s not just me. When your favorite blogger says the blog is dead, at least you know you’re not alone.

For the purposes of documentation for the year 2013, I should say that this year has been probably the best year of my life, so it comes as something of a surprise that it’s the least documented year on this blog. Most importantly, I’ve gotten married. We had a lovely wedding party (pictures coming soon). We also went on a delightful honeymoon road trip.

Once upon a time I was quoted as saying “You have to have a life in the first place, in order to blog about it.” A caveat to this, I’ve discovered, is that once life accelerates, there simply isn’t much time to stop and document it. And life is about to accelerate even more.