Your Buddy, And Mine.

From The Road:

The finest blues guitar player in the world is Buddy Guy. But you knew that, right?

In case you didn’t, last year at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago, “The Mayor” blew the place up like a German supply train on Hogan’s Heroes with the help of Jonny Lang and Ron Wood – check it out here. Those who were in the stadium will tell you, brother: The day was star-studded, but HOT, steamy, and a little sleepy until the afternoon. Then, after a skeptical crowd glared at John Mayer for 20 minutes, Buddy appeared, 100-watt cue stick in hand, and ran the table. And everything just went UP from there. The Master Electrician had turned on the juice. Those who had come so far to be a part of it suddenly remembered why Crossroads is in Chicago… So that local citizen Buddy Guy, the mightiest of them all, can be fresh as a just-poured glass of Kentucky bourbon when the bell rings.

Saturday is Buddy’s 75th birthday. Thankfully, many bluesmen, whether of the first Mississippi-bred crew or of the second, “wartime” all-electric generation, have lived longer than their lifestyles should afford. But none have had the shine and the chops, or just the sound, in the fourth quarter that Buddy has at his Diamond Birthday.

The Stick is not here to hawk goods, but sometimes, a great deal got to be shouted about. This weekend at Pop Market (no relation), “Can’t Quit The Blues”, a fine 3-CD and DVD box set from “Five Long Years” ago is being trotted out for a mere 25 bucks. Not everything that Pop Market offers is a stone deal, but this is hard to sneeze at. The DVD alone is a beauty.

Whether you shell out for that thing or not, take a minute sometime this weekend to listen to how damn good and pure and BLUE this guy is. You’ll pour yourself a crisp one, just out of gratitude that you and Buddy are both on the planet at the same time.

Last album – Beausoleil, Alligator Purse (and some vintage Buddy singles, natch)

“You Don’t Go To Heaven By Yourself”

Mr. Stick again.

With a smooth launch behind us, it’s time for a break. I will be away from Pop Survivor HQ for a short while this week and some of next on a secret mission, but I may post from another of my mysterious destinations. Glenn will be busy carrying the bags and arguing with room service on my behalf, so don’t expect any of his “clever” remarks.

Before we board the Stickcopter, though, a little proof that Pop Survivor has a heart.

Until Friday, I would have said that I knew next-to-zero about Norway. “They ski a lot”, I might have quipped, “and their flag looks nice… Or is that Finland?” Now I know much more, but I really wish I didn’t.

I don’t believe that the dreadful events in Oslo have had quite the reflection in American pop culture commentary that we might have seen if this terrible thing had happened stateside. If, Jah forbid, last week had brought another Oklahoma City to today’s list-infested mediascape, you would have seen “10 Songs To Help Us Remember The Fallen” at least a dozen times by now. Even in 2001, it took about three days after the ‘Reboot of the Western World’ for us to get hit by an article touting Dylan’s “High Water” as relevant to 9/11, though probably as much because the album containing that masterpiece, Love And Theft, was released on the toughest retail day of all time, September 11, Twenty-Oh-One.

I don’t think we need a heap of cynical Disaster Top 40 lists to help us to deal with memories of the gloomily increasing body count of last weekend, or to grieve for children we never knew. Anybody who feels these tragedies deeply is likely to attach some piece of totally-unrelated art to the memory, and won’t need the help of a sidebar writer to do it. And such articles are an awfully trivial response, anyway. Especially when this event should be crippling enough for the terror it brought, but sadly is twice as depressing because it’s part of a long familiar pattern of… what? Madness? Every word I can find to end that sentence seems pretty small.

But at the same time, it’s not such a bad idea to notice new meaning in a song that reflects something about a place where most of us have not been, and where so many were lost.

Just one week ago, I became familiar with Robyn Hitchcock’s Goodnight Oslo, released in 2009. And, like a lot of great records when you first hear them, the quality and appeal of the songs set themselves in your mind quickly, but the lyrics only become clear and complete later. A first pass at Oslo the record did not leave me with an enduring picture of Oslo, the city.

Today, as I saw Goodnight Oslo coming up on Glenn’s iTunes playlist, I couldn’t help but wonder if any part of the title song might seem poignant in light of the bombing and killings.

Sure enough:

And so delicious floes
So easy from the clouds
In Sunday morning Oslo time
You fade into the crowd
Don’t go to heaven by yourself
You need a mission and a friend
I’m promising you soul to soul to soul
It never ends

Hitchcock says that the Goodnight Oslo album celebrates “the ghosts of the smoke age.” And well it might, but his song now personifies something contemporary: The exit of innocents from a place he painted so nicely for the rest of us.

Glenn is hosting an MP3 of “Goodnight Oslo” here.


Last album: Nick Lowe – Jesus of Cool

“We could have been called The Shoes..”

Glenn has given me the unfortunate duty of choosing a runner-up to his award-winning name for a future Beatles cover band… And I prefer the image of a ‘cover’ band, don’t you? As opposed to ‘tribute’ impersonator acts like the frothing 1964, or Rain. These people actually have chosen to forfeit their personalities as some weird affectation to a band whose essential message was “Be Yourself”. Playing the songs is one thing. Selling off your mental health is something else altogether.

Anyway, on to the grudge match:

9 Followers presented entries. While some leaned toward sexual innuendo (Finger Pies), the heavy trend was clearly toward black humor, as with Heather Mills’ Leg, which would actually be a better name for a Wings cover band (and, yeah, they got those, too).

Sadly, a lot of good entries are already in play, and therefore DQ’ed: The aforementioned Pies, Beatle Juiced, and Bigger Than Jesus – all real bands. Probably less-than-successful bands, but bands just the same.

Local Yokos had real merit. But even that has been procured:

Don’t quit your day job, girls. Though I can’t imagine what kind of job that would be.

Dig A Pony is good clean choice, and was submitted by two people. It has exactly what you want in a cover name: It only means something to fans of the original band, but it won’t scare anybody off.

And Mean Mr. Ketchup really is not as bad as its author thought it was.

But the runner-up is clearly BLIND LENNON JEFFERSON. The options available to a band with that name are endless. They could play the Fabs’ catalog completely in blues versions, wear sunglasses and face the back of the stage…

So the Second Place award goes to one Brad Steiner of Seattle, Washington. Brad will have his choice of slightly-sticky CDs from this list of unwanted stash:

  • Run DMC – Down With The King
  • Pixies – Trompe Le Monde
  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Milk And Honey
And the winner? As usual, Glenn had you all outfoxed, with: JACK BOOTS AND KILT
Get a dose of him.
Album being played now: Still on the Dylan… Although the Run DMC “Now we’re Christians, Boyee!” record is looking tastier by the minute. Maybe Brad will pass on that one.

Smokin’ Newports

Stick here.

While the final tabulations are being made with regard to Glenn’s Music Question of the Week, here’s a small sample of what Dylan did to a poor unsuspecting audience on July 26 of 1965:

There was a time, and apparently it was a mere 40 years ago, when rock musicians were brave enough (and by ‘brave’, I mean they got high enough) to actually ram their audiences in the eye with electric prods when it was time to do just that.

And the best of each side, performer and the performed-upon, accepted the wave of revolution, let it fill their lungs, and lived to tell the tale.

Album being played at present – Bob Dylan, Bootleg Series, Volume 7 


Pop Survivor Is Here.

Well Past Midnight, July 26, 2011:

Electricity in The Bunker is at a premium, and network strength is weak. The forces of blandness surround us all. And yet, through the mist, the mysterious Mister Stick, missing since 1987, has risen to finally deliver The Word.

And Pop Survivor shall be his platform.

July 26 will forever be known as Day One of the Blog. Mister Stick has chosen this launch date as a way to commemorate that holy day of noise in 1965 when Bob Dylan swapped his acoustic guitar for a Telecaster, and set the amplifier to ‘stun’. Pop Survivor may not be able to move the ball forward with the same explosive force of that first electric chord at Newport, but Mister Stick and The Caretakers will not stand aside while the culture grows more and more rank and the mundane is celebrated instead of persecuted.

The Manifesto has been posted. The Bunker is stocked with essential, craft-brewed supplies, as well as piles of acclaimed vinyl gems. We have King Dons, and we have coffee. The Hounds of Rebellion guard the door, and an offering is being laid at the Stereo Altar. The conversations will soon begin, and the glory of music will once again be recognized for what it is: Divine fuel.

Become a Follower. Transfer your allegiance to Pop Survivor today.

Get stunned.


Last album played: Original Soundtrack – I’m Not There