My Winter Albums (Part 1)

29 12 2011

Some songs remind us of love, family, friendships, joy, sadness, birth, death, events in our lives and even entire years or seasons. (At least that’s true for me.)  There are entire albums that, regardless of their release date, remind me of winter or are good albums to listen to during that season.

These are my winter albums.

5150, Van Halen — I faked being sick so I could stay home from school and hear the worldwide debut (on radio) of the new Van Halen’s first single, “Why Can’t This Be Love.”  Of my own memory, I can only recall that the day was cold and gray.  The song, though decent, was a bit of a letdown. says the single was released on March 26, 1986, which sounds about right.  The entire 5150 album.  Was released in April of that year.  Why does it remind me of winter?  I don’t know other than to say that it was cold when I first heard the first single.  I know “Summer Nights” is on that album, but I had played it probably a hundred times before the ground thawed.

Rubber Soul, The Beatles —  I don’t know why exactly, but this album seems like one to listen to as fall breaks into winter, about this time of year.  That’s probably because I always envisioned in my mind the lyrics to “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).”  I imagined the couple drinking wine next to a roaring fire — though the “fire” that was “lit” in the song was the woman’s house burning to the ground after rejecting our protagonist.  Before I had the album, I had Love Songs, the compilation album of Beatles ballads that Capitol released in October 1977.  That has four songs from the British Rubber Soul album.  Love Songs was a Christmas present for me that year and I used to listen to it while wrapped in a blanket, laying on the floor, looking at the cold, gray sky outside.

The Beatles a/k/a “The White Album,” The Beatles — It opens with “Back in the USSR,” a song that plays on love in the cold Russian weather (in stark contrast to “California Girls”; sunshine and girls in bikinis.)  The outro, bleeding into the chiming guitar of Dear Prudence, is a howling, cold arctic wind.  After that, the entire two record set sounds like something that’s played indoors, away from the elements.   As far as I’m concerned, there’s no music on that album you’d think of playing at a beach or a picnic.

Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes — “White Winter Hymnal,” I think, sets the tone for the whole album.  These guys nailed the sound of winter (if there is such a thing.)

GN’ R Lies, Guns N’ Roses — In the old days, people used to be music in stores.  Those stores sold music on these large black discs called “vinyl records” or LP’s, meaning “long playing” discs.  These stores also used to sell music on small, rectangular cartridges that had magnetic tape in side them, which contained the music.  These cartridges were called cassettes.  Then there were CD’s or compact discs, which were shiny, plastic-encoated metal discs smaller than an LP.  I once worked in such a store, and spent a lot of hours in it during the holiday season of 1988.  That “record store” was Musicland in the Westland (Michigan) Mall.  We record store employees were encouraged to open and play sample cassettes or CD’s and we played GN’R Lies quite a bit.  Westland is (or was) a blue collar, hard-rockin’ town, and rockers by the hundreds came into the store around Christmas of that year to buy this album.  We were constantly running out of it and having to restock it.  It wasn’t the only big seller that year, but it is an album that makes me think of the winter of my senior year in high school.  I’m no GN’R fan, but it was a decent little album.  “I Used To Love Her” is a classic in my book.

To be continued, should the inspiration hit me…


She didn’t even have time for a wardrobe change

27 12 2011

Our Sinead’s marriage is over.

Sinead O’Connor has ended her marriage to Barry Herridge after only 18 days. The singer announced the split on her website yesterday in a post explaining that “within three hours of the ceremony being over the marriage was kyboshed by the behavior of certain people in my husband’s life.”

Issues with her husband’s family were only part of the problem, apparently. “[There was] a wild ride I took us on looking for a bit of a smoke of weed for my wedding night as I don’t drink,” she wrote. “My husband was enormously wounded and very badly affected by that experience and also by the attitude of those close to him toward our marriage. It became apparent to me that if he were to stay with me he would be losing too much to bear.”

“A woman wants to be a joy to her husband,” O’Connor added. “So you love someone? Set them free.” Despite the sudden ending to their relationship, the singer says that Herridge is a “wonderful man” and that she still loves him. “He has been terribly unhappy and I have therefore ended the marriage,” she wrote. “I think he is too nice to do so. And too nice to trap.”

O’Connor married Herridge, her fourth husband, after a whirlwind romance. They wed on her 45th birthday at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. Earlier this year, the singer went about a public search for a new man on her website, wrote a series of suicidal tweets that alarmed her fans and revealed plans to release a new album next year.

Noel goes acoustic for German radio

26 12 2011

Sometimes all you need is an acoustic guitar and a willing singer.  Noel sounds pretty dang good on this acoustic version of “If I Had A Gun,” which he performed for 1 Live in Germany.  It’s even more apparent in this acoustic version that he grabbed bits of “D’ya Know What I Mean?” and “Wonderwall” when he wrote this one.

Noel recently disclosed that “AKA…What A Life” was originally written as something of a ballad but was talked into making it a dancy number.  I’d venture to guess that this performance is how the song was originally meant to be recorded.

Are these Noel’s best vocal performances?  Probably not.  But it seems obvious to me that he has a ton of passion for performing this new material.  I don’t want to overstate it, but it’s kind of like a musical rebirth (or it seems that way on this side of the speakers.)




New Van Halen “Trailer” hits the net, teases 2012 tour

26 12 2011

Apparently Van Halen is teasing it’s tour.  I understand they’re are older guys (with the exception of young Wolfgang) and they aren’t going to be running around and jumping a lot.  Eddie’s had hip replacement surgery after all.  But is this the best they could put together to tease their 2012 tour?  Watching David Lee Roth slide and shuffle around like Charlie Chaplin doesn’t entice me to buy tickets.  A new album might awaken my interest in seeing them live.

More Christmas Songs that Don’t Suck

25 12 2011

In my last post, I focused on rock and roll Christmas songs.   Most of the holiday songs I like — the versions as opposed to the tunes themselves — are not rock and roll.  The older I get, I probably like more mellow stuff.  I get the emotion from the beauty more than the energy of music these days.  In the past, I’ve made Christmas CD’s which included a lot of what follows.  I hope you enjoy.

Heads up: this next one is ridiculous.  I might be the funniest song I’ve ever heard!

This is a close friend of mine, Caleb Gilbert, playing a Christmas classic on the highland pipes, with his band, The Blackhouse Ceilidh. Love it.

This one isn’t typically played at Christmas, but it’s the song for the New Year, penned by Scotland’s most beloved poet, Rabbie Burns

And by Dougie MacLean





Christmas Songs that Don’t Suck (or my favorite rock and roll Christmas songs)

17 12 2011

I can hardly stand to be in earshot of the radio stations playing holiday music this time of year.  The stations with all Christmas programming play the same 40-ish songs over and over and over and over…  I’ve heard no more than 2 to 2 1/2 hours worth of holiday music this season (while in banks and stores, at work, etc.)  and have heard “Happy Holidays” by Andy Williams no less than 4 times.  I’ve heard Gene Autry’s “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” about as many times.  A song I loved as a kid, “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney is in constant rotation.  I could go on.

Besides most of them being trite and annoying, they’re simply overplayed.  When possible, I avoid “Christmas music,” at least the stuff not sung by choirs.  But I admit to having some fondness for a handful of more rocky holiday songs.  Some of them I probably like primarily because I like the artist who recorded them.  Others I like just because they’re catchy.  Here are some of my favorite rock Christmas songs.

Long Live Box

15 12 2011

According to CNN, the box set is back (or, in the least, it didn’t disappear entirely.)

The 20th anniversary Nevermind (Nirvana) set and The Smile Sessions (The Beach Boys), The Smiths Complete (The Smiths), along with several others, are featured in this article.