Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shock, Pride

There were these two people talking near me in the library, obviously a tutoring situation. (Speaking of which, was that a comma splice?) I have been listening to them for about a half hour. I could not see them due to the configuration of the library's infrastructure. I had this whole thing built up in my mind about how they looked. It was an effeminate guy tutoring a jock. Fascinating undercurrents of maybe the guy being tutored (who was having his fair share of trouble) maybe being homophobic and resenting the tutoring but knowing he needs it because he knows he's slow and resenting that even more.

Then - shock! The guy I thought was the effeminate talker - who I could see his back - stood up while talking. He's the jock! Then I shifted slightly in my seat so I could see the "effeminate" tutorer and - shock! It's a middle aged woman!

That was interesting to me.


I was very pleased and proud of myself lately when my library purchased a whole series of new Star Trek Comic Classics after I recommended them. One of them is The Trial of James T. Kirk. The rest, if you're interested, are all displayed as "people also bought..." on the amazon site for that one. Sweet. Thanks, me from the past.

Now if only they would get Kirsty MacColl: The One and Only. Recommend it with me, won't you? Suggest a Title. Use the amazon page for information, including the ISBN. (They use the 13 digit one.) Thanks, you from right this second.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ten Albums

Tagged by Scot Ninnemann, I now add my list of ten albums that have meant the most to me. I have somehow inserted this blog into my facebook profile, or so I have been led to believe by a series of clickings with words that seemed to contradict one another. Anyway, if you're here, enjoy this if you wish:

Junior High and High School:

The Beatles:
1. Abbey Road
2. The Beatles (White album)
3. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
4. Let It Be
These four LPs belonging to my parents brought joy to hundreds of hours of homework and established the standard by which I judged any music that I have listened to later in life. It's so weird to think that the Beatles were only as long gone then as Nirvana is now.

5. Born In The U.S.A. Bruce Springsteen
Listening to this album led to his better albums like Greetings and The Wild, The Innocent, then every other Springsteen album up to and including Tunnel of Love, for which I saw the tour. Stuff after that, not so much.

6. The Other Side Of Life The Moody Blues
First arena rock show I ever saw. I was blown away. They had lights that went across the stage as the drum fills played on the title track to that album and I was hooked. I still love that album and many other Moodies albums, my latest fave being Strange Times. Fascinating trivia: The drum technician for this very tour later ran sound for Justin Bell and Lazy Susan (including me) at Decoy's in Hopkins! We had a long conversation about it and I know he wasn't lying because he is actually in the "Your Wildest Dreams" video.

7. Greatest Hits Volumes I & II Billy Joel
Not a particularly hip list so far. Just awesome, popular music. Listening to this led me to every other Billy Joel album up to and including The Bridge and then Storm Front, for both of which I saw the tour(s) Also I played these songs hundreds of times (ask my sister) on the piano, developing whatever rock piano chops I may or may not have on a given day (ask Justin).


8. The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3 Bob Dylan
Nothing further needs to be said about Bob Dylan. Assume that I bought most, if not all of the other albums by the bands on this list, saw them live at least once, and tried to be more like them.

9. Complete Collected Words Simon & Garfunkel
Really great. The amazing guitar playing is what people don't necessarily immediately think of.

10. Worker's Playtime Billy Bragg
The strange and mysterious accent. The insight into the human heart. The spare yet warm production. The colorful artwork. It is that rare thing - a perfect album. (So are 1, 2, 3, 11, 12, 13, 16)

11. Flood They Might Be Giants
This has probably been THE single biggest impact album on me as a songwriter. The "I didn't know you could do THAT!" factor was the biggest thing about it for me.

12. Across The Universe Trip Shakespeare
Such harmonies! Such melodies! Such feeling! Such poetry! And a great live show at First Avenue.

13. Blue Joni Mitchell
You know. Sad. Happy. And every other shade.

14. Automatic For The People R.E.M.
Led to earlier R.E.M. which had previously just annoyed me (courtesy of roommates) but later totally ensnared my mind and my soul.

15. #1 Record/Radio City/Third Big Star
I learned to sing and play more songs from these albums than from any other three albums except the Beatles.


16. Whatever and Ever Amen Ben Folds Five
A legitimate new thing under the sun. Virtuosic piano, which is all too rare in popular music, meets really, really great lyrics and brilliant Queen-sounding harmonies.

17. Galore Kirsty MacColl
Now I'm getting a little bit hip I think. Catchy songs, emotions, witty lyrics, harmonies, you know me. Pretty much everything I try to be.

18. Guitool Flip Nasty
Leader Cody Weathers is the ultimate DIY band/person. He's the label, he's the drummer, he's the webmaster, he's the interviewer of himself, he's the songwriter, he's the singer, he writes the hilarious liner notes, etc.

19. Keep It Together Guster
So great. Seen them twice. Clever, catchy, etc. Normal people writing about stuff normal people think about, plus other things. Lots of positive associations with their music now.

(Oh, was that more than ten? I couldn't cut it back and in fact keep thinking of others. I'll stop now though.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Big fans of Memphis Evans will be able to immediately call to mind the image of former St. Olaf German professor Hanno Klassen as featured on the cover of the Great Uncle Helmer album old man will travel. I recently heard that Hanno has passed away and felt like sharing some memories of that day.

I am sorry to hear that Hanno died. I only met him once - the day we took the photos we used for that CD - but he was quite extraordinary. We took about a hundred pictures that day. He was very patient and kind to Karl and I and he seemed to enjoy the experience. The whole time he was talking about what it was like to be in Berlin around the time of WWII, talking about his relationships, and singing songs. I can't think of anyone else I've ever met who was quite like him. One of his songs went something like this:

Cars and highways. These will pass away. Only the trees will remain.
Wind and grass - these things will remain.

His perspective on our music was that he liked the vocals but was not as fond of the "electronic" other sounds. I guess we did technically use electric guitar and bass, but that is probably the least electronically manipulated album I've ever made. This perspective was eye opening to me and I liked it. R.I.P.

Friday, February 06, 2009

An Interview with The Guy Who Threw A Shoe At George W. Bush

Memphis Evans: Hello and welcome to Memphis Evans: The Blog. Thanks for coming in today.

The Guy Who Threw A Shoe At George W. Bush: Thank you. It's nice to be here.

ME: Now listen. Let's get down to it. I do not like George W. Bush. But honestly, when you, uh, when you threw that...what the? Do you hear that?


ME: Do you hear that ticking? What is that?

TGWTASAGWB: Mmm...I'm not hearing it. Sorry.

ME: (pause, listening) Yeah, I think it stopped. So, anyway, my point is that in that video you actually made George Bush NOT look like an idiot on YouTube for the first time in his entire presidency. He dodged it like an athlete. He stayed cool. Do you have any...Hang on. There it is again. Do you hear that? You have to hear that!

TGWTASAGWB: Well...(listens) I don't. A ticking, did you say?

ME: Yeah. Or sort of a beeping? Like a, uh, right there! I just heard it!

TGWTASAGWB: Maybe. Anyway, I threw the shoe to make the point that...

ME: There! did it a bunch of times. You can't tell me you didn't hear that! I have to go see what that is. It's driving me nuts. Hang on.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Many and Various

Most of the time people err on the side of adding apostrophe's to word's that don't actually need them. But every once in a while the opposite happen's. I saw a sermon title printed outside a church that looked like this:


It is not a polytheistic church as far as I know.


I was just investigating the Chinese New Year after clicking on the ox at the yahoo homepage and I realized I am totally this metal pig. That makes me want to write an early R.E.M.-like song but probably I won't.


Marvin Up?

"What's Going On?" is arguably Marvin Gaye's greatest song and the title track to one of my favorite albums of all time. The second song on that album is the excellent "What's Happening Brother?". Then the album takes a detour into something called "Flying High (In The Friendly Sky)". I propose that Marvin Gaye copped out. The next song should have been called "Hot Enough For Ya?". He could have made an entire album of small-talky, opening questions. "Hey, How's It Going?" - I can hear it now in my mind. "Hey, Man, Just Checkin' In." "What's Up?" Maybe something for the Spanish listeners, a la Stevie Wonder - "Que Pasa, Hombre?"

Well, since he was off to such a great start, it's just a missed opportunity, that's all I'm sayin'. Gaye's tragic 1984 murder means we will never know if he truly had such a concept album in him.


The best example of everyone's favorite band acronym in a comic strip:

Right here

or (a close second)

Or right here


Misheard Aphorisms:
Keep your powder dry and your enemes drier.
Keep your friends close and pass the ammunition.