Saturday, February 26, 2011

Help The Bearsuit Invade The United States!

One of my favorite bands ever is a rag-tag group of fab-fab kids from Norwich, England, called Bearsuit. (This is their website. This is their myspace page. This is their Facebook page.) They're coming to South By South West in Austin in a couple of weeks, & they need a little financial help. It's one of the few investments these days that actually has valuable returns - they get to keep making their wonderful music & can spread the word all over the world!

If you have a shilling to spare, please visit this page at wefund dot co dot uk to help them financially. I have!

I've met them, & they're as nice as their music is amazing. Help Bearsuit establish a foothold in this land!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

With Bells On?

I resisted using the idiom "with bells on" - which means, in case you don't know, "eagerly, ready to participate" as in the cliché "I'll be there with bells on!" - all during my show (which did have lots of bells on it) & I am only using it now because I don't want to have to think of any more bell puns. Quite frankly I'm a little tired of bells. I keep making up new churches & what their bells say to the tune of the children's poem "Oranges & Lemons." That's how many bells are ringing in my head.

But! Last night's show was wonderful, & you should & can listen to it at self help radio dot net. It's there, along with last night's episode of Sugar Substitute. It is a small sample of the immense number of songs about bells out there, but not a very good sample of songs with bells in them, since that's not really what Self Help Radio does. Unless I want it to.

The show about bells rings out, calling everyone to it, like a giant bell in the middle of a Medieval village! Without, you know, all the cholera & stuff.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bells Are Ringing!

To prepare you for tonight's Self Help Radio, which is about bells, please enjoy this odd YouTube video of famous bells in Europe:

Though that's pretty much the show I'm doing tonight, perhaps you'll still want to listen. It's at midnight Kentucky time, on the air in Lexington at 88.1 fm, online all over the world (except perhaps China & any Arab state in revolution) at WRFL dot FM.

Ask not for whom the Self Help Radio show about bells tolls. It's all for you!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Whither Bells?

Wow, there are a lot of songs about bells. Do you know which genre has the most songs about bells? You might guess something like electronica, or maybe jazz, but you'd be wrong. It's doo-wop. FUCKING doo-wop. Doo-wop, you know, defined as "a style of vocal-based rhythm & blues music, which developed in African-American communities in the 1940s & which achieved mainstream popularity in the 1950s & early 1960s." I swear to you, I listened to fifty or more doo-wop songs for this show. I might have more to listen to. I'm not done.

(Incidentally, while we call that music "doo-wop" now, the Wikipedia article I quote above points out that it wasn't used at the time, at least until 1961 or so.)

I thought, as I was listening to all that doo-wop, how interesting it might be to do a radio show - perhaps just one hour - that featured doo-wop, not only of the time, of course, but modern stuff too, if it exists, which I am sure it does. There are probably people who obsessively hoard it, & there are probably doo-wop shows on community &/or college radio stations right now. Why in fact there are!

The doo-wop songs I listened to were concerned with school bells, wedding bells, chapel bells, bells in their hearts, bells bells bells. I don't know if it's the subject matter - marriage, school, heartbreak - or the lovely sound of the word "bell" that made them want to sing so many songs about bells. Or maybe bells were more prominent in their world, in urban centers where doo-wop was born & flourished. The only bell I ever hear around here is from a church a few blocks to the south & frankly it's a bit anemic.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Preface To Bells: For Whom Do They Toll?

For me?

You know the John Donne poem, right?

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

That wasn't the inspiration for this show. It was the inspiration for at least two books - Hemingway's, of course, & I'm sure that someone has called a book "No Man Is An Island." In a way, Simon & Garfunkel's "I Am A Rock" is an answer song for this poem. But it wasn't the inspiration for this week's Self Help Radio.

Instead, I was listening to Phil Ochs a few months ago, & his "cover" of Poe's poem "The Bells." I looked up Poe's poem (you can read it yourself here) to see how well Ochs translated it into a song. I have always wanted to sing "The Raven." Ochs did an amazing job. & then I probably thought, maybe I should do a show about bells.

That's not a great story, so invent something about me being an in old church & a magical bell ringing out for the first time in ages. Perhaps insert a politician or sports hero you enjoy. Don't tell me who, though, because I probably wouldn't know who it was, or if I did, it might horrify me. You can think that's the story.

Also, why are you so afraid of poetry?