Friday, January 23, 2015

Self Help Radio 012315: Shoulders

(Original image here.)

Well, after the show today & all week on this blog, what can I say about shoulders that I haven't already said?  Lots!  I haven't said anything about shoulders!  I didn't talk about shoulder anatomy or shoulder health or even stuff like "what your shoulders say about you"!  I barely scratched the surface of shoulders.  Okay, that sounds weird.  It sounds like I'd get skin under my nails & there'd be some blood.  Anyway.  Shoulders, am I right?  Am I right?

The shoulders Self Help Radio show is where it was always meant to be at Self Help Radio Shoulders Central.  While there, pay attention to login + password information.  All the songs I played, but not my terrible rendition of Denver John's "Sunshine On My Shoulders," are listed below.

Take care of your shoulders!  & thanks for listening.

(part one)

"There's A Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder" McKinney's Cotton Pickers _Bix Restored, Vol. 5_
"Don't Come Cryin' On My Shoulder" Louis Jordan _Louis Jordan& His Tympany Five, Vol. 1: 1938-1940_
"There's A New Moon Over My Shoulder" Tex Ritter _Collectors Series_

"(Danger) Soft Shoulders" Sonny Til _Solo_
"Cold Shoulder" Johnny Cash _The Man In Black 1954-1958_
"Angel On My Shoulder" Shelby Flint _Shelby Flint_
"Look Over Your Shoulder" Helen Shapiro _At Abbey Road 1961-1967_
"You Can Cry On My Shoulder" Brenda Holloway _The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 5: 1965_

"Don't Cry On My Shoulder" Sam Cooke _The Man Who Invented Soul_
"Head & Shoulders" Pattie Young _Detroit's Golden Soul: The Ron Murphy Masters_
"Go Cry On Somebody's Else's Shoulder" The Mothers Of Invention _Freak Out!_
"Soft Shoulders & Dangerous Curves" The Willis Brothers _Thunder On The Road_
"Shoulder To Shoulder" George Jones _Where Grass Won't Grow_

"Ride On My Shoulder" Paul Revere & The Raiders _Hard 'N' Heavy (With Marshmallow)_

(part two)

"Chips On My Shoulder" Soft Cell _Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret_
"Shoulder Pads # 1 & 2" The Fall _Bend Sinister_
"Looking Over Your Shoulder" Even As We Speak _A Three Minute Song Is One Minute Too Long_
"Across My Shoulder" The Primitives _Lazy 86 - 88 (Singles Collection)_

"Over Your Shoulder" Echo & The Bunnymen _Echo & The Bunnymen_
"No Hard Shoulder To Cry On" Julian Cope _Jehovahkill_
"Over My Shoulder" I Am Kloot _Gods & Monsters_

"Young Shoulders" Magic Bullets _Magic Bullets_
"Shoulder" The School _Loveless Unbeliever_
"Let Me Lend My Shoulder" Big Harp _White Hat_
"Cold Shoulders" Gold Motel _Gold Motel_

"Some Dandruff On Your Shoulder" Jens Lekman _I Know What Love Isn't_
"Over My Shoulder" Paul Banks _Banks_

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Whither Shoulders?

If you are a weirdo & read this blog with any regularity, I want to apologize for writing so late on Thursdays.  I try to write earlier, but I spend Thursdays putting the show together, & I'm totally a last minute sort of guy.  Most of the papers I wrote in college were written the night before.  So if the show seems shabby - well, that's why.

Self Help Radio is a family show, so I would never talk about ridiculous sexual stuff on the air, but I do want to point out that shoulders are things that both men & women find attractive (this articles says women choose mates by shoulder size first), & like most everything in my life, I found that out in a weird way, with my best friend in high school exclaiming that a woman in another car (we were driving) that she had "amazing shoulders."

Listen, puberty was confusing for me, & what I mostly fixated on was the girls I thought were pretty, & I remember being in Home Economics class in eighth grade listening to guys comment about a particular girl's ass.  An ass?  You can be attracted to the thing people poop out of?  All very confusing.  Mostly, I remember, a girl's face & something about a her shape - the curve of her body - was what made my blood boil.

I wish I could've been more open about my perplexity, but I just filed it away: "my friend likes women's shoulders."  & I paid more attention to shoulders after that.

What happened later on in life, of course, is that if I fell in love, I tended to appreciate pretty much all of the object of my affection.  Including their shoulders.

None of this will be discussed tomorrow on Self Help Radio, but there'll be many other shoulder-related things discussed as well as lots of shoulder songs.  That's from 7 to 9am on 88.1 fm in Lexington, & online everywhere at wrfl dot fm.  & of course it'll end up on the the Self Help Radio website.

See you then!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Preface To Shoulders: Shoulders The Band

Some time in the early 1990s, someone gave me a cassette tape of a local Austin band called Shoulders.    They don't play out as much as they used to, but at that time they seemed to be on the verge of some kind of fame (or infamy) that never quite materialized.  (This happened to so many bands & musicians I saw in Austin during the twenty years I lived there, but there's no reason to believe that doesn't happen in pretty much any city with a thriving music scene.)  You can see their website (not updated since last September) here, & there's a Wikipedia page here with more information than I'll give on this blog.

Though the Wiki page calls their work "drunken carnival music," it's not a stretch to simply say they sounded, from the music to lead singer Michael Slattery's voice, like Tom Waits.  Pretty much every band these days that's trying to make "drunken carnival music" (there's a band in town called the Ford Theatre Reunion that does pretty much the same thing) is chasing the dragon that is Tom Waits' two seminal 1980s records, Swordfishtrombones & Rain Dogs.  I don't believe this is an insult - there's a whole genre of music, power pop, which is a subset of bands trying desperately to make perfect pop a la the Beatles.  & truly, there were some Shoulders songs that were much, much better than what Waits was doing at the same time.

I listened to that cassette a lot, & was a little let-down when they released a record which contained re-recordings of many of the songs on the record.  Too slick, I thought.  In particular, they had somehow managed to overproduce a lot of the delightful rough edges of my favorite Shoulders song, "Uncle Achin."  I had seen them play at least half a dozen times, but (if the Wikipedia page is to be believed), they achieved some notoriety in Europe, & toured there.  At some point, I didn't go see them anymore; in fact, I feel like they weren't even gigging in Austin anymore.  Or I just wasn't paying attention.

I bring the band up because (although this hasn't happened) it's usual for me, when I do a show, to get a request not for a song that fits a theme, but for a band whose name that fits the theme.  Maybe in the next couple of days someone will ask me to play a Shoulders song.  But as I've talked about before, it's one of my dumb rules that it's the subject of the song, not the band's name, not the name of the album, that qualifies a song for my show's theme.  If Shoulders did a song about shoulders, yes!  I'd play them.  But as far as I know - & I confess I never heard their second record - they don't.  So I won't.

It doesn't stop me from sharing one of their songs here, though.  Here they are, three years ago, performing my favorite song of theirs, at one of my favorite pubs in Austin, which sadly no longer exists:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Today Is My Birthday

Yes, I was born on this day forty-seven years ago.  I know this because it says so on all my official documents.  I don't have any memories of the day itself.  So of course everything I say about that day should be taken with a grain of salt, which is an odd idiom meaning "with healthy skepticism."

So these are the facts (or "facts"):

I was my mother's sixth child.  She was thirty-nine years old when I was born, & it had been around seventeen or eighteen years since her first child was born.  What a weirdo.

According to my oldest sister, my mother kept her pregnancy a secret, beginning what would be a lifelong embarrassment of me.  How does one keep a pregnancy in its seventh month a secret?  Baggy clothes I guess.  Ancient German deception.  When my mother went to a nearby clinic for a check-up or because she wasn't feeling right, my sister told all my other siblings that she was going to give have a baby.  She probably should have wagered on it; no one believed her.

I was born in a little clinic on the corner of Shiloh Road & Miller Road in Garland, Texas, at 9:30am.  January 20, 1968, was a Saturday.  The little clinic actually stood there, a glaring reminder of those responsible for my existence, until only a few years ago, when it was torn down & replaced by a more appropriate landmark: a giant gas station/convenience store.  I confess I have stopped there since & bought a soda.

(There's a picture of the clinic that I took in the nineties, but it's in a box somewhere & I'll never be able to find it right now.)

I was two months premature, but I've never heard anyone talk about my early moments on this earth being touch & go.  I had assumed I spent some time in an incubator or other contraption that preemies are kept in safety, but my mother tells me she took me home as soon as she could.  Again, I have no memories of that time.

Forty-seven years later, it just feels like another day.  Not nearly as dramatic as a secret pregnancy, a premature birth, a brand new gas station/convenience store!

But I'll try to enjoy it nonetheless.

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Have A Martin Luther King Jr. Story

Not that I met him or anything - he was assassinated when I was barely three months old.

This is not a good Martin Luther King, Jr., story.  It's a story about the American South, white people, & racism, & of course it involves my family.

I'm not going to mention which family member is involved.  No need to embarrass anyone who may have evolved since the incident.  A couple members of my family seem to have reformed & speak more respectfully about African-Americans now than they did in my childhood.  They voted for Obama, & not just because they are Democrats.  More members of my family, however, are unrepentant racists, & it's one of the reasons I don't enjoy visiting them.  After the 2008 election, one member of my family on Facebook just inserted Obama's name into what were already moldy racist jokes.  It's the kind of family I come from.

I hate to pussyfoot around this, but the story uses the n-word, but I'll just write "n-word."  You know what that means.

A family member was in Austin (though not to visit me).  I had already lived there for a while.  That family member met me on campus (where I worked) & we went to get something to eat.  At that time, you could drive through campus from 26th Street (now called Dean Keaton) to MLK (which was previously called 19th Street).  We were going to eat somewhere that we could get to more quickly by taking I-35, so I told my family member to go south through campus & take a left on MLK, toward the highway.  My family member noticed that the street was called Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard, & off-handedly made the observation, "They've got a street named for that [n-word] everywhere."

I sputtered & told this family member that I completely disagreed with the comment in no uncertain terms.  I was, frankly, shocked & appalled that anyone would make that observation, even one of my unrepentantly racist family members, about Martin Luther King.  Who in the world outside of Klan members didn't show him a modicum of respect?  The fact that my family member would even say the n-word in reference to him outraged me into a kind of angry incoherence.

But despite that, my reaction didn't lead to any confrontation or animosity, as this family member probably expected that from me, & besides was pretty secure in their racism.  We went to get food.  I doubtless continued to shake my head in bafflement for a while.

I have kept this memory while my family member has probably forgotten it.  One of the reasons this memory has stayed with me (in addition to its blatant awfulness) was that I was angry with myself for not standing up to this person or at the very least having something devastating to say in response.  So when I have told the story in the past, I have made myself more of a hero, adding a (what I think is) clever retort that I thought of later.  I guess I'm lying, but really it's only a lie in the sense that I made my comeback more of what I was thinking (but couldn't at that time put into words) than just me saying in horror "Oh fuck did you really say that?"

Here is how it should've gone, or did go, if my family member could have read my thoughts:

Family Member: They've got a street named for that [n-word] everywhere.
Me: Ha! You have no idea what the fuck you're talking about.  Compared to Martin Luther King, we're the [n-word]s!

But really, it wouldn't have made a bit of difference to my family member's racist world view.