Friday, April 27, 2018

Change Is Gonna Come

(I found this image here.)

This past week's Self Help Radio was the last one which will air in Kentucky on WLXU.  It would be fine if they kicked me off the air, but I'm leaving of my own volition for a couple of reasons.

The main one is the show I do on KNON.  I prerecord SHR for WLXU, but I do the Tuesday Morning Blend live, & it happens that Tuesdays is when I turn SHR in to the Lexington station.  So I have been putting two shows together on the same day (Monday) & there's a part of me that feels I haven't been giving them the attention each deserves.  & I love live radio, so if it's a choice between me sitting behind a board & playing music live & talking, or prerecording, I'm going to choose the live one, even if it isn't my beloved Self Help Radio.

The other thing is probably silly, but I listen to WLXU a good amount & it's a very community-focused station, the way radio ought to be.  But I haven't lived in Lexington for almost two years.  I have felt a little like an impostor for a while.

& KNON is about to have its Spring Pledge Drive, & I want to make sure I'm totally present to help raise moolah for that fine station.

What's going to happen to Self Help Radio?  Well, I can't just let it go, it's my deformed child, so I'll return to the podcast format, releasing a new episode every Friday at noon.  I've changed the dates on the web site to reflect that.  If you're one of the few people who actually listen, who knows?  I might try different stuff in a more-freeing podcast format.  But probably not.  I'm so set in my ways!

Listen: I have to thank so many people with regards to WLXU.  Kakie Urch asked me to help with training in the early days & I was glad to, & Hap Houlihan let me do stuff once the place was up & running, including producing the show Cradle To Grave there for a few months.  Extra special happy thanks to Chuck Clenney, who asked me to do the show on WLXU when I had left Kentucky, & to Mary Clark, who had to load my dumb show on the automation every week.  Finally, though I never met him face-to-face, much thanks to new GM Mark Royce who fortunately for me never said, "Why is this foreigner doing a show on this Kentucky station?"  Great people all, & the station is as good as it is because it's had such amazing people behind the scenes & in front of the mics.

Anyway.  Maybe you'll listen to me on Tuesdays & download the show on Fridays?  Maybe?  I hope so.  No pressure.  The pressure's all on me.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Self Help Radio 042518: Indiepop A To Z # 56

(Almost all the images found on Discogs.)

From the Melons to the Milltown brothers, from the UK to the US, up to Germany, down to Spain, over to Japan & up through Mexico, here are thirty-two tracks that I think fit the definition of indiepop, or were influential to indiepop, or had something about them that linked them to that genre. This is the fourth episode in the letter M & I suspect there'll be a lot more.  But you don't have to worry about my OCD alphabetizing again for another four months or so.

The show is now at the Self Help Radio home page, it's two hours long & split into two parts, what's in each part is below.  I hope you find some delightful stuff here - I think it's all great!

(part one)

"Eskimo" The Melons _Black & Blue_
"Sister I'm A Poet" Colin Meloy _Colin Meloy Sings Morrissey_
"32 Sweet Teeth" The Meltations _32 Sweet Teeth_

"The Ali Baba Song" Melvyn & The Smartys _Woosh! Little Teddy Recordings 1991-2001_
"Chinese Whispers" Melys _Chinese Whispers_
"You Supply The Roses" Memphis _You Supply The Roses_
"The Phone Call" Memphis _A Good Day Sailing_
"Boating" The Men Of Westennese _The Sound Of Leamington Spa, Vol. 5_

"Pop Goes The World" Men Without Hats _Greatest Hats_
"I Wonder What Went Wrong" Meow Meow! _I Wonder What Went Wrong_
"So Ist Das Leben" The Merricks _Mit Sonnenschirmen Fingen Wir Den Blütenzauber 12"_
"When You're Young & In Love" Stephin Merritt _Obscurities_
"Vilma (Ábreme La Puerta)" Meteosat _Vilma (Ábreme La Puerta)_

"Sun" Metro _Modapop: Fantasías Veraniegas - Colección Elefant (2003-2004)_
"Spend My Whole Life Loving You" Metro Trinity _The Sound Of Leamington Spa, Vol. 1_

(part two)

"Easy To Say" Metronome _This Is Stereophonic Sunshine_
"One Day Older Than Today" Mexican Kids At Home _Recycled Songs For A Happy Environment_
"Wonderful Lie" Mexico 70 _Wonderful Lie_

"Cada Dia Es Domingo (Everyday Is Like Sunday)" Mexrrissey _No Manchester_
"Chapel Gravel" Miabeane & The Asthmatic Scene _Birdsongs, Beesongs: Eardrums Spring Compilation 2009_
"When It All Comes Down" Miaow _When It All Comes Down_
"Dolly" Microdisney _Scared To Get Happy (A Story Of Indie-Pop 1980-1989)_
"Why Didn't My Parents Buy Me A Casino" Micromars _Metro_

"My Biggest Thrill" The Mighty Lemon Drops _Happy Head_
"Built Like A Car" Mighty Mighty _A Band From Birmingham_
"Dying To Hear From You" Miles Dethmuffen _Miles Dethmuffen EP_
"Morrissey, Jeff Mangum, Stephin Merritt, John Darnielle" Mikrofisch _Masters Of The Universe_
"Just A Girl" Milk _Blackbean & Placenta Sampler No. 3 1999-2000_

"The Emperor Of Oranges" Milky _Travels With A Donkey_
"Burgeois Blues 99" Milky Wimpshake _Lovers Not Fighters_
"Rain Come Down" Million Sellers _Shreds, Vol. 3_
"Roses" Milltown Brothers _Coming From The Mill 1989_

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Whither Indiepop A To Z # 56?

(I found this image over there.)

Many years ago, on my deathbed, I took my as-yet-unborn children by the hand & I said to them, "Your father did many, many foolish things in his day, my loving sprogs.  Initially I thought women would be impressed by my doggedness when later I realized it was stalking.  There were people in the service industry who should never had had to deal with me at all.  No one - I repeat no one - needn't suffer to hear me sing.  & of course I never should have had that last cookie.  But my one regret," I told them, hoping they could hear me over the sound of their little hearts breaking, "is that I never finished the indiepop a to z series on the radio.  Could you do that for me, my descendants, my heirs, my quite probably illegitimate offspring?"

They looked kindly into my fading eyes & checked their phones.  But one of them - the youngest, or maybe the oldest, or possibly one of those in-between, smiled & said, "Of course, father.  But what is radio?"

That dismal future happened too long ago, but it's never too late for me to prevent it happening again.  So please listen to another installment of the indiepop a to z series on tonight's Self Help Radio which is on WLXU, 93.9 fm in Lexington & online as well from 9-11pm eastern.  Your past self will thank you, or curse you.  It's not anything I can predict.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bob Dorough

The great Bob Dorough died today (you can read his New York Times obituary here) & I was lucky I was on the radio this morning so I could play one of his songs.  & not just any song: I played Three Is A Magic Number, the first song he wrote for what would become Schoolhouse Rock.

It's hard to overstate the effect that those songs & cartoons had on me as a child.  I was an avid watcher of Saturday Morning television, & I would put my mother's cassette tape recorder up to the little black & white television we had to record the songs (videotaping would have seemed like crazy science fiction to me) to listen to over & over.  In first grade (or maybe second), I mentioned to my teacher that I recorded them, & she asked me to bring them up to play to the class; I remember being embarrassed because I would read the little credit at the end of the cartoon, whether it was "grammar rock" or "science rock" or "multiplication rock."  The class laughed when they heard my voice on the tape.

How incredibly serendipitous that a man like Bob Dorough - a true lover of music - & a clever songwriter himself - came to not only write many of the songs, but shepherded them as Music Director for the project.  He brought in old friends like Blossom Dearie to sing some of the tunes, & the styles were diverse & mesmerizing.  I can't speak to any real knowledge about psychology, but I am willing to surmise that my own often unwieldy taste in many kinds of music may have its roots in the genres & voices Dorough encouraged & brought to the project.

Life went on.  I grew up.  I didn't watch cartoons on Saturday mornings any more.  (Saturdays I slept in.)  Then one day in twelfth grade I was at my friend Joe's house & he had an actual Multiplication Rock record.  Holy shit.  (It was this one here.)  I didn't imagine such a thing existed - it would've been like discovering a record that had all my favorite television themes on it!  I borrowed it, I taped it, I tried to share my enthusiasm with my friends.  Some were not amused - later on, my friend Russell told me that he was trying to get me interested in serious music in high school & all I cared about was "children's music."

Maybe I felt a bit of vindication when, in the 1990s, they released all the Schoolhouse Rock stuff on CD, & trendy bands covered them, & even America's Sweetheart Drew Barrymore wrote a forward for the box set booklet.  But mainly I was glad to have them - I play them regularly on my show, & even played "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here" last week on Self Help Radio.

& that dear man, that soft-spoken, Southern-accented man whose nimble fingers & quick wit made those songs that I love as much as anything I love, I am going to say he's responsible for much of my love of music.  He made learning fun, he helped me learn my times tables, his voice in my head made me realize possibilities in music I simply didn't know about at the age of five, six, seven, eight.  That it's been decades & I'm still thinking about this music - still playing it on the radio! - suggests that his work - & this includes his non-Schoolhouse Rock work, which I discovered later - it suggests that what Bob Dorough made in his long life has an element of the timeless about it.

Thank you, good sir.  I think you understood how much you were appreciated, & how much what you created was loved.  It was the best thing to have grown up with your music in my life's soundtrack.

Monday, April 23, 2018


Hold this.
In place.
What place?
Any place.
Any place?
Any place.  But here.
Then where?
When where?
Maybe now where?
Maybe nowhere.
So where?
So we're safe.
& sound?
& sound is all we'll hear.
Where is anywhere?
It has to be somewhere.
Where some are?
Some but not all.
Hardy any?
Softly most.
It's the least you can do.
Can I?
If you must.
Must I?
If you may.
May I?
If you can.
& if I can't?
Then give it back to me.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Often Forgotten

This is a thing I do: I go the usual way to get from place to place & then, if I have a little time, I turn, right or left, & go in that direction for a little while.  I often take pictures when I do that.  I often have enough sense of direction to not get completely turned around, but will often rely on the GPS to get me back home.  But this metroplex I live in is defined by sprawl & there's so much space, & so many people in that space.

Maybe my favorite thing to see & take pictures of is an abandoned building, whether a home or business, waiting for time or gentrification to destroy or reinhabit it.  This part of the world values new over old - it's crazy how many lovely old homes there are that exist, build just in the 1950s or 60s, but people still buy hastily-constructed McMansions - but there are still some decaying treasures out there, often flanked by fast food joints or unattractive, boxy strip malls.

There were many abandoned homes in Huntington, West Virginia, where I lived from 2009-2010, but I didn't take many pictures then.  The convenience of the digital camera had yet to find me.  If I went back, I would take tons.  I don't think I'll ever go back, though.

When I am out & about, I drive slowly, I make sure I'm on a four-lane road so angry drivers can zoom in frustration past my little Prius.  If I want to take a picture, I'll need to slow down or even stop.  Today I went around the block a couple of times to get a picture.  Back when I started taking pictures, in Lexington, friends warned me that I might get beaten up by people suspicious of me, but I try not to be so obvious.  Last year, in Oakland, a homeless man yelled at me & started to chase me because I guess I took a picture of his tent, but that's as close to danger as I've ever been in.

Anyway, I drove a little around Grand Prairie today, which no longer has a prairie in its city limits.  I took a few pictures.  I went from one highway to another, & was a little disappointed when it seemed I was heading home.

If you'd like to see some of the pictures I take that I like, I put them on the show's Tumblr blog.  Yes, they would be more appropriate on Instagram, but I don't think there was an Instagram when I started that blog.  It's nothing special, just like me, but it's something I enjoy.

One thing, though: I wish it were easier to get lost in this world.