Country legend Willie Nelson turned 80 yesterday and in celebration, he has released his audition tape for The Hobbit 2.
How many arms have held you, and hated to let you go, how many, how many, I wonder, but I really don't want to know.
Many people here in the U.S. have heard Willie Nelson's Christmas song, Pretty Paper (first made famous by Roy Orbison). But few know that it was based on a disabled man who sold pencils and paper in front of Leonard's Department Store (the one with its own subway). Or was it a blind couple? His name has been lost to history even as he is immortalized in song.
The man behind the classic sound of Al Green, Memphis producer and soulmeister supreme Willie Mitchell has passed on. Many of the Al Green sides are legendary, of course, and very well known (as is the fantastic "I Can't Stand the Rain, by Ann Peebles), but be sure and head over to the excellent Funky 16 Corners where you can hear three of his lesser-known but deeply grooving productions. Fat stuff. So long, Willie Mitchell, and thanks for the wonderful music.
Modesty Blaise has been my childhood heroine, ever since I was old enough to read the daily strip in the comics section of the newspaper. As she and Willie Garvin swashbuckled their way through adventures, she was a role model unlike any other woman I'd known. Books and movies about her were popular in my youth. Now, decades later, the entire series is being offered in print, as a series of graphic novels each containing three full stories using the original artworks accompanied by the author Peter O'Donnell's commentary and thoughts, including 'censored' strips like one in issue #12 . He was also the creator of my other favourite comic, Garth.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the iconic American folk song The Wabash Cannonball was written as a tribute to an actual train, but in fact, in an interesting case of life-imitates-art, the actual train name was inspired by the song. The Lake Erie, Wabash, and St. Louis Railroad Company was formed in 1852, but there was no train called the “Cannonball” when the song was first sung late in the 19th century. There have been many, many, many wonderful versions through the years, but I think Roy Acuff pretty much owns it, wouldn't you say? [NOTE: See hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
Willie Nelson "Superman" featuring Snoop, Snoop Dogg "My Medicine" featuring Willie Nelson, live at Melkweg.
Kid Bailey was a Mississippi Delta bluesman blessed with the kind of slightly gravel-tinged voice that emanates authority. His recording career was a very short one, however, consisting of precisely one day, and yielding precisely two songs. Very little is known about Bailey himself, and the identity of the 2nd accompanying guitarist on his only known recording remains a mystery, though there has been some some speculation. I've been doing a little speculating myself, regarding some of Bailey's lyrics, and any of you blues linguists who might want to help fill in the blanks, please see the [more inside]. [more inside]
There's a whole lotta Mefiers interested in the upcoming Led Zeppelin reunion, and it got me to thinking, let's pay a little visit to the Poet Laureate of the blues, Mr. Willie Dixon. After all, without him, there wouldn't have been a Whole Lotta Love, or a Bring It On Home, or... hell, there might not have been any Zep at all... His music has been interpreted and reinterpreted by an astonishing number of musicians. The man wrote a whole lotta songs. Oh, and, he played a little bit of bass, too. He was a whole lotta great.
Townes van Zandt. In some theaters now is a new documentary about his life called Be Here to Love Me--a life that followed the all-too-typical path of a star that burns too bright: the promise of talent, addiction, and untimely death. (see the trailer here or here). Townes van Zandt was a singer/songwriter, often included in the folk or country genres, whose biggest accomplishment was when Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard took his song Poncho and Lefty to the top of the charts. But even though he never was famous, he has achieved legendary status. Steve Earle once said "Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that."
Adventure - based on the classic text game of the same name - was the first game ever to contain an easter egg. It seems laughably primitive these days, but when it first hit shelves, Adventure was a programming masterpiece. The text version of Adventure (by Willie Crowther and Don Woods) required hundreds of KB and a mainframe computer to operate, so much that Atari brass told Warren Robinett not to even bother with a 2600 version. He did anyway, and the results are near legendary. The 2600 version of Adventure went on to sell over a million copies at $25 a pop. For his effort Robinett recieved absolutely nothing beyond his $22,000/year salary. Play the 2600 Adventure. (Flash) If you're one of those who requires some eye candy, why not download the Quake 3 Adventure Map, instead?
Weenies galore: Pre-internet, it was used to drop your pants and sit down in the office photocopier. Now you can scan your nob and display it proudly to the rest of the world. Now I guess this is what they really meant about the Internet bringing great progress to the world...
(Disclaimer: kids probably shouldn't see this)
(Disclaimer: kids probably shouldn't see this)