Roger (Finally) Answers Your Other Questions, Eddie

Answering Eddie, lest he slap me down:

You’ve done some writing about biking, including a really good post a while back with tips and such. As someone very new to biking, I had some additional queries I wanted to bounce off you. I started riding again last year, and currently ride just about every day, usually to work and back, if nothing else. I’ve started doing lots of my errands and running around on the bike as well. Anyway, I’ve had some questions related to things that come up when I ride. So, here goes:

  1. Distance-wise, how much do you ride on an average day? What is the most you’ve ever ridden in one day? (Either all in one stretch or in smaller increments with stops in between?) When you ride a lot in one day, how tired are you the next day?

First, less since the child. Used to just go around town. Occasionally, a trek to the neighboring towns (Troy, Delmar, Colonie). I’d start in March or April and get really exhausted, but as I rode more and more, not so much a greater amount, but just the repetitions, it was easier in October/November. Of course, this has been bollocked by the accident. Doubt I ever went more than 20 miles in a day. Well, maybe in rural Jamestown when I was on country roads.

6. Does Carol ride too? Keith and I have a lot of fun riding together.

She did a few times. But she had this big, heavy bike that she hated. When my last bike died (or was stolen; I’ve had enough in each category, I don’t remember), I purloined hers, with her blessing. She keeps threatening to get another bike. Maybe when Lydia starts to ride.

2. Speed-wise, how fast do you go, on average? Do you feel pressured to try and go faster than you are able to or than you feel is safe when you are riding in traffic?

Again, much slower on her old bike than my previous vehicles. I used to go on Albany’s bike path and pass about four times the number of bikers that passed me; now the numbers are reversed. No, I don’t feel pressured. That’s the kind of thinking that would just lead me to road rage. And you know what Bruce Banner says about anger.

3. How do you deal with nerves when you’re riding in traffic? Do you ride on streets that are typically very busy? Do you try to plan routes around heavy traffic areas?

I avoid crossing highway entrances (Everett Road in Albany), though I have walked through there with the bike occasionally. I don’t feel nervous unless I don’t have a helmet and leather jacket options for some reason. Generally, I look for roads with shoulders. From experience, drivers are more aggressive on four-lane roads than two, so, unless they have shoulders, I tend to avoid the latter when possible. (Heading to my house, Western Avenue is generally safer than Washington, for that very reason.) I’ve been know to zigzag through residential neighborhoods, which tend to be saner.

4. Do you look at weenies like me, who will ride on some streets but not the ones that are really busy, with contempt?

Well, I never could think ill of you, Eddie, but no. The southern end of Lark Street in Albany is narrow, yet has parking on both sides; I work hard to avoid it.

5. I have a hard time keeping a steady course when I have to look over my shoulder to check traffic and sometimes when I signal turns. It’s gotten better the more I ride, but do you have any advice? I’m afraid of drifting into a parked car or into the other lane on narrow streets due to this.

Unless you buy a mirror, which I have never used, you may have to stop pedaling when you look. I seem to have pretty good peripheral vision, so I’m usually only looking at about 20 degrees off center. Someone told me you can “train” your peripheral vision, but I’ve never done it. You may need to practice this, but I lean ever so slightly to the right when I put out my left hand.

7. Why is it on windy days, that no matter which way I turn, I’m always riding directly into the wind?

God has a sense of humor. At least I think She does.

ROG

Eddie Mitchell Makes Me Go Country

Eddie called me out to comment on EW’s top 25 country albums you have to hear, even if you don’t like country music. Since I pretty much do whatever Eddie requests – he asks so nicely – I could do naught but respond, albeit reluctantly. I am not what I’d call a big country fan; I don’t dislike it, just don’t follow it much.
Once, though, I did. Back in the days when AM radio was king, there were many stations that operated pretty much from sunrise to sundown. Then there were these mega “clear channel” stations that one could hear from a great distance at night. From my home in Binghamton, NY, I could hear stations in New York City and Cleveland. I could also get WWVA, Wheeling, West Virginia, a country station.
Also, my grandfather brought home this album “50 Stars, 50 Hits” on “two long-playing albums”, as the pitchman said it.

Now to the list:
*means I Have It

*1. Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash
Maybe it’s because I heard it first, but I prefer San Quentin. Not that this is a bad album. I also liked the American Recordings John R. did later in his life. In fact, if you considered that best of American Recordings album that came in the posthumous box set, I might pick that.

*2. Home, Dixie Chicks
As I mentioned recently, bought this to protest the protest of the Dixie Chicks. Ironically, this album has one mighty patriotic tune in particular that was on the charts when the controversy developed. I like it, but it seems terribly high in the pantheon of all country music.

3. Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., Dwight Yoakam
I like him when I see him on TV or when he appears on a compilation album I have, but have none of his albums.

*4. Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn
I’m quite fond of this Jack White-produced disc.

5. Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson
Have some Willie, not this.

6. Carnegie Hall Concert, Buck Owens and His Buckaroos
No Buck except on 50 Stars.

7. Modern Day Drifter, Dierks Bentley
Don’t know him. See he already has a greatest hits album.

8. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Miranda Lambert
I heard her name mentioned in a positive review on CBS Sunday Morning, I believe.

9. The Complete Reprise Sessions, Gram Parsons
The only Gram I have is on the expanded version of the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo CD.

10. Time Well Wasted, Brad Paisley
Know the name. He’s playing around here soon.

11. Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton
Eddie will probably hate me, but I own no solo Dolly.

*12. Elite Hotel, Emmylou Harris
Own it on LP, haven’t played it in years. Prefer Blue Kentucky Girl from that era.

13. Georgia Hard, Robbie Fulks
Don’t know.

*14. Trio, Dolly Parton/Linda Ronstadt/Emmylou Harris
Bought unheard based on all those great Emmylou harmonies on Linda’s albums, and Dolly’s harmony on Linda’s “I’ll Never Be Married”. Very fond of this album.

15. Gold, Hank Williams
For all the covers of Hank Williams songs I own and songs referring to Hank, from Johnny Cash to Neil Young that I have, unless I got one in the end days of my LP collecting, I just don’t have any collections.

16. Hag — The Best of Merle Haggard, Merle Haggard
I think that I didn’t get the parody that was “Okie from Muskogee” and dismissed him out of hand. Know better now, but haven’t rectified the void in my collection.

17. Come On Over, Shania Twain
I do remember some sultry video from this, which I did hear as country particularly. And that “Man, I’m a Woman” song’s from here, too. The album sold 20 bajillion copies. My feeling: meh.

*18. Guitar Town, Steve Earle
My first Steve Earle was a live album I didn’t much like. The second was I Feel Alright, which just love. Guitar Town is a really good album, but it was so hyped in my circle of friends, it couldn’t bear the weight.

19. These Days, Vince Gill
Own none Like to watch him on TV occasionally.

*20. Almost Blue, Elvis Costello
It was an acquired taste for me. Grew to like and respect it, rather than embrace it.

21. Here for the Party, Gretchen Wilson
I know who she is, but not this album.

22. The Definitive Collection, the Flying Burrito Brothers
Know them, have heard them on FM radio, but own none.

23. Revival, Gillian Welch
If there’s one artist on this list I’m mostly likely to purchase, it’s Gillian Welch. I’ve heard her music at other people’s houses.

24. Horse of a Different Color, Big & Rich
Know them only by reputation, not all good.

*25. Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
My wife loves Alison Krauss, and we saw her in April 2003 at the Palace Theater in Albany. There are tracks of hers on albums I like but I haven’t loved a whole album since that greatest hits album she put out back c. 1994 when she was still brunette and more zaftig, until this one. But is it country?

I have eight out of 25.

What, no Patsy Cline? I would also found room for Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter and maybe Rosanne Cash.

Your turn, Eddie.

ROG

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As I’ve noted, I often play music based on artists’ birthdays. This week, I have quite a few albums by these folks:
May 9, 1949, Billy Joel
May 10, 1961, Bono (Paul Hewson) (U2)
May 12, 1948, Steve Winwood
May 13, 1950, Stevie Wonder
May 14, 1953, David Byrne
And at least one from these people:
May 9, 1937, Dave Prater (Sam & Dave)
May 9, 1944, Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield/Poco)
May 9, 1945, Steve Katz (Blues Project/Blood, Sweat & Tears)
May 10, 1946, Dave Mason (Traffic)
May 10, 1946, Donovan (Donovan Leitch)
May 11, 1941, Eric Burdon (Animals)
May 13, 1966, Darius Rucker (Hootie & The Blowfish)
May 14, 1936, Bobby Darin
May 15, 1948, Brian Eno
May 15, 1953, Mike Oldfield
May 16, 1966, Janet Jackson
So sue me, I bought that first Hootie album. Oh, and the exact dates of the birthdays I’ve seen different by a day or two.

Last night, Carol and I saw a musical based on the music of one of these folks as a pre-anniversary present for ourselves. Wanna guess which one?

I was thinking about a couple questions Eddie (yes, him again) posed:
1. Is it any slight to the original artist when someone else’s version of a song becomes the definitive one? Even if the original artist wrote it?
I can think of at least a couple examples where the original artist acknowledged the superiority of the cover. One was Otis Redding’s Respect; he said of Aretha Franklin something like “That girl done stole that song from me.”
Then even Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails noted, somewhat wistfully, that Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” had become the definitive one.
[And speaking of which: Trent Reznor for intellectual property czar.]
I suppose it depends how the songwriter feels about the song. If it it’s his or her “baby”, then losing it might not feel so hot. But if the writer is open to new possibilities, then I’d think it’d be an honor. Unless…
2. What do you think about cases where a cover is actually quite inferior to the original, yet is wildly more successful?
I’m trying to think of an example of this, actually. Do you have something in mind? Can anyone think of an original, written by the artist, that the cover was not good, yet sold well? Purists might pick Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”, but Whitney Houston’s version was not technically terrible, just mind-numblingly overplayed.

ROG

Baby Boomer Hits

When I have the worst sinus headache ever and can’t breathe through either nostril because of allergies, I’m reduced to using the e-mails from one of my sisters. But before that, one Sentential Link that struck me:

[Gram] Parsons is such a cutie in those old pics, that it almost makes you wonder what he’d look like had he lived. Would he have the rugged, survived-the-hard-life handsomeness of Kris Kristofferson?
Or the perennial hit-by-several-speeding-trains-simultaneously, lucky-to-be-alive-and-upright look of Keith Richards?

It was fun being a baby boomer . . . until now. Some of the artists of the
60’s are revising their hits with new lyrics to accommodate aging baby boomers:

They include:

Herman’s Hermits — Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Walker.

Ringo Starr — I Get By With a Little Help From Depends.

The Bee Gees — How Can You Mend a Broken Hip?

Bobby Darin — Splish, Splash, I Was Havin’ a Flash.

Roberta Flack — The First Time Ever I Forgot Your Face.

Johnny Nash — I Can’t See Clearly Now !

Paul Simon — Fifty Ways to Lose Your Liver

The Commodores — Once, Twice, Three Times to the Bathroom.

Marvin Gaye — Heard I need the Grape Nuts.

Procol Harem — A Whiter Shade of Hair!

Leo Sayer— You Make Me Feel Like Napping.

The Temptations — Papa’s Got a Kidney Stone.

Abba — Denture Queen !

Tony Orlando — Knock 3 Times On The Ceiling If You Hear Me Fall.

Helen Reddy — I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore !

Leslie Gore — It’s My Procedure, and I’ll Cry If I Want To!

And everyone’s favorite:

Willie Nelson — On the Commode Again
ROG

The Rules: Part 3 (of 37): Playing Music

As you may know if you know me, or if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I am a compulsive about some things such as filing my recorded music. I’ve likely mentioned that I’m also obsessive about playing music I own. I figure that if I own it, I should play it. If I don’t play it, I should probably get rid of it.

To that end, I play music on a musician’s or classical composer’s birthday week. This week, in honor of their birthdays today, it’s Frank Sinatra and Dionne Warwick. This birthday thing also applies to compilers of compilations, so the guy with the Omnibus coming out is heard in January, while the Eddie-torial pledge dude gets played in November.

There used to be a time when I’d play a given artist two or three times during the course of a year, but with an increasing number of recordings, I’ve had to figure out how to parse some groups.

Simon & Garfunkel I play in November, Art’s birthday; I also play my one Garfunkel album. Simon solo I play in October.
I have so many Rolling Stones albums that I play the store-bought ones in July, Mick Jagger’s birthday, and the ones I’ve burned in December, Keith Richards’ birthday.
Led Zeppelin gets played in January, Jimmy Page’s birthday; solo Robert Plant in August.
I play Crosby and CPR in August, Stills in January and Young in November. CSN(&Y) I play in February, Nash’s birthday, since I have no Nash on CD.
The Police get played in July, Stuart Copeland’s birthday, while Sting gets played in October. (Why not Andy Sumner as the Police trigger? Because his birthday came later in the year, in December.)
Don Henley in July; the Eagles in November, Glenn Frey’s birthday.
With so many Beach Boys albums, most of them I play in June, Brian Wilson’s birthday, along with solo Brian Douglas Wilson. However, the box set and the greatest hits I play in December, the birthdays of Dennis Carl Wilson and Carl Dean Wilson. (I didn’t know until yesterday that Dennis’ middle name was Carl; how odd.)
The Beatles are the most convoluted. Solo artists in their respective months, of course. In October, for John, I play the canon, the British albums as they were originally produced, since he was the leader of the group; also the Past Masters, which represent, mostly, the singles. February I play the American albums, since George was the first Beatle to come to the U.S., visiting his sister Louise. June, Paul’s month, gets the other items: the Anthologies, the BBC, the remixes of Yellow Sub and Let It Be, and LOVE. As for July, Ringo gets all the many Beatle cover albums.

Speaking of which, I’m in the midst of moving my tribute albums from their own section to the end of the run of the given artist; there are now so many that I forget.

As for the rest of my music: February gets compilation love albums, compilation soul albums (except Motown, played in November for Berry Gordy’s birthday) and, if the Oscars are in February, soundtracks, which usually takes a couple months in any case. As for the rest of the albums, other compilations, artists with birthdays I don’t know, I play whenever I want. Well, except the Chieftains and Clannad, which I listen to in March, and Christmas albums, which I play between December 1 and Epiphany. Oh, and Halloween albums for guess when?

The requirement to play, say John Lennon in October, doesn’t preclude me from playing it again in March just because I feel like it.
ROG