Mama’s Little Girl - Paul McCartney
A killer rare tune that Johnny Lloyd Rollins sent to me. :)
How can I possibly put into words what Paul McCartney means to me?
I’ve spent the majority of his 70th birthday lying in bed, doped up on pain medication, after breaking my leg this past weekend. To say I’m bummed out would be an understatement, but somehow, through all of that, like so many other times in my life, I’ve found solace and optimism in the music of Macca. The man is simply the great genius of our lifetime.
I can never get away from his influence, no matter how far I stray. There’s always a reminder, maybe it’s a riff of mine that recalls one of his classics, or a hint of melody from some other contemporary artist that I immediately recognize as a subtle nod. Or it could be just one of the million times a day his songs bounce around the airwaves. Whatever it is, his shadow looms over the entire world, whether people realize it or not.
Paul’s often blasted for being the lightweight Beatle…but seriously, how can anyone truly dismiss his output or contributions? It’s a given that he was the most musically gifted of the four Fabs – an effortlessly brilliant player and singer – but he was also one that pushed boundaries, keeping up with John neck and neck in their formative years, and eventually surpassing him with his own inventive visionary concepts in their later work. For each occasional throwaway piece of “granny music” that Lennon derided, Paul was also busy blazing the trails for new genres (“Helter Skelter”), shaping generations with poignant ballads that John would call his best ever (“Hey Jude”, “Let It Be”), and even belting out simple, primitive rockers that John himself wished he’d written (“Oh! Darling”, “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road”).
Sounds kinda like I’m on an anti-John trip, but believe me, I’m not…Lennon has long been my favorite Beatle. I could go on for hours about how different he was from Paul, yet equally brilliant in his own idiosyncratic way. Other days it’s George, that elusive, enigmatic cynic, whose often-subtle contributions were regularly overlooked in the shadow of the two-headed monster that dominated the band. Or maybe I need to pump up Ringo a bit – the perfect drummer for the perfect band. The luckiest man in showbiz? Perhaps. But also a tremendously underrated timekeeper.
Today’s all about Paul though. And I must say, I’ve long been in love with his second solo album, the amazing RAM. In the weeks since its recent re-issue, it’s become no less than an obsession. I’ve read that it’s been called the “grandfather of indie pop.” Like many of his greatest triumphs, it was truly ahead of its time. When it was originally released in 1971, both the critics and his fellow Beatles bashed it, calling it “inconsequential” and “an embarrassment.” But what the hell did they expect from him? He’d already achieved near perfection on repeated efforts, raising the bar so high it would be virtually impossible to ever top himself. Where do you go after masterminding Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road, not to mention being a driving force behind the slew of other classics that came before and between? The press were eager to pounce on him for not fitting their ideal of what they thought he should be. And his former bandmates were so blinded by their own anger and frustration with him, they couldn’t put his new music into any kind of perspective. They didn’t recognize the inventive arrangements and clever quirks of a master tunesmith. All they heard were the sounds of Paul goofing off, not taking himself seriously, and delivering material that could only serve to deflate the legend of his so-called genius. All the while, Paul was feeling (perhaps for the first time in years) completely liberated in the process.
Needless to say, the record has aged really well. If McCartney was the sloppy set of homespun demos from a troubled soul lost at sea, then RAM is the sound of a man finding himself confidently. It’s Paul not giving a shit what anyone thinks (like the first record), but also him stepping up his game, if only because he knew he could. It’s him venting his anger with an introductory “piss off,” followed by his most blatant kiss-off ever. A fiery blast of pent-up frustration, hurled like a thinly-veiled grenade at his former partner. But then he finds himself much more at ease. As RAM unfolds, it spins a tale of domestic bliss amid chaos and turmoil, the much-needed escape to peace and tranquility in the heart of the country, with the occasional surrealist twist. It’s all about lazy days watching the rain from his bed. It’s about raising a family and riding horses on the hill. It’s about teenage dreams in the backs of cars, and cherishing the discovery of true love. It’s about half-heartedly apologizing to the older generation, while dismissing the preaching of his detractors. It’s his bold defiance to believe only in himself, and not be told what to do by anyone. Above all else, it’s about pushing forward strongly. Fucking RAM. What a gem.
I won’t ramble on about this forever. I’ll leave you now with my very favorite song in all of Paul’s vastly underappreciated solo catalog, an epic mini-masterpiece called “The Back Seat Of My Car.” Delivered in all its wheels-off glory by the most melodic man on earth. I believe that he can’t be wrong.
Happy birthday, Sir Paul. You’ll never know just how much you mean to me, and to millions of others. Or maybe you already know.
And maybe you’re my favorite after all. How could you not be?
Wow, this one almost looks classy compared to the others.
See you there tonight!
Oh my. Now that’s a hideous picture.
I’d love to blame it on my new buddy Paul’s ratty hair and unfortunate choice of clothing, but the truth is simple: he looks way cooler than I do in that getup. I look like a troll. Danny DeVito demanding the troll toll. But I digress. These posters are getting a bit out of hand.
So, yes, Chad and I will be at the AllGood again tomorrow, reprising our G-funk bit. This time we’ve got so many songs, we have to divide it up into two sets. With all those amazing tunes, we found we really didn’t want to cut any, so we’re just gonna play them all. Hope you guys will stick around, cause I’m not sure when the next time will be.
You may have noticed that I referred to Paul as “my new buddy.” What, you want to hear the story? Well, okay then. Chad and Dave and I went to the Paul Simon show a couple weeks ago. We made the wise decision to stick to the plan and see the show, instead of canceling to watch Game 7. Paul was fantastic, and the show was amazing, but the real highlight came afterward. Our old friend Mike bumped into us on the way out, and asked if we wanted to go backstage. He’s tight with Paul’s wife Edie, and managed to get us all past security and into the backstage area to meet Paul. I won’t go into all the longwinded details, but we did get to meet him in an intimate setting, and spent about twenty minutes hanging out with him.
We talked about a variety of things. Among the highlights was Paul asking, “So which one of you is Garfunkel?” after Mike spilled the beans about our tribute act. He gave Chad a funny look, then deadpanned that he felt sorry for me. He was remarkably friendly, and very funny. We talked about his gorgeous, spine-tingling performance of “Here Comes The Sun” from that evening. He explained that he had no perspective on the quality of his own vast catalog of songs, but as an outsider, he could say without any doubt that George’s song was among the best ever written. After reminding him of the lovely rendition he and George played together on Saturday Night Live some 35 years ago, Chad stunned the room by announcing that he’d been born that very same night – November 20th, 1976. Paul took in the moment, and then with a mischievous smirk, cracked “wow, you look much older.” He had us in stitches, and not because we were kissing his ass – we weren’t. He was just being genuinely funny.
I thanked Paul for playing “The Only Living Boy In New York,” telling him that it was my all-time favorite of his songs. He thanked me back, and said he was also quite fond of that one. He lamented that it’s “really hard to choose songs from that catalog,” before blowing our minds with the revelation that his own personal favorite is “The Sound Of Silence,” the song that single-handedly put him and Artie on the map, 46 years ago. We talked a little while longer, before parting ways. It was too fucking cool. Thinking about it afterward, I thought to myself, “Wow, who would be bigger than that? McCartney? Dylan?” It took a while to sink that I’d just enjoyed a friendly, humorous, and revealing conversation with one of my top five musical heroes of all time, probably even top three. It almost made me forget the Rangers altogether.
Anyway…enuffa my yackin’…let’s boogie! I hope you will all come hear me and Chad paying tribute to the songs of Simon at the AllGood Café tomorrow night – that’s Saturday, November 19th.
We’ve got a groovy thing going, baby.
Look at these morose looking mother-effers right here.
What you’re seeing above isn’t photographic trickery, unlike some other pics on this page. You’re looking at four old friends who are in the process of getting their groove back. And we’re gonna find out where we stand this Friday night, October 7th, at LaGrange in Deep Ellum.
We haven’t spent “months in the studio rehearsing,” as JDY so eloquently fudged in our recent mailer, but we have spent enough time reacquainting ourselves with our tricky old songs (and our even trickier old personalities) to give it a shot. I must say, I’m rather excited to be getting the old gang back together.
So, come to LaGrange and hear the reunited OLOSPO on Friday. We’re gonna start early…seriously, like 8:30 or 9, so don’t show up at 11 expecting the old school all-nighter. We’re old men now. We have kids and sitters to pay.
See you there.
Greetings good folk! I won’t offer up excuses about the lack of activity here. Cause I always do that. It’s been a rather slow year for me, musically. I did write a book and a screenplay though. And I have a job and some kids. I’m just saying.
Musically, things are about to get kinda busy. First, direct your eyes to the calendar on your right, or just gaze at the utterly ridiculous photograph above this writing, and you’ll get an idea of where I’m starting.
On September 8th, my good friend and former nemesis (or are we still nemeses? You’d have to ask him) Chad Stockslager and I are performing as Paul & Artie, celebrating the magnificent Simon & Garfunkel catalog. That’s right, no solo songs. But still, there’s a wealth of fantastic gems to choose from, and it’s only for this first outing. If it goes well, we’ll put together a twenty-piece band and do Graceland.
In other news, the Old Gray Nerds below (or Olospo, as we’ve been known in the past) will be performing a reunion show on October 7th. I wrote a memoir earlier this year about our time together touring, called Band At Eleven, and in celebration of all the guys still being my friends after reading it, we’ve decided to play some music for you. Get there early this time. We’re serious when we say we’re gonna start early. No more late starts. We’re old men now.
Speaking of old men, yet another group of aging codgers is reuniting this weekend to play long-forgotten tunes. The little Sorta band will fire it up once again at Club Dada this Sunday, September 4th, with The O’s and Slobberbone opening. This picture cracks me up. We looked stoned. I think Ward’s wearing my shirt and I’m wearing his. I know I don’t own any with that collar.
Why would you want to miss all these chances to see and hear if I can still play my guitar? Aren’t you the least bit curious? I know I am.
And now I leave you with a little S&G gold from their final album. Enjoy.
Lost Audio: “Dignity”
Nice pic, huh? I’m such a poser.
Hi there, I guess it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this page. Seeing as how my last post was about my Christmas single, I’d say I’ve been positively lazy about it. Oh well, there really hasn’t been all that much to report. I’ve been on a bit of a break from music. My band, The Cosmic Joke, is killer…but there are 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 of us, and it’s a bit of a daunting task to get us all in the same room for a rehearsal, much less a gig. So, I’ve just been kinda working on other things. Lots of writing happening, and not the kind you’d expect from me. More on that a little further down the line.
I do have a new album in the works…kinda. Tom and I have tracked a few new tunes at his studio since January, but with no real focus or agenda on having a new album or calling it a Slack reunion or anything like that. It’s just been nice to make music together again with no strings attached. Maybe it’ll turn into something. Maybe it won’t. But there are many, many tunes floating around in my head. I imagine they’ll find their way into a collection someday, sooner or later.
Sorta’s been playing a bit more lately, which is surprisingly cool. I guess I just didn’t expect it to happen. Anytime we get together, I remember how much I love those guys and those songs. It’s very different now. And yet there’s a comfy familiarity there that never really went away.
You may notice there are a few new things on the calendar. Despite my semi-retirement from gigging, and the mind-numbing beatdown of the promotional machine that I despise, I am coming out of the shell for a gig at the All Good Cafe with my lifelong, dearest childhood friend Sean Russell. Sean and I were best mates growing up, but then he moved away, we didn’t see each other for twenty years, then we randomly ran into each other, and now we’re friends again. We sometimes play in a Cars tribute band together, just for shits n’ giggles. But at the All Good, we’re going to do a song swap and tell stupid stories about each other and just be buddies, because WHY NOT??
So, I leave you now with an old song I heard randomly the other day. I wrote and recorded it in a single afternoon back in 2007, at Junius Studios, for a one-off project called Telegram, spearheaded by my old buddy Lindsay Graham. He called and asked me if I could write a quick song on the fly, come over, and record it immediately, with no time for second thoughts. Seemed like a kooky idea, so I wrote this song, “Dignity”, in all of five minutes. I drove over there, recorded the song in less than hour, played everything myself, and haven’t thought of it since. It’s never been played live, and it clocks in at a whopping one minute. But it kinda rocks.
I’ll try to update this more often, if anyone’s into that sort of thing.
Thank you for listening. And reading…?
Xmas single! “What I Always Wanted”
Hey everybody…it’s been a while since I updated this site…but before the year’s end, I wanted to throw a little something out there for the holiday season. I’ve got a new Xmas single out today on Idol Records, called “What I Always Wanted.” Of course, if you go to iTunes, you’ll see that they’ve got the title wrong. They’re calling it “All I Ever Wanted”, despite the title being quite clear in the cover art…way to go, iTunes! I always wanted to release a Xmas song. And I always wanted a Gretsch guitar. And I always wanted to leave my name off an album cover. So there you have it.
It’s actually a song I wrote and recorded a couple years ago with some friends at Zounds Sounds, but I finally got around to finishing it up for a proper release. In addition to myself on guitars, piano, and lead vocals, the track features Marc Solomon on bass and backing vocals, Wade Cofer on drums, a fantastic horn arrangement by Steve Luthye, and more backing vocals from Amy Curnow and Mary Armstrong. Paul Williams mixed it, Nolan Brett at Crystal Clear mastered it, and Trey Carmichael did the lovely artwork, earning himself a big hug.
Thanks to everyone who helped me see this silly whim through to completion. And thanks to you for listening. I hope you like it.
Come see myself and The Cosmic Joke live this Friday, December 10th at Bryan Street Tavern!
CHRIS HOLT - A COSMIC JOKE. The new solo album. Out today, September 21st. Buy it now on iTunes!
Greetings friends…I’m here today to offer up my new album, and to beg you to go buy it. Think about how many different stupid, disposable ways we spend $10 every day. Here’s something to spend ten bucks on that you can still have tomorrow and the next day. You can throw it in the trash if you want (or just click the delete button), and if you do, I’ll give you a refund. I think it’s worth hearing. So please check it out.
Thanks a million to Salim for helping me see it through. When we started this record late last year, we had a vision that we could do it entirely ourselves. And we almost did. On the songs, I play almost every single note and beat myself. But there were times when we needed a little outside assistance. And I’ve gotta say a giant thank you to Rick, Eric, Rip, Paul and Salim himself for the extra icing on the cake. Wanna know what they did? Buy the record and read the liner notes!
I also can’t express enough gratitude to Erv K and Robert for footing the bill, and to Don and Johnny for their help with the design.
So…I’ll be playing a solo set at the Kessler Theater this Thursday September 23rd, with Eric and Camille, and we always have great fun at those shows. Come check us out. I know I originally wanted to do full band cd release, but hey, life got in the way.
I’ll have physical cd’s ready for our first official full-band Chris Holt & The Cosmic Joke gig, on October 9th at LaGrange in Deep Ellum. We’re really looking forward to getting out there and playing a little. We think we’ve got something you’ll want to hear. So please loan us your ears.
Here’s the album’s opening track. It’s called “All Aboard” and I can’t think of a better way to put it out there.
Thanks to everyone who still loves music. I know I do, even though I don’t always show it.
This is “Always In Awe”, from the new album. The past ten days have been really difficult. I’ve suffered through a pair of unspeakable tragedies involving friends and their families, and it’s caused me to really think about our lives and how fragile they are. This song was written in response to another tragedy that shook my world nearly three years ago, and in the wake of recent losses, I’ve found myself revisiting and even reworking parts of it onstage, as therapy for myself and others. It seems as relevant now as the day it was written, and it continues to take on new meaning.
Sometimes sad music can be way more powerful than happy music.
Thanks for listening.
Guess what? Here’s the first single from A Cosmic Joke (as if to imply that there will be four or five and they’ll all be big hits). It’s called “I’m Immune.”
And here’s the album cover. Many thanks to Don Cento for the design and Johnny Seale for his photography. If you’ll look over to the column on the right, you’ll see some new dates, including a cd release in September.
I’m really eager to debut the new band, which consists of Rip Rowan, Trey Carmichael, Brian Miller, and my old buddies Eric and Sluthye. We’re rehearsing and trying to figure out if any of this will translate to the stage. That remains to be…heard.
We’re set to pop here, honey.