Kamasi Washington: Re Run
It’s been more than a month since my last post here–a combination of work, family and other writing keeps getting in the way. I did start something music-related, but ran out of steam–I will finish it at some point. So, time to fill space with some reposts of my writing at Star Maker Machine and Cover Me.
Before we get there, though, another plug for Ray Padgett’s book, Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time, available at Amazon. Now that the book is out, I can report that it is great, and you should read it and give it to your music fan family and friends. And no, I don’t get a kickback. It has already gotten rave reviews from Variety, Parade, and the A.V. Club. I got to meet Ray, and another Cover Me writer, Frank Minishak, at the book release party at Paste Magazine‘s offices/studio. They had arranged for four musicians, Emel Mathlouthi, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Walter Martin of The Walkmen, and Anthony D’Amato, to perform covers of some of the songs that Ray wrote about. You can see the videos here, and make sure you notice the light reflecting off of my bald head on the left side of some of the videos.
Since my last one of these, I’ve only written a couple of things at Cover Me. I participated in a “Cover Me Q&A” about favorite Disney covers, which I don’t really have, by discussing The Replacements’ version of “Cruella de Vil” from One Hundred and One Dalmatians, at much greater length than I expected. In addition, I wrote about Five Good Covers of Wreckless Eric’s classic “Whole Wide World,” and discovered that my wife had never heard the song before. So maybe it isn’t such a classic. I’m working on a new Q&A response about the Tom Robinson Band, and have promised to do a Five Good Covers piece about The Jam’s “That’s Entertainment,” and a Full Album treatment of Brian Eno’s Before And After Science, which will be a challenge.
As always, the theme-driven Star Maker Machine‘s prompts often spark writing ideas. As I threatened in my last roundup, I responded to the “On/Off” theme by discussing Genesis’ “Turn It On Again,” as a jumping off point to a reflection of when, if at all, Genesis fans jumped off the bandwagon.
The next theme, “Two Words,” inspired two posts, one about Chuck Prophet’s “Summertime Thing,” mostly because I had never written about Prophet there, and one called “Somewhere Rocks,” about Ian Hunter’s songs “England Rocks” and “Cleveland Rocks.”
The state of our nation was the inspiration for the “Chaos/Confusion” theme, but I stayed away from politics to write about Warren Zevon’s duet with Bruce Springsteen, “Disorder In The House,” and the fun the two of them seemed to have recording the song, despite Zevon’s impending death (but not Springsteen’s). I heard the song in the car the other day, and when they laugh at the end, my wife and I joined them. In addition, I wrote about the 1977 Live Stiffs tour, which often ended in a raucous version of Ian Dury’s most famous song, titled, on the album, “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll & Chaos.” It is probably the only song in my collection that includes someone yelling from the stage, “Cut out the fucking spitting.” Because punk.
Next up was “Shadows,” which gave me the chance to mention that I had met the talented and extremely nice percussionist Mino Cinélu, who appeared on the Gong song “Shadows Of.” I also wrote about Sting’s “Shadows In The Rain,” which was featured in a movie that my now wife and I saw on one of our earliest dates.
The next theme, “Incompetence/Can’t” was a reaction to the buffoon in the White House, but my first post was about sort of a more local official, the “Mayor Of Simpleton,” a great XTC song. Unlike the aforementioned buffoon, the titular mayor is self-aware about his deficiencies, and also unlike the buffoon, actually has other redeeming values. I pilfered Cover Me‘s “That’s A Cover?” idea to discuss “You’re No Good,” made famous, if not for the first time, by Linda Ronstadt.
We looked “Down” for the next two weeks, and I continued a recent trend of writing about TV shows, this time focusing on the theme song from one of the best, The Wire, Tom Waits’ “Way Down In The Hole,” and all of the different versions used in the credits. In an attempt to take the theme in a new direction, I wrote highlighted two proggy projects about geese, Camel’s The Snow Goose and original Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips’ The Geese And The Ghost.
For the “True Stories” theme, I decided to feature two songs inspired by events, rather than more narrative ones, Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam,” referencing the assassination of Medgar Evers and the bombing of a church, and The Jam’s “The Eton Rifles,” about a street brawl between unemployed workers and upper class students in England.
And most recently, for our “Listen” theme, I featured Dar Williams’ “Are You Out There,” a song she wrote about how important listening to the radio as a teenager was to her life.
Today’s featured song is “Re Run,” from saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s 2015’s jazz album, aptly titled The Epic. I have to admit that I haven’t listened to all of the 173 plus minutes of the album, but it was critically acclaimed on its release, and what I have listened to is interesting.