Seven-Twelfths Recap


Joan Shelley: First of August

The last time I filled space on this blog with links to things that I’ve written elsewhere was in April, and so here we are, seven-twelfths through a truly crappy year, and I decided that it was time to do it again.  Because what’s better during an oppressive pandemic summer than asking readers to read old posts, right?

As usual, most of my blogging is at Star Maker Machine.  We reached into the SMM Storehouse of Theme Ideas for “Musical Mysteries,” and I finally got to write one of my personal favorite posts, about Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” (Who are these boys? Where have they been?  Why are they coming back?  And why do you have to let them fight?  Among other mysteries…), as well as R.E.M.’s “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”

As we all continued to deal with pandemic fear, we thought it would be a good time for a “Mayday/Danger” theme, and I chose Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me” as a topic.  Memorial Day led us to think about “War/Peace,” and I first wrote about Skip Spence’s “War In Peace,” and followed that with “The Warrior’s Code,” by Dropkick Murphys, in honor of their stirring live stream from Fenway Park (with guest Bruce Springsteen), which also gave me a chance to discuss some of the other live streams that I’d seen.

Starting in June, parts of the world started to “reopen” while others remained “closed,” so we did an “Open/Close” theme, leading to posts about Renaissance’s “Opening Out,” and Semisonic’s “Closing Time.”  Tired of pessimism, it was time for “Looking Forward,” and I wrote about how much I missed seeing live music, and tied it to The Band’s “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show,” and a discussion of minstrel shows, because one of the live streams I had seen was Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi discussing, in part, minstrelsy.   But when things started turning bad again, we chose “Wait/Don’t Wait” for our theme, leading to a post about Guy Clark’s “Desperados Waiting For A Train,”  particularly, the Nanci Griffith version, which featured Clark, among others.

Our current theme is “Masks,” because we all should be wearing them when near others, right, Congressman Gohmert?  I started off with a post about the Andy Summers/Robert Fripp album and song, “I Advanced Masked,” and just published a piece about Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets, who perform in Mexican wrestler masks.

At Cover Me, I continue not to write any feature articles while telling myself I really should, but contribute regularly to staff posts.  After John Prine died, we compiled 30 of the “Best John Prine Covers,” and I wrote about No. 26, Bright Eyes’ live cover of “Crazy as a Loon,” No. 17, Emmy the Great ft. Lightspeed Champion’s cover of “Christmas in Prison,” and No. 14, Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers’ bluesy, rocking take on “Angel from Montgomery,” which I correctly divined wasn’t the best cover of that song (see, of course, Bonnie Raitt at No. 3).

From the sublime to the ridiculous, we explored Britney Spears Covers, and I would have been utterly uninterested, except for the fact that Richard Thompson covered “Oops, I Did It Again,” which came in third.  And earlier this week, the blog posted the “Best Bee Gees Covers,” and I wrote about No. 46, Raul Malo’s smooth “Run To Me,” No. 42, John Frucsiante’s live “How Deep Is Your Love,” a RHCP mid-set palate cleanser (a phrase I now wish I had included in my writeup), No. 31, Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs’ faithful “Run To Me,” No. 29, underrated Slobberbone’s underrated Americana power ballad version of “To Love Somebody,” and No. 16, Nina Simone’s very different take on “To Love Somebody.”

Next week is a Q&A about a capella covers, and I’ll be keeping it in the family.

Tomorrow is August 1, so our feature song is “First of August,” by Joan Shelley, who has a great voice, and is a wonderful songwriter.  I saw her open for Richard Thompson back in 2017, and was duly impressed.

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