Song of the week

A few people have been asking me, “Who are you?” ever since DougJ tossed me the keys and I started posting this “Song of the week” thing myself a couple months ago. I was OK with everybody thinking I was secretly DougJ, but I probably should have just introduced myself earlier. I’m a long-time lurker/faithful follower of Balloon Juice—I used to come here via those Atrios links years ago and gawp at the freakshow. I even happened to be on hand the day of the showdown with Hamsher, and I laughed a lot following that comments thread. But Cole back then basically affected me the way Atrios affected him. I got too mad and couldn’t hang around long. I can’t remember why I came back in the summer of ’08 but I did and I couldn’t believe it was the same place. It’s ridiculous but Cole’s conversion somehow continues to inspire me and I have spent a lot of time here since. On the spectrum, since this is a politics blog, I’m probably closer to being a firebagger than an Obot—but to a lot of my friends I’m probably more of an Obot, and that doesn’t even include my lunatic neighbor who still literally worships Glenn Beck. I have the mixed blessing of coming from a 98% homogenous Democratic family, so I learn a lot talking to him. It truly is a visit to a Bizarro world. But I’m no good arguing politics, it’s bad for my blood pressure and general outlook, which puts a damper on making my case, so I just listen to people mostly.

I used to be a music journalist. Now I’m a freelance copy editor. Like approximately every human being on the planet I love music and listen to it every day. I love to talk about it and swap opinions and information. Like approximately every human being on the planet I also hate a lot of music so I know where you all are coming from when you hate my picks. I hate a lot of yours too. No hard feelings (or anyway I’ll keep them to myself). To me, that’s the give and take of it. As they say, there’s no accounting for taste and there’s certainly no accounting for mine. I have a blog, Can’t Explain, which is how DougJ found and eventually invited me to chip in picks for this weekly Friday afternoon thing.

So that’s who I am. The song picks are things I’m listening to, things I heard that week that surprised me, sometimes old favorites, or types of music I’m interested in knowing more about—all kinds of things. Stuff to talk about. For example, this last week I happened to notice that Robert Cray is playing casino dates now (maybe he has been for years?) and that reminded me how much I liked him once (and still do), and how long it’s been. So wondering what anyone might think of Cray nowadays, or back then.

Or, as always, share your own favorites of the week, or treat as an open thread.

Robert Cray, “Right Next Door (Because of Me)” (1986)

103 replies
  1. 1
    pragmatism says:

    not my favorite but this week’s earworm is Friend Crush by Friends

    I wanna ask advice on the weekday
    I wanna plan something nice for the weekend.

  2. 2
    shortstop says:

    For ages, I’ve been seeing people here refer to some big showdown with Hamsher, and I was never quite interested enough to ask for a link. But it’s Friday, it’s sunny, and I’m not going to church tonight–so lay it on me if anyone has it, and I’ll try to read through it as secularist penance for every way I fucked up this week.

  3. 3
    Raven says:

    Nothings Easy Tull

    Not the greatest production but if you were there you can still feel it.

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    Nobody cares who you are. Just get to posting the earworms, songmonkey.

  5. 5
    Arm The Homeless says:

    Blasted some Jurassic 5 on the way home today. Always a smile-inducer.

  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:

    Good God, Sergio. That was a chip I would’ve made.

  7. 7
    Raven says:

    @shortstop: I was sitting in a coffee shop in Lynchburg VA at Christmastime when she announced her association with Norquist. I’d been battling with many of her hardcore Obama haters for a while and that was it for me. I attacked as hard (gleefully) as I could and they eventually banned me. I miss the Southern Dragon and the Norske Flamethrower but, other than that, it don’t mean nuthin.

  8. 8
    Svensker says:

    Had never heard nor heard of Robert Cray. Me likee mucho. Thank you.

  9. 9
    Poopyman says:

    I even happened to be on hand the day of the showdown with Hamsher

    Which one?

  10. 10
    JWL says:

    “A few people have been asking me, “Who are you?””.

    A very, very few.

  11. 11
    Raven says:

    @Corner Stone: You missed the big uprising yesterday.

  12. 12
    Corner Stone says:

    @Raven: So, couple things. I appreciate your direct comments on The Masters.
    Secondly, FOAD you old bastard!

  13. 13
    shortstop says:

    @JWL: I get the three-letter J people mixed up.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    the antibob says:

    Hope this doesn’t bring down the TGIF mood too much, but..
    4/4 was the 44th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. And I’ve spent the week digging thru Nina Simone’s catalogue.
    Nuff Said! was recorded live on 4/7 1968 – 3 days after the shooting. And it’s an amazing window into that moment. Give it a listen if you can. Especially track 6 – Why? (The King of Love is Dead). Chilling. Especially in light of the murder of Trayvon Martin.

  16. 16
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    But I’m no good arguing politics, it’s bad for my blood pressure and general outlook

    Dear lord, I thought I was the only one. I’ve been less involved with politics over the last month or so, just because it makes me a little less sane. Thinking of other human beings in terms of “evil” makes it hard to maintain perspective.

    Though while we’re on the topic of music, I figured I’d brag about having tix for the Of Monsters And Men show this weekend. “Little Talks” has been all over the radio this week, but their other stuff is damn good too.

  17. 17
    Corner Stone says:

    @Raven: I didn’t miss it. geg6 is a fucking clown who somehow brandishes her abrasive personality as a badge of honor in all her dealings with people. Her imaginary boyfriend is the only person who can stomach her version of reality.
    She’s a joke and a fucking clown shoe.

  18. 18
    Raven says:

    @Corner Stone: You have the right to remain silent. . .

  19. 19
  20. 20
    Anya says:

    With that kind of taste in music, I, for one, wholeheartedly welcome our new firebagger overlord.

  21. 21
    Corner Stone says:


    I get the three-letter J people mixed up.

    I’ve lost the ability to distinguish the variously handled “cat” people commenters here. I’m just not sure anymore.

  22. 22
    Raven says:

    @JPK: Oh, I didn’t realize it was a specific incident here, my bad.

  23. 23
    Corner Stone says:

    @Raven: Nah. I’m feeling a little frisky. I may take my Cleveland wedges to the course tomorrow and practice pitching/chipping for an hour or so.

  24. 24
    MikeJ says:

    Been listening to an Alex boot from a 1977 show with Chris Stamey on bass. Was out looking for a particular Jonathon Richman show, and stumbled across it because it has a cover of Government Center. The Can’t Seem to Make You Mine has a lovely druggy guitar, even though the vocals are much cleaner than the studio version. It’s followed by Alex saying, “we’re gonna do one the bass player’s written…” and they launch into Summer Sun.

  25. 25
    danielx says:

    Saw Robert Cray twice, most excellent both times. Kind of depressing thinking of him playing casinos, but I understand the money is good and the working conditions okay…better than riding a tour bus anyway. Plus it’s hard for blues players to make a living anyway.

    The Forecast Calls For Pain…

  26. 26
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    I used to be a music journalist. Now I’m a freelance copy editor.

    Hey, me too! Well, I’m actually a full-time copy editor/production editor now, not a freelancer, but still.

  27. 27
    Raven says:

    @Corner Stone: It’s pretty funny, I think they should admit women yesterday but I also know what the score is. People want to get all fucking bowed up when you lay it on the line I’ll get right back in their face every time.

  28. 28
    JPK says:

    @MikeJ: You always seem to have the good stuff. I love all three of those people you mentioned.

  29. 29
    shortstop says:

    @JPK: Thank you.

    612 comments? (Deep breath.) Okay, I’m goin’ in. Wait, lemme get a sandwich and a Red Bull to bring along.

  30. 30
    shortstop says:

    @JPK: Agreed. MikeJ has got it going on musically.

  31. 31
    Raven says:

    @JPK: Looks like more of a movie blog than a music blog?

  32. 32
    JPK says:

    @shortstop: Real fun starts at about the #140s.

  33. 33
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    I think Cray’s albums are generally good to OK, but Midnight Stroll is really good. None of his others seem to hold a candle to that one, at least that’s my opinion. I think his songwriting was just better on that one.

  34. 34
    smintheus says:

    Been listening to a lot of Rory Gallagher this week, esp. love the rough edges of Taste. Here’s How Many More Years from ’67.

  35. 35
    Corner Stone says:

    Ok? FYWP.

  36. 36
    Catsy says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I’ve lost the ability to distinguish the variously handled “cat” people commenters here.

    Not that you likely give a shit, but: mine is a diminutive of Catspaw, which was a BBS handle I picked up about 20 years ago because I happened to be reading a novel by that name when I was pressed to come up with a username on the spot. There were two people in my group of friends with my legal first name, so we went by our handles to avoid confusion. “Catsy” stuck.

  37. 37
    JPK says:

    @What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ): That’s one of my favorites too, with Strong Persuader and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.

  38. 38
    JPK says:

    @Raven: More and more, yeah, but still plan to write about a lot more music. It’s all old, and there’s plenty of that!

  39. 39
    Raven says:

    @JPK: I shall continue digging. thx

  40. 40
    Raven says:

    BTW the Georgia Review is in the championship against the Paris Review so if any one wants to vote for them here it is!

    “Despite Ecotone’s overwhelming homecourt advantage, the Georgia Review proved unstoppable. After making it a game with a late rally, Ecotone’s Cinderella season came to an end, buried under a barrage of Georgia threes.

    In the other bracket, The Paris Review steamrolled into the finals. There is some arrogance in tradition (many voters, for instance, put the word “duh” after their votes for TPR), but in this case the arrogance was well-founded. A classic performance that hints at a continued dynasty.”

  41. 41

    Oh, yes. I know who Robert Cray is. Good voice, good music, mixed in with some surprises. He definitely IS NOT a cliche!

    You chose a good song. “Time makes two” is good, too.

  42. 42
    shortstop says:

    I cannot do it. It had reached toxic stupidity levels by comment #125. Anyone want this sandwich? It’s very nice. Green olive tapenade and smoked mozzarella on a ciabatta roll.

  43. 43
    JPK says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: Awesome. It’s not a bad way to go as long as the work keeps coming in.

  44. 44
  45. 45
    Svensker says:


    I basically stopped listening to most popular music in the mid/late 80s. Pretty much. With occasional tunings-in, especially if I were doing a lotta driving. But, yeah. It’s not that there wasn’t/isn’t a lot of good stuff out there, it’s just that I wasn’t willing to sort through the chaff anymore. I really hate the chaff.

    So, must depend on kindness of strangers. And listen to a lot of classical.

  46. 46
    Raven says:

    @Svensker: I stopped in 72!

  47. 47
    Catsy says:

    @JPK: The real awesome thing about that particular Cole/Hamsher dustup is that both of them were completely full of shit. Hamsher made a dishonest accusation, Cole called her out on it with some very poorly phrased comments, Hamsher stormed into the thread and started denying she was dishonest, throwing bombs and acting like a slightly more literate m_c, and Cole stubbornly clung to his original phrasing even after dozens of commenters pointed out that it confused them too.

    It was an epic fail parade from both our esteemed erstwhile wingnut host and the Jane Hamshers of the left. Good times.

  48. 48
    Svensker says:


    I stopped in 72!

    Odd. I did, too. Then went back in in 1976 — worked for a fairly major band at the time, then got heavily into funk. Bow wow wow! Still love me some Funkadelic, Prince, Grand Master Flash, The Time, et al baby. Then, meh, again.

  49. 49
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    i remember robert cray fondly as being my answer to friends wanting to listen to the joshua tree one more time. that said i’ve actually been listening to teenage fanclub a lot this week.

    teenage fanclub w/ alex chilton “older guys”

  50. 50
    Raven says:

    @Svensker: I saw Funkadelic/Parliment in, what, 70. I had no idea what the fuck was going on. Course we were high as the cost of living and there were not many long haired grey dudes in the crowd!

  51. 51
    Raven says:

    @Svensker: Any major dude with half a heart would tell you. . .

  52. 52
    Seanindc says:

    For the 3 or 4 of you that like trance, progressive house or EDM in general, this is the song that has been melting my face as of late…

    It get nuts around 4:40…

  53. 53
    Amir Khalid says:

    I’m reposting this in a more music-appropriate thread:

    The Associated Press reports the passing, from cancer at age 88, of Jim Marshall, the man behind the legendary guitar amplifier. Let your ears ring for The Father of Loud.

  54. 54
    PeakVT says:

    I’ve always liked the song but for some reason I find nasal tone of Cray’s lead annoying.

  55. 55
    rikyrah says:

    Here to remind folks that Steve Benen is up to Episode TWELVE of Chronicling Mitt Romney’s LIES

    it’s his longest to date.

    Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity, Vol. XII
    By Steve Benen – Fri Apr 6, 2012 2:46 PM EDT.

  56. 56
    Friday Jones says:

    @Arm The Homeless: Love me some Jurassic Five (and Cut Chemist!) Working out the other day, my music player of an indeterminate brand surprised me with “She gave me head….phones said ‘have you heard this sound?’ ‘I think I’ve heard this one, it’s totally underground…'”

  57. 57
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @Corner Stone:

    And the Jens!

    (But they’re all nice.)

  58. 58
    Friday Jones says:

    @Raven: high as the cost of living. That’s great! (I mean the simile, but the state of being is great, too!)

  59. 59
    Friday Jones says:

    @Amir Khalid: I’ll turn it up to 11 in honor.

  60. 60
    No One of Consequence says:


    @Catsy: You were reading Fritz Leiber’s books about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, or something like that. The shorter of the two thieves had a dirk he called Catspaw.



    – NOoC

  61. 61
    No One of Consequence says:


    @Catsy: You were reading Fritz Leiber’s books about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, or something like that. The shorter of the two thieves had a dirk he called Catspaw.



    – NOoC

  62. 62
    No One of Consequence says:


    @Catsy: You were reading Fritz Leiber’s books about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, or something like that. The shorter of the two thieves had a dirk he called Catspaw.



    – NOoC

  63. 63
    No One of Consequence says:

    Egads. What a calamity. ‘Pologies all.


    – NOoC

  64. 64
    Steeplejack (phone) says:


    I’ll take that sandwich. Love tapenade. Just tried some new artichoke tapenade this week.

    Good decision to bail on that old thread.

  65. 65
    Raven says:

    @Friday Jones: Courtesy of my long lost Airborne pal “the Bear”. He also love to say shit like “whatchoo got dat’s good fo da head”? and “let’s get right”. Know what I mean Jeff?

  66. 66
    Jewish Steel says:

    Do I unreasonably lump Cray in with BB King, author of some of most sterile, Las Vegas, showbizzy blues going? Lord, that’s some boring music.

    I dislike the blended tone on a strat so much I ripped the 5 way switch out of my guitar and replaced it with a 3 way.

    I’m more interested in what’s going on with Jamaican currency. Dig the lovely, long melody that sweeps over the changes in this song.

  67. 67
    Raven says:

    @Jewish Steel: I saw BB at the Benson and Hedges Blues Festival in Atlanta years ago. Johnny Winter and Steve Cropper seemed to inspire him to play his ASS off. It was the best I’s ever heard him live or recorded.

  68. 68
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Raven: Yeah, I don’t doubt he has the chops. I’ve heard his early work. It’s good.

  69. 69
    burnspbesq says:

    Longtime Cray fan. Saw him blow Clapton out of the water one night, around 1988-ish.

    Two new records worth noting.

    I was never much of a Sonic Youth fan. By which I mean to say that I admired and appreciated what they did, but it mostly didn’t make me crazy. However, I really like Lee Ranaldo’s new record.

    The new Bonnie Raitt album, due out next Tuesday, can be heard at To me, it sounds like her best work since “Nick of Time.”

  70. 70
    Jewish Steel says:

    @burnspbesq: Sonic Youth. Totally missed them when they were popular. Or ‘popular.’ There is just too much music to listen to sometimes. I think I like Dinosaur Jr better. They are a little more bananas.

  71. 71
    sloan says:

    Been listening to CBC French on the way to work to hear new stuff and avoid commercials. Last week they played Gilbert Becaud’s Dimanche à Orly and it got stuck in my head all day. (Love the whistling and narration at the end.)

    So I had to look him up and then I found Et Maintenant. Where had I heard it before? It was driving me nuts and then I realized my parents used to play Herb Alpert records when I was maybe 3 years old and sure enough, Herb had a cover version called What Now My Love. And so did Elvis, Sinatra, the Muppets and everyone in between.

    So that’s what I’ve been listening to this week.

  72. 72
    DougJ, Head of Infidelity says:

    Great Robert Cray song!

  73. 73
    burnspbesq says:

    My favorite Robert Cray song.

  74. 74
    sloan says:

    @Raven: Was that BB and Johnny Winter and Steve Cropper on stage all at once?

  75. 75
    No One of Consequence says:

    Check this out, if you have not heard before, Kelly Jo Phelps.

    This makes my jaw drop to the floor. One *gifted* musician…

    – NOoC

  76. 76
    elftx says:

    always have appreciated Robert Cray.

    a band I have found..well gave birth to two of them anyway

  77. 77
    PeakVT says:

    @Jewish Steel: That’s the nice thing about Fenders: they’re a kit o’parts. At some point I need to fix some bits on my Dot, but fishing the wiring out through the f-hole is such pain I’ve been avoiding it for months.

  78. 78
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:


    Good times.

    Some day in the future, blogwar historians may cite John’s argument that the Jane Hamshers of the Left does not actually include Jane Hamsher as a seminal moment in post-modern set theory.

  79. 79
    SBJules says:

    I drove from Socal to Oregon listening to Robert Cray, Marvin Gaye and Bruce some years ago. Good companions.

  80. 80
    burnspbesq says:

    Just because I feel like it, The Neville Brothers.

  81. 81
    tworivers says:

    My taste in the blues runs more towards this type of stuff:
    (Magic Sam – music starts at 0:47)
    (Howlin’ Wolf)
    John Lee Hooker

  82. 82
    Steeplejack says:

    I got nothing this week. All I can think of is John Lee Hooker, “The Healer,” which is from his “pension plan” album of the same name. “Hey, I know, let’s get Hooker in the studio with a bunch of well-known rockers and see what we can come up with.” He probably made more money on this than he did on everything in his career up to then. I like the album, but I can’t escape that feeling.

    Anyway, more suited to the local weather this afternoon (geographical and emotional) is Lemongrass, “Sunrise on Fujiyama.” Perfect for a drink on the deck at the end of the week, especially when flanked by dual sighthounds.

  83. 83
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Last I listened to Queen a lot and I yesterday I saw Devdas so right now I am listening Hindi film music
    My favorites

    Show must go on

    I want to break free

    My favorite song in Devdas is Maar Dala

    Freddie rocks, and so does Madhuri (the actress who is dancing) in the Devdas video.

  84. 84
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Ah, sounds familiar, I listen a lot whilst

  85. 85
    schrodinger's cat says:

    The first sentence should read; last week.

  86. 86
    Steeplejack says:

    Okay, thinking about neglected guitarists reminded me of Freddie Robinson, “Black Fox.” From his excellent album The Coming Atlantis, now sadly out of print.

  87. 87
    sloan says:

    Not sure if anyone will enjoy this but here’s Sempre Libera from La Traviata. Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon. I’ve probably racked up about 1000 of those views. Great stuff!

  88. 88
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @sloan: How is section 31 these days?

  89. 89
    Carlo says:

    Yay! Finally a FPer at Balloon Juice with a similar temperament to my own. I’m also a long-time lurker, I fall on pretty much the same place in the O-bot/Firebagger scale, and I’ve never enjoyed that rise in blood pressure that accompanies arguing about politics. Please never leave.

  90. 90
    Carlo says:

    Yay! Finally a FPer at Balloon Juice with a similar temperament to my own. I’m also a long-time lurker, I fall on pretty much the same place in the O-bot/Firebagger scale, and I’ve never enjoyed that rise in blood pressure that accompanies arguing about politics. Please never leave.

  91. 91
    sloan says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: lol Trekkie wife is at work right now so I had to google that. It sounds like a government subsidy.

    “I’m waiting for my section 31 check to clear so I can buy a bus pass”

  92. 92
    JoyfulA says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: Me, three. A full-time freelance copyeditor for a very long time.

  93. 93
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @sloan: Sloan is the section 31 spy in DS9, who tries to recruit Dr. Bashir into 31. Section is a super secret covert organization within Starfleet, whose very existence is a secret.

  94. 94
    samara morgan says:

    The Shins are startin’ to get a lot of local play here. Do you know them?
    i like Simple Song.

  95. 95
  96. 96
    BettyPageisaBlonde says:

    Sick Muse – Metric

    Great song. The Shins new album is also crazy good (to me).


  97. 97
    Jewish Steel says:

    @PeakVT: I’ve got a Dot too! It’s taken years to get it up to the level of reliability that it’s currently at for the same reason.

    The guy I work for says pro repair guys have specially shaped mirrors and tools just for dealing with f-holes. Makes sense.

  98. 98
    Bill says:

    Strat geek here, but I admit that I spend more time on the neck pickup than anywhere else. Love the quack for certain songs, though.

  99. 99
    Crza says:

    I was recently introduced to a great hiphop/R&B duo of ladies, THEESatisfaction. They just released “awE naturalE” and after only one listen it is threatening to become my pick for album of the year. It’s short – only 3 of the 13 tracks clock in at over 3 minutes – but they compensated by cramming in that much more experimental funk-and-groove per minute.

    Don’t funk with my groove!

  100. 100
    stoned stats says:

    No, seriously, how the fuck did Max Weinberg get on this track? Between this, Meatloaf, and Conan, I’m really wondering about thisguy.

  101. 101
    brewmn says:

    @eric: Your link reminded of this, which has the added virtue of not being lame:

  102. 102
    moderateindy says:

    I believe that Robert Cray was actually in the flick Animal House as a part of Otis Day and the Knights.
    If anyone is into the newer bluegrass/jamgrass/whatever they call it check out Trampled by Turtles out of Duluth MN. A lot of good tunes, try Silver and Gold, or Whiskey.
    Last month I found a long lost CD from Scruffy the cat, good harmonies, good hooks, lots of fun

  103. 103
    bemused senior says:

    For those in the SF Bay Area, Robert Cray is at Yoshi’s in Oakland on May 8.

Comments are closed.