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ft. the beatles, aretha franklin, neil young, dr. dre, serge gainsbourg, duke ellington, the kinks, jimi hendrix, pavement, the clash, smog, the smiths, al green, the rolling stones, cat power, dusty springfield, yo la tengo, antony, wilco, elvis, talking heads, elliott smith, r.e.m., ray charles, otis redding, the monochrome set, randy newman, the cure, gillian welch, queen, stevie wonder & more

"mtv makes me want to smoke crack." -beck

see the archives & a random post

"i just happen to be here, and it's okay." -caetano veloso

"sing a simple song but keep the swing strong." -de la soul

"think straight, keep a clean plate." -joanna newsom

"keep a clean nose, watch the plain-clothes." -bob dylan

"keep your feet warm, but keep your clothes on." -harry nilsson

"it took me about three or four weeks to toilet train my cat, nightlife. most of the time is spent moving the box very gradually to the bathroom." -charles mingus

"think about something else. was art tatum talented?" -shoot the piano player

"she had a chihuahua named carlos that had some kind of skin disease and was totally blind." -tom waits

"he had a huge room with nothing in it except this huge vast hammond organ, right next door to the police." -david bowie

"he's got a mind like a sewer, and a heart like a fridge" -elvis costello

"you can't hold the hand of a rock 'n' roll man." -joni mitchell

"lou's jukebox spun for love and many other things, too – beauty, pain, history, courage, mystery" -laurie anderson

"hey there, hey now, well, you can make a pacemaker blink, easy thing, make a man's heart go bibbity boom. -john cale

"i’ve still got things inside me, sad things, happy things, that people don’t know about." -loretta lynn

"to try to maximize the relationship of listening to a record through promotion is like experiencing driving a car by reading about stimulus programs." -bonnie 'prince' billy

"after cheesecake with all of your friends and family, who's gonna front the bill? me... say you want to take first-class trips, well i want to work those first-class hips. yes i do." -r. kelly

"too much cheesecake too soon! old money's better than new" -roxy music

"my mother used to tell me about vibrations. to think that invisible feelings, invisible vibrations existed scared me to death." -brian wilson

"i could even find it in my heart to love mike love." -belle & sebastian

"i'm going to boogie my scruples away." -lowell george

"i'm a lunatic, and you are so super cool." - george jones

"i'm an idiot for you." -iggy pop

"i'm good and i'm bad and i'm happy and i'm sad and i'm lazy" -willie nelson

"i drive a rolls-royce, cause it's good for my voice." -t.rex

"i mean every letter in the words in the sentences of my quotes." -lil' wayne

"lyrics choochoo from my mouth like locomotion." - pato banton

"i'm dealing in rock and roll. i'm not a bonafide human being." -phil spector

"phil approached me with a bottle of kosher red wine in one hand and a .45 in the other, put his arm around my shoulder and shoved the revolver into my neck and said, 'leonard, i love you.' i said, 'i hope you do, phil.'" -leonard cohen

"they’d whisper at each other and look at phil and whisper at each other. finally this lady, tanked, comes over to phil and says, 'alright, sonny, what’s your problem?' and he said, 'premature ejaculation, what’s yours?'" -tom wolfe

"i bite my nails and if that fails i go get myself stoned, but when i do i think of you and head myself back home." -gram parsons

"i would say groucho marx, to name one thing, and willie mays, and the second movement of the jupiter symphony, and louis armstrong’s recording of potatohead blues, swedish movies, naturally. sentimental education by flaubert, marlon brando, frank sinatra, those incredible apples and pears by cézanne, the crabs at sam wo’s, tracy’s face." -woody allen

"where have you been all my life?" -emmylou harris, to my brother tommy

brian eno songs that will make good book titles for my 10-volume memoir, in order: here he comes, baby's on fire, golden hours, brutal ardour, taking tiger mountain, events in dense fog, through hollow lands, some of them are old, everything merges with the night, dead finks don’t talk

ry cooder albums that every man should own: into the purple valley, boomer's story, paradise and lunch

"really, we don't want people twiddling their goatees over our stuff." -radiohead

thelonious monk's middle name: sphere

#1 song on the white album (tie): long long long, happiness is a warm gun

"the only word is love." -john lennon

"i love songs about horses, railroads, land, judgment day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love. and mother. and god." -johnny cash

"the moon is clear, the sky is bright, i'm happy as the horse's shite." -the pogues

"i hope that you all out there, young, old, tall, short, fat or thin, quick or slow, no matter what kind or color or shape or person you are, if you like to make music, why, go ahead.” -pete seeger

"chuck berry isn't merely the greatest of the rock and rollers, or rather, there's nothing mere about it. say rather that unless we can somehow recycle the concept of the great artist so that it supports chuck berry as well as it does marcel proust, we might as well trash it." -robert christgau

mashable says about us: "expect the unexpected with this awesome gem. groovy." and 33 1/3: "nice to have someone steer me in a worthwhile direction"

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the olden days: 2008 j. f. m. a. m. j. j. a. s. o. n. d. 2009 j. f. m. a. m. j. j. a. s. o. n. d. 2010 j. f. m. a. m. j. j. a. s. o. n. d. 2011 j. f. m. a. m. j. j. a. s. o. n. d. 2012 j. f. m. a. m. j. j. a. s. o. n. d. 2013 j. f. m. a. m. j. j. a. s. o. n. d.

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#871: antony and the johnsons - thank you for your love (2010)

for reasons that are currently too complex to discuss i didn’t listen to all of antony and the johnson’s the crying light and swanlights, and for that matter somehow didn’t open my copy of robert penn warren’s all the king’s men, until this past week. the albums are like the kid a and amnesiac of decaying forests and fluttered eyelashes and empty bedsheets and throbbing clarinets. and so far all the king’s men is better than both randy newman’s good old boys and a.j. leibling’s the earl of louisiana, which is unlikely and immense. i am grateful for them.

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#551: joanna newsom - soft as chalk (on late night with jimmy fallon, 2010)

it took a while for the wonderful singer and harpist joanna newsom to start her sold-out show at town hall last night. lou reed slumped in an aisle seat, looking unamused. he puckered his lips absentmindedly and stared straight ahead. he sat one row behind ms. newsom’s companion, andy samberg, and his friends from saturday night live, who seemed much happier. antony hegarty, mr. reed’s sometimes collaborator, said a quiet and rickety hello to a fan near the door.

"sorry," ms. newsom said when she took the stage. "i was just talking to a guy who said i was awesome."

the last time she had a new york city show as big as this, she played with the brooklyn philharmonic at bam in february 2008. those songs were from her hugely sumptuous and lush last album, ys, and they were ocean-sized thanks to arrangements from van dyke parks, the beach boys colleague: “violins, voices, the harp, horns and harmonies shook and bent and swelled together until everything bulged and burst,” the observer wrote then, “and bubbled up again.”

last night she brought only a quintet, who played pared-down arrangements of her new album, have one on me, which is downright modest compared to the last one. after one song alone on the harp, she was joined by her new album’s arranger, ryan francesconi, who plays electric guitar, banjo, and a bulgarian tambura (which sounds annoying, but it isn’t), plus a drummer, two violins, and a trombonist.

it’s the difference between a forest and a garden. but the economy was lovely. the violins waltzed with the swirls of harp. melodies popped up, twisted around, crouched down, and started again. tempos swayed forward, hung back, and hurled ahead. momentarily thumps of drums sounded like approaching armies. an electric guitar sprang out on baby birch and let out dixie twangs on soft as chalk.

it would be easy to miss the old lushness, considering that have one on me is a two-hour, three-cd album, but it’s easier to be swept along by those surprises, ms. newsom’s skyscraper falsetto, and her technicolor harp. the village voice's rob harvilla, in fact, would prefer to hear her alone.

the guitarist kevin barker opened the show with a set of very easygoing, very mid-tempo, very lukewarm music. his bassist wore a watch and chain on his vest, and actually seemed to check the time at one point. the drummer played the triangle: he had very long hair that looked well-conditioned. so did mr. barker. together they made music that would be good to listen to in an armchair in socks.

ms. newsom, even without a philharmonic behind her, makes music for seafaring, blossoms, spacewalks, and first kisses. [from the new york observer]

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#521: yoko ono (with antony hegarty) - i’m going away smiling (2009)

this morning i had a delicious breakfast bar, drank some o.j., and then spent a half hour on the phone with yoko ono, who turns out to be a radically lovely person to talk to. “it’s just that i’m myself, and me, and whatever comes to me, at the time, tends to be something probably, i don’t know, au courant, but then, it’s me, as usual,” she said. she offered some more future classics (to be used in an upcoming nyo article) like: “i think i’m wiser now. well. i hope i’m wiser. i make so many mistakes every day—oops!

it turns out that she does not listen to 60s pop music. “i’m an emotionally frail person,” she explained. “i don’t listen to anything. i just listen to the music in my mind. it’s wrong to say i don’t listen to anything. you know what i listen to? i listen to john’s songs, because i have to. have to is not the right word. almost every day, i listen to it because people request it—‘can i use it?’ and for relaxation i listen to indian music, old.”

on eric clapton, paul simon, thurston moore, jim keltner, and the other guests at her upcoming brooklyn academy of music concert, she said: “each one of these people—people? these stars!—i know them personally.” basically it was like conversing with the inspiring elementary school art teacher i never had. “just remember, you’re talking to me,” she said at the end. “we’re talking the same way, we’re on the same page. you’re 25—don’t think i’m not 25.”

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#467: lou reed and antony - candy says (2007, dir. julian schnabel)

one excruciatingly sad thing about writing the observer's column on viciously expensive new york real estate is that it's very hard to watch julian schnabel's film on lou reed's berlin concerts. i want to listen to the music and think about guitars, spiders, whales, wales, wrinkles, velvets, undergrounds, love and death, but instead i wonder why julian schnabel wanted to charge $32 million for his triplex penthouse at palazzo chupi, where richard gere and palo alto bankers scamper around among antique moroccan window dressings, 12-foot doors, seven-foot fireplaces, giant claw-foot tubs, cast-concrete kitchen countertops dyed chromium-oxide green, and a very large swimming pool.

but this long national nightmare is over! mr. schnabel has sold the triplex. he got $10.5 million.

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#430: radiohead - the national anthem (2000)

the new york observer's very own leon neyfahk, who might be one of the smartest people i’ve ever met, and certainly one of the lankiest, once mentioned to me that he thought antony and the johnson’s painfully beautiful cover of beyoncé’s crazy in love was lousy. he was wrong! sure, antony’s cover doesn’t have the original’s sizzle or swagger or sweatiness or sexiness, but it’s full of ecstacy and torment, and what else can you ask for from a pop song?

leon became even more wrong today, cosmically wrong, when he wrote on twitter that it is “the most tedious thing,” and “more boring” than a bad song on pink floyd’s ummagumma. then he had to go and say it is “more boring than treefingers,” which is an easy target—that’s the murky, dreamy, eno-esque song on radiohead’s kid a. speaking of which, only last week leon casually said that he not only prefers radiohead’s amnesiac to kid a (which, hello, is insane), but then went ahead and gave the national anthem as an example of kid a's weaknesses.

that is where he crossed the line.

not liking the national anthem is not liking waterfalls, heavyweight boxing, trampolines, the smell of blood and getting to second base for the first time. it is a song that pounds and throbs and thuds and wallops, and it’s pretty. (and this video, made for an mtv contest, is a classic too.)

so leon, if you’re reading this, please open your ears and heart to antony’s beyoncé song and the national anthem. treefingers isn’t bad either.

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#421: antony and the johnsons - crazy in love (beyoncé cover) (2009)

next week, in what must surely be the best two-song single of the year, antony and the johnsons are releasing aeon, featuring a dementedly beautiful cover of beyoncé’s crazy in love. there’s no irony, but there are oboes (and a harp.)

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with all due respect to antony and the johnsons’ art director, i like aeon's cover when it’s flipped right-side-up.

with all due respect to antony and the johnsons’ art director, i like aeon's cover when it’s flipped right-side-up.

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album cover #9: antony and the johnsons’ i am a bird now - actually, this isn’t the album cover, it’s a photo from the album’s liner notes. maybe that’s why there’s so much eyeliner. heh.

album cover #9: antony and the johnsons’ i am a bird now - actually, this isn’t the album cover, it’s a photo from the album’s liner notes. maybe that’s why there’s so much eyeliner. heh.

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#69: antony and the johnsons - hope there’s someone (2005)

when antony gets halfway through the line “oh i’m scared of the middle place, between light and nowhere,” he stops to cry.

it’s the most upsetting thing ever filmed—worse than if tom waits started weeping while singing the opening of train song: “well I broke down in east st. louis, on the kansas city line…i  fell down at the derby, and now the night’s black as a crow. it was a train that took me away from here, but a train can’t bring me home.”

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#68: antony and the johnsons - fistful of love (2005)

make it past the little opening monologue (spoken by sad-eyed lou reed on the album version), and you’ll get to the most crippling drag ballad you’ve ever heard. no chubby-cheeked white man has ever sounded so much like billie holiday and aretha franklin at the same time— but antony and the johnsons aren’t kitchy or campy, they’re just dreamy.

and they’re tragic. if the song title fistful of love doesn’t give the subject away, try the lyrics “i feel your fists/ and i know it’s out of love,” or “i accept and i collect upon my body/ the memories of your devotion.” physical abuse isn’t a new pop song subject, but hearing a soft obese man calling his scars “memories of your devotion” is upsetting. and the string trio makes it hard to not weep wildly.

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