Category Archives: tortured/brilliant

“They’re never gonna know that I move like hell” (why D’Angelo covering that Zeppelin song makes ridiculously perfect sense)

The story goes that swans are silent their entire lives, then cry out once, only when they are dying.

It’s not a true story, mind you—swans are loud and make grating honk noises—but it’s pretty and sad, and that’s why we hold onto it. In 1974, Led Zeppelin named their sparkling new post-Atlantic label Swan Song in tribute to the (untrue) swan-death myth. The label’s logo, a winged, brolic angel crying in pain, is taken from a painting done in tribute to the swan-death myth. The actual myth is Greek, and says that in ancient times, just before Apollo’s birth, a flock of swans circled overhead exactly seven times, singing. Apollo was the god of music; his birth was a glorious event and swans announcing it seems just right. But at some point the story got flipped. A “swan song” is now a death cry—a wrong, ironic meaning that’s now forever part of the Zeppelin story. D’Angelo emerged a couple weeks ago in Tennessee and covered Zeppelin, a glorious event. Somethingsomething Jesus, resurrection, the people rejoicing. The part in D’Angelo’s story where the irony comes in is when he put out an album in 2000 with songs about hair pulling and ass smacking (track 3), and something about wetness and thighs (you know the track). The label that released it: Virgin.

D’Angelo’s set at Bonnaroo contained nothing from Voodoo except for a snippet of “Chicken Grease.” But because it’s D’Angelo, earnest and sober (I think?) and in front of some keys, the audio from the show is still on daily rotation in my headphones thanks to the download link that’s not too hard to find (GO NOW, if you haven’t already GO GO GET IT GO). The setlist contains nothing surprising—Mayfield, The Time, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Parliament of course. The Beatles’ “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” fits in especially nicely, with its weird words and that great drum break after each bar. But it’s his version of Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be” that lifts the set into next-levels territory. The track bangs, yes, satisfying my heart’s need for grown-man emo and my lower body’s need for bass. But it also satisfies my hungry nerd brain, because its back story makes it such a logical choice for him to cover.

A D’Angelo-Zeppelin meetup was probably bound to happen. Voodoo was recorded at Electric Lady studios; most of Zeppelin’s albums were mixed there. Jimmy Page and D’Angelo are both Rhodes guys, calm and bosslike on the instrument. Robert Plant and D’Angelo each had unpleasant periods involving car crashes and general coke mayhem. And “What Is…,” a dreamy little number at its beginning, settles into that mid-tempo BPM that D’Angelo always slays so easily. “Devil’s Pie” has a BPM of 90; “Me and Those Dreamin’ Eyes of Mine” is 87. “Lady” is 85, and so is the Zeppelin song. “Do do, bop bop a do-oh,” wails Plant at the end of it. The part could be lifted from a Soulquarians vamp session and you wouldn’t know the difference. “My my my my, my-my yeahhh.” You wouldn’t know the difference. D’Angelo and Robert Plant are men who are both fluent in Rural Southern–even though the commonwealth of Virginia is a little too close to Yankee territory for it to be taken seriously as a bluesy place, and Plant is from a town in the English midlands famous for its carpets.

D’Angelo is uncomfortable with his burden of sexiness. I know this from reading Questlove interviews. His public persona is almost swaggerless when it comes to sex (almost). Plant is much more comfortable with his aura of steam and lust – he wrote “What Is…” during his Tolkien-obsession phase and somehow managed to inject unsexy hobbit mythology into Sonny Boy Williamson-esque heavy-riffed gut punchers that he’d sing to willing, sexy girls in the third row. Plant became obsessed with Welsh culture in the late ’60s, druids and the like, mysticism, paganism. (Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, when pagans have historically witnessed the sunrise at places like Stonehendge, marking the event with ceremonies celebrating fertility. So, this post could’ve just as easily been about D’Angelo and Spinal Tap.) The thing in the song that “was” but that “should never be,” according to rumor and speculation and this is as good as the gospel to music dorks, is, hold up now: Plant’s relationship with his wife’s sister. Well goddamn. The theme of forbidden desires could therefore link Zeppelin’s “What Is…” with every D’Angelo-tagged post on MediaTakeout (D’Angelo’s own forbidden desires being, of course, narcotics, fatty food and mouthsex). But this is too easy, too shallow. It’s more interesting to consider that Tolkien, like D’Angelo, grew tired of the fans who loved his dumbed-down work. He saw himself primarily as a scholar, not a fairy-tale writer, and he hated that The Lord of the Rings was his biggest success. He would not have cared for Robert Plant’s great fondness for Mordor.

Written in a Tolkien haze, the thing that makes “What Is and What Should Never Be” so satisfying as a song covered by D’Angelo of all people is the very specific type of alienation shared by the two men. They are both people whose messages get distorted when they try to talk to us. “Everybody I know seems to know me well,” goes the closing verse, with the punchline being that nobody who bought their books/albums actually does. For D’Angelo it was his abs, for Tolkien it was his fantasy writings; they both felt a deep resentment for being praised for what they felt were their least important achievements. Tokien’s Hobbit and LOTR were his attempt to construct what he referred to as a “body of myth” – which happens to be exactly the same phrase used by ladies in describing D’Angelo’s form in the “Untitled” video, much to his dismay.

I am neither a pagan nor a Pentecostal at this point. Things are still cloudy for me, belief-wise. Though if God actually exists he will obviously one day fulfill my dream of hearing D’Angelo do the Ohhhh, oh-oh-ohh-ohh-OHHHH to open “D’yer Mak’er.” Its BPM is 90. He’d kill it.


We want prenup (we want prenup)

There’s me, and there’s you, and then there’s like 90% of other humans, and then there’s this whole subset of humans known as Musical Crazies – genuine (Syd Barrett), pretend (Kanye, Marilyn Manson), and unclear (Kool Keith). Then there’s Phil Spector, defying categories and making shiny pretty music since 1959. He might have murdered that lady, sure, but OMG, have you heard “Then He Kissed Me”? Until he’s taken out back and put down, let him do what he wants. Get down girl, go head, get down!

Page Six says Phil once sent celebrity lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, his friend who had drawn up hundreds of prenups, his version of how such an agreement should read:

1. If I like it, it’s mine.

2. If it’s in my hands, it’s mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.

4. If I had it a week ago, it’s mine.

5. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.

7. If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.

8. If I think it’s fine, it’s mine.

9. If it is near me, it’s mine.

10. If it’s broccoli, it’s yours.

Phil and I disagree about broccoli, but clearly we are still meant to be love muffins fo life because, hi ladies, what more do you need to base a romance on beyond admiration of your man’s production skills? I just need to remember to adhere to the rules above so that he doesn’t leave my ass for a white girl.

Ray Charles – “I Got a Woman”



We want prenup (we want prenup)

Before Phil Spector is taken out back and put down, he’s gonna keep the Crazy comin.

the eccentric “Wall of Sound” music producer in prison for murdering actress Lana Clarkson — always had a dark sense of humor. He once sent celebrity lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, his friend who had drawn up hundreds of prenups, his version of how such an agreement should read. Tashi Grady, Mitchelson’s longtime aide, who’s shopping a book on him, showed the “agreement” to friends at Da Tommaso. It reads:

“1. If I like it, it’s mine.

2. If it’s in my hands, it’s mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.

4. If I had it a week ago, it’s mine.

5. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.

7. If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.

8. If I think it’s fine, it’s mine.

9. If it is near me, it’s mine.

10. If it’s broccoli, it’s yours.”

Get down girl, go head, get down! First of all, Phil’s a genius and you can act how you like when you’re a genius. I kinda feel like if I don’t adhere to the rules above, my favorite tiny Judaic possibly-murderous genius will, in fact, leave my ass for a white girl.


Tom Waits is nicer and more existential than me.

Deciding on just the right slutty Halloween costume is time-consuming, you guys, and sometimes I get so frustrated that I just need a break. That’s when I look at the Internet, which lately seems to have a flood of information about upcoming cinematic experiences.

Terry Gilliam and Tom Waits (2 of my OG weird-old-white-man crushes!) just did a Times Online interview about Doctor Parnassus that Heath Ledger movie that Gilliam is directing and that Waits has a role in – and goddammit if these dudes aren’t a dynamite comic duo. I had no idea! Tony Blair killing people, Tom being the perfect person to play the devil (I know what you’re thinking, but Slutty Devil is so ’05), the fact that reality is overrated, and when they’re releasing Blackout! 3. These dudes got so much trouble/On their minds.

Somehow the conversation turns to politics, and TG captures my heart forever when he reveals he’s given up his US citizenship and describes Republicans as shameless, brutal, knife-wielding hyenas! Direct quote! Marry me, Terry Gilliam! He also reminds us all that once there was a wacky fake Texas cowboy who came in and roared his terrible roars and gnashed his terrible teeth and rolled his terrible eyes and showed his terrible claws for 8 horrendous years (in between vacations in Crawford, of course), and then broke the fuck out.

Gilliam: Obama has been given this poisoned chalice. He’s got four years to fix the economy, turn everything around, make the world a wonderful place — good luck. Isn’t it amazing how George Bush has just vanished? Not a peep. It’s like he disappeared.

Waits:I think the real problem was what Bush really wanted in life was to be the Commissioner of Baseball, and the job was not available. We all have a thousand parallel lives that could have been our lives, had we made different decisions along the way. We’re at the crossroads every day.

Leave it to Tom “Too amazing to be human” Waits to make Bush, uh, sympathetic? Slightly? And they said it could not be done! Bush, while always equaling evil and stupid in the course of human history, was also a guy whose dream in life was not impossible and was pretty damn within reach considering family ties and a big fat bank account, and he just couldn’t make it happen. Politics and evildoing aside, we’re only human so don’t we feel for somebody who’s always lamenting what could have been? (Yes. Yes we do.) On the Liberal Scale, Tom is somewhere between Chomsky and Tim Robbins, so his ability to size up the hopes and dreams of W in a calm and compassionate way is quite a feat. Plus this whole parallel lives concept is pretty grand, headtrip-wise. It makes me think about life, corny Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, the past’s hold on us, and this*…as opposed to my usual thoughts of bathing suits, how I can somehow meet Lee Perry, and the Stiletto break.

Joe Tex – “I’m a Man.” Because he’s a better Texan than George W. And a better man than George W. But then, so am I. Who isn’t, really.


*The past is not only that which happened,
but also that which could have happened but did not.

– Tess Gallagher*
[Side note – in one of Raymond Carver’s books his dedication to Tess, his wife, went simply:

“Tess, Tess, Tess, Tess.”

That’s how it’s done, gentlemen. And unsurprising for Carver, a guy whose exemplary life basically went: drink drink drink, master the unpretentious writing style, find yourself a good woman, and check out before your body starts to show signs of wear. Swoon.]

Oh Word – Gaye and Eliot edition

I don’t quite know how to explain it but it’s there.
These can’t be the only notes in the world; there’s got to be other notes some place, in some dimension, between the cracks on the piano keys.

– Marvin Gaye

“Birth and copulation and death, that’s all the facts when you get to brass tacks.

– T.S. Eliot.

The Eliot quote is on the sleeve of Let’s Get It On, a cornerstone of the 2 heathens’ record collection played during my childhood and the likely reason I 1) became an English major and 2) grew up to have a web log on which every other post references sexytimes and has tags like “Basslines are sex.”

I tried and tried to find the mp3 of this, to no avail. Sorry. Press the little forward arrow below and please note that in the movie version of the goings-on in apt. 302, this plays over the montage of us when we are first falling in love and getting all goofy for each other, holding hands when we go out to breakfast every weekend, and frantically clutching at each other without our clothes on. It’s also an exceedingly dope road trip song, oh my goodness, car-dancing on the 10 on the way to Indio, is there anything finer in life?

Marvin, I hear, was full of euphoria and dread, kind of like Kanye except Marvin did not have a blog that was better than the Internet, but it’s all euphoria and nothing more when this song hits my brain/ears/heart.

PS, “For only love can conquer hate” was a fine statement about humanity, but “I want to do somethin freaky to you” cannot be denied in terms of sheer lyrical persuasive force.


She caught me off my guard/It amazes me, the will of instinct

No band is special, no player royalty.

– Krist Novoselic, no doubt having grown tired
of getting adoringly mauled by 15-year-olds in ’91.

I used to have this thing where I didn’t like things if other people liked them.
I believe this is called “being 14.” I got over it.
I love Nirvana.

Nevermind came out in Sept. ’91. It’s 18, and legal now for you to do sexy things with, just like Breaking Atoms! (threesome?). This might have been the reason that VH1 Classic showed the episode of Classic Albums today focusing on Nevermind, with interviews and video footage and the like. So I accidentally came across it, right at 5 when it started, and for that next hour all production in apt. 302 was shut DOWNNN. I mean, I was held rapt, like one of the prisoners in The Shawshank Redemption when Andy puts that Mozart on the loudspeaker. Did we have an earthquake? Did more LA hillsides catch on fire? I’ll never know ’cause Viacom and subsidiaries, you were slowly killing me for that hour with your huge production budget and ability to hypnotize with cool edits on my TV screen. Thank you for spoon-feeding me information about albums; it powers me and puts a spring in my step. However, please note that this does not mean that I respect your conglomerate. Don’t get it tangled. Or something.

I looked around and found it below – music dork heaven, courtesy of VH1, which has lovingly not had its lawyers remove the clips from YouTube (thanks, guys!). Butch Vig’s got his fingers on the console in front of him, talking about cellos and demonstrating his power to take us all back to when the album was new. It’s ’91 again, and I’m not just referring to his glasses and haircut. Rodney King, Jeffrey Dahmer, Magic’s HIV. Everybody got a copy of Nevermind and it felt good to be melodic and miserable. Then Super Nintendo came out and everybody got distracted. But it’s ’91 again, and I’m hoping soon we’ll get around to discussing the stunner that is the name Butch Vig. Butch. Vig. That’s his name, my dears. Officially. His driver’s license and everything says so.

Butch describes “Polly” and uses the word “mournfulness” about Kurt and wears his feelings all over his face; just watch him, his expressions, and how he bows his head like people in church do. And realize, please, the fact that doing things right in music/life is basically the skill of: knowing what to take out and what to leave in. The end.

“So the track is a little out of tune. But that gives it kind of the eeriness.”
Kurt’s more hiphop than you. Hell, Kurt’s maybe even more hiphop than me.
(HA, just JOKIN. But I had you for a minute there.)

PS, bonus material I call “Logan entertains herself with Google”:

Nirvana, says Google Image Search. Dave Grohl’s the little one on the left.
Nirvana, says Google Image Search. I liked it because it is is pretty.
I kept it in the post.
You get a blog, you post what you like; it’s a beautiful system.

Shafiq Husayn (Sa-Ra) – “Nirvana”


The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Kurt Cobain’s Cardigan”



A real quick Phil Spector x Lords of the Underground post.

I’m dealing in rock’n’roll.
I’m, like…

I’m not a bona fide human being.

Phil’s such a sad little man but he embodies the tortured/brilliant archetype; I know you’re with me on this one, dear blogosphere.

1970, Plastic Ono Band sessions;
John & Phil, in between bumps, layin it the fuck down in the studio and trying to work out John’s mommy issues on wax.

This brings us to what is my only point, really.
And that is that basslines are, in case you forgot, the sex.

Press play below, and be inspired, and try with all your might to refrain from jockin your own fresh, brushing the dirt off your shoulder, and reporting to all those around you I’m a hustler, baby/I just want you to know.
(It’s impossible, but you can try anyway.)

(super ear-pleasing bass courtesy of Klaus Voormann, who also designed the Beatles’ Revolver cover)

The kids around the way used to think that I was buggin

But they don’t understand how I feel about the funk
I walk with the funk, I talk with the funk
I eat with the funk, I sleep with the funk
I live for the funk, I’ll die for the funk
So now what do they say, when I’m walkin up the block?

Mr. Funke,
nicely putting into words my feelings about the song by
the glasses-wearing British white man chief rocka above.

PS – In an incident I like to call “Crazy Recognize Crazy, July 2009,” your dude Charlie Manson would like Spector to produce his music since, you know, they’re both kickin it in the pen and have all that free time on their hands. Helter fucking Skelter.

“A guard brought Philip a note from Manson… He said he considers Philip the greatest producer who ever lived,” Spector’s wife Rachelle told the New York Post. I too consider Philip one of the greatest producers who ever lived, so Charlie and I are similar in this regard.


Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, 07/18/29. Hunter S. Thompson, 07/18/34.

So this is how the world works, all energy flows according to the whims of the great magnet.

Gimme 5 minutes of your time, please, because I must share this message with you all:

We’re living heavily under the influence of both of these men born today.
(Oh hi, record collection!* And hello there, writing style of 78% of bloggers currently in the game!**)

I did a Screamin’ Jay Random (although not really so random if you know me) Tribute Post way back when. Nothing has changed since then about what I want to say about this human, so let’s do this.

* Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, 07/18/29.
Badder than you for many reasons, including:

● Put out an album called Black Music for White People.

● Emerged out of coffins on stage.

● Had a flaming skull named Henry as his constant companion.

● Rocked an Afro-hawk. Rocked a septum bone.

● Toured with the Clash; appeared in Mystery Train.
Black Sabbath boosted his whole stage show, in the grand tradition of poor British white kids stealing all things Black, Musical, and American.

● Fornicated a whole hell of a lot, resulting in 57 children. Or was it 75?

● When asked what it is that makes him scream he replied,

Being black. Prejudice. Marrying a girl who said she was pregnant after I’d just spent two years in Alaska and was too foolish to know better.

Make um say Law of Rational Inference:
Jarmusch loves Screamin’ Jay***. RZA loves Jarmusch. I love RZA. You love me.
Therefore, you love Screamin’ Jay. Therefore, we all love Screamin’ Jay.


“I Put a Spell On You”

Hunter S., 07/18/34.

Badder than you for x amount of reasons that I don’t need to list. Oh, OK, since you insist:

He said a bunch of dope things, told Nixon to fuck off, was the bawss when it came to entertaining and unpretentious prose (a difficult-to-accomplish yet so satisfying one-two punch), wanted everything legalized, described his realization that he could get away with writing how he wanted to write as opposed to writing “like the New York Times” as “like falling down an elevator shaft and landing in a pool full of mermaids,” and basically ruled at life while everybody else was sittin around watching the teevee.
Plus do I even need to mention the fisherman’s hats, cigs, glasses, polos and khaki shorts??
Fucking stylish, sonnnnn.

The person who doesn’t scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs.

Sex without love is as hollow and ridiculous as love without sex.

A cap of good acid costs five dollars,
and for that you can hear the Universal Symphony with God singing solo and the Holy Ghost on drums.

…and then he went out like this:

It never got weird enough for me, he said.

Nothing else this here Bachelor of English and language nerd can say will do him justice, so I’m slowly backing away and gently ending this post. And fellow bloggers, forgive my momentary preachiness but we all owe this dude a large tip of the hat. Pour a little of your 40 out for him today, won’t you?

This fallen angel could stitch a wing with a shoestring.

Planet Rap Caucasia, it’s an epic day in the history of our people. Everyone’s favorite comely depressed mic wielder (who I’m pretty sure I could cheer up with my warm sweet love but then I’d lose interest in him because he’d be cheerful) celebrates another completion of the earth’s revolution around the sun.

Happy birthday, Ian Bavitz.