Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Music Biz: Napoleon

Ani DiFranco: Napoleon


As we've seen this week, plenty of musicians rail directly against the major label mindset even as they continue to work within the major label model. But modern inheritor of folk-as-labor-movement Ani DiFranco -- who, through her music, her activism, and her establishment of her own pro-feminist indie label Righteous Babe, has spent her career forging another path altogether -- is most interested in actually making change.

As such, her canon includes songs which directly address the labels and the suits, like so many others posted this week; see, for example, The Next Big Thing, which describes a meeting with a label rep who evaluates her looks instead of her music. But in the combination of her lyrics and a determined indie approach to musicmaking, Ani also takes a broader critical look at those other parties, from fans to artists, who are complicit in perpetuating the "big money" model. After all, says Ani's life and work, how can we genuinely claim to oppose the status quo if we continue to allow the labels to manage even those songs which rail against the industry?

Here, in a song which Spin Magazine once claimed was directed against fellow urban folksinger Suzanne Vega, Difranco directs her energies at musicians who have chosen the easier path, taking an unnamed friend to task for sacrificing honest art for the egotistical temptations of greed and power, and the result is neither kind nor pretty:

They told you your music
Could reach millions
That the choice was up to you
You told me they always pay for lunch
And they believe in what I do
And I wonder if you miss your old friends
Once you've proven what you're worth
Yeah I wonder
When you're a big star
Will you miss the earth

And I know you would always want more
I know you would never be done
'Cuz everyone is a fucking napoleon
Yeah everyone is a fucking napoleon

And the next time
That I saw you
You were larger than life
You came and you conquered
You were doing alright
You had an army of suits behind you
And all you had to be was willing
And I said I still make a pretty good living
You must make a killing a killing

Napoleon was originally released on Ani's 1996 album Dilate, but it clearly one of her favorite tunes; it remains in heavy rotation on her setlists, and it shows up on both her major live albums. This version, off 1997 live double-set Living in Clip, seemed appropriately raw, given the subject.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Music Biz: Nashville Sucks

I could go on for days about the songs I went through High School with that throw words at the music industry – specifically Nashville and their blood-thirsty executives. Most of these songs are filled with personal spite after many Texas music-makers made hopeful trips to the country music capitol only to return downtrodden and empty-handed. In fact, the biggest unifying factor in the group of artists that make the Texas/Red Dirt Scene is their mutual disdain for the entire commercial country machine.

In one particular case, Mike McClure – then leader of the relatively successful band The Great Divide – returned from Nashville with a bag of matchbooks embossed with the band’s logo, but no record deal and no plans for future talks. Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed re-tells the story and caps it off with the idea of setting the town ablaze with Molotov Cocktails ignited by those very matches.

Cross Canadian Ragweed: Anywhere But Here

On the heels of Pat Green’s fanbase – one that carried over from the Outlaw scene created by Willie, Waylon, Jerry Jeff, David Allan Coe, etc., these bands found a rabid group of listeners in Texas and Oklahoma who were eager to call the music their own. Fans have been known to chant “Nashville Sucks!” as a left-handed request for Cory Morrow’s Nashville Blues.

Cory Morrow: Nashville Blues

I was very much into this scene a few years ago - while I still enjoy some of the artists, much of that music was shelved to make room for the never-ending flow of great music that can be found (whether from Nashville or not) around the blogosphere. Once I realized that you didn’t have to be from Texas to make real music, my eyes were opened wide. Being a fan of that scene, however, I learned the value and importance of original songwriting, connecting with fans, and the live show experience. The growing success of nearly every ‘Texas Music’ band is proof that dedication pays – especially after failure.

While many of the bands in the scene now have much bigger deals than the ones they were living off a few years ago, they still retain animosity toward having any aspect of their careers controlled by someone who probably hasn’t even picked up a guitar. I caught Ragweed at the CD Release Party for their most recent disc Mission California. As part of their contract with Universal South, if they played a show on the day of the actual release, they were required to play the album front to back, in order, and with no encore. Cody Canada made a point to apologize to the fans for this before the show started, and immediately broke into ‘track 1’ of the record:

Cross Canadian Ragweed: Record Exec

Here are a few more songs from the genre expressing the same sentiments.

Travis Linville: Ain’t Bein Treated Right

Houston Marchman: Viet Nashville

Jack Ingram: Happy Happy Country Country

The Music Biz: Girlie Action

Momus: Girlie Action


For something different, how about a pro-industry song?
Of course, a song that is basically an advertisement for a company must be complimentary, whether or not it reflects the artist's true sentiments is another question entirely.

Eccentric Scottish artist Momus released a brilliant album entitled "Little Red Songbook" in 1998 that included a song about transexual, and fellow electronic composer, Wendy Carlos. Carlos sued Momus over the song, calling it inflammatory. Momus later won the suit, but not after racking up quite a hefty attorney's bill for his record label. To make it up to them, Momus came up with a genius idea for his next would be an album of commissioned songs. For a brief day, Momus posted that he would write a song for whomever replied first for $1000 each. He was astounded by the quick turn out and had to end the offer after a day, and then ended up with a 2-disc set for the album, which was to be called "Stars Forever". Some of the commissions were from fans, one was for another band (The Minus Five) and others were from businesses/companies within the industry, like Minty Fresh Records, Other Music, Team Clermont and Girlie Music Media Promotions. The album itself is my favorite of his simply because of the unique content and the different styles he took on to make each song and commission its own.

The song I share here is the one he wrote for Girlie Action Promotions. They are a New York City-based media group that has worked with clients such as No Doubt, Morrissey and Elliott Smith.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Music Biz: I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me

Rosanne Cash: I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me


At the 1983 Grammy Awards, Rosanne Cash was nominated for "Best Female Country and Western Vocal Performance" for the song "Ain't No Money." She lost... to Juice Newton. Rosanne had also been nominated the year before in the same category for her smash hit, "Seven Year Ache." That year she lost to Dolly Parton and "9 to 5."

Needless to say, Rosanne took the two losses pretty hard. At both award ceremonies she had gotten all dressed up with make-up, new shoes and a new dress. After her second loss in 1983, all she could think of was, "New shoes... new dress... I don't know why they don't want me." That pondering led to this song.

So while the song itself doesn't seem to have much to do with "the biz" on the surface, it was inspired by one of the industry's most high profile events. Ironically, the song, "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me"... a song inspired by two previous Grammy snubs... finally netted Rosanne her first and only Grammy Award in 1986.

A young Vince Gill provides backing vocals on this track.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Music Biz: Hello It's Me

Fisher: Hello It's Me


Kathy Fisher makes her living mostly by singing in TV commercials these days, though she (and her husband Don Wasserman, who together are simply "Fisher") do make albums of their own still, they make a fairly meager amount of money from it. But in 1997, she thought she had hit the big time. Atlantic Records courted her about putting one of her original songs on the soundtrack to the new adaptation of Great Expectations that featured other well-respected artists like Tori Amos, Iggy Pop and Chris Cornell. Soon there after they forgot all about her, never signing her for a debut, but keeping her tethered for a year all the same.

She later released her own album featuring a song called "Hello It's Me" (not to be confused with the Todd Rundgren tune, though it's probably a bit of a homage considering the content) about the neglect she suffered at the hands of Atlantic Records.

The Music Biz: The Road

Jackson Browne: The Road*

I'm kind of sorry that this is my second Jackson Browne contribution to this here thing we have going on... I usually don't like to provide an outlet for physically abusive personalities, but...

"The Road" from Running On Empty is one of the best descriptors of life - as a million selling singer, riding that silver-coach - there is. Period.

Maybe the anguish of his perfect, dream-like, existence was the inspiration for demanding that the woman he loved, back home, could never live up to his tortured soul... even years later... but I just don't understand how a person - a star even - would raise his fist in anger.

Wasn't it good enough to be the best?

*I'm not providing a link to purchase, because I don't want to put any more cash in that asshole's pocket. I'm sure you can figure out how to get his stuff, should you need to.

The Music Biz: Title of the Song

Da Vinci's Notebook: Title of the Song


Lest we forget that so-called artists themselves are too-often complicit in treating the business of music as little more than a vehicle for fame and profit, here's recently-defunct a capella group Da Vinci's Notebook with an original (and highly meta) 1999 poke at the boy band cash cow formula.

Especially hilarious in concert, where it is much more obvious that the vocalization is part of the parody, rather than merely a limitation of their own performance. Kind of sad, though, when you consider that the song was really performed by four middle-aged guys who were never going to hit the big time as a novelty act singing humorous a capella tunes on the folk circuit.

The Music Biz: Comfort Eagle

Cake: Comfort Eagle


A broad condemnation of industry brandmaking and the material trappings of excess it brings couched in a bouncy, electro-poprock style reminiscent of Beck's Odelay days. One of my favorites from West Coast alt-rockers Cake, and a great example of their signature sound despite an utter lack of trumpet. And you just can't go wrong with lyrics like these:

There's no need to ask directions
If you ever lose your mind
We're behind you
We're behind you
And let us please remind you
We can send a car to find you
If you ever lose your way

We are building a religion

We are building it bigger

We are building

A religion

A limited


We are now accepting callers...
For these beautiful...
Pendant keychains

The Music Biz: Rock N Roll

Ryan Adams: Rock N Roll


I’m not sure if any artist has been as defiant toward the workings of the music business as Ryan Adams has – at least no one as accomplished. He’s often been very outspoken with his opinions about radio, record labels, fans, critics, and executives, although never in his songs. Well, at least not in a literal sense.

After the huge success of Ryan’s sophomore album, Gold, his new label Lost Highway thought they had a cash-cow. As far as record sales were concerned, his follow up album, Demolition, was a failure. The company reportedly encouraged Ryan to re-create the sound from Gold, most likely telling him to “play more rock n roll.” As a metaphorical slap-in-the-face to the label, Ryan put together an album spitefully entitled Rock N Roll. The record was electric-soaked and filled with boatloads of reverb and cliché rock phrasing. That is, all except for the title track:

“Everybody's cool playing rock n rollEverybody's cool playing rock n rollI don't feel cool, feel cool at allI don't feel cool, feel cool at allSend all of my best out to the bandSend all of my best out to the bandI don't think I'll make it out to the showI don't think I'll make it out to the showThere's this girl I can't get out of my headThere's this girl I can't get out of my headI don't feel cool, feel cool at all”

That’s all there is to the song (which was placed directly in the middle of the album): those words, Ryan, and a piano. The song fades out with a voicemail from a “very terrified and flipped out” Courtney Love.

On a related note, Courtney Love recently came forward in a typo-ridden rant on her MySpace blog accusing Ryan of stealing nearly a million dollars from Courtney’s daughter’s trust fund. She says he squandered it all on expensive hotels, dinners, guitars, and drugs while recording Rock N Roll in New York City. Courtney calls the record “one of the worst recordings [she’s] ever heard.”
She must not listen to Hole records.

Read the whole ridiculous thing here.

The Music Biz: Working for MCA

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Working for MCA


I've decided to stick to the mainstream today with a little ditty about "white trash being wined and dined by record label execs". Working for MCA comes from Skynyrd's 1974 album, Second Helping which also happened to feature fan favorite, Sweet Home Alabama as well as one of my very favorite Skynyrd songs, The Ballad of Curtis Loew.

To mangle a Kris Kristopherson verse: If you don't like Lynyrd Skynyrd you can kiss my ass.

The Music Biz: Walk On Water

Thelonious Monster: Walk On Water [purchase]

Bob Forrest (pictured far right), lead singer and principal songwriter for Thelonious Monster ... and one of the patron saints of The Adios Lounge ... wrote this one over 20 years ago and I'd say it's as relevant now as it was then. Songs about the evil machinations of the music industry are legion, but rarely are the artists themselves held accountable. This is why Bob was one of the best songwriters (and most engaging frontmen) at Thelonious Monster's artistic peak, roughly 1986-93.

"Walk On Water" ... produced by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers ... isn't just a song about a guy being wooed by the music biz. This is a song about a guy WANTING to be wooed by the music biz. He wants to believe he's as good as the suits, the groupies, and the music press say he is, that he's the next John Doe or Paul Westerberg. The irony is that at Thelonious Monster's best, they were every bit as good as X and The Replacements. Unfortunately, between the band's drug dependency, a constantly rotating cast of members, and Bob's legendary career sabotage, the Monster ended up as a footnote in rock history. Too bad, but then again, that's why blogs were invented, right?

Well, they keep telling me
Yeah, they keep telling me
That I could walk on the water
That I could walk on the water.

Buy me one drink after another
They buy me one drink after another
Tell me I could walk on water
On water, on water
Walk on the water, baby
Well, I could walk on water.

Well, they keep telling me
And I'm starting to believe
That I could walk on water
Well, I could walk on water.

Ahhh, what an asshole
What an asshole
What an asshole I must be think I could walk on water
Think I could walk on water
Take a walk ...

Walk on the water
Well, I can walk on the water
Me and John Doe and Paul Westerberg
Walking on the water
Walking on the water
On the water, on the water, baby
I can walk on water
Well, I can walk on water
Yeah, I can walk on water.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Music Biz: A Good Song

Ironically, this isn't really one of Pete's good songs. It does, however, explain how to get the job done, at least back in Mr. Dello's time and place. The Biz has changed considerably since he released his lovely post-Honeybus solo album, Into Your Ears, but I think his final sentiment applies regardless of the times.

The Music Biz: Hank III versus Nashville

Hank III - Trashville


Hank III - Dick in Dixie


Hank III - Grand Ole Opry (Ain't So Grand Anymore) (live)

While there are no shortage of artists out there who are anti-Nashville and penning Nashville protest songs no one has taken it to the level Hank III has. Born Shelton Hank Williams III, Hank III has waged a virtual personal war against Nashville and one of it's biggest names, Mike Curb.

In 1996, mounting child support payments led Williams to capitalize on his family name and sign a contract with Nashville, Tennessee music industry giant Curb Records and released Risin' Outlaw in 1999. He expressed dissatisfaction with his debut, and reportedly the label was unwilling to release his appropriately named This Ain't Country LP, nor allow him to issue it on another record label. In response, Williams began selling t-shirts stating "Fuck Curb."

After Curb refused to release III's third album, Thrown Out Of The Bar, Hank took Mike Curb to court. After more than a year of court appearances a judge ruled in favor of Williams in the spring of 2005, demanding that Curb release the album. Shortly thereafter III dropped his "Fuck Curb" campaign and Thrown Out Of The Bar was reworked into Straight To Hell.

Hank's new album, Damn Right, Rebel Proud, has suffered release date push back after release date push back but has finally settled (we hope) on an October 21 release date.

The Music Biz: Mike McClure

Here we have two very different, albeit both quite spiteful, looks at the how the music business can affect you as a person - from Red Dirt pioneer Mike McClure.

“I was in a band for 10 years with the same guys, up and down the road for a long time. And I decided to leave it, and to do something new. That was a strange thing for me, but this is the song that came out of it; kind of the dealing with all of that.” – Mike McClure
Take the time to really listen to these lyrics – they’re as real as it gets. I imagine it’s a transcript of the things he wished he would have said to his former bandmates. However, in recording the song, he did just that.

Mike McClure Band: Just Not Good Enough


Although never fully verified, I’m convinced this is song dedicated to the fans that pose never-ending, pointless questions to artists each and every night at their shows. After a while it gets to the point where you can’t fake interest anymore. I’ve often sat back at Mike’s shows during this song and caught a shit-eating grin on his face as he eyes the guy who yelled out the request. Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed co-wrote the tune and offers his vocals on the first verse.

Mike McClure: In My Ears


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Music Biz: The Moneygoround

The Kinks: The Moneygoround


Follow the money-go-round:

Robert owes half to Grenville, who in turn gave half to Larry, who adored my instrumentals, and so he gave half to a foreign publisher. He took half the money that was earned in some far distant land, gave back half to Larry, and I end up with half of goodness knows what.

Can somebody explain, why things go on this way? I thought they were my friends, I can't believe it's me, I can't believe that I'm so green. . .

Eyes down, round and round, let's all sit and watch the moneygoround. Everyone take a little bit here and a little bit there.

Do they all deserve money from a song that they've never heard? They don't know the tune and they don't know the words, but they don't give a damn.

There's no end to it, I'm in a pit and I'm stuck in it. The money goes round and around and around, and it comes out here—when they've all taken their share.

I went to see a solicitor and my story was heard and the writs were served. On the verge of a nervous breakdown, I decided to fight right to the end, but if I ever get my money, I'll be too old and grey to spend it.

Oh, but life goes on and on, and no one ever wins, and time goes quickly by, just like the moneygoround. I only hope that I'll survive . . .

The Music Biz: Robbie Fulks

Robbie Fulks: F*ck this Town


I promise to offer something more serious and less juvenile later in the week, but this is the first song that hit me for this category... I had to put it up.

In the early 1990's, Robbie moved to Nashville to shop some of his songs around to the Country Music industry. It didn't go well...

The Music Biz: My Record Company

k's Choice: My Record Company


I am not sure what is more surprising, that more anti-record company songs aren't made considering how many artists get screwed over by them, or that there still are some that make it onto major label albums despite their "bite the hand that feeds them" content.

Belgian brother/sister fronted band k's choice released their 1996 album "Paradise in Me" on Epic's 550 Records. The album contained many songs with biting social commentary, including the song "My Record Company" that expressed how record executives "smell like food that has gone bad" among other pleasantries.

The Music Biz: Rules 2 The Game

Arrested Development - Rules 2 Tha Game
Arrested Development - Lost Soldiers


When we received the email this weekend to know what this week's theme was a virtual waterfall of hiphop songs started washing over me. I even emailed Boyhowdy saying I for saw a lot of hiphop tracks from me this week. He requested that I try and mix some old school stuff into the mix since the hiphop posts lately have been gleaning towards newer material. To this I say, Good. I'm not really a look back type of poster neither here nor on ninebullets. Too many artists trying to sell records in the now and not being able to eat....but, in an effort to keep the peace I open this week with a compromise of old school band still quietly pumping out music:

Arrested Development.
Yeah, the Mr. Wendel Arrested Development.

Did you know they're still putting out albums? Most people don't. These tracks come from their 2002 effort, Heroes of the Harvest. It came out with zero fanfare and even less buzz, but it was everything you would/should expect from Arrested Development. It’s not “Tennessee part 2″, but it was vintage Arrested Development and said more than 90% of that years releases. I’m not even sure if Heroes got a U.S. release or not, but it is available on Amazon MP3 for less than 10 dollars. Well worth it, if you ask me.

The Music Biz: EMI

Sex Pistols: EMI


The facts do a pretty good job speaking for themselves - the story behind EMI:

November 1976: EMI releases "Anarchy in the U.K." by the Sex Pistols, in the U.K.

December 1, 1976: The Sex Pistols appear as guests on Bill Grundy's dinner-hour TV show, Today. The host provokes a confrontation that degenerates into profanity and shocks the British people.

January 12, 1977: The Sex Pistols are dropped by EMI and "Anarchy in the U.K." is withdrawn. The group does get to keep their advance of 40,000 British pounds, however.

March 10, 1977: The Sex Pistols are signed to A&M Records for 50,000 British pounds and released a week later for another 25,000 British pounds after incidents of "vandalism" at the label's London offices.

Bill Grundy interviews the Sex Pistols (NWS)

Unlimited supply
There is no reason why
I tell you it was all a frame
They only did it 'cause of fame
I do not need the pressure
I can't stand those useless fools
Unlimited supply
Hello E.M.I
Goodbye A & M

The Music Biz: Garden Party

Rick Nelson: Garden Party


Rick Nelson's Garden Party reached #6 on Billboard in the fall of 1972, remaining in the Top 40 for 12 weeks. In my opinion, it's twangy feel helped open the door for Country Rock acts like The Eagles and Pure Prarie League. While researching this song, I came across this great piece from the website, Straight Dope - the writer does a fantastic job dissecting the tune.

In Ricky Nelson's "Garden Party," who is Mr. Hughes?

Dear Straight Dope:

In Ricky Nelson's song "Garden Party," there is mention of a Mr. Hughes who "hid in Dylan's shoes." Who the heck is this guy? I've searched and searched but I have no idea.

— Josh

Ah yes, one of my favorite songs from the 70s. I used to listen for the point about two-thirds of the way through when, instead of going to a 1-4 chord change, Nelson went to a 1-4m9 change--rather dramatic for a musician. But I digress. You're not talking about the music, you're talking about the lyrics.

Symbolism abounds in this song. Eric Hilliard Nelson, better known as Ricky, joined the cast of his parent's ABC sitcom "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" in 1952 at age 11. A fall 1956 episode had him organizing a rock 'n' roll band in high school. Then in an April 1957 telecast he was drafted to perform with a local band and sang a currently popular Fats Domino hit, "I'm Walkin'"--which, backed with "A Teenager's Romance," promptly became a real-life million-selling record for him. Ricky went on to be one of the biggest stars of the early rock and roll era.

His star faded in the mid 1960s. He tried valiantly to regain the top of the charts, but it seemed the British invasion was thwarting him at every turn. Ironically, however, a song he wrote in the early 1970s about his disillusionment with the music industry was his biggest hit.

In October 1971 Rick was invited to play in a reunion show at Madison Square Garden, alongside such early rock luminaries as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard and others. By this time his hair had grown shoulder length and he was heavily into the country rock genre. When he mixed in new material with his old music, the audience began to boo. Whether it was really their reaction to their idol's new look and sound, or, as one report states, " ...there were reports that police were in the back moving people out, and in the political spirit of the early 70's the crowd was actually booing the police activity," Rick felt the crowd was booing him. He wrote about the experience: "I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends / A chance to share old memories and play our songs again. / When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name / No one recognized me, I didn't look the same."

Rick realized at that point that he had to be true to himself. Hence the chorus of the song: "I learned my lesson well. You see, you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself."

"Garden Party" was pounced on by the pundits and dissected unmercifully. Some clues were obvious. For instance, "Yoko brought her walrus"--John Lennon and Yoko Ono were at the concert. Lennon, of course, was responsible for the Beatles song "I Am The Walrus."

The lyric you ask about, "Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan's shoes wearing his disguise," is more difficult to interpret, but I finally found it for you. ""Mr Hughes" isn't Howard Hughes, as most people think, but refers to George Harrison, the ex-Beatle. Rick Nelson was good friends and next-door neighbor to Harrison, and was also a good friend of Bob Dylan. "Mr. Hughes" was the alias Harrison used while traveling, and "hid in Dylan's shoes" apparently refers to an album of Bob Dylan covers Harrison was planning that never came to fruition. "Wearing his disguise" is more obscure, but presumably had something to do with Harrison's habit of traveling incognito.

"Garden Party" was one of my favorite songs as a teen. I still remember that line:

You can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself...

Powerful stuff, at least for a 13 year old.

The Music Biz: Mercury Poisoning

Graham Parker: Mercury Poisoning


In 1979, after releasing four albums for Mercury Records, Graham Parker, frustrated with their distribution and promotion departments, wrote a parting shot, Mercury Poisoning, before heading for the greener pastures of Arista Records. While at Arista, he had the two strongest albums of his career - Squeezing Out Sparks and The Up Escalator. Mercury Poisoning was a red-headed step-child, no record company wanted much to do with a song that dissed one of their brethren. It had been released as an under-promoted single and included with a promotional-only radio station album. Now, it can be had as part of Master Hits, a collection of Parker's best.

No more pretending that advertising's dying in its nest
The company is crippling me, the worst trying to ruin the best
Their promotion's so lame, they could never ever take me to the real ball game
Maybe they think I'm a pet, well I got all the diseases
I`m breaking out in sweat, you bet, 'cause
I've got mercury poisoning, it's fatal and it don't get better
I've got mercury poisoning, the best-kept secret in the West

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Music Biz: Lodi

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Lodi


Best known for its Zinfandel, Lodi is a mid-sized town in California’s Central Valley. Although John Fogarty had never actually been to Lodi, he picked it to be the setting for his famous tribute to a stalled musical career because of its "cool" sounding name. Good reason.

The man from the magazine said I was on my way
Somewhere I lost connections, ran out of songs to play
I came into town, a one night stand
Looks like my plans fell through
Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again . . .

The Music Biz: How Many Friends

The Who: How Many Friends


With the exception of Squeeze Box, every song on The Who By Numbers is at least a little bit depressing. The album was released when Townshend was 30 years old, and much of it casts a shadow of midlife crisis.

In How Many Friends, Pete Townshend laments the fact that he is surrounded by people who want something from him because of his fame. This is the dark side of massive success.

The Music Biz: I Love My Label

Nick Lowe: I Love My Label


According to the liner notes for his rarities and covers compilation The Wilderness Years, pivotal pub rock and new wave icon and sideman-to-the-stars Nick Lowe recorded this wonderful tongue-in-cheek, utterly too-perfect pop song about label love in the mid seventies, somewhere between leaving Brinsley Schwarz and recording his first solo album Jesus of Cool (originally released in the US by Columbia Records under the title Pure Pop For Now People), in order to get out of his major label contract with United Artists.

The song was released as one of the very first singles from the newly-formed Stiff Records, where Lowe was in-house producer; both Lowe and the fledgling indie label he worked for would go on to become powerful forces behind the early punk and new wave sound of Elvis Costello, Dave Edmunds, and others in the late seventies and early eighties. Thought the single is long gone for all but the most fervent of collectors, the song is newly available on the reissued version of Jesus Is Cool, where it probably makes current re-issuing label Yep Roc Records proud, in a hipstery, ironical sort of way. And you thought the indie movement was something new, didn't you?