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This isn't the sort of blog where you normally find links to music videos but I couldn't pass Twenty up. It's by Grammy-winning bluesman Robert Cray who tells the stories about Iraq that you're not seeing on the cable news networks.
"Do you like good music, that sweet soul music?" Then you won't want to miss this musical tribute to the living legends of the Motown music revolution, a labour of love by award-winning filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus (The War Room, Startup.com). The Motown sound of the 1960's and 70's continues to influence pop and R&B music to this day.
The filmmakers, along with journalist Roger Friedman, set out to discover which of the great soul stars are still alive and thriving.
The filmmakers' journey took them to Memphis for a reunion of the greatest soul singers still alive. Viewers will meet musicians like Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave), Mary Wilson (of the Supremes) Isaac Hayes, Jerry Butler, Ann Peebles, The Chi-Lites, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas and the now late Wilson Pickett - charismatic individuals who have left their imprint on the recording industry.
Only the Strong Survive is a celebration of the musicians who kept playing amidst a dying genre of music - rhythm & blues - some 25 years after the hits stopped coming.
But it also takes a critical look at the recording industry of the period. What happened when disco took over and the radio became fractionalized? How and why did these artists manage to survive?
Sugar pie honey bunch, I can't help myself when it comes to this stuff.
But this morning I came to the conclusion that many of our neighbourhoods have become messier and dirtier just because the Moms aren't at home to make sure the kids aren't littering (PICK THAT UP!) and that the empty garbage cans are stashed as soon as the trash collectors have passed.
Today, while walking the dog in the wind, we were assaulted by flying green bins and garbage cans. They were sailing across the street, rolling down driveways and hurtling right at us. Syd was terrified and I did the best I could to ensure that the cans were secured where they could do no damage and no cars would destroy them.
Of course, the brats at the middle school up the block (who now refer to me as ''the crazy lady'' cuz I am always yelling at them not to litter) kicked many of them back into the street at lunch.
I bet you if their Moms (or Dads) were home, this wouldn't happen so much.
Anyway, while performing my bin dance, I cranked up the iPod for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' You and Me, Kevin Ford's Dance for Me, Aretha Franklin's Spanish Harlem, Emmylou Harris' All My Tears (I repeated that one), Joan Osborne's One of Us (one of the most underrated voices in music), Bruce Spingsteen's Glory Days, Grace Jones's Breakdown, Joe Cocker's cover of the Gladys Knight and the Pips hit Imagination, the Waterboys' Fisherman's Blues, John Hiatt's Perfectly Good Guitar and - how serendipitous! - Bob Seger's Against the Wind.
Hope you found everything where it belongs when you came home this evening - and that you were a good neighbour and picked up an errant can or two.
Okay, so I didn't mention it before but I had a birthday last week. (Old enough to have seen the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix in concert, okay?)
Anyway, one of my dearest pals totally floored me with the awesome and generous gift of a 30GB iPod, complete with video screen. It holds 7,500 songs and, so far, I have up- or down, I don't know which, loaded 1,411, most from my own extensive CD collection and a few from iTunes. (My friend also gave me a gift certificate for that.)
The beauty of this gift is that it has made me rediscover all my music, most of which has been gathering dust since it seems I am always listening to the news, on the radio or on cable channels in the background. I wear my iPod while ironing, doing the dishes and, of course, while working out. A girl can only take so much Peter Mansbridge or Wolf Blitzer before she starts thinking of driving into the garage, closing the door and revving an engine filled with leaded gas.
Needless to say, I have become one of those dreaded pod people you see with those trademark white wires coming out of their ears. I don't hear the starlings anymore. I wave at my neighbours but don't stop to chat. I am sure it's just a phase but I am getting a big kick out of it. And there's a whole new spring in my step.
So, just because I feel like it, I thought I'd introduce this new semi-regular ''shuffle'' feature. Whether it's the stepmill shuffle, the Danforth errands shuffle, or today's dogwalking shuffle, I'll be listing the tunes that moved me on that day.
Today, in a cruise around the park with my little Syd-ster, the line-up was Lucinda Williams' Essence, Bruce Springsteen's Hungry Heart, James Carr's Stronger than Love, The Drifters' Sand in My Shoes, Sinead O'Connor's He Prayed, Little Richard's cover of Johnny Cash's Get Rhythym (Go see Walk the Line!), the Rolling Stones' Let's Spend the Night Together, Leonard Cohen's Who by Fire, Keb' Mo's Crapped Out Again, Little Milton's So Mean to Me and Mark Knopfler duetting with Emmylou Harris on All the Roadrunning. (That last cut was on Private Investigations, a birthday gift from another friend, Cynthia.)
It felt great.
Where would I be without music, and very good friends?
The blogosphere continues to burn up over Liberal candidate Sarmite ''Sam'' Bulte's $250-a-head fundraiser on the eve of the election. That's because, as I blogged here, and as copyright legal eagle Michael Geist has been tracking, Bulte is determined to go ahead with it -- even though the organizers are heads of music and film lobby groups which stand to benefit from legislation that she helped developed. Notes Geist, who has been leading the blogocharge:
Whether this support is a function of cause (the support makes it more likely that Ms. Bulte will support these groups) or effect (the support comes because Ms. Bulte is supporting these groups) is immaterial. What matters is that the copyright policy process has been tainted by the perception of cash for copyright.
Last week, my Star friend and colleague Jim Rankin did a treeware report. Those who prefer to wait for the movie can check out Accordion Guy's video from Wednesday's all-candidates' meeting in Bulte's riding of Parkdale-High Park.
I won't dwell on this story for reasons that are deeply personal and private. However, I did want to bring your attention to Matthew Good's post on the subject since he speaks not from a partisan or angry blogger perspective but as a musician who has toiled in the big foreign multinational record label trenches.
The next time you walk past a live music venue, scoff at the bill, and think that nothing good ever comes out of your town, you do your best to remember that that attitude is precisely what ensures that nothing ever does. So you might as well go in and see what’s happening. At this point, what do you really have to lose?
At the end of their day, the entertainment industry is in the business of making money, not particularly ensuring that Canadian artists are championed. It would be nice if they stopped abusing that particular platform. As for Bulte, I suggest she consider whose interests she’s actually representing.
Incidentally, I know he thinks he's just joking by ''repurposing'' this photo with Bulte's head, but really, Accordion Guy has something truly tasteless here.
I thought I had an exclusive invite to the publication launch of Fury's Hour: A (Sort-of) Punk Manifesto by Warren Kinsella at Sneaky Dee's next Tuesday, but the guy is inviting all and sundry to catch his band's debut.
This afternoon, CBC Radio One's Sounds Like Canada pre-recorded an hour-long discussion of Live 8 with Edge 102 program director and music historian Alan Cross, the Barenaked Ladies' Steven Page and moi. Guest host Jian Ghomeshi really got us riffing over rock star egos, the line-up in Barrie, foreign aid works, the cynicism over the the world's biggest broadcasting event ever in the history of the universe, etc.
I got my licks in, as I was booked to do, as per my column last week -- but an hour is a long time to fill. So, I grabbed the opportunity to blather on about the corporate role in exploiting Africa and how all of us contribute to that.
I find it ironic that African-American singers are behind the whole ''bling'' thing -- and yet Africans have been used and abused in the diamond trade. How much bling acquired through deadly means will be worn by concert-goers?
Next time you enjoy a candy bar, ask yourself about the children who picked the cocoa beans and whether they were fairly treated -- or paid.
And let's not even get started on the oil business.
These are the issues the corporate media, which are mostly promoting the celebrity aspect of the concerts, won't be touching any time soon.
I greatly fear that Live 8 is inadvertently strengthening the notion that we in the rich world must be missionaries to save Africans from themselves. The truth is already being lost-- the deep, comprehensive responsibility of western nations and western financial institutions for so much of Africa's continuing underdevelopment and poverty. The real reason the rich world should be racing to deal with African poverty is the central role we have played in causing and perpetuating it.
Gerry should have been on the CBC Radio show with us. It's slated for Wednesday at 10 -- although you can always catch up with it here.