The Mottram Program

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Bob Dylan, Out of Time

While listening to Blood on the Tracks the other day I thought, “This must’ve blown people away when it came out,” so I Googled “Rolling Stone Blood on the Tracks review” and there it was. The Internet is wonderful.

Thing is, the review, by legendary rock critic/manager/producer Jon Landau, isn’t that favorable. It’s mostly a treatise on Dylan’s “indifference to the process of making records” and how “his position as a premier recording artist is called into question.” It even includes the line, "I don’t believe that Bob Dylan would qualify as a great rock artist."

Forty years later, that scans as crazy talk. But Landau also wrote this, the final lines from that review in the winter of 1975:

The album answers to no one and was made for everyone. It is the work of someone who is not just seeing through himself, but looking through us — and still making us see things that we haven’t seen before.

So maybe it did blow people away, and still does.

Filed under Music Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks Rolling Stone Crazy Talk

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A Fun Little David Letterman Story, By the One and Only Sturgill Simpson


One of my favorite things about Letterman is when he really gets a kick out of the musical guest. You see it every year around Christmas with Darlene Love, it was obvious earlier this year with Future Islands, and it happened just last month with Sturgill Simpson.

Sturgill, who put out one of my favorite LPs of 2014, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, ripped through “Life of Sin” before Letterman came over and riffed a bit:

That’s all you need right there. Get yourself a, I don’t know, one of them 46-ounce things of Mountain Dew and rent a car and just start driving.

Get that on, you know what I’m saying? Just start driving. Every now and then stop someplace, start a fight, get back in the car, keep driving.

FANTASTIC, ladies and gentlemen.

Fast-forward to last night, when I saw Sturgill at the Birchmere music hall in Alexandria, Va. There, before playing “Life of Sin,” he talked about it (I’m paraphrasing):

Y’all might’ve seen us on Letterman. It’s on YouTube, him talking about Mountain Dew and stuff. 

After the camera went off, I was real excited, because I thought we were gonna get to meet David Letterman. There he was, this tall runnerman standing there, looking at us.

So he took off his $8,000 sports coat and just dropped it on the ground. Most gangster thing I’ve ever seen. And he walks our way, goes right by, and all he says is, ‘Fan-FUCKIN’-tastic’.”


Filed under David Letterman Sturgill Simpson That Sound

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In November 2006, for example, a source came forward with the recording of the Michael Richards racist comedy routine. The source wanted several thousand dollars for the tape, and TMZ would pay it, but the source wanted the cash immediately — as in before-the-banks-opened immediately. Levin couldn’t write a personal check and allow the money to be traced back to him, and he, like everyone else, had a limit on the amount of cash he could take out in a single day from the ATM. His solution, according to multiple staffers working for the site at the time: Call every TMZ staffer and force them to immediately take out their ATM max and bring it down to the TMZ offices. The staffers were reimbursed, but the story highlights just what lengths TMZ was willing to go to obtain — and pay — a source.
The Down and Dirty History of TMZ

(Source: BuzzFeed)

Filed under media tmz harvey levin checkbook journalism

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Top 20 LPs of the First Half of 2014

Hey, here’s what I’ve been enjoying these past six months. Listen via my Best Albums of 2014 for Real Spotify playlist, which will be updated all year long. Because I’m addicted, you see.

1. The War On Drugs :: Lost In The Dream

2. Sturgill Simpson :: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

3. Future Islands :: Singles

4. Beck :: Morning Phase

5. Strand of Oaks :: HEAL

6. Real Estate :: Atlas

7. Jack White :: Lazaretto

8. Damien Jurado :: Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son

9. Parquet Courts :: Sunbathing Animal

10. Band of Horses :: Acoustic at The Ryman

11. Mac Demarco :: Salad Days

12. Sharon Van Etten :: Are We There

13. Jamestown Revival :: Utah

14. Hurray For The Riff Raff :: Small Town Heroes

15. Walter Martin :: We’re All Young Together

16. Hamilton Leithauser :: Black Hours

17. First Aid Kit :: Stay Gold

18. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks :: Wig Out At Jagbags

19. Damon Albarn :: Everyday Robots

20. Kevin Drew :: Darlings

Filed under Music Indie Rock Lists War on Drugs

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Neil Young :: “Needle of Death” (Bert Jansch cover)

"Young released the vinyl-only A Letter Home, a collection of covers recorded in single takes on acoustic guitar in Jack White’s Voice-O-Graph booth at Third Man Records. About the size of a phone booth, the machine records you to vinyl as you play, which is exactly what Young did, giving the album a unique vintage quality.”

This is relevant to my interests. 

Filed under Music Neil Young Jack White Vinyl Beardcore

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USA Today looked for inspiration in the viral media darlings, BuzzFeed and Upworthy, for a sports section that mixes original and aggregated content with you-gotta-click-to-see-what-happens headlines. In just nine months, For The Win has shown “legacy” publishers can win in the social-sharing game. According to comScore, FTW’s unique visitors more than doubled from May to December, when it drew 7 million uniques.
 FTW: How USA TODAY Mastered Viral Sports Content

Filed under Media Sports USA TODAY FTW Social Mobile Strat