Category Archives: Music

Who Has More Fun than Meryl Streep?

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown

I have just watched the trailer for the movie “Florence Foster Jenkins”, starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but will at the first opportunity. I love this actress, who is just one year older than I, and has amassed innumerable awards – from Best Actress Oscars and Golden Globes, Cannes and BAFTA, Kennedy Center Honors… Although I haven’t by any stretch seen all her films, I am aware that she is one of the most versatile actresses to grace the silver screen.


I try to imagine what it would be like to inhabit characters like Margaret Thatcher, or Rikki the rocker mom. Some of them must be a wrenching experience – according to Karina Longworth, who wrote Meryl Streep: Anatomy of an Actor,  in Sophie’s Choice Streep “filmed the ‘choice’ scene in one take and refused to do it again, finding it extremely painful and emotionally exhausting.”

Longworth “considers [her role in The Bridges of Madison County] to have been the role in which Streep became ‘arguably the first middle-aged actress to be taken seriously by Hollywood as a romantic heroine’ ”.

I haven’t seen nearly as many of Streep’s movies as I like, but once we get our TV hooked up again and locate the video store, I’d like to make that a project. I also wouldn’t mind reading Karina Longworth’s biography of Meryl Streep.

What actor do you enjoy so much that you would watch any and all of his/her productions?

Perfect Pitch

Today’s post comes from Verily Sherrilee

I’m on vacation this week. I’m not doing anything special – just hanging around the house.  A little gardening, a little cooking, a little studio time, a little reading.  OK – a lot of reading.

I’ve gotten a couple of earworms this week, which is way more than usual.  First I got a Beach Boys song stuck for most of a day (Help Me Rhonda) and then yesterday it was The Girl From Ipanema. I don’t remember what started this and I don’t even know the lyrics to this song, but it stuck around all day.   Finally after several hours I started to hum and then eventually, as I was working in my studio, I began to sing the tune out loud.

I can carry a tune. I’m in a choir.  I’ve even sung at the Guthrie (as part of the choir, not on my own).  But when I started to sing, both dogs, who had been snoozing away on the floor near my feet, got up and left the room.

Both of them.

Do you sing the car or the shower?

The Essential Albums

Header photo by Will Folsom via Flickr.  License CC 2.0

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Robbindsale

The radio station The Current, KCMP (89.3 FM – MPR’s answer in 2005 to the fact that a hefty chunk of  its listeners were middle aging), has taken on compiling the 893 most essential albums of all time.

Back in mid-April they asked listeners to help by sending in their votes for individual listeners’ “top ten” albums.

What constitutes an Essential Album? According to Jim McGuinn, The Current’s program director, these are the albums that, if your house was on fire (and there was no such thing as an iPhone), you would run in and grab before they burned. They are the albums that may have changed your life, or perhaps that got you through important life changes; the albums you would want with you on a desert island along with that volleyball.

The station received around 8,000 votes from listeners all over the world – with over 14,000 albums receiving at least one vote.  Beginning Thursday morning May 5, the choices will be unveiled and played from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. each weekday through next Thursday May 12, and over the weekend from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The Current expects to unveil album #1 around 7 p.m. on the 12th. I should add that this is during their spring pledge drive.

Even though The Current’s voting is over, let’s do a Baboon poll:

What are your top 5 – 10 essential albums?


Tally Me Banana

Today is singer and activist  Harry Belafonte’s birthday.  He’s 89 years old.

Belafonte has done many worthy things as an outspoken champion of human rights.  I don’t know how he feels about it, but it seems unfortunate that he is best known for  singing a Jamaican work song that prominently features the world’s most politically loaded and inherently humorous fruit – the banana.

Working all night on a drink of rum is no small trick.  But you would want to be sure the tally man was counting your bundles fairly when it was time to go home.

And please, let’s not think about spiders.

What motivates you to do your work?

Top Billing

Today is the birthday of Wayne King, otherwise known as “America’s Waltz King”.   I hadn’t realized until reading it that our nation has been blessed with Waltz Royalty.  Unfortunately for Wayne, American waltzing takes place in a very tiny kingdom.

King’s band is known for a number of old tunes, including this one.

King himself is the pride of Savanna, Illinois, a river town crammed so tightly into the northwestern corner of the state there was no room for an H at the end of its name.  Savanna’s wikipedia page gives Wayne King top billing on its list of noteworthy residents.

  1. “America’s Waltz King” Wayne King
  2. Professional wrestler Tommy Treichel
  3.  Billy Zoom (Tyson Kindell) founding member of the punk band X
  4. Major League Baseball player Pete Lister
  5. Former NASA astronaut Dale Gardner.

Of course we all have our specific areas of interest and personal preferences that we bring to the creation of any pecking order.  Which is why I’m baffled that the astronaut is last on the list.   Don’t get me wrong, waltzing is lovely and professional wrestling is fun, but Gardner wrestled satellites while weightless, and weightless is how the best waltzers look when they’re doing it right, so I figure he should get extra points for combining skills.

Who should get top billing as the most noteworthy resident of your town? 




Good Year For Earworms

Today’s guest post is from Linda in St. Paul (West Side).

The Germans have a word for it – ohrwurm, which translates literally as earworm, that phenomenon of getting a song lodged in your head that plays over and over till it drives you to distraction. I fall victim on a regular basis. Often particular songs are triggered by everyday objects or activities, and this is never more true than when I’m working in a garden.

I can’t trim a rosebush without drifting into It’s Been a Good Year For the Roses. It’s usually the George Jones version, though it occasionally morphs briefly into Elvis Costello.

Tending a bittersweet vine is a sure way to conjure Big Head Todd and the Monsters. (“Bittersweet…more sweet than bitter…bitter than sweet…”)  If you don’t know it, you could look it up on YouTube. Consider yourself warned, though – it’s a sticky one, as difficult to dislodge as a ball of burdock seeds.

Buttercups invariably trigger All Shook Up. I explained this to a friend once and she told me I am lucky my mental jukebox goes to Elvis instead of The Foundations.

An especially virulent earworm is Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me. I cannot even walk past an apple tree without suffering an acute attack.

And then sometimes my brain takes an odd detour and arrives at destination I’m at a loss to explain. I spend a couple of weeks in the summer pulling a vine known as hog peanut. To my knowledge, no one has ever written a song about hog peanut. The song that surfaces from my subconscious to fill the void is the bebop classic Salt Peanuts, with the lyrics adapted: “Hog peanut…hog peanut…” in an endless loop. Can you hear it?

Winter is fast approaching, and the garden earworms will sleep beneath the snow for a few months, to return in the spring. The only thing I have to say is…it’s been a good year for the roses.

Share your favorite (or least favorite) earworms.

Advanced Social Media

Many thanks to the gentle baboons who have kept this blog going for several months and especially the past few weeks while I’ve been distracted by work.

Our Fall Membership drive is underway at Fresh Air Community Radio – we’re in the middle of the second week of fundraising, just two days away from the scheduled conclusion. Just recently I’ve been preoccupied helping friends like the Morning Blend hosts (pictured above) as they try to get listeners to call 612 375-9030 to make a contribution.

KFAI_SignIf you’ve never listened, you should give it a try. The most baboon-friendly show on the schedule is Stone Soup, Wednesday mornings from 10am to noon. I often hear host Pam K. playing music that was, or would have been, featured on the old MPR Morning Show.

But that’s no surprise. Our station has many personalities, literally and figuratively. We are the antidote for anyone fed up with tightly formatted radio. While the most popular stations in town strive for stability by trying to sound exactly the same whenever you tune in, we are like the flowing river. Stick your dial at 90.3 / 106.7 FM and you’ll find that you can’t listen to the same station twice. No matter what you think you’re going to hear, it’s always going to become something else.

KFAI_State_FairSome people look at that and say we’re hanging on too long to an outdated model, suggesting that the volunteer-based grab bag approach to programming where individuals use the medium as a form of self-expression is a hippie artifact. They say we’ve got to step into the digital age and create a coherent multi-platform brand that is consistent and predictable and is tied to something more marketable than the quirk factor.

But I look at the digital age and see an environment where any form of media that’s seen as monolithic and prepackaged is at risk of being overwhelmed by thousands of small-time operators who are creatively and subversively employing the same tools as the big players.  And I don’t think subversive is too strong a word.  After all, we have a broadcast frequency in a major American city, and we routinely hand it over to just ordinary folks so they can be heard.

In that sense, community radio is the original social media.

If we were Facebook, we’d give everyone their own show, and I do sometimes encounter people who think they can walk in the door  at KFAI and have an on-air slot within days.  After all, they have excellent musical taste!  Unfortunately, we’re limited by the number of hours in a day, and new program hosts soon find out having your own weekly radio show is a more demanding commitment than simply posting your thoughts and putting up a cat video every now and then.

But it is an enticing thought.

If you had a radio show, what would it sound like and what would you call it?