Sunday, June 27, 2010

An Idiosyncratic Early 60s Playlist (June 27, 2010)

So Theory of My Mind, The Amygdaloids new CD is out. Doing something like this makes me think of all the songs that have played a role in my life. Indeed, music has a way of digging out long lost memories and amplifying those that are close to the surface. So I decided to make a list of my ealry musical memories by taking a mental stroll down my memory lane.

My journey covers the early 60s, which will roughly mean 1957-1965. I started with some early memories of songs, and then free associated around each memory to genertae the list.

Although I listened to my parents Big Band records as a youngster, and heard a lot of Cajun music on a daily basis, the first memory of what I consider "my music" was sitting in the cafe near my home in Eunice, LA, when I was 8 or so years old, staring longingly at the beautiful blond waitress while she told me about her boyfriend with a ducktail, black leather jacket and a Harely, all while Elvis sang "Don't Be Cruel" on the juke box. Then there was the trip to Texas to visit a family member where we stopped for lunch near Deridder, LA, and I heard "Ring of Fire" on the juke box. Another memory invovled the 45 rpm rack of Walker's 5 and dime, off of which I bought my first records, "Walking to New Orleans" and "Deep Purple" (no, not the band Deep Purple, the haunting love song by April Stevens and Nino Tempo). Others memories included hanging in the "outdoor kitchen" of a friend every day after school, "Twistin' the Night Away" to Sam Cooke, and listening old style R and B on my Philips Transistor Radio light at night when I should have been asleep. Then there was a folk stint, where "Tom Dooley" and "Washington Square" were promiment fixtures in my mind as I struggled to learn how to play a nylon string folk guitar. But the transistor also brought me "I Saw Her Standing There" while taking a bath early one evening and everything changed. The folk guitar was out the window. After bargining with my paretns, I did a mail order from Sears for a Silvertone Electric and picked up a Fender Deluxe from a local music shop.

My mnemonic play list doesn't segue past the early British Invasion into the Pyschedelic Era, which would be a whole additional list. After I was done, I edited the list a little to give it some kind of chronolological flavor, but didn't look up the dates when the songs were released. In fact, its more psychological than chronological since its based on memories and impressions. The whole thing, to quote Maxine Brown, is "All in My Mind" (Thanks Lenny Kaye for that one).

Speaking of Lenny, this is not meant to be a collection of recommendations in the sense that his Nuggets records were. It's just a sampling of what I remember listening to. And since I don't trust memory, inclduing my own, you shouldn't either. But that's another story for another time.

Joe’s early 60s Musical Memories (mostly if not all between 1957-1965)

in psycho-chronological order

Don’t Be Cruel, Elvis

Blue Suede Shoes, Cark Perkins (and Elvis)

Return to Sender, Elvis

Ring of Fire, Johnny Cash

Walk the Line, Johnny Cash

Walking to New Orleans, Fats Domino

Blueberry Hill, Fats Domino

Deep Purple, April Stevens and Nino Tempo

Sugar Shack, Jimmy Gilmer

Take These Chains from My Heart, Ray Charles

Lucky Old Sun, Ray Charles

What’d I Say, Ray Charles

Searchin’, The Coasters

He’s So Fine, The Chiffons

My Boyfriend’s Back, The Angles

Green Onions, Booker T. and the MGs

Fingertips Pt. 2, Stevie Wonder

Last Kiss, Wayne Cochran

Liberty Valence, Gene Pitney

From a Jack to a King, Ned Miller

Miller’s Cave, Bobby Bare

Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Major Lance

Mashed Potato Time, Dee Dee Sharp

The Twist, Chubby Checker

Twistin’ the Night Away, Sam Cooke

Duke of Earl, Gene Chandler

Kidnapper, Jewel and the Rubies

It’s Raining, Irma Thomas

Hello Stranger, Barbara Lewis

I’m Leaving It All Up to You, Dale and Grace

Heat Wave, Martha and the Vandellas

Matilda, Cookie and the Cupcakes

Mother in Law, Ernie K Doe

Night Train, James Brown

No Particular Place to Go, Chuck Berry

Pipeline, The Ventures

High Heel Sneakers, Tommy Tucker

Gypsy Woman, Curtis Mayfield (Impressions)

It’s All Right, Curtis Mayfield (Impressions)
Since I Fell for You, Lenny Welch

Washington Square, The Village Stompers

Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Pete Seeger

Don’t Think Twice It’s Allright, Bob Dylan

My Back Pages, Bob Dylan

Motorpsycho Nitemare, Bob Dylan

Walk Right In, The Rooftop Singers

Tom Dooley, Kingston Trio

There But Poor Fortune, Joan Baez

Bleecker Street, Simon and Garfunkle

Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkle

For Emily, Simon and Garfunkle

I Saw Her Standing There, The Beatles

I Wanna Hold Your Hand, The Beatles

She Loves You, The Beatles

Ferry Cross the Mersey, Gerry and the Pacemakers

How Do You Do It, Gerry and the Pacemakers

Bad to Me, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas

I’m Telling You Now, Freddie and the Dreamers

Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones

Time Is On My Side, The Rolling Stones

Tell Her No, The Zombies

She’s Not There, The Zombies

Well Respected Man About Town, The Kinks

House of the Rising Sun, The Animals

You’re No Good, Swinging Blue Jeans

I’m Into Something Good, Herman’s Hermits

Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter, Herman’s Hermits

Needles and Pins, The Searchers

Don’t Throw Your Love Away, The Searchers

Love Potion No9, The Searchers

I Get Around, Beach Boys

Surfer Girl, Beach Boys

In My Room, Beach Boys

Rhythm of the Rain, The Cascades

Telstar, The Tornados

Runaway, Del Shannon

Louie Louie, The Kingsmen

96 Tears ? & the Mysterians

Not So Long Ago, The Uniques

Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkle

For Emily, Simon and Garfunkle

Don’t Think Twice It’s Allright, Bob Dylan

My Back Pages, Bob Dylan

Motorpsycho Nitemare, Bob Dylan

Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan

Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Post 20: Tomorrow Never Knows

Saturday May 23, 2009

In My Life, I’ve had many wonderful experiences Come Together. Sadly, my 7 week stay in Cambridge is over. This Boy is all packed and ready to go. I Feel Fine from having heard some excellent Rock And Roll Music here. But it’s time to Get Back, to start thinking about what I’m going to do When I Get Home. It Won’t Be Long now. I’ll miss the Blackbird with the orange beak that chirps outside my window-- indeed, my Bird Can Sing. All I've Got to Do is get on the plane. Then I’ll Follow the Sun towards NYC. Cambridge, You Won’t See Me anymore. But Because my travels take me Here There and Everywhere, surely I’ll Be Back. Cambridge friends come to NYC Any Time at All.

This is the official close to my travel log/public diary from Cambridge. I want to thank Trevor Robbins and Barry Everitt for their generous hospitality and friendship, as well as some very stimulating and valuable discussions about brain, mind and behavior, and especially about our mutual friend, the amygdala. I also had interesting discussions with a number of graduate students and postdocs. It was also great spending time with Seth Grant discussing the evolution and organization of the many hundreds of proteins that make up each of the trillions of synapses in our brains, learning about Barbara Sahakian’s work on cognitive enhancement and entrepreneurs and decision making, and visiting Angela Robert’s impressive lab. A night out with Tony Dickinson early on helped introduce me to Cambridge music pubs, and also taught me some interesting things about the history of animal behavior research. Nicola Richmond and Mercedes Arroyo in the BCNI were very helpful throughout, as was Hannah Critchlow of the Neuroscience Program. The Downing College staff was amazing, especially the guys in the Porter’s Lodge, Carol De Biasi in the housing office, and Christine who attended to the flat. Meeting Damian O’Malley and his family was also a pleasure. And it was a treat to get to know Simon Baron-Cohen, and his family and colleagues, including Bhismadev Chakrabarti, Teresa Tavassoli and Jill Sullivan. Finally, playing music with Bhish and Simon, and Simon’s daughter Kate, was great fun, and it was very exciting to record some tracks with Simon and Bhish.

I don’t know whether I’ll keep writing this blog. But Tomorrow Never Knows.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Post 19: New York State of Mind

Sunday, May 17, 2009: I’m sitting in my small room at All Soul’s College, Oxford, thinking about my long stay away from NY, and especially the last few days. All Souls provides past visiting fellows a room for the night several times a year when in town. I’m in Oxford for the night visiting Milo, whose college, Merton, is just a few minutes away on foot. This is the tail end of a trip that started early Thursday morning and that is the beginning of the end of my mini-sabbatical away from New York.

I took the Eurostar from London to Paris, and met up with Nancy. We had a nice afternoon at Musée du Quai Branly looking at the amazing collection of primitive art from around the world. We then had a lovely meal at Le Petite Cour, which I highly recommend. Wonderful setting, tasty food, and not too pricey. Friday started at the Pantheon in the morning. After lunch we went our separate ways for a few hours before rendezvousing to spruce up for the Fyssen Foundation Award presentation that evening. This year’s recipient was Simha Arom, a musicologist who brought in African drummers to make some interesting points about rhythm. We then made our way to Al-Dar, a very nice Lebanese restaurant in the Latin Quarter.

On Saturday, while Nancy visited contemporary art outposts I spent Saturday at the International Symposium sponsored by the Fyssen Foundation. The topics were wide ranging and fascinating explorations from anthropology, evolution, molecular biology, neuroscience, and cognitive science. Each talk was cutting edge in its filed, and the day was stimulating and challenging.

There is no way to describe the Foundation’s 30th anniversary party Saturday evening other than, “ooo la la.” The event took place in the Hall of Evolution at the Natural History Museum. The hors d’ourves came in a trio of glasses stacked one on top of one another-- the waiter provided detailed instructions about how to proceed. The main course then appeared, also in a kind of vertical presentation with 2 roasted quail legs adorning a slab of foie gras which rested above some sort of artichoke concoction. Finally, the “surprise” dessert appeared. Dozens of waiters came out in a line, each holding a glass covered tray with a glowing white ball on top. The ball, which looked like it was filled with radioactive milk, and cover were removed to reveal several softball size dark chocolate balls, one of which ended up in front of each guest, along with some raspberry sauce around it on the plate. The waiter then poured warm chocolate sauce over the edge of the ball. As he snapped his fingers, a hole opened in the top oaf the ball, revealing a bed of mixed berries inside. It was a wonderful experience all around. Merci beaucoup to the foundation for a wonderful weekend.

When I get back to Cambridge I have to start looking towards NY. It’s been a fabulous 6 week stay in Europe, but it’s time to get my mind back on my life in New York. So the song of the day has to be Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind. I don’t have it yet, but will by Saturday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Post 18: Guns, Germs, and Squeals

This post can be found on the Huffington Post website:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Post 17: How Does Your Brain Work?

This post can be found on the Huffington Post website

Post 16: Highway 61 Revisited

In early April I took off with suitcase and guitar in hand like a poet and a one man band. Next stop was not Greenwich Village but the village of Cambridge. I planned to use the solitude of my brief bachelor existence to crank out some new songs. Well, I’ve come up with a few chord progressions and riffs, but somehow I haven’t been able to dredge up ideas for new diddys. I’ve reach deep into the dark recesses of my mind to break out of the crippling shackles of consciousness. I’ve tried deep breathing and meditation to allow exalted-consciousness to help me out. No matter where I’ve gone, there’s been nothing there. Nada. The well is dry. The pump empty.

I’ve only got two weeks left, but I’m determined to get at least one song out before I’m homeward bound. So tonight I sought inspiration externally. Off to the open mic at the Corner House where I hadn’t been since my first Sunday in Cambridge over a month ago. I thought there was a good chance I’d see some quality singer-song writers and maybe would get a boost from them.

Shortly after arriving, I notice Chris Cassboult. I wrote about Chris in Post 3. He did some excellent numbers my first time at the Corner House and I was sure he would jump start my synaptic juices tonight.

First up was Ed Hope and Friends. He only had one friend, a lass thumping a stand up bass, tonight. Ed himself got some amazing sounds out of cutest little guitar I’ve ever seen. He’s got a very nice voice, something like Glen Hansard, the guy who did the Oscar winning music from the Irish film Once. He also had some nice songs. Inspiration building. After them was a solo artist whose name I didn’t get, followed by Chris.

Chris did some powerful songs again tonight. Unfortunately, the crowd had started to chat, rather loudly too, just as he started. Still, his performance was very strong, especially the haunting rendition of Highway 61 Revisited. It reminded me of a really moving version of Elvis’s Viva Las Vegas that he did last time. Hard to imagine the flip Viva Las Vegas being described as moving, but it was.

So I’m hoping to channel the energy from Ed and his Friend and Chris’ Highway 61 Revisited (and a little inspiration from Dylan while I’m at it) to discover a new song or two. Song writing seems sort of like that, discovering something that already exists and you just have to find it. Reminds me of the selectionist view of brain development. In the extreme this theory says that everything we can possibly know is already in our brains, and we just have to eliminate ideas (by eliminating synapses) in order to gain knowledge. I’m actually not a big fan of this theory, or at least I didn’t think I was. But maybe I am since I just said that song writing is sort of like that. Maybe that idea about song writing was in fact in my brain all along, just waiting for a little synaptic pruning to reveal it.

Well, it’s too late to get started tonight but I’m hoping tomorrow I’ll find some lyrics to go with those chord progressions and riffs that I’ve already discovered.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Post 15: The Long and Winding Road

One of my goals for this mini-sabbatical was to make progress on the Biological Psychology textbook that I’ve been working on. And indeed I’ve spent a lot of my time here in Cambridge working on the manuscript and art. There’s been quite a lot of ftp’ing of files between me and Gabe White, the developmental editor based in Philly, with cc’s to Sarah England and Sheri Snavely at WW Norton in NYC, and Rick Gilmore, our ace consultant on pedagogy and content, at Penn State. And I’m pretty happy with what we’ve accomplished trans-Atlantically. I hope to leave here in 2 weeks with 6 chapters ready for final review before being sent off for copy editing. We’re not at the end the Long and Winding Road (today’s song) but at least we’re driving down it.

The weather finally turned sour. After weeks without rain, and often with warm sun, yesterday and today it’s been typically English dreary (though the sun just came out). Because it’s mid May, the heat is off. But it was so chilly in my flat this afternoon that I emailed the incredibly accommodating and efficient folks who run the housing facilities and within minutes they had little space heaters at my door. I’ll have some adjustments to make back in NY after having been looked after so well here. Speaking of which, have I mentioned that every week, a scout named Christine comes in for dusting and Hoovering (I first learned about scouts from Milo, since he has one at Oxford as well, though I think his room is too messy for her to even consider Hoovering)?

Tonight it’s dinner with Seth Grant, a great guy and fantastic scientist. We first met when he was in Eric Kandel’s lab in NY. Now he’s a got a very impressive facility at the Sanger Institute, just outside of Cambridge. We’re going out for a meat and potatoes pub kind of meal—my request, since I’ve had a lot of formal banquet type dinners lately with vertically-oriented entres sprouting colorful adornments.

Haven’t heard any music lately. Maybe I’ll head to The Hopbine tomorrow night for old times sake.

(Seth and Joe at The Three Horseshoes)