Daily Archives: May 2, 2017

John Mellencamp Talks Bob Dylan, Stephen King, Touring With the Kinks

John Mellencamp spends an awful lot of time alone, painting. Not long ago, he went 35 days without leaving his Indiana compound, a stretch so lengthy that his 85-year-old dad told him he was worried. But whether he wants them or not, songs still come to him, as his strong, country-inflected new album, Sad Clowns and Hillbillies (made in collaboration with Carlene Carter), makes clear. “A voice in my head will go, ‘OK, put your brush down and write these words down,’ ” he says. “And I’ll be like, ‘No, I don’t want to fucking write a song.’ Then the voice will go, ‘You better write this down, you idiot.’ Then I forget about it, and I find it and go, ‘When did I write this?’ It’s a wonderful way of writing songs.”

How would you define your relationship with the country-music world?
Hold it – how do the country people define their relationship with me? I was doing this long before they were doing it – Scarecrow, Big Daddy, Lonesome Jubilee. So I didn’t go to country. They caught up with me. I hate to sound like Little Richard, when he kept going, “I invented rock & roll!” But if you ask Keith Urban or Kenny Chesney what inspired them, they’ll tell you me.

You seemed to enjoy your recent CMT Crossroads show with Darius Rucker.
He was so excited. When someone is that ingratiating, it’s hard to be a curmudgeon, though I tried. He made it easy. And I’m hard to work with.

Why are you hard to work with?
My opinion is hard to deal with. I remember arguing – not arguing, joking – with Arlo Guthrie about how to play “This Land Is Your Land” at a Woody event. He kept putting in these passing chords. I said, “Guthrie, your old man did not put those fucking chords in there.” He goes, “That’s the way I played it forever.” I go, “I don’t care.” We ended up playing it my way.

You recently said that Woody Guthrie wouldn’t get any attention today.
Well, yeah. He’d just be playing songs for friends. You think he would go somewhere? I just wrote a beautiful fucking [protest] song called “Easy Target.” And nobody gave a fuck.

In that song you mention “Sucker Town.” Are Trump voters suckers?
I don’t know if it’s just this guy. It’s been discussed for years – a certain element of our country …

Who vote against their interests?
They voted for Reagan, and in the town I live in, there would be Bush signs up in people’s yards. I knew they couldn’t afford to, you know, take him to dinner.

Some think that’s racism at work.
Well, I was in New York, and I went on a date with a girl. We went to a movie called – you should go to this movie – Get Out. We walked out and we went, “How come black people hate us? They fuckin’ hate our guts.” And then we both agreed that, you know, they’ve got good reason! But it’s really fun to go to the movies and be me. I sat down and the guy next to me goes, “Hey, John, you want some popcorn?” “Sure.”

Speaking of dating, your new song “Sad Clowns” basically warns women to stay away from you.
As soon as I wrote that, I looked up and said, “Thanks, Ray.” Because I know it’s a Ray Davies song, like “Sunny Afternoon” – a self-deprecating song. I did 130 shows opening for the Kinks in the late Seventies, and I learned a lot. Though at the time, I said, “This is fucking horrible.” Ray was rough on everybody. Him and his brother spitting on each other. Like, “Are you kidding me?” And then Ray wouldn’t let us eat catering. We always had to go out to McDonald’s or something.

You worked extensively with Stephen King on the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. What did you guys have in common?
I’m a hypochondriac. Steve’s a hypochondriac. “Steve, I can’t possibly have sickle cell anemia. But I think I do.” And he’s always got some kind of ankle disease or some shit. But he explained it to me. He said, “Here’s the thing, John. You and I make shit up for a living. When we have idle time on our hands, we turn it on ourselves and make shit up. You don’t have sickle cell!”

Your friend Bob Dylan shouted you out in his MusiCares speech a couple of years back. What did that mean to you?
That wink and a nod was worth more than 50 Grammys. That came from Bob, that came from his heart. He didn’t have to fucking say that. The girl I was with started crying. Bob doesn’t like very many people.

What do you make of his standards albums?
They’re great. Bob is always so far ahead of us. He’s given me a lot of advice: “Go where they’re not.”

Are you ever going to quit smoking?
I’m smoking right now. It’s been great for my voice.My engineer said, “You sound like somebody.” It turned out to beLouis Armstrong. We A-B’d his voice against mine. And I was like, “Fuck,what’s wrong with that?”

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Watch Mary J. Blige Perform Swaggering 'Love Yourself' With the Roots

Mary J. Blige performed “Love Yourself” on The Tonight Show on Monday, enlisting the Roots to recreate the song’s rugged hip-hop soul backdrop. 

“Love Yourself” is a drama-filled paean to persistence and the rejuvenating effects of love. “Thought they’d put my life on hold, but I knew somethin’ they didn’t know,” Blige sings. “I know myself too much to ever fold/ Dark clouds, I’m movin’ past you.”

She began the performance in shadow, singing with only piano accompaniment. The lights kicked in before the first chorus, revealing the Roots and a beefed-up horn section that included two saxophones, two trumpets and a trombone. The brass was necessary to recreate the blaring sample – taken from the SCLC Operation Breadbasket Orchestra and Choir’s “Nobody Knows” – that makes up the core of the “Love Yourself” beat.

The recording of “Love Yourself,” which also features Kanye West, appeared on Blige’s recently released Strength of a Woman album. The lead single from the LP, “Thick of It,” made the fastest climb to Number One on the Adult R&B Songs chart in over two decades, according to Billboard. Blige’s formidable follow-up, “U + Me ( Love Lesson),” jumped to Number One on the same chart last week.

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The Beatles Channel – Coming May 18 – Exclusively on SiriusXM

The Beatles Channel – Coming May 18 – Exclusively on SiriusXMNEW YORK, May 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — SiriusXM is pleased to announce The Beatles Channel, launching May 18 at 9:09 am ET exclusively on SiriusXM channel 18. Celebrating popular music’s most legendary and influential band, The Beatles Channel has been created by SiriusXM to present unique…


The Avalanches Plot Brief North American Tour

The Avalanches, fresh off their acclaimed Coachella set, announced a brief run of new North American tour dates. The seven-date trek launches June 3rd at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl, as part of the Governors Ball After Dark series and concludes June 12th in Boston.

Tickets for all shows go on sale Friday, May 5th at 10 a.m. local time.

Last year, the Australian electronic group released their long-awaited second LP, Wildflower, which follows their innovative, sample-heavy debut LP, 2000’s Since I Left You. In January, they reissued the latter album on both standard black and limited-edition colored vinyl.

The Avalanches promoted Wildflower onstage throughout 2016 and early this year. Rolling Stone named their second Coachella set one of the weekend’s 15 best moments.

The Avalanches 2017 Tour Dates

June 3 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Bowl (Governors Ball After Dark)
June 4 – New York, NY @ Governors Ball
June 5 – Washington, DC @ 930 Club
June 7 – Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of the Living Arts
June 8 – Toronto, ON @ The Phoenix Concert Theatre
June 10 – Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre
June 12 – Boston, MA @ The Royale
July 12 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
July 13-16 – Pemberton, BC @ Pemberton Music Festival (Day TBD)
July 16 – Chicago, IL @ Pitchfork Music Festival

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EXPO 2017 to Surprise Guests With an Exciting Cultural Program

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, May 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ —
The EXPO 2017 exhibition “Future Energy” in Astana will open with a grand show “The Great Steppe Symphony” which will astonish guests with its scale and variety.
The organizers of the exhibition have prepared an exciting…


Michael Franti Opens Concert Series on Catalina Island on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28, 2017

Michael Franti Concert on Catalina IslandAVALON, Calif., May 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Michael Franti kicks off the second year of Live @ Descanso Beach Club next to the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean on beautiful and romantic Catalina Island.
The series is brought to you by The Xceptional Music Company and The…