Till My Head Falls Off 04.02.03: Down On The Corner, Out In The Street

For Your Listening Pleasure
White Stripes – White Blood Cells

Nothing that will blow you away, but a solid record from the bluesy garage rock duo. But, let me get this straight: did Rolling Stone critic David Fricke REALLY give this band’s new album five stars? Why, ’cause they added some bass and keyboards? I’ll give it a listen before I pass judgement, but I’m just finding this whole thing hard to believe. And is Meg White a Bjork clone or what?

Photo credit: whitestripes.com; launch.yahoo.com

News to You
Last week, I called the Dick Smothers, Jr./porn news the “STORY OF THE YEAR” — but let me apologize for jumping the gun. This, my friends, is the story of the year. Could Scott Foley be a bigger moron for letting the beautiful Jennifer Garner go? Is my girlfriend going to kick my ass just for writing about this? Would it be worth it? (Answer: no, it wouldn’t. For the record, my girlfriend swears that Jennifer Garner has a “funny-shaped head” — and I don’t see how anyone can be more wrong. I’ll shut up now.)

On an absolutely hilarious note, yet ANOTHER “American Idol” contestant has been booted due to legal trouble. So far, no big deal though. Sure the first girl who was cut (Frenchie Davis, due to once posing online topless) had a great voice, but she didn’t nearly have “the look” ideal for a pop star. And Corey Clark had by far the worst voice left on the show (my brother watches it, so I hardly have a choice, so don’t kill me for knowing how he sings), so it’s really no loss to the producers. Now, if only there was a way to boot Clay off. I’m not sure what it is, but the guy can’t be trusted.

Down on the Corner, Out in the Street
Short column this week, as I touch on a topic that I’d like to get your opinions on, possibly for a future “reader feedback” column: street musicians.

Working in Manhattan, I come across street musicians every day on my way from Penn Station up to Midtown, and I always find myself rushing by, with barely a moment to appreciate them. When rush hour is over, though, and I have time to walk at a less frantic pace, I find myself smiling as I walk past one of these musicians, guitar case/cup/hat in front of them, hoping for some loose change to keep them going.

Now don’t get me wrong, some of these folks are HORRIBLE. For every trio of women who may as well be (if they aren’t already) trained gospel singers, belting out inspirational verses about God and faith, there’s a bum with a piccolo playing the theme song to “Woody Woodpecker” over and over and over again. For every sax player grooving to a jazz tune, there’s some dude singing off-key Motown karaoke. But it’s worth it.

I remember having a really stressful week a few years back: work was driving me nuts, the love life was in the shambles, and knowing me, I was probably way over-tired. I walked my usual walk from Penn Station, up 32nd Street, and down into the Herald Square N and R station. I looked around, and all I noticed were down faces. I wasn’t alone, and everyone else was stressed about work, their social lives, and had an obvious lack of sleep, and it was a bummer. But then I heard something… I had seen him before, but never really paid too much attention: a man on the other side of the tracks was playing maybe the most beautiful violin I’d ever heard. My mood magically improved with every note, and I was kind’ve jealous of him for a moment. I later learned that he was simply a music student, practicing before class… and he probably never realized that anyone was even really listening to him.

Sure, NYC doesn’t have the same flavor as, say, New Orleans in the summer, when you can’t walk more than 10 feet without hearing two or three different musicians jamming out on the street corners. But there’s something to be said about the charm of the 60-year-old Asian man that sings “Ave Maria” by the Penn Station 1, 2, 3, and 9 station; the Caribbean men playing exotic instruments from pan flute to steel drums; or the occasional bucket-drummers (yeah, like the ones from the “Hip Hop Hooray” video or the Broadway show Bring in the Noise…) adding a little soundtrack to your often monotonous and redundant daily commute. And I’m thankful for it…

Fun With Spellchecker
Okay, time for a little fun…

What I typed: Bonnaroo
Spellchecker’s suggested replacement: Bong

Damn, this is too easy sometimes!

Festival Update
Too tired to do this section of the column justice this week, so check in with 411mania columnist Ryan T. Murphy for the latest on Lollapalooza, and moodspins forum poster SweetScarlet for a rumor about Bonnaroo…

That’s all for now. Until next week, I’ll be on AOL trying to have cybersex with Sharon Stone….

peace. love. moe.

– Matt

Till My Head Falls Off can be found weekly on 411 Music (old columns are archived in the pull-down menu below). Already hit everything on 411? You can find more from Matthew Michaels at moodspins and 1-42.