Monday, December 29, 2008

Cover of the Week 8

OK, we will post at my site, thanks to Kevin Guiney, to whom I will forever remain in debt for all his hard work on my and BT's behalf. We are working on integrating a music player so you won't have to leave Le Blogge. We will also be re-posting the back catalog of CotW, as Randy puts it. By the way, Kevin his own self covers a snippet of Buff Tom's "Wiser" for a music box.

Cover of the Week this week:

There are some good New Years songs. Auld Lang Syne is a beautiful melody. None is more beautiful than the Frank Loesser song, "What Are You Doing New Years Eve?" So I'm doing it. Some might recall a version I did a few years back at WMBR. This is a revamped and expanded version. I take the version by the Orioles as a template. It is a goshdarn romantic song. Loesser could really say it. He captured that sophisticated repartee, layers of irony and sincerity all piled in some delicious cake. This is the man who brought us "Baby It's Cold Outside" for chrissake. Aching melodies like "The Inch Worm" and joie de vivre make songs like "Luck Be a Lady" pop.

We shall return to our non-holiday tunes next week. I am looking forward to a couple of collaborations. So far, I've been doing all the lifting, heavy and otherwise. It will be nice to feature some other voices and perhaps instrumentalists.

You can listen and or download here (right click or Apple click)

Happy 2009. What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Juliana Hatfield Responds to Post

If I had a dollar for every time a girl/woman told me it's not me it's her...

Our friend from way back, Juliana, graciously offers her version/explanation of the events described in my Dreaming post.

Bill, it's not you; it's me. Don't take it personally that I said I would sing on "Dreaming" and then I took off. You see, I suffer from a sometimes crippling disorder called "Rock Club-itis". It is a phobia; a fear of being in any rock club for even one second longer than I absolutely have to, in order to do my work.

Like an alcoholic develops a sick liver after years of tippling, a touring indie musician can develop an intensely strong physical aversion to being in rock clubs. A drunk is affected, over time, by too many drinks, too many hangovers; I have been damaged by too many hours hanging out in the darkness, sitting on too many dirty, beer-stained, puke-scented couches in cramped, freezing-cold and stifling-hot backstage kennels. I guess you could call this affliction a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. Or post-rock stress disorder. PRSD. The inevitable result of all my years on the club circuit; years of forced exposure (work; touring) to that stifling, harsh (everything always so LOUD! Too loud! Hurts my ears!), unsanitary and uncomfortable environment. (I won't even get into how a gig schedule screws up one's circadian rhythms.)

This is how bad it is: When I'm walking down a street and I spot rock club in the distance, I get queasy and nail-bitey and I have to cross the street in order to avoid passing too closely to the venue lest my growing anxiety (proportionate to how close I am to the club) overwhelm me and, like, throw me into a fit of hysterics or something.

And that is my explanation for bailing before you guys played "Dreaming". I wanted to sing with you, I really did, but as I stood waiting for the song to come up in your set list, I started to feel that old familiar nauseous/frightened feeling and the flashbacks started happening and the walls started closing in on me and I knew then that I had to flee the venue, for sanity's sake. I had hoped that I could stick it out until "Dreaming" rolled around but I failed. I failed you, Buffalo Tom, and I failed myself. I am weak.

Plus, I am really shy. Jumping up on stage with a band during their show always SOUNDS like a good idea in theory, but when showtime rolls around and my guest appearance looms, I sometimes chicken out. I can't speak for Westerberg, but maybe he experienced something similar.

Oh, and FYI- I did actually play guitar in the first incarnation of the Blake Babies; you were correct about that. We were originally a quartet, with Seth White on bass, myself on rhythm guitar, and John Strohm on lead (Freda on drums). I later switched to bass, when Seth quit the band. From then on, the Blake Babies were known as a trio.


Juliana Hatfield

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cover of the Week 7

Something I read in a magazine a few days ago set me off on one of those Google-search-digression nights and before I knew it was on to a dozen other things that tangentially looped off that original query. The thing that I had read in the magazine was the first third of a poem by a writer named Bob Hicok, who, according to his mini-bio in the New Yorker, has written five books of poetry. One line, from “As I Was Saying” is describing some twin children:

…two of everything the same, as if their parents
knew the odds of needing a spare.

It is a funny little line -- literally, at least on the surface, but very affecting from the perspective of a parent reading it, the hopeless fragility of life. The narrator tosses it off with a deceivingly wry and casual tone, like he’s cracking wise. But he knows how deep the line runs.

I had only gotten that far into the poem when I was set off on my search. The preceding line is what actually triggered me:

When I was a kid, a neighbor man
had a few and tied a cherry bomb to a pigeon,
it flew furiously until

This is the sort of poem I tried to write when I was boring my creative writing professors to tears as an undergraduate. I was far more artless in my attempts to capture the odd characters and situations that cross everyone’s path as they are growing up, perplexingly unique scenes that seem they must be assigned some sort of significance -- meaning that is elusive but somehow seems to hint at some larger overarching essence. The memories fall away into the mind’s recess, aided and abetted by all the undergrad, post-grad, pre-dad, and post-sad chemical abuse until they bob back up to the surface unexpectedly decades later.

When I read the line about the pigeon bomber, it jogged a memory of this old guy who lived across the street from us when we were kids in the ‘70s, living near Huntington Harbor in New York. The fellow was rarely seen around the neighborhood, just an old guy, sort of broad and hunched over, a few greasy strands of hair combed back late-Bukowski-style. He drove some big-ass ‘70s sedan as many older men did – an Olds or a Caddy. He wasn’t a mean guy, didn’t object to us playing whiffle ball in his level backyard. Nor was he a shut-in; we saw him coming and going. He had a wife, kids grown and left. Never had company, as far as I remember.

One day, when I was coming back from school, the bus got to the bottom of our street. It was blocked off by a bunch of police cars. They told us the whole street and surrounding blocks had been evacuated. I have no recollection about how I ended up getting from the bus to a friend’s house, but it was the ‘70s; the bus driver probably just kicked us out of the bus right there at the end of the street and we walked.

We found out that the reason behind this operation was that Mr. Appletree (not his real name but pretty damned close for these purposes) had some barrels of nitroglycerin in his basement and the state bomb squad had been called in to remove them. There had been a weapons and explosives amnesty period called by the Suffolk County police and Mr. A. took the opportunity to confess that he had somehow ended up with drums of nitro after WWII and had stored them in his basement for 30-odd years. They could have blown up the block at any point during the intervening decades. And we lived directly across the street.

I remember getting back home and sort of hiding behind a neighbor’s big wood-paneled station wagon and watching the last of the police, rescue, and bomb squad armored vehicles finishing up after the main cache had been – slowly – rolled down the street in a police escort of dozens of cars.

I tried to track down remnants of the story online but could not find any trace. I’ve had this childhood memory, with an old Polaroid-sepia tint, verified by my parents. It happened.

Edit: There is a reason the memory has a Polaroid-sepia tint; my sister dug this old picture up of the scene and on the date of the crime:

The woman is my mother's friend from the street, a woman named Cookie. Her daughter was the first girl I kissed. The second girl? My wife, of course. And it seems my memory is a bit off regarding the car; it is not a wood-paneled wagon. It looks like an old Valiant to me. But that green house, that's the one.

During my online search for the story, though, all I ended up doing is finding my old house – which we left in 1979 for another not so far away – on Google Maps. That led to looking up others we have lived in and then, street-level images of my grandparents’ houses closer in to the city. Suddenly I was directing my computer screen through routes I would take on my bike when I was a kid through a neighborhood I have not been to since 1986, seeing the same houses, perhaps a little updated but fully recognizable, rounding corners onto the Boulevard past what was the IGA market, the bike store, the Chinese restaurant and the five-and-dime -- honestly, there was a five-and-dime. I still remember the smell of the place. There is still a place a lot like it near me in Arlington. Cheap plastic toys, rubber chickens, plastic dinosaurs, cap guns, paddle ball…

And then just guiding the view back to my grandparents’ old house, staring at the small brick place, alongside hundreds of others separated only by narrow driveways, on grid-like blocks, remembering those acutely idyllic pre-adolescent days, wondering who lives in these places now.

I remembered Hicok’s poem and returned to it. Near the end, he continues,

…So I’ll die and someone
will have to deal with what’s left, the body,
the shoes, the socks. The last person on Earth
will just be dead: not buried or mourned
or missed. As with kites, I cut the string
when they’re way up, because who would want to come back.
So Somewhere are all these kites, as somewhere
are all these pictures in frames from the camps
and the bows from the hair, and the hair itself

Well, you ask, how the hell does this all relate to the cover of the week? Of course, there are many songs about such topics as these. If we are talking in a general sense about the natural flow of life, i.e. that it all ends in death (oh, this mortal coil!), there have been many great works in the pop music canon. There is a three-LP set (that’s how we used to quantify music recordings) that is pretty much all about these concerns, the masterful All Things Must Pass. And I am not sure any one song in this genre is more sublime than Tom Waits’ “Take it With Me.”

But there are far more lame songs. When I was ruminating about such mid-life concerns in an inappropriate forum for such gravity, predictably coming to the conclusion that we should all live it up, a friend of mine mockingly compared my sentiment to that classic, “Dust in the Wind,” from one of those geographically named bands. If, with a gun to my head, I had to name a band after a place, Kansas would not likely be the first on the list. Clearly Buffalo was. Buffalo trumps Kansas any day. By the way, there was/is a German band who named themselves after Chris Colbourn’s parents’ address in Medfield, MA, which is how it was printed on our first record. The band, Medfield, MA (with “MA pronounced phonetically, like “medfieldmuh”) went on to greater achievement in Germany, is how the legend goes. Of course the Stones went on to greater heights than Muddy Waters, upon whose song they titled themselves. Now, I am not comparing us to Muddy or the Germans to the Stones. It is merely that I had some Flexeril for my back spasms (speaking of mortal coils and all) and I’m feeling pretty good right now. I am also a poor self-editor, as you have increasingly and painfully become aware.

“As I was saying…”

I have decided to do Paul Simon’s artful “Slip Sliding Away” this week. I remember playing it out once, with Chris Toppin, I think. Someone also requested here in the comments section. It is a song that I have always loved. But now some lines seem more acute as I have become a parent. The song came out as a single in 1977, a year or two after the nitro incident. I think I changed the line “we think we’re gliding down the highway when in fact we’re slip sliding away” to “…speeding down the highway…” by accident. But as we know, there are no accidents.

Slip Sliding Away MP3

Happy holidays to you all!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cover of the Week 6

The Byrds were one of the most important bands in rock & roll history, with mutual influences flowing two ways between them and Dylan and the Beatles. Without the Byrds there is no Tom Pettty & the Heartbreakers, no REM, nor many other hugely significant bands. In fact, in a documentary about Petty, he is shown on poor-quality home video in an 'early-'90s studio righteously berating and belittling a couple of hapless A&R execs who are messing around with McGuinn's song choices or something. Petty is schooling these guys, asking them rhetorical questions like, "Do you even know who Roger McGuinn is? Do you know what his music means to people?" (Those are not direct quotes -- it has been a while since I have seen it.) It is cringe-worthy but hilarious.

EDIT: Here is the link to the clip, thanks to my friend, Paul, mentioned in the poker post (below), in the context of the newer 2007 documentary, now with hindsight commentary on the episode. The clip was from an earlier doc on him:

The general public, it seems, barely knows the name Roger McGuinn nowadays, never mind the late Gene Clark, the latter of whom wrote and sang some of the band's best and best-known songs, Teenage Fanclub tribute song notwithstanding. has a nice bio of Clark that starts off:

Gene Clark will always be best remembered for his two-year stint as a vocalist with the Byrds between 1964 and 1966. A fine legacy to be sure, but the shame of it is that there was far more to Clark's body of work than that; he was a superb songwriter, one of the founding fathers of country-rock, and recorded a number of fine albums with an impressive array of collaborators whose quality far outstripped their modest sales figures.

This is an understatement. For fans of this sort of music, particularly if you are an early REM fan (Stipe's vocal style and timber is extremely close to Clark's), I beseech you to root out some Gene Clark albums. They are not always easy to find, even on the 'net. And the styles veer around from record to record, from stuff that might as well be the Byrds (the Echoes LP), to folk, to straight-up country, to pop and soul, sometimes hitting all of them just right.

My choice for a cover this week is from the Roadmaster LP, which I picked up at a record distribution company in Spain in the early 1990s and have not had much luck, as I recall, finding again. This is a song called "In a Misty Morning."

Please note that this is the 6th installment. Cover of the Week 5 is just below this, a holiday bonus for all of you, perhaps the only one that any of us will be getting this year unless you work at one of the hedge funds that acted on the subprime fiasco at the right time. So enjoy!

In a Misty Morning MP3

Cover of the Week 5, (warning:) The Holiday Bonus Edition

Every other week, almost without fail, I play poker with a bunch of mooks -- lovable mooks, but mooks nonetheless. Though you would never guess it if you just poked your head in for a night, they are actually a pretty accomplished bunch, which I often have to remind myself, but yeah, mooks. And I am proud to count myself among them. (I threw in the last bit because I know a few of them check in on this page.)

I came into this group about 3 years ago at the invitation of my friend, Bruce, whom I had only recently been introduced to by some other mutual friends. While the vetting process is not quite on the level of, say, La Cosa Nostra, getting invited into the game is a seriously considered call. Woe to the player who unilaterally invites someone new, especially if that invitee turns out to be a dud or worse. The right balance of personalities is essential (they must all be misanthropic). There is almost no turnover and the seven core players are highly reliable for showing up. We have some more recent guys who are semi-regular players, including a famous novelist (who actually used our game as inspiration for a fairly sad and despicable bunch of poker playing suburbanites in one of his books).

The level of poker playing at this bi-weekly gathering is fair-to-middling. The stakes match that level. We might end up paying more for wine, beer, Trader Joe's snacks, and other provisions than we win or lose in the game. I am particularly hapless in my skills/luck. I tend to press, calling when I shouldn’t, etc. I like to think of myself as overly optimistic. Others might view this approach recklessly aggressive. Still others might simply refer to it, as my fellow players do, as variously, “stupid” or, “f-in idiotic.” This is more or less the level of conversation that dominates most evenings. There is also a fairly generous amount of profane hypothetical and philosophical discussions that start off with the evergreen, “would you rather have (blank) done to you by (a blank) with a (blank), or (blank) a (blank) of your choice?” They are sort of obscene koans. It should go without saying that rarely do I feel like I have reached some Zen enlightenment after contemplation of these scenarios, but I do get a pretty good amount of laughs, especially if a certain chemical balance has been achieved and maintained.

But it also seems that the third object of “the game,” after trying to impress with the wine selection, stimulating conversation, and poker skills, is to see whose iPod will last the longest on the stereo, a unique rig consisting of someone's little sister's '90s Aiwa shelf system pumped though vintage wood-paneled 1970s BIC Venturi speakers perched atop a steel shelf in a pre-fab cement-and-metal contractor warehouse. One newbie candidate had a great house in which to play, arguably a pretty decent personality, excellent provisions, but an iPod heavy on 1960s/1970s English folk and folk-rock. I mean I love Nick Drake and all, but for a poker game one or two songs of his go a long way. Drake was not even on his list -- too upbeat I guess. But man, Steeleye Span and Pentangle have no place on anyone’s iPod, never mind featured on a playlist for a poker game. We’re not having any of it. And don’t get me started on deep-cut Jethro Tull. This stuff is meant to stay on musty vinyl in someone’s parents’ basement in central Jersey. Or Iowa, even better. Maybe South Dakota. North, even.

Nay, know your audience! We are a bunch of 40-something fathers. Gotta play a lot of dad rock. Now, that is no longer a pejorative term as far as I am concerned. It used to mean Moody Blues. Loggins and Messina, and post-Cream….zzzzzz……Clapton. Sure, some frickin' Knopfler has come on once or twice, which was controversial and instigated a whole conversation regarding dadrock. But many of the dads I know -- not just from all the bands I grew up with as peers -- but the dudes I meet at volunteer stuff at a suburban Boston elementary school, are downright hip. Yes, hip. These are guys in their middle age who grew up on now-senior-citizens Sonic Youth, gray-hairs (literally) like Dinosaur Jr., guys who tell me they first saw Buffalo Tom playing with My Bloody Valentine, Yo La Tengo, and Mercury Rev back in 1992. These are guys who still go out semi-regularly and check out newer music live, sending out emails to groups of other dudes to round up a posse to go see M. Ward, Deathship, the Broken West, the Hold Steady, Bon Iver, etc. OK, so maybe not some 20 year-olds out of RISD playing an all-xylophone-backed bit of confessional poetry at a Chinatown loft party, but come on, we have to leave something for the kids to think they are hipper than thou.

We introduce some new stuff we might have picked up. We have a little side chat about it. Dad rock to us means the Clash, Talking Heads, Eno, Replacements, Feelies, etc. But play a lot of old dusty dad rock as well: a particularly choice Stones bootleg, an Anthology version of a White album track, Allmans at Filmore East, some Stax stuff, tons of Stevie – you get the idea. Throw off this delicate balance by, for example, by playing three John Prine songs in a row (not aimed at anyone in particular) and it will not be long before someone is coming back from a bathroom break and supplanting your audio source. I don’t kill myself creating a playlist but I do cull one for each game, usually the stuff I have been listening to and enjoying in the intervening week. And I try to put it in a considered and compelling running order. But I don’t take offense when mine has been jettisoned for another’s iPod, unless it has only been on for 20 minutes (I rarely start off with “Whipping Post”) as I do look forward to hearing others’ choices.

This is my characteristically long-winded way of getting around to my main point, which is introducing this week’s Cover of the Week. Paul, one of my poker buddies who takes rightful and at times righteous pride in his music collection (as we all do), “challenged” me this past week to come up with a holiday playlist that would last more than 15 minutes. After parsing the definition of the concept (i.e. does it have to be all holiday songs? Even I wouldn’t want to listen to my own playlist of such songs) I set off to sprinkle an otherwise ‘60s-soul-heavy list with a healthy infusion of quality holiday choices. Ground zero for me is my favorite Christmas song, “Please Come Home for Christmas” by Charles Brown.

Now, I would love to be all cool and say I first learned of this song from the original Charles Brown version from 1960. But come on, I grew up on Long Island in the 1970s. There was no escape from the Eagles. And, though they have fallen out of my rotation, they are not as much of an evil to me as they seem to be for so many other, much cooler people than I am. They are not even a guilty pleasure; I think there I nothing to feel guilty about when listening to well-crafted MOR songs as benign as “New Kid in Town.” I think it is a very good pop song arranged and recorded extremely well. I never turn it off on the radio. Same goes for “Tequila Sunrise,” “Lying Eyes,” or “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

Wow, that feels good to get off my chest.

And it was the Eagles who introduced me to the great Charles Brown via their very good rendition of this song, a recording that I still love to hear come on the radio. But I still way more prefer the original. So I put it on the poker playlist of course. Paul turned to me and casually mentioned something like, “ah, another song that everyone does on their Christmas albums.” Really? I only know the Eagles and Brown versions, as far as I can remember. So I went onto the web and saw that I also recall the (gulp) Bon Jovi version. I was steeling myself for more. And yeah, there are a myriad other recordings, it turns out. But I know none of them. Not James Brown’s B.B. King’s, Willie Nelson’s, or Aaron Neville’s. Never mind Pat Benetar; a boy from Long Island is legally bound not to disparage MizzBenetaw, you heah me wizeass? She’ll have to put another notch in her lipstick case.

All good holiday tunes get done to death. It seems that one of the best has a modest recording history. Listen, I know I ain’t Mister Soul and God knows I don’t want to come off like Bruce Willis, thinking he is -- in all is Jersey Ray-Ban-wearing-bad-harmonica-playing generic-ocity -- Mr. Blues. But I love the song and damned if I was not going to cover it as my predictable holiday edition of Cover of the Week. Because when it comes down to it, what are the holidays if not thinking about yourself first?

Please note that this is a bonus cover this week. The other one is in the previous post today, above.

Please Come Home for Christmas MP3

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another, Younger Janovitz

This is my brother, Tom. I was 16 when he was born. That makes him, lemme see...12.

Lovely voice, lovely guitar. Sort of Ry Cooder meets John Fahey.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cover of the Week 4

When I was maybe 19, just into college, a friend told me all about these cool new kids she had met in her apartment complex in Charlestown (a neighborhood of Boston). Or maybe she met them at a party or something. But they were students at Berklee College of Music and in this great band called the Blake Babies. She gave me their tape and I recall loving the fresh indie DIY pop with a little aggressive edge. The guitar player John Strohm played in an early version of the Lemonheads and lent the edge. Freda Love played drums and a very groovy (literally) style, very relaxed in the pocket. And Juliana Hatfield sang and played bass. (Edit: not guitar, thanks to Paul for pointing out my error).

Like most indie rock/post-punk boys, I was enthralled with her voice, lyrics, and melodies. It is not by accident that they named one of their collections Innocence & Experience, another allusion William Blake, I assume.

Of course, most of you have long heard of the Blakes and Juliana. Buffalo Tom went on to play a ton of local shows with them starting out, and the toured the US early on in both of our careers. Then Juliana and I traded off opening solo for different shows over the years - me opening solo for her and her band about 6 years ago or so in the midwest and out on the west coast and her opening solo for BT most recently.

It is during those most recent dates, in L.A. and in San Francisco in 2007, that Juliana joined our mutual hero, Paul Westerberg in a "Buffalo Tom gets snubbed by a guest vocalist to help with the Blondie song, 'Dreaming' during the encore" sort of infamy.

Many of you have heard me tell this chilling tale. Perhaps some of you were even present during that dark night in Toronto back in 1988. Buffalo Tom -- why, we were just young lads, peach fuzz on our chins, fresh from wearing out our Replacements and Husker Du records, when we walked into Lee's Palace. At some point, Chris Colbourn came up to me and nervously told me Paul Westerberg was up at the bar. Chris chatted with him a bit about the Replacements, told him we were fans (obviously), and asked him if he would join us for a song. I recall that he was non-committal about it. Anyway, we played our set. I was pretty excited to have Paul W. there, even if by chance he had to split early.

Well, when it came time for an encore (it did happen occasionally), I addressed a vague spot out in the center of the gathered throng, saying "I think we might have a special guest," or words to that affect. I paused, scanning the audience. Nary an ex-Replacement to be seen. But I could tell that some in the audience knew he was there (or had been there). Some of them were nodding encouragingly to me, wide-eyed. I might have invited him once more. But then, shrugging my shoulders, I said something like, "Oh well, maybe if we start the song, if he's still here he can join us." So we started the song, "Dreaming," a song I always loved, was easy to play, and I could see being in Paul's wheelhouse, having seen him sing a ton of covers over the years.

We got all the way through the song without anyone joining us. We assumed he had just taken off. But we had a good time that night. Those were the sleeping-on-floors, driving-the-big blue van, hiding-the-contraband days. Now we have gorgeous supermodel groupies chauffeur us in Rolls Royce limos (hybrids) to the local Four Seasons where we ingest same contraband directly off of the various body parts of the supermodels. But you knew that already.

Months or even a year later in London, we had our actual groupie (yes, there was one and only one and if you have seen Mel in Flight of the Conchords, you should know we have a lawsuit against the show for the lifting of that particular element from our career) approach us with something in her hand. She said, "Oh, someone wanted me to give you this note." She handed it to me and I unfolded it. It read, "Dear Buffalo Tom, Sorry about 'Dreaming.' Paul Westerberg."

It seems she was also one of his groupies and the subject of BT must have come up. He told her to give us this note. I forget the details but I believe he was still at Lee's Palace when we played the song after all, as opposed to someone just telling him about it afterward. (G -- if you're still out there and reading this, sorry I refer to you as "a groupie." If you have another suggestion for a more accurate/politically correct term, let us know. It has been many, many years.)

I know that Juliana holds Mr. Westerberg in similarly high regard. Perhaps this is the reason she reneged on her promise to come out and do "Dreaming" with us in L.A. (or San Francisco, I forget which night came first) even though we actually went over the song with her in soundcheck.; it must have been an homage to him. Or maybe she just took a look at us stumbling around the stage in various stages of lubricity and figured she best hightail it outta there before she got dragged down along with us. Either way, it does not explain the second night in a row that she decided against it. Well, one gets one's feelings hurt when such things happen. Our poor little drummer, Tommy, still has moments of sudden and unexplained tearbursts. The parental look that Chris and I give each other in such moments quickly transforms from befuddlement to one of mutual dawning, recognition that the scar has not yet fully healed. Perhaps it was a double homage to Paul, we tell him. An "homage block party weekend."

Or maybe the damned song is just cursed for us. But those that were in El Rey that night in L.A. did get to see the magnanimous Kay Hanley join us for the song without having any idea she was coming up to sing. What a sport! And she saved the show, as far as it was able to be salvaged.

A handful of you have requested it. You know the request rule. So here it is, along with a little medley into a Stones song. All things seem to end up there in the Stones cul-de-sac for me. Somehow I have managed to pay respect to Paul W. twice in the 2 or 3 weeks of these covers. Sit back, it is epic.

And, as a wise man once said, "sorry about 'Dreaming.'"


Dreaming MP3

Janovitz, Bill -- Guitar, piano, vocals. I didn't want you to think it was someone that knows how to play piano for real mangling the part.

My review of Till The Next Goodbye (from way back).

Here is me if had been in the early Stones. Clearly, I'm running out of Photo Booth ideas.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Congratulations Bandini, Low Anthem, Ed V., Billy B and so many others.....

I want to say, hey, congratulations to my brother, Scott, and his band, the Great Bandini, for winning best local song, "One and One." Also, I recall loving Wait Until Spring, Bandini, from John Fante, back when I read it close to 20 years back.

Also, I have to say you should check out The Low Anthem, who won best new act. I picked up their record, What the Crow Brings, which is delicious. But I really look forward to the new collection, which can be previewed at their myspace: very pretty songs. This is especially recommended for people that liked the Show People CD from Chris Toppin, me, Phil, Dean, Paul, Mike, et. al. But if you like Waits, Dylan, the new kids with all that string band stuff, etc., I think you might like some of their songs a great deal.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bill Replies to Feedback, Requests, etc.

Hi guys,

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. I'm sure I am missing some questions and suggestions, but I wanted to reply to a number of them as I go.

A couple of people have suggested songs that I've already recorded in similar versions and made available. See the Music page at for versions of Tupelo Honey and She Thinks I Still Care. Of course, Here Comes a Regular and others have been played by Buff Tom and with Crown Victoria as well and I'm pretty sure can be found as unofficial releases online. BTW, I know a lot of you are traders and record shows so feel free to post comments on how to trade such stuff. Let the comments section of this post be the area for requests and advice on trading and finding Jano/BT/Crown Vic material online. I would request you contact Kevin, who runs the BT and Jano pages, to see if you have something he does not. He is in the process of archiving media of the bands.

Anyway, this will be a good thread to collect requests. Try to keep them all here as opposed to other disparate posts. I will stop commenting on which ones I will or won't do and simply try to get to the ones that either inspire me or was I planning on doing. I am also going to cover a few Buff Tom songs in the solo troubadour method as well. At the bottom of this post will be a list of songs covered by me and the band that is sort of Crown Victoria at the residencies we have done in June, July, and October. I will likely get to many of these as well. Some clips of these shows are up on Youtube, Facebook, etc.

I can't suggest an amount to donate -- totally up to you.

As for making copies of this stuff and trading it, I can't think there is anything wrong with that. My main and only real concern is that these are not my songs and I don't have the rights to do anything with them, aside (I assume) from performing them. I look at these as mini performances rather than released recordings. And it is to encourage charitable donations. But if I get a cease and desist, I will let you know. These are the sorts of things that keep me up at night. That and the complete and utter collapse of the global economy.

Residency list we used as a starting point. We actually have a bunch more we added. (in semi-short hand -- feel free to ask if you don't know the songs/artists referenced herein) (also, if anyone notices missing songs, feel free to add):

What You Gonna Do?
I’ve Got a Feeling
Makes No Difference
Ain’t No Sunshine
Loving Cup
Bring it on Home
Whip comes Down
What Would I do (A maj)
She Thinks I still Care
Don’t Lie to Me (Stones doing Berry)
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, a Train to Cry (12-bar variation)
Atlantic City
That’s all it took
American Girl
Jersey Girl
Love Lives Here
Act Nice n Gentle (ACOUST)
No Easy Way Down (Top)
Barstool in A (then F#)
Oh Lonesome Me (ACOUST)
Foggy Notion
Memory Motel in (ACOUST)
Here comes a Regular (Capo 6) (ACOUST)
That's All it took (In A) (ACOUST)
Sam and Dave (Capo 1 play C)
When Will Be loved (capo 1 play A) (ACOUST)
You Won’t See me
You really Got A Hold
Wreck On the Highway (ACOUST)
Shine a Light
Ebony Eyes (Stevie W.)
4th of July
Mercy Mercy
heart of Saturday
Yesterday Is Here
Cul de Sac
one step up
That's All it took (In A) (ACOUST)
When Will Be loved (capo 1 play A) (ACOUST)
You Won’t See me
You really Got A Hold
Wreck On the Highway (ACOUST)
Memory Motel in(Capo 5 in F real) (ACOUST)
Here comes a Regular (Capo 6) (ACOUST)
Oh Lonesome Me (ACOUST)
4th of July
Act Nice n Gentle (ACOUST)
Atlantic City
She Thinks I still Care
Takes a lot to Laugh, a Train.
Pale Blue Eyes
Stay With Me
Star Star
Many Rivers to Cross
Kiss (Prince)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cover of the Week 3

Okay, here is the third installment of Cover of the Week. My voice was a bit hoarse from Buff Tom practice so I tried a number from the Boss. A great song that has too much '80s goop on it on the record.

One Step Up MP3

If you want to donate to a charity due to inspiration from this little project, be it because of a specific request or just in general, I have two in mind. One is the Foundation to Be Named Later. Many of you from around Boston may be familiar with the organization, started by Paul and Theo Epstein and the beneficiary of the Hot Stove Cool Music event. The other is the Global Fund of the UN, as inspired by the RED Campaign. I have a friend who is one of the main folks that run RED (along with Bono and Bobby Shriver), which raises money to fight AIDS in Africa through partnerships with private enterprise. RED participants include Apple, Starbucks, and Gap and purchases of certain RED products result in donations to the Global Fund. The RED Campaign has also started a promising new venture called (RED)WIRE, which is a new subscription-based delivery of music, film clips, all sorts of stuff from big successful artists as well as newer is explained better here: (RED)WIRE.

I have no formal relationship with either organization.

Another lame Photo Booth shot. I think this will have to be the end of the self-portraits. I'm gonna gave to come up with something more interesting for a visual element. But extra credit goes to the first person to recognize the painting on the wall.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Thanks to everyone for their feedback. I have gotten some good requests, many of which I already had on my short list. So look for future versions of, among other things, Slip Slidin' Away (I have played this out at least once), Dreaming (BT has been doing this since 1987), He's Gone (oh no, the Grateful Dead!), and some others. I will look back.

The deal is not an auction for top bidder. You are an honest enough bunch that I will trust you to make a donation to a charity. I am leaning towards the Foundation to be Named Later, since I am already affiliated with it a bit and since they do such fine work. I will try to do it by next week, so that those of you who need one can have a tax deduction!