Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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4Play: John Mellencamp, Hank Williams III, She & Him, Jeff Beck

Jack Pine - December 27th, 2010
John Mellencamp - No Better than This (Rounder Records)
“No Better Than This” is the second down-to-the-basics, Mellencamp and an instrument or two, mono recording produced by T-Bone Burnett. This time they take an old tape recorder and one microphone to the Sun Studios in Memphis, a Baptist church in Savannah and a hotel room in San Antonio where legendary bluesman Robert Johnson recorded. The mood is slightly more chipper than on the last one “Life, Death, Love and Freedom” and starts out with a real good, moving song “Save Some Time to Dream,” but Mellencamp is still no Bob Dylan. There is more pretense than substance on this one.



Hank Williams III - Rebel Within (Sidewalk Records)
Hank the Third made some good honky tonk/punk records about 10 years ago, like “Lovesick, Broke and Driftin’.” He was able to connect with the spirit of his granddad without being tainted by the hocum of his dad Hank Jr. “Rebel Within” is more of the same Hellbilly sound, but without as much emotion. These are all songs about getting falling down drunk. Well, except the one about heroin, “#5” which has the line “Four of my friends have gone on and died, it looks like I am going to be #5.”





She and Him - Volume Two (Merge Records)
She and Him is musician M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel. As a singer Deschanel is best known for the duet “It’s Cold Outside” with Will Farrell in the movie “Elf.” Her singing has an appealing something extra, cry-in-her-voice quality about it. Volume Two doesn’t have a song as good as “Change is Hard” from Volume One, but on the whole it is a stronger collection. Volume Two goes for a fuller retro-pop, girl group ‘60s sound. Zooey is also a good songwriter. She wrote all the songs except the two covers, NRBQ’s “Drivin’ In My Car” and the classic heartbreaker “Gonna Get Along Without You Now.”




Jeff Beck - Emotion and Commotion (Duece Music)
Guitarist Jeff Beck has had an extraordinary career, including his time with the Yardbirds, “Truth” with Rod Stewart, and his fusion records “Blow by Blow” and “Wired.” He has never gone for the same old thing and has repeatedly shown a capacity to surprise. Still, “Emotion and Commotion” is surprisingly dull. Several of the tunes here feature his impeccable electric guitar tone with a symphony in the background. It mostly sounds like soundtrack music. And do we really need another version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”?
 
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