“Sinners and their Repentances” – Bob Mould


From Bob Mould’s game-changing 1989 solo album “Workbook,” the former Husker Du frontman and punk rock God channeled his inner Richard Thompson into decepitvely quieter, but no less intense songs. The opening acoustic bridge was used for years as bumper music on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” One of my all-time favorite albums.

“Caroline Says II” – Lou Reed (performed live on “Late Night With David Letterman” 10-10-2008)


A great performance of one of the more memorable (albeit extremely depressing) songs from Lou Reed’s stellar 1973 song cycle “Berlin.” If you like what you hear, you should check out the original album, or the brilliant 2007 film adaptation (lensed by Oscar-nominated director Julian Schnabel) called “Lou Reed’s Berlin.”

“My Favorite Year” (1982) dir. Richard Benjamin


One of the best films about the art / history of comedy, as well as the early days of TV is director Richard Benjamin’s hilarious and touching 1982 film “My Favorite Year.” The unspoken denominator in this enterprise is (uncredited) producer Mel Brooks. Mel Brooks was a comedy writer for Sid Caesar’s early TV show “Your Show of Shows,” which the film’s show within a show “The King Kaiser Show” is based on.

Mark Linn-Baker (as rookie writer Benjy Stone) is the obvious Brooks stand-in, trying to keep notorious debauched movie star Alan Swann (brilliantly played by Peter O’Toole based on debauched real-life movie star Errol Flynn) sober and on schedule for his appearance on the show. However, the constantly drunk Swann has other plans.

“My Favorite Year” may not be perfect … or even a great film, but it’s one of those films that always puts me in a good mood. And it earned Peter O’Toole a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar nomination in 1982.  The film also resurrected Lainie Kazan’s career, who plays Benjy’s overbearing, but loving mom.  Kazan resurrected the role in the 1992 Broadway musical adaptation of the film.

“The Mercy Seat” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds / Johnny Cash



The title track from Cave’s amazing 1988 album “The Mercy Seat.”  The term “mercy seat” does have religious connotations, for which I’ll consult Wikipedia for a more literate translation than I could ever muster:

According to the Bible, the cover or mercy seat (Hebrew: כפורת, Kapporet ; “atonement piece”) was an object which rested upon the Ark of the Covenant, and was connected with the rituals of the Day of Atonement; the term also appears in later Jewish sources, and twice in the New Testament, from where it has significance in Christian Theology.

The English phrase mercy seat is not a literal translation of the Hebrew term kapporeth, which appears in its place in the Masoretic text, nor of the Greek term hilasterion, which takes the same place in the Septuagint but instead is the translation by William Tyndale influenced by the German term Gnadenstuhl, from the same narrative position in the Luther Bible; Gnadenstuhl literally means seat of grace, in the sense of location of grace.

Despite this meaning, the song is sung from the perspective of an inmate on death row who is facing imminent execution in what I imagine is an electric chair.  Cave’s version is unremitting in its intensity.  However, Cash’s quieter, but still fierce cover from 2000 is damn good.  Both versions will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

“Little Wing” – Derek and the Dominos


“Layla” may be the best-known song from Eric Clapton’s and Duane Allman’s pseudonymous 1970 band Derek and the Domino’s “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” album. While it’s a great song, unfortunately, it’s power has been greatly diminished (at least for me) over the years due to endless replays on classic rock radio and other places.  Though, Martin Scorsese did redeem it somewhat through its use in “Goodfellas” but I digress …

For my money, their cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” is the highlight of the album. I’ve never heard hard rock sound so damn sad, but not in a grandiose “Pink Floyd The Wall” type way. This may be just the blues … but it’s played with such incredible power and sorrow. Clapton was in a bad way (emotionally and healthwise) when he recorded this and you can feel it.

“Whiskey Woman” – Flamin’ Groovies


From their nearly forgotten and severely underrated classic 1971 album “Teenage Head,” this the the Flamin’ Groovies arguably at their best. I hate saying that, considering the classic work they did with producer Dave Edmunds in 1976 with “Shake Some Action,” but “Teenage Head” and especially this track (“Whiskey Woman”) has been on constant rotation recently on my iPod.

No less than Mick Jagger at the time (who noticed similarities between what the Groovies were doing on this album and what the Stones were doing on “Sticky Fingers”) admitted the Groovies had the better take on the same theme.  Miriam Linna, co-head of the stellar Norton Records label, opined that this era of the Groovies sounded like the Stones, had the Stones sworn their allegiance to Sun Records instead of Chess Records.

Louis C.K. on people posting videos of their kids on Facebook


Louis C.K. lowers the boom on parents who video their kids and then post it on Facebook. A really funny diatribe … albeit, painfully so … as I am guilty of everything he’s talking about … except for the part where he discusses posting a video of a certain hidden part of your body on Facebook. THAT I haven’t done. I swear.  Definitely not safe for work.

Opening Trailers from “Tropic Thunder” (2008) dir. Ben Stiller


Among the more inspired bits in Ben Stiller’s extremely funny 2008 Hollywood satire “Tropic Thunder” were these fake ads / movie trailers starring the film’s lead characters that came before “Thunder” started. Not safe for work. “I’ve been a bad, bad boy, Father.”