Archive | May, 2010

It’s Number One in Israel

31 May

Currently, I am still recuperating from my 10-day Israeli journey. It is 9 a.m. on Memorial Day. What the heck am I doing up? The fact that my body thinks it is mid-afternoon may be a reason. Well, since I am up, it’s time to post.

My trip to Israel was filled with song. Songs constantly streaming from my Ipod to keep me occupied during bus trips and my two long flights. The interesting mix of Israeli and American music in Israeli markets that amalgamated into an almost incoherent combination of beats and sounds. The exciting sounds of commerce in loud Hebrew and broken Englsh. The repetitive and increasingly pestering singing on our tour bus. And, even the times of complete silence where only the sough of the light breeze picking up desert sand could be heard. Yes, music was a pervasive part of my Israeli vacation, and I knew I had to bring a particular music souvenir back for you faithful readers.

After a day of walking and sight seeing (we did a lot of these things on the trip) our group of 40 college students from Binghamton University were given 45 minutes to eat dinner at a mall. After spotting one of the most odd store neighbours in the world (a Mcdonalds next to a synagogue) and eating the Israeli version of fast food Chinese food, I spotted a Tower Records and jumped at the opportunity to check out some Israeli music. When I walked inside I saw Israel’s Top 25 albums. I promptly took a picture and unfortunately I am having major issues uploading it to the blog. So, just trust me. Most of the list was Israeli artists (including number one). But, a few American artists made it on. Justin Bieber was #20 (well, that’s a shame). #6 was Barbara Streisand (which is just too perfect). The title of #1 went to an artist named Yehuda Poliker (who I understandably did not know much about).

Yehuda Poliker (Credit ORENG --

Yehuda Poliker was born in Kiryat Haim, a suburb of Haifa, Israel, to Holocaust survivors. He is both a talented musician and known painter. His music combines pop/rock, Israeli folk, Greek and other Mediterranean influences. He can play numerous instruments and has a powerful and soothing voice. Take a listen to “Things I Wanted to Say”:


A Day of Remembrance…and BBQ

30 May

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, Moina Michael wrote:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

This seems to be a random piece of unimportant information, but, keep reading. Traditionally, Memorial Day, which will be officially observed tomorrow, involved poppies and proper American flag etiquette. Yet, as the years have marched on, tradition has been lost and replaced instead by backyard barbecues, beer, and a day off from work. Well, that’s all well and good, but the history of Memorial Day is often left behind. Did you know that Memorial Day was officially proclaimed by General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (veterans of the Union army), on May 5, 1868. And, it was first observed 142 years ago, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery.

This is why I have chosen to lead this post with this particular poem. It is so easy to lose the true purpose of Memorial Day among the vast quantities of burgers, hot dogs, cole slaw and apple pie (the classic American feast). Family comes over and discussion generally does not enter the realm of war and death. Why? Well, it’s rather depressing. I will be the first one to tell you. Such discussion can ruin a pleasant afternoon. Yes, I understand this particular quandary, but, it goes without saying that we must honor our fallen soldiers each and every day. Memorial Day provides a convenient calendar date to reflect, but, what good does it serve if many do not reflect. So, I will institute in this post a call to action. Go outside tomorrow into your garden, your local park, your street corner; at a Memorial Day gathering or by yourself. Pluck a flower from the ground (does not have to be a poppy). Think of the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and think of their families who may be having a memorial day barbecue without the smile of their lost son, daughter, mom or dad. Think of them and let the flower go. Keeping them in our mind is the least we can do.

Now, onto some music. Many are probably assuming that I will go with the classic Memorial Day song choice on this blog post. Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” is as patriotic as kissing the American flag, but, I want to choose something a little different. Like Q1043 (the classic rock radio station of the New York City/Long Island area) often says, “Let’s take one off the back wall.” So, my Memorial Day must-have comes from Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, “Ballad of the Green Beret.”

Stay close tomorrow; another post will be coming out you. One having to do with my recent trip to Israel (which is still screwing with my sleep patterns).

Waterin’ The Plants- Episode 2: Electric Boogaloo

29 May

So, I vaguely referenced what I was going make this post about previously, and now it’s time for the shocking reveal. In this post, I will be stealing Amanda’s thunder and ‘bestowing the crown’ on Jenny Lewis. Now I’m not sure if it every actually happened or if I just hallucinated it, but I recall wanted to yell at Amanda for never doing this herself.

Why Jenny Lewis, you ask? I say she pretty darn well deserves it. She started out as a child actor, and on few occasions did some acting of the non-child variety. Ever see Pleasantville? She was totally in that! How about Bolt? Not only did she provide one of the voices, she provided one of the songs on the soundtrack, “Barking at the Moon.”

Unlike most child stars, she did not follow her early days in the spotlight with a slow descent into drugs, depression, suicide attempts, and VH1 specials. Lewis moved on to Rilo Kiley, where as you heard from my last post, she made some pretty good music. Following Rilo Kiley, she launched a solo career and continued to make pretty good music (I’d recommend “Happy” off the album “Rabbit Fur Coat”). If all that music-y goodness wasn’t enough, she’s collaborated with plenty of other musicians with the end result of- you guessed it- pretty good music. Her collaborations include songs with The Good Life, Bright Eyes, The Postal Service, and Elvis Costello.

So the defense rests. No further questions, your honor. Get that woman a crown.

Waterin’ the Plants: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace

28 May

Surprised to see me again? Oh, don’t worry, I’m not staging a coup or anything. Just here to water the plants.

As promised by Matt, I am here to make sure the blog doesn’t keel over and die while Matt is out wandering the desert for 40 years 10 days. Now I won’t pretend to be as good as writer as Matt, or anywhere near as knowledgeable in the field of music as he is, but while I’m here feeding the cat and letting out the dog I figured I would at least try to make some interesting music posts.

I guess I’ll start off by mentioning the song that’s been trapped in my head for the past few days: Rilo Kiley’s All The Good That Won’t Come Out off of their 2002 album The Execution of All Things. It’s a pretty good song with some pretty good lyrics and an interesting sound that more or less typifies Rilo Kiley. Now I’m not asking you to completely follow in my footsteps here, but this is the first song I’ve ever heard from Rilo Kiley, and I now would rank them within my top 10 favorite bands. So give it a listen and hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did…


Stay tuned, sports fans, ’cause that post gave me an idea. You will find my next entry to be remarkably similar…

Big ol’ jet airliner, don’t carry me too far away

15 May

In 1973, Paul Pena, a diverse American blues singer from Massachusetts, recorded “Jet Airliner” for his New Train album. Yet, after conflicts with his label, the album went unreleased (until 2000) and “Jet Airliner” was left as bootleg recording. For four years one of modern classic rock radio’s most overplayed hits laid on the shelf collecting dust. This until Steve Miller heard a recording of “Jet Airliner,” and decided to record it for his album Book of Dreams. Miller placed a Clapton-like “Crossroads” guitar riff in front of the airplane epic. The song hit #8 on the Billboard chart after being released as a single, and, like I said earlier, now is severely overplayed on almost all classic rock radio stations. If I ever get the opportunity to be one of the preservers of classic rock music on the radio, I will make a point not play “Jet Airliner.” How about “Swingtown or “Going to the Country?” I am not saying these are better songs, but, at least they are different.

The reason I am profiling “Jet Airliner” today is because on Monday I will be taking a big ol’ jet airliner to Israel on Birthright. Birthright is a Jewish charity that sponsors free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish youths. I fit the profile of a Jewish youth and therefore am fortunate enough to be going on this trip with fellow Music Court writers Josh Lampert and Amanda Grannis, my girlfriend, and our suitemate Marc. I am incredibly psyched. I will be away from May 17-27. So, I wish all of you faithful readers a fantastic 10 days and I am looking forward to posting when I return. During the 10-day span, a familiar face will be returning to the blog to write a couple of posts and “water the flowers” when I am gone. I trust he will do a great job.

Steve Miller:

Paul Pena:

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