Record Purchase — December 21, 2008

Record Purchase, December 21 2008

Vinyl:

  • Neil Diamond — Greatest Hits
  • R.E.M. — Wendell Gee 12 inch (b/w “Crazy” and a live version of “Driver 8”)
  • R.E.M. — (Don’t Go Back to) Rockville 12-inch UK single (b/w “Wolves” and live versions of “9-9” and “Gardening at Night”)
  • My Morning Jacket — Chocolate and Ice

CD:

  • Elvis Costello — Brutal Youth (and with this, I believe I have the entire studio output complete)
  • Ethiopiques  — Volume 8: Swinging Addis 1969 – 1974
  • Michael Jackson — Dangerous (Special Edition) (yeah, taking it all the way back to the 5th grade)
  • Delta Spirit — Ode to Sunshine
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HOLY SH*T I JUST MET ELVIS COSTELLO.

This was the text message I sent my wife and few other folks yesterday at about 12:13. I’m still sort of accepting the fact that this happened at all.

But first, the night before: Costello played an outstanding show at the Ryman. I dare to say you won’t find a more vital artist of his age than Costello — he still performs with more drive and focus than I see in some folks half his age. The setlist was fantastic: EVERY SONG from his new (very urgent, very immediate) album Momofuku, plus a smattering of gems from the back catalog. The highlights:

  • new tune “Flutter and Wow”, which could very well be among his finest songs ever
  • a jaw-dropping solo rendition of “Alison”
  • a very solid and fluid four-piece take on the slick production of “Everyday I Write the Book”
  • truly amazing vocal performance on “Either Side of the Same Town” from The Delivery Man
  • “Man Out of Time”
  • “Beyond Belief,” “Accidents Will Happen,” and “The Impostor”
  • A totally breakneck-paced version of “Radio, Radio”

My gripe: the crowd. Here’s this amazing, energetic set delivered by an absolute master who’s charming and talkative and generous enough to deliver 4 stellar encores, and the jaded mostly middle-age Nashville audience just sits there like they’re waiting for a Hot Pocket to come out of the microwave. I really hate when the Ryman audience sits through a rock show (you just can’t feel it the same way sitting down), but c’mon Alice — the least you can do is bob your head from time to time. I saw numerous people refuse to stand during the ovations, and about an eighth of the balcony left immediately before or after the first set. There was even a mad dash for the door after the first chorus of the closing rendition of “Peace, Love, and Understanding.” Look, I know you’re going to have to wait 5 more minutes to get your Yukon out of the parking lot if you leave with everybody else when the final note has been played, but what’s five minutes in exchange for showing an artist a little respect. I saw the same thing at R.E.M. three years ago, and even at the Tom Waits show a few years back. Bottom line: most of the time, I think Nashville doesn’t even deserve the moniker of “Music City”, because some of the quote-unquote music-lovers in this town are jaded idiots.

But put that aside. Elvis came to Grimey’s on Thursday.

Elvis Costello and the Grimey\'s StaffHonestly, I felt like a 10 year old girl. I was completely nervous in the hours before his arrival, all sweaty and listless, wandering the store aimlessly. When he arrived, we were ushered quickly to the side for group photos (sadly, no solo pic of Elvis and I in a bromancely embrace). During all of this, Elvis was looking around the store, making comments about the inventory. He made a great (and reverential) Prince joke, although I can’t remember what it was about. I felt like he was sort of shopping the whole time he was there, just looking around, connecting all this vast musical knowledge in his head.

We pretty quickly opened the door to let people in, so I stepped aside and helped keep the line in order. I stood about 12 feet or so away from Elvis while he talked to folks, and he was really charming, very witty, and very friendly to everyone. He told Grimey’s regular (and supreme vinyl collector) Joe Crook that he liked his Son House t-shirt, and I thought Joe’s head was going to explode. While there was a little lull in the line, Larry and I jumped over and introduced ourselves, shook his hand, and thanked him for being there, and it was pretry surreal and a little hazy, even in the moment it was happening.

When the line evaporated we closed the doors so Elvis could shop, and he spent a good 30 minutes going through the store, asking for recommendations from Doyle, and making requests. There were a few straggler customers still around, and he made some recommendations to them in passing, which was pretty much the coolest thing ever. He bought a box worth of stuff, said goodbye, and then took off in his bus.

So yeah, yesterday was one of the coolest and most surreal days ever.

Sidenote: if you haven’t heard Momofuku yet, go hear it. It benefits from a very immediate, almost tossed off vibe. Great songs played almost effortlessly from a very friendly genius of staggering proportions who wears a nice hat and a scarf in April.

April: Cruelest Month? Hardly.

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

– “The Wasteland”
T.S. Eliot

So, yeah, it’s been kind of stale here on the blog for a few days. Life trumps blogging, and life has been a little, well, larger than life the past few weeks.

First off, April started off cruel. Two weeks ago, after 5 solid days of rain, ye olde Briggs family home basement flooded for the first time in a few years. It’s a helpless feeling to walk into your house and find half of your carpet soaked with mud water, seeping up through a crack that conveniently runs through the middle of your foundation. While we took the step to proactively put indoor/outdoor carpet in the basement a few years ago, we had yet to test it’s effectiveness, so we spent essentially an entire weekend second guessing ourselves and deconstructing the sub-level of our house, spreading baking soda, renting a carpet cleaner, rolling wet carpet back, buying mops, and later buying stiff brushes and getting on our hands and knees to scrape up the aforementioned (now-crusted) baking soda. Honestly, the weekend was a bit spirit breaking — we found ourselves in a swampy house, more ready than ever to move, but still unsure of my career situation. And I ended the weekend angrier than ever about the 18 months I’ve seemingly wasted with an employer I have no interest in working for.

Things changed, though. If I were to make a top ten list, April 2008 is probably the second best month of my life–putting it just behind September 2006, and just ahead of June 1999 (wich is incidentally also the last time I vomited).

I must have banked some serious karma, because the week of my birthday was a complete 180 from the weeks before. On Monday, I was contacted for an interview. On Tuesday at 3:30, I want to that interview. And at 4:45, I walked out of that interview with a job offer. I checked on my other options, and on Wednesday I accepted, Thursday I turned in my notice, and Friday I left work at 2:30 to go drink Woodchuck and eat a weekend’s worth of junk food in celebration of my birthday.

My new job is almost exactly what I was hoping to find, and I can’t wait to start. First day is a week from Monday.

But that’s not the only reason that April 2008 is keeping it real.

  1. On Thursday of last week, after turning in my notice and putting our basement back together I get an e-mail that alerts me to the fact that ELVIS COSTELLO WILL BE AT GRIMEY’S ON APRIL 24 TO SIGN RECORDS. Which means that in a week from today, I’ll meet one of my favorite artists of all time.
  2. Grimey’s Record Store Day celebration is this Saturday, which I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. (Come buy records from us!)
  3. The aforementioned new R.E.M. album, which, after living with it for a few weeks, I can say with confidence is at least 90.9% good, and more like 45.4% great / 45.5% good.
  4. Going to see the New Pornographers and Okkervil River tomorrow, which means that I’ll be seeing Okkervil for the first time, and (hopefully) having the opportunity to pine over my Indie Rock Girlfriend once again.
  5. New Elvis record and the Elvis show next week.
  6. An end of month backpacking trip.
  7. Preparation for the big Left Coast Vacation next month, which I can’t wait for.

So yeah, full respect to the genius of T.S. Eliot, but the first line of “The Wasteland” definitely does not apply to me right now. Life is good. Great moments are moving through me, and I’m taking hold of some of them.

Two Things Collide: My Love for Elvis Costello and Vinyl

Stereogum.com just reported that Elvis Costello’s new record — awesomely titled Momofuko — is coming out April 22nd. And get this: it’s not even going to be available on CD, but rather as vinyl-only with a free digital download.

This puts gas in my go-cart for three reasons:

  1. I admittedly have a man-crush on Elvis Costello. Seriously, it’s a completely hetero-obsession with his amazing body of work, his unique and surprisingly versatile voice, his genius songwriting, and his penchant for big glasses and looking totally cool while holding a guitar. His last record, The Delivery Man, is one of the most solid albums I’m aware of from an artist in his fourth decade of output, so I can’t wait to hear this followup.
  2. As a vinyl collector, this move is almost like EC writing me a letter and telling me how cool I am. Vinyl has become my format of choice, especially now that most labels are making free downloads available with vinyl purchases. It’s the best of both worlds — I get the warm, analog sound and the killer physical artifact, and a hassle-free digital version for flexible listening.
  3. This now means that April, the month of my birth, contains three of my most majorly anticipated releases: the new Elvis Costello, the new R.E.M., and the long-awaited (as in ten years) third record from Portishead.

EC is playing the Ryman on April 23. We have great seats, thanks to my wife — one of the best birthday presents ever. It will be my first time to see EC live with a band. (We saw him last year with the Nashville Symphony. Amazing, but I’m looking forward to seeing EC hold a guitar like a badass and hopefully play “Hope You’re Happy Now” or “Man Out of Time” or “Welcome to the Working Week”.)