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Tag: music

I Think My Dog’s a Democrat

Bryan Lewis is pretty sure his dog is a Democrat — certain enough, at least, to write a country song about it.

He premiered “I Think My Dog’s A Democrat” on radio station WTVN, and the YouTube video of the debut has garnered close to a half million views since early March.

Some music for dogs on The Late Show

Hard to tell if they were spellbound by Laurie Anderson’s music or just very well trained, but an audience of six dogs seemed to be listening pretty intently during her performance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Wednesday.

The performance artist has held two concerts for dogs since 2010, an idea she says came about while speaking with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

She performed for thousands of dogs at a festival in Sydney, Australia in 2010. Earlier this year, she threw a similar concert in Times Square.

After being interviewed by Colbert, Anderson performed with a cellist and a percussionist as the dogs watched and listened. (The performance starts at about the 3:30 mark of the video.)

The performance began with “a section of lithe, elegant plucking that moved deftly into dissonance and scraping before coalescing into a rumbling, stirring close,” Rolling Stone reported.

Anderson’s recent film, “Heart of a Dog” — in which she reflects on the deaths of her mother, husband Lou Reed and her dog — is scheduled to debut on HBO April 25th.

Adele? This dog seems to really feel her

Cruelty to animals? You be the judge.

The dog in the video above is listening to Adele’s hit single, “Hello.”

He or she isn’t restrained, so we won’t say he or she is being forced to listen to the song. He or she appears free to leave the room, just as we are free to turn off the radio, or the Adele television ad, or the Adele TV show appearance.

Adele is not inescapable, though it sometimes seems that way.

A woman named Jillian Caspers posted the video of she and her dog sharing some Adele time — though it has been removed from some media outlets after complaints of copyright infringement by SME Entertainment Group.

(Don’t be surprised if it disappears from here as well. It’s not that Adele and her representatives are worried about us drowning in her music — a distinct possibility — they just want to make sure they get paid for it.)

We reproduce the video here not to step on Adele’s toes, but for a scholarly examination of the dog’s reaction to this particular song, which is also known to result in serious and heartfelt pangs of emotion in humans.

But is that what the dog is experiencing? Or is it just hurting his or her ears? Note how he or she howls most loudly during the high-pitched chorus.

It’s always a mistake to pretend we understand what a dog is feeling. And while conjecture about it is not necessarily a bad thing — it shows some sensitivity on our part — it often fails to get us anywhere as well.

And yet we can’t help but wonder.

Is the dog’s wailing a result of Adele’s vocal style hurting his or her ears? Or is he or she moved by the song’s oh-so-drippy emotion? We don’t think he or she is picking up on any sadness from the owner, as she is laughing her head off about it all.

It’s doubtful, too, that the dog is understanding the insipid lyrics.

The truth is — and it rips our heart in two to say this — we will never know.

Are the plaintive and nostalgic tones of Adele’s voice enough to send the dog on an emotional roller coaster ride. Is the dog having the equivalent of what we humans would call “a good cry.”

Or are the whines simply his or her way of saying, “Please spare me from another second of this.”

(All profits from this blog post will be sent to SME Entertainment Group)

Leave it to Bieber: Pop star urges adoptions

PETA, knowing better than most how much cute and fuzzy things appeal to the public, has tapped Justin Bieber to start in his second public service announcement for the organization.

Justin sings the praises of adopting pets in a PSA whose tagline is, “Animals Can Make U Smile. Adopt From Your Local Shelter.”

According to PETA, Bieber wants his fans to know that buying a dog or a cat from a pet store or a breeder takes a home away from a shelter animal,  3 to 4 million of which end up euthanized in America each year. Buying a dog, PETA says, supports puppy mills, operations in which dogs are raised in cramped, crude, and filthy conditions.

While preparing for the release of his debut album, My World, Bieber devoted some time to talk to peta2 about compassion for animals — something he says his dog Sam helped instill in him. “We moved to a city where we didn’t really know anybody, so I kinda wanted a friend around. And Sam was kinda like that friend.”

Bieber appears not with Sam, but with a dog named Bijoux in the newest PETA spot.

“It’s really important that people adopt,” Bieber says. “I really encourage going out to an animal shelter or a place where you can get a dog that has been abandoned or doesn’t have a home.”

You can learn more about Justin Bieber and his public service announcement at peta2.com

Heavy meddle: Creed works as wolf repellant

A 13-year-old boy in Norway credits the Creed song “Overcome,” cranked up to full volume, with saving him from a pack of wolves.

Walter Eikrem was walking home from a school bus stop in Rakkestdad, listening to the band through his headphones, when he noticed four wolves lurking nearby on a hillside, not far from his family’s farmhouse.

According to Spiegel Online, the boy heeded advice his mother had given him and didn’t start running.  “The worst thing you can do is run away because doing so just invites the wolves to chase you down,” he said, “… but I was so afraid that I couldn’t even run away if I’d wanted to.”

Instead, he unplugged the headphones from his mobile phone, and turned the volume up. Between the heavy metal, and Walter shouting and flailing his arms, it was enough to drive the wolves off.

“They just turned around and simply trotted away,” Walter said.

(Photos by Rune Blekken / TV 2)

Standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona

We started off on Carefree Highway,  got some kicks on Route 66, spent some time standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, and ended up at  a Motel 6 in Albuquerque.

That last one isn’t a song, though the price of a room was — only $29.99.

Day one of the trip back home — which will be slightly more rushed than our earlier travels — saw us cover 450 miles, even with repeated pee and sniff stops, as recommended by the animal communicator Ace recently spoke with.

We took time, too, to exit Interstate 40 and roll through Winslow on Route  66, stopping on a street corner of our own choosing to relive a line from the classic Eagles song, “Take it Easy.”

When no “girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford” came by, we moved on to Winslow’s officially designated place to stand on the corner, where a mural of a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, is provided.

“Standin’ on the Corner Park, opened in 1999, and it also features a statue that some people think is Jackson Browne, but it’s not. Glenn Frey is credited with co-writing the song, which was released by the Eagles in 1972.

The town makes much of its mention in the second verse of “Take It Easy” — then again you grab at what fame you can when you’ve been bypassed by the Interstate.

Until the 1960’s, Winslow was the largest town in northern Arizona. But, like Tucumcari, New Mexico, and other towns, the prominence they  enjoyed by virtue of their location on Route 66 faded when Interstate 40 bypassed the community in the late 1970’s. Tourism suffered and some downtown business closed their doors. “For the next twenty years, downtown Winslow was frozen in time,” the park website says.

The park was part of a downtown restoration effort that included the reopening of the historic La Posado Hotel. That effort required some re-restoration after a fire damaged the corner. Statue and mural are back in place now.

The statue, despite what some on the Internet claim, is not that of Jackson Browne. According to the official website of Standin’ on the Corner Park, it’s a generic “1970’s man,” wearing jeans, with a guitar resting on the toe of his boot.

While the song brought Brown, the Eagles and Winslow some much-wanted notoriety, the corner referred to in the song was actually in Flagstaff. But Winslow sounded better. (That leads me to question whether seven women were actually on Browne’s mind, or if maybe it was just three, and seven sounded better.)

Browne was still working on the song when Frey, his friend and neighbor, heard it. Browne had written the opening part of the second verse, then ran into writer’s block.

Here’s how Frey explained the collaboration in the liner notes to the 2003 album, The Very Best of the Eagles:

“I told him that I really liked it. ‘What was that, man? What a cool tune that is.’ He started playing it for me and said, ‘Yeah, but I don’t know — I’m stuck.’ So he played the second unfinished verse and I said, ‘It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.’ That was my contribution to ‘Take It Easy,’ really, just finishing the second verse. Jackson was so thrilled. He said, ‘Okay! We cowrote this.’ But it’s certainly more of him.”

The real corner that the song was about was next to the “Dog Haus,” a hot dog drive-thru on Route 66 and Switzer Canyon in Flagstaff.

Ace probably would have preferred that corner, given it has food, but he settled for two stops in Winslow before we pressed on and stopped for the night in Albuquerque. On Wednesday we pushed on to Oklahoma City, hoping to stay ahead of a winter storm that, along with some appointments we have back east, is preventing us from fully taking it easy.

But we promise this much: We won’t let the sound of our own wheels drive us crazy.

Carefree Highway — the song, the road

The trailer in Arizona where Ace and I are spending December is just a mile from Carefree Highway. Maybe two miles. Possibly three. It doesn’t matter. 

“Carefree Highway” is also a Gordon Lightfoot song — one, it seems to me, that’s more about the dangers of being carefree than the joy of being carefree, about how, if we’re too carefree, some important things might slip away. It happens to be one of my four, maybe five, possibly ten or 15 — let’s not sweat the details too much — favorite songs.

I’m a fan of the song, the highway, and Carefree itself, though the town — as with being truly carefree — is a place you can dwell only if you have a lot of money.

Being truly carefree, I realize — though the word is commonly used to market retirement communities, vacation packages and cemetery plots — requires great gobs of money and tuning out all that’s going on in the world, as in “I spend winters in Carefree and the rest of the year in the state of Blissful Ignorance.”

I’m not sure carefree — the state of mind — is a destination I want to reach, but it’s something to strive for.

I’d imagine being truly carefree is pretty close to boring. Yet, in seeking carefree, by losing some of the unnecessary baggage that’s making us go bald and get ulcers, we can perhaps find ourselves in a place where we’re not so burdened as to be unable to enjoy all the wonder and beauty life has to offer.

Did that last paragraph sound like a self-help book, or what?

Anyway, Carefree Highway is where I go for groceries (Shopping list? Who needs a list?), and where I got my hair trimmed (“However you want to cut it is just fine”), and where, when I walked into the Home Depot and was asked by an official greeter if I needed help finding anything, I went blank. (“To tell you the truth, I don’t remember what I came in for. I’ll just walk around until it comes back to me.”)

Perhaps it’s the power of suggestion, or the fact that the desert soothes me, but when, or after, driving down Carefree Highway, I tend to feel that way — at peace, worry-free and prone to not letting anything bother me.

Even with all my inner peace (and no, I’m not on the Prozac Expressway), one thing did get to nagging me: Was the Gordon Lightfoot song written about the actual 30-mile-long road that stretches east from U.S. Route 60, south of Wickenburg, to the town of Carefree? Or was it just a name the Canadian artist dreamed up?

I decided we all needed to know the answer to this question: Which came first the road or the song, and was there any connection between the two? Not knowing the answer was prohibiting me from being carefree. So I turned to where we all turn nowadays for answers: No, not God. The Internet.

Lightfoot’s song was released in 1974 — 10 years before the town of Carefree officially incorporated — but the area was already being called Carefree, and had been since not long after local entrepreneurs K.T. Palmer and Tom Darlington formed a partnership and acquired the land for the town they foresaw in the 1950s.

Carefree Highway, also known as State Route 74, was already being called that, as well — pre-Lightfoot.

According to Wikipedia, the song “Carefree Highway” is about the highway in Arizona, and Lightfoot wrote it after passing the exit sign for it on Interstate 17. Some other accounts say he wrote the song in a rental car, while others suggest he just wrote down the name of the road, thinking it would make a good song title. Some say he put his note in a glove compartment and almost forgot about it, but Lightfoot told Crawdaddy magazine that he put it in his suitcase and found it eight months later.

The Internet can be pretty carefree when it comes to facts.

The closest thing we could find to first-hand information was a Carefree Times blog item written by Nancy Westmoreland, who says she asked Lightfoot the question after a performance.

“The story goes that he was on the band’s bus, traveling for an engagement at the Gammage Auditorium, when he saw the large marquee freeway sign along Interstate 17.  He actually had the bus driver pull over so he could get out and snap a close-up photo of the huge off-ramp sign.  When he arrived home, he had the picture blown up and placed on his living room wall.  He wrote the song while on the bus, and it became one of his biggest hits, exposing millions around the world to the Carefree Highway.”

That’s a lot of exposure for a town, according to the town’s website, of about 4,000 people.

Carefree, which adjoins Cave Creek, the town I’m staying in, is a highly upscale community. As if  to live up to its name, it does not assess a property tax. It seems to not get too uppity, either, when it comes to people slapping mansions onto the side of mountains. Its street names bespeak mellow as well. There’s Easy Street, Tranquil Trail, Nonchalant Avenue and Nevermind Trail. One can even find the intersection of Ho and Hum, which then branches into Ho-Hum Road.

There is no Don’t Get Your Knickers in a Knot Boulevard, no Don’t Worry Be Happy Drive, but give Carefree time. It has lots of growth ahead, and — once our worries about the economy are over — there’ll likely be lots of new streets to name. I’d suggest Lightfoot, for then — in addition to the name having a nice, tread softly, tree-hugging feel to it — things would have come in a full and harmonious circle.

For, as it turns out, Carefree Highway, the road, was the inspiration for “Carefree Highway,” the song. 

I know this not because I could read his mind, but because, after navigating the misinformation superhighway, I finally stumbled upon this — a video of Lightfoot performing two years ago in Hanford, California. “Here’s one that got written while I was driving from Flagstaff to Phoenix and I saw a sign that said Carefree,” he says in introducing the song.

At 71, Lightfoot’s voice is not quite as rich and mellifluous as it once was, but — given both he and the song are classics — that doesn’t matter. In other words:

I don’t care.