Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My buddy Jeremy sent me a copy of the new Willie Nelson cd, "Countryman." He asked me to review it and to let him know what I thought about this new venture of Willie's. The following is an email discussion on the topic:

(Eric Wrote):
"On the topic of Willie. I was skeptical about this album and, knowing your musical background (as diverse as it might be), was quite curious of what beauty you found in this marriage of a country boy and his dreadlock dawning counterparts. I was aware of your inclination towards the talents of our island influences, but not that of the 'country' flavor. I tried to keep an open mind, as I know that you and I are a lot alike in our multifarious tastes in music. While my I have never personally purchased a 'country' genre album, I do have a small personal collection of country music (came with the marriage) and I do enjoy a variety of country music from time to time.

My first impression was that this album was very "Jimmy Buffet-esque." And why not, Jimmy has been very successful in keeping his music 'different'. In the first couple of songs, I had a hard time with the twang of the slide-guitar, the bouncy bass in the background, and the oh so familiar off-beat guitar strum played on top. The music is up-beat and happy, as it should be. Yet, despite the 'Don't-worry-be-happy' sound the music portrays, Willie kept with the repressed view of the world and relationships that is so common in lore of country music.

I was pleased with the songs that moved closer in one direction or another (ie, more country or more reggae). Such as, "The harder they come" or "Undo the Right." I guess there is something inside of me that has a hard time accepting with these two very different sounds coming together. One final critique would be the decision to order "I've Just destroyed the World" and "You Left me a long, long time ago" so closely together. As "You Left me..." began to play, I thought my CD was skipping, because these two songs are played in the same key, tempo and rhythm (though, not too uncommon for reggae music).

Overall, I find the album to be entertaining at best, but wouldn't put it on my list of favorite albums or musical experiences. Please don't get me wrong, I have a world of respect for Willie, his music and his accomplishments over his lifetime. I suppose that, as many songs as Willie has written, he probably was getting bored and wanted to explore a different genre. I don't know whether this was his first venture into the world of reggae or not, but I wouldn't call it a failure. It's just not as sweet on my musical palate as some may express.

I can see how this album would be 'fun' for the country music lover. Which brings up the question of whether you've been so heavily influenced by such tastes by living in the 'South' as long as you have? Or has this always been a part of you and I just never saw it?

So, what's next for Willie? Opera? Symphony? A duet with Josh Grobin, or the likes of 'Celtic woman', Máiréad Nesbitt?"

(to which Jeremy replied):
I think Willie's next venture is to smoke pot & play golf, but I'm not sure...

I, like you, am not a huge country music fan, but I have always enjoyed Willie's stuff - he has a great way of styling songs, and can usually carry the weight of the 'sad sack' lyrics better than just about anyone. You are astute in your judgments about the authenticity of the reggae-ness - it is not 100% true-blue reggae by any means (in fact, I couldn't tell if it was reggae or Tejano-based the first few times I listened to it - especially the first 2 songs). The things I like about it most are: 1) Willie is taking some chances. I respect that. 2) Willie manages to stay pretty true to what he does - he doesn't force himself as a singer into any type of reggae-type stylings. He sings the way he always has & lets the reggae influence surround him. 3) It's a fun CD to sing along with.

Don't get me wrong - I don't think this is an artistic masterwork fusing two disparate cultures into a single, cohesive unit of expression (as did Paul Simon's "Graceland"). I am not anticipating that this record will crack my Top-5 list of Willie Nelson's greatest achievements (especially after the release of such gems as "Spirit" and "Teatro"), much less my Top-5 list of favorite records. That said, I like the record a lot - it's fresh, it's fun, it has a beat I can dance to. I give it an 83...


So there you have it... because I know many of you were wondering. ;-)


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Feeling better, but this cough keeps hanging on. Last night was the best sleep I've had in a while. I treated my throat with steam before I went to bed and it afforded me with an entire night sans coughing. I'd used this method a couple of other times when my coughing had awoken me from my slumber. When I used steam, I noticed that I didn't cough again for the remainder of my sleep. So, last night, in my spasmodic wisdom, I sat and steamed my throat in the bathroom, whilst enjoying a maximum strength Menthol cough drop. Then, I treated myself to a dosage of a 12-hour cough suppressant, as well as a nights dosage of Nyquil. At one point during my sleep, I remember my stomach mentioning that the heavy Rx may not have been such a good idea. And, at 11 am this morning, I'm still feeling the affects of the Nyquil, because I sure could use a nap!

That said, I'm still cautious in partaking in any sort of exercise that may tax my respiratory system, for fear of creating a much worse bronchial situation.

I once had a bronchidis that stayed with me for three months during the winter. It sucked! I should have bought stock in cough medication that year. That's when I was a ski instructor and was on the mountain every weekend, so that didn't help. I do sense that the end is in sight.

Good news. I just contacted a gentleman that is initiating a Triathlon Club in the adjacent county. The first meeting is in a couple of weeks, so we'll see if this will be something that I'll be able to get involved with.

Have a great day!


Friday, February 03, 2006

What the Seahawks are good for...

They make good Chicken Wings!!!

Eat 'em up, STEELERS!!!



It was Saturday evening and I feel this itch in my throat. I think nothing of it. I had been out all afternoon washing and polishing my cars. It was a little cool out, but nothing that a sweatshirt couldn't take care of.

Sunday morning, it's there again. No big deal. I go to church and sing all morning (I sing with the worship team... both services). After church, my throat was feeling raw, but I sign it off to irritation from singing.

Sunday night... in the middle of the night... I wake up coughing and by now I'm feeling like crap, with a very sore throat. Sleep was not my friend and going to work was not going to happen.

Monday I laid around and let my body rest. Monday night was a repeat of Sunday night. Again, no sleep.

Tuesday comes and nothing has changed. I stay home, but schedule a doctors appointment to make sure I don't have strep. The good news is that I don't have strep. The bad news is that I have to just ride this thing out.

I made it to work (guilt ridden from already missing two days for a measly cold) Wed., Thurs., and today, but have felt like crap all along. My nights have been filled with tossing and turning, and coughing and hacking. No amount of cough medicine seems to help at all. I woke up last night and turned on the steaming hot water for a while in the bathroom. That worked the best thus far, and provided me with 5 straight hours of sleep. Yay!!

All that being said, I'm quite irked because this has kept me from getting in any sort or workout this week.

I hope everyone else is having a great week!