Freedom Rock

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J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 24, 2007; 2:00 PM

Washington Post music critic J. Freedom du Lac is online every Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET to talk about the latest on the music scene: alternative, country, alt-country, pop, hyphy, harp-rock, reggae, reggaeton, R and B and whatever it is that the Polyphonic Spree does.

The transcript follows.

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washingtonpost.com: Prince, From Purple to Green

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J. Freedom du Lac: Let's hear it again for our opening act: Bret Michaels!!

How many of you are going to Nissan this weekend to hear the Poison dudes do "SexyBack?" (Yeah, me neither.)

So, what's up?

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Glover Park, Washington, D.C.: J. Free --

Prince. Have never thought he is all that special. He's an okay pop artist, but definitely not an "artiste."

J. Freedom du Lac: And I'm sure you also think that the sky is green! (Also: Bob Dylan, hack! James Jamerson, slightly above-average bass guitarist! Aretha: An okay singer, but nothing special!) But hey, that's cool if you're not into Prince. Just means more room at the concerts for the rest of us.

The man is a musical genius. This is not an opinion. It's fact.

Here, by the way, are some highlights from "The Rolling Stone Album Guide's" take on the "okay pop artist" that the rest of us know as Prince: "As a songwriter...he ranks with Lennon and McCartney, Bob Dylan, and Smokey Robinson; as a guitarist, with Hendrix and Steve Cropper. He was the most influential record producer and arranger of the '80s and the most influential creative speller in all of pop... No artist has swung as fluently from style to style...and only JB has put on more incendiary live shows. And if Prince had done nothing but stand stock still onstage and sung other people's material, he'd have locked up his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; in the last three decades, popular music has produced few finer singers."

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Crofton, Md.: Uh oh! Jon Bon Jovi is suing a drinkmaker (Mijovi) for kinda sorta stealing his name!

You'd better hope he doesn't discover the archives of this chat.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, well -- unlike Mijovi (or Non Jovi [or Naan Jovi, etc.]), we're not actually selling anything here. And yes, you get what you pay for. Besides, Jon Bon Jovi is friendly with This Very Web Site. He once hosted a VERY successful Live Online chat here.

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Crofton, Md.: I'm a huge John Mayer fan, but am looking for someone new, maybe edgier to listen to. Any ideas?

J. Freedom du Lac: Pretty much anybody is edgier than John Mayer, no? He's a truly fine guitarist but there's not much edge to his music, at least in recorded form. His live shows on the tour that stops tomorrow at the [Insert Telcom Company Name Here] Center are supposed to be very good.

If you're into guitar slingers and can stand a bit of twang, you might investigate Keith Urban. Been thinking and talking about him a lot lately and have come to the conclusion that he occupies a very unique and sorta special place in pop music's country wing.

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New Haven, Conn.: A news report on pitchfork said indie label Sympathy for the Record Industry is for sale for $650k. Fair offer? Would you buy? Any thoughts on this being yet another harbinger of bad things for "traditional" music distribution?

J. Freedom du Lac: If I'm investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2007, I'm not investing that cash in a record label. Sort of reminds me of that popular in and around the Napa Valley: How do you make a small fortune in the wine business? You start with a large one!

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Prince is sick: He even managed to rock a Super Bowl half time show. Please, people. Were you paying attention when he was playing?

J. Freedom du Lac: That was such a great performance. An all-timer. They should retire the halftime show because there will never be a better one.

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New feature: I love that you can listen to songs directly from the webpage!!! It's awesome!

J. Freedom du Lac: We At The Washington Post love that you love the new feature. It warms Producer David's heart.

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Prince Sminsh: Okay, ignoring the fact that the initial poster is trying to justify his dislike by claiming Prince is only "okay", doesn't everyone have somebody that they just don't get? Like the opposite of a guilty pleasure.

I'd say mine is Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys.

J. Freedom du Lac: If we ever get around to starting a music blog (and we will -- sooner than later), we just might have to do a semi-regular feature called Please Explain to Me. In which fans of [artist name here] explain the appeal and supposed greatness of (un)said artist. Brian Wilson wouldn't be a candidate, though, because We At The Washington Post very much get the genius there.

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Bizarro Crofton: I'm a huge fan of Insane Clown Posse but am looking for something a little more mainstream.

J. Freedom du Lac: GWAR.

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Zevon: Free,

Posted too late last week but for anybody wanting a good read, the new book on Warren Zevon is out and is a very quick read. What an interesting, talented, disturbing guy.

J. Freedom du Lac: Haven't read the book, but yes indeed on your assessment of Zevon. Such a singular artist, with a wickedly sharp (and dark) sense of humor. So weird to think that he and Jackson Browne were good pals -- and, at one point, collaborators.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I give it up for Keith Urban as well.

He is like what Garth Brooks was trying to be. A mainstream rockin' country act.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sort of. I think Urban's creative vision is much more expansive than Garth's, though. He's a more interesting musician, too.

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Knoxville, Tenn.: FYI: I'm just going to lurk today. I won't be submitting a question.

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks for the update.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey J.Free,

It looks like the Post was not planning to review the somewhat revamped Drive-By Truckers from Friday, which is too bad, I wanted to know what a "professional" thought. I know it was intended to be a different, more acoustic variation, but this was the first time I'd seen them without Jason Isbell and I have to conclude, they're somewhat diminished without him.

They still tore it up and it's not like I went away disappointed. But I think they're still trying to figure some things out while Jason-less. What do you think?

J. Freedom du Lac: It's true -- we reviewed Jason Isbell's show the night before but skipped the DBT gig. We'll revist them the next time they tour behind some new music. And interestingly enough, I'm listening to some new DBT tuneage as we type: They backed the great Bettye LaVette on her new album, "The Scene of the Crime," which comes out on Sept. 25. Mark your calendar, cuz this one's absolutely worth getting.

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Boston, Mass.: I'm listening to Brandi Carlile's new album, which after about a dozen spins I might like more than her first. Jury's still out.

But I wanted to ask what your thoughts are on Ray Lamontagne. I discovered Brandi when she opened for him about a year and a half ago at Berklee. (Plus I feel like the two of them both have some love for Steven Stills. But maybe that's just me...) Good, but not as good as when I saw him in his hometown of Portland. Blew me away. I love his first record, and I really like the second, but not as much. What's your take?

J. Freedom du Lac: You know, I've heard from more than a few credible friends (as opposed to my friends who like Coldplay, etc.) that there's a lot to like about Ray Lamontagne. My first real exposure to him was the second album, which I found sort of snoozy. But I'm going to have to revisit, I think.

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My Own Personal "Please Explain": Let me first say, the very nature of a Please Explain is that you don't get someone who is generally revered by most as genius.

So, I just don't get the big hoopla over the Beatles. I know, I know. But they sound like little sweet ditties to me, not genius songs. So there.

J. Freedom du Lac: So you're saying that a Please Explain on, say, Insane Clown Posse wouldn't work? I'm told, actually, that the whole point of a Please Explain blog post is to incite a riot in the comments section.

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Philly: Prince is greatness, indisputable (and I don't own anything he's put out, but I know talent).

Any thoughts on Vampire Weekend? They're getting a lot of buzz, kind of catchy.

Edgier John Mayer = Ryan Adams

J. Freedom du Lac: Very good call on Ryan Adams. We At The Washington Post were just talking about him today (we being Friend of Freedom Rock Tom Ricks and yours truly). He might be worth watching closely again now that he's cleaned up and become more focused. The new album is certainly among his better efforts in a while. And now, just because you've inspired me, I'm going to put on the mix CD that Tom cooked up. Song #2: Ryan's "Burning Photographs."

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RE: ICP/Please Explain: Insane Clown Posse is great because their product is always clearly marked with their own distinctive branding, so you know it's really easy to avoid. Not all crappy artists are so courteous.

J. Freedom du Lac: This is brilliant! See, we really should launch a music blog. Maybe next week? What do you say, Producer David?

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Leesburg, Va.: In honor of Bret Michaels chatting it up earlier, could you tell us what some of your favorite hair metal bands are.

J. Freedom du Lac: Whatever happened to be playing at the Seventh Veil on Sunset. The year was 1989. The music was lousy. The college was in the armpit of Los Angeles. We were young and dumb and full of, um, beer. So there you go.

I believe LA Guns, Faster Pussycat and Poison were the kings of Hollywood hair metal at the time. Them and the Crue. Guns N Roses were heard pretty frequently, too, though they were sort of a genre unto themselves.

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Please Explain: Dave Matthews Band. I think it's a misdemeanor in Virginia to badmouth those guys.

J. Freedom du Lac: A leading candidate, for sure. We'll put it on the list.

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You think I'm kidding..: Is Danity Kane going to release another album?

J. Freedom du Lac: Please explain why you care.

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Odenton, Md.: Thanks for the heads up on the Ryan Shaw show at Artscape. His voice sounded great but the overall show was a little disappointing. He did a lot of talking, he walked off the stage twice in a one hour show for a guitar solo and later a bass solo. Also, his band was only drums, bass and guitar. No horns or organ. Lastly, he failed at trying to get a sing along going with the crowd on "If I had a Hammer". I am not kidding. Peter, Paul and Mary, sure. Ryan Shaw, no.

J. Freedom du Lac: Really? "If I Had a Hammer"? Ryan Shaw? Really? That's a head-scratcher. Sounds like it wasn't the greatest showing for Ryan. When I saw him in Philly, he was working with that same stripped-down band but I really only missed the backup singers. Organ fills and horns would have been nice but they weren't really needed to flesh out the sound, I thought. Ryan said he'd prefer to tour with a full band, of course, but he doesn't have the money. In fact, because the album isn't exactly flying off the shelves, he was talking about doing some club dates back home in New York. Not club dates where he does his own stuff; club dates (and private parties and weddings) where he performs covers. Good money, I guess.

washingtonpost.com: A Singer's Hardy Old Soul; Ryan Shaw Is Just 26, but His R&B Vocals Are Aged to Perfection

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Jacksonville, Fla.: Yo J Freedom, you got any good sneak peeks at upcoming hip-hop songs that will be good? This feels like a thoroughly mediocre summer for hip-hop summer anthems so I can only hope the late summer/early fall is an improvement.

J. Freedom du Lac: The Common album. Pretty much all of it.

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Virgin Fest: J.Free -- Can you or any chatters offer advice to this Virgin Fest, uh, virgin? What's Pimlico like for a festival? Do people bring blankets and hang comfortably all day or it is standing smooshed together all day? Is there shelter from the sun to be found in the grandstand? (And if so, should we get there super early to get it?) About how late will it go each night? Any details or advice would be appreciated.

J. Freedom du Lac: You can definitely bring a blanket and find a plot of land on the grass. But you won't be able to do it close to the stages. Too many people trying to get close to the front.

There was plenty of shelter last year-- in the dance tent, in the freakness side-show area, at the Virgin CD store and so forth. The shaded grandstands are available to you, too, though they're not set up for prime viewing. More just a place to cool your jets. Music is scheduled to run from noon to 10p on both days. Seth and Co. haven't released an official schedule yet, but I do know that the Police are scheduled to perform for at least 90 minutes. It'll be a full set. Party on.

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Bethesda, Md.: Whoa--did you just kindasorta diss Jackson Browne in your Zevon response? I'd describe him as wickedly sharp, with a dark sense of humor. Did you mean to say James Taylor? Because Jackson Browne wrote some great, dark, interesting pop songs. What about "Late for the Sky," for Pete's sake?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, true. All of it. I'm just saying that vis-a-vis Warren Zevon, Jackson seems kinda like white bread. Zevon was on another plane.

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Washington, D.C.: Prince's guitar solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tribute to George Harrison was ridiculous. He left some amazing artists (such as Tom Petty, et al) looking amateur in comparison.

J. Freedom du Lac: Prince, the master of many, many domains. He sure can play.

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Norfolk, Va.: ON PRINCE--ON that Joni Mitchell tribute which was kind of weak he did a gorgeous "I could drink a case of you"--made me rethink him a bit

J. Freedom du Lac: More Prince love.

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Alexandria, Va.: Prince is ahead of the curve. First a CD for attending a concert, now a CD for buying a newspaper. With CD sales dropping each year, don't you think other artists who make most of their money from concerts anyway will just get paid for their new music however they can? Can't you see companies willing to pay a lot for the association? Buy a Coke, get a free Stones CD!

J. Freedom du Lac: He really is a smart cookie. He was selling music online well before that was The Thing To Do.

The giveaway idea would only work for some artists. I can't see the inclusion of, say, an Au Revoir Simone CD in the Sunday Wash Post really getting too many people excited.

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Beatles Hoop, LA: I don't get all the hoopla over the Beatles either! I recognize why they're so revered and acclaimed, but they just don't do it for me. That said, I would never say that they're "just okay." That would just make me a tool. Like the Prince-hater. Burn!

J. Freedom du Lac: More Beatles hate.

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Edgier than John Mayer: How about Ben Harper or Rocco Deluca? Somewhat edgier, a bit bluesier (except "Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating" which is a ton bluesier), both guitar-intensive. And with Harper, you get some politics thrown in for free.

J. Freedom du Lac: More ideas for the John Mayer fan.

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Boston, Mass.: My friend just offered me and my boyfriend tickets to Sunday night's Police show at Fenway. Discount for good seats. His friend wants him to go to Rock the Bells on Randall's Island. BF digs the Police. Wants to see Rage. How do I win this one?

J. Freedom du Lac: Where's Carolyn Hax when we really need her? The Wu-Tang Clan should make for a nice tiebreaker, no? Hate the Wu and go see the Police. Love 'em and go see Rage. I'd personally prefer to see Rage myself. I think they're the more vital live act these days.

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Oxford, Miss.: Hey, whoa! Wait a minute. I actually wrote that first post, word-for-word and sent it before I went to lunch, but you attributed it to Crofton. Crofton also wrote the next post. Either you've got some chat software glitch or Crofton and I are having a mind meld. Either way, something ain't right. I want credit and maybe an MRI.

J. Freedom du Lac: Creative license. We thought the post sounded better coming from Crofton.

Actually, it was a little oopsie on our part. I'd originally typed an answer to your post that didn't clear the network censors. So we had to take another shot at it, and in the process of recreating your post, we made a boo-boo. So, consider this the Corrections box.

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I second DMB: Yuck, seriously... YUCK.

J. Freedom du Lac: More Dave Matthews hate.

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Boyds, Md.: Hiya

I have a 9 year old son and want to take him to a show. He's been driving me batty singing "This is why I'm Hot, This is why I'm Hot, etcetera" And he's been playing some dreck from some guy named Drake Bell......Any suggestions?

Oh, and Prince is as brilliant as they come, I would even put him up there with Stevie Wonder.

J. Freedom du Lac: I suppose the upcoming AJ and Aly show is out of the question? You might actually consider Beyonce. Pure spectacle.

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St. Peters, Pa.: The Rolling Stones. Yeah, I know they're great and everything but they just sound like every other jukebox band to me.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's because the jukebox bands are always trying to copy the Stones. Duh.

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The Clash: Wrote about phony Beatlemania

J. Freedom du Lac: More Clash love.

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I'd personally prefer to see Rage myself. I think they're the more vital live act these days. : but which is she likely to ever have a chance to see again? I'd prob take the police tix simply because I prob wouldn't see another Police reunion in my lifetime.

J. Freedom du Lac: True, though the Police are doing a LOT more shows than Rage this year, so you'll have more chances to see them.

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Washington, D.C.: For all the Beatle-haters, I have but one word: Revolver. Go listen, now. You will hear the music from which almost every subgenre of pop over the last 40 years has emerged. That is all.

J. Freedom du Lac: More Beatles love. (Save some of this stuff for our blog, people. We'll be lonely without you.)

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Liverpool: The Beatles?!?!?!?! The Beatles?!?!?!?!? Please have that person turn in his/her membership card for the Freedom Rock Listener's Club, 'cause, man, if you don't get the Beatles, you'll never get it. (with apologies to the sloganeers at the Post).

J. Freedom du Lac: More warming up for our blog.

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Wawa: Edgier than John Mayer = Lucinda Williams. I bet she could beat him up too!

J. Freedom du Lac: I dunno - Mayer can be kind of feisty. Miranda Lambert could smack 'em all around, though. And she also released the year's best album. So why not her?

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Arlington, Va.: Speaking of upcoming hip-hop albums, what is the buzz on Cornel West's CD project?

I would assume, since he showed up on this very website, that You At the Washington Post would get an advance copy.

J. Freedom du Lac: Not much buzz, really. I've had the album on the desk for a couple-few weeks but haven't been able to get myself to listen to it. It's like a homework assignment that I'm trying to avoid. Whereas the new Bettye LaVette and the new Common and the new Kenna and those old Elizabeth Cook albums that I ordered -- listening to those albums is like going out to play.

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More for the Please Explain file: Jam bands in general - anyone from the Dead to Phish to DMB to TVOTR when they get all twiddly. Am I missing some sort of genetic component that allows me to get it, or did I just not partake in enough recreational pharmaceuticals in college?

J. Freedom du Lac: You need more Humboldt County Rice Krispy (TM) Treats in your life. That and kind veggie burritos with extra mushrooms.

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More warming up for our blog. : eight exclamation points!

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes!!!!!! (Sorry, I ran out of steam before reaching the mark.)

Thinking we should call it "Open Tunings." You?

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Edgier than John Mayer: Dwight Yoakam. Lyle Lovett. BR-549. The Derailers. The mavericks. Chris Isaak.

J. Freedom du Lac: Chris Isaak, edgy?

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Edgier than John Mayer: Niko Case.

wow

J. Freedom du Lac: Neko Case, too.

Am I wrong for liking Jenny Lewis more than Neko Case?

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Washington, D.C.: A bit of John Mayer bashing, which I support, but let us remember his guest starring role on the Dave Chappelle show where he sang the theme to Diffren't Strokes.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm not bashing him. Just calling him kinda dull. My opinion will change completely, though, if he covers a Jessica Simpson song in concert tomorrow.

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Cramped Cubicle: Music blog -- YES! I need more venues in which to spew my narrow, fervently held opinions, "Mommy Wars" and "Getting There" were getting too confining.

J. Freedom du Lac: We're here for you. Or will be. Or might be.

Open Tunings: Our doors are always open, even if our minds are NOT. (Take that, Maroon 5!)

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Washington, D.C.: Blog name idea: Listening Post?

J. Freedom du Lac: TM.

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Columbia, Md.: Band i never got: Good Charlotte. All my friends and i thought the band was total crap and along came this Post article that attempted to convince us otherwise. And yet i still did not get the fascination with this crap rock band.

J. Freedom du Lac: OK, now THAT is funny. Thanks for the giggle.

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Falls Church, Va.: re: Edgier than John Mayer

Steve Earle (aka Mr. Miranda Lambert)

J. Freedom du Lac: Hell, Steve Earle is edgier than just about anybody. Made some decent money, too, I think off that co-writing credit on Miranda's "Kerosene." He got himself a new swimming pool without lifting a finger (except to sign some legal documents).

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Open Tunings!?: Terrible name. How about "Power Chords" or "Rock Your Blogs Off" or "Abbananaramadonnasummer!"

J. Freedom du Lac: How about "Your Band Is Terrible"? Or: "You Aren't On The List"? Or: "+1"?

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Blog names: Don't do "Open Tunings." It sounds like an easy listening blog. Actually it sounds like that show on NPR with all the space music. What's that called? Earth Fart or something.

J. Freedom du Lac: More "Open Tunings" hate.

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TVOTR??: I didn't get that one.

J. Freedom du Lac: You don't get the reference? (TV on the Radio.) Or the band? (Can't help you there.)

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John Mayer: I saw him like 5 years ago in this tiny club in Northampton, MA. He did a raging cover of GnR's Patience. Acoustic. Gotta give him some love.

J. Freedom du Lac: John Mayer love.

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Edgier than John Mayer: Oscar Mayer

J. Freedom du Lac: John Mayer joke.

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Bethesda, Md.: For me, it's Springsteen. Sorry, I just don't get it. I can only stomach a couple of his songs.

But this is a two-parter -- I could more easily be convinced of his value as a songwriter than as a singer. (Same goes for Dylan, who is, IMHO, a worse singer but a much better writer.)

J. Freedom du Lac: Springsteen hate.

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London Calling: Yeah, but the Clash noted that Phony Beatlemania had bitten the dust -- which would seem to indicate that the poseurs were purged, not that a true appreciation for the Beatles was a bad thing....

Man, what's the world turning to when people try to (mis)quote scripture to slam the fab Four?

J. Freedom du Lac: Clash clarification.

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Tampa, Fla.: Blog title:

None More Black

J. Freedom du Lac: Hmmm...

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Atlanta, Ga.: There are a lot of open tunings used on Windham Hill Records.

J. Freedom du Lac: More Chris Richards references.

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Chris Isaak, edgy? : yeah, his singing is soft, but there's always the edge of a maniacal tone to it? There's a funky retro feel to it, edging towards the bad boy rat pack lougey side of things. Definitely his own style, no one else like him.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm not hearing it, but I'll trust you on this one. I mean, any guy who dates Margaret Cho has to have SOME edge, right?

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Aren't on the list: If the point is to generate lots of angry comments, I suggest titling the blog "Late Night Shots"

J. Freedom du Lac: Are you trying to get us sued? I'm thinking "Japanese B-Side" might work.

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Springfield, Va.: Steve Earle isn't Mr Miranda Lambert. He's currently Mr. Allison Moorer, but that could change at any minute, since he's been married about seven times. And Allison Moorer can sing rings around Miranda Lambert.

J. Freedom du Lac: And Miranda Lambert can write rings around Allison Moorer. But Earle could totally take Miranda's BF, Blake Shelton.

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Band I don't get: Tool.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's sort of a Freedom Rock FAQ, no?

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river city: gotta agree "open tunings' sounds like that funny spoof of NPR on SNL.

It's gotta be raw

J. Freedom du Lac: Which funny spoof of NPR on SNL? The one in which Alec Baldwin plays Pete Schweddy, purveyor of Schweddy's Christmas Balls?

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Blog na, ME: The Beat Goes Down

J. Freedom du Lac: Sounds like a porn. Sorry.

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Anonymous: Blog name--Thanks For the Giggle.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sounds like a children's toy.

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Speaking of Tool: Can we have code words on the blog? So like the word Tool can never be written but if the band has to be referenced we can call it "Arizona Bay".

J. Freedom du Lac: Sounds like a plan.

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Blog Title: Tool Time!

Arizona Bay is...never mind.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sounds like Pamela Anderson's character on "Home Improvement."

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Blog Title: Why they hate our Freedom

J. Freedom du Lac: Sounds like a Toby Keith song.

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More blog name suggestions: Freedom's just another four thousand words...

J. Freedom du Lac: Sounds -- actually, that sounds pretty good. (Except that it would hurt Producer David's feelings.)

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Amy Winehouse: No question or comment here, but the discussion just didn't seem complete without someone mentioning her name.

J. Freedom du Lac: You complete me.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by folks. See you next week, unless I don't. I hope you're as excited about our new blog as we are. Not that we actually have a blog. But I guess we should, eh?

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how about: FREE DON"T LIKE IT (clash reference)

J. Freedom du Lac: Coda. (More Producer David hate.)

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Blog Name: Come on - JON BLOG JOVI!!!

J. Freedom du Lac: OK, one more. Because this is completely awesome.

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