Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 4, 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 Britney Spears does.

The transcript follows:


J. Freedom du Lac: Greetings, chatters. Sorry about last week; Phil Spector was monitoring my brainwaves, and I just had to check out.

I'm here now, listening to John C. Reilly's very, very well done "Dewey Cox" soundtrack, "Walk Hard." You know, the guy can actually sing. And they lined up some pretty fine songwriters for the project. Marshall Crenshaw has the title track. Dan Bern is in the mix. Ditto Mike Viola (same guy who sang lead on "That Thing You Do"). There's even a bit of Van Dyke Parks, on the shifty psychedelic pseudo-Beach Boys song, "Black Sheep." Can't wait to see the movie.

Let's do this.


Washington, D.C.: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as the Super Bowl halftime show? Better than Prince, but the rumors about Springsteen had gotten my hopes up, so I'm a little disappointed.

J. Freedom du Lac: I've no problem with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as the pick. Love 'em.

Now, there's no way they can come close to matching Prince. And I do think that Springsteen and Co. would have been superior. But ... no grousing here.

Regarding Springsteen, this is pure speculation based on no reported facts whatsoever (I mean, I don't even know if Bruce was actually in play) ... but could it be that the NFL and Fox were concerned about Springsteen singing a song with some sort of a negative message about the war in Iraq? Seems like that could have been an issue.

The other heavily rumored candidates, by the way, were the Eagles and Garth Brooks.

Did anybody catch that "60 Minutes" interview with the former? Don Henley is as prickly as ever. His body language as Glenn Frey spoke was priceless.

As for Garth, he was supposed to be in DC today, giving some stuff to the Smithsonian. I skipped it. Too busy listening to my colleague Rachel Beckman discuss her love affair with Mariah Carey's Christmas song on Ryan Seacrest's radio show. Rachel's great, but I wonder about her taste in music. We're thinking about publishing a correction to Rachel's Sunday column, in which she basically declared "All I Want For Christmas Is You" the greatest holiday song in the history of the universe. (Not surprisingly, Chris Richards seconded her nomination.)


Anonymous: Hey, whatever happened to your Springsteen blog?

J. Freedom du Lac: Brian Wilson bought us out.


Last King of ... Hollywood?: What's up with you writing about movies?

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, you know, James McAvoy *was* rumored to be the front-runner to star in the upcoming Kurt Cobain biopic based on the Charles Cross book. (Alas, it ain't gonna happen.) And, err, umm -- we did talk about Scottish bands at one point during the interview!

But yeah, I was cheating on you. You caught me. How about an open relationship? I'd like to date other coverage areas on occasion if it's okay by you.


McAvoy fan: Nice profile of James McAvoy in todays paper.

I've seen him in several films and he is quite charismatic on the screen. However, I'm sort of curious about one thing that wasn't discussed in your piece. Given that you cover pop music, how come you didn't elicit from him his interest in music?

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks. We did talk about music some, but it wasn't really relevant to the piece. And not interesting enough to make for a blog post, I thought. But if you really must know: He likes the Fratellis, sorta likes KT Tunstall and will think you're cool if you name-check older Scot-rock acts like Jesus and Mary Chain and the Cocteau Twins.


Anonymous:"I'm here now, listening to John C. Reilly's very, very well done 'Dewey Cox' soundtrack, 'Walk Hard.' You know, the guy can actually sing."

Dude, we already knew that -- hello, "Chicago"? "Mr. Cellophane"?

(Kidding -- please tell us more about the soundtrack. Styles of music (Is it Cash-esque?), other singers, etc.?)

J. Freedom du Lac: Very true. Once you see him in "Chicago," you just know.

The album covers Dewey's entire "career," which seems to span many different periods. The opening "Walk Hard" is a straight-up Johnny Cash riff. That Van Dyke Parks song sounds like John C. Reilly covering Sufjan Stevens doing his best "Smile." And at this very moment, I'm listening to a lounge-y disco cover of Bowie's "Starman."


Atlanta: I don't know if Tom Petty is political or not, but he sure is crotchety.

J. Freedom du Lac: He ain't got nutin on Don Henley. Track down that "60 Minutes" interview. You'll see.


Washington, D.C.: Not specifically a music question, but I'm hoping you can help -- I need to have a vinyl album digitized and put on CD. Do you have any idea where I can get that done? Thanks.

J. Freedom du Lac: I've read about companies that offer this service, and also about DIY methods. But I've never tried it myself. Anybody with any real experience in transferring vinyl to digital care to offer some recommendations?


Foggy Bottom, Washington, D.C.: J Free, you better not poop out on the chat again this week! Where else would we get weekly our dose of snark?

J. Freedom du Lac: The Reliable Sourcettes, snarking away every Wednesday! (And I mean that in the nicest possible way.)


Woodbridge, Va.: How many end-of-the-year lists will you do? Best of? Best Concert? Biggest flop?

J. Freedom du Lac: Now that we have a blog? We could come up with enough year-end lists to last through spring break.


Re: The album covers Dewey's entire "career," which seems to span many different periods.: So it's a lot like Chris Gaines.

J. Freedom du Lac: No. This is actually good.


J is for Josh: You can thank Liz Kelly for that tidbit of info.

You going to be at the 9:30 Club for the Washington Social Christmas? I'm excited to see Washington Social Club and The Dance Party sharing the stage again. Should be a great party!

J. Freedom du Lac: You new here? This alleged mystery was solved long ago, thanks mostly to Washington Post Radio, where there was always more to the story. (Until there wasn't.) They blew my cover on air - and in the promo spots that appeared in the paper.


Miami F-L-A: JFree

I've enjoyed your post rock blog but don't quite understand the two minute segment. Anyway it did make me wonder about bands that continue to be popular or endure despite lacking any real uniqueness or creativity (see Nickelback, Collective Soul). Made me wonder -- what are the most enduring bands or acts of all time that have absolutely no reason whatsoever to be enduring? My vote would be Aerosmith. Everything about them is completely derivative.

J. Freedom du Lac: Producer David's Two-Minute-Man posts are pretty easy to explain. Every day, he drives to and from Starbucks. And during the drive, he spends about two minutes with radio - enough time to hear most of a single song. The TMM posts recap the songs he's heard during the week - ranking them, with brief commentary. He's killing the environment but it makes for good bloggery.

Aerosmith is a great pick, though they do derivative really, really, really well. Plus, Tyler has incredible charisma. That counts for something. (On the minus side: Diane Warren power ballads!)

Coldplay is going to be an all-timer, I'm afraid. They're not there yet, but give 'em a couple more hit albums and you'll see. Remember:!


Brain Wilson Interview: Just wanted to say, you done good.

And, Mike Love is a jerk.

J. Freedom du Lac: Apparently, there was nary a mention made by Mike of Brian's KenCenHonor at the "Beach Boys" concert that same night. Given the claims in his lawsuits against Brian, Mike probably thinks he should have received 50 percent of the honor.


Washington, D.C.: So I saw Springsteen mention the strong Pet Sounds influence in Girls In Their Summer Clothes in another publication.

J. Freedom du Lac: That would've been Spin, which interviewed Bruce and Arcade Fire's Win Butler together. Anyway, Bruce notes that on "Your Own Worst Enemy," "...I use this pop, 'Pet Sounds' production..."

I've already blogged about this, but it's worth repeating: It's a shame that the producers of the KenCenHonors couldn't get a more appropriate lineup of performers for the Brian Wilson tribute. Hootie and the Blowfish? Puh-lease.

Bruce was booked, and so was Elton. And Macca doesn't do the KenCenHonors, apparently. But there are, like, a kajillion indie artists whose work clearly has a Brian Wilson influence. Where were they on Sunday?


Springfield, Va.: As far as vinyl-to-digital, I couldn't be happier with my ION turntable. It's simple to use and has allowed by obscure novelty records and punk seven inches enter the digital age. (Of course, I operate under the assumption that my friends actually want to hear Slickee Boys b-sides and Airman!!! - The Sounds of Air Force Boot Camp.)

J. Freedom du Lac: One thought.


Silver Spring, Md.: Have you seen the Walk Hard movie? Will it be the next Spinal Tap?

And to the person asking about converting vinyl to cd, Rob's personal tech chat last week was talking about USB turntables that will do that.

Can't say I've personally used any, though.

J. Freedom du Lac: Seeing it tomorrow night. Christmas is coming early.


Aerosmith: Can't we give them a little bit of credit for breaking new ground with rap/rock when they joined Run-D.M.C. for "Walk This Way"? (Or was that really Rick Rubin's doing? (Or am I just confused?))

Of course, that paved the way for some pretty crappy '90s bands, so we don't have to thank them too much.

J. Freedom du Lac: You think they loved that idea? They were just trying to do something, anything to revive their careers, which were threatening to go up in a cloud of smoke (or some other substance).


Live Free or Die in Fairfax: Vinyl to digital can be done using one of these

usb turntables

J. Freedom du Lac: Another idea from the audiogeek gallery.


I'd like to date other coverage areas on occasion if it's okay by you. : Well, okay. But the cheating was done so publicly. Right in front of everyone.

We're going to start reading other music critics. So, we're even.

J. Freedom du Lac: I don't even know you anymore.


Dewey's Career Arc: But is it as good as The Rutles?

J. Freedom du Lac: This album might crack my Top 10.


Washington, D.C.: The Grammy nominations come out Thursday! How exciting (maybe). What do you think of my pics? Album: Winehouse, Springsteen, Kanye West, McCartney, and Norah Jones. Record: Umbrella, Before He Cheats, Radio Nowhere, No One, and Rehab. Kanye West's "Stronger" was oddly not submitted for contention. It would have been a shoo-in!

J. Freedom du Lac: It's always tough to say which way the Grammy winds will blow, but I think that's a pretty reasonable group of nominations.

I do think Feist is likely to be a contender in at least the record of the year category for "1234" (and why the hell does the Recording Academy insist on calling it "record"? change the name to "single," for chrissakes!). She might get a nod in the album category, as well, but that's a long shot.

Linkin Park is going to be a factor, possibly in both categories, with "What I've Done" their contending single. I sort of think McCartney is unlikely in the album category, but who knows. Don't forget Akon as a record of the year candidate. He was Mr. Ubiquitous before T-Pain took over that role.

If the panel that selects the nominees really wants to earn some credibility, it just might add Arcade Fire to the mix. A *really* radical move, for the Academy, would be an album nom for MIA's "Kala." But that ain't gonna happen.

It's always interesting to note who's been invited to the nominations press conference, as it's often a harbinger. This year's crew includes Akon and two of the Linkin Park dudes, along with Taylor Swift and (gulp) Fergie. "Big Girls Don't Cry" for record of the year? Ohmy.


Anonymous: Any new info on how Danny Federici is doing in treatment?

J. Freedom du Lac: No.


Anonymous: Oh, do the remaining Beach Boys hate each other? They always seemed so happy to sing with John Stamos on Full House.

J. Freedom du Lac: I think there's a lot of hate between Mike and the Boys. Certainly, his relationship with Brian appears to be permanently damaged. Here's what happened when I asked Brian how he feels about Mike controlling the "Beach Boys" name.

"I don't mind it except he's driving it into the ground.

(Do you have a relationship with him these days?) "No. I don't have a relationship. I have memories."

(Are they good?) "Yeah, mostly."

(What about the lawsuits?) "He lied in court. So badly. And he won. We almost went bankrupt. My cousin almost put me into bankruptcy. I never, ever talked to him again after that, except when I saw him at the Capitol Records tower for the anniversay of 'Pet Sounds.'"

(Are you sad that it came to that?) "No, not really. I'm happy where I am."

Mike also sued Al Jardine.

Good times.


Macca doesn't do the KenCenHonors, apparently: Really? Are they still feuding over him not wanting to show up the year they were going to honor him? Can't they just get over it already?

J. Freedom du Lac: No, no - I don't think there's really beef. I was just saying that he couldn't even make it the year he was supposed to be honored. So, you know - if he can't show up for that, how's he gonna come to sing a Brian Wilson song?

Sufjan, though, totally shoulda been there. Or the Shins.


Washington, D.C.: Album of the Year: Fogerty, "Revival" ... but then, I'm 52 ...

J. Freedom du Lac: Strong album, but not even Top 25 for me.


Falls Church, Va.: Do the Grammys have relevance any more?

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm pretty sure this question has been asked for the past 49 years. And guess what? The Grammys turn 50 this year.


Baltimore, Md.:"Don Henley...I know crotchety. I practially invented crotchety. You ain't got nothin' on the Bard of Belfast. Now get the hell off my lawn."

Van Morrison

J. Freedom du Lac: That should be on a bumper sticker. (Available exclusively at Wal-Mart.)


Fairfax, Va.: Okay, so Springsteen looks to be spending most of the 2008 summer in Europe. Do you think there will be another U.S. leg to this tour in August/September?

J. Freedom du Lac: Any Springsteen scholars out there know enough about Bruce's routing history to say whether he's likely to schedule another U.S. swing?


Brian Wilson:"Oh, no. I had a good childhood -- except for my dad beating me up all the time." How in the world do you write down that quote and come up with another question? Wow.

J. Freedom du Lac: Easy: I didn't write it down. I just crossed my fingers that the digital recorder was working. (And I had to look at the recorder regularly because Brian kept moving it around.)


Chattanooga, Tenn.: Who are you, and why are you guesting on Producer David's chat? It's bad enough that you've taken over his blog.

J. Freedom du Lac: Who is this Producer David? He's dead to me. I mean, the guy isnt' even here this week. Instead, he decided it would be more fun to go into a recording studio and make glorious noise. Whatever.

Producer Julia = serious upgrade.


Inevitab, LE: So, did you see those photos of your girl Amy Winehouse the other morning? Wow, she may be on one of the all time express trains to oblivion-ville. What a waste. Or would she be as good if she wasn't so messed up?

J. Freedom du Lac: Didn't see the pix, but I did see that she bagged a bunch of concert dates because she just can't go on without her husband. I feel sorry for her. I really do. No schadenfreude here.


Anonymous: from Mike Love's wikipedia page regarding "legal controversies":

"Love launched his own lawsuit, claiming that he had made significant writing contributions to many Beach Boys songs, including two titles on Pet Sounds and "California Girls", and never received due credit (or the accompanying royalties). Love won the case, due in no small part to Brian's statements that Mike's assertions were correct (although Tony Asher has unequivocally stated that Love had no input into at least one song involved, "Wouldn't It Be Nice"). As a result, he was granted $13 million of Wilson's award, and his name was retrospectively added to the writing credits on all subsequent releases of those songs. (Love and Wilson reportedly had no malice toward each other in the lawsuit; unable to come to terms, they resorted to going to court to settle matters.)"

J. Freedom du Lac: Of course, Brian also once said, in his own book, that Eugene Landy and his treatments were fantastic, just really, really great. Which, in fact, they weren't.


Sunny Cal: So did you try to interview Mike Love for your Brian Wilson piece? In your research, is Mike Love's apparent stupidity and bitterness warranted or is it exactly as it appears: a money-hungry, jealous, nowhere-near-as-creative cousin riding on the coattaails of his genius cousin and a factor in Wilson's mental problems? Just the two quotes in your piece show that Love was almost as vile and tormenting as Murray Wilson--Brian's father--who beat the Wilson brothers pretty frequently.

J. Freedom du Lac: I spent a couple of weeks trying to track him down. During the course of that effort, he and his publicist apparently parted ways. I did get a call from his manager last week, but it was well past the 11th hour. So we never did get a chance to speak.

The surprising (to me) no-show in my story? Van Dyke Parks. Here's what he said in an email to me (the weird line breaks are his own):

No more interviews from me regarding Brian--

I've made a great, nigh Career-effort

Post "Smile".

My next availability respecting this

Living American Treasure will be respecting

The reissue of "Orange Crate Art".

Please let me know if you put any attention

To that event.




McLean, Va.: I was so mad at you after reading your Alicia Keys review I swore I would never read your column again. And then I listened to the CD. You were right.

J. Freedom du Lac: I usually am. You'll see.

But yeah, it's funny how many e-mails I got from people who told me my review was wrong based on the one single they'd heard. (Though truth be told, I don't like that particular single.) Sorta like Chris Webber going off about me for a story he hadn't actually read. Somebody needed to call a timeout.


Washington, D.C.:2008 is the 30th anniversary of Darkness on the Edge of Town. Can you talk to your boy, Jon Landau, and see if Bruce and the gang have anything special on tap to celebrate?

J. Freedom du Lac: No.


RE: VDP: So much depends upon

An Orange Crate Art

Glazed with rain water

Beside the white chickens

J. Freedom du Lac: Columnated ruins.



next big thing?: So in 2006 you sweated Gnarls Barkley.

2007 was all about Amy Winehouse.

What's 2008 looking like? Who's your big "it" artist that you're going to drill into our heads?

J. Freedom du Lac: I'll let you know when we get there.


Straight Outta Compton, Cali: It's the 20th anniversary of NWA's Straight Outta Compton. What do you think? One of the best gangster rap albums ever or one of the best rap albums ever?

J. Freedom du Lac: One of the great rap albums ever. Such a visceral kick. And the production stands up. I think the FBI has it as the all-time #1 rap recording.


Philadelphia, Pa.: Hey there - when did you start writing about music? And how long after that did you cross the threshold of wanting to be liked and friendly by interview subjects to realizing this was a job and asking difficult questions and not really caring if they didn't like you for asking them?

J. Freedom du Lac: Started writing on music in 1994. Got yelled at by Mary J. Blige mid-interview roughly two years later. But I'm pretty sure I'd asked at least one or two difficult questions before that.


Huh?: People send you e-mails?

J. Freedom du Lac: No, just Van Dyke Parks and Bob Geldof.


Anonymous: What's with the one word answers to the Springsteen questions? I can't tell if it's animus on your part or if you just don't have any information on it.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'll dig deep for this one: It's Springsteen fatigue. Plus not knowing the answers to questions that come up every week.


Oooh, a Chris Webber reference!: Webber's like the Bon Jovi of basketball--nice smile, never won anything, teams get better when he leaves. Or maybe the Stu Sutcliffe of basketball?

J. Freedom du Lac: Or, given this week's Beach Boys theme: David Marks!


"Oh, no. I had a good childhood -- except for my dad beating me up all the time." : Now, when someone says something like THAT, can we assume that everything else he said was sarcastic too?

Or is he really, truly at peace with everything?

J. Freedom du Lac: He wasn't really being sarcastic. You would've seen if you were there with us. Though you might have been staring at Jami Gertz the whole time. So on second thought, maybe not.


Re: Mary J:"Got yelled at by Mary J. Blige mid-interview roughly two years later."

Was she in tune?

J. Freedom du Lac: OK, now THAT is hilarious. Probably not. I wonder if I still have the mini-cassette recording of the interview. I'd love to hear it again.


So You Like Lists..: Crappiest Actor Turned Musician -

1. David Hasselhoff

2. Don Johnson

3. David Hasselhoff

4. LL

5. The 'hoff

J. Freedom du Lac: Do you get extra points for being a crappy musician, too?

Where does Bruce Willis rank? What about Steven Seagal? Keanu?


Vinyl to CD/computer: To the chatters who suggested the vinyl converters:

Does the transfer from vinyl to the CD/USB/computer also include the CD information or do you have to input the information yourself?

Sorry to get techy on this chat but I have a couple hundred albums I want to use this for and don't want to spend a week doing this! Thanks!

J. Freedom du Lac: Don't apologize for trying to help.

You should only apologize around here for asking Tool questions.


Bruceland, Md.: Bruce will be back playing stadiums on the East Coast at the end of next summer.

J. Freedom du Lac: Willis or Springsteen?


Washington, D.C.: Now that our favorite online producer has been forced to review the Wiggles, any chance we can force him to do a review of Rockabye Baby cds? These are well-know rock songs (by Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Ramones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and others) done with glockenspiel, vibraphone, mellotron, harp and bells. For parents tired of the lullabye CDs.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sounds like a great idea. We'll have to come up with another side bet. Though by virtue of the fact that Van Halen has already booked another round of shows, maybe he already owes us this.


Re: Walk Hard preview: Pirate it for us. We won't tell.

J. Freedom du Lac: My cell only records about nine seconds at a time. Didn't you ever see my video from Pelosipalooza? The one of the new Speaker of the House dancing with Wyclef? Made my year when Wonkette linked it like so: "Don't miss the lame cellphone video at the Washington Post!" Proudest moment of my journalism career, without a doubt.


Crappiest Actor Turned Musician : William Shatner. Although I do love him.

J. Freedom du Lac: You win.


Got yelled at by Mary J. Blige : What did she yell about? I thought she was all so up front about who she is and where she comes from, and so open, and not minding any kind of question.

Is she really not?

J. Freedom du Lac: I was asking her about her diva tendencies. It wasn't even that exciting. I think she just wanted to fight.


I'm new here: What band is Producer David in? I want to be his groupie.

J. Freedom du Lac: He's joined a Wiggles cover band.

That's it for this week, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

I'm posting some Brian Wilson interview outtakes on the Post Rock blog tomorrow. Please do stop by.

As Dewey Cox sings: "Let's duet."


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