Freedom Rock

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J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 22, 2008; 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 Clay Aiken does.

The transcript follows.

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washingtonpost.com: Remembering a Wave That Was More of a Ripple

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washingtonpost.com: At Wolf Trap, the Rev. Al Green's Smoldering Soul

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J. Freedom du Lac: Greetings from Chicago. Haven't seen any live music yet, though I did run into the singer from Live at the Walgreens on Michigan and Chicago.

Let's shall.

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POL MUSI, CA: JF: If you were choosing theme songs for the presidential candidates, including Ralph, what songs would you pick??

J. Freedom du Lac: The most obvious one is Obama's. He gets "The One" by the Foo Fighters -- because McCain's advisers have nicknamed Obama "The One" in light of all the media coverage he's been getting. And, you know, Dave Grohl is a committed lefty.

Nominations for the others?

You have the floor, chatters.

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concertbizville: Just got an email from Live Nation informing me that tickets for Sheryl Crow's NY area shows have been discounted to 10 bucks each. I'm thinking, why not say "just show up"? More people, more sales of t-shirts, CDs, beer, nachos, etc. My question is, does this say something about the state of the concert business (Kenny Cheesy excepted) or something about Sheryl Crow's career?

J. Freedom du Lac: It says something about the state of the concert biz, where I keep hearing stories about promoters taking it in the shorts, so to speak. Hard way to make an easy living or something like that, especially given the state of the economy.

Live Nation has been discounting tickets in markets all over the country. Nissan Pavilion just put a bunch of lawn seats on sale for $10 -- no Sheryl Crow (she already played this market, at Merriweather Post), but Rod Stewart, Snoop Dogg/311, Maroon 5/Counting Crows, Projekt Revolution, Poison/Dokken/Sebastian Bach, Martina McBride/Jack Ingram and more.

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Burtonsville, Md.: I dug the piece on George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic in Friday's Weekend section, but I was disappointed not to see a review of their concert Saturday at the 9:30 Club. I've been watching George and Parliament since 1968 when they were just another R&B quintet ala the Temptations. The next year they busted out in costume as the R&B/Rock hybrid Parliament Funkadelic we all know and love. Forty years later they are still getting it done, George is still the impish gnome in chief, the screaming guitars (led by Michael Hampton) are still putting a lie to the perception that Black people don't dig rock, and Garry Shider is still rockin' that diaper, well into his 60s. Glad the Post saw fit to feature George but disappointed they chose not to have you or another Post writer review the show itself.

J. Freedom du Lac: George Clinton is still an (atomic) road dog and comes through town regularly. We're not going to review all of his shows, or even half of them. Will probably get to him again after his next album is released.

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Atlanta, Ga.: My favorite truck-driving song is "Looking at the World through a Windshield," but I also like "Widowmaker" and "I'm a Truck." Anyone who says their favorite truck-driving song is "Six Days on the Road" or, God forbid, "Convoy" does not take truck-driving songs seriously.

J. Freedom du Lac: My favorite combine-driving song is "International Harvester." Though I must admit, I don't take combine-driving songs seriously. (Hadn't given them much thought, really, before Craig Morgan got that tune on the radio.)

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Return to Guyville: Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville - 9:30 Club. Will you be there?

What do you think of the recent trend of artists playing classic albums in their entirety? On the one hand, the idea strikes me as shameless marketing of nostalgia. On the other hand, I'd probably pay too much money to hear Daydream Nation or Loveless, if their creators came to the D.C. area.

J. Freedom du Lac: I think it's a fine trend, so long as the album is an actual classic. Public Enemy doing "It Takes a Nation of Millions," for example (though I'm curious -- how did they handle "Terminator X to the Edge of Panic" without Terminator X?). It's a relatively limited list, though. As for the marketing-of-nostalgia piece -- look, most bands that have been around for a while seem to traffic in nostalgia to some degree, don't they? Sure, there are some that won't play their old hits. And some continue to make vital new music. But they're in the minority.

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Glen Allen, Va.: First the Jonas Brothers, now Kenny Chesney . . . Which popular musician's fan group hornets nest are you going to poke at next?

J. Freedom du Lac: You missed Clay Aiken, who is in the middle of that Jonas-Chesney sandwich.

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Washington, D.C.: I cannot wait to see Celine. My friends think I am crazy, but they are wrong. They will talk about this show for years to come.

But is there any way to get cheaper tickets? I HATE the Ticketmaster surcharges that turn a fun outing into a major investment.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sure, win them in a radio-station giveaway. Become friends with a Sony BMG executive. Get Malitz to make you his +1.

I once saw Celine in concert, and I did, in fact, talk about it for years. So you might be right.

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Live from Chicago: Jeez, Free, had I known, I would've met you at the Art Institute on my lunch hour. We coulda discussed the Baseball Project CD.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, but I didn't have a lunch hour today. Not enough hours in the day.

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Adams Morgan: So when did the 6th and I Synagogue become an indie venue? I see Grizzly Bear on the calendar and Jenny Lewis was just announced. Place is probably too cool for a Jewish rapper these days.

J. Freedom du Lac: Probably when Live Nation decided that it was the perfect venue for artists who might not be able to fill a larger club. (Not that Live Nation has a larger club in the DC area. Yet.)

One thing I hate about Sixth and I: If you're sitting along the sides in the upper deck, it's kind of hard to see the performer unless you're in the first couple of rows. So for a sold-out show, a la Adele, if you don't get there early, you'll wind up struggling to see what's happening on the stage.

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Reston, Va.: Hi J. Free: Just a little rant...to all you music lovers who were on the road heading to Wolf Trap on Saturday night to see Gladys Knight, there's absolutely no reason to block 3 lanes of the Toll Road with your merging activity!!! I was nearly put into the wall by a guy in a white Escalade trying to maneuver his way to the front of the line. There are plenty of signs, you know it's on the right side of the road, get in that lane and wait your turn in line! Ugh, rant over. Hope all of you law abiding citizens enjoyed the show.

J. Freedom du Lac: No excuse for that, especially on a weekend, when the roads aren't exactly jammed up.

I feel your pain.

It's the driving equivalent of tourists weaving mindlessly in and out of foot traffic on the streets of downtown DC.

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Anonymous:"You missed Clay Aiken, who is in the middle of that Jonas-Chesney sandwich."

Kinky.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, Mr. Friedman is performing at the Birchmere on Aug. 28. Thanks for asking.

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Philadelphia, Pa.: Word is that the new U2 album comes out in November. Expectations are being set for an Achtung Baby-style redrawing of the map.

Are they up to the task?

Or will it be a safe, All That You Can't Leave Behind, Part III?

J. Freedom du Lac: Nov 18, according to the breathless IM I received from Post freelancer Chris Klimek who wanted to know if he could borrow my advance. (Dude, what month is it? Wake me when it's Halloween, would you?)

I haven't read up on the album/propaganda, so not sure what this is supposed to be. I just hope it's good.

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Trucking Song: Not restricted to truckers, but from Southern Culture on the Skids:

"Driving all night It's all right, it's all right I got an 8-piece box"

J. Freedom du Lac: Best driving song released in the past couple of years? Brad Paisley's "Throttleneck," whose lyrics I can't quote here because, um, it's an instrumental. (He's putting together a full instrumental album, by the way. I'm probably exponentially more excited about this than you are.)

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"Clay Aiken, who is in the middle of that Jonas-Chesney sandwich. ": No comment. Just couldn't let that one go by.

J. Freedom du Lac: Of course not. It was a fat fastball right over the plate, kinda like the ones Josh Hamilton's old coach was throwing in the Home Run Derby last week.

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Arlington, Va.: Who's next on the please explain to me... Dave Matthews Band perhaps? I love that it all boils down to "you must not listen to the music or else you would GET IT, man."

As for McCain's campaign song - Fear the Reaper, Barbara Ann, Won't get fooled Again (Czechoslovakia edition)

J. Freedom du Lac: We don't have a working schedule for the Please Explain to Me feature. (Obviously, since it disappeared for a couple-few months.) We just post 'em when the inspiration/incredulity strikes. One of the early answers in the Chesney thread was actually pretty good. Then it kind of spiraled out of control, JoBro-style. (At least nobody has suggested thus far that I stick a pen in my neck, like they did to Allison Stewart after her review of the last Jonas Brothers album was published.)

Thanks for the nominations. "Barbara Ann" is a good pick, but it has to be the McCain remix.

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breathless IM : Can an IM be breathless? Did he type "panting... panting..."

J. Freedom du Lac: Would you like to see my creative license and registration?

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Baltimore, Md.: Truck driving songs: Let us not forget Merle Haggard's two contributions to the genre "White Line Fever" and "Movin' On" (the second being the theme to the show of the same name starring Claude Akins and Frank Converse.) But if you really want to get worked up into an emotional lather, listen to the great Red Sovine do the recitation "Teddy Bear," about a terminally ill little boy who used that as a CB handle when talking to his trucker friends. It's like something out of Charles Dickens.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ooh, a Dickensian reference in a post from Baltimore! I really do miss "The Wire." (Was the second episode of "Generation Kill" any good? Won't be able to see it until I'm back home.)

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"Baby-Making Music": Please, I'm trying to eat my lunch.

J. Freedom du Lac: Followed by skyrockets in flight/afternoon delight?

You didn't really read an Al Green piece expecting to see references to his sociopolitical songs, did you? That's not how Aphrodisiac Al rolls.

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I Kissed A Girl: first off this song is obnoxious second, why did they already re-mix the song to have the college football song in it?

doooo do, do da do da do doooo, do! hey!

Ugh, put hot pokers in my ears already

J. Freedom du Lac: What amazes me is that the song is still #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Who are these people who keep downloading the damn thing? We're a nation of 14 year old girls I guess.

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Washington, D.C.: Foo fighters as Obama's campaign song? Ugh, what a horrible choice. Since Obama's a basketball man, I nominate the Go Team, "Huddle Formation."

J. Freedom du Lac: Okay, fine. Prince's song by the same name. It's all about the title.

If you really want to go basketball, why not pick something by the band formerly known as Mookie Blaylock, whose members are pretty well-known Dems. Or, the Band of Horses tune, "Detlef Schrempf," which might help in Indiana.

I think we need to get Cillizza on the case. He's been threatening to guest-blog for Post Rock. Now might be the time.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Best trucking song:

Every other song that Bill Kirchen does.

J. Freedom du Lac: What about that band Big Ass Truck? The one from Memphis that did the psychedelic hip-hop funk stuff. Did they ever actually sing about trucks?

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Arlington, Va. JFdL, A quick question about concert promoter etiquette. What do you think of the marketing of the "final" concert at Shea Stadium (Billy Joel) only to have the promoters announce a second "final" show after the first had sold out? We've all grown used to this happening in the day to day ---you buy bad seats at the only show, and right afterward they announce a second show ---but if I paid big $$$ to see the "final" show and they pulled that stunt, I'd be seeking a lawyer.

J. Freedom du Lac: I think they should book backwards. Have some open dates before the final final show, so that if tickets blow out for the finale, you can announce another, earlier show - and then another, if the demand is there. The promoters had to know that the show was going to go clean at least one time.

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Aphrodisiac Al Rolls: Is this a type of sandwich they were serving at the concession stand during the gig?

J. Freedom du Lac: No, but I think I saw somebody with a few of them in their picnic basket.

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Severna Park, Md.: Why are you in Chicago? It's not my kind of town.

J. Freedom du Lac: Funny. I was passing through a piano bar last night, and there was a Sinatra cover duo performing. Good times - especially when they noticed that Brian Ross was in the room and began playing ABC's "World News" theme on the keyboard.

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Missing the obvious...:"On the Road Again"...

J. Freedom du Lac: Not to mention "Truckin'." (Nor "Keep on Truckin'.")

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McLean, Va.: Best truck (or any) driving song: James McMurtry's Choctaw Bingo. "Strap them kids in, give 'em a little bit of Benedryl in a Cherry Coke, we're goin' to Oklahoma to the family reunion for the first time in years. It's up at Uncle Slayton's 'cause he's gettin' on in years."

J. Freedom du Lac: Well that's just one of the best songs, period. But yeah.

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Campaign Songs: McCain: "Hey You, Get Offa My Lawn"

Obama: "Nowhere Man"

Yeah, I'm a little frustrated this year.

J. Freedom du Lac: Then what about "Better Man"? Angry song about settling.

No nominations for Barr or Nader?

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stuck in the cube: hey, whats the view like at merriweather post pavillion? I want to go see rock the bells this weekend, what do you recommend? do they at least have big screens and shade like nissan pavillion? i checked their website but it wasn't much help. thanks!

J. Freedom du Lac: Depends on where you're sitting, obviously. But as with pretty much every major venue these days, there are big video screens there. (Though they might be difficult to see during the day, depending on where you are at the venue.) The reserved seats are shaded, the lawn not so much. There are some trees around, but I can't remember whether they provide any daytime relief. I haven't been at the venue very much when the sun is out.

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Arlington, Va.: The Cool Kids on pitchfork - puppy dog eyes? Sorry we hyped them after their EP but look, awww cute puppies.

Never to be heard from again?

J. Freedom du Lac: But they got a 3.3! Much better than Jet's second album, whose P4K "review" consisted of a video of an ape going #1 into its own mouth.

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23112: Pretty sure that Big Ass Truck didn't sing actual truckin' songs, but I can't be positive. They were blowing up locally when I was in college...I think they played on campus for us more than once. Awesome bunch of musicians.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, that sounds right. I saw them at South By Southwest one year, late at night. Liked their grooves, but wasn't sure if that was the Shiner Bock talking.

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Campaign Theme Songs: McCain - "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"

J. Freedom du Lac: Samantha Power, is that you?!

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Nader Campaign Song:"The Seeker" - ("..I won't get what I'm after, 'til the day I die..")

J. Freedom du Lac: Very good.

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Nader:"I am the Walrus" because I still don't understand it, or him.

J. Freedom du Lac: And another.

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No nominations for Barr or Nader? : Obviously, they deserve "Nowhere Man," not Obama.

J. Freedom du Lac: And another.

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Washington, D.C.: Don't let Cillizza blog unless you want it to go all Wilco all the time.

J. Freedom du Lac: You have it all wrong. It would only be 30 percent Wilco. The rest would be Dylan and old WWF music.

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Vienna, Va.: J. Free: I know this violates all of the rules of being a hip music fan, but I just don't like Lucinda Williams. One album from her was enough. Does this make me a bad person?

J. Freedom du Lac: It doesn't. And you're not the only one. I enjoy torturing the Post's music editor Peter Kaufman by saying "car wheels on a gravel road" over and over again. He has a negative visceral reaction to that line - and, I think, to Lucinda in general.

Personally, I love some of Lucinda's stuff, particularly said car wheels on a gravel road. Didn't particularly care for her live the last time I saw her, though.

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Re: Last Week's Chatfest: As a result of last week's chat, I hunted down that Ida Maria scream-y "OMG" tune that that one chatter was talking up. Kinda' liked it, then realized that I liked it a whole lot better when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released it in 2004 and Karen O was singing it.

J. Freedom du Lac: Similar but not the same. I just love the pathos.

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Alexandria, Va.: So um...Breakout...Why?

J. Freedom du Lac: The old Atari game?

Oh, you mean the new Miley Cyrus album! I haven't heard the whole thing yet (I know this is shocking, but I wasn't compelled to download it today or go to Reckless Records to buy a CD copy - if they're actually carrying it).

So here's my best guess re why: The drummer Josh Freese needed work.

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Best Truck-Driving Song: Surely "Container Drivers" by The Fall. Producer David knows what I'm talking about. "Net cap of five-eight-thousand pounds, they sweat on their way down..."

David Malitz: The fact that two people sent something in about " Container Drivers" warms my heart. This was a favorite of mine even before I could decipher anything MES was saying.

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Cool Ki, DS:"The Cool Kids on pitchfork - puppy dog eyes? Sorry we hyped them after their EP but look, awww cute puppies" === Although the Cool Kids are black, they are not in fact the Black Kids. The Black Kids got the 3.3.

...need...more...indie name options...(in struggling Capt Kirk voice)

J. Freedom du Lac: Right. Not to be confused with Black Lips or Kidz in the Hall.

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Washington, D.C.: Ooh! Can I nominate Wilco for the Please Explain to Me treatment?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes.

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Silver Spring, Md.: If Cilizza guest blogs for you, can we get Craig Finn to do the Fix?

J. Freedom du Lac: You'd get points for originality here but for the fact that Malitz already made the Cilizza-Finn connection in one of the 273 Hold Steady posts he's done for the blog.

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Ballston Dude: Per my up close encounters at a cocktail party with Nader in college, I nominate 'Lazy Eye' by the silver sun pickups.

btw, haven't heard much from them in a while.

J. Freedom du Lac: Another nomination.

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WWF music: World Wildlife Fund or World Wrestling Federation? Makes a big difference you know.

J. Freedom du Lac: You mean you didn't see Cilizza's vlog post in which he dressed up like Ric Flair? (He really did that, by the way. And it was awesome.)

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Truck-driving songs: I do not take truck-driving songs seriously, so I'm going to say my favorite is "I Wanna Drive a Zamboni" by the Gear Daddies. I guess that's more of a zamboni-driving song, though.

J. Freedom du Lac: Great nomination.

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Utah: Best Truck Driving Song: Frank Zappa's "Truck Driver Divorce." Deliver some string beans.

J. Freedom du Lac: And another.

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Washington, D.C.: I like the Freedom chat but the Freedom blog gives me a headache. Too many words.

J. Freedom du Lac: You know what's weird? Just last night, I was telling somebody that I don't like music because it has too many notes.

Only difference is, I was joking.

Just wait until you read Producer David's 3,256-word post on Whartscape.

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Washington, D.C.: A darn fine truck driving song: The country version of "Honky Tonk Women (a.k.a. "Country Honk") from the Rolling Stones album Let it Bleed.

J. Freedom du Lac: And another.

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Washington, D.C.: Another great truck driving song from a million years ago is "Drug Store Truck Driving Man" that Jeffery Shurtleff and Joan Baez sang at Woodstock. Yes, the first one.

J. Freedom du Lac: And another.

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Al Green/Atlanta on Truckers: I saw Mr. Green at a casino in upstate NY and while he had the tools, the will to finish a song does not survive, ala Jerry Lee Lewis. I saw him at the Stardust (an ex-casino) in Southern Maryland years ago and he didn't finish any of the probably 100 songs he started. He did finish quite a few drinks though.

Six Days on the Road is probably the best trucking song, next to White Line Fever, but Atlanta probably wasn't a dream in his parents eye in those days, so how would he (?) know.

J. Freedom du Lac: With the exception of the medley of classic-soul snippets and his version of "Amazing Grace," which he turned over to the backing vocalists, I'm pretty sure that the reverend finished just about everything he started at the Wolf Trap.

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Truck Drivin' Song:"Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man", by ( I think) Country Joe and the Fish. Not technically a truckin' song, but great lyrics ( and the "F..I..S..H.."-wink wink] chant from Woodstock is a forever classic)

J. Freedom du Lac: And another.

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NYC: What's your take on O.A.R.? I caught them on cable and found them appealing. A bit white-bread, but cute and catchy nonetheless. Your thoughts?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, that's about right. They're definitely anodyne. But they can do catchy, as evidenced by the song they licensed to ESPN.

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truck driving songs: Let's not forget the late, great Don Walser's version of "Truck Drivin' Man"

J. Freedom du Lac: And another.

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Tucumcari: Good truckin' . . . Little Feat - Willin'

At least I think that was the subject.

J. Freedom du Lac: And another. (This one's a good'un.)

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Baby-Making Music: To each his own. I listen to Black Sabbath while trying to make babies, not Al Green.

J. Freedom du Lac: I fear for our future.

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McCain: does fortunate son work for him?

and george clinton sucks. those shows take too long and just ramble in a william james-esqe manner. clinton barely comes on stage

and how do they feed all those people?

J. Freedom du Lac: And another.

(With a Clinton reference, too! Wrong one, though.)

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Baby-Making Music:"Garry Shider is still rockin' that diaper, well into his 60s..."

So if Al Green is baby-making music, does that make Parliament diaper-wearing music?

J. Freedom du Lac: No, it makes Parliament green-smoking music.

Thanks for stopping by today, folks. See you at Wrigley.

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