Freedom Rock

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J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 30, 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 Nicole Scherzinger does.

The transcript follows.

washingtonpost.com: Jennifer Hudson's Prime Time

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washingtonpost.com: Robin Thicke: Pretty Fly for a White Guy

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Claytown: Did you banish Clay Aiken because he came out? How about a little tolerance?

J. Freedom du Lac: Seeing him on the cover of People just reminded me that he'd spent an inordinate amount of time in the chat intro.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. But ... it was just time to go.

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Herndon, Va.: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will play the halftime slot at the Super Bowl.

Let the all Bruce chat return!

J. Freedom du Lac: That's why I put up this blog post yesterday.

Preemptive strike.

For those too lazy to click through, it was a call for suggested set lists. Figure on four songs and a total set time of 12 minutes, which was about how long Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers took to perform four hits during this year's show.

I'd probably construct the set like so:

"Badlands" - "Thunder Road" - "No Surrender" - "Born to Run"

Though more than happy to sub in "The Rising" or "Lonesome Day" for "No Surrender," though if that happened, I'd put it in front of "Thunder Road."

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Atlanta, Ga.: OMG, J. Free. Did your head just explode? Now we have to say "Springsteen" and "Super Bowl" in the same sentence from now until February!

J. Freedom du Lac: How is that any different than before, when people were saying "Springsteen" all the time, anyway? It's not like it'll stop after the Super Bowl, either!

By the by, what's the early line on Bruce receiving one of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009?

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Bruuuuuuuuuuuce: Seriously, do they need to play the game still? Can't the Boss and E Street just play the entire time? Al and John can still do pre and post-game commentary if they want.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm hoping that the Redskins make it to the Super Bowl so that I can fly to Tampa just to cover the halftime show for the special Super Bowl section. That's not too much to ask, is it?

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Bruuuuuuuuuuuce: If Bruce Smith is there for the game, do you think he'll be confused?

J. Freedom du Lac: Only if Bruce Matthews cut-blocks him.

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Arlington, Va.: Man...your first Amy Winehouse article a couple of years ago was unfortunately all too accurate of a call.

Damn shame. I was listening to her perform some jazz tunes on the Gilles Peterson radio show a couple of weeks ago.

Just tragic.

J. Freedom du Lac: You're referring to the Winehouse profile written by my colleague Teresa Wiltz in early '07, when she wrote:

To witness Winehouse is to wonder why art and self-destruction so often dance together. Insiders wonder if she'll keep it together long enough to fulfill her glittery promise -- or at least the promise that music marketers hold out. ... A self-described "violent drunk" who once boasted that she never listens to anyone but her inner child, Winehouse, 23, is showing signs of careering off the rails, even as she's planning her stateside debut this March with her sophomore album, "Back to Black."

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Damn shame, indeed.

Will she ever make another album? And will it come close to reaching the great heights of "Back to Black"? I'd like to think so, but I wouldn't be willing to bet on it.

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AC/DC: Free,

Hi. Have you heard the new tracks from AC/DC? Opinion?

Thanks.

J. Freedom du Lac: Only the single, "Rock n Roll Train." My initial impression is that they haven't lost very much at all off the old fastball. And they're not exactly trying to learn how to throw the Dice-K gyro-ball, either.

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Washington, D.C.: Anyone know if you save money on the various "fees" by buying concert tickets directly at V-Center rather than through Ticketmaster? The box office info indicates it is just a full-service Ticketmaster outlet, so same "fees" apply if it bought tickets online? Thanks.

J. Freedom du Lac: Not sure, as I'm a house-list/artist-list kind of guy. (Which means that, yes, I am hopelessly out of touch - though I did buy some Springsteen tickets the last time he came through, after noticing that they were still available. Wound up passing them along to Malitz the Elder.)

Any actual ticket-buyers out there care to weigh in?

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Slash: Rumor is that Chinese Democracy and the new Winehouse album are to be released on the same day....

J. Freedom du Lac: I guess I'd better get that Nils interview ready to run...

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Super Bowl: They could just play Kitty's Back for the full time. Of course, they risk going over their 15 minute allotment with that one. I think I have a bootleg of that song that's about 20 minutes long.

J. Freedom du Lac: Somehow, I suspect that just ain't happening. But interesting idea. The encore version that Bruce and the ESB played at the first of the two [Insert Telcom Company Name Here] Center shows last year was pretty great. Wasn't quite 20 minutes, though.

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Washington, D.C.: J - I loved your piece on Robin Thicke. He is one of the best talents in music, period. I've been a fan of his since "Thicke." And for as long as blue-eyed soul has been around, and as diverse as the music industry may be, Justin Timberlake has nothing on Robin Thicke. Not that Timberlake isn't talented - but he's pop - he will never be R&B and he could never sing words so sweet as the way my dear Mr. Thicke does. Thicke, to me, is up there with the Maxwells and the Isley Brothers - who can do falsetto like its no one's business and turn around with a baritone that makes you shiver. In an era where I could easily DL "Something Else," I choose to support this talent. Kudos on a great feature article - and for recognizing DC's part in catapulting Thicke's fan base. Keep doing your thing, J!

J. Freedom du Lac: Aw, thanks. The Maxwell comp is spot on. More than a few folks wondered, upon hearing "Lost Without U," whether Maxwell had finally come out of hiding.

Had a good laugh with Robin, by the way, about that bike-messenger look he was rockin in the "When I Get You Alone" video.

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Conyers, Ga.: Not a question, nor a comment, just an observation: Just got the new Rodney Crowell cd 'sex and gasoline' and from what I've heard so far - about half of it ( hey, I have a short commute) - it's not ground breaking, but mostly enjoyable. Hey, it's even got Joe Henry singing a lead vocal on one track. He being the co-writer of a tune with the ex Mrs Crowell which debuted on the NYT's blog measure for measure. Is the music biz incestuous or is it just six degrees of separation? ( okay that's a question!)

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, I just think they run in a pretty tight circle, or series of circles.

Maybe I'll ask Rodney if I interview him before his Birchmere show on Oct. 21.

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Hey David: What's your opinion of Brightest Young Things?

washingtonpost.com: You should ask me this in Thursday's Got Plans? chat at 1 p.m. so I'll actually have something to answer in between questions about where to go out with a group of 12 friends on a Friday night, where to watch the VP debate or where to get a perm or something or pants tailored or whatever you do to pants.
Short answer: Lots of good -- sometimes very good -- original content but largely untrustworthy in terms of taste. They love love love everything. Maybe that's what happens when you drink that many Sparks. Or more likely that's what happens when you rely on unpaid contributors who don't want to write about stuff they don't like. I check it every day, FWIW.

J. Freedom du Lac: (Love that David is able to do the washingtonpost.com/voice-of-God thing.)

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Chicago, Ill.: I assume you couldn't convince the Post to send you to see My Bloody Valentine in NYC or Chicago?

J. Freedom du Lac: I did not.

But I did contribute about one-third of a sentence to this New York mag/Vulture blog report from Roseland Ballroom by Post freelancer Chris Richards. (We were sentence-swapping via IM. Actually, I was trying to get him to re-write my Robin Thicke story lead. He was simply looking for a minor example of something. Totally unfair trade.)

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V-Center Tickets: They only charge you a buck per ticket of extra fees at the box office for concerts. As opposed to Nissan where they charge you 5 per order or Merriweather where is straight on cash or 4% for charge cards.

So, to be clear, factor in an extra buck per ticket downtown.

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks for this.

This will be useful if/when I come down from my ivory tower.

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Washington, D.C.: Wow! The MacArthur Genius Grant went to the music critic Alex Ross. Does that inspire you?

J. Freedom du Lac: He good.

So, too, is the New Yorker's pop critic, Sasha Frere-Jones. That's a pretty deadly duo - sort of like the Koufax and Drysdale of music critics or something.

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SW D.C.: Looks like were losing more stalwarts. Apparently all of the Olsson's stores have suddenly closed up and Orpheus Records closes in less than 2 weeks.

I guess we only have ourselves and our iPods to blame?

J. Freedom du Lac: Nah, blame Shawn Fanning and Napster. Or, better yet, blame the record industry for charging too much for new music.

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???: Where DO you get a perm?

J. Freedom du Lac: Me? At a wig store.

Malitz might have some real insight, though, since he's the one who could pass for a Jonas Brother.

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Bethesda, Md.: I don't get the excitement about Springsteen and the Super Bowl. It's something that Springsteen never would have done even 10 years ago. Do you really believe he's never been asked to do it? The payout from Flo Max is just too big now. Just please don't let his wife Linda "play" the guitar. The Super Bowl Halftime Show has become the Irving G. Thalberg Award for aged rockers. What's next for Springsteen, a Duets record?

J. Freedom du Lac: The excitement comes from the expectation that Bruce and the ESB will deliver a knock-out performance. Which they do more often than not. And honestly, I don't have a problem with him taking the check to perform in front of millions and millions of people.
By the by, Bruce may want Linda to let him be the one, but he's actually married to a Patti.

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not L.A.'s Koufax and Drysdale: The NY crew doesn't have you and Producer David. Aren't you guys also known as the Kasto and Langerhans of the music biz?

J. Freedom du Lac: No, we're more like the Lincecum and Bumgarner.

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Viva Manu!: Have you ever interviewed Manu Chao? He played an excellent set at ACL, and he seems like he'd provide lots of good interview copy.

(Other standout performances from ACL: David Byrne, Jose Gonzalez, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, John Fogerty)

J. Freedom du Lac: I have not.

The festival sounded like very, very good times. No Erykah Badu for you?

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N.W. D.C.: Are you going to the Fratellis at the 9:30 on Thursday.

I've been really into them for a couple of years - they played the festival circuit in the UK and the V-Fest last year but have not really made much of an impact here in the states.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm not - and neither are you. The show has been canceled. See the 9:30 web site for more info.

And anyway, Jenny Lewis is at Sixth and I that same night. Even though I don't really like her new album (I agree with this take by Malitz), I lurved "Rabbit Fur Coat" and thought she was pretty marvelous at the Birchmere a couple of years ago. So...

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Rockville, Md.: Where does the 'Singles file' in the Tuesday paper find the singles they review? Doesn't seem like very many are on Itunes. What good is a recommendation for something you can't find?

J. Freedom du Lac: If you read it online, you should find links to all of the singles mentioned in the column. Allison searches far and wide for new material every week. We'll have to see if we can get her to host a chat one of these days.

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Bethesda, Md.: Satirical reference to Linda McCartney, wife of Paul McCartney and "member" of Wings. Patti plays guitar in a band with three excellent guitarists. Nils Lofgren and Bruce Springsteen are among the best lead guitarists. Steve Van Zandt also provided the perfect vocal harmonies for Springsteen for years. Please explain to me Patti Scialfa.

J. Freedom du Lac: And here I thought I was just getting a fat, flat fastball up and over the plate.

That's a very good Please Explain candidate.

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NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK:: I can't believe it, but the new album is pretty good. Any thoughts? Thanks.

J. Freedom du Lac: The only thought I have is that the song Ne-Yo did with/for them sounds better on his own album, without most of the New Kids parts. But otherwise ... no.

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Future Super Bowls: Ten years from now who will be saying, wow, I can't believe they got him/her/them to play the halftime show?

J. Freedom du Lac: Kevin Costner?

This just moved over the wires:
KEVIN COSTNER & MODERN WEST RELEASE DEBUT ALBUM NOVEMBER 11

I think the halftime show producers are going to run out of mass-appeal acts sooner than later. They still haven't really dipped into the country well, probably because they're not as mass-appeal as the big rock acts. But once they get through the big guns of that genre ... then what? Just can't see Daughtry getting it done.

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Beatles: Why can't I buy anything by the Beatles from iTunes? Is it because Sony owns the catalog and wants us to buy their mp3 player? Or is it because the albums are so good they can still get people to buy the entire album, rather than just a song here and there?

J. Freedom du Lac: Because the Beatles camp is still holding out. Keep hearing/reading that they're on the verge of announcing an agreement, and then ... they don't.

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Duets: So when do we see Ian Anderson-Robin Thicke get together for Thicke As a Brick.

J. Freedom du Lac: (Claps!)

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Springsteen at the Super Bowl: How can anyone possibly find something to whine about a FREE Springsteen concert? Sure, it will be 1/12th or 1/13th the length of the last few shows on the Magic tour, but, uh, it's still free. And so what if he plays some greatest hits song instead of a song off the second disc of the Tracks anthology? I went to six shows on the Magic tour, and Dancing in the Dark and Bobby Jean got the crowds moving way more than songs like For You or Drive All Night. Quit your whining. He "sold out" (whatever) with Born in the USA. That ship has sailed and gone.

J. Freedom du Lac: The Kvetching Class is alive and well! But hey, it's what we do around here.

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Springsteen's set list: He should just play "Twist and Shout" like in the old days. Go look at the YouTube video from the Amnesty International tour in the 80s. About 12 minutes of sheer awesomeness.

J. Freedom du Lac: Or, he could cover a Foo Fighters song, a la Prince.

Okay, maybe not.

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Ann Arbor is ... a dumb-decided voter: Where is Tom Lehrer when we need him?

J. Freedom du Lac: Wow, that's fantastic. What an arrangement! What lyrics! What chords! (No, really - what chords?)

"I did not vote for John McCain/The thought of McCain brings me pain."

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ticket fees: Bruuuuuuuce plays with Joe Grushecky and Marah on Nov 1 in Asbury Park. The ticket price is 50 bucks + 9.50 convenience fee +4.50 facilities fee + 18.50 delivery fee. Isn't it easier to say "they're a hundred dollars, pick up at will call?" (btw, tics still available)

J. Freedom du Lac: Hey, it's always good to know exactly where all the money is going. So you know exactly how angry you should be at whom.

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NearNative: Huge Springsteen fan, but I always come away disappointed from his short-set TV appearances. Hoping the fact the Super Gig will start about the same time as one of his concerts will mean he'll bring his "A" game. Promised Land rocker from the new album Born to Run (because he has to) American Land or Land of Hope and Dreams

J. Freedom du Lac: One thing that might work against them: Bruce and the ESB tend to feed off whatever energy the crowd is supplying. And Super Bowl crowds can be pretty quiet. But, even though the place will be filled with corporate sponsors and friends of the NFL ... I think they just might be fired up, given that Bruce and the ESB are in their wheelhouse.

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Baltimore, Md.: Hey there,

I was actually debating which of today's many releases I would actually pick up on my way home today. Your J. Hudson review has convinced me to get that one and I was planning on Robin Thicke's anyway, but I was also considering T.I.'s "Paper Trail." Have you heard it or heard what the general consensus is?

J. Freedom du Lac: The Hudson album is a mixed bag. You might be better off plucking a few songs off of iTunes.

The TI album is worth getting. Yes. Yes. It's a monster. Chris Richards really got it right in his review.

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Breaking news: Members of Twisted Sister Now Willing to Take It.

In other news, Meat Loaf is now willing to do that.

J. Freedom du Lac: Fantastic! Thanks for the link.

And thanks for stopping by today, folks. See you next time.

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