Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 18, 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.

____________________ Beyonce's More Fun When She's 'Fierce'

_______________________ Strait to the Top: Singer Is CMA King

_______________________ Motor Mouth: T-Pain Cranks Out Hits Thanks to Auto-Tune Software. Now Everyone Else Wants to Come Along for the Ride.

_______________________ Obama Win Gives Baez Something To Sing About


J. Freedom du Lac: It's Sasha Fierce day. Do you know where your alter ego is?

Mine is in Nashville. Good times out there, though the weirdest/saddest thing happened at the BMI Awards afterparty. Some legendary Nashville cats were playing a bunch of standards. Some of the best/brightest studio players around: Harold Bradley, Charlie McCoy, Lloyd Green, etc. And nobody was paying attention to them!

Actually, that's not true. There were about six people listening to them. Including my friend Peter Cooper, the country critic for the Tennessean. About the band, he said: "This is what I love about Nashville." About the crowd that was ignoring the band, he said: "And this is what I hate about Nashville."

As they say in the old country: True that.

Let's chat, shall we?


Old record guy -: a friend just inherited a great album collection dating back to the late 60s. He plans to record/convert them to MP3s. Any suggestions? He is computer literate, but clueless to get the best out of this with his first try.

J. Freedom du Lac: There are all kinds of converters you can use, from USB cables to the Hammacher Schlemmer turntable with a built-in iPod dock. Not really sure what method/gear is best, though, as I haven't actually used any of it. (I have a hard enough time keeping up with all the CDs I want to transfer into iTunes.)

Any chatters care to weigh in?


Scream: Do you know what's going on with Chris Cornell's solo album? It was first scheduled for release in September, then November 4, and now February. If it were just a matter of a month or two, I'd put it down to production delays. But 6 months? Are they reworking the songs?

J. Freedom du Lac: Based on the early buzz on the project, I'd kinda hope they were reworking the material. But I've no idea what's going on. The latest delay really jammed a wrench into our grand plan, too. We were gonna have Chris "Special to the Washington Post" Richards do a double review of Cornell and Keri Hilson. His working thesis: "Timbaland's miraculous run ends now (Cornell). Timbaland's miraculous run resumes now (Hilson)." Such a great pitch. Oh, well.


Winchester, Va.: Two weeks ago there was a posting about "who was the most influential and important Native American in rock: Jimmy Carl Black (of the Mothers of Invention), or Felipe Rose (of the Village People)"

I'd have to think Buffy St. Marie, Jessie Ed Davis, and Redbone (Patrick and Lolly Vasquez) would all take issue with being left out of that equation.

Over time almost everyone becomes not much more than an asterisk in the history books I guess, but in my mind they probably had as much or more impact, and judging by Wikipedia entry "inches" they all are ahead of Black or Rose.

J. Freedom du Lac: Well jeez, the members of Indigenous might take issue that you left them out of your own post. Don't ruin my joke query by trying to turn this into something serious. How dare you!

But yeah, I might cast my ballot for Buffy St. Marie over the entire lot of candidates.


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: She was already quite attractive, but she is maturing beautifully too. She has the look of a real woman on the album cover. Don't like the song at all, but have to give her props nonetheless.

J. Freedom du Lac: Who are you talking about? Dido? Shontelle?

Oh, wait - probably Sasha Fierce.

Per my review today, I think the album is a mixed bag. And the whole alter ego thing is kind of weird/pointless. As an artistic statement, it's a neat marketing gimmick, I guess. She's/they're no Ziggy Stardust/Slim Shady/Camille. (On the other hand, at least B didn't go all Chris Gaines on us.)


Fie on Auto Tunes: I want everyone to sound like Neil Young circa "Trans"

J. Freedom du Lac: The truly important question that my story on the T-Pain effect never got around to answering: What would an Auto-Tuned inner voice sound like?

Also, I was disappointed that I couldn't figure out a way to work a few domo arigato Mr. Roboto jokes into the story.


Mechanicsville, Va.: Question: If "Chinese Democracy" actually hits stores this weekend, will the world in fact come to an end?

J. Freedom du Lac: That's kind of what Sebastian Bach seemed to be asking me when I ran into him last week. Though he used a lot more expletives.

Definitely a sign of the apocalypse. As is the fact that Sebastian Bach might be making a countrified album.


Piscataway, N.J.: From yesterday's "Special to" review of the AC/DC show:

"Malcolm's slicing Gretsch guitar, which has only a treble pickup, acted like the vice president to Angus's Gibson SG ax in chief, backing his bro with precision riffing and a robotic dedication to staying on message."

Was this just fan-boy tech-geek homage, or deftly crafted product placement?

And how come there wasn't any reference to "Phil Rudd's thundering Sonor Drumkit with Aquarian drumheads and crashing Paiste Cymbals" or "Cliff's Fender Jazz bass"?

This is why you shouldn't let guitar-hero-wannabe metalheads review shows that you and/or Malitz are too busy/tired/non-interested to attend.

J. Freedom du Lac: Shhh. If you keep this up, you're gonna wind up convincing our Ombudsman, Deborah Howell, to write a column on The Post's obvious editorial bias when it comes to writing about musical instruments.

J. Freedom du Lac: By the way, our very "Special" correspondent, Chris Porter, did an AC/DC notebook dump on the Express Night Out blog. Check it out here. Lots of bonus genitalia jokes.


M Street: Do you think Prince stepped out on his deal to promote a fragrance because of how stupid Tim McGraw looks promoting his perfume for men?

J. Freedom du Lac: Could be that it just didn't smell sexy enough for him.


Washington, D.C.: From the last chat: The line about Pete Townshend having the best right hand in rock came, I believe, from David Segal during a chat, which is probably why you couldn't find it. I don't think those chats are searchable.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ah, David Segal. Just seeing his name here makes me sad, as the news came out yesterday that my hugely talented colleague and friend is leaving us for that big, honkin' newspaper up in New York. (And no, I don't mean the Daily News.) One in an occasional series of sad days for the Style section.


Penny Lane: Have you or anyone on the staff listened to the McCartney/Youth "Fireman" album coming out next week? What's the verdict? The online reviews and buzz I've read so far have been overwhelmingly positive. I hope my building excitement is not unfounded.

J. Freedom du Lac: I have not.


College Park, Md.: A while back, Malitz bit the bullet and confirmed my deepest suspicions by admitting that he was once a WMUC DJ here at the University of Maryland. Just wondering if he ever listens in now, and what he thinks of the music played? Personally, if I have to listen to Bon Iver or Times New Viking one more time, I may punch someone in the face.

J. Freedom du Lac: He probably thinks that the artists being played are too popular. (Also: Not enough Silver Jews songs.)

David Malitz: I don't listen too often these days. I did check out the live sessions they had with Jay Reatard, Times New Viking, Vivian Girls. Those were good gets. I can't share your frustration with Times New Viking, I love those kids. Even if their election night show at the Black Cat was pretty lousy. TNV seems like the perfect band for radio, a blast of noise for 90 seconds, then something else. I would think extended exposure to Bon Iver would make you want to gently stroke someone's hair (or maybe your own beard), not punch someone in the face. I thought their show at the Black Cat over the summer was OK but I think Cillizza is the big fan over here at dot-com.


Anonymous: Explain your name for the new folks here. Is it real, contrived or what.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, it's real. Says "Freedom" right there on my birth certificate. I was born on Haight Street in San Francisco to hippie parents.


Atlanta, Ga.: I really want to care about the Chinese Democracy record, but I just can't bring myself to.

J. Freedom du Lac: You need to re-read Chuck Klosterman's "Chinese Democracy" review from April Fool's Day 2006 to get yourself properly revved up. Pretty awesome.


Chattanooga, Tenn.: If Hootie and Jessica Simpson can have a country album why not Skid Row? Or Alanis Morrissette?

J. Freedom du Lac: Hootie's music - folk-derived roots rock, with Southern influences - was much closer to country than Skid Row's proffer. And since a lot of what passes for contemporary country is pretty much pop with steel guitars and banjos, it wasn't much of a stretch for Jessica Simpson, either.


Vienna, Va.: New Springsteen album coming in Jan. It used to take him 3 years between albums, now he cranks them out yearly. What's changed? What's your view on Brendan O'Brien production? This long-time fan isn't a fan of it.

J. Freedom du Lac: Guess he's just inspired.

O'Brien didn't really do Bruce and the ESB any favors with his production work on "Magic." Pretty heavy-handed. But I've liked some of the albums he's produced in the past, so I'm not historically anti-O'Brien.


Washington, D.C.: Not that hippie. Well, scratch that, New Hampshire is kind of out there, but one of my friends up there had a baby and named him Sage Freedom. He was born soon after Sept. 11... ok, maybe they are hippies.

J. Freedom du Lac: My attorneys will be sending a cease-and-desist letter in short order.

Actually, I knew a guy in SF - same age, same story with his parents - whose first name was Bong. Bong Walsh. I'm not making that up. He always finished ahead of me in math contests. Probably explains how I came to write that the March on Washington took place 35 years ago, sted 45. Stupid numbers.


Tone Loc: What's up Freedom Fries! Know its premature and the year is not over, but you have any idea what albums will be on your best of list? Care to share?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, and we've already covered most of 'em here. At least the Jan-through-October releases. Where's my FAQ at?

Re year-end lists ... is Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Windows" the single of the year? I think it might be. What a song. (She's at DAR tonight and tomorrow, opening for Maxwell.)


The Man Still Comes Around: Regarding the CMA winnners (excepting Georgr Strait)-phehh. Johnny Cash is still the alpha and omega.

Besides your musical paramour Miranda Lambert - are there any new female performers worth noting?

J. Freedom du Lac: Two words:

Ashton. Shepherd.

She's the real deal.


Takin' Off This Pain



Sounds So Good


Would love to see her playing a smallish venue around these parts. In fact, I was trying to talk some folks from Universal Nashville into sending her and Jamey Johnson (also great) out this way together. Hate having to wait for the big package tours to see most of these artists.


If Hootie and Jessica Simpson can have a country album why not Skid Row? Or Alanis Morrissette?: I won't be shocked until Beyonce comes out with a country album.

But hey, if Michael Jordan can sell his own brand of "thickening shampoo" then nothing in this world will shock me.

J. Freedom du Lac: You've seen the version of "Irreplaceable" that Sugarland did with Beyonce at the American Music Awards, right?

Sasha Jo Fierce!


LP to MP3: Referenced in Rob P's recent chat, his column from last year about one of those "converting turntable" things.

He also said "check the comments for other suggestions".

J. Freedom du Lac: Excellent, thanks. Love the cross-referencing, too!


New Springsteen Album: Have you seen the list of song titles? I am honestly looking forward to the song called Queen of the Supermarket. It sounds like it'll be silly fun. Actually, a bunch of the songs look like silly fun. I can't imagine something called Outlaw Pete will be a serious downer--maybe something f'd up like Working on the Highway, but not really a downer.

That said, whoever decided to premiere that chopped up hot mess on Sunday Night Football needs to be taken out back and beaten.

J. Freedom du Lac: Music editor Peter Kaufman and Springsteen stalker/Sunday Source editor Joe Heim noted yesterday that some of the new titles looked like parodies of Springsteen songs. I couldn't really disagree.

The best part about a new Springsteen and the ESB album? Another tour!


Arlington, Va.: Anyone review the Kings of Leon show from last week? Did they enjoy the majesty that is the acoustics at D.A.R.?

J. Freedom du Lac: We passed, as we'd already reviewed them recently.

Love those DAR acoustics, though. Best-sounding room this side of the Patriot Center.


The Poster formerly known as, NJ: What's your take, if any, on Letterman's "Cover, umm, I mean Tribute, Band" week? caught Purple Reign, the Prince cover, umm, I mean tribute, band last night and was not impressed. Felt like they got the tempo of "Let's Go Crazy" all wrong (too fast), and, really, if you're gonna' be a tribute band (whew, got it right that time), isn't the point to replicate the music as closely as possible?

J. Freedom du Lac: Nah, I got my fill of tribute bands last year in Atlantic City. At Fakefest. Don't forget to read the amazing comment posted by the fake Mick Jagger. It's an all-timer.


Beltsville, Md.: I wonder is Beyonce "Sasha Fierce" Carter realizes that Sasha is Russian for "Alexander".

Alex Fierce. Sounds like a UFC fighter.

J. Freedom du Lac: Or a drag queen who works the Sunday brunch at Perry's.


JFDL!: Dustin Pedroia was just named AL MVP! Uh, I know this is totally the wrong chat but I just wanted to share.

Peace and far out.

J. Freedom du Lac: Good thing I dropped him in my fantasy league last year, after he got off to that horrible start. Course, I didn't need him, since I won this year, anyway.

Malitz and I are hoping to start a fantasy baseball league next year with music-industry people. It'd be pretty funny to have Stephen Malkmus involved in any sort of competition with Darius Rucker.


Bethesda, Md.: What else is Peter Cooper up to these days? New CD anytime soon?

J. Freedom du Lac: As a matter of fact, yes. He and FOFR (Friend of Freedom Rock) Eric Brace have a duets album coming out. "You Don't Have To Like Them Both." Out early next year, I think.

A reporter asked Peter in the CMA Awards press room what kind of music he plays. "The kind that doesn't sell," he said. To which somebody else said: "Oh, the good kind!"


Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: re: converting LPs to CDs

The first thing the person should do is see which if any of the LPs have been reissued on CD and then buy the CDs. This will save a LOT of work, what with recording, splitting into individual tracks, etc. Plus you get cover art (reduced cover art, but cover art nonetheless) and, in many situations, additional tracks not on the original LPs.

J. Freedom du Lac: Good tip. Thanks.


Arlington, Va.: I got one of those ION USB turntables. It's ok and essentially does the job. Not top grade but as I'm getting older I find audiophiles who demand TOTAL FIDELITY to be more and more humorous.

It is nice to hear the pops and crackles from actual vinyl LPs again.

And it is truly wonderful to rediscover artists that I have albums by but I never PAID to get in digital form. Right now I'm listening to Ian Hunter, man that's some good stuff that you won't find on any radio!

J. Freedom du Lac: More tippage.


David Cook: So, can an Idol be taken seriously? Because I think the new album is pretty good. However, I don't think it's nearly as good as his 2006 indie release, "Analog Heart". Thoughts?

Oh, and I love that the Post review likened David Archuleta to Skittles, because "Skittles" is actually a fairly well-known fan name for David Cook. Long story...

J. Freedom du Lac: File this one under: She Listened So I Didn't Have To.


The Fake Mick Jagger: Havin' a rough day here, thanks for bringing up this pleasant memory, French Lick. Faux Mick's ego was bigger than that of the real Mccoy...

J. Freedom du Lac: Given that Steven Kurutz, the guy who wrote the book on Sticky Fingers, thought I pretty well captured Fake Mick, I wasn't too worried about it. Steven's book, by the way, is worth checking out if the tribute-band phenomenon is of any interest to you. It's called "Like a Rolling Stone: The Strange Life of a Tribute Band." Fake Mick is on the cover.


Native American (Canadian) in rock: Robbie Robertson anyone?

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, right - him.


Friendship Heights, Washington, D.C.: Chester French's "She Loves Everybody; this year's "Crazy"?

J. Freedom du Lac: Not nearly as sticky/insinuating/instantly unforgettable as "Crazy," but it's a fine, fine single.


Nashville, Tenn.: Any new rumor collaborations that you have heard about for country music?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, Todd Snider and Peter Cooper with Loretta Lynn. Though apparently, it'll never see the light of day.


Seated vs Standing: I had the good fortune of seeing the Hold Steady/Drive by Truckers show this past Wednesday near Pittsburgh at the Carnagie Library Music Hall in Homestead. Both bands had great sets. It was theater style (permanent) seating. Almost everyone stood for the whole show.

I saw the John Jorgenson Quintet Saturday at Jammin Java. Another great show. It was a seated show (folding chairs mostly). Everyone sat. They do apparently have lots of standing shows, where the chairs are not set up.

Am I wrong to be irritated that I have to stand up for a whole show because the people in front of me want to stand? Should the venue provide an announcement that seats are for sitting and don't make the guy behind stand just because you want to stand?

I understand both sides of the argument, but isn't letting people stand, when there are seats, a little like letting people talk at a movie, if they want to?

J. Freedom du Lac: If somebody is moved to stand, I don't think you or the venue should have the right to do anything about it. Unless, you know, you have a physical condition that won't allow you to stand during the show. I was truly amused to watch two youngish women tell the people behind them at the Celine Dion show that no, they would not, in fact, sit down. Because they were into the songs so much that they just had to jump up and wave their arms. Good for them, even if they have strange taste in music.


James McMurtry at the 8X10: Did you get any buzz about McMurtry's show at the 8X10 last week? Great show. Got there early and sat upstairs against the railing, you could almost reach out and touch the man. Which probably would have upset him, but I digress.

Great venue to see a band, by the way. Intimate doesn't begin to describe it.

J. Freedom du Lac: Never seen a show there, but you're correct that McMurtry would not appreciate it - and, in fact, would likely comment on it from the stage. Though it'd probably be pretty funny.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to stare out the window. There's snow blowing through my neighborhood...


Marketing Question: So, JF du L, how do record companies determine in what order singles are to be released? Is there a set number of songs planned in advance, or do record execs just wait and see how the album does?

I have no idea why I'm asking this question.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, they usually have a plan in mind. Though sometimes, those plans are derailed. Like, when radio doesn't respond to a particular song and it gets pulled by the label's promotions department and they have to regroup. Happened with that country-pop singer Jimmy Wayne, who I blogged about last week from Nashville.

His first single stiffed, so the label yanked it. His label chief had him sit it out for a while, waiting for the right moment to restart the promotional push with a different song. "

Do You Believe Me Now

" wound up going No. 1 on the Hot Country chart, so I guess the label knew what it was doing.


RE: Seated vs Standing: I paid for my ticket. If I want to sit, I will sit. If I want to stand, I will stand. Go to the old folks home if you want to sit for the whole show. Where does it say that I have to conform to what you want me to do on the ticket that I purchased. Lighten up, strawberry.

J. Freedom du Lac: Having said that, I do find myself grousing when I'm at a show and the band goes into a slow song, and everybody sits save for the person directly in front of me. I'd never complain out loud, though. Because really, they're not doing anything wrong. I just got a bad draw.


Name game and other stuff: I went to high school with a guy named Sun King. Apparently, per his telling, his parents let him name himself.

Was sort of amused/bummed/confused by the Brian Wilson interview. Seemed almost confrontational at times. Still, you can't argue with the man's talent. Though my erstwhile question about 'classic' albums like 'Smile' and others is how they stand up over time as compared to when they were released. I enjoy 'Smile' but have a hard time really understanding, here in 2008, what all the fuss was about.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ah, yes: The amazing Malitz interview with Brian Wilson.

People, you MUST

read this

. David did a great job given the circumstances.

Brian's not the easiest interview around, as I

discovered last year

. He has great moments of lucidity, but talking with him can be pretty heartbreaking, too.


Chicago, Ill.: re: McCartney/Youth "Fireman".

Drat, I thought for a moment that meant Sir Paul was working with Sonic Youth.

J. Freedom du Lac: Or Martin Glover.


standing/sitting: Reminds me of when someone behind me in the floor-level seats at a basketball game told me to sit down. Said they hadn't paid all that money to stand. I told them to shove it. And I'm a female. Part of live anything is getting into the spirit of it.

J. Freedom du Lac: Funny thing is, they probably hadn't paid all that money! The seats likely belonged to the firm or something.


Bethesda, Md.: I admit I like Barry Manilow's voice, but why does his label keep making him record cover albums? Don't they trust his songwriting anymore?

J. Freedom du Lac: Easier to sell on QVC, I guess.


Freedom Rock book club: As long as you're plugging books, have you read Ted Nugent's latest? It certainly looks like it could stand next to Rousseau, Locke, etc.

J. Freedom du Lac: Nah, too busy working through the amazing George Jones autobiography from a few years back. "I Lived To Tell It All." Riveting stuff.


I Heart Bruce Springsteen: Hasn't all of Springsteen's post-Tunnel of Love output read and sounded like a parody of past work? Best thing about a new Springsteen album, no matter how awful - at least there's actual current product for the acolytes to discuss in these chats for the next year or so. Nothing like discussing his new song titles and imagining what they sound like.

J. Freedom du Lac: Bruce is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

There's a reason we officially launched Post Rock when Springsteen and the ESB were in town for those two shows, you know. Lots and lots and lots of interest in their proffer. Wouldn't have been the same if we'd done it around, say, a series of Kings of Leon shows.


Snow: "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to stare out the window. There's snow blowing through my neighborhood..."

You mean Snow of "Informer" fame?

J. Freedom du Lac: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

I still haven't figured out what the hell he's saying, after all these years.


Washington, D.C.: For the friend of the friend who has inherited the great album collection ... forget the MP3s and get a good turntable for about $300 and you'll hear incredible sound.

J. Freedom du Lac: Another idea.


Twenty Minutes Into the Chat, And...: comments yet about the "American Idol" dual review in this morning's paper?

I'm an avid "AI" watcher, but not a purchaser of the albums released after each season. Still, I found it interesting that you would knock "Daughtry" as one of the many weak "AI" records. I know its tailored for radio, but it seemed like a good fit for the artist in question. I can't imagine that he tells his friends, "That's not really what I'm all about." I mean, he might say that, to some degree, but from the singles I've heard, the CD has been the closest match to the artist's personality, outside of the country/Carrie Underwood "AI" contingent.

J. Freedom du Lac: I agree with your take on DAUGHTRY (remember, it's a band - and the name is to be spelled in all caps). Doesn't mean I have to like them, though. Too many atonal vocals, not enough time.


Headbanger City: Metallica is coming to Verizon in January. Will you be chatting them up or beating them down? Are they this generations Led Zeppelin or the last dinosaurs of hard rock?

J. Freedom du Lac: I think they're this generation's Black Sabbath. As for being hard rock's last dinosaurs, are you saying that you don't believe in Nickelback long-term?


Washington, D.C.: I haven't read Jones's autobiography yet. I did read Waylon Jennings's autobiography, though. I highly recommend it. It's amazing that he and Johnny Cash lived as long as they did.

J. Freedom du Lac: Add George to that list. He should've been dead several times over, and he knows it. (Hence, the title of that book.)


Surfin Safari: I just read that Brian "I am a Genuis" Wilson interview. Talk about a brush off

J. Freedom du Lac: The thing is, that's not a brush-off. That's pretty much par for the course, especially if you get him on the phone. (He's better in person.) Malitz did a great job at keeping him on the phone, frankly.


Richmond, Va.: As to Snow, I believe it is (at least for the chorus - I believe):

Informer You know me say Daddy Snow's not to blame A licky boom-boom down Detective Man said Daddy Snow stabbed someone down the lane A licky boom-boom down.

J. Freedom du Lac: You speak Canadian-Jamaican English?


George Jones: Saw him a few years ago at a local county fair - good show, but the highlight was when the woman next to us, momentarily stumped as to where to put the CD she had just bought, solved the problem by storing it in her ample bosom.

J. Freedom du Lac: Fantastic!

I hope George was wearing a great outfit. I got a tour of his museum room downstairs, where all those old Nudie suits are stored (along with a bunch of other items). Pretty amazing. And, as George's wife Nancy noted: Pretty ugly, too!


Let me say it: ...and with that Nickelback reference, it's time to kick this chat in the head. Until next week, kidz.

J. Freedom du Lac: Good call.

See you on the flip side, folks.

And remember: Wrote my initials with the crowbar-rrr-rrrrrrr, and then I drove off into the dark.


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