Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 9, 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.

____________________ The Kennedy Center Honors: George Jones

_______________________ Post Rock: Singing George Jones's Praises


College Park, Md.: What do you think of the Joe Satriani-Coldplay case? Have you heard the side-by-side? Sound pretty similar, right?

Also: the Roots as Jimmy Fallon's house band?? I guess that'll give him some cool points.

J. Freedom du Lac: The side-by-side is certainly one of those things that makes you go: Hmmmm.

This YouTube video

is pretty good, especially at about the one-minute mark, when "Viva La Vida" is stacked on top of "If I Could Fly." Striking similarities, for sure.

Could be coincidence. But...

Of course, that still doesn't answer

the Creaky Boards question


Maybe US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald needs to get on this. Just as soon as he's done with the Rod Blagojevich case.


Garth Brooks: Garth Brooks honors George? Why didn't they bring on Celine Dion to honor Barbra and Keanu Reeves to honor Morgan Freeman. Jeez, what a disappointment.

J. Freedom du Lac: Look, Garth was once the genre's biggest star. He and George have some history (though they did have a falling out at one point). His inclusion in the tribute makes a lot more sense than, say, Hootie and the Blowfish in last year's Brian Wilson tribute at the KenCenHonors. Or, for that matter, Jessica Simpson's ill-fated performance of "9 to 5" during the Dolly Parton segment two years ago.

And it's not like Garth was alone in carrying the torch for the greatest of all country singers: Randy Travis ("One Woman Man"), Brad Paisley ("Bartender's Blues") and Alan Jackson ("He Stopped Loving Her Today") also performed the Possum's songs, and Shelby Lynn sang "Amazing Grace." That's an incredibly strong lineup.

Feel better now?


Washington, D.C.: Not related to popular music, but I figured you'd be a good source for local music knowledge too. I want to get a friend a drum lesson for Christmas. Any suggestions? Thanks!

J. Freedom du Lac: Maybe you can get Dave Grohl to do it. The Foos are gonna take some time off, apparently. Nothing but time.

(Anybody have any real advice to offer?)


Charlotte, N.C.: For the guy last week who had a BIL or something who liked Lucinda/Cash and was looking for "good" music.

Maybe try Son Volt, Cowboy Junkies, and my fav the Gourds. Gourds 1st album Dems Good Beeple, is pretty darn good..check the single 'When wine was cheap'

J. Freedom du Lac: Again, I think the poster was looking for current/recent recommendations. Son Volt's 2007 album, "The Search," might fit the bill, I suppose. Love the use of horns on that recording.


Edit,OR: Mr. JFD: There were so many great quotes from so many famed performers re George Jones in your blog this week: how long was (or would have been) your interview of George Jones, had you been able to squeeze in all the information you felt was pertinent? And how may more tidbits were you itching to share but couldn't?

J. Freedom du Lac: The one thing I wish I got into the story but didn't was something I never even had: A quote that George gave to Peter Cooper when Peter stopped by for an interview a few days after I'd been to Possum Holler Ranch, or whatever his subdivision-within-a-subdivision is called.

Said George

: "I appreciate the honor, don't get me wrong. But I feel kind of out of place. It seems like there's a lot of people that would deserve it more than I do. I messed up my life way back there, drinking and boozing and all that kind of stuff, and you wish you could just erase it all. You can't do that, though. You just have to live it down the best you can."

By the by, just about everybody I reached out to for a quote about George came through. Hell, even Keith Richards was in! Course, the day I visited with George, Keith had sent a fax, saying he wanted to do another song with him.


Dupont Circle, D.C.: This being DC and all, i like to mix my two passions (music and politics) whenever i get the chance.

So with the indictment of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, what songs would you put in for an "Indictment" playlist?

A few off the top of my head: Spoon "Don't Make Me A Target"

Led Zeppelin "Good Times, Bad Times"

The Clash "I Fought the Law"

Any other fun ones J. Free?

J. Freedom du Lac: The entire Wire catalogue.

Jacko's "Smooth Criminal."

Akon's "Locked Up."

Aesop Rock's "Mayor and the Crook."

System of a Down's "Prison Song." Actually, if convicted, the Gov. should be sentenced to a lifetime of listening to SOAD songs.


George Jones: Loved your profile. A tough life, guess the song is true :

Well, I've had a splittin' headache from my eyebrows to my backbone Arthritis appendicitis brights disease and gall stones Bleedin' ulcers ingrown toe nails swollen adenoids The Asian flu a time or two and inflamed vocal chords I've had a toothache so severe my jawbone split in two But nothing's ever hurt me half as bad as losing you.

Well, I've had the lit end of a cigar pressed against my belly Whupped on with a crowbar till my eyeball turned to jelly Accident'ly nailed my index finger to the wall Cut off half my toes and soaked my foot in alcohol I've had my pelvis ruptued by an angry kangaroo But nothing's ever hurt me half as bad as losing you.

J. Freedom du Lac: He's definitely lived hard. Seems to be very content now, though. Obviously, the guy has regrets. But he's not mopey or anything. In fact, he was downright chipper when we talked.


Washington, D.C.: Hiya JF du L Do you and Malitz have a combo top 10 list of albums for 2008? Or maybe a top 5 in case your list and his list don't have much overlap. Do you expect a big reshuffling of your picks in the next 22 days?

J. Freedom du Lac: I don't expect much of a reshuffling, but I'm still powering through stuff that I missed, looking for late discoveries (at least on my part) to bounce things that have been in the best-of drawer all year.

I don't think we'll have much overlap at all. Thao Nguyen would probably be about it among our shared contenders.


New York: Hey. Do you think Leona Lewis was snubbed for not being nominated for best new artist?

J. Freedom du Lac: Who gets bumped from this field if she gets in?

Adele, Duffy, Jonas Brothers, Lady Antebellum, Jazmine Sullivan.

I vote Duffy. I'm

already on record

as a nonbeliever. She seems like a sort of fraudulent Winehouse-come-lately.


Fairfax, Va.: My 9-year-old is moving beyond "kids" music -- do you know of a website where I can find out the kid-friendliness of music (pop/R&B/etc.)? Thanks.

J. Freedom du Lac: Parents, get in here.


to freedom of the lake: I need temporary housing on the evening of January 19th. do you live near downtown DC? what would you charge to stay in your garage? will you be working the Inaugaration? there'll be lots of music to review, I'm sure

J. Freedom du Lac: I do not - and no, I will not be covering any of the balls or unofficial events on the periphery. Taking personal leave in mid-January. Yeah, baby!


Drum lesson info and question: For drum lessons, give a call to Chuck Levin's Music Center in Silver Spring. Yes, the specialize in guitars, but carry all instruments and might have some good guidance.

Question time: I'm trying to get into the holiday mood, but have been wearing out my ears and iPod with The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping" (a personal fave) and Run DMC's "Chistmas in Hollis." Any other suggestions? (I'm tryingto avoid Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Band Aid, and the like...).

J. Freedom du Lac: It always comes back to Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home." Always.


Top Five Records, Chicago, Ill. (2008 version):

1. James McMurtry--Just Us Kids

2. Eddy Current Supression Ring--Primary Colours

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds--Dig Lazarus Dig

4. Silver Jews--Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

5. Kathleen Edwards--Asking for Flowers

J. Freedom du Lac: You know, pop Ashton Shepherd or Jamey Johnson or, in a late surge, Kanye West in for Kathleen Edwards, and that kind of looks like the combined Top 5 for me and Malitz.


NYC: OH great one! I am considering buying some music CDs for xmas. What are your thoughts on Adele and Erykah Badu's latest albums?

J. Freedom du Lac: I think Badu's album is brilliant, in a batscat-crazy kinda way. It's Top 10 for me. Adele is super-promising. That voice! I don't love, love, love the album, but she's definitely one to watch.

I didn't review either album, but I did cover both of 'em live this year.






MA: Moving to DC soon. Where's the best 'outdoor' place for good music on a regular basis

J. Freedom du Lac: What kind of music? And what kind of "outdoor place"?

The big three in this area are Live Nation's Nissan Pavilion, in Bristow, VA; Merriweather Post Pavilion, the Columbia, Md., shed run by the 9:30 club folks; and Wolf Trap, in the middle of a leafy plot of donated land near Vienna, Va.

Merriweather and Nissan book most of the big acts. If it's metal or country or classic rock, you're more likely to be looking at Nissan (but that's not always the case); if it's alt-rock or a big indie show, Merriweather. Wolf Trap usually books adult-oriented acts whose audiences aren't likely to break stuff: Aretha, Al Green, Lyle Lovett, etc.

People have very strong feelings about Nissan, many of them related to traffic and parking lots and, recently, a Radiohead concert performed in something like a monsoon.

Free shows at Fort Reno. Sometimes you'll see some stuff at Carter Baron, too.


Baltimore, Md.: All the comments you compiled re George Jones are interesting reading and I noticed a couple folks said they really couldn't choose between Jones and Merle Haggard as the greater country singer. While I have always loved Hag as a singer, songwriter and band leader (he really led the band live during the classic years of The Strangers), his vocal style is unimaginable without Lefty Frizzell as a model, whereas Jones to me is totally original as a vocalist, even if he did start off emulating Roy Acuff and Hank Williams. (Very early recordings of Jones sound much like Hank, as does the early work of Ray Price.) This may not be of interest to anyone who wasn't hanging at the old Stardust Inn in Waldorf in the 1970s, but wanted to put it out there. Thanks for a great article.

J. Freedom du Lac: I think people tend to conflate the singer with the songwriter, too, when they think about Hag. He gets extra points for being such a brilliant writer. George can write a song, too, but he didn't do it nearly as much, and his best songs can't compete with Haggard's.

Agree about the vocal influences, and about what George eventually became: Utterly original and incomparable.

What's interesting to me is that nobody mentioned Vern Gosdin as one of the great ones as I was

compiling all those quotes

. The producer Buddy Cannon (and, later, a commenter on the blog) were the only ones to bring him up. Buddy, whose remarks about Vern didn't make it into the post, still insists that George is the very best, though. "If there was a country Mount Rushmore, I'd say you'd put George on top, and Vern Gosdin under him. And I think Sammy Kershaw might be down there, maybe next to Vern."


Illinois, with a song for Rod B.: What else but "In The Jailhouse Now".

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes.


Kid Friendly: CD Baby has a "kid friendly" section

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks for this.


Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: re: Christmas music

For a local angle, pick up "X-Mas at K-Mart" by Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band (with the Rootettes).

J. Freedom du Lac: Our friends over at Express Night Out put together a nice riff on the best DC Christmas records, including the Root Boy Slim track:

"Arguably the most eccentric character to ever emerge from the D.C. music scene, the late Foster MacKenzie III (that's Root Boy to you) is probably best known for the immortal novelty 'Boogie 'Til You Puke.' But this comical ode to the old discount chain store was a seasonal hit on WHFS back in the 1980s. In less than three minutes, our boy Root Boy lampoons mood rings, hippies, shoplifting, Santa and even 7-Eleven. Plus, he gets in a dig about poverty. It won't be everyone's cup of Christmas cheer, of course, but even non-believers have to dig those incongruously straight-faced female backing vocals."

Read the whole post




Washington, D.C.: Are any of the Darlene Love "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" performances on Letterman available for download? All I can find is the original Phil Spector version. Nice, but I really love the yearly Letterman appearances.

J. Freedom du Lac: They all live on via YouTube. Great archive of her performances through the years. Not sure if there are any downloads available, though.


Alexandria, Va.: Hello J. Freedom Have you heard that Ryan Shaw will be singing in the area in a venue that is not outdoors? He'll be at the Birchmere with James Hunter in January. This is the place to hear him. His show at Merriweather last whenever was good, but his is not outdoor stuff.

J. Freedom du Lac: I think you just answered your own question. He's at the Birchmere on Jan 13. I hope he cold-opens with that a cappella version of "A Change Is Gonna Come." Great stuff.


Country Mt. Rushmore: Without George Strait? Then tis no Mt. Rushmore I'd respect. He may not write the best songs but I'll be damned if he's not the single best act I've seen and heard.

J. Freedom du Lac: Buddy named three singers. There are four faces on Mount Rushmore. Stand down.

But...George Strait wouldn't be George Strait without George Jones. Hell, George Strait even says as much in my blog post.

Here's what Buddy says about the Possum's influence: "Any singer who ever spends any time in a country honky-tonk, they're going to have a little bit of George Jones in there somewhere. And any country soul singer has got George Jones in him. If he loves country music and he's a soul singer, he's listened to George Jones albums. There's just no way he didn't. Jamey Johnson. Alan Jackson. Of course, George Strait. He has a lot of those inflections. You compare his records against George Jones's records, he learned a lot of licks the way Jones did them."


Re: The Winehouses-come-lately: J. Free, your little dig at Duffy made me think fondly about Ms. Winehouse. Ever heard her versions of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" or "To Know Him Is To Love Him?" She breathed new life into those old chestnuts and reminded me of just how well she can sing. Hope she gets her act together again.

Meanwhile, I know Malitz didn't really love Alice Russell's new CD but she can really sing. Ever heard her with The Bamboos on "Step It Up?" Even a middle-aged white guy like me can get funky to that.

J. Freedom du Lac: I, too, would love to see/hear a Winehouse comeback. Won't be holding my breath, though. So, so sad.

You know what Alice Russell tune I really dig? One that's not even her own:

A cover of "Seven Nation Army."

(Sorry, the sound quality is pretty lousy on that version. She sounds much better on MySpace.)


drumming lessons: The House of Musical Traditions ( in Takoma Park has a great teaching staff, including Stream Ohrstrom on drums, plus a selection of drums from around the world.

J. Freedom du Lac: Passing this along.


Maybe you can get Dave Grohl to do it. : No, he's too busy judging food on Top Chef.

J. Freedom du Lac: Second-best show on television, behind "Gossip Girl."


St. Paul, Minn. (raised in Annandale, Va.): Don't know if he's still there, but Pat Lash at Twinbrooke Music in Fairfax, Virginia is a very good area drum instructor.

Twinbrooke Music: (703) 425-9500

J. Freedom du Lac: Passing this along, the sequel....


Downtown: Loretta Lynn (and family) at 9:30 club Saturday - only in America! A great show in so many ways - even its flaws somehow worked. Having never seen Loretta before, I was struck by how purely "American" the whole thing was - a mix of great singing, excellent band, awesome lyrics, a bit of trash, corn pone jokes, a dark element with son Ernie - it was like a 90 minute unfiltered slice of Americana. Awesome.

J. Freedom du Lac: That show was ... weird. Had some terrific moments, and you had to kind of love the way Loretta didn't apologize for forgetting lyrics, singing the wrong songs, losing her voice, etc. She's above apologies!

But...the Ernest Ray stuff really bugged me.

I blogged about it yesterday

, but to recap: A guy who killed a friend while driving drunk joking about being drunk is sorta icky-creepy. Plus, he's running a talent deficit.


Another one for Rod: Sam Cooke's Chain Gang, anyone?

J. Freedom du Lac: In Cook County, no less!


Washington, D.C.: As a product of the early/mid-'90s hip hop scene, I find most of today's hip hop, rap and R&B deplorably, unspeakably bad. That said, I caught TI on SNL and was surprisingly pleased by his performance. Thoughts on him or the show?

J. Freedom du Lac: I didn't watch his performances - just the opening skit. Where music and SNL are concerned, there is, quite frankly, nothing that can top Samberg's latest creation, anyway: "J-zz In My Pants." (And no, the missing letter is not an "a.")


Bethesda, Md.: I know when I was a kid, nothing made me feel as independent and rebellious as having my mother and father make musical suggestions to me. I can remember Mom steering me toward the more "kid-friendly" Elton John over David Bowie because Bowie "plucked his eyebrows." Thank God there weren't any kid-friendly music sites in the 70s otherwise Mom might have found out about Elton's rent boy parties and heavy cocaine use. Where would I have been then?

J. Freedom du Lac: I couldn't help but laugh when I was interviewing parents at the Jonas Brothers show in Baltimore, and a couple of moms told me that they loved that their daughters were into the JoBros because the boys (Cute, Hot, Other) are just so darn wholesome. At which point I asked: "When you were their age, did you crush on artists who were wholesome?" Not even, they said. One of them mentioned an old Sabbath obsession, and seeds in the gatefold, etc etc.


Christmas music: What about Malitz's Christmas mix? That was great last year -- is he doing another one?

J. Freedom du Lac: You sure it wasn't his Festivus mix?


Seriously: What's happening in January? You've made so many references. I have my theories (mostly one) and I'm curious if it's right...

J. Freedom du Lac: My 2009 slogan: Diaper change we can believe in.

Thanks for stopping by, folks. Gotta edit a Darius Hootie story now. Wish me luck.


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