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Last Night On The Loft

I was in Jackson's Java last night listening to The Loft on XM radio. I think The Loft is supposed to be XM's Really Hip Station. It gets a lot of ridicule from the regulars, so I don't think it is succeeding in it's mission of hipness (as is often the case with such missions). Nonetheless, there were three songs I heard that are noteworthy (though not all for good reasons.)

The first was an acoustic guitar version of Frank Zappa's Sofa #1. Sofa is a truly gorgeous song. It has kind of an anthem/gospel sound with just enough of Zappa's trademark playfulness with key and signature changes to set it apart from other such songs. It first appeared on his 1975 One Size Fits All.

I am always hearing acoustic covers on the Loft. They range from Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" to They Might Be Giants "Don't Let's Start". In fact I am hard pressed to think of an acoustic cover I haven't heard on the Loft. These covers are often laughable, and a primary reason for the above mentioned ridicule of the Loft.

If you had told me the Sofa #1 would have been added to the long long list of acoustic covers played on the Loft, I would have expected not to llke it. But this cover was well-done enough for me to listen for who the artist was. It was a guy named Michael Hedges. It turns out that it was originally Dweezil Zappa's idea for him to cover Sofa, and that Hedges played it for Zappa shortly before Zappa's death.

The next noteworthy song was Lou Reed's "The Kids" from his Berlin album. This is a priceless album. Berlin is a song cycle about a relationship that has gone very very wrong. It has some of the darkest lyrics I've every heard. Bob Ezrin's lush production keeps it from having that "hey look at me, I'm dark and disturbed" feeling that so much goth music has. The session musicians, including Jack Bruce, Steve Winwood, and the Brecker Brothers together constitute  a veritable hall of fame.

"The Kids" is about a woman whose children are being taken because she is a junkie and a whore. If you don't listen to the lyrics, it sounds like a standard, maybe a little better than standard, soft rock song. At first. Then on the bridge you hear children crying and screaming "Mommy!". It's bone chilling. At this point in the song the barrista came out from behind the counter because she thought they were children in the shop. So did a couple of the customers. A regular came in from outside and asked "WHAT are you making us listen to?". It was incredible. If the purpose of art is to disturb, this song is a Mona Lisa.

The last noteworthy song was James Taylor doing "Carolina In My Mind". (Remember I said the songs were not all noteworthy in a good way.) Only it wasn't the original version. It could best be described as "the dance version". It was a lot more uptempo than the original, and had ELO style violins in the background. I wondered aloud if James Taylor had lost a bet. No one seriously challenged that notion.

I have to admit it was catchy . I was almost tempted to tap my foot to it or sing along, but I had a nasty suspicion that if I got that into the song, I would become so disengaged from my brain that evil space aliens would be able to suck it out of my head without my noticing. It was that kind of song.