Album per diem: Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night

It’s only installment two of Album per diem and I have already screwed up. Bob Dylan’s Shadows In The Night came out in 2015 on February 3 not February 2. We have arrived to the second without me even noticing my error, so we’ll keep it this way and get you prepared for the one-year anniversary of the Dylan’s 36th studio album. Yes, that’s a lot of albums.

Not usually do Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra go hand-in-hand. Both are musical giants, of course, but Sinatra is known for his knockout singing and Dylan for his poetic and beautiful songwriting. In this album, Dylan knocked down the walls and did an album full of pop standards that were made popular by Ol’ Blue Eyes.

  1. I’m A Fool To Want You – Even if you are just a casual fan of the steel guitar, you need to listen to this track just for that alone. And all the initial reviews are correct, the vocal is surprisingly great. That’s just not Dylan’s forte and it was really nice on this track. Some horns get added to the steel guitar by the end of the song which is just an awesome sound.
  2. The Night We Called It A Day – The song sends you to a lounge somewhere and you get lost in the lyrics. Every once and a while you go, ‘hey, this guy sounds like Bob Dylan’, but then you forget about it and go back to sipping your whiskey in very dim lighting. It’s nice soft and another great vocal from Dylan.
  3. Stay With Me – Another solid track, but a little high for Dylan’s register. The high notes have never been the Minnesota native’s forte, but it didn’t take away from another solid track on the album.
  4. Autumn Leaves – More epic steel guitar to open the track. It’s become more than evident that the instrumentation just takes this album to a high level. Dylan brought his a-game to the vocals and the players have done an amazing job. This album would be a joy to listen to without Dylan’s vocals, that’s not saying anything about his vocals just how grand the players are.
  5. Why Try To Change Me Now – “Don’t you remember I was always your clown, but why try to change me now?” That’s a great line. I loved this tune. I didn’t really know what to expect with Dylan’s take on pop standards, but I really like what has gone down so far. The album lacks a little bit of energy at this point, but it might just work in this instance.
  6. Some Enchanted Evening – Another solid track, but it is getting to the point that you have to be in the right mood for the album. The songs are very similar which makes a great intensive listening to the album a little dull.
  7. Full Moon And Empty Arms – It’s weird to me to be hearing Dylan signing songs so blatantly about love. I don’t why, but that just isn’t the picture of Dylan I have in my mind. Another nice track, but the same issues as before of sounding similar.
  8. Where Are You? – Bob Dylan is not supposed to be able to sign this well. This song might be the strongest vocal on the whole album which is saying something. In an album that keeps a little dull, this is a good reason to keep going.
  9. What’ll I Do – Bob Dylan was made to sing sad songs. This song is a sad song. Bob Dylan was made to sing this song. The raspy quality that Dylan has matches what we imagine a sad song should sound like.
  10. That Lucky Old Sun – I’m a sucker for albums that end in some positivity and this song is about ending up in heaven. You can’t get much more positive than that. The horns on this song make it seem heavenly supporting another great vocal from Dylan.

In the grand scheme of things, maybe I’m not cool enough to totally love Dylan. I liked this album, but in the middle of the album I was finding it hard to fully give attention to it. A lot of the songs sound similar, but they still sound great. There is great instrumentation throughout, the steel guitar is heavenly, plus Dylan does give a wonderful vocal especially for a Bob Dylan album.

It’s worth a listen and if you’re into lounge-like music, you should definitely enjoy it. If you are one that is just a casual music listener, the album would make great background music, I say that in the best way possible. It sounds beautiful, but it’s one you can’t concentrate too hard on.

If you can only listen to one song, go with What I’ll Do with Why Try To Change Me Now? a close second place.

Next up: Roseanne Cash – Seven Year Ache


Album per diem: Al Green – Full of Fire

Welcome to the first installment of Album per diem, where yours truly dives into an album and discusses it each and every day. Up first is Al Green and his album Full of Fire which was released 40 years ago this month in 1976. Green has writing credits on seven of the nine songs on the album. Let’s dive in.

  1. “Glory, Glory” – Nothing groundbreaking with this tune, that being said it is a nice little toe-tapper of soul. The horns featured throughout the song need to be commended. All in all, it’s a nice little kickoff to the album.
  2. “That’s the Way It Is” – This song is just plain groovy. It’s heavier than “Glory, Glory”, but in a good way. Any song that ends with hand-clapping when there was no hand clapping in the previous 3:30 seconds of the song is a great song by my standards.
  3. “Always” – If you’re looking for a new song for Valentine’s Day playlist, I have found one for you. This song oozes the sound of love, not overly sexual, but lovely love. The kind of love that’s on Hallmark. Simply this will be a great love song for… always.
  4. “There’s No Way” – Let’s keep that Valentine’s Day playlist rolling my friends, because this song knocks it out of the park. It’s one of those love songs that make you wanna cry. The first verse is pure magic: “If I could live my life all over, I’d do everything the same/The film in my camera would reveal everything the same / Like kissin’ you every mornin’, lovin’ you day by day/ Dreaming dreams of you and every old way will”. It’s absolutely brilliant. Not to mention the high note that is belted as the song fades out is something everybody should hear.
  5. “I’d Fly Away” – The best vocal on the album so far comes on the last track of the first side. Green puts on a wonderful vocal and the combination of that with the instrumentation makes it actually seem like you are flying or, at the very least, floating. The phrase “away, hey, hey” shows up a lot throughout which is a good thing, because every time it occurs it results in a nice crescendo into the last hey which is immediately followed by a cool lick from the horns.
  6. “Full of Fire” – The song results in another nice vocal, but the lyrics really do leave something to be desired. Basically, he’s full of fire, likes this girl and he can dance. Cool. It’s hard to hate on this song because, again, I love the arrangement, but in an album full of beautiful love songs, it just doesn’t really cut it.
  7. “Together Again” – When you think Al Green, you also think Buck Owens, right? Well, Buck Owens wrote the song and Al Green sure brought it to life in his version. The song stretches five minutes and it might have about 100 words total, but it’s beautiful. If you want a long slow-dance about being back together again and in your lover’s arms this is the song for you.
  8. “Soon As I Get Home” – At my funeral, someone will be required to stand outside the church with the future’s equivalent of a boombox and play this song. Simply, home is heaven in this song and Green is telling us all once he’s going to do when he gets there. It’s kind of weird song to have on an album with a bunch of love songs, but it still works.
  9. “Let It Shine” – This is an excellent closing song. It feels like the end of church when you’re supposed to ‘go forth’ and such. It’s a nice happy little send off to the rest of your day/life/whatever. Everybody has a light, you just gotta let it shine.

I’m scared after listening to this album. I fear I might have done one of the best albums that I’m ever going to do on day one. If you like some old school soul music, I’d highly recommend this album. I’d love to point to my favorite track, but I can’t really pick one out. “Always”, “There’s No Way” and “Together Again” are all great love songs that I really dig. I hope you dig them, too.

Next up: Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night.

May the music ever be in your favor.

Introducing Album per diem

It is funny how life’s tune changes. Four years ago, I was pretty well set on writing about sports. I still love sports, but writing about them just isn’t as high of a high as it used to be. Sure, I’ll still get worked up from time to time and feel the need to berate or praise some sporting figures, but I’m not the constant hot take machine I used to be.

How life typically goes is that one leaves and another thing comes in to fill that void. My life has seen a shift from sports to music. Not the performing of these things, I’m not good enough to do that, but music has taken the place to think about it, analyze and, frankly, care about.

I tell you this to tell you about my latest project: Album per diem

Per diem is Latin for “per day” or “for each day”. That means right here on this very website, I am going to listen to, analyze and write about a different album every single day. Is this a big undertaking? Maybe. There’s only one way to find out and that’s to jump in and do it.

This is all going to kick off on February 1. Get your popcorn ready.

I’m always trying to diversify and expand my musical knowledge and this is my way of doing that. I hope to help myself and help turn my lovely readers on to some music they might not have heard of before.

What albums are going to be on Album per diem during the month of February? Glad you asked:

  • 1: Al Green – Full of Fire#
  • 2: Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night
  • 3: Roseanne Cash – Seven Year Ache#
  • 4: Queen – Innuendo
  • 5: Elton John – Wonderful Crazy Night*
  • 6: Neil Diamond – Tennessee Moon
  • 7: Buck Owens – Roll Out The Red Carpet
  • 8: Merle Haggard – It’s All In The Movies#
  • 9: Phil Collins – Face Value
  • 10: Diana Ross – Diana Ross (1976)
  • 11: Kanye West – Waves*
  • 12: John Coltrane – Ascension#
  • 13: Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
  • 14: Heart – Dreamboat Annie
  • 15: Alabama – Feels So Right#
  • 16: Journey – Captured#
  • 17: Imagine Dragons – Smoke + Mirrors
  • 18:  Jackson Browne – Lives In The Balance
  • 19: Earth, Wind & Fire – Earth, Wind & Fire#
  • 20: Willie Nelson – The Sound In Your Mind#
  • 21: Jason Mraz – Geekin’ Out Across The Galaxy
  • 22: Adele – 21
  • 23: Jimmy Buffett – Coconut Telegraph#
  • 24: Kid Rock – First Kiss
  • 25: Juice Newton – Juice#
  • 26: Bonnie Raitt – Dig In Deep*
  • 27: Dave Matthews Band – Everyday
  • 28: Bruce Springsteen – Hammersmith Odeon London ‘75
  • 29: Olivia Newton-John – Come On Over

All of these albums have been/will be released in the month of February. All these albums are either the one, five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 or 55 year anniversary of the album or day of release. The * means that it is a day-of-release appearance on Album per diem, so, for example, the day that Kanye drops Waves, I’ll listen to it and I’ll let you know if it is in fact the ‘album of a life’.

The # means that the album was released sometime in the month of February. Yes, all the other albums are the exact day anniversary. I’d love to keep it that way, but the further you go back in history the more Wikipedia only lists the release month  instead of the exact release date.

To quote Taylor Swift, “it’s going to be forever or it’s going to go down in flames.” Either way, I’m very excited to get this project going and to immerse myself in a whole lot of music.

Until then I’m going to go scan my radio until I find Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’ because that may be one of the most perfect songs released in my lifetime. I’m serious.

May the music be ever in your favor.

Sam Mitchell’s hot take on the media is, well, pedestrian

Sam Mitchell probably knows more about basketball than me. He should, anyway. After a 13-year playing career and being either an assistant or head coach in the Association since 2002 should result in some knowledge. You’d think that knowledge would also include knowing not to insult the media.

That’s what you’d think.

Then Sam Mitchell said this after the Minnesota Timberwolves lost a game where they had a double-digit lead on the road against the Dallas Mavericks who were without Dirk Nowitzki:

“I see it every night. You guys don’t see it, you guys are pedestrians. I don’t see what you see when you have that microphone in your hand and that camera, and you guys don’t see what we see. We see the little things…”

Basketball is not that complicated of a game. In the middle of January, in a game that doesn’t really matter, an NBA contest is actually probably less complicated than most high school games. Middle schoolers could analyze NBA games in the middle of the season, nonetheless people that are around the team on a virtually daily basis covering the team.

This isn’t a ‘I have a journalism degree, don’t insult my people’ rambling.’ This is a ‘you should know better and don’t really have the clout to be saying that kind of thing right now’ rambling.

First off, in the quote, Mitchell goes on to say that people are only looking at the boxscore and not seeing what the young players are doing and improving off of what they’ve been taught. Everyone is seeing improvement, heck, it’s the only thing that’s worth watching the Timberwolves for right now.

Second, if Mitchell is seeing these things, harness them. Improve upon them. The Timberwolves were better in their first 15 games of the season than they have in the last two months. That is exactly the opposite of what should be happening for a young team.

Don’t go after the media when you are in second-to-last place in the Western Conference. You need all the good press you can get. You are 1-9 in your last 10 games. Only two other teams in the NBA have that horrible of a mark in their last ten and one of them is the Phoenix Suns that you somehow found a way to defeat and then come crashing back to reality again.

This team is young and has gone through a whole lot, I understand that, but there is no reason this team shouldn’t at least be close to .500 and shoot an actual three-point shot every now and again.

The reality of the situation is that Sam Mitchell likely won’t be around next season and this will just be water under the bridge, but that’s the problem. Sam Mitchell had the opportunity to succeed and get himself another permanent head coaching gig in the NBA, but is failing. Don’t try to take the media down with you.

That’s pedestrian.

Yay, you hoar! Diving on in to the hoar frost!

Sometimes we question why we live in Minnesota. For example, the Vikings almost blew a 17 point lead to the Packers last night. Even when our teams don’t lose they still almost give a heart attack and no one should live like that.

We deal with snow and ice, too. Heck, if you ask anyone that’s not from Minnesota, I believe that we don’t get above freezing until June and we’re right back to the land of ice and snow before Labor Day. There are some downfalls to a Minnesota winter, but there are some real advantages, too.

The snow can be quite beautiful, the water freezes over so much we can walk on water and, one of my personal favorites, hoar frost.

Hoar frost isn’t an everyday occurrence, which makes it neat, but we all think it’s quite lovely. The reason a lot of the Christmas trees nowadays are ‘frosted’ is they are going for the beautiful look that these fine specimens get when hoar frost is present.

What is hoar frost? Glad you asked! From the ‘Frost’ article on Wikipedia, section ‘Hoar frost’:

“Hoar frost (also hoarfrost, radiation frost, or pruina) refers to white ice crystals, deposited on the ground or loosely attached to exposed objects such as wires or leaves. They form on cold, clear nights when conditions are such that heat radiates out to the open sky faster than it can be replaced from nearby sources such as wind or warm objects. Under suitable circumstances, objects cool to below the frost point of the surrounding air, well below the freezing point of water. Such freezing may be promoted by effects such as flood frost or frost pocket. These occur when ground-level radiation losses cool air till it flows downhill and accumulates in pockets of very cold air in valleys and hollows. Hoar frost may freeze in such low-lying cold air even when the air temperature a few feet above ground is well above freezing.

The name hoar comes from an Old English adjective that means “showing signs of old age”; in this context it refers to the frost that makes trees and bushes look like white hair.”

That beauty came to us today. The beauty needed to be photographed, so Kirby and I hit the snow to take some pictures. Turns out there are more pictures of my dog than the hoar frost, but both are quite adorable.

Yay, you hoar! Enjoy!

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