New Music Friday: Wildflowers & All the Rest by Tom Petty

It’s no secret on this blog that I love Tom Petty and that Wildflowers is my favorite album of his and one of my all time favorite albums period. Several years ago it came to light that Tom Petty had originally recorded Wildflowers as a double album, but his record label at the time didn’t want to release a double album so 10 of the original songs were left on the cutting room floor. I immediately wanted to be able to hear those songs but thought that it was probably never going to come to pass.

For awhile Tom Petty said he had no interest in releasing those songs as a separate album because they were written at a certain time that he was no longer living in and he only wanted his music to keep moving forward. Apparently though as he was doing his 40th Anniversary tour he began planning a project to revisit Wildflowers and bring those songs to light. Obviously he was never able to bring that dream to fruition as he sadly died a few short weeks after ending that tour.

But happily his dream has been brought to life by his daughters Adria and Annakim, his wife Dana and two of the Heartbreakers Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell. Today they released Wildflowers & All the Rest a box set that includes remastered versions of the songs on the original album and the 10 songs that were cut from the original album. It also includes early home recordings of some of the songs as well as live versions so that you can get a sense of their evolution.

I immediately skipped to the songs that were cut and haven’t even managed to make it through those yet. There is going to be so much to dig into here. I know what I will be doing this weekend. 2020 isn’t all bad, just mostly. Here’s a YouTube playlist of the 25 album versions of the songs. You’ll have to pop over to somewhere like Spotify to hear the home recordings and live versions or you know do something crazy and buy it.

New Music Friday: The Highwomen Edition

I was already planning on writing about Maren Morris’s new song “Better Than We Found It”, which actually came out a little over a week ago but which I had not yet heard in time for last week’s New Music Friday post. In keeping with the tradition I seem to have started over the last few week’s for my New Music Friday posts it’s another song about thinking about the world we’re creating and leaving for the next generation. It’s a song Maren Morris wrote for her son and the video very sweetly includes him and a little love letter to him at the end.

Then I woke up this morning to a surprise drop from Yola, who is one of artists that sang on some of the songs for the Highwomen album, the country super group mainly composed of Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby and also featuring Yola and Sheryl Crow. “Hold On” features Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby on backing vocals, Sheryl Crow on piano, and Jason Isbell on guitar which he also played on the Highwomen album. According to Yola “‘Hold On’ is asking the next [generation] to take up space, to be visible and to show what it looks to be young, gifted and Black.”

I usually try to post YouTube videos rather than Spotify links because I know not everyone has a Spotify account, but for whatever reason there doesn’t seem to be a legal version of the song up on YouTube yet. Though somehow there are already multiple illegally uploaded versions. It’s available through all the streaming services so go listen wherever you have an account.

Deep Creek Lake Vacation

This past week for the first time since the pandemic started we went somewhere other than our house. It’s the longest period of time I can think of that I didn’t travel somewhere. I wanted to stick somewhere within driving distance and staying in state meant we didn’t have to worry about any quarantine rules between states should there be any major outbreaks by the time our trip rolled around. So I found a house in Deep Creek Lake in Western Maryland.

It wound up being a nice little place to stay, though it was a bit stressful right before our trip when I got a call that the place had been listed on both VRBO and AirBnB and had somehow been double booked. Luckily they had another property available and the other family that had this house rented was able to shift their trip by a few days and stay at the other house. For a minute though I was thinking that it was going to be very 2020 for my trip to get snatched out from under me at the last minute.

Based on the photos I thought the house was right on the lake, but really the photos were from the boat slip they have that’s a couple of blocks away. If you squinted really hard between some houses and trees you could see a little bit of the lake from their yard. It would have been nice to have more of a water view from the house, but it wasn’t that big of a deal and it was way too cold for us to go swimming or anything.

View from their dock slip

Luckily the weather wasn’t as bad as originally forecast. It was warm when we arrived on Monday afternoon and we took advantage of that evening to make a fire in the nice fire pit they had outside. It started raining before we went to bed on Monday and poured rain all through Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, but after that it cleared up aside from a little bit of additional rain late on Thursday evening.

Since it was rainy on Tuesday we just stayed inside and read, watched TV, and played some board games. They also had a wood burning fireplace inside so we took advantage of that the rest of the trip since it was too cold for me to want to do one outside the other nights we were there.

We did a couple of short hikes on Wednesday because my husband had a work call he wanted to jump on so we did some quick hikes so that he could go home in the middle to take the call. We did a hike in New Germany State Park that was 2 miles round trip and had a nice view at the top. Since we wanted to grab dinner at a restaurant in downtown Oakland we found some walking paths near there that wound up to be less nice than the description made them seem. It said there was a path along a river between downtown and some park and then a loop around the park. The river was more a small stream and the other side of the trail was next to a busy road, so it did not seem very nature like. It also took you by the waste water treatment plant. So not the most picturesque walk, but got me the rest of my steps for the day. Thursday we did a 4.5 mile hike in Deep Creek Lake State park, which was much more woodsy.

It was a nice relaxing trip. It was nice to get away from our house for a few days since between working from home and no longer having much of a social life that doesn’t happen over a screen I spend almost all my time there. As I wanted it was also somewhere where we really didn’t have to interact with a whole lot of other people aside from running into restaurants to grab take out for dinner and walking by a few other people on hiking trails. I was pleasantly surprised that pretty much almost everyone we saw was wearing masks as I had prepared myself for people there not complying with the state laws on that. I also cut myself off from news and social media while I was gone. I highly recommend doing that for a few days. I won’t be doing any big trips like I normally do for at least another year at this point based on how things are going, but I’m already thinking about somewhere else to travel close to home where there won’t be too many people. Maybe a winter beach trip.

New Music Friday: Making Do by Lake Street Dive

I just got back from a nice little getaway in the woods so I haven’t been paying much attention to new music this week. I know Dawes has a new album out today, which I have purchased but not even had the time to listen to yet. I saw Lake Street Dive premiere this song to fans during an online concert the other week, and I see that it is out to the whole wide world as of a few days ago so it’s what I’m going with. It’s about thinking about what kind of world we’re leaving future generations to “make do” with.

New Music Friday: Look the Other Way by Katie Pruitt

Katie Pruitt has been teasing this song, which she released on Wednesday, on her Instagram for weeks, so I’ve known for a while that this song was going to be New Music Friday post for today. I wrote about her new album, which this song is not a part of, back in the spring. It’s one of my favorites of the year, and I’m really bummed that I didn’t get to see her in concert this summer as that show was of course one of the many that I had tickets to that got canceled due to COVID-19.

I think this song speaks for itself, but it’s all about breaking out of our own comfortable lives to fight for justice instead of just looking the other way because it’s easier and/or it doesn’t affect us personally. It’s a great song and one I definitely need to be better about applying to my own life because it’s far too easy to feel defeated and feel like I have no power to change anything.

TV Diary

It’s time for yet another TV Diary because, you know, I’m watching a lot of tv these days. Luckily I’ve had a really good run of shows recently.

Teenage Bounty Hunters

I haven’t heard very many people talking about this show. I haven’t seen a single critic review it. It’s a shame because I LOVE this show. In some respects I feel like it shares a little bit of DNA with Schitt’s Creek in that it is kind of over the top and unrealistic in some ways, but also just has a whole lot of heart and wonderful relationships at the center of it. It’s sweet and funny and also fun. In some ways it feels perfectly made for me. I mean there was even a library database joke. Who is that for if not me?

Fraternal twin sisters Sterling and Blair are the titular teenage bounty hunters who accidentally wind up in the middle of a bounty hunter catching his skip during a car accident. They wind up helping catch him and in need of money to fix their father’s truck that they just wrecked they convince the bounty hunter to take them on as paid interns. Although the bounty hunting is part of each episode, it almost is beside the point. It is more about their relationships with their mentor, their parents, their significant others, and each other. If you watch one show on this list make it this one.

Harley Quinn

I had heard a lot of really great things about the animated show Harley Quinn, but I was never going to subscribe to DC Universe to watch it. Now that DC Universe has rebranded and shuffled off all their video content to HBO Max I was finally able to watch it. In this version of the story Harley and the Joker have just broken up and she winds up living with and becoming best friends with Poison Ivy who is trying to help her let go of the Joker and live her own life. She eventually gets a crew and is trying to take over Gotham City for herself. It is hilarious and also has a lot of good relationships in it. There is a lot of animated violence and gore and a decent amount of cursing. It waxes and wanes in episodes. The first episode is probably the worst on all counts. They really want to make sure you know this is not an animated show for kids of any age. I also highly recommend this show.

Ramy

Ramy stars Ramy Youssef as sort of an alternate reality version of himself in which he still lives at home with his parents and is still trying to figure out his life and his Muslim faith and how to use it to become a better person because he is a low level not great person. It’s a show I enjoyed when we were watching it, but was for some reason something I was never super excited to put on. Probably because there are a lot of things that Ramy does that are not great and meant to make you feel uncomfortable. There are episodes that focus on specific members of his family too and they are similarly as uncomfortable. There is focused on his mother in season 2 that I had to watch most of through my hands. It is a good show with a perspective that no other show has, but it’s not necessarily a fun watch even though I guess it’s supposed to be a comedy. It’s not my kind of comedy.

Taste the Nation

Taste the Nation is a sort of food travel show hosted by Padma Lakshmi. She digs into various types of cuisine and the history and culture surrounding it including a lot about immigration. It’s a really great show and it made me really want to be able to travel and eat in restaurants again. It will also make you very hungry.

Frayed

Frayed is a quick 6 episode series from Australia about a woman who fled her small town in Australia and moved to England without looking back until her husband dies and she discovers they are penniless. She winds up having to return back to Australia with her teenage kids to live with her mother and brother and confront other people from her past in the town none of which are too happy to see her again. I liked it well enough, but I really could have done without all the vomiting. I never, ever want to see tv or movie characters vomit and there was literally at least one person if not more that vomited in every episode of this show except one. So you know, if that also bothers you be forewarned. Also I’m not sure if there are going to be additional seasons of this show, but this one ended on something that seemed to come very out of left field.

Legend of Korra/Avatar: The Last Airbender

I had always heard good things about Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender, so now that they are both on Netflix I decided to check them out. I sort of did it backwards in that I started with Legend of Korra which is the spin-off series because I have been a long time listener of Janet Varney’s podcast the JV Club and she voices Korra so I have heard her talk about it a lot. I’m glad I did it that way because I don’t know that I ever would have gotten to Korra if I watched Avatar first. I know a lot of adults who love Avatar, but it seems squarely aimed at 10 year old kids. I could not get into at all. Korra felt way more adult to me even though I think she’s supposed to be a teenager when it starts. I really liked the first couple of seasons and then it went down hill for me in the final seasons. There was more relationship stuff in the first seasons than there was in subsequent seasons. I really didn’t care for the final season, which obviously had a lot of budget cuts that affected the show in ways you see all the time with live action shows, but I never would have considered in regards to animated shows before this. Most of the first season all the core team was split up and only one or two would appear during an episode and then there was an actual clip retrospective episode, which sit-coms used to do all the time but is not something I have seen done in a very long time. It was kind of odd. I’m glad I watched Korra, but I don’t think I’ll ever make it through Avatar.

Warrior Nun

This show is kind of crazy. I don’t even know how to describe it well, so I’m not going to try. You can go look up a summary if you want. I liked it more at the beginning when she was reveling in her ability to walk again and figuring out her new powers and what was going on and trying to decide if she was going to go fulfill this destiny than I was as the season went on. I definitely was only half paying attention to episodes towards the end of the season.

Lovecraft Country

I tried with this show, but it is not for me. I am just not a horror person. It doesn’t scare me. Most of the time I find it silly and I generally don’t like the plots surrounding it. I understand why people loved Get Out and like this for similar reasons, but I wasn’t into Get Out and was not into this show. I watched a couple episodes and then decided to give up. The fact that each episode seems to be it’s own thing only loosely connected to the other episodes did not help me get into it either.

Cursed

This is a retelling of the Arthurian legend from the perspective of the Lady in Lake before Arthur became king. I watched a few episodes and then told my husband he could go on without me. I did not care about anything that was happening and realized that I also want a little humor and or levity in my fantasy that this was just not providing. I don’t care about people just wandering in invented worlds and fighting over some thing. See why I also do not care about Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones.

New Music Friday: Nandi Bushell Official Theme Song by Dave Grohl

My friend texted me the other day telling me I should make this my New Music Friday song this week. Although there are a couple other songs that came out today that I could have written about I didn’t feel overly compelled to write about any of them, so I’m taking her up on her suggestion.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story Nandi Bushell is a 10 year old girl who is a great drummer and who challenged Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters to a drum off. It went viral on social media and he responded eventually declaring her the winner of round one. Then he wrote this song for her with his kids. You can read about the whole thing in this article.

I do not care one little bit about the Foo Fighters’ music. It is not for me, but Dave Grohl from what I can tell is a super awesome guy. After 1000 people in Cesena, Italy recorded a version of “Learning to Fly” to convince the Foo Fighters to come play a concert in their city Dave Grohl responded and they eventually did. He also once finished off a concert after breaking his leg in the middle of the show when stage diving. He just pulled up a chair and kept going so as not to disappoint the fans.

He also made some really excellent music documentaries in the fantastic documentary film Sound City about Sound City Studios and Sonic Highways an HBO docuseries, which explores the musical history of various American cities. I highly recommend them both if you if you have never seen them.

So my point is that even though I don’t really care for the Foo Fighters’ music myself and I will probably never listen to this particular song again, I am really happy that guys like Dave Grohl exist in the world to help bring us all a little joy.

New Music Friday: Turntables by Janelle Monae

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about here today. I didn’t come into today with anything in mind and after listening to NPR Music’s New Music Friday podcast and what Spotify had to offer me in my Release Radar playlist I still wasn’t really feeling anything. Then right as I was finishing my walk this morning WXPN played Janelle Monae’s new song “Turntables”, which is from the forthcoming documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy. It was just the song I was looking for this morning because I really need to believe that the tables are in fact about to turn and that there is a more just America on the horizon. I’ll be over here listening to this on repeat.

Another Good Things Roundup

I’m still here trying to make sure I find the good in all the terrible that is happening. So here’s another list of some of the things that have brought me joy in the past few weeks.

  1. Beautiful Labor Day weekend weather. I literally could not have asked for better weather. The whole weekend of was gorgeous. I spent about 4 hours hanging out with a friend outside on Saturday and several hours outside reading in my hammock on Monday. Beautiful weather always makes things feel better.
  2. As I just mentioned I spent time hanging out with a friend on Saturday. Other than a few minutes when I dropped off some drinks back at her house in May I hadn’t seen her in person since March. We both got take out from different restaurants in the neighborhood and then sat outside camped out under some trees in the shade in the back of my house. It was so nice to spend time with her.
  3. And speaking of the grassy area behind my house, it has been a real life saver in these times. I don’t really have a yard to speak of. We had what was a small concrete patio that we have since had jackhammered up and turned into a proper parking pad. Many of our neighbors have also turned their outdoor space into a parking pad as well, so we have all started treating this patch of grass that separates our rowhouses from the parking lot behind them as our communal backyard. A couple people have strung up hammocks between trees. I’ve seen people sitting out there under the trees working. I and others have used it to gather outdoors with friends. In the before times it was pretty much only used for people to walk their dogs. It’s still used a lot for that, but it’s nice to see that it has taken on a new life.
  4. Carryout french fries that aren’t terrible. For my takeout lunch on Saturday I got a shrimp salad sandwich with friends from Rocket to Venus. They have handcut fries that are always kind of limp, so they were actually still pretty good and similar to their normal state even as carry out. I’ve found all the other carry out fries I’ve had since this started to be pretty terrible because as soon as they throw them in a take out container and shut it the steam builds up and makes them soggy. It’s nice to know I can get some fries that still taste pretty much like they’re supposed to instead of questioning why I’m continuing to eat cold, soggy fries that don’t taste very good.
  5. While we’re on the subject of food, you may recall in my last good things round up post that I mentioned getting biscuits from blacksauce kitchen and that I had yet to eat the peach biscuit this year, though I was sure I was going to eat one soon. I did in fact eat one since then, but even better blacksauce and the Charmery collaborated and created a roasted peach and buttermilk biscuit ice cream. Two things I love put into one delicious treat. What could be better?
  6. Pretty much since the pandemic started and artists had to leave their tours Amos Lee has been doing a weekly Thursday night concert on Instagram Live. It’s something I look forward to listening to every week. Most artists are playing online for tips or trying to raise money for some cause. He never seemed to be taking money for anything that I could tell, so I asked once and he said he was just playing music and wasn’t collecting money for anything. I bought some merch I wouldn’t have bought instead to try and throw him some support. Then a week or two ago he started off saying that his uncle had just died and he was going to be raising money for a homeless shelter in Philly that his uncle did work with in honor of his memory. In the one hour he played probably about 60% of the 1,000 or so people watching donated and raised over $16,000. It was really heartwarming to sit there and watch the amount tick up while he was playing. It felt really nice to finally be able to give something back for all the joy his music has brought me every Thursday night.

New Music Friday: Lay Me Down Easy by Carolina Story

Carolina Story is a band composed of spouses Ben and Emily Roberts. They met in college and apparently in order to impress Emily, Ben learned how to play a bunch of songs by her favorite artist, Brandi Carlile. So you know I’m already interested. They apparently spent a decade playing music wherever they could play and considered leaving the music business altogether to focus on raising their young family. Instead they wound up recording their first album in 2018. They released their sophomore album Dandelion today, their first with an outside producer.

I adore the entire album. I’ve already listened to it multiple times already today. It’s perfect Americana music. I love the whole album and had a hard time deciding what song to highlight. I settled on “Lay Me Down Easy” because it’s got both harmonica and pedal steel in it and I’m a sucker for songs with harmonica and pedal steel. Plus it has some beautiful harmonies. Basically it’s Danielle catnip.