Sailing Away With Songs Of The Caribbean

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A couple of years ago She Said was in Oslo, Norway, where she saw an exhibit by artist Tacita Dean chronicling the mysterious voyage of Donald Crowhurst. Dean found and photographed the Teignmouth Electron, the boat Crowhurst apparently abandoned, and collected newspaper articles from the circumnavigation sailing race in which Crowhurst attempted to falsify his results.

Following Crowhurst's disappearance, the sailboat was sold many times, and its history was lost until 1989, when it was was found off the coast of Cayman Brac in the Caribbean amongst the wreckage of Hurricane Gilbert. That's where Dean found it. It's still there, rotting in the sun and sand, and you can apparently even find it on Google Earth, at 19°41'10.40" N by 79°52'37.83" W.

What does Donald Crowhurst have to do with iFest, which starts this weekend? Not much, really. But just like Tacita Dean, She Said became spellbound by the tale of the Teignmouth Electron from the moment she read the story. And now, every time she hears the Beach Boys sing "Sloop John B" she thinks of that boat, decaying in the middle of the Caribbean.

Seeing as how iFest's theme this year is in honor of that very island group, She Said presents five songs inspired by the music of the archipelago.

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Five Great Cajun Songs By Non-Cajuns

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As far as He Said knows, he has zero Cajun blood in his veins. His family is pretty much straight-up Anglo/Scotch-Irish, settling in the Piney Woods of Newton County via Alabama in the early 1800s. However, although the Sabine-straddling area around Newton, Burkeville and Wiergate is about an hour inland from the Gulf Coast, there has never been a shortage of families with last names such as Boudreau or Hebert up there.

Cajun culture is in the soil and water of East Texas just as much as South Louisiana, which is probably why He Said has had a lifelong affinity for it. He has never passed up a plate of fried oysters or batch of boiled crawfish, would put his mom's gumbo up against any Lafayette or Lake Charles kitchen's and, despite an innate Krameresque clumsiness, he does know how to waltz and two-step. (Somewhat.) Since discovering Pe-Te's Cajun Bandstand on KPFT in high school, he has been infatuated with Louisiana music, and even had his own Cajun/zydeco radio show on UT student station KVRX one semester.

Non-Cajun songwriters have long been as fascinated by this mysterious, insular, effervescent culture and its music as He Said has, so this week in honor of high crawfish season - and, as She Said told you, the annual Texas Music & Crawfish Festival in Spring - He Said thought we'd turn the spotlight on five songs written by non-Cajuns (okay, four non-Cajuns and one very Cajun man) that still exude that South Louisiana joie de vivre. Triangles up!

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Louisiana Songs That Don't Suck (Heads)

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Several years ago, as She Said was saving up the funds to get the heck out of Oklahoma, she took a second job waiting tables at a Cajun restaurant in Oklahoma City. Now, there aren't a lot of Cajuns in that sprawling metropolis, and ever since that experience she's been wary of eating seafood in a land-locked state. Her one positive takeaway from the place, not counting the ability to gracefully balance heavy loads on a serving tray with one hand while carrying several steins of beer in the other, was an exposure to two genres of music unique to this region of the country.

The restaurant had exactly two CDs that were played nonstop in a constant loop: A Delta blues collection, and a zydeco album. It's how she first heard Koko Taylor's "Wang Dang Doodle," "St. James Infirmary Blues," and how she spent countless bored hours waiting for lunch guests to arrive while trying to translate the mangled French in songs like "Les Haricots Sont Pas Salé" - ironic, considering it's a song about food.

The Clifton Chenier song was also how the genre got its name -- zydeco is a bastardization of les haricots, or "green beans" for Us English Speakers. It's a wonderful illustration of just how far the Cajuns and Creoles have come from their Acadian and Caribbean ancestors to create a blend of cultures unique to East Texas and Louisiana. Just look at how much fun this brother-sister duo is having dancing to zydeco in their kitchen!

Since we're talking about food now's a good time to mention that the Texas Crawfish and Music Festival starts this weekend. More than 70 bands will be performing, and if you can't eat your weight in crawfish there then there must be something wrong with you. Below, five of She Said's favorite cajun, creole and zydeco songs in honor of Texas Crawfish Fest.

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Play Ball! Baseball Songs Even A Non-Sports Fan Can Love

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Sports aren't really She Said's thing, though she does like to watch games where there's a lot at stake emotionally (Super Bowl XLIV) and she nearly always roots for the underdog. Mostly, she really enjoys the speed of college basketball, and the nostalgia of baseball.

She Said's dad is by no means athletic in the traditional sense, but he was a kid in the 1960s, a time when baseball represented everything that was wonderful about America, and She Said can picture so clearly her dad as a blonde, buzz-cut boy, baseball in hand. It's one reason she loves the movie The Sandlot so much -- it's like a secret glimpse into her father's early life. He loves it too, by the way. For She Said, baseball represents America. It represents summer. It represents the simpleness of earlier times.

Next week is the 'Stros 2010 opening game, which illustrates another aspect of baseball - the idea of hope. By all accounts, this year will be a... how shall we say... rebuilding year. In other words, don't get your playoffs hopes up. But lo, how many Cubs fan sat in abject horror as year after year the Curse of the Goat got their goats. Houston will always love the Astros, no matter how many new players join the Killer Bs.

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Play Ball! Songs That Distract Us From The Astros' Impending Disappointment

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This week's He Said She Said is brought to you by the Houston Astros and the letter "D," which stands for disappointment. No other thing in He Said's life, other than a woman, has brought more sadness and dysfunction. But at least the Astros have never broken off an engagement with us or punched us in the mouth for looking at a bartender for too long.

Alas, the Astros begin another season in earnest this coming Monday evening against the San Francisco Giants. At this point, He Said and the Astros can be best described as "friends with benefits." He Said hits up the games with some buddies carrying full flasks of whiskey, and we end up drunkenly declaring our love for the team even as they are mired in a bad seven-run deficit. But then we don't care about them until we go to another game.

After some games, we unsoberly call up our tattoo artist to try to make an appointment to get an Astros tattoo, but our friends hold us back. They say, "That's like getting your wife's name on you for life." Wives leave you and cheat on you, but at least the Astros have stayed in the same place - the middle - since we were born, without fail.

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Can't Forget The Motor City: Our Favorite Motown Jams, Part 2

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Rocks Off - sorry, He Said; we're still getting used to this whole identity-shift thing - is sure some of our readers think we do nothing except sit around and listen to the Drive-By Truckers all day. To which we say: Have you heard Bettye LaVette's The Scene of the Crime or Booker T's Potato Hole? That band has more soul than all of Majic 102's playlist put together. OK, maybe not Sade. Or Mary J.

Our point is, we enjoy all types of music, but few more than classic '60s and '70s soul and R&B. So when we found out that today was the 25th anniversary of the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today & Forever TV special (hosted by Richard Pryor!), we could think of no better way to make our He Said debut than sinking our teeth into the Detroit - which we will always pronounce DEE-troit, like every good Texan - label's formidable catalog.

He Said made out our list before we looked at She Said's - we didn't want to cheat - but we're sure she'll agree that "My Girl," "I Want You Back" and "Where Did Our Love Go?" are only the tip of Motown's iceberg. Return with us now to the days when "The Sound of Young America" grew up, grew out and grew deep.

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Can't Forget The Motor City: Our Favorite Motown Jams

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She Said has always been a fan of Stax Records, the gritty Southern label started by a white brother-sister team in a movie theater in Memphis. Something about Stax' organic sound and integrated musical influences (this is the same city that gave us Sun Records) had always felt so raw and real. Motown, on the other hand, always seemed so cleverly manipulated to appeal to white audiences, contrived almost, and lacking the magnetism and je ne sais quoi that artists like Booker T. and the MGs and Arthur Conley had down in Memphis.

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He Said She Said: Did We Shave Our Legs For This? More Cornball Country Comedy

Not all country music has to be about down-and-out truck-driving lifestyles, D-I-V-O-R-C-E, abusive husbands and the dissolution of the American Dream. More than any other genre, country lends itself so nicely to parody and self-satire. The best country music is self-referential, where the artist knows he or she is poking fun at an archetype. Maybe that's why She Said likes Dale Watson and Junior Brown so much - their ability to write countless songs about the same old country trope, as if the joke never gets old.

Below, some of She Said's favorite funny country songs.

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He Said She Said: "Dear Penis" And Other Country Comedy Classics

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Aside from all the epic cheating, drinking and fighting songs country music has given us, one of the best things it does is make us laugh. Apart from all the crying and cussing, there is a whole deal of laughing going on.

This year at RodeoHouston, there aren't many performers on the humorous side, unless you think Darius Rucker doing Prince's "Purple Rain" is gut-busting, or you giggle at the fact that Rascal Flatts gets paid to stand in front of a crowd and desecrate all music, not just country. We could just load up five Flatts videos as our list, but we love you readers too damned much to hurt you like that. And don't even bring up the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. The only one of those guys we would party with would be Ron White. That douchelord Jeff Foxworthy has caused us nothing but misery and tears for the past 20 years.

Blame the genre's inherent storytelling aspect and down-home attitude for the way some songs can make even the most hardened of us grin like idiots. Some of He Said's earliest country memories are the goofy things that people like Ray Stevens were doing throughout the '80s. We even grew up on reruns of classic country comedy television like Hee Haw and the Beverly Hillbillies through Nick At Nite and some of the country cable channels.

Here are He Said's five favorite country side-splitters. Predictably, we had to sneak one Ray Stevens song on here, and we went the blue route and dialed up some Rodney Carrington for you. It was worth it.

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He Said She Said: Just A Few Ole Country Boys, Part 2

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She Said's taste in county music leans towards the quaint. She's never been a fan of modern Nashville glitz, preferring instead the subversive '60s country from artists like Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash that her grandfather loved, and the cowboy ballads her great-grandfather and his farm hand used to sing on their cattle ranch in the panhandle town of Booker, Tex.

Much of She Said's favorite country songs are colored by these facts: She grew up in Oklahoma, her father was a California hippie, and when She was five years old her best friend was a genuine, real-life, 70-year-old cowboy named Grover Cleveland Jones.

Which leads to a bit of an eclectic mix. For example, "Friends in Low Places" is exactly the kind of Nashville over-production She Said can't stand, but it's also about gettin' drunk and tearin' shit up, that rebellious flavor that's so appealing. And? Garth Brooks is an Okie hero. So there ya go.

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