I am a history professor who grew up in Western New York, but now find myself teaching in Western Montana. My primary areas of interest and research are in American cultural history, especially in relation to the intersection of popular culture and politics. This blog is primarily to help me keep in touch with my far-flung family and friends, and give me the chance to spout off a bit on whatever happens to be on my mind.
Dr. John's Record Shelf is my weekly radio program on KDWG, 90.9 FM broadcast from the University of Montana Western. My goal is to offer an eclectic mix of various styles, genres and eras, focusing primarily (but not exclusively) on music that you won't hear anywhere else on the dial (at least not in SW Montana). My co-host, Art Vandelay and I (with the assistance of station flunky Rico Muckman) also provide some additional bits to liven up the show, including Three People I Know (where I mention three people I know), The Cultural Corner (where we engage in lively banter on art, literature and poetry), Dr. John's Top Five (where we take a shot at ranking almost anything), and Record Shelf Theater (where we re-create a scene from some famous movie, play or TV show). If you find yourself in Dillon, tune us in; otherwise, below are some lists of songs that have been aired on recent shows:
Dr. John's Record Shelf 121104
Bill Fay, "This World"
Steve Goodman, "Turnpike Tom"
Ani DiFranco, "Which Side Are You On?"
Bruce Springsteen, "We Are Alive"
Decemberists, "Don't Carry It All"
Carole King, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"
Bruce Cockburn, "Wondering Where the Lions Are"
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, "Oh Susannah"
Bob Dylan, "Soon After Midnight"
Charms, "American Way"
Belle & Sebastian, "I Want the World to Stop"
Krayolas, "Find a Girl"
Beatles, "Tomorrow Never Knows"
Neko Case, "Things That Scare Me"
Avett Brothers, "Will You Return"
Craig Finn, "New Friend Jesus"
Dr. John's Record Shelf 121028
Fleet Foxes, "Helplessness Blues"
Golden Shoulders, "I Will Light You on Fire"
Spoon, "Finer Feelings"
Girls, "Just a Song"
Devandra Banhart, "Shabop Shalom"
Gaslight Anthem, "The '59 Sound"
Those Darlins, "Mystic Mind"
Son Seals, "I Can't Hold Out"
Johnny Ace, "Pledging My Love"
Charlotte Gainsbourg, "Dandelion"
Aimee Mann, "Borrowing Time"
Elliott Smith, "Between the Bars"
Carpenters, "It's Going to Take Some Time"
Hayes Carll, "Girl Downtown"
Fiery Furnaces, "Even in the Rain"
Billy Ward & the Dominoes, "Chicken Blues"
Anna Kramer & the Lost Cause, "You Think You Know Me"
Sophie Zelmani, "Most of the Time"
Dr. John's Record Shelf 121021
Cabaret Voltaire, "No Escape"
Us3, "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)"
Hank Mobley, "The Break Through"
Rodriguez, "Sugar Man"
Mary Weiss, "My Heart is Beating"
Pete Shelley, "Think For Yourself"
Buddy Holly, "Take Your Time"
Raincoats, "No One's Little Girl"
Detroit Cobras, "Ya Ya Ya"
Public Image, LTD, "Public Image"
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, "Bad Reputation"
Love Is All, "Wishing Well"
Louie & the Lovers, "I KNow You Know"
Forty-Fives, "The Devil Beats His Wife"
John P. Strohm, "Better Than Nothing"
The Naysayer, "Currency"
Sir Douglas Quintet, "Who'll Be Next in Line"
The Seeds, "Mr. Farmer"
Dr. John's Record Shelf 121014
TV on the Radio, "Second Song"
Can, "Oh Yeah"
White Stripes, "300 MPH Torrential Downpour Blues"
Mary Lou Lord, "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go"
T-Bone Burnett, "The Murder Weapon"
New Bomb Turks, "Statue of Liberty"
Ramones, "Surfin' Bird"
Paris Sisters, "Dream Lover"
Lee Dorsey, "Ride Your Pony"
Michael Hurley, "Sweet Lucy"
Gary Numan, "Cars"
Neil Diamond, "Delirious Love"
Undertones, "We All Talked About You"
Shadows of Knight, "Shake"
Cub, "Magic 8 Ball"
Rilo Kiley, "The Frug"
Terry Allen, "Lubbock Woman"
Kinks, "Lincoln County"
Dr. John's Record Shelf 121007
Corin Tucker Band, "Summer Jams"
Go-Betweens, "Too Much of One Thing"
Feelies, "Change Your Mind"
Billy Bragg & the Blokes, "Baby Faroukh"
Marcia Griffiths, "Don't Let Me Down"
Velvet Crush, "Hold Me Up"
Chris Mills, "Calling All Comrades"
Insect Trust, "Hoboken Saturday Night"
Broken West, "So It Goes"
REM, "Exhuming McCarthy"
Dire Straits, "Twisting By the Pool"
Tom Rush, "Urge for Going"
Paul Westerberg & Joan Jett, "Let's Do It"
Fred Astaire, "Cheek to Cheek"
The Who, "I Can See For Miles"
Liz Phair, "Uncle Alvarez"
Steve martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, "King Tut"
You can find my new blog at this link. The name is Dr. John's Record Shelf and Photo Gallery, and you'll notice right away it looks a bit different from the Journal. Consider it a work in progress, though it may take a few weeks to get it entirely set up, what with the holidays coming up. But you will find the most recent Top Five List there, and it has an interactive component, so check it out. And thanks once again to all who were regular, or even intermittent, visitors to Dr. John's Journal, which I've enjoyed providing over the past four years.
As you've likely noticed, recently postings here have become more erratic than in the past. This is partly due to some other demands on my time, but mostly because I've been having space problems with the site host which has inhibited my ability to post photos (which is one of the main points of having the blog in the first place). Yesterday, I could not post the latest Top Five List, even though videos have never presented a problem in the past. I entertained the idea that it might be time to give up the blogging life altogether, but then figured there must be another option. So... I'm in the process of creating a new blog, one which will probably not be quite as active as this one was in its prime (though I hope to post something at least several times a week). I think I will make the new site somewhat more complementary to my radio show, so the Top Five Lists should continue, along with playlists and perhaps some other snippets from the show. I'll also continue to post photos that I've taken, of family and travels and whatnot, and (because my Mom likes it) I'll probably continue Toonerville Thursdays. I'm still hammering out the layout and other aspects of the new site, but I should have a link posted here by the end of the week. So I hope you will all join me "over there" once it is up and running. And thanks for reading Dr. John's Journal-- I hope it's been worth your time to stop by once in awhile.
It's snowy and cold out here today, so naturally I'm thinking of sunny skies and beaches. Here are Ben and Thomas at the Erie Basin Marina (where Lake Erie flows into the Niagara River), from about 2006.
For the past several months I've been looking forward to getting back to Buffalo to see the Spain Rodriguez retrospective at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center (just a couple more weeks until I get the chance). My anticipation rose considerably after recently reading his collection of stories about growing up in Western New York (Cruisin' With the Hound-- a really great read, especially if you're from the area). Sadly, Spain passed away about a week ago. There have been some great tributes to the man and his career, including the Zippy strip above by Bill Griffith, and the anonymous murals that suddenly appeared in an abandoned part of the old Central Terminal in Buffalo. All of which makes me even more anxious to check out the show at the Burchfield, though its sad to think he won't be adding anymore great work to his legacy.
This past Sunday we celebrated the 400th episode of Dr. John's Record Shelf on KDWG. In honor of the occasion, we played some clips of earlier shows, including several "classic" Top Five Lists, including the following (one of my all-time favorites). This may have been posted before, but I don't mind repeating myself in this instance:
When I was in Las Vegas a couple weeks back, I stumbled on some kind of holiday festival in the plaza in font of the Venetian Hotel. It was a procession and something akin to a theatrical dance performance involving elaborately costumed actors. Here are a couple fo closeups of two of them. The first was actually on stilts, and as you can probably tell, dressed as a tree. The woman below wore a mask that caused her face to change as she bowed to the crowd. I'll probably post some more pictures from the event, but I'm still a bit uncertain if I'm going to run into issues with Blogger, so just these two for now.
Well, I managed to get another picture up, though it took forever to upload (still haven't entirely licked the recent problems I've been having here). But at least I can let you know the blog still lives, for now. This was taken a couple of weeks ago at the Valley of Fire, about sixty miles northeast of Las Vegas. To get to this overlook, I had to walk along an ancient river bed for about a mile and a half, but the view was definitely worth the hike. Here's a slightly different view from the same spot:
Just on the off-chance that anyone reading this is considering getting me a Christmas gift this year, I thought I would post this list of books I'd like to read. If anyone would like to reciprocate by posting their own "list to Santa" in the comments, by all means feel free to do so.
Paul Strathern, The Artist, the Philosopher, and the
Matthew F. Delmont, The Nicest Kids in Town (music
Candace Millard, Destiny of the Republic (history)
Richard Zacks, Island of Vice (history)
Richard Rhodes, Hedy's Folly (history/biography)
Michael Kazin, American Dreamers (history)
Bill Zimmerman, Troublemaker (memoir/history)
Lee Sandlin, Wicked River (history)
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Goodbye Cinema,
Hello Cinephilia (movies)
Robert Pinsky, Thousands of Broadways: Dreams and Nightmares of the American
Small Town (history)
Beth Gates Warren, Artful Lives (Art history/biography)
William M. Adler, The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times and Legacy of Joe
Jackson Lears, Rebirth of a Nation:The Making of Modern America 1877-1920 (history)