Category: MP3

MP3 of the week – 'Vine St.'

     Another half-baked idea that I may or may not follow through on is to put up a new MP3 every week and write a little bit about it. Here’s the first installment.

Harry Nilsson – ‘Vine St.’
From: Nilsson Sings Newman (1970)


     There’s a nice summary of the song, on this Randy Newman site:

     “One of Newman’s truly original compositions, “Vine Street” strings together a trick intro, barbershop harmonics, split-second key changes, multiple bridges, and sudden fade-outs, all set to semi-autobiographical lyrics about starting out in the music business.”

     Taken from an entire album of Newman covers by Harry Nilsson, a friend and I recently had a drunken conversation about how the arrangement of the Nilsson version the best. The best part of the song as far as I’m concerned is the ‘song within a song’ device that Newman uses – if you listen (or examine the lyrics below), you’ll see that partway through the song there’s a drastic shift where the narrator references the first half of the song as a wholly separate song. Meta-song?

     This was the only example of such a thing I could come up with until this morning in the shower, when I realized that the new D12 single, ‘My Band,’ does something similar, including a bit from a purported future single: ‘My Salsa.’ I’m not sure if this ‘counts’ yet, my brain is still conflicted. I’ve included the lyrics to ‘Vine St.’ below, along with the relevant sections of the ‘My Band’ lyrics.

     If you can think of any other songs within songs, let me know or post in the comments, because I’m all about that. I should probably make clear that I’m not looking for songs that reference other songs – there are a billion examples of that; and I’m not looking for songs that simply reference themselves – that’s every hip hop single ever. I’m looking for songs that appear and are referenced within a song. Yes.


     I just heard the Van Dyke Parks version of ‘Vine Street,’ and the intro song is different. Crazy.

‘Vine St.’ Lyrics:

My baby left this morning
With everything I had
She didn’t give me no warning
And that’s I feel so bad
I need her, I need her
I need some sympathy
I need her, I love ya
Come and sit by me

That’s a tape that we made
but I’m sad to say
it never made the grade

That was me: third guitar
I wonder where the others are?

Vine Street
We used to live there on Vine Street
She made perfume in the back of her room
while me and my group
would sit out on the stoop
and we’d play for her
the songs she liked best to have us play

On Vine St.

Vine Street
the crack of the backbeat on vine street
swingin’ along on the wings of a song
lying secure, self righteous and sure
wild with things we’d say
if the people would pay to have us play

On Vine St.

     Having seen the Family Guy episode featuring Randy Newman (mp3) for the first time last night, it’s hard to take the lyrics too seriously, but I still think it’s a great song. There’s a similar MAD TV parody of Newman (which also involves Star Wars) here.

‘My Band’ Lyrics:

My salsa, look out for my next single, it’s called My Salsa…
My salsa, salsa, salsa, salsa, my salsa
Makes all the pretty girls wanna dance
And take off their underpants
My salsa makes all the pretty girls wanna dance
And take off their underpants, my salsa

Mp3 Repositories I Have Been Frequenting

  • There’s an archive of live Elliott Smith shows available in mp3 format at the Elliott Smith Mini-Repository. A long time ago (Sometime in 2000) I downloaded a solo Elliott show recorded somewhere in France that was really great. I’ve since lost it. Anyone know if it’s still up somewhere? Also: The guy who runs the site has a nice mini-tutorial on recording shows using a minidisc or dat recorder.
  • There’s a remarkably thorough page collecting Evan Dando B-sides, guest appearances and live mp3’s here. Recommended: the cover of Big Star’s “Ballad of El Goodo,” and “Brain Damage,” from the last Blake Babies record. Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield really need to do a whole album of song like this – their voices just work so well together. It would be like a poppier Ida with harder drugs. Also of note, but not necessarily recommended, as they’re pretty bad: covers of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” Oasis’ “Live Forever,” and REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Loving You.”
  • An epic collection of live Lilys performances, ranging in date from 1996 to 2003 can be found here. Recommended: the 11.08.96 VPRO session, recorded in Amsterdam. All sorts of studio goodness to be had. Also: any of the shows where they play “3 Way” material, as they’ve been ignoring that album almost completely in every set I’ve seen lately. They’ve also got the “Nanny in Manhattan” video for download.
  • If you’re feelin’ historical: there’s a nice collection of public domain mp3’s available for download here, and the American Memory Historical Collections for the National Digital Library has a pretty amazing series of historical essays annotated with mp3’s here. Topics range from the early recording industry to recordings of slave narratives. Amazing stuff.

Maintain momentum at all costs

     In a post last week, I mentioned that I sometimes remove entire sections from song when putting a mix together. A few people emailed asking for examples of songs I removed parts from. I usually do this because I feel a certain section of the song is ruining my attempts at ‘momentum.’ Ridiculous, I know. I decided to post two of the edited mp3’s here. Try to find the edit first, and then if you can’t find it, highlight the text below for the answer. I can’t decide whether this game works better if you know the songs well or if you don’t. Either way, have at it.

Ben Folds Five – Don’t Change Your Plans – (Edited mp3)

Answer:The edit comes at about 2:15. I removed the bridge, about 37 seconds of music. This part always annoyed me – it just sounded like a bad tape edit. I like my version better.

Spoon – Chips & Dip – (Edited mp3)

The edit comes at 1:34. I removed about a minute and 30 seconds of momentum-killing ‘atmospheric build’. I also made the ending a little neater.

     Yes, I realize this makes me officially insane.


     In the Winter of 1997 I got into the habit of bringing a cassette recorder and a little microphone with me to shows. Only once did I have any problem with security – at the release show for the Enclave edition of Sloan’s ‘One Chord to Another,’ at the 7th house in Pontiac, Michigan.

     My general technique was to clip the microphone to the collar of my jacket and keep the recorder in a coat pocket. In this particular instance, I had taken the cassette recorder out of my pocket to check the level it was recording at, and one of the back-to-the stage security guys caught a glimpse of the red LED. As soon as I looked up, I saw the guy point at me, and as I turned around, thinking I could just walk back through the crowd, another security fella grabbed my arm and said “Come with me.” He took me up to the balcony and into a back room.

     After closing the door behind us, the security guy turned and walked into the room. Directly across from the door was a greasy, overweight gentleman sitting at a low table. The man was in the process of opening confiscated cameras, removing the film canisters, and then yanking the exposed frames out from within the canister. He would then throw the streamers of ruined film into a wastebasket that sat next to the table. Across from him on the table was a fleet of neatly organized cameras. In retrospect, this break in the action was a blatant “Pause for effect.”

     Seeing that I had adequately taken in the scene before me, my ‘escort’ demanded the cassette from my recorder, and I gave it to him. He handed it to the man at the table, who began pulling the magnetic tape from the cassette. As he did this, he addressed me. Exactly what he said is lost to my 17 year-old memory, but the general sentiment was that he was both incredulous and angry that I thought I could get away with taping a live show. He expressed deep concern for the lack of respect I was showing for both the band and his crew’s abilities. When he finished with the tape, I asked for my cassette recorder back, armed with the enthusiasm of a high school junior and the knowledge that I had another 90 minute maxell in my sock. He refused, telling me that I could pick it up after the show.

     I watched the end of the set and the encore from the balcony, and once the house lights came up, I knocked on the door. No answer. A crowd of the recently de-camera’d gathered at the door, and still nothing was heard from within. After about 20 minutes of dead silence on the other side of the door, it opened, and one of the beefy security dudes poked his head out. He began the laborious process of taking the description of one camera, closing the door and disappearing for at least five minutes, and then reappearing with the camera and a warning – ‘Don’t ever bring a camera again.’ I finally got my cassette recorder back and joined my friends outside.

A few months later I got a great audience recording of the show via a tape trade.

Hey look, I found a use for this after all.

     I recently found a shoebox full of these recordings. One of them was unlabeled, and upon playing it back I found that it contained 45 minutes worth of Zumpano’s 1997 show at the Shelter in Detroit. For those who aren’t aware, Zumpano was Carl Newman of the New Pornographers’ previous project – they released two albums on SubPop in the 90’s. Since I had recently put up a page to share the Zumpano B-sides that I’d acquired, I decided to convert this tape into mp3’s and share them, too. You can download them at The quality leaves plenty to be desired, but I’ve never seen any other live Zumpano material pop up online, and there are a few unique songs in the set, so I’d say it’s worth it.

Mario Music Primer

     This month’s Wired Magazine has a profile on internet superstars the Minibosses, who cover only music from classic Nintendo Entertainment System games. The thing with them is – they refuse to do Mario music. Now if you ask me, that’s all posturing. Anyone who has ever picked up a bass guitar has attempted the underworld theme from the first SMB game, so I decided to see if anyone was doing mario music justice.

     The obvious first place to look was Overclocked Remix, a site dedicated to hosting reinterpreted versions of video game music. Most of the mp3’s are pretty typical videogame music fare: remixed to sound like… video game music. But if you dig around a bit you can find some pretty great interpretations by people playing real live instruments. I present to you my relatively organic-sounding Mario mix:

Koopa Troopa.

1.) Super Buck Jazz by Estradasphere

Super-produced version of the SMB2 ‘overworld theme.’

2.) Aquatic Interlude by Brad Smith

A tasteful arrangement for classical guitar with some synth bits.

3.) The Italian Plumber by M.S. Mehawich

A piano / cello / violin arrangement of several SMB1 themes.

4.) Jazz Plumber Trio by DJ Pretzel

Self-explanatory: Jazz trio plays mario music.

     Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that there is a guy methodically redoing every bit of music contained in the first Metroid game in a ‘metal’ style at It’s pretty fun. There’s also a ‘deleted scene’ from that Wired article here.

Emitt Rhodes

     Last year I discovered Emitt Rhodes’ self-titled first album, thanks to an article in Tape Op. It’s a masterpiece of fuzzy early 70’s pop songs – all instruments played by Mr. Rhodes in his home studio. A friend of mine once said: “The solo album McCartney should have made.” And he’s right. All great songs (Well, except for ‘Fresh as a Daisy’ but 11 out of 12 is pretty good) that approximate late Beatles production surprisingly well. It’s out of print on it’s own, but is available as the first twelve tracks of ‘Daisy-Fresh from Hawthorne, California (The Best of the Dunhill Years),’ which also includes a sampling of Mr. Rhodes’ later albums (None of which ever seemed to equal the promise of the first). I’ve posted an MP3 of one song from the self titled album – ‘Long Time No See,’ and a much later recording that is included as the last track on the collection but never appeared on a proper Emitt Rhodes album: ‘Tame the Lion.’

     My friend Dave recently sent me a link to this article. Erik Himmelsbach catches up with Rhodes who has apparently been paralyzed by depression all these years – seeing little to no money for the music he wrote. The article outlines the contract he signed with Dunhill, which puts the later albums in a more understandable context – the contract required him to produce a full album of material every six months.

     “I knew it was wrong, because it didn’t make sense,” Rhodes says. “Six months a record … and I just spent nine months in the studio every day. When was I going to perform? When was I going to tour? When was I going to take a vacation? When was I going to have a life? I did it because I was stupid.”

     There’s a good site dealing with all things Emitt, including some rare live mp3’s and photos of his home studio. It also looks like the latest issue of SCRAM! magazine has a new interview with Mr. Rhodes, including all sorts of photos.

     It’s also worth noting that much like Klaatu, whom I wrote rather extensively about in my March 2003 entry, Emitt’s debut was suspected of being a disguised Beatles album. There are transcripts and downloadable MP3’s of a call-in radio show discussing the possibility here.