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Filtering by Tag: Old 97s

B-Boys & B-Sides: Presenting (the first quarter of) my Lucky 13th Yulemix, "Blue Wave Christmas"

Chris Klimek

I’ve only gotten better at this.

I’ve only gotten better at this.

Have mercy! This is just getting ridiculous now. For the lucky thirteenth iteration of my Yuletunes Eclectic and Inexplicable series, I thought that instead of releasing it in two indefensibly long parts, as had been my habit since I stopped burning and printing physical CDs of this thing—a nice bauble to thrust into some unsuspecting person's hand, but expensive—I thought I would do a sort of podcast limited series of four episodes, released weekly, counting down to the Feast of Christmas. Because four is more than two—one hundred percent more, from a numerical perspective. And I believe in always giving one hundred percent, Christmaswise. 


So this is merely the first twenty-five percent, right here. And I daresay this is the most eclectic Yuletunes Eclectic entry yet. Do they know it’s Christmastime at all? Do you? Is Santa a B-Boy or a B-Man? Sure, you’ve heard Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”; that’s entry level. But have you heard the flip? These are cuts so deep they’ll give the bends, and yet so Prime that Jeff Bezos would be delivering them to you with free two-day shipping if I hadn’t already dropped ’em on ya instantaneous.

Strap in. Turn on. Light up. Get down. Because to paraphrase Ben Grimm, it’s hall-deckin’ time. Again!

No Guilty Pleasures: Talking with alt-country chanteuse Lydia Loveless

Chris Klimek

Lydia Loveless (Patrick Crawford/Blackletter)

I spoke with the great singer-songwriter (and Ke$ha song-improver) Lydia Loveless for the Washington City Paper's Arts Desk in advance of her show at the 9:30 Club Saturday night in support of Old 97's, (sic) one of my favorite bands. Read a gently edited transcript here.

When the 97's last came through town, in October 2012, I had a really good talk with their frontmanRhett Miller. In 2008 I talked to their second singer-songwriter, Murry Hammond, too.

Yulemix 2012, Drop'd! It's time to Stay Hungry to Feed the World

Chris Klimek

I don't have a Christmas tree in my apartment yet. My friends haven't seen me in weeks. My editors are all ready to fire me. I've been avoiding mirrors, but I assume I look like Ted Kaczynski.

It's all for a noble cause: Every November & early December I fall into a four-to-six week time warp attempting to create the funniest and most reverent, most entertaining and most beguiling Christmas mixtape possible. (You may have read the essay I wrote about this project recently in the Washington Post. If you haven't, please do.)

It is my great pleasure to unveil now for your hall-decking enjoyment entry No. 007 in my  Yuletunes Eclectic & Inexplicable series. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the future of Christmas merry-making enforcement, Stay Hungry to Feed the World.  In keeping with the perpetually inflating ethos of this project, it's the longest one yet. When it comes to Christmas, less is less. And more? Is just the most.

PLEASE NOTE: These are large files; each side is a little more than an hour long and they're encoded at high bitrates. It may take a minute or two after you click the play button for you to hear anything, but have faith.

Side A

I can't tell you how thrilled I was to learn one of my boyhood heroes -- seven-time Mr. Olympia, five-time Mr. Universe, living tissue-over-a-microprocessor-controlled-hyperalloy-combat chassis former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger -- was available and willing to serve as master of ceremonies for this year's yulmemix.

I don't like to brag, but Arnold and I have been friends for years, ever since he brought me in to do an emergency script polish on his 2001 action thriller Collateral Damage. NOW IT CAN BE TOLD.

Look, I don't need you to tell me that Collateral Damage, as released, is no Predator, or even -- let's be honest -- Raw Deal. All I can tell you is you should've seen the Ambien-shooter of a script they were going to make before I got there. It would've made Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life seem like, I dunno, Taylor Hackford's Proof of Life. (Full disclosure: I have never actually watched a film in its entirety that did not star Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

Anyway, Schwarz -- that's what his good friends call him -- and I got to be very close. We used to tease one another: "How much did you squat this morning?" And the answer was always, "How much did you squat?" Invariably the other person would reply, "I asked you first!" And then we'd both be like, "Let's both say it at the same time -- JINX!" And then we'd laugh until we wept.

I have fond memories of those long, languid Sunday afternoons when we'd ride our Harleys up the Pacific Coast Highway to Neptune's Net. Sometimes just for a laugh Schwarz would strip naked in the parking lot, then saunter into the bar, face down the 200-odd bikers inside, and announce, "I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle." And these tatted-up lifers would just be trampling one another to give him the keys to their hogs. I swear that Schwarz could never get one of these guys to fight him. He used to get really frustrated by that. I'd do my best to cheer him up: "Hey Schwarz, don't let it get you down man, you were Mr. Olympia for like 15 years. And we'll always have Collateral Damage." Except we didn't, really, not in the end. Hey, Andrew Davis had made The Fugitive. How were we supposed to know he would phone this one in?

But I digress. Schwarz was a big part of the success of my 2007 yulemix, Santa's Got a Big Old Bagge, so I was thrilled to offer him an expanded role here. The Austrian Oak favors us with his recollections and musings on success throughout the album. In celebration of his return, I have reprised a handful of songs from five years ago, but they only add up to about 11 minutes out of 130. When Rhett Miller very gamely agreed to sit for an interview about writing Christmas songs, how I could not play "Here It Is, Christmastime," the Old 97's (sic) yulejam that I first used upon its release in 2007?

Side B

LANGUAGE ADVISORY: This set has some. Lots, actually! Poetry and prose. But there're also a few stray F-bombs bandied about. Parental whatever whatevered.

Total Recall, Schwarz's revelation-packed autobiography, is in stores now.

NOW PLAY THIS CHRISTMAS LOUD! I command it! These halls ain't gonna deck themselves!

We Still Care: A Conversation with Rhett Miller of Old 97s About His Band's Best Album

Chris Klimek

Formed in Dallas in 1993, the alt-country act Old 97's combines the heart-tugging wordplay of Townes Van Zandt with the attack of The Clash. After a couple of indie releases in the mid-'90s, the group was the beneficiary of a bidding war, signing with Elektra Records. Their major-label debut, 1997's Too Far to Care, remains their best and best-loved album. Despite retaining a substantial following—Old 97's' show at the 9:30 Club tonight is sold out—the group never reached the level of stardom its big label demanded. Since 2004, the band has been recording for the New West label.

Old 97's' current tour supports a 15th anniversary reissue of Too Far to Care, which they're playing in its entirety in sequence, along with a selection of other songs. I spoke with singer-songwriter Rhett Miller (whose career as a solo artist runs parallel to that of his band) by phone about the quest for perfect setlist, the excesses of major-label recording contracts, and the trouble with singing songs you wrote when you were 25 when you're 42.

This interview appears today on the Washington City Paper's Arts Desk.

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