Bauhaus Play “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”

bela_lugosis_dead_coverListen to this track by art movement-inspired goth-rock forefathers from Northampton, Bauhaus. It’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, their first and most influential song released as a 12″ single in August of 1979.  At over nine minutes long, it still managed to make a cultural impact, even if it failed to chart in the UK.

The single is thought to be the first goth-rock song in much the same way as “Rocket 88” is thought of as the first rock ‘n’ roll tune. It’s initial impact on the listener might be mostly centered around waiting for the vocals to kick in, which they eventually do a full third of the way through. It’s not exactly in line with the received wisdom about the immediacy of pop music, then. But once the approach of this song is established, the listener begins to get that immediacy doesn’t really suit this tune anyway.

The song isn’t even about hooks or musical events as most pop and rock music generally is about. But what this song does feature is very specifically designed psychological mechanisms we trip up as we make our way through it that may be as important to our psychology as any love song is. Read more

Warren Zevon Sings “My Shit’s Fucked Up”

Warren_Zevon_-_Life'll_Kill_YaListen to this track by one-time werewolf spotter and L.A based singer-songwriter Warren Zevon. It’s “My Shit’s Fucked Up”, a straight to the point track as taken from his 2000 album, the also straight-forwardly titled Life’ll Kill Ya.  The song is one of many that takes on the themes of age, illness, and working things out in the midst of all of that.

Perhaps those themes had particular significance for Zevon, who  would come face to face with some intimidating odds healthwise not too long after this record was released. Given its title, it’s almost like he expected it to be his last, even if 2003’s The Wind would cover that nicely, and manages to be pretty poignant rather than bitter. But, that was just the thing with Zevon, who can be counted in a school of L.A based songwriters springing from Randy Newman and later to E from Eels that deals in gallows humour, irony, self-deprecation, and a sort of rumpled vulnerability. Bitterness and anger were not to be separated from the poignancy or the chuckles to be had from this approach to songwriting.

Even if this song does get pretty in your face about the dark side of what it’s like to get older, when you really break it down, it’s this very connection between humour and fear that makes this song work so well. And I think it provides some pretty valuable perspective on something that popular music has always dealt with to varying degrees of success; mortality. Read more

David Bowie Sings “Lazarus”(And Says Goodbye)

Blackstar David BowieListen to this track by recently departed musical envelope pusher and singularly iconic artist David Bowie. It’s “Lazarus”, the second single as taken from his excellent and final album ★, aka Blackstar.

With Bowie, you never knew what you were going to get in the best possible sense, so uniquely off-of-the-path was his route to creating some of the most innovative music in the twentieth century. Even now, the sheer magnitude of his cultural impact seems as immeasurable as it is glorious. As such, new albums from an artist of his stature always felt like something to look forward to and to dread all at the same time, post-1980. We held him in such high regard that our expectations of his work hung suspended in the stratosphere attached to a palpable fear of falling from such a great height, emotionally speaking.

Bowie’s output was not perfect. And he did let us down in varying degrees over the years, sometimes just because he followed his muse to places that made it hard for us to follow him. But with ★, he won our hearts again with a record that is both brave and innovative as well as hearkening back to tropes and themes that he’d spent his career exploring; identity, the nature of fame, isolation, displacement, and mortality. He was back! Little did any of us know upon release of the new album just how far he would go to communicate these ideas to us again, particularly in this song which turned out to be the last ever David Bowie single during his extraordinary life. Read more

Fleetwood Mac Play “Dust”

Fleetwood Mac Bare TreesListen to this track by former blues-rock titans turned folk and pop-oriented concern featuring an evolving line up, Fleetwood Mac. It’s “Dust”, a song written by the band’s 21-year old guitarist and vocalist Danny Kirwan, and featured on the band’s 1972 album Bare Trees. The song features lines from a poem of the same name by Rupert Brooke, an Edwardian poet who died in 1915.

Kirwan joined Fleetwood Mac when fellow guitarists and original members Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer were still both in the band. The Then Play On album would feature Kirwan’s dual lead vocals and his emerging talent on the guitar, which was a tall order when considering Green’s enormous stature as a player in particular. By the time the elder guitarist departed the group in 1970, Kirwan was well-established to take his place, or at least become the focus in Green’s absence.

This song is evident of Kirwan’s influence, which was the slow drift away from the blues, and into a more wistful, pastoral, and more radio-friendly direction during a time when folky singer songwriters were making headway when it came to selling records. This song in particular would reveal something else about Kirwan though, and would unfortunately foreshadow his fate at the same time. Read more

Loudon Wainwright III performs “The Here and the Now”

And now, good people, a special treat. Writer and music collector/appreciator Bruce Jenkins guests on the ‘Bin about one of his favourite songs, and albums and in the popular style of this humble blog, no less …


Loudon Wainwright III Older than my old man nowListen to this track by self-revealing songwriter and one-time ‘Next Bob Dylan’ Loudon Wainwright III. It’s “The Here and the Now”, opening song on his 2012 album Older Than My Old Man Now. This autobiographical collection showcases the wry wit and sly humour of a man whose fame peaked with the unexpected Top 40 novelty hit “Dead Skunk” back in 1972.

With a CV that includes over two dozen albums, several marriages, a couple of musically gifted children (daughter Martha and son Rufus) and a considerable amount of therapy, you would imagine there was abundant material for an entertaining memoir. But no. Rather than typing 350 pages of reminisce, LWIII set himself the challenge of encapsulating his life in a 3 1/2 minute song. And he gets familial help. Read more

Sun Kil Moon Perform “Lost Verses”

Sun Kil Moon AprilListen to this track by Mark Kozelek-led folk-rock-slowcore musical concern Sun Kil Moon. It’s “Lost Verses”, the opening track to the stellar 2008 album April. This record was the second to be released under the Sun Kil Moon moniker. But, Kozelek had been in the game for a lot longer, initially as the prime mover behind Red House Painters, as well as in the release of albums under his own name.

This particular musical vehicle was named after a Korean boxer Sung Kil Moon with boxing being a sport to which Kozelek has made reference before in his other material. Boxers Ruben Olivares and Salvadore Sanchez also serve as references in song titles. Yet, the music is far from what you’d consider to be combative. As evidenced here, it is music that takes its time, delivering a contemplative, expansive, and emotive tone.

This is not to say that the music is one-dimensionally gentle and with no punch – pardon the pun. “Lost Verses” is imbued with folk-rock textures, including a crunchy Neil Young with Crazy Horse-style outro to underpin it. Further to that, this particular song deals with a theme that certainly requires a great deal of bravery, both as something to write about and get right, as well as something to actually face when the time comes.

Read more

Sting Sings “The Lazarus Heart”

Listen to this song by flaxen-haired Novocastrian singer-songwriter and former Police vocalist and bassist most popularly known as Sting. It’s “The Lazarus Heart” as taken from the 1987 album …Nothing Like The Sun, his second solo record and his biggest-selling to date. Perhaps ironically, the record is less commercial than many of his albums in terms of content, with many extremely personal reflections about the nature of history, political upheaval and injustice in the modern day, and the loss of loved ones.

Sting 1988It is with the latter that this song deals; Sting’s mother Doris Sumner died the year this record was being made. In part, this has been identified as one of Sting’s motivating forces in writing it, with a dedication of the record to his mum and “all those who loved her”. But in addition to this, Sting himself had just become a father again the year previous to this tragic life event.

It’s pretty easy to conclude that when this song was recorded, the identity of ‘parent’ would have been pretty strong in the life of the songwriter behind this song on both fronts; as a father, and as a son. Yet, the song contains other elements that make it more universal, and as such, it’s less about Sting, and more about humanity and human experience in general.
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Farewell, My Brother: A Life In Rock and Pop Music

When it comes to our development as music fans, the influence, opinions, and record collections of older brothers are often primary and very positive forces for our own musical sojourns.  As is often the case with shared musical interests, and subsequent memories, the bond between brothers becomes even stronger; stronger than death itself.

Geoff Moore loved his brother. This is his tribute, which we’re honoured and humbled to publish here on the ‘Bin. 


“‘Fun, Fun, Fun,’ all right!”

Those were my big brother Bob’s words caught on tape at a 1975 Beach Boys concert in Edmonton’s Coliseum. It was summer of course, probably August. He sauntered through the turnstile carrying one of those high tech, cinderblock-sized cassette recorders. Bob was 24, a man of the world who drove an orange MG convertible.

I was 15, awkward, frightened, a flailing Q & A prototype of my eventual, flawed myself. I was trailing him, blown away by the prospect of my first major rock show. Second hand pot smoke! Bob lead us to our seats (good ones, lower bowl, facing the stage), set the machine on his lap and when the lights went down he pressed RECORD.

Bob the bootlegger.

Bob died April 8th, Easter Sunday. We’d hung out at the University of Alberta Hospital the Saturday eve in a lovely, pacific and leafy public area Bob referred to as his office. We were well pleased the Canadiens had won their final game of a dismal season. Always fun to beat the Leafs.

Joe Jackson sang, “Everything gives you cancer.” Fed up, cynical, that sneering ‘Sunday Papers’ attitude and righteous because collectively we seem to really, really like being fed the mulch of mass hysteria. Yet perhaps cancer (in its many forms) is a disease (or diseases) we have brought upon ourselves or maybe have at least exacerbated since the Industrial Revolution and the corner cutting acceleration of mass production.

The byproducts of progress and ease are spewed, leaked and packaged filth and poisons. I have smoked a pack a day for 37 years. Bob might have had one puff of a cigarette for a joke in 60. Cancer does not discriminate; it doesn’t pick and choose, it just is and it does the awful things it does. Nothing personal, you understand. Robbie Robertson sang, “You gotta play the hand that’s dealt ya.” My brother did with uncommon dignity.

This is not an era of leeches, blood-letting and voodoo priests. Modern medical science and technology have rubbed away some of the opaque condensation coating Madame Marie’s crystal ball. Today there’s a fair chance that you’ll know how you’re going to die and you’ll probably have a pretty good idea as to when.

This foreknowledge can be a powerful tool in the hands of an artist. Warren Zevon’s best records always sounded desperate; The Wind was cut while he knew he was dying from lung cancer. The selfish fan is slain by his version of ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door:’ “Let me in! Let me in!” He meant it. Send lawyers, guns and money.

The late Joey Ramone, another victim of cancer, did a thousand-mile-an-hour rip-through of Louis Armstrong’s standard ‘What a Wonderful World’ to lead off his solo LP, Don’t Worry About Me. Nobody really wants to go and most of us will never manage to get our affairs in order; tough to take care of business from the ICU.

My brother was so thin, maybe 110 pounds counting the layers of robes and the IV stick on castors. The ravens had been circling for three and a half years. We held hands before I left him that last time and he squeezed my fingers hard enough to almost break a knuckle. After this most recent setback we would get down to discussing big, important stuff again: which two people should les Canadiens hire for their vacant GM and coach positions?
Foreknowledge for the eventual survivors is an unwelcome gift, a head start on grieving. These past few months I’ve surrendered repeatedly to the compulsion of playing Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets of Philadelphia.’ It eventually dawned me that the narrator is addressing Death itself: “Ain’t no angel gonna greet me, it’s just you and I, my friend.” I know my brother felt this to be true.

This is the sentiment of a lapsed Catholic. Bob grew up with a portrait of his guardian angel and a crucifix augmented with a dried and brittle yellow palm frond tucked behind Jesus hanging over his bed; my room had the same décor. The next line utterly destroyed me: “And my clothes don’t fit me no more.” Press REPEAT, weep, sip Irish whisky, press REPEAT.

Cancer does not discriminate; it doesn’t pick and choose, it just is and it does the awful things it does. Nothing personal, you understand. Robbie Robertson sang, “You gotta play the hand that’s dealt ya.” My brother did with uncommon dignity.


Bob’s only discernable musical talent was his ability to replicate the flying arrow sound effect in Sam Cooke’s ‘Cupid.’ He had the ‘Eros with Bow’ pose down too. Whoosh! He knew all the words to ‘El Paso,’ easily the best of the Marty Robbins gunfighter ballads: “There’s no chorus!”

Yet he loved songs with an inane, catchy chorus like Wilson Pickett’s ‘Land of a Thousand Dances’ or the Isleys’ ‘Shama Lama Ding Dong.’ He sang-along slaughtered the Drifters and the Temptations. Aaron Neville, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin – no one was safe. He danced like an awkward white man mimicking James Brown; if you’re imagining Jagger now, presume that the actual Jagger was trained by the Moscow Ballet. Ain’t we got fun. Add beer and tequila.

I suspect that I was shipped off from Montreal to Bob in Edmonton that summer of ‘75 at his insistence; I’ve never asked him outright and he never brought it up – this is us, we are Moores. Talking is for other people. Our divorced parents married their new partners and the house we grew up in was sold while I was out west, out of sight and out of mind. He was looking out for me while I was mesmerized by his record collection: Stevie Wonder and more, more Motown, the sounds of Philadelphia and Memphis, Van Morrison and the absolutely magical hook of ‘My Maria’ by B.W. Stevenson. Nobody else in high school listened to this stuff.

I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to become. I was still trying to figure out where to find the dots we’re all supposed to connect although one day I would eventually get a haircut and get a real job. All of this vinyl, this music stored in milk crates opened my eyes and changed my life: Why was I listening to the same stuff as everybody else back home when there was a whole new world waiting in the record store if I would just take the time to browse a different aisle and then spend four or five dollars a risk?

Bob Moore agreed with Bob Dylan who once said, “Nostalgia is death.” Even so when the Calgary Stampede in late April announced a July gig of the reunited Beach Boys here my first impulse was to call my brother and at least float a trial balloon. Something like, “It’s still a few months away; we’ll get tickets and if you’re feeling up to it…” I’d try to sell him on Brian Wilson’s participation, a 42-song set list, the ease of Bob and his wife Ann staying at our place. All of this in a nanosecond before remembering that I cannot phone my brother anymore and realizing that there is no way I can go to this show without him. Staring at the dial pad I catch another of wave of sorrow. I do not believe this tide can ever turn.


Geoff Moore is a writer and music fan who grew up in Montreal, and is living and working in Calgary. Luckily for us, he’s also a regular contributor here on the Delete Bin.

George Harrison Sings “Rising Sun”

Dawn on the Ganges River
Rising Sun: Dawn on the Ganges River. The Ganges was where George Harrison's ashes were scattered. (photo: orange tuesday)

Here’s a clip of the squire of Friar Park, slide-guitarist, ukulele player, and singer-songwriter George Harrison. It’s “Rising Sun”, a track off of his last album, 2002’s Brainwashed. The record was released the year after Harrison succumbed to cancer, ten years (!) ago tomorrow, November 29, 2001.

The first sign of cancer in Harrison occurred in 1997, leading to a course in radiotherapy. The disease spread to his lung, and then to his brain. As he sought treatment, his efforts to complete his last record increased too.

One person instrumental  to that effort, in every sense of the word, was his son Dhani Harrison. Another was his old compatriot Jeff Lynne, he of Beatles-influenced ELO, Cloud Nine producer, and fellow bandmate in The Traveling Wilburys. Lynne would put the finishing touches on the record after George died.

It could be argued that there wasn’t a rock star on earth who was more prepared for the Great Beyond than George Harrison. Since his twenties, he’d been interested in Eastern mysticism of all kinds, and in the belief that the material world and all it offered was temporary by its very definition. This is the guy who wrote “All Things Must Pass”, after all.

But, even if George had dealt with the theme of death and the passing of the physical through out his career, this album is unique. But, how so?
Read more

The Song in My Head Today: ‘Not Dark Yet’ by Bob Dylan

Bob DylanJungian Radio (my inner playlist) has delivered another gem; ‘Not Dark Yet’, one of the jewels in the crown of Bob Dylan’s brilliant 1997 album Time Out of Mind.

I was thinking of including this one in an upcoming article called 10 Songs About Aging, but the song has been pretty insistent in my head today, so it gets its own article. I may write about it again anyway, given that it is one of my favourite songs by Bob Dylan.

This is a tune about finding oneself at the latter half of one’s life, expecting the wisdom which is meant to come with advancing years, and finding it absent. In the past, Dylan’s lyrics have often been a series of red herrings, pointing a listener in one direction, and then throwing in lines which make one doubt the veracity of an initial interpretation. But this song is pointed, acknowledging that time has passed with very little to show for it except for past hurts; scars that the sun didn’t heal. There is no hiding behind imagery here. This is confession from the basement, the voice at rock bottom.

In this song we see the portrait of the well-traveled man, weighted down by years rather than nurtured or informed by them. It is a snapshot of a person who has seen a lot, but gives no indication that there remains any insight to make his life better. The exact nature of this existential quandary is not specified, but it doesn’t seem to matter very much. This is a man who is trapped, perhaps by his own expectations.

I love this song, this beautifully sad treatise on what it feels like to age, and to be disappointed with how life has turned out when you expected so much more. Who knows whether or not Dylan is revealing himself in this song. This doesn’t matter either. The point is that there is a universal sentiment described here; the fear of age and the fear of death. This is not just about the worry that life will end, but it’s about the downward journey toward that end, and the fear that the search for beauty is also about the embrace of something which is ultimately about pain. This is a sobering set of thoughts, yet beautiful in their honesty.

Check out the clip to hear this superlative song by Bob Dylan, and tell me what you think.