The Best Baseball Research of the Past Year

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Once again, the Society for American Baseball Research has chosen fifteen (non-ALDLAND) finalists for awards in the areas of contemporary and historical baseball analysis and commentary.

My latest post at Banished to the Pen highlights each finalist. The winners will be announced on Sunday.

The full post is available here.

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Why We Need “The Basement Tapes Complete” (via Wondering Sound)

bigpinkThe new “complete” set, in its semi-scholarly presentation, in no way robs this music of its power and peculiarity; it clarifies it, and puts it in a context that is simultaneously aesthetically and historically meaningful. The narrative of The Basement Tapes is easy and enjoyable to follow, but it has never before been so fully and conscientiously laid out. … Read More

(via Wondering Sound)

Before the Flood: USA men’s soccer attempts to break through

Recife, Brazil, site of today’s final group-stage match between the United States and Germany, is under water. I’ll leave the real soccer talk to Brendan and Marcus (and Chris)– here’s the latest episode of the ALDLAND Podcast— and proceed with the essential information.

If the Americans beat or tie Germany, they’re into the knockout round. If the U.S. loses, though, they’ll need one of a few different outcomes in the Ghana-Portugal match, which will be played simultaneously. This chart from FiveThirtyEight summarizes what Ghana-Portugal outcomes will allow the U.S. to advance despite a loss to Germany:

Both matches begin at noon Eastern.

How Bob Dylan Co-Wrote Darius Rucker’s ‘Wagon Wheel,’ 40 Years Ago: The secret history of a country hit, from Dylan to Old Crow Medicine Show to Rucker

If you’re a hardcore Bob Dylan fan, the new Darius Rucker hit “Wagon Wheel” might sound a little familiar. It’s actually a fleshed-out version of an untitled, unfinished song from the 1973 Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid soundtrack sessions. Dylan fans titled the song “Rock Me, Mama” when the sessions leaked to bootleggers.

Old Crow Medicine Show’s Critter Fuqua picked up a bootleg of the Pat Garrett sessions in the ninth grade when he visited London. “I let [bandmate] Ketch [Secor] listen to it, and he wrote the verses, because Bob kind of mumbles them and that was it,” Fuqua recently told a South Carolina newspaper. “We’ve been playing that song since we were, like, 17, and it’s funny, because we’ve never met Dylan, but the song is technically co-written by Bob Dylan.” … Read More

(via Rolling Stone)

Up in smoke: Duck Dunn, dead at 70

On Sunday, Donald “Duck” Dunn, longtime bass player for legendary Stax Records house band Booker T. & the MG’s died in Tokyo at the age of seventy. As first reported by best friend, bandmate, and guitarist Steve Cropper, Dunn “died in his sleep . . . after finishing two shows at the Blue Note Night Club.”

Dunn grew up with Cropper in Memphis, and the two formed a band in the late 1950s before going to work for Stax, where they eventually became half of the house band, Booker T. & the MG’s, alongside Booker T. Jones (organ) and Al Jackson (drums). AllMusic lays out the essentials:

As the house band at Stax Records in Memphis, TN, Booker T. & the MG’s may have been the single greatest factor in the lasting value of that label’s soul music, not to mention Southern soul as a whole. Their tight, impeccable grooves could be heard on classic hits by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Carla Thomas, Albert King, and Sam & Dave, and for that reason alone, they would deserve their subsequent induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But in addition to their formidable skills as a house band, on their own they were one of the top instrumental outfits of the rock era, cutting classics like “Green Onions,” “Time Is Tight,” and “Hang ’em High.”

As a member of the MG’s and as a session musician, Dunn played with (hyperlinks to video evidence) Redding (also including the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival performance), Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Eric Clapton (with Phil Collins), Neil Young, and, famously, the Blues Brothers, among many others.. He, Cropper, and Jones also were part of the band backing Clapton, Young, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roger McGuinn, G.E. Smith, and other stars on the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Celebration.

Also as a member of the MG’s, Dunn was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and received a lifetime achievement award in 2007.

At this point, I don’t find anything on the web beyond the basic AP-style report, but I’ll supplement this post with any engaging remembrances that appear later. My only additions are: 1) Blues Brothers is my favorite movie; 2) this is some great music; 3) dial up Otis and Duck from 1967’s Monterrey Pop Festival; and 4) there would seem to be something to be said for dying (basically) doing what you love.

Close with a clean-shaven, pipeless Dunn and his fellow MG’s performing their biggest hit, “Green Onions”:

Independent Phantasms of the Gold Rush Friday

It’s true. Dark old theaters have been the setting for music videos before. I’m still not sure why so many people lost their business over Mumford & Sons– roughly, the indie, vested, British version of Old Crow Medicine Show. I don’t understand their broad appeal as, presumably, a crossover from the neo-old-timey genre, because they don’t seem to have enough pop, or as indie acoustic rock, because songs like the one linked above never seem to reach that point of melodic-rhythmic arrival that would appear necessary for wide popularity. And anyway, I didn’t think they and the Avett Brothers did ol’ Bob any favors at the Grammys last year. (Cf.)

Enough about what’s going to get me in trouble with Magalan and Bdoyk, and onto the Jam for this Friday, which is a bit out-of-pocket for me (perhaps especially in light of the above paragraph), but which, for reasons mostly unexplained, is today’s selection. I’ve distilled my thoughts about this video into the title of this post. An additional comment on production: I like that this video is done professionally, but not commercially (either glossy, or affected rustic, for example). It isn’t absolutely perfect, but it’s way more than enough to convey the idea, and as it is, it demonstrates the reality and genuineness of the execution, which means more than pristine slickness. Finally, if old theaters are good, adding a saloon can only help.

And there’s your Critic’s Corner for the week. Have a snobby weekend.

A Thanksgiving tradition for over 30 years

If there’s one thing upon which all of us can agree, I think it’s The Last Waltz at Thanksgivingtime. The following is from an invitation I’ve sent to friends in years past when I was living elsewhere:

On Thanksgiving, 1976, at Winterland in San Francisco, the Band gave its final concert: The Last Waltz. The group was in top form, playing all of their best songs from their multi-decade lifespan with their best friends and influences there to help them. From early mentors and collaborators like Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan to Canadians Joni Mitchell and Neil Young to bluesmen Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton to songsmiths Neil Diamond and Van Morrison and many more, this was a one-of-a-kind event, captured and beautifully preserved by Martin Scorsese.

A true landmark, both in the worlds of music and cinematography, The Last Waltz has been a part of my Thanksgiving observation for years now, and I would like you to take it in with me. 

Wherever you find yourself this year, the 35th anniversary of the event, grab a copy of the movie, give thanks, wear something nice, and above all else, remember,