Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Entries in music (13)


Watch: Wilco covers Pavement's 'Cut Your Hair'

Wilco covering Pavement's "Cut Your Hair"? Yes, I would like to listen to that, please! 

Every Other Summer - "Cut Your Hair" from dBpm Records on Vimeo.

So what's the story? The clip above is from Every Other Summer, a documentary about the Solid Sound festival, which Wilco holds every two years at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). The footage in the film is from the previous festival two years ago. 

The film can currently be purchased for download or stream (or rented) via Vimeo


Tom Morello's awesome speech for KISS at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

This past Saturday, HBO broadcast the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for 2014.

It's a little bit annoying to be writing about something that actually took place six weeks ago — and has been covered online already — but I guess HBO wants the time to properly edit the show. I can certainly understand that, and I realize HBO has always done it this way.

In previous years, this didn't bother me so much because I didn't really watch the broadcast. I might have tuned in if it was on, but it was usually audio wallpaper as I goofed around online or was reading. Off the top of my head, I can't think of an inductee that I wanted to see perform.

But I had two dogs in this year's hunt: KISS and Nirvana.

Nirvana's induction and performance was certainly special, especially because the group had several lead singers in place of Kurt Cobain, including Joan Jett, Kim Gordon and Lorde. Michael Stipe giving the induction speech was a reminder of the one great musical collaboration we were deprived of with Cobain's death. I'd like to write more about this, either here or at The AP Party

For now, however, I have to talk about Tom Morello's speech for KISS. Every act that's inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should get an advocate like Morello, whose fandom for KISS was spilling out of him with every word. 

"And while there is often debate on who should and shouldn’t be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," Morello said, "I think the criteria are actually quite simple: impact, influence, and awesomeness. And Kiss have all three in spades."

The speech got so much better from there, building as Morello described each member of the group. Eventually, Morello could barely contain his jubilation over his favorite band being honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

"All of them, in frightening, horror-movie, comic book, superstar, sexified Kabuki makeup. All of them, in black and silver warrior bondage gear and seven-inch platform heels, the place blowing up with explosions, screeching with fire... bare knuckled and bad ass, heavy duty, liberating rock and roll? What would you say if you saw that? You’d say, 'That band’s fucking awesome! That band deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!' That's what you would say!"

I'd say your speech was fucking awesome, Tom Morello. That's what I'd say.

You can watch the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on HBOGO. Of course, it will be re-broadcast several times on the HBO group of networks throughout June. You can also read an interview with Morello about the speech at Vulture, which includes a transcript of his tribute. 

Here's a video of the speech, as well, though it's not from the HBO telecast. This was taken the night of the actual ceremony (April 10) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 


'Ordinary Love' isn't that bad a song... unplugged

Trying to get settled back in — and back on the horse with this blog — after spending a week in Florida to watch the Tigers in spring training. (There was also a road trip to Clearwater to watch the Phillies and Blue Jays. I was hoping to take at least one more, but scheduling didn't work out.) 

After unpacking, doing laundry, grocery shopping and other catching up after a week away, sitting down to watch three-and-a-half hours of the worst Academy Awards show I can remember was tough. (At The AP Party, I wrote something on Lupita Nyong'o and how she saved the evening.) I have no problem with Ellen DeGeneres as a host. She's a fantastic comedian and fun talk show host.

But she just couldn't make that thing go Sunday night. Not sure it was entirely her fault, though. The whole production was a mess, with long pauses, missed cues, cameras on the wrong people and abrupt cuts. 

Many people are ragging on U2's performance during the show. More specifically, I think people don't like their Oscar-nominated song, "Ordinary Love." But I liked the acoustic rendition. (I wonder if the band got the idea to play it that way after doing so on The Tonight Show a week or so ago. Or maybe they were working on it then and wanted to try it out.)

No, it's not U2's best song. Far from it. However, it's a catchier tune stripped down. I've been listening to it often today. 


Shock and awe: Watch these kids rock out Tool's '46 & 2'

I'm sure I've mentioned this here before, and friends and family certainly about it. When I was a kid, there were two things I wanted to be: a rock 'n roll drummer and a comic book artist. I became neither, which probably speaks to the deep disappointment my life has become. 

This is a vast oversimplification, but I wonder if I'd have stuck with the music thing if I'd had a teacher like Aaron O'Keefe or if I went to a school that encouraged (and funded) the arts like this. I know you have to learn fundamentals upon which to build a foundation. (This would've applied to illustration as well.) But if I knew there had been at least a chance of rocking out once in a while and learning to play some songs I personally enjoyed, I think it would've been significantly inspiring.

So I envy these kids who got to play Tool's "46 & 2." Not just because they had this opportunity, but also because they rocked the hell out of it. Wow. The entire effort is impressive. (Here's the original version, if you want/need to compare.) 

I'm also grateful for this because it allowed me to put up a quick post and keep the dust off this blog. Writing time has been devoted to The Outside Corner and The AP Party over the past couple of weeks. This week, I'm trying to get ahead on some work while Baby Niece the Sequel is set to arrive. (Is that burying the lede?) I'm really hoping to crank out some content and stick to a consistent schedule in the next month. Thanks for sticking with me. 

[via antiquiet and Ian Levenstein on Facebook]


The songs that certain words will trigger

So I went to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in Cherokee, North Carolina today. Mom gets the gambling itch and needed it scratched for the first time in three years.  

I don't have much use for casinos or gambling, but wanted Mom to have a fun getaway. I had a place to chill out and read, so I was fine. I wish the casino had wi-fi, but I guess I understand why it doesn't. 

Anyway, for most of the afternoon, this song by Europe kept playing in my head. I can’t believe it was ever that memorable for me. Actually, all I remember is the refrain.

"Cherokee! Oh! Marching on the Trail of Tears..."

This band was not just "The Final Countdown," OK? 

The full lyrics for the song are like a Cliffs Notes version of the Cliff Notes of the Cherokee Tribe. But hey, it's a four-and-a-half minute rock song by an 80s hair band. 

Also, someone is playing a keytar in this video. Because has a keytar solo in the song. That is awesome. And horrible.



Alice in Chains is still around? 

io9 recently posted a new video by Alice in Chains, calling it "an early contender for best science fiction music video of the year.

Maybe that was tongue-in-cheek. But io9 still buried the lead, in my view.

I had no idea Alice in Chains was still together, in light of lead singer Layne Staley's death. (Has it really been 10 years since that happened?)

Anyway, I think the six-minute video is better than all of Prometheus. Well, at least it's more coherent, story-wise. Prometheus did have Charlize Theron in its favor, of course. 

However, it looks like the lead character is experimenting on a boneless, skinless chicken breast that eventually grows hair. I definitely thought about that while fixing dinner last night. 


When John Lennon met Cheap Trick

According to A., this John Lennon-Cheap Trick collaboration was playing on KEXP while I was watching Michigan lose to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. 

I think I would’ve had more fun listening to the song. Although that depends on whether or not Michigan had the lead at the exact moment KEXP was playing the tune, I imagine. 

Here’s the story on the song, by the way.


The mystery of 'South Detroit'

I think I've been pretty open about my love for Journey in recent months on this blog. Most people who know me how much I've loved that band since childhood. Of course, that means the anthem of my life has been "Don't Stop Believin'."

I always dug that there was a line about "South Detroit" in that song. Hey, they're singing about my city! (Well, so to speak; I grew up in Ann Arbor.) 

But now the song is a stadium anthem, played virtually everywhere — including Michigan Stadium, which I still can't quite abide — and the "born and raised in South Detroit" line always gets a shout-out from local sports fans. 

In recent years, however, that particular lyric has been dissected by metro Detroiters. Where exactly is "South Detroit"? Because it's not a part of the city anyone is familiar with, nor could find on a map.

"South Detroit" has also taken on life as a Twitter meme, thanks largely to Detroit Tigers beat writers, local sports reporters and fans on Twitter. (I'm looking at you, @matthewbmowery and @stareagle.) Not only was it a fictional neighborhood, but through Twitter, "South Detroit" practically became an alternate universe where magical things happened.

During a Tigers game, a ball that an opposing hitter would hit into the gap would be a great catch by center fielder Austin Jackson in "South Detroit." Instead of striking out on an eye-high fastball, third baseman Brandon Inge would get a base hit in "South Detroit." And so on. Maybe beer prices at the concession stands were cheaper, too. Whatever beautiful thing you could imagine. 

It was amusing. And will probably continue to be this spring and summer. But I never really jumped on with the uproar over the non-existence of a "South Detroit." It sounded fine to me. I still thought of it as a shout-out to a city I was familiar with in one of my all-time favorite songs. 

But for those who needed answers, Peter Hyman did what writers (reporters?) should do: Go to the source and find out the truth. In a post for NY Mag's Vulture, Hyman contacted former Journey lead singer Steve Perry to ask him about "South Detroit." Did he realize no such location existed? Was it a faux-pas from an out-of-towner? Or did he take artistic license for the sake of a good song lyric? 

Perry explained that he came up with the lyric while staring out of his hotel window during a 1980 five-night stand in Detroit. (Oh, if only such things happened anymore with rock tours.) The city was on his mind, so he put it in "Don't Stop Believin'." And yes, "South Detroit" just sounded right.

“I ran the phonetics of east, west, and north, but nothing sounded as good or emotionally true to me as South Detroit,” he says. “The syntax just sounded right. I fell in love with the line. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned that there is no South Detroit. But it doesn’t matter.”

Of course, he's exactly right. It doesn't matter.

Well, except maybe it does. Because the question of "South Detroit" has helped give the song continued life among music fans, sports fans and metro Detroit residents alike. Its popularity and resonance never ends. It goes on and on and on and on...