To The Manor Born

Of all my friends, my mentor and dear friend Michael Butler has led one exceptional and interesting life. To the manor born is only part of his wonderful background. His stories are legendary and many a dinner party I will goad him into sharing some story about life on his farm in Oak Brook, IL or why he decided to produce Hair on Broadway or his glorious polo playing days or his friendship with politicians (The Kennedys) and movie stars (Rock Hudson, Tyrone Power) alike. He's the only individual to appear on Richard Nixon’s Enemies List... twice! Thankfully he's finally sharing his stories with the masses via his new podcast. These are perfect for consumption at any time of the day and worth sharing with your friends and family, too. Subscribe to Michael Butler's Memoirs on iTunes today.

Tricky Dicky Lives Again!

Harry Shearer was recently in town promoting his new brilliantly acted and expertly executed web series -- Nixon's The One! -- about Richard Milhous Nixon. Recently, I had the chance to listen to him wax poetic about Nixon, the production challenges of the show, share clips, and ponder why only Sky TV in UK funded the series. Why no one in the US would distribute it is still mind-boggling. Shearer and his actors memorized the actually transcripts from the actual Nixon White House tapes that had been in storage in the National Archives for over 40 years. He and Nixon historian Stanley Kutler (both credited as the show's writers) poured over hundreds of hours of transcripts before committing the series to film. Thanks to our friends at My Damn Channel, here's the first episode of the six-part series co-created by and starring Mr. Shearer. In this episode, Nixon learns how the taping system works, receives some serious ass-kissing from his lapdog Henry Kissinger, lectures dairy lobbyists on how to sell milk, and orders the tapes destroyed. Not to be missed. Share it with your children. It's the history lesson that keeps on giving!

9/11 Tribute - David Poe - "September"

Singer-songwriter David Poe's poignant acoustic guitar and vocal cover of "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire, with all the proceeds to benefit the 9/11 group Tuesday's Children, is profoundly disturbing and powerful at the same time. For those of us New Yorkers who lived through this heinous moment in world history, it is a tragic event that we will carry to our graves. But the event also sparked a level of human compassion and cooperation that shone a beacon of light and hope that the entire world could see. I've often contemplated how we can continue to keep that flame of optimism burning in a world that seems teetering on the brink of madness. Perhaps Max Pickwoad's video is the perfect reminder to bring us back to that moment of clarity when everything around us was literally collapsing but somehow hope still sprang eternal.

Song of the Day: Nada Surf - "No Quick Fix"

I became a bigger fan of the majestic, jangly pop-rock of Nada Surf once R.E.M. faded into the woodwork. Don't get me wrong, I dug the lads from Athens, GA., but their last few albums just didn't move me. Thankfully, the N.Y.C.-based Nada Surf continues to soldier on, 20+ years later, despite never reaping the benefits of the enormous success they so deserve. Nada Surf's latest effort, the digital release B-Sides (Barsuk Records), collects previously unreleased tracks and bonus material from the band's four previous studio albums (Let Go, The Weight Is a Gift, Lucky, and The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy), many of which have never been available digitally in the U.S. If you don't know this band, listen to the first single, "No Quick Fix," and start buying them today. Well worth the effort.

The Original Basement Tapes!

Much has been made of Columbia's epic failure to release the Americana juggernaut The Basement Tapes -- Bob Dylan and The Band's prodigious output of music recorded in Woodstock, NY in 1967. Well, that is all about to change in early November as that label's Legacy imprint finally gets it right.

Dusty Wright - "29 Palms"

This is an unreleased bonus track for my solo album If We Never... It's a cover from former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant's 1993 Fate of Nations album. Cellist Matt Goeke lends his melodic playing throughout. Buy it today!

Video of the Week: Ásgeir - "King and Cross"

Some artists defy the odds, slowing building an audience until critical mass can be reached and a career can sustain itself. No easy feat in our dwindling music biz daze. All ready a star in his native Iceland, perhaps the indie folk singer-songwriter Ásgeir shall now conquer our vast expanse. From his exceptional album, In The Silence, here is "King and Cross" for your listening pleasure, certainly offering him a well-deserved advantage.

The Ramones - 1, 2, 3, 4!

Hard to believe that The Rolling Stones, half of The Beatles and The Who, and a dozen more bands that started a full decade before The Ramones (1974) have outlived them, and in many cases are still touring. They were one of my favorite punk bands ever... and with the recent death of Tommy Ramone (nee Thomas Erdelyi), all four original members of one of New York's finest bands ever, we are not "glad to see you go." The first three -- lead singer Joey (nee Jeffrey Hyman, died 2001), bass player Dee Dee (nee Douglas Colvin, died 2002), and guitarist Johnny (nee John Cummings, died 2004) -- all died only within six years after calling it quits.

The Songs Retain the Name

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III (Rhino)

The first three Zep albums have been remastered by guitarist Jimmy Page and re-released in various configurations including bonus discs and vinyl. Sonic upgrades with extra tracks -- both live tracks and songs-in-the-process -- once only found on bootlegs afford many new nuances in the tone and textures that were lost in previous versions. (The vinyl sounds amazing!) Suffice to say, they are ALL ESSENTIAL.