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Friday, March 7

Thoughts on Music as Magic, The Handsome Family and True Detective

Here's Lin's on the air intro which was later posted on the WXRT blog:

The HBO series True Detective did not take us completely by surprise. It came to us with the dynamic acting pedigrees of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. Set in Southern Louisiana, True Detective follows the investigation of an unspeakable ritualistic murder of a young woman. The images are haunting. They linger long after we’ve moved on from our television watching. Steeped in the mystery and menace of bayou country, this story unfolds through a series of flashbacks as contemporary detectives question Marty Hart (Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (McConaughey) about what was once thought to be a closed case. Rust Cohle shines as one of the more intriguing characters to ever grace a television screen. A vice squad burn-out with an elevated sense of justice, Rust is disarmingly intellectual. He speaks of phenomenology and parallel universes. As we all race towards the series conclusion, we are becoming aware of collusion, corruption, and a killer whose sickness we will never unsee. A show like this is all about tone and that tone is set by an opening song, a song that transports us to a nightmare.
Well said, sir. Well said.
Thanks to WXRT for Handsome Family Drive Time Spin

This morning, Lin Brehmer, WXRT's morning guy—the guy everybody in this divided, segregated town loves—played The Handsome Family's "Far from Any Road" at 8:45—prime morning drive time. Not only that, but he teased it, and then front and back announced it, talking about the Handsome Family's Chicago roots and how important their theme music is for setting the tone for this special television show. He's been a long time fan of The Handsome Family, and he finally had the chance to play them on the show with the tightest playlist on the station.

Here's the letter I wrote to DJ Lin Brehmer and assistant program director Marty Lennartz, who recently made the song available in the XRT library for spins. I'm posting this because working in this business, being assaulted by the Internet's Worst Thing Ever every five minutes, or just living life can make it easy to forget why we fell in love with music in the first place and why it still matters. Hell, it saved my life in high school. Music saved my life.

March 5, 2014

Lin and Marty,

That was really special this morning. With instant access to every damned song ever recorded, there is still something special about hearing "your song" chosen by a DJ and blasting out of the radio speakers...I always get chills. I'm not just talking about CTR stuff, but any music that has a place in your heart. Those times when it's always the absolute perfect time for Cheap Trick or Big Star or Black Dog, but you just hadn't realized it yet, and somehow the DJ just knew, and now it's pouring out of your speakers and filling the living room or the car and time stops for a few minutes and all is right with the world.

I remember lying in bed with Julia in our old apartment, having just purchased a shortwave radio so I would finally listen to John Peel on the BBC World Service. We always sent our stuff over there, and I'd hear back through the grapevine that he'd occasionally play it on his show. I didn't buy the little radio for that, though. I just wanted to hear his legendary show, and this was pre-Internet broadcasting. I could get the schedule but streaming was a distant dream. So Julia's reading next to me, and I'm about 30 minutes into that week's show, and Peel is rambling charmingly about I don't know what, and he suddenly says, "Oh well. Time for music. This is Flowchart on Carrot Top Records out of Chicago," and *BANG* the analog synths hit, and I get chills all over and shout out loud, and I'll never forget that moment. Part of me even imagines that I'll think of it as my life is finally slipping away.

This morning was like that.

So thanks.

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