Monday, June 6, 2016

USA Today has called Paul Iorio a pop music "expert"....Novelist Harry Crews called him a "damn good writer"...Spy magazine described him as a "trend-spotter"...The San Francisco Chronicle said he "has an original way of approaching a story"...And Barry Manilow once called him "a wonderful interviewer -- he's good!" (But don't let that turn you off!)  Here's Paul Iorio's official blog:

Paul Iorio's blog, The Daily Digression, covers pop culture and beyond...


for June 6, 2016

A few hours ago, I shook hands with Bill Clinton and shot this photo of him in Hayward, California.




for June 4, 2016

I heard Paul Simon perform last night and am still floating somewhere between Shattuck and assorted cumulus clouds this morning. So invigorating that I might take in a second dose tonight.

And I've seen him all different ways over the decades: with Simon & Garfunkel (1980), on opening night of the "Graceland" tour at Radio City Music Hall with (among others) Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who I've seen perform from three yards away (doing "Beautiful Rain") and whose leader, the late Joseph Shabalala, I spent time with one on one in the 1980s.

And then there was the time Paul Simon stood right next to me at the Brill Building in '87 (there was a performance going on, so I couldn't exchange words with him). Oh, and I also was the first trade reporter to write about a new album called "Graceland" in August 1986, back when it was considered anything but a sure hit. (Thanks to Liz Beth Rosenberg for slipping me an advance copy all those years ago!)

On the list of songwriters I admire, he's right up there with Dylan and McCartney, which is to say at or near the top of Everest.

This concert, coming on the day his new album, "Stranger to Stranger," was released, was as good as recent Simon gets. And, as he loves to say in interviews, the rhythm is central to everything,

I left the Greek Theater feeling like I'd been to the Andes, the Amazon, Capetown and the French Quarter in one night. And if you can resist dancing to his live version of "That Was Your Mother," then you're a better person than I am.

What is so fascinating after so many decades is that "Graceland" has become so central to his set -- the crowd roared when it heard those first words, "She's a rich girl" -- eclipsing even some of the Simon & Garfunkel oeuvre Who would've guessed that Simon could give concerts that included only two or three S&G songs without the crowd feeling shortchanged?

Here he did "The Boxer" as a country-ish song -- as if he were about to do it Johnny Cash-style, which might've worked. And when it came to that magnificent horn part, all I could think of was that incredibly moving performance of it on SNL after 9/11, the camera panning across the faces of firefighters. I get choked up every time I hear it.

Other highlights included his surprisingly strong new single, "Wristband"; "The Obvious Child," which just leaps out of the speakers; "You Can Call Me Al," which got everyone going; the jazzy coda of "Cool Cool River"; the doo-wop echoes at the end of "Boy in the Bubble"; an instrumental "El Condor Pasa" segueing into "Duncan." (Hearing him sing "playing my guitar/lying underneath the stars" as the stars in the hills above the Greek Theater (where I heard the show) emerged was a special thing.) And "Me and Julio" -- fresh as an evergreen.

Yeah, I'm going back tonight!



for June 2, 2016

I went to the gargantuan Bernie Sanders rally in Oakland on Monday. Got there four hours early and the line was already so long that nobody actually knew for sure where the end was. Didn't get in. But outside, it was wild. Here're a couple anti-Trumpsters.


[photo credit: Paul Iorio]

And here's a Sandernista in a Bernie dress!


[photo credit: Paul Iorio]

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