Author Archives: Steve Smith

About Steve Smith

Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies and Director of Film Studies at Millsaps College

The Purple Chords: Marshall Crenshaw, “This Is Easy” (1987)

Marshall Crenshaw’s “This Is Easy” is about a moment in a relationship where feelings are very mixed and charged. The standout musical moments in the song, Crenshaw-sweet, remind me of purple jelly beans. I can’t say what actually goes into … Continue reading

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Inventor of Styles: Jorma Kaukonen on Baxter’s (1967)

Jorma Kaukonen, the lead guitarist for Jefferson Airplane, developed not one but three original lead guitar styles in the Airplane’s prime recording period of 1966-1968, one for each great album: the reverby Surrealistic Pillow, epitomized by the relentlessly note-bending solo at … Continue reading

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Logical Investigations: Everything Everything, “Fortune 500” (2015)

In Aristotelian logic, you can get a result this way: If p, then q  (suppose it’s true that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”) p (there’s smoke) Therefore q  (there’s fire) or this way: If p, then q  (suppose it’s true that … Continue reading

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Outro #5: What is tuning in?

Thesis #1: the most important thing you have done in your music listening career, besides turning out for concerts and turning on your devices, is tuning in. Music does many catchy things to ingratiate itself. But there’s the Paradox of … Continue reading

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Little Things: Linda Ronstadt, “You’re No Good” (1974)

I had it planned: the last post before my exit (Outro #5, still coming) was to be on Little Feat, returning to the first band featured on this site. But while I was in the neighborhood of 1974 I dawdled … Continue reading

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Giving Us a Hard Time: Little Feat, “Fat Man In The Bathtub” (1973)

OK, I mean this in a male sexual way: our hero in “Fat Man In The Bathtub,” Spotcheck Billy, is having a HARD TIME getting sex with Juanita. Thus we don’t experience the song as proceeding “in its own good … Continue reading

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In Our Own Good Time: Little Feat, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor” (1974)

Something you could say generally about phrasing is that it expresses an ownership of time: good players and singers proceed in their own good time and aren’t merely hustled along by the programmed “good time” of the song’s beat that everyone … Continue reading

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