Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ear on TV: Week of 12.08.08

For a few weeks, we might just as well rename this weekly post 'Music on Spectacle,' as the show is all I can think about (it's that good). Elvis Costello's guest this week is Lou Reed, who after some coaxing from Costello, actually opens up a bit and even cracks a smile.

The impeccably prepared Costello is able to put the historically prickly artist at ease by getting him to talk about his influences, which is by far the most fascinating part of each episode of the Sundance series. Reed warms to the subject, championing blues singer/songwriter Doc Pomus, who contributed songs like "Viva Las Vegas" and "Save the Last Dance for Me" into the rock lexicon. Reed later even pulls out a guitar and shares with us the 'secret chord' to his song "Sweet Jane," which feels like something he'd only do for a peer like Costello.

Speaking of sharing, Reed also brings along director/artist Julian Schnabel (on to help promote the Reed Berlin DVD,) who does some spontaneous recitation of Reed's "Rock Minuet" and then goes on to tell a story about Reed and his dying father. It was both touching and awkward, the kind of thing that would get edited out of most talk show formats, but here it fits and works in the context of all the magic that comes before it.

Elsewhere, this week Chicago's Common releases his eighth album, Universal Mind Control, which finds the rapper moving into new directions. Finding inspiration with hip-hop legend Afrika Bambaataa, the album looks forward by looking back at Bambaataa's futuristic nods electronica (his "Planet Rock" famously sampled Kraftwerk). Common appears on Jimmy Kimmel on Tuesday and later gets some daytime love Thursday on Ellen.

Finally, it's December, so folks are putting together their year-end lists, and one that's sure to appear near the top of albums of the year lists is Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago. When the Wisconsin native Justin Vernon, the artist behind the Bon Iver name, plays on Letterman Thursday night, it will serve as a timely reminder that perhaps his album should be on your list (even if it was self-released in 2007).

Playlist: Picks for the week
Monday, December 8
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Duke Spirit
FUEL: The Daily Habit: Aesop Rock (REPEAT)
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: T-Pain
Tuesday, December 9
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Common
FUEL: The Daily Habit: Man Man (REPEAT)
IFC: IFC Music Blast: Free Blood, Beck
IFC: The Henry Rollins Show: Billy Bragg (REPEAT)
Wednesday, December 10
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Adele
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Loudon Wainwright III
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Lyle Lovett
SUNDANCE: Spectacle: Elvis Costello With...: Elvis Costello, Lou Reed
SYNDICATION: The Ellen Degeneres Show: Adele
Thursday, December 11
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Snow Patrol
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Bon Iver
FUEL: The Daily Habit: Hank Williams III (REPEAT)
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: The Cure
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: Tony Bennett
OVATION: Live at Montreux: Johnny Cash
SYNDICATION: The Ellen Degeneres Show: Common
Friday, December 12
Saturday, December 13
NBC: Saturday Night Live: Kanye West
PBS: Austin City Limits: Crowded House (REPEAT)

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