Song #22: “Help Me”

The last bit of inadvertent influence my father had on the music I listen to — and it’s a big one — is from Sonny Boy Williamson. My father happened to buy a Sonny Boy Williamson record. He didn’t listen to it. I did and my head nearly exploded. Most of my favourite artists are influenced by the blues. I hear the blues in everything. I still listen to and appreciate the music of plenty of great blues artists like B.B. King, Blind Willie McTell, Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, Lightin’ Hopkins, Little Walter, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins, Skip James, Son House, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. But if I have to pick the one blues artist who can’t do wrong, who I know, whatever track you pick, I’m going to love it, it’s Sonny Boy Williamson. In my book, he’s the embodiment of everything that is the blues.

If you don’t like Sonny Boy Williamson, get out of my house.

Song #21: “Nothin’ Stays The Same Forever”

My father’s incidental influence on the music I listened to during my formative years petered out as I got older. He usually bought whatever was offered through the Columbia House record club, mostly pop schlock that I had little interest in. Once in a while he’d order some records or CDs that collected dust, and those were usually the ones I noticed. He bought a series of CDs called Atlantic Blues, for instance, packed with great blues artists from the Atlantic label I’d never heard of it. Some were blues, some where R&B — cool cats like Van ‘Piano Man’ Walls, Rufus Thomas, Jay Mcshane, Mama Yancey, Jimmy Yancey, John Hammond Jr, Jack Dupree, Sippie Wallace, and Professor Longhair — and they were all an education for me. “Nothin’ Stays The Same Forever,” by Percy Mayfield, is the killer track on that collection that hit me the hardest and still does.

(It takes about 10 seconds before the music starts.)

Song #20: “Shaved Head”

I nominate Rheostatics as the best band to come out of Canada in the past 25 years, and seeing how my vote is the only one that counts, they win. I don’t listen to much generic white rock these days, but when I did, Rheostatics were at the top of the pile. I didn’t care for their more popular songs like “Claire.” Songs voiced by Martin Tielli like “Onilley’s Strange Dream” and “California Dreamline” were my favourites, but neither of those songs are available through YouTube, so I’ll pick “Shaved Head” from their magnum opus, the 1992 album Whale Music.

“Hanna” Just Misses the Mark

  Hanna is about a girl raised in the woods by her former super secret agent father who has trained her to be the ultimate soldier and killing machine. But really she’s just sad and lonely and misunderstood. Or something. Watch the trailer to see all the best parts of the movie.

“Hanna” could have been tense and emotionally engaging, but I began to lose interest about 10 minutes into it because all the musical cues and the editing were too obvious. Quiet music or no music + slow edits = empathy. Loud music + frantic edits = tension. Repeat and rinse, then fade to black. The elements for an exceptional action thriller are there, but they’re diminished by unimaginative choices made in post-production.