Every week I hear something amazing, see something inspiring and want to pass it on. These events are sometimes fleeting, sometimes iconic, but they stop me in my tracks. Bob's Rainbows is the place where I'll highlight the very best of my weekly music intake. [Editor's note: Why rainbows? They're the only naturally occurring phenomenon that can make Bob take his headphones off.]
You might see some of it pop up on the All Songs Considered Twitter account (@allsongs), my Instagram feed or our Facebook page in real time, but this will be a permanent home for the amazing rainbows in my life.
SHOW OF THE WEEK
St. Vincent at 9:30 Club, March 1 & 2
Oh my! These two shows are among the top five best I've seen in my concert-going life! So good I went to see it twice! St. Vincent's show is marriage of great songs played brilliantly and amazing visuals. You won't see projections or pyrotechnics, simply Annie Clark in performance with simple lights, choreography and a single prop — a small set of stairs for Annie to climb and later slink down. Her movements were well thought out and didn't feel superfluous, as a lot of choreography can feel. It was stunning and any moment could have been a fabulous still frame (I know, I took a few pictures, one of which you can see above). In the end it was the songs, the words, the guitar, the sounds and the place that made this ingrained forever as a truly memorable show.
SONG OF THE WEEK
"The Satellites" by Brian Eno and Karl Hyde
There's new music from Brian Eno. It's a collaboration with Karl Hyde, a painter, singer and longtime musician with the electronic duo Underworld. I've only heard this one song, but it's a majestic pop tune with a good sense of mystery. Instrumental Eno is wonderful, but my hope here was that there would be singing, and at just about the two minute mark we hear Eno and Hyde singing in harmony. Eno is working with electronic drums here; Hyde plays guitar. Both of them wrote the words and sing. And in that big pulsing sound, amongst others playing piano, drums and more, you can also hear Eno's former Roxy Music bandmate Andy Mackay on alto sax. A new album called Someday World will be out on May 6 on Warp Records.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Almost Home: Live At The Fonda by Moby and Friends
A new Moby DVD was released this week, a concert video from his last tour with Innocents, his best record in years. The songs have this epic "Hey Jude" feel and feature Damien Jurado, Mark Lanegan, Inyang Bassey, Cold Specks and more. Here's a long sample, nearly 50 minutes. Big fun!
FLASHBACK OF THE WEEK
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
The last Elton John record I could fully embrace was Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. On March 25, there'll be a new edition of that album. Back when it was originally released, 40 years ago, I felt like it was filled with everything that was right and wrong with pop music at the time. What was right was the songwriting — a brilliant maker of melody meets a perfect wordsmith. Elton John and Bernie Taupin's songs managed to move from poignancy ("Candle in the Wind") to silliness ("Benny and the Jets") within just a few turns of the record. What was amazing is how big it got and production-wise how clear and distinct all the instruments were. This was a great record to put on the hi-fi.
What was wrong about this record wasn't their fault. It paved the way for grandiosity in rock 'n' roll made by too many pop musicians without the songs or words to match the size of the music. A few years later we had punk. It's no coincidence.
The multilple new editions of Elton John's monumental 1973 pop record include a yellow vinyl version, a concert recording, a film called Elton John and Bernie Taupin Say Goodbye to Norma Jean and Other Things, a book of rare photos and other goodies including remakes by Ed Sheeran, John Grant, Fall Out Boy and more.
MUSICAL MOMENT OF THE WEEK
Public Service Broadcasting Live
Had I not seen those two brilliant St. Vincent shows, seeing Public Service Broadcasting would have been my number one show of the week. The English duo of drums, electronics, guitar and banjo mix imagery and sounds from British public information films from the '40s and '50s with hard-driving, droning noise and rhythms. Their debut album is aptly titled Inform - Educate - Entertain; I'll just call it thrilling. We'll have a Tiny Desk Concert online in early spring.
HOMEWORK OF THE WEEK
Listening to 1,500 songs by the bands who are going to be at SXSW next week
In prepping for SXSW, the quirkiest parts of my personality shine. I'm not alone in listening to over 1,500 songs — Robin Hilton and Stephen Thompson do that as well (and Stephen culls from that list to make The Austin 100, a bundle of songs you can download). But I also star rate every single song — the goal is to figure out who I like based solely on what I hear. One major goal of going to SXSW is to see bands that I've never seen and mostly never heard of. What I'm trying to do when I listen is to find a nugget in a song, something that stands out it says to me, "This band could be interesting." I don't have to love the song, I just need to know that something is going on that I'm curious about.
From those 1,500 songs, I made a list of about 40 artists I found intriguing that I'd never heard of. Here it is if you want to listen along.
RANDOM RAINBOW OF THE WEEK
Sam Dance: Future Islands On TV
This week on The Late Show With David Letterman, a much poppier than usual Future Islands performed "Seasons (Waiting on You)," the opening track to their new album, Singles. This is a band that can feel a bit serious, but on that night it was just plain serious fun. Watch Samuel Herring move. And here's a Tiny Desk Concert with Future Islands from 2011.
It's just past midnight on a freezing Saturday night in Washington, D.C.
In the last hour, five ambulances have arrived at the emergency room where I work. A sixth pulls up.
The paramedics wheel out a stretcher carrying a man, 73, strapped to a hard board, a precaution in case his spine is fractured. There's blood around his neck brace and a strong smell of urine.
"We found him by his bed," a paramedic tells me. The patient told the paramedics he slipped. "Reports back pain and some cuts and bruises," one of them adds.
Medical history? None the paramedics could find. Same goes for whatever medications the patient might be taking. The only thing they know is his name and address. Nobody else was at home.
Two nurses undress the patient to rid him of his soiled clothes. They wrap a blood pressure cuff around one arm and start an IV line in the other. A tech shaves his chest before attaching sticky electrodes to check the man's heart.
He swats at us, saying that none of this is necessary. He slipped in the shower. "I was only out for a little while," he says. The paramedics mumble that they found him in the bedroom — not the bathroom.
The patient tells us his full name and says that the year is 1843. "It's 2014," I say, as my medical student looks for his records on a nearby computer.
She shakes her head. He's never been in our hospital. He gives us two phone numbers for his son, but neither works. The patient says his doctor lives in Kansas.
We examine him and find a 1-inch laceration over his eyebrow, a bruise over his right wrist, and scrapes on both knees. He winces when I touch his back. He has good strength in his arms and legs.
I send him for X-rays and a CT scan of his head and spine. There's no bleeding inside his brain and nothing is broken. His laboratory tests come back and show that he has anemia and kidney trouble.
He wants to go home. He pleads with us, saying he hates hospitals. He promises he'll be OK. I try his home phone and his son's numbers again. The resident calls two local hospitals on the chance they've seen him before. No luck.
The year is now 1914, the patient declares. Everyone sighs. We have to admit him. It's the last hospital bed we've got, and the patients who come after him will have to wait through the night in the ER.
The next day, I get a call from the patient's son and daughter-in-law. They're irate. The patient has dementia and frequently falls. That's why the family has arranged for live-in help 18 hours a day.
The man has had anemia and kidney problems for years. His longtime doctor (here in town, not in Kansas) monitors these issues closely. The internist taking care of him say that the man never should have been hospitalized.
My first reaction is defensiveness. Where was his family last night? What would the man's usual doctor have done in my position?
We emergency physicians frequently hear complaints from other doctors about how we order too many tests and admit too many patients. While medical overuse is a problem — and fear of malpractice and financial conflicts of interest sometimes play a role — it's easy to make harsh judgments after the fact.
When caring for patients we don't know and who could have life-threatening illnesses, emergency physicians have to do what is safest and best with the information at hand, sparse as it may be.
In this case, I made the choice to admit the patient. He was confused and had several abnormal test results. We couldn't be sure he'd be safe at home.
As I listen to his family, I also see the other side. I can see how unhappy they are that he was stripped, poked and kept against his wishes. I understand their frustration at our system of sick care: Why don't we have unified electronic medical records? Why aren't there better interventions for coordinating care and keeping people out of hospitals?
I tell them that I'm sorry. Knowing what I know now, I would have made a different decision. I gently suggest that it would be helpful to make sure he carries a document in his wallet with updated phone numbers, medical conditions and wishes for his care.
That day, I'm back in the ER. It's another busy shift, and I see him again. Well, not the same 73-year-old, but another elderly gentleman who also fell. Again, he's confused, and we can't reach his family. He doesn't want to stay, but again we hospitalize him. This time, too, I'm filled with doubt and a desire for a better system to care for my patients.
In the late '70s American drummer Stewart Copeland was living in England and joined up with guitarist Andy Summers and a singer named Sting. They formed a band called The Police, and then basically provided the soundtrack for the 1980s. Since then, Copeland has scored movies, theater performances and occasionally gotten the old band together again.
We've invited Copeland to play a game called "You have the right to wonder what the heck I'm doing." Three questions about questionable police tactics.