lou rawls, r.i.p.

Lou Rawls, the great baritone, died today. Very sad — Lou Rawls was the king of that buttery-smooth soul style.
I’m a fan of the great ’60s/’70s producer David Axelrod. This site sums up his sound well: “They sound like some funky symphonic soundtrack music with butter breakbeats galore.” (He’s become a favorite of cratedigger/hip-hop types in the last decade or so because those drum-heavy beats sample so damned well.) But a lot of Axelrod’s best work was done producing Lou Rawls records in the 1960s.
On Axelrod’s 2001 comeback album, Rawls sang on the closing track, “Loved Boy,” which was dedicated to Axelrod’s dead son. Man, Lou’s voice on that track will just rip your heart out — beaten and weary, a man staring up from the bottom of a well.
Here you can stream three songs from the recent Axelrod compilation The Edge, compiled by crabwalk.com fave Egon (who runs Stones Throw Records). The second track is Lou Rawls’ “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” and is lovely.

boola boola

Anyone watching last night’s Rose Bowl probably saw the listing of the greatest winning streaks in college football history. (USC’s had been the sixth longest of all time until Texas ended it last night.) The third- and fourth-longest streaks of all time belong to my alma mater, Yale.
Which may seem strange today, when the Ivy League plays football like a moderately strong high-school conference. But as color man Dan Fouts said last night: “No one wanted to play Yale back then.”
By back then, I mean in the 1880s.
Yale had two streaks of 37 straight wins from 1887 to 1889 and 1890 to 1893. They were dominant: In the 1888 season, they outscored opponents 694-zip.
That was back in the day of Amos Alonzo Stagg, the Yalie who basically invented modern sports. He’s a hall of famer in both football (he invented the reverse, the fake punt, the huddle, the lateral, numbers on jerseys, and the freakin’ Statue of Liberty play!) and basketball (played in the first public basketball game ever, invented the five-man team, cofounded the Big 10). And he invented the batting cage.
And the football coach back in those days was Walter Camp, who did a few little things like invent the line of scrimmage, the 11-man team, and the forward pass.
I’d also like to point out that that list of the longest streaks proves a point. Note that the fifth-longest streak of all time belongs to the University of Toledo, a school I used to write about professionally. And that the fifth-longest active streak belongs to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, my local university growing up. In other words, I’m very good luck for football teams.

school board recognition month

The Texas Association of School Boards and the Dallas school board have decided that January is…School Board Recognition Month. That’s right: The people who run the schools have decided it’s time for everyone to pat themselves on the back.
In related news, I have decided that January is also Cajun Journalist Recognition Month — an occasion traditionally celebrated with the granting of large sums to the Cajun journalist of your choice. Checks accepted.

paper boy

Went to the bank this morning to cash an expense check I’ve had sitting around for a while. I walked up to the teller to gave her my deposit slip, and she asked me for ID.
I reached for my wallet, but she saw I had my work badge on. “That badge would be enough,” she said.
So I showed it to her. “The Dallas Morning News” is on the top, with my (five-year-old) photo and my name underneath.
“Oh, do you deliver the newspaper?” she asked.

free everclear

Deal of the century: You can now legally and ethically download all of American Music Club’s classic 1991 album Everclear.
Just go here and download all the MP3s from “Why Won’t You Stay” to “Jesus’ Hands.” (The other MP3 there, “Another Morning,” is from their last album.)
It’s an important album to me for a number of reasons:
1. It was the first “cool,” “indie” album I ever bought. It was 1993, and I’d heard AMC play a radio in-studio on World Cafe that summer, while setting schedules for students at my old high school. I’d liked their music enough for it to penetrate my Jethro-Tull-loving skull, so when I got to New Haven that fall, I bought three CDs: this one, their then-new release Mercury, and — in a strange change of tone — Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Extra Width.
Not sure why, exactly. I think I’d found a copy of Gerard Cosloy’s zine Conflict that had an AMC article; Cosloy was the head of Matador, which was JSBX’s label at the time. (I remember mailing off for Matador’s Xeroxed mail-order catalog to get more CDs. Ah, those innocent pre-web days.) Also, I think I thought the album cover was kinda cool.
2. I listened to Everclear endlessly in college. Which was probably not a mentally healthy thing to do. (Nor was it appreciated by my then-girlfriend, who thought me a bit mopey.) But it just seemed so beautifully sad, and that seemed like a suitably adult emotion to be having in college.
3. This site is, of course, named for track 5 on the album, “Crabwalk.” Now, you can have a soundtrack to accompany your crabwalk.com reading!
Now, almost 13 years after first hearing it, the album seems a bit weaker than I’d remembered. That everpresent wash of reverb suffocates a few songs. But the best tracks — “Ex-Girlfriend,” “Sick of Food,” “What the Pillar of Salt Held Up,” for starters — are still champs.