I was watching MTV2's greatest 22 bands list this morning, and I got me thinking about an important aspect of being a great band/artist. In order to be considered a great band/artist you have to have created enough good albums, and have been around for long enough so that history will forget, or forgive, the crap that you have created.
I think the prime example of this is Bob Dylan. Everyone loves him and considers him a genius. Critics wonder who the next Dylan will be as if every generation must have a Dylan. We have books and documentaries attempting to figure out his genius. It seems like the man can do no wrong, everything is brilliant and worthy of serious study. Well everything except for say "Saved" or "Slow Train Coming." Generally, that whole Christian period for Dylan has been largely forgotten. Also, when was the last time you saw, or heard of, "Renaldo and Clara"?
U2 seems is also being treated well by history. Their story seems to be told as starting out with a heavy Clash influence, making a masterpiece in the Joshua Tree, and continuing with Achtung Baby and Rattle and Hum. Then they prove that they are still relevant with "All That You Can't Leave Behind" and "Elevation." I will concede that some people will acknowledge the "Zooropa" album, but "Pop" is gone. The band has even distanced themselves from this disaster, citing that the record had to be finished quickly. They even remixed the few songs that made it onto U2's greatest hits.
I think that almost every great artist has had these little flubs removed by the progress of history. Take Bruce Springsteen, not even Randy Jackson himself could save "Human Touch." Hendrix was lucky enough to be dead when a lot of his sub par work was aired, so there is no way those charges will stick. Most of Eric Clapton's career has been a disaster lost to the ages. I am amazed that the Rolling Stones have managed have everyone forget the last half of their career.
I wonder if the current state of the music industry prevents artists from lasting long enough for their sins to be forgiven. The majors are giving little to no artist development, and the indie kids are rushing over the next new thing as quickly as possible, hoping to be the first ones there.
I was watching MTV2's greatest 22 bands list this morning, and I got me thinking about an important aspect of being a great band/artist. In order to be considered a great band/artist you have to have created enough good albums, and have been around for long enough so that history will forget, or forgive, the crap that you have created.
One of the effects of having a blog on blogger is that people will come to your site from other blogger pages via the toolbar on the top, which I have removed. These visitors show up as links in my tracker. When looking at my tracker, I saw that I had a visitor come over from this blog. From what I have figured out the blog is just a series of scans of pages from trashy celebrity magazines like US or People. While certainly performing a valuable public service, one has to wonder about the legal ramifications of this behavior.
Also, I just learned that not only does Blogger's spell check not think that blog is a word, it also doesn't think that blogger is a word. These people are in serious need of some self-confidence.
My Ipod is broken. It was working fine on my walk to work this morning, but when I was playing it at the office if froze. Now it freezes periodically and refuses to play music. When I select an a song, it will just cycle through all of the songs without playing anything, then return to the home screen. In addition, the clock was reset and will not keep time, and there is a curious rattling sound.
The clock and the rattling sound tell me that the battery probably got disconnected, or is loose. I hope that I can pop open the case and fix the problem, mainly because I can't afford to buy another wiped. Also, I had grown attached to this Ipod. Sure it didn't have that fancy color screen that people seem to love so much, and it would be damned before it would play video, but I had practically filled its 40 gigs up, and gotten all of the ID3 tags standardized. I really don't want to have to do that again. I also feel like the "Most Played" playlist was really starting to understand me in a "High Fidelity" sort of way.
The worst part, and I wish that I was making this up, is that Radiohead's "Just" was the song playing when the Ipod froze. The chorus has been tormenting me all morning, feeding upon the guilt that comes with 15 years of regular church attendance. I have been retracing my whole morning trying to determine what I did to break my Ipod. I was tired this morning, maybe I could have treated it a little nicer, been a little more gentile. My Ipod was always there, and I just didn't pay attention.
I think I might need some professional help.
I imagine that people are not putting their all into work this week. If that is the case, let me point you to Ricci Adams' Music Theory site. I in my experience, this is the best website to learn music theory without having to download anything, or get creepy things on your computer. I was reminded of it by Lifehacker last week. So go over there and learn something.
I have been thinking a lot about soloing recently. One thing that I have realized is that I don't particularly care for guitar solos, with a few exceptions, but I do like horn solos. I believe that there is an important difference between these two types of instruments that accounts for my preference for trumpets and saxophones over guitars and basses.
The difference is that you have to blow into a saxophone or trumpet in order to play it. Due to the limitations of the human lung, a horn player is forced to take breaks in their solo. These breaks create phrases, and link a solo more closely to singing and talking. A good solo should have inhales as well as exhales.
Catherine took this picture of Kriston and I at our party last friday, and I think that it is awesome. For the record, we were singing "I Got You Babe"and it was about 3:00 am, or so.
UPDATE: Blogger is acting funny and won't let me put the image up, so I had to link to it on Catherine's flickr page.
I periodically throw shots out against guitar solos, mainly because it is rare that they add anything to a song and people seem to think that a pentatonic scale is all they need to pull one off. That being said, there are some fantastic guitar solos out there, the two on "Stormy Monday" of the Allman Brothers' "Live at the Fillmore East" are prime examples.
I think that my distaste for guitar solos began when I was playing bass in a band in high school. I felt at the time that I was a better guitarist than anyone in the band, but I was replacing a bassist and the guitarists were there before me, so I didn't mind that much. Well, at the high school talent show my senior year, a band got up and recreated "Freebird," including the guitar solo. People in the audience went nuts, mainly because people are idiots. All of a sudden the guitarist who executed the solo was now in my band, which resulted in an Eaglesesque total of three guitarists. The funny thing about this new guitarist was that he could only solo. He didn't know any chords, or how to read music, or really anything. He would just stand on stage soloing constantly. I hated him.
Over time my hatred for this guitarist decreased, mostly because I didn't have to play with him anymore. The problem is that my hatred for guitarists who only solo has remained constant, most of it was just transferred to another, more popular individual.
Carlos Santana is the most overrated, useless figure in the history of rock music. The only thing that Carlos does is solo. Name a single Santana hit, Carlos didn't write it, sing it, or do anything other than solo on it. That is it.
What makes his career even more absurd is that his solos are not even that great. A good guitar solo should have clear parts and phrases. It should almost feel like a story. If you get a chance, listen to the solos on "Stormy Monday." They are fantastic, and illustrate what a solo should be. Duane, or Dickey, will introduce a phrase, and then invert it or respond to it. They use space effectively implying periods in a sentence, and build in a logical way. Both solos sound like a conversation. A solo should make sense as a unit, rather than just be an excuse to show how quickly ones fingers can move.
Carlos doesn't use any of these devises. His solos are brief licks that lead to a long bent note, or he just forgets the buildup and hits the note. They lack any structure or coherence. They are just crap. He is probably known more for the tone of his guitar than any particular melodic achievement. Which is fine, but at least give Paul Reed Smith the Grammy.
How did this man become one of the icons of rock music? I can't even understand how he got his name on the cover of the record. I look at "Santana with Michelle Branch" and actually feel that Michelle Branch is getting the short end of the stick. Does any one else realize how crazy that is? Seriously, this has to stop. Supernatural sold 15 million copies for God's sake. What is wrong with you people?
It is easy to get caught up in the inside the beltway mentality of Washington, DC. So in an effort to broaden my horizons, I decided to see what some redstate newspapers had to say this morning.
I found this article to be fairly illuminating. This one had a lot of good things to say. And I must admit that these two really spoke to me. I feel like a more well rounded individual already.
So, given my roommate, I feel that I have done a good job avoiding the Panda fever that has been sweeping the city. Well not anymore. Between seeing Butterstick on Monday, and having absolutely nothing to do at work, I have found myself watching more than a healthy amount of the PandaCam. I just can't fight it anymore.
UPDATE: It is actually getting so bad that when I saw something cute on the PandaCam, I called Catherine and told her that she had to go watch it. For the record, I blame her for this obsession.
While I left "Jesus is Magic" with mixed feelings, Sarah Silverman's version of the Aristocrats joke was my favorite in the movie. I won't go into any detail, but if you haven't heard it you can download it here. For those at work, or in the company of other people, this is an headphone kinda joke.
In other news, I am so bored that I am actually reading Carolyn Hax's chat.
The internet has been all a buzz recently with discussion of how bad "My Humps" is. You can find my contribution here.
It is time to rally the troops, the next front is Trace Adkins's "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." And while it might not seem possible, let me assure you that the song is actually worse than the title implies.
Let us start with the lyrics. Here is the chorus:
Honky Tonk BadonkadonkWhile it may seem excessive to quote the whole chorus, everyone really has to read these lyrics, I can't just leave it up to the chance that you might follow the link. I just don't know what to say. I have been reading these lyrics over and over again trying to come up with a joke, but they are really just so awful that they make me want to cry.
Keepin' perfect rhythm
Make ya wanna swing along
Got it goin' on
Like Donkey Kong
Shut my mouth, slap your grandma
There outta be a law
Get the Sheriff on the phone
Lord have mercy, how's she even get them britches on
That honky tonk badonkadonk
As for the music, I have only heard the song a few times so I don't know it that well. There is little to no melody, Trace decides to almost rap this song more than anything else. The background tracks are a mix of hip hop and country, sort of like Big and Rich, but this song makes them look like geniuses, no easy task.
I am going to say it right now, this song is worse than "My Humps." It offends even the most basic levels of taste. While you might be curious, let me implore you not to go download, or stream, or listen to this song in any way. This song makes me wonder if the rapture happened and I got left behind.
p.s. The level of blasphemy that I accomplish with the title to this post shocks even myself.
The New Pantheon Music Award will be given out two days before the Grammys in a move that "trumps the status quo." You can read about the nominations here, but basically your album has to have sold less than 500,000 copies to qualify for the award. Apparently the award is about "excellence, not sales."
I think it is a little sad that Pitchfork and the indie rock crowd feel like they have to take on the Grammys. I also think that it is sad that Adam Brody is a nominator. I understand that when he reads line written for his character on the OC, they express a fondness for indie rock, those are kinda like qualifications to judge a music award. Let us not even discuss Margaret Cho
So the Grammy nominations were announced today. And while no one cares about the Grammys, thank god, it is still fun to look through the categories and nominations. I have some quick impressions based on looking at the nominations.
- I can’t find a category that Kanye is nominated in that he shouldn’t win.
- It is a little weird that Rob Thomas is the only performer nominated for Best Solo Rock Performance whose career began after the Ramones.
- Rammstein should win Best Metal Performance because they set themselves on fire.
- It is nice to see The Arcade Fire get a nod in Best Alternative Music Album and for Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.
- The Best Contemporary R&B Album is the award that I would most like to cover with poison and declare everyone a winner.
- I have five dollars that says that they don't televise the Best Native American Music Album, and I am willing to include the Best Hawaiian Music Album and Best Contemporary World Music Album and go for the Trifecta.
- If Rick Moranis wins a Grammy before I do then I am giving up music forever and going to law school.
- You can't expect to have your award show taken seriously if you are going to give out an award for Best Album Notes.
- I am really hoping that R. Kelly beats out Martin Scorcese for Best Long Form Music Video, because then they will have to give up this whole "award" thing for good.
So these are my quick thoughts, I hope you all enjoy the broadcast.
You all should go read this article at Slate on "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas, from Tommy and Matt. It makes a very important point, that some things in music are just bad and no amount of relativism can save them.
"there are the songs that are just really bad—transcendentally bad, objectively bad." Emphasis original
I would add hypnotically bad to the list. The song comes on frequently when I am watching music videos in the morning and I end up listening to about half of it because I just can't believe that it is being played. I can't believe that anyone would write it, produce it, pay money to make a video for it, or subject anyone in the public to it.
Here is what I think. Music has been developing for a long time and over that time a certain language and discourse has been created around it. There is no reason why music and its discourse developed like it did, but here we are. If you are going to discuss music you tacitly agree to play by these rules and definitions. The weight of music history and theory thrusts "My Humps" into the horrible category. I appreciate that people have different tastes in music, but if we allow this song to be classified as anything other than horrible bordering on criminal then there is no point in discussing music anymore, the whole language surrounding it will be rendered meaningless.
I am not saying that you are not allowed to like "My Humps." Everyone is free to like whatever they want as far as I am concerned. What you are not allowed to do is call "My Humps" good music.
I have started to see these placards on my way to work that advertise DCsingles.org. I currently have very little to do at work, so I thought I would check it out.
When you load the page, there is a registration form that you must fill out before you can presumably look at the personals. The weird thing is that they require you to give a daytime and a nighttime telephone number in order to register, and then ask for the best time to contact you. And while I am all for looking at personals and judging people to kill time at work, this is a little creepy.
Also some of the boxes you can use to describe yourself are a bit curious as well. Like, "I am dating someone who has different goals than me."
I am not quite sure how I feel about this. The Arcade Fire have purchased a church near Montreal, and are in the process of turning it into a recording studio for their next album. In the same article, guitarist Tom Kingsbury says:
"We have a few (songs) that we've sort of started working on. We have a lot of work to do."I am glad that they are able to record in a place that inspires them, but I feel that songs should come before cool places to record. I just hope that this purchase doesn't reflect a lack of inspiration in the music department.
Also, what happened to rock stars buying mansions and fast cars? They are never going to make it onto Cribs this way.
I have decided that it is better to write about music without actually listening to it. There are just somethings that are better as an idea.
For example, while I still stand by what I said about Coheed and Cambria, I will say that listening to the album didn't exactly increase my appreciation for the band.
In what I anticipate will be a similar declaration, let me proclaim my undying devotion to the band Beatallica. The claim to answer the hypothesis: "What would a Beatles's song sound like if it was performed by Metallica?" Seriously, the concept is so great that it almost left me speechless.
My appreciation for the band only increased when I read some of their song titles. Take "Everybody's Got a Ticket To Ride Except for Me and My Lightning" for example. They are able to combine two Beatles songs and one Metallica song in the title alone! "Leper Madonna" is almost as fantastic. Also "...And Justice for All My Loving" is like an unholy Jeopardy "Before and After" answer.
I don't have speakers hooked up to my computer at work, and thus have no idea what they actually sound like, but I don't see how this band couldn't be one of the greatest bands playing today.
For those interested, it is projects like this that had me worried about the future of Lego. I once saw a band take apart a piano to move it after their set, but this must be ridiculous.
Also, this is the worse title that I could come up with. Feel free to make suggestions if you think you can do better.
Thanks to Hemal and Tommy, I was able to get into the opening of Lucky Strike at Gallery Place last night. For those who don't know, Lucky Strike is an upscale bowling alley. Tommy wrote a good review here for DCist.
Numerous celebrities have bowled at various Lucky Strike locations, at least according to the tabloids that they have in the bathroom. This is actually an important point to understand. When you go into restaurants they frequently put up favorable reviews along with the front cover of the publication that gave the review. For Lucky Strike, the equivalent is the cover of the issue of The Enquirer that featured a picture of Geena Davis bowling at a Lucky Strike. The fact that The Enquirer adorns the wall above the urinal perfectly describes the whole bowling alley.
The alley itself is very trendy, particularly for DC, featuring flatscreen TVs playing movie clips and showing artwork, an extensive bar, and nice sofas. Maybe it is because I managed to finagle an invite at the last moment, or maybe it was the surroundings, but I was actually a little scared to bowl. I had this feeling that once I was seen actually bowling my cover would have been blown and I would have to leave.
I should clarify that I grew up bowling in a Bowl America. Certainly a more democratic, i.e. dirtier and without a dress code, experience.
All that said, I had a great time. Now that could be due to all of the free booze and food they pumped into me, or my love of bowling, but do I anticipate returning. One of my life's goals is to break 200 in a game, and I don't have very many options near me so those Lucky Strike pins better prepare themselves for my wrath.
Also, they have Bud Light in bottles that are shaped like a bowling pin, and that is awesome.
The photo, and others from the night, is from Tommy. You can see more here.
I read something shocking in “No Logo” last night. So shocking that I can’t believe it. From google book search:
“These crisp royal blue and kelly green boxes snap together like pieces of Lego (the new kind that can only make one thing: the model fire station or spaceship helpfully pictured on the box)." Emphasis mine.Please correct me if I am wrong, but is Ms. Klein saying that the lego pieces in new sets can only be used to build the model in that set? Can this be true?
I loved Lego growing up, particularly the Castle series. I remember having a box filled with blocks that I would use to build towns, forests, castles, etc. I think the animated Robin Hood movie really hit me at a deep emotional level. As everyone knows, legos were great because you could use them to build whatever you wanted/imagined.
I can’t find anything to confirm this allegation, but looking a lot of the current Lego models seem to fit the description. Here is the “Death Star” from Star Wars. The pieces look fairly specific, but it is difficult to determine if those pieces can be used to build anything other than the "Death Star." I can't link to any images of old sets, but you can find them here. It looks like Lego has turned into Puzz3D
It makes sense why Lego would change their pieces. A kid could look at a new set and figure out how to build it with his own pieces and Legos wouldn't get any money. I don't want to romantize Lego too much, but it was a great toy. But it is a shame that what made it great wasn't profitable enough.
Around this time of year, I always feel a little bad for those of the Jewish faith. I find Christmas oppressive, and I am a Christian. That being said, take a look at this Bat Mitzvah. Christians have nothing on this. But I must say, I am more than a little disappointed to hear that 50 Cent didn't perform very well. Of all people he should appreciate a bulletproof vest manufacturer.
UPDATE 11/30/05: Pictures!
I was alerted that the comments were not working on the site after I changed templates. Well, I didn't know how to fix it, so I have gone back to the old design, hopefully temporarily. I am hoping to figure out the problem later, but for now comment away.
According to tickle, my signature city is New York! Was my hatred for that city really a deep seeded hatred for myself? How could I have been so blind for so long? God bless you tickle, without your insight and highly scientific tests, lord knows how long this charade would have continued.
In other news, there are 4 people in my office right now.
"I'm done with acoustic guitar, balladeering, I'm done with acoustic groove. Acoustic groove sucks so bad," moans the boyish singer-songwriter. "I've sucked the flavor out of it."This quote is from John Mayer talking about his past two albums, taken from this article. Apparently he wants to do more blues stuff while “tailoring it to a pop audience.”
If this isn’t enough to send shivers down your spine, then I don’t know what is.
UPDATE: The more I think about it, the more I believe that John Mayer doing blues music should be classified as a hate crime.
It looks like my Ipod battery is finally dying. It goes from full charge to empty in about 1-1.5 hours. I knew this day would come. Does anyone know of a good Ipod battery replacement service? I really don’t want Tommy to take it apart and try to fix it on his own.
To commemorate the death of my first Ipod battery, I thought that I would list the 25 songs that it played the most.
25) “Favorite Thing” by the Replacements
24) “Safe and Sorry” by the Medications
23) “San Diego Serenade” by Tom Waits
22) “Try Me” by James Brown, off the Live at the Apollo album
21) “A Shot in the Arm” by Wilco
20) “Staring at the Sun” by TV on the Radio
19) “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?” by Ted Leo
18) “How Far Am I From Canaan?” by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers
17) “Just for You” by Sam Cooke
16) “The Trial of the Century” by the French Kicks
15) “I Would Die 4 U” by Prince
14) “Obstacle 1" by Interpol
13) “Ambulance” by TV on the Radio
12) “That’s Where It’s At” by Sam Cooke
11) “Rebellion (Lies)” by Arcade Fire
10) “Wet Work” by Q and not U
9) “Wonderful People” by Q and not U
8) “Let Down” by Radiohead
7) “Indian Summer” by Pedro the Lion
6) “My City of Ruins” by Bruce Springsteen
5) “ELT” by Wilco
4) “Letters to Elise” by the Cure
3) “One Mic” by Nas
2) “Bring It On Home To Me” by Sam Cooke
1) “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” by the Postal Service
Some songs benefitted from being on the Ipod early, like “The Distric Sleeps Alone Tonight” for example. There are some artists not represented due to the number of quality albums they have released, Elvis Costello and John Hiatt come to mind. But all in all, I don’t think this is a bad list. Other than that, enjoy you day off jerks.
So I am experimenting with new blog designs. This new boring one is temporary. Hopefully something better will be coming later.
Also, interestingly enough blogger's spell check doesn't think that blog is a word, they seem to think that bloc would be a better fit. I guess that is why their designs all suck.
Let me apologize for random, incoherent, nature of this post. My editor demanded a raise so I had to fire him, but judging from the previous content he wasn’t doing a very good job anyway.
As some of you know, I was an economics major in college. There are many reasons why I chose this major, most of them less than honorable, but the main reason was because I was good at it. For some reason, economics just stuck in my head.
I was at the campus bar one night in my junior year and ended up talking to one of my professors. I spent most the discussion in a drunken rant about the fact that calling economics a “social science” demeaned the word science and that the whole discipline was crap. This is the benefit of going to a small liberal arts school. Fortunately, he was also drunk and probably didn’t remember the argument, or at least never held it against me.
I went to the Redskins game last Sunday. One of the advantages of going to see a sporting event live was that you didn’t get to see commercials. I know that there are always sponsorships, etc. at games, but now Dan Synder has actual commercials play on the big screen during time outs/any break in play. At least at home, you can change the channel, maybe see what is happening in another game, but in the stadium you are trapped. I didn’t really notice this at the first game that I went to this season, but it really bothered me on Sunday. These constant breaks and pleas for your attention turn the game into a series of vignettes, rather than a coherent story. It is also possible that my disgust for the Redskins play bled over into disgust about the whole experience.
While the Redskins are the Washington sports team, I found this ramrod of advertising very un-Washington. Without getting into a debate about which is better, one thing that Washington clearly has over New York is a lack of billboards and public advertising. While not completely free, advertising in public space is very rare, less than any other city that I have been in.
For example, when my band use to play in New York a lot, we would drive from school, and after crossing the GW Bridge proceed down to Chelsea along the Henry Hudson Parkway. I remember a huge screen, like an lcd television thing, off the parkway near the Chelsea Piers that showed commercials. It was just hypnotic, this huge glowing thing was impossible to avoid while driving. I figured that it was placed there by a secret cabal of Body Shops and Car Insurers to increase accidents and drive up premiums in the city.
We just don’t have that sort of thing in DC, probably because most of the buildings are owned by the Government, National Park Service, or the Smithsonian. That is why you occasionally see the driving billboards around, but not very frequently. I think that I passed one billboard on my walk to work this morning, and it was poorly maintained. The fact that you can still see advertisements for “K Street” produced by George Clooney on telephones speaks to the lack of an organized public advertising push in the District.
I say all of this because I just started reading “No Logo” by Naomi Klein last night and wanted to reveal a clear bias I already have towards agreeing with it.
Then I see this on Lifehacker. Apparently, Adbusters is sponsoring a “Buy Nothing Day” this coming Black Friday. Well, I am going to participate. Granted, I wasn’t going to go shopping on that day anyway because I am not insane/masochistic, and I have to work. But now I get to not shop for political reasons! My hope is that this feeling of self satisfaction will make working on Friday easier to stomach.
Lifehacker is telling me that I can get a free blog using Wordpress software and their domain, i.e. dccharles.wordpress.com. Has anyone used wordpress before? And if so, is it better? I must confess that I don't really like blogger a whole lot. I don't hate it to the point of paying for something else, but if there is a free alternative that is better then sign me up.
In other news, I came across this link in the thead at Lifehacker that tells you how to remove the nav bar from your blogger page. Notice that I don't have mine anymore. I just thought I should pass this little bit of wisdom along.
Alright, I get the point I had a terrible name for a fish. My only regret is that my lapse in judgement is recorded for all to see. I decided to name my fish Cleo just because I like the name. The rest of you can go to hell.
p.s. I was thinking about naming the fish Tommy or Darren, but I wanted people to like it.
As I was talking to my mother last night she said:
“I just think that it is great that you got a fish. Other than rock and roll, beer, and cigarettes what are you committed to? Now you are committed to a living thing.”I really think that quote should stand on its own.
In other fish related news, I am thinking about naming my fish Aoide the muse of song, but I am not quite sure how to pronounce it. While I realize that this might be one of the more pretentious things that I have done, no small feat, I do like the name and it is my fish. Also, it has the added benefit of being a female name which I believe is a step towards what my mother is implying.
I couple of weeks ago, I noted that some people were coming to this site looking for chords to a Bow Wow song. They were linked to a post where I say that I don’t think that said song shouldn't be played at all.
Well, now I have gotten some hits for “redemption song chords rhythm.” That little string will take you to this post where I say:
“Also, people who play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Redemption Song’ on the guitar, particularly at parties or camp outs, need to be shot.”
I apologized to the person search for Bow Wow, I figure anyone using Bow Wow as inspiration is going to have it tough enough anyway. But the person searching for the chords to “Redemption Song” really needs to hear the truth.
I am currently working two jobs. On Wednesdays I leave my job at a law office, walk home, change, and get in the car and drive to my other job as a waiter. Usually I make it to the restaurant at about 6:20 or so.
I managed to leave the office a little early, got back to my apartment, changed and got in the car. There was nothing unusual about the trip down 9th Street, until I crossed Constitution. It was then that I realized that traffic in the 9th Street tunnel was backed up the light. In fact, I believe that my car was in the crosswalk when the light changed to red. Once you cross Constitution you are stuck, there is no other way to avoid the 9th Street tunnel.
Quickly, I resigned myself to the traffic and called my restaurant to tell my manager that I was going to be late.
The 9th Street tunnel has three lanes, the left lane goes to 295, the middle lane goes to Maryland Ave. (I believe but I don’t really remember), and the right lane goes to 395 south. When I said that traffic was backed up to the light on Constitution, I meant the right lane, my lane, was backed up, the other two were clear and moving fine.
At about 20 minutes after crossing Constitution I see the first car move to the middle lane to drive past the traffic. Now, I had assumed that some of the people who have been driving past me were planning on joining my lane right before the exit, but now I had visual evidence of the crime.
It is right about now that the anger starts to build. I just don't understand the mind set that allows a person to do this. How can a person look at traffic and decide that they are too important to wait through it? Do they have souls? Do they think that they are clever, as if no one else realized that the lane to the left was moving faster?
One of my old bosses use to say that the lowest circle of Hell is reserved for these people. I spent the next 10 minutes or so picturing what their torment would be like. I envisioned them trapped in a car with the air conditioning broken with Rush's "Tom Sawyer" playing endlessly. The on ramp to Heaven just a 1/4 mile away, but no matter how fast they drive, Heaven is always 1/4 mile away. But this vision left me unsatisfied, ironic punishment is great and all, but I wanted lava, fire, and imps poking eyeballs. I wanted unimaginable torment.
So I don't know if it was the blatant disregard for their fellow man, the fact that I was going to my second job of the day, or that a lot of people speeding by me could afford to choose the color of their car and no one chose purple, but I decided that no one was going to merge in front of me. This was my mission, this was where I was going to make my stand.
At this point I still can't see the exit, and no one is trying to merge in front of me, so I decide to start practicing. For my plan to be successful I need to allow as little space as possible between my car and the car in front of me. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does traffic.
I finally get around the bend to see the exit and I am shocked. Some of the people who have been speeding ahead are trying to get into the right lane, but are doing it too soon for their compatriots. People are moving another lane to the left to get ahead of people who have already broken the bounds of decency. Three lanes of traffic trying to get into one exit lane.
While watching the display of vulgarity before me I realize that I have to re-double my efforts and focus. I realize that to acomplish my goal I can't focus on the blue car in front of me, I have to look to the brake lights in the next car in front. I can't react to movement, I must anticipate it.
Soon the first car, a white SUV, attempts cut in front of me, but quickly abandons his quest. I suspect he realized what I already knew, that I would rear-end the blue car in front of me before I would let him in. A car manages to get in front of the blue car the driver of the car starts honking and gesturing wildly. I feel a little less insane.
A few more cars attempt to get in front of me, but come to the same realization as the white SUV. I feel good as I come to the exit, I am clearly not a person to be messed with. The lanes start to split, I have suceeded!
But then...a Diplomat cab comes up on my left. I stay close to the bumper of the car in front of me, but the cab driver keeps pushing forward. The lanes have split but he presses on! When the lane divides there is a section of pavement that is not lane, it is marked to indicate that cars shouldn't be driving on it, but this cab driver expresses as little regard for the law as he does for common decency, and continues on. He is pressing on when he has clearly lost. But we are back out in the rain and the lane markers are tough to distinguish. It becomes confusing as to where the lane. I am hugging the right marker, while his car occupies less and less of the shoulder. I am pushing forward and then...
Defeat. I don't know how, but he got in front of me. After all the turning and confusion, the positioning and posturing, the Diplomat cab is in front of me. I imagine some sadistic smile on the bastard’s face. Rather than the champion of the right lane and all that is good in the world, my impotency is laid bare for all to see. He spent 2 minutes to accomplish what I did in 45. Actually he had done better, he was in front of me. After all of my determination and practice, I was beaten.
photo by Tommy
I held off on naming him until the weekend was over, mainly to see if he would make it till Monday. I figured that if I named him, then I would get too attached and have to have a funeral if he died and so on. But it looks like he will be with us for a while, so it is time to give him a name.
This is where you all come in. I have been struggling to find the appropriate name, and nothing has really struck me. Tommy suggested that I ask the wisdom of the internet for help. I must confess to a little trepidation, none of you have to live with a fish with a stupid name and are thus more likely to suggest something stupid. That being said, I am asking for suggestions for names. My only request is that no one mention anything having to do with Butter or Stick or combinations thereof. I love the Butterstick thing, and I have a shirt, but that is more of a panda name anyway.
As a side note, when I told my mother that I purchased a fish she said, and I am paraphrasing: “Well there is a commitment.” I really don’t know what to make of that statement.
Last night I joined Kriston and Aaron at the Warehouse Next Door to see The Apes play with Modey Lemon, Big Bear, and a band whose name I didn’t catch. Given that nothing else was memorable about their set, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I missed the name.
This was my first time at the Warehouse Next Door, and I really like the space. It is small, clean, all ages (I believe), and non-smoking (for those who care). Also, they have a small bar that serves Schaefer for $2.00 a can. I understand that this is not the greatest beer, but at $2.00 it is far from undrinkable, like say Utica Club. It is like the Grog, if the Grog was run competently and cared about music.
I was really impressed with Big Bear. They were energetic, tight, and loud. I mean LOUD, my ears are still ringing in fact. Side note, another quality the Warehouse shares with the Grog is that you should really bring your earplugs with you when you go. I can’t come up with a good analogy to describe them. I think they might be considered “Math Rock” though I don’t really have enough familiarity with the term to say. What really impressed me was how well they managed to play their lines together and show a lot of emotion and intensity on stage.
The less that is said about the next band the better.
Modey Lemon played next. They were good, a lot of energy, but frankly I was still reeling from Big Bear’s set.
The Apes then closed the show. With Q and not U disbanded, The Apes are quickly becoming my new favorite DC Band. This was my second time seeing them, and they don’t disappoint. They are energetic, loud, and fun. I have been rewriting this review for about an hour, and I think the problem is that while these bands to intellectual things, it is irrelevant to intellectualize their performance. I am use to talking about chord structures, time signatures, and the like, but these things are really don’t matter to this performance. It is something that just needs to be experienced, and I find that very refreshing. I can get stuck in my own head from time to time, particularly about music, and The Apes just jolt me awake, violently almost.
So my suggestion is that if Big Bear or The Apes are coming to a town near you, go. Just go and stand up close and let the volume and rhythm wash over you. Ideally stand where the bass drum is really pounding in your chest. And while I can’t really convince you, or tell you, to like either band, I can remind you to bring your earplugs.
I am sure that you have read a lot about Sony Music’s business practices recently. If not, here are some links, but the gist is that cds purchased from Sony Music install software on your computer that is both hidden and hard to remove. This software allows hackers to use your computer to do all sorts of nasty stuff.
Well on top of this little public relations nightmare, the EFF has translated Sony’s End User License Agreement (EULA). And while it is tempting to decry how horrible some of the provisions in it are, like that you have to delete all of your mp3s if the corresponding cd gets stolen, I am not going to do that. No, I am feeling like a “glass is half full” kinda guy today, so instead I am going to highlight what I think is great about this EULA.
According to the EFF, “The EULA only gives you the right to put copies on a ‘personal home computer system owned by you.’” This means that you cannot copy mp3s of your Sony cds onto your work computer. At first blush this seems pretty horrible, but let me ask you to not think about yourself for once. This also means that your co-workers are not allowed to put copies of their Sony cds on their work computers.
For example, that the co-worker who insists on listening to say, Celine Dion, is violating the EULA. So what are you gonna do? Drop a dime on said co-worker, “Your heart is going on to jail bitch!” As a fine upstanding member of society, it pains you to see such flagrant violations of the law, and you are not going to stand for it any more. Lets see how the guy who listens to John Secada does in the prison yard. Personally, I have always thought it a crime to listen to John Mayer, and now I can do something about it.
This is a great day for music fans everywhere. Kudos to Sony for moving us closer to never having to listen to their music again.
There is this band, Coheed and Cambria, and they are awesome! While I have only heard one song, "The Suffering", and it is starting to grow on me, but the quality of their music has little to do with how fantastic they are. But to be sure, they rock, hard. You can go to their website and download their new video if you don't believe me.
Where to begin? The title of their current album is:
"Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness."
While you may think that that title is a little ostentatious, that is only because you are not aware of all the information conveyed in that title. First you should know that they are writing a five part rock opera, centered around the characters "Coheed" and "Cambria." So we know from the album title, that this is the first volume of the fourth part of the opera. They have previously released "The Second Stage Turbine Blade," presumably the second part, and "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3," clearly the third part. Unfortunately no other parts exist yet, in album form.
Know you may be wondering, "Album form? What other form could there be?" Well, what about comic books? The lead singer writes, and has released, a couple of comic books to accompany the music, with one comic book spanning about, and this is the best part, one or two songs! Seriously, I defy you to name another band who could fill a comic book with only a single song, aside from "A Quick One While He's Away" or "Bohemian Rhapsody." You can read the synopsis of the story so far here. Let me implore you to stop reading this post, and go over to the synopsis. For example, Cambria seems to represent "The Knowledge." Yes, that is capital K, the one, the only, Knowledge. I don't know what that Knowledge is, but I am sure that it rocks. Frankly, I feel ashamed for even concerning myself with R Kelly.
I will be honest, I thought that the love-child of Kiss and L Ron Hubbard would be evil, but I was wrong. I understand that this is not a cult/religion yet, but with a five part rock opera, and one album only representing a single volume of one part, this band is clearly not lacking in ambition. In fact, my current religion has been having its own problems recently, if Coheed and Cambria can find some way to bring Andrew WK and The Darkness into the fold, then I will abandon my job, hell even my identity, and go follow the rock.
I am really starting to worry about where the "Trapped in the Closet" drama is going. While, I loved the first 5 chapters, the next 7 are really stretching the limits of absurdity. You can read the synopsis here, from Wikipedia. All I will say is that a midget is involved.
I think that it is becoming increasingly clear that R Kelly didn't really plan out what was going to happen, and is continuing based on the early success. According to Pitchfork, he has completed 22 chapters. This implies that there will be more than 22 chapters. Frankly, I just don't know how he can keep this up. I mean, his opera/musical uses fewer melodies than an Andrew Lloyd Webber production.
You should be listening to Wolf Parade. Their new album, "Apologies to the Queen Mary," is that good. You can go here to download some songs if you don't believe me.
Rather that write a bunch of things like "This album is complex, yet subtle" or "improves with each listen," or try to come up with some elaborate metaphors, I decided that I would just point out a few of my favorite moments from the album.
The album begins with "You are a Runner" and the verse is just i to V in harmonic minor. My regular reader(s?) know how much I love harmonic minor, you can tell harmonic minor because the second chord is major. This chord progression has more roots in classical music than in blues, and I think in that regard it sets an important tone for the rest of the album. This progression helps to give the song its dark driving nature. In the chorus, they move from the V down to the IV. In a standard harmonic minor, the IV would be minor (iv), but the chord works because we are use to hearing V IV progressions, particularly in rock music.
My favorite song on the album is "I'll Believe in Anything." The song begins with a guitar part playing in 6/8, or possibly 6/4, and the drums playing in 4/4 over it, or at least this is how I interpreted it. My friend, and occasional musical cohort, Aaron thinks that they are just playing in 6/8 and refusing to accent the traditional beats of 1 and 4, and instead accenting 1 3 and 5. I think a case can be made for both. Regardless, the rhythm in this section creates a wonderful tension that is then released when the drummer goes into a strict 6/8 drum beat. When you are listening, the 6/8 with 4/4 drum part occurs when the drummer is just hitting the snare, and the strict 6/8 part occurs when the cymbals come in. Most of the song works with this tension and release. Later on in the song, when the guitar just starts hitting full chords, they again change the emphasis, and the song takes on a 3/4 feel. Finally at the end, the song shifts into 4/4 and the listener gets the emotional payoff, all the tension has gone. What I really like about this song is the way they use rhythm and meter to shape the song and create dynamics, as opposed to say a quiet verse/loud chorus structure.
These are just two moments to explain why I like the album. There are plenty more examples that I could give, "Same Ghost Every Night" has a similar rhythm structure to it. Of course these chord structures and rhythm structures would be wasted if the band didn't write good melodies to go over them. Fortunately, they have well constructed melodies guaranteed to stay stuck in your head. Thank god for that, because you can have all the erudition in the world, but without a good song you are more likely to resemble another band from Canada. But let me encourage you to listen past the melody to the drums, the keyboards, and the way the all of parts interact. There are some really great moments in the instrumentation, particularly "Grounds for Divorce" and "We Built Another World."
I don't mean for any of this to be intimidating. I think the strength of this album is that while these elements of chord and rhythm structure are present, you really don't need to know anything about music theory to like these songs. At its heart "Apologies to the Queen Mary" is just a collection of really good songs, and I mean that as a good thing.
"Shamelessly misappropriated Mike Love's songs, likeness and the Beach Boys trademark, as well as the Smile album itself."
Apparently, Mr. Love feels that the 2.6 million copies of a Beach Boys compilation that were given away to promote Smile undercut the sales of Beach Boys albums, you know the ones he makes money off of.
If anything is undercutting Beach Boys sales, I think it would be Mike Love's insistence on continuing to play music, either that or this. Five day waiting period...but I'm angry now.
Some one reached this site searching for:
“let me hold you chords little bow wow chords”
I gather that this person was searching for the chords to the song “Let Me Hold You” by Little Bow Wow. Unfortunately that person was linked to this post where I say:
“from an aesthetic standpoint I don't think that “Let Me Hold You” by Bow Wow (featuring Omarion) deserves to be played at all.”
So...sorry about that. Also, not that anyone cares, but I have some more substantive posts in the works that should be out soon.
As of 3:00 today you could still get tickets to the Aerosmith/Lenny Kravitz concert tonight at the MCI Center, and fairly good ones at that.
Also, I never thought of it until know, but Aerosmith is a real stupid name. What the hell is it suppose to mean anyway? They craft the air? According to Wikipedia:
“Drummer Joey Kramer came up with the name in high school when coming up with cool band names. He liked "aero" names because of Harry Nilson's album Aeriel Ballet”
p.s. I just edited my first Wikipedia article. Because was spelled “beacause” in the above quote before I came along. You all are welcome.
So Tommy is getting an early start on his Christmas shopping, and good for him. I would like to join in the fun and suggest that all of you buy this for him.
And while Kriston is fairly godless, that doesn’t mean that he can’t get presents also, so let me suggest this.
I know that today is supposed to be filled with frights, ghosts, ghouls, etc. I guess that I just wasn’t prepared for how terrifying this day could actually be.
I just received an e-mail from my college class president updating me on what is happening with my classmates after college. I get these about quarterly, and they seem fairly innocuous, but trust me there is evil lurking in the attachment. Everyone is getting married. The e-mail is just a litany of engagements, one after another, building to a crescendo that could only please Satan himself.
It is not just the number of people getting married, but who is getting married. One of my freshman year roommates is married. This is a guy who was caught urinating off of the second floor of our dorm before the first week of school had ended! An act that I believe perfectly set the tone for the next four years. Also, decorum prevents me from describing my first meeting with his wife.
I realized that I get to be Peter Pan for Halloween, and I didn’t even have to buy a costume.
Well, Kriston tagged me. This is my first meme, so be gentle.
1. Of all the books that you have eventually finished after many starts & stops, which one took you the longest and how long did it eventually take?
I really want the answer to this question to by Ulysses, but I still haven’t finished it after an almost Sisyphian number of years and attempts. I say almost Sisyphian because he at least got the rock to the top, and Ulysses tends to crush me about halfway through. I tend to be a fairly quick reader, but the answer is probably “Chaos” by James Gleick. I was seduced by the pretty pictures of fractals, but the book probably took me about 6 months when all was said and done.
2. What great band (or album or song) have you heard so often, you wouldn't mind never hearing again even though you still think the band (or album or song) is great?
I think this is a toss up between Led Zeppelin and Bob Marley. Both are pretty great and influential, but I just don’t really ever want to listen to either. In many ways, I think their influence is so widespread that listening to them just seems boring and redundant. Also, people who play “Stairway to Heaven” and “Redemption Song” on the guitar, particularly at parties or camp outs, need to be shot. Not only should they be shot, but do it quick because you know “More Than Words” is coming next.
3. Which cliché or often cited quote needs to be placed in quarantine for a few decades?
“You must be the change you want to see in the world” by Gandhi really needs to go on an extended sabbatical. I know it is inspirational and all, but I am just sick of hearing it.
4. During the 1990s "Compassion Fatigue" received a lot of press, now the media is giddy with "Donation Fatigue". What will be the next trendy fatigue?
I am hoping for “Ambition Fatigue.” Maybe China hurry up becoming a world power so that we can adopt a more European lifestyle because I think I can really increase the number of lunch beers I have in a given day.
5. What percentage of respondents will answer "meme fatigue" to question #4?
Everyone wants to, but this question prevents one from appearing witty, so none.
I don’t really know who to pass this on to, my blog friends are all pretty much covered. Is their bad luck for not passing on a Meme?
So I have always had a soft space in my heart for Journey. Their “Behind the Music” might be the greatest thing that Vh1 has ever produced. One of my favorite memories from touring is sitting in a Communist bar in Cambridge, MA and convincing a heavily tattooed bartender to play “Don’t Stop Believing” so that we could drunkenly sing/shout it.
Well that same anthem is currently being used to inspire the Chicago White Sox. In fact the song is so integral to their success that the team asked Steve Perry to travel to Houston with them. According to wikipedia, the association happened when:
“players Joe Crede and A.J. Pierzynski went to a bar and screamed ‘Play some freakin' Journey!!’ to a bad lounge singer.”
This just isn’t fair to the Astros, they look across the field know that the full force of Steve Perry has come down against them. How can they compete? What singer can they possible call into to counter act the full force of Steve Perry? If you think that I am overstating, remember that we are not just talking about “Don’t Stop Believing” but “Faithfully” “Separate Ways”“Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin.’” and “Anyway You Want It” And god help the Astros if the White Sox get down, because then they know they are getting a full dose of “Open Arms.” It just seems cruel to make any team have to endure this.
And finally some trivia. Who was the first band to inspire a video game? Wait for it, wait for it...JOURNEY!! You can go here to read about it, but the quick synopsis is: the band has a “scarab vehicle” and has to travel to different worlds to collect their instruments. After you have collected the instruments, and used them to shoot your way back to the “scarab vehicle” the band performs a concert. At the concert you control Herbie the roadie and your job is to keep “groupoids” from attacking the band. This is so awesome that it needs no comment
I was reading this article about session musicians, and I was wondering what is going to happen to them as a result of file sharing. Some very talented musicians have created some great work in anonymity. If albums are no longer profitable, and become more of an advertisement that induces you to spend money elsewhere, like say going to concerts, it seems like it will be harder for session musicians to make a living. I don't know the answer, I was just thinking about a group of musicians who gets left out of the whole downloading debate.
I mentioned comment spam in my last post. And while the comment in question was clearly comment spam, I have also recently been blessed with some comments that might not necessarily be spam. I have gotten a few comments like: “I like your blog. I have been reading it for a while. You should check out my site at…” And while I am fairly sure that these comments are spam, and have been deleted, I want it known that I will delete these types of comments anyway. If you want more links to your website please at least pretend to read the post you are commenting on, like “I agree with you, Mike Love should be shot.” Never forget that most blogs exist to serve the ego of the author, and this one is no different.
I believe that I have made my feelings on ringtones clear. So imagine my surprise when this is my first comment spam. Now, I realize that I am only encouraging them with this link, maybe someone can help me figure out how to post one this without having the idiot’s google rating go up.
Personally I love the line:
“I come from the land of 3g audio ringtone so I know what I'm talking about!”
I realize that this is spam, and just copied over and over again, but someone had to write it at some point. And presumably, knowing that it would be copied over and over again, that person had to think that it was a good line.
This comment came on a post I did about how I hate Contemporary Christian music. Does this mean that I can look forward to ringtones of Contemporary Christian music? Because if I hear Steven Curtis Chapman coming out of a cell phone, I will be convinced that God has pulled his flock up to Heaven and given Satan this world to do with what he will, and frankly I am a little pissed that I got left out.
Also, there is a “land of 3g audio ringtones?” If this is true, then I support military action there, hell I will even enlist.
Finally, EXCLAMATION POINT? Seriously? You are that excited about ringtones and the knowledge they bestow upon you? This guy might as well walk into a chemistry class and say, “I smoke a lot of crack so I know what I’m talking about!”
Well a whole month went by with nary a word from me. Well, I recently started a new job, and I still work at the restaurant, so I don’t have a lot of time to post these days. Also, rock music, or any other type of popular music, just isn’t doing it for me these days. This happens to me from time to time, I just get bored. I am sure something exciting will come along soon, it always does.
Alright, so I have been trying to write a piece full of righteous indignation about the new Gap Ads. There is something about Brandon Boyd from Incubus singing Elvis Costello's “Allison” while trying to sell me jeans that doesn't sit right with me. But after looking at the Gap's press release I am left with questions more than anything else.
For example: Is there any correspondence between favorite song and favorite fit of jeans? I mean, I have never associated “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys with “Original Ultra Low Rise Flare” jeans, but if both are Joss Stone's favorite, than there must be something there right? Is “Boot Fit” a more ironic, spiteful cut of jeans? As if purchasing jeans wasn't hard enough before.
I hate people as much as the next guy, but this seems a little extreme. For those who are not interested in following the link, it describes a festival where people listen to music over headphones, and chat over IRC! Think of it, all the fun of sitting in your house alone listening to music, but you get to do it with other people. At least you know that “girl” in the chat room is actually a girl, so that is something.
And you actually have to bring your own headphones. I wonder if headphone envy occurs. Or something like: “wow, that guy has the new noise canceling Bose headphones, he must be very successful. What is his IRC chat name? Oh bartender, please send a Chimay over to imanidiot534 over there.”
I love this quote from the organizer:
"I just like being in your own head," she says, laughing nervously, "and not hearing dumb conversations like at other concerts."
The article doesn't mention ticket prices, but people who pay for this deserve each other.
While I don't officially advocate the death penalty, or killing in any form, Mike Love should be shot numerous times for what he has done to the Beach Boys. As if Kokomo wasn't enough, I am currently listening to a remake of Fun, Fun, Fun that was recorded in 1996 with Status Quo, who apparently are a 60s psychedelic/garage punk band. And I believed that the most irritating person that the Beach Boys had worked with was John Stamos.
On top of this, I see that someone has the audacity to actually have started a Mike Love Fan Club. For $7.00 you can join the fan club and get a quarterly newsletter and a membership card. It is eerie though, we can get together, listen to Pet Sounds and burn some cards and remember a time when Mike Love was relevant.
UPDATE: I am adding the song "Student Demonstration Time" to Mike Love's growing list of crimes. The lyrics come close to conveying how bad the song is, but you really should listen to the song to really appreciate how evil Mike Love really is.
Let me add my voice to the early praises of Kanye West's new album “Late Registration.” Pitchfork and RollingStone have already given the album a 9.5 or 5 stars respectively, and while both publications have their faults, they got this album right.
I haven't listened the album that much yet, it hasn't even come out yet. But wow. At first listen it is more compelling than “The College Dropout.” There is an intensity and urgency to this album that wasn't present on his last album, and is rare on second albums.
Second albums tend to be comprised of songs that didn't make the first album. I ideally like to wait until the third album to really judge a band. It is the third album that cemented Radiohead's and The Clash's legacy for example, and probably killed Counting Crows' and Pearl Jam's. Though admittedly, the current state of the music industry doesn't really allow for this yardstick to be used.
I tend to think of the rap genre as more of a single based art form. There are not many rap albums that I think work as a complete album, and they are the predictable ones: “It Takes a Nation of Millions”, “The Low End Theory”, and “Illmatic” come to mind. This album has to be added to that list. This album has the guy from Maroon 5 on it, and I still like it, that is how good Kanye is.
I hope to get a real review in soon after a few more listens, but you really need to get on BitTorrent right now.
Over at Ionarts, Mr. Downey has a discussion of singers who don't know much about music. My favorite quote:
“Fine voices are like fine instruments, because people will go to extraordinary lengths to hear them played. However, the best instruments can be given to the most skilled and intelligent musicians, while the voices end up with whoever has them and cannot be transferred.”
The problem is that you have to distrust anyone who can sound good at their instrument without actually learning anything about music. Singers are the most prone to this problem obviously. A singer can sound great without learning anything about music. A great singer has been given a gift, and it is a shame when they treat it as such. I don't mean to imply that there isn't a craft to singing, or that singers can't know a lot about music and be great musicians. Actually, the fact that there is a lot of craft and knowledge that can go into singing makes it a greater tragedy when great voices don't study it. Does any of this matter when you are listening? No. But it can drive you insane when you are playing with them.
Just to show you that I can be fair, the other instrument that is most prone to this disease is the guitar. With the invention of tablature, a guitarist can sound fantastic and not even know the name of a single note. I was at a bar once with a moderately well known singer songwriter who seemed to be almost proud of the fact that he didn't know the names of any of the chords he played.
I just find it amazing that in music you can get away without really knowing anything about the discipline. I don't know if this is comes from an idolization of people like Charlie Parker, or a remnant of punk music, but it drives me insane. We love natural ability in music, and deify it to the point where we want to leave it untouched by the ravages of knowledge. Sometimes I think that authenticity is a quality valued to highly among musicians.
“I was a terrible waitress so I started to write songs.”
So I have had this lyric stuck in my head for the past few days, probably because I am not a very good waiter. I am not horrible, like bring you the wrong food or ignore you for long periods of time, but I am just not very good at all. Although I am better than people have been treating me.
But anyway, this lyric has made me wonder if the music industry is really a service industry. At first glance the question seems stupid. Of course it is a service industry, people want to hear music from time to time, but don't need to. But after working, even however briefly, in a real service industry there are important differences.
We go to restaurants and expect everyone there to make us happy. It is the waiter's job to do anything, REASONABLE, to make your experience as enjoyable as possible. That is what we expect.
I wonder if we expect the same thing from musicians. Take Ani for example, I get the sense that she makes music that makes her happy, and doesn't care about the rest. That is probably why she started her own label after all. Maybe that is why she was a terrible waitress, she just wasn't very good at trying to make other people happy. I mean, if an artist takes steps to make as many people happy as possible, something every restaurant is trying to do, then they are called sell-outs.
I don't know, I am tired and my body hurts...and I smell like hamburgers.
Tommy left a good comment on my last post that has forced me to clarify my position on payola. Be warned though, I was an economics major, so I am going to substitute boring music theory with dreadful coma inducing economic theory. I should start advertising this site as perfect for insomniacs. Or put some disclaimer up: “Do not operate heavy machinery or drive a car until you know how you will react to A Single Syllable.”
The question is does payola get bands more airplay than they deserve? First I have to clarify what I mean by deserve: we are in a business world so quality of music doesn't matter. For example, from an aesthetic standpoint I don't think that “Let Me Hold You” by Bow Wow (featuring Omarion) deserves to be played at all. But that is not the question of course. In this world deserve refers to the number of listeners the song brings to the radio station.
For the purposes of this post I am going to use Clear Channel as my radio conglomerate. They are not the only, but they are the one most people have heard of. They also own a lot of radio stations and probably control what you are listening to.
Clear Channel is a big publicly traded company. They conduct a lot of research do determine what listeners want to hear. I know, I have actually participated in some studies. They called me on the phone and would play two songs at a time and ask which I preferred. So we will assume that have scads of data on songs and what the expected number of listeners would be if they played a certain song 10 times a day.
Clear Channel wants to maximize listenership as much as possible. The more people that listen, the more they can charge for advertising and thus the more money the company makes. Each song on the radio is calculated to get the most number of people listening to, say DC101 in DC, as possible. Remember that the in the current radio business model, Djs don't get to select the music they play. Similarly, I don't think the meager music that gets played on MTV reflects the preferences of the Vjs.
The use of payola assumes that the song being pushed would not be played as much, or at all, without the use of a bribe. If that song were not going to be played as much, then the assumption is that fewer people would listen to the radio station if it were played. Thus the song played as a result of payola represents a loss in revenue for Clear Channel. As a publicly traded company, Clear Channel wants to maximize revenues and profits to increase dividends and stock price. That is their goal. So the only way that payola can get a song on a Clear Channel station more than it deserves to be would be for that payola to make up for, or exceed, the loss in revenue that occurs by not playing whatever they would be playing absent payola. Economist's love to talk about choice, so remember that the choice to play a payola song is a choice not to play another song, there are only so many hours in the day.
So what was the payola? I have taken this list from an editorial by Eugene Robinson: personal trips, plasma TVs, laptops, Playstation 2s. Now I find it tough to believe that these covered any loss in revenue.
But payola still exists, but why? I suspect that it is a habit held over from a different era in music. It made more sense when Djs could play whatever they want. The famous payola case involves Alan Freed. He could play what he wanted, and didn't have to worry about revenues. He made a salary, so payola was just more money to him and thus it makes sense why he would change is playlists as a result or bribes. My point is that in the current business model that choice doesn't make sense.
If payola is really resulting in a change in playlists and thus a decrease in revenues than that is a problem of Corporate Governance and needs to be handled appropriately by shareholders and the SEC. According to Clear Channel's website, the stock is currently being traded at $32.80. To assume that payola is effective would be to assume that that price would be higher without it. If that is the case, then shareholders should be the truly outraged party here.
I believe that record labels still engage in payola because they have been for so long and all of their competitors still do it. It has become sort of an irrational arms race.
This isn't an apology for payola. I think that the people who engage in it should be prosecuted, or fined, or whatever. This also isn't a love note to Clear Channel. This is just an explanation of why I don't think that payola is putting songs on the radio that wouldn't be there in the first place. Basically, Eliot Spitzer is not going to get the New Pornographers on the radio.
So we have a payola scandal. I wonder if anyone really cares at all. I don't think that anyone was under the impression that talent was guiding radio selection. In this article from the Los Angeles Times, Robert Hilburn points out that marketing and focus groups drive radio selection and there is no reason to believe that Ted Leo, or the New Pornographers will be on DC101 anytime soon. I tend to agree with Mr. Hilburn. The only thing that I found surprising about this scandal is that major record labels still engaged in payola
Let us take this quote from an article in the Economist:
“Yet a band called Audioslave, which makes more “challenging” music, also benefited. 'I've paid payola,' admits one music executive. 'I couldn't get through to the key radio stations, my band made difficult music and now they're a household name.'”
This is a world where Audioslave is considered “difficult music.” Where does that leave bands like TV on the Radio or The Unicorns? And behold the power of payola, it can take a Superunknown like Chris Cornell and make him a household name, wow. By the way, let me apologize for that last sentence, but it was too easy.
Record labels are companies and not people. I am sure that if their research showed that they could make a lot of money selling the new Architecture in Helsinki album, then they would. While I am sure there are bands that would refuse to sign to a major label as a matter of principle, but not as many as one would think. Also, if the audience was out there demanding to hear the new Sigur Ros single, then Clear Channel would play it. It seems obvious to say, but companies like money and not music. When they release an album by Jason Mraz they are not saying that it is good, they are saying that it will sell.
I am not saying that everything on a major label is bad, just that aesthetic quality doesn't factor into the equation. I don't know if Clear Channel or Sony could just decide to make Clap Your Hands Say Yeah a platinum seller. It is possible that they create taste as much as react to it. I similarly don't know why a the market for indie rock is smaller than the market for Jessica Simpson, but it seems clear that it is. I also appreciate how arrogant this post is.
The other way to read this post is: Charles is angry that this blog's influence isn't large enough that people want to pay him off. And I am for sale by the way. Sony? Capitol? Come on guys, I have no shame or a job.
This weeks song is “The Hour Hand” by my old band Roosevelt Roosevelt. I have mentioned my old band a few times so I decided to put up one of our songs. This song is off of our last album A Wish to be Blind. It was recorded at Inner Ear Studio and mastered by Chad Clark as Silver Sonya Studios.
The main reason that I chose this song is because I think it contains the best lyrics that I have written. We wrote this album in college, and I was in class that studied Nietzsche. At the time I was fascinated by his writings, and the Eternal Recurrence in particular. Briefly, the Eternal Recurrence is the idea that nothing ever changes and thus life is meaningless. I tried to use the image of a clock to express this, the hour hand returns to the same place every hour and nothing new ever happens. So yeah, we were that obnoxious. It is little wonder that we didn't have scores of groupies. I mean what are you gonna say, “Hey baby, want to come home with me and read The Gay Science?”
I also like this song because of the guitar solo. We originally recorded a different bridge/guitar solo. But after listening to it numerous times, which is what you do in a studio, we decided that it was too anthem rock. It evoked images of lighters in the air and me with my foot on the monitor, and we were already uncomfortable with Creed comparisons. So Aaron wrote the piano part that we recorded. This meant that I had to change my guitar solo. I decided to do a slide guitar thing, but unfortunately didn't have a slide so I used a beer bottle instead. The actual solo is fine, not my best. I just like that I used a beer bottle.
Some might point out that I have railed against drum solos, so it is slightly hypocritical to talk about my guitar solo. Well it is, but guitarist have their own issues to deal with also, particularly guitarist who don't sing, so back off. And no one likes drum solos.
I don't know if anyone else has seen this, but if you go here you can download and remix the new Nine Inch Nails single “Only.” Trent Reznor has made the song available in different formats, including Garageband for you mac users and Acid with the song optimized for the free version of Acid.
Let me encourage you to download one of the versions and take a look. I will admit that I am not the biggest fan in the world of NIN, but just seeing the different parts and being able to listen to each part by itself is fascinating. Trent Reznor has always used the studio as instrument to itself, and with these tracks you can get a sense of how he thinks and works.
So I am going to give remixing a try. Now all I need is a good DJ name.