Category Archives: music

QOTD: Geniuses, Creativity and Work Ethic

I’m in the midst of Jeff Tweedy’s autobiography, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). I like the voyeurism of a good autobiography or biography as much as the next person, but what I really like are books, articles, documentaries, interviews, what-have-you that get into how creative people do their work or their thoughts on what is required to do good work.

Thus far, my favorite quote from the book is:

“The people who seem the most like geniuses are not geniuses. They’re just more comfortable with failing. They try more and they try harder than other people and so they stumble onto more songs. It’s pretty simple. People who don’t pick up a guitar and try every day don’t write a whole lot of great songs. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

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Filed under books, music, quote of the day, Stuff I'm Reading

Having watched High Fidelity for the umpteenth time

Did a lot of traveling this summer, including a couple of trips to Asia.  So I watched a lot of in flight movies and listened to a lot of music.  On my last trip to Asia, High Fidelity was in the movie queue and I couldn’t resist.

Truth be told, I’m a bit of a taxonomy nerd – though I don’t believe in a place for everything and everything in it’s place.  Maybe a topic I’ll come back to at a later time.  So Rob’s obsessive habit of making top 5 lists fascinates me.  With this last viewing of the movie, I became a bit fixated on Barry’s challenge to Rob – name the top 5 side 1, track 1’s of all time.

I’ve been playing around with this for the past few weeks in my head, been scratching notes down, even started an Evernote notebook on it.  I couldn’t get to just five.  So, instead, I settled on three thematic lists of the top 5 side 1, track 1’s of all time.

I’m sure Barry and even Dick would mock me.  In fact, I know that Barry would since I’ve included a track that he crucified Rob for.  Alas, though, I’ve got these lists out of my head and here in black and white so now I can move on.  So, without further ado…

Top 5 Side 1, Track 1’s Before My Time

Here’s my list for pre-1974….

  • Black Dog, Led Zeppelin IV.  “When it comes to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.”  Mike Damone, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  Never worked for me personally, but I could see how it could…
  • Two of Us, Let It Be.  “Two of us wearing raincoats / Standing so low / In the sun / Two of us chasing paper / Getting nowhere / On our way back home.”  Not sure why, but perhaps my favorite Beatles lyrics.  Also something about the happy go luck-iness of the whistling at the end.
  • Hear My Train a Comin’, Blues.  Slight technicality here – it was released in 1994.  But Hendrix doing an acoustic, raw demo like this is just amazingly awesome.  Listen if you will and you will see why this technicality must slide.
  • Sunday Morning, The Velvet Underground & Nico.  “It’s just a restless feeling by my side.”  Andy Warhol.  Lou Reed.  So good.
  • Strange Brew, Disraeli Gears.  This may not have been on my list a few short months ago, but my guitar playing 12 year old son has me re-listening to a lot of stuff these days and Cream is one of them.  Unbelievably talented trio, amazing rhythm section – and Clapton (he is god according to the Brits and all).

Top 5 Side 1, Track 1’s of My Formative Years

More or less 1987 to 1995 or so.  From when I started paying attention to MTV (especially 120 Minutes) through college.

  • Teenage Riot, Daydream Nation.  “Everybody’s talking ’bout the stormy weather / What’s a man to do but work out whether it’s true?”  Exactly.  Great Side 1, Track 1, Line 1.
  • My Name is Jonas, The Blue Album.  I was hooked on the geek/math rock thing from this song forward.  Unfortunately, Rivers and the boys have moved to something else of which I’m not sure what it is, but this one remains in the iTunes forever.
  • Stop!, Ritual de lo Habitual.  My high school Spanish teacher had us translate Sting songs because he released stuff in Spanish and my teacher liked him.  This song, however, was the first time I willingly – and for no educational purpose – translated Spanish.  Again, what Perry et al have devolved to is sad – I’d never willingly want people to go back on heroin, but the music was better…
  • Ana Ng, Lincoln.  I am a Gen-Xer.  I like irony.  A lot.  Maybe too much.  They Might Be Giants bring it in all it’s glory.  Also the white boy sampling – “When I was driving once I saw this painted on a bridge / ‘I don’t want the world, I just want your half.'”  If I ever get around to a Side 2, Last Track list, Kiss Me, Son of God from Lincoln will surely be on it.
  • Debaser, Doolittle.  Based on a Salvdor Dali movie – didn’t know that at the time.  It’s not like Black Francis churned out easily understood songs.  But, damn, they sounded good.  “Girlie so groovy / ha ha ha ho.”  Yeah.
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nevermind.  That 12 year old guitar playing son of mine asked me what I thought a great album was, so I bought him the 20th anniversary edition of this one and told him to pay no mind to the other Seattle bands of the time.  He tells me Curt is an underrated guitarist – I say his lyrics were great and what I always think of with this album is the rhythm section – Krist’s bass lines and Dave destroying the drums.

Oops, that was six…

Top 5 Side 1, Track 1’s In My Non-Formative Years

So the this is my I’m a grown up kind of list I guess.  Important to note, as you may have guessed from my formative years list, I’m not much of a Radiohead fan.  Not an apology, just letting you know that you won’t find them here.  I realize for many that’s a hard pill to swallow.

  • Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), Funeral.  The other album I referenced when my son asked me about great albums.  Also, if you’ve seen them live, let me know who is better live that still plays live.  I can’t think of anyone.  “We let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know / Then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.”
  • Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, White Blood Cells.  Could be the best Side 1, Tracks 1-4 (Hotel Yorba, I’m Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman, Fell in Love with a Girl).  Had a hard time only having one White Stripes album on this list (not to mention The Raconteurs or The Dead Weather).  I think it came to this because it was the first White Stripes riff my 12 year old learned…he got into it after we watched It Might Get Loud together.
  • Third Planet, The Moon and Antarctica.  “The universe is shaped exactly like the earth / If you go straight long enough you end up where you were.”  Love that.  Had a bit of a moment with Modest Mouse when they were featured on The OC (maybe not as bad as the moment I had when The Flaming Lips were on 90210), but a moment nonetheless.  Both bands have returned nicely from these moments of randomness.
  • Caring is Creepy, Oh Inverted World.  That jangly sound of the initial cords is just so The Shins.  Maybe didn’t change my life as much as it did Zach Braff’s in Garden State, but good all the same.
  • I am Trying to Break Your Heart, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  Similar to one White Stripes album, same for Wilco.  Being an American aquarium drinker gets YHF on the list…

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No Depression by Uncle Tupelo (and Time Magazine)

Fear the hearts of men are failing
These our latter days we know
The great depression now is spreading
God’s word declared it would be so

I’m going where there’s no depression
To a better land that’s free from care
I’ll leave this world of toil and trouble
My home’s in heaven, I’m going there

In this dark hour, midnight nearing
The tribulation time will come
The storms will hurl the midnight fear
And sweep lost millions to their doom

I’m going where there’s no depression
To a better land that’s free from care
I’ll leave this world of toil and trouble
My home’s in heaven, I’m going there

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Filed under music, the rest of the hour

Jeff Tweedy, Marketing Genius

No, I do not own a Volkswagen nor do I intend to buy one – yet. So this post will not discuss the use of Sky Blue Sky as a soundtrack for VW spots, nor be a diatribe against Jeff Tweedy as a sell out (dude, it’s Jeff-freakin-Tweedy in his prime, not Iggy & The Stooges or Led Zep pushing Cadillacs, The Who pushing everything – I’m assuming to pay for Pete Townsend’s legal fees as it pertains to that little kiddy porn incident from a couple years ago, or the vast amounts of relatively indie artists looking to make a buck from their relatively radio unfriendly music – wait, perhaps that’s Tweedy’s angle here). Anyway…

I’m going to reach back about a dozen years to the stellar sophomore effort of Wilco (so good they don’t even have a sophomore slump, though they did have to get the rest of that Tupelo out in the first one before they could become the innovators that they are) that put them on the map – Being There – and specifically the song “Outta Mind (Outta Sight)”. As I dwelt on the lyrics a bit, I took away a conversation that a Brand and a Customer might have in this digital age of two way media…

(Brand to Customer in a patronizing voice): I know, we don’t talk much but you’re such a good talker. I know we should take a walk, but you’re such a fast walker.

(Customer to Brand in an exasperated, frustrated voice): I know where I’ll be tonight, alright. Outta mind, outta sight.

(Brand to Customer, removed from high horse): Well, OK, I know you don’t love me but you still been thinking of me. Well, alright, I know you probably hate me, but that’s OK with me.

(Customer to Brand, becoming dismissive now): Outta mind, outta sight. Outta mind, outta sight. You don’t see me now. You don’t want to anyhow.

(Customer to Brand, threatening): Look out here I come again and I’m bringing my friends. I said look out here I come again and I’m bringing my friends.

(Brand to Customer, defeated and repentant): OK, alright. OK, alright. I know where I’ll be tonight, alright. Outta mind, outta site. I know you don’t love me. I know you don’t love me anymore.

It’s obviously “Wishful Thinking” in this day and age if brands feel they can act like “The Late Greats” and not be left realizing they may be “Too Far Apart” from their customers, and singing a new tune – “Say You Miss Me”.

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Filed under customer relationships, music, random play all

Feeling a bit cantankerous today, I think I’ll take it out on the music industry

Could be because small breakaway provinces and mutual protection agreements involving Poland tend to lead to world wars, could be because my puppy’s been sick lately, could be the inaneness of the Bears’ “quarterback controversy” has been decided – w/o having a real quarterback.

Regardless, more to the point of the blog, a few things in the media world that are pissing me off right now…

The RIAA took my baby away – Messing w/ Pandora, a truly innovative platform that helps people more fully enjoy music based on the DNA of their preferences is assinine. Of course, this makes sense in light of the fact Pandora is all about discovery, where as the RIAA protects the two dozen artists – and their extended entourages – you can here over the standard airwaves today. Eff the radio anyway; what more does a band or artist need beside YouTube and a nice social media experience. To wit…

Swift Move – Hidden in the fluff of the USAT Life section was this piece about Taylor Swift, who’s new album isn’t coming out for a few months, yet fans are posting videos of themselves singing the song. How did this occur? Because Swift did a segment with a radio station (oh, the irony per the above Pandora rant) awhile back performing the demo of the song. From the article: “Somebody stripped the audio and put it on the Internet,” says Swift, 18. Her management wasn’t thrilled: “I wasn’t allowed to play new music for people after that.” Well, I could see how her management wouldn’t want her upcoming album to have fans literally singing it’s praises before it comes out. Wouldn’t want it to go straight to the top of the charts or anything.

Pasties – Some months, that’s all my fav music magazine, Paste, is good for. This is one of those months. A new look at “International Music”. Wow. So music is international? There are musicians in Africa basing their work on tribal sounds? Experimental noise coming from Scandanavia and Iceland? New wave/punk synthesis coming from England? Regga/ska influenced bands in Brazil? Who knew?

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Filed under digital distribution, monetizing media, music, paste magazine, RIAA, riffs

I’m Amazed

I’m amazed by the TV stations
I’m amazed by what they want me to believe

My Morning Jacket, I’m Amazed

Great band, great album, great live. Simple quote. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.


Filed under media coverage, media on media, music, random play all