Category Archives: Music

I don’t know where I’m going…


Today’s Music: AC/DC – Thunderstruck

…But I know where I am right now – over at Running On Sober with Michael from Good2BeGone doing Life In 6 Songs for Christy, CK Hope and Mama Mick.

Check it out, and you can even submit your own playlist!
(And comment over there too!)

From The Ticket Stub Bin: Joe Cocker


Today’s Music: Joe Cocker. See below.
Days Til Spring: 58 (and it’s snowing like mad here, so I can’t wait for the warm!)

JoeCocker
Soul, R & B. Rock and Roll. All those styles are alive and well. There are great new bands putting out incredible music, and it’s possible to step right in and enjoy it no primer needed.
But there are acts that came before that pushed the envelop. They broadened horizons and brought music no one knew right into our ears.

Joe Cocker is one of those acts.
So when he was paying the Beacon Theater, maybe 15 years ago, and Big Mike asked if I wanted to go, there was only one possible answer: Hell yes!

It was a typical concert night – meet in the city, grab a beer and some food, then head into the Beacon. Grab another beer or a soda, and head in to find our seats. The Beacon theater is a grand old room. Floor, Mezzanine, Balcony. Sculptured roof with gold gilding. Wide stage that extends almost the width of the hall. Semi comfortable seats, with almost enough legroom for someone six feet tall.

So we’re settled in our seats (floor level, towards the back), and the lights go down. No opening act, so this was for Joe. The crowd surged to its feet as the PA announced Joe Cocker!!! Out strode the band, taking their positions, and Joe followed right behind.

The band kicked in…
Joe grabbed the microphone..
And then…
He played, note for note, the entire Best Of Joe Cocker album.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a good show. And seeing Joe Cocker moving around onstage (he’d toned down the twitchiness a lot) was a sight to see. I mean, here was an important voice from the earlier days of rock and roll, who’s soulfulness bridged a gap from Black music to bring it, via England, to everyone in America. And once he did it, his influence was profound. Bands making that same sound popped up across the landscape.
To this day, when Joe comes on the radio, my head nods back and forth, my fingers tap, and there’s a little extra bounce in my step.
I think he’s a great singer, even as an older man because it added an extra gravelly-ness to a voice he still controlled well.
I’m glad I saw him, just to be in the same room and feel the music.
But overall, it was an average show, devoid of spontaneity and surprise. He still did a really good job with the songs, it’s just that he performed them exactly as expected.

One bright spot of the show – he did play my favorite Joe Cocker song:

A Defense of 80s Music, by Running On Sober


It was bound to happen. At some point, I was guaranteed to put my foot into it.
You’d have thought I knew better by now.
You’d have thought wrong.
Todays rebuttal comes from Running On Sober. When she isn’t running or compiling the brilliant Words for the Weekend, she’s also putting together some of the worlds greatest playlists.
Which gives her excellent credibility to rebut me for what I said in a post about 80s music.
So please enjoy Running on Sober’s skewering of me as much as I did.
(And then check out her site and say hi!)
(Just don’t look for me. I’ll be gagging. With a spoon.)

A Defense of 80s Music
Today’s Music: Jam On It by Newcleus
*Note on today’s music: Guap confessed to once knowing every single word to this 1984 song in a comment I knew would eventually come back to haunt him. For fun, listen to the song and every time they say “Jam on it, jam on it, ja-ja-ja-ja-ja-jam on it,” instead change it to, “Guapola, guapola, guap-guap-guap-guap-guap-guapola…”

Obviously, it doesn’t take much to entertain me–maybe that’s why I love 80’s music. I try not to take myself too seriously, don’t worry, be happy!, and for the most part, the 80’s didn’t take themselves too seriously either. They still managed to teach us some important lessons though: don’t talk to strangers; don’t give up–when a problem comes along, relax, you can whip it; we have to fight for our right to party; watch out boyevery rose has its thorn; and the greatest love is inside of us–we are the world after all.

Cinderella even taught us to appreciate what we have before it’s gone

Cinderellaeven taught us to appreciate what we have before it’s gone

Some messages I heeded (white lines — never did them), some messages I didn’t (patience — yeah, not my strong suit), and some I may have taken too literally before sobering up (I wanna be sedated), but when I look back at the 80’s, I can’t help but smile. That was my decade, I’m from the 80’s!, so when Guap asked me if I’d like to come to its defense after his recent post, “Oh Joy. The 80s Live On,” I was like totally frothing at the mouth.

Even though I was down at the shore (in my bitchin’ Camaro), I started planning my counter by listening to nothing but 80’s music. Well, okay, maybe I was already listening to it. Fine, maybe that’s all I ever listen to, but I swear I’m not crazy–ALL I WANTED WAS A PEPSI!, I’m just a little pre-occupied. With 19, 19, 1985.

Wait, what was I saying? I forgot. Let’s just sing 80′s music instead.

Wait, what was I saying? I forgot. Let’s just sing 80′s music instead.

Everyone has an opinion on 80’s music. Seems we either love it or hate it; like Taco Bell, there’s not much middle ground. And when we think of 80’s music, usually the first images that come to mind are big hair, moonwalking, blue eye shadow, skinny ties, and Madonna writhing around stage in a wedding dress.

I really think MTV changed the face of music, at least for the 80’s. (Does MTV even play videos anymore?) MTV turned us into visual beasts, it desensitized us and took our imaginations away; each new video had to be a little more over-the-top than the last just to stand out. Who could be the most provocative? Who could show the most skin? Who could push the taboo-envelope? Who could have the biggest hair? Who could wear their underwear on the outside first?

Mötley Crüe or Madonna: Who showed their underwear first?

Mötley Crüe or Madonna: Who showed their underwear first?

Madonna was one of the best at working the MTV angle, and like most girls my age, I grew up worshipping her. She was liberated, yet sexy, and she was oh-so-unapologetically in your face. I remember falling in love with Madonna in her iconic Borderline video. Not only was she sassy and beautiful, but she also flaunted an interracial relationship, and I wanted to be just like her. I had the hair bows, the black tanks, the jelly bracelets, the long cross necklaces. If she was brunette, so was I. If she went blonde, I went blonde. If she channeled Marilyn Monroe, so did I. I spent my 80’s desperately seeking Susan.

Channeling Madonna at my Canadian boyfriend’s prom. (I wouldn’t have been caught dead at my own.) Totally love that his hair is bigger than mine!

Channeling Madonna at my Canadian boyfriend’s prom. (I wouldn’t have been caught dead at my own.) Totally love that his hair is bigger than mine!

The 80’s weren’t just Madonna and Mötley Crüe or Michael and Janet Jackson though. There were some major music breakthroughs, including the emergence of rap and hip-hop, thrash metal, new romantic/synth pop, post-punk, new wave, SKA, goth, house music and more. Many of the 80’s artists include U2, NWA, Billy Idol, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, David Bowie, The Clash, The Police, XTC, Run D.M.C, Joe Jackson, Simple Minds, Blondie, Public Enemy, Tracy Chapman, REM, Jane’s Addiction, Violent Femmes, Beastie Boys, Butthole Surfers, Howard Jones, The Smithereens, Squeeze, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, and my favorite artist, Sade. Some 80’s albums include Prince’s Purple Rain, U2’s The Joshua Tree, Paul Simon’s Graceland, The Police’s Synchronicity, AC/DC’s Back in Black, Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms, and Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs.

Love the 80’s, or love to hate them, you gotta admit they had their fair share of good tunes and good memories. Was some of it cheesy? Fer sure, dude. Even I throw up in my mouth a little whenever I hear “Eternal Flame” or “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” but every decade has its fair share of cheese. For some reason, we just remember more of it from the 80’s–I blame MTV–video killed the radio star.

Wanna talk more 80’s music? Call me, on the line at 867-5309, (ask for Jenny).

If you didn’t get enough 80’s music, check this out:

All your favorite 80’s memories crammed into 2.5 minutes:

And in case you are of the #Die80sDie camp, I’ll leave you with this, since Guap himself said:

It’s amazing how much a minute and a half of the Ramones can save!

We need change, we need it fast

Before rock’s just part of the past

‘Cause lately it all sounds the same to me

So said the Ramones. In 1980.

What say you? Love the 80’s? Hate ’em? Have a favorite jam or one so grody it like totally gags you with a silver spoon? C’mon, hit me with your best shot!

Thanks, Guap, for having me over, I had a totally rad time, totally!

Oh Joy. The 80s Live On…


Today’s Music: Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
*Note on Today’s Music: Phil Collins? And Miami Vice??? Don’t get more 80s than that!

Up on the Concert Log/Music link at the top, you can see the quick mini review of Fitz and the Tantrums at Irving Plaza Sunday night.
They were fantastic.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

There were two opening acts. The first was Ivy Levan, who, I’m sorry to say, we missed. She only did a twenty minute set, and dinner was too good to rush (duck breast! braised short ribs! warm lava cake!).

My hair is richer than silly old lava cake.

My hair is richer than silly old lava cake.


We got there in time for the second act, and that’s the lead in to today’s post.
Ahem…

THE 80’s ARE OVER!!!

I’ve seen Duran Duran. They weren’t bad, and Rio has surprising legs this far down the road.
I’ve seen Depeche Mode, and while they aren’t my cup of tea (industrial angst? Really?), they did put on a good show.
I’ve seen Kiss, Psychedelic Furs, hell, I’ve even seen Heart and Huey Lewis and the News, and enjoyed them.
All in the last decade.

And a lot of 80s music is fun. In small doses, even the syrupy stuff is nice.
But I’ve never seen one band encompass everything wrong with 80s music in one shot.
Until last night.

Their name is Hearts. I haven’t been able to find out anything about them online at all.
And while some may think I’ve been letting this one fester under my skin until I could write this down, fortunately I have “of the moment” proof, courtesy of twitter.
I’m not sure what burned me about this band. I think it was the fact that there was nothing original. Every riff, every trope, every move was taken from bands that did it earlier, smoother, better.
I felt like I was watching a cheap imitation of something that had earned its place in our culture, and doing a poor job of it.
So here now, are the as-it-happened tweets of myself and TMWGITU under her twitter handle @FredWallaby:
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I hope this suitably expresses how god-awfully 80s this band was.
If not, I’ll see if I can’t get Phil Collins to lay down a track to describe it.
As soon as Marty McFly brings his synthesizer sustain pedal back in the DeLorean.

Hey, Lay off, dude! I owe my career to the 80s.  And feathered hair.

Hey, Lay off Dude! I owe my career to the 80s.
And feathered hair.

Music Critique: Lenny Sucks. Yeah, I said it.


Today’s Music: Oh, all sorts! See below…
Note: I just needed to get this off my chest. It was annoying the hell out of me.

Driving back from a really good noodle place (I had the broad rice noodle soup with beef brisket stew. TMWGITU had the mei fun noodle soup with duck. Delicious!), wfuv (stream here) played a live version of Leonard Cohen singing Tower of Song.
Let’s listen, shall we? (It’s a bit long, but this is the same version that set me off tonight.)

Great.
No, not really. The lyrics are pretty good. The sentiment of the song, also pretty good.
Leonard writes a great song, but his performance ain’t worth a damn.
So how can you tell it’s a great song?
Watch this.

Toms live version gives the song depth. He wakes up the sadness, the experience, the pathos,and gives it voice. Leonard? Well. he sounds like he’s performing on buffet night at the I-66 Hilton.
(Even more poignant is this video version by time, which is even stronger. I used this as a “Today’s Music” shortly after I heard it.)

Still think I’m slandering a genius? Try this on – one of his most popular (and best) songs.
This time, we’ll start with the cover.
If you’re familiar with the song, you know it’s very poignant and moving. So moving, even Bon Jovi can’t screw it up. It’s a bit hammy, but still…

Here’s Leonard’s original.

Did you know if you show your ticket stub at the check-in desk, they give you a free continental breakfast?

None of this is meant to knock Leonard’s skill or talent. There’s a story I heard, perhaps apocryphal, that Leonard couldn’t get any traction as a poet, so he began setting his poems to music to get a wider audience. And it worked. Google “Leonard Cohen”,and you get a wealth of information – the artists he’s influenced, the impact his songs have had, the lives he’s touched.
And god bless him for that.
But I doubt it was his singing that did it.

I expect many of you will disagree vociferously in the comments.

From the Ticket Stub Bin – One Song


Today’s Music: See Below.

A hard ticket to get...


We’ve all heard covers of songs. Sometimes it’s almost a note for note cover of the original (Rascal Flats covering Tom Cochrane’s Life Is A Highway). Sometimes it brings the song to a whole new, previously unimagined level (Jimi Hendrix on Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower).
And sometimes you get to hear three different versions of a song that you never expected to hear live in the first place.

One year, I was lucky enough to see Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett and Tori Amos in concert. Not together (Though that would probably an incredible show!).
All three of them did Somewhere Over The Rainbow. From the Wizard of Oz.
Let me refresh your memory…

She sings it with a child’s wistfulness. It’s a beautiful song of innocence and aspiration. Really, you have to be pretty jaded to not feel anything when listening to it.

Tony Bennett was a contemporary of Judy. By all accounts, they were friends.
When I saw Tony, he led into this song by describing what a wonderful person Judy was, and how much he missed her.
That version seemed laced with sadness, perhaps regret.
The version below is more fun and playful. There’s hope, but Tony’s voice makes it seem more like a fond reminiscence of someone unavoidably detained…

During an encore set, Clapton came out with his acoustic guitar and launched into the song.
I think he does a great job with it. His version is interesting to me, because (by all accounts) he’s made it over the rainbow. I think he has a very fun take on the song, not least of which is “Really? Clapton is doing that song? Live?”
But he doesn’t turn it into a Clapton tour-de-force. There is plenty of room for the rest of the band to shine and fill, and his jazzy version really does sound good to me.

Tori has a…distinct style. Many of her songs I honestly find a bit disturbing. Which I think is what Tori is going for. She writes a lot about pain, and I think that carries through well in her music.
When I saw her and recognized the song from the intro, I expected it to be a creepy, bent version of a classic.
But what she did instead, for me, is unlock some of the true meaning of the song. She sings it with such heartache, such longing, that I, as a listener, could only hope and pray that she would make it over the rainbow.

One song. Three unique perspectives. Each a highlight of their show.
But of course, just for giggles, I have to throw this one in too. Just because it’s fun.

So a question for y’all: What song cover made you think about the original in a whole different way?

Musical Interlude


Today’s Music: See Below

This is what the inside of my office looks like.

Haven’t posted in several days. Because I’ve been getting the tar kicked out of me.
The pic of my work area doesn’t begin to convey the mayhem…

3 servers. One of those had a bad disk controller that took a few to replace.
1 KVM. That I put in multiple service calls for. Because it didn’t work.
Ah, but it did. Thanks Belkin, for the worst instruction manual ever.

This is what the inside of my head looks like...

This was all done in a hurry, for a new data center we are setting up. So it all needed to be done in a hurry.
As you can see, there are boxes and hardware everywhere.
On the bright side, since it was a rush job, I was able to ignore all the normal requests so I could focus on this.
And except for some small odds and ends, we finished on or a bit ahead of schedule, and everything will be shipped out tomorrow.

Here’s part of the soundtrack that’s been playing in my head and on my pc through the project.
These are all songs that get my adrenaline up and energize me. Gossip and RAM have great or thoughtful lyrics, Dire Straits makes no sense at all, but I love all of them.
And I strongly recommend against listening to any of them while sitting in traffic…
Gossip – Standing In The Way Of Control

Dire Straits – Solid Rock

Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name Of
***This is in no way shape or form a child appropriate song – lots of F**k You in it, and a very strong message
that being said, I love this one, and think you should play it as loud as you can

So the boxes are packed, and tomorrow should see a slow return to office order, and I’ll be able to get back to you guys, especially reading, commenting on and enjoying your blogs.
And the Friday Foolishness poll is already taking shape in the unfiltered recesses of my mind, so there’s that to look forward to.

Until then, don’t forget to vote on last week’s poll before it closes.