Saturday, January 26, 2008
Monday, December 17, 2007
I started posting here a year ago today. I was inspired to start writing because I was thinking and talking so much about music when we were developing a couple of new music projects (one that I am still working to implement). I was on the road, writing in my little moleskine notebook, and emailing my thoughts about music back to friends and family.
I am feeling terribly wistful, as I often do at this time of year. I prefer to take time to reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead. So, here is my first ever post. It's a little ugly and awkward, kinda like the rest of the site.
I was bumping around the kitchen this morning, a lazy Sunday, while A was sleeping.
Sunday Bloody Sunday, a live version, perhaps from Under a Blood Red Sky popped up.
I loved U2 with the passion of an adolescent: War, Boy, October, Under a Blood Red Sky. It's hard to believe they are the same band that still fills stadia worldwide. They felt like truthtellers passionately connecting us to the Troubles. We were a world at war.
(A remembers trying to make sense of "two groups of white people killing each other." He felt a kinship with the Irish as an oppressed people, until he read about the Draft Riots. Eh, you can't win them all.)
22 years. That's how old Under a Blood Red Sky is. I had it on LP. I was 14 and I had my own stereo. It was one of the first detachable speaker boomboxes (similar to the aiwa we have in the bedroom) and I had the pinnacle record player: digital tracking. A button on the outside enabled you to move the needle to skip tracks. It was way cool.
I played this album over and over and over and over.
I would listen to the songs on repeat, teasing meaning from repeated listenings. It was all very intense and it felt like my own secret.
When I stopped listening to lps in favor of the far superior cassette tape technology, I moved from U2, though they were my first unaccompanied concert -- Tampa Stadium with Kathleen and tens of thousands of our closest friends. They were the worst seats I've ever had for a show.
I haven't followed them on their journey to being arguably one of the best bands ever. I left them behind for altenative, hip-hop, soul, etc. after craptucular Rattle & Hum. Still, it's nice to hear some Under a Blood Red Sky and Unforgettable Fire and remember being a teenager.
at 9:55 PM
Don't judge me, but I flipped over from watching the game (go Bears!) to make sure I hadn't missed the finale of I Love NY 2. (Again, no judgments.) Instead, I found VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s.
The first thing I see is Montell Jordan's This is How We Do It. Okay, B and I saw him in concert in San Antonio when he opened for co-headliners Mary J. Blige and Boyz II Men, so I accept this was the 90s.
Next up, Austin's own Fastball with "The Way."
Is it really possible this came out in 1998?
It seems so much more recent than that, perhaps because I used to drive past one of their houses every morning on my way to work so they were still on my mind this decade.
More likely, it is because they are still the nightmare story Austin musicians tell each other to warn about quitting the day job too soon.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Tonight, I had a conference call with one of my business partners and his "godson," who wants to have a music career.
The GS is clueless, and knows he's clueless. That's usually half the battle, but the GS kept whining in frustration "I don't have time to figure this industry out!" The kid is in his mid-20s and should stop being such a baby. All I kept thinking is "Shut up ,you ungrateful twerp! I am not even getting paid for this!"
After 90 minutes, we disconnected and I called my partner to say "wtf." My partner agreed that the kid does not have what it takes. If he cannot give decisive answers when talking to us, he'll never be able to make it.
At this point, he's just chum.
at 8:14 PM
Next Saturday at noon, Alamo South Lamar is hosting a free show of the best Christmas movie ever: Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas.
If I am still in Austin next weekend, I am going.
If you've never seen this classic Jim Henson movie, you can buy the dvd on Amazon.
Here's Alamo's synopsis:
Christmas is approaching in Frogtown Hollow, and Emmet Otter and his Ma hope to buy gifts for each other. Unfortunately, Emmet doesn't make enough from the odd jobs he does, and Ma doesn't make enough as a laundress. They decide to compete in the Frog Town Hollow Talent Contest in order to win money, but Ma will have to hock Emmet's tool chest to buy a costume, and Emmet will have to put a hole in Ma's washtub for his band! Kermit the Frog hosts this classic Muppet musical Christmas tale, based on the book by Russell and Lillian Hoban, with original songs from master tunesmith Paul Williams.Best Christmas movie ever.
During the holidays, my mother often says: "Put on some Christmas music."
Except she doesn't really mean it.
She means put on something festive while we cook, or put on something amusing for the guests, or whatever. She has something specific in mind, even if she doesn't know what it is until she hears what it's not.
This year, I am out-smarting her. I am over-categorizing everything and doing multiple smart playlists so I can accommodate her on the fly. For example, The Pogues' "Fairy Tale of New York" is punk/celtic genre and grouped by both holiday and sad. (Any song beginning: "It was Christmas evening in the drunk tank" is sad.)
So many great Christmas songs are also very sad, or at least melancholy. Many of my favorites are World War II-era:"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," and "White Christmas. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" can be a jaunty tune, but it's very, very sad. It was first performed in 1943, and it is very much a war-time song, aside from singing about our "troubles" in each verse, it also gives us the uplifting: "Through the years/We all will be together/If the Fates allow." "I'll Be Home for Christmas," also from 1943 contans the classic: "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams." Sad.
For Your Listening Pleasure:
The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl, Fairytale of New York
Bing Crosby, I'll Be Home For Christmas
Luther Vandross, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Death Cab for Cute, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Currently listening to:
The dulcet tones of the broadcasters for Green Bay Packers vs St Louis Rams, while I cook a roasted carrot puréed soup.
A and I went to see I Am Legend last night at Alamo Village (not my favorite theater . . . Alamo South Lamar broke my heart for the second week in a row by failing to show the movie I wanted).
Pre-show included a 70s vintage short film shot by a couple of teenagers called "The Last Omega Man on Earth," scenes from an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and a variety of Will Smith music videos, including "Summertime" and "Parents Just Don't Understand."
We enjoyed the movie, but then we mostly enjoy movies. Our only recent disagreements:
-- No Country For Old Men, which I thought was a great Coen Brothers movie and A thought was not thrilling enough to be a thriller and not "talky" enough to be a philosophical rumination (I would chalk that up to a difference in expectations).
-- 30 Days of Night, which he thought was an enjoyable vampire movie and I thought sucked. Hard. Mostly because the vampires' backstory was non-existent, so I cared not about them at all.
I Am Legend was not a great movie, but I am glad I saw it and it gave us plenty to talk about. It also cements Will Smith as the greatest movie star alive . . . spoiler-ish: since he carries the entire movie by himself, is crazy, and yet it's impossible to imagine anyone else being as likable.
A.O. Scott, in his NY Times review, concluded: "There is something graceful and effortless about this performance, which not only shows what it might feel like to be the last man on earth, but also demonstrates what it is to be a movie star."
A has seen all of the previous adaptations of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, and he re-read the book recently to prepare. As we drove back, he told me he really liked it, but it was very different from the book. After he described all the differences, including spoilers: the fact that there were actual vampires who remembered who they were and spoke to him instead of "zombie-vampires," mutations, and the development of a vampire society -- terrifying!
The only way they could have done a true adaption of the novel would have been in a six-hour BBC miniseries in order to properly capture all of the elements of the story. Still, that's something I would love to see.
The difficulty in making a movie from a novel is choosing which elements to include and then deciding how to make a coherent story from those few elements. I think they made a terrific movie from I Am Legend, which stands together with an internal logic. That story, though, differs significantly enough from the novel that I will be reading the novel, despite knowing everything that happens.
On its own as a movie, I Am Legend was well worth seeing.
Friday, December 14, 2007
If you know me or have ever read this site, you know I collect cover songs -- preferably covers of crappy British pop songs by crappy British artists. I am passionate about my collection, as anyone who has ever sat next to me at a Genius Bar knows (when I lost almost my entire collection last fall in the great Mac Book Pro motherboard failure of 2006 and then had to rebuild it. Three times.)
Many of my favorite covers in my collection come from BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, hosted by Jo Whiley. Bands come in, sing a couple of songs acoustically and then sing a cover or two. The covers are amazing: Charlotte Church covering Mario's "Let Me Love You," Corinne Bailey Rae covering Editor's "Munich," Jamie Cullum covering Pharrell's "Frontin'," Lemar covering The Darkness's "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," Maximo Park covering Proclaimers "500 Miles." Obviously, I could go on and on.
Unofficial Live Lounge has scores of tracks from 2004 until now including the new Alicia Keys cover of How to Save a Life. It also has two songs that I thought I'd lost forever: Willie Mason's cover of Grandmaster Flash's The Message and Franz Ferdinand's cover of Pulp's Mis-Shapes.
I would like to think that if my brother started a band, he would name it "Awesome Cool Dudes" and release a completely stupid, and yet, entertaining, track called "Clap Clap." Then he and his sidekick/"little brother" would torment women by making them dance to it in dive bars all over the LES.
Alas, the band and song already exist, so you can make the fantasy a reality by adding this to your repertoire :
Awesome Cool Dudes, Clap Clap.
Check out Awesome Cool Dudes at their website , where you can download plenty of free music.
I spent the afternoon with some of my dearest friends (and some close acquaintances)
at our annual holiday luncheon.
Sure, compared to a Christmas party, a holiday luncheon does not sound that impressive, but I just got home at 3:30 pm and I've been drinking champagne for 4 hours. (It's so much better that we do this on a Friday than when we use to have them on Tuesdays.)
My old firm had the best holiday parties. They had two each year: the first for just staff (with drunken skits from newbies), and the second for the executive-types where you could bring a date. Ah, drunken outrageous skits. It's remarkable any of us were still employed afterwards . . .
Currently listening to:
Superwoman, Alicia Keys
Wave of Mutilation, The Pixies
More, Rhymefest feat Kanye West
at 3:32 PM
Thursday, December 13, 2007
D just sent me the link to his amazingly awesome new website. Seriously, it's very cool and has all these great things from his reel.
That made me check my business site, which I recently updated with a new fax number.
Except it was all wrong. Like completely wrong. I've done something silly with uploading to ftp, but the whole thing looks so awful and wrong. It's an old draft with broken links and I am appalled with my lack of web-fu.
UPDATE: The site works! Oh, miracle of miracles.
Nothing, but an old Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is on tv. The BBC version is SO much better than the US version that it's not even the same show. Sigh. Kinda like my website.
at 9:27 PM
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
My family celebrates holidays by raiding each others' music collections. (And drinking.)
When I look at iTunes, I can easily remember the holiday by looking at the music. We're junkies, really. Almost of our childhood memories have very specific soundtracks (Poco, Doobie Brothers, Orleans, Bonnie Raitt). My father once told me that our family music education may not have been wide, but it was deep.
Last year, I was completely hooked on collecting British pop music covers by crappy British bands. This year, I took a six month hiatus from new music -- two months listening to only a client's new project while they work recording, and then, my post-break-up moratorium on any music.
Post-moritorium, I bought three cds:
Alicia Keys, As I Am
Kanye West, Graduation
Common, Finding Forever
I highly recommend all three. I listened to the Alicia Keys album non-stop from Austin to Florida and had to keep reminding myself not to sing aloud on the plane. Plus, D worked with Alicia Keys a few weeks ago and had only the best things to say about her after hearing her sing a cappella for 2 or 3 days.
I know that sort of thing shouldn't matter, but it always does when I buy music. Heck, I had emotional and not musical reasons for buying what I bought:
- I adore Alicia Keys and will buy anything she releases so she can keep making music, mostly in thanks for "If I Ain't Got You," a song I would have danced to at my wedding to A . . . dammit.
- My friend C highly recommended the Kanye West cd, but I really bought it after he lost his mother out of solidarity for someone with an absurdly close maternal bond.
- I've bought nearly every Common album for years and years, but it took my friend RH's gentle reminder to make me pick the new one up. Like RH, I make my friends pick up my friends' albums, too. Hell, I make them go to shows at Emo's and Red-Eyed Fly to see bands they hate. (Love you guys!) The Common disc is really great though.
Frosty the Snowman, Fats Domino.
Drums of Death Instrumental, DJ Shadow.
Roll On, Dntel feat. Jenny Lewis.
Angels We Have Heard on High, Duvall.
Orange Moon, Erykah Badu.
Liquid Street, Roy Hargrove.
Molly's Chambers, Kings of Leon (from BBC's Radio 1 Live Lounge).
Le Bien, Le Mal, GURU.
Little Girl Blue, Nina Simone (which repeats the melody from Angels We Have Heard On High).
It is always a bad sign when the first question in a meeting is "okay, tell us all the things you know for sure."
Two hours later, my head pounding, the words "this is not real" flashing before my eyes, I finally asked the party with whom I was consulting: "when's the last time you checked your credit report?"
In this netherworld, no matter how legitimate or illegitimate the potential financier, they all look slightly sketchy. Even the private equity guys I know well, who are investing large money in projects, don't return phone calls, are never in the office, blah, blah, blah.
So, what do we know for sure? Nothing. We never know anything until the wire hits the account. And even then, who knows for sure?
Heart Full of Pain, The Bishops
at 6:52 PM
Sunday, December 9, 2007
It's been a long time since I've posted here.
In August, my world was rocked when my A ended our relationship after many, many years together. We had valid reasons to split, but it still devastated me (and him for that matter). Sometimes, true love and great friendship is still not enough.
From a music perspective, the break-up meant I could not listen to music for months. I just needed to get through each day by working and NOT allowing my mind to wander, while I tried to figure out how to date again. (Date???? Me???? A and I met the old-fashioned way: at a bar.)
Things are definitely better since the break-up. A and I are still close friends and we see each other frequently. I am feeling happier and more confident and I can finally listen to music again.
at 8:44 PM