music

Leslie Hall: Legend

I created this lovely wallpaper have used it everywhere.  Leslie Hall is really just that great.  She is a constant source of inspiration and I owe any fat face pictures any of you have received to her.  My favorite person.
I think a Sandlot inspired quote is necessary:  “Heroes get remembered but legends never die”.

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the beauty of giving music a second chance

When I was a teenager and impressionable rather than cynical, my love for music flourished beneath my pain.  I let music guide me through everything I couldn’t handle.  Part of me still clings to that sentiment, but I’ve found that musicians and songwriters are just as fucked up as (if not more than) I am and it’s like the blind leading the blind.
Of course, I still look to music first when I feel like I’m drowning, but age and experience have provided me with heroes and role models to help with the mental pain while music mends the emotional bumps and bruises.

Not that any of you are just dying to know what the hell I’m on about, but my god, I’m not often blindsided by music these days.  I feel like my ongoing 14 year music search has turned up quite a bit and provided me with grade-a band-aids for my pain.  But, every couple of years I go back and listen to bands I never quite grasped before, and a lot of the time I actually have a change of heart.
Recently it was Fleetwood Mac (the Stevie Nicks years).  I used to hate Stevie Nicks (no reason, just didn’t like her), but now I find myself reading everything I can about her and bookmarking sites with the cheapest Rumours and the self-titled 1975 re-prints.  Whatever I didn’t understand before, makes total sense in my life now when I listen to the Mac.  That is the most wonderful thing about age.
But that’s not what I’m going on about.  Fleetwood Mac didn’t’ blindside me, I just found warmth and understanding in a place I felt unwelcome in before.

No, it was The Jesus and Mary Chain.  Yesterday, they came at me like a sledgehammer.  I used to hate them.  I remember buying a Sebadoh album and a Jesus and Mary Chain album at the HUGE Warehouse Music I used to go to every weekend when I was a teenager.  My love for Dinosaur Jr. folded over in to Sebadoh so my guard was down on that one, but the Jesus and Mary Chain.. forget it. “Go back from whence you came!” I said when I put that album in a garage sale and that was the end of that.
But what’s this?!  Welcome back 27-year-old pre-mid-life crisis crisis Whitney who happened to put her not-enough-room-for-shit iPhone library on shuffle yesterday after downloading Darklands and Psychocandy a couple of weeks ago without yet a listen (this run-on sentence is absolutely necessary)…
I cannot explain the life that exploded inside of me the second Deep One Perfect Morning shuffled it’s way in to my life.
Who says:

“Deep one perfect morning
As the sun is heading up
Into the sky
And i’m sitting here warming
To the coldness of the things
That meet my eye
Something in me’s stirring
And the moon and all the stars
Fail to comply
And my thoughts are turning backwards
And i’m picking at the pieces
Of a world that keeps turning
The screws into my mind …”

behind such a wonderful backdrop of musical melancholy and understanding?  It’s those two elements combined that keep my head afloat when I’m lost somewhere in the dark moments of my past.  It’s those ingredients that have given music just the right amount of fluff through ages of amazing talent and made those with the gift legendary.  That place where you can feel miserable and listen to miserable music and feel understood and welcome in the world that seems to be pushing you out.
It’s one thing to be a talented musician, I have infinite respect for those who have that sort of natural partnership with their instruments, but to put down words that echo across an abundance of feelings and tie them all up neatly in a 3 minute song.. you have to stop and wonder “wow, what the fuck just happened to me?”
Poetry is like an amazing drug that lies in a world where music doesn’t need words and words don’t need a meaning.  Where all of the letters blend in to perfect metaphors of things only the irrational mind can understand.
But when you can take the components of that world and mesh them into the world of the rational mind… then you have something rare. I’m not saying that the Reid brothers are the best songwriters there ever were, I’m just saying they are part of a rare breed.

This meaningless blog post is just me welcoming The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Darklands to my future and to my coveted list of comfort albums.  It’s also me kicking myself for thinking of all the holes that could have been filled in my past if I’d just saw the JAM Chain (like that?) through instead of putting a $2 sticker on their album and forcing it out of my life.
Growing up has so many benefits but with the benefits come regret.  Second chances are always worth the risk.

Lou Reed

On October 27th at 11:46 AM, I opened a text that said “Lou Reed died”.  After reading it, I immediately felt a plunge in my chest and realized I was actually crying.  I knew I loved Lou Reed but I had no idea how much he meant to my life until I read that text message.  The only other artists I’ve ever cried for are Etta James and Elliott Smith.  Elliott Smith’s death hit me like a sledgehammer; I opened the newspaper and saw a picture of him in his white suit on the upper corner of the front page.  In excitement, I turned to the article and was completely blindsided in the middle of my High School Economics class as I read he’d stabbed himself in the heart twice.  Amid all of the dates I can’t remember, I have never forgotten Elliott Smith died on October 21, 2003.

My interests swim all over the place.  I pick up a hobby, hang out with it for a while and then drop it and move on.  I’ve always been this way, just bouncing around trying to learn a little about everything because I’m interested in more than I can squish in to this life.  Music is one of the very few things in my life that I’ve stuck with since the moment I realized how much I truly needed it and never has there been a moment when it wasn’t entirely significant to my well-being.  It took me a while to summon the proper words for Lou Reed because he has been a major part of my growth as a person and as a music lover, and I still don’t know where to start.

When you live the most vulnerable part of your life with your emotions on the front line infantry, you’re inevitably going to have some internal scarring.  Thus far in my emotional journey, I can count on one hand, the bands/artists that have truly nurtured the wounds suffered on that battlefield and The Velvet Underground is one of them.
During a miserable bout of a “what does it all mean” crisis in my late teens/early twenties (before you could just downloaded music from home), I came across a copy of The Velvet Underground’s Loaded Fully Loaded Edition at a local record store.  Since that day, I have never once considered removing them from my Top 5.   For days, maybe even a couple of weeks, I listened the Ride in to the Sun and Sad Song demos and felt my entire life fold into and around itself.

Unfortunately, while I do enjoy Reed’s solo work (who couldn’t love Transformer and Berlin), my love lies in the late 60’s and early 70’s VU albums.  Candy Says, Stephanie Says, Louise, Pale Blue Eyes, I Found a Reason, I’m Set Free, Who Loves the Sun, Sunday Morning… the list just goes on an on.  These are songs I have worn out, made terrible life decisions to and redeemed myself to.  I feel like the Velvet Underground has been playing in the background of my life since I first let them into my weird little world.
Lou Reed made sense in the fog of drugs and liquor, in the loneliness and depression of solitude and introversion and in moments of absolute joy and bliss.  His music is like an emotional chameleon that promises comfort and understanding because his pain is your pain and his words are your life.   And I still feel this way.  There isn’t a single emotion that can’t be emphasized by listening to the poetry of his own experiences.

The musicians he influenced and the music he has inspired are endless lists of amazing talent.  To think that without Lou Reed there would be no David Bowie (another top fiver), I can’t even imagine what sort of turmoil my emotions would be in.  But still, in spite of all of his glory and his inspiration, one of greatest things about Lou Reed is that he somehow always manged to hold on to that “cool guy” persona that he greeted the music world with.
He remained ageless with the greats that died young like Hendrix and Joplin.  The name Lou Reed never drew to a mind a picture of an aged musician struggling to be hip.  Just sunglasses and a black jacket.  Lou Reed was a rare bird that glided gracefully across the generations and his significance remains untouched by time just like Johnny Cash and Hunter S. Thompson.  He was a pillar of the music world and the hole left by his death is as significant as the torch lit by his life.

The generation of music that truly changed music is slowly beginning to crumble and break apart and it’s incredibly painful to watch and experience. But like great literature, there will be those that refuse to be forgotten and Lou Reed lives among them.

sorry about this

I’m not one to write about celebrity crap, but I’ve been spending more time than usual on Tumblr and my dashboard is filled with photoshopped wrecking balls and a topless Miley Cyrus.  I have seen endless text posts of women and girls bitching about Miley’s turbulent lifestyle, how she’s being exploited, how she’s become a slut or whatever else they find offensive about someone who has no direct impact on their lives.
All I have to say regarding that is BRAVO to whoever is marketing this girl because I struggle to name a single pop song of that last decade, but I know more about her than I do about our president.
My opinion (as if it really matters) on the controversy over Miley Cyrus is that this and this are totally different:
aaa
They may be in the same ballpark, but Spears fell into a dark, black hole from which she will never return, while Cyrus just turned in to white trash.
I think the most entertaining aspect of the entire pop star worship thing is that people feel so personally offended by her actions (and her haircut) that when they write or talk about her (or anyone of equal celebrity status), they are filled with (an awkward, questionable) passion.
Our culture has become so incredibly mesmerized by the lives of beautiful people and it’s no wonder, they’re absolutely EVERYWHERE!
They’re right in front of us every day in every form of publicity possible and social networking is like a church of fellow worshipers.  Can you really blame young girls (and boys) for feeling personally attached to these people?
These people have become part of their everyday lives.  It’s truly mind blowing if you thinking about it.

To be fair, in black and white, it’s really no different than getting angry at politicians or feeling your heart melt when you read about something Pope Francis has said or done  (I really do like that man), however, these people have societal impacts whether you pay attention to them or not.

I won’t lie though, I’m a sucker for looking at the magazines they line the grocery store impulse shelves while I wait in line, however that fascination does not extend past my transaction and Amanda Bynes throwing a bong out the window does not make a single difference in my life.

I guess my point is this: who gives a shit?

If I Was Famous, This Would Be More Interesting

I didn’t feel like a total loser for doing this until I realized I spent the past half-hour putting this together and duplicating it on Grooveshark (for no one) on a Saturday night.  I see no reason in not following through with it at this point.
In light of my recent 80’s music binge, I’ve put together a short playlist of 80’s music and 80’s inspired music.

 
tonight

 

You can listen to it here.
Enjoy your Saturday night with or without this.

“Accept Yourself”

I think my favorite thing about breaking myself free of childish judgments are the benefits of the music.  The moment I was able to differentiate talented artists and studio artists, I become a music snob and for a long time considered 95% of mainstream artists talentless hacks.  Somewhere after twenty-four though, that novelty wore off I realized that seeking obscurity was the real crime.  I was denying myself of so many great songs filled with emotional carnage and despair.  It also made me a total asshole.
Somewhere after they hit twenty, all of the punk rockers from my generation started this bearded, skinny-jean-plaid-shirt-wearing  revolution of hipster shitheads and flooded the music scene with concept albums and ironic acoustic sets of mainstream pop songs.
The last house show I went to (probably the last ever too), was to see a local band with the sort of following that requires a bicycle parking section.  After their set, my friend talked to the guitarist of the band that had invited her.  Throughout their conversation, I was informed that my job of printing labels for (organic) chemicals was bad because “Chemicals are bad”.
Just moments after that statement, this conversation took place with someone who walked up to say hello to him:

Stranger: Hey man! What’s going on?

Band-Dipshit: Hey man, I haven’t seen you in a while, how’s it been?

S: Good, I saw you at that party a couple of weeks ago!

BD: Which one?

S: The one at asdf’s!

BD: Oh man, I don’t remember… I was probably coked out of my mind.

End significant part of scene.

I counted at least three mentions of coke in the five minutes he stood talking to my friend and even more mentions of being too drunk to remember anything.  But, of course, he couldn’t tend to his other guests until he was able to ask my friend if she wanted to help paint the planet costumes for the band’s upcoming show debuting their new (concept) album.
If you ever find yourself curious about what’s going on in the local indie scene in Phoenix, Arizona – there you go.
But, back to growing up and becoming less judgmental of music: that band (a 7 piece including a tambourine player) couldn’t have sounded any better under the influence of twelve shots of tequila.  Sadly, just as little as three years ago, I probably would have been slightly jealous of them and wasted money on an album feeling like I was missing something fantastic that all other thirty people saw.
The point I’m trying to make here is that when you bypass music because a lot of shitty people who don’t know dick about music listen to it, you’re sometimes left listening to mediocre music that shitty people who don’t know anything about music make.
Just recently I started listening to The Smith’s.  A band I’d always ignored because… exactly.  There’s this whole anti-Morrissey thing going on, but I don’t know a damn thing about the guy.  What I do know is that “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” and “I Want The One I Can’t Have” are incredible fucking songs.
But because a buck-toothed (very) ex-friend of mine worshiped them (and Tori Amos – who I still don’t like), I hated them because for me, they were associated with someone who didn’t know what “quality” music was, also the fact that their following exceeded 5,000.  So I missed all those years of licking my wounds with great songs because I thought having “high standards” was part of loving music.Anyway, due to my previous arrogance, the past few years have been spent going back and listening to music I’d accused of being talentless and superficial or “too mainstream” (I was that dick for a while, yes),  and it has been wonderful.
People will always be idiots, but growing up and gaining perspective has taught me that people that listen to music but don’t know much about it, are no different from me liking pieces of art even though I don’t know anything about art outside of mainstream artists like Salvador Dali and Vladimir Kush.
I see something, I like it or I don’t. Art isn’t emotional for me just as music isn’t emotional for some people.  It’s like this in every aspect of life.   I’m sure there is an account somewhere that truly loves accounting, or a landscaper that really enjoys cutting grass.
There is a point when passion crosses a boundary and you just become a total piece of shit.  It took a very long time, but I have finally crossed the threshold of acceptance to a very sensitive part of my life.
I don’t know that I’ll ever have an appreciation for Lady Gaga or Katy Perry or any pop artists of that nature, but I certainly won’t be bitching about them anymore and it certainly doesn’t bother me that other people like them anymore either.
Whoever said growing up was boring must not have had a passion, because this is like falling in love with music all over again.

Top 5 (Personal) Song Choices January 2013

For any music lover, music is a constant in life.  If you don’t have the right music, you can’t stay in the right frame of mind.   Like music itself, there are different “genres” of music lovers.
First, there’s the content listener who rotates a library of a few hundred artists and can sit in a car with anyone and not get an itch to change the station no matter what’s on.  Then, you have the music intermediate.  The music intermediate has a preference but is generally flexible with other’s choices.  While they don’t seek out particular music, they will always welcome recommendations.  Next there’s the music seeker.  This person is best friends with internet radio stations, shizzam and anything that can offer them more musical routes.   No matter how much music they discover, their hunger can never be satisfied.
Finally, we have the music snob.  The music snob always started out as the music seeker, but after time sharpened their senses, they realized that there was so much crap music, you had to dig for the good shit.  Band history, bio’s, record labels, all of these things become significant and necessary when a band or artist makes it through all the hoops.
To most people, I probably seem like a music snob, but to those who know what I’m on about, I’m still transitioning from seeker to snob.  I credit music for making my life what it is and I know what I’m listening for when I listen to music.   I’ve researched genres, hunted down songs, read biographies/autobiographies and checked facts until words and names and genres all ran together, but I still don’t meet my own expectations.  So, until then (and even after then), I have to make lists of my musical whereabouts.
The following tracks are what carried me from January to February and kept my head above water.

 

1. Smog – Cold Blooded Old Times from Knock Knock
While the rest of the song may be irrelevant to any experiences in my life, “The type of memories that turn your bones to glass” are chameleon lyrics that need no specific scenario to be relevant.   Smog has never really made it to any memorable band list of mine, but there is something about Cold Blooded Old Times that you just can’t deny is worthy of mentioning.  Plus, the song is seriously catchy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Stevie Wonder – I Believe (When I Fall In Love With You It Will Be Forever) from Talking Book
The first time I heard this song (in all it’s cheesy glory) was on the High Fidelity OST and every since, I have adored it.  Even though the rest of the album isn’t my favorite of Stevie’s, this song has always given me a wonderful place to imagine love and romance and all of those things we secretly desire.  It’s one of those you can crawl to when things aren’t what you want them to be and realize that there is still a sort of sentimental hope.  For me personally, it’s an up-beat alternative to withering in self-pity listening to Billie Holiday and Bobby Bland.

stevie-wonder-talking-book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Bob Dylan – You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go from Blood on the Tracks
I have a love/hate sort of thing with Bob Dylan.  His early work awes me with his evident passion for music and his ability to tell stories.  However, post 1976 Dylan, for me, is a tad overrated and he’s always struck me as the sort to purposely press against the grain rather than to naturally flow in a direction.  That being said, Blood on the Tracks is one of the last of Dylan’s somewhat earlier albums that I can emotionally connect with, and You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go seems to make it’s way in to the rough patches of all of my relationships.  There is something about Bob Dylan and a difficult relationship that seems to have a sort of peanut butter and jelly affect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Ty Segall – Imaginary Person from Melted
In the world of fuzzy garage rock, Ty Segall has made a bit of a name for himself.  He doesn’t quite hold a torch to Nobunny or Smith Westerns but he gets the job done and he does it well.  Lyrically, Imaginary Person is more like random cargo you might find useful in an emergency but musically, it’s spot on when you need to channel your aggression in to something a little healthier than anger but equally as satisfying.

ty-segall-melted-cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The Pixies – Brick is Red  from Surfer Rosa
MacGyver wouldn’t be able to find a lyrical connection to this song, but then again, The Pixies aren’t really known for their lyrical content which is exactly why their driving force is their staunch love for noisy harmony – thus is the way of life.   Quite honestly, I think Frank Black is a fuckin’ weirdo, but I have never been able to turn away from a Pixies song, even if it’s not one I particularly like.  Since the first time I heard this song as an awkward teenager, it has always re-entered my life with the same burst it came in to it with.

pixies-surfer-rosa1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiving Paul McCartney

I have always held a grudge against Paul McCartney for being such an asshole. Suing Lennon over whose name was first on lyrics credits and being one of the main causes of the Beatles breakup – he was just such an asshole during the White Album recordings and throughout the entire breakup.
Yet, I’ve always been sure to praise his songwriting and musical capabilities because it would be stupid to deny that he’s gifted when, clearly, he is. However, I still never gave his solo career any attention.
The thing is, as I’m getting older and maturing, I’m realizing all people do stupid things when they’re younger and all people do stupid things when they’re stressed and I’ve lightened up on many of my grudges. Paul being one of them. Despite the fact that I still don’t really care for him as a person, his music is wonderful. George has and always will be my favorite Beatle, regardless that I don’t really care for the majority of his solo career, it’s not the music that I love him for. Lennon has always been my favorite when it comes to music and his ability to weave music and politics was incredible. But, I have to say that so many of the things I’ve always loved musically about the Beatles are embedded in the solo career and other projects of McCartney, and listening to his music feels like a velvet cocoon.
His music is kind and incredibly pleasing to the ears. I should feel guilty for never listening to much of his solo work, but it had to be at the right time and the way I’m feeling right now… how perfect.
It’s so wonderful to grow up with music as my teacher. Because I can see past Paul’s flaws and embrace the talent that I’ve always ignored for “personal” reasons, I can use that knowledge to battle my own flaws.
“Forgiving” Paul McCartney means opening my eyes to a new way of thinking and understanding that we all fuck up and we’re all going to continue to fuck up. If only everyone’s balance for their mistakes were as beautiful as Paul’s.

Top 5 For December 2012

I have completed my top 5 list for the end of 2012.  In no specific order (because a top 5 is hard enough):

1. David Bazan/Perdo The Lion
2. Cotton Jones
3. Otis Redding
4. The Velvet Underground
5. Cat Stevens

An honorable mention goes to Nick Drake because he has certainly hugged the top 5 for the past couple of months.
I will be working on a list for those who have played major roles in my life this past year, but for December, this are the ones who have prevented scars.