On Tour and Other Random Thoughts

Heading out on the road today.  Posting has a slow due to constant travel.  I brought my computer with me this time.  We will be up in Tulsa tonight at Fassler Hall if any of you live in that area. 

I mentioned I have been rewatching Breaking Bad.  It’s unbelievable how good it is.  Even knowing the outcome, the writing is good enough that it keeps you pulled into the narrative completely.  

I played a festival yesterday.  The people were nice to us and the festival was fun.  I had to laugh though.  There were several flags in the crowd with firearms on them that said, “Come and take it.”  Do these people not know that if the government really wanted to do away with them at this point they could just send a smart bomb through their window?  They could just fly a drone overhead and reduce them to dust with the push of a button.  In some ways firearms are as outdated as swords.  You might as well have a knight on your flag.  Sure, you could kill some people, but probably only your fellow citizens and a couple unlucky pawns. 

That’s all for now.  In the future when all’s well…

Breaking Bad and MacBeth

Breaking Bad and MacBeth

I’ve been watching Breaking Bad again lately.  I couldn’t help but think of Walter White as a tragic hero in the way that the term is used in classic tragedies.  My favorite tragedy is MacBeth.  I googled the two together and found the above article, that is a pretty convincing comparison between the two and how Walter White fits the tragic hero mold.

Portishead Reveals How Much Money is Made From Streaming

Portishead Reveals How Much Money is Made From Streaming

Geoff Barrow from Portishead reveals how much money he makes off of streaming services in this Consequence of Sound article.  Streaming has not yet provided artists with a living.  At some point it may.  However, in the meantime, if you value music, you should really buy an artists music until streaming services treat artists more fairly.

D.C. Music Scene – Documentary

This movie looks really interesting.  It’s about the Washington Music scene in the 80’s.  I’ve listened to music from this scene throughout my whole life.  Minor Threat’s Out of Step and then Complete Discography were especially important to me when I was really young.  I was soon onto Fugazi and other bands.  It looks like they have all the players involved, so there is a good chance that the film will be decent.

Patti Smith Inducts Lou Reed Into Hall of Fame

The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in and of itself doesn’t make any sense to me, but I am a Patti Smith fan and an even bigger Lou Reed fan, so I thought I would post a transcript of her speech inducting Reed (I found the transcript over at Rolling Stone):

Hello everybody. On October 27th, 2013, I was at Rockaway Beach, and I got the message that Lou Reed had passed. It was a solitary moment. I was by myself, and I thought of him by the ocean, and I got on the subway back to New York City. It was a 55-minute ride, and in that 55 minutes, when I returned to New York City, it was as if the whole city had transformed. People were crying on the streets. I could hear Lou’s voice coming from every café. Everyone was playing his music. Everyone was walking around dumbfounded. Strangers came up to me and hugged me. The boy who made me coffee was crying. It was the whole city. It was more [Pauses] Sorry. I realized, at that moment, that I had forgotten, when I was on the subway, that he was not only my friend, he was the friend of New York City.

I made my first eye contact with Lou dancing to the Velvet Underground when they were playing upstairs at Max’s Kansas City in the summer of 1970. The Velvet Underground were great to dance to because they had this sort of transformative, like a surf beat. Like a dissonant surf beat. They were just fantastic to dance to. And then somewhere along the line, Lou and I became friends. It was a complex friendship, sometimes antagonistic and sometimes sweet. Lou would sometimes emerge from the shadows at CBGBs. If I did something good, he would praise me. If I made a false move, he would break it down.

One night, when we were touring, separately, we wound up in the same hotel, and I got a call from him, and he asked me to come to his room. He sounded a little dark, so I was a little nervous. But I went up, and the door was open, and I found him in the bathtub dressed in black. So I sat on the toilet and listened to him talk. It seemed like he talked for hours, and he talked about, well, all kinds of things. He spoke compassionately about the struggles of those who fall between genders. He spoke of pre-CBS Fender amplifiers and political corruption. But most of all, he talked about poetry. He recited the great poets — Rupert Brooke, Hart Crane, Frank O’Hara. He spoke of the poets’ loneliness and of the poets’ dedication to the highest muses. When he fell into silence, I said, “Please, take care of yourself, so the world can have you as long as it can.” And Lou actually smiled.

Everything that Lou taught me, I remember. He was a humanist, heralding and raising the downtrodden. His subjects were his royalty that he crowned in lyrics without judgment or irony. He gave us, beyond the Velvet Underground, Transformer and “Walk on the Wild Side,” Berlin, meditations to New York, homages to Poe and his mentor Andy Warhol and Magic and Loss. 

His consciousness infiltrated and illuminated our cultural voice. Lou was a poet, able to fold his poetry within his music in the most poignant and plainspoken manner. Oh, such a perfect day. Sorry. [Crying] Such a perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you. You made me forget myself. I thought I was someone else. Someone good. You were good, Lou. You are good.

True poets must often stand alone. As a poet, he must be counted as a solitary artist. And so, Lou, thank you for brutally and benevolently injecting your poetry into music. And for this, we welcome you, Lou Reed, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Stealing and Borrowing in Music

I actually really like The Strokes, but I can’t help but watch the above Buzzcocks video for Everybody’s Happy Nowadays without noticing that the similarities both visually and sonically with The Strokes are uncanny.  I’m not saying that The Strokes haven’t done anything original, or that they haven’t added their own additions to the equation, but there is definitely a large debt here.  (If they didn’t borrow consciously or unconsciously then the universe is doing strange things!)  My point is that even critically acclaimed artists steal, borrow, and pay tribute to those that came before them.  In the world of the internet too often we forget that.  The Rolling Stones stole a lot, especially early on, from black blues musicians.  Even artists that seem to be completely unique usually arrive their by combining things that came before in an interesting way, or get their by sheer accident.  Sometimes reaching new ground is the result of different personalities coming together that push and pull against each other.  Other times it might be that some kind of new technological breakthrough is there to be exploited.  Their are very few true geniuses in the arts, as in life itself.  What we should ask is that an artist is trying to communicate their truth, that they are at least reaching.  Although there is always a huge debt to those that do seem to reinvent the wheel, I’m often happy to hear an original singing voice, a unique way with words, someone that combines instruments in a way that is a little different, or a new and memorable melody.  As long as there some kind of imagination going on, and not just a complete recreation of some past work, there is a chance.

Tim Tebow and the Eagles: The Philadelphia Experiment

The Philadelphia Experiment

Above is a Rolling Stone article about the Philadelphia Eagles recent pickup of Tim Tebow.  It also talks about Eagles coach Chip Kelly.  I’ve never liked Tebow, but if he somehow helps the Eagles win, I’ll start praising Jesus too! (I’m a longtime Philadelphia sports fan.)