Archive for the What? Category

My Starter Won’t Start

Posted in Music, Music Video, Pontification, What? with tags , , , on December 5, 2012 by greedycherry

Justin Townes Earle

I know it’s been just about two weeks since I last wrote anything here, but that whole week after Thanksgiving was, honestly, sort of a write-off, and since then….well, since then I just haven’t felt I had anything to write about. Not enthusiastically anyway.

Most people can just write a blog entry off the top of their head, maybe writing about feelings or a personal experience, quickly typing something out and getting back to their lives in short order. Not me. I think and sketch and draft and discard and research and double-check facts….every blog entry is sort of like a term paper for me (albeit one I quite enjoy doing).

I’ve had a few suggestions from friends here and there that I should stop trying to write such long stories when I do an entry and just keep it brief. And I’d love to do that….but I feel like I just can’t. When I come here to write about music, I want to share things with you, tell you facts and tales that you may not have known about your favorite artists, or maybe even help you discover new ones. I want to make it FUN.

And if I were just to type, “Hey, heard this earlier today. It’s awesome!” and then post a link to a video, what kind of fun would that be?

One of my favorite things in the world is history. Knowing what came before, how it led to what’s happening now, the little decisions that made this thing happen instead of that. And, because I love music so much, music history is my absolute favorite. I can’t get enough of behind-the-scenes stories, little-known facts, interviews that reveal something I never knew about a favorite song or group.

But it’s ridiculous….I can read an article in the newspaper or a book from the library in an attempt to study a subject I want to learn more about, and find myself rereading sentences over and over (sometimes even out loud), not able to soak in all my eyes are seeing. It’s like my brain is a bouncer at a club, and just won’t let the new information in. Unless……..unless it’s about music. Then, all of a sudden, one simple skim of a sentence is enough. I not only understand what I’ve read, but I remember it forever.

What the hell is THAT all about? And what do you think….should I just keep it short from now on, or do you find value in the more in-depth stuff? Be curious to know…

Anyway, before I bore you to death with wave upon wave of pontification, let me do what I don’t really want to do, if only in the name of updating my blog.

Here’s a video that my friend Jessie shared with me a few weeks back. It’s freaking phenomenal. Seriously. If you know the singer Steve Earle (who is a complete badass in his own right), this is his rowdy, badass kid Justin. And you’d better call the police before you start watching this, because he’s about to completely molest a perfectly good guitar. Unbelievable.

So many talented musicians…..so little time. Catch you next week, when – hopefully – I’ll have something FUN to write about!

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All The Other Kids…

Posted in Current Events, Music, Music Video, What? with tags , , , , , on October 13, 2011 by greedycherry

So….did anyone see Saturday Night Live this past weekend?

If you did, I’m guessing you probably enjoyed it. The show has been erratic in the quality category for a long while now (which, in my opinion, could be a frightening understatement on my part), but every once in a while I’ll catch one where I end up laughing more than I expected….where most sketches seem to “click” in just the right way.  (The Elton John show from last year was one such example for me.)  This show was one of those good ones, and the host, Ben Stiller, did a great job….he’s always a pretty funny guy no matter what I catch him in.

(Somehow, though, every time I think of him, I always end up picturing his Dodgeball character White Goodman in my head.  “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood!  Nobody!”  Don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing….)

Anyway, the point here wasn’t the host of the show.  (Or the surprise cameo by Hugh Jackman, for that matter.)  What I’d like to talk about, since this is a music blog, is the show’s musical guest: Foster The People.  Their big hit song, which you may or may not have heard by now, is called “Pumped Up Kicks”.  I could be crazy, but I think it’s one of the catchiest little tunes I’ve heard in a long while.  (So if you haven’t heard it yet, I’d suggest going back and clicking on that link one sentence back….) It’s not an overly complicated or intricately composed piece by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s got a solid, catchy chorus that can get you singing along in three seconds flat.

And that, my friends, is the literal definition of a great pop song.

Of course, if you peruse the lyrics, you could be forgiven for swallowing your sing-a-long halfway through.  The song’s narrative, as explained by group founder and lead singer Mark Foster, is “about a kid that basically is losing his mind and is plotting revenge. He’s an outcast. I feel like the youth in our culture are becoming more and more isolated. It’s kind of an epidemic. Instead of writing about victims and some tragedy, I wanted to get into the killer’s mind, like Truman Capote did in In Cold Blood.”

“You’d better run faster than my bullet” indeed.

But what really caught my attention about their appearance on the show was the second song they performed, “Houdini”.  (That’s a link to the actual performance so that you can see it for yourself.)  It wasn’t necessarily the song itself that caught my attention, bouncy and energetic as it was, but who joined them onstage to play it…..someone who I haven’t heard a peep about or from in years, and was actually quite okay with that, thank you very much.

I believe my exact words when he walked out on stage were, “Is that Kenny G???  Get the @%&$ out!!!!!”

Don’t know how it came together, don’t know whose idea it was, but my brain lurched towards my ear in a bold attempt to escape my cranium when it registered what was going on.  I mean, I’ll be fair here….Kenny G, despite all the nasty things that are said about him, is a very talented musician, and plays a mean saxophone when you give him the chance.  Not in any deeply intense, soul-wrenching, John Coltrane-ish kind of way, of course, but he can definitely get around on the instrument and has a mastery of improvisation on it.  This fact aside, he’s known mainly for his smooth jazz stylings for a reason: that’s how (and what) he plays.

We could have a nice, long debate here about the “realness” of musicians, and who can be considered artistically relevant and who can’t.  Everyone’s got an opinion.  Some people dismiss Foster The People as just a “dumb pop band,” and nothing you say will ever convince them that they are wrong.  But I myself believe that it takes incredible skill to write a song and arrange it such that, simple as it may be, it sticks out to listeners when they’re listening to the radio, and sticks with them because it’s catchy.  (As much as people love to denigrate ABBA, for instance, I think they had some of the most well-composed and brilliantly arranged pop songs to ever exist. We can debate that further, of course, if you’d like.)  There’s a reason Foster The People were on Saturday Night Live in the first place, I think…..don’t you?

Therefore, if some “dumb pop band” can be grabbing national attention on a network television show, why can’t a “dumb jazz musician” be a guest and play with them?  When considered in this way, the performance was a good, solid match…..two artists at the top of their games, even if you don’t necessarily care for the particular games they play.  I’ll admit the collaboration itself came just a bit out of left field, so to speak, but thinking back on it, I suppose I ultimately found that the whole thing was pretty cool.

Just as long as it doesn’t lead to a Yanni guest appearance during a Justin Bieber show, I think we’ll all be just fine.

Opinions? Comments? Suggestions for outrageous musical pairings? Drop ’em below…..and thanks for reading!

 

Ed Grimley Does Toronto

Posted in What? on March 30, 2011 by greedycherry

So I put out word a few days back that, in order to better interact with my readers, I would open the floor to really enticing blog entry titles. Interesting ones that pull viewers in are sometimes hard to come by, and I thought that by having all of you contribute some crazy groups of words, it would be an awesome way to involve everyone in the process, and a challenge for myself. I mean, if you gave me some really whacked out title that was also quite intriguing, then I would just have to justify its existence by writing a blog entry that made it make sense.

And for something like the above title, you can see exactly how difficult that can be.

A reader named Len took to the challenge I issued by sending me not one, not two, but eight blog titles, and I plan to use them all eventually. This one was the first to jump out at me, though, for a few reasons.

1. I have no idea, musically, what the hell it means.

2. It involves a city that I love in a country that I love. Good time visiting, if you get to go….

3. The lead character’s name is an obscure reference that I am quite familiar with. If you don’t know who Ed Grimley is, then that will be my little treat for you in just a moment.

Before I sign off, though, I will once again implore everyone reading this to spend a second thinking up a cool blog title that you would find interesting and immediately click on, and then submit it to me in the comments section below. Even if it makes no sense to you when you think of it, give it to me anyway. I’ll work wonders with it…..I promise!

As for this title, I will take a mulligan, if only because of the existence of point number one (and influenced, I should point out, by the fact that I have less than 45 minutes left before I violate my “one post a day” deadline). But the rest of Len’s submitted titles shall not best me, nor any of the ones I’m sure you all will be contributing below.

And with that wink and nod behind me, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the singular treat that is Ed Grimley. Enjoy!