I was driving around, listening to KALX radio. There was a song by Kid Tsunami playing. It was a very pleasant song about a young rapper coming across an OG who can “spit the best verse I ever heard”. The song continues,
“People on they way to work start to crowd around
We can’t believe how this old man spittin’ fire”
I’m thinking, how nice to respect the old folks. I respect the old folks, too. Then came the lyric,
“He said I graduated high school in ’84”
Uh… what? The “old man” in the song is a year younger than me?
I don’t know how or when it happened that playing ’80s music became the default mode for all retail environments. I certainly enjoyed some of those songs once upon a time, but after the thousandth listen it’s more than tedious. Girls just want to have fun? No, girls want to hear new fucking music!
Recently I was in a store and they were playing an ’80s song that I hadn’t heard — well, since the ’80s. I couldn’t even remember the lyrics when I first heard it, I just remembered that I liked the vague anti-capitalist lyrics of the song. Then the chorus came and I thought, oh year, I remember this. It was strange to hear something I hadn’t heard in so long, when so many things from the past are so available.
Like many stubborn curmudgeons, I have a collection of mix tapes. Many of these were taped off the radio and have that choppy quality that NOTHING today has thanks to the digital world. There are songs on these tapes that, although they got a lot of airplay at the time, have disappeared. No one remembers them. It seems that my crappy old cassettes are the only proof these songs and bands ever existed.
Of course, that isn’t entirely true. Now you can find anything. Hell, I found this video for an incredibly sad song that no one remembers. The video makes it even sadder.
Yeah, but that’s too sad to end this post with. So here’s the song I heard in the store:
I’m currently taking a course in music. It’s not in any school. It’s in the my home, my music studio, and the world at large. At times in my life I have taken music classes in various instruments, but it is only now that I have fallen in love with electric guitar, and am trying to get a band together, that I feel that I am always studying music wherever I am.
After my all-encompassing and life-changing experience at Ladies Rock Camp, music became a different experience for me. It even sounded different. When I listen to my favorite music now, I can hear all the instruments distinctly, whereas before it was just melange of sound. Every song I hear sounds so new, even songs I’ve heard dozens (hundreds?) of times. It’s like I’ve suddenly gotten a new sensory input. But the most important difference is that I have gone from being primarily a listener of music to a creator of music.
For now, I am collaborating with another musician who is only slightly more experienced than me. One of us comes us with a song and then we collaborate on polishing it. We also sometimes just jam and see what happens. I realize that this is what musicians do but it is all new to me. I have barely done anything in my life that is collaborative in real life other than having a conversation.
These processes appear to access a part of my brain which is so elusive I have no idea what to call it. Notes and chords appear to happen on their own at terms, and I can’t tell if they are coming from somewhere inside me or just floating into the room and I’m transmitting them like a radio. I realize the latter idea is scientifically impossible, but it’s hard to describe the feeling. I’ve experienced it when creating visual art, but being I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil, it seems more familiar and less bizarre to experience this type of creativity when I draw or paint. However, it also reminds me a bit of when I took calculus in high school and could ace tests without the slightest idea of what I was doing. That feeling of not knowing what I am doing is very present when I am playing music with someone else at this point, yet for the most part, it still works.
I don’t know where this experience is going, but it’s immensely exciting. It’s amazing to have such a powerful ongoing experience in mid-life. Life — you just can’t beat it.
Today I had to buy a couple of birthday cards for some kids I know, and I was having a hard time finding kid cards in my neighborhood. I went to the local independent bookstore, which has some pretty nice cards, but none really for kids. I went to Chain Pharmacy #1, and the cards were lame. Then I turned my gave towards a place I never go: the Hallmark store.
Now, I was less than excited about the Hallmark store. I knew it would be a xmas fucking wonderland in there. I could see the crappy Santa dolls in the window which was surely a bad sign. I thought I could just go in and jet toward the birthday cards, grab the first passable ones I saw, and bolt. But I still worried that my greatest fear would come true: that they would be playing “Holly Jolly Christmas” on the PA.
H.J.C. is the song I most hate in the world. There’s nothing creepier than Burl Ives except stop-action animated Burl Ives, but the very worst thing of all is stop-action animated Burl Ives singing H.J.C. This song causes me so much psychic pain with its stomach-turning saccharine bullshit that all I can think is I must spread the pain outward and harm someone or something immediately.
So, I took a breath and walked nonchalantly to the interior of Hallmarks. But just as I passed through the doors and spotted the birthday cards section, what song started playing? You guessed it — none other than H.J.C.
Oh, the horror! A few weeks ago I tweeted that if I entered a store that was playing H.J.C., that I would burn that store down. I am a person of my word, so… well, come on! Sometime fantasy and reality are forced to diverge. Hallmarks, with all its cheap crap from China, still stands.
My fucking god! How can this be! It’s almost as if I *made* it the song play. And if that were the case, then I should’ve gone into the liquor store and wished very hard that I wouldn’t buy a winning lottery ticket. But of course, these mysterious magical powers only exist for things that aren’t worth a crap.
Apparently, I am not alone in my hatred of Burl Ives.
Last weekend blew my mind. I don’t know if that phrase is au courant, but I don’t know how else to say it. I realize some of my vocabulary is very 1975. I also realize that if the word “cool” goes out of style, half of my vocabulary will be lost. (The other half is the word “fuck” as noted here).
But I digress… last weekend I attended Ladies Rock Camp, and in three very full days my life was transformed from a person who loves listening to rock music to a person who *plays* rock music. For me this is akin to stepping on the moon.
The women who volunteer at LRC are truly phenomenal. They took care of all my needs, including feeding me and being my roadie. They formed my band for me based on my preferences. They taught me the rudiments of using an amp and playing an electric guitar. And let me tell you, for those who have not done experienced this, playing electric only barely resembles acoustic. Yes, your left hand is doing the same things, but that’s where the similarities end. These are some realizations I had at Rock Camp:
- First of all, amplified sound is hella LOUD. And LOUD is fun (well, up until the point your eardrums start bleeding, I suppose).
- Second, amplified sound can be distorted in a myriad of ways that sound wonderful to those of us who like the discordant or grungy end of the rock spectrum.
- Third, playing with a band is fucking awesome. I just loved the feeling of everyone collaborating to write a song and make it as great as possible with only hours at our disposable. Despite our rawness and inexperience, we came up with a song I love and is on an endless rotation in my head.
- Fourth, I sang into a microphone for the first time. I love singing, but am not blessed with a “nice” voice. But, with the support of my band behind me, I did it and it ruled.
- Most importantly, with a fat pick in one’s right hand, one can wail on the guitar strings in an amazingly percussive way that is immensely satisfying. One can feel like one is attacking the guitar — consensually, of course. I feel an amazing catharsis of rage as I pound on the guitar, which is very addicting.
Indeed within two days of attending LRC, I ran out and bought a Fender Squire so I could experience rock euphoria at will.
Well, except when I am at work. At my desk I dream about my beautiful guitar. I think my next song will address that.
And now, my favorite defunct band:
Doesn’t it suck when one of your favorite bands breaks up? Yes, yes it does.
Carrie Brownstein is currently my favorite guitarist, and this is currently my favorite song to hear her play. The sound isn’t great on this clip, but I love it just the same:
Take a trip in my time machine and see the greatness of the Violent Femmes in their prime. A group that became famous not despite, but because of Gordon Gano’s crazy assed voice, as well as the crazed bass playing of Brian Ritchie. Okay, the Victor DeLorenzo’s drumming while standing is something to see, too. I saw them around the time of this video at Zellerbach in Berkeley, and it was the first concert that I saw stage diving and surfing. It fucking ruled.
I was feeling kind of blah until I watched this video. It hella improved my day.
So now the bad news: Being that I don’t watch TV, I was completely unaware that Gordon Gano sold the rights to the song to, of all things, Wendy’s, and it was in a TV Commerical. Um… the fuck? To which Brian Ritchie commented:
Although nearly all of the band’s songs, including “Blister in the Sun”, credit Gano as the sole songwriter, Ritchie responded to the use of the song in the commercial by saying:
“For the fans who rightfully are complaining about the Wendy’s burger advertisement featuring Blister in the Sun, Gordon Gano is the publisher of the song and Warners is the record company. When they agree to use it there’s nothing the rest of the band can do about it, because we don’t own the song or the recording. That’s showbiz. Therefore when you see dubious or in this case disgusting uses of our music you can thank the greed, insensitivity and poor taste of Gordon Gano, it is his karma that he lost his songwriting ability many years ago, probably due to his own lack of self-respect as his willingness to prostitute our songs demonstrates. Neither Gordon (vegetarian) nor me (gourmet) eat garbage like Wendy’s burgers. I can’t endorse them because I disagree with corporate food on culinary, political, health, economic and environmental grounds. However, I see my life’s work trivialized at the hands of my business partner over and over again, although I have raised my objections numerous times. As disgusted as you are I am more so.”
While I think that’s a damn shame, it doesn’t ruin the song for me.
I know that you don’t want to admit it, but DEVO is relevant to your life. Still. Yep, it’s true. Look at this article:
Big chunk of space junk misses space station
Hmmm… that reminds me of a song… what was it called? Was it… SPACE JUNK?
Yeah, I know the video’s quality sucks, but the important thing (besides its relevance to this post) is that this video was filmed May 2009. DEVO lives! Tell me that’s not relevant.
Here’s some creepy information about space junk, but in a friendly video, courtesy of ROCKETBOOM:
Hey, doesn’t that gal have a British accent? And isn’t the DEVO video in London? I wonder if she went back to England just for that show.