March 11, 2010
If the guy next to you in your 10th grade math class, the guy with the creepy sticky mop of hair and bad vacation spot t shirt with his desk inexplicably at a crooked angle next to you, told you one day in an uncalled for confidence…. This:
“I’m gonna build a jazz band machine of cymbals, xylophones and prepared pianos all trigered by my chorus pedal infused guitar soloing…and it’s going to change everything”
a) move to the next available desk
b) ask him where he buys his weed
c) secretly steal his plan if only you had basic knowledge machinery
d) a little from all the above
Well? That geeky kid went on to find a life altering passion while you were studying half heartedly your life-approved major, and somewhere along the way, after an impacting career of ground breaking improvisational music that reached millions, he became…Pat Metheny. And he built a machine this year. Wait for it …. The ORCHESTRION.
A devilish and incompressible to the average mind technological wonder. A full orchestra machine that plays and responds to his every whim. And it plays a whole record ! And whole tour!
Seems like the perfect connundrum; the chemistry a musician strives for and feels at moments with others is only a mirror of what he/she feels in a dream symbiosis with one’s self, and self’s musicals impulses and meanderings. The perfect perfection. But is it narcissism gone too far? Is it inhuman of this music to be so solitaire, to cheat its way to the ideal band chemistry? For who has played in a band and not been terrified of never being able to cultivate that feeling between members? That sounded dirty haha…so why not only entertain relationships in that case with…yourself?
Here is a demo of his genius/madness: ORCHESTRION VIDEO
On the other hand, last night I saw a band play evoking just the opposite feeling amongst themselves, and roping in every audience member into their cool California family glee. A now very sought after secret in the industry, Family of the Year broke out the best psychadelic Dylan modern pop I have heard since The Brian Jonestown Massacre. With beach-style harmonies that make you fall in love (every band member looks like a model, so take your pick)They knew they were good ,yes. They knew they looked good, yes. But most of all, they liked each other. Or at least on stage. They radiated great songs and arrangements by virtue of their imperfect connection. They delivered unbridled stunning fucking up. They played like devils and angels in bed together forever and never let it stop, probably cause they don’t know how. A little pretentious? Maybe. Unbelievably consuming? Definitely. Check out this next big band of troubadours, they seem to put family, music, business and love all first, a rather crowded frontline.
March 10, 2010
Many years ago, two hopeful young singers were in a dirty van, crossing the border into NY state.One without a passport, they rejoiced in somehow having conned their way into that big land. For they were on their way together to New York City, to play a few -small in reality, but big in their minds and hearts- folk clubs. They prepared and wrote songs together, they rehearsed with their broken down guitars, they schemed and planned and smoked all the malboro lights they could. They drove and drove and with each mile passed, they reveled in their young and free selves. They talked, they played games. They decided, avid music listeners, one rather passionate, one warmly scientific, to draw up a list of their shared sentiments: Pop Music’s Best Singers.
Well they beamed over Stevie Nicks and all she had taught them about interpretation, about having a true and distinct nature in your music. Dumbstruck by Aretha. Argued over Janis Joplin (on this, if nothing else at that early stage of their friendship, they firmly disagreed). Who else had made the list? The details of these kind of memories tend to fade, they do. Did Robert Plant make the cut? Surely, he may be the greatest. Marvin Gaye?A no-brainer was Freddy Mercury, any live performance heard of his would knock anyone right off their chair, and into the corner of a room heaving and crying with joy and pain all at once…no? Well youth is dramatic. And wonderful. And sometimes so hard. Which is why its good to sing, if you can 😉 They drove into their own future and considered what had led them there, and who they would pay homage to was of great importance. That was the reason for all of it.
Today I would add so many, because the sound of a beautiful, or raw, but powerful musical human voice never gets old, or unmoving. So here are a few I was thinking of today:
Sam Cooke….I came to this one very late. But I don’t feel like i missed out, i love the idea that I’m picking up pebbles along the way for as long as I live, never will i tire of discovering! (pictured above)
here’s a nice song to start with….TROUBLE IN MIND
Tom Petty called him “probably the greatest singer in the world.” Another of his fellow Traveling Wilburys, Bob Dylan, said he had “the voice of a professional criminal.” Roy Orbison shared rockabilly roots with Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley — he recorded the bopping “Ooby Dooby” at Sun Records in 1956 — before his soaring, symphonic vocals brought a new level of majesty and mystery to rock in the early Sixties. “Songs like ‘Leah’ and ‘In Dreams’ start out challenging, then just climb and climb into the stratosphere,” says protégé Chris Isaak. Dion, who toured with Orbison, says that he actually sang very softly: “I’d be two feet away, and when he hit those high notes, it was quiet and heartfelt. But the emotion would go through you like a power drill.”
(excerpt from Rolling Stone’s “The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time”)
just saw someone post a video of him today….i had no idea. Glad to have picked up a stone today and put it in my pocket. I will need it someday i am sure. check it out: Drive
Who’s your favorite, who do you carry?
It’s years later, and so much has passed, but in a few days the two old friends will get in a van again, and drive and smoke and get on with their latest journey, now not so shy and demure but arrived at a somewhere, for now, a somewhere dreamed up so long ago on a road trip to New York City. The singers who influenced them will be in their voices every night, un-shakeable. Our biggest dreams start to come true in those little moments when they spark, and we feed them with our shared human history.
March 9, 2010
This is a band I never wanted to see. Not because I had listened to their records and disliked it, not because I had heard negative things about their live show, not because I irrationally dislike their band name so much I wake up cringing just thinking about it. Nope. It’s because they are my ex’s favorite band. That’s all it takes.
And so, for years I have steered clear of them, telling any who would listen how much of a distaste I had for this Euro-wannabe-overly-modernized-whiny-excuse-for-a-classic-rock-band-gone-new-era-without-songs. Lies! I had maybe heard two tracks, and secretly i kinda liked them.
Well, last nite after a rockin good effort by newcomers to the big time Silversun Pickups, came the rock n roll extravaganza called Muse. Though after two hours I did feel a bit dizzy from the assault to the senses that was this amazingly executed very very large scale production, i was properly impressed, mostly by the masterful skill of the players. Holy shit these guys can play, and in a very useful and tasteful way for their music. Great guitar sounds too buddy, whatever your superstar name is.There was enough rockstar cool and great songs for good measure. Also lasers and giant towers on which they rocked, and a rotating drum reiser of course.That’s my review. Now I like them. Well, at least in a medium kind of way. But i’d buy their records, or at least accept promotional copies from our mutual record label. (and yes I’m working on my snarkiness)
Also, now I know why my ex had the ridiculous haircut he did. He was trying to copy the band’s lead singer’s euro rock shag. cute……but only on the rockstar.
also, dear Muse: your guitars…not so cool. Thanks for the good times!