It's easy in recent years to poke a bit of fun at U2's lead singer Bono as being a bit full of himself. Heck, I've done it myself.
But then today I watched Rattle and Hum which I'd DVRed over the weekend. Say what you want, but those guys were probably the best band of the mid to late 80's. They could blow the roof off any venue, and I'd forgotten just how good they really were.
If you don't believe me, try the live version of Sunday Bloody Sunday on for size. Powerful.
My musical tastes are pretty eclectic, but I like to think that I have a pretty high standard for what counts as worthwhile. The unintended side effect of that is that there are not a lot of musicians I'm willing to listen to over the long term, and even fewer to whom I'll pay good money to get a CD.
I've recently found (thanks, in a roundabout way, to Laurence) another CD to add to my collection:
Matthew Ebel, Beer & Coffee.
Yes, that's a link to a place you can buy it. No, it's not Amazon. No, I don't get a referral fee. This post is a purely unsolicited and uncompensated endorsement.
Try a representative sample or two from his website:
No, great stuff.
Personally, I think Ebel sounds like Billy Joel might have, had he grown up somewhere other than New York... and had more soul.
Give him a listen, then buy the CD.
Bono, during the last year's UK Music Hall of Fame induction of Brian Wilson:
I know that Brian believes in angels. I do, too.
But you only have to listen to the string arrangement on "God Only Knows" for fact and proof of angels.
Sometimes human talent reflects something... higher.
In honor of the final event of Saddam's life, I'd like to offer this song.
I should have worn a necktie to work today. Dang it.
11pm update: good riddance to bad rubbish.
At Hot Air, Allahpundit notes that science has identified the saddest song ever.
That was my respect for science deflating just a bit. Not as much as it's done over this whole "man-made global warming" foofaraw, but a measurable bit, yes.
While a bunch of neurotic wussy europeans may inspire feelings in me, sadness doesn't come close to the top of the list — except when I think of the greatness that once was Western Culture. No, when I hear The Verve* what I feel is more akin to nausea.
If you want a sad song, try Rhett Miller's Come Around.
* Definitely not to be mistaken for The Verve Pipe, a band I actually like.
† Sorry, Mom, there's a bad word in there.
Via Blackfive, a music video from Australian country singer Beccy Cole.
The song, Poster Girl (Wrong Side of The World), is her answer to those fair-weather fans who didn't like the fact that she supports the Diggers.
Can we adopt her or something? And send the Dixie Twits to, I dunno, France?
Pearl Jam - "Ten"
I suspect this band's continued success is due solely to hordes of stoned second-generation Deadheads looking for something new, something "deep."
Deep, allright. Deeply unimpressive.
At home after the usual Friday night at the office, I've turned the TV to VH1 Classic, just for a change of pace. Lots of good classic stuff. Then came a band and a song to which I am not particularly favorably disposed — Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper."
As the opening notes sounded, the first thing I thought was "more cowbell!"
And then it occurred to me: I'll never have to hear that song the "old" way again.
Television: is there anything it can't do?
John Miller of National Review recently put together a list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs, as recommended by NR readers. My submission, "Blood from a Stone" by The Hooters, didn't make the cut.
My choice did, however, make the "encore list" of 50 additional songs Miller has put together. Check 'em out.
"All You Zombies," also by The Hooters, might have been a good choice, too.
Having come to the conclusion that, in order to be The Compleat Renaissance Man, I need to learn to play a musical instrument, I set out yesterday to talk to some people I thought might help: music teachers.
I visited three music stores, and as I sort-of expected, there were music teachers present at each one, and I was able to get their opinions, and I've considered them.
The guitar would be difficult, and any other stringed instrument would be impossible without cosmetic surgery on my fingertips to make them smaller and pointier. Given that the size of my fingers is not likely to change quite so drastically, the piano is looking like the way to go. I'm cool with that.
Now I just have to figure out where to get started. Looks like I'll be making another trip across town to the music stores.
I've lately been thinking I need to finally act on my love of music, and take up an instrument. Not with an eye to performing, mind you, but merely for my own enjoyment. As if I need yet another hobby.
I don't know that I have any talent whatsoever, but when listening to good music, I always find myself wishing I were playing rather than just listening.
Piano would be great, as would guitar; both appear to be as simple or as complex as one might want to make them. And perhaps it's uncommon, but I'd love to learn how to play the violin.
I'm not terribly interested in playing brass or woodwind instruments — it's awfully hard to sing when playing those, though I'd not mind learning the bagpipes. Uilleann pipes (The what? Go here and listen to the sample of Track 4 — I think it's magnificent) might be a nice compromise, but I suspect the body of works for them is somewhat limited.
Problem: my hands are approximately the size and shape of bear paws. I think this is going to limit my options, as far as what I might be physically capable of playing.
Percussion would work with my monster mitts, but drums are neither particularly melodic, nor are they something you can pick up, sit back, and relax with. What a pity — I'm always tapping my fingers and toes along with whatever music to which I'm listening.
I need advice... and it's a bit too late for me to go look up the band teacher at my old high school to get said advise. Maybe a trip to the music store to talk to the pros there.
What do you think?
There's a picture opposite me
of my primitive ancestry
which stood on rocky shores and kept the beaches shipwreck-free.
Though I respect that a lot
I'd be fired if that were my job
after killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts.
Yes, I know the song, album and band in question.
No, I'm not telling.
[Updated and revised.]
One thing those of you who have read my occasional TV, DVD, movie or music reviews might have noticed is that I don't do in-depth reviews of anything after viewing or listening just once. Usually, that's because I don't partake in entertainment in order to write a review. I simply try to enjoy it.
Add to that the fact that I rarely actually go to the movies, and I don't buy, willy-nilly, every CD that comes out, nor do I watch the "popular" TV shows. Most of them are utter dreck. (Well, I do watch NCIS and CSI and its variants. Good stuff, but I don't ever expect to write reviews of them.)
Nonetheless, there is quality entertainment to be had. One aspect of quality, per se, is the ability to stand the test of time. Perhaps that's why the CDs I occasionally buy were usually released a few years before I buy them.
Sometimes, however, the label "instant classic" really does apply. Something need not be twenty or more years old to have demonstrated qualities that will let it hold its own in the future. By way of example, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which is now just two years old, is one such film. I recommended it here, and received some very good feedback. It is, I think, a film that will be eminently watchable for generations to come.
So if you see an in-depth review of mine, it will probably not be something that aired on TV last night, it probably won't be something you can still go see in the theaters, and it probably will not be something currently on the Billboard top-100 list. Probably not.
Furthermore, I don't intend to review too many things I would not recommend. My time is too valuable to me to waste becoming familiar enough with something I don't like, just to write a full review. If there's something don't like, I'll say so and move along.
Rather, I intend my reviews to be justifications for my recommendations. (Again, refer to M&C.) If I recommend something, you can be sure I either already own it, or it's in my shopping basket — putting my money where my mouth is, you might say.
Anyway, here’s what you do. You go to the Music Outfitters website and type your high school graduation year into the search tool. Select the “list of the 100 most popular songs” and you will get the Raw Material for the next step in the process, which is to look through the list and decide which songs you hated, which ones you liked, and which one was your favorite.
Post the list on your Online Journal,
striking throughthe songs you hated (or still hate) and boldfacing the ones you liked (or still like). Bold and underline your favorite song. No opinion? Leave it as-is.
There was an awful lot of (and a lot of awful) music in 1980. And now — as if you needed it — you get my opinion on the matter. You get to decide which sucks worse: the music of 1980, or my taste in music.
1. Call Me, Blondie
2. Another Brick In The Wall, Pink Floyd
3. Magic, Olivia Newton-John
4. Rock With You, Michael Jackson
5. Do That To Me One More Time, Captain and Tennille
6. Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Queen
7. Coming Up, Paul McCartney
8. Funkytown, Lipps, Inc.
9. It's Still Rock And Roll To Me, Billy Joel
10. The Rose, Bette Midler
11. Escape (The Pina Colada Song), Rupert Holmes
12. Cars, Gary Numan
13. Cruisin', Smokey Robinson
14. Working My Way Back To You/Forgive Me Girl, Spinners
15. Lost In Love, Air Supply
16. Little Jeannie, Elton John
17. Ride Like The Wind, Cristopher Cross
18. Upside Down, Diana Ross
19. Please Don't Go, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
20. Babe, Styx
21. With You I'm Born Again, Billy Preston and Syreeta
22. Shining Star, Manhattans
23. Still, Commodores
24. Yes, I'm Ready, Teri De Sario With K.C.
25. Sexy Eyes, Dr. Hook
26. Steal Away, Robbie Dupree
27. Biggest Part Of Me, Ambrosia
28. This Is It, Kenny Loggins
29. Cupid-I've Loved You For A Long Time, Spinners
30. Let's Get Serious, Jermaine Jackson
31. Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer, Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes
32. Sailing, Christopher Cross
33. Longer, Dan Fogelberg
34. Coward Of The County, Kenny Rogers
35. Ladies Night, Kool and The Gang
36. Take Your Time, S.O.S. Band
37. No More Tears (Enough Is Enough), Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer
38. Too Hot, Kool and The Gang
39. More Love, Kim Carnes
40. Pop Muzik, M
41. Brass In Pocket, Pretenders
42. Special Lady, Ray, Goodman and Brown
43. Send One Your Love, Stevie Wonder
44. The Second Time Around, Shalamar
45. We Don't Talk Anymore, Cliff Richard
47. Heartache Tonight , Eagles
48. Stomp, Brothers Johnson
49. Tired Of Toein' The Line, Rocky Burnette
50. Better Love Next Time, Dr. Hook
51. Him, Rupert Holmes
52. Against The Wind, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
53. On The Radio, Donna Summer
54. Emotional Rescue, Rolling Stones
55. Rise, Herb Alpert
56. All Out Of Love, Air Supply
57. Cool Change, Little River Band
58. You're Only Lonely, J.D. Souther
59. Desire, Andy Gibb
60. Let My Love Open The Door, Pete Townshend
61. Daydream Believer, Anne Murray
62. I Can't Tell You Why, Eagles
63. Don't Let Go, Isaac Hayes
64. Don't Do Me Like That, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
65. She's Out Of My Life, Michael Jackson
66. Fame, Irene Cara
67. Fire Lake, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
68. How Do I Make You, Linda Ronstadt
69. Into The Night, Benny Mardones
70. Let Me Love You Tonight, Pure Prairie League
71. Misunderstanding, Genesis
72. An American Dream, Dirt Band
73. One Fine Day, Carole King
74. Dim All The Lights, Donna Summer
75. You May Be Right, Billy Joel
76. Hurt So Bad, Linda Ronstadt
77. Should've Never Let You Go, Neil Sedaka and Dara Sedaka
78. Pilot Of The Airwaves, Charlie Dore
79. Off The Wall, Michael Jackson
80. I Pledge My Love, Peaches and Herb
81. The Long Run, Eagles
82. Stand By Me, Mickey Gilley
83. Heartbreaker, Pat Benatar
84. Deja Vu, Dionne Warwick
85. Drivin' My Life Away, Eddie Rabbitt
86. Take The Long Way Home, Supertramp
87. Sara, Fleetwood Mac
88. Wait For Me, Daryl Hall and John Oates
89. Jo Jo, Boz Scaggs
90. September Morn, Neil Diamond
91. Give Me The Night, George Benson
92. Broken Hearted Me, Anne Murray
93. You Decorated My Life, Kenny Rogers
94. Tusk, Fleetwood Mac
95. I Wanna Be Your Lover, Prince
96. In America, Charlie Daniels Band
97. Breakdown Dead Ahead, Boz Scaggs
98. Ships, Barry Manilow
99. All Night Long, Joe Walsh
100. Refugee, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
OK, so I didn't like very much.
I like to think of myself as a fairly well-educated fellow, as far as the arts are concerned. I'm not an expert of any kind, but I appreciate good music when I hear it, particularly classical music, and I think I have at least a passing familiarity with most of the noteworthy composers.
Every now and then, however, I discover the work of a particular artist or composer I'd never heard (or perhaps simply not noticed) before. One such is Vaughan Williams.
While watching the film Master And Commander I was struck by the quality of the soundtrack, but I assumed that all the music therein was of the period depicted in the film (early 1800s) or was composed specifically for the film. I was surprised, then, to learn that the one piece of music in the film that most caught my attention was in fact composed in 1910.
Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis is simply the most stunning "new-found" piece of music I have heard in a very very long time. How it has escaped my attention over the years is a complete mystery to me.
Perhaps adding to the evocative power of the piece is the way in which it was used in the film. At a critical point, the Captain must choose to sacrifice the life of one of his crew in order to save the ship. He acts quickly, but not alone; he enlists the aid of another crewman – the doomed man's best friend. As death approaches for the unfortunate sailor at the hands of his Captain and of his friend, Vaughan's Fantasia swells, and is enough to make the viewer forget to breathe.
Yes, it's that powerful.
Not a believer? Here's a sound clip: Download file (440Kbytes, 56 seconds – sorry, I had to cut the sample rate down to conserve space. The bass doesn't come through too well, I'm afraid.)
As chance would have it, after I clipped the sound file last night and before I finished writing this "review," Esgaroth over at Tributaries posted her take on the matter, complete with some very good links to information on the Fantasia and on Tallis' original work. It's well worth checking out.
In the future, I intend to listen to a good deal more of Williams' work.
... Pink Floyd reunites.
I'd never have thought it would happen. The history of the rancorous split of Roger Waters from the band is fairly well known. I'd have sooner expected John and George to rise from the dead to join Paul and Ringo for a Beatles reunion.
And rancor there certainly was. On the album The Division Bell is the song Lost For Words, which includes what is unmistakeably the recounting of a call for reconciliation, and subsequent rejection:
And I ask could we wipe the slate clean
But they tell me to please go **** myself
You know you just can't win
One might be forgiven for thinking it would never happen.
But, live on the Live8 stage in London, there they all are. Older, greyer — but there. For a fan of classic rock music such as I, this is a treat of the highest order.
Update: Whoever at MTV/VH1 thought it would be a good idea to interrupt Comfortably Numb with those dopey prepubescent "veejays" needs to be put up against a Wall and shot.
Update 2: Dopey? Yes, dopey — but insipid, too.