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Trouble Free Times

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When I was a kid, I delivered newspapers around my block. It was a lot of fun. My walk man and I were best friends. I loved the tape mixes that I made and loaded in that little battery powered device that I would shove in my pocket, crank the volume on my headphones and carry that sack of newspapers up and down the sidewalks taking them to everyone’s front doors. Life seemed much easier when I was eleven years old. Being a paperboy was a fun job and I am lucky that I was born early enough to have taken part in an American tradition. It was a great opportunity for us youngsters.

One of my friends, his name was Bill, also worked for a different newspaper. Sometimes our paths would cross on our routes. He always had his walk man on too. We traded tapes and swapped stories as well. He got me into Weird Al Yankovich quite a bit! Dr. Demento tapings were a popular thing that he liked to share with me. Even Bon Jovi found its way into the morning walking commute in the neighborhood. Actually a lot of music started to fill my collection. I shoved newspapers in their plastic sleeves while rocking out to the Beatles taped from the radio stations, WCKG as a matter of fact. That’s an old classic rock station from back in the day.

I was also a baseball player as a kid from the 1980’s, a catcher and an outfielder actually. My good buddy Bunker and I hung out at each other’s houses quite a bit. We played basketball in the driveway, watched movies like Rambo (shhhh don’t tell my parents), TV shows like the A-Team and watched MTV too! We jumped in my mom and dad’s swimming pool in the backyard. One day, when we were dragged to the grocery store (my mom babysat him and his sister) and before practicing for a ballgame, he told me about a record he had at home (vinyl baby!) called “Rap’s Greatest Hits.”

1987, was probably the year. I never really paid much attention to rap. I mean I knew of The Fat Boys, Kool Moe Dee and RUN DMC. But there was something about the record he kept speaking of that day which grabbed my interest. I don’t know what it was, perhaps he was obsessed and kept going on and on about it, but I told him that he could go ahead and copy it onto a cassette tape for me. The next day or sometime later that week, he brought me the tape and played it on my boom box as we played catch in the backyard.

Not sure what got me so hooked on that particular tape. Today in the 2000’s, I have become much more into punk, rock, jazz, blues, alternative, new wave, etc. But not rap at all. Although, technically it is mostly considered hip-hop these days. Thanks to modern technology, The Internet can help me replace this tape that I still have and is starting to warp. I even have the track listing now for the first time. Bunker didn’t write any of that down or give me a list. But I know it now. Here it is:

Tracklist

Timex Social Club –Rumors
Run-D.M.C. –King Of Rock
Boogie Boys –A Fly Girl
The Real Roxanne With Howie Tee –Howie’s Teed Off
Fat Boys –Fat Boys
Doug E. Fresh And The Get Fresh Crew –The Show
Joeski Love –Pee-Wee’s Dance
Whodini –Friends
UTFO –Roxanne, Roxanne
Rock Master Scott And The Dynamic Three –The Roof Is On Fire

Amazing stuff is listed here. It’s a real treat. Some things are unexplainable, but I played this tape literally a thousand times. I have no clue why. I just really dug it in the dugout at the ballpark or in my bedroom doing homework or delivering newspapers.

I would be swimming in the backyard pool and have it playing in the backyard or just swinging on the swing set. My dad absolutely HATED it with a passion. So I would ride my bike with this collection of records scratching and vocal sound effects (blasting in my ears via the walkman) that was certainly a breakthrough type of sound back in those days. I guess we all have these memories we like to hold on to and aren’t quite sure of the reason. We just feel safe holding on to these rare tapes and never throw them away until we have no choice. This is why I am finally looking to replace it on cd or mp3 format because it is a nostalgia thing.

This weird and annoying music got me through a lot of extra innings in the little league, bullies pushing me off the jungle gym or even boring car rides to Grandma’s. Every now and then I still pop that little sucker into my tape deck (yes I still have one) and relive the fond memories of goofy mouth noises and synthesized drum beats and vinyl skipping literally and yet still my buddy recorded it onto the tape that way. No edits. The tracks would cut off at the ends of the tape too which was funny.

So yes these were simpler times and I wanted to share this random thought while sitting in a Caribou listening to a device called an iPod and suddenly craving the desire to listen to this ridiculously entertaining piece of 1980’s history captured on a tape, which also on the reverse side is a bonus collection of Dr Demento stuff also from the radio but from my newspaper buddy Bill too. What can I say? I had a great childhood and it wasn’t even stressful because I didn’t know what that word meant. I leave you with this final thought…..I have more music to share this year (2013). Playlists, favorite artists over the past hundred years and why, plus more stories like this will pop up every now and then. Farewell…….Hee Haw

Peace out

C-Note

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Album Reviews

Why Tegan & Sara Are Heartthrobs NUMBER 12 ON THE LIST

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From a previous post…..this pretty much explains why I chose them as number 12 on my list

Tegan And Sara are twin sisters from Canada. Both of them sing, play guitars and keyboards. “Indie rock” is their most typically fitting category of music. But they have put out some really pleasing and heartfelt music over the years and they like to mess with their styles. Together they write beautiful music and lyrics.

“Heartthrob” is the title of their newest record. It will forever put these girls in the spotlight. Tegan And Sara have just peaked with this release! This music is some of the best tunes I have heard from the indie scene in a really long time. “Closer”, which was the first single, is probably one of the best ways to get an idea how this album as a whole sounds. It’s dreamy, with excellent catchy lyrics, and dueling vocals. If you do not know anything about them, then this is the perfect tune to get into.

There are ten songs full of these fantastic 80s vibes popping all over the place on this CD. Every single track could be a hit! It explodes with pop! Some are anthem chorus-driven tracks,others are simply alluring but with painful vocals, and also a very dance feel throughout. At several times, there are these sentiments on the album most of us can say we’ve felt and relate to.

I love the use of their funky synthesizer beats and the echoing vocals which move nicely into the great refrains. I can’t think of too many groups recently that are comparable. This record, “Heartthrob” definitely deserves checking out.

Overall, it was worth the money. I am sure this will be the album that finds them a much broader audience with pop stars like Katy Perry; especially while promoting it in their Twitter feeds, but more importantly this is a CD that longtime fans (I’m a newbie to them) can grasp and appreciate.

Based on what I am hearing, this is a new sound that shows a lot of maturity, and yet that Tegan and Sara ‘vibe’ they have become famous for, is still there. Highly recommended, even from a new fan, like me.I look forward to seeing them at Lollapalooza in Chicago on August 4th. I am sure they will be a real treat!

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My “33” Favorite Songs From The 1950’s

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Ahhh yes the 1950’s. My parents grew up. Music really started to take shape. Rock N Roll was born. I got exposed to this culture especially the music when I grew up in the 1980’s. Why? Because of oldies radio stations and cassette tapes my dad played in his Ford pickup truck. So what’s so special about the 1950’s?

Rock n’ roll was a creation of the Fifties; bringing with it, the attitudes of teenage rebellion that still exist today. It was during the Fifties that the Beat poets (like Allen Ginsberg) let loose a radical literary howl against boring mainstream culture. And it was during the Fifties that tons of radical technological innovations—even beginning with the computer—began to shift a change the way we were used to living our lives……forever. Dramatic changes in technology, transportation, culture, race relations, and social structures all came heavy like a ton of bricks during the Fifties, and all of these things left their mark on our modern world.

The decade was, more than we usually imagine, a time of change. Radical cars, fashions and Cherry Cokes. But Music did it the most, for me.

In the early days of what is referred to as “rock and roll” styles of the late 1940s and early 1950s, either a piano or saxophone would be the lead instrument, but they eventually got replaced by guitars in the middle to late 1950s. The beat is basically a blues rhythm. Snare drums became the “back beat.” So many styles evolved from this simple twist and “shout.”

So now I present to you the 33 great artists and their essential songs. I choose 33 because it represents the “33 & 1/3 rpms” of a record. Just being clever. The artists and songs were all chosen primarily on my personal favorites but I also incorporated the trends, chart positions, popularity and reviews in various magazines. So what you are about to read is a collection from the true representations of these amazing artists. Feel free to go to Youtube and see and hear these great songs. Here’s the list (not ranked….no particular order):

(THESE ARE THE TRUE MALT SHOP MEMORIES)

1 Chantilly Lace Big Bopper
2 Rock Around The Clock Bill Haley & The Comets
3 Who Do You Love Bo Diddley
4 That’ll Be The Day Buddy Holly & The Crickets
5 Blue Suede Shoes Carl Perkins
6 Tequila The Champs
7 Johnny B. Goode Chuck Berry
8 Yakety Yak The Coasters
9 At The Hop Danny & The Juniors
10 A Teenager In Love Dion & The Belmonts
11 There Goes My Baby The Drifters
12 Summertime Blues Eddie Cochran
13 Heartbreak Hotel Elvis
14 Wake Up Little Susie The Everly Brothers
15 Blueberry Hill Fats Domino
16I Only Have Eyes For You The Flamingos
17 Why Do Fools Fall In Love Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
18 Be-Bop-A-Lula Gene Vincent
19 Please, Please, Please James Brown
20 Great Balls Of Fire Jerry Lee Lewis
21 I Walk The Line Johnny Cash
22 Greenback Dollar The Kingston Trio
23 Rumble Link Wray & His Ray Men
24 Long Tall Sally Little Richard
25 Sincerely The Moonglows
26 Smoke Gets In Your Eyes The Platters
27 What’d I Say, Pts. 1 & 2 Ray Charles
28 Poor Little Fool Ricky Nelson
29 Donna Ritchie Valens
30 You Send Me Sam Cooke
31 Shout Isley brothers (1959….most people think 60’s….it was not)
32 Etta James – The Wallflower (Dance with me Henry)
33 Screaming Jay Hawkins- I Put a Spell On You

So there ya go. I don’t have the patience to post sound clips. But the internet is a wonderful thing. Feel free to contest what I posted and/or offer something I totally missed. But I am pretty sure I have most of my bases covered. Comments are still welcomed.

I leave you with this……….cool cars right?

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Album Reviews

SAVAGES: Could This Be The Start of a New Musical Revolution?

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Commanding! Groundbreaking! Amazing!

Those are just a few words to describe this post punk band (SAVAGES) from London. A female-foursome, nonetheless. I was honestly blown away the first time they blasted energetic and addictive raw hooks into my ears. I’m getting goosebumps just talking about this. Their debut album is entitled, “Silence Yourself.” The guitars, the bass, & those tight drums are all so clean, yet heavy. Pulsating machines of focused rage! Everything is amplified by their wonderful production. A new wave of post punk; a do-it-yourself revival is coming your way!!!!

In this day and age of music, it’s not easy to find an original and valid band. These girls have done it! They made an anti-pop record. There are no “anthems” involved here. I honestly do think of other garage punk groups from the late 70’s when I listen closely. Groups like Joy Division and Siouxsie & the Banshees come to mind for sure. As lead singer of Savages, Jenny Beth’s voice compliments the instruments quite lovely. Their appearance is dark and mesmerizing. All of it is riveting, poisonous, exclusive and reckless.

This album rocks hard! It really does. In fact, I will tell you this fact right now! As of July 2013, I dare say that this is my favorite record of the year. Why?

Well; first of all, they all actually know how to play their instruments each with a unique sound. Nothing is radio-friendly about them. Compared to their live shows, the album “Silence Yourself” is low-energy. Wow! That makes me afraid to buy a ticket and tremble with fear! I do not believe that these ladies are over-hyped. No. Not this time. They bring it!

The fusion of Jenny’s original sounding screams at the end of a perfect track, “She Will” with the wailing feedback makes me think to myself, “Damn that is genius.” Who does that anymore? I love the bravery and brilliant results of these tracks. At moments they can be be unsettling and dreamy. But still, my ears do the talking. They like what they hear. I find it difficult to avoid them. I keep playing them over and over and over again. Almost every day for the past two months. I am nuts over them!

British chicks RULE!!! While tons of bands have all done similar things with their music as other groups have over the years, it’s the jaw-dropping and unique way that Savages recorded the sound on this album that makes the difference. This re-creates rock and roll history, for me. If it SOUNDS great then it is great!

Give it a listen (brace yourself):

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Album Reviews

“Rock & Roll” by The Velvet Underground

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This is an incredible song! A joyous celebration of the power of rock ‘n’ roll! I name it as my favorite rock and roll song ever written and recorded. No pun intended. It has a real catchy hook to it. The lyrics evoke that sense of being saved by this music. I picture myself cruising through a busy street or by the ocean or on a country road or anywhere for that matter and listening to this rock song.

It tells the story of a girl named Ginny who was “just five years old,” messing with the dials of her radio in her car until she turned “on a New York station and she couldn’t be-lieve what she heard at all.” Lou Reed is a fantastic song writer and guitar player!

Lou Reed praises the glory of “Rock & Roll” with brutal delight in this Velvet Underground song of that simple title, seeing it as the solace of that young girl, previously mentioned when it explodes out of that radio. It is the third track on the band’s 1970 album, Loaded. I think a fresh audience discovered it when this ten-minute version appeared on Lou Reed’s 1974 live album Rock’n’Roll Animal. What a fantastic record that one is! But the song alone,”‘Rock & Roll,'” is about me, you, anyone really whose eyes and ears suddenly are opened. For me, if I did not hear any rock & roll on the radio, including the song, then I would not be the man that I am today.

But why do I love it? It just feels so damn good on my ears!!!

Take a listen:

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Playlists

Our Soundtrack to the Hot Days of Summer

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We’re in the middle of the summer, almost approaching the dog days. It’s hot and sticky out there. July is an eventful month. At least this year it is for me. First my wife and I took our nieces to Michigan to hang out at my dad’s cottage by the lake. We are also training for a Sprint Triathlon! Denielle (my wife) has a birthday coming up too! But there’s BBQ’s, summer blockbuster films, pool parties and MUSIC to celebrate all of these events…..and more!

A playlist for the month of July was put together by the two of us. It expresses the feelings of summer; volleyball, the beach, more road trips, swimming, the heat, the parties, surfing and just whatever feels good during these dog days. There is ice cream to keep cool, or times you wash your car on the driveway, just hanging out at the drive-in movies or walking downtown and listening to street musicians. Even buying a balloon from a clown at a county fair while you wait in line for a roller coaster is a good time. It’s the music that we all sing and tap our feet to. I’ll list the songs with these little explanations as to why and how they fit into your 2013 July Playlist. Enjoy!

1. California Gurls…..Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dog

Guilty Pleasure!!! Not gonna lie. I LOVE her music!!!! It’s an awesome song about the summer!

2. Get Lucky….Daft Punk

So far this is shaping up to be THE SONG of the summer of 2013….it’s just really catchy

3. California Sun….The Rivieras

I know it’s from the 1960’s but I always think of the film Good Morning Vietnam because it’s on the soundtrack and feels good on the ears cruising in my car

4. Playing With The Boys….Kenny Loggins

My wife likes this one because they play it during the “volley ball scene” in the film Top Gun. A bunch of cute guys in the sand, I guess. Still I don’t mind the tune.

5. Pipeline….The Chantays

I love the guitar work on this one. A surfing classic!

6. Baltimora…..Tarzan Boy

Ooooooh Ahhhh Ooooooh chantings of Tarzan! Total 80’s track. Not sure why it’s

on here but it seems to fit the group.

7. Brown Eyed Girl…..Van Morrison

Denny’s birthday is coming up. She likes Van Morrison and has brown eyes so why not???

8. Summertime….DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince

Classic

9. In the Summertime….Mungo Jerry

I love this song! Sounds good anytime. In the car, at the pool, having a drink, at a party, anywhere.

10. Surfin’ USA….The Beach Boys

You gotta have the Beach Boys on the list. And this is a perfect example of why.

11. Tequila….The Champs

Makes me wanna dance on the bar like Pee Wee Herman. Ha ha ha

12. Summer Girls….LFO

Never heard this before but now I think of Abercrombie & Finch and pretty girls.

13. Surf City….Jan & Dean

DO I have to explain this one?

14. Wipe Out….The Surfaris

Same

15. Good Day Sunshine….The Beatles

Makes me smile and nothing can go wrong when the Beatles are on

16. Leader of the Pack….The Shangri-La’s

This one’s kind of a wild card. I like the song a lot. It deals with greasers and pink lady type of relationships and car accidents and I guess it’s not really a summer song but it does seem to blend well.

17. Brighter Than The Sun….Colbie Caillat

Just a feel good sunny song

18. Summer of 69….Bryan Adams

Kind of an anthem, if you ask me

19. Great Balls of Fire….Jerry Lee Lewis

It’s energetic and keeps the pace going

20. Surfin’ Bird….The Trashmen

This one is really hyper and definitely can induce laughter. Plus it’s definitely a California surfing tune

21. Soak Up The Sun….Sheryl Crow

Should be obvious….hot days

22. Green Onions….Booker T & The MG’s

Perfect background music to any situation really

23. Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny, Weeny, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini….Brian Hyland

How can you not throw this one on here? Duh??

24. California Girls….The Beach Boys

We finish where we start, sort of. Same title, original version but not the same lyrics but still sends the same message. Those girls from California got it going on!

So there you have it! Enjoy your summer! Feel free to add suggestions that I am sure I missed.

Peace out….C-Note

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Album Reviews

Alan’s Poe Project?

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The Alan Parsons Project’s TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION is a supreme example of greatly produced horror-themed rock albums. Every track is based on the dark works by a master of creepy, terror and morbid tales. His name? None other than Edgar Allan Poe. The band is actually only two musician-songwriters, Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson. They are nicely backed up by several outstanding session musicians. What a fantastic job is done here of mixing Poe’s eerie narrative and vivid atmosphere into a macabre musical canvas.

Some of Poe’s greatest works are re-imagined here, such as, “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” which is easily the best track on here. The entire song lasts longer than 16 minutes and contains no lyrics (except for a newly added voiceover at the beginning by Orson Wells), and is divided into different movements just like a classical symphony. Just as the Poe story which influenced it, this runs the full spectrum of human emotion, beginning with a peaceful but melancholy classical path, then seamlessly moves through jazz fusion and rock transitions towards an intense symphonic crescendo. If you listen to the song from beginning to end, it is unlikely to NOT feel that sense of merciless decay and the loss that is common to  Poe’s work, and it is artistically satisfying.

TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION originally came in 1976 (the year your beloved author was born) and was the first “project” from Alan Parson. This record is highly recommended to fans of horror, those who love the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and anybody who fondly remembers the concept rock of the 1970s. Progressive music rules baby!

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The Defenders of Vinyl Records

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When I was a small boy growing up, my mom and dad played records all the time. But if I told this to some kid on the street, his response would  be something like, “What the hell are those things?” So let me educate you. Dating back to 1877 when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, this device reproduced and recorded the sounds of music like no other. There ‘s much debating over digital quality versus analog (vinyl records). I have both. In fact I have way more mp3’s and CD formats than I do records. But up until the early 1990’s, vinyl was the most popular medium for buying music. I enjoy vinyl records because of the novelty of the crackles, hiss and pops. The combination of the needle and the record, create this beautiful harmony that transports you back in time to the old ways of our forefathers.

I especially remember that my mom and dad’s record player could hold up to five of those 12-inch albums at a time and after one finished playing; the next one resting in the queue device would drop down and play. That memory is so clear in my head. Anticipation of each track was an electrifying thing, like I was sliding on the surface of that large disc spinning around.

I have a friend named Mark who sums up his recollection of  listening to records, “Nostalgia of my childhood and looking through my brother’s albums and pouring over the lyrics.” I am sure that the defenders of vinyl can relate to those kinds of moments. I have always cherished the artwork that is plastered on the front and back of the album jackets. Sometimes inside you’ll find a thin booklet with the tracks, song lyrics and occasionally there would even have a brief write up about the album inside.

My grandpa had this antique radio/record stereo.  A Victrola made by the Victor Talking Machine Co. and the precursor to RCA Victor. Grandpa would play these old records from the 30’s and 40’s on it. Comedy and Jazz music is what I remember or maybe it was Swing. After all, he and grandma went square dancing so maybe that’s the kind of music he enjoyed playing. It sure was a big honking thing! It collected a bunch of dust too. But nonetheless it was a neat thing that played  78’s. The number signifies how many rotations per minute it spins around. This was quite  a spectacular device he had.

The needle scratching on an album, freshly pulled from its sleeve, used to be something only the older folks enjoyed, but that’s changing. Vinyl records sales are on a rising trend. It seems as though the media has finally woken up. I feel that people like me are starting to despise music in general today because it’s intangible leaving us music lovers to feel empty and lost. Another music buff, Brian from my high school days related this to me, “I still enjoy CD’s. I just feel that if I am going to spend money on an album I would like to have something physical in return for the money I paid unlike buying an MP3 album. Also, the liner notes/lyrics are nice to have and read while listening to the album. I’d probably feel the same about vinyl but I am not ready to start buying all of the albums I own on CD again on vinyl.”

Vinyl is not just limited to your mom and dad’s old Donna Summer or Jethro Tull LP’s or what is known as a long-playing microgroove record. A wide variety of artists, past and present, are on the cover of these albums. So why on earth would anyone want to hear the new Katy Perry album on a turntable when one can easily and possibly illegally download the music? Simply put, more folks are acquiring a taste for the analog sound. It’s richer and has a lot more human elements about it.

Personally, I feel that digital is not as good as analog. Many disagree with my sentiments for the quality of wax cuts. They say that, with digital technology, the sound is cleaner and crisp. That may be true. Digital music is just so robotic, automatic and it’s way less emotional. How do you connect with….ummm……..air? There is no fear related to digital music.  No need to be careful how you handle mp3’s at all. That’s what you miss with digital technology. There is a secret thrill of possibly destroying your record by scratching it.

The sizzle of success when laying the needle down is pure enjoyment that no one on the face of the earth can contest that an iPod is anywhere near as dangerously thrilling as that. I say this because the analog sound has an impact on how one feels because it connects to emotions in a warm and fuzzy sort of feeling. My friend and college roommate Brett once said, “The crackling sound the needle makes at the exact moment it makes contact with the record is something I will always cherish. You don’t get that sound with any other medium.” I couldn’t agree more.

Just pick an album on LP and see if it reminds you of something wonderful in your life: a first date, first kiss, or your teenage years. Mine was hearing Michael Jackson’s Thriller for the first time in the autumn while the fireplace was burning and we had just gotten back home from a haunted house. As a seven year old, I was bedazzled. Those are the memories you cant buy. Those are the things that records provide. With an LP, one feels the music more, and it generally enhances any previous appreciation for the music. What is the driving force behind vinyl’s rebirth? The sound? Not necessarily. I think it’s more of the relationship with tactile memories and the simple beauty of this kind of sensory experience with music.

Sometime around 2007, records made a comeback. They are now being produced more and more today. Out here in the burbs of Chicago there are still mom and pop shops selling records. There are several record shows held in hotel convention halls for the privilege of browsing through those rare and old collections of vinyl. Even kids in junior high today are making comments like, “Haven’t you heard the NEW rave? All the cool kids have these things called records!” As endearing that is to hear, I hate to break it to those 13 year old kids that when I was in junior high and even when my dad was in junior high, we were already familiar with these things called records. But it’s nice to know that this old technology is truly connecting with today’s culture.

Album sales at independent record stores always seem to rise during the weekend of Record Store Day, which occurs annually on the third Saturday of April, as a tribute to these independent record stores. We just experienced the fifth anniversary of this event last weekend. I was there and it was like a nice little street party in the middle of the night. Probably 200 of us showed up to grab some wax music. I grabbed some real nice treats. One of which I will explore in greater detail in my next blog entry. So whether its a popular thing or not a fashion at all, vinyl continues to prevail. I understand now that this kind of style is a reflection of American culture and that people just want to hold on to it’s beauty.

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Originally published on 4/26/12

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Therapy in a Song

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Everyone has a favorite song, at least I hope so. For what would this world be like without music? I can remember certain times in my life based primarily on a specific tune. These were always in the foreground for me. Whether I was at a dinner party, a grocery store, watching a movie or playing a board game. These songs tend to be in the background for most people but not for me. I hear every word and notice every nuance.

But how do they help shape my life? Did any particular song give you the strength you needed during a tough time? Was there a song playing when you told your girlfriend or boyfriend that you loved them for the first time? (Feel free to share your favorite songs when commenting on my posts). Music is all-encompassing for me.  Occasionally, I will try to start a new series for my blog. I will share what my beloved songs are. They are truly therapeutic.

So tonight’s tune…..Coney Island Baby  by Lou Reed

This is a really great song. It’s a nice simple sentiment about taking comfort from the people who believe in you even when you feel worthless. The guitar riffs are just out of sight. I can envision myself sitting by the ocean and starring at New York at sunset and getting the images of the coach and the princess at the carnival. They are characters in his short story of a six and a half minute song. I hear it and I freeze just to listen to it’s powerful words and the story Lou Reed is telling about passion, tastes, intimidation and most of all…love.

When I first heard “Coney Island Baby,”  I was 19 years old and in my second year of college. Sitting around in a friends’ dorm room smoking, drinking and relaxing. The groove of this melody was feeling comfortable to my ears. After I moved back home with my folks, I found myself hearing it more and more on stereos in cars, bars and at friend’s houses. I eventually bought a disc with this wonderful and magical song on it.  I even threw it in on a couple of mix tapes.

The song itself tells the story of teenage years in Long Island and the confusion that goes with it.  Am I going down the right path?  Do I fit in with my peers or am I following my own path? Which is what I do. I follow the beat of a different drummer, so I can relate to this song. This begins slowly with the mellow guitars and Reed’s soft voice and builds to a nice uplifting ballad. Despite its meaning, it is an awesome piece of work.

Lou Reed did a lot with the music group, The Velvet Underground, but his solo stuff in the mid to late 70’s was spectacular. And this song was truly his masterpiece because he was such an outsider from NYC. What do I mean? He was and always has been a brave story teller talking about the scums of Brooklyn and the wild parties and the horrors of drug use. It is so personal with Lou, and on this song, you hear him in his most emotional state.

I could go on for eternity about this song. But I won’t because I have other ones to talk about down the road. So do yourself a favor. Listen to this one and tell me why you hate it! Because I feel nothing but love for it.

Peace out

C-Note

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The Music of Independence Day Weekend

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Happy Birthday America! You are 237 years old! Over these past couple of centuries; we, as Americans, wrote A LOT of music. Patriotic music glorifying our devotion to embracing our freedoms! We are free. We have made so much progress as a civilization! It’s easy to take things for granted. When folks like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence; we declared ourselves a free nation no longer a part of tyranny. No more oppressive power taking over the mind of man. We are not a dictatorship! Church and State are separate! We have rights as humans here in the United States. Thou shall not kill or steal! We shall love one another and work together and help one another! Music will save us.

Some people often forget the true meaning of the Fourth of July and focus only on the BBQ ribs, fireworks, and picnics. While all of this is sensational, especially spending time with your loved ones under the brilliantly filled magical skies while sitting on a pontoon boat in the middle of the lake, we should not forget why we celebrate our holidays. I wrote a poem. A LONG one. I also developed, with the assistance of my wife, a nice and fitting patriotic playlist to honor this great nation of ours. Music most certainly will save us.

But first the epic poem:

What does America mean?

Duty calls
Brother dies
Diversity celebrated
Riots in the street
History and variety
Faults too
I believe in its greatness, however
Vote and be informed
Or misinformed
Equal rights for all
Opinions everywhere
Fly our flags
Burning the flags
Sing the anthem
Mock one another
Full of pride!
Gay pride parades ruined
By hate crimes
Car bombs during a nice picnic
Let’s appreciate its great beauty and
Throw a pop can out the window
Men and women are equal
According to the law
But there’s domestic violence
everywhere
Stand up and march
Someone’s going to spit on you
So many natural splendors in the USA,
Religious beliefs, and
Economic opportunities
We’re uniquely free
To rob a liquor store
Or shoot someone in the face
Guns are legal after all
We’ve come here from so many places,
Terrorists living among us
So many spaces,
Visit the ghettos
And survive a night
Gang initiations on the streets
Yet we live so well together
We can enjoy being ourselves
Smoking crack,
Vandalizing neighborhoods,
Go skydiving,
Make pancakes for breakfast
We’re not always perfect
But we’re definitely free
We are many people but
As Americans
We are one
One kingdom of exceptional philosophy and culture,
Matchless politics yet a divided house
The economy is in the toilet
Social values are corrupted by Hollywood
Beliefs are taking God out of text books
Institutions that desensitize us
These distinguish us from others?
Our way of life
We are perhaps the only source of hope left in the world
It’s sad really
And the clock is ticking
It’s our spirits and our souls that can keep us alive
Familiarize yourself to this way of life
Love this country above all others
Being American requires more than merely living
In this country
Or speaking English,
Or obeying the law,
Or even holding a job!
Sure, that’s a very good start!
Where’s the compassion, the balance,
Or the gardening? Not enough
But we cannot stray too far from the lines
Of values
Hate must not take over
The outside cannot destroy us
Or we are doomed
And if we weaken, let down our guard
And lose our freedoms,
Then it will only be because
We did it to ourselves…
God Bless America!

While this all seems a bit sarcastic and brutally true at the same time, I do LOVE my country and the memories it provides. Music for me always stirs up emotions and wonderful memories. So I have a playlist below that sums up AMERICA. I’ll list the 15 tracks here in the preferred order and include a video for one of them below. I think these songs are amazing representations of American culture and what we live for and fight for, everyday.

Oh and the 3 cute girls below are my three nieces. Amanda, Sydney and Samantha. They are awesome examples of Americans! Even they enjoy the music I share with them. Past and Present.

1Coming To America…..Neil Diamond
2Battle of New Orleans…..Johnny Horton
3American Pie…..Don Mclean
4City of New Orleans…..Steve Goodman
5This Land Is Your Land…..Woodie Guthrie
6Hallelujah…..Justin Timberlake & Charlie Sexton
7America The Beautiful…..Ray Charles
8Star Spangled Banner…..Whitney Houston
9Firework…..Katy Perry
10Living in America…..James Brown
11Rockin’ in the Free World…..Neil Young
12Born in the U.S.A……Bruce Springsteen
13Salute To The Armed Forces…..Various
14God Bless America…..Martina McBryde
15God Bless The USA…..Lee Greenwood

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