I was born in May. As you know, I have loved music my entire life. For this quick playlist, I thought it would be interesting to come up with a list of songs by various artists who were also born during this delightful month. Let me get right to it!
1) Bob Seger…..Her Strut
2) Sid Viscious (of the Sex Pistols)…..Pretty Vacant
3) Steve Winwood…..Higher Love
4) Frankie Valli (Four Seasons)…..(Dawn) Go Away
5) Stevie Wonder…..My Cherie Amour
6) Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees…..Cities in Dust
(On a Side note….Siouxsie and I have the same birthday = May 27)
7) Billy Squier…..The Stroke
8) Bob Dylan…..Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
9) Ritchie Valens…..Donna
10) Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine…..she found now
Well thats it for now…..stay tuned for next week’s playlist. It’ll blow your mind!!!
So I’m walking through the office and this guy has a list by his desk of what he considers “the top ten greatest bands of all time!” He’s written down bands like Limp Bizkit, Journey and Creed. Just stuff that makes me want to puke! This other guy, who sits next to him; has his list too which is slightly better but I don’t like Lynyrd Skynyrd and I’m not really into rap like Woo Tang Clan or other things of that nature.
So there was a debate going on with the two guys standing there and my wife and this other girl. Who are the greatest bands of all time? Two of us previously had this other list going on, we called it the frisbee list which we tossed back and forth and kept adding albums to that we believe to be really good…….at least 70% of the way through it. Ones that you rarely skip through. Essentially they are excellent all the way to the end of the record. That was the criteria.
But the whole thing is subjective, honestly. The more people that get involved with the frisbee list, there is going to be so much criteria that too much conflict of interest will occur. My lists are simply a personal thing. I choose my favorite albums of a given year. Or I choose playlists of the month that indicate a mood or a feeling. There’s a difference between favorite albums and favorite bands. Because you have to look at all of their individual records and decide what percentage of them are AWESOME!!!
All of our opinions are different. Surveys, polls, interviews and contests won’t yield any true accurate result. It essentially would last forever, the process. You could just keep listing band after band after band. Led Zeppelin, The Who, Genesis, Metallica (are they the greatest heavy metal band of all time???) and you could drive yourself crazy with a list like that.
In fact, I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a top ten list. They are invalid. I’ll tell you why. How likely are we going to agree on all of the choices? Opinions are so wild. Let’s say you bring up The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. They seem to be the undisputed champions of the British Invasion. But then you forget about bands like The Kinks. Friggin LOU REED!! Now he was a genius!! I brought some of that up during the “discussion” at the office but that seemed to get shot down, among other artists I mentioned, like Megadeth (poor man’s Metallica? Really?) .
But coming up with lists are fun and we like to debate. Its an interesting way to IDENTIFY ourselves. We are all uniquely passionate about various artists. Criteria is very important. You can’t just say “these are my favorite bands” and that’s it. Could be only how you feel in that exact moment you announce those musicians. Or only what you remember. What if from several months from now your opinion greatly changes. Then what?
I wish people would focus on the dawn of music, more so. At least recorded music. Go back to the 1920’s. How about Louis Armstrong? An amazing Jazz innovator and trumpeter. Woody Guthrie, the folk movement. Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis, The Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane.
The bands on those lists in the office are just too specific to a certain time period. You can’t say that they’re the greatest bands of all time especially if you’re too zoomed in on a short period.
Is there a point to my babble?
You can’t ignore jazz. Take a music appreciation class that discusses the history of Rock and Jazz. Its important to learn about how things began. Appreciate the birth of rock and roll. How can you fully embrace what you listen to today without that knowledge?
My my top ten lists are only valid for my world. We listen to what we feel like.
Disagreements are okay.
I think many of us have come to the conclusion that the band Creed SUCKS!!! I don’t believe that most people today in America would say THAT band is one of the greatest groups of all time. In fact, I own the book entitled “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.” Creed is never mentioned. Just saying…
You got to live for today. Make your mixtapes for your friends. They’ll either like them or they won’t.
There was talk about The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sure I like them but I don’t worship them nor would I say that they were the defining band of my generation. That’s a bit much. But I did enjoy a couple of their records. Again…..more opinions. What about Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots. Its silly to only limit it to one band. Just personal favorite tastes. 31 flavors…like Baskin Robins. Ice cream. Tons of licks. Don’t all enjoy the same flavor but we all like ice cream.
If we took a look a several genres and chose 10 bands (artists) from each category we could use those artists as a springboard. Or even go by decades. But honestly, its an impossible mission. Music is always new. Even now as I write down these words, there are “up and coming bands” recording incredible sounds.
So I was listening to Paul Simon on the radio just moments ago and I was starting to think to myself, man there are a lot of albums out there! Like an unbelievable amount! Over the last century, at least! Not that long ago, I was trying to compile a list of the top ten albums that most people can agree on as being some of the best albums ever recorded. It yielded a lot of ones like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis for Jazz, The Beach Boys. All of those. But it always seems like I am putting something new on my iPhone or iPad device because I wanna hear something different, fresh and new. Perhaps a record I haven’t heard in a number of years.
So first and foremost, I am only speaking on behalf of myself but I look back when I was a kid and the music that I grew up with and this is sort of a continuation from a post maybe a few months ago where I was talking about what kind of music I like and I posted a bunch of videos from the stuff of the 1980’s. So I guess this is somewhat of a follow up to that but not really. Anyway, I was just thinking like…I got this book at home that lists over a thousand albums that you must listen to before you die. While I agree on a number of those choices…..you know….you got the popular ones, more obscure ones, artsy, experimental and blues. All that stuff. It’s hard to just decide. I feel it’s an OCD thing. There’s this desire of mine to catalog everything, own everything or have access to it all.
I have this hard time with playlists. Sure every month I seem to post a new playlist which I will be sure to do again, soon. But it’s like, I don’t know, I have a hard time with how all of these playlist will just be on my iPod device. It just sort of like frustrates me. It’s different from the days of having a shelf full of CDs or vinyl records. And you would put them in alphabetical order so if I want to listen to Alice in Chains, then I know it’s at the beginning and if I want to listen to Frank Zappa, then I know it’s at the end. Over the years we have been acquiring more digital music in the mp3 format. Most of us have converted our music over to that compressed digital world. I’m not entirely happy with that because it’s really just for convenient purposes. At least I have 3 small shelves of vinyl records at home. Over a hundred or so. I hope to build on that collection. While I am not exactly promoting vinyl here, it is certainly something that I favor. But even with those, I don’t own everything.
The point of this blog post is: how do we know what albums to listen to? When making mixtapes, how do we know what we’re supposed to put on them? I think times have changed since the 80’s and 90’s when we wanted to entice interest from a friend into a particular band or to communicate musically to a friend or just a way to express your feelings about life in that moment on that mixtape. So to get back to earlier, I was listening to Paul Simon on the radio. I’m thinking, a lot of folks out there love that album, Graceland. Michael Jackson’s Thriller is another example. You just start thinking about all of those classics like The Beatles, White Album and so on and so forth.
When is enough enough. Or is there ever enough? Maybe you just keep going out there and keep searching for more. One minute I will be listening to brand new Indie Pop music and that’s all I am gonna listen to for the next couple of weeks and suddenly jump into another obscure genre and start digging that for awhile. Why not check out some old time country music from the 1930’s? Maybe that’s what it’s all about. Whatever mood you’re in at a given time and place. Zappa’s Hot Rats right now. One of his biggest selling records! Ok now I feel like listening to Genesis. Now it’s time for Muddy Waters or some Louis Armstrong. Hey now I’m gonna listen to Cat Power! It’s like, is that ok to do? Perhaps it is. I don’t know. There’s really no rules. Not a law abiding method that I have to follow.
Maybe I just needed to get this off my chest. The Grammy’s were on recently and I was majorly disappointed, again. Awards do not validate the quality of music that I enjoy listening to. The circus shows of politics should not be mixed together with music. Gin and tonic goes well with Jazz. But gay marriage and hip hop at an award program seems out of place. IMHO. But anyway, after Simon played on the radio, the Smashing Pumpkins came on with a hit song, 1979. Again, two styles of music separated by 10 years. You do what you want to do. I could hang out with a bunch of friends that love listening to Miles Davis and some John Coltrane and be sound as a pound. Then I could run into someone else that wants to hear some Katy Perry and Imagine Dragons right now. My nieces are really into them as well. My parents, sister and wife are too.
I tend to gravitate towards Pink Floyd and Tool. Bands like that. But lately over the past couple years, I found myself listening to a lot of independent heroes like The Japandroids, Vampire Weekend and bands that are more to the left of the dial. Speaking of which, we have The Replacements to thank for that coined term. Don’t forget Husker Du and The Minutemen. I could go back and listen to those guys if I feel like it. I could grab their stuff, which is in digital format now, although I think I have a few on cd. When I say grab, I mean pluck it out of the computer, pop it into a device or listen to it on the radio. But sometimes I lose meaning and the point of a conversation and maybe that’s okay to start off and finish on two different notes.
I do know that this is all about music and I feel like moods play a role in it. So perhaps it’s all about the moods. Maybe it depends on what mood I am in and that’s what I listen to. There is no final end. I mean I guess when you’re dead it’s over. Just keep on trucking while you’re hear and alive. Lungs are pumping air in and out of you. You have ears that you haven’t lost much hearing to. At the end of March I will be attending a small club in Chicago, called The Empty Bottle. The Dum Dum Girls will be playing. I cannot wait! I can listen to those girls days on end but then I can easily move on to something else. I just know that I love to babble because I am good at it and it’s just what I do. Peace yo.
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:
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
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
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.