Category Archives: Music

What have you done for me lately?

Poor Obama.  So many fair weathered friends.  Everyone turning their back on you.  Everyone wanting to know…

So in case you needed a reminder, he’s done quite a lot.

 

Advertisements

Not To Be A Bitch But….

Madonna is trying to raise money for her charity, Raising Malawi. I think that’s super. I’m all for helping the underprivileged. I’m also all for the uber-rich helping the underprivileged which is why I’m confused.

To encourage her fans to part with $100,000 of their hard earned money, she has generously pledged up to $100,000 of her hard earned money to match the donations that she receives. Which is great and generous and wonderful and selfless until you consider that she’s worth over $325 MILLION!

Not to be a bitch but – write a damn check for $200,000 and call it a day!  Don’t make a video asking for my help. Don’t spend money to create and maintain a website to process the Pay Pal donations. Just write the check and drop if off the next time you’re there. In the mean time, my money will be freed up for another charity that needs some cash or better yet something that I’m passionate about.

I think Madonna should talk a page out of her friend Rosie O’Donnell’s play book. Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that that Rosie gives away a shit load of money. She funds her passions herself. She’s donated a rumored $50 million to different charitable causes and organizations. During an interview with CBS earlier this year, Rosie was quoted as saying,

“I was very lucky to make a lot of money. More money than any human should make,” she admits. “I have tremendous guilt issues about the money I have. And when I started making the money, I said to the money person, ‘If I’m ever on the Forbes list of richest people, you’re fired. I never want to be on that list’.”

Now, I don’t agree with the guilt part, but I do agree that when you get to a certain level of wealth, you really need to ask yourself, “How much do I need?” If you’re hoarding it just to have it, what’s the point.  If you have all that you need, give some of it away. And if you’re passionate about a cause, then by all means, fund your passion.

But don’t ask Joe Schmoe that has 23 years left on his mortgage and two kids to put through college to fund it for you. Fund it yourself.

Why?

Because you can!

RIP

Talk about a sad, strange news week.

Farrah

When I think of Farrah Fawcett, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Farrah Fawcett Styling Head that I got for Christmas back in the 70’s.

farahWhen your adolescence corresponded with the feathered hair phase of Americana, a doll to practice on was a good thing.  I remember sitting for hours in my bedroom redoing Farrah’s hair and makeup. I didn’t care that bra-less angels with handguns were threatening the feminist movement.  I just thought Farrah was beautiful and wanted her hairstyle.

I remember watching Charlie’s Angels, and how popular Farrah was back then but I honestly don’t recall how much media attention was paid to her to compare it to the media machine of today.  What I have noticed since the coverage of her death this week is how overly dressed she was as compared to the sex symbols of today.

For example, her most iconic, famous images are pretty conservative when compared to the photo spreads of today’s sex symbols.

img-mg---farrah-fawcett-11_130900601090 She’s in a one piece bathing suit for God’s sake.  Not naked with a artfully positioned necktie.  She’s smiling like a normal person and not looking at the camera in a sexual way.  She’s an adult and not a child posing for publicity.  Sure it was cold in the studio that day, but otherwise, her breasts don’t like like melons and aren’t spilling out from her suit.

It’s interesting to note that this photo was taken BEFORE she was famous.  Most young women on the cusp of fame show a hell of a lot more skin when they’re trying to get famous.  She kept a little mystery and it paid off.  This poster sold over 12 million copies

In a lot of her images, she’s fully clothed:

img-mg---farrah-fawcett-14_143708702480

In her later years she posed for Playboy a few times and had that unfortunate naked, art phase that did absolutely nothing for her acting career.  It might have paid some bills, but it didn’t get her much work, which proves my point in a way.  When she kept her clothes on her career thrived.  I wonder why the starlets of today, don’t think to do it that way as well?

Michael

I’ve got to admit, when I think of Michael Jackson, he’s always black.  I think of the guy from the Thriller album phase before the hair straighteners, skin lightening and excessive plastic surgery.  That’s the performer I appreciated and enjoyed. It almost pains me to see photos of him in his later years and I can’t imagine what else he would have done to himself had he lived.  As sad as it is that he’s dead, I’m glad that I don’t have to continue to witness his demise.

Last year I blogged about Michael Jackson when Thriller celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary so I’m not going to repeat myself.  It’s sad that he died young and didn’t have a chance at a comeback, although I’m doubtful that he was going to jump onto that stage in London and break new ground musically. From the sound of things he would have been lucky to complete the tour, so perhaps it was better that he didn’t collapse live on stage, in front of his fans.

It’s also sad that he’s left behind three children accustomed to living a bizarre existence that on top of mourning the death of their father, will be forced to adjust to a level of normalcy that might just shock the hell out of them at first.  I can only imagine the circus that’s in store for them and hope to God someone swoops in to act as their advocate with only their best interests in mind.

Chasing Junkies

margot2

Sunday night at the Cowboy Junkies concert, in Alexandria, VA, lead singer Margo Timmons told a funny story about her son.  It was the last stop on their tour before heading back to Canada for a few weeks off and her son was anxious for her to get home and basically wanted her to skip the show and head back earlier.  Since she couldn’t do that, she promised to sing him a song – any song he wanted.  He wanted her to sing one of the band’s new songs, the one about “all of the blood and bleeding”.

You hear a story like that and you don’t feel like a bad mom for leaving your kids home for the evening to hit a concert with a group of girlfriends.  I’m sure that little Edward probably knows on some level that folks haven’t been coming to hear his mom’s band for the past 20 years in search of pep or a warm and fuzzy feeling.  In fact at one point in the evening, Timmons announced that she was going to sing another, “sad song” because she loved them and she figured the fact that we were there meant that we all probably loved sad songs too.

It was a fun night with good friends and the first time I’ve heard the Junkies from a venue with seating.  I think all Junkie concerts should be in seated venues. It was nice to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.  The last time I heard them play live, I was still breastfeeding my daughter and distracted by my ballooning bosoms.  This time around I was able to go with the flow and get lost in the sound.

This concert was very different from last month when me and my friend, DeeAnn, took our daughters to an Adele show at the 9:30 Club in D.C.  First off we stood the whole time.  Secondly, the crowd was more diverse and although we saw a 75-year-old, shaking her groove thing, the average age of an Adele fan is much younger than the average age of a Junkie fan.

adele

Since Adele is only 20 herself, she gives off a different energy. When she’s talking with the audience it is as if the entire time she’s thinking, I can’t believe I’m on this stage, commanding this space and all of these people paid to see me. She’s new to the fame thing and although she’s a confident performer, you can tell that she’s just tickled to be there.  Her voice sounds like it originates from her toes and moves through her body and out her mouth where it literally knocks you out, yet she sort of leans against the mic like it’s really no big deal to throw those big, bluesy notes into the atmosphere.

Whereas Margo Timmon’s sound is ethereal and resonates from the neck up.  It’s a more angelic voice that seems to fly down from above and skip like a stone off her vocal chords before heading out to the audience.  Her stage presence is much different.  When the band takes a few minutes to rock out, she turns her back to the audience, takes a seat, and sips her tea, almost to say, “Well boys will be boys, so I’m going to let these guys have their moment.  Let me know when they’re done and I’ll get back to singing.”  She’s in her third decade of performing.  She can turn her back on the audience and trust that they’ll be there when she turns around.

After all of the manufactured, lip syncing performances of the inauguration and The Super Bowl, is was so nice to listen to a live performance.  There were some sound issues and sometimes words were lost in the shuffle.  Adele warned us that one of her songs was written about someone she can’t stand so sometimes when she sings it she gets a little pissy and forgets the words.  At one point during Something More Besides You, Timmons did forget the words so she did what anyone would do.  She laughed and said, “Shit,” before finding her place in the song.

These last few weeks have reminded me how much I enjoy concerts and hearing what a performer sounds like outside the studio.  That’s the whole point of seeing someone live.  You want to get a feel for their personality outside of the music.  You want to know if they really do have the chops or if their CD was filled with a shit-load of post production.  And frankly as a parent I loved taking my kid to a show to see someone that wasn’t stick thin with matrix-style choreography that distracts from the music.  I want her to see that girls with amazing abilities can do their thing, their own way on their own terms.  So we start with gals like Adele and hopefully we’ll get to to a Junkies concert someday.

At least my eldest will be able to say that she went to her first concert with one of her best friends at a DC night club – she’ll just have to leave out the part about her mom being there.

Cowboy Junkies

51neycekbvl_ss500_.jpg

About 14 years ago a friend dropped off her copy of The Trinity Session by The Cowboy Junkies. I was distracted by work and home improvement projects and deadlines and trying to start a family when I was pulled into this fantastic album by an amazing yet underrated band. I immediately fell in love with The Cowboy Junkies and for a while kept up with them. I bought CD after CD and saw them live whenever I could but since Margo Timmons, the lead singer, doesn’t exit limos without her underwear and band mates Michael and Pete Timmons and Alan Anton don’t trash hotel rooms and have affairs with supermodels, the Junkies don’t often make the news and I lost track of them.

51hrei9yw9l_ss500_.jpg

Recently, I was browsing around NPR when I learned that Trinity Revisted (a CD and DVD set) was released to celebrate the 20 years since the band huddled around one microphone inside Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity and created their spectacular album. To top it off, they invited guests Natalie Merchant, Ryan Adams and Vic Chesnutt to reinterpret their sophomore effort while letting the passing of two decades reshape their own approach to the songs.

41ax79aciul_aa240_.jpg

While making my purchase, I came across another of their CD’s entitled The End of Paths Taken and decided I’d download it while I waited for Trinity Revisted to be shipped from Canada.

Holy shit. I can’t stop playing this CD.

And that’s saying something because unlike the old days when changing a song meant – rewinding, fast forwarding, or taking a large piece of black, round, plastic out of a sleeve, putting it on a player, counting the song numbers, counting up the corresponding sections on the record then placing the needle exactly where I needed it to be – I have about 2000 songs at my fingertips. I can change a song at the blink of an eye and often do. To continuously listen to the same CD over and over says something.

This CD is about what it’s like to be sandwiched between parents that are winding down their lives and children who are yet to discover all that life has to offer and what that ultimately means. In his usual poetic way, Michael Timmins’ lyrics help us to feel something on a deeper level without over saturating the songs with sentiment. I think that’s why I like them so much. They tell the truth even when the truth isn’t so pretty.

On My Only Guarantee we’re told:

Another day
Of pure energy
What wears most
Is the constancy
A bigger job I’ve never had
A bigger burden I could not drag
My only guarantee: I will fuck you up

God I remember those days when my kids were toddlers that never stopped and sucked the life from me. I would do my best to keep my cool and eventually tears would be the result of harshly yelled words that spilled from the mouth of a stressed out, novice mother. I would lay in bed at night cringing as I replayed the tape from the day and think, Damn these girls are going to definitely need therapy.

Thus this song should be required listening for all soon to be parents. You may try not to fuck up your kids, but on some level, in some area of life – you will – because just like in life, there will be some aspect of parenting that you will most definitely suck at.

That’s the truth. I like that the Junkies just put it out there without apology or explanation.

In a world of way too much hype The Cowboy Junkies are the anti-hype band. If you’ve ever seen them live you know that I’m speaking the truth. Margo will occasionally stand when she sings, but otherwise she’s on her chair next to her fresh flowers calmly singing while the guys play in the background, heads down and focused such that you’re lucky if you get a glimpse of their faces. Then after the show, they’ll happily come out and sign whatever you want while meeting and greeting their fans. This calmness takes over the fans that will patiently stand there, nicely waiting their turn in line.

The band just wants to make music, sell records and do their thing. I’m guessing that 20 years of being left alone to do this is why they’re so damn good. Maybe fame and fortune would’ve gotten in the way. Maybe in this crazy, hyped up world, The Cowboy Junkies trust us to slow down and linger a while as needed. Because they care less about trends and more about truth, they are able to remind us of who we are warts and all. They don’t seem to mind that we’re not perfect. So much so, they trust that we’ll discover them or in some cases rediscover them exactly when we’re supposed to:

Raise your eyes to a moonless sky
and try to wish upon a rising star
Search all you want for her blessing
but you won’t find her sparkling there
Now cast your eyes to a part of the sky
where nothing but darkness unfolds
and watch as all around you
she reveals the brilliance of secrets untold

From the song Crescent Moon

Happy Birthday Thriller

There was a point in my life where you couldn’t see the pink paint on my bedroom walls. Every inch of wall space was covered with posters, many of which were of Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson

The old Michael Jackson. When he was ebony not ivory, had a nose and was the most innovative, amazing, exciting performer on the planet. You know, back when he was actually friends with Paul McCartney. When he not only wanted to be starting something, but actually did.

I can’t believe that it’s been 25 years since Thriller came out. Then again, I picked up my anniversary copy at Costco last night which means I AM as old as dirt, getting my music from warehouse clubs at discount prices while out with my kids buying supplies for their school Valentine’s party.

During our drive home in my minivan, I was really talking up the King of Pop. No one was interested. At all. So I made my daughter watch the Thriller video before school this morning. She kept yawning and rolling her eyes. She ran out to catch the bus before I could force her to view his legendary, kick ass, moonwalking performance at the Motown 25 special.

Interestingly enough, my middle-school-aged daughter had a project due today. She had to interview someone about their middle school experience. I pulled out my year books and a box of pictures and watched as she compared my old world with hers. The iPod’s of my day were boom boxes larger than microwave ovens that you carried on your shoulder. Phones had rotary dials and were attached to the wall. We didn’t sing about Stupid Girls because we were too busy singing about Jesse’s and although our jeans were dark blue they weren’t the more flattering boot cut style and instead were straight legged and less enhancing to the figure.

I’m sure that skipping down memory lane this weekend made me especially drawn to Jacko’s CD last night. I couldn’t help myself. I even tried to convince my kids that there in my sweaty little hand was a musical genius. They didn’t believe me. If he was so great, why was he re-releasing something 25 years old and not dropping his latest CD?

They have a point. Jesus Michael. What happened? I thought you’d be around forever, making music, teaching us new dance moves and dazzling us. But I guess like the rest of us, you’re just old. Or like those ladies that still use blue mascara and hot rollers or a mulleted co-worker, some folks will always be stuck in the 80’s because frankly, they peaked there.

Musical Discoveries

Ever heard of Tift Merritt?  Me neither until I stumbled onto Pandora, a site created by the musical genome project which has classified the musical "genes" of songs from over 10,000 artists.

"Together our team of fifty musician-analysts have been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every song. It takes 20-30 minutes per song to capture all of the little details that give each recording its magical sound – melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics … and more – close to 400 attributes!" ~ From ‘About Pandora’ at www.pandora.com

Pandora told me that I would like Tift because I’m a fan of the Cowboy Junkies.  Apparently they have similar musical DNA and thus Merritt might appeal to me.  Another match for the Junkies was Rosanne Cash, a singer I’ve certainly heard of but never listened to before.  Yet after hearing her vocals next to Margo Timmon’s, lead singer of the Junkies, I must admit that they sound similar.  So yeah, I might just end up downloading some Roseanne Cash from ITunes later today.  And frankly, Tift Merritt sounds a little like Lucinda Williams, another artist I enjoy.  Coincidence? 

I also noticed that The Dave Mathews Band pops up a lot when I’m listening.  Although I’m not a huge fan my brother and his fiance are.  Huh?  We, as well as our musical tastes, are related?  Interesting. 

Another cool feature is that every time I click on a "station" that I created, new songs with similar genes are played.  So as I type this I’m listening to Never Saw It Coming by The Jesus and Mary Chain from their album, Stoned and Dethroned, a song that wasn’t playing yesterday.  In other words, log on and listen while you work or surf and you’ll be exposed to lots of great, new music each day. 

I’m glad this site is around because the older I get the less I listen to the radio.  I tend to  patronize artists I’m accustomed to and ignore the new sounds coming out.  I don’t watch MTV since they never play music videos anyway and their VP of programming obviously has his head up his own ass, so I don’t "discover" music like I used to.  I assumed that my kids as they age will expose me to new sounds, but Pandora gives me the opportunity to beat them to the punch.  Maybe even expose them to something cool and different as well.

If you want to expand your musical IQ check out their Pandora Podcasts.  Just today I learned the difference between tutti and unison harmony and now know that counterpoint harmonies occur in The Beach Boy’s song, Good Vibrations as opposed to Gladys Knight and the Pip’s call and response harmonies in Midnight Train To Georgia.   Music majors, amateur singers or plain old music lovers can learn a lot through this unique site.      

Warning:  If you’re a control freak this site will frustrate you.  Pandora’s music licenses permit them to stream entire songs, but only so many per hour and although you can forward through songs, you can’t go scroll backward.  Relax and trust that you’ll stumble on exactly what you need to hear. 

Continue reading