Archive for the 'Music' Category

Gary Numan’s “Cars”

August 13, 2012

First off, a bit of clarification.

I was asked to present 500 words on “this” with a Youtube link to the official music video of Gary Numan’s “Cars” attached to it.

I truly felt like being a smart ass and talking about the idea of linking streamed videos in social media, but I just don’t have the guile for it tonight.

Plus, the music and video are just so good that I can’t help gushing about it.

Gary Numan started out in punk music, which is a little weird because he is considered one of the pioneers of commercial electronic music. The story goes a little something like this:

If I remember correctly what I picked up from my days of compulsive VH1 viewing (you know, before it started playing “Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab” and crap like that), Gary went into the studio with a complete album full of music to record, but stumbled upon a synth that someone had left there. He fell in love with the sound, scrapping the entire punk album and writing a new album of electronic music.

That’s the wife’s tale, at least.

“Cars” just happened to be the first song he plunked out on the old analog synth, and it just so happened to be his biggest hit.

The music itself was almost a culmination of all the things that were right with popular music in the 1980’s. It was Styx without the cheese. It was Wang Chung with better lyrics.

It was nothing like Boy George.

It was great!

And it passed around the world like The Clap! That song and video probably went straight to the top of some charts in some country.

Now, the music video is a bit of a different story. Where the song went right, the video kept going wrong.

It basically embodied everything that was wrong with the 1980’s.

Bad video quality, cheesy graphics, big hoop earrings in men, White-Out covered face, goth make up. It was just bad.

And what’s with that ridiculous tambourine with the picture in it spinning around and leaving a trail across the screen like my old Gateway used to do a decade ago when one program would crash and I’d drag another window across it.

Or in those old Solitaire games for Windows. You’d finally win, and the cards would shooting back out of there slots, bouncing around the screen and leaving them trails of pictures behind them.

Guess what, Gary. It wasn’t cool to me when my computer did it (whether it meant to or not), and it wasn’t cool to ANYONE ANYWHERE when you did it in your music video in the 1980’s. Please remember that if you ever get a chance to travel back in time and change your music video.

Believe me, it’ll happen. VH1 had a special about that, too. It was sandwiched between “Behind the Music” and “Pop-Up Video.”

ghjr

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This is not included in the 500 word limit.

You can all thank Samantha Halpenny for this post. It’s her fault that it happened.

Not like it’s a bad post, mind you. Or a bad subject.

But if you don’t like it, don’t blame me. It’s Sam’s fault.

Truly ghjr

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Best Concert I’ve Ever Been To

June 18, 2012

I’m going to cheat, and I’m not going to hide it.

I’ll be upfront about it.

I can’t boil it down to ONE best concert, so I’m going to cheat.

Keep that in mind, and I’ll proceed as normal.

The TWO (note the clever slate) best concerts I have ever been to aren’t symphonic in any nature, although I have been to plenty of those.

I’ve been a fan of classical and orchestral music for a long time, but many times I have trouble relating to the emotions and thoughts behind a piece.

No problem for Dvorak or Stravinsky, but many others fail to connect.

The two best concerts were the July 2010 performance of The Flaming Lips at Trib Total Media in Pittsburgh and the September 2009 so-called “Lottery Show” by The Decemberists at Terminal 5 in New York.

While each were absolutely amazing, I’m afraid I can’t choose between the two.

Both bands have held the coveted spot of “Greg’s Favorite Band… For the Time Being” at some point in their careers, and both are amazingly skilled and gifted in what they do.

The fact is this: the Flaming Lips show was an acid-soaked mindfuck from Mars that occurred in several Inception layers, and the Decemberists show was full of witty banter, long-lost gems, heart, spirit and impromptu songwriting.

The Flaming Lips are noisy and outrageous, and the Decemberists are generally more reserved, poignant and silver-tongued.

Now, I’ve written extensively about the Flaming Lips show in question. You can find that here.

Sorry for the self-bump, but I’ve said all I can say about that one, and I need some word space for one I’ve kept to myself.

The Lottery Show was a one-shot of simple, yet stark, brilliance.

All the bands songs are written on wiffle-balls (“the Balls of Diablos!”), placed into a giant bingo ball spinner and pulled at random by John Wesley Harding. The band would be obliged to play the song, much like I am obliged to write what you ask me to write.

Of course, there was a bit of cheating. John pulled and pulled balls for the last song until he pulled the 18 minute masterpiece “The Tain,” which may have been the highlight of the show.

Of course, for the encore, all the musicians came back for a rousing rendition of “Mr. Blue Sky,” by Electric Light Orchestra, one of the bands that had tremendous influence on the career of singer/songwriter Colin Meloy.

They even had a vocoder for the weird vocoder part.

And John even joined in.

Of course, the audience did as well.

And even after 2 or more hours of playing, they still bounced and crooned as if they were having as much fun as the audience.

I think I can speak for most of them when I say it was well worth the $50 and the hideous drive through Jersey.

ghjr

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This is not included in the 500 word limit.

Thanks to Sam Jones for this wonderful challenge.

I feel like 500 words would be an injustice to either concert, let alone both, but it had to be done.

And, for the record, Sam was at the Flaming Lips concert with me.

So was Jimmy.

So was Tiny Seth Greene.

Truly ghjr

Billy Joel

June 11, 2012

There have been so many questions that have rippled throughout the cosmos as time has withered away through the eons.

What’s the meaning of life? Why are we here?

If you created a gun that shoots knives and shot someone with it, would the cause of death be shooting or stabbing?

Hard hitting questions, indeed.

However, none of these questions burn with the ferocity of the controversy that has smoldered for the last two decades:

Billy Joel or Elton John?

Now, I think we all know which side of the issue I fall upon, but this time around, I feel compelled to take time to ponder the other side of the fence, the man that falls short for me every time.

Now, Billy Joel is a very talented man. He’s written some of the most well known songs of our time, and even some that perfectly summarize the events or trends of America in the last 50 or so years.

I can’t take that away from him. No one can.

Not even his DUIs and that time he drove his car through a building can do that, especially because I’m not sure if it really happened or if the writers for SNL made it up.

Regardless, Horatio Sanz was amazing as Billy Joel.

I’ve got to admit that “Piano Man” has always been one of my favorite songs, just behind “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “Iron Man,” “Tax Man,” “Nowhere Man,” and “Macho Man.”

I don’t know what it is about “Piano Man” that I love so much. Maybe it’s the storytelling. Maybe it’s realizing that the crippling sense of loneliness and the need to belong to something larger than you, that terrifying depression and icy prickling of sadness crawling down your back every time you take a swig or lie in bed at night, freezing and alone, is just something that we all experience from time to time, a universal feeling that flows through the hivemind of humanity like a raging tornado of death and feces, a storm that hits once every few months, rolling right over you and continues on to the next poor soul.

Or maybe it’s just the harmonica.

Who cares? It’s a great song, and that’s what truly matters.

And honestly, Billy’s got plenty of great songs.

I remember singing one a long time ago in choir. I think it was my first semester in the class, back when we had a great teacher and a great lot of section leaders.

My, how the class fizzled after semesters upon semesters of tired music and strapping my fat self into a tuxedo and parading around under hot lights for hours at a time.

No matter. That first semester, singing “And So It Goes,” that was would I’d call great times.

Making music and doing it damn well.

That’s what Billy’s good at.

Still, I like Elton just a bit better.

 

ghjr

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This is not included in the 500 word limit.

Thanks to Sam Jones for this one, even though she expected it a month ago on Billy Joel’s birthday.

It’s out of my hands, Sam.

I just do what I’m told.

Truly ghjr