Archive for the ‘Just for fun’ Category

Dave Grohl on how to write a hit

February 17, 2011

 

“Most white people dance to the lyrics..” HA! Still, some good tips here from Mr. Grohl.

The Meaning of Christmas

December 25, 2010

 

I can’t say it any better than Linus! Merry Christmas!

Have a very Elvis Costello Christmas!

December 22, 2010

Elvis himself posted this on YouTube, so I assume he’s totally cool with it. Enjoy!

Rudolph (You Don’t Have To Put On The Red Light)

December 7, 2010

More holiday fun. Enjoy!

Hallelujah Chorus flash mob

December 3, 2010

Now THIS flash mob gets me into the Christmas season! Awesome display of the power of unexpected — and beautiful — music.

Johnny Cash’s simple life

November 1, 2010

This to-do list written by Johnny Cash is currently being auctioned, along with many of Cash’s personal items. At the moment, bidding is only at $600. What an item! It speaks volumes about the man.

Getting Better, indeed

October 22, 2010

It was never a single, this little slice of Beatles pop circa 1967, and it is never listed as among their greatest achievements. But for me, “Getting Better” sums up the optimism, the unfettered joy that the Beatles represented better than almost anything else they ever did. And, as a bonus, it features the perfect shorthand version of Paul and John’s relationship.

Recorded at Abbey Road in their ground-breaking sessions for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “Getting Better” really doesn’t break new ground musically or lyrically. It re-uses the almost mechanical, four-beats-per-measure percussion that Paul pioneered with earlier songs like “Got To Get You Into My Life” and “Penny Lane.” But in its metronome beat and soaring vocals, the song perfectly portrays that most elusive of emotions – joy.

And after Paul’s hyper-optimism (“Getting better all the t-i-i-ime”) comes John’s sardonic rejoinder: “Can’t get no worse.” A neater summation of the magic of that partnership can’t be found.

And so, apropos of nothing, I submit “Getting Better,” my personal theme song and the relentlessly perfect portion of joy.

John Lennon’s voice

October 8, 2010

As odd as it sounds, John Lennon never really liked his own voice.

He constantly pushed Abbey Road’s engineers to modify the sound of one of rock ‘n roll’s greatest instruments. Thus, the Lennon we’re most accustomed to hearing is typically double-tracked (“Eight Days A Week,” “Tell Me Why”) bathed in 50’s style echo (“A Day In The Life,” “Come Together,” “Imagine”) distorted (“I Am The Walrus”) run through a Leslie organ speaker (“Tomorrow Never Knows”) or even reversed (“Rain”).

As the story goes, he was so interested in altering the recorded sound of his voice that he once asked if his voice could be directly injected into the tape machine, bypassing the need for a microphone. Producer George Martin told him no problem, so long as a jack plug could be implanted into Lennon’s neck!

Given Lennon’s ambivalence, it is somehow ironic that to celebrate what would have been Lennon’s 70th birthday tomorrow, his widow, Yoko Ono, has chosen to remix the album they had just released when he was murdered in December 1980 — Double Fantasy — to focus more attention on Lennon’s voice. (The new mix is accompanied by a remastering of the entire Lennon solo catalog done by the same team at EMI that handled the Beatles’ excellent remasters).

The goal, Ono has said, was to strip away some layers of production to better highlight that voice.

Make no mistake – Lennon had a voice without rival for its emotional power. And his versatility is matched only by his one-time partner, Paul McCartney. Both Beatles were equally effective at blistering rock and tender balladry.

The new release, “Double Fantasy Stripped Down,” demonstrates once again that versatility. And in paring back on the production, some of the songs actually gain power.

“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” one of Lennon’s most tender songs, actually sounds bigger and more expressive in the new treatment. With some of the background instruments and harmony vocals stripped out, the elements that remain — the lead guitar, the “oriental” strums and, of course, the clean, intimate lead vocal — gain prominence.

In “(Just Like) Starting Over,” with the 50’s-style slap-back echo removed, the change in vocal timbre is arresting. In that song — which he dedicates in this version to “Gene and Eddie and Elvis… and Buddy” — the echo seems so closely intertwined with the song’s style that I find I miss it.

By contrast, in “I’m Losing You,” the reduction of such vocal effects tends to bring Lennon’s voice closer to the listener, as if he’s standing in the living room in front of you.

That intimacy is most apparent in “Woman,” where layers of electric guitar and background voices are removed, leaving that vulnerable voice set against shimmering acoustic rhythm guitar and simple bass and drum parts.

Ono has been quoted as saying that the remixing process, which she did with original co-producer Jack Douglas, was painful for her. It’s easy to see why. With that voice closer, seemingly, than ever, it’s impossible not to feel a lump in the throat — especially when Lennon sings such hopeful, future-focused lyrics.

Yes, “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” gains some power from its back-to-basics style. And for many who love Lennon still, that power comes with a measure of pain — even today, thirty years after he left us.

The power of unexpected music

September 15, 2010

Music can be most effective when it is unexpected — as in this seemingly impromptu wedding performance. L’chaim!

Damn the Torpedoes, a Tom Petty masterpiece

August 22, 2010

Here’s a promo for the new “Classic Albums” DVD, this one on Tom Petty’s third album, Damn the Torpedoes. I especially like the story of the genesis for “Refugee,” which came from a bluesy lick that guitarist Mike Campbell came up with after listening to an old Albert King song.

Hearing Campbell’s lick and chords, Tom Petty came up with the melody and lyrics, an effort “that might have taken 10 minutes,” he says. Classic!


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