John Frusciante (Part 1 of Infinity)

 

His guitars are simply an extension of his being, like a limb.  His passion and soul are so immense, that at times I find it almost overwhelming to watch him.

So, needless to say, there will be many, many more posts about John Frusciante and his work in the future.  However, today I came across these extremely rare music videos from his third solo album, “To Record Only Water for Ten Days” from 2001.  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone removes these videos from YouTube soon (due to fear of copyright infringement or some BS along those lines), so I had to share them with my loyal followers before they were sent into the black hole of the Internet, never to be seen again.

Enjoy!

All around you is to feel and watch you
They make patterns to peel the sound
And I find it a pain that goes along
With being in chaos’s order
I’ve a field now to realize in
Watch the main jump
It has fears of you being there rising up
Like who you’re introduced to saying goodbye
All again and you’re always free now
I didn’t fake this so you could fade away
I’ve been careful to take what I’ve spent
I remember every end
I’m pretending to face something
I’ve been looking straight in it’s eye
Moments have you to play around with
Cuz inside actions there’s no time
I’ll evade you to create a reason
I hear you inside a space
An instant is forever now
A future fluctuates
Glimpse your motion
Sitting down
It’s like framing a pear
Or saving sounds
I defy you to realize it
How a shattering creates a song
I’ve been used to help the body
Of work that will never be
A lapse of the most confused kind
Has reserved feelings jumping around
The first type plays around the souls
They have fun with everyone you know
A knot only found
Never made
Everyday we reload feelings
When we play
 
 
You don’t throw your life away 
Going inside 
You get to know who’s watching you 
And who besides you resides 
In your body 
Where you’re slow 
Where you go doesn’t matter 
’cause there will come a time 
When time goes out the window 
And you’ll learn to drive out of focus 
I’m you and if anything unfolds 
It’s supposed to 
You don’t throw your time away sitting still 
I’m in a chain of memories 
It’s my will 
And I had to consult some figures of my past 
And I know someone after me 
Will go right back 
I’m not telling a view 
I’ve got this night to unglue 
I moved this fight away 
By doing things there’s no reason to do 
 
 
 
 
Did I mention that he’s a genius?
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A Guitar Named “Grohl”

Yes, I named my brand new Mitchell acoustic “Grohl”.  And yes, I’m sure that his reaction to that would be something along the lines of “Shut the fuck up.”

But you can’t deny…  they do kind of look alike.

Let me start at the beginning…

So last Monday (you know, Kurt Cobain Day – or, to the rest of the United States, “President’s Day” – Oh gosh, how unpatriotic am I?) I had off from work.  I figured I’d take advantage of my day, hopped on the 6 train, and traveled down to 14th Street.  I have to admit, I had never been to Guitar Center before.  Since I’ve been attempting to learn rock songs on a nylon string Kiso-Suzuki classical from the late 1960s, that had been passed down to me from my sister, who’s father (yes, different fathers, same mother) had passed it down to her when she was in high school, I figured it was time to get my ass to a guitar store and get an acoustic that fit me and my goals a little better.  Don’t get me wrong, the classical was a great learning tool, and unless anyone asks for it back, I plan on hanging on to that puppy for as long as possible. But I digress…

So I walked into this place, and if you’ve never been, I suggest you go.  There are guitars freaking everywhere- all over the walls, on display all over the floor, and people just hanging out all over the place playing them, like one giant, unsynchronized jam session.  I walked into the clearly labeled “Acoustic Room”, that somewhat resembled a log cabin that James Taylor would rent for a weekend, and this guy walked up to me and asked me if I needed any help.  At first I said “No thank you,” acting like I actually knew what I was doing and what I was looking for (Ha!) But after about 10 minutes of walking around and bashfully picking up random guitars amongst some clearly accomplished musicians, I finally sought the help I clearly needed.  The salesman, David, who turned out to be incredibly knowledgeable and helpful, pointed me towards a very traditional, spruce top, acoustic Mitchell guitar. I immediately liked the feel of it, but, if you know me at all, you know I’m not going to go for anything “basic” or “traditional”.  So he pointed me towards another Mitchell, but this one had a vintage Sunburst finish, which I thought was both beautiful and kind of bad ass at the same time. I knew that was my guitar when I saw it, but my decision was confirmed even more so when he told me that the one on display was the last one.

We then made our way into the adjacent “Vintage Room” where he showed me how to restring it.  He also set me up with a humidifier, a gig case, and a hand full of free picks.  While he was ringing me up, I took a look around and snapped a couple of shots of some of the guitars that were on the walls.  Some of them were really freakin sweet… and all of them were very expensive.

  

My favorite was that seafoam green Fender Telecaster (right).  If I were a lefty with an extra $14,000 kicking around, that guitar would be in my apartment right now.

As for the naming my new toy “Grohl”…

I have been a huge Dave Grohl fan ever since his days as Nirvana’s drummer (baby Grohl), and I’ve always been a fan of the Foo Fighters. But aside from the fact that he’s a very well-known, accomplished and talented musician, my favorite thing about him is his general aura.  I know that sounds weird, since I’ve never met the guy, but any interview I’ve read or seen, he just seems like such a chill dude.  He’s not remotely arrogant.  He’s charismatic, funny, down-to-earth, and just totally real. Below are a couple videos that prove my point.

“Life’s a Bitch” – Yeah, good luck getting that out of your head for at least the next 48 hours…

I love everything he says in the Nylon interview about the rise of the Internet and blogging and the ability to have an opinion and a voice no matter who you are. That genuinely inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing – writing, playing, learning. I also love that the Foo Fighters just won 5 Grammys for an album that they recorded in his garage. And these are the reasons why I named my guitar Grohl.

Dave, you’re the man.

Maraqopa

Quick post for now – but everyone needs to check out Damien Jurado’s new album, Maraqopa, officially released yesterday.  This guy is phenomenal.

I’ve included a little sampling of a couple of his older songs, as well as some of his newer work below.  If you’re at all into indie/folk rock, be prepared to get hooked, ladies and gents. Seriously, he’s awesome.

From Maraqopa:

You can purchase his new album here.

Also, an FYI to all my fellow New Yorkers: He will be playing in NYC at the East Village’s Mercury Lounge on May 19th!  Click here for more info.

Man on the Moon (Celebrating the Life of Kurt Cobain)

   

When Kurt Cobain was a kid, he could make his entire family and all of his friends laugh until they cried with his Latka impersonation. If you didn’t grow up in the 70’s, then you might not be particularly familiar with the T.V. show, “Taxi”, in which comedian Andy Kaufman played the part of a foreigner with a questionable multiple personality disorder, among other things.  It was a goofy, ridiculous character, and Kurt nailed it. Kurt was extremely funny, artistic, creative, outgoing, and always putting on a show – at least for his first ten years, which he and others have described as the happiest time of his life.

Reportedly, before Kurt ended his own life on April 5, 1994, he listened to one last song- R.E.M.’s “Man on the Moon“.  If you were around in the 90’s, then you definitely know this song.  After they recovered his body a couple days later, his wife, Courtney Love (who later played Lynne Margulies – Andy Kaufman’s girlfriend in the movie “Man on the Moon”, staring Jim Carrey) found the disc, Automatic for the People, still in the CD player.

This poetic symmetry is one of many poetic things Kurt Cobain left with the world.  He was a brilliant lyricist.  In fact, in any pole or list I’ve ever seen regarding the top lyricists in music history, Kurt almost always falls somewhere within the top 20. He was also a very gifted artist, even from a very early age.  There is a Cobain family story about when Kurt was six years old, and he drew a picture of Donald Duck for his grandfather.  Leland Cobain couldn’t believe that this picture was not traced, due to it’s accuracy and near perfection.  Kurt sat down and drew a picture of Goofy right in front of his grandfather.  It was a defining moment in everyone else’s recognition that this boy was not just your average kid.

His parents’ nasty divorce and the baggage that came with it ultimately lead Kurt into a downward spiral.  Since there was a significant history of depression within his family, this sense of loss and confusion hit Kurt harder than most.  Growing up in Aberdeen, Washington, a somewhat “down-on-its-luck” timber mill town, there wasn’t a ton to do.  Even after discovering some of his artistic and musical talents, Kurt got caught up in the party, drug and alcohol scene. But most significantly, he refused to conform.

In a weird way, his numerous experiences as a teenager rebelling against the norm ultimately transformed him into the voice of an entire generation. When Nirvana was formed, grunge was born. He didn’t know it then, but the music he created and left behind changed everything people knew about rock’n’roll. Is Nirvana’s music sad? Angry? Sarcastic? Funny? Truthful? All of the above. It was the early nineties.  Teenagers were wearing Converse sneakers, ripped jeans, vintage concert t-shirts and old-man cardigans. He was an icon, a star, a legend.

I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt says it best in this video (see 1:55 mark):

So today, Kurt, I dedicate my blog to you.  I am so sad that you’re not around to see your influence on music, but I thank you for what you left behind.

Happy Birthday.

A Girl and Her Banjo-Playing Horse (This Week’s Playlist)

Grand Central, 42nd Street 6 train stop (I love New York)

Happy Saturday, everyone! So if you’re thinking to yourself, “Alex, why are you writing while they’re streaming live footage of Whitney Houston’s ‘private’ funeral right now?”, my answer would be, “Because it’s too weird.”  Hey, if her ex-husband and father of her child wasn’t invited (at least according to reports)- even despite their publicly tumultuous relationship- why should I be allotted virtual attendance?  I’m sure they will re-cap it to an appropriate extent on E! later tonight, so maybe I’ll watch that…

Anyway, that’s my opinionated rant for the day.

In other news, I’m really feeling this Guns N’ Roses online concert for charity.  If you haven’t heard, the band has a show at Chicago’s House of Blues tomorrow night, and with a $5 fee, the public can watch a live stream of their concert on their website.  All proceeds from internet viewership will go to Feeding America.  I love this!  If you’re interested, you can visit their official website for more information:  Guns ‘N Roses – Concert for Charity

If you’re interested in checking out some of the stuff I’ve been listening to recently, here’s this past week’s playlist. Enjoy!

Lana Del Rey, “Diet Mountain Dew

Jack Peñate, “No One Lied

Lia Ices, “Wish You Were Here” (Pink Floyd cover)

Beach Fossils, “Shallow

Michael Kiwankuka, “Whole Lotta Love” (Led Zeppelin cover)

Dr. Dog, “Shadow People

Gorillaz, “Crystalized” (The xx cover – the original happens to be one of my favorite songs of all time)

Boy & Bear, “The Storm

Damien Jurado, “Caskets

Class Actress, “Let Me Take You Out

Flight Facilities feat. Giselle, “Crave You

John Frusciante, “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World” (Ramones cover)

Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Under the Bridge” – an oldy but goody*

M83, “We Own the Sky

Del Rey – Yay or Nay?

So let’s start with the obvious points.  She’s beautiful, has great personal style, and makes (in my opinion) really cool music videos.  Her song titles are… uhh… interesting, I suppose? Over the past 5 months, she has graced the covers of several magazines, including Billboard, Time, and Vogue (just to name some of the less relevant ones…) And many would say that, if you saw her on Saturday Night Live a few weeks back, it’s clear that she hasn’t exactly gotten her live performance skills down quite yet.  There’s no arguing that she’s a bit different from what we media sheep have become accustomed to over the past three decades or so. And it seems, at least to the untrained eye (and ear), like she sort of came out of nowhere.

But what do we really know about this chick, Lana Del Rey?

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Grant was born in New York City on June 21, 1986. She grew up in Lake Placid, New York, and ultimately attended Fordham University. In several recent interviews she has stated that her father, Rob Grant, a well-to-do New York investor, really supported her early career.  When she was 19, she performed at an open mic night at Williamsburg’s Lilo Lounge with her acoustic guitar.  Apparently she caught the attention of numerous patrons that evening, and was asked to come back.

In 2010, she recorded her first album, Lana Del Rey A.K.A. Lizzy Grant under an indie label, 5 Points, with producer David Kahne – who has produced records for big names like Paul McCartney, Sublime, Stevie Nicks and The Strokes.  Despite this seemingly slam-dunk combo, it actually did not pick up a ton of mainstream media attention.  The album was even available for purchase on iTunes for a brief period of time, thanks to marketing assistance she received from her father – but it wasn’t selling, and was ultimately withdrawn.  Lizzy ended up buying the rights to her music from the label, as to avoid future distribution by anyone but herself.

By June 2011, Lizzy Grant had changed her name to Lana Del Rey,  had a somewhat new look physically, and signed with Stranger Records.  In October she released her single “Video Games“.  And the rest is history.

She is one of the hottest names in the music industry right now.  However, many critics are disagreeing with her seemingly “overnight” success.  In fact, she received a ton of criticism after her performance on Saturday Night Live last month – with critiques saying that she “wasn’t ready”, and some describing the performance as “one of the worst SNL musical guests of all time.” You can check out Kristen Wiig’s portrayal of Lana Del Rey on SNL’s “Weekend Update” three weeks after her musical appearance on the late night comedy show here: Kristen Wiig as Lana Del Rey (SNL)

However, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, some fans and supporters have gone so far as to dub her “the modern-day Nancy Sinatra.”

What do you think?

“So Get Off Your Rich Asses and Let’s Have Some Fun” (The 54th Annual Grammy Awards)

ImageBruno Mars performing “Runaway Baby” from his album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans

ImageChris Martin of Coldplay & Rihanna performing their colaborative “Princess of China”, off Coldplay’s 2011 album, Mylo Xyloto

ImageDave Grohl of Foo Fighters performing their award-winning single, “Walk”

The always amazing Adele performing her single “Rolling in the Deep”

ImageDeadmau5 performed with the Foo Fighters, and then jammed solo to the song “Raise Your Weapon”

I have to say that I was surprisingly impressed with the 2012 Grammy Awards. Above, I’ve listed some of my favorite performances of the night.  I, of course, went into the show with my fingers crossed for the Foo Fighters.  I always feel like rock (I mean ROCK rock) is extremely underrepresented at main-stream music award ceremonies.  However they clearly did not need any help from me, since they ended up taking home 5 awards, including Best Rock Performance for “Walk,” Best Rock Song for “Walk,” Best Long-Form Video, Best Rock Album for “Wasting Light,” (which was recorded in its entirety in Dave Grohl’s garage) and Best Hard Rock and Metal performance for “White Limo“.

Adele, not surprisingly, took home 6 awards, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Short Form Music Video. Everyone knew that this was going to be a total sweep for her.  She is, after all, the first artist in history to lead the Billboard 200 concurrently with three Billboard Hot 100 number ones. 21 is the longest running number one album by a female solo artist on the UK Albums Chart, and is tied for the longest cumulative stay at number one by a female solo artist. So yeah… she’s pretty good.

Now, I need to make a confession. And, I think this is a very opportune time to announce this, a. because it’s relevant to this post, and b. because I only just recently started this blog, so I think it’s good for me to get this out in the open early on.

With that being said, here I go…

I. like. Coldplay.

Are you still there?  If so, hear me out. I realize it’s not the “cool” thing, and many consider them “boring sellouts”, but I actually really like their music.  In all fairness, I do have to say that I like their older stuff better than their newer stuff.  I was a huge fan of their first two albums, Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head, and X&Y is pretty good too.  You also can’t deny that Chris Martin is a very passionate and talented guy – I mean, he practically humps his piano when he performs… That dude freaking loves it!  And I did really enjoy their performance last night.  His collaboration with Rihanna (“Princess of China“) was beautifully done in acoustic fashion, and I have to admit, I’ve been singing their song “Paradise” all day.

Another performance that completely caught me off guard was Bruno Mars singing his single “Runaway Baby“.  I am so estranged from pop music these days that I had never even heard the song before, but his performance was arguably the best of the night.  It was like watching a current-day James Brown (and he actually did that reference justice!) He is definitely a talent in my book.

The other “performance” — I guess you would call it — that was truly notable, at least to me, was the section of the show which paid homage to dance music. This genre took the U.S. by storm this past year, although it has been popular throughout Europe for years and years now.  I’m actually a relatively big deadmau5 fan, so I was excited to see what he would do.  I have to say, I was kind of underwhelmed by his choice in song.  I was hoping he’d do something either a little more well-known or at least a little catchier (like “I Remember“, “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” or “Some Chords“), but maybe that’s just me.  Either way he’s awesome, and clearly well-deserving of the recognition he receives.

 And, of course, I cannot fail to mention the many many tributes to Whitney Houston throughout the night.  Most notably was Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You”, which was actually originally a Dolly Parton song, but  was certainly the most famous song of Whitney’s career. I would be lying if I said that this has truly affected me on a personal level, since I wasn’t really a fan.  But it is certainly a loss to the music community regardless, and I can’t argue that she was, at one time, one of the best female vocalists ever.  She had a range that no one else could touch. It’s a shame.

My sincerist thoughts go out to her family, friends and fans.

Image

The Beginning

I was thirteen the first time I realized I was going to have a life-long love affair with music. It was the last period of my last day of 7th grade, and I was sitting in Mrs. Everson’s home room.  She had also been my science teacher, and her walls were covered in “Life Science” posters of animals and insects.  Microscopes lined the shelves, and she even had a life-size human skeleton in the Southeast corner of the room. We all had wondered at one point or another if it was a “real” skeleton. To this day, I still don’t know.

The reason I remember the lay out of this classroom better than all of the other classrooms from my grade school career is because this was the room that I watched the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music video for “Californication” for the very first time.  As we were all counting down the last minutes of the school year, about to embark on a summer vacation filled with pools, bike riding, and barbeques, I was suddenly taken back by this bass line/guitar “dance”, if you will.  I had always been into music, as I was fortunate to grow up listening to some of the all-time great musicians – Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Mark Knopfler, U2, R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, The Who, Paul Simon, Pink Floyd (the list goes on.) But there was something different about what I was hearing at that very moment. It was as if something clicked for me. I looked up at the very clunky, 90s-looking classroom television that was bolted to the ceiling in the Southwest corner of the room, and found myself completely captivated by this music video.  I mean, aside from the fact that the song was killer, the video looked like a video game – Are you kidding???

I stayed to finish watching it, even after the class had been dismissed.

This was one of the first great landmarks in my relationship with rock music.  That moment opened a floodgate that I know will never close.

Would I call myself a musician? Eh, maybe amateur at best.  I dabble at the guitar and I think my voice is pretty decent, although I’m not yet ballsy enough to seriously belt out a solid tune in public.  The only real training I have is just living my life and developing my ear by listening to music every opportunity I get.  I analyze, I interpret, but mostly I just love to listen. As John Frusciante, the now former lead guitarist and back up vocalist of the Chili Peppers once said, “We are all very lucky to live in a world where there is this much music.”  Couldn’t agree more, John.