So Behind I’m Still Talking About Hendrix

HELLO INTERWEBS! I HAVE RETURNED!!

It’s been a while. How’s everyone doing out there??  I just got back from Ireland.  Did you know that Guinness beer is WAY better in Ireland than it is in the states?  According to a new bartender/drummer friend in Doolin, it is fact that Guinness doesn’t travel well – which is why it’s 100 times more amazing over there.

Since I’ve been away, and had very limited internet access while I was gone, I am terribly behind on all kinds of news. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Is this really happening?  How can that much ego fit into one relationship?  Why do I care?  It also just genuinely kind of grosses me out. Of course there are far more important things going on in the world, but let’s face it, this is what people want to talk about. It’s fascinating, isn’t it?

I’m so behind that I haven’t even had a chance to listen to Jack White’s first solo album, Blunderbuss (released Tuesday) in its entirety yet.  I’ll get on that at some point today and report back, although I have been hearing nothing but positive feedback thus far.

On my trip, however, I did discover a new appreciation for the banjo. As you can imagine, we did a lot of pubbing, and there was FREE live music at almost every pub.  Why it can’t be like this in New York, I don’t know… but it was great.  There was a little village on the West Coast of Ireland called Doolin where we stayed for 3 days, and while we were there we “frequented” a pub called McGann’s. It was a good crowd, but there was also an amazing band there featuring Kevin Griffin, a world-renowned banjo player, and ranked as one of the best in all of Ireland.  He was fucking awesome.

That’s my mom on her birthday with Kevin (the guy boozing on the left)

Also while I was there I started reading Charles R. Cross’ “Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix”.  Charles Cross is an amazing writer, and also wrote “Heavier Than Heaven”, the bestselling Kurt Cobain bio that I read last year and absolutely loved.  If you’re interested in checking them out, click their titles above.

So anyway, I was reading this book and I came across this part that really blew my mind.  Here’s a synopsis:

It was June 4, 1967. The Jimi Hendrix Experience had already been formed (including Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums), and they were experiencing rapid success throughout the U.K.  They had already been set to travel back to the states to play the Monterey Pop Festival in July, and were playing their “farewell England” concert that day at the Seville Theater in London, which was owned by Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager.  The Beatles had just released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (my personal favorite of their albums) 3 days prior, and both Paul and George were set to attend the show (along with Eric Clapton – no big deal.) Just 30 minutes prior to their performance, Jimi came backstage and announced that he had just heard the new Beatles record, and that they were going to open their set with the song Sgt. Pepper’s. Redding and Mitchell thought he was completely nuts, but they listened to it and went through it a couple of times. This is what happened less than a half an hour later:

Later that night, Brian Epstein had a private party and Jimi, Noel and Mitch were invited.  When they arrived none other than Paul McCartney himself opened the front door holding a huge joint in his mouth.  He immediately passed it to Jimi and said, “That was fucking great, man.”  To this day, Paul McCartney will say that performance was one of the greatest honors of his career.

Great story. Great book. Go read it.

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I Call It… “Celebration”

So I’m heading to Ireland tomorrow for 10 days.  I’m extremely excited, and need to go to bed very soon, but I had to write a quick post about my boys getting inducted tomorrow.  Their music has been the soundtrack of my life since I was a kid, and has stuck with me through everything. I owe them so much gratitude for the beauty they’ve sent into the world with what they do.  But at the end of the day, I think my favorite thing about them is that, even after all of these years, they still love what they do.  Chad- you’re the man, and you have raw, undeniable talent; Flea – you’re the best bassist in the biz;  Frusciante – I miss your guts (and you’re the best guitarist since Hendrix); Josh – you’re not too shabby yourself (and any friend of John’s is cool with me); and Anthony – you’re the ringmaster that ties it all together. They are such inspirational individuals that have touched so many people’s lives with their presence in the universe.  So this is a big thank you to Anthony Kiedis, Michael “Flea” Balzary, Hillel Slovak (one of the founding fathers – R.I.P.), Jack Sherman, Cliff Martinez, Jack Irons, John Frusciante, Chad Smith, Dave Navaro, Josh Klinghoffer, and everyone else that planted those Red Hot Chili Pepper seeds.

              

The Power of Music

The reason I’m so passionate about music is simple: Music is magic.  The music someone loves, grew up with, relates to, awakens the soul in a way that nothing else has the ability to do.  As I’ve gotten older, I witnessed my grandparents age – fulfilling beautiful, extraordinary, long lives.  I was lucky enough to have all four of them around until I was 13-years-old.  This video below struck home for me particularly, since my dad’s mom, Rosalind Baskin, just recently passed away at the end of December.  Even though her body had significantly weakened, and was mostly in her bed for the last (and 96th) year of her life, you knew that feisty, self-sufficient, funny,  strong, lovely Ros was still in there somewhere.  Every once in a while, something would trigger her sense of self, reassuring us, and I’m sure herself, that she was still her – no matter what.  Somewhat similarly, my mom’s mom, Rose, lives in a rehabilitation center in Long Island.  When we visit her, she looks at us with a certain familiarity, and, at the very least recognizes the fact that we are good people that care about her. But she has, in many ways, lost her sense of self.  However, there is still that light deep inside of her that allows the people who know and love her to still see her as the warm, naturally maternal, gardening, knitting, cooking, smiling “Cookie Lady”.  The trick, of course, is finding a way to bring that out.  Music?

This video is so beautiful to me, because it proves that not only does aging not entirely deplete who you are, but that something that’s seemingly so simple as a song can, even for a moment, bring someone back.

For my Grandmothers.  You’re amazing.

Noctourni-What? And Hilariously Awkward Music Videos

Let me start by saying that I did a ton of research on The Mars Volta before their new (and apparently their last) album, “Noctourniquet” was released last Tuesday.  I have total respect for Omar Rodrigues-Lopez, and I generally appreciate some of their older work, so I figured I should be excited about the new album. After I finally got a first listen on Tuesday morning, I found myself sort of bewildered by what I had just heard. I proceeded to read a couple of online reviews (which I usually try not to do until I form my own opinion.) To my surprise, for the most part, all of these reviews were extremely positive!  What?? How could this be?  I took another listen.  Yeah, nope. I found it overwhelming, confusing, angry, and in many cases lacking any sort of cohesiveness or melody. One song literally hurt my ears (and not in a blasting-my-headphones-because-it’s-so-freaking-good kind of way.)  By all means, I respect progressive and experimental rock, but this is a whole other level. If you’re into that kind of thing, definitely check it out; but I was disappointed, to say the least.

And, as many of you may already know, Chad Smith of the Chili Peppers announced about a month ago that John Frusciante will not be attending their induction into the Rock Hall of Fame on April 14.  He quoted him as saying, “I’m just not really comfortable with that, but good luck and thanks for inviting me.” I realize I need to respect his decision (plus, how can you stay mad at that face???) but my heart is a little bit broken.

With all that being said, I definitely need a little cheering up from the music world. And what could better cheer me up than…

MAKING FUN OF REALLY CHEESY MUSIC VIDEOS!

As we all know, there was a lot of confusion going on in the 80s… Women wore scrunchies in public, and men wore very small shorts.

 

But something that we should definitely be thankful for was the rise of the music video –  The awesomely weird, cheesy, awkward music videos that, even today, bring so much joy to our lives.  Music videos from the 80s are, therefore, excused from scrutiny, as I see them as almost experimental (but funny, nonetheless).  Bad music videos from later, more technologically advanced times, however, have zero excuse.  And so we watch, and we laugh.

Here are some of the best of the worst:

Oh George… I love you, and we miss you so much, but what the hell is this? You’re in a dark house, the fire’s raging, your dog’s there. All of the furniture and animal heads are moving with the music. Cute, right? (But pay special attention around the 1:57 mark. It’ll blow your mind.)

This is actually just an excerpt from the movie “Tommy”, the rock opera, which I absolutely loved when I was little. I have to hand it to The Who – They were definitely my gateway into the world of classic rock.  I would obsessively listen to this cassette I had of all of the songs after seeing it on Broadway with my dad when I was 7.  I rediscovered the movie version relatively recently, and even though it’s not technically a music video, I couldn’t not put it on here. People spraying pesticides in an open field, forest bombs, beach cartwheels?!  And the special effects when he’s running at the very end are truly groundbreaking.

What. The. Fuck.

Shots of an iconic Tina Turner in her famous chain dress, interspersed with scenes from the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which stared the lovely Mel Gibson.  This song was actually nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, and received a 1986 Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance – proving that music video humor, like a fine wine, only gets better with age.

Mel Gibson, the face of a hero.

I’m sorry, guys. You know I love you with all of my heart, and this is actually a great song, but… this video.  Acrobatic mimes swing dancing, and flying cartoon skeletons.  I’m just not really sure where you were going with this.  The animation kind of reminds me of something I would’ve seen on Nickelodeon in the early 90s. And poor Chad on the cowbell – Here come the Will Ferrell jokes (as if he didn’t get it bad enough already.) At least Anthony’s body is redonkulous.

My only question while watching this video was, “How was he not embarrassed?”

Journey, and the most dramatic performance at a dock warehouse the world ever saw.

They were really excited about using a green screen, revolutionizing fake fire backdrops. Freddie Mercury… so sweaty.

I put this one up, not so much for the video itself, but as an ode to my childhood. This song was a huge hit when I was in 6th grade, when all of the eleven year old kids would recite the poetic lyrics sung by human-sized monkeys.

So put your hands down my pants and I’ll bet you’ll feel nuts
Yes I’m Siskel, yes I’m Ebert, and you’re getting two thumbs up

It brings a single, glistening tear to my eye.

This video is about a professor who’s in love with/borderline stalks his blind female student.  He even prank calls her at 3:39.  But whatever he’s doing, it’s obviously working, since all along she’s been working on a sculpture of his head. Aw.

And that’s all for now.  I have to say I feel much better, but I do apologize in advance for being the reason why any of the above songs are now drilled into the deepest corner of your brain.  Good luck with that, and have a nice day! 🙂