Weekend Update

There are definitely some exciting things going on in Music Land the next couple of weeks.  First, let’s talk about a few new album releases.

This Tuesday, March 6, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band will be releasing “Wrecking Ball”, which will be their 17th major studio album.  That’s pretty impressive. And even though I’m not huge fan, I have to support my fellow Jersians. Plus, you have to admit, Brucey’s maintaining his swag in his older years.

 

If you’re interested in getting a sneak peak of the album before its official release, they will be streaming it in its entirety on their website, brucespringsteen.net on Monday, March 5.

Below is a performance from last night’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”, featuring Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and, of course, The Roots.  Jimmy is a huge Bruce fan, even dubbing this week “Springsteen Week”.

Check out the performance here.

Other upcoming March album releases include:

The Decemberists’ “We All Raise Our Voices to the Air”– a live album from their 2011 tour.  They also recently recorded a song called “One Engine”, which will be included on the much anticipated The Hunger Games soundtrack. That soundtrack will be released March 20, and will include music from Arcade Fire, The Civils Wars, among others.

On March 20th we also have The Shin’s new album, “Port of Morrow”, and on March 27th we have Miike Snow’s second album “Happy to You”. But more on them later…

Now, let’s talk birthdays – or rather, a specific birthday.

If you know me, you know that I talk about John Frusciante as much as I talk about AMC’s “Breaking Bad” (seriously though, that show is addicting.)  This Monday, March 5 is his birthday, and being that he is my favorite musician, I can’t not mention it. Words can’t express how I feel about this man as an artist. He is otherworldly. Now, I’m having a hard time deciding what I should include about him in this one post, since – let’s face it – I could probably write an entire blog solely about him, and never run out of material. So, for now, I’m just going to leave you all with my favorite guitar solo of all time – not just of his, but of any guitar solo in the history of guitar solos.  I’m sure my roommates have had their fill of this one, since I’ve been listening to it at least once a day for the past 5 months. If you haven’t seen it or heard it yet, be prepared to have your mind blown.

Also, just a side note: I realize I really need to get over this, but I’m still so sad that he’s no longer with the Chili Peppers.  Don’t get me wrong, Josh Kinghoffer is great, but he’s not Frusciante. Their chemistry with John was pure magic.  Here’s hoping he’ll show for their induction ceremony at the Rock Hall of Fame on April 14…

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.