Archive for April, 2009

You Say You Don’t Like It

April 30, 2009

Whenever someone tells me Bruce’s music doesn’t do it for them or makes an unfunny joke about his style, I think one of three things before disregarding their opinion on anything music-related:

  1. They’re Lying
  2. They Aren’t Listening
  3. They Don’t Get It

On the other hand, whenever I meet a fellow Springsteen evangelical, I know there’s a solid chance we can become good friends. At the core of Bruce’s music is an intangible, inspirational element that hooks certain listeners into long-term fans.

The Live 1975-1985 version of “Reason to Believe” is the perfect example. How anyone could thoughtfully listen to this and not develop at least a slight appreciation is mind-blowing:

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Switching gears to video evidence, name one contemporary artist who will still has this much live energy 40+ years into his/her career.

THEN (9/19/78):

NOW (4/28/09):

Greensboro is only two short days away, and I’d love some more sweet covers sprinkled into whatever spontaneous set list we get.

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Playing For Change

April 29, 2009

Ben E. King’s classic has always been one of my favorite songs, especially once discovering that he initially had no intention of recording it himself.  After seeing this cover frequently pop up over the past week, I figured I’d be a follower and post as well. “Stand By Me” was the first of many covers recorded around the world as part of the award-winning documentary Playing For Change: Peace Through Music.  The idea for the project arose from “a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people.”  In my professional opinion, it appears we’re looking at a full-blown hippie jamfest the size of which we’ve never seen.

It all started with guitar and vocals recorded by Santa Monica street musician Roger Ridley.  The base track was then taken to New Orleans where blind French Quarter resident Grandpa Elliott added vocals and harmonica while listening to Ridley’s version on headphones.  From there, the producers took the resulting mix all through Europe, Africa, and South America, adding new tracks with multiple instruments and vocals that were assembled in the final version.  The collaboration definitely reminds me of the “Where the Hell is Matt” series I posted about when I first started the blog:

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If I had to guess, you can probably find the Playing For Change CD/DVD at your favorite neighborhood Starbucks next time you are downing a frappuccino.  For additional viewing pleasure, I also recommend checking out Ridley’s soulful Sam Cooke cover.

CMT Cribs

April 27, 2009

The 0:28 second mark makes me laugh.  I’m not sure how the producers forgot to edit me out after our “YOU’RE IN THE SHOT” moment together:

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Never in a million years would I have ever anticipated being in the house of a country music star during his big Cribs moment, let alone make a cameo in the final edit.  I’m such a sell out.

FUN FACT: I got to be the guy that set up the 4-wheelers in the front of the house.  Jason was busy getting ready and all of the guys in the CMT crew were reluctant to maneuver his toys out of the garage.  Receiving meticulous supervision from the producer, I felt like Austin trying to get the angle just right for the shot.  Who knew that my time at the family lake house would ever come in handy for this moderately “professional” situation…

UPDATE: If the embedded video above stops streaming, you can still watch the full episode here.  The part being discussed can be found at the 14:50 mark.

The Gardener

April 26, 2009

I love keeping up with La Blogotheque‘s Take-Away shows.  A staple among music hipsters, the popular blog invites new artists to play in obscure public locations (city streets, open parks, busy bars, elevator shafts, etc.) while being filmed.  The videos are not edited in hopes of capturing those unique live moments that any music lover lives for.  As the blog states, “the music gets filmed just like it happens, without preparation, without tricks.”

The site has filmed sessions for several of my favorite artists and one of their latest releases continues that trend.  I’ve been a big fan of The Tallest Man On Earth since first hearing his debut Shallow Grave last year. Before watching, I recommend reading La Blogotheque’s explanation on the shooting location used in New York:

Kristian Matsson was in NYC to play a few shows during a stretch of nasty weather. We got together one rainy afternoon to raid some downtown spot to make a film.  One catch: after soundcheck the day before, Tallest Man’s guitars were locked inside the NYC music venue, Town Hall, where he’d be playing later that night with Bon Iver. Solution: we’d have to shoot somewhere with a decent supply of guitars that he might borrow. A fan of music of all kinds, Jeff, the awesome, museum-quality proprietor of the legendary Music Inn on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village was happy to oblige. The staff took refuge downstairs, where they ripped through some take-out tacos while the Swedish guy played songs from his debut Shallow Grave. The Tallest Man, who inevitably gets talked about in terms of Dylan apparently had no idea he was playing just three doors down from where Dylan actually lived and just around the corner from where the cover photo of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was shot.

“The Gardener” is by far my favorite track on the record, as the lyrics remind me of my younger self from a relationship standpoint. If you take the song literally, the narrator feels that certain oppositions are out to prevent him from being with his lover.  Each verse, he senses a new threat, which ultimately results in that opposition “fertilizing the roses” or getting “buried by the lilies.”

I love how the different threats are open for interpretation.  Are these slain messengers the narrator’s internal flaws that he hopes to hide from his girl, competing suitors, or something completely different?  As all great songs are capable of accomplishing, its meaning can be whatever you want it to be.

Successfully managing to concurrently be creepy and sweet at the same time, the song alludes to how love is something that takes time and effort to maintain.  The narrator wants his lover’s trust, but does so by ultimately lying.  In hopes of being the tallest man in the eyes of his lady, the protagonist becomes a killer.

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I haven’t decided how to interpret the last verse.  On the surface, the narrator appears to get pleasure out of the fact that he no longer has any opposition.  The couple dance among all the buried threats in a now hefty-sized garden.  Is it better to hide the truth in favor of a more pleasurable relationship built on dishonesty?  All actions were presumably done with the intention of staying with the damsel being fallen for.  The narrator finds it soothing, but he’s afraid.  He claims there is no need for suspicion, but I’d like to hear a follow up a few years down the road…

As Christina can attest, I’d personally advise against ever attempting to build a relationship’s foundation on anything other than love and transparency.  Lies and jealousy will only allow you to get so far.  After years of working through our seemingly never-ending long distance relationship, I feel that “The Gardener” perfectly captures some of the major themes any couple will likely encounter over the course of their development together.

On a related note, I’m really pumped about the sweet Tallest Man On Earth print I picked up at Record Store Day last weekend.  I’m running out of wall space, but it was definitely worth the discounted $10 price.  If you like what you see, I suggest you check out some of the other cool designs Boss Construction has made recently.

What You Say, What You Do, and Who You Are

April 23, 2009

Working in the digital marketing field, I try to keep up with Seth Godin’s blog as much as possible.  I found one of today’s posts to be very ironic given the conversation I had with Bret over email just yesterday on the same topic:

We no longer care what you say.

We care a great deal about what you do.

If you charge for hand raking but use a leaf blower when the client isn’t home
If you sneak into an exercise class because you were on the wait list and it isn’t fair cause you never get a bike
If you snicker behind the boss’s back
If you don’t pay attention in meetings
If you argue with a customer instead of delighting them
If you copy work and pass it off as your own
If you shade the truth a little
If you lobby to preserve the unsustainable status quo
If you network to get, not to give
If you do as little as you can get away with

…then we already know who you are.

Even after a loss of faith in society these past few years, I am still a firm believer in having a sense of morality.  I think this is why I love movies as much as I do.  With so many disappointing current examples of corruption, I am hopeful that the leaders of the next “great generation” learn from the past and take us out of this depression by putting more emphasis on the importance of integrity.

As my dad always says, “these things come in waves”, so I’m banking that Newton’s Third Law of Motion also applies to generations.

More from Tairy Greene

April 23, 2009

After some further investigation, I realized that Tairy Greene has been featured in multiple Adult Swim pieces.  Although “The Snuggler” might be hard to top, I found his acting seminars for children to be very insightful and thought-provoking (as well as a much needed boost during a less than ideal work week):

YOUR BODY’S LANGUAGE:

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THE THESPIAN’S MONIKER:

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THE ACTOR’S MEDICINE:

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Dey Tukk Ar Jerb

April 18, 2009

I’ve been putting off writing “this” post for the past few days, even though it seems like the most important update to document if I plan on looking back on these entries years from now.

At 11:00 am CT this past Wednesday, our entire company was surprisingly informed that it was being dissolved into Ticketmaster over the course of the next 60 days.  Thus, Echo will cease to exist around my 23rd birthday and I have officially experienced my first widespread lay-off.  I’m still wrapping my head around the thought process behind the decision, but I think it will be something I reflect on for years to come.  From an analogy standpoint, I initially felt like the mouse in the following clip (which, on an unrelated note, makes me excited to see Earth in an IMax theatre):

Although the news was certainly disheartening at first, I will be leaving after gaining valuable experience in the sector that I was most interested in learning more about when I accepted the job last summer.  At Echo, I consciously made an effort to be as involved as possible with the ticketing side of the business, most notably by volunteering to implement and manage all pre-sales for our team.  Regardless of what comes next, I’m glad that I was able to be a part of the process and to work and learn from such a fun, talented group of people.  Without a doubt, I will miss them more than any specific job role I held.  For example, where else could I have found a job where a fellow co-worker can have a good enough sense of humor to post the following clip on Facebook the same night we all received the news:

The closing of Echo obviously affects every employee, so my heart especially goes out to those with families and mortgages to worry about.  For me personally, I think this week’s events will be a blessing in disguise over the long run, opening the door to more exciting opportunities.  Plus, whenever I get overwhelmed with the thought of what just happened, I try to remind myself that things could be a lot worse.  Once my stomach stops dropping from the thought of having to job search and interview again, I find myself optimistic about what the future holds.

If this inevitably marks the end of my time in Nashville, it’s been a good run.  For prediction purposes, I see myself living in one of five places by the end of this year (each of which would have its pros and cons):

  1. Tennessee
  2. Chicago metropolitan area
  3. North Carolina
  4. Someone’s basement
  5. A van down by the river

Shake It Out

April 17, 2009

Since falling in love with discovering new music years ago, Manchester Orchestra’s I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child has been one of my best finds. Andy Hull’s lyrical themes and unique voice immediately stood out and became one of my most spinned albums at UNC.  Now a few years later, you can definitely sense the influences after touring with the likes of Brand New, Say Anything, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Kings of Leon.  Upon first listen, the band’s sophomore release Mean Everything to Nothing hits with the same qualities that made Deja Entendu nearly perfect in my eyes during the summer of 2003: powerful lyrics, loud/soft dynamics, and a sense of urgency.

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Fitting given my reasoning for creating this blog, the first half of Mean Everything focuses on the confusion and disillusionment of growing up and becoming an adult.  Hull claims the second half is about the redemption and overall re-evaluation of the self, realizing “that things are not ok, I am not ok, and there’s a beauty in that.”  After personally spending hours, days, and months being frustrated over seemingly everything the past few years, I found Andy’s quote to be very poetic.  Right now, “Shake It Out” is my favorite track considering how often I’ve recently found myself screaming the lyrics with the windows down during my commute home.

The epicness of the last two and half minutes of “Shake It Out”, combined with the album’s opening lyrics certainly feeling autobiographical lately (“I am the only one that thinks I’m going crazy and I don’t know what to do”), naturally makes me look forward to hearing the new songs live next week with Fun at Exit/In on the day the album hits stores.  You can stream Mean Everything to Nothing in its entirety on the band’s myspace page right now.

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Do You Like Fish Sticks?

April 10, 2009

I’m still not fully convinced that Christina didn’t find this clip remotely comical, even after she made it clear that she felt it was painfully unfunny.

I think the circumstance that brought about its discovery holds the key to explaining why I find it hilarious.  As many of you know, the company I work for powers KanyeUniverseCity.com and the popular blog that lives there.  Mid-week, we discovered a previously ignored email address where fans could submit blog suggestions and pictures.  While no one at Echo apparently knew the address existed, hundreds of overzealous Kanye fans did.  After sifting through hundreds of forgotten “Stronger” shades submissions, I stumbled across this gem:

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The fact that this submitter had full intentions of being featured on a blog that predominantly focuses on centerfold girls, over-priced furniture, and fashion design easily made my week.  It is now my goal to make sure “Buy Brants!” has the debut it rightfully deserves.

At Least I’m Not As Sad

April 10, 2009

fun.

Nate is back!  The man responsible for penning the inspiration behind this very blog’s title has finally resurfaced with a new song after a few months of downtime.  Although still very upset that my favorite band of the past decade is no more and being somewhat underwhelmed with the first “Benson Hedges” demo, I’m becoming much more excited for Fun’s debut, Aim and Ignite, after reading what Nate had to say about the album in his recent update to the fans:

Yeah, I know… “it’s about time”… but really… it took forever to make this record… and I honestly couldn’t be more proud of the job that Andrew, Jack, and I did… this is most certainly the best record I’ve ever been a part of. 

Granted, any band is going to say their latest work is the best thing they have ever done, but after hearing the first completed single, I’m more optimistic on a solid release.  The ironically titled “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)” picks up where Dog Problems left off:

I still have a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea of Nate’s thoughts no longer “bouncing off Sam’s guitar”, but I’m looking forward to experiencing Fun firsthand when they kick off the new tour supporting Manchester Orchestra at Nashville’s Exit/In on April 21st.  The tour is hitting several spots across the country, so I suggest you get tickets and do the same.

The highlight of Nate’s update is that he wants to give away “At Least I’m Not As Sad” as a free download in hopes that everyone will know the lyrics by the time the band hits your town.  All you have to do is sign up for their new nifty mailing list.  Don’t be lame…just do it.  Although I’m still mourning the loss of The Format, the new single aptly makes me a little less sad.*

*DISCLAIMER: I fully acknowledge the corniness of the obvious play on words above, but felt like it had to be done regardless.