Yes. And why you should say the same to Prog rock.

I don’t believe this song has anything to do with that crappy science fiction movie which is a good thing. I think the outro riff, those three chords, is one of the coolest yet simple licks in rock and roll. Its been used countless amount of times in as many songs, but perhaps it is most useful here. Steve Howe’s guitar licks continually amaze me and I’ve been a hardcore Yes fan for years at this point.

I’ve talked of my love for progressive rock numerous times and have kept making the threat of writing a whole post on it. Here it is. I got into hard rock as a young man when Led Zeppelin was my first real love in the genre. The Mighty Zep was a blues rock cover band at its onset and always had that tinge to their music. Many bands did, from Cream to Ten Years After to The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Therein is the big difference between what I’d call standard English Rock of the late 60’s and early 70’s and Progressive rock. Prog rock comes from Europe and owes more to the classical music tradition of that continent than that of the blues from the Mississippi delta.

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Labor-Day Songlist: Arbeitsmusik (Work-music)

In honor of labor day, here’s a blast from our not-so-distant past. What better to make us appreciate a day off of work than ruminations on the privations suffered in jobs present and past…

 
I could buy myself a reason
I could sell myself a job
I could hang myself on treason
All the folks I know are gone
Modest Mouse, “The Devil’s Workday”

Our friend the Historian’s vivid entry on his paper-route playlist and my brother’s musings on his forced music choices reminded me of a list of my own I started a while back. See, he and I are both older than our years. All of us who went to high school (and part of college) before google, before Napster, and before cell phones or text messages, keep part of ourselves in a world wholly foreign to siblings and cousins a mere five years younger. It is strange how time moves that much faster.

Before ubiquitous CD players, mp3 players and satellite music, the car was one of two places where you could find yourself subject to the whim of faceless disc-jockeys or the machinations of entertainment executives. (Some of us even drove cars that didn’t even have tape players.)

The other place? Work. Before I found myself in a life where silence was more common than noise in the workplace, where my voice was the sound that could most often be heard, I worked a series of jobs to pay for band equipment and long distance phone bills, to pay for college, and to put myself through graduate school. At each one of these jobs I found myself subject to the musical choices of others: a boss’ favorite radio station or CD.

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Part V of Learning About New Music

So it has been awhile since I’ve posted something and, in fac,t since I started this post, one of these bands has visited the city I live near twice. And yes, I managed to miss both shows. But all is well as they are not yet popular enough for their record company to remove all their videos off YouTube. I’ve left a veritable smorgasbord of differing artists for whatever musical predilection you are feeling like today. Rock, pop, folk (and even some prog-rock for our friends born before 1980) something in this list will strike you.

Band: The Neighbourhood
Song: Sweater Weather

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Fender Studio Bass Amp

I wrote a while back about my first guitar, a’58 Reissue Fender Precision Bass. I love this thing more at this point, mostly because I have been learning more how to tweak the tone and get different stuff out of it and have been lucky in getting opportunities to play it out in front of people.  At our big show last week, two different bass players came up to me to say my bass was sick and what the hell was I using for an amp. I was incredibly lucky to find an amazing amp for an excellent price right before our first show as a whole band last year and right in my back yard basically.

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Fender Precision Bass

I have talked a lot about the band I am in and my recent learning of the bass. It really had to do with the aftermath the untimely passing of my father because it hit me very hard.  My situation was different from my siblings because I lived in the home we all grew up in so I didn’t get to leave the whole scene after the funeral. I was right in the middle of everything that was my Dad and it was not easy.

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An Apology to Drummers

 

In the short-lived but classic show Freaks and Geeks, the character Nick Andropolis (Jason Segal) wants to be a drummer. He plays along to Rush’s “The Spirit of Radio” as his father looks on in disgust. Later on, when he leaves his house and stays briefly with the Weir family, Papa Weir takes his drumming passion seriously—he arranges for him to take lessons and blows his mind when he plays some big band and jazz records for him.

Nick cannot even conceive of how to make the sounds that the professional drummers are making. He is a self-taught drummer more interested in the spectacle and the noise. He does not follow through with the lessons. He eventually moves back home.

And there, in a nutshell, is a story too many of us may believe about drummers: amateur, talentless, noise-machines with the exception of a few real artists who are still merely backing musicians for great pianists, guitarists, horn players, etc.

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Arbeitsmusik (Work-music)

I could buy myself a reason
I could sell myself a job
I could hang myself on treason
All the folks I know are gone
Modest Mouse, “The Devil’s Workday”

The Historian’s recent entry on his paper-route playlist and my brother’s musings on his forced music choices reminded me of a list of my own I started a while back. See, he and I are both older than our years. All of us who went to high school (and part of college) before google, before Napster, and before cell phones or text messages, keep part of ourselves in a world wholly foreign to siblings and cousins a mere five years younger. It is strange how time moves that much faster.

Before ubiquitous CD players, mp3 players and satellite music, the car was one of two places where you could find yourself subject to the whim of faceless disc-jockeys or the machinations of entertainment executives. (Some of us even drove cars that didn’t even have tape players.)

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Rock the Casbah: Osama Bin Laden Playlist

The Osama bin laden is dead track list

Note: I wrote this last year and just thought it work well near Martin Luther King Jr. Day (as will be clear at the end).

So seven people texted me now the same thing, albeit in different wording: Osama Bin Laden has been killed. My first reaction is to think, “Well, finally”. I’m stoked, I think, but didn’t they set out to do this like ten years ago?

Then, I think of a conversation I had with a veteran who served in the 1980’s about having to sit on a tarmac in the Balkans with a planeload of soldiers waiting to invade Afghanistan on the side of Osama and his boys whom we’d been training and funding against the Russians. A local recently got into this with me, disputing my claim, but it’s true, look it up.

Now, I don’t think our involvement at the beginning takes away anything from this event, this stuff has happened numerous times in history, but it certainly does make you wonder. I am certainly not a bleeding heart liberal or a conservative, I am sort on the fence: no one extreme is the way to go, in my opinion…

What I do question is the reaction to it by the American public: as I am sure it will turn into a bi-partisan pissing match over who gets the credit accompanied by a short burst of new-found patriotism which I find sickening. Either love your country all the time or don’t. It doesn’t mean anything if you pick and choose times to use it. I like to think I’m patriotic all the time and I do fully support our troops even if I do sometimes question their orders.

I guess my point is I want people to know as much of the facts as possible because I believe an overarching problem in our country is people acting from ignorance. Maybe it’s a human nature problem? I mean, how we can even be sure Osama was ever at fault for anything specifically? Furthermore, everyone knows that there are scores of sleeper cells just waiting to be called up and that Osama was probably a figurehead that probably wielded little if any real power. Anyway, in this day of perceived victory, I am reflecting on such things and this is what I’m listening to:

1. “Rock the Casbah”-The Clash. This was the first song I really knew by the Clash and on the first cd I owned by them, Combat Rock . It’s a nice little diddy about  a Sheik banning rock and roll music and the populace fighting back and “rocking the casbah”.

But, it was and has been used as a sort patriotic, rah-rah song for Middle Eastern campaigns. A story goes that Joe Strummer wept while hanging out in Granada when he was told American troops were writing the title on bombs they dropped during the first Gulf War in 1991. The song is about fighting oppressive Sheiks for rock and roll, but the Clash was a super liberal band that supported no wars. So why am I listening to it? Mostly because it reminds of the fight in the Middle East and that a lot of the time, people take whatever meaning they see fit for things even if it’s not the meaning intended.

2. “Bad Days”, the Flaming Lips; So after many years on the lam, they pop the old boy, test his DNA and drop him in the ocean. A seriously bad day for him and an essentially good day for all of us back in the states who think now the war is over.  Well, that is far from the truth as our troops still fight in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere; so this song is for everyone. “And you’re sort of stuck where you are/but in your dreams you can drive fancy cars or live on mars and have it your way”.

I mean, I want to know if Osama even cared about the jihad in the end. Maybe he felt stuck where he was (not that I cut the crazy bastard any slack or think he didn’t get what he deserved if that was even him they dumped in the ocean). From some accounts, he was on dialysis at the end and probably very ill.

Whenever people who are extremists die, I always think back to Mother Theresa. Not that the two have anything in common except that they are extremists on the opposite ends of the  morality spectrum But, it came out from her diaries posthumously that she was actually severely depressed and doubted the existence of God even while performing His good work until the day she died.

So, I wonder if towards the end of Osama’s life, did he even give two shits about the fundamentalist rhetoric he’d built his whole life upon? Was he happy to die to get away from it or did he think he’d earned his way to Paradise? We’ll never know unless he kept copious diaries or shows up behind the counter of a 7-11 in Akron, Ohio someday. (Wow, all that from a Lips song, Wayne Coyne would be proud.)

3. “Working Man”-Rush: This was just a random song I was listening to and then it clicked that we all of work for someone and at times, it can suck. Osama was seemingly working for his perception of God and was in the line of terrorism, a job even if its intentions are evil.

I’d imagine that being a terrioist sucks most of the time: you are always on the run and people are trying to kill you. But, then again, I don’t carry any extreme ideology so that probably explains my lack of enthusiasm. “Working Man” to me, is about how maybe we could all live better if we didn’t have to work so much.

Alternately, I think if you love what you do then it doesn’t seem like work. I once asked an exiled Buddhist Monk what he did for fun when he wasn’t praying and through his translator he said that praying was fun for him. So maybe this is where devout people are at. Whatever the case, I know I don’t like all my jobs all the time right now and I am sure I could live my life a lot better than I think I am.

Post Script: I wanted to say something deep about not celebrating someone’s death unless it’s in mourning; my brother MLK Jr. said it better so here it is:

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.