Category Archives: Life… Plain and Not So Simple

Tom Petty… A Heart And A Heartbreaker Has Broken Mine

Monday, October 2nd was a shitty day. No, it was a horrible, dark and bleak day. In the midst of trying to write and apply for jobs, I could not turn the news off. The death toll and numbers of those injured was climbing. Las Vegas had become a war zone… yet another example of the world gone mad… another example of why the greatest country on the globe, arguably, and not so clear-cut these days, needs to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of health insurance and logical gun laws and gun control.

Yes, we need to understand why someone would do this. This is vital as well… To see what signs were missed… or whether or not someone knew something and said nothing. We may not really know why it happened… but we know how… and we clearly know how easy it is to get a gun that no one actually needs… or 42 of them. Enough is enough is enough.

I have been to the Mandalay Bay many times… stayed there many times. I have friends who did an annual charity event there that I volunteered for on several occasions. Ironically, they also did a country music festival… Not this one, but still… “There but for the grace of G-d go I…”

And then… and then… and then…

In the midst of all this, my college buddy and oft concert partner Russ calls about Tom Petty… He was clearly shaken… It was before most news stories were out, so I immediately jumped online. No… Not today… Not now. People mock TMZ, but sadly they are usually right… and they were, once again, the first ones to report what was going on.

Just last week, Tom Petty was in town, playing three nights at the Hollywood Bowl. I was pissed at first when the first show announced was on Rosh Hashanah, I skipped Bruce’s book signing a year ago for the same reason. But then they added two more dates and all seemed right with the world. Well… no concert budget forced me to hope I would win tickets through a local station… and I checked in with my usual contacts at another station, hoping maybe an extra pair would pop up.

Russ and I had a conversation before last Monday’s show about possibly going, but he and I had seen Petty on June 11, 2013 when he did his amazing residency at the Fonda Theatre. You can read my post on that show here. That was a 1200 person venue!  I mean we were right there! We had seen him in the old Forum… when Bob Dylan came out… and in Chicago. Plus… the Bowl can be a pain in the ass… and while it is historic and amazing, it can also be a clusterfuck of 18,000 people, and a curfew that cuts set lists short.

I will regret that decision for a long time to come.  Yes, who knew. Who knew the last Eagles tour would be the last with Glenn Frey? All of my regrets and missed opportunities start to play in my head… David Bowie, Prince, Roy Orbison, Gregg Allman… shows I could have gone to…

I had met Petty, along with Howie Epstein in 1993, at The Troubadours Of Folk Festival on the campus of UCLA.  Thanks to David Wild for that amazing opportunity. I have a signed ticket stub from that show… Tom Petty, along with Roger McGuinn and Arlo Guthrie, and though they all signed over each other, Petty is pretty clear, in the black Sharpie.

Just so you know… I have stopped typing. Tears come too easily today. It is overwhelming. There is so much going on in my brain right now. So much…

Damn The Torpedoes was my first Petty record… and to this day, it is one of the few albums I would call perfection, song to song. It reminds me of a specific time and place… Glen Rock, New Jersey… 1979… But it is also timeless… It moves with me… grows with me…

That’s why music is so essential. It is why artists become such a vital part of our lives. It is why we cry when they pass. Why we feel so lost. It is why we feel at all, and feel so deeply. I know some people don’t understand the pain… the sorrow we feel, as if we lost a friend or member of out family.

I’ll never forget yelping in pain and anguish when my brother called to tell me Clarence Clemons passed away. I was out to dinner with my parents and had to literally walk away from the table and out onto the street. At first they were horrified, thinking it was a real family member… then they were a bit surprised and dismayed that I would react so strongly to someone I had never met and really did not know. But I did know Clarence… just as I knew Bowie and Frey and Prince… and Petty. The only one of these I actually met was Petty… but that is NOT how I knew him.

I knew him for the music. I knew him from the common humanity and understanding we seemed to share… from the poetry, the lyrics and the notes. The chords and the chorus… the bridge and the riff. I knew him because he sung things I thought, and answered questions I wrestled with. That is art… that is music.

Petty’s music has been with me for almost 40 years.  He has been an almost constant companion since I was a teen… In high school, in college, in the car, on road trips… blasting from the house… bringing me up when I needed to learn, or relearn to fly… reminding me to listen to my heart… be patient because the waiting was the hardest part… and wondering how I was going to run down a dream.

And yet today, I could barely listen to the radio. Knowing why Petty was being played was too much to bare.  A sigh… a deep breath… none of it was enough to make it stop… to halt the revealing reality. In my brain I thought maybe I could wish it away… If I stop listening and watch the news it won’t be real.

I mean the news was all over the place… He was… he wasn’t… he will be. But as naive as we would like be as adults, we cannot stop it… Time, music, the show… it all goes on.

There is that moment when you hear a chunk of songs by an artist and feel a sense of dread. It’s not Two For Tuesday… It’s not Triple Play Thursday… It’s not Roll The Dice… Oh no… What happened??? Why are they playing so many of his/her/their songs???

The idea of being found unconscious means you were alone… means no one had a chance to save you. That haunts me a bit… haunts me a lot. For his last minutes, and for any of ours.

 

As I was driving my daughter home, and tears started once again, I told her that I felt bad for her, because as good as some of the artists of her generation may be, the odds of them still being here and vital 40 years from now was a long shot. I told her how much Tom’s music meant to me… How much it got me through. How he was a part of me. And my daughter is a music person. I know she gets it.

But now, as so often happens, music that gave me nothing but joy will be tinged with sadness, heartbreak and loss. Maybe for a few moments I’ll be lost… back in that innocence… purity… peace and calm… but then I’ll want to go back in time, like I do now. Go to more shows… go to the Bowl… stop time to get him help… to make it not happen… because right now all I can think is Nooooooooo! This cannot be.

We all have soundtracks… we all have songs that accompanied a first kiss… a first love… a first heartbreak… a first dance… a birth… a wedding… a death. Music has that power… and those who make the music, seemingly make it just for us. At least that is how we feel about the great ones.

I should have gone to the show at the Bowl… obviously now… but for me the bottom line was a need to conserve funds. I was being responsible… and luckily, I had seen TP & The Heartbreakers several times. It doesn’t take away the immediate sting and pain and loss, but… we cannot dwell and live with regret… Life is too short, too unpredictable… Clearly.

But I realized when you don’t have a lot of money and you’re young, you want things. When you don’t have a lot of money and you’re a bit older, you want experiences… those shared moments in time… those special events that will stay with you for a lifetime. And you miss them deeply when they pass you by. Concerts are a big one, and it hurts when I have to miss a show. Obviously I assumed he’d be back… that this was not the end of the tour… the road… the album…

At the time, as much as I wanted to be there, I was okay with missing it. There’d be others…

In this world… in these days… in any days… that is not a sure thing. Nothing is.

So let us sit with the pain… sit with the loss… sit with the music…
In the dark… headsets on… taking the whole library and output in. It’s astounding… the solo stuff… the duets… The Heartbreakers… The Traveling Wilburys… So much. So much amazing and incredible music.

And then… slowly, let us stand… and sway… and dance… and sing… and celebrate once again. Let us be thankful for what we DID HAVE… what we DO HAVE…

But yes, let us fully realize that it will never again be “just the normal noises in here”…

 

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Metal Monday – Musical Healing With Baroness… And No, Not Downton Abbey

Perhaps there is no irony that I was just watching Do The Right Thing last night… and how prominently it features a rather large and powerful Boom Box.

For me, it was and is about Jason and his magical Boom Box, and they have struck again. Well, not literally… I am not sitting in a bus in the very last seat listening to the literal boom box that sat on the floor or on the seat next to us. Though I wish I was… Wish I had held onto that time a little longer… a little more dearly.

I do miss those days… so innocent and pure… all about discovery of life and love. A broken heart or unrequited crush was as bad as things got back then. Don’t get me wrong. Those hurt like hell and seemed like the end of the world, but trust me… being an adult is SOOO much harder.

These days we struggle with so much… health, career, broken marriages… Life is not easy. And yet it is glorious and beautiful and filled with so many miracles… and we need to celebrate each and every one, each and every day. But that is so much easier said than done.

It is easy to say we should meditate daily, though I can tell you first hand, it works wonders. It is easy to say be more MINDFUL… but we all know that it takes tremendous work and soul-searching. But that is why they call it a PRACTICE. Take a moment out of your day to walk around your neighborhood. Look at each tree, each leaf, each stem… feel the breeze… hear the birds… and KNOW THAT LIFE IS MIRACULOUS.

We all have our own issues, some more dire than others and we tend to take on the issues of others. We feel the stress of our children, and sometimes feel helpless when trying to move them beyond their own frustrations. But the BEST thing we can do for ourselves and for them and for anyone we love, is to HEAL ourselves… get that OXYGEN MASK on first… and then help those around us… loved ones, strangers, the world…

And there is NOTHING that heals as much as music. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know my musical tastes run the gamut… the FULL gamut.  Just today my eclectic musical brain is listening to the following… New albums by Cheap Trick, The War On Drugs (so fricking good), Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors… all MUST LISTENS… and older ones by Beth Orton, Nickel Creek and The Sheepdogs.

Thanks and shout outs to Brad, Dan and Julie!  And now… courtesy of Jason, my Monday Morning Metal, Baroness and their amazing “comeback” album… Purple!

What is a bit of a miracle, is that I came up with this title BEFORE knowing or hearing anything about this band! As I write this post, their music is blasting, but in the background are devastating pictures and images from flooded Texas. On the fake news, I might add… he said sarcastically…

My heart is breaking, and somewhat ironically, Metal is soothing it. But the story of this band is nothing short of miraculous and so appropriate… further proof that THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES!!!

Wikipedia says that “Baroness is an American heavy metal band from Savannah, Georgia whose original members grew up together in Lexington, Virginia.

“Baroness formed in mid-2003, founded by former members of the punk/metal band Johnny Welfare and the Paychecks. Singer John Dyer Baizley creates the artwork for all Baroness albums, and has done artwork for other bands.”

On August 15, 2012, their coach “fell from a viaduct near Bath, England… and John Baizley suffered a broken left arm and broken left leg. each suffered fractured vertebrae. Pete Adams was treated and released from the hospital on August 16, 2012.”

There were months of recovery and in 2013, “Allen Blickle (drums) and Matt Maggioni (bass guitar) had left Baroness.

On April 1, 2013, it was announced, that Nick Jost, (bass) and Sebastian Thomson (drums) of Trans Am would be joining the band… and by the early Fall of that year, they were back on the road, touring Europe.

And in 2015, they released their “comeback” album called Purple.  Yes, purple IS my favorite color… but this album also kicks some ass… and “Shock Me” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards.”

That was my favorite track, by the way… AND BEFORE I READ THAT!

I also really like the fiery, hard rocking, fist-pumping, head banging, well-fueled “Kerosene,”  “Try To Disappear” and “Chlorine & Wine.” As Jason says, they are “doomy and metalish but proggy as well.” So yeah, they might be an acquired taste… and their lyrics are not always uplifting… but there is something there… and their story fits right in today’s narrative… people fighting to survive in the face of disaster.

And believe me, if you told me ten years ago that I would become a connoisseur of Metal, I would have laughed at you… but here we are and there you go.

So make it a Most Magical Metal Monday! Stay safe, be happy and be kind… CRANK UP THE MUSIC… and as always ROCK OUT!

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A Band Is Born – Into The Wild With Wilderado

Yeah, I am that guy…the one who gets to the movie early and doesn’t leave until the final credit goes to black, mostly to see if there is a fun outtake or bonus scene, but mostly just because. There is something about

I also like getting to concerts early, especially the venues that allow you to picnic and hang out at. It’s all part of the vibe, the experience, the show. But to go in early… to give up some tailgating and drinking time to see an opener, especially one you don’t know, is a sign of respect for music in general. But it also provides an opportunity for great potential reward, a brand musical discovery and every once in a while, a new favorite band! So yeah, I am that guy, too… and on Wednesday, August 2 at the Greek Theatre in LA, I was most definitely rewarded!

The headliner was Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, out in support of their new record entitled… yup…Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie! It’s an enjoyable album, and better than so much of what is out there. My favorite track is “In My World,” which has elements of the Mac and solo Buckingham. Actually, I agree with from Thom Jurek of AllMusic, who singled out the first three songs as “absolute knockouts.” The first three tracks are stellar, and I also adore track six “Too Far Gone”, which features some killer drumming, and got the audience on their feet and dancing at the Greek!

From what I understand, some of these songs were supposed to be on a new Fleetwood Mac project, but Stevie Nicks was touring in support of her solo project 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vaultand Lindsey and Christine did not want to wait. So Mick Fleetwood and John McVie appear, but no Stevie. 😦

The night was humid…crazy humid. I felt like I was in Florida, where standing still results in a swamp all over your body. I was sweating profusely, and was worried that people would think I was dying. But then again, we were all…moist.

Usually the Greek Theatre, in the hills of Griffith Park, cools down at night, so a sweatshirt or jacket is a nice thing to have for later in the evening. On this particular evening, I wished I had a cold shower. The sweatshirt proved to be nothing more than a burden I had to carry around. Life metaphor? Perhaps.

Say hello to Wilderado.

They call themselves a local band, and now hail from the canyons off the PCH around Malibu, but as soon as lead singer and guitarist Max Rainer opened his mouth to say hello, the Oklahoma twang was evident.

There is a singer/songwriter quality that hails from Oklahoma and Texas, and includes Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Robert Earl Keen. So take that, and add a healthy dash of Neil Young, Dawes, Band Of Horses, Fleet Foxes and a few other Indie Folk Rock acts that have killer harmonies…shake it all up and you have yourself a cool, tall glass of Wilderado.

This video for “Live Nation Ones To Watch” At The House of Blues gives you a nice taste of their sound and personalities.

As does this one, from one of their Sofar LA shows. Y’all know how much I LOVE this series of live music in people’s private homes… basically a worldwide living room concert series!!! Did you see how twangy I just got?

New Dad, Max Rainer, on lead vocals and guitar and Justin Kila on drums hail from Tulsa.
Colton Dearing on bass and Tyler Wimpee on guitar and keys are from the Dallas area

It’s one thing to have great music, and a whole other thing to be genuine and kind. These guys have both… to a man! They were so genuinely appreciative of being at the Greek. You could hear the awe and honor in their voice and in what they said. You could see it on their faces, and you could feel it in the music and the energy from the stage.  I loved when Colton shouted “Hello LA!” I mean, who has not dreamed of that Rock N’ Roll moment?!

I had the same feeling watching these guys as I did when I saw the Record Company open for JJ Grey And Mofro. Killer band, fantastic guys and just after that show they broke in a HUGE way! I’m not saying I broke them, mind you, but I gave them some high praise indeed…and before many knew who they were… So BOOM!

Read that post (my 899th) here!

Wilderado Set List (Wed. Aug 2, 2017 – Greek Theatre LA):
The Ocean And The Sea (Misty Shrub EP)
Already Loved (Latigo EP)
Hollow
Morning Light (Latigo EP)
Bottoms (Singles EP)
Favors
Sorrow
Rubble To Rubble (Latigo EP)
Siren (A great new song they will be recording soon!)

(Photo by Stefanie Vinsel Photography)

Next month they head into the studio to record some tracks, including “Siren,” with the amazing Phil Ek. Phil has worked with some of my most favorite artists, like The Shins, Band Of Horses, The Walkmen, Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes, including their amazing new album Crack-Up!

After their set, Wilderado waited by the Merch table, and took the time to talk to each and every person that wanted to chat…or compliment…or take a selfie…
Okay, just ASK someone else to take the photo… Trust me! Selfies USUALLY suck.

My point is this…If these guys keep making great music and stay as humble, kind and sincere as they are, they are in for an amazing ride… as are we!

And remember the lesson of the day kiddies: Get to the concert early, respectfully watch the opener(s) and stay until the end. Usually, you will be quite happy you did! Cheers!

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Metal Monday – Open Your Ears And Your Mind

One of my favorite quotes is from the amazing Rabbi Noah Weinberg who said we must “Listen With Our Ears.” What he meant is that way too often we listen from our position, from our entrenched beliefs, and so we fail to actually hear what people are saying. We immediately take a defensive posture and argue, rather than simply listen… and hear… and take in.

This is an accurate description of the world in which we currently live… and it is soooooo not good. We need to get over who said what, and accept that a good idea is a good idea. The sooner we do this and realize that the big picture must be to help and problem solve and work together, rather than block and blame and fight on separate sides, the better off we and the entire world will be. Truth and fact MUST be respected and honored… and it is from here that we need to start and accomplish.

Soap Box… Stepping off.

Sorry, but coming off the most recent news cycle has my brain in a dizzying spin and I needed to vent a little.

But… I LOVE the fact that I could just quote a Rabbi in a blog about Metal, but this is who I am… a man of many sides and passions. I yearn for spirituality in different forms… life, religion and music!

So what does his quote have to do with music?

Too often we dismiss certain bands or genres because we have pre-conceived notions, ideas we have formed from others, instead of allowing ourselves the objective opportunity to hear, and observe and decide for ourselves. I am and have been guilty of this.

As I began to write these posts on Metal, I went back to bands I had dismissed out of hand… and found that there is a lot of music I actually like. This week’s playlist includes Queensrÿche, Motörhead and two completely new discoveries… bands I had NEVER EVEN HEARD OF, but found because of my research, and OPEN EARS!!! The Sword from Texas and Witchcraft from Sweden are now on my weekly playlist. And yes, I do laugh at myself for both my late arrival to Metal and for my embracing bands that many family and friends roll their eyes at me for.

Some band notes from Wikipedia:

The Sword is an American heavy metal band from Austin, Texas. Formed in 2003, the band is currently composed of vocalist and guitarist John D. Cronise, guitarist Kyle Shutt, bassist Bryan Richie and drummer Santiago “Jimmy” Vela III.”

“The Sword has been categorized as a stoner rock and doom metal band, and is influenced by groups such as Black Sabbath and Sleep. The band has toured with a wide range of fellow rock and metal artists since its formation, including Metallica, Lamb of God and Clutch, and in recent years has also headlined its own tours. The Sword’s first album Age of Winters failed to chart, but subsequent releases have all gained increasing commercial success in the US and the UK, with High Country also charting in other regions.”

“Magnus Pelander (formerly of Norrsken) formed Witchcraft in 2000 in order to record a tribute to Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling and Roky Erickson.”

“Their debut album, Witchcraft (2004), was worked on in a basement studio with vintage equipment, which gave them their very seventies-esque sound. Mats left the band almost immediately after the recording was done. Mats was also the drummer in the surf trio “The Hollywoods” and 50’s rockin “Eva Eastwood and the Major Keys”. In mid-2004, the band toured Europe with Orange Goblin and Grand Magus.

In May 2012, the band announced that they had signed with Nuclear Blast Records. Their fourth studio album, Legend, was released in September 2012.

The new album marked the recording debut of the band’s new members, including Simon Solomon (guitar), Tom Jondelius (guitar), and Oscar Johansson (drums) formerly of TruckFighters, with singer Magnus Pelander focusing only on vocals instead of both vocals and guitar.”

Kind of odd that if I had ended the blog before this sentence, the word count was 666.  Seriously!

So no, I am not into that part of the music… nor the doom and dark… but there is a lot worth listening to. I dig the retro sounds and the influences of bands I love, like Thin Lizzy and Rush and other Metal bands I am coming around to… and encourage you to do the same!

Just listen with your ears and decide for yourself.

The Sword

Witchcraft

Witchcraft Acoustic

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“But In The End It Doesn’t Even Matter” – Thoughts For Chester Bennington

This is the official Tweet from the band… No words… Just this photo…

I can only imagine that words are too painful for now… or there are no words… no sentences that can be formulated… And a picture says so much… THIS picture says so much.

And yet… all that is not enough. The lights, the music, the adoration… the fame, and maybe fortune… None of that can inoculate any of us from pain and sorrow and whatever other dark forces try to pull us down.

In one of my favorite Linkin Park songs, “Bleed It Out”, Chester sings:
“Filthy mouth, no excuse
Find a new place to hang this noose
String me up from atop these roofs
Knot it tight so I won’t get loose.”

Chilling.

I always liked this band and their hybrid of Metal, Rock & Rap. I liked that they were mostly local boys… the band is usually referred to as coming from Agoura Hills, CA… and while definitely not my generation, they were close enough.

I had the pleasure of seeing them live once, at the Epicenter Festival at the Pomona Fairplex, and they were fantastic. And all seemingly nice guys. I’ll never forget that day… Saturday, August 22, 2009. My buddy Russ hooked us up with the full VIP… backstage… All Access… It was great..  Definitely spoiled by that one!

The line up was epic… Street Sweeper Social Club (Tom Morello’s side project at the time), Hollywood Undead, Atreyu, Wolfmother, Alice in Chains, Linkin Park and Tool.

Wolfmother, Alice In Chains and Linkin Park were the highlights for me… and seeing all those guys backstage was pretty amazing.

Today was a pretty shitty ass day, so I guess I was raw and nervy to begin with…

I guess that happens when you wake up to find someone had rummaged through your car late the night before, and had stolen a bunch of shit. Technically, they did not break in, since it seems that I left the car unlocked… Trusting bastard that I am… or most likely I just forgot.

And I got lucky in that they dropped a ton of stuff on my lawn… gift cards… sunglasses… a wallet with my insurance and registration in it. But the whole thing is just creepy and bizarre… and yes, you feel violated. I was actually shaking when I realized what had happened.

They took quarters out of a box I kept change in, but left some dimes and pennies on the car floor… They got away with some certificates for The Habit, but left some for Souplantation.

Apparently at least seven other cars were hit, including four or five of us here… so this was a well executed night. No one was hurt and it is just “things” but the idea of buying a gun has crossed my mind yet again.

And oh yeah… OJ was granted parole. I know the law is the law, and he paid his dues for THIS CRIME…but this spouse-abuser and double murderer does not deserve a minute of non-prison air. Not one.

So I was edgy and not happy, but is that the reason I shouted out loud when seeing the news of Chester Bennington’s death by suicide (hanging)? Or was it that he was only 41? Or perhaps it was the notion that fame and fortune and success could mean nothing in the face of whatever pain lies on the other side?

Clearly we’ll know more in the coming days… drugs… depression… all of the above. But six children… a wife and an ex-wife… I mean… I am speechless. Cannot wrap my head around that. Or maybe as I get older, I can and that is what scares me.

What signal does this send to the fans… to kids who have no fame, no stardom… to see their lives as lost and hopeless?

For someone who is sometimes stuck in the “If this happens my life will be better” mentality, things like this strike me to my core…

Life has to be better now… and if we need to scream or even whisper for help, we need to do that! Do NOT hold things inside. There is ALWAYS SOMEONE OUT THERE TO HELP!

And for those on the other side… SEE THE SIGNS… HEAR THE CRIES AND SOMETIMES ALMOST SILENT WHIMPERS AND INVISIBLE TEARS…

ALL OF US need to be present… ALIVE in each and every moment… And while we certainly can and should strive for more, we MUST FIND JOY in what is in front of us… and in what we have… NOW. 

“What I’ve Done”

“Formed in 1996, the band rose to international fame with their debut album Hybrid Theory (2000), which was certified Diamond by the RIAA in 2005 and multi-Platinum in several other countries. Their following studio album Meteora continued the band’s success, topping the Billboard 200 album chart in 2003, and was followed by extensive touring and charity work around the world.

Having adapted nu metal and rap metal to a radio-friendly yet densely layered style in Hybrid Theory and Meteora, the band explored other genres in their next studio album, Minutes to Midnight (2007). The album topped the Billboard charts and had the third-best debut week of any album that year.”
(Wikipedia)

Ironic that I have been writing a lot about Metal music lately, and this band was considered to be in the Nu Metal genre. And perhaps most ironic and chilling yet again, are the lyrics from their hit song “In The End.”

It is hard not to grab onto some of the lyrics given what happened… Apparently Chester did not like this song initially, but it wound up being the “highest charting single in the US, debuting at #78 and peaking at number 2 on the Hot 100 in March 2002.” (Wikipedia)
“I kept everything inside
And even though I tried, it all fell apart
What it meant to me
Will eventually be a memory of a time when

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter”

Life matters… Life matters.

“In order for us to truly experience everything the world has to offer, we must first come to appreciate all that we already have.” (Deepak Chopra)

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July 20, 2017 · 5:31 pm

Metal Monday – General Thoughts And Rockin’ Ramblings (Part Two)

What the heck is happening to me? What have you done, Jason and Barry?

I’m starting to dive in a little deeper… and the cool, metallic blue water is fine.

So no, this is not a mid-life crisis, although there are far worse things I could be doing… and I do like the sound of having a Metal Mid-Life Crisis… don’t steal it… it’s my phrase!

So in addition to the countless TV series I need to binge on, I want to watch a few of what are considered the best Metal documentaries out there. My list of four is:

The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)
I have not seen this Penelope Spheeris film, but hear good things.

Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal (2006)

Anvil!: The Story of Anvil (2008)
I have seen this film twice, but have not seen it in a while. I originally described it as the real-life Spinal Tap, but an incredible story of tenacity, heart and ultimate triumph!

Iron Maiden: Flight 666 (2009)
I have also seen this one, but I can use a re-do, especially after my first Maiden live experience. And yes the fact that Bruce Dickinson actually pilots the 747 (Ed Force One) is pretty amazing!

When I went to look up the year of this film, I also got a few more suggestions from Wikipedia:

“Flight 666 is co-produced by Toronto-based Banger Films, known for their documentaries Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Global Metal and Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage.”

I have seen the Rush film… fantastic… but not the others.

To give you an update… I have Iron Maiden and the 30th Anniversary Remasters of Judas Priest in my steady rotation. And so you know how eclectic my tastes are… those records are balanced out with Cheap Trick, CRX, Maximo Park, Haim, London Grammar, Charles Bradley, Bob Dylan, The Book Of Mormon Cast Recording, Weezer, The New Pornographers, Seu Jorge and Bleachers as part of my July Summer Playlist!

Plus… and this is where it gets interesting, and we can blame Jason and Barry… I have Motorhead (yes, I am fascinated with Lemmy) and some more Metallica coming in from the library. And with the latter, I am really enjoying the ride! I know they are playing LA soon, so hmmm…

Now, I do NOT see myself becoming an aficionado of Thrash Metal, even though Metallica is in the “Big Four of Thrash” which also includes Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer.”

I both love and am frightened by this description from Wikipedia: “Low-register guitar riffs are typically overlaid with shredding leads. Lyrics often express nihilistic views or deal with social issues using visceral, gory language. Thrash has been described as a form of “urban blight music” and “a pale-faced cousin of rap.”

They say: “Thrash metal emerged in the early 1980s under the influence of hardcore punk and the new wave of British heavy metal, particularly songs in the revved-up style known as speed metal. The movement began in the United States, with Bay Area thrash metal being the leading scene. The sound developed by thrash groups was faster and more aggressive than that of the original metal bands and their glam metal successors.”

And speaking of Glam Metal, that would include 1980s Mötley Crüe and Poison, both of whom I liked growing up. Again, not a crazy, major fan, but their music was fun.

Death Metal… Ain’t gonna happen, and not just because it “utilizes the speed and aggression of both thrash and hardcore, fused with lyrics preoccupied with Z-grade slasher movie violence and Satanism.”
It’s just not my thing…

But Retro Metal seems to be, as I have loved Wolfmother for a long time! Though they are definitely more influenced by Led Zeppelin and seemingly not hardcore screaming Metal.

 

 

Other bands in this sub-genre are ones I have never heard… well, until now… like…
The Sword (from Texas)… So far, so good. I need to explore more for sure, and according to an iTunes reviewer, they were on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, sampling Texas BBQ… so there you go! How could I NOT like them?
High on Fire (from California)… A little too “screamy” for my tastes… Will pass.
And Witchcraft (from Sweden). So, yes… the name scared me, but I am really digging their Self-Titled album and especially their Legend record. Hmmm… Although their song “Her Sisters They Were Weak” reminds me of Jethro Tull, who I really cannot listen to. But that is another story for another day. Their music just makes me feel uneasy and creeped out. Strange.

So if Punk was sloppy, Metal does seem to be quite precise. Both Barry and Jason agree on that, and it’s part of why they love it! I can see that so much more now!

Also from WikipediaNew York Times critic Jon Pareles writes: “In the taxonomy of popular music, heavy metal is a major subspecies of hard-rock—the breed with less syncopation, less blues, more showmanship and more brute force.” The typical band lineup includes a drummer, a bassist, a rhythm guitarist, a lead guitarist, and a singer, who may or may not be an instrumentalist. Keyboard instruments are sometimes used to enhance the fullness of the sound. Deep Purple’s Jon Lord played an overdriven Hammond organ. In 1970, John Paul Jones used a Moog synthesizer on Led Zeppelin III; by the 1990s, in”… almost every subgenre of heavy metal” synthesizers were used.”

Who wouldathunk that I’d be listening to, exploring, seeking out, and writing about Metal?

All the more reason to listen with your ears and be open to the music of the world…the music of EVERYTHING!

 

 

 

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Metal Monday – General Thoughts And Rockin’ Ramblings (Part One)

So a couple of general thoughts hit me as I was writing my Iron Maiden posts. I knew I wanted to do something about Metal in general…the history, the different styles, etc.

Then my buddy Jason posted something that I thought was worth exploring, specifically about Maiden. And then my friend, fraternity brother and other Metal Mentor, Barry gave some awesome insight into his love of the genre… and Boom!

Since neither are guest blogging, you’re stuck with me. But these are the two who Metaled me up… And hey, look, Boys! Thirty some odd years later it worked! I’m hooked!

METAL MUSIC
So where does one start when looking for info. on any given subject? Wikipedia, of course.

“Heavy metal… developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and the United States. With roots in blues rock and psychedelic/acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.”

“In 1968, the first heavy metal bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple attracted large audiences, though they were often derided by critics. During the mid-1970s, Judas Priest helped spur the genre’s evolution by discarding much of its blues influence; Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. Beginning in the late 1970s, bands in the new wave of British heavy metal such as Iron Maiden and Saxon followed in a similar vein. Before the end of the decade, heavy metal fans became known as “metalheads” or “headbangers”.

A couple of things stand out for me. First, it amazes me how things that are on the fringe become so mainstream at a certain point in time. Zeppelin and Deep Purple are Classic Rock bands to me! Granted I came to them later in their careers, but that was normal FM Radio/East Coast listening. And let us not forget that The Beatles started off as the enemy to many a parent. Then the Stones came out as the even more evil rockers! And of course, speaking of Metal, Iron Maiden was cast as devil worshippers.

Some folks consider AC/DC a Metal band, but to me they are just hard rock and one of the highlights to come out of Jason’s Boom Box. Same with KISS. And while Judas Priest was always blasting that summer, I never really listened to Metal on a regular basis. In fact, when people asked me what musical genres were the ones I knew the least about, I would always say Rap, New Country and Metal.

Now Rap and Hip Hop come pouring out from behind my daughter’s closed bedroom door (No, that is not really it!!!), along with a fair amount of Show Tunes! Though I am also happy to say that her playlist has a heck of a lot of Classic Rock on it!

I will admit that I got into NWA, Dr. Dre, Tupac and others all “after the fact.” Way before my daughter, but after the fact…and I will also admit that I do get “parental” from time to time, as I hear certain lyrics being sung by my kid. Ugh.

And I always had a soft side… and I guess I still do… as my favorites of the time were Steve Miller Band and The Eagles. My first concerts were more Classic Rock than anything else, too. Chicago and Orleans was my first. Then The Eagles, Heart and the Little River Band

Usually as people get older their musical tastes get smaller and more “refined”.  Not me! My tastes have been growing and expanding for a long time now. And as I said, I seem to come to certain things late… like Metal! Which also has friends accusing me of doing to try to stay young. That’s not the way I work. I listen to what moves me, what grabs me and I do not care where and who it comes from. More politicians need to do this with good ideas! It should not matter what side of the aisle it comes from! A good idea is a good idea, and the goal must be to problem solve, help and create joy.

But this post is about MUSICAL JOY! So what is it about Metal that has taken such a hold on me? Iron Maiden is in regular rotation. I love the new Metallica album, and the Judas Priest 30th Anniversary CDs are kicking me into gear. I wrote about how studies have shown that this music can actually relax people. I can actually see that, but for me, it just makes me happy and energized, and I love to CRANK IT! To 11!!!

Barry wrote:
“It’s all about the energy. Metal still motivates me and gets me pumped like no other genre. And the metal bands that I like best – the ones that exhibit extreme technical precision like Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, etc. – appeal to me from my early years as a classically trained pianist. (Which is probably why I enjoyed grunge, but never got into it as much as I did metal – the precision was always a little lacking for me.) I am also a huge fan of guitar virtuosos like Reb Beach, Paul Gilbert, Nuno Bettencourt, John Petrucci, George Lynch, et. al. – their craftsmanship and precision continue to astound and inspire me.

Right on, Barry!!!

Robert Walser (author of Running With the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Musicsaid that Metal’s “most influential musicians have been guitar players who have also studied classical music. Their appropriation and adaptation of classical models sparked the development of a new kind of guitar virtuosity [and] changes in the harmonic and melodic language of heavy metal.”

 

And specifically on Maiden, Jason wrote:
“I think another thing that is important to mention — for the uninitiated — is to not pre-judge Iron Maiden because of Eddie (their mascot, who is on all their graphics). Maiden is not what you might hate about metal — in fact it’s quite the contrary. Musically, their material is high-energy and rocks hard (and they are great players), it’s mostly very melodic and their lyrics are unobjectionable (no cursing, no objectifying of women, and many have historical context, e.g., “The Trooper,” about the Crimean War, “Aces High,” about the WWII air wars and Battle of Britain, “Where Eagles Dare,” based on the great WWII film, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” based on the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem, etc). They are all smart individuals, family men, and their lead singer actually flies the band plane (a fully loaded 747 with the band gear, not a little prop plane.). With streaming services, it’s easy to sample their music or their bio-pic, “Flight 666.” Enjoy the journey and Up the Irons!”

So you can see how and why these two are my Metal Mentors… Jason on a Teen Tour, and Barry as my Frat House roommate in College! We listened to a hell of a lot of great stuff back then, Boys! And this does not even include all that Al Jarreau and Spyro Gyra, Barry! What? We needed to charm the ladies!

Come back next Monday for Metal Monday – General Thoughts And Rockin’ Ramblings (Part Two) when we talk about all the different sub-genres of Metal and more!

 

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