On and On and On (We Go!)

Sunday, November 8, 2015 Posted by

It seems that I left the lights on on my blog. I had to reset my password to get back in here. It is a bit early for me to talk about song picks for the year, but then again, since I had only posted twice in the last three years, maybe it is really late.

I really only listen to music from female artists these days. Maybe I am just a lonely old man. Or maybe it is because boys as a whole have completely forgotten how to rock, and the ladies are taking over. Let’s go with that one. As it happens, earlier this year, I was almost in a band with a female lead singer, but it did not work out. Anyway, what was I listening to this year?

I actually quite liked that super-massive mega-hit by Taylor Swift. Well, one of them anyway. You know, the good one. The one that has the second most views of all time on YouTube. I do not think Miss Swift really needs my endorsement, as I read somewhere that her album outsold everything from the past twelve years. There was a story a while ago about iTunes mistakenly uploading about 10 seconds of white noise labeled as a Taylor Swift song and it still went to number one. We are not here to talk about pop stars are we? (It turns out that we are.)

Charli XCX – Boom! Clap! / Break the Rules: You may or may not know her as one of the two white girls from last year’s utterly inexplicable hip-hop hit by, well, two white girls. I, for some reason, watched a video of her performance on SNL, and was shocked when she totally kicked ass! So I checked out some of her stuff and… I just was not into it at all. Oh well, I moved on and more or less forgot about it. Then several months later, I happened to run across her name again somewhere and I did a little more research. I came to the conclusion that whoever produced her album did her a huge disservice. Her recordings are just typically forgettable synth-pop, but then she went on tour with a three-piece all-girl punk-ish band, and it is a whole different story. A pop star who is better live than on the record? No, this is a pop star who is only good live. Who knew that was a thing? So skip her official videos, here is her full set from Glastonbury. Now, I am not even going to pretend that anyone is going to read this and watch that whole thing, so I would also just like to point out that on the second song she busts out a comically over-sized inflatable guitar, yet she “plays” it with such conviction that for a brief moment, I questioned whether the damn thing was actually plugged in and making noise somehow. Which is patently absurd, of course, but this girl is legit.

Tove Lo – Talking Body: This is an unwholesome video for an unwholesome song by an unwholesome singer. I do not know if it is because she is Swedish, or because she is a rock star, or a combination of both, but she is far more open about sexuality and nudity than us repressed Americans. As this is still *nominally* a Christian blog, I am not going to provide a link. Just know that this song exists, and that it has been stuck in my head for months. Incidentally, her live band consists of two drummers and keyboardist. Drummers are hard to come by, and here she is flaunting two of them? Scandalous.

Lights – Up We Go: Ugh. This is a straight up peppy, feel good, throw away pop song. There is no reason in the world I should like it at all, but that hook is so dang catchy. The lyrics are actually kind of dark too, when you get right down to it. Now, in the same vein as what I said above, it seems that music videos featuring female singers who aren’t stripped down to their underwear are rather rare. (Presumably because the music industry is run by even lonelier, dirtier old men than I.) This video does feature a couple getting it on, but at least in this case, it is not the singer herself. This is what we call artistic integrity, I suppose. Anyway, if that is a deal breaker for you, have a nice acoustic version instead. [As long as I am being all morality police-y, I maybe should have mentioned that Charli XCX has quite the potty mouth. I don’t care.]

The Like – June Gloom: This is actually a song from 2006 that I discovered the last time that I was on a girl band kick. Unfortunately I found it too late to include in that list, so I am throwing it in here for completeness. Is the song any good? I actually have no idea, but the video is mesmerizing. [SPOILER: the pretty girls are a misdirect! Watch the instruments!]

 

And the winner is:

Meg Myers – Sorry: Okay, enough with the guilty pleasures and embarrassing confessions. This is real. This girl single handedly got me excited about music again. I would not be talking about any of this otherwise. (BTW, didn’t I used to know a Meg Meyers? Not the same one.) She reminds me of Courtney Love, which might not seem like a compliment as Courtney Love is a train-wreck of a human being. Yet I actually liked Hole. I do not know about you, but I realized that I want my artists to be a little damaged. I feel as though a lot of singers have an “authenticity” problem, but Meg here sounds like she has been through some shit, and she sings like she means it. This song is the title track from her debut album, which was conveniently released in 2015. Although, she actually had a couple of EPs before this, and to be perfectly honest, I feel like her older stuff seemed to have more “teeth”. While this song is decent, also check out Heart Heart Head, Curbstomp, and, well, everything else really. Perhaps “Sorry” is not the best song of the year, but Meg Myers is definitely the most interesting artist that I know of right now.

28 Songs in 28 Days

Thursday, March 6, 2014 Posted by

What: I spent the month of February recording a different song every day.

28

Why: Why not? Perhaps a better question would be, “Why now?” The project came from a number of factors all coming together. I have been thinking, off and on, for a long time about how I have written “around thirty” songs. Many of which have never been heard by anyone. Although my song writing has been quite sparse in recent years, on those rare occasions when I do come up with something new, I consider recording and posting it online. Then I think that the new song is sort of the musical equivalent of a direct-to-video-sequel-with-none-of-the-original-cast to one of my earlier songs, and yet no one has ever heard THAT song either.

So, with “around thirty” being the number days in a month, it occurred to me some time ago that I could take a whole month and spend one day recording/developing each song. I dismissed the idea pretty quickly at the time as wildly impractical. However, this past December, I quit my job of which I just could not stand another day. Then in January, after years of teasing the idea of investing in vintage guitars, but being unable to pull the trigger, I finally bought one. (Which I could talk about at length, but it distracts from the topic at hand.) In the meantime, the crappy band that I was in a few years ago got back together. And while the band leader is talking about recording and doing shows, I feel that I have heard all that before. This band did not go anywhere the first two times we were together, and I have zero expectation that things will be different the third time around. I just see it as an excuse to play music a couple of times a week, which I would not really do otherwise. Yet it gnaws at me, why am I relying on this guy when I have piles of my own material that I am not doing anything with?

So, with January drawing to close, no particular plans for the future, music heavily on my mind, and of course, February being the shortest month, somehow it just clicked and I decided, “Screw it, I’m doing this!”

This was most definitely a “quantity over quality” endeavor. I knew going in that I probably was not going to finish much of anything. While I have no doubt that many talented individuals can do full production on a song in a single day, I myself am not known for doing things quickly. I do not remember exactly how long I spent the last time that I undertook a serious recording project, but I believe it was on the order of several weeks for only three songs, and even then I was not completely satisfied with the results. So the idea of getting a complete song in a single day was pretty much out of the question. Even though I was not writing new songs, simply recording/arranging/completing existing material, that is still a lot of work. Especially considering that I have not been practicing guitar very much at all in the past few years, and that I have practiced vocals basically never, the goal was not so much to get versions of the songs that I could share with people. It was more for my own reference, to get these ideas out of my head and into a more tangible form so that I can evaluate what actually has potential, what needs work, and what is a lost cause.

Some of the early stuff, I think is pretty good so far, I basically just ran out of time with my one-song-per-day-then-move-on rule. And several times I had some new ideas for a song a day or two later, but again, going back was a no-no. Around day 12 though, I started to run out of steam and really phoned it in for the next week or so. I am almost afraid to go back and listen to any of that. And I was really scraping the barrel some days, with songs that I probably have not played since the Clinton administration, and several ideas that I always felt were good, just never developed, now left me wondering, “What was I thinking? There’s no song here!” It is hard to completely give up on any of them, since in a very real sense every song contains a piece of my life and a piece of my soul… but some are still pretty crappy. I was also unpleasantly surprised by the number of songs that are fun to play yet tedious to listen too.

In any case, I really need a break after living and breathing music every single day for four weeks straight. It was a great learning experience, and I have about 28 different stories that I could tell. But I need to give it a little time and distance so I can go back and listen fresh.

That said… I can not really spend a month recording and not share anything. SO, this song is not the greatest thing that I have written, but it has special significance by being the most recent. In 2012, after one of the aforementioned band’s breakups, I was frustrated not only with the  drama between band members, but also the fact that I really did not like the kind of music that we were playing anyway. Wanting to write something more my own style, I came up this over the next couple of days.

Blog Like Each Post is Your Last

Thursday, June 20, 2013 Posted by

I never specifically decided to stop blogging, I just lost interest. After this post, it is hard to say when or if I will ever post again, so…

I have been aware for some time that I seem to feel that I deserve absolutely everything that happens to me, good or bad. Consequently, I tend to be extremely ungrateful when people do nice things for me, but on the other hand, I am not very indignant when bad things happen either. I have discussed how few times I have lost my temper in my adult life. In trying to analyze why that happens at all, I eventually concluded that I get angry when I feel that I am not getting the respect that I deserve. Which was an anticlimactic revelation; isn’t that why everyone loses their temper? Yet it does not happen to me very often, because most of the time I simply do not feel that I deserve much respect anyway. In fact, the times when I really get hot seem to not be specifically about me at all, I become incensed over the idea that the person would treat ANYONE that way.

Ultimately though, I have been puzzled by my own attitude for some time, as it implies a certain justice/balance/karma to the universe that I do not subscribe to intellectually. Do I also feel that everyone else deserves everything that happens to them? Not particularly, but them I am quite narcissistic and can not say that I spend much time thinking about other people, especially in those terms.

It was only recently that I dug even further into myself and realized that, if I get exactly what I deserve, yet I want more than I have, then the only way that I know to acquire it is through deceit and trickery.  To try and advance above my station, as it were. Though the details are hazy with the fog of time, I recall a moment many years ago, long before I ever even considered setting foot into a church. In a dark place emotionally, I had, not so much a plan, but a thought, a desire, a whim; to reinvent myself. To fool the Universe itself into giving me… something more than what I had.

 

And it didn’t work.

Low

Sunday, September 23, 2012 Posted by

I happened to find myself hanging out with an Iraq war vet last weekend. I know for a fact that this guy has lived through and seen things that i could not begin to imagine, nor would I want to. Yet several different times, he mentioned that he thought I was brave because my mother died.

This was utterly baffling to me for several reasons. First of all, being brave is not about the things that happen in your life, but rather your response to them. I can not remember if I have stated this before, but I have certainly said it to myself often: everybody’s mother dies. They may be young, they may be old, but sooner or later it happens to everyone. (And if it does not, on the rare occasions that a mother outlives the child, then THAT is the real tragedy.) Everyone’s mother dies, but most people manage to still be a functional member of society afterwards. Me – not so much. Nothing brave about that.

I do not know if it was solely because of this conversation, or if there were other factors as well, but I had a particularly bad week, in which I was even less functional and productive than usual. Nothing brave about that either.

Live Free Or Return of Planet of Movie Reviews Sans Title: Reckoning

Sunday, September 2, 2012 Posted by

This movie was fine. I pretty much got what I expected out of it. I want to get that out of the way up front, because I do not want to talk about the movie itself so much as its place in the world.

At first glance, one might compare this to Movie #1 and think, “CGI, fairy tale, princess… this is just more of the same.” I did at first. However, a significant theme in this movie is the relationship between mother and daughter. I found this odd, because mothers are usually conspicuously absent from these movies. What do you guys have against mothers over there?

This lead me to investigate the key difference between these two movies. This movie was produced by a company that so revolutionized this style of film making that their name is practically synonymous with it. It was distributed by their even-more-well-know parent company. Conversely, that other movie was (I guess) produced in-house by that same parent company. Which means that it has a place in said company’s “official canon”, and, perhaps more significantly, that movie’s protagonist is an official member of the character franchise.

Neither of those is true of this movie. Which is a shame, because I feel that this is a better example of the kind of movie that made that company famous than anything they have produced themselves in the last decade or so. (Present company excluded, of course.)

Opposite Effect

Monday, July 23, 2012 Posted by

Someone on fb (who am I kidding, it is always the same person) posted something about the number of abortions in the U.S. and China. The China figure was significantly higher than the U.S., but when adjusted for population, apparently China has roughly double the number of abortions per capita. Which is still a lot, so that point is neither here nor there.

No, what I have been pondering for the last week or so was a comment someone else left about how the aborted babies are “immediately with Jesus forever.” I do not know that there is Biblical evidence to support this, I think it is merely assumed because God is not a d-bag*.

I started thinking, academically, about what part of you actually goes to Heaven. Specifically, whether or not you retain your personality and values in the after life. I have to assume either that these unborn babies with Jesus will either have no personality, or that our personalities are in no way formed by the experiences of our mortal lives. Or that that which is aborted is not actually a person. Or that the whole thing is hogwash and there is no such thing as Heaven.

And with that simple comment, I felt as though the entire concept of eternal life came tumbling down like a house of cards.

*Although the Biblical evidence for THAT is somewhat open to argument.

Defeatist

Monday, July 9, 2012 Posted by

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matt. 7:3-5).

I have been struggling lately with character flaws in others that are also a problem in me. This is happening at work, in social circles, among fb friends, you name. I am very non-confrontational to begin with, but I keep wishing I could say to people, “You know, this would work a lot better if you were not so _____.” Then I realize that I am quite ____ myself, and am in no position to criticize.

So what then? Are we to merely accept that people are inherently flawed, that criticism is not constructive, and that we must lower our standards and realize the futility of our goals?

Counting Thoughts

Friday, June 29, 2012 Posted by

I have been pondering the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts.”

It is something people say when intentions were good but the result was poor. I suppose it works, to a degree, as an apology or consolation. Yet, as a philosophy for life, it is garbage.

Thoughts are cheap. Thoughts plus effort is what really counts. Consider it from the opposite direction: if someone is angry, and has thoughts of retribution and violence, yet has the self-control not to act on them, is it really the thought that counts in that case?*

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about ideas that I have had, projects that I wanted to do, particularly things that I thought about doing for or with various people… but so what? If all I ever do is think of things, but never take any action, then what is the value in that?

 

*It actually is, according to Jesus (Matt 5:21-22).

Trick or Treat

Sunday, June 24, 2012 Posted by

A couple of weeks ago I had occasion to proclaim, “I am Christian gentlemen!” This statement is obviously inaccurate on at least two counts. I said it to a co-worker as an excuse for why I did not want to stop what I was doing, turn around, and check out some random lady’s posterior.

My coworker’s response was, “Well, so am I but…” I can not remember what rationalization, if any, followed. Nor does it matter to me. I already knew the man was a Christian or I would not have bothered.

This is the point that has troubled me for some time. It is utterly inconceivable to many Christians that non-Christians could be moral people. However, I have met moral and immoral Christians, as well as moral and immoral non-believers.  As far as I am concerned, whether or not someone is a self-proclaimed Christian is a fairly irrelevant  indicator of their character. Especially concerning areas of sexuality as in the example above, it seems that most Christians feel those bits of the Bible were really meant for other people.

Atheists are fully capable of being as moral or more as any Christian, yet I have yet to come across any good argument from an atheist perspective as to where that morality comes from. In this particular instance, I was using the Bible as a convenient shorthand, even if I had to outright lie to do it.  There probably was an argument to be made about the importance of respecting women and so forth, but I doubt I could pull that off. I am certainly not going to claim that I have never stared inappropriately at a woman, but at that particular moment, I simply was not interested.

And Time

Sunday, June 10, 2012 Posted by

The summer concert series for which I set up sound equipment started again this week. This means a few things. First, someone is going to die. Secondly, last year I started the habit of setting up for the event, going home, blogging, then going back to tear down. Even after the concert series was over, I continued blogging roughly once a week for what would have been a year now, except that twice in the just last few weeks, I have not bothered to post anything. Of course, I would be pleasantly surprised if even five of those posts from the last year were actually important reading.

Most significantly, the sound guy was immediately interested in what I had been doing since last summer, and I simply had nothing to say. Yes there have been some memorable incidents and quality time spent with people and so forth. Yet in terms of long term goals and life accomplishments, the past year may just as well have never happened for me. Nor can I say that the next year is likely to be much different. And as I have commented before, no amount of blogging is going to change that, much as I still foolishly wish that it could.