• Category Archives Music
  • A short list of songs that changed my life – part 1

    There are many, many songs that have altered my life in some way or another – but some of them have a special impact on me. I’ve tried to list them all, but of course, there are too many. Still, there are a few that stand out. And of course, I can make a list of others when the time comes. But for now, I’ve selected a handful of songs to share. Maybe these songs will change your lives as well.

    REM – Stand: I’ve written about the significance of this song before, but it is such a significant song to my musical appreciation and development, I had to include this song in the list. The story goes like this: I was riding my bike some Sunday afternoon in the mid 80s. I’m listening to a pop station on my headphones, and they played this song. The excitement I felt was so immeasurable. It was so amazing. I loved this song from the first verse. A week or two later, I heard one of my classmates talking about this song negatively. Other classmates nodding in agreement. It was clear, this was not what my peers deemed to be a cool song. And yet….I didn’t care. For the first time in my life, I loved a song that wasn’t popular with my peers and I was proud of liking this song.
    Interestingly enough, my classmates aren’t the only people who don’t like this song. Micheal Stipe wrote the lyrics as a joke – trying to write the most inane lyrics possible. Peter Buck says it’s the stupidest song REM has ever written. I still don’t care. I stand on my opinion on the song stand, and no one can change my mind.

    TLC – Waterfalls: I actually didn’t know this song existed until I heard the Weird Al Parody, “Phony Calls.” In fact, it was the first current song that Weird Al parodied in which I didn’t actually know. I listened to the proper song and, well, I won’t say the song sucks – but I certainly knew I didn’t like the song. Not in any way shape or form. I would rather have a root canal than to listen to that song again. Even now, I’ve tried to listen to it and I’m just baffled that other people actually like(d) this song. That’s not to come against anyone’s taste in music – I would be a hypocrite if I said it was a bad song and you should feel bad for liking it, but I still hate this song and I’m more than ok with that. But why is it such a life changing song to me? Like I said, I discovered it through the Weird Al Parody. It was really the first parody of his I didn’t actually recognize – so it served as an enlightening moment. I hadn’t been paying attention to pop radio for a few years by the time I heard the song – but I didn’t quite realize how far removed I was from what was popular until I heard this song. And just like I was ok with liking Stand, I was just as ok with not even knowing Waterfalls.

    My Bloody Valentine – Sometimes: If you were to ask me what my favorite song is, my answer would be Sometimes by My Bloody Valentine. I had heard it before the mid 2000s, but I didn’t really absorb it till about that point. It was a very dark and lonely time in my life, but when I heard this song, I fell in love with it. After hearing the song, I was inspired to write something on LiveJournal: I don’t need a job, I don’t need a girlfriend, I’ve got good music! While I did need a job in actuality, and while this song did not in fact cure my loneliness – it reset me. It took me to another place. It made me not focus on the darkness of life – but rather the beauty of the music. This song, even today, is still a song that resets my mood.

    New Order – Ceremony: This song is also one that resets my mood, but not in the same way as Sometimes. While Sometimes makes me accept and not care about the world around me, Ceremony is a song that brings me hope and drive. When I hear “I’ll break them down, no Mercy shown, heaven knows it’s got to be this time,” I feel like the song is my own personal cheerleader. After all, the song is about just needing, just being desperate for something to click – despite the fact that every other time before things have failed. To be fair, some may not interpret this song as a song of hope – but I do. This song is always going to be about hope despite my situation, despite all that’s happened….despite the fact that I’ve tried a million times before and fallen on my face. This song is about that one time I tried and instead of falling on my face, I succeeded.

    Tears for Fears – Sowing the Seeds of Love: The last two songs were about bringing hope. Sowing the Seeds of love, however, is all about optimism. It’s not a boost to my mood, it’s more of a slow and steady attitude that I keep. But it’s not just my attitude – this song isn’t just about me. This song is about everyone. This song is about society, and our collective hopes and dreams – this song is about being excellent to each other even when those who have power over society are less than excellent to us. This song is all about love – and as Lennon put it, all you need is love. There’s more to this song than simple lyrics mind you – the trumpet at the end, the orchestration throughout the song, the different sections we encounter through the song – I won’t call it a journey as I personally hate that metaphor – but the song does bring you on a casual afternoon drive on a sunny day with your sweetheart.

    Donald Byrd – You and the Music: Some would say a song about music is something we should avoid. While I say it is a subject one should approach with caution, a song about music is a song about passion. After all – music is a way to express passion – so why not go meta? That is exactly what happens with Mr Byrd’s You and the Music. The song really sums up how I feel about music in general. Sometimes a song is fun, and it just makes me want to dance. Sometimes a song inspires my passions, and it makes me want romance. Sometimes the song captures me and won’t let me go – it puts me in a trance. Honestly – this song does all three to me. This song really describes my passion, my desire, and my very need for music. Any song that can put these things into words deserves a spot on this list!

    Joan Jett - Bad ReputationJoan Jett – Bad Reputation: Sometimes you just want a song about rebellion. A bunch of loud guitars, a I don’t give a ….. attitude, and just plain old rock and freaking roll. This provides just that. It isn’t against anything in particular, and that’s what makes this song great. This is a song that expresses pure emotion – the emotion might not be filtered through our logical senses, it might not know why it’s happening, but then again, emotions aren’t about logic anyways. Deal with it! Cry if you want to cry, yell if you want to yell, laugh if you want to laugh. And yes – it’s all about a bad reputation the speaker of the song supposedly has, but maybe that’s an undeserved bad reputation to begin with! I suppose this song accomplishes the same thing as Mr Byrd’s You and the Music, only limited to a specific genre. Some would view this as a lesser song – but considering rock and roll tends to be my favorite genre, I refuse to take sides on the issue.

    Joanna Newsom – Good Intentions Paving Company: I discovered this song after I broke up with a girl. I had never actually been the person who stops a relationship, so a wave of new emotions and feelings came over me. As I listened to this song, it’s sometimes conflicting journey, I realized this song was about those feelings I was experiencing. It made me feel normal. It made me feel human. I realized I wasn’t a monster. Most of all, I realized this is how every girl who broke up with me felt. I wanted to give them all a great big hug and tell them how much I understood.

    This song earned a permanent place in my musical rotation. A little more than a year passed and I found someone else. As this song came up, on random shuffle, I realized this song isn’t about breaking up, but it’s actually about the process of falling for a new person – the mistakes you’ll make in the process, the uncertainty, and the general craziness of it all. I found myself making these mistakes, and realizing that it was ok – because the girl I fell for wasn’t running.

    So….now I have two conflicting interpretations of what is this song about? Is it about breaking up? Is it about falling in love? Maybe it’s about both. Or maybe it’s just a song that is exactly what you need it to be.

    Belle_&_Sebastian_-_I'm_A_CuckooBelle and Sebastian – I’m a Cuckoo: Sometimes a relationship isn’t just about two people – it’s about an entire group. And When one leaves that group, it’s essentially breaking up with them. Sometimes these groups can be informal groups, sometimes they’re formal like that of a job or a church. I left a church I had been at for probably fifteen years. I realized I just couldn’t fake it anymore – I just didn’t fit. I felt bad, there were a lot of people that I loved and cherished there, but I knew it was what I had to do. At about that time, I bought Belle and Sebastian’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress, and found the song “I’m a cuckoo. The song is a reminiscence of someone the speaker of the song obviously cares about, but had to separate themselves from. It’s both apologizing to the person – but it also recognizes the problems of the relationship and why it was just best they both move on without each other. I’ve already said that a song will capture your emotions of the time, so I feel like I’m repeating myself with this song. But I’m a Cuckoo really did say exactly what I wanted, what I needed to say to the group I left behind.

    On and On – Stephen Bishop; What a fool believes- The Doobie Brothers; Say a little prayer – Dionne Warwick: I’m lumping these three songs together, and there’s probably more that deserve to be in this section. These were songs that I heard when I was really young, and somehow set a spark for me. It’s hard to even put a finger about what they said to me at age four or five, but they said something. It wasn’t their lyrics either – it was the melodies, the music, the sounds, and the overall feeling I got while hearing them. Even now, I’m brought back to this primal feeling when I hear any of these songs. My girlfriend had an interesting theory – these songs were my lullabies. It makes sense. A lot of the songs mentioned in this article are all about knowing things were going to be alright. There were certainly times, even in my young life, I needed to know this. And isn’t that what a lullaby does? Doesn’t it tell the listener that everything is going to be alright? That the monsters under your bed aren’t going to attack you in the middle of the night. Perhaps all of the songs on this list are a lullaby. Sure, I’ve grown past the beliefs of monsters under the bed (though I am still a little afraid of the dark). But sometimes I just need to know everything is going to be alright. Most of these songs in this article can be linked to a time that where everything worked out fine, despite the monsters under my bed – despite the monsters in the world.


  • The Best (and in one case the worse) music of 2015

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    This year’s best of music list is going to be a little different. Instead of a numbered list, I’m doing things by category. Why not? My tastes are eclectic so rating my favorites of the year against each other would be like comparing avocados and orangutans. Ok, that’s not how the phrase goes, but when have I ever done anything the way it’s supposed to be done! But I digress. Anyways, here’s a list of music I really enjoyed this year (and one album I really didn’t).


    Best free album of the year: Star Wars – Wilco: This album starts out with an experimental track called “EKG.” You’re treated to a guitar that sounds like it was tuned wrong and a rhythm section that sounds like it’s a little too slow. But it works. The album is blessed, or plagued (depending on your opinion) with Wilco’s melding of classic guitar rock and Lo fi, followed by a little space pop followed by psychedelia followed by …well, you get the picture. I can honestly say this is my favorite Wilco album since A Ghost is Born. Seriously – go download it. Now!

    Best hipster song: Bored in the USA – Father John Misty: OK, so that’s a bit of a mean thing to say – but it’s true. This is a hipster song if there ever was a hipster song. But hipster or not, the witty lyrics paired with an almost Elton John-esque feel. The use of a laugh track halfway through the song makes the protagonist sound like his life is the butt of some cosmic joke – as though his life is only there for the amusement of some unseen audience. But back to this being a hipster song. This is a hipster song because this was written about the fears the Millennials are currently looking at. The same fears Generation X had 20 years ago. The same fears the Baby Boomers had 40 years ago. The same fears the next generation will most likely face in 20 years. So maybe this isn’t a hipster song. Heck, what’s a hipster again?


    Best album I forgot existed: Girls In Peacetime want to Dance – Belle And Sebastian:
    While I was reviewing the music I bought in 2015 for this article, I realized there was a brand spanking new Belle And Sebastian album I bought and totally forgot about. Belle and Sebastian might be the favorite band of mine on this list, so this was a big deal – almost a late Christmas gift. As I opened this gift, I was pleasantly surprised. The album starts out with one of the most, if not the most, personal song Stuart Murdoch has ever written. The song, “Nobody’s Empire” speaks of struggles with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and how it affected every aspect of his life. Going past the state they’re currently in though, this album differs from past Belle and Sebastian albums, in the fact that they rely heavily on keyboards – giving sections of the album an almost disco feel. Despite the disco, this album really feels like a Belle and Sebastian album. Perhaps that is why it’s such a great album – they kept their essence, and yet infused it with something new.


    Best album from a rock and Roll legend: Alone in the Universe – Jeff Lyne’s ELO:
    John Lennon once stated that Electric Light Orchestra is the spiritual successor of the Beatles. So, what better way to judge an ELO album than by asking “what would the Beatles sound like if they made an album now?” Honestly, I think the Beatles would sound a lot like the music on Alone in the Universe. The opening tract, “When I was a Boy,” feels like the song “Yesterday” evolved (and by the way, it might be the best song that Jeff Lynne has ever written). That’s not to say Jeff Lynne and ELO can’t do anything that isn’t Beatles-esque mind you. The haunting title track sounds nothing like a Beatles song, yet it is easily one of my favorite tracks. There’s also “Fault Line,” a fun rockabilly song which will stick in your head for days and days. It was 14 long years since we’ve had a new ELO album, and Alone in the Universe proves the wait was well worth it.

    Worse album from a rock and roll legend: No Pier Pressure – Brian Wilson: I have a ton of respect for Brian Wilson. There are times I’ll listen to his music and wonder if maybe we’re twins separated at birth (even though he’s 30 years older than I am). So I was, of course, really excited when he released a new album. Sure, all his albums can’t be Smile, but this one just bored me. To be fair, it felt like Brian Wilson is trying to capture the days of his youth. I can respect that. The very album name makes a reference to this -maybe I just don’t get it. I will say though, I do love the song “On the Island” featuring She & Him.

    Best album of covers: The Cover Up – The Protomen: While we wait for The Protomen to finally give us Act III, they have given us a lot of really good covers. Starting with “Because the Night” (Patti Smith Group) as a duet. While this version isn’t as sultry as the original, I do feel like it actually trumps the 10,000 Maniacs’ version. The album also features a Version of Celine Dion’s “I Drove all Night,” which totally changed my opinion of the song from meh to whoa! The Gambler even belted out an amazing version of Total Eclipse of the Heart – albeit her voice is an octave or two lower than Bonnie Tyler’s original. It’s hard to not talk about every song on this album (Danger Zone, Mr. Roboto, I Still Believe, Princes of the Universe). Having said this, the ending track, Mike + the Mechanics’ Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground) might be the strongest song on the album. The Protomen version is a bit more updated, and a bit darker with the addition of missing persons reports voice over at the end of the song. A perfect ending to the song, and a perfect ending to the album.

    Best artist discovered in 2015: The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones – How did I NOT really know this band before this year? Yes, sure, I knew “The Impression That I Get,” – everyone knows that song. But I didn’t know the Bosstones. I did not know “Royal Oil,” I did not know “The Rascal King,” I didn’t know the heavily Ska inspired “Where’d You Go?”. I did not know their Brilliant cover of Kiss’ “Detroit Rock City.” My sins have been forgiven, as I’m now fully into the Bosstones, but I still weep for my wasted years of not listening to this amazing band. Fun fact – their manager dances around the stage when they play live shows. How cool is that?

    Best album discovered in 2015: A Prarie Home Invasion – Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon: Ok, if you’re not offended sometime during this album, you’re probably a psychopath, but that goes without saying if Jello Biafra is involved. Add Mojo Nixon, and you’ve got yourself a cocktail of anarchy! This album purposely jabs at the “rednecks” of America (circa 1994). The music is mostly public domain gospel tunes with new lyrics. A high point of the album is a cover of Fred Kirby’s “Atomic Power.” While the original was totally serious about the benefits of “God Given” Atomic Power, the unchanged lyrics in the context of Biafra and Nixon is a good, tongue in cheek jab at nuclear power plants. And then there’s “Will the Fetus be Aborted” to the tune of “Will the circle be unbroken.” Yeah – even I’m a little offended by that song.

    Best artist to finally wake up and let Spotify stream their freaking music: AC/DC: Yes, Finally! I can scream along to “Thunderstruck” while sitting at my desk. OK, ok, that might not be a good thing – but seriously – I was happy when they announced this. Now, if Only we could convince Joana Newsom to do the same thing. Hmmmm…..Imagine a mash up of AC/DC and Joana Newsom. You’d have a harp playing girl singing about a Highway to Hell. I’d certainly pay to listen to to that! But I digress.

    Best Song that everyone knows and loves of the year: Hello – Adele I won’t write too much about this, because like I said – everyone knows it. But geez, how can anyone not like this song? Wow. Just wow. She’s got a pretty voice.

    Honorable Mentions: There were several songs, artists, and albums I wanted to include on this list – but I can only give so much! But Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, Kathryn Calder, Sleater-Kinney, Chicane, The Alabama Shakes, and Enya all produced some amazing music this year. So, go check those out too!


  • I Love Rock and Roll!!!

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    Most people I share my music with are pretty impressed with my wide range in musical tastes. You’ll find me listening to Mogwai one moment, Brahms the next, an 80s pop classic the next, some psychedelic deep cut the next, and then maybe a song that everyone loves (but no one wants to admit to loving). Picking a favorite genre is like picking a favorite appendage. Do I like post punk and my right pinky? Do I like classic rock and my big toe? What about 1960s hippie music and my right thumb? Or maybe new wave and my – you get the point? But truth be told – while picking a favorite genre is indeed like picking a favorite appendage, I do have a favorite genre….and that is my – that is good old rock and roll!
    What do I mean by rock and roll? Do I mean Rock out with your….uhhh, Def Leppard? Thoughtful, politically motivated and passionate U2? Soulful and R & B inspired bands like The Rolling Stones? Journey, Jack White, The Eagles, Roxette’s first album? The answer is simple…..YES! Yes, I mean it all! Every single one of those! I like the stuff that makes me sing into a hair dryer, 80s style. I like the stuff that get’s my booty moving, I love the stuff that’s incredibly complicated musically, and, I’ll admit —- I kind of even like Stryper. The question I ask is simply – does it rock? If yes, it does indeed rock, then I consider it rock.
    Why do I like it though? Why can I jam to Bad Religion’s 21st Century Digital Boy? Why can I scream the lyrics of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck? And why do I make fun of Lars Ulrich? Well – the answer to the first two questions is because – it rocks! It just does. It sounds good loud, (and it might get loud). The answer to the second is that Lars Ulrich is a pansy! I mean a sell out! I mean a member of a band that used to be good! I mean a …..I’m digressing, but shame on you Metallica. Break up already!
    Don’t get me wrong by the way – I’m not at all trying to define rock and roll for everyone – I’m just trying to define it for me – and to me, rock and roll is true to the musician – even if that means the musician is a shallow fogwad that only cares about getting stoned and laid. Warrant’s cherry pie is a dumb song – but it rocks nonetheless! KISS’s I want to rock and roll all night might be dumb and banal lyrics – but they’re true to themselves in that message. And let’s face it – who wouldn’t want to rock and roll all night and party every day? Ok….ok. Maybe I would need a break now and then to sleep and read and freaking get some peace and quiet….but the song is hyperbole anyways!

    And hey - the video was kind of cool.
    And hey – the video was kind of cool.

    By the way, every artist is allowed a little stupidity or banality. U2, who is one of my favorite bands and is known for their politically charged and passionate lyrics wrote a song for the soundtrack of Batman freaking Forever. No, Hold me, Kiss me, Thrill Me Kill Me wasn’t the angry call to justice as say, Sunday Bloody, Sunday – but it was fun and even if they sold out by making a song for one of the most hated superhero movies of all time, I still feel like they put themselves in the song – and therefore the song still rocks (and at least Bono didn’t wear Robin’s bat nipple costume – ugg).
    This of course doesn’t mean that a rock song can’t suck. Steve Miller’s lyrics really do suck at times (Big ol’ Jet Airliner anyone)? And do we really need to mention STIX’s Come Sail Away? ALIENS? Really? Some would say “We Built this City” by Starship is one of the worse rock and roll songs ever recorded. I disagree – but those people are certainly entitled to their opinions. Personally, I think “Sweet Home Alabama” is kind of dumb. But just as I’m not here to define rock and roll for the masses, I’m also not here to say my taste in songs is the only correct one. I’m just saying some rock songs suck, and just because they’re from the heart and all that – this doesn’t mean that they get a pass.
    Back to the definition of Rock – I kind of left out something important. It’s why the Beastie Boys song “Sabotage” rocks, and “Intergalactic” does not.

    So hardcore....NOT!
    So hardcore….NOT!

    I love both songs. I really do – but the former rocks because, to me, if it’s going to rock, the dominant instruments have to be an electric guitar, bass, and drums. There’s just no getting past that. I love a lot of the new wave songs of the late 70s and the 80s – but they don’t rock! Nothing they can do will ever make them rock, because they’re so steeped in keyboards and not steeped enough in electric guitar. I’m looking at the song “Stepping out” by the brilliant Joe Jackson. Seriously, this is one of my favorite songs – but it doesn’t rock. Going back in time, the 1960s had a lot of guitar based songs, sure, but Dylan did not rock (well, maybe when he went electric), Simon and Garfunkel did not Rock, Crosby, Stills, and Nash did not rock. The Beatles – well they rocked sometime. The Stones? Ok, the Rolling stones rocked a lot more than most of their counterparts. And again, I’m not here to define what rock is to the masses – hell – the 60s and the 50s was when Rock was born. But while a lot of the songs were considered in the rock and roll genres, they did not, to me, rock.
    Joan Jett loves rock and roll. This is a fact. But I think I love rock and roll more than she does. Ok, maybe that’s unfair – I am just a lowly blogger with a passion for writing about music and a lust for the talent I do not possess. Joan Jett has been rocking us with her bad Reputation since before I learned to talk. Rock and roll is one of my passions – but Rock and Roll is Joan Jett’s life. But I still love rock and roll more than a normal person should. I always have. I even loved it when my version of Rock and Roll was a Petra tape in seventh grade! I thought I was so badass when I was listening to my headphones and my aunt Arlene asked me what I was listening to – I said TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL!” (by Stryper). I still remember her reaction – she was kind of shocked and taken a back. She just kind of said “well then….” Heh, yeah….I thought I was so hardcore (though I was still more hardcore than Lars Ulrich is now, but I digress).


  • Morrissey vs Crowdfunding

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    Morrissey is an old man, shaking his cane, and yelling GET OFF MY LAWN. I mean, that’s like his dinner after all. OK, ok, the dinner part was an undeserved jab. I respect his dietary choices, though he doesn’t respect the rights of others to do the same, but that’s an entirely different story altogether. Morrissey recently said something downright ignorant and hurtful to independent musicians. Coming against all the musicians one finds on Kickstarter and gofundme, Morrissey stated: Crowdfunding Is Desperate and Insulting. This simply is not true!

    go vegeFirstly, music is a dream of many a people. Music is a very fickle business to get into, but if that’s your dream, then you should use all tools at your disposal to make this happen. Chase your dreams! Morrissey has been in the business for a long time, and has reached a point in his career where he can release a symphony of white noise and it would still sell a zillion copies because he’s freaking Morrissey. Good for him, but not all musicians have reached that point. Sure, I can see that someone of his caliber and popularity might feel a little desperate if they have to resort to crowdfunding to publish their music, but again – not everyone is Morrissey. Not everyone has the privilege and luxuries afforded by Morrissey.

    But the issue goes deeper than simple privileges afforded by big name musicians. Crowdfunding provides the musicians with the ability to not have to deal with a record company. The day of releasing an album through a big label, and then having it distributed to all the record stores is over. Artists no longer need that, and that’s a good thing. Record companies are notorious for taking more than their fair share of revenues. When all is said and done, the average musician (including Morrissey himself mind you) has to tour to make any money at all. Record companies provide a lot of perks – expensive studios, advertising, distribution, and the like. They also have a lot of staff that needs to be paid, overhead, stockholders, etcetera. If a band can sidestep the middle man, and just rent a studio themselves and distribute their music online, that’s a bigger cut for the musicians. That means they might not need to spend 200 nights a year on the road, just to feed their families.

    Stepping away from the monetary hassle, there’s also a certain amount of freedom a musician gets when they’re not tied to a record company. It’s common for musicians to have to sign a contract saying they must make X amount of records. This has led to things like Andrew Eldritch’s SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW. Sometimes bands just peter out before their contract lets them. You get bitter feuds in bands, you get crappy albums, and you get unlistenable music that doesn’t sell well. It’s a stable gig, sure, but it also sucks when one wants out of that gig. Crowdfunding means record labels don’t have that power over a musician. It also means the artist has the freedom to write whatever they feel inspired to write. They’re not pressured by their label to keep it clean, keep it radio friendly, or even to keep it in a certain style. Crowdfunding throws the shackles into the recycling bin where every other piece of scrap metal belongs!

    There’s another aspect that Morrissey doesn’t get, and that’s how crowdfunding creates a bridge between the musicians and the fans. As much as I wish I could be the former, I’m the latter. I’m a fan of the music. As a fan, the most hurtful thing Morrissey said was “What next? Do you want us to brush your teeth?” This statement makes me want to kick Morrissey in his nether regions and delete all the songs out of my library. He does not get that crowdfunding makes those of us who feel so connected to the music even more so connected! We can actually be a part of the process of making sure our favorite artists can publish their music. No, we didn’t write it, and no, we don’t own their music. But it fills us with joy to help. A band I’ve loved for a long time, Flemming and John, are making music RIGHT NOW because of crowdfunding…and I helped! My 43 bucks is getting me a copy on vinyl, but more importantly it’s helping put out the first Flemming and John album since 1999. No amount of swag can match that feeling – the feeling that I’m part of the album. morrgetofflawn

    Finally, crowdfunding allows fans to show our gratitude to the artists. I remember walking around downtown several years back, listening to Over the Rhine’s Ohio album. I loved it. It was part of who I was. I wanted to do more for OTR. I knew buying the album and going to their shows was good enough, but I felt like I wanted to do more. They were sharing their soul with me (and the rest of the world). This in turn fed my soul. How is 15 bucks for an album and 25 or so for a concert even beginning to repay that debt? Sure, a few bucks more in a kickstarter isn’t repaying that debt either – but it helps. Again, it gets the music out there. It helps them fulfill their dreams. That’s at least a start.

    Crowdfunding really isn’t a new concept. There was an album Willie Nelson put out in the 80s or 90 to pay off his tax burdens. He fully disclosed that he was in trouble and he needed the help of the public. A fifteen dollar CD would make sure that Willie didn’t go to the slammer after messing up on his taxes. Maybe Morrissey is just too far removed to realize the benefits of crowdfunding. Maybe he’s just an old dog who can’t learn a new trick. Maybe he’s just a jerk, and that’s why he and Johnny Marr will never get the Smiths back together. Maybe I’m being unfair with that last part. If I am, burn me at the stake, just make sure I smell the flames as they rise and my Walkman starts to melt. Now I know how Joan of Arc felt!


  • God gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You, but KISS doesn’t care.

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    Gene Simmons seems to have a constant case of foot in mouth. He’s told depressed people that they should kill themselves, he’s claimed that piracy killed Rock and roll, and he said that being in a band with certain people was like having cancer. The man should have his freaking tongue cut out. And what a long tongue that freak has. Seriously, I know this has been said before, but jeez Gene! Did you have extensions or something? But I digress. Gene has said enough idiotic crap to fill a couple phone books, and yet he and his band mates hit a stream of wisdom when they wrote “God Gave Rock and Roll to you II.” It’s quite a simple song mind you – it’s a song about achieving one’s dreams by working hard, by the sweat of the brow, by…..oh wait, this is just another example of Gene Simmons (and the rest of KISS) spewing out crap!

    Gene Simmons' tongue is slightly longer...
    Gene Simmons’ tongue is slightly longer…

    Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and company stole a happy go lucky song about the beauty of rock and roll, about the gift that is the music, about the love and peace and happiness it brings humanity and spit all over it. KISS took the song into a back room, had their way with it, and called it their own. In the end, they took a few lyrics, a minor point in the original, and made it into a whore of a song. To be fair, KISS did change the name of the song – instead of “God Gave Rock ‘n’ roll to You,” they called it “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II.” The “II” at the end changes everything, doesn’t it? OR DO THEY MAKE IT WORSE?!?!?! Yes, they do – they do make it worse because by adding II it implies that the KISS version of the song is a spiritual successor, a sequel if you will, to the original song.

    Now, to be fair – the song has a great message. I’m sitting here writing this very article on a Saturday night because I knew I had to write something. I didn’t know what I was going to write, just that I had to write. I had to work hard to share my “rock and roll,” with the world. No, I don’t have money or a fancy car, and dang it I am really tired of just waiting for a fallen star. These words you’re reading – they ARE my loud guitar! They are my passion and the sweat of my brow. The song has inspired me more than any KISS song ever could, however it feels kind of cheap that they wrote a song about working hard to accomplish their dreams, when they really just phoned in the song to begin with. They didn’t just write another song – they took an existing song and made it to fit their purpose. They song is a solid cube, and they pried it into a round, circular hole. Why Gene, why?

    Sell Outs...
    Sell Outs…
    Oh, but it gets worse! So much worse! They didn’t just write (or re-write) the song because they wanted to convey a message. They wrote God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll for You II for a freaking movie! They wrote it for Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey! Now, it’s been way too long since I’ve seen that movie to really judge it, but dang it – the song about working hard to accomplish your dreams and bringing Rock and Roll (or what have you) to the masses was not written for that reason – it was written because some movie producer wrote KISS a big enough check! That is the very definition of selling out! This is the band that a few years prior, gave up their gimmick (ie their famous makeup) because they wanted to be taken more seriously. Geez guys, you want to be taken seriously, here’s a hint: you don’t BS your way through a song like this for the highest bidder!

    The sad thing about it: I still like this song. I still feel inspired to write when I hear the song. It really is a good song, despite the fact that the band that “wrote” it are a bunch of lazy sell outs. I remember a Jonathan Richman concert a few years back where he essentially said fame is going to happen if it’s going to happen. While that was pretty much is what happened with Richman, we can’t all be mentored by Lou Reed! Most of us have to work hard at what we do. The thesis of the song isn’t what’s in question, as the thesis is sound. It’s just that I almost feel like we’re being mocked or perhaps trolled, by KISS. Hey, work hard, your dreams will come true! Meanwhile, I’m going to go do a line of cocaine off a few hookers with the money I made by telling you that shit!

    I’m expecting too much from a band like KISS. While they have a few good songs, most of their stuff is boring, pedantic, and kind of shallow. Their music got worse as the makeup came off. In fact, the only good song they had post make up was God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II. Maybe that’s a harsh opinion, and I apologize to my readers if you think otherwise. My point though, I shouldn’t expect much in the way of deep meanings from this specific band. Maybe I should just love my friends, love my neighbor, love my life, and love my labor. Maybe I should just forget that the KISS version would not have come to us save for a check from the highest bidder. Maybe I should even forgive the laziness of the song, and just view it as an interpretation of the original. And maybe everyone reading this should also enjoy the song! Just make sure to download it from a source that won’t pay Gene Simmons one red cent – it’s fun to make Gene Simmons mad!