Friday, June 28, 2013

Inspirational Words: Rick Rubin On Working With Johnny Cash

On our first album, there was a song he wrote, I can’t remember which one it was, but I listened to it and said, “Do you think you could take some of the ‘I’s and ‘me’s out of it?” And he thought about it and he was like, “Yeah, I think I can do that.” And he did. So 10 years later, I’m visiting him in Nashville. He’s in a wheelchair. He’s blind, pretty much. It felt so awkward. So I said, “What have you been working on lately?” And he said, “I’ve been working on using ‘I’ and ‘me’ less.” And I said, “Really?” And he said, “Yeah. Remember? You gave me that comment on the song? That’s what I’ve been working on.” Incredible. He didn’t mean it in the context of songs. He meant it in the context of life.

That's some sage shit right there.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thanks For The Laugh, Grooveshark

I don't know how the tags are generated at Grooveshark, but someone has a pretty good sense of humor.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Art Of Raymond Pettibon

I really believe - no matter how great you think Black Flag is - they would be nowhere without the art of Raymond Pettibon.  Although Pettibon did some amazing stuff for the Minutemen as well as some other bands on the STT label, it is his work for Black Flag that is legendary.  If there's a "Black Flag brand", it's all RP.  Please take a moment to watch the entertaining documentary below - it's great as long as you can shut out Keith Morris and Flea.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Off Topic: History Lesson Pt. 2 Recommends The Sociological Images Blog

Although I have no serious regrets, I sometimes think that majoring (or at least minoring*) in sociology would have been a far more useful course of study for me than 20th century U.S. History.  In my mind, sociology is influences and permeates everything; it provides a valuable framework for which I understand almost everything.  Knowing something of sociology contributes to my understanding of the world more than I can say, even with my limited knowledge of the field.

The newest subscription in my feed reader is Sociological Images, which I discovered through Boing Boing.  Sociological Images is written by Dr. Lisa Wade of Occidental College and Dr. Gwen Sharp of Nevada State University and a handful of other contributors.  In a nutshell, the blog explores current events and issues in sociological context in an immensely entertaining and informative way.  It is academic, accessible and relevant.  I actually feel like a better person for reading it.  Some of my favorite articles are linked below.

. . . and those are just the tip of the iceberg.  Head over to the Sociological Images blog, but be prepared to spend a lot of time there.  It's that damn good.

* - I graduated with a BA in US history, then went back to school to get a teaching degree.  When I re-enrolled, I found I was only three credit hours short of minoring in three different subjects: sociology, theology and English.  I figured "what the heck" and got my minor. . . in theology.  Idiot.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dylan's Second Shot At Stand Up

I've been meaning to post my good buddy Dylan's second shot at stand up comedy.  (First attempt his here.)  He's definitely finding his groove - there's some good stuff on here, so check it out.  Better yet, go see him June 28th at the City Tap Room at the City Market, Indianapolis, Indiana.  Added bonus:  another college buddy (Mike Kinney - rooting on the Heat/making the derp face below) will be making his comedy debut.  Shit's going to be good.

Friday Afternoon Link Dump

Here's some stuff that is loosely related to sound that I've been checking out today:
  • Drew Magary - a writer I love AND loathe - has an amazing profile about Kid Rock's "Chillin' The Most" cruise.  I guess this whole "rock stars doing cruises" is a thing.  Puke.  Anyway, it's an extremely entertaining article (the first paragraph is brilliant).  Go read it.
  • And then there's this.  These dudes rule.  Watch out, Bad Brains!  (Hat tip to Notes Toward Everything)

  • Speaking of the Bad Brains, there's a Kickstarter drive going on to get a documentary about HR made.  UPDATE:  Looks like they got their funding, so look for this to come out at some point.
  • Episode 391 of the great "WTF With Marc Maron" podcast is up.  It features an interview with the great Billy Bragg - can not wait to listen to this.  Yet another hat tip to Notes Toward Everything.
I've got family reunion coming up this weekend, and I can't wait.  I may try to post a Trowar update or something else, but don't count on it.  I missed reunion last year, so I have a lot of catching up (and, I'm sure, name learning) to do, not to mention some great food and home brew to sample.  Have a great weekend, and remember:  keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for your beverage.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Jam As "Bourgeois Revolutionaries"

When I was in college, one of my history professors explained to us that the American Revolution was a "bourgeois revolution": that is, a movement for colonial independence instigated and fueled primarily by the propertied classes here in the colonies.  Though influenced and inspired by many ideas from the Enlightenment, there was for many of the Founding Fathers the equally powerful economic freedoms and enticements that independence would bring - freedom from creditors and regulation being near the top.  This was earth shattering news coming from a professor who did not enjoy a reputation as a "standard issue" left-leaning academic*.  More importantly, this ran counter to my ideas that the war for American independence was about ideas - things like equality, greater social mobility, and self determinism.  While it may have been about those things as well, I have come to believe it is naive to ignore or underestimate the bourgeois influence on the American Revolution.

These thoughts came back to me as I watched a documentary about one of my favorite bands:  the Jam.  According to "The Jam: Punk Icons", Jam guitarist/leader Paul Weller knew he was going to be a musician from the first time he saw the Beatles on television at the age of 5.  The impression made by bands like the Kinks, the Who and the Small Faces left an indelible mark on Weller, who never moved beyond his obsession with the modernism of the 1960s.  Later, after experiencing the anger and energy of the Sex Pistols' live show in 1977, the two pillars on which the Jam were formed were in place.  Their live sets featured high energy, angry songs that were short and sharp.  Dressed in smart suits and black ties and cultivating the Mod image that fell out of favor at the close of the 1960s, it seems a small miracle that the Jam were embraced by fans who were just as excited about scrappy urban bands like the Clash and the Sex Pistols (though, unlike the Clash and the Sex Pistols, the Jam's popularity was minimal outside of the UK).

I say "small miracle" because at least on the surface, the Jam appear to be bourgeois rebels.  They were stylish and carefully coiffed, a stark contrast to the many of their punk contemporaries that were creating their own style from repurposed thrift store clothing.  The "do it yourself" ethic of the punk movement that was born of both necessity and pride seemed to be lost on the Jam and their fans.  If that sent up some flags for punks, the band had once even announced in an interview with NME that they'd be voting conservative, earning them the bile of the Clash, with whom they were touring at that time.  (Joe Strummer's dig at the Jam can be found in the lyrics of "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais".)  One of the Jam's biggest hits ("Eton Rifles") - despite Weller's insistence to the contrary - is regarded by many as a conservative anthem.  David Cameron has even said it is one of his favorite songs.  These factors alone seem to be enough to place the Jame squarely in the corner of the wealthy ruling class.

I think, however, when you consider the body of the Jam's music as a whole, "the Jam as bourgeois revolutionaries" isn't as easy a conclusion to come to as one might think.  Take for instance "Smithers-Jones", about a man who is chewed up and spit out by the corporate world. Indeed, there are large chunks of the Jam's catalog that are above the liberal/conservative fray because they are so intimate - songs like "Wasteland", "Private Hell", "That's Entertainment".  Some tunes would even seem to directly counter the "conservative" label.  Hell, they even did a song that's a full on blue collar fantasy.  As for "Eton Rifles", I never took it as an endorsement of any sort of rich, entitled lifestyle.  I have understood it as more satire than anything else.

For me, the Jam was more about railing against the mundane, the ordinary and the cliche.  There seemed to be a very life affirming message to much of their music, even when Weller was at his most cynical.  They bristled at the whole notion of the "stiff upper lip"; they relished the simple, beautiful things.  However, my notions about their music are now the same as my thoughts on the American Revolution:  there is an undeniable bourgeois element to the Jam's body of work.  This doesn't tarnish them too much for me, but it's something I can't deny either.

* - This prof was a huge Christopher Columbus scholar/apologist; a historical figure no self respecting lefty would leave alone without criticism.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Finding Funk In The Funniest Places

If you can separate the drums from the tremendous racket* that the rest of the band is making, you have to admit:  that is some super funky drumming.

* - This is not a complaint.  Pavement's "tremendous racket" is a huge reason I like the band so much.

Chronicling Our Family's Efforts To Use Our Cars Less

My wife has started a blog to reflect upon our family's attempt to use our cars less to get around.  Sure, there's not much up there now, so why don't you swing on by and give her some encouragement in the comments section?  It should prove to be interesting, thought provoking stuff, and I'm excited that she's blogging!