Category Archives: Music Ramblings

Eulogy for the Sideman

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In the past couple weeks we’ve seen the passing of three unheralded sidemen: Walter Becker of Steely Dan, Holger Czukay of Can, and Grant Hart of Hüsker Dü. These three stalwarts played integral parts in the success of their influential bands yet were often underappreciated for their contributions. I’ve felt more and more disappointed by the coverage of each legend’s passing, feeling like they aren’t getting their due simply because they opted to remain in the shadows rather than bask in the spotlight. At the very least, I’d like to take a moment and pay my respects to three silent assassins whose impact can still be heard in music today.

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Presidential Candidates as David Bowie Covers

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Last week, several news sources picked up on the fact that Bernie Sanders used David Bowie’s “Starman” during his exit from the stage at his Iowa caucus celebration. I love this Bowie classic and think that anytime is a good time to listen to it, but I didn’t quite understand the correlation between Bernie’s campaign and the lyrics that tell of an alien that contacts Ziggy Stardust amidst the apocalypse. Is Bernie the “Starman,” and if so, shouldn’t he be staying away from us in an effort to avoid “blow(ing) our minds”?

Politicians have a history of using music to help define their campaign. In 1992, Bill Clinton invigorated the baby boomer generation with Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and in 2000, George W. Bush used Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” until the artist threatened litigation. While both of these tracks capture the essence of the candidate’s campaign message, “Starman” and its out of this world lyrics don’t quite match up with the campaign of a 74-year-old Jewish grandpa. Unless one of Bernie’s platforms is to “let all the children boogie,” I don’t think “Starman” is the best choice for his campaign.

Despite my disagreement with the song choice, this news story got me thinking all things Bowie when it comes to the election: what Bowie song should each candidate come out to? What album best matches the persona of each candidate? It goes without saying that I have a lot of free time on my hands. This pointless night of musing resulted in the following – a series of Bowie album covers featuring all of the current candidates (Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina are also included). I have zero formal training with Photoshop and still struggle to do the most basic of skills with the interface, but I still got a kick out of my results. Enjoy!

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Bowie: Bigger Than The Twitterverse

It goes without saying that I’m saddened by David Bowie’s passing, but I’m not going to spend much time waxing poetic about what an impact he had on my life. In fact, I’m going to be honest and admit that I didn’t truly delve into Bowie’s catalog until around five years ago. I was born in 1978, around the time that Bowie was releasing his” Berlin” albums, so beyond his 1983 hit  “Let’s Dance” and the sounds of his classics on the radio throughout my childhood, I can’t truly say his music shaped my youth. I do vividly remember seeing Labyrinth in my hometown theater with my brothers, which is a bit surprising since I would have only been seven years old (I’m guessing that I still remember this nugget due simply to how shocking the imagery of the film must have been at that age).

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How to Troll Ryan Adams in Only Two Songs

Yesterday was supposed to be Ryan Adam’s day to shine. After months of teasing his re-imagining of Taylor Swift’s 1989, he finally revealed his work yesterday for the world to hear. The afternoon was filled with lemming bloggers heralding Adams for his takes on Swift’s album of mundanity.  Why he got patted on the back for attempting to bring authenticity to an album of manufactured, overtly polished, radio-friendly schlock is beyond me, but you have to commend him for having the foresight to cover an album by the most popular “music artist” in the world. If you want to bring in a younger demographic after a stagnantly predictable decade of music, what better way than to hop on the magical coattails of Ms. Faux-Humility.

But then, amidst Adam’s day of glory, Father John Misty came along and trolled both him and Swift with two mp3s posted to his SoundCloud page. The first clip was a cover of “Blank Space” with the note: “My reinterpretation of the classic Ryan Adams album 1989.” Ouch. As if a cover of a cover wasn’t enough of a face to Adam’s desperate grasp for a younger audience, the audio revealed that FJM opted to cover Adam’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” in the style of The Velvet Underground (welcome to the rabbit hole, my friends).

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Out of Sync: A Eulogy for the iPod Classic

Lost amidst all the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch fanfare, an icon was silently murdered last Tuesday. After 12 years of providing music fans with handheld listening enjoyment, Apple’s portable mp3 playing flagship, the iPod Classic, was discontinued. You can search the Apple website all you want, but any sign of the legendary device have been erased from existence.

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Ted Leo is a Hobbit Nerd

Last night during The Both’s performance at the Mohawk in Austin, Aimee Mann revealed a fact about Ted Leo that I was unaware of. “Ted is a Hobbit nerd,” she announced during one of their many moments of mid-set banter. This proclamation caught my attention because I happen to also be an avid fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work (I’ve been known to show up randomly at friends’ houses dressed as Gandalf, although I’ve never left any marks on their doors). While Mann threw out this detail about Leo as a little jab, he wore the “Hobbit nerd” label with pride the remainder of the show, revealing more and more of his nerdom with each passing song. Here are some facts I learned about Leo and his vast knowledge of Middle Earth:

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Bob Dylan- Always the Innovator

50 years ago, Bob Dylan started a recording career that would revolutionize music forever. To commemorate his evolution over the span of 43 albums, Sony Records has released the entirety of his music library in a $180 box set, The Complete Album Collection: V.1.  The inclusion of V.1 in the title seems a bit-tongue in cheek with Dylan now 72 years old, but it may be sincere considering how good ol’ Bob is still touring endlessly and churning out new material about every three years. It may not be to the level of say a Highway 61 Revisited, but to suggest Dylan is a waning enterprise would be premature. In fact, two of Dylan’s recent ventures show that he is still an innovator in the world of music.

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