More questionable music in commercials

I can tell i’m old because “edgy” music from my youth is now considered mainstream enough to sell things like computers and minivans. First up a commercial from Hp using a song about masturbation.

Yeah, it’s a catch riff, but those lyrics are seared into my memory.

“Body and beats, I stain my sheets

I don’t even know why.

My girlfriend, she’s at the end, she is starting to cry.

Let me go on, like a blister in the sun,

let me go onnn, big hands I know you’re the one.”

 

The next one isn’t so bad from a content standpoint, not really, but it is amazing how associations change over time. Here’s an Ozzy Osbourne song selling a minivan.

 

 

WIth the exception of the little girl’s part of “Mental wounds not healing, life’s a shame.” the lyrics are appropriate for most things. Not really sure why they let her sing that though, it is a rather dark aspect of the song… Anyway, the amazing thing is that this song was from a point in time when Ozzy was widely believed to be a devil worshiper. He didn’t help anything by biting the heads off of doves either. In short, Ozzy was, at best, a degenerate and at worst a madman steering youth to a ruinous life. Now his song is selling minivans. The parents are about the right age and I guess it shows how mainstream outrageous things from the past have become. The song does have one of the more distinctive guitar riffs you’ll ever hear, kudos for one of the girls playing their seat belt air-guitar style. Just for completeness sake, here’s the original.

And here’s one of the more memorable pictures of Ozzy.

 

 

 

 

I’d like Lady Gaga more if she played guitar

I came across the other day and found it remarkable. I have since been informed by some of my friends that it is old news, but still, I doubt everyone has seen this. It’s a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” If you’ve been wondering about the appeal of Gaga, this might at least give you a taste.

 

It’s from an artist that goes by the name Lissie. I think she does a great job with the song, moves it towards a little more honest performance. Gaga’s, in comparison, sounds a little… entitled? Not whiny, but… I dunno, not as honest. I also find Lissie’s glancing down at the neck of the guitar for chord changes endearing.

 

I often play a game with more recent music where I try to imagine what some of the luminaries from the late 60’s would think of the song. I wonder what would Pete Townsend or Janis Joplin think of this? When we compare this rendition to what was offered back then, you can see how far women have come. First there is the guitar playing. With the exception of “The Duchess” (Norma-Jean Wofford), I can’t think of any prominent female rock guitarists until the Runaways came along. Then there is the content. Women back then just didn’t sing songs like that. I very much doubt that any woman could bring herself to all herself a “freak bitch” back then. I mean, it just wasn’t done. But that’s the point, for a woman to come out and perform a song about lust back then would have been very difficult. Does anyone know of an example?

Some would say that Gaga represents the current state of feminist expression. Maybe, but I’m with Kathleen Hannah, I wish Gaga would would pants a little more often while being a strong woman. Lissie is more powerful I think because she isn’t using any of her feminine wiles to get her point across, but she still gets it across. Anyway, enjoy!

CDs

Dad and Butler brought up my CD collection when they moved me into Rick’s place. I packed them up before I went to Yemen and haven’t seen them since. It’s amazing how much space 400+ CDs take up! I’m in the process of ripping them to my computer where they will take up considerably less space. Don’t know what I’ll do with them afterwards, do people still buy used CDs?

The box I’m working on now has part of my classical collection with some jazz thrown in. I’m struck at the number of discs I got through services like the BBC magazine and the Musical Heritage Society. Before them it was BMG and some other CD service. Before that I was a member of the RCA club for cassettes. You remember those clubs right? They send you 12 or 13 albums for a penny and you only have to agree to buy… what was it, 10? more CDs in the next year. Of course b y default they would send you one a month unless you sent in the paperwork on time. Each time you bought something at full price (17.99 if I remember correctly) they would give you a certificate to buy the next one at half price.

I tried to remember to send in the “do not send me the selection of the month” letter every time for the popular music clubs. I’d screw up from time to time of course and I’d get something or other that I didn’t want. I think the only time that ever worked out was the time I got Pat Benetar’s “Live From Earth” cassette. That was pretty good, at least 13 year old me thought so…

I went ahead and got the selections of the month with the classical clubs mostly because I wanted to hear a lot of different things. The BBC Music magazine was supposedly a cornucopia of classical music information, but I really only ever cared about the CDs that came with it every month. I got some stuff that I never would have thought of getting that way. I never would have dived into early music otherwise. Of course, I also wouldn’t have gotten any of the early English operas either, anyone want a copy of “Alfred?”

We’ve come so far in such a short period of time. Convenience is king nowadays. It is trivially easy to find and download almost anything you want. The world of popular music is your oyster with new streaming services like Spotify MOG. Classical and jazz folks still have to buy their stuff mostly, but it is out there. The streaming and downloading options for popular music sound just fine with the compressed formats. The classical types have a variety of high res formats available to them too.

When the CD came out, we couldn’t believe how nice it was. There was no surface noise, no pops, no cracks and most people mistook the absence of defects for sound quality. CDs and CD players eventually got really good and we figured, “This is it, this is the ultimate audio medium.” Of course having no medium at all has proven to be far nicer, and at no penalty of sound quality. When I sold audio gear, I fantasized about having a 300 CD changer so I could have most of my music in my system at all times. These eventually came into being but they were always too clunky, slow, and prone to breaking down. Now I can stream 12 million songs whenever I want for 10 bucks a month, life is good!

 

ADDENDUM:

 

I just googled BMG Music Service, just for old times sake. It’s hilarious. Towards the bottom, there is a pane that says BMG Music Service is what Columbia House Music was. Then the pane above that says that BMG Music Service is closed and is now Columbia House DVD service… Anyway, the deal isn’t too bad really, you have to get 12 CDs for a little under 50 bucks. That’s pretty cheap. I can’t imagine having to deal with the clutter of all of those CDs mind you. The selection is straight out of the 80’s. They boast of having over 14,000 albums to choose from! That was impressive back a ways, but nowadays with iTunes having 18 million songs, 14,000 is laughable. I can only imagine that it is filled with the blandest radio hits type of folks too. Good luck with that Columbia/BMG/Columbia!

mind/no mind

Have you ever heard a song that encapsulates basic tenets of Buddhist beliefs? No, neither have I, but I might have created one and I quite like it.

It all started when I stumbled across Ty Segall’s Imaginary Person.

 

 

It’s a lovely little bit of psychedelic/garage pop, you’d be forgiven if you thought it came out in 1968. I think it was actually made in 2002. I think it is about someone trying to convince themselves that they aren’t crazy. The chorus could either be “You are an imaginary person, you’re in my head but I am certain you aren’t real,” or “You are real…” Because of the charming low-fi quality, it’s impossible to tell.

Well, I was humming it to myself the other day and I mistakenly sang the lyric, “I am an imaginary person…” I thought that was pretty funny, but the more I thought about it, the more it reminded me of zen. Zen practitioners have the unenviable task of looking past themselves, of realizing that what they think of as self is an illusion. The self can’t be your thoughts and memories, otherwise where do you go when you sleep? Naturally, this leads to some real cognitive dissonance and confusion. Apparently that’s par for the course and is the basis of serious zen. So with apologies to Ty Segall, here is the first zen psychedelic/garage pop song. I’ve modified the lyrics a bit, but imagine them in the regular music and see what you think…

 

 

say say, i can’t say what I’m tryin’ to do to me oh no oh no oh yea

cuz I’m in my head so i never go to bed oh no oh nooh no

talk talk, it’s all I do so i never talk to you oh no oh nooh yea

cuz I’m in my head so i never go to bed oh no oh no

cuz I, I am an imaginary person

I’m in my head, but i am certain I’m not real

I am an imaginary person

I’m in my head, but i am certain I’m not real

yea, I’m not real

I’m not real I am real I’m not real

 

Another great music service

Spotify is the later music service to get my money. I already subscribe to LastFM and Slacker Radio. Slacker is a great way to hear new music and LastFM gives me a radio station based on my own curation. Spotify lets me listen to any song any time I want to.

Yeah, any song I want, any time I want. How amazing is that? If I hear a new song, I can look up the artist and listen to any of their albums. That’s in addition to all of the older stuff too. For 10 bucks a month I get no ads and can stream the music through my iPhone and squeezebox. I thought I had a big collection before…

The last couple of nights I have been going through Aweditorium on my iPad, finding interesting artists, and then looking them up in Sporitfy. It’s a great combo. It’s true that Spotify doesn’t have everything,. They don’t have any Beatles or Led Zeppelin but that’s hardly the end of the world. Plenty of people would tell you that’s a blessing. And it’s true my favorite Flamenco album and a live Cynics albums aren’t in there either, but those are a little bit obscure. A little more worrying is the absence of A Joy Division album called Warsaw. I’ll have to do some more digging to see how many albums aren’t in there.

 

As it stands right now, I’m having a hard time figuring out what I’ll be using iTunes for. Yes, I do have a few things on there that aren’t in the streaming version of Spotify, but Spotify also allows me to use my iTunes library on my computer and I can sync music to my phone with it as well. I’m pretty sure Spotify has a higher quality bitrate as well… I don’t think I’ll actually erase my iTunes library, but I doubt I’ll be playing it very often.

If you haven’t yet, check out Spotify, it is amazing.

Amy Winehouse (drugs)

I was saddened when I head about her death. I had hoped that she was going to turn it around. I still hold out hope that she didn’t fall off the wagon, maybe her body just gave out after years of abuse. I know, reason tells me that isn’t the case…

 

It may seem strange to post a song from another group in an Amy WInehous post, but I think it fits. Drug use is always sad, this song captures that sadness and the video (scenes from The Panic in Needle Park) really sums up for me how life devolves when you’re locked in that cycle. RIP Amy, hope you can have some peace from all your troubles now.

 

More iPad apps

A few more apps I’ve become smitten with… First up is something that sounds trivial, but it really works well. I’m using the FIOS remote app. It lets me view the program viewer, chose the channel, and gives me a duplicate remote control on the iPad. This is nice because I’m using a tiny 13″ TV right now and it’s awfully tough to read the stupid TV guide onscreen. In addition, the regular remote control seems to have an incredibly narrow angle of view. I have to aim carefully in order to change a channel. The iPad app uses wifi, so it works no matter where I am in the house. Plus, it’s really quick.

OK, that one is handy, this next one is amazing. Its name is Awedetorium.

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This is an app that really takes advantage of how you use the iPad and it fits in really well. It is a music discovery app, all of those tiles you see are different bands. When you tap on one, the image fills the screen and a song from them starts playing. While it plays, the app will pop up all sorts of factoids about the band.

 

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Along the bottom, you’ll see some controls that will allow you to buy the song, favorite it, and even show you a video (the main image is a still one). The main screen with all the times can be scrolled though, there are hundreds and hundreds of bands on there. I’ll be browsing though this for a long time. I’m also under the impression that they keep adding new songs and bands to the the app. I’ve come across all sorts of music on there, country, folk, noise, hip hop, and lots and lots of rock. Best of all, it’s a free app! I am constantly amazed at the quality of apps I can find, even for free.

 

Morning song

I had a dream that I was at work when “Blueside” from Rooney came on the store’s music system. The rest of the dream became inconsequential as I locked onto the song. It’s really catchy and I marveled because I had never heard it at work before. Come to think of it, it’s quite a bit more appropriate than some of the other songs I hear at work like “Wicked Game” and “Fake Plastic Trees.”

I woke up a lot later still humming it. If you haven’t heard it, the song is a guitar driven power pop ditty. Imagine a mashup of Matthew Sweet, the Beach Boys, and maybe even the Partridge Family thrown in for good measure. The band also took on the old CCR look for the video, the hair, the denim, the earnestness… Check it out!

 

Music…. ahhhh…

OK, so I finally got my stereo hooked up. I had been listening to it for quite a while up in my tiny room, but I now have more room to spread out. Setting up was delayed for a week because I needed some more speaker cable. Plus, I wanted proper connections on the ends of the wires. The binding posts on my current amp are a bit of a pain to use with bare cables.

Anyway, got it set up and I’m really enjoying it. I now have a decent set up for the first time in… 5 years? My God, it’s been a long time. Things are a little different with this system though. I am streaming my music either from the internet or my computer through my squeezebox player. I switch tracks with my iPod touch, it’s the ultimate remote really. I have full access to every song in my library, plus all of my internet radio stations, and I can also control the volume. Here’s the kicker, the only way I could set it up involves the listening position to be in my bed… I don’t think I could imagine a better set up:-)

 

The speakers are about 9 feet apart, giving me a pretty big sound stage. I still need to fiddle with the distance from the wall a little to tame the bass. Listening again is just sumptuous. No, this isn’t perfect, but it is a hell of a lot better than I’ve had in a long time. All of my music is pretty compressed, it was all ripped into the computer for portable listening. I need to go dig up my CDs, rip them in some sort of lossless format, and then get rid of them. Do people still buy used CDs in bulk anymore?

I’m also starting to fantasize about getting tubes back into my system. I own a really nice set of amps, but they are a bit large. Last year, out of the blue, a friend gave me a 300b based amp. I got a chance to listen to it a couple of times and I’m totally in love with it. Plus, it’s a lot more compact than my current amps. Of course, my regular amps use $10-15 dollar tubes, this one uses 150-900 dollar tubes…

With a new computer in my future, I think I will try running the server software I need for the squeezebox off of it. If that doesn’t work, I might invest in a dedicated music server. Once I have the tube amp and some decent source material, I think things will be as good as they are going to get for the foreseeable future. I plan on spending lots of time relaxing, listening to music into the wee hours of the night:-)