This is weird

Had a weird sort of experience yesterday. Can I assume that you’re familiar with the VH1 “I love the…” or “Best of the…” series. Good,

VH1 Network Identification 1985

VH1 Network Identification 1985 (Photo credit: Fred Seibert)

because I just assumed it. Well, yesterday afternoon they were running “Top 100 songs of the 2000’s” I had a surreal kind of experience here.

For those of you unaware, I’m 28. Born in 1985. So 2000 through 2010 went right through my young adult years. That’s Sophomore year of high school through all of college into the beginning of my adult life. In that decade, I graduated high school, graduated college, moved out of my parents house, got engaged, got married, and lived with The Wife for the first time, not necessarily in that order. I also went from age 15 to age 25. So I was actively listening to music and making judgments on what I liked. Not really formative years, but years in which I was growing into the man that I currently am. I know that music.

What made this so crazy is this: Most of those shows, like “I Love the 80’s” or “I Love the 90’s”, happened while I was relatively young. The songs and trends they talk about still up memories of my childhood. They are frequently coated in a thick layer of nostalgia. I usually watch some of those and then start a conversation like “I remember when I …” Everything with those has some tie to a simpler time in my life. “Top 100 songs of the 2000’s” Was completely different.

First off, those years weren’t quite long enough ago to be covered in nostalgia yet. Not everything is yet seen through those sepia-tinted glasses that let you forget the bad things. More strangely though, I still think of a lot of those songs as ‘current’.

Now , just because I think of something as ‘current’ does not make it so. I’m starting to get to the age where my version of things is slightly distorted from reality. I’ve never been one to really listen to the radio and stay up on the really current stuff. This is only exacerbated by my turning into a grumpy(ier), old(er), man.

It was very strange though, for there to be a retrospective-type show about things I didn’t realize we were that far past. In the world of entertainment, where a month is a year, the 2 and a half years since the end of 2010 means we’re quite far removed from the “2000’s” That’s why it was so weird. I know were well into the 10’s or Teens, but I hadn’t noticed.

I’m not trying to complain about it, I just felt weird seeing a “Remember When…” show when I didn’t think I needed to be reminded. Some people will tell you that if it isn’t sitting in front of me(and sometimes then) that I probably needed reminded of it. I have to say, I really enjoyed their selection of songs though. Thinking about it, I think I prefer the ‘year-to-year’ set up as opposed to the ‘Top 100’ list. ‘Year-to-year’ keeps everything grouped together, the list format jumped around. That just made it stranger.

Ever had anything like that remind you of where you are in life? Just kind of popped up and said ‘hey, this is last decade!’?

A/V Club

VIDEO CONTAINS FOUL LANGUAGE! You’ve been warned.

Great video from my favorite song by one of my favorite bands. They’re actually only kind of a band. Gorillaz is only a pseudo-band, but they’re absolutely excellent.

I have to say that I think that song captures how I feel more often than not. There’s almost never a time when I don’t want to hear “Clint Eastwood”, and it always seems to suit whatever mood I’m in. I first heard that song over a decade ago in high school, and I think it has aged quite well.

The chorus goes:

I ain’t happy, I’m feeling glad.
I got sunshine, in a bag.
I’m useless, but not for long.
The future, is comin’ on. Is comin’ on, is comin’ on, is comin’ on, is comin’ on…

You know I feel like that a lot. I feel content, I feel like I’ve got all I need with me. I also feel useless and unfulfilled. I expect it to get better in the coming days.

That can be a bad way to look at things. Always looking for the future to be better than the present can have a tendency to make you unhappy all the time. You wouldn’t want to be the only cause of your own unhappiness, right?

I do think that I am not as skilled as I would like to be in certain areas. I really wish that I displayed an aptitude for something that interests me. It would give me an idea of where to focus my efforts. It would give me some hope that whatever skill I was trying to develop might actually progress forward.

I tend to not be great at sticking with difficult, skill-based things. I seem to make a few large jumps at the beginning and then I hit a decent wall and I  just can’t ever get any better. That definitely contributes to my feeling like I’m useless sometimes. I mean, think if every time you tried to do something that interested you, you found out that you probably weren’t good enough to ever  get any better. Cooking, baking, writing, drawing, music, singing. Something that you enjoy and consider yourself adequate at; What if you just learned ytht you were actually pretty bad and never seemed to get better?

That is just how it feels when I try something and get stonewalled.

Oh well, someday I’ll find my niche. Until then, I’ve always got the Gorillaz to keep me company.

Jukebox Hero

In an extension of my eclectic-ness discussion, this morning has been strange for me, musically speaking. I have gone from thinking about 90’s rock music(thank to @HPBasketball on Twitter last night), to a hardcore rap mixtape that released yesterday, and now I’m listening to a 90’s pop mix at work. Overall, it’s been weird.

I know I’ve ranted about my old collection of musical tastes before, but  that wasn’t my main reason for bringing it up this time. Yes I like quite a range of music. Johnny Cash to Wiz Khalifa. So really everything. What struck me this morning while listening to the new Machine Gun Kelly mixtape – Black Flag was how unexpectedly music can affect us.

You know when listening to certain songs or genres what to expect from them on an emotional level, generally speaking. Throw on Black Sabbath, you’re getting Dark, Heavy, Supernaturally-Themed music. Put on Jack Johnson and you’re headed to the beach with a bonfire and guitars. Sometimes even music you know pretty well can thoroughly surprise you.

I put on Black Flag expecting the strong lyrics Machine Gun Kelly is known for, with a mostly political tilt. I didn’t even make it 2 songs into the album on shuffle before I got goosebumps. I won’t get into specifically what it was about, but if you are interested you can download the mixtape free here. Yes it’s rap, and yes there is likely to be foul language. I’ve warned you.

What really struck me about all of it was how touched I was. I was surprised at the depth of a song that I only generally had expectations about. I expected personal experience or heartfelt determination, based on previous mixtapes and his debut album. I got a touching story that contained profound sadness.

I just wasn’t expecting it and that made me enjoy it all the more. I wan’t to hear something unexpected. I love popping in music and finding something special there. It’s like a secret that I know, that people who dismiss that album or artist will never learn. I love that feeling with my music. I really want to find something else new to listen to now to keep discovering the unexpected.

It’s cool to know that some of who I listen to are as crazy-eclectic as I am.

Super Talented

Three different VHS-family video cassettes. Fr...

Three different VHS-family video cassettes. From left to right, MII, VHS, and S-VHS. From this angle, VHS and S-VHS only differ in their markings. The VHS tape is a T-30 tape, and so uses larger spools than the T-120 S-VHS tape. Otherwise, the spools would be identical. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, so I just found out about these guys yesterday. They are super talented with awesome videos.

EDIT: switched the video to a link because youtube didn’t want me to embed the video. FINE!

Go ahead and watch a little of this video, even if this song isn’t your favorite. More importantly, go check out the youtube channel and see if there is a song there that you like.

They do awesome covers, in a super cool way. I don’t know any of these people, so I’m not really trying to shill for them, I just saw awesome and thought you guys might wanna see. I know this is a short post, but I’m busy being distracted by their youtube channel and such, so I leave you to this video.

P.S. I just realized that this technically dovetails with my previous post about cover versions. Well that was unintentionally convenient. Cool.

I Need Your Helpful Input Here.

How do you feel about covers? No not the kind on your bed. Weirdos. Musical covers.

I mean this is really a multi-part question. I also suspect there will be a lot of answers akin to “Depends on the song.” I’m looking for an overall viewpoint on covers though.

I support the concept of covering someone else’s song. I do feel like if you’re planning to release a cover for commercial gain, and not just because “you love that song so much” That you should get permission from that artist, unless it’s considered no longer copy-written for some reason.

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A great example of a well done cover, that doesn’t just use someone else’s song as their own work would be Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt”. “Hurt” is a song about a personal and dark subject for writer/front man Trent Reznor, that Cash took and made his own in style and meaning. Cash had some well-publicized substance abuse problems and the lyrics from “hurt” meant something similar, but still profoundly different coming from him. The whole song took on a different tone when performed by Cash in a stripped-down acoustic number, in his classic deep, raspy, voice. Reznor even admitted in an interview that it was more Cash’s song now than his own.

It’s times like that that really illustrate to me what is possible with a correctly done cover version of a song. Some covers use different instruments or a different arrangement to create almost a completely separate song. When it becomes a song separate from the original, and they can actually be enjoyed as unrelated musical performances instead of different versions, I think it allows for more musical expression for everyone.

I’m not completely against faithful cover versions, but I think it tends to leave listeners in a place where they have to decide which version is objectively “better” and that’s not a good thing. On the other hand, some covers with very different arrangements really take a song in a different direction that could ruin a favorite song for someone. Of course it could be argued that that arrangement just doesn’t appeal to those people so there’s no harm done.

So, your turn. Am I crazy? Are cover songs the bane of great musicians everywhere? Stifling creativity and ruining great music? I’m just not sure what’s more correct here.

Ow.

So, today I went straight from work to go have a discussion about a problem I was having with the furniture store. I got all amped up about it because I didn’t know if they were going to

An old Stiga lawn mower. Its almost broken, wi...

An old Stiga lawn mower. Its almost broken, with the start cord pulled off (Got to be started with a electric screwdriver directly on the engine). Really old model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) NOT REALLY ME OR MY MOWER

pretend it wasn’t a real problem. Everything went fine, so not fireworks there.

Then I came home and had to mow the lawn. It’s been way too long so I had to bag the clippings. This adds extra work to the whole experience. I’m not overly fond of mowing in the first place, and bagging really just takes it to that next level. Two important things happened while I was mowing: First, I think it was the bagging, but I’m now so sore I can barely move, and second I like rap and people find that weird.

I like certain rap and hip hop artists a lot more than some people think I should. I think I need to give you some back ground here. I generally don’t listen to the radio. I find music I like and I buy it and listen to it via some magic wireless device. So I tend to not be overly familiar with ‘What’s Hot’. This means that when I like rap or hip hop that it isn’t just because everyone likes it and it’s on the radio all the time.

I prefer to make my own music judgments. I have a few friends that I can take what they say about music pretty much as gospel. If The Artist says I ‘ll like it, I can just go buy that album. If The Rockstar tells me to listen to something, I have got to give it shot and it might broaden my horizons. Otherwise, I could truly give a rat’s ass what’s ‘popular’ on the radio. Give me Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” over whatever hip new rock act is in. Give me The Righteous Brothers “(You’ve Lost) That Lovin’ Feelin'” over Taylor Swift any day.

One thing that weirds people out though is that I legitimately like some rap music. This is confusing to them because I am a middle-class white male who grew up in a middle class white family in a smallish town. Nothing ties me to hip hop. I never had any friends big into hip hop or anything like that.

Personally, I think it’s the rhythm and the lyrics. I always really enjoyed songs with a story to tell. That’s why I like The Decemberists. Creative storytelling. I mentioned the other day that I have a soft spot for anything with and awesome beat. Combine those two things, especially in a rapper with great lyrical skills and I’m hooked. I’ve been loving Macklemore pretty recently, and I’m a big fan of Machine Gun Kelly. I’ve always liked Ludacris.

It might be a little weird, but I’m nothing if not a little(or a lot) weird.

Do you have any hobbies or interests that just kind of make people scratch their heads?

Let’s Get Crazy

Screw it. Let’s do creative writing today.

Being famous sucks. Hold on, put down your pitchforks, and extinguish the torches. It’s exactly what I always wanted. I get paid to do what I love every single day, and nothing could ever replace that feeling. I get to do things and meet people and I love getting to do all the things that I dreamed of. I have enough money invested that I will never have to work again, and my daughter, Celeste probably won’t actually NEED to either. There’s so much I love waking up to every day, but being famous still sucks.

I always dreamed of being a successful musician, but I never thought it would happen this quickly. One open mic night, in the right bar, in the right town, with the right song and a record exec sitting there. Then 6 months later I can’t attend all the appearances that they’re calling about, and my face has been on magazine covers across the world. I haven’t dropped below 4th on the iTunes artist or album chart since we released.

I’ve heard all the reasons people don’t like being famous before but none of those things bother me. I’m not so concerned about the privacy, the photos, being a role model, or everyone wanting something from me. I love feeling needed and important. I always craved acceptance from people, especially my mother. Somehow, acceptance from complete strangers was even more exciting. It was like rocket fuel for my music the first time someone I didn’t know asked me to sign the CD they’d bought at a show. What really keeps me from sleeping is that I have no idea who I am anymore.

I thought I knew who I was before when I spent every spare minute scribbling lyrics and chords in a notebook. I never left home without paper and a pencil in one pocket or another. I even have a long time friend that calls me Pockets because of all the shit I keep with me. I was always staring off into space trying to work out that one particular lyric, or identify that specific chord change that just helped everything make sense. I identified as a “musician.” I let that be who I was. I grew my hair out, and I shopped at the thrift store for vintage boots and shirts. I spent most of my paychecks on new guitar equipment. I even let my parents take care of Celeste after her mother left us. All because I told everyone I was a “musician.” I was really just looking for an identity to hold on to.

Now that I am what I always said I was, now that I’m rich and famous and I can do anything that I want, I don’t know who I am anymore. I still wake up smiling everyday. I still love making music and talking with fans. I get so excited to do talk shows because they always ask such interesting questions, and I love to tell stories. While all of those things are fun and exciting, none of it MEANS something to me the way daydreaming about songs used to. Nothing drives me with that singular focus the way songwriting used to. Even writing new material comes easy like it never did before.

It may sound silly, but living my dream isn’t as fulfilling as I thought it would be.

I Have a Problem

Hi. My name is Chris, and I have a problem.

I can’t find a music play list that has everything I want to hear on it.

Ok, so it isn’t a real problem, or even what most people would consider an inconvenience. The problem is as follows: There are “90’s Music” Playlists, and “00’s Music” play lists, but my true desire is to hear stuff from like 1994 to 2003.

Do you see my great distress? the music I want to hear, fall across 2 separate decades. This means I have to listen to about half a playlist full of stuff I actually want to hear, and the other half is just some stuff I remember hearing at some point.

If you actually think about it, most music goes this way. You would be more accurate, stylistically anyway, to group music from say 1955 to 1965, or 1975 to 1985 than to say “80’s Music”. I suppose it’s just more convenient to group things by decade as it’s a handy reference point.

I miss music from the late 90’s though. I like the place Rock, Hard Rock, and Hip-Hop were in. Pop was ok, working around the boy bands anyway. I understand that the reason I think fondly of it is nostalgia, in large part, but I also think I was a little happier with the direction certain genres were headed in.

Back in my day, the music was better.

Ha! I sound so old.

-Christopher

Dodgeball! (In Which If You Can Dodge A Wrench, You Can Dodge A Ball)

That title has nothing to do with anything. I mean, besides the fact that if you CAN dodge a wrench, I’m reasonably sure you can ALSO dodge a ball. I’m only keen to try it if I get to be the one doing the throwing, not the one doing the dodging.

I can’t say why, but I have not been able to get my fill of ’90s music recently. I mean all of it. I’m not proud of some of it, but it all reminds me of my teenage years and so I deem it to be acceptable now. Everything from Pearl Jam to Korn, Limp Bizkit to Hanson, Nirvana to The Spice Girls, Smashing Pumpkins to Will Smith.

I know what you’re thinking. No, really I do. It’s like I live inside your head. In case you didn’t know, I rent a room in there for weekends away. God knows it’s quiet in there.

Anyway, you’re thinking “You really dated yourself with all those music references from your teenage years.”

Half of you are thinking “You’re so OLD. Like, practically a mummy old. How are you still walking? How’s your hip?(That’s hilarious by the way)”

The other half of you are thinking “Good Lord, you’re so young. When I was a teenager we listened to the AM radio and owned our music on these round discs made out of vinyl with grooves in it. It really was very special, the bumps in the grooves caused a vibration in the needle which… What were we talking about?”

You know what else is a fantastic reminder of the ’90s? Weird Al Yankovic. Al kinds of fun parody songs of other awesome ’90s songs. then you get to hear the parody,which makes you want to listen to the original, and it’s TWICE the ’90s goodness.

Now that I’ve mocked all of you, young and old, and also mocked and dated myself, I think it’s time I left you to ponder on the wonderful music that was the ’90s.

Leave a comment with what you liked, if you wanna, so I can either join in the love, or mock you mercilessly.

-Christopher

P.S. Barbie Girl by Aqua was off the CHAIN!

 

P.P.S. Yes I just admitted to liking Aqua, and described it by using ‘off the chain’ which is both out of fashion, and an inappropriate descriptor for that particular group.

 

Judgment (In Which I Judge All Of Us)

Here are some song lyrics I want you to read. You may have heard the song before. If you haven’t, I’d recommend you check it out.

“Man In Black” by Johnny Cash

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he’s a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.

Well, we’re doin’ mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin’ cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought ‘a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen’ that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen’ that we all were on their side.

Well, there’s things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin’ everywhere you go,
But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You’ll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything’s OK,
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
‘Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black.

Now stop and think for a minute.

Ready?

I understand that there are a lot of people in the world you or I may not agree with. Maybe they made some bad choices, or maybe there’s a conflict of beliefs. There’s not really any way to agree with everyone.

Do most of us ever stop and think how judgmental we usually are about it? I fully include myself in this group, as I have plenty of tolerance for major life decisions like religion, but not a whole lot when it comes to minor things like footwear choice. (Don’t ask me why, it’s dark in my head and I’m scared to be in there alone)

I was listening to this song the other day and it got me thinking about how there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time being judged for something. Regardless of whether or not you think they might deserve it, it can’t be much fun.

Since Johnny Cash is no longer with us to be “The Man in Black” I thought I’d bring it back around,so at least he could be with us all in spirit. Wouldn’t it be nice every once in awhile to stop and think? There are a lot of things wrong in this world, and there are plenty of reasons for that.

That said, today or the next time you see something that makes you think”Geez,why can’t we just get our shit together?”, instead of blaming or judging someone, stop and think about how much nicer it would be if it were just better.

It would be a lot easier to fix some of those problems if we weren’t so worried about who’s fault it was, and just worked to make it better in whatever way we can.

-Christopher