I’ve had it up to here with…

17 04 2009

I try to stay positive on this blog, but tonight I feel like ranting.  This is a list of things in/around popular music that I can no longer tolerate.  I’d like these things or people to vanish from sight for just awhile.

John & Yoko’s wedding and bed-ins — I’m about as big of a Beatles fan as you’ll meet, but I’m sick to death of all this stuff celebrating the 40th anniversary of John & Yoko’s marriage and their bed-ins for peace.  The bed-ins were a funny idea, but the fact that we’re talking about them 40 years later baffles me.  These weren’t marches like civil rights supporters held in the south in the 50’s and 60’s.  The marches actually changed things.  The bed-ins were a gimmick that attracted a lot of media attention for a positive subject (world peace is a good goal, I agree) but, in the end, accomplished nothing.  I’m frankly sick to death of seeing those old photos of John and Yoko laying in bed together.  I saw Imagine: John Lennon when it came out in theaters 20 years ago.  It had all one would ever need to know about their wedding in Gibraltar and the bed-ins.  Let’s move on, ok?

Phil Spector’s reputation as a genius — I can’t say all about this subject that I would like to, at least not in this post.  Suffice it to say that I think his “wall of sound” sucked on albums like George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass.  Spector ruined that brilliant album.  McCartney was wise to “de-Spectorize” Let it Be a few years back.  He sees (hears) what many others are unwilling to recognize: that Spector could be a hack and he overproduced stuff.  More about this some other time perhaps.

Beatles Rock Band video game — I’m not going to blast Paul, Ringo, Yoko and Olivia for allowing this video game to come out.  It will introduce younger kids to the Beatles just as I was introduced to them the better part of a decade after they split.  That said, I’m sick to death of reading and hearing about it.  Instead of playing video games, kiddies, get a damned bass or guitar and learn to play music yourselves!  Parents can get starter guitars, with amps, cords, the whole bit, for $200.  XBox or wii or whatever systems kids play on these days (I sound old, don’t I?) cost as much or more than that.  Make your own music.  Stop living in the fantasy world of playing someone else’s music on a computer.   Either that or stop telling me that Rock Band comes out in September.  Stop posting ab0ut it.  I’ve read it at least 100 times already.  I get it.

Disney actors cutting albums — I fully support a lot of what Disney does.  But I’m disgusted that they keep pumping out CDs by child actors that can’t sing a lick.  That Emily Osment has her own album is proof positive that the music business these days is just plain awful.  It’s a joke.  I like Disney’s TV shows for kids, but how about we get kids listening to good music instead of garbage like the Jonas Brothers.  To balance out the sonic assault on my daughter’s ears that she gets from Disney channel and Radio Disney, I play the Beatles, Oasis, Marvin Gaye, Hank Williams, Sr., Paul McCartney, Sinead O’Connor, and other artists that actually have (or had) lots of talent.  She knows what a good singer should sound like and she knows that the crap Disney is trying to sell her isn’t good.

Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — I was recently happy to learn that George Harrison was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Besides being a Beatle and a pretty darned good solo artist, George was into film and his company, Handmade Films, put out some pretty cool stuff in the 80’s.  My happiness for one of my favorites being honored was diminished when I learned that guys like John Stamos also have stars on the walk.  John Stamos?  Really?  C’mon.   It seems anyone that’s ever been on a bad sitcom gets a star on the walk.  It’s the equivalent of every kid in little league soccer getting a trophy.  Ugh.

Coldplay — I’m not going to attack them.  They seem to be a pretty decent band.  They’re not my cup of tea but, hey, I think I have an idea why others like them.  My beef, though, is that it has been put ’round that Coldplay are the “Beatles of their generation.”  I hate declarations like that!  Coldplay might be one of the most popular bands around these days, and for the last several years, but this generation has no Beatles.  Since the height of Beatlemania, there has been nothing even close to the Beatles.  Michael Jackson in 1983-85, U2 in the late 80’s and again in the early 90’s, and Oasis (mostly in Britain) in 1994-97 came about as close as anyone ever will, but were still light years behind the overall popularity and madness surrounding the Beatles from 1964-66.  The world will never see a band as popular and influential as the Beatles.  Never!  So the comparison is ludicrous.  Can’t we call Coldplay the “U2 of their generation” or the “Michael Jackson of their generation”? Those labels work better.

I think I have more rants in me, but I’ve run out of steam.


Obsessed with bass

1 04 2009

If you’ve read this blog lately you know that I recently bought a bass and have been playing.  I’m in that honeymoon phase with my instrument.  I play when I can, I frequently look at other (used) gear to buy and have been reading and asking a lot of questions, trying to figure out how to best master the instrument.

I’ve also been watching a lot of bass players on youtube.  Paul McCartney is probably my favorite bass player and I found this guy who can play Paul’s stuff to the note.  Watching this gentleman practically brings a tear to my eye.  This guy is a dynamite player and he shows just how much Paul added to the Beatles’ sound, especially on a lighter, more melodic tune like “Someting.”

Check this out  I think you’ll enjoy it.

You gotta crawl before you can walk*

24 03 2009

Maybe you’ve read that I bought a bass guitar this Saturday.  Since then I’ve been “playing” it quite a bit, getting to know the instrument.  But just fooling around on the fretboard gets a little boring so I figured I would tackle a song right away.

I found the tablature for the bass for Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up” (from McCartney II) and began fiddling with it.  I could play it pretty easily, in terms of hitting the notes, but I didn’t know where the notes went in the song (which is one of the problems with tabs.)  So I dig up this video on youtube and played along with the song.  I got it right the second time through.

Look, I’m hardly bragging.  I think this song has a great little bass line in it.  It’s very funky; really sweet.  But it’s kid simple.  It’s been a nice boost of confidence to have found a cool bass line that I can actually play along with the song.

If you’re new to an instrument, start with something easy and play along with it.  You’ll feel good and enjoy yourself.


*See if you can catch the clever pun in this otherwise cliche title. 😉

My new baby

24 03 2009

deanbass1In the last month or so, I’ve been (re)bitten by the music bug.

20 years ago I was in love with my guitar.  I never mastered it, but I really enjoyed playing.  I managed to get good enough to play a dozen plus cover tunes in a little band.

The demands of working, grad school, relationships and getting bored with my lack of progress as a musician ultimately lead to me shelving my guitar.  For the first time in maybe 3 years, I took it out of the case and started playing again last week.

Guitar, though, will never be an instrument at which I will excel.  I lost the desire to start over with it.  At the same time, I’ve been paying lots and lots of attention to bass.  If I’m playing a CD or listening to MP3s, my ears are searching for the bass lines.  I’ve just become enthralled by what a mediocre (let alone great) bass player can do for a band’s sound.

Not wanting to buy hundreds — maybe thousands — in gear, and wanting to try out the instrument before making it a major investment, I decided I would probably get an acoustic bass.  I can sit on the living room floor and noodle with it without either blasting out the windows (if she’s amped up) or being able to hear it (if she’s unplugged.)

Our local guitar store, Blue Fish Music, had just what I was looking for: an inexpensive acoustic/electric bass in nearly perfect condition.  I didn’t get it for a steal, but I paid a fair price.

She’s my baby now.  I’m really enjoying discovering this instrument and what it can do (or what I can do with it.)  I’m massively intimidated by people that have been playing for yours.  I watch players on youtube and think, “Damn, I’ll never be able to do that.”  But then I’ll find a cool song with a simple bass line, play it a bit and feel like, “Hey, if I stick to this I could be pretty decent someday.”

Whatever comes of it, I’m enjoying myself.  It’s a great creative outlet.