Sunday, December 20, 2009
"I Hear America Singing"
by Walt Whitman
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or
at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of
the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Viva el RGV forever!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I had a special day and night yesterday. For one, I rode the bullet train, or Shinkansen, from Osaka to Tokyo, and to see some of the country side and small villages as we roared down the tracks from 130 to 160 mph, was quite impressive. Second, my cousin was in town (passing through from his travels in China which perfectly coincided with our concerts here in Tokyo-crazy!), and so, we were able to hang out and catch up, which leads me to the next highlight of the evening: a sold-out show at the O-East. Even though we had some technical things (Rhodes kept going out, strange monitor mixes, feedback, etc.), the concert was a success, and the Tokyo crowd was full of love and energy. I can't wait for tonight; it will be a better experience all around.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Even though I had one of the roughest monitor mixes in a long time, this show was so much fun. I really love the Japanese audience. The energy of the room was intense, with people singing and dancing. I hope that Osaka show sounds better on stage. Unfortunately, Paul blew out his voice early in the show. I hope he can recover for the next three concerts.
November 17, 2009: Osaka:
I’m on the bullet train now, traveling between Nagoya and Osaka. The landscape is moving. I feel like I caught between an ancient and modern world. Life is strange. The world seems smaller to me after so much travel, but still huge at the same time. I feel so far away from my loved ones, but yet I’m able to communicate with them probably easier and faster than any other time in human history.
I’m happy to be here in Japan. It is remarkable country, full of respect and innovation. I have much admiration for this culture and for who they are.
Room with a view (of Osaka, Japan):
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Now, the U.S. portion of the Armistice tour is over, and I find myself in Japan. I feel like I can temporally decompress over here, even though it's been a long journey to get to this beauty country (14 hour flight from JFK) because things are a bit slower. Four more shows (Nagoya, Osaka, and 2 in Tokyo) and we are officially done playing for 2009. I can't believe how fast this year has gone by!
Anyway, trying to blog after the fact is quite difficult; so, I won't write about every show but below I've written a few things about my favorite moments. Overall, the shows that stood out to me from October 22 until November 13 were (in order of most to least favorable):
1) New York: Nokia Theatre
I was truly surprised at how much I liked this show because this was the fourth show in a row on the very last show of about a 40 city tour; needless to say, we were all extremely tired and hadn’t slept much the night before due to difficulties in scheduling. (NYC makes it so difficult for bands to play in the city!). Anyway, why was this my absolute favorite show of the tour? Well, because it was the last, of course! Seriously, it sounded really good to me in that room, even though we had heard quite the opposite, and I think we all performed extremely well in front of an audience that was ready to have a good time, which is the most important part. If the energy of the room is in union with the music, it's impossible to have a bad experience; it wasn’t a flawless show, but no show ever is, which is why we strive to continue to out-do ourselves. I hope we play this room again.
2) Ft. Lauderdale: Revolution
Finally, I arrived home! It’d been three weeks since I been in the glorious presence of my lovely wife and beautiful son, which is way too long for me to deal with. I hope I can avoid such prolonged distance in the future. It is amazing how fast he is growing and developing, and it makes me super sad that I miss out on those moments. Emotionally, it's been a lot to handle this tour.
As far as the show goes, this was the best crowd ever of the Armistice tour! South Florida is where our craziest fans live, and I can’t wait to do more shows here in my adopted home.
3) Dallas, TX: The Palladium
I was extremely happy to see my sister, mom, and many other friends in my old home-state. This was MM's first time in this rather new venue, and it was pretty good. But, the bottom-line was that I loved this show because I was surrounded by lots of people that have shaped my live in positive ways, and I felt like I gave something positive back to those people tonight.
4) New Orleans: Voodoo Fest.
Probably the best festival experience of the year! The rain cleared; the weather cooled down; and the sound on and off stage was best we've ever had at a festival. We played a solid hour, and it felt good to be in the city where I grew up musically. NOLA was given a lot to me in that regard, and it will always been a part of me. Also, I was able to see some great bands during this time. The most enjoyable for me was Lenny Kravitz; his band was ridiculously good, and I loved that he played mostly songs from Let Love Rule. Flaming Lips were an amazing spectacle as normal, and the nostalgia of the whole event was Jane's Addiction, probably one of the more influential bands for me around the age of 12 and 13.
5) October 23, 2009: St. Louis, MO: The Pageant
I loved this venue, and I clearly remember this day. It was the first day of this fall tour that felt cold to me; it was raining, which prevented me from going across the street to one of my favorite places in St. Louis: Blueberry Hill Restaurant. I love checking out all the collectables and the pictures of artists on the wall, which was the reason I truly enjoyed meeting the owner and getting our picture taken with him. I feel like I officially joined a special type of club of sorts. I know: it’s kind of stupid and superficial sounding but I’m glad that there are people out there who still appreciate music and its creators; that’s what all those photos mean to me – a sort of commemoration to music and the arts. That’s why it’s so great over here in Japan: the Japanese truly appreciate the arts and support it.
Until next time . . .
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
October 17, 2009: Minneapolis, MN: First Ave
It was nice to finally headline this historic club (“Your Downtown Danceteria Since 1970” as they call it) after being to Minneapolis so many times; we played once before with Mae, but it was really special also to go back to the room where we met DJ Shadow about a year and half earlier. The show went exceptionally well; great crowd but not as rowdy as the normal MN patrons go I must say. DK barely made the jump back to the stage after being on his drum. I think I saw a video of it on youtube, but I can’t find it anymore.
October 19, 2009: Chicago, IL: House of Blues
The Chicago House of Blues is my favorite HOB (maybe club) in the country (maybe world) by far; it is beautiful with its huge collection of folk art; it is accommodating and spacious yet still warm and earthy, not corporate feeling on stage; it has great sound and cool, large plank wooden floors on stage, which moves by the way when DK plays his kits. (I know that the audience floor moves, too, which just brings such a great energy to everything); it’s no doubt that this show is contending to be the best show of the tour for me. The downside to this venue is that they kick everybody out way too quick, and they tend to have too many rules about things, which goes for many of the HOBs. A friend of mine has aptly coined them the House of Rules. Nevertheless, I still prefer to play here and feel that the fans get the best possible show here time and time again.
October 20, 2009: Grand Rapids, MI: Orbit Room
Before the show, some of us went to eat Japanese at a nearby mall, at a wonderful place called OYSY. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much good sushi in my life. I was hurting, but was able to walk it off at a mall a couple of hours before the show. I’m glad I did or I would have definitely vomited on stage. I’ll leave that kind of accident/occurrence to DK. Anyway, by far, this night in GR possessed one of the most electric crowds of the tour. I hope the lady in the front found her ring, and that everyone had a good, memorable time.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
October 11, 2009: San Diego, CA: House of Blues
La familia and I strolled around downtown SD looking for a resupply of baby food, all along taking in the beautiful weather and sights. Overall, the show went well; probably one of the funniest things that happened so far on this tour happened here: Paul split his pants somewhere during "Spotlight." I didn't see it directly, but I knew something was up when he dashed off stage not to return for what felt like an eternity. DK gave a warm speech in the interim. Thank you San Diego.
October 13, 2009: Las Vegas, NV: House of Blues
Probably the best time of the tour we’ve had as a family since we had a full day off in a beautiful room in Mandalay Bay. I’d love to come back and have a family vacation here, which surprises me because I never thought that I would say that about this city. Anyway, the show went better than expected; it was a tighter performance than San Diego, and my son stayed up for the whole thing, which is always a good sign that we performed well.
October 14, 2009: Denver, CO: Ogden Theater
Probably one of the saddest times with la familia on tour since I had to say goodbye; it will be another three weeks before I get to see them again. This has been the hardest tour for me because of these sort of personal things. As far as the show went, it was memorable because this was one of the best crowds of the tour. The redhead guy (sorry I don't know your name for sure: he goes by Callen, aka Ghost Soldier) who does all the youtube drum covers was there, and he pumped me up all night. Thank you. Sorry I didn't get to meet you. And thanks for playing drums with such passion and skill. Keep it up.
October 16, 2009: Kansas City, KS: Beaumont Club
This was a good show overall (trying out a new intro thing), great crowd but so-so venue. I think it's not the best place to see a show. The stage is low and the spread of the room is a bit awkward. This was MM first time in Kansas City.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Empire Event Center - (Sacramento): I felt myself getting more and more sick (coughing and hacking up phlegm) as the show progressed; let's just say I made it through.
October 9, 2009
The Fillmore - (San Francisco): interesting show, and thankfully I woke up feeling great thanks to lots of Dr. Schulze's "super foods," a steady supply of green and white teas, and rest (well as much as my son would allow me to get ; )
October 10, 2009
Club Nokia Live - (Los Angeles): by far my favorite show of the tour so far! You got to watch this moment of DK; it will be one we will be talking about for a while:
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Recap PNW Shows
Forgive me for not churning out a few thoughts about these shows right off the bat, but my wife and son flew in Monday afternoon; so, my time has been almost completely 100% dedicated to them; it’s been about two weeks since I’ve seen them, and that is long enough for any poor soul and his family.
I give this show a 6 out of 10. I was not happy with the vibe this night because I feel that we didn’t deliver fully as to the expectations projected by the fans; neither did we just had a really bad show nor was it one riddled with technical problems, but there were some limitations via the venue and the set list (which we are still trying to flesh out) that I think affected the overall outcome. It’s a strange thing to try to calculate and explain, but that is the sentiment I got after performing.
Now, I know for sure that some people out there that were in the “sweet spot” of the venue and had a great experience, and the set had its "glory moments." I could see a few of those fans, mainly in the “balcony” sections: the guy in the green shirt playing the best air drums ever, the crowd surfers, etc. Some may be surprised by my remarks and will probably misinterpret them, but it’s a high standard that I’m judging the show by. From start to finish, I want it to be captivating and moving. I think we’re off to a great start on this tour, and I remind myself that it took us three years of playing the old songs to get them to a level that we were happy with.
Also, I believe that someone suffered from a seizure during the show, which is very scary, and I hope that whomever this person is that he or she is okay. I didn't see it actually happen, but I saw that there was some sort of an emergency near the front left of me. I was later told that something of the sorts occurred. I'm sorry that someone had to suffer through that, especially at our show.
I give this show an 8 out of 10. This didn’t have as many people as in Seattle; yet, it felt so much better than the night before. The energy and “liveness” in the room was projecting everywhere. We also tried some different things in the set, like shifting “Pins & Needles” up front, and we were able to pull off Darren’s light drum thing in “No Response.” There was more room overall, and it felt more comfortable. My favorite moment of the set was when DK got everyone off their feet as he stood on top of the bass drum in the crowd.
I know that some people went to both shows, and I’d like to know your thoughts. Please leave a comment.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Show Thoughts, abridged
This night got off to a bad start as for much of my set-up was giving me problems during “The Nerve,” but eventually, I sorted it all out, making the rest of night a decent experience. The fact that we played Des Moines for the first time is notable; apparently, not too many bands come through this way, which makes it nice when people show up. I grew up in an area where no one would come to through show, which is why we started developing our own thing and throwing our own shows, but that is besides the point; it’s almost harder to get out the word for shows when nobody is used to going to them. It’s kind of a strange thing. I hope that the lovely bunch that ventured out to see us enjoyed themselves because from my perspective, it was a bit hard to tell.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
For being such a tiny theater, the Majestic is a nice place to see a show with its high ceilings, more than adequate p.a., and close proximity from audience to stage; sure, we were unable to set up the entire show production (sorry!), and we were crammed like sardines on stage; however, the energy of the show was high and motivating. The night in Madison came with an extra challenge for me personally in that I was cornered off in the back a bit, and I had some extra keyboard duties we were testing out for the upcoming flight date to Austin City Limits Festival. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable and memorable.
The one disappointment of the night had to deal with an audience member. Unfortunately, up towards the front of the stage, a young man kept pushing and elbowing a couple of young ladies. Eventually, he stopped (with a little personal intervention), and everyone was okay (I talked to the “victims” afterwards, but not the culprit, unfortunately, since I would have liked to ask him a few Qs).
Monday, September 28, 2009
Definitely, this show was less “glitchy” than last night. The Pontiac crowd energized me. They were amazing, following us the entire journey of the show; this was the fourth show in a row, and being that we haven't toured this hard in a while, we were a bit on the slow side before we hit the stage, but our incredible fans turned it around with their excitement and love, giving us a huge jolt of what we needed to perform. We changed some songs around in the set, which I think helped the overall flow. The Pontiac set was as follows:
“The Nerve” (hitting it as hard, loud, and quickly as possible right off the bat feels great)
“Backfire” (settling into a nice more laid back groove but still within the high dynamic and same arrangement as Letterman)
“Chaos” (first oldie with an almost punk tempo and energy behind it)
“Clipping” (taking it down to 6/8 feel, but within the higher dynamic with soaring vocals & thick synth bass and special upright outro, which by the way, to answer some questions about my set up: for this tour, I’m playing mainly my Mocha 1976 Fender Precision Bass, my 1950s Kay Blonde Upright, and for “Burden” I’ve been working in my Purple Sparkle 1973 Fender Mustang Bass; for synth bass: I use Logic running various different and totally original sampler instruments I created; more importantly, I run them all through a Roland 201 Space Echo.
“No Response” (an electro/sampler interpretation on this one with special lighting effects)
“Plan B”(high energy from the second oldie but goodie)
“Stare/Obsolete” (abridged version with full outro)
“Electrify” (new arrangement for live, landing the one, two punch-especially last night: thank you MI)
“Armistice” (some new exciting electro elements with some nasty funk and drum ending; got to kick it into higher gear here mentally and physically or my hand will fall off ; 0)
“Odds” (nice original dynamic in this one with cool vibes, lots of marching drum, & synth bass)
“Noticed” (oldie you can sing along to)
“Typical” (oldie you can scream along to)
“Burden” (taking it to a new place with some Motown influence and special improvised outro section)
*** (Intermission/set change/can I get some water?)
“Pins & Needles” (DK on cocktail kit, G on drums, P on Rhodes, RMC on upright)
“Spotlight” (new extended arrangement for probably one of the best times in the set for me)
“Reset/Break The Same” (oldie but hard hitting grooves linked together for big finale)
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Cleveland House of Blues Show Thoughts
Remember my theory that every show on the tour should get progressively better as we move along down the road since we are playing more and more, thus, perfecting our “show craft?” Well, last night’s show in Cleveland didn’t follow that reasoning. We had a lot of technical problems. For example, when “Clipping” was suppose to start, my bass synth keyboard cut out or never came in rather; thankfully, I have a back-up keyboard nearby and it triggered correctly once Paul started singing the verse. So, there was a big gapping whole at the front end of that song. Example 2: Paul landed on my pedals after one of his Rhodes flips and cut out my bass completely for about 20 seconds of “Break The Same.” 20 seconds on stage scrabbling around in the dark trying to figure out where a bad connection lies feels like searching for a needle in a haystack for about 20 minutes. On the other side of the stage in Greg's world, there were plenty of other issues as well, but I won’t go into it.
Now, even though we had a lot of technical things go wrong, I must say that Cleveland made it all okay because they made me feel that all the bad tech stuff didn’t matter too much. There were many other glorious moments that trumped such seemingly small, unnoticeable flubs. For example, I thought the crowd clapping and loud singing in “Spotlight” and "Noticed" was amazing; "Armistice," “Obsolete,” and “Reset/Break” moved the dance floor. Also, we successfully debuted “No Response” last night, and I’m curious to know how people liked or disliked the performance of this song; if you were at this Cleveland show, please comment about that song specifically. So, at the end of the day, it wasn’t the “best show of the tour” but we had a night full of exciting moments and energetic highs.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Philly: Armistice Fall 2009 Tour
Probably the best show of the tour so far, but that is easy to say since we’ve only played three shows so far. I’ve fallen into this trap before, that is, where I keep declaring that so and so night was the “best show of the tour so far” but when I look back I should realize that we are getting into our rhythm as the tour progresses, and in theory, we should be getting better night after night; thus, making it the “best show of the tour so far.” This maybe true but I still can think of exceptions to this rule, e.g. when something out of one’s control goes wrong and causes a derailment of sorts. Regardless, there was an exuberate crowd tonight in Philly who reacted positively to our full set-up.
I'm happy to say that DK didn't injure himself too much; although when jumping from the crowd off his "audience-held-bass drum" back to the stage, he barely made it and crashed hard into the Rhodes. At this point during the set, I'm sitting at the drums holding down a beat but usually thinking to myself, Please don't do that, or Oh God, please make it, please make it! Fortunately, most of the time, he exceeds my expectations. Watch out front row.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I took it a bit easy tonight in some ways; for one, I didn’t want to fabricate any emotion, but two, I simply tried to play tighter. It’s been harder than I thought it would be to get back in the groove of things after not being on the road for a while. As a result, I didn’t move around as much, and I concentrated on my parts and transitions between songs. The crowd was responsive to the new material and new twist as we changed some of the set list around tonight, and afterwards when I talked to the fans, they seemed into it. I had a better time here than Cincinnati overall (mostly due to having a better monitor mix). Unfortunately, we weren’t able to put up the arch and had to nix some lights because the ceiling at Sonar is so low. Nevertheless, we worked out having some video and lipstick cameras for the set.
As Tall As Lions were excellent again tonight; they effortlessly jammed out song after song and played with a lot of passion and energy. I’m happy they were able to do this tour. I’m looking forward to seeing them night after night; they are quickly becoming one of my favorite bands to tour with.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Not bad for the first headlining tour show since about a year and a half. Some say we scored a “B” last night and others an “A+,” especially with the upgraded light/video show. Whichever way you see it, there’s room for improvement in my opinion, and as we go on from city to city, things will morph and evolve hopefully into something more spectacular. Darren and I are having a great time up on stage. From the moments we play new beats together to laying down foundations on old songs, it all comes with challenges, right now probably the biggest being endurance, but we’ll build it up.
After looking at some of concert pics posted on twitter, I am pleased at the “look” of the show. Please do continue to take photos and post them however you can (as the venues allow, too). Unfortunately, some venues are “tight” about such rules. Anyway, thanks for making the effort to come and check out the new music. For those of you who have doubts about this new album, I hope that our “live twist” on Armistice will give you a new hopeful perspective on these songs.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
I won't pick apart the Oscars as I did the Grammy's, but I do have a few quick thoughts:
1. I'm very pleased for the recognition received by Slumdog Millionaire. Bollywood + Hollywood = HollyHollyBollyHollyBollyBolly
2. Ben Stiller is genius.
3. I love Beyonce.
4. I had no idea Hugh Jackman had it in him!?
5. When Philippe Petit balanced the award on his chin, it made me want to go see "Man on Wire" and gave me hopes for my short stories to be made into short films.
6. Heath Ledger: Rest In Peace.
The following below is an excerpt from "Flurry" by Marilyn Urena, which has recently been posted in its entirety on my latino fiction blog. I've been getting some great submissions to this latino fiction blog lately, and I hope it will continue to grow to be a place where people can share their creative works.
Marilyn Urena was born and raised in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan in New York City. She is currently a Bilingual second grade teacher in the Bronx. She published has published "Guiding Light" with LatinGirl Magazine, “Estrella” in Electric Fire as part of the National Book Foundation, “135th Street” in Voices of the Brotherhood Sister Sol, “The First Quarter” and “We Live in a Beautiful World” in The Tablet at Columbia University, and “Trans-Forming America” in Altar Magazine. She participated in the National Book Foundation’s Summer Writing Camp. Marilyn now lives in the South Bronx, and enjoys writing, reading, and dancing. She is currently working on her first novel.
by Marilyn Urena
“Your skirt is bunching up,” she said as she quickly pulled her daughter’s skirt down. “You were showing everyone your behind!” she exclaimed.
The last thing she wanted was for anyone to call her daughter a whore, especially the meddlesome, elder women that lived around the corner. She saw them at every 7am Sunday mass, with their colossal golden and lavender sun-hats and their sanctified rosaries. These widowed women seemed innocuous. Their spirit and minds were on the Lord, but she knew the truth.
She knew that when Señor Luis lined up for holy communion, for that perfectly circular bread and tasty wine, the elderly ladies sneered and rolled their eyes. Señor Luis had been caught going down on the nanny just a few days ago.
When Doña Ana dipped her small, stiff, wrinkled index finger in the holy water at the entrance of the church and made the sign of the cross, the ladies giggled. Doña Ana almost certainly also made the sign of the cross as she left the local supermarket from where she stole.
When Maria’s daughter, Sofia, shook others’ hands and said “Peace be with you,” the ladies bowed and shook their heads. They knew—thanks to that loyal, juicy grapevine—that she was in anger management classes and on house arrest for violating her probation.
. . . . read the rest here.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
There's a new MuteMath EP out today, available through iTunes, Amazon, and/or the new MM website: http://www3.mutemath.com/.
The limited edition vinyl is only available through the new MM site store, which is actually the best deal because you get the digital stuff, too.
I hope you guys enjoy this precursor to our long overdue, upcoming album.
Monday, February 09, 2009
1. U2 "Get On Your Boots": boring. Man, I really hate this song. It all seems so rehashed. Sorry, but what's happen to this incredible band?
2. Al Green with Justin Timberlake "Let's Stay Together": Decent. Obviously, put together in the last minute to make up for Chris Brown & Rihanna bail outs.
3. Coldplay with Jay-Z "Lost & Viva la Vida": I actually enjoyed the broken down part with Jay-Z because Chris Martin was singing well since he was not constantly jumping around like a wind-up toy. The second half was not as interesting; they're already accused of ripping off an artist for their song of the year, then why would they blatantly wear Sgt. Pepper jackets to this event? At least, they apologized to Sir Paul McCartney.
4. Carrie Underwood "Last Name": Nashsnooooozzzzze. Wait. Who's that guitar player?! She's awesome.
5. Kid Rock: The only redeeming factor for me is his drummer. I'm glad that he's stuck with her so long; she's great.
6. Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift "Fifteen": I must admit I like Taylor Swift, not her music per se, but the whole Taylor Swift genre. Needless to say, I got up and went to the bathroom during this.
7. Jennifer Hudson "You Pulled Me Through": Stellar. I loved her at the Superbowl, too. My condolences to Jennifer and her family for their losses.
8. The Jonas Brothers with Stevie Wonder "Superstition": Stevie is pure genius, and he has to have the biggest heart in the universe.
9. Katy Perry "I Kissed a Girl": Earthsuit toured with Katy back in her days as Katy Hudson, and not much has changed; she was crazy then, and she's crazy now. My friend Josh plays bass for her now, and he tore it up! Good job, Josh!
10. Estelle with Kayne West "American Boy": first performance of the night I got excited about. First of all, I love this song. Estelle was right on point, and both Kayne and her looked amazing. I thought I was watching a performance straight up out 1985!
11. Kenny Chesney "Better as a Memory": Nashboring. How is this so big?!
12. M.I.A. with Kayne West, Lil Wayne, T.I. & Jay-Z: I love M.I.A. and much respect to her performing preggo. Her part on this song was hype! Everyone else was stellar, too.
13. Paul McCartney with Dave Grohl "I Saw Her Standing There": Great match-up. I wouldn't be surprised if they did a tour together. One of the better performances of the night even though this is not one of my favorite Beatles' tunes.
14. Sugarland "Stay": Even though they might be trying to hard sometimes, this performance was good. I think she sang the hell out of it.
15. Adele "Chasing Pavements": Decent even though I was expecting more. I thought the mix was a bit off, but it came together towards the end. Sugarland cameo at the end was interesting.
16. Radiohead "15 Steps": Brillant! I wish, however, the mix was a bit better. Nevertheless, most innovative & interesting performance of the night.
17. T.I. & Justin Timberlake "Dead and Gone": Okay. Not too into this song.
18. Smokey Robinson, "Duke" Fakir, Ne-Yo & Jamie Foxx "I'll Be There" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)": Well done.
19. Neil Diamond "Sweet Caroline": I got up to get something to drink after the first 30 seconds.
20. Tribute to Bo Diddley featuring John Mayer, B.B. King, Buddy Guy & Keith Urban: Cool.
21. Lil Wayne & Robin Thicke "Tie My Hands": I'm happy that NOLA is still getting some attention. The city is still in vital need of recovery.
22. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss "Rich Woman" and "Gone, Gone, Gone": I'm not a fan at all. Why did this win album of the year?
23. Stevie Wonder "All About Love": Since when did Stevie Wonder become exit music? It was sad to see him playing up there all alone as if the service was over and everyone was going to go stuff their faces. But was it more sad than the Jonas Brothers stepping all over him in the previous performance? No.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
1. Launch Your Political Career.
Would Lyndon Johnson, William McKinley, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Woodrow Wilson ever have gotten to the White House if they hadn't dropped out of law school? Probably not. All these men had passions (e.g., Theodore-family life, Woodrow-women's voting rights, etc.), but not a passion for the law. In the fall of 1934, President Lyndon Johnson briefly attended Georgetown University Law School, but met soon-to-be-wife Claudia Alta Taylor on a trip home Texas; in two months, they were married in San Antonio, and about a year later, he was appointed to the head of Texas National Youth Administration, creating education and jobs for youth; two years later, Johnson ran for Congress.
In the early 1970s, Al Gore dropped out of Vanderbilt Law School to launch his political career by running for Congress in Tennessee; almost-President Gore, along with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. U.S. Presidents who dropped out of law school (6) outnumbers those who graduated (5). But forget the White House, how about starting a nation? David Ben Gurion, a law school dropout, was one of the founding fathers of Israel and its first prime minister.
2. Write a Novel.
Harper Lee completed To Kill a Mockingbird in the summer of 1959, about 9 years after she dropped out of University of Alabama law school. In 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was a bestseller, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961 in literature. It's sold more than 30 million copies.
In 1996, Richard Ford won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for Independence Day. He attended law school, but quit to write fiction.
3. Become a Comedian.
Demetri Martin attended New York University School of Law on a full scholarship, but he dropped out a year before graduation to pursue a career in comedy.
"It’s weird to make a decision where everyone in your life disapproves, pretty vocally and directly. They said, 'You've got one year left. Just do it.' I had a full scholarship so I didn’t have to pay for it. They asked, 'Why don’t you just get the degree so you can have it?' And I said, 'You don’t understand. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and now I know. I have the answer and it’s dumb to waste any more time,'" Demetri Martin has stated regarding his decision.
4. Start a Revolutionary Philosophy.
At the age of 17, Karl Marx attended law school the University of Bonn, but later decided it wasn't for him, moving on to the University of Berlin, where he entered into journalism and became editor of a deeply criticized newspaper. Marx's works were viewed by several governments as dangerously revolutionary, which led to his banishment from Paris. Although largely ignored by his contemporary scholars during his lifetime, Marx's "big break" came after his death when workers' movements looked to his writings for guidance as with Marxist Bolsheviks in the Russian October Revolution. Marx is considered by some the father of communism.
5. Join a Rock Band.
Apparently, I'm not the only musician who has taken this option, although I am still working on number two. Ray Manzarek from the Doors, Paul Simon, Cole Porter, Cab Calloway, and Max Weinberg from Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band/Conan O'Brien are all law school dropouts. Manzarek once said, "I went to De Paul University, and got a bachelor's degree in economics at De Paul University, and graduated from there and went to UCLA to law-school at UCLA, where I stayed in law-school for about two weeks, and dropped out of law-school realizing that that was totally insane for me to be in law-school."
Like Ray, this fifth option was never really an option if I think about it; at some point or another, I would have gone insane with law and floated back to a music career; even when I was finishing my undergraduate degree, I played several nights a week. My whole life has been a battle of balancing my passions of music/writing against that which is logically and socially acceptable. But what is life if you cannot pursue what you love? Leaving law school was probably one of the hardest decision I ever had to make; sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice, but I always make my peace by reminding myself that I'm truly pursuing what I love.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
1. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
I originally hated this band when I saw them for the first time perform a song from Strawberry Jam on Conan. Now, I consider myself very open to all kinds of music, especially experimental music, but, as David St. Hubbins in Spinal Tap sharply states, "It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever." I guess I thought they fell on the stupid side that night, or maybe I just didn't get it back then. But, on this album, with all its melodic, psychedelic beauty, they've definitely landed on the clever side this time around.
2. The Beatles - Revolver
This well-known classic is always in my rotation, with "I'm Only Sleeping" (this reminds of those precious moments before having to get up to go to school/work), "Yellow Submarine" (I sing it often to my son), "For No One" (love the instrumentation), & "Tomorrow Never Knows" (a track I will forever gather inspiration from and forever long to create my own version of but probably never will get there).
3. Bloc Party - Intimacy
Not as good as Silent Alarm or A Weekend In The City, but still has some great tracks, namely "Mercury," "Biko" & "One Month Off." They were one of the best live bands I saw at European festivals when we were over there; unfortunately, not too many good videos out there.
4. Camaron de la Isla - La Leyenda del Tiempo
Probably the best flamenco cantaor (singer) to walk the face of the earth: even if you don't like flamenco, you can't deny his unique phrasing, elegant intensity, & duende.
5. Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um
Oh Mingus! what can I say about such a giant? He changed the way I listened to music; inspired me to play bass & compose; and reinvented American music.
6. The Cure - Boys Don't Cry
This album takes me right back to junior high. I still have the vinyl, and repeatedly study it.
7. David Bowie - Low
This album takes me right back to high school, the 10th grade. My theater teacher introduced me to this, and encouraged me to use it as the soundtrack for one of our productions. Notable tracks: "Breaking Glass," "Sound & Vision," "Be My Wife," "Warszawa," & "Subterraneans." I realized much later that it released the year of my birth 1977, and that Brian Eno had a lot to do with the sound of this record.
8. Diego El Cigala - Entre Vareta Y Canasta
I first heard "El Cigala" playing with Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes on t.v., doing an incredible version of "Lagrimas Negras." He has a rich voice, by which he moves my soul. I bought this album in New Orleans while writing the new album.
9. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
After making it to the top of most of 2008 best music lists, I had to take a closer look, and I like what I've heard. I thought they killed it on SNL.
10. Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
Introduced to me by our old publicist Frank Nieto, I fell in love with this album while on the road about two years ago, and it is a constant on my playlist. Here's their Letterman performance:
11. John Lennon - Imagine
I recently watched the film U.S. vs. John Lennon, and was extremely touched by the end, namely John's relationship with Sean. I'm not that into ex-Beatles solo albums but this one is the exception.
12. Johnny Greenwood - There Will Be Blood (soundtrack)
One of the best soundtracks ever, and my favorite movie of last year.
13. La Tana & Paco de Lucía - Tú, Ven a Mi
I love this record. La Tana is a terrific singer and Paco, well, he is Paco, a legend.
14. Radiohead - In Rainbows
One the best albums of 2008, and best of this band's best since Kid A.
15. Francois Rabbath - "Live" Around the World
16. The Smiths - Louder Than Bombs
Again, I'm taken back to junior high with this one. Johnny Marr is one of the most underrated guitarists/song writers.
17. John Coltrane - Live at Birdland (1963)
In the October 2003 issue of Socialist Review, a tribute to John Coltrane movingly recounts the background that inspired Coltrane to write “Alabama”:
“Coltrane never described himself as a political activist–he was a musician first and foremost. He was also a deeply religious person. But it was his deep-seated humanity that drew him towards the civil rights movement. In 1964 Coltrane played eight benefit concerts in support of King. He also recorded a number of tracks inspired by the struggle–’Reverend King’, ‘Backs against the Wall’ and his album Cosmic Music was dedicated to King. Events in Birmingham would also move him to write ‘Alabama’.”
“On the Sunday morning of 15 September 1963 a dozen sticks of dynamite were planted by white racists in the basement of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. At 10.45am the bomb went off, killing four young black girls aged between 11 and 14.”
“Coltrane wrote the song ‘Alabama’ in response to the bombing. He patterned his saxophone playing on Martin Luther King’s funeral speech. Midway through the song, mirroring the point where King transforms his mourning into a statement of renewed determination for the struggle against racism, Elvin Jones’s drumming rises from a whisper to a pounding rage. He wanted this crescendo to signify the rising of the civil rights movement.”
With the election of Obama as president, I have hope that America will continue to push forward in eradicating its dark past and constructing a brighter future.
18. Dignan - The Guest, Newsongs
This a great band from my hometown of McAllen, Texas. The video below has rough audio but is a nice performance of their song "Tangled Woods."
19. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
I've been told many times that Benjamin Gibbard could be my brother, and I believe it.
20. Bjork - Vespertine
I'll never get sick of this album. It reminds me of my gorgeous wife.
Well, there's my list. I wish I could tell you that if you played all these videos simultaneously they would create this grand masterpiece and connect with each other in some sort of extra-terrestrial manner, but they won't.
Needless to say, there's a lot of wonderful music out there. I encourage you to go buy it (whether you download or physically buy a CD or vinyl) and not illegally download it, bit-torrent it, only mooch off of youtube or myspace, etc, etc. If you want your favorite bands to continue to make your favorite music, then support them!