On Monday morning, I texted Mary (my best friend from college and former roommate) for the first time in a while. I wrote “I’m thinking about you today.” The conversation went on from there, but our messages eventually slowed to a crawl in the typical way of two old friends, separated by diverging life paths and three time zones. And then, yesterday (Thursday), I reopened the dialogue with another missive from out of the blue: “Well, fuck.”
A few years ago, I decided to rip every CD I owned, even the weird ones, into iTunes. I still have all the CDs; they're in Crate and Barrel bags in a storage locker downstairs.
I'm pretty sure the first CD I bought for myself was a cheap Beach Boys compilation called The Best of the Beach Boys. But I know for sure that the first CD I owned came as a gift from my parents, who also got me a CD player (I like to think of it as a "boom box") for my birthday. I think I was 11 or 12. The CD was Weird Al's Food Album. This is his compilation of food-themed parodies: "I Love Rocky Road," "My Bologna," "The White Stuff" (about Oreos), etc. Embarrassing, yeah, but my parents weren't wrong to get it for me. I listened to that CD a lot, especially when it was the only one I had.
For some reason, my mom let me join one of those music-by-mail clubs. I have no idea why she thought this was okay, since there was little she wasn't skeptical about. I happily joined, and doing so did greatly expand my CD collection, sometimes for the better. I knew so little about modern music when I signed up for my "10 CDs for 1¢" that I just guessed at some of the selections. I wonder, did the people boxing up my discs have any idea that they were sending Amy Grant's House of Love and Nirvana's In Utero to a nerdy sixth grader?
Today, I have similarly eclectic taste in music, though I know it's kind of a cop-out to say so, and I am not listening to much Amy Grant or Nirvana anymore. Some of the albums I collected in my middle school years are still favorites – I will never get tired of Boyz II Men's II, an album I've lost and purchased again more than once. And there are CDs that I rediscovered when the need to digitize became unavoidable. I never really fell in love with a hip hop album until Speakerboxx, but something (likely "Killing Me Softly") possessed me to get the Fugees' The Score when it came out. Today, Lauryn Hill and Nas are R&B and Rap Royalty, respectively, and Wyclef Jean might be president of Haiti, and I am finally able to appreciate the rest of The Score. And all I have to do is click a button on my computer screen. Pretty sweet.
I have wanted to learn to play the guitar forever, but I honestly think I might be more suited to classical guitar than regular chord strumming. I have learned chords in the past, but my hands are really too small to do the whole power-chord thing very well. But I have played the cello since I was 10 (this fact always sounds insane to me - that's 17 years! What?!), so I am pretty good with the whole "press here, make a note" dealie.
When I learn to play classical guitar, the following song will be my Moby Dick. Only I will catch and defeat it. Oh, sorry for not issuing a spoiler alert, anyone who doesn't know the ending of Moby Dick.
I can't put it off any longer. I have to out myself as a documentarian. Specifically, a showchoir documentarian.
My years-hibernating documentary project has finally come out to feast, and it is really hungry! Excitingly enough, it was approved for Kickstarter.com, where you can now go and donate to help me finish, promote, premiere, and festivalize this very very cool, pro-school-music doc, which focuses on the showchoir at my alma mater, Chesterton High school.
Please check it out, and help make it an (even realer) reality if you can! Thanks.
It's a bittersweet moment, as I both love AI and am unable to shake my embarrassment at that fact. Tonight, the top nine contestants will perform, and they probably won't be that great, and I will eat it up. Tomorrow or the next night, I'll overhear some middle-aged women or gay men discussing the best and worst performances, and I will be both proud and guilty to know what they're talking about. I'll suppress my urge to jump into the conversation only to make my dad listen to me talk about how my favorite contestant (not sure who it is yet...Andrew? Casey? Crystal? Lee?) beat the hell out of a Michael Jackson song.
Come to think of it, I can probably get my dad to watch with me. Last season, the amazing spectacle that was Adam Lambert (and Allison Iraheta's sexy rock voice) made the show impossible to ignore for both of us. And EW reports that, oddly enough, Lambert will be the "mentor" on next week's program. If he can teach these kids some of his moves, maybe things will get exciting enough that I'll feel comfortable wearing my Idol-fan badge in public.
But probably not.
Cross-promtions are everywhere, and sometimes they make sense. Even though the District 9 popcorn bags were kind of odd, the thought process behind the promotion was clear. But how to explain this prominent promotion in the greeting card aisle?
It just strikes me as a little strange. There are songs by all sorts of artist in these music-playing cards; why highlight Queen's involvement in this audio endeavor? For the card company, the benefit is clear (who wouldn't want to hear the cheerful chorus of "Under Pressure" while celebrating his or her birthday?), but what's in it for Queen?
If you know me well, you probably know that my musical tastes are many and varied, and that I love Beck. For a long time, I prided myself on having every Beck album it was possible to have, but then Guero and the internet came along and complicated that process by generating a frenzied proliferation of remixes and new versions…let's just say I can no longer claim ownership of the "complete" Beck collection.
That said, I am thrilled that Wired magazine provided me with the hot tip on Beck's latest project, in which he and various musical friends get together and record covers of every song from a classic or ubiquitous album. It's called Record Club, and you can listen to/watch videos of all of the tracks from the first edition online for free on Beck.com or vimeo. The album they chose for the first round? The Velvet Underground and Nico, the Velvet Underground's iconic, Warhol-bananaed first record. How perfect is that? Like everyone else on the planet, I was officially introduced to this classic album during my freshman year of college (thanks, Alec!), and the playfully bizarre tracklist seems perfectly suited to Beck's always-evolving musical ethos and natural weirdness.
Check out my favorite track from the original album, Beck-ified:
I'm not what you'd call a "fan" of the Jonas Brothers or their music. But this Saturday, NBC re-aired the Valentine's Day episode that featured the boys as musical guests. (Alec Baldwin hosted, again. Not that I'm complaining.) The episode as a whole was a little clunky, full of funny sketches that didn't end sharply enough or missed the mark by that much, but it had a high point for me in the Digital Short. If it doesn't make you laugh the first time, try it again in about a week. When I saw it this Saturday, it was for the third time, and it struck me as all the funnier on repeat viewing. I only wish that the songs were longer. And that the Jonas Brothers really made videos like these.