For Halloween this year my costume was of my alter-ego: Slash, the Guns N’ Roses guitarist who has a very distinctive look. I ordered the various pieces about a month ago, including temporary tattoos, and was ready to go on Halloween morning, confident that mine would be one of the top costumes at my office.
Only no one else wore costumes. No one! Halloween fell on a Tuesday this year, a day when many of my officemates work from home. It was kinda sad that the office missed a chance to do a proper Halloween day but in all fairness we had had a chili contest the day before, so that was something.
It wasn’t all for naught for me, though. I brought my electric guitar into the office as part of my costume (though it is a cheap Epiphone and not Slash’s preferred Les Paul). Though my guitar isn’t the best, once I got it somewhat tuned up I reminded myself how much fun it is to just pick up a guitar and noodle around with it during the workday. Several times a day yesterday I would grab my guitar and practice bar chords and other stuff, walking over to a nearby conference room to avoid disturbing my officemates.
Tl;dr I won the costume contest by default and I also reignited my love for playing guitar. Not a bad day.
More Tom Petty from his biographer, musician Warren Zanes.
In 1979, I was an undersized FM-generation high-school junior with a voice that wouldn’t change, a stressed single mom, and a bedroom in a rented gray two-family house in which I had to play my stereo low so I wouldn’t disturb all the people living close around me. And then my daily affront at this complete lack of agency found validation when some skinny blond dude calling his album “Damn the Torpedoes” uplifted my evenings with a simple phrase about being cut down to size on a regular basis: “Don’t do me like that.” He wasn’t celebrating humiliation—he understood the condition, which is, foremost, the inability to make the humiliation stop. There was nothing to do except to say to hell with annoying Mom and the neighbors and, in my alarmingly pitched treble that sounded like a radio veering between frequencies, to sing out that ambrosial phrase right along with Petty: “Don’t do me like that.”
During my three years on the USS Elliot (DD-967) I listened to a lot of music. When we were in-port San Diego I was getting introduced to alternative music through 91X. At sea, the collective CD collection of my shipmates was the soundtrack. I heard many artists I wouldn’t otherwise have heard. Nirvana, De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane. Some I hated. Others I hated but later learned to love. And then there was Tom Petty.
Of course, you couldn’t grow up as a radio listener in the South without knowing Tom Petty so I’d been a fan from way back. Full Moon Fever came out just before I went on deployment, though and it earned a special place in my preferred music rotation. I don’t even remember which one of my shipmates owned it, but we played the hell out of that CD. And I never got tired of it.
Thanks for the music, Tom. You were one hell of a rocker and a great guy.
This is not the way things were supposed to happen.
When I sat down with Petty in the outer room of the cozy but fully equipped recording studio at his home above Malibu beach, the idea was for him to reflect on the wildly successful 40th anniversary tour he and the Heartbreakers had wrapped less than 48 hours earlier at the end of three sold-out nights at the Hollywood Bowl.
It was a triumphant stand particularly rewarding to Petty, a Florida transplant who considered himself and his band mates California adoptees. He said as much from the stage each night, noting how the Heartbreakers, although composed entirely of musicians born or raised in and around Gainesville, Fla., had been born at the Village Studios in West Los Angeles.
Can I tell you how much I love MusicBrainz? I have been dabbling on online radio for a few years now and the challenge is always finding interesting content. One of the most cost-effective ways to find varied content is in compilation albums or soundtracks. One-hit wonders that were one staples of radio make good radio content but buying a one-hit wonder’s shitty album just to get their only hit isn’t cost-effective. With MusicBrainz, I can look up a one-hit wonder and find out exactly what compilation albums or soundtracks it’s a part of. I can buy that compilation and not only get the song I want but most likely other good one-hit wonders along with it. Awesome!
Another good use of MusicBrainz is finding just the right mix of a song. Often, record companies will release a remixed or edited song as a single, either designed to fit on a 45 or to be more radio-friendly. For example Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride has a great break that goes on and on in the album version but is often cut short in versions played on the radio (2:55 vs. the original 4:27). This drives me nuts! MusicBrainz knows which versions are which, though! I can find the entire catalog of Steppenwolf, find their The Second album, click on Magic Carpet Ride, and see all the versions of the song that have been released. Goodbye, hacked-up, radio-edit song versions!
MusicBrainz would’ve come in handy with a recent purchase I made at the (now defunct) Ed McKay store earlier this year. I picked up what I thought was a compilation album of early 70’s hits. I expected these to be the original master recordings of the songs but that’s not what I got! The entire album was re-recordings of the hits, none of them sounding the same as the ones I know and love. I was disappointed I hadn’t noticed the small print on the CD cover, and that I hadn’t gone to MusicBrainz first!
We started off our anniversary weekend by attending the birthday party of a friend of Kelly’s Saturday night. There was a karaoke machine present and, of course, I can never resist doing some singing. I did about 6 songs to rave reviews, with some people asking if I’ve done this before. It’s all very flattering but it did get me thinking if I could find a band and maybe take my singing more seriously.
Our family’s been asked if we can rejoin the Highlanders and play some gigs this fall but it appears our ever-crazier schedules won’t allow for it. Plus there’s no singing; the Highlanders play instrumentals. I enjoy being on stage and playing guitar so adding singing would be even better.
So now I’m asking myself if I have the time it takes to rehearse with a band. It might take time but it wouldn’t seem like work if I’m doing music, so maybe this will actually happen.
(Blog post title from rank Black’s song Calistan.)
Just watched “History of the Eagles, Part I” today. It was an entertaining look into the life of a rock and roll band when it was on top of the world.
Don Felder, one of the long-serving members of the band, talked about what the documentary didn’t cover.
So it was with considerable trepidation that Felder, now a solo artist who recently released his second album, Road to Forever, sat down to watch Allison Ellwood’s two-part History of the Eagles documentary, commissioned by Henley, Frey and longtime manager Irving Azoff and broadcast on Showtime. Nonetheless, he found plenty to appreciate in the authorized film.
Fans and critics will undoubtedly spend the upcoming days debating which of David Bowie’s many memorable songs should be considered his very greatest contributions to the canon of Western Music. While titles like “Life On Mars?,” “Changes,” and “The Man Who Sold The World” will be bandied about, some consideration should also go to “The Little Fat Man With The Pug-Nosed Face,” an impromptu ditty with which the erstwhile Ziggy Stardust joyously serenaded Ricky Gervais on a memorable 2006 episode of Extras. In the episode, actually titled “David Bowie,” Gervais’ character, self-involved actor Andy Millman, is already starting to chafe from the notoriety he’s gained from starring in a hacky, catchphrase-laden BBC sitcom called When The Whistle Blows. Spotting Bowie in the supposed “VIP” section of a bar, Gervais’ character makes the spectacularly ill-considered decision to accost the musical legend. Then, with no prompting whatsoever, he proceeds to spill his guts to this unwitting stranger. A gentleman to the last, Bowie actually listens politely as Gervais whinges about his own, hopelessly trivial “problems.”
I love this story of how John Lennon came to work on David Bowie’s first #1 song, Fame.
By late 1974, David, having moved to RCA Records, had already recorded most of his ninth studio album, Young Americans, but the record was in a holding pattern while David went through the necessary legalities to break all ties with his shady management contract with Tony Defries. Staying in a New York hotel during this period, David had a little party that John Lennon, together with his girlfriend May Pang showed up for. Record producer Tony Visconti was also in attendance and recalled later that both John and David were high on cocaine and Cognac and while sketching caricatures of each other were having a dark discussion about “what does it all mean?” – with “it” being “life.” As a side note, it was at this party where May Pang first met Tony Visconti and the two would eventually marry in 1989.
After the party, the ice was properly broken between John and David and a week or two later in early January 1975, John got a phone call from David who explained he was at New York’s Electric Lady Studios working on a cover of John’s Beatles classic “Across The Universe” for his Young Americans album. Unbeknownst to John, Young Americans didn’t need any further material. David was apparently seizing the opportunity to get a Beatle on his record and make a replacement or two of some of the tracks – if it turned out okay, that is. John obliged David and came down to the studio to sing backing vocals and play acoustic guitar on “Across The Universe” with David and his band. John was later to comment that Bowie’s version of “Across The Universe” was the best one. After jamming with the band on a 1961 hit by The Flairs called “Foot Stompin’,” they teamed up with guitarist Carlos Alomar, who had been playing with David since the previous year, and the three of them wrote “Fame” on the spot.