They told me that the classics never go out of style but, they do, they do.
Somehow baby, I never thought that we do too.
– “Worms of the Senses”, Refused
In style or not, you’d have to be pampered, tone-deaf guinea pig living in a sheltered hamster-ball-topia with giant wads of cotton stuffed in your ears to not hear the incredible, revolutionary force of the album The Shape of Punk to Come by the Swedish group Refused.
If you were trying to organize your record collection by putting them in labelled boxes sorted by genre, I don’t think you could do it. Listening to The Shape of Punk to Come, it’s pretty obviously punk, but there’s more. It’s got the angsty, blood-curdling, empowering screams and heavy, rhythmic power chords that every good hardcore band should have, but there’s also flavors of experimentalism that I usually associate with the art rock style of Pink Floyd (did I just commit punk heresy by saying that? Maybe the Velvet Underground instead), taking the listener down from the angry pedestal of rebellion to introspectively reflect upon the same revolutionary, anti-commercial themes through a more level, sober lens. The album features spoken-word poetry, sounds from the streets, electronic music, Eastern European folk, and even some accordion. It seems that the band thought up every musical rhetorical strategy they could use in order to get their message across to the listener on every level possible, appealing to both the radical vigilante and reflective philosopher found in the minds of many music lovers. Continue reading
The first time I listened to Mother Love Bone’s Apple, I was fifty percent sure I was coming down with a fever. Hot blood washed through my body like the hydrogen fumes on the surface of the sun, while waves of chills flooded my nervous system when I heard the guitar and bass lines — wah-wah infused eloquence with undertones of not a walking, but rather a marching, parading bass — by itself so familiar but in context part of something I’d never heard before, an energy that made me want to laugh and cry and scream and pound my fist in the air with this new and charismatic voice that had reached deep into me, grabbed my soul, and pulled it up to dance . It was like listening to something that could have been, or maybe is, somewhere in a parallel universe where things turned out differently and the future was more forgiving. Continue reading
David Bowie during the filming of the music video for his “Blackstar”. Photo credit: Jimmy King, September 2015
“News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying…
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there.”
– “Five Years”, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust”
When I first heard the news, it didn’t make any sense. There was no way that the star at the center of my solar system could have blinked out of existence — so quickly, without warning. Without it’s gravitational pull, all of my planets flew out of orbit and asteroids collided with moons and made craters so deep that I don’t think they could ever be filled again.
And that’s when I started crying.
David Bowie had left us, late Sunday night, losing contact with ground control forever to drift into deep space and take his place among the stars. Continue reading
Today, December 8, 1980, the world lost John Lennon.
I’m not going to say much — so much about John Lennon has already been said. Rather than listen to what everyone has to say about him — that he was an icon, that he was an individual, that he was a genius, that he was a hero, that he was a rebel, that he was a heretic, that he was a messiah. In each head, there is a different picture and a different perspective of who or what John Lennon was. But there is one thing that can’t be argued: the fact that he left a massive impact on the world as he knew it. Continue reading
There are plenty of people out there who play music. Every once in a while, you might find someone who plays pretty good. If you are lucky, you might come across a great musician. But very rarely do you find someone who is the music. Someone who, when they pick up an instrument, becomes possessed by the sound and vibrations and enters a trance-like state in which an outpouring of raw emotion in the form of sound waves flow out in powerful currents, sweeping away anyone who listens.
Exactly a week before his premature death, Jimi Hendrix gave his final interview in London, September 11, 1970. Now, visuals have been put to his words by the PBS series “blank on blank”. If you haven’t seen “Jimi Hendrix on the Experience” yet, then definitely check it out. His perceptions on people, society, creativity, and change still ring true today, 45 years later.
“The way I write things, I just write them with a clash between reality and fantasy mostly. You have to use fantasy to show different sides of reality; it’s how it can bend. As a word reality is nothing, but each individual’s own way of thinking.”
– Jimi Hendrix
He was the original Rolling Stone, the genius, the madman, the tortured artist, and one of rock’s first great tragedies. The story of Brian Jones is like a puzzle in which the shapes just don’t quite seem to fit and the colors don’t match. He was the Van Gogh of the early rock scene. His life is eerily reminiscent of the story told in “Like a Rolling Stone”, by Bob Dylan which, although about a woman’s fall from the grace of high-society life, ironically contains the name of Jones’ band and themes that coincide with his life. Apart from his complex character and untimely death, the fact that he is so often overlooked makes him one of the music industry’s most unfortunate figures.
There are many reasons to make music. Music can be a voice for those who otherwise are not heard. People are inspired to write music to express emotions of frustration, joy, melancholy, and loss. But above all, there seems to be one emotion that makes people want to sing and dance more than any other. It’s love. Love is one of the most powerful drivers of creativity, and amongst all of those who have been the source of inspiration for love songs there are few that are more powerful than those written for Pattie Boyd, who inspired not one but two of the greatest musicians of recent times: George Harrison and Eric Clapton. A true story of love, friendship, desperation, and betrayal; something of a scandal that resulted in the creation of what have been deemed by some to be a few of the greatest love songs of all time. Continue reading
Throughout the course of recent music history, there are few artists as iconic, influential, or non-conforming as David Bowie. In the words of music critic Brad Filicky,
“Bowie has become known as a musical chameleon, changing and dictating trends as much as he has altered his style to fit, influencing fashion and pop culture.” -Brad Filicky (10 June 2002)