Monday, September 14, 2009

8 Random (And Mostly) Musical Observations For Absolutely No Reason At All

1. When did Kurt Cobain become the new Prophet Muhammad in that it's a sin to duplicate his likeness on screen? So he's in the new Guitar Hero and he can oddly sing a Bon Jovi song. Who cares. Well, it looks like Courtney Loves does. She has also lost her mind, because she clearly signed over the rights to Activision, makers of Guitar Hero, for them to use Cobain. How do I (and everyone else) know this? Because since she controls his estate, she would be the only one that would have the right to do this in the first place. Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic aren't behaving much better, and are apparently demanding that Activision "relock" Cobain's character so he can't sing other artist's songs. Again, I can't find a part of my brain that thinks they should even care. If I could unlock George Clinton on NBA Jam on my old Super Nintendo and dunk the ball from half court, then surely it won't kill Kurt Cobain to belt out "Livin on a Prayer" every now and then. As an old Nirvana fan, the only thing that ever bothered me about Kurt Cobain was that he was always presented, or seemed to present himself, way too serious and completely humorless even though I'm sure he wasn't. But we should all thank Love and the surviving Nirvana members for keeping this myth alive.

2. I did not watch the MTV Video Music Awards the other night because the Bears' game was on and because it was the MTV Video Music Awards, but I did stumble across this fantastic picture of Joe Jackson (Michael's dad, not the guy who helped throw a World Series back in 1919 and didn't like wearing shoes) on the red carpet. If you ever wondered what a hybrid of Don Vito Corleone and Little Richard would look like after said hybrid decided to become a pimp, well, there you go. (And you know Jackson must look pretty ridiculous, when he looks even more ridiculous than his ridiculous looking date.) And speaking of the VMAs...

3. ...I love Kanye West, but it's getting harder and harder to defend him. At least his apology on that new Jay Leno show seemed sincere. And, the performance that followed with Jay-Z and Rhianna was pretty great, too.

4. Remember that Seinfeld episode with the Three Tenors where they kept referring to José Carreras as "the other guy?" I think the same thing is starting to happen with Monsters of Folk. I recently overheard someone telling their friend about this group on the bus. And he described them as Jim James, Conor Oberst, M. Ward, and "some other guy." Well, "some other guy" is actually Bright Eyes member Mike Mogis. (Please don't think I'm trying to cop a snobby attitude, I actually had to look it up myself. But now that we all know his name, let's keep calling him "some other guy." I like that much better, don't you?)

5. If you're looking to start an argument with a group of friends, just send them the latest Paul Shirley column where he pretty much calls the Beatles' music average and boring, while at the same time paying the requisite respect to their influence and legacy. Suffice to say, I loved it. And speaking of which...

6. ...this idea of reviewing the Beatles entire recently reissued catalog is stupid. I know both Paste and Pitchfork have done this. I'm sure others have as well, but this is pretty much akin to watching The Godfather and then writing a review blathering on about how good it is. Thanks, but billions of people have already beat you to the punch.

7. The 9:30 Club sucks. Not the venue itself, but the actual process of trying to buy tickets from their website, which works about as well as the Bears' fake punt the other night. The layout is just generally confusing, the system never remembers your password so you're forced to sign up for a new account with each purchase, and they add so many extra fees that it almost makes you want to swear off live music. The other day I purchased tickets for a Built To Spill show in October. The entire process seemed to take about half an hour, and to top it off, they charge $4 to mail you the tickets. And I'm not talking about having the tickets sent express or anything, I'm talking about the regular mail. I don't know how much stamps cost on their side of town, but over here it's still 43 (44?) cents.

8. Backing up a few months, over 4th of July weekend I attended a birthday party for one of my friends. He's Polish and had traveled to Maryland that day to stack up on some "fine" Polish vodka. We consumed a lot of it. This will come into play later. Ever the playlist dictator, as the evening went along, I took control of his iPod and with his permission implemented myself as dj. Not necessarily an easy task when you're dealing with a music catalog that is 90% Polish. But I found a few party favorites and cranked them out and everyone had a good time. One of the songs I played was "1979" by Smashing Pumpkins. As the evening wound down, and 3am had passed, I decided to walk about 1.5 miles home rather than take a cab. (Stupid.) I also decided to listen to my iPod while making the journey. (Very stupid.) And, I decided to take side streets through a dodgy neighborhood so the street noise from the main roads wouldn't drown out my music. (So incredibly stupid, it's nearly beyond comprehension.) Still having "1979" in my head, I decided to play Side 1 of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness which I had not listened to in quite some time. While listening to Track 13, "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans," I was reminded of a mid-October day in 1995 when I saw this band at the Madison Theater in Peoria, Illinois, just before Mellon Collie was released. They opened with this song, and I had obviously never heard it before, but I remember thinking it was just incredible. (Looking back, the song is good but I would hardly call it incredible.) As I was recalling this memory, a man appeared from nowhere, lunged at me, and I before I knew it, I was on the ground being robbed at gunpoint. Wallet, phone, iPod...gone. (I really hope that guy liked $4, crappy phones, and rock music because that's what he got.) Nevertheless, I can't help but laugh to think that the same "incredible" song back in 1995 would one day serve as the soundtrack for a gun being pointed in my face. Why I even put myself in that situation is beyond me, but I'd prefer to place the blame on my foolish love for music and the Polish vodka.


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