Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Serious" Art is Ruining Pop Music - Discuss

We may need to have this as a point of discussion (debate?) at our next gathering, but I wanted to share an article that really resonated with me.  For a while now I have been struggling with what feels like a loss of creative purity.  To me creative purity is art born from earnest not art that has been productized, strategized, or even made with an intention to be monetized.  When it comes to music, I am referring to music for the sake of creativity, not the pursuit of endorsement deals, Twitter followers, or downloads.  My favorite book ever, Ever, EVER (yes that is a tongue in cheek nod to an of the moment "artist") captured one era of pure creativity (that I'm obsessed with BTW...) amazingly well and has an example of what seems missing today in the music world.  In 'Just Kids' Patti Smith tells a story of Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin sitting on the floor in a room of the Chelsea Hotel as "Bobby McGee" rose not from from their production team but but grew from six strings and a creative purity (and OK, yes, probably a bottle of bourbon but you get the idea).   

Back to the article though... it focuses on the recent trend of packaging music as/with high art and how it has not really panned out.  For the musicians it just comes across as pretentious and for the artist, the music is not a resource for deepening our sense of love or spontaneity to their art-forms.  Can I get a "I know, right?!" ? I mean riddle me this Lady Gaga - the release of ARTPOP is apparently meant to inspire me to run down to H&M for some off price fashion, get behind the wheel of a re-designed Kia, DVR SNL, and amidst all these relatively down-market marketing opportunities have me associate you with high-art?  And Hova, come on! Barney's, the 40/40 Club with its golden bats and bubbly, Picasso?  I get it, you got out of the projects but putting yourself on a gilded pedestal and proclaiming yourself as being high-art carries more an air of arrogance than demonstrating any appreciation for or understanding of creative purity.     

I don't know that the comments on Kanye resonate for me, but check the article out and in addition to the next UMCHofF debates, maybe we can opine on creative purity too.

Here's the link: http://thebea.st/Ia6s3k

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Unofficial Music Club Hall of Fame II: This Time It's Personal

Congratulations Bruce Springsteen! 
Because the process involved in the induction of Elvis Costello proved to be be as intoxicating as the extraordinarily aerated wine we were drinking, it was decided we would bring another artist into the UMCHoF fold. There were also perceived slights, both imagined and very real, in the first induction that many felt needed to be avenged. Some members were upset that Pink Floyd was so unceremoniously denied a nomination in the early rounds of the first induction. They became paranoid when PinkFloyd was discarded in the second nomination process. The whole nomination process was called into question when Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Son Volt, the Gossip, and Radiohead were all nominated in a second time. Why was Feist and Flight of the Conchords even eligible? Why are we even debating whether Band of Horses deserves induction over Depeche Mode? 

Bruce made short work of Lyle Lovett. Radiohead in the Elite 8 (Grape Ape) was no competition. It wasn’t until the semi-finals when Bruce faced off with the formidable Johnny Cash that debates took an exasperated, pleading tone. Some members took objection to the fact that while Mr. Springsteen was obviously very talented and influential, he none the less had no right challenging Mr. Cash in such an audacious and insolent manner. It was stated that without Johnny Cash there would be no Bruce Springsteen. It was subsequently stated that that was utter bullshit. That while Mr. Cash was obviously very talented and influential, he none the less had no right challenging Mr. Springsteen in such an insolent and audacious manner, without Bruce Springsteen there would be no Johnny Cash. Again, bullshit was rightly called. No it isn’t. Yes it is. No. Yes. No. For maybe 20 or 30 minutes this continued until finally a deciding vote was cast. If you disagree, Jay cast that deciding vote. 

Personally, I think if Elvis Costello had been present when he won over Madonna, he would have laughed and laughed. Then he would have whipped out his guitar and sang a medley that started with “I Want You”, segued into “Crazy For You”, which segued into “Vogue”, which finally ended with a rousing version of “Lipstick Vogue.” Then he would have laughed some more while dedicating his win to Lady Gaga and singing a couple of lines of “Born This Way”. If Bruce Springsteen had been present when he moved on to the finals instead of Johnny Cash, he would have been horrified. He would sung a mournful version of  “Ring Of Fire” and said without that song he would never have written “I’m On Fire” or any of the Nebraska album. Then he would have wept. Poor Bruce.

Then Bruce Springsteen went up against Stevie Wonder. Music Club members were mostly exhausted and grumbling over the previous round. Bruce could still be heard sniffling in bathroom. Three votes were cast for Bruce and two for Stevie Wonder. Again, the last vote, the vote that decided if Bruce won or a tie necessitated a more lengthy debate which to tell you the truth, no one was prepared for. Unfortunately for Mr. Wonder, Jay was told that one of the two songs used to make Mr. Wonder eligible was “Isn’t She Lovely.” Jay immediately voted for Mr. Springsteen. Thanks a lot Eric.

Bruce was made eligible thanks to a Deep Dive/ Triple Shot of songs entered by Deb, “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” “Thunder Road,” and “Living Proof.” “Used Cars” was entered by Greg for the Modes of Transportation theme. “Sea Of Heartbreak”, a duet with Rosann Cash (Ooh, Burn!), was entered by Gina for a Roll-Your-Own theme. Interestingly (not really) Aimee Mann would not have been eligible had she not covered “Reason To Believe” with Michael Penn. Greg submitted that for our Covers theme.

Dry your eyes, Bruce. You deserve this whether you think you are worthy or not.

Unofficial Music Club Hall of Fame Inaugural Induction

Congratulations Elvis Costello! 
After a surprisingly easy series of debates and votes (at least in comparison to our second inductee (more on that later)), Elvis Costello is officially the first inductee to the Unofficial Music Club Hall of Fame  (UMCHoF). 

Eligibility was determined for these first couple of inductions not by how long they have been making music, how many recordings they made, whether they had anything to do with the birth of rock, or even whether they were any good. Eligibility was based solely on being a selection for a Music Club playlist, regardless of theme, more than once.

The names of all eligible artists were then placed roughly into a hat to be  drunkenly drawn two at a time by a present Music Club member (all members not present were not permitted to draw). The member then chose which of the two artists would be a nominee and the other artist was roughly and drunkenly discarded. The hat was passed from member to member until 16 nominees were selected.

Nominees then faced off, with MC members voting for who should progress to the next round. Losers of each face off were discarded less roughly than before, but no less drunkenly.

Mr. Costello had seemingly little trouble in his initial face-offs with Aimee Mann and Whiskeytown. In the semi-finals Radiohead gave a moment of pause, but again Costello handily defeated his opponent. Madonna met Elvis in the finals. For some members this was an easy choice to make. For other members this was an easy wrong choice to make. With very little serious debate, Mr Costello became our first inductee. Much fan was fared (or perhaps much fare was fanned).

Elvis Costello was submitted under duress to our Desert Island Disc theme by Greg with the song “Allison”. “American Without Tears No 2” was submitted to our Summer Song meeting by Pat. Deb brought “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” to our Colors theme, and I entered “No Action” as part of last night’s Friday Night Pre-Func theme. As I recall, Gina made late submissions of “Veronica” and “God Give Me Strength” as part of our Collaborations theme. Well represented and a worthy victor in these proceedings. 

Our second inductee was also selected last night, mostly because the first was so much fun. I will post about the more heated debate regarding that inductee later. In the meantime, welcome Elvis Costello to the UMCHoF. Long live the King of America.

Friday, November 8, 2013

If I was able to write lyrics, I'd write this one.

There's no crime of passion worth a crime of fashion The only thing savin' your life Is that I don't look good in orange and I hate stripes