Ignored 5: Rebranding “The First Day of Spring”


Bold statement: The Gandharvas’ “The First Day of Spring” is an underrated and/or properly rated song. It’s also a massively missed opportunity to score some sweet, sweet marketing dollars.

While the London, Ontario gangsta rap outfit the Gandharvas have long since moved on (Wikipedia says the singer now lives in Arizona), it is unfortunate that somebody couldn’t pick up the cause and lobby to make their 1994 modern rock classic “The First Day of Spring” (“TFDoS”) an unofficial anthem of sorts for the actual first day of Spring in Canada.

Somebody should/could be capitalizing here.

This assignment could be a potentially powerful marketing exercise and the song itself does a fairly nice job at approximating the anticipation and excitement that comes with the changing of the seasons (albeit in a fairly hesitant and understated fashion).

Five reasons how and why this should happen

1. I do seem to recall hearing “TFDoS” on the actual first day of Spring during the All Request Nooner on Edge 102 back in the day; a logical start and possibly the outlet that could help perpetuate this concept. I’m thinking a ceremonial playing of the song during the morning show, interviews with band members (i.e. “What’s it like living in Arizona?”), listeners encouraged to submit their own version of the song (“Wha’…. A dubstep version?!?… OMG… LOLz”) and so on and so forth.

2. There is a play for The Weather Network here, right? I’m thinking a one-day complementary download of the track on their website. I’m sure their digital team has long struggled with ways to make their forecasts more iTunes-esque. :/

3. “Magical Mystery Tour” was co-opted by the original UK rave kids in the late 1980s as dance floor material. Could we do the same for “TFDoS”? It would be nice if club kids could hear open strains “My friend…” and get all squirrelly-like. If needed, bring in A-Trak or somebody to add some bonus beats because in fairness, the song would be near impossible to dance to. Ideally, we should get to a point where the song could be played once a year and cause people to wave glow sticks and in general, have a great time.

4. Another concept with vague allusions to weather. Could we rebrand Groundhog Day via “TFDoS”? Admittedly, it’s a tired concept and this strategic approach could make Groundhog Day become “cool” again amongst kids of the 1990s and other middle-aged people. The steps…
– Find a groundhog (or gopher) and name it something “cool” that would appeal to this demo. I’m thinking “X-treme Groundhawg” or “#groundhog”.
– Set up a fake hole for February 2. On one side, you have a Gandharvas cover band and an audience of edgy alternative types from 1994 ready to mosh (really stereotypical looks: flannel, facial piercings, severe haircuts, etc). On the other side, you get a Sarah Vaughan lookalike (because let’s face it: they’re a dime, a dozen) and get some old people seated bistro-style at tables. Classy but understated because again, this is outdoors in Canada in the dead of winter.
– #groundhog emerges from its hole and depending on whether it sees its shadow, the fake Gardharvas will play “TFDoS” or the fake Sarah Vaughan will croon “Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year”.
– A leading mobility provider could sponsor and hand out pamphlets at the event.

5. If nothing else, repeat plays of “TFDoS” would serve as CRTC fodder to meet CanCon quotas.

Three reasons why this won’t happen

1. The song wasn’t that popular. I’m thinking it’s one of those songs that is completely ubiquitous and beloved to a segment of people and completely unknown to everybody else. It does have 406 Likes on YouTube though. So there’s that…

2. The video is vaguely disturbing. The guy in the chair with the modified halo brace and skin hooks; not sure what his deal is but sensing he might scare away potential partners. This clip seems like somebody snuck in the backdoor of the video shoot for Nine Inch Nails’ “Happiness in Slavery”, covertly shot a bunch of footage on the down low and then spliced it with some footage of the Gardharvas playing. Somewhat related, why did more than half of 1990s video sets appear as if they’d been on fire the day before? Guess this was the look.

3. The song is maybe a bit too low key. This is great for contemplation but not ideal for marketing purposes. Thematically off but tempo-wise a better fit would be the Gandharvas’ underrated 1997 single “Downtime”. Stylistically, this song is best described as a reworking of the Pixies’ “Gigantic” with Marcellus Hall singing the verses and Perry Farrell singing the chorus.


Ignored 4: iPod confidential


Bold statement: Now more than ever, music lovers can own and access a wide range of music, cool or otherwise, without much impact on their beloved street cred. No more “guilty pleasures”. Just “pleasures”.

Two early 2000s innovations forever changed the type(s) of music that hipsters and other insects would admit to owning and/or enjoying.

The first innovation was the mash-up. A modern take on the decidedly non-modern efforts of Steinski, Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers, M|A|R|R|S and the Timelords/JAMMs/KLF, the mash-up soon became a staple of tinny MP3s and trying-to-hard dance parties across the land.

The Strokes/Xtina purée “A Stroke of Genius” set the stage and things had ‘gotten got’ by the time Girl Talk showed up. Big picture, the mash-up was an indirect way for hipsters to admit their acceptance (ne: love) of Top 40 and gave us some tremendous efforts such as the still-holds-up goodness of…

The second innovation was the iPod. No need to recap its impact but a notable piece of fallout: you could no longer conceal the dirty little secrets of your music collection within your BENNO. Liberating to no end, the iPod forced music fans to drop the pretense and own what they…. well, own.

Short version: should you REALLY be ashamed of owning any piece of music? If your friends are going to judge you… Well, maybe those aren’t real friends.

The following is my effort at ownership and the big reveal of my “Theme from CompletelyIgnored.com” and “Theme from CompletelyIgnored.com 2.0” iPod playlists.

These songs are drawn from the 15,000+ songs that live in my 80GB iPod classic.

Theme from CompletelyIgnored.com: 25 songs that, in theory, I should never admit to owning. Rather than, y’know, publishing them on a WordPress blog.

Theme from CompletelyIgnored 2.0.com: 25 songs that I should be name dropping with regularity. With a heavy debt paid in full to this book.

Combined, this is the musical equivalent of buying carbon credits to juke my footprint of perceived lameness.

A zero-sum game.


Bonus Thoughts
– It was a tough call between “Music Box Dancer” and “Popcorn” to fill the random-instrumental-smash-of-the-1970s quota. Regardless, the latter should get more credit for helping to introduce electronic music to the masses. The song is over 40 years old.
Belated Jorday update (of sorts) via MySpace.
– Totally sincere: early 1990s Europop is one of the most underrated blips in Top 40 history. So many amazing tunes from so many outfits that were clearly one-and-done propositions (and possibly not even bands as I think some of these songs may have been written by marketing agencies). Effectively, the MuchDance series circa 1991-1995 could serve as that era’s Nuggets.
– Grantland.com is tremendous but seeing Rembert Browne poke fun at an 1980s remake of “Apache” without any acknowledgement of its impact on hip-hop? A miss.
– Not surprising but there is a serious Shotmaker hole in the Internet. Maybe this Wikipedia hyperlink will help.

Ignored 2: It’s not music, it’s Bon Jovi.


Bold statement: Bon Jovi enjoys a unique position in the modern popular music landscape. They are a 1980s “hair metal” band that somehow has stayed in the conversation with fans young and old alike while virtually all their peers have either long since perished or lapsed into self parody. The band has a bit of that HBO-thing going on => It’s not music. It’s Bon Jovi.

Bon Jovi may be the single biggest anomaly in stadium rock.

They appeared at the precipice of the hard rock/power ballad vortex (mid-1980s ballpark) and haven’t looked back since. In their own way, they LOOKED like a hard rock band and they made some noisy noises. However, they were never as aggro as Guns N’ Roses nor as annoyingly glib as Poison (two other fellow hard rock outfits that showed up largely around the same time).

Aside: If they were positioned differently, could the Replacements have had Bon Jovi’s career? Think about it…
– More or less, the same vintage and essentially, both were pretty traditional rock bands that could easily veer between “aggressive” and “sensitive”
– Bon Jovi were from New Jersey and the Replacements were from Minnesota so culturally, it’s a wash
– The Replacements were also known for having really big hair
Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson easily could’ve fuelled a spread or two in Bop

Getting back to Bon Jovi…

Bon Jovi were easily one of the Top 5 rock bands of the late 1980s. Their hair was (collectively) immense. And somehow, they were the one stadium rock band of that era (with the exception of U2) that stuck together and stemmed the tide of every kind of music trend of the past quarter century. The fact they survived grunge alone is a miracle. I mean… this. 😐

Newsflash: Bon Jovi are still here!!! And young people love them!!! One would think they should be playing casinos but they’re still filling hockey arenas and castles and Wembley Stadium.

Um, why?

Theory: Bon Jovi never really have wavered from what they were and what they eventually became. They were clearly the kind of outfit that would elicit “What are you looking at, pretty boy?!?” cat calls from skids in bad jean jackets circa 1987.  But I doubt they cared then and they certainly don’t care now… one would hope.

Bon Jovi has always been a slightly loud bar band at heart and from what I gather, their fans appreciate the honesty of their approach. This same kind of praise is often heaped on fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen. However, “The Boss” has rubbed certain people the wrong way offstage by being quite vocal about his politics (ironic since he mumbles) while in Bon Jovi’s case, their primary offstage goal is likely locating the craft services table.

Bon Jovi’s whole career is one of avoidance. This is meant as a backhanded compliment.

I recently spoke to Stacie and Lorena via Facebook chat. These are two 20-something Bon Jovi “super fans” who, well… they think Bon Jovi is just great and they have since they were small children.

It’s rare to see any band inspire this kind of longstanding fandom. I asked Staice and Lorena why they think Bon Jovi has been able to turn the trick.

Here is the “warts and all” transcript…

Cam (C): bon jovi members are in their 50s. you guys are not. whats up with THAT? do they inspire you?.

Stacie (S): i’ve liked them since i was a child. growing up having an older sister and a babysitter with siblings in their teens.

Lorena (L): i was exposed to the band. liked the music and it stuck. me, I discovered them in 7th or 8th grade, i think. it was for the crossroads albums. lots of slow dancing at house parties .

C: why did it stick and not whatever else you were listening to? no doubt, 98 degrees et all.

S+L: my love grew when i then went to their concerts – AMAZING.

C: what are your thoughts on the hair of bon jovi?.

S+L: hair – we love!! stacie wants to run her fingers through his hair.

C: is jon bon jovi (aka jon bon) the john stamos of rock and roll? your hair comment btw. that’s sexist.

S+L: not on the same level at all. bon jovi has the looks and the substance with the music.

C: john stamos is an underrated “song and dance” man but point taken. what song at the concert gets the biggest rise out of the crowd? assume “livin’ on a prayer”?… and who’s at the concert?.

S+L: lots – living on a prayer, you give love a bad name…then for slow song, always and bed of roses .

C: do they bust out the JBJ solo joint “bed of roses” from the major motion picture “young guns”? shoot, not “bed of roses”…. “blaze of glory”?

S+L: oh yeah..blaze of glory. big one too. there’s just so many cam.

C: the track “always” with the video featuring an artist. do you dream YOU were in that video?.

S+L: we are not that lame in that we dream about him every day. but if you are asking us if we would hook up with him, YES.

C: what does “hook up” mean?

S+L: lol

C: also, are their senior citizens at the concert?.

S+L: screw you – no, it is a wide range in age yes, but not that bad.

C: ok, just a couple of more hard hitting questions..

S+L: shoot.

C: is “jon bon” a great guy? meaning, do you think he cares about his fans???????.

S+L: yes.

C: do you like Aerosmith?

S+L: i used to but they havent really done anything new.

C: Steven Tyler is no “jon bon”. he’s far from “easy on the eyes”.

S+L: correct.

C: final question: is there a lot of yelping and squealing at the concert? is it very shrill?… and are people throwing items on-stage? teddy bears, flowers, “underthings”, etc.

S+L: yes it’s loud and there is screming but not like at a bieber concert…it’s more of the crowd singing along. no one throws anything….it’s not that kind of show.

C: sorry, one more question. are people standing during the concert? or only during certain songs?.

S+L: standing the entire time…there is not sitting at all.

C: people throw things at neil diamond and (i think) barry manilow. just sayin’..

S+L: standing and singing for hours.

C: sounds tiring. ok. this was useful. thank you lorena. thank you stacie..

S+L: gross.

C: … and by “gross”, you mean “neat”.

S+L: lol

C: bye. thanks again!

S+L: lasting thought…they have great music but one of the reasons they have fans stillis because of their shows and the fact that a large portion of the music they play is old stuff and they tour A LOT.

C: i just don’t get why they still play stadiums. they’re in a very small group of bands who do this.i think “jon bon” has aged well and he’s a great guy. that’s my assessment.do you find bono from U2 attractive?.

S+L: bono, not really. jon is HOT. he’s aged really well.

C: his skin looks supple. you know, he used to look a bit like a lion with that hair, right?.

S+L: i know. his best hair days, i think, were back in the always days.

C: i guess lions aren’t ugly per se. i like when they’d all line up and SHAKE their hair..

S+L: ha ha.

C: oh, one other thing why people like him… he smiles on-stage. it looks like he’s having fun up there..

S+L: and he KNOWS how to work the camera.

C: he flashes the ladies in the front row those “pearly whites” and they’re like putty in his hands.

S+L: he knows when he’s getting filmed for a close up for the big screen and works a smile and his eyes. also, he seems genuine and authentic.

C: he knows what angles work best for him. stamos is pretty cool too, no?.

S+L: not like he is trying to be younger or “cool”, he likes the music he does and isnt trying to be something he isnt. stamos is good looking yet, but i dont see him as a musician.

C: all their songs from 1995 onwards. i don’t like those really cheesy backing vocals. the ones that go “whooaw, whooaw… whooaw, whooaw”. it almost sounds auto-tune-y. stamos rocked the bongos for the beach boys… so there’s that.

S+L: dont get me wrong, i love uncle jesse, but not on the same level.

C: you “love” him but you’re not “in love” with him. who would win a fist fight…. jon bon or uncle jesse?.

S+L: im not 12 cam, im not in love with either of them although given the choice, i pick jon over stamos.

C: you just said you love uncle jesse. it’s documented. maybe you love him like a friend?

S+L: lol. you know what i mean! its not like a bieber fever thing.

C: in a way.

S+L: i love the bon jovi band, not just jon.

C: do you admire richie samborra for overcoming his substance abuse issues?

S+L: i want him to do well, yes.

C: he should keep his mouth shut and knock it off with those backing vocals. does jon bon jump around on stage? does he highkick a la david lee roth circa 1981?.

S+L: he moves on the stage and gets into it but not over the top no.

C: a lot of holding his arms out, i bet… like he’s gonna hug the crowd, right?.

S+L: i dont enjoy the mocking tone here cam.

C: hey, it’s a solid move. he knows what his audience wants and he delivers. i’m being dead serious. it’s refreshing to have somebody on-stage smiling..

S+L: have you ever seen jbj in concert? if you did, you would get why they are still around.

C: i haven’t but i did see the beach boys featuring john stamos at yankee stadium after a baseball game circa 1989. this was the steve sax era..

S+L: we have 7th row tickets, we’ll take pics and share them with you .

C: nice. ok, i think i’m convinced. the “not trying to be cool” part reasonates. this makes a bit more sense..

S+L: its authentic that is sooooo rare nowadays.

C: most musicians are pretty dull. agreed.they’re either dull or jerks or massive blowhards. jbj does seems like a legit nice guy. very stamos-esque and doesn’t have a big attitude problem..

S+L: he also does great charity work.

C: it’s like he said in the tune “I’ll be there for you”… “when you get drunk / i’ll be the wine”. actually, that doesn’t apply.

S+L: ha ha.

C: ok, i have to go. thanks for this. enjoy the show. bring projectiles. manilow it up!.

S+L: thanks. we will definitely send you a review.

C: please do. buh-bye!

Ignored 1: You weren’t REALLY there


Bold Statement: On some level, music needs to be consumed in a timely manner to be best “experienced” although not necessarily best “appreciated”.

There is an expression that some (lame) first wave Baby Boomers are fond of: If you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t REALLY there.

Subtext: drugs, man!

This statement is ridiculous for various reasons. It glibly implies that to have REALLY experienced the 1960s, ideally, you’d have fried your brain on LSD and bad acid rock.

Sounds awesome!

It’s also a tad insensitive to those who have friends and/or loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Or all grades of concussion victims. Or 90 per cent of pro boxers. Or old people, in general.

The frustrating part is that I guarantee that ANYBODY who ever uttered this phrase without irony would also contend that you can’t really “get” the Beatles or the Jefferson Airplane or Barry McGuire or whoever because again, you weren’t REALLY there.

This hypothetical person needs to be hypothetically slapped. However, he… she… this “spirit animal” actually raises an interesting point…

Is a person’s understanding (… and by understanding, I don’t mean appreciation) of music going to be predicated on whether they lived through it?

One could argue to the answer is “Yes”.


From about 1995 to the fall of 2004, I loved the Pixies. LOVED them. Even in 12th grade and more-or-less pre-Internet (pre-dawn AOL barely counts due to the five hours/month limit), I was somehow aware that I was supposed to like the Pixies if I was going to be a supporter of “cool music”. This was known. Even in Thornhill.

Big picture: it was an easy sell. For a supposed underground band, the Pixies were immediate. Their songs were exciting. They only had 60 or so songs total, which in a pre-iTunes age, made them easier to fully digest than somebody like Frank Zappa or the Smiths or Hagood Hardy.

They rocked in a conventional sense, wrote interesting lyrics in a literal sense and were weird in a non-threatening sense (with the possible exception of the track “Broken Face”, which would have been menacing if it wasn’t sung by a guy who looked like a really tall 5-year old).

Anyway, here is the point.

The Pixies shockingly reunited for a world tour in 2004. Most assumed that it’d be a one-and-done affair and the simmering tension between Black Francis and Kim Deal would give the reunion a shelf life. It was thought they might strike each other. I went to see them play by the airport in Toronto that fall. It was great and a bit surreal to see my (1a) favourite band of all-time in the flesh.

In the end… well, there actually isn’t an end to this annecdote. Because it’s almost a decade later and the Pixies reunion tour is STILL GOING ON (I think). No new music. Just reunion shows and then some reunion shows and then some gimmick-y reunion shows Let’s play Doolittle in its entirety! Let’s do a tour of places we’ve never played before!

Yeah. I don’t really begrudge any band for cashing in if/when they can since a majority of bands are going to get screwed by some combination of managers, agents, record labels, drug dealers and/or “dear, dear friends” at some point.

Bands come and go. Reunions happen. They don’t happen. They implode. Whatever! The fact remains, I pretty much stopped caring about the Pixies by spring of 2005. A year in, I was tired of reading about the reunion tour (already) and I had been listening to the same five dozen songs for the last decade. Vamos!

Token nautical reference: the ship had sailed.

The Pixies were not hard to give up. I loved them but they were easy to compartmentalize when the time came.

The reason is simple. By the time I got into the Pixies (1995), they had already been broken up for two years (that’s 1993 for all you dullards). Therefore, even when I discovered the Pixies, I was doing so in retrospect.

I was alive during their first incarnation but I was pretty much unaware of them so they might as well have been Black Flag or Mozart in terms of my ability to truly experience them with any sense of immediacy. I existed (in my own way) when they did. I just wasn’t paying attention.

I never had the experience of anticipating a new album, seeing fresh press photos, speculating on tour dates and other aspects that us music dorks lap up like so much rancid consommé.

To re-hash (see what I did there) what our hippie friends told us, I wasn’t really there.

Does this matter? Should this matter? Maybe. What I do know: it does to me. Dammit.

Effectively, I’m admitting that my experience with Eria Fachin or the Box is (partially) more genuine than my experience with the Pixies.

That’s OK. I think it’s true.

This is a major issue I take with music writers and record store clerks who laud a band like Kraftwerk. I have no doubt that Kraftwerk sounded alien in the mid-1970s. And I get that a lot of early hip-hop DJs would go squirrely mixing these austere pieces of German vinyl. That’s great. Sincerely.

However, there have been sooooooo many bands post-Kraftwerk that have morphed, evolved, adapted their bedrock into music that is denser, more soulful, more engaging and frankly, more memorable.

It’s opinion. I get it. But I can’t be in the minority here.

That’s not at all to suggest that Kraftwerk can’t be appreciated and it’s not a judgment on whether they were important or not. What it is is a statement saying that the segment of the population who TRULY experienced Kraftwerk is very small. Again, it’s resigned to serious music geeks of the mid-1970s, a few primordial hip-hop crate carriers and (assumedly) some random German people.

This leads to the phenomenon of the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’” and it’s preponderance amongst many under the age of 30. Largely, this song was introduced to a younger generation by the TV program Glee and less largely (but still significantly) by the final episode of The Sopranos.

I’d imagine that if you took a cross section of people who identify “Don’t Stop Believin’” as their favourite song (and it’s a big cross section considering it’s allegedly one of the top-selling songs in iTunes history), a good chunk of these individuals would picture the song being belted out by a bevy of SAG members in lieu of Steve Perry mincing about in a stained undershirt.

Again, I can not judge. I will not judge. However, I think it is fair to say that the Steve Perry/stained undershirt “vision” (and what a vision it is) is certainly a more accurate depiction of what the song was supposed to be… even it is not a reality of what it ultimately became.

So getting back to my Pixies example, I haven’t fully relapsed back into the outfit since they fell off my radar in 2005. Maybe I will some day. Maybe I won’t. But a consideration for why I likely won’t? I didn’t have the guttural pleasure of experiencing them in their original incarnation and therefore, something intrinsically is missing in my fandom.

And that’s the reason I’ll always feel more ownership and authenticity over my Eria Fachin/”Savin’ Myself” experience than anything in the entire pre-1992 4AD catalogue.

It’s reverence in hindsight.