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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Waits’

Ignored 27: Cats in the well

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2014 at 4:44 am

ignored27

More thoughts from myself and high school pal Adam, talking (via Facebook) about the Bob Dylan’s Super Bowl commercial, selling out, the challenge of being a “jam band” in Toronto, hippie wiring, (re)considering Nirvana and overpriced compact discs. 

In three parts.

Part 1: The Imposter

Cam: Any thoughts on the Dylan/Chrysler Super Bowl ad? Bit of a “whatever” although I find it really strange to pick a guy lobbying for Detroit who has no obvious ties to the city. Couldn’t they have put Smokey Robinson in there instead? I guess Bob Seger would totally NOT have been marketable.

Adam: I admittedly haven’t watched it yet. The last Dylan thing I saw was the fabulous interactive video for “Like a Rolling Stone”. Only heard about it a few days ago on the Sklar Brothers’ Podcast, as they did bad impressions of Dylan as your car’s internal navigation system. “turn right ahead” (insert your own bad Dylan impression here). Now I have to watch it. Bob Seger, I believe is long spoken for. Have you so quickly forgotten “Like a Rock”?  A song that essentially only exists anymore in 30 second chunks, including that great guitar solo at the end, and “Oh, like a rock!”.  Kid Rock must’ve been too busy doing lines of coke off strippers’ (uh.. bodies).

Cam: … and Eminem was tied up in litigation with family members. Totally forgot the Seger/”Like a Rock” turn and never did the math about the Detroit connection. I think that commercial played 3-4 times/hourly on TSN Sportsdesk circa 1989-1993. Theory: could Dylan have been a more legit actor if he’d wanted to? He had a few small roles and I could see him being VERY funny if used properly in films 1970s and onwards. And not just in that Neil/Waits/Keith “let’s give them a weird background cameo”-type role. He actually looked fairly spry in the Chrysler spot.

Adam: Um…have you watched Masked and Anonymous? THERE is Dylan acting. I love Bob and everyone in that movie (who also love Bob too), but in no way can I watch that whole thing start to finish. Bob IS Mr. Cryptic. On purpose. I remember reading an article about him right after 9/11 (Love and Theft came out that day), and there were pictures of him playing cards on the bus and reading a Baseball Weekly magazine  in a convenience store. I was amazed by both of these. You mean he’s actually a human male? I think he’s acting when he finishes a show and stands before an audience. He doesn’t bow, doesn’t even hardly acknowledge the crowd but glares at it. It always made me laugh when I saw him do it. Bringing it back to Masked, check out the spectacularly fantastic “Cold Irons Bound” video that rocks full out. I have always been amazed by how he barely nods his acknowledgement of the applause the crew gives him. He is also Mr. Improv, performing songs as he wants in the speed he wants. At the Concert for Bangladesh, he famously threw off Ringo when he changed the time signature to “Hard Rain” for the second performance. I find in commercials, he tends to stand there looking mysterious like the “beyond here lies nothing” commercial I think they did for Victoria’s Secret. Because CLEARLY an aging Zimmy makes me think of breasts.

Cam: Oh! I always assumed that the “watchtower” of song was merely innuendo for… well, you know. I’m not a Dylan mark by any stretch but I do find him kinda fascinating in so far as he is almost universally regarded as the authentic REAL voice of a generation. And yet his name, image, persona and pretty much everything is completely fabricated. This makes no comment on his songwriting or abilities as a musician. Has he not made a career out of “being weird for the sake of being weird” and yet he’s beloved because his songs (at least to start) were seen as entirely authentic? He wasn’t as overtly feisty or “difficult” (in an obvious sense) as Neil Young but his image is maybe more impressive overall because he’s never really broken character in, what, 50 years?!? Not surprisingly, there was some “Dylan sells out” whining on the Internet RE: that Super Bowl ad. I’m trying to think of what artist of “our generation” (i.e. guys or gals who showed up late 1980s thru early 2000s) would’ve generated the largest amount of outrage if they were in that commercial. I’d say Eddie Vedder. By a wide margin! I’d round out my Top Five with Thurston Moore, Michael Stipe, Tori Amos and Trent Reznor.

Part 2: They’re dead

Adam: (Ed: I’ve chopped out a bunch of Major League Baseball chatter. Email me if you MUST know and I’ll give you the gist). I never saw the Grateful Dead proper.

Cam: Assume they played MLG when they gigged in Toronto?

Adam: They hadn’t been in Toronto since 1987 and had played Kingswood. They were coming to the SkyDome on Yom Kippur for the fall tour 1995 when Jerry up and died.

Cam: That’s crazy. Did they just not play Canada? Assume there’d be all sorts of border issues with their crew?!?

Adam: There were issues. They did play Hamilton a couple of times. Rather famously in 1990, I believe. They don’t come up here much even now. Bob Weir actually got held at the border two summers ago on his way to the Ottawa Blues Fest. Some (scalliwag) at the crossing out by Kingston gave him a hard time about a bust on his record from 1968. They’ve also got guys on their road crew who have border issues. Plus while they are very big east coast and even upstate NY, a lot of those deadheads don’t or can’t cross the border. Phish also don’t come up here much. Last summer was first in 10 years I think. That’s why we drive to Buffalo and Darien Lake and Rochester and Syracuse and Saratoga.

Cam: In general, it kinda seems like a lot of jam bands were far less popular in Toronto than they were elsewhere? I saw the String Cheese Incident out of curiosity at the Phoenix in 2001 or so. Pretty sure they were doing amphitheaters in parts of the US around that time. Maybe this was moreso a product of aforementioned border crap and whatnot. With Weir, a border guard could literally product any number of hard over books that outline their drug use. Hard to live down, I guess.

Adam: They can’t draw any regional fans besides Canadians here. ‘heads as a rule road trip. Toronto has a big jam band base. But if you look at the college culture in the States and how that fosters bands like String Cheese or even the Avett Brothers, etc. In Toronto, they’re playing the Danforth Music Hall or the Opera House or Queen Elizabeth Theatre instead of amphitheatres

Cam: Yeah, for those bands, there is a whole different “star” system up here. Maybe it’s just because we’re older but at our school, there definitely were different camps based what kind of music you like: jammies/potheads (Dead, Phish, DMB), grunge kids (PJ, Nirvana), skids (GnR Use Your Illusion, Metallica, Megadeth) and a small amount of goth kids (namely, some lil’ scamp who had a leather jacket with the Smiths’ Meat is Murder cover on the back… he was cool). Strangely, the only band i can think of that sort of reached all these groups…. Blind Melon!!!

Adam: Very funny. Yes. That one song. But heavy bands hated when they released such commercially palatable stuff like that.

Cam: You remember Evad? He did morning announcements so we used to give him songs to play on the two-minute warning. He used to delight on banning certain songs (namely, Matthew Sweet’s “Sick of Myself” since he thought the title promoted negative thinking) while letting other more obtuse choices “go to air” (namely, Ministry’s cover of “Lay Lady Lay” and the album cut of Sonic Youth’s “Teenage Riot” ).

Adam: Funny. I remember grunge when it started. I always hated it. Nirvana has only gotten worse with time. We went to see the Addams Family (Values?) at the Eaton Centre with (some dudes). They bought Nevermind. I bought Bryan Adams’ Waking Up the Neighbours at the big “Sams“. I tried liking Pearl Jam to impress a girl, but could only listen to three songs on Ten. Anything too hard was unlistenable. And yet, the first time I heard “Terrapin Station”, I felt my heart lift and I danced. Wired to be a hippie.

Cam: Clearly! Yeah, it’s funny in retrospect that PJ were CLEARLY just “hard rock” more than anything. And wildly earnest in a way you could only be in 1992. Do you remember the CD liner notes for Ten? You unfolded it into a “poster” and it ended up with the band members doing one of those “one…. two… three… BREAK” unity poses. Completely the opposite of the jaded, cynical manner in which Nirvana were marketed. I guess that’s why those bands were enemies. Well, “enemies”. Trying to think what local Toronto jam bands of that era were. Gypsy Soul? Later… the New Deal?

Adam: Man, we LOVED Gypsy Soul. Saw them open for Blues Traveler at the Kool Haus. Then, we went to see then at “the Elmo”. I still love that album. Very listenable. Saw the lead singer with the dreads up on the lawn at the Amphitheatre once. The trumpet click on the Lawrence subway platform. We though she was the coolest. Deep on my high school “I’m self identifying as a hippie ” phase.

Cam: I could totally be imagining this but I remember being in cahoots with some folks to curate a “massive” festival that would feature Gypsy Soul headlining with support from a hip-hop band called Graffiti Logic (Evad’s view: “there’s no logic in graffiti”) and 2-3 high school bands.

Part Three: Late 20th century rip-off

Cam: If you want to see a real capsule of those times, check out the 1992 or 1993 MTV Music Awards… you’d see Eric Clapton, Nirvana, En Vogue, Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg, Bryan Adams, Black Crowes, Mariah Carey… all performing on a single show.

Adam: I have no recollection of that. Seriously.

Cam: I think in a broader sense, kids are more open to different types of music these days. But in a more micro-focused Top 40 sense, those days were really scattered… you’d have Clapton, Garth Brooks, Nirvana, Bell Biv Devoe in the Billboard Top 10. non rhyme-or-reason (pun intended?), style-wise.

Adam: It was just each genre putting it’s points up on the board. The glory days for Columbia/Sony. With us paying $18 for new release CDs.

Cam: Such a wracket! Plus everybody would care for their CDs like they were precious gems. Polishing solutions, etc. I used to think if you touched the CD’s “underbelly”, the whole thing would erase!

Adam: I was remembering yesterday the wonder of looking at my first CDs.

Cam: I like that moment music nerds have during format changes: do I splurge the extra $6 for the CD or just cheap out and get the cassette?!? The TRUE measure of how much you like a band!

Adam: There’s a great line in Men in Black where K is showing I all the alien technology. This is going to replace CDs soon, guess I’ll have to buy the white album again. I’ve had Graceland on LP, tape x2, CD x 3. Remastered was the first repurchase which made a huge difeewnce. My big pet peeve is when HD Chanel’s play SD movies.

Ignored 18: Lou Reed is dead

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Ignored18

Lou Reed has been dead for five days.

This is the first thing I’ve written about it/him aside from a pair of text messages and a pair of message board comments. In short, I’ll try not to make this about me. However, I feel the need to repent since I took a bit of a dig at him mere hours before the news came down.

Sorry Lou. I still mean it but that’s not to say I wasn’t a fan.

Back story: I was chatting music with a friend over coffee last Saturday, playing the “overrated/underrated/properly rated” game. After doing a customary 10 minutes on Kraftwerk (for more details, click here), I turned my attention to Lou Reed. I don’t recall the exact context but I suggested that I didn’t think Reed belonged in the same category of songwriters as Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Van Morrison. It’s a bit of a sloppy grouping that could be best defined as “talented and prolific songwriters who have had long careers, written tons of awesome songs and tons of other songs that are probably more ‘interesting’ than ‘good’ in the traditional sense”.

I like Lou Reed. Sincerely. Maybe even really like. However, I always got the sense that Lou Reed spent parts of his career conflicted between playing a version of “Lou Reed” as demanded by fans and critics (I think “David Bowie”, “Iggy Pop” and “Tom Waits” were, at times, similarly vexed) and just going out, playing the music and not focusing on the judgements or reactions.

In my estimation, Young, Cohen and Morrison were arguably better keeping things linear for what it’s worth… which isn’t much.

Reed’s 1989 full-length New York seemed like an album, in retrospect, crafted specifically to reintroduce listeners to the critics’ “Lou Reed” after a decade of curiosities and WTF moments (case in point: “The Original Wrapper”). Even without listening to the album, the aesthetics alone beared this out. It was called simply New York. The album cover showed 2x Reeds (one smoking a cigarette and one about to kick your ass) against a wall covered with graffiti(!!!) while being flanked by street toughs(!!!) This “surly street poet” version of the REAL Lou Reed was the favourite of most listeners and New York may well have recalibrated his career and his image into eternity. I don’t think tough “Lou Reed” was REAL Lou Reed but it was the preferred version for many if nothing else.

As a result, in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, Reed seemed more at ease with everything. Some of his work was well received. Some of it wasn’t. The Velvet Underground briefly reunited. He played at David Bowie’s 50th birthday party. He did an album with Metallica that I’m still convinced 95 per cent of people slammed without actually listening to it.

And in general, critics gave him every benefit of the doubt. And rightfully so.

Reed would never admit it but I do think he had some heavy populist leanings and struggled with this partial desire to be a traditional rock star and celebrity. The best examples of this want may be his 1973 single “Sally Can’t Dance” (essentially the “Shiny Happy People” of Reed’s discography) and perhaps 1984’s New Sensations, an album that leading music magazine Wikipedia describes as “upbeat and fun”. Also, the effort features some weak album art.

This art-versus-art? conflict helped define Reed’s career and part of his strength was that he could normally play both sides while being beloved by most or all. Reed could swing in and out of being completely accessible and entirely dense. He was conflicted. His listeners were conflicted. But on the whole, it was always unpredictable and at times, really amazing.

So yeah, not a dig, ghost Lou.

Here are five video memories I have of Lou Reed, all of which helped shape my impression of the fella.

1. Cowboy Junkies sing “Sweet Jane”

I’m sensing I wasn’t the only suburban GTA kid who was first exposed to Reed’s music via this stellar cover. The Cowboy Junkies came crawling out of the gate and kinda owned 1988 and parts of 1989 with this stillborn take on the Velvet Underground classic. Reed himself paid homage and the Junkies ruled MuchMusic, which is incredible given un-kid-friendly this effort is. A different time, clearly. The next few years saw added Reed exposure for mainstream youth via reworkings of “Walk on the Wild Side” by A Tribe Called Quest and (uh) Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

2. Lou Reed sings “Dirty Blvd.”

OK, THIS was my first real exposure to tough “Lou Reed” proper as I recall “Dirty Blvd.” being in semi-heavy rotation on MuchMusic when I was 11. Initially, I thought this was Bruce Cockburn (the video was dark, it was hard to tell) and then later, I thought it was Robbie Robertson. It was very confusing. Also, this video is notable as it was shot at the peak of Reed’s worst hair phase.

3. Lou Reed sings “Vicious” (live)

It was either the solid PBS American Masters documentary or some other time capsule that showed footage of Reed during his brief early 1970s “blonde bombshell” period. Clearly influenced by the antics of his dear, dear friends Iggy Pop and David Bowie, Reed tried his hand at dancing and taking an edge of his best-known solo and group material. I dunno. I saw footage of this years ago when I was still getting a grip on his career arch and remember being really confused (and a bit uncomfortable). There was little resemblance to the stoic force who led the Velvets and to my earlier point, this is footage of a man trying something. I’m not sure what… but it’s something.

4. Chicken suit

This track from 2000’s Ecstasty is great and the video shows some rare moments of Lou levity caught on film. He ends up getting plucked a few time, perhaps symbolizing how the record industry effectively plucked his artestry? Yeah, probably not.

5. Gorillaz headline Glastonbury 2010

Reed joining the Gorillaz on-stage at Glastonbury 2010 is probably more notable for the fact it happened at all rather than for the fact it was amazing (which it wasn’t really).  Reed looks tired and the song (“Some Kind of Nature”) is pretty forgettable. That being said, it’s Reed playing alongside members of Blur and the Clash for thousands of people so it’s significant purely as an “whoa” moment. Also, it is notable for the noisy distortion that opens the track and the chance to see Reed as a gorilla, which is fairly cool.

Ignored 15: Antisocial networking

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Ignored15

Fake musicians on social media platforms is nothing new.

Fake Paul Anka has 400+ followers on Twitter while fake “official” Madonna has 2,900+. Fake A$AP Ferg has a terrible “real” Facebook page. This Bon Iver Tumblr page is less “fake” and more “meh”.

Overall, this practice is a whole lot of rubbish.

Sadly. popular professional networking tool LinkedIn (the self-proclaimed “world’s largest professional network“) is not immune to this nonsense.

Frankly, the only thing more ridiculous than creating a fake LinkedIn profile for your favourite musician is creating a blog post that summarizes a bunch of these, gives them a score out of 10 and then ranks them.

Anyway…

Eddie Vedder
Singer en Pearl Jam
Chile – Entertainment
http://cl.linkedin.com/pub/eddie-vedder/17/530/638/fr
Rating: 7/10
Comments: I love this fake profile! Namely because it’s clearly some random dude in Chile who spent all of five seconds creating this and never thinking of it again. This lack of commitment is incredible, even by Internet standards. Big moment!

Elvis Costello
Self made man at Self-Employed Freelance Technical Writer
London, Greater London, United Kingdom (London, United Kingdom) – Writing and Editing
http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/elvis-costello/5b/3b8/710
Rating: 6/10
Comments: I like the assertion that Costello is a “self made man”. Not much else here but that piece is solid.
Viewers of this profile also viewed: 3x fake Iggy Pops, PJ Harvey, Tom Waits (‘experienced entertainer’), Damien Rice

Elvis Presley
Butt Doctor at Phil McCrackin, Ass Specalist
Dwight, Ontario, Canada (Ontario, Canada) – Alternative Medicine
http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/elvis-presley/60/89a/6b0
Rating: 9/10
Comments: There’s a lot to like here and the culprit assumedly lived in Wisconsin based on the “Also viewed” section. Just a really strong effort all around with a nice blend of 5th grade humour and smarts.
Viewer of this profile also viewed: The Mayor of Milwaukee

GG Allin
Worker at Lisbon Seafood
Tiverton, Rhode Island (Providence, Rhode Island Area) – Wholesale
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/gg-allin/51/963/731
Rating: 3/10
Comments: Not much to work with here but either way, the notion of GG Allin/”GG Allin” working with food makes me want to avoid Lisbon Seafood, if possible. Y’know, that thing he did with the banana et all…

Kendrick Lamar
Recording Artist at Top Dawg, Aftermath & Interscope
Compton, California (Greater Los Angeles Area) – Music
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kendrick-lamar/63/517/b67
Rating: 8/10
Comments: Assume this is a fake but at least the faker took the time to include actual social media links and plenty of factual whatnot. Shows commitment to the craft!
Viewers of this profile also viewed: Dr. Dre, J Cole, Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West

Mike Reno
Independent Entertainment Professional
Vancouver, Canada Area – Entertainment
http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/mike-reno/4/1b0/288
Rating: 5/10
Comments: Uh… I’m not entirely convinced this isn’t the REAL Mike Reno. So no further comments…

Nate Dogg
Badass
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada (Kitchener, Canada Area) – Automotive
http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/nate-dogg/6a/6/6b3
Rating: 10/10
Comments: Now THIS is a fake LinkedIn profile!!! In essence (and in our hearts), the late Nate Dogg is a professional “badass” who lives in Cambridge and works in the automotive industry. A real prime example of stupidity on the Internet!

Slim Shady
Rapper
Beverly Hills, California  (Greater Los Angeles Area) – Investment Management
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/slim-shady/50/268/51a
Rating: 0/10
Comments: Pointless.
Viewers of this profile also viewed:  Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, 50 Cent, Lil’ Wayne

Snoop Dogg
Owner, Doggy Style Records
Greater Los Angeles Area – Music
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/snoop-dogg/3b/927/17b
Rating: 4/10
Comments: This is a bit of a “yes, and….???” propisition since it’s not funny yet largely accurate. You’re likely as polarized as I am.
Viewers of this profile also viewed: Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Wayne, Kanye West, Beyonce Knowles, 50 Cent, Pharrell Williams, Wiz Khalifa

Stephen Malkmus
Musician at Pavement
London, United Kingdom – Human Resources
http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/stephen-malkmus/26/71/798
Rating: 1/10
Comments:  This is weak stuff. A stingy zero connections, Malk never lived in the UK and working in Human Resources is neither funnny nor remotely.
Viewer of this profile also viewed: All four members of “Sonic Youth”, Lou Barlow

To summarize…
1. Fake Nate Dogg
2. Fake Elvis Presley
3. Fake Kendrick Lamar
4. Fake Eddie Vedder
5. Fake Elvis Costello
6. Fake (real?) Mike Reno
7. Fake Snoop Dogg
8. Fake GG Allin
9. Fake Stephen Malkmus
10. Fake Eminem (also known as Slim Shady)