Monday, October 5, 2009

Yes, I Tweet

Just a quick posting to note that I have officially joined Twitter, and it's making me feel younger and more trendy all the time. Feel free to follow me. I post stupid things that I think are funny, and maybe you will too, occasionally.

Gosh, it's nice to be able to use more than 140 characters. I should try this "blogging" thing more often.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Today's Masterpiece

(With deep apologies to Mr. Clapton)

When your grill is hot
And your steak is not
But don't toast that bun
Until the burger's done

It won't light
It won't light
It won't light...

Use a dead dinosaur
To make the fire roar
Now your meat is dry
You cooked it too high

It won't light
It won't light
It won't light...

Use some L.P. gas
To roast a cow's ass
But now the tank is dry
And you wanna go cry

It won't light
It won't light
It won't light...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On The Joy Of Rediscovery

A long time ago, I blogged (and nobody read, except for my wife) about Stevie Wonder appearing on Sesame Street. After watching that AWESOME video several times, I figured that I'd better check out some more of Mr. Wonder's* music.

I hit the mp3 store and perused their offerings. I downloaded Talking Book, then Innervisions. Then I saw Songs In The Key Of Life. Hmm. I remember my parents had that record, and mom played it occasionally. I put it on my Father's Day gift list, then hit the torrents to see if I could get a *ahem* preview.

Oh My. First of all, mom played this record A LOT. And I know ALL of the songs. And they're all GREAT.

A lot of the music I listened to as a kid was, to be blunt, crap. Some of it stands up -- I still listen to The Grand Illusion every once in a while -- but most of it doesn't. I never really listened to Songs... of my own volition, but I certainly heard it a lot, and it stands up magnificently. Seen through the lens of thirty years, two kids, one wife, four guitars (and zero lessons), this album stands out as one of the best I have ever heard. Yeah. Really.

The songs are widely varied in scope and style, yet all hang together somehow. From the dark political treatise of "Village Ghetto Land" to the lighthearted proto-power-ballad "Knocks Me Off My Feet" to the unbridled funky joy of "Isn't She Lovely", the album explores every facet of life. Stevie covers life's joys and heartaches and manages to find joy nearly everywhere.

All in all, this is an incredibly satisfying work. It speaks to everyone, because (surprise!) we all deal with the same issues as everybody else.

So go listen to it. Go! Shoo!

* Yes, I know his real name is Mr. Morris. But it's fun to say Mr. Wonder! I think maybe people should start calling me that. Just for fun.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Awesome, funky, and a little sad

Holy moley - a musician performing LIVE on a TV show without lip syncing. And it's not ANY show you were thinking of! The seventies were a great time to be a kid.

Now, from a purely subjective point of view, there is no way that this is not awesome. I mean, there's probably a mathematical proof of awesomeness somewhere on the web, and it links to this video as an example.

It's got great musicians, great sound (especially for TV), and a real, live band getting funky and occasionally slipping up. It's not lip-synced or auto-tuned, there's no choreography, and it's decidedly grown up music. Yet clearly, the kids love it. Look at the little guy bopping around up on the balcony! You can't fake that -- somebody just told him to dance, and he did, because he likes the music.

Now here's the sad part: the more I think abou it, the more I'm disappointed that my kids don't get to watch stuff like this. Kids' TV these days is all very carefully programmed and tailored to specific age groups, with carefully tailored music, usually "performed" by kids, backed by faceless studio musicians.

You'd never see Stevie Wonder on kids' TV these days -- he's a grownup, making music for grownups. Good heavens, who knows what he'll do? He might sing about grownup things. "When you believe in things, that you don't understand, then you suffer," would never pass muster at Disney or Nickelodeon. Or, for that matter, PBS.

I don't want my kids listening to gangsta rap, or death metal, or other decidedly "adult"-themed stuff. But there's a lot of good "grownup" (as opposed to "adult") music out there that I would like my kids to hear, and they just don't get a chance to.

I play my CDs for them, but I certainly don't know (or even like) every kind of music out there. But I still want my kids to hear as much as possible, if only to broaden their experience and give them a richer life. TV and radio should provide that service, but they fail miserably.

Who to blame? The counter-culture slashdot-reading nerd in me wants to blame ClearChannel and the RIAA and Disney mafia and all those other evil corporate overlords who own our media. And that's correct, to a point.

But it's also our fault. We brought this on ourselves. We bought their pablum, and fed it to our kids, and didn't look for a better (harder) way. We allowed PBS to become the domain of the early child education "experts" who can't imagine exposing our kids to anything that's not age-appropriate.

Kids need to see grownups being grownups. That's how they learn to be grownups. I would guess that the vast majority of American kids have never ever heard live music, not even a church organ. My kids get to see the band at our church, and I'm grateful for that. But most kids don't have that opportunity - seeing grownups making real grownup music.

My kids will definitely be watching (and dancing to) Stevie when I get home tonight. And I might even get out my guitar and play for them. I'm not a great musician, and I'm a lousy singer, but at least I'll be making music.

And I hope you'll do the same. Play music for your kids. (Start with Stevie Wonder!) Take them to concerts. Dig out your mom's old records. Expand their horizons.

Rock on.