Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Playlist 072011

Since its my birthday, I thought about posting some of my all-time favorite songs. A little set of songs and reminiscing of a time gone by….

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. - Maya Angelou

When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.  - Henry David Thoreau


The Innocence Mission - Now In This Hush

This song (or anything from Innocence Mission or Over the Rhine for that matter) reminds of every Fall/Autumn in the 90’s – around the time when I discovered their music. This song is a reminder to me that at times when I feel down or a little less than creative, that the power creativity goes on and on….and sometimes you have to step back and rest in the renewal of life.

Where is color this hour? / Where is music this hour? / Are they still going on somewhere? / But where now, in this hush? / Where are words in this hush? / And what am I....?”


3 Doors Down - Duck And Run

This song reminds of a time in my life when it seemed like I was fighting for myself and having to fight for others in the process. At that time, and even now, I had to have some resolve; some way to overcome. This song was one of those “ways” that helped me.

“This world can turn me down but I Won't turn away / And I won't duck and run, cause / I'm not built that way / When everything is gone there is / Nothing there to fear / This world cannot bring me down / No cause I'm already here, oh no! / I am already here, / Down on my knees / I am already here, on no, I am / Already here / I must have told you a thousand times, /I am not running away / I won't duck and run..”


The Smiths - Rubber Ring

The lyrics always ring true, at least for this music fan.

But dont forget the songs / That made you cry / And the songs that saved your life / Yes, youre older now / And youre a clever swine / But they were the only ones who ever stood by you


The Call - The Woods

I cannot express enough how much The Call’s music has been an inspiration to me. Having seen them 3 times and with the passing of Michael Been back in 2010, it all seems so long ago when I first heard their music.

The Call’s sound is really for a mature, artistically and open-minded listener. This is not pop, this is not just commentary. This is about life and the struggle some face to move from the day to day but, with faith, move forward to the hope of a better tomorrow.


Neil Diamond - I Am... I Said

Now I know people may have an opinion about Neil Diamond but having grown up in Chicago and listening to just about every radio station on the FM dial, Neil Diamond ruled the easy listening/love song stations in the 80’s. He had plenty of songs being played and I remember buying his two-cassette greatest hits at a Coconuts in the early 90’s for my birthday. Every since then, when I think of music to play on this day, I think about Neil Diamond and how, though I knew of a few songs of his, was completely introduced to more on that collection. One thing’s for sure…Diamond could right a great love song/ballad….

“I Am…I Said” sums up a lot of the loneliness I felt during that time also. Yep, I was THAT artist guy listening to Neil Diamond Greatest Hits with my walkman on the “L” train of Chicago back then….


Pink Floyd - Time

OK…this one is obvious. Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of The Moon was released in 1973, the year of my birth. As it gets older, I get older….

“Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time. / Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines / Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way / The time is gone, the song is over, / Thought I'd something more to say…..”


Elton John - The One

Say what you will about Elton John or his personal life, the guy is one of the last great singer-songwriters of the late 20th Century and I recently had a rediscovery of his music.

Songs like “Rocket Man” and “Your Song” were always favorites and his 80’s hits, I’ll always remember. In the 90’s, “The Last Song” will probably be my all time favorite. But I started listening to his other hits again and for some reason I connected to this song. Very inspirational and so many inspiring points made in the lyrics.

“And all I ever needed was the one / Like freedom fields where wild horses run / When stars collide like you and I / No shadows block the sun / You're all I've ever needed / Baby you're the one….”


Jim Croce - Operator

One artist music that I can remember being played a lot on the radio was Jim Croce. “Time in a Bottle”, “I Got A Name” and “Operator” were played all the time.

Croce died 2 months after I was born and growing up with his music as a kid, I thought he was always there…

“Operator” was always funny, true and sad; all at the same time to me…


John Williams – Superman Theme (Christopher Reeve Superman Tribute)

No my Birthday Playlist is complete without a theme song; especially a Superman movie theme song.

This one is quite special to me. After going to see Superman on my 5th birthday back in 1979, I’ve been a fan of comic books and superheroes ever since. Every time I see the opening credits I revert back to childhood.


Vigilantes Of Love - Parting Shot

I want to end with this song.

At one time, The Vigilantes of Love changed my life.

You may say, “You say that about every band/artist..” – That’s not entirely true.

There are only a handful of artists/groups that I feel that have had a deep impact on me and my life in general with their music and lyrics; That at different points in my life I would come to discover them at the right time, at a time I needed to hear what they had to say and continue to this day to have an influence on me and inspiration in my thinking and creativity.

There’s (so far) the following artists/groups:

U2, The Cure, Daniel Amos/Terry Scott Taylor, Morrissey/The Smiths, the 77s/Mike Roe, The Choir, Interpol, Arcade Fire, Marvin Gaye, New Order, Sade, Everything But The Girl, The Killers, Simply Red, Over The Rhine, Luther Vandross, The Call, Moby, The Beatles, Alicia Keys, Jeff Johnson and The Vigilantes of Love --- That at certain points in my existence here, these artists/groups have impacted me greatly; opening my eyes and mind to new perspectives. There may be thousands of songs or albums by different artists/groups that have been both an influence and inspiration but there are only a few artists/groups whose complete discography is both a constant influence and inspiration

Now, as far as this song “Parting Shot” goes…I think about what legacy we leave behind, what people think in terms of what we have done and how those things sometimes way heavy on our mind and hearts…


Words of wisdom, quotable quotes,
Reader's Digest sayings for those losing hope,
Why do I feel so mocked by the hands of the clock?
Well, anchor me down to the solid rock,
I want to leave you with something, but I almost forgot,
Was it a closing statement or a parting shot?

Well, you lie on the flowers here in the wind,
I've twisted it all with original sin,
There's a knowledge I traded a long time ago,
Well, I bartered it off for these rags I call clothes,
But I learned how to fake it and remake it on cue,
And I swear I never stopped needing you.

There's a question forming, out here in the dark,
In the heavy air all around my heart, now laden with consequence, chain link fence, and shot through with all manner of lies I've been trapped in and caught,
And the world, like a tempest, in your ears doth roar,
And the flesh wants to dress up and play your whore,
And the devil wants to cast all manner of doubt on the real lover with the key, dying to let you out from the bars that you fashioned with your stolen clout.

Well, I may be confused, but I'll play my hunch,
Did it feel like a kiss or a counter-punch?

Evening is closing and the kid drones on and on, and on,
Well, get out your car keys, I hope this is his last song,
Wait, it's bigger than life; it is gracious and grand,
Something a child readily understands,
Hey, you know I sure could use a new suit of clothes,
See, I'm gone all threadbare and my shoes are worn,
Now the flowers are growing right out of these bones, and I hear the trumpet sounding like Louis Armstrong,
Like Louis Armstrong,
When the great divorce happens, hide me in your song, though I don't deserve it and I don't belong.

I want to leave you with something, will you take it to heart?
Are you a closing statement or a parting shot?
Or a parting shot?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Greatest Article of All-Time

Will Someone Tell Time Magazine (or whoever is publishing them) to Stop Creating “...Of All-Time” Lists?

I came across the Time Magazine's latest list of 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films

Richard Corliss of Time compiled the list of animated films as follows:

1. Pinocchio (1940)
 2. WALL-E (2008)
 3. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979)
 4. Dumbo (1941)
 5. Spirited Away (2001)
 6. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
 7. Up (2009)
 8. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
 9. Finding Nemo (2003)
 10. The Little Mermaid (1989)
 11. Toy Story 3 (2010)
 12. Toy Story (1995)
 13. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
 14. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
 15. Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
 16. Happy Feet (2006)
 17. Akira (1988)
 18. The Lion King (1994)
 19. Tangled (2010)
 20. Paprika (2007)
 21. Kung Fu Panda (2008)
 22. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! (2008)
 23. Yellow Submarine (1968)
 24. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
 25. Lady and the Tramp (1955)


Now, of course, their will be debate about this list….Just like every other ALL-TIME lists that Time Magazine or any other publication publishes…

My main gripe is not the list but WHY THE "...OF ALL-TIME" LIST?

The publishing “...Of All-Time”  listings went out with the dawn of the “New Millennium” or between 1998-2000 when some people of earth thought the world would have ended by now.

Ummm….we see what happened to the Y2K scare, right? NOTHING.

Posting these so-called “...Of All-Time”  lists is essentially a slap in the face to the future of creativity.

Its like saying:

“Well these things are the greatest (whatever you like) of All-Time and there will NEVER be another great (whatever you like) EVER! Nope, no one will EVER come up with anything new or exciting to change our perception of life or imagination. Its OVER. FINISHED. DONE.”

Now, I’ll post my favorite music, books, artists, etc. BUT that’s me. I’m not imposing on anyone’s opinions by saying “These things are the Greatest that I Like and They’re better Than What You Like!”

I’m posting MY favorites and if I say some one thing is the best of All-Time, I’m not going to say it just for the sake of it, I’m going to back it up with a some research and present my case.

It is my opinion that anything to make a list for All-Time or Best of Everything Ever of the Past, Present or Future, should be based on 3 principles:

1. Innovation – Did the creative body of work or person(s) present anything innovative; nothing that was ever done before?

2. Influence – Did the creative body of work or person(s) influence the world at large or the creative process in their genre and beyond?

3. Success – Did the creative body of work or person(s) have great success financially or in other numbers since its release?

These three factors should be a part of any argument of what is or not the best or greatest “...Of All-Time”

An example to point out is the movie Citizen Kane. During the week of this past year's Oscars I posted in The Turner Movie Classics Facebook page, my favorite movies. It was when I posted my thoughts on Citizen Kane and listed it as the greatest film of All-Time, it wasn't too long afterwards that it opened up an argument of epic proportions.

From research that I gathered through interviews and documentaries I’ve watched and articles and books I’ve read, the movie Citizen Kane has been the most influential film to the creative process. How? Every modern filmmaker of the last 40-50 years have studied it and used elements of that film in their body of work.

Sooooo…favorite directors Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas, Kubrick, etc. have all been influenced by this film (among others I’m sure) but it is the one that is MOST influential because it was innovative and have been successful since its release. And in turn influenced current favorite directors Nolan, Jackson, Abrams, Snyder, etc.

I also pointed out that I was not trying to override other people’s opinions of favorites just that whether you like it or not, its influence, innovation and success cannot be denied.

There’s also a difference between having “...Of All-Time”  Lists and pointing out a single “...Of All-Time”  creative body of work or person(s)

Another example, many may argue with but cannot deny is The Beatles being the All-Time Greatest Music Band because of their creative innovations, influence and success that continues to this day.

When a writer or critic gives an opinion of ONE being the best or greatest it should be with some merit, involving the 3 factors previously mentioned.

When a writer or critic gives an opinion of a select list of others, then it is very much open for debate.

Then again, I believe the best way to solve the “...Of All-Time” List problem is to just list the year-to-year.

For example: The 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films 1935-2011

That way you have the best of that era, and NOT the best of All-Time as if the world will end tomorrow….

Not unless Time Magazine knows something we don’t…..


By the way, here’s a list of my 25 favorite animated movies of All-Time 1970-2011 – listed alphabetically:

1. Akira
2. Alladin
3. Appleseed Ex Machina
4. Beauty and the Beast
5. Charlotte's Web
6. Cowboy Bebop the Movie: Knockin' on Heaven's Door
7. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
8. Finding Nemo
9. Ghost in the Shell
10. The Iron Giant
11. Lion King
12. Meet the Robinsons
13. Monsters Vs. Aliens
14. Monsters, Inc.
15. Ninja Scroll

16. Robots
17. Shrek 2
18. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
19. The Incredibles
20. Toy Story
21. Toy Story 2
22. Toy Story 3
23. Up
24. WALL-E
25. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Profile Playlist: The Doors

A collection of favorite classic rock songs by the collective minds that influenced the world, The Doors

The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger. The band took its name from Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception, the title of which was a reference to a William Blake quotation: "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." They were among the most controversial rock acts of the 1960s, due mostly to Morrison's wild, poetic lyrics and charismatic but unpredictable stage persona. After Morrison's death in 1971, the remaining members continued as a trio until finally disbanding in 1973.  According to the RIAA, they have sold over 35 million albums in the US alone. The band has sold nearly 100 million albums worldwide. In 1993, The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Break on Through (to the other side)


Light My Fire


People Are Strange


Touch Me


Love Her Madly


Profile: Jim Morrison (1943-1971)

James Douglas "Jim" Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) was an American lead singer and lyricist of the rock band The Doors, as well as a poet.

Morrison would often improvise poem passages while the band played live, which was his trademark. He was ranked number 47 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" and is widely regarded, with his wild personality and performances, as one of the most iconic, charismatic and pioneering frontmen in rock music history.

In the Summer of 1965, after graduating from UCLA, Morrison led a bohemian lifestyle in Venice Beach. Living on the rooftop of a building inhabited by his old UCLA cinematography friend Dennis Jakobs, he wrote the lyrics of many of the early songs the Doors would later perform live and record on albums, the most notable being "Moonlight Drive" and "Hello, I Love You". According to Jakobs, he lived on canned beans and LSD daily for several months. Morrison and fellow UCLA student Ray Manzarek were the first two members of The Doors, forming the group during that same Summer of 1965. They actually met months earlier as fellow cinematography students. The now-legendary story claims that Manzarek was lying on the beach at Venice one day, accidentally encountered Morrison, and was impressed with Morrison's poetic lyrics, claiming that they were "rock group" material. Thereafter, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger joined. Krieger auditioned at Densmore's recommendation and was then added to the lineup. All three musicians shared a common interest in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Meditation practices at the time, attending scheduled classes, but Morrison was not involved in this series of classes, claiming later (prior to the famous Hollywood Bowl show in July 1968) that he "did not meditate".

The Doors took their name from the title of Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception (a reference to the "unlocking" of "doors of perception" through psychedelic drug use). Huxley's own title was a quotation from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in which Blake wrote: "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."

Although Morrison is known as the lyricist for the group, Krieger also made significant lyrical contributions, writing or co-writing some of the group's biggest hits, including "Light My Fire", "Love Me Two Times", "Love Her Madly" and "Touch Me" . On the other hand, Morrison, who didn't write music using an instrument, would come up with melodies for his own lyrics, which the other band members helped turning into songs. He didn't play any instrument live (except for maracas on a few ocassions) or in the studio, but he played the piano on "Orange County Suite".


VIDEO: When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors (Theatrical Trailer)