Musical Monday 3/19/17


A mist often makes something difficult to decipher. What is happening? Who? How? I can't tell. I recall playing the computer game, “Myst,” growing up. It stands out to me only in that it was entirely indecipherable. When I think of the 6th grade that is one of the many reasons I recall utter confusion.  Additionally, the word, “mist” relates to mystical. And I always connect the term, “mystical,” to the comic book character, “Dr. Strange.” I do so even though I haven’t read the comic, haven’t seen the movie (YET), and don’t know very much about that unique physician. I guess good movie marketing Marvel? So, to me, “mist” equates to “strange” and “indecipherable.” That’s why I think Father John Misty is such an appropriate name. 

Father John Misty is the pen name I guess, or stage name, of Joshua Tillman. Among other things he played in one of my favorite bands, Fleet Foxes.  I don’t really know much about him or who he is or anything. From bits and pieces I gather he just seems intent on being him. He is a singer that to me sounds a bit like Elton John, but then not. He’s like the modern day Sir Elton with out the piano. He sings a variety of songs that only seem to contain him as the common denominator. At least that was the case. Recently he released 3 songs from his latest album all named, “Generic Pop Song.” They are differentiated only by the track number. So, besides the singer, they all also have the titles as a common denominator. Maybe he intends on the titles serving as some sort of social commentary? Maybe he has no real intention with them at all? It’s a bit “misty” to me. But, I’m the one who makes my own determinations and, in the end, I determine that I like it.

Lame-ric: Island in the Sun

This alternative set of lyrics looks at the meaning (from my perspective) of a song and, by outlining a sentiment (from my perspective), highlights the actual intent (from my perspective). 

I wrote this "Lame-ric" (like a limerick and a lyric but then not) for "Island in the Sun," by Weezer. (Island in the Sun music video.) I have had this one song in my head for days and days. I don't know why. Even when I worked on the last lameric I kept thinking about this song. Humming its tune. Sure, it could be taken on its face as a poppy, sweet song about going away on vacation, but I read into it deeper.

I read it to be a song about the danger of escapism. I think every person encounters numerous events in life it would feel good to just avoid and run away from. I know I have. But in the song the protagonist "can't control [his] brain." I took that to mean that time spent "on the island in the sun" leads to loss of self-control. The idea that "we'll never feel bad anymore" sounds extreme and scares me a bit. How does anyone know "good" if they no longer have "bad" for comparison? Chemical means of escape, like drugs and alcohol, dominated our past and now technological means threaten to dominate the future (see Ready Player One; Wall-e). Basically, to me, it seems the song deals with the alluring nature of drugs specifically, but as a whole more generally escapism too. Crazily however, the song does so in a completely palatable way. Here's a possibly less palatable alternative:







On a break from your hard life

away from all the crazy strife

Some fools gold just for the soul

I could fit into that hole


In the perfect place to be

No more cares and it's all free

It's just so wonderful that

nothing else matters here





At the perfect little place

Who cares about a face?

As long as you can stay

Long enough to slip away


It's almost perfect you see

You don't care, it's mostly free

It's all pretty nice

So now just worry less


Just follow me to somewhere

Trust in me that you will not care

A place where you are always good






It's not the same it used to be

It's so far from being free

Now it's such a scary place

it's all I think about


Just follow me to somewhere

Trust me that you will not care

A place where you are always good




A place where you are always good

So good

A place where you are always good

So good



Lame-ric: Tonight, tonight

This alternative set of lyrics looks at the meaning (from my perspective) of a song and, by outlining the opposing sentiment (from my perspective), highlights the actual intent (from my perspective). 

I wrote this "Lame-ric" (like a limerick and a lyric but then not) for Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, tonight" (Tonight, tonight music video). I faintly heard this familiar song playing in the other room and couldn't escape the repeating tune in my head. I kept replaying it over and over and over. I wanted to interact with it in some way but didn't know how. Then, in the shower, maybe one of the many drops also contained inspiration for the means. I followed up and the more I learned the lyrics the more drawn in I felt. The last few years have made carpe diem more immediate for me and made me particularly ripe for this song because of it.

The song's video looks like Tim Burton directed "Nosferatu." Fitting for nearly-Halloween. The video also provides access to the original work. The song itself promotes seizing the day (or seizing that night). And while the song lyrics do dismiss the excuse of the status quo, they do not say:


You have so very long

Every choice that you make

Means so little in a life

Makes no difference at all

You’re who you always were

You know what’s not really you


Don’t trust

Don’t trust unless you see

Don’t trust



try a new approach

or drive in a new lane

We are just who we are

Al-way-s, always




Al-way-s, always


And you mostly never can

And you still can’t this time too

A look at the very base of you

Shows you are always the same

In the same place that you’ve always been

Since the day you arrived


Don’t trust

Don’t trust unless you see

Don't trust


Don’t trust

Just one thing can't change a whole life

If you think this will mean anything

Al-way-s, always




Al-ways, always


You’ll be exactly the same you were, always, always

Doesn’t matter what you say, doesn't matter the way, always, always

Tomorrow it’s still you that meets the day, always


Just another picture in the series, always, always

Things are still the same in the end, always, always

We both know who we both are,


Always, always

Always, always

Musical Monday 5/16/16

By habit, either the car or house radio almost always reflexively gets tuned to KCRW. KCRW is the local NPR station. 89.9 FM locally. On Weekdays, in the early morning, KCRW plays news. Mid-morning to noon is a popular music show called “Morning Becomes Eclectic.” MBE provides a variable and veritable smorgasbord of musical output that keeps listeners on the cusp of the new while continuing to also steep them in the previously admired. From noon to night lots of different talk shows air to explore the various viewpoints and elements of life in LA and beyond. Then the rest of the evening is more music. 

Weekends host so many great shows that some have become a part of the fabric of existence. “Good FoodThis American LifeThe Moth…” There are just so many and they’re always so good. It’s like me but better, if that even seems possible? Weekend afternoons and evenings have more music. KCRW basically provides the means to live an examined life in L.A. 

KCRW also provides an all music online channel, “Eclectic 24,” that blends the various djs’ tastes into one continuous stream. Just incase you desire an unending flow of tunes to make you appear cool or to extend your already existing cool - however you choose to couch it. Perfect background for a dinner party or most other things life involves.

I enjoy KCRW tremendously because actively listening to it signals involvement in the community. It signals that you intend to continue operating life in the specific environment. KCRW plays a significant role in LA’s environment.

Musical Monday 5/9/16

The youth is taking over music! The youth is coming! The youth! OMG, MGMT  said so. 

Ok, no, not really. But they do say “the youth,” a bunch in the song which brought it to mind. More than likely there are a normal number of young performers ascending to a usual position in cultural zeitgeist. These are just two that I happen to know of. Hardly a revolution.

The thing that makes them special to my perspective is that I’ve actually heard of them and they actually sing catchy songs that don’t seem like they would come from the youth.

Jake Bugg: 

Declan McKenna: 

But it’s not like their relevance signals the coming apocalypse for elders. There are plenty of other young and talented performers performing. I think Lorde is like really young and also good (I mean the Boss did cover her so she must be). Likewise, Bo Burnham does comedy music very well. 

In addition to youth, they’re talented too. And I’m sure that fails to even scratch the surface. I'm somewhat happy to think that we exist in the same world and these youths have so much time to impact it. Time creates more opportunity and being so skilled so young provides a lot of opportunity.

Musical Monday 5/2/16

Musical covers take something already familiar for some and twist it. Like a chef deconstructing a dish. Separating the usual BLT into a B, an L, and a T. The next time you have a BLT it's a new experience. For others who were not already familiar, a cover might provide the first exposure to the material at all. When David Bowie died I recognized his great contributions and appreciated all he had done. I'm at least somewhat aware of the world. But I lacked a total appreciation for his full impact. I like all of his music fine. I do, I like it a lot. But it wasn’t until hearing others perform it that I obtained a fresh perspective on his work. That fresh perspective provided a better appreciation of the significance of his impact.

Hearing and watching, “Space Oddity,” performed by an astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield, in space completely changed my perspective. It deconstructed the song by taking something I always listened to in one context (performed on Earth!) and very much twisting it (a performance on space station orbiting Earth!).


In a similar fashion, the Portuguese covers of Bowie by Seu Jorge, especially “Life on Mars” completely flipped my usual perspective of Bowie’s songs. I will admit that my Portuguese isn't in tip-top shape but the tune still captured my attention and the mystery of the lyrics might have made the songs even more alluring.


Hearing both of these interpretations of David Bowie’s work steeply escalated my appreciation for his creations and his own performances. I now saw these works in a new light. Then, with a new appreciation for the artist and his work established, he very unexpectedly died (while I mentioned before working on expecting the unexpected when dealing with mortality that's more of a group goal where I am part of the group than a lesson from the head of the class. And this happened well before Prince's "early" demise anyway).

Understandably, and more expectedly, a bevy of tributes issued forth acknowledging David Bowie's tremendous impact. The most effective tributes, in my mind, both came from the Tonight Show. I saw neither live (because on the West Coast the show airs at 11:30 (PM!) which is crazy late and provides no real opportunity to watch the show and have a normal morning! #Sorrynotsorry). Both appeared later on social media which is where I discovered and enjoyed them. 

(There was a link to the Michael Stipe video but it  no longer works. Bummer cause it was good. I guess the early bird gets the worm.)

It provides a true testament to work when the deconstruction of it continues AD. Especially when it continues to make the whole BLT taste so much better.

Musical Monday 4/25/16

Even now, after death, Prince continues to be prolific, kinda. His influence still spreads across many aspects of life.

I didn’t see it but, apparently SNL issued a retrospective of Prince performances. Jimmy Fallon hosted and also offered a recap of Prince’s performance at the 40th anniversary of SNL afterparty. I am not completely familiar with all of Prince’s extensive catalogue, but this one performance (like his Superbowl halftime show provides a good idea of the concept of him for those searching for a more complete encapsulation. A video of the after show performance exists and it’s legitimately cool. I loved seeing a bunch of popular people at the celebration jam along to Prince as he sings.

On top of that, Bruce Springsteen, someone I am more familiar with most of the work (but definitely not all), opened a recent show with Purple Rain. And, still, in Jenga fashion the tributes stack higher, at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) there’s a exhibit called the “rain room.” In the “Rain Room” I guess you stand in the center and it rains around you but not on you. From all reports it looks pretty cool. 

After the surprising revelation of Prince’s death, the “rain room” rained down purple colored rain in Prince’s honor. 

While it doesn’t cleanse the sorrow from those missing Prince’s presence, the tributes serve as a touching reminder of Prince’s wide influence.

Musical Monday 4/18/16

Musical Monday 4/18/16

April 18, 2016

Musical Monday 4/18/16

I recently attended a wedding where music played a central role. Yes, I know, music usually does factor heavily into the experience at most weddings. But, particularly here. Two live bands performed amidst a DJ playing songs that tried to merge the tastes of the crowd with the bride and the groom. He did so successfully, at least for me. 

I really enjoy it when the music at a wedding can infuse into the entire aura. By doing so it can highlight and enhance the entire social nature of the event.

The difficulty with a wedding, and I guess any social endeavor, is walking a line between popularity, wide appeal for the various disparate attendees, and your own idiosyncratic tastes. Hopefully they mostly align, since you’re a thing they all share in common, but musical alignment is not always the case.

Unfortunately, for that one period of time, you may benefit the most by erring on the side of the generic and popular so that someone in their 70s and someone in their 20s will both be familiar. Once that steep, difficult tonal decision is come to, a new danger emerges with making choices too generic and too widely accepted that they become parodies. So you must choose songs generic but not too generic, songs unique but not too unique.

Wedding music must walk a fine line, must travel an aisle down the middle if you will. A wedding is potentially a dangerous enterprise fraught with probable pitfalls, but if the music can be selected satisfactorily, the enterprise as a whole might benefit. It surely can't hurt the endeavor.

Musical Monday 4/11/16

Musical Monday 4/11/16

May 9, 2016

I used to like the Roots just fine. I used to like John Legend just fine (except for his innuendo filled ode to nutmeg on the Colbert Holiday Special which was fantastic). I was familiar with both, just not star-struck by either. More like, “they’re cool. They’re good. Whatever.” But then I heard this song. The whole album is good but this song is really good. And being able to watch them jam out makes it better for some reason.

Another tidbit having nothing to do with the preceding. I like the cello. It sounds cool. I also like Led Zepplin. They sound cool too. Beethoven was a genius. It comes off a bit corse, but he also sounded cool. No wonder the combination of the three sounds cool.

Musical Monday 3/28/16

Musical Monday 3/28/16

May 9, 2016

Usually, everywhere, you can hear some kind of music from somewhere. On your car radio as you drive down the road. Pumped through the speakers as you peruse the aisles in the grocery store. Pretending to relax you as you sit patiently in a doctor’s office waiting for expert input. But often the music just provides meaningless white noise subservient to the task at hand. We fail to appreciate that a tremendous amount of effort actually goes into creating the sounds that we take for granted as background noise. People create those “noises” and pin all sorts of hopes and dreams to their creation.

So, thinking beyond the toe tapping, here’s one of my favorite song lyrics:

Kids flash guitars just like switchblades,

Hustling for the record machine.

The Hungry and the hunted,

Explode into Rock’n’Roll bands,

And face off against each other out in the street,

 - Bruce Springsteen, Jungleland


Here’s another:

One likes to believe in the freedom of music,

but glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity 

- Rush, Spirit of the Radio


In conjunction they speak to an important issue. That the primal thing sought often lacks what we think it would. It's not the destination, it's the journey. The kids in the first song compete in the arena of perception for prominence. But in the second song it becomes clear that the hard sought prize, once achieved, is really fool's gold, made worthless through compromise. Back when the kids were just being kids in the street they still had their integrity. The illusion was not yet an illusion. The majority of the trip is the journey anyway. Usually just a small percentage makes up arriving at the destination. If only the kids, or all makers of music, or anyone making anything, or anyone, better appreciated the journey a shattered destination would not disappoint as much.