Posts Tagged ‘music’

A Feeling I Hope You Get

October 18th, 2015

This is for all the people who musicians. All of the people in bands, all the people who want to be in a band, you name it. This is for you.


There are occasionally major proclamations made in media “the best album ever”, “album of the year”, “best concert of all time”. Major hyperbole invoked to hype up a thing that somebody somewhere is enthusiastic about. I have done it myself, claiming Sparks’ No. 1 In Heaven is one of the best albums ever. I qualified it with “one of” but the point is anyone who writes enough/posts enough will end up going full hyperbole mode.


Unless you’re Brian Wilson, one of the Beatles or in Blue Oyster Cult, chances are you will not be referred to as “the best” anything. That’s okay. You don’t need to be validated by others. What you need is to feel that way yourself.


There have been a few select moments in my life when I was either on stage or at the practice space with Technology Vs. Horse and everything clicks and it feels irresistible. I have had a few moments in my life when I thought “I am in the best band in the known universe right now.”


Are we the best? Were we ever? No and no. But who cares. Those moments have been rare for me so I treasure them when I have them. The odds of ever getting out of your own hometown playing with a band are boggling. So doing this music thing for fame or glory is a fool’s game. It took me a long time to learn that. But the sooner you learn this, the  sooner you can appreciate what you have for what it is. Those moments when a bunch of strange people come together and make it work. The kind of synergy that a corporate boardroom preaches about but cannot inspire.


I really hope everyone who ever joins a band has that feeling, if only once. If you’re out there writing songs, I hope you have a moment in your life when you can look at one of your creations and go “that’s a masterpiece”. You deserve to feel good about what you’ve done. It’s not like you put toxic smoke into the world. You’ve made the air molecules around you wiggle in a particular fashion. You’ve attempted to communicate to others using this commercial form of songcraft.


What else do Elvis Costello, Blackie Lawless and Farrah Abraham have in common, really?

I Am No Dylan

May 6th, 2015

Bob Dylan is a very fascinating songwriter. So much that there are eleven in a “Bootleg Series” of unreleased material. Bob Dylan is so fascinating that people want to hear the songs that weren’t deemed good enough for an official album (of which there are three dozen).


Last week I considered releasing an album of unreleased demos. Rap songs from 2002-2009. I was going to release it either on Bandcamp or Soundcloud.


Then I actually listened to these songs. Boy oh boy oh boy. These songs are not worthy of release. Now that I think about it, they weren’t worthy of being recorded. They shouldn’t even have been written.


The blame for this is on me. My lyrics. The ideas in my lyrics. My stars. What a terrible execution on my part. It would be a disservice to the people who produced and collaborated with me on this music to let it out and give them credit for it.


Think about those old pictures of your folks wearing tacky clothes from the 70s or early 80s. Now imagine that instead of wearing silly clothes, they’re blowing a dog. That’s what this music sounds like. My unreleased songs sound like your parents blowing a dog. Metaphorically.

Review: Prince At The Palace

March 15th, 2015

If you were lucky enough to catch one of the performance on Prince’s two-night, four-show stand at the Louisville Palace, you got to see a phenomenal showing by one of the Old Masters who still performs like a sugar-buzzed kid in a candy store. Backed by his all-girl trio 3RDEYEGIRL, His Purpleness took the tri-state area down Alphabet Street back to 1999 in a Little Red Corvette full of Raspberry Beret(s). No Controversy about this master of Musicology, Prince made it Purple Rain until The Chocolate Invasion happened in this reviewer’s pants.


His Purple Majesty, Prince.

His Purple Majesty, Prince.


This reviewer saw the second show on Sunday,last in the four-show stand. Prince walked out (or was carried out Ariana Grande-style) by a bodyguard. Parked in his spot for the entirety of the show, Prince struggled to stay upright. The fifty-six legend complained of a hip problem. I checked Twitter and found that Prince had apparently fractured his hip the night before doing a split.


Prince, being a Jehovah’s Witness, refuses surgeries that require blood transfusions. Rather than accept doctor’s orders to have surgery and cancel the rest of his tour, Prince decided to treat his hip fracture with intermittent bedrest and rubbing vegan cuisine on the hip. He breathed heavily throughout the show and occasionally muttered “tired. . . want to go home” to rapturous Louisville cheers.


The first song of the set was a rousing “Endorphinmachine” from The Gold Experience. After the song, the crowd waited with bated breath as the Purple One looked down his pedals and. . . decided to play “Endorphinmachine” again, to the confusion of everyone including his band. After a second but no less stellar rendition of that song, he cranked up the riff to “Endorphinmachine” again until one of the 3RDEYEGIRL band members stepped over to Prince and mentioned something to him off mic. From there, the band cranked up “Take Me With U”. While the crowd applauded, Prince looked back and asked “how long have we been out here already?” and attemped to play “Endorphinmachine” a third time before the PA went dead and the lights went out.


The house lights came up as the stage stood dark and empty for nearly a half-hour. The audience grew quiet than began cheering, then grew quiet again, then began clapping, then booed lustily, then cheered. Some people left and went back to the ticket booth to get a refund only to find a sign on the window that said “SUCKERS” signed with an androgynous Prince symbol.


A roadie came out with a stool and a Crosley turntable. He placed the turntable on the stool then left. The house lights dimmed and the stage was illuminated as a second roadie entered stage left with a vinyl record. The roadie placed the record on the Crosley before putting the needle on it and pressing play. It was a 12-inch of “Batdance” and the crowd exploded in delight. The 12-inch “Batdance” played in its’ entirety as the roadies looked sternly at the show. Security confiscated a camera when someone in the front row tried to take a picture of the turntable.


When the record stopped, the roadies took it, the Crosley and stool and left the stage. An announcer said, “Thank you for coming to the concert tonight. Please leave in an orderly manner. Thank you for coming to the concert.”


On the way out, this reviewer was presented with a religious tract from a strange little man in a trenchcoat and barely-concealed afro.



The Future’s Not What It Used To Be

March 12th, 2015

It’s a quarter after one in the morning. I’m listening to Mickey Newbury. If I had a floor full of empty bottles, it would be the perfect picture of sadness.
Wait, I do have a floor full of empties. Diet soda, not beer. I bag them up once a week or so and take them to the recycling bin by the fire department. I promise I’m not a total degenerate. I have never allowed more than three pizza boxes to accumulate at one time. I used to know a couple of guys in L.A. who had Shaq-height stacks of pizza boxes but then again they both took a lot of speed so whaddyaknow.


Mickey Newbury is why I’m writing this. Specifically, an album he recorded in 1971 called Frisco Mabel Joy. The album is named after a song Newbury wrote called “San Francisco Mabel Joy”, which took on a life of its own after everybody from Kenny Rogers to Joan Baez to David Allen Coe covered it. John Denver covered it. It’s a flexible song to have such a variety of artists cover it. Newbury had more success as a songwriter than as a recording artist but his recordings are worth checking out.


Have you ever heard that Elvis song “An American Trilogy”? That’s a Mickey Newbury song, or rather Newbury’s clever arrangement of a minstrel song, a Negro spiritual and “Battle Hymn Of The Republic”. I’m surprised Fox News doesn’t close its’ broadcast day by playing the thing each night. Not one of my favorite Elvis recordings. Elvis was deep in his Vegas-Evel-Knievel-white-suit-take-a-bunch-of-pills phase. The performance is bombastic, flamboyant, and Elvis sings with the power of a roaring brushfire on a mountainside.



Now listen to the Newbury original. Elvis is a roaring fire, Mickey is a fragile candlelight. The King’s strings and backing vocalists are almost oppressive, performing a Concerto for an Imaginary Republican Convention. Mickey is more sensitive and contemplative. These words mean something. There is a thoughtful reason for contrasting these three songs: “Dixie”, “Battle Hymn” and “All My Trials”. The cognitive dissonance of flag-waving patriotism smack with the painful history of America’s treatment of non-whites.


That’s track one on Frisco Mabel Joy.


Track two is “How Many Times (Must The Piper Be Paid For His Song)”, a Newbury original.


Lord, I wish I was blind

and could not read her mind

and see all her pain.

But from here where I lie, I can see

the tears in her eyes

as she quietly cries out for him.

Not for me.

How many times must the piper be paid for his song?


What a brutal thing to hear. It’s almost too much. Captivating and bracing. Who writes this kind of song now? I don’t see how this guy can be categorized as anything other than “songwriter”. He didn’t fit in a folk or country or folk rock or any other easy box to be marketed in. That’s probably why he had more success as a writer. Let the suits and the producers figure this stuff out. Let them decide out how to sell it. As long as they keep it true and don’t filter out what connects with the listener. Luckily there have been many performers who have found something in this material.


Good news: An American Trilogy is a 4-CD box set featuring three Newbury albums and bonus disc of rarities came out in 2011. You can track it down, probably. I assure you that Frisco Mabel Joy is worth the price of admission.

A Slice Of Heaven

February 26th, 2015

I look outside to find the last remnants of snow in my yard. Last week we got about a foot of the white stuff. Still a few inches left to be washed away by the rising temperatures and rains of the coming March.


It’s Thursday morning. I have spent the last hour or so listening to Huun Huur Tu, a quartet of Tuvan throat singers. I am obsessed with a song called “Camel Caravan Drivers Song”. I heard a snippet of it over twenty years ago.



I heard it near the end of a BBC documentary about Frank Zappa. Zappa hosted a party at his house a few months before he died in 1993. Invites went out to Irish folk group The Chieftains, bluesman Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and among others Huun Huur Tu. You can find the raw footage of this event if you google “Zappa Salad Party”.


I saw the documentary in ’94, and it shows Zappa enjoying this unlikely collaboration between Irish folksters, Mongolian folksters, an American blues legend, and who knows who else. I only heard a snippet of a song sung by Huun Huur Tu, and never thought I’d hear it again. It never occurred to me do any further research. Perhaps they had conceived the song on the spot, I figured. A one-time event never to be repeated.


The jam session/salad party was a one-time event but it was not a one-time composition, as Huun Huur Tu were singing a song, “Camel Caravan Drivers Song”. I have not heard any part of this song in any other than what was in the Zappa documentary.


It gave me some joy to hear it again. Two decades have gone by. My life has changed so much. I went from teenager to legal adult to college graduate to crazy rapper to bitter, depressed crank. The folk tradition is not something I understood at sixteen. I may get it a little more now. The authentic soul of a distant land, a different people. The folk tradition lives but it will not be found at an award show. Music is life. This is life I’m hearing. A cry that is joyful and pained by the same token. It took a long time to get to this place. The music took a long time to get to my and your ears. Our lives have taken us here after such a long journey. The journey never ends, either. Not for life and not for music that embodies the folk tradition.


Did you know Huun Huur Tu tours frequently? I just learned this. They will do U.S. dates in April and again in the fall. If you can see them, you should.

Struggling With Bob Dylan

January 9th, 2015

When I was about about twenty-one years old, I wrote a one-act play called “BOB DYLAN SUCKS”. Bob Dylan is the lead character, with support by Missy Elliot, LL Cool J and Art from Everclear who try to convince him to sell his soul and appear in a TV commercial for GAP clothes. I haven’t gone back to see what I wrote but I remember the end, a group song-and-dance number where Dylan overcomes any sense of self and throws in with the GAP people, culminating in a climax of the jingle “Fall into the GAP” followed by the cruel line “The times, they are a-changin’!” And scene.


I feel the same way about Bob Dylan the way old white guys feel about rap music. I did not listen to a complete Bob Dylan album until last year. That album? Self-Portrait, which is largely regarded as his worst album. Blonde On Blonde, Bringing It All Back Home, Desire, Blood On The Tracks? Nope times four. And it’s not like I hate the guy or his music. I just. . . don’t understand the appeal?


We got done playing and suddenly it was like a lockdown. They rushed you offstage. “You gotta get your equipment off, you gotta clear the area.” We looked out and saw this line of big, black Hummer limousines. Probably six or seven of them in a row. And we thought, dude, fucking Michael Jackson is here. They pull right up to the stage and it’s just Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan is in one. Two guys are in another one. They walk up to the stage. They play. They walk right back down to the limousines as soon as they’re done. The truth of it is, you believe Michael Jackson would have a ridiculous entourage because it seems believable. You would think Bob Dylan would just back amongst all the trailers jamming his acoustic guitar trying to keep warm with us. That’s the story, but that’s not the way it is. It’s weird and that’s the truth. What can you do?


That’s Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips on playing a festival with Bob Dylan. And again, I’m not a Dylan fan, but what does this guy think is gonna happen? “Hey, Bob, I write songs too.” What do you think is gonna happen? Some sort of hootenanny? Bob Dylan was being worshiped as a musical God before Wayne Coyne dropped LSD in his eyeballs for the first time at age eight. I tell you what would have happened: Bob shows up to the party and everybody starts acting weird around him. Then people walk up to him and thank him for all he’s done and he starts feeling weird. Every party feels like a lifetime achievement award ceremony when you’re Bob Dylan. I’d rather hang out in the limo if I had the choice.


In my ripe middle age, I’m going to give Bob a chance. I’ve avoided him all this time. The Colonel recommended Time Out Of Mind to me, so that’s the first Bob record I’m listening to that’s supposed to be good. I’m working on it. Watch this space.


One last thought. Terry Richardson (photographer) once had an exhibition called SON OF BOB, because his father was Bob Richardson, the famous photographer. Jakob Dylan never used SON OF BOB as an album title, which I consider a lost opportunity.

All Tomorrow’s Prophet

September 4th, 2014

One of my favorite concert festivals is All Tomorrow’s Parties. I have never been to any of them, but I enjoy the concept of the festival. The idea being that the festival organizers allow an artist of some renown (in past years, the Flaming Lips, Matt Groening, the guy from the Afghan Whigs, the guy from Neutral Milk Hotel, to name a few) decide on who should play the festival. So it becomes their dream festival (or as much of one as can be mustered under financial and logistical concerns). Think of it like getting a look through someone’s record collection come to life, that’s All Tomorrow’s Parties.


I have never been to the festival because they usually occur far from me. Sometimes they are in Los Angeles or New York or London or Iceland. And it’s not like I’m spoiled for festivals, what with Forecastle to the north of me and Bonnaroo to the south. But ATP is a unique one because it represents a singular vision as opposed to other festivals which offer a broad variety.


I’ve given a little bit of thought to what would happen if ATP just rang me up one day and asked me to curate a festival. A guy can dream, especially knowing that the list of acts I would put together would probably draw a total of 150 paying customers. And that’s over all three days. But I made a list anyway.


In no particular order:



The Tubes


Peter Hammill


R. Stevie Moore




Blue Oyster Cult (probable headliner)


Daniel Johnston


St. Vincent (this will be my only concession to the Pitchfork/Stereogum crowd)


Ultramantis Black


Damo Suzuki Network


Yellow Magic Orchestra




Sloan (performing the entirety of Between The Bridges, which is probably not their best or most popular album)


Unknown Hinson


Unknown Mortal Orchestra


Lee “Scratch” Perry


In addition to music, there will be a wrestling tent. Also we’d have a white-rapper tent but I’ll be damned if I’m going over there. I guess my ultimate goal is to make All Tomorrow’s Juggalo Gathering when you factor that stuff in.


PS – The white rappers have to pay to perform. I would have to make money back on the festival somehow. Maybe a few hundred people would come to the festival I put together here. But they would fly in from all over the world. I would make a few hundred music geeks jizz in their pants with this lineup.


As a gesture of public service, I’d hire Ceelo Green to sit in a dunk tank and charge people to throw baseballs at him, with all the proceeds going to rape crisis and prevention charities. I should also mention that there won’t be a target switch for people to hit with the baseballs, just Ceelo sitting without a fence in front of him.

Remember Marilyn Manson?

May 7th, 2014

Wow. It’s really been a long time. I was just thinking about Marilyn Manson and decided to throw on Anti-Christ Superstar. For once, listening to Marilyn Manson seems like a good idea.


2014 sucks. I need a blast of 1996 to clear all the gunk out of this so-far shitty year. Eighteen years have passed since 1996. I have distinct memories of 1996. I graduated from high school in 1996. Someone born in 1996 graduated from high school in 2014. And that is far from the shittiest thing about 2014, I can assure you.


I need Marilyn Manson right now. It’s five in the morning. Life is a box of dildos when all you need is a fleshlight. How far ahead of the game was he? Then 1998 comes and he drops the fucking ‘Dope Show’ on us? We didn’t know how good we had it. Joe Lieberman blamed the Columbine massacre on Manson even though the two kids who masterminded the thing weren’t Manson fans and music doesn’t cause violence anymore than this blog or your shirt does.


Oh, you don’t remember “The Dope Show”? Fuck you, get your dick out of your ears.



That swings, kids. That’s a club anthem. Strip club, night club, football club, club sandwich, I don’t give a shit.


I was never the biggest MM fan. I had two friends who gave him up when they converted to Christianity (I’m serious). It was just music but I guess they thought Anti-Christ Superstar was a channel to Hell. And the guy thanked Anton LaVey in the liner notes which probably gave them the willies.


Poor Marilyn. Just goes to show that you can’t even come out and plain old say it to their faces in black-and-white English. People are going to get it wrong. We really are a bunch of Mechanical Animals. How long do you yell at people who don’t listen before you start to feel like a tired fool?

Enjoy Feeling Bad

December 17th, 2013

Music can do so many things to us, no matter what stage of life we are at. Music can really soothe us when we are feeling cold, unloved and rabid. Alternately, sometimes people listen to music that drives them crazy. Music that makes them feel cold, unloved, rabid and vicious. You can’t get lost in a movie like you can good music (or even bad music if you are susceptible to it. . . as proof of this, Kiss have just been nominated to the R’N’R Hall of Fame today). Even the music that you listen to for the purpose of feeling bad must have a good purpose the way you use it. Something inside you trying to get out. You find just the right thing to pull it out of you and FEEL it and maybe even enjoy it a bit.


This is where Technology Vs. Horse comes in right now. We are in the gradual process of putting together music for our sixth(!) studio album. Since 2008, we have released three albums with our current lineup. We have tried to make each one better than the one before it. Whether we have succeeded or not is for each listener to decide (and I encourage to you listen for yourselves at and maybe even kick in a few shekels for the mp3s or a CD or something).


Would these men lie to you?

Would these men lie to you?


I don’t know how many songs will end up on album six. I don’t know what the name of it will be or what the cover will look like. The five of us have an idea or two but we’re not committed to anything except really making the most WTF experimental heavy music you’ve ever heard from us. There will not be a “White Girls” moment on album six. . . I assume. We haven’t written one yet. Probably won’t either. If you liked our song “Electric Eels”, there might be some more stuff in that vein only way more depressing and horrifying. Are you ready for a whole album of dark, angry experimental rock? That’s what you’re gonna get.


Enjoy feeling bad.





I Almost Believe In God

December 12th, 2013

I almost believe in God. I actually want to believe but it has been difficult for me, what with all the logic and deductive reasoning and whatnot that contradicts the possibility of a belief.


There is something that logic doesn’t account for, and that is the miracle. I want to believe that there is a God because there are miracles that occur in our life that we can’t account for. I’m not talking about the impossible to believe like Jesus turning water into wine. I’m talking about the unlikely but somehow possible that is the musical career of Stevie Wonder.



Stevie Wonder, blind from birth, learned how to play more musical instruments as a child than most people can name. By twelve, he was a recording star. By age twenty-two, he had negotiated the right to creative autonomy when making his studio albums. By age twenty-six, he had recorded an double-album called Songs In The Key Of Life, which is now in the Library Of Congress.


The song above, “Add Day Sucker”, is not on Songs Of The Key Of Life. It was included as part of a bonus EP that came with that album. I don’t know why “All Day Sucker” is not on the proper Songs album. Presumably, the four songs on the bonus EP were not good enough for the proper double-album. Hard to argue. That album has “Isn’t She Lovely” which wasn’t a single.


“All Day Sucker” slays me. It is, as you might say, a stone groove. Stevie Wonder plays nearly everything on the track. There is a backup singer and three different guitarists on the track. The rest is all Stevie: drums, synth bass, keyboards, Clavinet, and those vocals.


This is a miracle to me. This song wasn’t good enough to be on one of the best albums of all time and it was entirely composed and almost entirely performed in studio by a blind man. I know Prince can play all these instruments and guitar as well, but fuck him because he at least has the gift of sight.


Miracles really do happen. They aren’t completely implausible. They seem implausible sometimes.


Why are you looking at me like that?

Why are you looking at me like that?