She’s built for speed.

paul-grohl2I’m rewatching the History of Rock ‘N’ Roll series that was made for TV in 1995 and marveling at the phenomenal way art morphs over time — sometimes gracefully, sometimes forcefully, but always ceaselessly and always by necessity. I had many rites of passage in my adolescence, but two stand out: being required to learn how to change a tire before I could get my driver’s license (thanks, dad!), and watching the History of Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Continue reading “She’s built for speed.”

She’s built for speed.


One of those ancient MySpace/Facebook quiz things.

1)Don’t take too long to think about it.
2) List Twenty-one Albums you’ve heard that will always stick with you. First twenty-one you can recall – not in order of greatness!
3) Tag a few friends, including me because I’m interested in seeing what albums my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your 21 picks, and tag people in the note)

1) Rubber Soul – The Beatles
2) Beggars’ Banquet – The Rolling Stones
3) Moondance – Van Morrison
4) Hits – Joni Mitchell
5) Breakfast in America – Supertramp
6) Mr. A-Z – Jason Mraz
7) Greatest Hits – James Taylor
8) Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan
9) Gold – ABBA (sorry. I thought a lot about it, but it’s true. I can’t imagine my life (or, rather, my relationship with my mom) without ABBA.)
10) Juno (soundtrack) – Kimya Dawson & others
11) Stop Making Sense – Talking Heads
12) Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club
13) Sympathique – Pink Martini
14) Lonely at the Top – Randy Newman
15) Nilsson – Harry Nilsson
16) Dial-a-Song – They Might Be Giants
17) Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
18) Orange Crate Art – Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks
19) Negotiations & Love Songs – Paul Simon
20) Car Wheels on a Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams
21) Greatest Hits – Simon and Garfunkel

Close runners-up, either because they’re more recent, or just because of the sheer number of times I played them:
1 – The Beatles
Greatest Hits – Heart
Greatest Hits – Pat Benatar
Standing in the Shadows of Motown (soundtrack) – The Funk Brothers (+Various motown artists)
A Mighty Wind (soundtrack) – Various
This Is Spinal Tap (soundtrack) – Spinal Tap
Come On Feel The Illinoise – Sufjan Stevens
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Continuum – John Mayer

Tell me yours!


Still the best band at warp speed?

There are many, many crazy people in this world. In some, their brand of ‘crazy’ manifests itself as genius.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the following internet gem is genius, but it certainly is innovative and imaginative. This is a mash-up of 12 Beatles albums (the UK releases), played chronologically at 800x their normal speed. It takes an hour to get through them all and, yes, I did listen to the whole thing.

What can I say? It was tempting. It’s the Beatles! And as some people in my life know, I’m hardcore dedicated to the band and all trivia associated with them. So, I had to listen.

I ate lunch, painted my nails, followed along in iTunes, and experienced this weirdness.

The first few albums were extremely difficult to get through. The songs aren’t really distinguishable and they all just sound like generic… well, generic crap.

But after that, things pick up and the individual albums sort of become different masterpieces on their own. It’s not good as music goes, maybe not even as most experimental creations go, but it is inventive and new, which was all I was looking to get out of it.

My major complaints with this endeavor were:
First, the accompanying video clips are ridiculous. They don’t make any sense, have no context, and (for the most part) aren’t even entertaining or enjoyable to look at.
Second, the breaks between songs should have been omitted. In that way, the creation would have been more novel. It wouldn’t have just been like jamming Beatles songs together; it would have been like a whole new 61-minute song. I would have liked that.

At least spend a couple minutes on it: maybe one minute at the beginning and then about 45 minutes in. Or, if you really can’t stand to listen to it at all, just read Nick Gall’s comment from July 26, 2011. Hilarious.

Still the best band at warp speed?

Sai Guru Deva (or: An overdue homage to four handsome young men)

I woke up this morning staring at my “Abbey Road” album cover poster. I listened to “Good Day Sunshine” on my iPod, and I put on a Magical Mystery Tour shirt. Now, for fear of being ostracized by the Evergreen community for being too mainstream, I’ll assert my hipness: I do listen to bands you’ve never heard of, I own vinyl, and sometimes I even wear plaid. But my roots are with the Beatles, and most of the time I think I owe any of my good taste and creativity to them.

It started when I was 9. I looked over my parents’ shoulders as they read the paper and saw a picture of four very handsome young men. “Who are they?!” I asked. My poor parents must have thought they had failed as guardians and educators. “Well, they’re the Beatles!” they said. “Who are the Beatles?” I asked. Again, faces of dismay.

“They were a band when we were growing up, but they’re still very popular.”

“Were they bigger than Britney Spears?” (In retrospect, that moment may have been one of the lowest points of my life.) Their faces of dismay turned into faces of disgust. Britney Spears was pretty much the only contemporary pop star I knew about; I listened to music my parents listened to (motown, 90s adult contemporary like Randy Newman and Van Dyke Parks) but didn’t ask questions about who they were or to what era they belonged.

“Yes. They were much bigger than Britney Spears. They still are. They were bigger than Jesus.” My dad probably smirked as he said that, but I would have no idea what it meant ’til years later.

“Well, were they any good?”

My dad probably hesitated a bit. He would have wanted to remain loyal to the memory of the Beatles, but he knew in fact that some of their material was mediocre at best.

“The best,” my mom said.

Someone gave me a homemade CD copy of “1,” (still a bit obscure in 1999) and it was well-loved and scratched within a week. I didn’t know what the song titles were, so I made the track list up myself. When I checked them perhaps years later, some of them, like “Yesterday,” were spot on. Others were called things like, “Blue Suburban Skies,” “Christ, You Know It Ain’t Easy,” and “Back to Where You Once Belonged.” I pinned the original picture from the paper on my wall. And I started asking questions.

Suddenly all I wanted to know was about the music my parents listened to when they were growing up. Then all I wanted to know was each story that went with the songs. First they told me where they were when the Beatles arrived in the United States, where they were during that first Ed Sullivan TV show. That continued with every other “parent-era” icon I discovered: Hendrix, the Stones, Van Morrison, Heart, Supertramp…

But it’s with the Beatles that I’ve developed some of the best memories of my own. They’ve brought me closer to some of my best friends, and they’ve made me realize some of my worst friends. My best friend back home was Em, who was new to my school in 8th grade. Even then I think I knew that she would become a great person, but I never knew she was going to be my friend. By the end of week one, she had somehow proven her astounding knowledge of Beatles trivia, and I was not to be outdone. I swore she was my rival. That was the year my grades started to slip, and I focused on academics less. I’m not blaming the Beatles… but maybe it was the fact that I started making flash cards for their notable recording dates rather than my science class. Anyway, by the end of week two of knowing her we were best friends. I guess if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Eventually my passion led me to disassociate myself with some so-called friends. In 10th grade, this kid came up to me and said that his pastor had told him not to listen to the Beatles, and that they were un-Christian. Then he handed me a packet of quotes and song lyrics and famous musicians that his pastor (or something) had deemed sacrilegious (or something). It included some admittedly incriminating quotes by Metallica and Kurt Cobain, but there were also some lines by artists like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. James Taylor and Joni Mitchell! “The secret o’ life is enjoying the passage of time” and “bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air”?!

At the time, I vowed never to listen to or intentionally befriend someone who didn’t like the Beatles, but later I realized it was bigger than that. I vowed never to listen to or intentionally befriend someone who was so literal and narrow-minded. I think I’ve done pretty well, with a few exceptions, but that’s not the point. Some people aren’t literal or narrow minded, and they just don’t like the Beatles like I do. And I’m friends with a few of those people, and I’m ok with that. They can snigger or shake their heads at the numerous Beatles posters to which I wake up every morning, and I’m ok with that.

They can say that “All You Need Is Love” is too contrived and unimaginative, but I can still love it and deeply appreciate the fact that it begins with the French national anthem.

They can say that “Good Day Sunshine” is too simple and too cheery, but I can still listen to it every Groundhog day, especially if there isn’t 6 more weeks of winter.

They can say that “the Beatles are bigger than Jesus” is irreparable and condemning damage to the reputation of what might have otherwise been a great band, but I can know better. The character in the movie “Pirate Radio” called The Count says, “there will always be poverty and pain and war and injustice in this world but there will, thank the lord, also always be the Beatles.” I can guarantee you that more people in this world have listened to the Beatles than have read even one passage of the New Testament. That’s not sacrilegious; that’s fact. And that gives me more hope that there may not always be poverty and pain and war and injustice in the world than to know that there are approximately 2.1 billion Christians in the world. Sai guru deva.

Sai Guru Deva (or: An overdue homage to four handsome young men)

Yoko Oye.

I also follow Yoko Ono on Twitter, which was an embarrassingly huge step for me. It has taken me years to recognize the profound love than she and John shared, no matter how much it may have negatively affected John’s other relationships.

Anyway, I love it when people recognize that the first step towards peace is letting people know it’s out there. Peace exists; let us find it within ourselves first, and then learn how to spread it. Yoko, at least from her Tweets, seems like that kind of person, and I can really respect that. Plus, whatever she’s doing for “art” is a step in the right direction, so I want to praise her for actually trying.

Come to think of it, [and please excuse the shameless way I say “we” through all this, as if I were there], I have a few things for which we can at least recognize, if not praise, her.

  • Dealing with all of us Beatles freaks who wanted to do very un-Lennon/Ono-like things to her. People have been against her since the day she stepped into John’s life and came out of the woodwork. A part of me thinks that the world wouldn’t have reacted half as strongly if John had settled down with some gorgeous American blonde bimbo, just because it would have made more sense. After all, those were the “type” he’d fallen for before. But then came this Japanese slice of nothing, and suddenly he was head-over-heels for her. And instead of shaking our heads and sighing and just being happy for him, we were outraged. Not only were there tons of things wrong with her… there was nothing right about her! What did he see in her? blah blah blah. Then, to top it all off, The Beatles just *happened* to break up, and regardless of how much influence Yoko had over that in the studio, there was no mistaking the fact that John was obviously distracted and otherwise engaged. But… well, there is no “but.” The break-up was an absolute tragedy. If there was some good light about it all, though, it would be that John was [apparently] happier than ever. And as long as he was still making great music, we should have been thrilled that he had found love.
  • Dealing with John’s passing as well as she did. I cannot imagine her devastation, and frankly I’m impressed that she was able to pull through it (especially since she sort of had to carry the weight of the rest of the world’s mourning as well).
  • Pushing the boundaries. Since I haven’t really warmed up to her for very long, I haven’t seen any of the work she’s produced. I’ve heard about some of it, though, like the 8-hour video of a fly crawling up a naked woman’s body. You can’t tell me that had been done before. Yoko pushed the boundaries of art in a way that the Beatles pushed the boundaries of rock. …Ok, maybe not that much, but both are an inspiration.
  • Staying in the public eye. I used to hate her for this. Why couldn’t she just disappear back into the woodwork from whence she came, so we wouldn’t have to deal with her always talking about how amazing John was and what her new project is? In fact, I think we all sort of wished she’d shut up altogether–about peace, about art, about the Beatles, about herself… I don’t really know why. Maybe because even though we’d had 10 or 11 years, we hadn’t quite gotten used to her. Maybe we were hoping that John would get bored and call the whole thing off or make it an extended fling. But she ended up his widow, and she wasn’t going to let us ignore that.

“Oye” means “listen” in Spanish (correct me if I’m wrong–I took French), and I think Yoko deserves that from us. She’s pretty much the closest remaining piece of John that we have; maybe we should cherish that. After all that she’s been through, she hasn’t turned bitter and she’s still preaching John’s message of peace. Far from excommunicating Yoko Ono, let’s join her in wanting war to be over.

Yoko Oye.