Monday, November 16, 2009

Things I don't understand #75...

...How sex is used to sell almost everything.

Welcome to "Music Monday", sort of. Today might seem a little esoteric, but you should try wondering through my mind some time. I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised to see the example I've chosen on the right. For an artist with the somewhat limited range and musical talent of Rihanna, not to mention her target audience, she probably needs to use every asset(ah-hum) at her disposal. See Britney Spears. See Lady GaGa. See Beyonce. See Shania Twain. Sex sells pop music. Sex sells R&B. Sex sells country. Got it. Got it. And got it. Now what I didn't expect was this.

One day while perusing the Amazon mp3 selection I noticed their free download of the day was some opera number. I thought,"Why not?" Everyone could use a little culture, even me, plus the price was right. Sure, it probably won't take, but I've got a pretty big hard drive(if you know what I mean). So as I was downloading the song, I glanced at the "Customers Who Bought This Song's Album Also Bought" area that featured various covers from various classical and opera albums. Now, this it not pop. Or R&B. And definitely country. Those things are products of the music industry, this is art. This is the high-minded world of the hoity-toity music lover. Surely, they wouldn't fall prey to the basest of instincts in us. After all, they just care about the music...the opulence of a string section...the power of a well trained mezzo-soprano. Surely this crowd would not be swayed by a hot chick on the cover. Right? Well, this is just a sample of what I saw:

Okay...So we all have our weaknesses. Sure, no one's wearing a barbed wire bikini, but I'm not overwhelmed by a sense that we're focusing on the music here. I really don't know why this struck me so(ok, I probably know one reason), but it just seems so odd to me. The juxtaposition of, "Hey, you should be listening to these really important works of art...and you can know this because they're performed by hot chicks." Isn't that basically Bud Light's strategy? And we all know what Bud Light tastes like. Now St. Pauli Girl, that's a beer.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Things I don't understand #74...

...Why we don't:
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

That day is fast approaching, but it seems it did get forgot. I don't know about you, but I really had no idea about Guy Fawkes or his day until I watched the movie V is For Vendetta. The "Gunpowder Treason" could be described as an "overreaction" by some about the lack of Catholics in Parliament. What Guy Fawkes and his band decided to do was basically fill the basement underneath Westminster with gunpowder and then let'er blow during the opening day. Obviously they were found out, since tours of Parliament can be undertaken without one being submerged in the River Thames. And even though he failed, we can thank Mr. Fawkes for the fact that "Guy" is a generic term for a man. (Yeah Guy!)

Despite it's notorious element, it would seem that Fawkes legacy has become one of a revolutionary out to thwart tyranny. And that would be the theme of V is For Vendetta. In this case "V", decides to take on the whole of the futuristic, fascist British government while dressed in a black cape and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. And in the process it has become one of my favorite movies...of all time(echo, echo, echo). So much so, that I've instituted my own tradition of celebrating Guy Fawkes Day by watching said motion picture. Feel free to join me. Showtime is tomorrow at probably around 8 p.m., my place. There might also be chili (not because of any sort of tradition, I just like chili).

Monday, November 02, 2009

Things I don't understand #73...

...If the Old 97's would teach me how to write songs.

Welcome to Music Monday! My path to becoming an Old 97's fan was a bit of a circuitous one. Because they are a Dallas band and I grew up near there, I had heard of them when I went off to college. But because they were what would have been considered an indie band, I had never really come across their music. Until one fateful day in Abilene when scouring the used CD bins at Hastings I came across Wreck Your Life for $3. Done. I then promptly put it in my CD player, listened to it once, and...didn't really think about it much after that. Weird.

But then about four years later, in another used CD store, I stumbled upon the album you see above. After giving it about a 10 second listen at the store,Too Far to Care was mine and I was Old 97's (too gay?). I thought the entire thing was one of the best records I had ever heard (still do). I then went back and listened to Wreck Your Life and realized what an idiot I had been and just missed it the first time around.

What I had missed was some great turns of phrase in the lyrics. Lines like:
I've got my wife, the other women, and the whiskey killing me.
The first two make it so that I see red. The third one makes it so that I can't see.

The way she tossed 'em back
I would've had a heart attack.
But as it is I let her drive my car.

We can't forget
Every other day is a kick in the shins
Every other day it's like the day just wins
But you make it all right, you make it OK
You make me sorta glad that I waited till today

And probably my favorite
If that phone don't ring one more time,
I'm gonna lose what's left of my mind.
You made a big impression for a girl of your size,
Now I can't get by without you and your big brown eyes.

I mean, come on, even Phil Jackson quotes them. They my be one of the few bands that I can quote, to some degree of accuracy, almost every song in their catalog. Anyhoo, they released a new album this year. Blame It On Gravity was good. Probably their best album in a while, but there was one song that made me jealous. It was so good that it made me wish that I had written it. It's a fairly simple country song sung not by their lead singer but by bassist Murry Hammond(which would seem to indicate he wrote that particular ditty). But despite all the clever wordplay and rollicking tunes that fill their catalog, I think this might be the best song they ever wrote. Maybe the perfect country song. Oh, it's called "Color Of A Lonely Heart Is Blue". So give it a listen and tell me why I'm wrong and my jealousy is misplaced. (I'm not and it isn't.)