Music from My Run

It turns out to be trivially easy to get the list of things I listened to during the River Bank Run off my ipod. So I’m doing it. Read it if you care.

For what it’s worth, I started listening a little bit before the start of the race. Thus, when the actual start came around, I’m pretty sure I was listening to “Hot Cha” by They Might Be Giants.

Also, for what it’s worth? I think this my be the only time I’ve ever attended a big race and not heard “Born to Run” blasting over the loudspeakers at some point. I’ve nothing against the song, but it’s a bit of a cliche by now, I think.

Train – Drops of Jupiter
The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Blue Rondo A La Turk
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Someday I Suppose
They Might Be Giants – Hot Cha
Charles Earland – Westbound #9
R.E.M. – (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville
Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down
Jethro Tull – Aqualung
Tom Petty – A Face in the Crowd
Ben Folds – Rockin’ the Suburbs
Norah Jones – Creepin’ In
The Arcade Fire – Keep the Car Running
The Doors – Break on Through
Jamiroquai – Cosmic Girl
Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity
The Brian Setzer Orchestra – This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof
Yes – Turn of the Century
Clifford Brown – I Get A Kick Out of You
Ben Folds Five – Steve’s Last Night in Town
They Might Be Giants – Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
Laurie Anderson – Strange Angels
R.E.M. – Driver 8
Yes – Close to the Edge
U2 – Surrender
Laurie Anderson – The Dream Before
Primus – Jerry was a Race Car Driver
Charles Earland – Killer Joe
Jethro Tull – Locomotive Breath
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band – Oop Pop A Dah (with Dizzy Gillespie)
The Wallflowers – One Headlight
Yes – Starship Trooper
U2 – “40”
John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom
U2 – Running to Stand Still
The Arcade Fire – (Antichrist Television Blues)
Living Colour – Cult Of Personality
Laurie Anderson – Coolsville
The Beatles – Dear Prudence

Joe Zawinul

At the risk of making this blog a repository of obituaries for artists whose work I’ve enjoyed, I thought I’d mention that Joe Zawinul died today.

Joe Zawinul
was one of the innovators in jazz’s fusion movement, bringing elements of rock into jazz. Among his many contributions, he played with Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley and founded his own band, Weather Report.

While leading Weather Report, he hired Jaco Pastorius, an innovative bass player whose ideas still influence bass players today.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that Zawinul was significant. Check out his music.

Cell Phones

Recently we signed up for cell phone service for another two years. This is a good thing for a couple different reasons.

First, the face of my current phone got smashed when one of my daughters somehow hit the pocket it was in with her knee. As a result, it’s hard to see much of anything on the screen and getting a new, free phone saves me from buying a replacement.

The second reason that getting a new cell phone is a good thing is that the phone that I had was a basic model anyway. Pretty much all you could do with it was talk. This isn’t all bad since that’s all I really want to do with it, but after a while I did begin to lust after extra features–such as the ability to use ringtones that don’t sound like 80’s era midi files.

The phones aren’t here yet, but in my excitement I decided to check out my ringtone options.

They suck.

Well, that’s not quite true. Many of the options for jazz ringtones are ones that I like and wouldn’t mind having on my phone. On the other hand, the options for rock don’t include many of my favorite artists. The Decemberists and Yes don’t make the list. The Beatles are nowhere to be found. If Led Zeppelin was there, I missed it. Didn’t see Ben Folds or Living Colour either.

Also, despite liking much of the jazz, I couldn’t help but note that they didn’t have any Duke Ellington or Charles Earland.

So basically I’m giving serious thought to making my own ringtones. Mind you, I’m not sure that I will, but I’ve got to admit that it annoys me that ringtones typically cost $2.50-$5.00 while you can get the full song from iTunes for a buck.

You may be amused to learn that the Cingular ringtones list does include Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”

Imagine that going off in a meeting.

Beep Goes the Metronome

My wife plays music instruments (flute, piano and voice). I do too (bass guitar, trumpet, a small amount of piano, and voice), but unlike her I haven’t done much playing lately. I’m thinking I’d like to buy a new amp one of these days and then I’d at least be able to practice bass, but I haven’t yet. I’m also tempted to try to buy a bass Chapman Stick.

But back to the main point… My wife actually plays things regularly and thus bought a metronome recently.

For those of you who have forgotten, a metronome keeps an inhumanly steady beat, helping a musician learn how to play with the correct rhythm.

Unlike the metronomes I remember, it’s electronic and has a digital readout. What I find particularly odd is that the metronome never stops running. You just choose to have the sound off or on. Any time you look at the lcd, however, you will always find it on.

That’s when it works correctly.

When it doesn’t work correctly, the sound doesn’t stop either. You continually listen to a high pitch followed by three lower pitches (at least with 4/4 time) and it never stops. Even when you press the sound button, it stays on or stops briefly, but then just turns itself on again for no good reason.

Thus I spent much of this afternoon suddenly hearing…

High pitch
Low pitch
Low pitch
Low pitch

… in perfect 4/4 time. At the moment it started, I would run toward the metronome, press the “sound” button, hoping that the sound would end immediately.

It seldom did.

More often than not, I would press all the buttons on the stupid thing and it might for some random reason decide to briefly stop.

It would start again shortly thereafter.

After a few hours of random metronome noise I began to consider taking outside and placing it on the porch. Beating it with a hammer or taking it back to the store where Kristen bought it sounded like good alternate ideas.

Late in the afternoon, it occurred to Kristen to open the thing up and pull out the battery. Once we put the battery back in, the problems ceased entirely. Thus, it’s fixed.

For now.

TMBG’s: Here Come the ABC’s

This Christmas my sister bought my kids CD’s. One of them was They Might Be Giants’ album Here Come the ABC’s.

As ever with They Might Be Giants, the album is surreal and silly at the same time. It also leads to amusing conversations with children.

There’s a song on the album in which they sing the alphabet all in names of countries. It lead to what follows:

Daughter:That’s not a real country.
Me: What country?
Daughter: (giggling) Surinam
Me: No that’s a real country. It’s in Africa.
Note: I was totally wrong on that one. It’s actually in Latin America.
Me: They’re all real countries.
Daughter: West Xylophone?
Me: Well, maybe not West Xylophone.

Music: The Oak Ridge Boys

My wife likes the Oak Ridge Boys a lot. She’s liked them since the age of eleven.

Can’t place the group? They’ve got two hits that you’ve likely heard: “Elvira” and “American Made.” They sing country and gospel.

My personal musical preferences include jazz, blues, rock (70’s progressive, 80’s-90’s alternative, indie rock), and classical. Sometimes I make brief forays into folk, bluegrass, celtic, ska, reggae, and klezmer. Country and gospel are not on that list. It’s not that I dislike them. I just prefer other things. Bearing that in mind, I went to an Oak Ridge Boys concert tonight. I didn’t go under duress, but let’s just say that it would have never occurred to me to go if I weren’t married.

The Place
To begin, I’d like to mention something about the Deltaplex in Grand Rapids. If you’ve got the money and you’re going to see a concert there, spring for the expensive seats on the floor in front of the band. We sat in the bleachers to the side of the band and there wasn’t much space between the rows. It was okay for my wife, but I’m almost a foot taller than she is and my knees were in the row ahead of me for most of the concert. Fortunately, the seats directly in front of me were empty or I’d have kneed the occupants in the back of the head again and again.

The Singers
Like any band with more than one vocalist, they’ve got the problem of making each person visually distinctive as well as musically distinctive. Thus, they have:

–One Workingman Rocker (with moustache) who pumps his fist on occasion
–One Guy Who Wears a Suit (who has a beard)
–One Guy With a Really Long White Beard and whose clothes often have sparkling pictures on them
–One Guy Who Has a Goatee and a More Elegant Look and also a really DEEP VOICE. As in, he makes all those ominous sounding people who do movie trailers sound like three year old girls by comparison. This guy, obviously, is the bass singer. He is also, according to my wife, “the cute one.”

The first three guys do more lead singing than the bass singer, but that’s not much of a surprise. I’ve sung a bit of bass myself and mostly you spend your time helping other people sound good. This is not a bad thing.

The Concert
When it comes right down to it, I had a good time. The first half of the concert included their hits as will as material from their new album (which includes the song “Hard to Look Cool in a Minivan“). I did not know much of this material. The second half of the concert consisted of Christmas music and was recorded for use on XM Radio.

Despite my lack of knowledge about the genre and lack of strong interest in the material itself, it was pretty obvious that they knew what they were doing and were good at it. I’d go see them again.

I’m more interested in seeing the Decemberists or Ron Carter if there were any chance he’d come to Grand Rapids, but there’s something to be said for a group that can entertain you even though you’re primarily going because your wife is.

Music: Owner of Lonely Heart Cover

As someone who’s been a long time fan of Yes and has some interest in indie rock, I was amused to note that You Ain’t No Picasso posted a link to a band’s cover of “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”

What I find kind of funny about this is that the 60’s-70’s era version of Yes covered some popular hits, modifying them in somewhat bizarre ways. In the 80’s, Yes briefly was a popular band, and, now we have a band covering them, modifying one of their hits in a somewhat bizarre way.

Is Eating Witches Cannibalism?

Jim: Planning on putting up more comics? I can guess you’ve been too busy to draw lately, but I’m looking forward to future comics.

Ed: You know, I’ve been pretty out of it the past few weeks, but I would sure like to get around to drawing more. Nothing’s entered my head as an obvious comic lately, but that’s OK — just sitting around trying to draw one usually gets me *something*, even if it’s sort of a “zen” “lyrics from a favorite song, acted out” comic. :)

Jim: Hmmn. Good thing you haven’t been listening to Yes or REM lately. “A season which to call you from the depths of your disgrace and rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace…”

Ed: I always heard it as “a seasoned witch could call you…” (the rest the same) That’d be an even better picture. :)

Jim: One can only wonder what the witch would be seasoned with.

Ed: hickory smoke I assume

Jim: I can think of several different curry powders that might be good.

Ed: mmm, witch! Yummy!

Indie Rock

I’ve been curious about the current indie rock scene for a couple reasons. First, I’m trying to get back into writing my novel. Many of the characters are college students who are trying to get a band going. I’d like to throw in references to recent bands that they might like as opposed to having the characters’ tastes in music be out of date.

Second, I’ve been reading Questionable Content (a webcomic) lately and get about half of the music references.

It’s kind of funny. Though I wouldn’t call myself particularly knowlegeable about independent rock, I did deejay at Hope College’s radio station and hung around with at least some people who knew a lot about it. Thus, there were about 10 minutes (more than 10 years ago) when I had a good idea of the lay of the indie rock land.

Amusingly, certain attitudes in the indie rock scene haven’t changed.

1. The more obscure a band is, the better it is.
Once a band becomes well known to the general population (and signs on with a major label), it instantly begins to stink and it’s time to find a new favorite band. Questionable Content has a good illustration of that one

Oddly enough, that’s what happened to at least a few of the bands I liked back when I followed indie/alternative rock. Personally, I’ve never believed this one, and don’t find that my enjoyment of someone’s music is sullied by the fact that more than five people now know of their existence.

2. If the music came out before a certain date, it’s by definition less interesting than new music.
As someone with a strong interest in jazz, I’ve never been able to buy into this assumption. There is great new stuff coming out in jazz, but it’s got a history that you can’t ignore. Mind you, people in the jazz community used to have this attitude as well.

Anyway, the sidebar of this comic has a good example of this assumption in action.

Music changes, but human beings don’t change much at all.