12 June 2017

Some Songs That Inspired My Band

My band GYROJETS has been around for about 5 years now and I think a lot about the things that have influenced me. Some of these are old songs that for many years have made me want to start a band in the first place. I started going in order but then the list degenerated into all the influences that I wish I was talented enough to rip off. And finally, as always, I just ended up in Japan. This was a lot of fun and all I did was ask myself: What makes you pick up your guitar but also then inspires you to keep going back over and over even though it never feels like you've done your favorite artists justice?

04 March 2016

Yidl mitn Fidl

cross posting:

I had a song stuck in my head. It was playing on a loop through most of the afternoon. I input the lyrics into a search box and found out that the primary refrain of my song was a movie: Yidl mitn Fidl or Yiddle with his Fiddle. According to the National Center for Jewish Cinema, Yidl mitn Fidl was "the most commercially successful musical in the history of the Yiddish cinema." The story about a penniless father and daughter who become traveling musicians has songs, but not the song stuck in my head. There is a clip of "Yidl mitn Fidl" from the movie on the Jewish Women's Archive and also a version by the Klezmer Quartett Heidelberg:
A cursory search of the internets found "Yiddle on your Fiddle play some Ragtime" by Irving Berlin.  
This was also not the song stuck in my head. When I went home last night, I searched through our newly organized record collection for the song. I knew I had heard it in the house, on our little multi-function record machine. I was unsuccessful. Then, while watching Sense and Sensibility I had a brainstorm and went to our CD cabinet. I found Music From the Yiddish Radio Project and on it was Yidl mitn Fidl by the Barry sisters, and Eureka! That was it, so I share it with you. Enjoy!

21 December 2015

Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler

It's rare to find a wholly original, well done, and digestible Christmas album.  Every Christmas song was new at some point right, but lately all I hear from modern artists are old songs.  Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler's This is Christmas album is not new people singing the same old songs...it is immeasurably better.

Happy Holidays.

15 October 2015

Henry Hall

This time of year our in car listening consists of our Halloween mix.  One of the stars on this mix in Henry Hall.


03 September 2015

Random Japanese Punk Rock

I hope you're doing well.


02 September 2015

The Librarians

Long ago, when I hung out on MySpace and clicked through the friends of bands to the friends of bands in the hope of finding something cool, I found The Librarians' song 'Peach and Quiet.' 

I worked in a library, so of course I was immediately hopeful, and then they didn't disappoint.  The Librarians have an awesome kind of punk rock.  I reminded myself of them this morning, and then I found more.




03 August 2015

Songs for tomorrow

Cross Blogging from the LeEMS Bean:

chorus: let's sing an endless song for this shitty world. let's sing an endless song for all of these useless beings. let's sing an endless song for me, you and them. let's sing an endless song to make sure you'll laugh on tomorrow.
there has been often times that i feel like i'm done for. because people were just passing me by, and i was crying in all alone in night.
there has been often times that i feel like i wanna get out of here. because the moment that the truth shows up is always fearful.
i don't like to have some chattings with people if you are misunderstanding me, it's not your fault. but i'll never forget you.
let's sing an endless song for this shitty world. let's sing an endless song for all of these useless beings. let's sing an endless song the nights i had cried in all alone. let's sing an endless song the days people call me "nuts"!!
There's always tomorrow, tomorrow's a new day In my youth I have dreams. Someday surely, someday surely You'll come to understand this. There's always tomorrow, there's always tomorrow, tomorrow is a new day.
There's a guy from work who went off to form his own company And I'm left behind at my job. I convince myself, that there's no need to rush, there's still plenty of time. there's always tomorrow, there's always tomorrow, tomorrow is a new day.
My new superior is French. Not even body language gets through to him this is my big chance, this is my big chance It could be good studying. there's always tomorrow, there's always tomorrow, tomorrow is a new day.
One day I suddenly thought What am I killing myself for ? For my family ? For myself ? The answer is in the wind. there's always tomorrow, there's always tomorrow, tomorrow is a new day.
"Kids these days" often say it but, things are much better than when I was young Let's overlook, let's overlook the fact that they can't even speak properly. there's always tomorrow, there's always tomorrow, tomorrow is a new day.
There's always tomorrow, tomorrow's a new day In my youth I have dreams. Someday surely, someday surely You'll come to understand this. there's always tomorrow, there's always tomorrow, tomorrow is a new day.

30 July 2015

The Electric Prunes

Watching The Name of the Game is Kill and enamored of a song that a willowy blond danced to in an eerily tense scene.  I am all surprise that I hadn't already heard these in my Dad's van way back when.

And one of their big hits:


27 February 2015

Leonard Nimoy

He was everyone's alien. For almost half a century there was always a Mr. Spock. Most of us were born into a world where Spock always existed. Leonard Nimoy was also a prolific director, photographer, poet, and singer. He even mastered the eyebrow thing long before The Rock. Along with William Shatner's music, he's always been a personal favourite of mine, so much so that in 2008 with Richard's help I had planned to cover his entire 'The Touch Of Leonard Nimoy' album until that plan was shelved with my own hospital stay.

I've always loved his voice and have always described it as avuncular. And that's what he was, really--he was everyone's uncle, part of all of our families, an ever-present figure in our homes and hearts. A huge accomplishment for a being who was supposed to be devoid of being swayed by emotion. I cannot think of a figure from any stories more beloved and cherished than Mr. Spock, and beyond that the man that was Leonard Nimoy.

Of course I plan on watching some of his films to remember him by, even pulled out his autobiographies, 'I Am Not Spock' and 'I Am Spock'. But more than that, I've been listening to his wonderful albums, with this song in particular:

The world is a sadder place with his passing. But his final Tweet, from just 4 days ago, puts it all in perspective...

'A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP'

Goodbye, and thank you.

25 February 2015

The Mexican Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Oslo

La Misión.

I was in my teens during the last trip from Florida I took to see my grandparents’ house in La Misión, Baja California, Mexico. They had retired to their second home after selling their big house and the condo. Gorgeous setting, a huge house with a proper courtyard where they would hold parties. The house itself was two houses, the main one being a split-level home with a basement and lots of rooms. The second (the Lower 40) was a guest house the size of a regular home, and us cousins would take over that house every time. Both houses had lots of alcoves for siestas and spaces to just enjoy the view. The entire property was on a cliff overlooking a river that went to the Pacific Ocean, which was about 1/2 a mile away. The view was amazing--hills in the background, this valley running below, and the ocean always roaring.

It was probably the third or fourth time I traveled from Tampa to Los Angeles by train with my mom. It was over the Christmas holidays and the whole family was there. The most amazing thing about this trip is that my father bought and brought me my Christmas gift. My dad had to fly out a little later because of work, and I'm not sure how he did it, but he managed to bring an unwrapped BB-rifle on his plane flight, through his connections, and across the border into another country without any questions or anything. He even had the BBs and sharpened pellets to shoot. I'm still in awe as to how he managed to do it, but both of my parents have always been awesome.

Anyway, as a family (that being all the cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) we planned a shopping trip down to Ensenada. I remember being really keen on trying to find a leather biker jacket on this trip because all the cool musicians were wearing them—and when I say ‘cool’ I don’t mean Sid Vicious, Lemmy, and the Ramones, I meant like Wham!, Nena, and Adam Ant.

Downtown Ensenada.

Back in these days Ensenada wasn’t the clean, sanitized cruise ship port that it is today. Neither was it the sin and cesspool of Tijuana. It was just a smaller, hardworking, friendly town complete with street vendors and some small touristy traps. The street food was awesome and not at all dodgy. There were lots of places to buy silver jewelry, Chicklets, serapes, and sandals made from cut up tires, but alas, no leather jacket. However, I did find a vendor on the street selling cassette tapes of contemporary artists. I suppose they were official, or at least ‘official copies’ of the official releases, it didn’t matter--$2 tapes of bands I usually paid $10 for was a steal. I bought two tapes. The first was a compilation of hits of the past few years, things like Baltimora’s ‘Tarzan Boy’, Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free’, and other lesser-known-in-the-US Pop hits. The second choice was the follow up album to what was one of my favourite newer bands, and I figured the album couldn’t live up to the debut but it was worth at least $2. That album was called ‘Scoundrel Days’ and it was from the Norwegian band called a-ha.

God bless the internet, everything is there!
(Courtesy of http://a-hadiscography.co.uk/a-ha/album1.htm#sd)

We drove back to the house. The trip up the coast gave me enough time to put on my headphones and catch some of my new purchase. With the ocean to our left I hit play and sat back to watch the scenery for the 50km ride. It also marked my first real affinity for Scandinavian music.

Most of the ride home looked like this.

The album was mysterious, amazing, and grand. These were all hinted at with the 'Hunting High And Low' (another cross-country album for me--'Living A Boy's Adventure Tale' while riding across Wyoming will be with me forever), but this album had no limit. It's plaintive melodies echoed across the wide Mexican horizon like a restless wind. It was heart-breaking, beautiful, desperate, and alien in a foreign country. Maybe it was the grips of teenage-angst or perhaps just a nearly perfect album with some perfect songs, but it all worked. Even the album cover seemed to relate to my surroundings, repeat them, and make them feel even stranger.

The Norwegians.

The Mexicans.
My grandparents' house is actually behind the red building in the picture.

From then on, this was the only tape I played for the entire trip. On a previous visit I bonded much the same way in this stark and stunning landscape with The Alarm's 'Strength' album, but I had other diversions. Here, the cassette stayed on repeat. I would imagine that whoever owns that home now has 'The Swing Of Things', 'Manhattan Skyline', and 'The Soft Rains Of April' still reverberating in those walls. And all of this at Christmastime, which would be the last one with my grandmother (the last memory of her as I peered out the back of the van window and watching her waving goodbye to us). Really, it was the last one with our entire family. These songs rooted themselves deeply into what would be come that sense of finality. The soundtrack to a happy and yet melancholy time. Every beautiful and pained melody that Morten sang still resonates with all the joy and goodbyes of not realizing that a moment, a piece of who you are, is about to slip away. And though this album is still as important to me today, the seeds that were planted deep in myself didn't come to bloom until years later. Not that they were sad memories, but just that they make us who we are and never to forget where we've been. Those blooms were only of fondness and love. Words can do that more instantaneously when heard in song than when written on a page.

To quote the last lines of the 'Red Dwarf' novel, 'Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers': 'He made his way down the hill to his personal Shangri-La. There, in the middle of the street, a pink neon sign hung over a shimmering archway. There was his exit, just as he'd imagined it. On the other side was reality. It started to snow. Christmas Eve...he couldn't leave them on Christmas eve...

'But of course, in Bedford Falls it was always Christmas Eve.'