Tag Archives: music

Harnessing the Artist

3 Apr

I’m not positive that any of my readers know this, friend or otherwise, but this girl considers herself an artist. I tend to post raw, unedited stories and memories and persuasions, but only because I don’t feel the need to edit myself. Whether it is music, or clay, or paint, or words…the facets of art live within me.

As an artist, I find I suffer from the same tragedy that, say, comedians do. My best work is done when I’m at a low point in life. When I’m down, and out…anyone who has ever read a story I’ve written knows that I can’t do happy. Happy endings don’t exist in my writing, no matter how hard I try. I’ll write horror, and suicide, and abuse…and that could very well be due to the state I have to be in for the creative juices to flow. Believe it or not, I’m pretty handy with a pencil when I’m at that low point to…put on the music, get in the zone, and draw it all away.

The hardest part about being an artist is finding that inspiration to make art when you’re happy. I have so many ideas for short stories (I don’t think I could ever write a novel), that my head swims with the ideas. I just can’t put pencil to paper (or fingers to keys) when I’m happy, though. When I try…the quality is crap.

But I don’t want to trade in my happiness for a gift, no more than I want to trade in my gift for happiness.

Writers, painters, musicians…artists out there…have you found a way to harness that feeling of inspiration, even when you’re out of your mood?

No Apologies Needed

8 Jan

 

Please watch this music video if you haven’t. I want you to watch it before you read what I have to say.

And of course, as you all should know, I love Shia, but my frustration has little to do with him.

This video that you just watched, in case you were unable to tell, is interpretive dance. The job of the dancers, Shia and Maddie, is to give a message to the audience of the emotions that fill the story line. It is the job of the audience to interpret it, and because we all have different perceptions and realities, each interpretation with be undoubtedly different.

But Sia, the creator of the video, just apologized for it. To me, that is an abomination; you should never apologize for art. If you need to apologize for something, apologize for the underlying emotions, apologize for your story, apologize that you had no control over how life played out, but under no circumstances should someone apologize for art.

She apologized because of the pedophilia tones that some who watched this video perceived. Here is a Rolling Stones article detailing a little bit about the apology and complaints.

What bothers me most about all of this is that I don’t see anything that even whispers pedophilia or child molestion/abuse. I see personality. I see a joking, teasing child and a curious, wary adult. I see a strong man looking for escape, and a young girl not yet clouded by the fog of adulthood. At no point do I see anything perverse.

This screams to how our society sees men, and how our innocence is so lost that the only thing we can see in an interaction between a girl and a man or a man and a woman is one of sexual regard. Had Shia been played by a woman, no one would have thought twice.

And if it is the dancers in question, I can’t begin to imagine that these two people had anything more than a professional interaction.

Was Sia correct in apologizing for her video and casting choices? At which point did you see pedophilia, if you saw any at all? What do you think this says about you, and our culture?

My Secrets: A Challenge

21 Aug

I tell you all so many times that I try to be open and honest, that I don’t lie, and that I have nothing to hide. Well, I was listening to the radio the other day and this wonderfully somewhat unrefined song came on by Mary Lambert. All she had to do was sing “I’m overweight. I’m always late.” and I was hooked. Because damn. Am I.

So I sat down tonight, after thinking about myself for a long while, and made my best attempts to alter her song to fit me. Some of the lines I kept (like the ones I just quoted) because they fit me so well. Some I altered only slightly because they are good lines, and kind of rep “me”. And then others I took out completely, because sorry, but the last time I checked (which honestly, was never), I’m not bipolar. Nor am I afraid of the dentist.

Please read. Please enjoy. Song-writing is not my strong suit, so I’m sure its even rougher in places than it was to start with (I liked that quality about this song). And I challenge you to make your own version and share it with us.

Because, as Mary Lambert says about hiding ourselves: I’m over it.

Here is a link to her music video: Mary Lambert – Secrets

I’ve got no money to speak of
I can’t get enough love
I procrastinate
I’m always late
I’ve got too many things to say

I rock bikinis
skinny jeans
Try to suppress my feelings

my motives are questionable 
but my friends and I are there for each other

They tell us from the time were young
to hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves
inside ourselves
I know I’m not the only one who spent so long
attempting to be someone else
well I’m over it

I don’t care if the world know what my secrets are, secrets are
I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are, secrets are
so what
so what
so what
so what

I’m a fat kid
I like cake
sometimes I hide
my mistakes
Too sensitive
Do my best to live
And never know what I’ll miss

and I’m passive aggressive
I’m scared that my future’s horrendous
I love my butt; you can’t make me shut up
and I’ll never really give up

They tell us from the time we’re young
to hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves
inside ourselves
I know I’m not the only one
who spent so long attempting to be someone else
well I’m over it

I don’t care if the world know what my secrets are, secrets are
I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are, secrets are
so what
so what
so what
so what

I don’t care if the world know what my secrets are, secrets are
I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are, secrets are
so what
so what
so what
so what
so what
so what

Please join in this challenge. Comment your song (or link to it). And if you’re brave enough to sing it, I will gladly listen.

Secrets can destroy us from the inside out sometimes, and the best way to get rid of that power they seem to have over us is to scream them to the world and either embrace them, or to free them.

OH!! And share this. Because I really would love if everybody took a moment to think about the things they may hide or alter and realize how silly it may be. 

My Journey Through Music: Country

12 Sep

 

I have to say, before anything else, that country was especially difficult to get through. My apologies for how long it took me to get through this.

I had a whole bunch of help on this one. I had help from Carolina Courtland, my cousin Josh, and a friend, Ryan. I had to sort through 41 artists, which I knew very little about, and pick 10 to listen to. There was a bit of overlap, so I took the ones that they all had in common, and narrowed it down like that. This is what I came up with:

Patsy Cline
Dolly Parton
Hank Williams (Sr.)
Johnny Cash
Kenny Rogers
Garth Brooks
Reba McEntire
George Strait
George Jones
Willie Nelson

Once again, I listened to 7 songs each, picked from a list of top ten songs. That’s also the order I listened to them in, and the reason this took so long was that (unfortunately for any die-hard fans out there) I couldn’t make it through 7 songs of Hank Williams. I tried, and I tried. The first two songs I listened to – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and Lovesick Blues – weren’t all that bad. When I reached my third song, Your Cheatin’ Heart, I just couldn’t do it. I had that “Ohhhhh Godddddd” moment the moment it came on. The high point of my Hank Williams experience was when I listened to Hey, Good Lookin. My dad used to sing that growing up, and I didn’t know it was an actual song. Its the perfect example of some catchy, sing-whenever-you-want lyrics, but some not-so-great music.

There were a few artists that were so-so, and I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on. Dolly Parton was the first, and although I recognized this song right away, I liked Glee’s version of Jolene much better. Reba McEntire, George Jones, and George Strait were right after one another, and none of them really impressed me. None of them were bad, but I just didn’t get a whole lot of feeling from any of their songs.

Now, back to the beginning. The first artist I listened to was Patsy Cline, and I adore her. I looked forward to listening to country when I was done listening to her. Crazy was the first song I listened to, and it had a sound similar to other non-country artists of the time. It was a sound that I liked, and her voice is beautiful.

Johnny Cash was the next artist that stood out, but I was already slightly familiar with his music. My mom loves him, so when I was in middle and high school, we would listen to it sometimes. The songs I Walk the Lineand Folsom Prison Blues were enjoyable to listen to, and I think its because they were different than all the other songs. I wasn’t crazy about any of the other ones; they were more like talking with music in the background than singing.

Kenny Rogers had more of a rock-and-roll quality than any of the artists, and so I naturally enjoyed his music. Just Dropped In and Coward of the County were my two personal faves.

After Kenny Rogers was Garth Brooks. I had to laugh a little bit when he began to sing because his voice was the epitome of country singer…low and twangy. As I listened to his songs, I found myself swooning a little over the man, and when he was younger he was definitely a looker. The last song I listened to was Rodeo and in an instant all of those feelings were gone – until I realized, that is, that the song I was listening to was him at all. It was a terrible song by somebody else, so I found his actual song and felt better. The Thunder Rolls and The River were the two songs I enjoyed most by him.

Last, but definitely not least, I listened to Willie Nelson. Him and Patsy Cline were are tied for my favorite country artist (from this list, at least…I’ll give you the scoop later). I enjoyed listening to all of his songs, and because I was building a bookshelf at the time, listened to some of them more than once. My personal favorite was Always On My Mind. It reminds me of my parents, for whatever reason. I also discovered that he, too, sings the song The Scientist. This song is the reason I don’t listen to Coldplay; I just can’t stand it. But his version was better, even though I still wasn’t completely sold.

After listening to 70 country songs, I still can’t say that I like country much more than I did before, but now I know that at least I can listen to it and, to some degree, enjoy it. Oh, and thanks for being patient with me!

Do you like country? What do you think of the list? Would you make any revisions to the artist list (or song list, if you’ve been listening)?

My Journey Through Music: Ska

8 Aug

 

Here are the 10 artists I listened to for ska:

First wave ska:
Skatalites
Toots and Maytals

Second wave ska:
The Specials
Madness

Third wave ska:
Operation Ivy
Aquabats
Mighty, Mighty Bosstones
Mustard Plug
Streetlight Manifesto
Hepcat

So far, this has been the most difficult genre to pick songs for. Thanks to @Thebraziliandude and my good friend Tori, I had way more than 10-15 artists to choose from. I also knew several of the bands previously (not well, mind you) such as Aquabats, Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, Streetlight Manifesto, and some others that didn’t get chosen. I couldn’t decide whether I should explore the bands that I knew more, or if I should find new bands all together. Ultimately, I ended up cutting up pieces of paper and drawing all the third wave artists (I only had a few first and second wave, so they were in by default). I was very excited at the outcome.

Once again, a genre has supported the idea that I’m not a huge fan of the pioneers in that genre. I’ve yet to figure out why. It might be that when I listen to “oldies”, I listen for a very specific sound. It might also be that I like a more well-defined, polished sound that comes later after a genre has gotten its footing. Either way, first and second wave ska wasn’t my cup of tea. I listened to Freedom Sounds and Latin Goes Ska by the Skatalites back to back, which are both instrumentals, and it was too much only seconds in to Latin Goes Ska. I can appreciate instrumentals as a musician, but I wouldn’t be able to listen to that for any extended period of time. I didn’t really like the Toots and the Maytals at all, probably because it was more reggae in my ska than I’d like, and Bam Bam was the only song I could really get into at all.

Up next on the playlist were the Specials. They were definitely a step in the right direction. Four of their seven songs I listened to, I liked. Too Much, Too Young, Concrete Jungle, Blank Expression, and Little Bitch all had qualities that I liked, whether it was the upbeat music of Too Much, Too Young (my favorite) or the lyrics of Blank Expression. They only had one song I didn’t like, which I had to fight myself not to change: Gangsters. As for Madness, I was really unimpressed. Their sound as a whole reminded me of your stereotypical 80’s band. When I finally recognized My House, I was even more turned off. Its obviously a catchy song, because every commercial about houses everywhere uses it in their promotions, but that was the end of what I thought about it.

I liked second wave more than first, and the pattern continued because I likelove third wave. The first song I listened to by Operation Ivy was Sound System, and I instantly knew that third wave was for me. Although I didn’t like Bombshell at all, everything else was felt on a positive note. Their songs were extremely short, which almost left something to be desired, but overall I have no major complaints. I was kind of indifferent about the Aquabats. I didn’t feel really great or really terrible after listening to any of their songs, but because of that I feel a little let down. I’ve heard people rave about them. Next, I got to listen to my much loved Mighty, Mighty Bosstones.

They were Amazing.

I loved all of their songs. If I had to pick a favorite of the ones I listened to, it would probably be Noise Brigade, but I liked them all so much I couldn’t truly say that one was my favorite.

Mustard Plug was also pretty good. I wasn’t a huge fan of Skankin’ By Numbers, but it was alright. I especially liked Lolita, and Everyday Girl even moreso (its a personal favorite of all music now). Streetlight Manifesto is on about the same level as Mighty, Mighty Bosstones with me. I knew a few of their songs previously, and I really liked them. I started my Streetlight Manifesto playlist with Better Place, Better Time, and I was instantly in love with them. All of their songs were fantastic. Hepcat didn’t really inspire any great thoughts in me, much like Aquabats. I liked Dance Wid Me a lot, and although No Worries was different, it wasn’t bad by any means.

In my mind, ska was a complete success. I found several new favorite songs, and I feel much more comfortable saying that I like ska. I did find a new website that I believe I will be using for the rest of my musical endeavors. Its called Top 50 Songs and I think it worked well enough.

Do you like ska? What wave do you like best? Have you been listening along?

My Journey Through Music: Jazz

1 Aug

 

I’ve [finally] finished listening to jazz for my music project. I’ve been busy and travelling with family this last week so I haven’t had the opportunity to listen as frequently as I’d like. Hopefully, some of you have been listening along with me on YouTube! Anyway, lets get down to it. These are the jazz artists I listened to:

John Coltrane
Count Basie
Charles Mingus
Miles Davis
Louis Armstrong
Ella Fitzgerald
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Ornette Coleman
Jelly Roll Morton

Thanks to my friend, Joel, and @Unstoppable_Inner_Strength for helping me with my jazz artists.

I absolutely loved the jazz segment. I knew I would, but there is very little I didn’t like. Up until Ella Fitzgerald (and the list is listed in order of how I listened to them), none of the songs I listened to had vocals. When I got to Ella, it was a stark change to start hearing someone singing, but her voice is beautiful. My personal favorite of hers is “Fever”, but I didn’t listen to that as part of this project. Out of the songs I did listen to, my favorites were “Miss Otis Regrets” and “Love For Sale” because of the smooth quality to them. I also feel like I had a greater appreciation for the music because I’ve played jazz before. I also really liked John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ornette Coleman. Coleman’s “Law Years” stands out as a personal favorite, as I was hooked by the intro. The great thing about this list of musicians is that there are several songs in which they perform together, which gives a more rounded image of the genre. An inner conflict I’m having is if I like trumpet or saxophone better. Nothing beats a good cello or bass, but trumpet and sax are neck and neck. Saxophonists impress me with the intricate finger work I know must be challenging.

All the songs were of a decent, easily listenable length. Even the longest song (10 minutes) wasn’t hard to listen to. The only lyrics I found to be sub-par were those of Ella Fitzgeralds “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”, but I was expecting it from my previous knowledge of the rhyme.

Once again, I decided to listen to 7 songs each. For John Coltrane, I used another blog to help me find songs, and it was really helpful because it broke down the song choices as to why they were good. The website I used for punk rock was mostly useless for jazz, so I pretty much used an website I could find. If you have any other suggestions on how to pick songs, I welcome your input!

Also, if you haven’t started listening along and taking the journey with me, you can go to my Youtube channel and follow along.

Do you like jazz? What do you think about my selection? Have you been listening along? 

A Journey Through Music: Punk Rock

9 Jul

I hinted at this project a little bit in a post asking you all for input on various genres. I didn’t want to reveal all of the details because I’m pretty excited about it, but now I’ve finished my first genre, so this is my big reveal!

My project is basically a means for me to listen to music, become more versed in various genre, and learn more artists and songs that I like. I think that being well-rounded is important, and although I like a wide variety of music, I often can’t name artists or songs I like in a specific genre. Cue you guys! I got a lot of feedback that I’m very thankful for.

What I’ve asked for is a list of 10 artists that you think represents its genre as a whole. I know this is a tall order, but I obviously can’t listen to everything. From there, I’ve selected a number of songs from each artist to listen to.

For punk rock, thanks to @Thebraziliandude and @sweetsavageblood, I listened to the following 10 artists:

The Ramones
The Sex Pistols
The Clash
Patti Smith
The Plasmatics
Dead Kennedys
Blondie
Minor Threat
Black Flag
Rancid

I have to say that I appreciate what pioneer bands are and what they do. Without them, we wouldn’t have the collection of music we have today. All of these artists brought something to the table, and I enjoyed at least one of their songs. Personally, I really enjoyed The Ramones, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Rancid, and Blondie. I think overall they had good music and decent to great lyrics. I was especially amazed by Blondie, as I was unaware how many of her songs I actually know and love! She wasn’t really what I always think of when I think of punk rock, though. The Ramones, Rancid, and Black Flag are very much what I think of punk rock, and although Blondie did have a few songs in there that were similar, it wasn’t what I was expecting.

Any problems that I had with any of the artists were really based in their lyrics. All of these musicians had great music behind their vocals, but personally I enjoy singing with songs, so lyrics have a lot of weight. Thats not to say that their lyrics aren’t meaningful as I find punk rock to have some of the best lyrics around, but they were often very repetitive, which I find unappealing. Patti Smith, although I liked her music, was on average about 5 minutes too long. I would get to minute 6 and all I could think was OH MY GOD, ARE YOU DONE YET!?

So…about my song picking. What I did for punk rock was took the number of albums each artist had and added them all together. Then, I divided that number by ten to get 7 songs each. I can’t decide if I should keep 7 songs per artist from here on out, if I should use the same method with a different end result, or if I should calculate a percentage of songs per artist based on how many albums they have. Any suggestions are very welcome! If you are interested in knowing what songs I listened to for punk rock or would like to venture on this journey with me, you can find my playlists (sorted by artist)here.  I make a complete playlist for each artist before I begin listening to them, so you can listen with me [almost] in real time.

As a final note on my selection, I used the-top-tens.com to select my songs. I don’t necessarily consider it useful, but it was the best tool I could find. If you have any other suggestions, please, please, please let me know!

Do you like punk rock? What do you think of my selection? Are you going to be joining me on my musical roadtrip?