I Do Not Like The Beatles.

I don’t like The Beatles.  There, I said it.  It felt good to get that out there.

I never have, ever since middle school.  Something about it just didn’t sit right with me. I tried to pretend at times, in the Napster/Limewire heyday downloading select songs, and listening for a bit, but the charm just wore off.

Yes, they wrote beautifully crafted songs.  Perfect melodies.  Groundbreaking arrangements.  But so fucking what?  To me, most of it seems to come from a self satisfied point of view, with an uptight feel, lacking any real darkness or mystery.  Rock music is about the mystery, the unknown, ghosts and shit.  It all came from blues…that’s all blues was! Pain and ghosts. It just may be the whitest music of all time.

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You could make the point that The Beatles were just a pop group writing pop songs for the masses, but some people don’t seem comfortable with that.

This leads us to the Stones Vs Beatles question.

The world is not divided into Beatles and Stones people.  It’s divided into Beatles people, and people who enjoy other types of music, and don’t believe in putting a god like figure (or group of figures) at the top of it.  Beatles fans are really not that far off from The Tea Party.  Funny how that works, isn’t it? Lennon is definitely Regan.

If anything, it’s comparable to Mac or PC, in which case the Beatles people are definitely the PC, no getting around that.

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It’s not that I hate every Beatles song.  If it’s on in a bar, I won’t go into a rant (maybe a small one.) It’s just that I would almost always rather listen to something else.  My choice of song to play will not be a Beatles song.  Unless it’s Desmond Decker’s instrumental of “Love Me Do.”  If I want some beautiful orchestral pop, I’ll listen to Harry Nilsson.  If I want a British sounding rock song, I’ll listen to The Who.  And If I want someone heavily influenced by American rhythm and blues music, yes, I’ll listen to The Stones.   For the life of me, I just can’t imagine a time when I think “You know what I need to hear right now?  A Beatles Song!”

Just had to get that out there.  Thank you for listening.

Thoughts For July

Recently, I’ve been practicing a lot.  Break out the metronome and Ted Reed’s Syncopation, and work on a different part of your brain.  Its strange how slowing something down to a fixed time keeper and playing strictly from notes from a page shakes everything up.

I also made what is perhaps the most “grownup” decision of my life thus far.  I sold my 1973 Telecaster and bought a suit.  We have a few weddings to attend, and I could only get away with the mismatched blazer and trousers look so many times.  I’m and adult male, I should have a suit. It’s made in the USA, I feel good about that.

It fits in with the constant theme of paring things down.  I want less equipment, less clothing, less technological devices.  The obvious counterpoint, is that you have more money when buying and storing less things, something everyone seems to be ok with.  Gawker had a great point about these early Dot Com Millionaires, who now fancy themselves self help gurus.  Some preach that the key to life is living simply and getting rid of possessions.  They never say get rid of your money though.  They’d like to keep it just in case they change their mind about possessions.

An opportunity has come up recently to go on tour for about a month, and it seems like the right time to do such a thing.  Although I’ve always played music, I’ve never toured beyond a 2 week period.  Life is quite unsettled when traveling with a band (the very definition of it,) and the economics have always boggled my mind.  I still don’t understand them.  But in a few years, that might not be possible.  I currently have no mortgage, no children, no high interest debt, so might as well go for it.

Its a frightening proposition though.  No one wants to be away from loved ones, and as much as I’d love not to go to the office every day…I’d like to have health insurance when I get back.  How ridiculous is that?  My main concern about embarking on a musical endeavor is whether I’d be able to afford JUST IN CASE medical care when it’s over.  Let’s not turn this into a healthcare debate though…save that for the pundits.

In my younger Jam-Band-Enthusiast days, Web Master Eric Tarn and I were in New Brunswick New Jersey to see the band Moe.  I refuse to do a Google search to see if that band is still out there, I have a hunch they are.  But on the printed newsletter they stacked by the merch, was a statement that will stick with me forever.  Under a list of tour dates, it read;

“Remember, no show is confirmed until we are on stage playing.”

That may be the greatest piece of musical advice for any fan or performer.  We were scheduled to go to Canada next weekend to play a festival…Yesterday I received an email that one of the main singers has ruptured his ear drum.  Always on your toes!

There should be a class in school called “Expectations, Reality, and Plans: A Study”

Thinking and Running.

I’ve been writing a few long form pieces.  My question to you, is do you have the stamina to read them? You probably do, its about the length of half a kindle single, and is worth half your lunch break.  (Or that meditative period where there’s a software update, and you just have to relax.)

At the first sign of spring in New York, I suddenly felt the need to go out for a run.  My hamstrings disagreed, but ambition won out.  Brooklyn Bridge park gets more verdant and beautiful by the day, and you have to explore that stuff as it’s happening.  I ran over this bouncy foot bridge connecting the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to the newly graveled path below…and ran straight into Bjork.  Not physically, but she was standing at the corner where the path meets the street.  I took it as a sign, because our upstairs neighbors just told me she lived there.

We had a great moment of negotiation with these neighbors.  There was a noise issue, stemming from the game Rock Band.  Our house turned into their extended resonant speaker, we could hear every click of the sticks.  A few month of silent hatred went by, with occasional banging on doors, making that hatred mutual…and then we decided to talk.  Who talks anymore, I’ll just send a tweet or some shit.  But as our favorite internet comments tell us, its much easier to be facelessly mean online.  We arranged a time, and they came downstairs to perform a firsthand listening test and see what we were dealing with.  The noise was acknowledged, they got rid of their subwoofer, bought some sound treatment for the house, and the relationship has improved a billion fold.  A lot of energy was wasted before that.

Turning 30 has made me feel both more and less “Rock and Roll.”  I’m playing more music, and appreciating the music I love in a different way.  I’m reflecting more on lyrics.  At the same time, the prospect of a crowded show is less and less appealing.  I mean, how great are reserved seats?

Anyway, while on that run I was thinking of selling all my instruments.  This is a common theme while exercising, can someone put the connection together for me?  It always seems to go like this:

“I have too much stuff.  I can only play one thing at a time.  Really, how different do each of those 5 guitars sound?  That drum has just been sitting there.  Ugh, I paid too much for that pedal.  How many unused XLR Cables do I have?  Can I just strip and sell them for parts?”

Every time though, I think of keeping 2 things.  The Fender Stratocaster I bought when I won $1000 on a scratch off lottery ticket when I was 12….And my Elvin Jones kick drum. It was actually Elvin’s, not some signature model reissue.

I don’t even like the Strat, the attachment is purely sentimental, I’d love to pass it on one day.  But the Elvin drum is magical.

It’s a story worth telling.  Before I pass the next milestone birthday and my memories start to instantly deteriorate, I might as well document it.  Keep an eye out.

The Sea Was Angry That Day, My Friends – Ultimate Ears, Shure, and Sandwiches.

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Technology must be upset with yesterday’s post. In the afternoon we lost all phones and internet at the studio, so we follow local tradition and curse Time Warner. This morning, upon arrival, nothing is working, computers will not start, still no phone, no internet. We all leave to do what we can from home, then return for the afternoon sessions. I’m not complaining, I had a delicious chicken sandwich from the local deli and went to Cafe Pedlar. Is there really any meal better than an amazing chicken sandwich? If there is, I don’t want to know about it. That’s a lie, I totally do. This must have been a magic sandwich, because lo and behold, when I return, it was all working. For some reason an intern set up our phone and internet service…I’m going to blame him. We don’t have a great history with interns. One had to get a talkin’ to because of his flatulence…..but that’s a story for another day.

I’ve been in headphone limbo for a bit. For years, I used the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi’s, first the Pro 5’s, then when those were lost, the Pro 10’s. They sounded wonderful, and likely saved my ears. You could wear them as in ear monitors, they blocked out enough sound to use live or in studio. For everyday commuting, they were perfect. Subway’s are surprisingly loud, its best not to kill your ears when cranking your white earbuds. And I’m just not going to wear some giant studio headphones out and about. They weigh a ton, have too much cable, and don’t really isolate that well. The problem is though, the cable dies every few months, and its $20 to replace. Its like a monthly headphone usage fee. I easily spent the price of the headphones on cables. After some twitter back and forth….they sent me a replacement once, which died in 2 months. After some more customer service ping pong, they claimed to be sending another…which was over 6 weeks ago, they’re back ordered and whatnot. Wait….After checking the website….it looks like that model is discontinued??? If those cables are permanently gone, get ready for some angry tweetin’ (wow, is that the best form of intimidation our generation has?)

These are not real problems. They’re just headphones. But there are so many headphones out there, maybe we can waste a little less time getting new ones. Headphones are also important. In the city, that’s how we listen to the majority of our music or podcasts, no car stereos. Why make it sound all tinny and shit, we all spend enough time commuting.

I’m a big supporter of smaller manufacturers. Most have fantastic customer service. Some that I have had personal experience with are Mastery Bridge, Swart Amps, Analogman, Peterson Tuners, the list goes on. This applies to clothing, home furnishings…whathaveyou.  If a smaller company doesn’t have great service, who wants to deal with that shit. But most of these companies fall into the luxury goods set – the parts they need are not manufactured in mass overseas, and they deal in very small quantities. Something like esoteric headphones, using proprietary parts they have to manufacture in mass….that’s a problem when the cable you need is back ordered. Or what if they no longer make replacements? Go try and find a cable for your DIGI001….have a good time.

The conclusion is, I had to switch to the Shure SE215. They make a similar model, it was well reviewed by friends and the internet in general, and they probably make FAR more of them. There are still issues with the cable, for some reason these headphone cables die quicker than anything else, but they probably produce a lot more of them to have on hand. Also, for the first time in my purchasing history of any product, I bought an extra warranty – through B&H for $20, anything is covered for 2 years. Sometimes you have to support the larger guy. I don’t like it, you don’t like it….we love the underdog. But the underdog can’t always pull it off. Man, that’s depressing. I might eat another chicken sandwich to feel better.

Side Note: I’ll bet Grado could have pulled it off – either making a cable that didn’t die constantly or being able to replace it readily….but they only make one in ear model, and its quite expensive. I do have their SR-80 open headphones, and recommend them to everyone with ears.

We Have The Technology

The email arrived this morning…..

Introducing Pro Tools 11!

Thank you Avid, for your rapid advancement of technology, soon to make all previous versions obsolete and incompatible.  If you are not in the audio world, Pro Tools is the software used to record nearly every album made, mix the sound in almost all films, most radio and TV shows, and so on.  It’s pretty popular.

Avid, first known for their digital video editing software, is the massive death star of the audio world.  They recently laid off 20% of their staff and installed a new CEO.  Sonic Scoop detailed it very well Here and Here.  Their customer service is notoriously unhelpful, and their website is a mess.  New versions are expensive, and working out the hardware/software/OS combinations will shave years off your life.

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This is not about editing software though. This worries me about technology as a whole.  My inner Jewish 80 year old is just dying to come out.

Updated versions improve our lives, but also make previous versions obsolete.  If the software updates are free…we eventually buy new hardware to support it, and Simba is held from the mountain top, because the Circle Of Life is complete.  You think thats why apple called it OSX Lion?

They say we’re in the Wild West, technologically speaking.  This is a common theory, but what does the future hold?  Will there be some giant unified platform we all use to communicate, network-socially, buy stuff, consume media, and create content of our choosing?  Or will it become further fragmented, each application refusing to support other platforms, until we’re all basically slinging 1’s and 0’s at each other with a makeshift slingshot, until the new version of that slingshot is released, and it no longer flings the previously issued 1’s and 0’s?

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It shows up everywhere.  How many people held onto IOS 5 because of the Apple Maps debacle?  I did!  I want some shit that works!  New stuff seems to have the opposite effect on me.  I’m researching cameras, and I totally want this Fujufilm X100S….but the S is the updated one!  What happens if they release an even better X100STUV???  So I just hold out.

I end up feeling like an out of date traditionalist.  I don’t feel the need to apologize though.  Since becoming an avid (no pun intended) Spotify user, I’ve heard a lot of new music.  The platform is fantastic, and I don’t mind spending $10 a month for the mobile use alone.  But most of the stuff I’ve heard is just mediocre.  It’s not terrible, it just doesn’t grab me.  Especially when in one click, you can hear ANY other song.

The Father John Misty album has brought me joy since I heard it in the early fall.  It’s a beautiful album start to finish, maybe like 4% filler 96% killer.  But I wonder what will happen next.  Will his next release hold up?  I hate that I even think that way about it, but I do.  I do look forward to it though.

Where does that difference come from?  With technology, I just want something that works.  With music, I don’t have time for anything that is not the perfect sound for the moment.  Yes, there are different expectations – One helps you accomplish simple and important tasks in life, while the other is purely entertainment, but we’re probably not that far from a convergence.

I want everything to be fantastic and amazing all the time.  Yes, I do.