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.

The Stones.

The Rolling Stones are turning 50.  That’s entirely too long for a rock band to be together.  It provides far too many chances to disgrace oneself, as we have seen.  Of course they are one of the greatest bands in the world, but maybe, they just needed to hang it up after Emotional Rescue and call it a quarter century.

As with all anniversaries these days, the occasion is marked with a commemorative release and some shows.  Didn’t they just do this for Exile last year?  There’s a new single out, its OK, I’m not going to talk about it.  What we will discuss, is the shows.  There were rumors the commemorative events would take place at the newly minted Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  This would make sense, its a brand new arena, they’ve been booking lots of high profile events, who better than The Stones to say “This is the new Madison Square Garden, and like everything else, its in Brooklyn, now start gentrifying Staten Island already”  And yes dear reader, I had a plan.

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This would be my one last shot to experience The Stones.  I have never seen them live.  I worked on a session with Charlie Watts (as an assistant…) and it was a fantastic experience.  Full of great stories, great jazz musicians, he smelled incredibly expensive, everything you would want in the experience of meeting someone of that stature.  But it was no Rolling Stones show.  We must face the facts, the members themselves are also a bit past their prime.  It’s just facts.  A Stones show in 2012 will be very different than 1972 for a plethora of reasons.  So If I could not bring the Stones to 72, I would bring myself as close as possible.

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What I’m saying is, I would get as intoxicated as possible.  If you know me, you may be aware of the fact that I like to experience music fairly sober.  I really don’t want to be “that guy” screaming shit the entire show, passing out before the encore, then calling everyone the next day and saying “DUDE THAT SHOW WAS FUCKING AWESOME.”  It’s just not who I am.  But I would make the exception for this show, because at their ticket prices, I cannot afford to have a bad time.

I would purchase the least expensive ticket possible, walk to the Barclays center, get as drunk as possible at the nearest bar, and Wooo Hoooo my way through the entire show.  I would hopefully have convinced a friend to join and help document the experience…but if not, that’s ok too.  Afterwards, I would hope to find a cab back, and not die in the process.

But no, it was not to be.  The shows were in fact announced, but in Newark.  Yes, Newark.  I guess Cory Booker had a hand in that, he’s probably helping the road crew lift cases and scanning tickets at the entrance.  I’m just not going to go to Newark for this.  That’s one hell of a commute for a plan such as this.  Also, I have never thrown up on the PATH train, and that’s not a streak I want to break.  One final thing…..The tickets range from $95-750.  Are you fucking kidding me?

Who would have thought these guys wouldn't age well???
Who would have thought these guys wouldn't age well???

With fees, that makes the cheapest nosebleed seat well over $100, and that’s just not OK.   Is this tour sponsored by fucking Bain Capital?  At this point, only the 1% can afford to see the Rolling Stones.  Yes, their production is going to be hideously large and expensive.  Yes, they have 15 extra musicians on stage to play the parts Keith is too fried to remember.  Yes, they’re greedy and British.  But this is ridiculous.  It’s also not worth it. I’ll just stay home and watch Shine A Light if I want to see a band sounding mediocre in a nostalgic setting.  The sound will also be better.

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I think it’s time to give up the dream.  The Stones are kind of like Bach or Mozart at this point.  They’re an ancient form of music, still relevant and influential to millions, but they themselves no longer exist.  We must not pay attention to their new work, not acknowledge any performances.  I think we’re all better off for it.

The Music Of The Rolling Stones @ Carnegie Hall March 13 2012

Hang in kids, this might be a long one.

Big giant tribute type shows are always risky. Put many artists on the same bill with a house band, doing songs written by someone else, and things are bound to be treacherous.  Equally, there are bound to be some great moments.  Its like a sandwich where you’re surprised/terrified with each bite.

Michael Dorf, creator of the original Knitting Factory, has been doing these type of shows for a while now.  They benefit various childrens music charities, and I think we can all get behind that.  Unless you want to get political, and instead of supporting music in schools, have a tax cut or some shit for wealthy job creators.  Anyway.  They pick an artist, a bunch of people do a song.  Its a classic formula, don’t mess with it.

I saw one of the first of these, a tribute to Bob Dylan.  There were some beautiful moments, Alan Toussaint doing “Mama You Been On My Mind” and Ryan Adams going way over his allotted time on an “Isis/Love Sick” binge.

Last night, a varied roster took on the Rolling Stones classic collection Hot Rocks.  One artist for each song, 21 in total.  Let’s talk about some highlights and other things.

Before the music, we have to talk about the crowd.  This venue was basically a living Portlandia sketch, with Fred Armisen playing every character.  There’s the dude with the hilarious spiked hair and the tye dyed “No Security” Stones shirt, wearing binoculars and a backpack, moving seats at every chance he got.  There’s the 50 year old guy with a braided pony tail, moving to the end of the balcony, dancing and snapping along like he’s at a Flamenco show on acid.  There were the slightly-overdressed slightly too old to be dancing like a drunken college girl-woman, who could not resist the urge to flail about.  What do these people do during the day?  I would love to find out.

OK, on we go.

TV On The Radio opened the evening with Italian singer Jovanotti performing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with a children’s choir. The band sounded great, but I’m pretty sure everyone got lost near the end of the song and just kept repeating the chorus, but that’s pretty much what these things are about.  You rehearse the verses and chorus so much, that you forget to come up with an ending.  It did teach me one important lesson – its all about the ending.

Ian Hunter best demonstrated this.  The Mott The Hoople front man played “19th Nervous Breakdown”  Which was not overly exciting, but his band was clearly well rehearsed, and looked like they spent lots of time coordinating outfits, which I also respect on this occasion, I mean, its Carnegie Hall, man.

The evening had 2 clear standouts.  First, you’re pretty much not going to top David Johansen on this bill.  Its an event made for him. He came out looking like every NY Jew’s aunt from Long Island who goes on too many island vacations.  White pants, white shoes, giant sunglasses, hair helmet.  “Get Off Of My Cloud” is as close to a NY Dolls song as there is in the Stones catalog…or it’s probably the opposite.

The frontrunner in all advance betting was Glen Hansard.  The man has more charisma than Obama, and is just so endearing.  He silences a crowd with solo acoustic performances. So hopes were high.  What we got was a lovely concise version of “Under My Thumb.”  With just upright bass and electric guitar, he might have owned the night.  After asking the crowd to snap along, then slowing everyone down saying “Come on guys, on the BACK of the beat, that was definitely a white snap”  the first half of the song was just bass and vocals.  He ended with a trademark segue into GLORIA, just for the hell of it.  His most insightful comment was “What kind of headspace do you have to be in to write a song like this?  This is definitely a Keith tune”

I don’t feel in the mood to dish any negative dirt, except for the fact that if you’re an actress who was in Natural Born Killers, that does not give you enough rock and roll street cred to do a Prince Style motivational breakdown in “Satisfaction”

An interesting dilemma arose about the Stones recently.  I was watching the fantastic documentary “Lemmy” about the Motorhead frontman, examining his life and approach to music.  He made the point, and I will paraphrase since I don’t remember the quote, that everyone was always arguing over who were the real “bad boys” the Beatles or the Stones.  He said there was no question, it was the Beatles.  They were from the much richer Liverpool, they played in the dangerous clubs of Hamburg, they were the real thing.  The Stones were from the suburbs, they went to art school, they were just faking it for image.  Now what impact this has on legacy, who knows, they wrote some amazing music.  But a little later on Dave Grohl made another point.

When people talk about the “Rock and Roll Lifestyle” or whatever bullshit you want to call it, they think of the Stones.  His point was, fuck that.  They’re off banging some supermodel traveling first class, while Lemmy is sitting at a bar in LA drinking Jack Daniels and working on his next album.  He doesn’t care much for image, he just is who he is.

Again, this does not dispute the fact that there was an abundance of amazing music written, it’s just something to think about.  How much do we like a legendary band for what they stood for (or what we thought they stood for) purely based on image?

Just something to think about.  Mull it over while listening to Its Only Rock And Roll.