janradder: (embarrassed)
To anyone who's uploaded an animated icon on lj, how the hell did you do it? I keep trying and the best I get is the first image in the animated gif, frozen. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
janradder: (watt)
A Song I Wish I Could Play On An Instrument

Continuing with the theme of bands and covers, one song I wish we had covered was Cream's "Passing the Time." Between the loud pounding opening and the freak out jams after the carnival inspired music, I think it would have been an amazingly fun song to play live. And I think it would have translated well to a loud thrashing punk band. Sadly, we never even tried to play it.

There's no YouTube version anywhere (at least not a complete version), but you can hear it here at Grooveshark.
janradder: (watt)
A Song I Can Play On An Instrument

Back when I was sixteen and first started playing in a band, my friend and I made it pact that we'd never play cover songs. Covers were all that the other bands at our high school played -- Steve Miller, Chicago, Traffic, Yes. Back then the idea was that if you wanted to play rock and roll you had to play note-perfect versions of someone else's songs. Like if you were learning to play guitar, you had to play "Stairway to Heaven" or the intro to "Roundabout, " and you had to play them exactly like they sounded on the records. If you couldn't, you shouldn't even bother to let anyone know you played because you were just pathetic. It's why for a long time I thought I'd never be able to play in a band. But that changed when I heard punk. WIth punk you didn't have to have the best chops, or know your scales, or even know what the fuck note you were playing or sometimes even if you were in tune. You just played. And you put everything you had into whatever song you were playing as if it were the last thing you were ever going to do in your life. And when you did, you played your own damn songs, which was why we never learned anyone else's. We felt pride in that fact, because we weren't following what someone else had done, and we weren't being like everyone else at our school. We were just being ourselves.

The thing is though, it's kind of fun to play other people's songs. In a way, when you do, you kind of make it your own. Quite a few years ago, long after I was in a band, I switched from bass to playing mostly guitar because, honestly, it gets kind of boring after a while to play bass by yourself. And when I did, I started learning covers for fun. I got a book of Beatles songs, and then I found a site that had tabs for every Hüsker Dü song ever recorded, and then a little later I found another site that had tabs for tons more songs, some punk and some most definitely not. One of my favorite covers that I learned from that site is the Who's "I'm One." To me, it's perhaps the best thing that Townshend ever wrote, though I'm more than willing to listen to any arguments for others. The way it moves from that quiet plaintive beginning to that explosive chorus and verse and then back again -- it's what Nirvana's Kurt Cobain only wished he could have done just half as well. And the alienation and that feeling of low self esteem that Townshend sings about is as honest and soul-baring as he's ever gotten. I love playing that song. I'm nowhere as good a guitarist as Townshend is, and I can't play it nearly as well -- my fingers really are too clumsy -- but my voice . . . man, I can sing the fuck out of that thing when I want. And I love how I feel when I am.


Feb. 9th, 2011 11:13 am
janradder: (crying)
--Woken up at 5am by my youngest who had a bad dream.

--Fell asleep at 7 or so to be woken by the alarm at 7:30 and the sound of thumping feet and shouting downstairs from the boys.

--Yelled at the boys for waking me up with their thumping and shouting yet again only to have them laugh at me.

--Spent the morning nagging Arie to get dressed, eat, brush teeth, and get ready for school instead of staring at his bare feet, or the empty bowl in front of him, or his reflection in the mirror, or the running water . . .

--Walked the boys to the garage and nagged them into the car only to discover that the car's battery died in the cold.

--Called Haddayr home to drive the boys to school.

--Drove the boys to school with Haddayr, then the two of us spent the next half hour pushing the car out of the garage over the ice so we could jump start it.

--Found that the kitchen window with the cracks running through it had finally broke completely.

--Carefully repaired the window with duct tape.

--Found out that the writing assignments I thought were due tomorrow were in fact due today.

And it's not yet noon.
janradder: (watt)
A Song That Makes Me Laugh

It helps that each time I hear this song I can always picture a tiny Stonehenge monument in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. However, even if it were not from one of the best scenes in Spinal Tap, "Stonehenge" would still be just as wonderfully hilarious with lines like "Where the dew drops cry, and the cats meow," and that absurd Derek Smalls' scream. In less than three minutes it captures everything that is ridiculous and wonderful about heavy metal.

janradder: (watt)
A Song I Would Like Played At My Funeral

That would be easy: "Lucky Man," by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Not because I consider myself lucky in any way (if I were to go in that direction, Cream's "Born Under a Bad Sign" would probably be more appropriate), nor because I think I the words are deep or evocative (Greg Lake did write the song when he was twelve, after all), but because I would love to be sent off with Keith Emerson's Moog synthesizer solo that comes at the end of the song. In fact, perhaps instead of playing the whole song, someone could just put that solo on a tape loop and just play it endlessly.

janradder: (watt)
A Song I Would Like Played At My Wedding

Considering that my wedding was over eighteen years ago, that ship has probably sailed. However, I'll instead name the song I wish we'd played at our wedding. In the months leading up to it, [livejournal.com profile] haddayr and I threw around ideas for what song we'd play for "the dance." We'd considered and thrown out, "Kisses Sweeter Than WIne," by Pete Seeger and "Androgynous," by the Replacements. We'd probably considered a bunch of other songs too, but I can't remember what they were. The song we kept going back to, though, was "In My Life," by the Beatles, but after someone mentioned to Haddayr that we should pick something current to our generation, we gave up on that. In the end, there was no song and "the dance" never took place, though we did do a ridiculous, over-the-top dance to "Unchained Melody," complete with dips (of both her and me), pained expressions, hands-clutched-to-the-chest, and lots of silliness. I do wish we'd played "In My Life," though, but we've played it pretty much every year on our anniversary, which is nice too.

janradder: (watt)
A Song I Listen to When I'm Sad

Last Fall [livejournal.com profile] haddayr, knowing I was sad and hearing that I was listening to Nick Drake, told me to stop listening to him in the mood I was in, or else I would commit suicide. "But it would be a sad yet heartbreakingly beautiful suicide that somehow seems to inspire hope at the same time," was my response. To me, that pretty much describes everything about Nick Drake. He's horribly, horribly sad, yet in the despair of his songs there's still something bright and beautiful that you can grab onto and hold and know that in the end, things will be okay, even when it's hard to believe that can ever be true. "Which Will," to me, is one of his best.

janradder: (watt)
A Song I Listen to When I'm Happy

I can't say that there's any one go-to song that I have for feeling happy, so I'll go with Dinosaur jr.'s cover of "Just Like Heaven" (originally by the Cure. It's fun, it's poppy, it's got a bouncy beat, whether it's happy or not, it sounds like it is, it's got a deliciously fuzzy and crunchy guitar solo, and it's got Lou bellowing out "You!" in the chorus and obliterating any traces of Robert Smith that J. might have left behind. Plus, the freakin' video has Oscar the Grouch and Ernie and a couple other muppets dancing and headbanging along to the music. What's there not to like? Seriously?

janradder: (watt)
A Song I Listen to When I'm Angry

When it comes to angry, pissed off, don't-you-even-fucking-think-about-fucking-trying-to-fuck-with-me-you-fucking-bastard-fuck-face-asshole music, no one -- and I mean no one -- does it better than Black Flag. When I was in high school, this was the music I turned to for solace when things went bad. Even today, when I'm pissed at the world and feel like nothing is going right, Black Flag's "Rise Above," still comes to my rescue. In a way, it's sort of like Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It," if Dee Snider were a bald, skinny, shirtless punk who if you saw walking down the street, you'd quickly cross to the other side and then run away from. The world has you down? Feel like everyone's against you? Think you're all alone and no one cares? Rise above.

janradder: (watt)
A Song From My Favorite Album

I have a lot of favorite albums, so I'm picking one from the first album I ever called my favorite, Black Sabbath's eponymous debut. I first heard it when I was in sixth grade, and I immediately fell in love with everything about it -- the sound, the darkness of the lyrics, the album's cover. To me, Black Sabbath were like a Hammer horror film set to music, and I loved those Hammer films. "N.I.B." closes out the first side and has such a wonderful groove to it. There's nothing fancy, nothing flashy, and nothing particularly difficult in terms of musicianship, but it rocks. It's pretty much one sludgy riff, repeated over and over while Ozzy (or Ossie, as he still spelled his name then) sings about how he's Lucifer. It's like proto-grunge, only so much better. And man, that album cover . . . it still gives me chills.

janradder: (watt)
A Song I Wish I Heard On the Radio

Back in late 1984 or early 1985, there was a song called "Butthead" that WNHU in West Haven, CT used to play. Basically, it was just some guy ranting about jerks (if I remember right) and calling them buttheads over a pretty standard punk chord progression. It used to run through my head as I walked between classes. I haven't heard the song since, nor have I ever been able to track it down. It was by a band called Chainsaw who I imagine were an obscure little Connecticut band that had more than likely gone to Trod Nossel Studios (the recording studio that nearly every Connecticut band went to), cut a demo, and then paid for a small pressing of singles with their own money. Or maybe it was a bunch of kids who went to the University of New Haven (which owns WNHU) and they recorded this one song a tape, and only a few copies of it ever existed. I really have no idea. I just remember liking that song a ton back then. If I ever heard it on the radio again, I'd be ecstatic (and if anyone reading this post knows the song and how to get a hold of it, I'd sing your praises to the heavens if you passed the information along).
janradder: (watt)
A Song I Hear Often On the Radio

Quite some time ago I was reading an interview with Robert Plant and he talked about how much he loved bands like Hüsker Dü and the Minutemen. Now, I know what you're probably thinking -- that Robert Plant? The one with the screechingly high voice who sang for Led Zeppelin? Yes, that Robert Plant. I suppose that revelation isn't so shocking now since he's been covering bands like Low and Los Lobos recently, but back then it was pretty surprising. The single off his latest album that our local indie rock radio station has been playing a ton is "You Can't Buy My Love," and you can kind of hear the influence of those indie/alterno bands. There's parts like the distorted bass at the beginning and is the use of the floor tom by the drummer, both of which I love. And the early 60's rock and roll sound is fun. But nothing ever happens. The song has a nice little beat and a decent melody, but there's no point where it takes off, and it should. Each time I hear it, I keep thinking that at some point it should bust out with an overly loud chorus, or a guitar solo that shreds, or Plant should go into some sort of shrieking howl. There should be something. But there isn't. There's no oomph or growl. Instead, the band plays along at a nice even keel, never getting too high or too low, but just happily ambling along a plateau. It's safe, and that's not a good thing when it comes to rock. What bands like Hüsker Dü and the Minutemen had was passion -- you never for a moment doubted that they were putting everything they could into each second of each song they played. I think that's part of what Robert Plant heard in those bands, and he probably saw a bit of himself in that as well, because you could say the same thing about Led Zeppelin. Whether you liked them or not, you couldn't doubt that they were passionate about what they were doing. You can't say that about "You Can't Buy My Love."

The Pixies

Jan. 27th, 2011 10:21 pm
janradder: (watt)
So I just found out they're playing Roy Wilkins Auditorium at the end of April, but tickets are forty bucks. Man, I can't stand spending that much on a concert ticket. It just seems like a rip off, especially since it's forty bucks for general admission. And, even though I like the Pixies, I feel like all of their shows since they've reunited are simply a big money grab because all they're doing is just playing all their old material. It's not like they've put out any new material in about twenty years and they're touring to support it. On the other hand, back when they were putting out new records, I always passed up the chance to see them (and at fifteen dollars back then, too, because back then fifteen dollars was like forty is now, at least to a broke college student who had rent, utilities, and groceries to pay for). But then again, from what I've heard they were a lousy live band. What to do, what to do . . .
janradder: (watt)
A Song I Used to Love But Now Hate

Okay, this is horribly, horribly embarrassing. No, humiliating. In 1983 I loved this song. That's right -- loved this song. Yes, I'm talking about "The Heart of Rock and Roll" by Huey Lewis and New. I don't know what to say. I'll go sit in the corner now and hang my head in shame.

janradder: (watt)
A Song That Describes Me

Okay, I feel bad about yesterday's crappy post on this topic, so I'm redoing it and I'm picking the Minutemen's "History Lesson (Part II)" instead. It's an autobiographical song that Mike Watt wrote about him and his friend and bandmate d. boon discovering punk rock and what it means to them. But substitute the names and places and it could easily be about pretty much any kid in the eighties who found punk.

For me, the most poignant lines in the whole song is the simple statement, "Punk rock changed our lives," because punk did change my life. Perhaps more than anything else in my life. Before I found punk I was a scared kid with few, if any, friends, who spent most of his time trying to fit in with the other kids at school and failing miserably. And the thing was, I had no idea there was any other option. That there were people like me out there who were different and weird and hated and angry and who didn't try to fit in and who didn't give a fuck what the rest of the world thought of them was an idea completely unknown to me. To find out that those people existed was like someone had kicked open a door to another world -- a world filled with music that sounded as different as I felt, and one that I realized was home. Punk rock gave me the courage to live and to be myself. I'm not using hyperbole when I say that punk rock saved my life, because it did. If it weren't for punk, I more than likely would have killed myself before I turned eighteen. If that's not changing someone's life, I don't know what is.

But the other parts of the song resonate with me as well. When d. sings about learning punk rock in Hollywood, I see my friend Matt and I driving to New Haven and Waterbury to go look for punk in obscure record stores populated by freaks like us. When he sings about punk being Bob Dylan to him, all I can do is agree, because that was my voice on those records, my poetry and soul buried deep in those grooves of vinyl. And that list of musicians at the end -- man, that was me too. Change the names of the musicians to people like Henry Rollins, Mike Watt, Grant Hart and Bob Mould, and that was me and my friend Matt, both of us playing our guitars and imagining we were like our heroes.

When I was in high school and I used to listen to that song, I always got choked up. Back then I always thought it was because it made me think about how d. boon was dead and how sad that was, and that might have been part of it. But I think really, though, it was because I saw myself in that song. "Our band could be your life," d. sings, and yeah, it could, and it is, because each time I hear it, I see me and Matt Brooks playing guitar.

janradder: (watt)
A Song That Describes Me

I suppose a lot this depends on whatever mood I'm in or how I'm feeling about myself at the time. Honestly, right now, not so good on either count. If I wanted to be really self-loathing or nasty about myself, I could pick something like the Beatles' "Nowhere Man" or Black Flag's "Three Nights." Instead, I'm picking another Replacements song, "Unsatisfied," which is also my favorite of their songs. There's something so agonizingly beautiful and painful about it. It captures exactly how I've felt every single time I've been down or felt like life had cast me a poor lot. Am I unsatisfied right now? Yes. But I hope that someday, and hopefully someday soon, I'm not. I wish I had more to say about the song, but I don't.

janradder: (watt)
A Song That No One Would Expect Me to Love

I wouldn't exactly say that I love this song, but I do like it. And the thing is, I don't think that anyone who really knows me would be surprised at any of the songs I truly love, which is why I'm ogin with this song. There's something really appealing about early Madonna, and I'm not talking about her looks or image, but her songs. Most pop music of that time period was absolute dreck, which is why even back then, she stood out from the pack. Beneath that bad veneer of 80's production and arrangements, there's some really good pop songs in the tradition of classic Motown and 60's girl groups like the Ronettes. "Borderline" is one of those songs. Yes, the keyboards and the synth bass are totally dated, but the heart of the song still shines through. No, I don't love the song, but I do like it a lot. What I would love, is to hear someone do a really good cover of it, because I think it could be awesome.

janradder: (watt)
A Song That is a Guilty Pleasure

I am such a sucker for pop hooks. It doesn't really matter who the band is or what the song's about -- if there's a pop hook, I'm sold. I don't have much to say about the Go Go's "How Much More," except that it fits right into that mold. I do prefer the album version, mostly because you can't hear when Gina Schock switches to the floor tom in the chorus as well in the live version (which, to me, is one of the best moments in the song), but also because you realize what a bad singer Belinda Carlisle can be as she goes flat over and over. I couldn't find the album version, though. Even so, it's still a great song.

janradder: (watt)
A Song From A Band I Hate

A friend of mine once surmised that Lee Ving, of Fear, was an out-of-work actor who saw the then new punk scene in LA as a way of making a name for himself and eventually breaking into TV or film. The fact that he did go on to have, if not a successful, at least a somewhat prolific acting career only gives further ammo to that argument. The thing about Fear is that they are so over the top in terms of trying to be offensive and antagonistic, that they almost seem like a parody of punk rock, or like they'd set out to portray the 1980's Hollywood stereotype of what punk is (see the infamous Quincy punk episode or the the punk on the bus in Star Trek IV for reference). Do I hate the band? Sort of. They always struck me as the worst kind of posers, fitting in with the Sid Vicious wannabes and the jocks who saw punk just as an excuse to kick the crap out of someone. At the same time, every time I hear a Fear song, I can't help but feel myself drawn in. Yeah, they're assholes, but they're kind of catchy assholes.


janradder: (Default)

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