I heard Theresa Andersson earlier this morning on Morning Becomes Eclectic, and I fell in love with her music after about 30 seconds, and that was before I saw how she creates it:
“Hummingbird, Go!” from Amazon MP3.
Last night, Nolan went through my iTunes library so he could put some of my awesome music on his iPod. He’s been after me for months to give him Radiohead, The Beatles, Tool, Decemberists, and a lot of my 80s stuff.
While he looked, the following exchange occurred:
Nolan: Why do you have The Safety Dance in your iTunes library? Me: So I can dance, if I want to. Duh. Nolan: You are so weird.
He ended up taking a little over 5 GB of my music, and I enacted a don’t ask, don’t tell policy about Men Without Hats. Shortly after he went to bed, I was washing dishes, and remembered this old blog post from 2003:
Anne and I were listening to Fred while we were driving home from Burbank the other day. That stupid “Safety Dance” song came on, and I said to her, “This is the weirdest song, ever.”
“Yeah, who thought this was a good idea?” she said.
“I mean, think about all the steps that went into this: someone wrote down all these words, then composed music, then produced the whole thing . . . and at every step of the way, they believed that this was a song worth releasing.” I said.
“Hey, Neil,” she said, in a really bad British accent, “Let’s make a song about the Safety Dance!”
“Oh, that’s brilliant!” I said, in my own bad accent, “We’ll have them all hoppin’ and dancin’ and –”
I started to giggle, and was unable to continue.
“You can dance! You can dance! Everybody look at your hands!” I sang, involuntarily.
CLAP! CLAP! went Anne’s hands.
“You can dance! You can dance! Everybody’s taking the chaaaaa-HAAAAA-nnnncccceeeeee . . . ” I continued.
“With the SAFETY DANCE!” We shouted out in unison.
“We are such dorks,” Anne said.
“Yeah,” I agreed.
We sang the remainder of the song with extreme gusto.
I should also point out that when we got home, Ryan told us that he wants to buy “Thriller.”
I think there’s something in the water here.
2003 seems like an eternity ago. I guess in some ways, it was, wasn’t it?
Kids, I want you to take off your jetpacks, and step out of your flying cars for a minute. Come sit down over here, and let Old Man Wheaton tell you a tale of a time when television didn’t have a pause button, renting videos meant actually going to a store – during hours that they set – and listening to the radio meant hearing the same 27 songs every two and-a-half hours, with ten to eighteen minutes of commercials every 60 minutes.
Now, I realize that some of you think I’m just making this up to scare you, but it’s true. We didn’t have any control over how we got our entertainment back then. We couldn’t skip songs we didn’t like, and we couldn’t tell the radio how frequently it should play certain songs. It was a different time, when nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them and the King of England would just show up at your house and expect you to make him a cup of tea.
Those of you who have grown up in a world where you have unprecedented control over your media (DRM, which is beyond the scope of this story, notwithstanding) may have a hard time believing that we who came before you would actually wait for a song we hated to go away, or sit through loud and obnoxious commercials and DJs because we knew a song we loved was coming up. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true; that’s just how the world worked back then, and we accepted it without question.
Then it gets weird. Well, not really, but I can’t think of a better segue. Anyway, give it a read if you want to know what I think about the Slacker portable media player.
Warning: it’s way longer than I thought it would be, probably because I spent so long fighting my brain to actually let me write it, and once I beat my brain into submission, I couldn’t turn it off.
My love for music is well-documented here, so I’ll spare the warm up and just get to the point: Every Friday, Amazon MP3 releases 5 albums for 5 bucks each, and the sale lasts through the weekend.
Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s crap, but today, it is awesome. They grabbed 5 albums from their list of 100 greatest debut albums of all time. I own all of these already, but in case you needed to fill some glaring holes in your collection, I present to you, for five dollars each:
I write a column for Amazon’s End User Blog, but Amazon is a giant company and I have no idea who picked these, from an already-impressive list. I wish I knew who did it, so I could give that person a high five.
My Geek in Review this month is all about how weird it is for me to have existed in the world before and after … well, here, let me just quote myself instead of trying to rephrase myself:
My kids have never seen a floppy disc, heard the sound of a modem connecting, blown into a NES cartridge in the futile hope of making it work, or looked up an address in a Thomas Guide. I have experienced all of these things, and though I’m grateful that I don’t have to deal with them in any meaningful way now, unless I want to, it’s odd to me that, at just 36 years-old, I straddle this tremendous and significant technological rubicon, while my children can barely see it in on the distant horizon behind them, as they speed away on their jet packs and rocket bikes. I mean, they hardly remember cassettes, let alone cassingles, and occasionally I will consider this fact and quietly weep for them, alone, while they play Call of Duty against some stranger on the other side of the world in real time.
I am totally aware of living in the future, but I really feel it when I pick up my iPod, because music has been that important to me my whole life, and I have this crystal clear memory of standing at a MacWorld around 1992 with Paul Montgomery and Tim Jenison (who were my bosses when I worked for NewTek) and Tim had this little slab of RAM that was about the size of a credit card.
“One day,” he said, “you’ll be able to put a whole album on something this size.”
I saw a lot of cool stuff from the future when I worked for NewTek, but the way Tim presented this thing to us — not like it was something awesome that could happen but that it was something awesome that would happen — made quite an impression on me. It was at that moment that I became truly aware of how rapidly the world was changing, and how lucky I was to be living in it.
I wasn’t mature enough to consider it then, but I wonder if people have felt the way I did throughout history, just for different reasons: mechanical flight, telegraphs, telephones, atomic energy and weapons, home computers, stuff like that…
I’m looking at my iPod shuffle right now, and it’s about 1/5 the size of that thing, and holds dozens of albums. My regular iPod Classic, next to it on the desk, holds about 8000 songs, about that many pictures, and everything I’ve ever written plus about 40 eBooks. I can put both iPods in one hand and take them anywhere I want.
Think about that: I can put everything I kept in my room when I was 15 into the palm of my hand or into my pocket.
Well, except Cindy Crawford, but I hear that science is working on that.
(Please note that Geek in Review is hosted at Suicide Girls. There’s nothing NSFW on the news page, but the site will trip filters and get you a visit from your company’s IT guy, who wants to know why you’re looking at the same site he was. Don’t complain to me; you have been warned.)
Crazy ideas that may or may not be crazy are taking up pretty much all of my free time this week, so my Phoenix Comicon trip report will have to wait until Monday, but since I promised to deliver a Rock Band roundup before the end of this week, here we go.
First up is Karen B., seriously rocking to You Oughta Know. Funny story about this: right before we started playing this song, I said to her, “You know, you have to sing ‘thinking of me when you fuck her,’ even though it’s going to say something like ‘think of me when you carebears’ on the lyrics.”
“I don’t know if I can do that,” she said, clearly uncertain about using the potty mouth.
“I will totally take all the wrath if anyone gives you shit for it,” I said. “Trust me, you have to do it.”
“Okay,” she said.
When the appropriate moment arrived in the song, she belted the FUCK out of that lyric, and I peed a little. Awesome.
Next, we have a little story that I told the kids after struggling through Give It Away, which is totally not a “1″ on the Drums, contrary to what the game claims:
THE BEAT, WE HAZ IT!:
Check out Joe’s awesome rock face and stance behind me! FTW, Joe. F.T.W.
You may want to check out Tararebeka’s Phoenix Comicon Rockband photoset, especially if you’re me and you had so much fun that you want to remember what it was like. If you were there, and want to tag yourself, that would be awesome.
Okay, next we have another angle on the now-legen…wait for it…dary Livin’ on a Prayer:
I find it moderately ironic and exceptionally funny that the song I really didn’t want to do ended up being the one that’s viewed the most times, and is actually my best performance of the night. Now I’m stuck with it. Damn you, Bon Jovi. (Not really. Call me. Mean it!)
Here’s a short clip that Ken from XCast put up. It gives you an idea of how much fun we were having, even when we weren’t getting the rock on:
Here were are nearing the end of the evening. If you ever wanted to: 1) Hear me make a Star Trek joke about an Offspring Song or 2) watch a bunch of guys dressed up as EM EFFING GHOSTBUSTERS play that same song, this is the clip you want to see:
And, finally, here is the finale. I can’t sing Steve Perry to save my life, and I wish the vocal track from my Mic was turned all the way off, but at this point, it’s not even about sounding good or even looking good; at this point it’s all about having fun and finishing an epic night with motherfucking JOURNEY, goddammit:
One last time, I want to thank Sean from Harmonix for supporting this event, Lee and Joe and everyone else at Phoenix Comicon for giving us the room and the time to make it happen, but most of all, everyone who came out to be part of the event. It was something really special to me, and though we’ll certainly do this at future cons, this is where it all began and you were part of it. Tell your kids and make them jealous.
YouTube user ewingsquadron put together a really cool overview of our Rock Band party at Phoenix Comicon:
And here I am doing Eye of the Tiger:
And here’s We Got The Beat, which was crazy fun and much more tiring on drums than I was expecting. It does have a drum solo, though, which is pretty awesome. The lighting isn’t great, but I think you can get a sense of how much fun we were all having, which is all that matters:
If you have a video of your own, feel free to link it in the comments here, and I’ll do a link roundup at the end of the week.
Even if you’re not counting down the minutes until Watchmen comes out, if you are of a certain age, this is pretty much a perfect recreation of the time it’s supposed to be, well, recreating. My nostalgia centers are currently well above the flood stage, and it’s not just because of the production quality. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe the dialog is taken almost directly from the book I loved and read over and over as a teenager, but I don’t have time to take mine out and fact check at the moment.
It's another one of those holy shit how am I going to get all this done? days, so please enjoy this video and song while I crush everything.
This week’s contribution to the LA Daily is online. It’s so money and it doesn’t even know it:
I do this silly thing on Twitter where I make up conversations with iTunes. The way it’s turned out, iTunes and I have a slightly dysfunctional relationship, but since it’s all in my head anyway, I’m in complete control (iTunes: Yeah, you just keep telling yourself that. Me: Stop it! I’m writing my column!) so I can claim responsibility for whatever music iTunes is making me listen to.
Last week, it shuffled to Combustible Edison’s “The Millionaire’s Holiday” (from the 1995 album I, Swinger) and though I hadn’t made a conscious effort to listen to lounge music in months, it was suddenly all I wanted to hear. I had so much fun listening to it again, I thought I’d use my column this week to celebrate some of the records I love, and hopefully introduce new listeners to the glorious world of space age bachelor pad music.
It’s a deliberately incomplete guide, so as to not overwhelm the reader, but it was fun to put together and it’s not a bad place to start for the lounge-curious hepcat, if I do say so myself.
Comments are closed on this post, but I’d love to hear your thoughts at the Weekly.