Fifth In Line To The Throne

I’ve listened to few bands more than I have Camera Obscura over the past five years. I’ve had this track on repeat all afternoon.

Love these lyrics:

Now, I’m fifth in line to the throne
How am I gonna tell my king
That I don’t trust his throne, anymore

Past Sagebrush

This is the email I sent my brother this morning.

I miss Seattle a lot. I miss the big city and the the excitement. But I don’t miss the traffic and the 2-3 hour a day commute. Living in Ivins has been a change. It’s small and close-knit, tucked into the Red Mountain community. It feels nothing like St. George.

But there are times when I can’t imagine going back to the big city. One of them happened last night. We drove up the windy road, past sagebrush and sand towards the mountain leading to the Tuacahn amphitheater and sat outside in 60 degree weather under the moon and stars.

Under the lit mountain, Jim Brickman walked out on stage, sat down at the black Yamaha grand piano and began playing this song without saying a word. 

Freaking awesome.

Billy Joel Interview

Once in a while you come across something so good and so fascinating that it grabs hold of you and won’t let go.  That’s what happened when I tuned in to listen to Alec Baldwin interview Billy Joel, and I’m not a big fan of either.

When I was in high school I convinced my best friend to take my girlfriend to the Billy Joel concert at the Salt Palace because I had no desire to listen to three hours of his music. Yet, I knew all the words to his music. If you were scanning the radio during the late 70’s and 80’s his music was impossible to miss.

OK, he had one song I liked a lot: She’s Always a Woman. “She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes…”

So few artists today are made for the long haul. Baldwin asks Joel when he realized he’d become a rock star. Listen to his answer because it’s as the essence of what separates the true musicians from the fleeting stars of today.

Some of Joel’s favorite tunes were not commercially successful, but it didn’t matter. He made Uptown Girl to poke fun at his life, and knew it wasn’t his best work, yet it was in the MTV loop and sold millions.

Shows like the Voice and American Idol have convinced  kids that playing to a TV audience is all it takes. Show up, sing a few songs produced by the hit-makers and sit back while the cash rolls in. And sometimes the cash does roll in and a few albums are sold, but it doesn’t last but the act isn’t built to last. Next season’s Idol winner will be ready in a few months so who cares?

But seriously, your kids and mine aren’t going to be listening to any of those Idol winners, because so few have lasting talent. They didn’t pay their dues. And they’d rather be famous and date professional athletes than make remarkable music.

But musicians like Joel were in it for the music. The music is what resonates. Dance moves come and go, but the music endures.

I was fascinated at how humble Joel was in admitting to the mistakes he made while married and how he still feels he’s not that talented of a piano player.

I know what good piano playing is and I’m not good. My left hand is lame. I am a two-fingered left-hand piano player…I never practiced enough to use all my fingers on my left hand, so I just play octaves, bass notes. My right hand tries to compensate for my left hand being so gimpy, so I overplay on my right hand. My technique is horrible. I can’t read music.

Listen to a first few minutes and see if you get hooked like I did.;containerClass=wnyc

From the Byrds to the Eagles

I found a link to this BBC documentary about the Los Angeles music scene in the 70’s on the Bob Lefsetz site.  Someone uploaded the entire documentary to YouTube where you’ll find all seven parts.

There are so many parts that made me smile, but I’ll mention just one because it’s in such sharp contrast to how much of the music is made today. Kids with marginal vocal talent and no song writing skills believe they can become superstars if only American Idol will take notice.

Contrast that to what Jackson Browne said, barely out of his teens:

There was a couple of years that I had offers but didn’t feel I was really ready….it was demonstrated to me early that it took a lot of intention to make records…and that one couldn’t just drift into the studio like our legendary heroes did and sit down for $250 and make a masterpiece.  

It’s not difficult to appreciate the greatness of the Beatles music today, but what many overlook are the eight years they spent honing their craft in Germany. Eight years. And these were some of the most talented musicians in our lifetime.

If you love music set aside some time and enjoy every minute.