Tag Archives: new york

Song of the Day: True Blue

You guys, I despair. I despair at what Madonna has done to her face:

madonna

Madonna at the 2014 Grammys

This is not a knock on Madonna in general. Even though she’s not my favorite artist of all time, there’s much to admire about this lady. She was an absolute trendsetter and a ground breaker at the the start of her career. Madonna paved the way for many a female pop star, from Britney to Lady Gaga to Katy Perry. And let’s face it, she is (or, was) better than all of them. Her moves were great, her look was fantastic, and her attitude was fucking awesome. I’m talking way early on – the ‘struggling artist in early ’80s New York’ era, the ‘Like a Virgin’ era…back when Madonna was young, and confident, and snarky, and superior, and all of that was okay because had the goods to back it up. That Madonna excelled at pushing boundaries and being way ahead of the curve, armed only with a cheeky, unapologetic, in-your-face demeanor.

Nowadays, the most in-your-face thing about her is what’s going on with her face. And that’s the thing – this Madonna, who seems so desperate to hold onto her youth (for why else would she be doing this?), does not seem unapologetic at all. It seems like she’s forgotten who she is – a woman who rose to the upper echelons of the music industry on the basis of stringent hard work and an incredible amount of chutzpah (I mean let’s face, it, she doesn’t have the greatest voice of all time). She had that ineffable quality — that ‘It’ factor — to a degree that makes other female artists who have come after her pale in comparison.

My favorite Madonna tracks continue to be the ones from her early career, and particularly from 1986’s True Blue. This record contained not only gems such as ‘Papa Don’t Preach’, ‘Live to Tell’, and ‘La Isla Bonita’, but also what is surely one of pop music’s poppiest songs of all time, ‘True Blue’. This track is the ultimate in bubblegum brilliance, deceptive in its simplicity (much like the Archies 1969 hit ‘Sugar Sugar’). And I absolutely adore the video – pure, campy fun (and featuring Debi Mazar!) Enjoy:

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Prepare To Prog

genesis

All right, got my ticket to the concert, check the calendar… 3 weeks to go, what’s next? Train man — train hard like Rocky would.

A typical training regime begins with listening to the artist’s latest CD, over and over again. Sometimes it’s easy. The songs come to you and you feel them immediately. Your body and brain react unconsciously, like Neo dodging bullets. You understand, accept and feel the music completely. This is rare. Training is usually difficult because you have your favorites from the artist and when the new stuff is not measuring up, it becomes work — like running in Siberia with a log on your back (Rocky 3).

I have been training very hard over the last few weeks, and at times have felt totally overwhelmed. I feel like I have given myself only 3 weeks to train for a marathon. Sometimes I question myself — do possess the endurance and mental fortitude necessary to rise to the occasion? Self-defeating thoughts have been entering my mind: I should have started training for this years ago (or maybe when I was 14)… it’s too big, too complex…I’ve never been challenged like this before, and I need more experience. But something brings me back each day to listen again and again, and search the interweb for different interpretations of the music. It is exhausting and excruciating, but then I feel my music muscle memory kick in and I’m starting to get the music version of a runner’s high. I just want to keep listening. I think can…I think I can — I just might be able to — get my mind and body in tune for The Musical Box‘s performance of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway this Saturday at the Danforth Music Hall.

This record is the New York Marathon of progressive rock concept albums. Genesis released the epic double album in 1974, and it is the sprawling storey of Rael, a streetwise kid from Brooklyn and his quest to make a name for himself. Transpose the “a” and “e” and it’s Real — or is it a play on Peter Gabriel? — and that’s just the beginning… I found pages and pages online written by people attempting to deconstruct the plot and explain the symbolism. I feel like I need an English teacher to help me understand this. And this has been the great fun of my current training exercise — remembering the things I love about concept albums. It’s pure escapism, suspension of disbelief, entering Rael’s world and following him along the gritty streets of 1970’s New York and through fantastical magical caves and endless staircases.

Spending time with this album has reignited my interest in revisiting some of my old favorite concept albums and taking a chance on some new ones. Maybe its time for me to give some of the contemporaries a shot – Coheed and Cambria come to mind. I took a break today from training and listened to Arcarde Fire’s concept album The Suburbs. I thought to myself “damn, Rush said all of this in one one song, ‘Subdivsions,’ and also released 3 concepts albums – one about necromancers, one about a dystopian society and one about Greek gods fighting for man’s conscience — and they still didn’t win a Grammy”. Maybe Arcade Fire’s Grammy for The Suburbs was more of a recognition of the brilliance of the concept album. A calling card to other artists to take an idea, add adventurous music, dare to be grandiose, and something special might happen. So special it is still being recreated 37 years after its’ release.

For more on the history of The Musical Box & their collaboration with Genesis, click here.


Shazamit! Vol II

shazamit!

If you read my first Shazamit! post, you know how scared fascinated I am by “the computers” and the many ways in which they are slowly but surely taking over the world. Soon they will be doing all of our thinking for us. For now, they must content themselves with worming their way into our lives by performing dazzling tricks, such as instantly identifying random songs that we hear playing in the grocery store or Starbucks. This is actually a critically essential service. It’s very important when you hear a song to be able to find out immediately who the artist and album are so that you can go and buy it, thus further lining the pockets of Steve Jobs contributing to the convalescence of the global economy. Shazam even has a convenient link to iTunes. How helpful is that! Thank you, computers! I love you, and I fear you. Obviously a very healthy relationship.

Anyway, as previously mentioned, I use the Shazam app a lot. It has led me to some really good music over the years, and also some not-so-great songs. Working in chronological order from my previous list, here are my next 10 tags…

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Happy Birthday to You! Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train”

you guys! do you know what today is? it’s the 70th birthday of duke ellington’s “take the A train”.  seventy!! it’s aged so well — doesn’t sound a day over twenty-five!

take the a train

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