Occasionally I’ve seen the module above show my top 8 listened to artists (which adds Springsteen and Counting Crows into the mix), but it’s a new and improved view of what I’ve been listening to. In all fairness, the majority of my music listening has been at work lately and I rely heavily on data CD’s of MP3’s, to which I have entire discs of my favorite artists, but the counts go back to 2006, so what can you say? If you haven’t checked it out at all, or lately, give Last.fm your attention.
I’ve often thought of the mixed feelings that must be associated within a musician when they put together a great album. There’s so much work that to have a successful product must be so satisfying, but there must also be a sense of anxiety. To make a great album, so many things have to come together perfectly. There needs to be great songwriting, great performances, and great production. A record company would also say that the marketing of the album is key to making it great too, but so many great albums don’t get discovered until well after the record company has stopped promoting them, the art of a great album will be timeless. All three facets I mention above need to be solid. A collection of well written songs can get lost if the performance lacks depth or the production doesn’t bring it all together.
An album like Before These Crowded Streets is one of those times that songwriting, performance, and production all came together. People that loved Dave Matthews for songs like “Satellite” and “Crash” probably had a hard time initially getting their heads wrapped around BTCS, because with a couple of exceptions, the album went in a different direction that previous DMB albums. To me the album is a perfect melding of darker, minor key undertone with melodic almost anthemic bridges and choruses. There’s a common feel throughout the album. The first single released from the album was “Don’t Drink The Water” which set the tone for the mainstream reaction with it’s haunting, deep rhythm set against an uplifting chorus. Mix in Bela Fleck’s bango and Alanis Morissette’s background vocals and it’s hard to find a piece of the spectrum that isn’t used by producer Steve Lillywhite. The songs are thick but still had commercial appeal with “Stay (Wasting Time)” and “Crush” getting lots of airtime back in the day. Well worth tracking down a copy and giving it a second shot. Near perfect albums are rare, and I’m not sure Dave Matthews has released anything close to the perfection of Before These Crowded Streets. My favorites are “Pig”, “Halloween”, “Don’t Drink the Water”, “The Stone” and “Crush”.
A friend and colleague asked me that yesterday and I kind of blanked on a good answer, so my answer likely resembled mumblings about rock and roll, growing up in the 80’s, coming of age during grunge, etc. I think I could probably write a book to answer the question if I could organize my thoughts. It’s an interesting question that I’m certain to explore here. In the meantime, feel free to answer the question for yourself in the comments.
I started a new ongoing project this past weekend when I found a box full of photos and ticket stubs. Here is a link to the Flickr photo set for concert/sporting event tickets I’ve gone through. The cache I found mostly fell within the 14 months I lived in California, but definitely isn’t a complete collection yet. I know there are plenty more buried in various boxes throughout my home, so I will continue to update it as new tickets come along and I find more old ones.
There’s a little Anchorage love in the newest issue of Paste Magazine. In the section titled “The Informer” July 26 is owned by a picture of Jeff Tweedy with the copy if you can’t read it “7/26 Wilco plays the 12th-anniversary party of some place called The Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage, Alaska.” I know a handful of people who were hanging around the Moose’s Tooth 12 years ago…probably sitting around talking about Wilco’s Being There enjoying Pipeline Stout or a Fairweather I.P.A. with Alaska’s best pizza. Judging by the response to Son Volt, Third Eye Blind, and even Elton John at least Wilco will walk away from their July 26 show knowing what Anchorage and the Moose’s Tooth are all about.
In an effort to post more regularly, I offer you some new(er) music that’s getting a lot of play with me on this summer Friday.
Coldplay – Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
Jakob Dylan – Seeing Things
Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs
Weezer – Weezer (The Red Album)
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
I can vouch for these. Check them out.
I don’t have a bucket list. I do have a mental list of things I’d like to say I’ve done, and yesterday I got to officially cross one off. I threw out the first pitch at a baseball game. Now, it wasn’t Fenway or even PGE Park as I have always imagined, but I enjoyed the opportunity tremendously.
It’s one of those things that is both easy and hard to check off of a list. DigiTel, the company I work for is a sponsor of the Mat-Su Miners based in Palmer, AK. Yesterday we were the primary sponsor for the game. It involved lots of giveaways, and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch. With my love of baseball and my years of playing the sport, I jumped at the chance.
The combination of baseball and business makes it fitting that this event happened on Father’s Day. When I was a kid, my dad would come home from a full day of work to play catch, catch my often wild pitches, coach third base at games (who loved to send base runners to steal home), and was always the most supportive dad on all the teams I played on.
My dad has been a great example to me in business too. He’s always said that having a firm understanding of how the little things make up the big picture helps making big decisions easier.
Years and years ago, I took a summer job working as a contractor for his company while they went through an inventory management system installation. My work consisted of lots of data entry and working out the kinks on the database as it was implemented to the warehouse. Spending as much time with the warehouse guys gave me a good appreciation for how the blue collar working guys saw my dad. Union tensions were pretty high that summer as a few other unions went on strike, but getting the perspective of the union warehouse guys of my dad and his role in operations management let me know that he wasn’t just another ‘suit’ to them. Whether it was because he understood the parts of the whole, or because he found common ground relationally with the guys, they respected him and his role whether the union appreciated that or not.
He’s been an example of how to lead, how to organize and how to remain loyal despite the company not always being loyal to you.
I’m a weekly watcher of both Meet the Press and Tim Russert’s MSNBC show, so the sad news of his death and the tributes that followed have been showing up in my Tivo recordings a lot the last few days. One thing Tom Brokaw and James Carville talked about on the special Meet The Press yesterday was how Tim Russert would become a fan of what his friends were fans of, he’d call Carville about LSU touchdowns, Mike Barnicle even mentioned how excited he was Thursday night about the Celtics coming back to beat the Lakers (I can’t share that enthusiasm) with a midnight phone call. My dad shares this enthusiasm not just about sports teams, but will go above and beyond to learn about what his friends and family are in to. Whether it means buying an album on iTunes, sending articles about a particular industry to a friend, or calling the moment the last out of the Red Sox winning the World Series, he’s dedicated to finding or creating common ground.
Whether baseball, business, or life, my dad has been a great influence on who I am and who I want to be. Thanks, Dad for the example, the advice (the more true; the harder to take), and for making time for a game of catch (even as adults). Know that I’ve found those times priceless.
I’ve been reading Wil Wheaton’s blog as long as I’ve known what a blog was. Today is the first time that I can remember him writing about Stand By Me. Never a big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but Stand By Me is #1 on my list of favorite movies. I’m sure it has to do with me being 12ish the first time I saw it. I’ve also read the book several times…and to truly prove just how big of a Stand By Me goof ball I am, my friends and I submitted Senior Memories for each of the 4 main characters in Stand By Me to our high school yearbook. Not only did Gordie, Chris, Vern and Teddy get immortalized in the Hillsboro High School yearbook in 1993, but also the members of U2 apparently graduated with me too. Seems like it would’ve been harder to get things published in the yearbook, but alas it wasn’t even due to my being on yearbook staff that these slipped by.
Every month the folks at Moose’s Tooth celebrate the first tap of the month. Thursday night they did so with the help of Alt.Country/Americana royalty. I’ve mentioned Son Volt before as royalty when I saw them at the Fillmore in San Francisco just before jumping on a plane and returning to Alaska. So it wasn’t my first time seeing them, but believe it or not in my nearly 5 years of living in Anchorage, this was my first time attending a first tap event. Local singer/songwriter Jared Woods opened the night with some sensitive songwriter songs…to which a friend who hadn’t heard Son Volt before leaned over and asked if this is what Son Volt sounded like. I’ve seen Jared Woods several times in several different venues and combinations, but Thursday was the first time I didn’t enjoy his schtick. It’s common practice for bands that come to Alaska to book local talent to open for them. And I’m happy to see when Wilco (featured on the front page of Wikipedia today) plays in Anchorage in July, The Whipsaws are the opening act.
Once Son Volt took the stage, they hit hard and kept punching. Several classic Son Volt songs as well as a good mix of songs from The Search. It didn’t seem like there was the same level of energy on stage in the Beartooth as there was at the Fillmore last year, but it may have been the difference between leaning against the legendary stage and being seated in a booth at the back of the theater pub. All in all, it was a great show and showed again that if musicians however big show up in Anchorage, the crowds will follow.
Elton John stepped onto the Sullivan Arena stage on Wednesday night like he owned the place. While I have no doubt that with nearly 50 years of albums and tours, he can afford the place; it took a unique interaction with an Alaskan crowd to win the favor of the whole town. To recap the degree of buzz surrounding Sir Elton’s Alaskan journey, you must know that big name artists don’t come to Anchorage. And sometimes if they do book a show in Anchorage, there’s a long history of artists canceling their shows. As I mentioned in a previous post, Elton John originally booked 2 Alaska shows as part of a complete the USA effort to play all 50 states. The Anchorage show sold out in 58 minutes, which led to concert promoters scheduling a second Anchorage show for Friday night, which apparently sold out in 55 minutes.
With a little back story it should come as no surprise to you that there was a lot of energy in the air Wednesday night. Fairly promptly after 8pm, Elton John took the stage to thunderous applause. He made a point to wave and salute each section of the arena. Throughout his performance he consistently smiled and waved, and acknowledged the entire crowd. Speaking of the performance…it couldn’t have been better! He kicked off the two and a half hour set with “Your Song” and mixed in with several lesser known songs from older albums, he thrilled the crowd with classics like “Tiny Dancer”, “Daniel”, and “Levon.”
Above all it was a great reminder of how much Elton John has contributed to the musical landscape over the past 40 years. Everyone has their “Tiny Dancer” moment like one of my favorite Almost Famous scenes. Everyone has a “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” moment or “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” moment. And whether images of Marilyn Monroe or Diana, Princess of Wales come to mind during “Candle in the Wind” the point is that Elton John’s music has done one of those amazing things by moving you, sticking in your mind or just bringing a pleasant memory back to you.