Archive | November, 2008


30 Nov

When you mention Classical American Literature, you would be remiss if you didn’t mention The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It’s a tale of the American Dream, its corruption and what some will go through just to survive. It’s a weighty book and the music its inspired has reflected that. Throughout the book there is despair all around. The jobs are drying up. People are fighting tooth and nail just to feed their families and many aren’t winning that fight. Music inspired by this is bound to be as heavy as the subject matter. Pink Floyd’s song “Sorrow” is derived straight from the first chapter of the book. Killswitch Engage’s song “Rose of Sharyn” uses the character Rose of Sharon as a metaphor to help describe their feelings regarding the loss of a loved one. And then there is the most notable song references to Grapes of Wrath, “The Ghost of Tom Joad”. The song is a contemporary take on the story of the main character, Tom Joad, even including a version of the book’s most famous speech.

In the book:
“Whenever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Whenever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there… I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’-I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build-why, I’ll be there.”

In the song:
Now Tom said “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I’ll be there
Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin’ hand
Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.”

It’s a very strong statement worthy of just strong source material. Here’s the Rage Against the Machine version (as I prefer it to the Bruce Springsteen original)

Song 747- “The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Rage Against The Machine



29 Nov

What is a “Red Red Kroovy”? The Red, Red Kroovy is the subtitle of the song “Never Gonna Stop” by former White Zombie frontman Rob Zombie. So what exactly is a kroovy? Kroovy is a term for blood in the language of Nadsat. Nadsat is a variant of Russian spoken by Alex and the Droogs in the book, “A Clockwork Orange”. “Kroovy” is the nadsat word for blood, spun from the Russian word “krov”. In fact, the song is littered with references to the Burgess novel and Kubrick movie. And the song also includes a music video that has Zombie and his band in the Korova milk bar and driving in a Durango 95, more book references.

You just couldn’t stop Alex DeLarge, could you?

Song 746- “Never Gonna Stop (the Red Red Kroovy)” by Rob Zombie


28 Nov

Now that I’m done with the Amanda Palmer theme…I have no idea what to write about! Think…think…think. Well, recently I did a theme all about the mixing of comic books and music. I think that for the next 5 days, I will go further with the theme with a look at Literature and some of the ways that it has related to music. What inspired this theme? I’ll admit that it’s not an original concept. I was inspired by something I heard on the great podcast Podquiz which made me think more about the inspirations of the music I listen to. Take for instance, the song “Venus in Furs” by the Velvet Underground. I always took that for granted as just another part of the drug-laden scene that it was born in. I just said to myself that “Venus in Furs” was Warhol and his proteges being hyper-creative and I’m just missing something. And I certainly was missing something, the root of the song. The song is based on a book of the same name by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch all about sadomasochism. Now that I’ve learned that, I wonder what other songs I can find…

Song 745- “Venus in Furs” by the Velvet Underground


26 Nov

It’s the last day of my theme devoted to the Amanda Palmer concert and I must say that it was pretty awesome. It was part concert, part theater performance. Her performance began with a funeral procession (remember Amanda Palmer had died) and from there, it became an experience. Now, I usually would be vehemently upset about a concert that included lip synching, but AFP used lip synching on 2 occasions to create memorable moments in her show. Throw in a lot of witty banter, the extremely creative performance art of the Danger Ensemble and beautiful song renditions and you got one of the top 5 concerts that I’ve been to. It made me think about my own life as a musician and how I should strive always to connect with my audience. AFP really did that with the atmosphere of her show. I’d highly recommend her concert.

Song 744- “Half Jack” by Amanda Palmer f/ Lyndon Chester


25 Nov

So here’s the part where I talk about the headliner of the show, Amanda Palmer. BUT first, a word from Roadrunner Records: Amanda Palmer’s fat. In one of the most ridiculous things I have heard of in a long time, according to AFP’s (that’s the aforementioned Ms. Palmer) blog, her record company wants her video for Leeds United reshot because it shows her belly and her belly looks fat. Out of all record companies, I was shocked to hear that Roadrunner would be so hung up on appearances. C’mon, their artists include Slipknot and Cavalera Conspiracy. That’s a whole lot of fugly and they’re worried about a little belly chub. And this has caused an uproar from AFP fans who have begun flooding Roadrunner Records with pictures of their bellies. So belly solidarity.

Though I must say that I don’t understand what sending them to Roadrunner is supposed to do. It’s not like when fans sent tabasco bottles to the WB so that they would keep Roswell on. That stunt proved to the WB that Roswell had a loyal fan base. What is this supposed to do. Do they want a formal apology or do they hope this is going to make them change their wicked ways? You’re talking about a record company with three female artists in their active catalog- AFP, Anette Olzon (of Nightwish) and Sharon den Adel (of Within Temptation). They seem pretty set in their ways. PLUS, what if this brings a backlash? AFP is a very vocal person when it comes to the traumas of being in the music industry and she happens to be on a label where she sticks out like a sorethumb. She’s nothing like Megadeth, Devildriver or Trivium. Roadrunner may decide that she’s not worth all the trouble. Let’s hope not. Let’s hope these bellies lead to something good.

Actually they have…they have lead to a whole group of people being proud of their body image. That’s a good thing. And it supports AFP in the choices she makes as an artist which is also good. So, tomorrow I’ll go back to talking about the concert. But I will say that “Leeds United” was Amanda’s encore song. It’s the perfect example of the energy that she can create, even when it’s just her and her piano.

Song 743- “Leeds United” by Amanda Palmer


24 Nov

After Vermillion Lies came the opening band that I knew that was performing, the Builders and the Butchers. I had seen them on YouTube performing in a video that looked like it was shot in someone’s backyard. It was quite a good performance and seemed like a lot of fun. But I said to myself, “I bet they won’t be that fun live”. I was thinking that was the situation that was making the performance so good. It took the band all of ten seconds to prove me wrong. That’s about when Alex Ellis’ acoustic bass kicked in and started rattling in our chests and the two drummers (Ray Rude & Paul Seely) started into their flow. Then the mandolin player (Harvey Tumbleson) kicked in and started playing it as if it were a guitar. And then Ryan Sollee started singing and it was off and running. During Amanda Palmer’s performance, the crowd took in the spectacle but with the Builders and the Butchers, they rocked out. There was just so much energy, it was contagious. They made a fan out of me that night.

Song 742- “Bottom of the Lake” by the Builders and the Butchers

(Footage from the Philly show last weekend!)


23 Nov

After the wonderful oddness that was the Army of Broken Toys, I was ready for the actual concert. Part of me was a little disinterested as Zoe Keating wasn’t going to be on the show and I love Zoe. But I was ready and willing to give openers Vermillion Lies a chance and I’m happy I did.

Tour 2007

Vermillion Lies is a sister act which full of lots of audience participation (“What’s in the Box?!”), an accordian, a dancing puppet, bells and loads of fun. They made fans of me and if you go to their myspace, you can download their whole album for free. WooHoo! And you should because it includes the catchiest song ever (and they know it). So everybody grab the person next to you, sway and sing along to:

Song 741- “Global Warming” by Vermillion Lies

Yes, that’s a live video of Vermillion Lies but it’s not from the night where I was at the show. There will be video from that show to come. As well as video from the show that reader Krisis was at. Yeah for fast YouTubers.