Monday, January 28, 2008

Defending the Music XIV: The Bombs Never Hit You When You're Down So Low

Hitting the home stretch now, the last eight of twenty-one. I've saved my two all-time favourites for the back-end, and I've already done all the artists that I'd consider to be the least of the best. I did a few bands early on that sit amongst the absolute cream, but from here on out that's all there is. Stuff I really really love.

I figure that of the eight artists left I'll start with the two that I fell the least responsible for my own appreciation of. Two bands that friends pestered me into liking. And obviously they were right. I love both these groups. I'll tackle them chronologically.

The first one I have Jason and Paul to blame for, but it my first experience with the band was with a girl.

I hadn't even heard of Midnight Oil before Marquetta had a crush on me. Back in first year university, my only year in residence, a girl from a building across the quad had a big crush on me. It was kind of unfortunate really. She was cute and I'm betting that a few more years of maturing would have made her gorgeous in a sexy-librarian kind of way. She was cool and I really enjoyed hanging out with her - good thing as she knocked on my door practically every day. But she just wasn't 'my type.' One thing she was really great at was identifying music that I would like. She turned me towards a number of bands - one other of which is yet to come on this list - which were 'alternative' when that still meant something which have gone on to major mainstream success. One related thing that connected us (and this is going to date me) is that we were the only two people we knew with those new-fangled CD players.
One day Marquetta brought over 'Diesel & Dust.' "Listen to this. You'll like it." Damned if she wasn't right.
I didn't really pay a lot of attention to Midnight Oil for the next few years. I owned "Diesel & Dust" and listened to it, but it wasn't in high rotation.

Eventually I found myself playing music with other guys. Jason pushed for us to play "The Dead Heart." That 'de doo doo doo - doo de doo' intro and extro was a LOT of fun to play. We learned a lot about dynamics playing our way out of that song. It was one of our better numbers and we also worked on some other Midnight Oil songs. It soon became apparent to us just how good these guys were as musicians. They had a remarkable ability to make quite complex songs sound much simpler than they were.

By this time "Blue Sky Mining" had been released and I had added it to my regular playlist.

During one of the summers I spent house painting Paul was bound and determined to convert everyone who he painted with into rabid Oil fans. He owned all their albums and played them on the company ghetto-blaster every chance he had. His plan worked. By the end of the summer I too owned all the most significant Oil albums - as did several of my other co-workers. I'd also found a new favourite Midnight Oil song, which holds the title to this day. (For the record, the video almost comically fails to capture the power of the song.)

I was the right age to be easily inflamed by the politics of their music. I was in my activistic stage and they were the soundtrack to the injustices of the day.

I missed Another Roadside Attraction in '93 because I was on tour. In fact, I missed the A.R.A. tour all three times because I was on tour. Without fail I'd be in Winnipeg and they'd be in Saskatoon. Two nights later we'd be in Saskatoon and Winnipeg would be rocking out. Grrrr.

That tour was politically linked to the logging issues in the Clayoquot though the band was also touring in support of "Earth and Sun and Moon" which was for practical purposes their last big album. They already had a political issue that was killing them as a band...

They didn't have much to complain about during the Clinton administration. Or rather they thought it diluted their message to start picking at the minor indiscretions of the world's remaining super-power. Think what you like about that. I don't know that it's as righteous as I'd like to think Midnight Oil as being, but that was what they claimed eight years later when I did finally have a chance to see them live.

Midnight Oil in the Commodore Ballroom was the most awesome show I ever saw in that spectacular venue. Imagine the Lurch-like six and a half foot bald-headed Peter Garrett whirling and spastically dancing (There's plenty of examples for your imagination in the linked videos.) mere feet above your head.

They declared that night that there was something wrong in the world again (Hmmm... I wonder what?) and that they has something to say and thus they were back. Sadly it wouldn't last long. Six months later Peter Garrett finally did something he had threatened to do before their breakout "Diesel & Dust" - he quit the band and went into politics. Apparently he figured he could accomplish more in the Australian Parlaiment. He is now the Minister of Enviroment, Heritage and the Arts.

While I do wish for another chance to see them live, or a new album, I respect Peter Garrett's committment to walk the talk. There are a number of bands on this list with strong politics. Few were ever as strident and none put their money where their mouth is with this much fervence.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

How to Start Lecture

A heads up...

This Wednesday Jan 30th I'll be doing one of Biz Books' "How to Start" lectures. All the details (stolen from their site) follow below, so I won't get more redundant than I already have been.


How to Start… Getting Off the Couch and Making that Independent Film You’ve Been Saying You’re Going to Make with Kennedy Goodkey

A thoroughly non-technical look at how to get the ball-rolling towards the ultimate goal of Making a Feature Film. From the importance of an initiating idea, to basic self-organization, through the value of a good partner in crime to how to manage your life partner while you have a two year affair with a film. Also covering the realities of finances and just how much work it takes to make a movie; and the importance of good publicity, an un-flinching faith in yourself, and a voracious capacity to learn and learn and learn.

Wednesday, January 30th; 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
To ensure we have a space set aside for you, either call: 604.669.6431 or e-mail:

Kennedy’s passion for film-making is evident in the scripts he produces. He writes from the heart, but uses his head to make sure it comes out right. He is an asset to every film he produces.
— David Nykl

Kennedy is unstoppable… ’cause the road to The Beast of Bottomless Lake was an impossible one, but he travelled it.
— Mark Leiren-Young

Kennedy Goodkey is the host of the podcast "Micro Film: A Close Look at Making Big Films on a Small Budget."
He is also the winner of the First National Sketch Writing Competition, and a well known British Columbia writer/actor who is currently one of the principals in Vancouver production company Provost Pictures.
While he's perhaps best known for his work as both an actor and writer in the independent Vancouver theatre world (as well as many years spent on the Fringe-Festival Theatre circuit), Kennedy's writing credits include the animated films A David Lynch Family Christmas and The Gnome Who Knew Too Much (winner of the 'Special Achievement Award', 2003 ReelFast 48HR Filmmaking Competition). Additionally, Kennedy has written the live action short Rewind, as well as the shorts Godot and Straight Flush, both of which he also directed.
Kennedy is a Jessie Richardson Award-nominated actor, with appearances on The L Word and a lead role in the feature Sons of Cohen for which he also wrote the screenplay. He was the first recipient of the Provost Writer's Award for his play Sarcophagus, which is about the Chernobyl disaster.
Kennedy is currently involved in post-production for the feature-length film The Beast of Bottomless Lake, an interpretation of Moby Dick filmed primarily in the Okanagan region of British Columbia.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cloverfield vs. Jaws & The Art of Missing the Point


So I went and saw Cloverfield last night.

It was a wild ride. I totally loved it. When I left the theatre I mentioned to the friends I went with that I expected that most of the criticism that would be lobbed at it would be how it failed to explain the initiating circumstances or the implied victory over the monster. I also had heard people couldn't handle the 'handy-cam cinematography' a la Blair Witch Project.

So this morning I took a look at what was available on-line.

Sure enough.

Other criticisms: Lame witless dialogue. Exploitative 9/11 imagery.

Every single one of these criticisms are complete and utter bullshit.

For starters I can name a dozen film (easily) that feature an enormous creature rampaging through a city. Most of them include the word 'Godzilla' in them, but it's hardly limited to that franchise. I highly recommend The Host. Despite The Host's rather refreshing look at the genre, it needs to be said about the genre as a whole - "Been there, done that."
We've all seen the tale of how the plucky team of scientists, intrepid military men and the token civilian pulled into the thick of things band together to vanquish the building-sized monster.
What hasn't been seen is the story of the guy who we see get crushed under it's foot before the final reel. THAT is this story. Uncompromisingly so. J.J. Abrams & Director Matt Reeves are never tempted to swerve to a place where our heroes become instrumental in the creature's demise. They come close, witnessing the inital bombing runs on it, but then they become the victims of the obligatory swipe at a pesky helicopter. As our beaten heroes lay in the rubble at the end of the film waiting for it to all end, their hideout becomes collateral damage to the final all-out attack on the creature.

We can assume that the creature is defeated - it is strongly implied by the nature of the faux government tag applied to the start of the film, one which indicates an inquiry into the incident. Did Rob and Beth survive? Probably not, but we don't know. Did we hear the creature's demise? We don't know. (There are reports that if you play the final radio transmission backwards that it say's "It's still alive." Even if true, frankly 'backwards masking' doesn't really exist in the world of this film. But the concept of the film directly prevents us from knowing based on the internal context, and that is how it should be. Anything else would be a cheat.

And the same applies to the cinematography and the dialogue. Both were slavishly realistic. Real people aren't capable of tossing out witty one-liners in response to their strife every two minutes for 90 minutes (or seven hours - the time the film plays out in). The film even subtly comments on it - "Why don't you ask me if I've ever heard of... Garfield." A line so witless, commenting on another character's lack of wit... it's genius.

And nothing can better put us in the situation than to see it all first person... though naming the character with the camera 'Hud' (Hudson/Heads Up Display) walks the line of self-reference. This does mean that we don't see much of the monster, 'cause naturally the protagonists are usually running in the opposite direction, but refer back to my first point - WE'VE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE! Not only do we not need to see the monster, it's a refreshing and more realistic to show it to us this way.

Which leads me tot he complaints of exploitation of 9/11 imagery. Exploitation? Go to hell. If anything it's the greatest of respect. I've got this theory - stay with me here - that if we were all to be exposed to the horror of being in the chaos of the hot zone it owuld happen a hell of a alot less. And the hot zone could be anything from Ground Zero at the World Trade Centre or downtown Baghdad in April of 2003 or Guernica in 1937, or Dresden 1945... I can go on of course. In all these cases a common trait is that the civilian victims (and survivors) at the centre of the storm have little notion of what is actually happening. They might know 'we are being bombed' but even that may be obscured (note that many people thought 9/11 was a bombing while it was happening - despite the jet-liners flying into buildings overhead.) Cloverfield presents this reality clearly (in it's obscurity) from start to finish. In his final address to the camera, Rob says "If you are watching this you know more about what's happening than I do." This is thematically a very important moment. What is the name of the film? "Cloverfield." A military slang term referencing the appearance from above of an area which has just been carpet-bombed, as the dust is still settling. Could this be any more clear? What is it like to be in the horrific heat of that moment? Cloverfield attempts to capture that. Again, the first-person view is an unrelenting choice which hammers this point home and never breaks it's own rule. Having the attack in question be a movie monster rather than a military power is almost irrelevant. Part of the point is that our protagonists only know a tiny sliver of the story, so it might as well be Godzilla - or whatever.
Let's face it, being a giant monster gets more people through the doors. Just look at the record breaking box-office figures of the first week. In that sense it's more exploitative, but if it had been an attack by a military power (which in New York would be even more absurd than a movie monster in today's day and age, the supernatural allows the leap of willful suspension of disbelief) half the people would come out to watch the movie... and the political subtext would be far too on the nose and less powerful.
My ultimate point here - if you've missed it - is that Cloverfield actually honours the victims of 9/11 (and more importantly, more horrific events - some people (cough, cough, New Yorkers, cough) really need to get over themselves) by bringing us inside the horror of such events so that we can all understand what it might be like, how confusing and terrifying it can be, and hopefully steel a little more resolve in each of us to prevent it from happening again.

Okay, I'm off my soap box for the moment. But that doesn't mean I'm finished!

A few more thoughts...

Titanic was a love story set against the backdrop of the world's most famous passnger liner sinking. Cloverfield does the same by putting a story against the backdrop of a Godzilla-like attack. The attack isn't the story. Surviving in the heaping rubble is.

I went home and rather randomly put Jaws in the DVD player. Watching the infamous first opening scene I had a revelation. Spielberg knew exactly what was going on underneath the water as Susan Backlinie was attacked by the shark. None of what happens is random. I know that making a reality of what is unseen is an important creative tool, but suddenly with outrageous clarity I saw what was going on beneath the surface. A taste... a bite and tearing a piece (leg or legs) off. A moment's respite as she clings to the buoy, legless, in shock as the first morsels go down and the shark circles for a second attack.... I imagined it all in greater clarity than this. (In a side note - I got to see our Jaws tribute scene edited last weekend. Made me very happy. It was always one of my pet scenes in the "Beast..." script.)

It occurred to me that Abrams and Reeves similarly knew at any given moment in Cloverfield what was going on in the bigger picture. What stage of any pedestrian creature feature would be going on in the world of the film.

Okay, I'm done.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I meant to blog about this already.

A few weeks back I made a facetious comment about not having a Wikipedia entry. Well, someone was listening. (Thanks Lisa!)

So now I DO have my own Wikipedia entry.

While it is almost entirely plagarized from the Provost Pictures website, it has since been formatted (which I believe is called 'wikifying') and looks like a real-ish Wiki entry.

It still needs some work as far as Wikipedia is concerned - there's notices at the top about how it's incomplete. Officially I can't do it myself - though I don't know what is actually stopping me.

I'm figuring it won't last long though. Someone mentioned a newspaper article written by a New York Times (possibly the most famous newspaper on the planet, almost certainly the most read) reporter who was surprised to find that the entry on himself had been removed because he 'was not famous enough.' The New York frikken Times! Like I've got cigarette's chance at an A.A. meeting. So if you feel inspired to 'fix' the article - don't!

Pilots Go the Way of the Dodo

This came up in this morning's Cynopsis and I thought it might be interesting to people outside of the industry.

So much for "pilot" season at NBC. Jeff Zucker announced yesterday the network would no longer order up pilots as a matter of course each year leading into the upfront season, thereby saving the network tens of millions of dollars, reports The NY Times. Typically each year, NBC and the other broadcast networks order up a series of pilots for shows in development, choose a handful of them as potential primetime series in the upcoming season, and show the pilots to advertisers during the upfront season. No more, says Zucker. Rather, the network would order perhaps one or two pilots each season. Zucker says the reason for this decision is pure economics in light of the current WGA strike and due to the current US economy.

It certainly implies that the change is permanent, but I haven't gone straight to the source (not that that would definitively clear it up) so it could just be a 'this season' thing courtesy of the writer's strike.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Future Facebook Ghosts

I recently came across a friend who has someone friended on Facebook who I know had been dead for about a year.

At first my reaction was THAT'S MORBID! But within a few seconds I have moved on to No, that's respectful and honouring of their memory.

I then started thinking about how that might carry on into the future.

Imagine Facebook remains the social networking utility of choice well into the future - well after you and I are all gone. What will happen to our accounts? As we each pass away and our friends honour us by leaving links to us as friends... what will happen?

We can't check out profiles of people more than one person removed (and few of us have our privacy settings set low enough to even allow one person removed viewing)... and of course we'll all take the passwords to our profiles with us to the grave. (Right?)

So eventually there could be this web of interconnected Facebook ghosts who no-one can actually access.

Actually that's probably not realistic at all. IF Facebook were to actually last that long I suspect that there would either be some sort of protocol put in place to either delete dormant accounts, or possibly to 'de-classify' the archive of dormant accounts after 'X' amount of time. Say 120 years after an account was created, or 30 years after it's last use? Or a certain amount of time after the declared birthdate of a user's profile - say 150 years (to allow for both the death of the user and any immediate descendant)?

I don't know.

Just musing on our digital immortality.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Defending the Music XIII: I Want You (In a Vinyl Suit)

I've been plugging away at other endeavours. Including taking a massive blow to the face. Got hit by a planet (you can probably deduce which one) and my head is still ringingBut I'm back now... at least for the moment. No doubt I'll get distracted again.

The first time I heard The Offspring, I thought to myself, Wow. We've dated the same girl. "Self-Esteem" from the biggest selling independent album of all time (pretty good for a bunch of kids who though their high-school janitor might make a good guitar player), appropriately titled 'Smash' cut to the quick. Music never seemed more promising than it did at that time.

While they never put another album together that was as awe inspiring as 'Smash' and they definitely gave in to the power of pop success, but there were many bright moments to come - even if they were more fun than inspiring. But they were consistently fun. Mixing equal parts, humour, politics and personal revelation their songs build irresistable hooks around anthemic punk cores. But wait, there's more! Offspring songs always sound like Offspring songs, but they've gone to great lengths to explore a variety of ethnic rhythms in their music as well, from the punk-ubiquitous ska, to Latin varieties & banghra to calypso.

I'll be the first to admit that I haven't had a lot in the way of personal insight since I first heard 'Self-Esteem' driving up Mt. Tolmie in Colin's car on our way to class, but I still get plenty of catharsis from chanting "Nah-na why don't you get a job?" from the song of the same name years after the fact.

And it's worth mentioning that the look of the character I play in 'Beast of Bottomless Lake' was based on Offspring lead singer, Dexter Holland.

Okay, this has been short but I gotta go contend with the concussion...

Tom Cruise: Got off the Train One Stop Past Wacko.

A follow up to my latest Enemies post.

Here's a new link to the Tom Cruise video.

I'm not going to walk you through it. I think it pretty much speaks for itself.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Defending the music XII: A Sentimental Journey into Sight and Sound

There aren't many bands who you can blame more for emo, than Green Day.

There are precious few bands that have made it further on as much lack of talent as Green Day... but, like the Clash (You knew I couldn't last much longer, could I? C'mon I narrowly avoided mentioning The Clash entirely in the OLP entry.), they honed their understanding of their abilities into increasingly adept incicive songwriting.

I was the demographic to blame for shooting Dookie to the top of the charts in 1994. It was hardly the paradigm setting moment it's since been hailed as when Mike Dirnt had his teeth fed to himself by a security guard at Woodstock '94 - if you actually watched the incident - well, you can't see it happen. Green Day's set was over, and the director cut to long-shots of the stage as the marauding fans rush the stage. However, the preceeding band incited mud-fight was great - harmless fun. The 'band violence' (I repeat: The mud-fight was harmless, and the punching actually had the band on the victim end.) helped catapult Green Day into the stratosphere. Oh yes, we were a disenfranchised lot, us Gen-X'ers. What's new? Every second wave of adolescents gets to be angry at the opulence of the intermediate generations... gawd, can I hardly wait for that phase to swing back around... perhaps kids will start re-fucking-cycling again! But I digress....

Yes, Dookie was a lot of fun. Revitalized punk - with harmonies! Who didn't get off screaming along with 'Basketcase's "Am I just paranoid or UHh-Muh-Glaaaaauuuh!" (Which, for the record, was actually "...or am I stoned?")

But then they had to go and write that fucking song.... You know the one. 'Good Riddance.' (Oh how I wish it appropriately WOULD go away.) Changes are you know the somg by it's refrain - "I hope you had the time of your life." Would someone please kill me if I ever have to hear that song again? And don't you DARE play that song at my funeral - which I think is the real problem with it. It went from release to overplay inside of three days. Okay, realistically, three months. (Okay, so there are occasional exceptions to the 'I will listen to anything they release' rule.) Until their most recent album, this has been the flagship song of their career - fuuuuuuck....

It took me a long time to let Green Day back in. In fact, they had to actually start channeling The Clash in order to do it. I don't really know what happened, but somewhere along the line Billy Joe Armstong quit acting upon kneejerk defiance and started speaking about real problems. "Warning," while just a warm-up to what was coming, is still my favourite Green Day disc. Their next album, "American Idiot" went for the throat. It was great. And somehow the Dixie Chicks took all the heat for pointing out what a mess the USA was.

Perhaps the most complete acknowledgement of their political validity was the release last year of a collaborative effort between Green Day and the band that has best mixed music and politics ever - U2; 'The Saints are Coming.' A pretty kick ass song to boot.

Oh... and final proof: The drummer's name - is Tre Cool. Literally.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Enemies III & Allies II

A quick bit of context for those of you who are now getting my blog entries as notes on Facebook... (actually no one reads the real blog!):

Ages ago I started a series of posts listing people of high profile who are either enemies or allies of my own ideological stand-point. I didn't actually get far before I forgot about the blog. (2 enemies, 1 ally) Now that I'm in the habit again, it's time to get back.

A quick recap: Enemies - Anne Coulter & Ted Nugent. Allies - Dr. David Brin.

I've got one of each for today.

Starting with a new ally:
Technically this is ALLIES. The Skeptics Guide to the Universe. It's a podcast presented by the New England Skeptical Society. I listened to a few recent episodes in early December and was immediately enamoured. I went right back to the beginning of their archive - about three years worth of weekly podcasts.
In essence, the N.E.S.S. are a group of science minded folk of a variety of political stripes, (Perry DeAngelis demonstrates clear Republican affiliation; Skepchick, Rebecca Watson makes no bones about her leftist standing.) who vigilantly take on any subject where bad science is being practiced. From UFOs to Intelligent Design they take it all on with a hard-line of reason and logic. Psychic phenomenon, homeopathy, sasquatch... it's all in their sights. Through discussion they provide the listener over repeated listening with the tools by which to disect their own cherished beliefs, and like any good group of science-minded folks, they aren't too precious about their claims. They recognize that the flexible fallibility of science is it's greatest socratic strength. Case in point - in one early episode they took on the 'G-spot.' When, only weeks later they were owned (in part by then guest, Rebecca Watson) they were happy to back down. It was awesome to know that they practice what they preach. (The fact that it brought Watson to the show full-time was an added bonus. I laugh a lot listening to Skeptic's Guide, but she makes me laugh the most, next to DeAngelis - who passed away last year, so once I catch up with my listening I won't have his wit to giggle at.)
It's my favourite podcast hands down, and I'm not afraid to admit that a number of things I've taken as fact have been torn apart by them, much to my horror and eventual embrace.

My New Enemy:
Not that he wasn't headed this way before... Tom Cruise. The guy is completely bat-shit crazy. Earlier this afternoon a co-worker forwarded me a link to a YouTube video that had been tagged by muckraker-fabulous Perez Hilton. I'm not a follower of Hilton's blog, for the record.
The clip in question was an edited down version of a Scientology produced video interview with Tom Cruise. The complete and utter nonsense dribbling out of his mouth... "I know. I just KNOW. And I wish I could take a vacation and gallivant, but I can't. It's up to me." (I paraphrase.) Yes, Tom thinks he's Scientology's own personal Jesus. But really he comes off just a bit more like their Manson.
The lost had gone up on Hilton's site about five minutes before the video was posted. I watched the ten minutes. Passed it on ONCE. That person watched it with about five extra minutes to spare... and then the video was removed for 'copyright violation.'
Now, you may know that YouTube doesn't make a habit of removing videos unless the copyright holder SPECIFICALLY REQUESTS IT. So... within thirty, forty-five minutes at the outside, of the video being posted on Hilton's excessively well read website, Scientology had very firmly pressured YouTube into removing the video. The Hilton connection is likely incidental, but even so - the video was recently posted - scary!
I should be singling out Scientology as my enemy here - and don't think I won't - but it's far more satisfying to aim at Cruise. The guy is so far off the deep end by now, he's making Britney Spears look like Barak Obama. ZOIKS!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Defending the Music XI: I Must be too Dumb to be Proud

Just past the halfway mark!

I've made a point of doing a few of the shiniest gems, but for the most part I've worked my way through the items I'm least excited about. Looking at what is left over now and deciding what I'm going to tackle next I have committed myself to writing about what in my mind are the three least of the remaining five bands in this and the next two entries.
But don't be mistaken, when I say 'least' we are still talking about the 'least' bands in the list of artists I trust the most.
Though it bears saying that these least artists do kind of hammer home the point that that trust comes from an expectation I put upon their worst music, not their best. Several bands have made the list because I'll put up with their occasional crappy song in order to be there when they put one out of the park, but in many cases it's a simple matter of feeling like even their worst music would get at least three stars on my media player. This is one of those artists.

I discovered Our Lady Peace and Alannis Morrisette (as opposed to Alannis) in one ten minute window. That makes for a reasonably important 10 minutes in my personal history of Canadian rock. Alannis didn't (even come close) make 'the list' though.

I listened to that first OLP disc, "Naveed" throughout the summer of '95 on tour. The ensuing five albums have admittedly sounded very much like that first one. That has been a virtue thus far, but I have to admit that I'm hoping that the new OLP album, due this spring, takes them in a fresh direction.

I figure that a good part of the appeal of OLP is that, being 1) My age; 2) Canadian and 3) Of roughly the same musical aesthetic as me, they represent 'the band I would have been in' if that had ever been a reasonable trajectory for my life. Though I have to think that it would be inevitable that I would have written songs with more humour than Raine Maida. I mean, geez, could one person explore the feeling of being let down from more angles?

Every now and then, OLP had struck a chord running deep in me. Their debut, "Naveed," (both the song and the album) musically hit exactly where I was at at the point in my life that I heard it. But it needs to be said that the lyrics of one of their songs - "Waited" - stand as the only song lyrics that have ever changed my life in a directly quantifiable way. I was in a very toxic relationship, I was in severe denial about the damage it was causing me. But upon hearing the chorus of that song... "I must be too dumb to be proud, 'cause I waited, waited here." ...I saw myself and how pathetic that was. Needless to say I got out. Fast. There has never been any looking back on that one.

I'd be curious to hear if anyone else reading this has ever had a similar experience with any other song? Doesn't have to be a relationship thing, just a point where a song has made you look inside yourself and change a bad pattern.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Defending the Music X: Fear is not the End of this

Now as I begin writing this entry I realise that I am almost as excited to be writing this entry as I was to write about The Clash. In fact the feeling is kind of boosting my awareness of my love for this band. I can tell I'm going to be listening to them a lot this week.

Okay, who are they?
Right, but the Band is...?
Not The Band. Live.
But who is the group?
Not The Who, either.
What is their name!?
I don't care. What do they call themselves!
I'm going to punch you right in the mouth...

If there is one thing I don't like about LIVE, the band, it's their name. I've had "Who's on First?" conversations like the above - I don't know how many times. Imagine if they had been a group that was truly obscure. I think that they actually kind of blew it on the name. It has only ever hurt them. There are all kinds of people who know of their two notable hits (one of which was positively enormous) who don't know the name of the band. I'm sure that if they'd had an easier name to deal with that they'd have reached a lot more people.

Back in 1992, when I was on tour with the Juanabees, one of the four of us on tour that year bought Live's first widely released album, "Mental Jewelry," on a whim. Despite being the same year that Nirvana's 'Nevermind' was released - and similarly close on the heels of other seminal albums like "Ten," "Pretty Hate Machine" and (dare I admit it?) "Gordon," "Mental Jewelry" matched and even out-paced those albums for play time. There was something about the big sound of the music that appealed to us. Sure Pearl Jam had a huge sound, but Live wrote songs that sounded vast, like landscaping with guitars. Buddhism never sounded so massive. (Their lyrics are heavily influenced by Buddhism.) At the end of the tour everyone of us bought a copy. And this was the album before they hit it big.

Two years later when "Throwing Copper" spent a year in the top ten (back when that still barely meant something) based largely on the strength of "Lightning Crashes" ("Oooooh! THAT song! Yeah, I love those guys too.") a year after it had been released... well, I've never had more of a "What took you so long to notice?" feeling.

They hit it big briefly once again in 2001 - though not in a way anyone would really want to. You may recall someone flying a plane into a building... they had just released a new album, "V," - one of the songs from it (thank god it wasn't the actual single, that would have been too crass) "Overcome" was used in an early tribute. It was a great song that fit the circumstances hauntingly well. It was used again... and again... and again. It was practically the 9/11 theme song.

I suppose in a way I'm glad that Live have never really maintained commercial success. I feel vindicated in my love for them by the massive success they briefly enjoyed, yet at the same time I get to keep them in that special place that other 'best kept secrets' like U2 and R.E.M. left so far behind that it feels dirty to still be on the band-wagon.

In preparing to write this I had a wonderful discovery... I (shamefully) admit that I had no idea that they released a pair of new songs this fall. But the up-side of that is that I've got something new to dive into, and "Radiant Sea" at first blush is one of the best songs they've released in nearly a decade.

Bonus trivia: The waiter who warns Jack that Marla shouldn't order the soup in 'Fight Club'... Live's lead singer - Ed Kowalczyk.