11 at 11 on 11

November 11, 2011

Heard a great story this morning on NPR. All in honor of the great movie, This is Spinal Tap. Remember where Nigel Tufnel talks about turning the volume all the way up to ELEVEN?  So, what are your top 11 songs that must be turned up to 11 to be fully enjoyed?

I came up with waaay more than 11, but here’s my short list, in no particular order. CRANK IT UP, UP, UP – TO ELEVEN! ROCK ON!!

1) Right Now – Van Halen

2) No Leaf Clover – Metallica & the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

3) King Nothing – Metallica

4) Man in the Box – Alice in Chains

5) Personal Jesus – Marilyn Manson

6) Hazy Shade of Winter – Bangles

7) Blue Monday – Orgy

8) Come As You Are – Nirvana

9) Bring Me to Life – Evanescence

10) Limelight – Rush

11) Walking in LA – Missing Persons

And a few retro dance tunes from the 1980s, too,  that are also great played at volume “11”.

1) Let’s Go All the Way – Sly Fox

2) You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) – Dead or Alive

3) Hello Again – Cars

4) Let’s Go Crazy – Prince

5) Burning Down the House – Talking Heads

Pink in the Funhouse

October 14, 2009

I’m entirely too old for this – and any younger readers will be asking me what took me so long – but I am suddenly a big fan of the rock star, P!nk !

I guess it’s because her song, “Please Don’t Leave Me” has been getting so much airplay. It’s catchy, one of those stays-in-your-head kind of songs. But wow – have you ever really listened to the lyrics? It’s all about the love/hate and the intensity of both in an abusive relationship.

I went to her website PinksPage (be sure to go here – and don’t try to guess her website name, as I did – because you will be in for a very rude and inappropriate surprise) – and got to learn all things P!nk.  The more I explored there, the more I recognized some more of her songs as being familiar. And then found out that her current album, Funhouse – has been out for almost a year, and a lot of songs from this particular album will be familiar as well. “So what” – the nah-na-nah-na-nah-na “I’m a rock star” , arrogant,  in your face, tune is just one example. (Ok. So that’s one I dont’ care for).

Of course, this will be very very old news to anyone under 30, but I’m not, so it’s all new to me. But I gotta say, I like her and her music. My generation’s female rock icon was Madonna – it seems P!nk fills the same role for today.

Her musical style is very versitile – from an acoustic guitar ballad to straight on rock to a few that although rock , have a very bluesy feel to them because of the tone of her voice.

I don’t know if the Grammy cycle has already come and gone or if Funhouse is still eligible – but it definitely could take Best Album, as well as earning P!nk a Best Female Vocalist award. There’s a lot here – both musically, and lyrically.

I think what I like best about much of this album is the lyrics that she crafts. They all tell a story. Often, like “Please Don’t Leave Me” – the story is a double edged sword – love/hate, violence with an upbeat “da da da” background bubblegum vocal. I like the contrasts and the irony.

Much of the album seems to be autobiographical, at least, according to some of her public statements, like the synopsis she gives on her website. That makes it even more intriguing.  If that’s the case – or even if it is just the public persona she is crafting – she becomes the epitome of strength and vulnerability, tragic flaw plus extraordinary talent.

I’m not sure if she is solely responsible for most of her lyrics, but they are well-written and burst with irony and tension. One line from “Crystal Ball,” for example: “Sometimes you think everything  / Is wrapped inside a diamond ring.” Or this one, from “Mean” – “It’s like a train wreck, trying to hit the right track.” Clever, clever stuff.

I like rockers who are smart, aren’t afraid to speak their (real) mind – who aren’t just posing and out to make millions.  A strong woman who shows the boys that they’re not the only ones who can rock n roll. And even more surprising – an openness and recognition of flaws, and a willingness to work that into the lyrics of her songs.  All of that makes P!nk’s Funhouse pack a powerful punch!  I might be late to P!nk in general and to Funhouse in particular, but she’s definitely got a place in my music collection, now.

© writingreading, 2009

We Can Make Beautiful Music Together!

December 5, 2008

Just saw an incredible video on PBS. It is about Mark Johnson, who has made a film called “Playing for Change.” He filmed musicians all over the world, playing the same song, then edited them all together so it is an ensemble performance.

It is moving, and amazing. Johnson’s premise is that music unites all of us, and even though we may be from different cultures, nations, races, religions, music can transcend all of the other things that may try to divide us.

It is a powerful concept, and a powerful video. Inspiring and moving.

Johnson’s even started music schools in places throughout the world to make his vision real, and to help people who live in desperate circumstances find solace and hope through music.

There’s really no need for me to say anything further – except to encourage you to check out the links above, and see and hear it for yourself!

I just found out that Johnson is also guest blogging at Bill Moyers’ Journal – so you can follow up on this story, there.

© writingreading, 2008