Friday Fives – the independence of it all

Do you have any Independence day traditions? 

I guess it mostly depends if you are inviting me over for something, are you? There has been an accidental tradition of being at Grateful Dead shows in the 4th. My first Dead show (Jerry is still alive at this point) was July 4th 1989. I was at many subsequent July 4th shows. When the Dead did their first formal reunion, about ten years ago, we were there, too. This was July 4th, at the Gorge. The band was billing itself at ‘the Dead’, as opposed to ‘the Grateful Dead’. I liked this, it was a classy homage to their history, but by not fully using the entire name… it was an homage to the fact Jerry was gone and it could never be the Dead again.

As you read this, I am seeing the Grateful Dead again, and again on July 4th. In the last 25 years, I suppose there have been more independence day holidays not at Dead shows that at Dead show. But, the Dead shows were certainly a bit more memorable. Where would you rather be? What is more American than the Grateful Dead? I can prove it. A couple years ago I had to call customer service for some Dead CDs I had ordered. The call center for the customer service was in India. That is how American they are. It made me sad. A bit of a sell out, and Jerry wouldn’t have allowed that.

Do you have any Independence bad memories? 

Well, yeah. After the aforementioned Dead reunion show at the Gorge, we were camping there. We had driven from Denver, you see. After the show, it being the 4th, everyone had fireworks. This is quite common at Dead shows. What you don’t have, though, is people in any condition to be shooting fireworks. It literally felt and sounded like a war zone. Shit was flying EVERYWHERE, and exploding. It wasn’t stuff flying up and exploding, either. It was stuff going sideways, and blowing up. It was terrifying.

Not conducive to sleep, and we were tired. Not just a ton of driving that day, but then an 8 hour concert. The Allmans opened up. Each band plays for about 3 to 4 hours, with set breaks in between. The amazing Warren Haynes played lead guitar for BOTH bands. 8 hours on stage. It was an amazing show, and the Gorge is still the most beautiful venue on Earth. I say that as someone who lives just a few miles away from Red Rocks.

It was tough to sleep. On top of that, some asshats set up a serious powerful speaker system out of their truck and played rave music. LOUDLY. It could be heard for miles. We didn’t want to hear ANY music, not to mention rave electronic music. We kept thinking security would come and tell them to turn it off. We were afraid to leave the tent, because of the fireworks issue. It wasn’t safe to walk around. Finally, after about an hour of this, I snuck over in the dark and unplugged their shit. Not just the power, that would be too easy. They could have just plugged it back in. I know how sound systems work, since I am in a rock band on the side. I think I pulled out the quarter inch audio jacks and then hid amplifier transfer box thingy under their tire. They would find it in the morning. It worked. Power to the people!

I am aware it’s ironic and kinda fucked up that a guy going to see the band who was the ultimate fuck you to the power structure… and I am now the ‘turn it down and get off my lawn’ guy. Had to be done, and everyone was appreciative.

What’s the most patriotic thing you have ever done? 

That thing above. Shutting down that goddamn fucking rave. Does ruining some kids one shot at a good time make me an American hero? Yup.

What is one of your earliest fireworks memories?

None come to mind. I can tell you this about fireworks. They were illegal in AZ. Super illegal. Like, you can’t have a sparkler. It’s the desert, and 120 in July. So, it absolutely makes sense. There were professional fireworks shows, of course, but it just wasn’t that big a deal. Well, I have some great stories about Mexican fireworks, but we don’t have time for that now.

What part of American history did you learn as a youth that you have discovered is completely misunderstood. 

Yeah. I remember finally figuring out the pledge of allegiance is some fucked up bullshit or a country that prides itself on freedom of everything.   I pledge allegiance to the flag, and the country, and to god? Fuck you, buddy. Now, there is nothing wrong with having pride in your country, and teaching that to kids. BUT… we were taught that before we knew what any of those words meant. THAT is what I resent. In my lower teens, I started the whole ‘society doesn’t know dick and is all about oppression and we gotta break the whole thing, man!’ phase. Did you have that? I hope so. I started standing for the pledge, but not saying it.

Power to the people. All power to the people. I can only hope that somewhere, some kid is writing in his blog about his 4th of July memories. He is telling a story about a joyous after concert dance celebration with the fans of the Grateful Dead, until some narc spoke into their shit and killed the joy. Probably a cop, no Deadhead would do such a power move.

Are you out there, kid? Happy 4th!

Friday Fives – media inquiry edition

1.  What Jeopardy category would you totally dominate?

rock and roll.  If only there was a rock and roll jeopardy, I would run the world, seriously.  The  sad part is, they did have one, years ago.  Jeff Probst was the host, long before Survivor.  Problem with that was, it was only for celebs.  There are clips online, its fun to watch.  To soothe myself, I play the rock category on Quizup on my phone.  It is super addictive, and they have every category you can imagine.  I kill at Simpsons, and I am top in all of Colorado for rock trivia.  I am in the 30’s for nationwide, but crawling up every day.  Come find me and play some games online.  My screen name is ‘Baron von Lono’, and my avatar is a pic of Dali (but of course)

If you can beat me in rock trivia, I will buy you lunch.  What’s my secret?  Well, I learned from the ancients and elders, like the band Mister Mister.  Carry a ladle, my brother.  Carry a ladle indeed.

2.  What cover song do you enjoy more than the original?

Good and thoughtful question, I am impressed.  I would have to say Jimi Hendrix version of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ is easily one.  Strangely, that was Jimi’s biggest charting hit ever.  Bob Dylan (who wrote the song) like Jimi’s arrangement so much he changed the way he played it going forward to match Jimi’s version.

I am hoping and assuming you have heard Johnny Cash’s later work with Rick Rubin.  He did some AMAZING covers, and truly made them his own: Hurt, rusty cage, one.  Lesse… what else.  Janis’ version of Bobby McGee.  That is a Kris Kristofferson song.  Some other sad trivia about that is Janis never saw its success.  She died before the album came out that it was on.

Zac Brown band does a really great ‘Jolene’, which is Ray Lamontagne.  Quite a the departure for a country boy, and song that turned me on to ZBB.

Here is a fun one.  Walk off the Earth does a bitchin cover (and bitchin video) of Lorde’s ‘Royals‘.  All of their videos are super cool and innovative.

I will close with this awesome and unlikely pairing.  Willie Nelson covering Pearl Jam.

I could also tell you about the Grateful Dead covering Metallica.  However, you are just not ready for that yet.  But its real and it exists.

3.  What song, movie, game, etc. has a surprisingly dark message when you really look closer at it?

ooh, another thoughtful question.  I am quite tickled with today’s line of interrogation.  This is truly my expertise.  There are a bunch.  Born in the USA has such a booming and hopeful chorus.  The song is incredibly dark.  Reads mostly like a suicide note if you just look at the lyrics.  Here, go do.

Of course there is the Police with Every Breath you Take, but you already knew that one.

How about Today from Smashing Pumpkins?  Billy says he wrote that as a suicide note after fighting with writers block for some time, and a huge deadline approaching for him to deliver his big commercial breakthrough album (which became the masterpiece ‘Siamese Dream’).

There are, of course, tons.  All great music is written from sadness and heartbreak.

4.  What is the best, most creative music video you have seen?

That would have to go to the Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage’ video.  I can’t think of a better one.

5.    What’s your theme song?

this one, I think

Friday Fives – another cop out edition

Ok reader, I don’t have anything good for this week.  So, I will do what I always do in this situation.  I will put my music on full random and tell you my relationship with the first 5 or so songs that come up.  Once I did this last year, and I killed Amy Winehouse.

Smashing Pumpkins – in the arms of sleep > Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Basically, this song is filler.  For filler, it is quite good.  This album is a landmark in rock, and a landmark for me.  It was the growing up and maturing of both Billy and myself.  I have had an amazing relationship with this band.  if you know me, you already know that.  For years, my goal was to meet Billy in person and thank him for Siamese Dream.  I finally got to do that when he was touring with this terrible book of poetry.  Still, I love him, and all the Pumpkins music.

Pearl Jam – Bee Girl – unreleased

This is a bootleg that has circulated for some time.  It’s a cool story, too.  The song was in improvised ditty by Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready doing an appearance at a radio station.  Ed was knee deep is his “I don’t want to be famous anymore” phase.  This song is a cautionary tale told to the girl who danced in the Blind Melon video for ‘No Rain’.  The band finally released it on their ‘Lost Dogs’ double disc, but I am not counting that.  This song, if legend is to be believed, was recorded at the same radio station as ‘Yellow Ledbetter’.  Ledbetter is one of the most iconic songs of the band, and it never had an official studio version.  it still doesn’t, yet it has become one of their biggest songs that ends nearly every show.  Pearl Jam was very cool to allow taping and trading of live show. So, we all knew about this song ten years before it was ever acknowledged by modern radio.

Bonus silliness > absolutely no one can tell what Ed is singing in this song.  This is because he changes the lyrics often to suit his mood.  Since there is no official version of the song, there are no printed lyrics.  There are, however, lots of misheard lyrics.  Enjoy!

Bad Brains – She’s Calling You – I against I

Bad Brains are amazing, and incredibly unique.  They are a group of black rastafarians who sing speed metal… with a reggae feel thrown in.  It’s too strange and wonderful to explain, so click here for a clip.  Their heydey was in the 80’s, but they are still together.  They have never crossed over to radio play, but I don’t blame ‘the man’ for that.  I blame their lead singer.  HR is legendarily self destructive and just an all around asshole.  He even attacked a fan at a show with a mike stand… the bottom of one.  Ended him up in jail again, which forced Madonna to drop them from her label.

However, interesting story about HR and jail.  Their song ‘Sacred Love’ was reportedly recorded over a prison phone during one of HRs MANY stints in jail.  It is a powerful and beautiful vocal.  I think the modern era knows Bad Brains due to the Beastie Boys.  The Beasties were raised on the sounds of Bad Brains.  So, when the Beasties hit is really big with ‘Ill Communication’, they took Bad Brains on tour with them.  This was Beastie’s touring on Sabotage at the top of their game.  However, that was a terrible era for Bad Brains.  HR decided he only wanted to play trumpet and do reggae.  So, while they had a chance of re-conquering a new generation, HR blew it again.

Also, I hate to sound like a hipster douche by saying I knew about them long before then, but I did.  We can credit Ezra for that.  Before we would go out and party in high school, we would spool up ‘I Against I’ and pound cans of Keystone to get us ready for our epic adventures.

The Story – Brandi Carlile – live a Benaroya

Brandi Carlile is awesome, and this is her signature song in every sense.  I can’t say enough good things about this song.  So, just go here and dig it.  Also, she has an album by the same title.  Buy it now, I am cereal!  Watch the passion and the fire in that performance linked above.  it is SICK.  I had the good fortune to see her live, and it was incredibly impressive.  In fact, all of the bands mentioned on this page I have seen live.  A lot.  Probably seen the Pumpkins 10 times, Pearl Jam 10 times, Bad Brains 4 times, and Brandi one, and the Allmans’ probably about 20 times.

Allman Brorthers – Old Before My Time – Hitting the Note

This is a recent album, at least by the standards of the Allmans.  This album is really really good.  I see no reason not to call this their best album ever.  Interesting to note, this album is all Warren Haynes.  He sings a few songs, but he wrote them all.  Here is what is weird.  I am a lifelong Allmans’ fan, having seen them every year since high school.  I still can’t tell when I am listening if I am hearing Greg or Warren.  It’s also important to note that Warren is the hardest working guy in music.  He works fulltime for the Allman Brothers, the Dead, Govt Mule, and the Warren Haynes band.  Back about ten years ago, I saw the Allmans’ open for the Dead at the Gorge.  Both bands are well known for their long sets.  Warren was out there for nearly 6 hours playing for both bands.

* now, lets see you do the same.  Grab your phone, hit full random, and tell me about the first few that pop up… and (most importantly) why.