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Skepticism · agriculture · politics · technology
Header image
Skepticism · agriculture · politics · technology

Tides

| Posted on in music, politics

I’m sitting in the Phoggy Dog in Lawrence listening to my friend Blaine Younger play. I’m beginning to realize that Blaine and I have very different approaches to playing.

Blaine has fun. You can see it in his performance and the kind of songs he plays. The crowd responds well.

I have fun by not showing it. I have an agenda. Bleu Edmondson told me once in Hays that the secret was to force eight originals “down their throats”, give them a cover, and then play 10 more originals. Bleu may not be the biggest alt-country artist, but I’ll put his latest release “Lost Boy” up against any offering from the movement and give you a spread.

The covers I choose have always been songs I respect for pith or because they’re cryptic in a way I admire. My rule of thumb has been if the crowd responds positively that means I have a mandate to depart farther from mainstream into the obscurity I enjoy. After all, if they wanted to hear Kenny Chesney they could have stayed home, played CDs and continued watching NASCAR while flipping through Anti-science Weekly.

Maybe I’ll change. Maybe I won’t. While I like my musical-masochism, I enjoy Blaine’s approach and may begin experimenting with something like that again. We’ll see. Until then, go listen to some Lucero and Old 97s. And vote for Obama and Biden for a mature America.

  • Not that I would ever willfully endorse yet another Kansas cover band, but isn’t there something to be said for the responsibility that comes with being an entertainer? With an audience doesn’t there come some implicit obligation to entertain?

    I don’t think one is faced with a binary decision when taking the stage. Original or cover, fast or slow, pop or obscure rarely makes any difference in the reaction of an audience. In the telling of any good story, one must give a little of what the listener wants and a little of what the listener needs.

    I find when most performances fail (of which I have been giver and receiver on innumerable occasions), it is from a tinge of selfishness on the behalf of the entertainer. Any audiences is a privilege that should be cherished and well served. That is not to say placated or pandered, as neither are particularly entertaining. But served in the sense that whatever material is being performed is done so authentically, capably and with careful attention to their desires and necessities.

    Just some late night considerations. For the record, Lucero and the Old 97’s have some of the most depressing songs pressed this decade and are both still fun as shit live.

  • Not that I would ever willfully endorse yet another Kansas cover band, but isn’t there something to be said for the responsibility that comes with being an entertainer? With an audience doesn’t there come some implicit obligation to entertain?

    I don’t think one is faced with a binary decision when taking the stage. Original or cover, fast or slow, pop or obscure rarely makes any difference in the reaction of an audience. In the telling of any good story, one must give a little of what the listener wants and a little of what the listener needs.

    I find when most performances fail (of which I have been giver and receiver on innumerable occasions), it is from a tinge of selfishness on the behalf of the entertainer. Any audiences is a privilege that should be cherished and well served. That is not to say placated or pandered, as neither are particularly entertaining. But served in the sense that whatever material is being performed is done so authentically, capably and with careful attention to their desires and necessities.

    Just some late night considerations. For the record, Lucero and the Old 97’s have some of the most depressing songs pressed this decade and are both still fun as shit live.

  • ChrisGoering

    Rob,

    I couldn’t agree more on all accounts. That was a great post by Aaron too. There is a fine line between taking yourself too seriously and being cliche.

    I had a lady at an open jam tell me the other day that I “attract sadness” because the songs I have written and sing and cover are sad. They are. I will be the first to admit but isn’t real life, when you want to really look at it, sad too?

    I am anything but sad. I am completely fascinated by people in difficult situations and feel by telling their stories, others will feel better about their depressed lives.

    When I sing North Dakota by Chris Knight, it physically hurts me inside because it is such a poignant story. I become the narrator of that song because it is so well written. Literature is the affective. It is emotional and if the audience is every going to get that in a song, the singer (writer) must be willing to give it, and give it in terms the listener can relate to.

    What are five happy, uplifting songs that are intelligently written and challenging? The lady who said that plays is 100% bubble gum crapola. Maybe that is what she understands.

    g

    To quote Ryan Adams, “I am a sad song machine.”

  • g

    Rob,

    I couldn’t agree more on all accounts. That was a great post by Aaron too. There is a fine line between taking yourself too seriously and being cliche.

    I had a lady at an open jam tell me the other day that I “attract sadness” because the songs I have written and sing and cover are sad. They are. I will be the first to admit but isn’t real life, when you want to really look at it, sad too?

    I am anything but sad. I am completely fascinated by people in difficult situations and feel by telling their stories, others will feel better about their depressed lives.

    When I sing North Dakota by Chris Knight, it physically hurts me inside because it is such a poignant story. I become the narrator of that song because it is so well written. Literature is the affective. It is emotional and if the audience is every going to get that in a song, the singer (writer) must be willing to give it, and give it in terms the listener can relate to.

    What are five happy, uplifting songs that are intelligently written and challenging? The lady who said that plays is 100% bubble gum crapola. Maybe that is what she understands.

    g

    To quote Ryan Adams, “I am a sad song machine.”

  • Mostly because I am a total sucker for top five lists:

    Top Five Intelligent, Challenging Songs That Are Happy And Uplifting

    1) “Sorrow” – Bad Religion
    2) “The Great Salt Lake” – Band of Horses
    3) “Here Come The Sun” – The Beatles
    4) “I Got A Woman” – Ray Charles
    5) “Enjoy Yourself” – The Specials

    Mostly my argument in favor of obligation is anecdotal, stemming from a recent San Francisco open mike I attended.

    Allegedly the finest in town, the Open Mic at the Hotel Utah is supposed to be the cream of the singer/songwriter crop in the Bay Area. Players get a single song to do their thing in front of probably the biggest open mic crowd in town. So high in demand is the stage that ~50% of the performers that arrive have to be turned away.

    The crew I brought with me were absolutely bored out of their skulls. The stigma of self-indulgence in the singer/songwriter set was well deserved with this event, with most of the songs being utterly incomprehensible and boring. I would wager if one were to give the Family Feud treatment to that scene, “entertainment” would not be something that survey says.

    No one goes to a show with the expectation of being reminded of how much life sucks. I’ve often said I think white guys with guitars bear the greatest guilt of this hubris, and it shouldn’t be celebrated.

  • Mostly because I am a total sucker for top five lists:

    Top Five Intelligent, Challenging Songs That Are Happy And Uplifting

    1) “Sorrow” – Bad Religion
    2) “The Great Salt Lake” – Band of Horses
    3) “Here Come The Sun” – The Beatles
    4) “I Got A Woman” – Ray Charles
    5) “Enjoy Yourself” – The Specials

    Mostly my argument in favor of obligation is anecdotal, stemming from a recent San Francisco open mike I attended.

    Allegedly the finest in town, the Open Mic at the Hotel Utah is supposed to be the cream of the singer/songwriter crop in the Bay Area. Players get a single song to do their thing in front of probably the biggest open mic crowd in town. So high in demand is the stage that ~50% of the performers that arrive have to be turned away.

    The crew I brought with me were absolutely bored out of their skulls. The stigma of self-indulgence in the singer/songwriter set was well deserved with this event, with most of the songs being utterly incomprehensible and boring. I would wager if one were to give the Family Feud treatment to that scene, “entertainment” would not be something that survey says.

    No one goes to a show with the expectation of being reminded of how much life sucks. I’ve often said I think white guys with guitars bear the greatest guilt of this hubris, and it shouldn’t be celebrated.

  • JJ

    kiss my ass

  • JJ

    kiss my ass