Aug 13, 2008

Rock Out Or Get Out!

  • Imagine yourself waiting in line along a busy street in the freezing January weather of a small Maine city. Posters advertising a rock show plaster the cold brick wall to your right: Foo Fighters, one night only!

    The snow is gently floating down amongst you and the crowd of anxious and die-hard fans. Jackets are few, hats and gloves mostly forgotten, the warmth of a packed arena floor only an excruciating memory of rock show past. People with significant others stand wrapped in each others arms, rubbing and consoling, keeping minds at ease with the anticipation of the opening doors. Loners blow in their hands and hop up and down in the impatient dance of frostbitten toes.

    Thoughts of death from the harsh Maine winter's breath start creeping into your mind only moments before the doors finally open, letting the warm indoor air sweep across the few lucky enough to be close to the doors. Hurriedly, frozen feet carry people across the threshold into the arena as you shake the icicles out of your hair and feel the twitch of life flow back into your nose. The 4 hour wait is over.

    You feel like the floor in front of the stage couldn't be any more packed with people. You lift your feet only to be held up by the shoulders of your fellow rockers. The three opening bands have come and gone and you've rocked through all three, bobbing your head and singing along where you could. Everyone's frozen bodies have not only recovered from the cold but are so hot that the sweat from yourself and all the exhausted fans around you soak your body and clothes. The heat that's emanating off the crowd creates a fine mist floating toward the ceiling creating a cloud of perspiration and spent screams. Impatience creeps in. The chant "Foo, Foo, Foo" echoes and deafens. The moment is coming, the lights go out, the time has come.

    A drum beat, steady and hard swallows you. The bass beating on your already tortured eardrums keeps punching you in the gut with each heavy beat. Then there is beam of light that streaks from the scaffolding above.

    Illuminated at the center of the stage is burgundy, swede couch. The cushions have seen better days, stains streak the right arm rest, tears criss cross the left cushion. But your attention is drawn to the center of the couch. Behind a boom stand with its microphone positioned downward is Dave Grohl: the icon, the living rock legend, the front man of Foo Fighters. He sits reclined with his axe in his lap and his head back. The memorable opening notes of "My Hero" come flowing out of his fingers. You stand motionless as the crowd around you is paralyzed with shock, bewilderment and outrage. Your rock star dreams are destroyed like skinny and overexcited kid in a mosh pit.

    You're probably thinking, "This wouldn't happen." You're right, it wouldn't.

    But this same thing is happening in living rooms all across the nation without the second thought that it deserves. This needs to be stopped. Its an affliction I call GHOLS. Short for Guitar Hero Obsessive Laziness Syndrome. You may notice your friend or loved one playing "Slow Ride" by Foghat while sitting on the couch, the floor, in a recliner, with their feet up, or completely lying down. It is a common misconception that these are acceptable methods of which to play Guitar Hero. In truth they are not and can lead to a very serious case of GHOLS. In some cases this condition could be seriously life threatening.

    You may wonder why I went through this whole story just to inform you of this condition. My point is if Dave Grohl wouldn't do it on stage you shouldn't be doing it in your living room while playing Guitar Hero. The motto in my living room is: Rock out or get out, stand up or step down! Common behaviors for a healthy Guitar Hero player in my home include: jumping on furniture, flashing of the horns, power stance, crazy eye, and head banging.

    There will be a day when the world can live without GHOLS but it all starts with recognizing the symptoms. I will never let a case of GHOLS afflict anyone I care for and neither should you. Remember, if Dave Grohl wouldn't do it then neither should you. Show the same courtesy your rock hero would show to you and keep it rockin'!

    Also see: Chronic Axe Neglect Disorder for Rock Band (CANDRB)

Aug 10, 2008

Inspiration? What's Inspiration!?

I love writing music...well, when I'm writing that is. Does that make sense? Maybe it makes more sense to say when I'm being productive. You know, when I'm on my game, in the groove, driving down easy street, pulling notes out thin air, melodies out of my ass.

It's easy to get frustrated when things aren't working no matter what you write, but I write both lyrics and music so I tend to get myself that much extra fired up and frustrated when I'm stuck toiling on a song for who knows how long with no idea what to do and no motivation to figure it out. But out of all the toil there's nothing better than getting that grand moment of inspiration, that great idea where I say to myself, "Hell yeah, this one's going to be good!" What the ever wise Tenacious D would call "inspirado."

So...inspiration, where the hell does that come from? No, really, I'm asking you, I really want to know. Totally not a rhetorical question. I'm always trying to grasp the concept, especially when I'm a little dried up for ideas. I mean, what is inspiration anyway?

In-spi-ra-tion n : the act or power of moving the intellect or emotions Merriam-Webster Dictionary 1997

Ok, took myself literally on that one. So now what does that mean and where the hell does that act or power of moving emotions come from? Let's see, example: I'm flicking through the tv channels looking to watch the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. I love my sports and only every 4 years can you see beach volleyball played by scantily clad, athletic, and superbly tanned women from all over the world on network television. In the middle of the day no less. So here we go, time to pick an event on the 3 or 4 channels broadcasting. I pick my first channel...commercial. Visa I believe. Ok, that's cool, pick another channel...commercial. Might have been Coke. Ok, not so cool, I don't like Coke. But I stay calm, pick another channel...commercial. By this point I'm losing my cool and my desire to even watch scantily clad, athletic, and superbly tanned men playing beach volleyball. I decide to put down the remote and settle for channel choice #3 and wait out what seems like 5 minutes of commercial. (McDonalds: Chicken for breakfast?!, UPS: Yes, I know brown can do that!, Visa: Again! I know, it's everywhere I wanna friggin' be!) Getting a little testy at this point if you can't tell. I'm a happy person, I swear.

So finally comes the action, which happens to be women's handball, Russia vs. Korea. Being from the U.S. where it's a basically unknown sport I'm a bit skeptical of the entertainment value and it's legitimacy as an Olympic sport but I remain, wary of building frustration of my game of commercial roulette. Surprisingly I'm entranced by this game, similar to many other sports, the whole point being to throw a small ball past the goalie into the opposing team's net. Right away I'm on the edge of my seat watching the back and forth action. Goal here, save there, whistle here (for what I have no idea), then there's a breakout by team Korea. The Korean player fakes out the Russian defender, leaps, cocks her arm and...commercial. Yes, that's right.

Commercial.

I sit back dumbfounded, enraged, all of a sudden broken from my glory filled, sweat coated, handball trance. I might have whispered a choice expletive, which is not all that uncommon for me. Immediately my mind jumbles around the feelings of hate, rage, sadness, and disappointment. I'm sickened by the raging commercialism that I, as a resident of the planet Earth has to deal with on a daily basis. And then....inspiration. Didn't see that coming did you? But you know this story had to have a point. Immediately I was jotting down ideas and humming out melodies, letting that emotion flow.

That's the kicker when it comes to inspiration. You don't know where to find it, it's hard as hell to look for it, and it comes to you in the weirdest places, such as, a women's handball match. Does that mean as songwriters that the world is our inspiration? Maybe. Does that mean we just need to be observant and critical of our feelings and thoughts. Absolutely.

The way I see it is that when it comes down to it and you're struggling for that killer lyric, or that grinding riff you just need to put on your Adidas sandals, grab your Bic pen and your Mead notebook (that you bought at Staples of course), walk out among the Toyotas and VWs, look through your Ray-Ban sunglasses and make your own inspiration by letting it find you.

I guess.

Aug 9, 2008

Starting Things Up

Just getting things set up and running for my new blog. I plan on talking about all kinds of things: my songwriting, my influences, what I'm listening to, what's bugging me, what's inspiring me, all kinds of great crap. I'm just trying to get the words flowing in every form to help myself with my lyrics in the long run. I'm also hoping to get in touch with some other songwriters/lyricists/music lovers out there to see what's happening out there in the music world. This should be fun.

Listening to Guano Apes right now...man, do I miss them.
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