Tag Archives: Music

U2 and the Rules of Rock

28 May

Last night, we saw U2 in concert. They are not our favorite group, but some friends had extra tickets that they wanted to sell. We took them because U2 is a legendary band that people should see if given the chance and because we thought it would be a good show. In fact, it was a good show. However, it could have been a great show.

We got to our seats and saw a big wall.

I immediately thought they were trying to copy Pink Floyd, and, as the concert progressed, it was apparent that this was their version of The Wall.

Songs took the crowd through Bono’s youth with odes to his mother and to his childhood neighborhood. Then, the story took a turn as a comic book version of U2 was formed and flew too close to the sun before being brought back down to earth. Finally, the concert turned to the current state of politics and how America is a nation that can still be a shining beacon for the world.

Through all of that, there were great visual effects and moments of acting from Bono. At one point, he went from being a demon to talking to someone at home while cleaning up in a mirror.

All of that was fine. U2 is successful enough to indulge themselves in a little Rock Opera, and they have money enough to put together a visual spectacle. They were also low-key in their political statements for a band that has always been known for its politics.

However, through all of that there was one vital missing ingredient.

U2 did not play many of their hit songs. There was new stuff. There were deep cuts. There were homages to other artists. There were only a few songs that the casual U2 listener would recognize.

Throughout the day, I have been thinking about this and have come up with some ideas about what long-established bands should do during a concert. I call these ideas The Rules of Rock. Of course, they could also be called The Rules of Country. The Rules of Pop or The Rules of Any Genre of Music.

  1. If you have a song that reached Number 1 on the charts, then you should play it in concert. This would include “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” They did not play either of these songs, and I believe they are the only two singles to reach Number 1 on the US charts.
  2. If you have a song to which everyone in the building knows the words, then you should play it in concert. This does not have to be a Number 1 song. It could be something that was popular and people remember. “Where the Streets Have No Name” fits this category, but they did not play it.
  3. If you have a song that was the first semi-hit that put you on the map, then you should play it in concert. For a lot of people, “New Year’s Day” was the first sound they heard from U2, and it made them want to hear more. They did not play this, but it would have been a good idea.

I am sure that a ton of people left the concert happy with what they heard. Many people around us were singing along to songs that I have never heard. They cheered at some early U2 music that true fans of the band have probably grown to love. Certainly, those in the audience who Bono called out from the stage had a good time. Oprah Winfrey, Al Gore, former Republican Tennessee Senator Bill Frist, Ashley Judd, T-Bone Burnett, Ava DuVerney, Dierks Bentley. The list goes on and on.

As for us, we are not super fans or personal friends. We are people who wanted to hear the hits, and we did not hear enough of them.

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In My Life

1 Apr

The record player is spinning one of my favorite artists, and one of my favorite songs just came through the speakers.

“In My Life” has always spoken to me. The Beatles originally recorded the song, but that is not the version that I like. It is Jose Feliciano and his guitar that strike a chord with me. There is something haunting about his rendition.

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

In my life I love you more

It is an awesome song, and Jose does it well. You should give it a listen.

The Musical Legacy of Cumberland University

23 Dec

Cumberland University, my alma mater and place of employment, has a rich history with graduates who have gone on to great success.

Cordell Hull served as Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt and won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Howell Edmunds Jackson was a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Horace Harmon Lurton was also a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

There have been numerous governors, United States Senators and members of the House of Representatives.

We talk about those people all of the time. However, we tend to neglect those who have gained fame in the music industry. In the past few days, this has been brought to my attention.

Chloe Kohanski, one of our former students, won this season of The Voice. She now has a recording contract, and all of us at Cumberland wish her great success.

After her victory, my friend Tick informed me that others who have walked our campus have gone on to musical success. Yes, this is the south, and we have people named Tick. I also know people named Squirrel, Burrhead, Buckwheat, Pee Wee and Honeybun.

Anyway, Tick provided a few names that I found interesting.

Fred Young, drummer for The Kentucky Headhunters, went to Cumberland University. The group started playing together in 1968 and became an “overnight” success in 1989 when they had four Top 40 hits. They also won a Grammy. Unfortunately, they were not able to follow up that success.

Russell Smith was the lead singer for the Amazing Rhythm Aces. In 1975, they had a huge hit with “Third Rate Romance.” Smith went on to become a successful songwriter in Nashville. Ironically, he grew up next door to my father-in-law in LaFayette, Tennessee.

Of course, this list would not be complete without the former Cumberland student with the greatest musical legacy – my friend Tick.

He has been performing around here for years and has his own Youtube channel. You should head over there and check him out. There are some great performances and more information about local musical history. You will learn about the days when the Allman Brothers and Paul McCartney hung out in town.

A Cool Week in December

14 Dec

From December 4 to December 10, I had a pretty cool week. No, that is not a weather report. Rather, some cool things happened.

It all started on December 4 when my wife and I had the opportunity to sit on the glass for the Nashville Predators. We, along with some friends, purchased the tickets at a fundraiser. It was an awesome experience. Pregame and intermissions were spent in the Lexus Lounge, where food and drink were flowing. It was also where we could bump fists with the Predators as they made their way to the ice.

During the game, we got a good view of stuff like this.

To make it even better, the Predators defeated the Boston Bruins 5-3.

On December 7, I went with my brother, my nephew and some friends to see the John Wayne exhibit at the Opryland Hotel. We are all fans of the Duke and were able to discuss our fandom amongst his personal memorabilia. It was a great exhibit with his Oscar and a bunch of costumes. Do you know which movies these costumes represent?

We finished the night with whiskey and steaks at a restaurant inside the hotel. We figured that was the perfect way to honor the Duke.

On December 10, my wife and I attended a private concert by Eric Church. We were invited a few weeks earlier and are thrilled that we had this opportunity. We saw him perform at Bridgestone Arena, but this was completely different. On the big stage, he covers himself in sunglasses and a cap. He also performs with a chip on his shoulder. This show did not involve all of that. It was him sitting on a stool with a guitar and telling personal stories about the songs.

It was a great way to end a cool week in December.

My iPod Has Issues – Way Too Much Food

24 Nov

Man, Thanksgiving was rough. Food, food and more food. Sitting around trying to get over all of that, I decided to look into the mind, or stomach, of my iPod to see if it is hungry.

“Stoned Soul Picnic” by The Fifth Dimension

“I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl” by Nina Simone

“Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffett

“Rock Lobster” by The B-52’s

“Catfish Blues” by Big Jack Johnson

“I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow

“Sugar Foot Rag” by Merle Haggard

“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye

“Old Turkey Buzzard” by Jose Feliciano

“T-Bone Shuffle” by B.B. King

“Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones

“Money Honey” by The Drifters

“Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back” by Meat Loaf

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles

“Green Onions” by Booker T and the MG’s

“Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine” by Tom T. Hall

“Candyman” by Cornershop

“Orange Blossom Special” by Benny Martin

“Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino

“Lady Marmalade” by Labelle

 

Guns N’ Roses – What a Concert is Supposed to Be

15 Nov

Last night, my nephew and I saw Guns N’ Roses in concert, and it was awesome. The original gang was back together with Axl, Slash and all of the rest. However, that was not the only awesome thing.

This concert was what a concert is supposed to be.

Before I explain that sentence, I must say that I was worried about this show. When Guns N’ Roses was one of the biggest bands in the world, Axl was notorious for being late. Heck, that is probably one of the reasons why the band broke up. The others were tired of his flakiness. However, that is not the only thing. When we saw Axl a few years ago with the alternate version of Guns N’ Roses, he was over two hours late. In other words, I did not have high hopes.

To my surprise, my worries were unwarranted, and this show was what a concert is supposed to be.

First, it started on time. I have never been to a concert that started at the time on the ticket. They always start late to make sure the crowd gets there. This concert was scheduled to start at 7:00. We got to our seats at 6:45 thinking that we would be there for a bit. At 6:58, the lights went down, and the preconcert video began. At 7:00, the band was on the stage.

I sent a text to my wife saying the show was beginning. She thought I meant the opening act, but there was no opening act. It was Guns N’ Roses. Heck, a lot of people had not even arrived. They were certainly under the impression that this show, like most shows, had some time built in.

This concert was what a concert is supposed to be because it started on time.

Second, there was no casual banter with the crowd. Axl yelled out Nashville a few times and said thank you after every song. That is all he said. There were no stories between songs. There were no proclamations that Nashville is their favorite city. They just went from one song to the other, and they did that for 3 1/2 hours.

Think about that for a second. They performed without a break for 3 1/2 hours. Heck, they came back for their encore after about 2 minutes off stage. That is what I call getting my moneys worth. They knew that people came to hear them play, and they played all of the great songs.

The concert was what a concert is supposed to be because they did not waste time.

Third, there was no agenda. In the recent concerts I have attended, the artists have felt the need to talk about our political climate. They give their opinions about the state of our country and the world. I do not pay for a ticket to hear all of that. I pay for a ticket to be entertained. Guns N’ Roses understood that.

As of this moment, I have no idea what Axl and Slash think about current affairs. However, I know that they can Rock the house down. Welcome to the Jungle. Paradise City. November Rain. The list goes on and on.

The concert was what a concert is supposed to be because it was not politicized.

Was Guns N’ Roses the best concert that I have ever seen? I am not sure, but it was the purest concert I have ever seen.

My iPod Has Issues – It Has Been a Busy Day

11 Oct

It has been a busy day. It all started with a Historic Lebanon meeting at 7:30. Then, I went to work and prepared for my 9:30 class. After a quick lunch, it was time for my 12:30 class. At that point, I spent time at the copy machine making tests. That involves pushing more buttons than they push in a NASA control room.

I left campus and went to the bank. There were deposits to make. Then, it was to a meeting about city council issues. When that meeting was over, I drove to a meeting of the James E. Ward Agriculture and Community Center Management Committee. Yep, that is a along name. A lot of government committees have long names.

At that point, I went back to campus to finish making copies of tests. Of course, that involved pushing a bunch of buttons. On a mission to find copy paper, I ran into a couple of the other history professors and talked to them for a bit.

After all of that, I made it home to have a dinner of cold pizza. To wind down, I decided to have a little bourbon and see what is going on inside the mind of my iPod.

“Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin

“Keep A Knockin'” by Little Richard

“Changes” by David Bowie

“You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

“Sleeping Bag” by ZZ Top

“Standing in the Safety Zone” by The Fairfield Four

“Tombstone Blues” by Bob Dylan

“Lady Marmalade” by Labelle

“I Just Can’t Help Believing” by B.J. Thomas

“No Better for You” by Gay Crosse and the Good Humor Six

“Bye Bye Love” by The Everly Brothers

“Westbound and Down” by Jerry Reed

“Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro

“Next to Me” by Clyde McPhatter

“We Will Rock You” by Queen

“Bring It On Home to Me” by Sam Cooke

“Help Me” by Joni Mitchell

“Ain’t That a Shame” by Fats Domino

“Baby Please Don’t Go” by Van Morrison

“I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher