Monday, March 30, 2020

John Prine 1946-2020

John Prine is a national treasure.
Country legend John Prine is in critical condition after “a sudden onset of COVID-19 symptoms.”
Prine’s family revealed the news with a statement on Twitter. “John was hospitalized on Thursday (3/26),” reads the note. “He was intubated Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation is critical.”
John Prine has died.

Thursday, March 26, 2020


I don't have any insight into the, but an Oasis reunion concert won't happen until COVID-19 is under some sort of control. I don't think any gigs are happening until we get to that point.

Having said that, I very much doubt that this argument is going to move Noel Gallagher into reunion mode. He seems to be releasing the last of his experimental EPs and is ready to go into semi-retirement until something compels him to play live in front of people and record new music. It will all be done on his timetable and that's that.

Using shame or the promise of giving the proceeds to charity is a bit underhanded. Both of the Gallagher brothers could join in with other artists and play sets with their respective bands. An Oasis show would accomplish what, exactly? The larger the venue, the larger the overhead, so while it is true that they could raise significant amounts of money, it would create a logistical problem. How do you accommodate everyone who wants to see it and how do you raise charity funds from such a thing when you're going to need to do multiple shows at a massive venue?

Really, there are better ways to support the NHS and the people who need help. Planning for a theoretical show when we don't know when it will be safe for people to congregate once again is a pipe dream right now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Michael Stipe With Four Important Points

Listen to Michael:

To sum it all up:

1. Stay at home.

2. Wash your hands for 20 seconds every time you come into or out of your house.

3. Act like you’re already sick. Stay 6 feet away from everyone at all times. 

4. Be careful where you get your information from.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Go Out and Pay For Some Music if You Can

This is important to remember. Everyone around you, all of the things you depend on and enjoy, are under massive stress right now. If you can, please go out and buy some music to help your favorite musicians navigate the closures that are cutting off their income at this critical time:
Amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19 – and an increasing number of restrictions around large gatherings around the world – the music industry is suffering. Last week saw the cancellation of SXSW, in Austin, Texas – a devastating blow for new artists trying to make their mark in the US. Soon after came the postponement of Coachella – and today Record Store Day has also been postponed. Meanwhile, a huge number of artists are pulling imminent tour dates due to public health.
BTS, Madonna, Bombay Bicycle Club, Billie Eilish, and Tool are among the many acts who have been forced to cancel or postpone tour dates. Here’s a definitive list of the affected shows so far. Indie musicians and DIY acts are being particularly hit hard by the pandemic: many rely on touring – and merch stand takings along the way – as a major source of income. During a difficult time for music, we asked some artists how fans can help them out.
If fans want to help out artists affected by cancelled tour dates “they should buy merch and records directly, from artists’ websites, or sites like Bandcamp” says Brooke Bentham. The London-based musician has been forced to cancel a handful of European live dates in support of debut album ‘Everyday Nothing’. “Often, that money goes directly into the pockets of musicians.”
Now, I want to caution some people that there are scams out there. Music services have imploded in the last few years. The best thing to do is go to a musician's personal website and see if they are selling merchandise under their own control. Or if they are linked to a reputable service that handles their sales.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Glastonbury 2020

What would do if they cancelled Glastonbury this year? It certainly looks like that might happen, given the acceleration of the spread of coronavirus.

This will be an historic festival, given the presence of Diana Ross and Paul McCartney along with Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar as headliners.

Here's to the idea of postponing Glastonbury instead of cancelling it altogether. Still ten times better than anything Coachella can offer.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Put and End to This Madness

If Led Zeppelin had been more of a progressive rock band, playing their folk-injected blues for small crowds in Southern England before breaking up after a handful of low-selling albums, you would never have heard of this nonsense:
A US appeals court has reinstated a ruling that British rockers Led Zeppelin did not steal part of their song Stairway to Heaven from another band.
The San Francisco 11-judge panel affirmed a 2016 judgment that found no proof the classic 1971 Zeppelin song breached the copyright of Taurus, written by Randy Wolfe from a Los Angeles band called Spirit.
In 2018 that ruling was overturned by a three-judge panel in San Francisco, which said certain instructions to the district court jury had been “erroneous and prejudicial”, and failed to clarify that the arrangement of elements in the public domain could be considered original.

Led Zeppelin took the case to a larger panel whose decision on Monday, based on the 1909 Copyright Act, put the original ruling back in place.
Stairway to Heaven is estimated to have grossed $3.4m during the five-year period that was at issue in the earlier civil trial.
The Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page – who was sued along with the group’s singer Robert Plant and another surviving bandmate, John Paul Jones – testified in 2016 that the chord sequence in question had “been around forever”.
But Wolfe’s trustee, Michael Skidmore, said the songs had similar chord progressions and Page may have written Stairway to Heaven after hearing Taurus while Led Zeppelin and Spirit toured together.
“Obviously the court got it wrong,” said the trustee’s lawyer, Francis Malofiy. “This is a big loss for creators, those who copyright laws are meant to protect.” Malofiy said he may appeal to the US supreme court.
I have no doubt that Skidmore will continue this fight with all of the tenacity of a copyright troll, and for good reason. There are tens of millions of dollars at stake, perhaps more than a hundred million. The problem is, the audience for Led Zeppelin is fading away and the value of Stairway to Heaven is disappearing. I have no doubt that there are twenty-somethings who love the song, but it's not a generational thing like it was forty to fifty years ago.

The window is closing, and Skidmore is going to milk this for all it's worth. This is actually destructive for artists, in my opinion, because there really are ripoffs out there and if this case establishes too many negative precedents, then other artists could suffer.

Friday, March 6, 2020

European Female

The Stranglers have been featured in a retrospective article that summarizes their experiences making the song European Female:
We recorded it in Brussels, but that wasn’t anything to do with the concept of the song. At the time, you used to save tax by recording overseas, so we recorded a few albums over there. We all had apartments near the studio. Not the height of luxury, but it was a nice working environment. Our girlfriends – mine then is my wife now – were often in the studio. There’s a good chance that Anna, the European Female, was watching while we were recording it.
The song was produced by Steve Churchyard and mixed by Tony Visconti. We’d generally get ideas in the rehearsal room and then work them out there, long before recording. For European Female, I just came up with something on my old synthesiser to go with the band’s bits. The best ideas come pretty quickly. With Golden Brown, for example, I was working on a song called Second Coming with Jet [Black, drummer] but came up with something that didn’t fit, but that unused part eventually became Golden Brown. The keyboard melody for European Female is mostly spontaneous, or very close to it. It’s just two chords, with arpeggios over them. It’s pretty simple, but it fits. 
It was our third Top 10 of 1982 following Golden Brown and Strange Little Girl, but it was one of the Top of the Pops appearances where we behaved ourselves. The Musician’s Union guy used to make you rerecord all the tracks [to then mime to on the show], so we’d distract him and use the original. There was a lot of hanging around, so to try and make things more entertaining for ourselves we do things like play the wrong instruments or mime very badly. I once pretended to play with gloves on the end of sticks. We did a TV show in Germany where Jet spent the entire song sawing up a bass drum.

Could you even make records like this anymore?

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Road Takes a Toll on Musicians

The last show that I really enjoyed from start to finish was in Houston, Texas. I went to see the Church play a small venue there and it struck me then how much of a toll it must have taken on them to get from Australia to the U.S. and back again after playing live. Each and every time I've seen them, they play at a level that is unheard of in terms of live music. They are a vanishing breed, they really are. To see people play music at such a high level of expertise is becoming a rare thing.

That's why this article rings true for me:
In a chilling quote from much-loved music documentary The Last Waltz, about The Band’s final concert in 1976, leader Robbie Robertson looks straight into the camera and ominously says: ‘The road will kill you.”
At the time, he was just 34. Yet, over four decades later, musicians of his storied era are still on the road – and facing escalating health issues as a consequence. Since the start of this year, Ozzy Osbourne, 71, had to cancel his 2020 tour to seek treatment for issues related to his recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Elton John, 72, had to ditch dates on what was already advertised as his goodbye tour, after declaring himself “extremely unwell”. Madonna, 61, was forced to scratch a bunch of shows from her British tour due to “overwhelming pain” from injuries she sustained on the road which already caused her to nix some US dates. Meanwhile, Aerosmith felt compelled to disinvite drummer Joey Kramer from their Grammy performance, over alleged difficulties the 69-year-old was having keeping the beat, while the group itself has had to scratch dates due to various health issues experienced by Steven Tyler. Then, just this last week, the 56-year-old frontman of Metallica, James Hetfield, needed to cancel shows to, in his words, “look after my mental, physical and spiritual health”. 
All this comes hot on the heels of an escalating wave of older stars who’ve either quit the road entirely or begun their last hurrahs, including Paul Simon at 78, Bob Seger at 74, Kiss aged between 68 to 70, Neil Diamond at 79, and Eric Clapton at 74. 
“The fact is, it’s really hard to tour,” says Dave Brooks, who covers the concert industry for Billboard. “It’s terribly hard on your body, and mentally difficult too.” 
Jem Aswad, senior music editor of the trade publication Variety, says: “People think it’s easy to be a rock star. But try to hold the attention of 18,000 people, and perform really well, for two and a half hours every night. It’s an incredibly tough thing to sustain.”

Not long after seeing The Church, drummer Tim Powles stood up (as he usually does) on his bass drum, came down on it wrong, and fractured his foot. This meant that the band had to cancel a string of shows throughout Europe. And while that may seem like a small thing, it isn't. It's the norm when it comes to problems with live touring. They lost out on all of that revenue and the chance to keep expanding their audience.

Definitely go see bands, and experience live music if you can. But, remember. It's a temporary, finite thing.