Tag Archives: iPod

The Music Court iPod Shuffle – “Bike” by Pink Floyd

26 Oct

Pink_Floyd_Bike

Have you ever wondered how the Music Court comes up with its vast variety of content? Are you saying the blog does not have diverse content? Who are you invisible, detached voice and why must you always negate me! Ok, I’ll stop my idiocy, but it is apt that I get into a disturbed state of mind prior to discussing Pink Floyd … usually. I emphasize usually because today we will be discussing “Bike,” which despite its unique oddness is a childish piece that is purposely humorous because of its psychedelic simplicity. Oh … and the answer to the somewhat haughty initial question is songs in our head and, today, as the title of this post suggests, a shuffled iPod.

“Bike” was written and recorded during the greatest year of rock ‘n’ roll in the history of ever – 1967. Argue with me all you want, but 1967 has the insuperable crown. It will forever reign as rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest year unless we have another musical renaissance, which doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.

Syd Barrett, the lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter of Pink Floyd prior to his forced departure from the band in 1968, may have very well been a tortured soul with mental illness ranging from schizophrenia to a cognitive disorder like autism, but “Bike” does not maintain that disturbed flavor. It is psychedelic. There is no question about that. The song is driven by eccentric percussion transitions (gun shots?), an oscillating theremin, and an eerie piano that sounds like it is right out of an ironic horror movie. But the tortured Syd Barrett who inspired almost all of Roger Waters’ songwriting for some time (“Brain Damage,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,”etc.) does not permeate through this piece … which is a purposely childish love song.

Less than two minutes of utter goodness. The song was actually written for Barrett’s girlfriend at the time. Yes, “Bike” was written for a girl … the song with the line, “I know a mouse, and he hasn’t got a house.  I don’t know why. I call him Gerald. He’s getting rather old, but he’s a good mouse.” What? Can’t you feel the love? Come on! This or “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees? Your choice.

Barrett wrote this song like a child because it is supposed to be a child’s love song. Think about it. The lyrics are utterly random, but the chorus constantly repeats “You’re the kind of girl that fits in with my world. I’ll give you anything, ev’rything if you want things.” Barrett takes on his inner elementary school child and writes a hilarious love song for a first crush. It’s almost genius if you think about it.

By the way, tell me the video above is not hilarious. So … now that you have this love song stuck in your head for the rest of your Saturday, go find a bike and ride it if you’d like, but remember I can’t give it to you because I borrowed it.

My iPod has Friday on its Mind – Six Degrees

10 Feb

Because this is awesome...

My iPod feels left out. Yes, it is a jealous piece of technology and its temperament is unstable. It needs love on the Music Court or else it may rebel against my craving for music and turn off for good which would be a travesty of massive proportions. So, let’s humor it. It’s six degrees time.

I do Six Degrees of your iPod posts infrequently. I do love doing them, though, because I get to reveal the variety of music I am listening to on my iPod. Sharing music is the whole purpose of this blog and if I can provide some videos of great songs for enjoyment, I am doing my job. This is how I play the game. I take my iPod, put it on random, and skip through the first six songs I find. I post them below. For songs one and six I write a little synopsis and then try to find a connection between the two. In some cases it is easy, but in most cases it is not too obvious. As I type this, though, I have absolutely no clue if my job is going to be easy or difficult today. How about we find out?

1.) “Welcome to Your Wedding Day” by Airborne Toxic Event

This track is off of the band’s most recent album, All At Once, released in April of 2011. The band, a five-piece indie/alt rock act, features creative rock/orchestral arrangements and this song is no different – perhaps leaning a little more towards the theatrical hard rock movement that bands like System of a Down and Coheed and Cambria mastered. It’s a concise, upbeat song from a talented band.

2.) “Friday on My Mind” by The Easybeats

A very apt song with a GREAT video.

3.) “Helicopters” by Barenaked Ladies

4.) “Best Imitation of Myself” by Ben Folds

5.) “High” by Lighthouse Family

6.) “The Twist” by Chubby Checker

Chubby Checker introduced the Twist when he was 19 years old and he has lived off the song since, creating follow-ups like “Slow Twistin” and “Let’s Twist Again” (which I actually think is a better song) and even a rap version of the Twist. He is the only recording artist to place five albums in the Top 12 all at once. The twist was HUGE!

CONNECTION:

This is impossible! Seriously, without doing research I can damn well give up now and save myself the time. How can there be a connection between a 60s novelty song/dance craze and a modern-day indie act. But don’t worry, I’m not giving up. I have a connection! It is not really a connection at all but it will do.

“The Twist” was featured in an episode of Quantum Leap. Chubby Checker himself had a cameo in the episode as a young Chubby Checker hoping to get his record, “The Twist” played on the air. Scott Bakula’s character Dr. Sam Beckett convinces the station owner to play the record. This connection is going to go through Mr. Bakula and soundtracks. Bakula starred in the modern show Men of a Certain Age which featured a Bob Dylan song on its soundtrack. The Airborne Toxic Event was featured on a soundtrack of the show NCIS where a Dylan song was also featured. It is a mindless, discursive, stupid, haphazard “connection,” but, hey, it’s the best I can do. Can you find another one? Try your luck! Happy Weekend!

A Reaction to Steve Jobs’ Death

6 Oct

My initial reaction to the news of Steve Jobs‘ death was my typical reaction when I hear that a well-known celebrity/icon has passed away. I watched as Anderson Cooper interviewed tech junkies, newsmen, and CEOs of other companies. I listened to them swoon over the man that was Steve Jobs. I, myself, said that the news was terrible, talked to my father about the death sentence that is pancreatic cancer (seriously, if there were any doubts, Steve Jobs died from it – Steve ‘I Molded Your Life” Jobs), and then moved on to my dinner of avocado and ricotta soft tacos (which were excellent). My family reflected briefly on how we must all not sweat the small stuff and realize that, in the end, the only thing one truly has is their body and health. And then we ate dinner and stored the thought of death back into the locked, fire-proof safe in our minds.

This morning I had a moment to reflect on the passing of Jobs. The tremendous outpouring of grief on social networking sites was astounding. I have actually never seen such a universal mourning in the recent modern age. Facebook and Twitter exploded with messages of “rest in peace” and small anecdotes of how Jobs’ inventions impacted their lives. It was just one man’s death, though, and I initially thought that such a reaction was weird, perhaps slightly misguided. It was almost too uniform, too trendy. But then I realized that in this odd way the reaction to Jobs’ death was caused by the man himself. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak’s Apple circuit board pretty much sponsored the rapid development of the personal computer. Jobs’ intuition could be looked at as a reason for why I am typing these words on a keyboard today. Jobs helped turn science fiction into reality.

Think about the last fifteen years. I am 22 years old. I remember fooling around with simplistic games on my bulky Apple computer in the 90s. The computer evolved and flourished and new features were added. It became a true constant in our lives. People had such a personal reaction to the news of Jobs’ death because personalized computer technology is so important to the masses. We, as humans, need interaction and connection, and while it does seem that people trap themselves into a closed, cold world when using these products, these high-tech phones and music storage devices do connect people to their loves and interests. So, in a sense, when the CEO of Apple passed away last night, people held a momentary personal funeral for a person who helped make their expansive technological world possible.

The iPod has revolutionized music. It was the next step in the evolution of listening to music. We can now carry gigabytes of music with us in little pocket devices for personal enjoyment whenever, wherever. Such an ability was a dream only relatively a few years ago. This remarkeable transformation was heralded by Jobs and Apple. I have become so accustomed to my loaded iPod that I often forget about those times with my skipping walkman in the backseat of my family’s old SUVs. Seriously, do you remember when the songs would skip when you hit a bump on the highway?

Today, as I pump my iPod during my noontime city walk, I will think of the advancements sponsored by Jobs and quietly thank him for improving technology for such a wide range of individuals. I am sure many people are doing the same today.

Blackbird with Blue Eyes

13 Sep

Can you guess the two songs that are going to be featured in this version of “Six Degrees of Your iPod?” For those new to the Music Court, “Six Degrees of Your iPod” is a little iPod-related game we play at the blog. It’s not iPod specific, actually. Any randomized music generator will do. Here are the rules. Take out your music device and put it on shuffle. Then skip through six songs and write them all down. Can you connect the first song to the sixth song? That’s the purpose of the game. Random music connections! I’d love to read any of your own attempts at the game, so if you happen to be shuffling through your portable music device and you play, please comment with your results. Here is what I came up with today. The first song to appear was:

1.) “Blackbird” by The Beatles

Can you get any better than this simple McCartney classic? Seriously, McCartney and Lennon were masters of short and sweet pieces. Well, they were masters of all types of songs. I’m sure if you asked them to lay down some salsa beats they would have obliged. But that is completely irrelevant.

McCartney wrote “Blackbird” as a symbolic piece dedicated to the civil rights struggle of African Americans in the United States. The peaceful guitar riff was inspired by Bach’s “Bourree in E Minor, which was a lute piece that, as children, George Harrison and him tried to learn to show off. And, humorously, “Blackbird” is now a beginner guitar necessity. Just like “Smoke on the Water” anyone who picks up a guitar must try his/her hand at playing “Blackbird,” in some parts to show off to the room.

The song appeared on the White Album.

2.) “In The Pockets” by The Tallest Man on Earth

3.) “Genesis 3:23” by The Mountain Goats

4.) “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War

5.) Generator ^ First Floor” by Freelance Whales

6.) “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by CSN(Y)

Crosby Stills Nash and Sometimes Young. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” arguably this super groups most famous song, sparked the formation of CSN in the first place. The song, written by Stephen Stills, works with a crafty, somewhat deceptive title. Suite, in the classic sense, means an ordered set of musical pieces, usually four in number like the song. And then the possible  Sweet refers to the song’s subject, Stills’ ex-girlfriend, singer-songwriter Judy Collins, who apparently has some pretty sweet blue eyes. It really is one hell of a break-up song.

Connection: There are some interesting connections between both the Beatles and CSNY and there is an independent connection between the songs. After forming, prior to Neil Young joining the group, the group failed an audition at the Beatles’ Apple Records. That wasn’t a very wise move for the label. The band became pretty succesful. But there were no hard feelings. The band’s first live gig was at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago in August of 1969 and the band opened with “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” before launching into a cover of…”Blackbird” by the Beatles. Cool, right? The show was on August 17. Hmm…that date sounds familiar. They mentioned that they would be performing the next day at something called Woodstock, wherever that was. Well, after the show they went to Woodstock, where they went on stage at 3 a.m., August 18, and performed “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” followed by “Blackbird” again.

The Beatles did not perform at Woodstock for a variety of potential reasons. Lennon may have requested there be a spot of Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band which was denied. I doubt that, though. I could’ve performed there. I mean, Sha Na Na did. Another potential reason was that Lennon wanted to play but his entrance into the U.S. from Canada was blocked by Nixon. Also, seems a bit farfetched. Most likely it was a combination of the Beatles’ being on the verge of collapse and the fact that they had not performed an official concert since 1966.

Six Degrees of Your iPod: Kaleidoscope to The Amboy Dukes (with Rusty Day in between)

18 Jan

*I have a theory that all music is somewhat related. All artists have some connection (whether it be inspiration, concert, producer, etc.) with other artists which have connections with other artists. It may be confusing but it is most likely true. The iPod allows for all of this music to be randomly dispersed or, in iPod terms, shuffled. Six Degrees of Your iPod is an easy game to play. Go to your iPod (or other musical device) and play one song. Do not use that song. Then, after you make sure your iPod is set to random, skip to the next song. Starting with that song post six songs on the comments and attempt to connect the first and sixth song. If I am right, you will be able to find a connection between the first and sixth. And, that is exactly what I am going to try to do. Let’s play the musical version of the Kevin Bacon classic.*

The U.S. Kaleidoscope

1.) “Minnie the Moocher” by Kaleidoscope (US).

Kaleidoscope – not to confused with the UK psychedelic band with the same name – was a psychedelic folk band that operated between 1966-1970, releasing singles on Epic Records and then fading off into the abyss with many other talented bands like them. The band won their recording contract with Epic Records because of their stringed prowess. The group certainly knew how to play their strings. They also could play practically any genre of music. Seriously. Rock, blues, folk, jazz, middle-eastern; you name it they’d play it. This is evident in the song featured today. “Minnie the Moocher” is a jazz song first recorded by Cab Calloway (an influence on the group). It is based, both musically and lyrically, on Frankie Jaxon’s 1927 “Willie the Weeper.” Calloway’s version is famous for his call and response scatting, which Kaleidoscope attempts to imitate in their version (below).

2.) “Sleep” by The Dandy Warhols

3.) You’re the Cocaine” by Joshua James

4.) “My Fight” by Greg Laswell

5.) “Hang on Sloopy” by McCoys

6.) “Journey to the Center of the Mind” by The Amboy Dukes

“Journey to the Center of the Mind” is the pinnacle of The Amboy Dukes’ success. The song is a psychedelic-rock masterpiece. In 1968, the song was released as track 1 on side two of Journey to the Center of the Mind. The album is a solid piece of conventional late 60’s psychedelic music. The Amboy Dukes are most famous for launching the career of guitarist Ted Nugent.

The Connection

I think this is going to be an easy one. The last few times I have played Six Degrees I have been stuck with next to impossible connections. Today I get to play around with two American psychedelic bands that were playing music during the same years. The only difference is the type of psychedelic music. Kaleidoscope were playing psych folk in LA and The Amboy Dukes were playing hard psychedelic rock in Michigan.

This is actually too simple. I can take a shortcut on this one and immediately connect the record label. Kaleidoscope released their music on Epic Records and Ted Nugent, after dropping the Amboy Dukes band name in 1975, went to Epic Records. So, yes, at different times members of each band played under the umbrella of Epic Records. But come on, that’s too easy.

I have to choose something much more complex. Kaleidoscope’s band leader was David Lindley, who became a famous studio musician (mainly because of his proficiency playing a ton of musicians). His long list of collaborations includes one with Rod Stewart who had at one point of his career (before joining Faces) considered joining a supergroup named Cactus with Jeff Beck and others. Instead of joining Cactus he joined Ronnie Wood in Faces. Cactus did form eventually and it consisted of the Vanilla Fudge rhythm section, Jim McCarty of Mitch Ryder‘s Detroit Wheels and singer Rusty Day, who came from a short stint with The Amboy Dukes.

There you have it. I’m looking forward to your games below!



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