Influential Albums – Day 5

The Stone Roses – Stone Roses

These guys. Talk about burning bright and burning out. That is what The Stone Roses did. I guess I saw the video for Fools Gold (Full version) on 120 Minutes then read about them in one of GQ’s Sassy magazines, The article started off talking about the lead off song, “I Wanna Be Adored”. That pretty much sealed the deal for me.

One of my college roommates, the elusive and not-heard-from-again-Tim Smith must have had the CD. It might have been a cassette, because that’s what I had it on. It was in my car and Panasonic Walkman knock off A LOT. The whole Madchester scene was big, but Stone Roses were the very, very top of the crop.

Their album cover art was inspired by Jackson Pollock and even name drop him on one of their b-sides. More on those next. “Going Down“. They are, in turn, name dropped by one of my favorite current bands, The Fratellis, on “For the Girl” – ‘she was into the Stones when I was into the Roses’

When I got to UGA and worked at WUOG I was amazed by all the b-sides I didn’t know about. B-sides in general, I think, are much more of a British band thing than American artists. I may be wrong about that, but it seems like all the best b-side songs I’ve heard are from British bands.

Anyway, The Stone Roses never took off like I think they deserved to and I think that has a lot to do with their self-destructive habits and behavior. The stories are all out there and you can read up on it if you’re interested. Needless to say, they needed to keep the ball rolling, but instead it was stopped and their career suffered for it.

Atmospheric, groove heavy, and transcendent. Those are the words/phrase I would use to describe this album. Anytime I can find something like this first album I dive in. It has not happened very often. It definitely did not happen with Second Coming. I’m not even putting a link to it.

I turned a few people onto Stone Roses, but not that many. Whatever. They must have fallen into that category of being too British. Some people can’t take that, but not me. That just makes me love them more.

They were hugely influential to other British bands as they documentary I watched on them made clear. Too bad they burned too brightly. I’m not sure they could have outdid this first album. They definitely fit into the category of “Debut Albums So Good the Band Did Not Ever Have To Release Anything Else and They Would Still Be Considered Pivotal”.

Stand out tracks for me, well, all of them. Top five from the album, in no order, “I Wanna Be Adored”, “I Am the Resurrection”, “Elephant Stone” “She Bangs the Drum”, and “This is the One”.

I got a Stone Roses collection and it’s great, but I recently went back and listened to this album, and besides “Don’t Stop” it’s an album that needs to be heard as a whole. I guess, if you’re so inclined, you could consider, “Don’t Stop” like “Within Without You” from Sgt. Peppers’. I am not a fan of it. I understand its importance and its place, but I’m not a fan.

Last thing, extended mixes. The Stone Roses had a thing of taking songs and going with them. Extended versions, not dance remixes, but just extended jams that were, I’m guessing, a BIG part of the Madchester thing. Extended dances to get your groove on with whatever was turning your groove up. I’m not sure what those kids were into. I just dug the jams. So, here’s “I Am the Resurrection” (Full version)


Influential Albums – Day 3

Neil Young – Decade

So, another compilation. Twice in this 10 day span I’ve done that, but again, this is how I was introduced to a very important musical figure in my life. My friend, Craig Pickel (yep) introduced me to Neil on many rides in her (yep) little Honda CRX. Decade on the tape deck, wings or chips and salsa from Jaggers in our bellies, and Life as the conversation topic.

Neil changed the way I played guitar. By the time I started listening to him, I guess I’d been playing for 3 years or so. So many of the people I listened to had lots of effects and weird chords and were technically much more advanced than I was. When I got Neil Young Complete Music Volume 2 I saw chords that I knew and could play with no problem. There were a bunch of songs I hadn’t heard yet in that book so I bought the Decade songbook and just went to town. Both acoustic and electric, Neil pretty much kept things pretty simple. Even the finger picking he did on “Sugar Mountain” and “The Needle and the Damage Done” were straight ahead enough that I could figure it out. I never learned to read music, but I remember sitting down and figuring out the guitar part of “Ohio” from CSNY. I had a little music reading knowledge and took what I had and wrote down the notes to learn it.

I played A LOT of Neil Young on guitar. I was up in Athens finishing school and like a lot of guys up there, I had thoughts, dreams, fantasies about playing guitar in Athens and then…the world. Well, everybody’s got to start somewhere and I tried to play out at a few places, pizza places, open mics, coffee houses. I’d play some Neil, some R.E.M., a Beatles song or two then inevitably somebody would call out, “Play ‘Margaritaville’.” I’d say I didn’t know it. “Well play ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ then.” I’d say I didn’t know that one either. “What do you know, then?” I know a lot of Neil Young. So, I didn’t play too many of those places. Also, I did know those songs, but that’s not what I was into, so I didn’t play them.

As time went on I delved into Neil’s catalog and starting getting more of his releases. Neil Young & the Blue Notes, This Note’s For You was one of the first records I bought when I started buying albums again. I thought it was pretty cool, I dug the horns (still do!) I had kept up with his struggles with Geffen Records and knew that he had gotten back on Reprise Records.

One of my favorite cassettes that I have of his is Comes a Time. It’s funny because I don’t think there are any of those songs on Decade. I’ll end this with one of my favorite lines from one of Neil’s Buffalo Springfield songs, “Mr Soul”, “She said you’re strange, but don’t change and I let her.”

What it could have been

The Allman Brothers Band – Beginnings

As much as I loved Neil Young, I would have totally been Duane Allman. Holy cow! I’ve put this down before, but if The Allman Brothers Band never made another album after their first one, they still would be regarded as pivotal musicmakers. The interplay between Duane and Dickey, the drumming of Butch and Jaimoe, the thumping bass of Barry, and Greg on the Hammond, well, there you go. This album, cassette, CD spent a lot of time on my different players during my hippie wanna be period, as did some other jam bands, but The Allmans are the ones that have kept their flavor the longest for me.

30-Day Writing Challenge, Day 20 – First 3 Songs on iPod & Thoughts on Those Songs



I love music things like this. I also kind of hate music things like this. I have VERY eclectic music tastes. When I got my first iPod I made a decision that it was a purely selfish purchase, so that I would always keep some music of all the family on there. Mostly music for the Girls. They were much younger then so that means there was a lot of The Wiggles on there. I still have a very soft spot in my heart for Them Wiggles.

The idea here is that I list the three first songs on my iPod and write the thoughts that come to mind  about them. I’m always a little nervous about what will come up. This shuffle is pretty interesting.

Walking on the Moon” The Police – I love The Police. Absolutely love them. They are an amazing band. The chemistry between the three of them apparently is quite toxic when they aren’t balanced exactly the right way, and from what I have read was pretty often. I had the first four albums on cassettes that an early crush of mine made for me. I, well, my brother, bought Synchronicity on cassette. Listening to them always makes me think of being 16 and listening to The Police in my car on a bad tape player.

Tongue” – R.E.M. Interesting one here. I like when singers take on the role of the opposite gender which I think Michael Stipe does in this song. I don’t go into the meanings of songs very often. I listen to a song as a whole, or as parts. I don’t analyze them. There are a couple of different theories on this one. I’m not going to talk about either of them. I love R.E.M. more than I love The Police. They’re from Georgia, they were outsiders that made it super huge without ever sacrificing what they wanted to do.

Kiss” – Prince. Prince doesn’t let his official stuff live Online for very long, therefore, “Kiss”, the official video isn’t there on those InterWebz, and that’s too bad because it’s a great video. The best part is when Wendy rolls her eyes at Prince at one of his lines. What’s not to love about Prince? Well, the fact that he doesn’t let his stuff live Online for very long, but hey man, that’s his prerogative, right? (that’s how you spell ‘prerogative’? Weird).

What are the first 3 songs on YOUR music player, hmmm? Let’s see ’em!

Working on a Novel

No, no, silly. I’m not working on a novel. My attention span is nowhere long enough for that. Haven’t we met? I used the title as a way to grab your attention.

I have been working on a book this summer with GQ though.  Her second novel, FanGirl! Her second one! It hasn’t even been a year since she put her first one out. She’s quite prolific.

Ever since GQ came up with the idea for FanGirl! she has wanted to get me involved.  The first idea she came up with was to have  scenes from the graphic novel that is a main part of the story mixed in with the chapter titles.

GQ asked me if I thought that I could do these illustrations.  I thought about this, and decided that yes, I could do this.  I love comics. I love drawing, but I don’t do it very often. This will give me something to focus on and what a great opportunity.

We talked about the fact that I would have to really be focused (I may have some focusing issues I have focusing issues) and stay on schedule.  She had a timeline for getting the book out by a certain date.  

After thinking about what the drawings I wanted to were I started thinking about the fact that although I love drawing, I’m not the greatest artist.  I have problems with perspective and things looking very flat and 2D. I decided that I was not going to take the responsibility of giving her crappy looking drawings to go with her story. 

I told her this, and she tried to convince me otherwise, but I stuck to my guns. We agreed that we would look around and ask some of the artist friends we have if they’d be willing. No one had time, and several people just told GQ or me that they thought I should do it.  I was very flattered, a little disappointed in myself, but still no closer to having a solution.

Flash forward to illustration issues being solved. See above for pics from the book.  For whatever reason GQ still wanted me to be involved.  I was very willing to help, but not sure what I could do.  

We agreed that I could do some of the “fixing” of the document after her editors had finished their jobs.  I can do that.  I did that. Then we go to the point of needing to converting the format from a Word file to what is needed to upload for an ebook.  

I downloaded a couple of books from Amazon about this. I read up on it, and it seemed like something that would be pretty easy. I was going to learn to use HTML (a computer code that makes the words on a Site look like actual words instead of lots of symbols with words interspersed between them. I was going to learn to use new programs to make all this flow seamlessly from one format to another. 

Well, it wasn’t hard, but there were definitely more steps involved than what I gathered from reading those books.

Not to be thwarted I continued and was successful! Now the easy part – inserting the images into the document. Wait. Did I say easy? I meant the part that made the converting the document seem like child’s play.

The steps in the books that talked about adding images were easy enough, but making that transfer from page to my fingers was not so easy.  Time and time I would try and think that it would be successful. Time and time again I would go to preview the page and be greeted with this – 
I HATED seeing that, but I saw it again and again and again.

Luckily, GQ has a computer genius(AG) bff and she was able to step in and make it work. On her computer. ARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

This goes on for a couple of days.  Back and forth with AG.  Now I know a good bit about computers. I can do all kinds of things that a good number of people can’t do.  However, there’s a wall that I come up against, and I was staring at that wall.  That. Damn. Wall.

I am staying up late trying to get this done. I had more than 20 files saved with some sort of variation of the word “fangirl” in my download folder.  I was not going to give up, but I was frustrated to say the least. We have Comic Con coming up in a few days and GQ wanted it DONE before we left.  (insert angsty “arrgh” from above here X 3)

One morning I woke up and GQ told me that AG had it fixed. For real. For good. Come to find out that we needed an Adobe program, InDesign, to get it done, and when AG put it in there it literally took 8 seconds.  Big sigh of relief.
So it got done on GQ’s schedule.  She kept her faith in me and was very understanding the whole time most of the time of the limits of my technical know-how. I am very grateful to her for including me in this process.  Her writing is a HUGE part of her, and for a while I had a hard time understanding that, but I do now, and for her to include me means a whole bunch.

Now the novel is out in both Kindle format as well as paperback. Links to both sites are up above at the beginning of this entry.  If you’re a Nook user you’ll have to wait a couple more months to get it on that reader, but it will be worth the wait. FanGirl! is a good, fun read.  Of course I have a huge bias toward the author, but I think I would enjoy the story even if it wasn’t written by my best girl.

Do yourself a favor and go get it. Well, I suppose you’d be doing GQ (and me) a favor, but it will be worth your time, money and effort.  And if you want to do another favor you could write a review on either the Amazon page or the CreateSpace page of the book.  When books have reviews more people are willing to take a chance on it. 

I’ll leave you with this.  I am currently looking into getting InDesign so that I will be able to continue to help GQ on her author’s journey.  She’s well into a new story that she got inspiration from earlier this summer when we were on a boat ride, as well as a continuation of an earlier novel.  She amazes me.