Thursday, 22 December 2016

Jingle all the f*** way

I was having a look through the posts on this site to see if I had written a bit about Christmas music. I haven't. How could I have missed this huge part of peoples musical fabric.

Honestly, people sing more at this time, pay more attention to the music on in a shop, restaurant or at their mates house. There is literally an entire genre here stretching back hundreds of years.

Ok, time for a bit of clarity and honesty. I am not a Christian, I am an Atheist. I dislike songs that say glory to the king, or anything to do with faith and belief as they were written to somehow exult the imaginary guy in the sky. That said , I do get them. I do understand that when it was a suitable outlet for musical creativity and the church had such a hold over the censorship that if you did something that wasn't about God, the prevailing god in the establishment you lived in, then you were fucked. . .proper fucked at that. Losing your head or other appendages . . mainly your head. Which doesn't really fit in with the Christmas spirit does it.

That said, some of the Carols and Christmas hymns are truly great songs and achieve exactly what they set out to do.

That does it. It does exactly what it was supposed to do and I am very jealous if you live in the western world and are not aware of it. I don't really like carols as you may well have gathered. That said, I like singing and I like singing in a choir. Although , to my great regret, that means generally singing religious songs. So i don't do it. I have been asked to join a few choirs as my voice is passable, only recently has one promised not to sing religious songs. So i might do it.

This is all well and good, and many people understand and appreciate that there is a traditional element to Christmas, but that in reality it is a Winter Solstice party and a time to be with family and friends. This is borne out by the fact that at this time of year there are many celebrations the world over, also in countries with no Christian tradition.

Thankfully, over the last 40 years or so, the pop and rock world have tried their hand (s) at the Christmas song. With varying amounts of success.

Well that's just a fun little happy number isn't it. . . .thanks for the uplift there John . .

I have written before about how I feel that Paul McCartney is the Salieri to John Lennon's Amadeus and frankly nothing holds it such stark relief as their respective attempts at  Christmas songs. In my research (searching the internet) for this piece I attempted to get a feel for what others think of the worst Christmas songs of all time. The above song by McCartney and Wings, topped five of the lists  I came across. The worst Christmas song he is still upset about it. . .

Anyway, that does allow me to move on from the worst to some of the best. Lennon's song, below, is a protest song, but it is still far better to put on at your party than to dirge above

As good as the song is, and it is a good song, He still should have stopped Yoko singing. . . wow.

Then there is this by Slade

If you are not from the UK you might not know that one. It is a bit specific, Even though it has charted I think 9 times. its a good song actually, if you like the Glam rock scene of the 70s. Which I sort of do. But it is exuberant and you can sing along to it. Which gives it a good party feel.

Anyway,if you need a christmas playlist. Try this one on Spotify which is pretty good

Christmas playlist

which is all well and good, but maybe your Christmas is a bit more like this

Wishing you all happy holidays and hope you have enough food and drink to forget 2016 . . . and look forward to 2017

I would like to put together a playlist of the best Christmas songs. Please send me yours.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

everything and anything

I am the proud father of a 9 year old boy who has a strong interest in music. Some of this is obviously because of my interest, and his mothers of course, is interest in music something that could be genetic? His interest is what a lot of you would describe as a healthy interest in the rock greats.

He is a big fan of Bowie, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, Radiohead,  AC DC, Guns 'n Roses and The Eagles amongst others. You get the idea, it is mainly classic rock at the moment (except for Radiohead), but given his peer group it is very cool. It certainly makes road trips and generally listening to music in the house a pretty cool experience. I have tried a few times with Tool, but I think it is perhaps a little advanced just at the moment.

 There is clearly something in the music that makes it great and enables us to be drawn to it regardless of where we come at it from. I do not know enough about the actual music structure to be able to say that it is the use of certain chords or timing that appeals, I do know that the 4/4 blues structure works very well for Rock and Roll. Indeed that or a 12/8 beat is effective what defines it.

When i was his age my music education consisted of the two things that it did for almost everyone of a similar age. My parents records, terrible, and the radio station. With hindsight equally terrible but at least a little more modern. Australian radio stations are very good at playing local, or at least national music. I haven't come across a country as good at this as yet. Although I guess UK and US stations are at a very unfair advantage. As a side note, isn't awesome when you are travelling and the radio station has to play local or local language songs and you want to like it. You do, you really want it to be cool, but it very very rarely is,. I bought this when on holiday in France as a teenager.

Extra extra side point. Not only did I keep the tape, yes tape, I actually still have it and it checked it for writing this. . .that is nearly 30 years on a holiday tape. . hasnt actually been played in years and as I don't have a tape player I cant check to see if it is still any good.

Back to the point of this entry. Whilst my musical education was pretty limited, my sons is not limited at all. Literally every song ever recorded is reasonably easy to get a hold of and listened to at least in part. Increasingly I am not sure this is the incredible gold mine that it appears to be on the surface. Particularly for a 9 year old.

Try an experiment for me, go to youtube or spotify or apple or whatever you listen to digital music through. Think of a song you would like to hear and play it.  I bet with the certainty of someone who has no way of being shown to be wrong that your choice fits into one of two categories. it was either a song you have heard thousands of times and love. or it was a song you have heard recently and are playing a lot at the moment. it is basic human nature i think.

the point being that this is no different from putting on a record or listening to the radio waiting for the new song to come on. When faced with an almost unlimited choice we stick to what we know. The basic way to discover new music hasn't really changed at all. We rely on people whose tastes we respect, at least a little, to tell us about a band they quite like and we see if we might like it as well.

It is now a lot less expensive of course. Well, sort of, subscriptions cost money. This has caused the second part of the journey to change. If you dont like it you simply dont listen to it again. Before, if you had bought it you were almost obligated to stick by the band/ performer because you had invested your hard earned cash into it. I recall a conversation with my brother whose varied music taste extends to the very dark corners of the metal universe standing up for Transvision Vamp (look that up for fun) because he had bought the tape and really had no choice . . . he will be thrilled to pieces I put that in . .

Where does this leave my son? Well because it is all available and it is easy to get to, you find that the cream rises to the top. Because all music is new music when you first hear it, it means that classic rock tends to come to the forefront. Songs to us that are comforting and cool because we know them so well to him are interesting and different. imagine listening to Heroes by Bowie for the first time. . . i cant remember the first time i heard it but it must have been in the 70s. He didn't find this song by himself, it was played at home because we like it.

My not so clear point is that because he is more advanced in his musical education than his peers he relies on the music played in the house to guide him. And that hasnt changed from when I was a kid. the only thing that is different is that my/ our taste is infinitely superior to my parents, Which is probably exactly what they would say as well . .

the music clips in this piece aren't connected. I was listening to Elvis Costello when I started and I quite like the Wolf Alice.