Saturday Oct 08, 2005

The Good (Random) Voice

Stream of consciousness blog from post-it notes scribbled before and after the September 16th U2 show in Toronto.

The Edge's guitar playing is outrageous. Mix feedback, echo, and sheer strength. Heard Robert Fripp of King Crimson sound check at Princeton University's Alexander Hall - same unbelievable big sound. Includes its own echo, no need to let it reverberate to fill the room, forced its way into the air.

Ran into Arati there but she's introduced as Kate. Know her from Princeton engineering. Talk of kids and jobs and banks and shows. Saw her last when U2's third album (and it was on vinyl) was released. Choose the name for the context, after all, Bono comes from an ad for bono voce microphones. The good voice. More appropriate now than in 1982.

Band rips into "Bullet the Blue Sky" from Joshua Tree. One of my faves. Fighting and wrestling with our problems, local global and national. "Jacob wrestled with an angel and the angel was overcome." Genesis 32, it was my daughter's Torah portion for her Bat Mitzvah. In Hebrew it's vayishlach, translates to "and he sent" - 400 of Jacob's men to meet his brother; an angel to meet Jacob.

Bono recites different poetry, editing out "all the colors of a royal flush." Love that phrase for the contrast. Royal flush is only one suit, one color - all red or all black. Faces of royalty on cards done in primary colors, except for the ace. One. The individual commoners? Like Jacob, we take the next action.

I am thinking clearly pro bono.

Sunday May 22, 2005

What's With Heavy Rotation?

Someone asked me, and I'm compelled to answer. Many radio stations work off of a "playlist", or set of songs or artists that the station wants to emphasize. Even with the "classic rock" format or the "album oriented rock" format of the past few decades, you'll notice that some stations seem to get into a Jethro Tull or Electric Light Orchestra rut for a few days. It's the playlist talking.

The songs or artists that get the most play are in "heavy rotation." In my case, it's more of a pun, because I rarely listen to the radio outside of news or sports requirements, and my music is piped from iPod or CD - heavy rotation of another kind.

Yes and the Round

Yes-heads will immediately note that the late 70s tour was "Yes in the Round" and I've botched the title. But I spent the early part of this evening thinking about the various circles of Yes-dom and how they intersect. I've previously written about the intermediation of various circles of interests, ranging from eBay to charity events to sports fanaticism. But after consuming way too much science fiction recently, I decided it was time to once again dive into the stack of books I've acquired about Yes. Listening to "House of Yes" in the car to and from Boston this week certainly influenced my selection. (Double disclaimer: it's not the best Yes concert CD, but it's the cleanest version of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" with Steve Howe, not Trevor Rabin, on guitar. And I like it).

Tonight's linkages discovered: Alan White played on John Lennon's Instant Karma and Imagine, also appearing on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. Rick Wakeman shows up on David Bowie's Space Oddity. Finding your favorite musicians in other places is prelude to discovering more music that you like. Jay Littlepage, VP of the software group that delivers the Sun Connection, finally convinced me to buy Little Feat's Waiting for Columbus by telling me that the Tower of Power horns appear on it. Obviously, they don't appear on the three tracks my freshman year roommates played endlessly, or I would have bought a vinyl copy in 1981.

If you're really into playing the equivalent of LinkedIn for rock stars, check out Peter Frame's book of Rock Family Trees that shows the formation, merging, splintering and evolution of many of the 70s and 80s art-rock bands. Leafing through it you realize that this is how rich, highly cross-referenced and annotated information was conveyed before there were browsers, hyperlinks and wikis.

Friday Dec 24, 2004

Keys To Ascension

Unable to sleep last night I popped in the DVD of Yes' "Keys To Ascension," a somewhat sloppily produced concert archive of their 1996 shows that brought keyboardist Rick Wakeman back to the group. My affinity for the 1996 CD sets of "Keys" and "Keys 2" (the other half of the concerts) are strong -- I have been a Yes fan since I discovered rock music. One of my strongest memories of summers at the Jersey shore was putting on WYSP 94.1 FM in Philadelphia and hearing "Close To the Edge", side one, tracked through late at night. I was hooked. The layers of the music, the amazing guitar work of Steve Howe, even the obscure yet ever-hopeful lyrics continuously gave me something new to listen to, to listen for, or to enjoy anew.

After college, marriage, and children, my CD player saw more of "The Best of Sesame Street" rather than Howe & company. But in 1996, I bought "Keys", and I was hooked again. Yes ascended, indeed, and I've re-purchased most of their catalog on CD. Each listen jostles some mellowed brain parts, and provides something to explore repeatedly. This week's favorites include the closing section of "Wurm" from Yessongs and Steve Howe's guitar solos on "Turn of the Century" from "Keys 2".

But in my late-night state of half-listening, half-snoozing, I heard Wakeman's solo on "Wurm" (from the DVD of "Keys") differently -- and for some reason, it sounded exactly like the piano solo in Cat Stevens' "Morning Has Broken" (which is played by Rick Wakeman), with Moog replacing Steinway. Something else to ponder over break.


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