RSS

Category Archives: Music

How Do You Keep The Music Playing?


So there I was, in my car, on a Saturday afternoon, heading to a rehearsal for a play called “Rabbit Hole” that I am stage managing for and this song comes on that causes me to suffer a mild migraine (as if those ever come in the mild form).

 

Now the song started off nice and simple with the first voice doing his “speak/sing” style, which is somewhat acceptable, even though it wasn’t doing the song any favors. Then it happened, enter  the second voice, a woman, and she began to wail and scream and riff in inappropriate places and one could not understand a word she was singing, but her voice was distinct enough that I knew the offender right off the bat. I know some people will call me sacrilegious for this but it needs to be said

 

ARETHA FRANKLIN NEEDS TO STOP SINGING!!

 

Phew there I said it.

She butchered her way through what was already a mediocre song that was initially done beautifully by James Ingram and Patti Austin. How Do You Keep The Music Playing is a nice lovely song that you hear at weddings, “Back in Times” parties, your parents’ house parties and occasionally on some Sunday night radio program. You must be familiar these Sunday night radio programs. They are the ones where at the announcers suddenly slow their speech patterns and lower their voices (vocal register) to give the impression that they are sexy but since English well standard English is not their native tongue, they just sound retarded. And don’t get me started on the callers to their programs:

 

“Hello GUHNITE! Ah just wanta say that I is guilty of loving meh man, Biscuit!”

“Can you play dah Whitney song I will always love you for him…?”

“Maam you know dat song is about losing someone “

“Nah daz me and meh man SONG!! We make Kai-esha to dah one!

“Oh ok, I’ll play it for you and Biscuit!”

Sigh..sorry I went off on a tangent there. Let me get back to my rant.

 Where was I?…….Oh.

ALBUM: Duets II – Tony Bennett

Offending Song: How Do You Keep The Music Playing?

Offending Singer – Aretha Franklin

Now I know there are some diehard Aretha fans out there but this lady has not changed her singing style since Ronald Reagan was in office. It’s the same breathy wailing, screaming nonsense that she has carried on with for years.  It isn’t getting better and I cringe EVERYTIME I hear her.

 

I have one of her Greatest Hits Album (seen here) and it is filled with some sweet sweet music and it was reminiscent of a time when she actually took instruction from the producers and she made some beautiful arrangements that did her blessed vocal cords absolute justice.

Angel, Giving  Him Something He Can  Feel,  Until You Come Back To Me , You’re All I Need To Get By, and Love All The Hurt Away just to name a few.  She sings those like buttah and you appreciate the power and CLARITY of her voice and the emotions she conveys with every note.

 

Cut to 2011, and her voice has become that of cats in heat. Loud , annoying and never–ending. What happened?.

 

The clearest moment to me when I knew that this lady should stop singing or actually employ a vocal coach to help her steer her amazing voice in a different direction was in 1998 at the Grammy Awards when she butchered “Nessum Dorma” and the whole world seemed to cheer that she took on the song…..blah blah blah blah… It was awful!!!

 

She has sung at hundreds of functions since then, including at Obama’s inauguration in 2009, but I refused to even listen to her sing then and there hasn’t been any desire to even youtube it. Sigh….For such an amazing voice, why is it she thinks that there is nothing else to learn?  Her treatment of music these days is tantamount to me trying to cooking a gourmet meal (messy, awkward and it is not going to be well presented). 

If I am to try and understand what is going on, I would say that in her being given the WELL DESERVED title The QUEEN OF SOUL she has let her creativity slip into an area where people should be appreciative that she has sung in their presence or walked into a room. In this day and age, every royal person should know that continued respect is earned and ruling by fear doesn’t work anymore. 

 

There will be no one as wonderful as her in terms of music but slowly her presence and stature is being diminished with mediocre performances that leave the new generation of music wondering what the hell were these older folks listening to back then. 

 

While Aretha will never be forgotten in history, I still need her to show this musical generation that  lip syncs, dances, and auto tunes almost every song  the sing that there is a reason she was given the title and that no one alive today could even come close to removing the crown.

 

Oh And the Duets II album isn’t bad at all. There are some collaborations that are really nice. Among them the ones with Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, John Mayer, Mariah Carey (Amazing! Almost didn’t recognise her voice coming to the end of the song) and Sheryl Crow to name a few.

 

It’s not a must have but it doesn’t hurt to include it in your musical collection.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Entertainment, Music, RANT

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Like A Star


This is to no one and someone at the same time…..

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Entertainment, Music

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

For Your Consideration –


It would be around 1995, a gangly boy is riding his bicycle up and down the UWI Campus humming away at the music in his Discman and just enjoying life. Ah those were the days. The days when I could order a Personal Pan Pizza and Cheesy breadsticks from Pizza Hut for $20 (for Delivery) and be content.  

I had heard a song from Vanessa Williams called “The Sweetest Days” and was mildly interested in it.  I remember casting it aside as one of those songs that would be played in every High school Graduation now and for years to come.

Then, one evening on Milner Hall, while trying to study in the common area, I would strike up a conversation with a fellow Milnerite and he would chastise me for my lack of love for the song (It would be the first of many conversations/arguments on music). He would also suggest that I take a listen to the entire album. 

Being very cocky and self- assure of what I thought was good music (at the time), I ignored his advice on this particular matter.

Vanessa Williams? Vanessa the Undresser (as she was known back then)? Err nope. I’ll pass.

Cut to a couple years later and this Milnerite and I are having another conversation on music and he brings up the point that I still haven’t listened to the Vanessa Williams Album called Sweetest Days.  He recommends a few tracks beyond the released single that I didn’t care for and also tells me that Sting is on one of the songs. This time I decide to take a listen.

What I heard was sheer brilliance. A beautiful soothing voice being layered over some amazingly well written  songs and not one instance in which the melody or mood was being forced down your ear drums.

I bought that album and wore it out and in 2006 purchased another copy of it (which I still play).

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:

 

Track Listing:

  1. Intro-Lude
  2. The Way That You Love
  3. Betcha Never
  4. The Sweetest Days
  5. Higher Ground
  6. You Don’t Have to Say You’re Sorry
  7. Ellamental
  8. Sister Moon
  9. You Can’t Run
  10. Moonlight OverParis
  11. Constantly *******
  12. Long Way Home

If you are still hesitant to listen to the entire album, then by all means please ensure that you listen to the tracks in bold.  Of utmost importance is that you listen to the song “CONSTANTLY”.  Oh and if you like “the Sweetest Days” then you will love this album.

I never doubted Matthew Wilson’s taste in music after that. Well, Kylie Minogue still raises slight issues for me but that is another fight for another time.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Entertainment, Music

 

Tags: , , , , ,

My Love, My Need


About three things I was absolutely positive:

First, Edward was a vampire.   oops I mean, Janet Jackson is my one TRUE LOVE

Second, there was part of me — and I didn’t know how potent that part might be — that thirsted for her presence.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably not the craziest fan she has…

(I wish I had taken pictures of these people, but I was in a strange city all by myself)

Case #1 – Thug Loving

I turn to my left and a couple rows in front of me and to the other end, there stands Kareem (I use that name because I’m racist ok and well he looked like a Kareem).

Kareem is dressed in a baseball hat (rim not bent), a white very starched shirt (outside of his tweed pants and a tie. He thinks he looks really good and keeps asking nearby patrons to take pics of him alone and then of him and his well-dressed girlfriend.

 Cut to the first appearance of Janet on stage and I turn to my left to see him on his feet jumping up and down and shouting “Yeah Yeah Yeah that’s my girl!!” His girlfriend is sitting with a shocked look on her face.

 CASE#2 – All that glitters is not gold

The couple to the back of me had just started up a conversation with me as I met the guy in one of my many walks near the theatre earlier that day.  His girlfriend was just about to tell me about he favorite JJ album when “BAM!!!” , there appears someone in some short blue shorts, and a bright gold jacket with their hair covering one eye.  The girl started to scream and got up and hugged the guy and they started to chat for another 5-10 mins. I turned back around to wait until they were finished. Then I spotted ….

CASE#3 – Mother of Pearls

Two guys are waiting to walk into the row in front of me. One is dressed all in black, the other has baggy pants, tight black t-shirt, a grey something that looks like an ill-fitting jacket and then loads of pearls around his neck!!

 “Lord, they are out tonight!!!!” mumbled the girl sitting next to me with her Jill Scott hair, who would later be sobbing on me while “Again” was being sung by the audience.

Anyway, they had just passed the two girls in front of me that looked too young to know what Rhythm Nation 1814 was about, when one girl looked down and said “Nice shoes”. He turned to her and lifted his leg and said “Thank You Honey, aren’t they beautiful?” They were heels. Black Boot heels but heels nonetheless.

 I started to feel really normal and not like the crazed fan I thought I was.

So what if I did pass by the Theatre multiple times that day for no apparent reason and yes I did sit near the entrance and played “Angry Birds” but honestly I was waiting for the Box Office to open to collect my ticket at “Will Call”. Honest.

So what if I happened to see when the dancers arrived and when a limo pulled up, but none of that meant that I was stalking Janet. Oh Hell No.

There were, however some guys outside, who seemed preoccupied with getting her autograph and who were having discussions about going to see Carrie Underwood next week. Janet and Carrie in the same sentence? Ugh..these people obviously were just ebay collectors and not genuine fans.

IN THE MOMENT

There are times when I question God as to the reason certain things happen and why does it happen to me. Of course the answer always either comes coded or just in the form of “WAIT nah, why yuh hurry so?”

I have stopped questioning why things happen in my life and have begun to accept that there is a reason for everything. Therefore, it baffled me for years why I never got to see Janet Jackson in Philadelphia in 2008. It hurt. It wounded me that she was fell ill and I was never able to see her.

Then August 19th happened and I understood why.

In 2008 I had really bad seats to view her show. In 2011, I was in 7 rows away from the stage and I could see her breathe. I could see her chest move, watch the sweat drip down her face, see every muscle contort as she danced. I could see that she wasn’t lip-syncing as she sang a note slightly flat (that was a relief).

 Sigh…

 I thought I was going to cry as time drew near for the show. I felt my allergies starting to act up as the screen announced that she dedicated the song “Control” to Minneapolis.

Then I saw her. I saw her outline on the stage and I felt the pollen dust get to my eyes and knew I was going to have an attack. Then this guy and his girlfriend behind me ( that I had met 15 minutes before) both grabbed me and said “Can you believe it?”

The moment was gone. My sinuses cleared up. I was ok. My hands however couldn’t stop shaking and while I was trying to take a picture of her I found myself screaming out her name as if I was in primary school. My screams went unnoticed.

Reason?

Well everyone else was screaming. Thug guy two rows to my left with a baseball cap, was still jumping up and down  going “Yeah Yeah Yeah “to the shock and horror of his date who seemed not to know how much this guy liked Janet. Some overly made-up very tall women/drag queens (I’m not sure) kept screaming even when there was a quick change on stage.  I realised that I was tame. I was composed. I was not hysterical.

The highlight of the night was when Janet asked the crowd to sing “Again” with her. NO backing band, just her voice and the audience. Sigh…during that number, the girl with the Jill Scott hair next to me started to sob uncontrollably and I wanted her to cry a little softer because she was still trying to sing the damn song.

Picture this: A girl crying and trying to sing the lyrics, “How can I be strong I ask myself. Time and Time I’ve said….” and just weeping during it. Sigh… Very Inconsiderate.

The most obvious thing about the crowd was that, we were all mainly middle aged. No spring chickens in the midst, save for Selena and Miley in front of me who just giggled all night.

When she did the dance for “Rhythm Nation” and then the routine for “Miss You Much” I just stood there frozen. I could not believe what I was witnessing.  I still recall that during “Let’s Wait Awhile”, my head was cocked to the side and I was just singing along and using the same intonation from the single . I was an unashamed mess but I was in the midst of good company so it did not matter.  Sigh….This woman and her music have been a part of my life for decades and every song has a memory attached to it. I really love her!!!

 

By the time “If” came on I was out of my daze and just screaming out the words. Jill Scott hair had recovered fully by then and so coming down to the end when she did “That’s the Way Love Goes” we started to sway side to side and even did a little dance together in our seats. Granny Myrtle Gurtle behind me was upset about it as she had remained seated for most of the show while everyone else got up to view it. Who cared!

There were moments in between where she had footage on screen and it was nice to see the transition from Control to Number Ones. I was only mortified once, and that was when she decided to show some of her acting work on screen. She went from Penny to Charlene, to (sigh) Justice to that stupid sequel to the Tyler Perry movie where she smashed up all the glass in the house. The crowd cheered but I was mortified that she felt proud of her later work to actually show it. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all!!

She ended the night after THREE encores,(yet she didn’t sing Black Cat), “Got Til It’s Gone”, “Best Things in Life are Free” were the initial encore songs. “Together Again” was a fitting end to the night and when the footage of her and Michael came up on screen, “Jill Scott hair” next to me lost it again. This time she had no shame in holding onto to me and soaking my shoulder with her tears. Afterwards she apologized and asked if I wanted to go for a drink after with her friends. I said “No Problem” but being the paranoid fool I am, I knew that I was going to lose her in the crowd and that I was going to head straight back to my hotel!

 

After fighting up to get some memorabilia, I exited the theatre to see people at the side of the building waiting for Janet to leave. She drove out in a Black Escalade and I saw her for one last time.

…….My abandoned heart just doesn’t understand…My undying love for you won’t let me leave………….

 

Please come back to me.

I miss you so much….

Wherever you are..

I LOVE YOU

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 6, 2011 in Entertainment, Music, Travel

 

Tags: , , , ,

Good Times


I just posted a pic on my Facebook wall of some of the shows I saw while in New York on vacation and the theme song for “Good Times” popped into my head. I was feeling good about my vacation particularly since I saw Janet Jackson in Minneapolis and was close enough to see sweat glistening on her arm and see her lips quiver during “Again”. Focus Stefan!!!

Oh Yeah,then I saw War Horse (where an old schoolmate Jude Sandy is in the cast) followed by Audra McDonald & Norm Lewis in a preview showing of Porgy & Bess The Musical (AMAZING!) and capped off with Sister Act. I didn’t expect to like the last one as it was a last minute choice since I was unable for the fourth time to get tickets to the Book of Mormon, but I was blown away at how much I enjoyed it. Sister Act is some serious fun and entertainment.

So as I was basking in my euphoria and humming the “Good Times” theme it was then I realised that i never knew the actual lyrics to it. Just the words “Good Times“.

So I googled them and well..see for yourself:

Good Times Theme – Dave Grusin & Andrew Bergman

Good Times. 
Any time you meet a payment. 
Good Times. 
Any time you need a friend. 
Good Times. 
Any time you’re out from under. 

Not getting hastled, not getting hustled. 
Keepin’ your head above water, 
Making a wave when you can. 

Temporary lay offs. 
Good Times. 
Easy credit rip offs. 
Good Times. 
Scratchin’ and surviving. 
Good Times. 
Hangin in a chow line 
Good Times. 
Ain’t we lucky we got ’em 
Good Times.
———————-

How depressing are those lyrics?

It just goes to show that you put a happy spin/music on anything depressing and people will like it. I have listened to this song for years during its run and I always assumed it was a happy empowering song. How wrong was I?

Temporary layoffs? Scratching and surviving? Hangin in a chow line? Jeez, these people had it rough.

Then I remembered the ending theme:

Just looking out of the window, watching they arkjdsf for soooo. Thinking how it all would end in time

(Well that ‘s how I remember it)

Here’s the real lyric:

Mmmmmm
Just lookin’ out of the window.
Watchin’ the asphalt grow.
Thinkin’ how it all looks hand-me-down.
Good Times, yeah, yeah Good Times

————————————–

Watchin the asphalt grow? Err WTH!! How does asphalt grow? These people were poor and ignant too?

Sigh I guess some things are better left in the past the way you remembered it back then.

I remember thinking how funny “Family Ties” was and then I saw an episode a couple of years ago and wondered what the hell made me laugh about this show? It was boring….

 

Anyway, let me go back to being happy about having a GREAT vacation and getting to rest alot. The moment I realised that I was having fun and feeling really blessed was the morning of August 18th when I was sitting in a Starbucks in Mall of America, Minneapolis and felt a little verklempt.

I still owe you all a blog on the Janet Concert but the three versions I have written so far are insane and just make no sense at all. I’ll try something this weekend and see if this one is coherent.

 

Have a good night!

GOOD Taiiiiii I eee aiiiiiii eh eh emmmmmms!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 3, 2011 in Emotions, Entertainment, Music, Travel, TV

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If It Kills Me


As I stand on the other side of the road staring at the Orpheum Theater building and the big tour-type bus parked at the side of the building, my emotions are getting he better of me. Sigh…..Janet and I are going to be together finally!

In the spirit of this occasion I dedicate this Jason Mraz song to the woman I truly love …..

Sigh……

I put this video as it doesn’t sound or look as intense as I feel right now…..

Let me go get my meds.

20110819-014654.jpg

20110819-014643.jpg

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Emotions, Entertainment, Music

 

Tags: , ,

Back to Black


I discovered her voice while living in England and understood the pain and angst in her music. “In My Bed” from the “Frank ” album was brilliant

but when I heard “Back To Black” I was converted.

It is a shame I didn’t get to visit her temple of music often.

RIP Amy Winehouse!!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 23, 2011 in Entertainment, Music, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,