Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Boomers, there’s a shadow hanging over ‘Yesterday’?

Bravo Rachel for dismantling the Boomer music myth (“Boomers, there’s a shadow hanging over ‘Yesterday’”, Washington Post, 3/2/2014) and opining that “Yesterday” “isn’t that great.” Except that maybe you didn’t. First, Yesterday is not the greatest song of the Boomer era, which by my reckoning spans from the late 50’s to the early 80’s. Rolling Stone (Boomer publication if there ever was one) has it at #13 on their top 500. The top 10 includes Bob Dylan, the Stones, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Aretha, Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles. #1 is Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” which would be a little more difficult to deconstruct. Secondly, Yesterday is a pop love song. Love and logic never quite go together and many love songs have logical lapses in them that you can drive a truck through. I’m sure we can easily deconstruct some by Justin Beiber, John Mayer, Beyonce or Taylor Swift just as quickly.

However, the logical lapses and flaws that you see in Yesterday are also the product of an extremely literal and narrow interpretation of the key word: Yesterday. Even within the strict confines of your literalness, however, the day before today lasts for 24 hours, which is a really long time, as Keifer Sutherland demonstrated in the series 24. A lot can happen in 24 hours. So, even assuming that he met her in the morning, they had a torrid and deep affair of the heart that he thought was just a game, and then she left forever leaving him devastated (think Cinderella), it is possible to feel deeply and be devastated in a short period of time, especially at a young age. “Need a place to hideaway?” It’s a pretty common response after a breakup. Or perhaps you millenials are more together than we were. No need to stay in bed with the shades drawn until some friend drops by (oops, I mean texts you endlessly) to rouse you from your despair.

Songs are also not merely lyrics. They have music attached: melody, harmony, rhythm, instruments and voices. The performance matters, as anyone knows who has listened to an off-key rendition of their favorite song at karaoke night.

As Paul Simon once said, “every generation throws a hero up the pop charts.” I remember being in the kitchen at a friend’s house when I was 16 or 17 being lectured by his dad on how our music would never last, not like the music of his generation (Sinatra), oblivious to the fact that Sinatra had probably already covered Yesterday by that time and Johnny Cash was singing Dylan songs. Since, you didn’t talk about yourself and defend the music that you listen to, I have no idea what you are comparing our sacred cow to. But we don’t need to give it up and we certainly don’t have to assess it in the “harsh light of reality. Of Today.” You need to stand up for your music. Make a positive case for why we should listen to it and why it is better or more truthful than our music. We may not listen, but it makes more sense as a strategy than telling us that our music sucks.

I’m sure when the Beatles recorded Yesterday, Paul McCartney didn’t expect that it would be covered more than 1000 times by other artists or that it would still be debated 50 years later. We now live in an unprecedented era musically. With digitization, nearly everything that has ever been recorded is available 24/7/365. Satellite radio stations and Internet services make large swaths of it available anywhere all the time. This was not the case when we were growing up. Records pretty literally, had a shelf life. Aside from the transistor or car radio, music was not portable. As a result, millennial music has to compete directly with everything that has ever been recorded. You live in a world that is saturated by music (if you want it). Our music is not going away, probably not even after we are dead. It now has a life of its own and will be rediscovered by young folks just as Clapton and Richards and Page and Plant and others keep discovering the blues of Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters or Chuck Berry or whoever, well known and obscure.

You may also want to blame your technology for our obsession with the past. With our ipods and smart phones we can carry the 60’s and 70’s with us wherever we go and we can drown out the noise of Lady Gaga whenever we want. Or I can listen to the Black Keys and see their connection to the Stones and Led Zeppelin and the Clash. I can enjoy the music that U2 is still making. Or I can listen to Fleet Foxes or Mumford and Sons and a dozen other nouveau folk bands and hear the echoes of the Beach Boys, CSN, the Byrds, and even a little Nirvana.

So Rachel, you shouldn’t worry about our obsession with the music of our youth. Some of us are more obsessed than others. For some of us it is purely nostalgia. But some of it is still sublime and carries with it great truth and beauty (real or imagined). And some of us recognize that music didn’t stop being created in 1970 or 1980, whether by boomers, pre-boomers, or post-boomers. And there are some, like your editor, who just aren’t that interested or appear to have grown up under a rock (but they’ll probably remember an old song within 15 seconds when it comes on the radio).

Friday, December 20, 2013

Obamacare Wars Redux

Despite passing a budget, Republicans in Congress are still making noise about holding the debt ceiling hostage. Read or re-read the Obamacare Wars, now on sale at Amazon.com for just 99 cents. Download it for your Kindle or other e-reader now...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Download

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

Some of you may know that I am working on a new CD, which I am hoping to finish by the end of January. A lot of songs have been considered for this project but as it gets closer to completion it is coming more clearly into focus and some good songs fall to the wayside because they don’t quite fit with the overall vibe of the whole.

After New Year’s I will start posting clips of the finished product as songs get completed. Anyone who would like to purchase it in advance, please contact me at jimhealdmusic@comcast.net

Please download my song Journey into Light (right click and save file as…) as my holiday gift to you. While not a Christmas song, it has a message of spiritual renewal that is in keeping with the holidays. You can also let me know what you think of it via the same email address.

Best wishes for the New Year. May yours be filled with wonder, joy, love, peace, and prosperity.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas is coming fast!

If you've got a Bruce Cockburn fan on your Christmas list, my book, World of Wonders: The Lyrics and Music of Bruce Cockburn is still available from Amazon.com in either paperback or kindle editions at very reasonable prices...

Get it here.

My CD's Wings of Time and Old Jalopy are available from CD Baby too. They make Great Stocking Stuffers.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Selected Songs and Poems also available for download or paperback purchase.

You can download the Kindle version of my Selected Songs and Poems from Amazon for $3.99 or buy the paperback for $9.99.

Click Here

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Obamacare Wars for Kindle

The Obamacare Wars will be available for Kindle at Amazon.com for $2.99.

Click Here

Want a free copy? Leave a comment/review and I'll send you one... Thanks.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Obamacare Wars: Epilogue

Leave a substantive comment and I will send you a copy of the complete story... Thanks for reading.

July 30, 2213. 10 AM Northern Time. BGBC Holovision Studio. New Freedom, Ellesmere Island.

“Sven and Karl here. This has been a magnificent voyage of discovery. These tapes have given us a glimpse into a period of the past that has long been shrouded in mystery. But it raises a lot of questions. Why was it that these Republicans were so intent on bringing down the country over the issue of Universal Health Care? And why, when there were so many other greater threats to economic stability and even the survival of the planet, was Health Care the issue that led so many people into apparent madness?”

“Yes Sven. From our perspective it seems obvious that they should have been dealing with Global Warming, the population explosion, rising sea levels, species loss and transitioning away from fossil fuels which were being ever more rapidly depleted. The global resource wars of the following decades finally brought much of that into some perspective, but by then it was simply too late. Because of the extreme heat and erratic and dangerous weather patterns, most of what was the temperate climate zones are now virtually uninhabitable.

Sven added, “there are many small pockets of primitive society throughout the world, whether in higher altitudes or protected valleys, but these pitiful bands are struggling mightily just to survive in very harsh environments. Clean water is hard to come by. The ground is either contaminated or simply devoid of minerals; a desert. Farming is basically impossible. Most large animals are extinct and plants, particularly edible plants, are increasingly hard to find, based on the limited research we have been able to do. Around the world, these communities number perhaps in the tens of thousands total.

“Here in the United Arctic Communities we number about 10 million and we’ve been in sporadic contact with the Republic of Antarctica, which has about 5-10 million inhabitants. We live pretty well, all things considered, but we were astounded by the opulence and waste that we witnessed on these recordings.”

“Sven, I think we would both like to say that Universal Health Care is very important. Here in the United Arctic Communities, everyone has access to the best health care that is available, including acupuncture, faith healing, and shamans. Though we are not rich in material goods, compared with some of our ancestors, we help each other out. We care for each other. We enjoy life, play music, dance and sing. We gaze at the stars in the winter and enjoy the nearly 24-7-180 hour sunlight in the summer.”

“Karl, don’t forget. Our researchers also uncovered a huge archive of music, literature and art along with these Presidential records. So we will have even more opportunity to get to know our distant relatives the Barackistanis. This is Sven Oberkilter signing off for the Sven and Karl Show. And to add our newest favorite saying, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you might get what you need.”

“Keep on Rockin in the Free World, Sven my dear friend.”