For Friday: John Mayer Returns With Paradise Valley

July 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

John Mayer - Paradise Valley

It’s music this week.  In particular, new music.  More specifically, new music from John Mayer.  The musician’s latest album, Paradise Valley, is set for release on August 20th and is already available for pre-order on iTunes.  I consider this cause for celebration.

Continuum and Born and Raised are in constant rotation on my iPhone.  I’ve pulled some singles for playlists, but my preference is to listen to them, from start to finish, each song in order.  They tell a story.  I like that.

To keep our musical appetites whetted, Mr. Mayer dropped his second single, ‘Wildfire,” via an upbeat, fun-loving, summer-concert-set lyric video. Watch, listen, enjoy.

For Friday: Summer and Sandy – Watch, Read and Listen

May 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Seaside Heights, NJ Boardwalk Reopening

Image Source: Today Show

It’s Memorial Day Friday.  The start of the first long weekend and unofficial start of summer.  Time to head off to see family and have barbeques and have some good weather (hopefully), so we can catch some rays at the beach.

To kick things off, the “Today Show” moved to the Jersey Shore for this morning’s broadcast.  Their location was the boardwalk of Seaside Heights, a beach community pummeled by Hurricane Sandy (think back to the images of the seaside roller coaster actually in the sea and the boardwalk that was no longer).

Over the last seven months, this community has fought back and recovery efforts have yielded results – the reason for this morning’s beachside broadcast was the official reopening of the boardwalk, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Governor Chris Christie.  During an interview, Governor Christie gave the recovery on the boardwalk an “8,” on the one-to-ten scale, which, as Matt Lauer noted, is a positive thing for local businesses and the state’s coffers (visit!).  However, the governor pointed out that other areas are only at a “4,”  and many of these areas are neighborhoods where homeowners are still struggling to rebuild.

So, as we head off for the long weekend…

WATCH:  Nonprofit organization Waves for Water is doing great work and partnering with like-minded organizations to keep the relief effort in all affected areas front-of-mind and to raise money, because really, we all know that’s what’s needed.

READ:  Carmen Petaccio’s moving New York Times Op-Ed piece about her Jersey Shore hometown, “Seaside’s Last Summer?“.

Sonny's & Rickey's Arcade - Seaside Heights, NJ

And LISTEN:

For Friday: Songs About New York

May 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

New York City - Statue of Liberty

Image Source: Flickr, Kali Koldwater

This Friday, it’s music.  Specifically, songs about New York.  Or at least those referencing New York in a heartfelt way.

It was “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” that got me started.  I must have listened to Elton John’s ode to the Big Apple – a lot – as it appeared, somewhat unexpectedly, on my Top 25 Most Played playlist this past week.  I began to think of the other songs that I love and went in search of those that I had possibly forgotten about. Little did I know, at least according to Wikipedia, there are hundreds.  So, down I went, into the YouTube rabbit hole.  And I could have stayed there a very, very long time.  Alas, life ad work called.

Thus, here is the extremely edited list of my favs.  What are yours?

1. The aforementioned “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” by Elton John.  The song was originally released in 1972 on Sir Elton’s album Honky Chateau.  You can watch the YouTube video of his performance of “Mona Lisas” during the debut concert for the album held in London in 1972.  Or you can leap forward 35 years – to 2007 – and to New York.  Elton John’s voice is a little raspier and doesn’t have the range it once did, but his singing it at Madison Square Garden with images of New York City scenes projected on the screen behind him, more than makes up for it, as does his obvious affection for the city about which he is singing.  And, I love the mandolin.  Gets me every time.

2. “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel.  Billy Joel performed “New York State of Mind” at the Tokyo Dome in 2006 – fantastic.  And the saxophone sings.

3. “Empire State of Mind” by Jay Z, featuring Alicia Keys.  The duo performed at the American Music Awards (AMA) in 2009.  Our new anthem.

4. “New York Minute” by Don Henley.  Performed live at the Fair Park Music Hall in Dallas, Texas.  Now here’s a man whose voice, if ravaged by time, has only been made better.

5. “Angel of Harlem” by U2.  Live from Slane Castle in Ireland, 2008.  Classic Bono performance.

6. “8th Avenue Shuffle” by The Doobie Brothers.  No video of this one – just a montage of images referencing the band themselves and the city about which they are singing.

Friday’s Cultural Pickings

May 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" 2

Image Source: NPR Music

It’s Friday.  It’s sunny.  It’s relatively warm.  Time to lighten things up a bit.  To that end, here are 5 items from this week’s cultural onslaught to help you while away the weekend.  Enjoy.

1. Andy Kulakov’s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist“.  One seriously talented dude.

2.  The Target ad “Acceptance” created by Deutsch, Inc.  Originally released in 2012, it is airing once again.  I dare you not to tear up.

3.  Vulture.com announced that the music from Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby has been released.  You can listen to a stream of the songs on NPR.  Because … Florence + The Machine, 100$ Bill – Jay Z, Bryan Ferry, Beyonce & Andre 3000, and more.  The soundtrack is available in the usual places (iTunes and Amazon) on May 7th.  Next up, the movie on May 10th.

4.  Steven Soderbergh –  A double punch.  First, The San Francisco Film Society released the video and transcript of retired filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s speech on the State of Cinema presented at the San Francisco International Film Festival.  As you an imagine, he is not optimistic.  One brilliant passage quoted in The New York Times reads:

Cinema is a specificity of vision,” he said. “It’s an approach in which everything matters. It’s the polar opposite of generic or arbitrary and the result is as unique as a signature or a fingerprint. It isn’t made by a committee, and it isn’t made by a company, and it isn’t made by the audience. It means that if this filmmaker didn’t do it, it either wouldn’t exist at all, or it wouldn’t exist in anything like this form.

Second, earlier this week, Mr. Soderbergh began publishing a suspense novella titled “Glue,” tweet-by-tweet, @Bitchuation.  At last look, he was up to the conclusion of Chapter 11, all 140 characters and the occasional twitpic.  Epic.

5.  Sophia Grace and Rosie perform “Thrift Shop” on Ellen.  Just because.

Music + Marketplaces = Money

April 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Rock Band

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”  –  Friedrich Nietzsche

I read a fascinating (or at least I found it fascinating) article in The New York Times the other day, “Web Helps Musicians Sell Shares of Royalties.”  The piece chronicles the progress and potential of a service launched two years ago, The Royalty Exchange.  Per the company’s website, they are “the first efficient and transparent marketplace allowing you to sell all types of royalties from multiple industries including entertainment (music, books, TV, film), solar energy, oil/gas, intellectual property and pharmaceutical.”

Sticking with the focus of the Times article, that being music, The Royalty Exchange connects buyers of music royalties (investors) with sellers of music royalties (the royalty owners) via online auction.  When transacting in the marketplace, both buyers and sellers are charged a percentage of the deal.  By way of example, the piece features songwriter and producer Preston Glass, who needed to raise money in order “to embark on the next phase of his career — as a performing artist in his own right.”  Mr. Glass used The Royalty Exchange to sell a percentage of the rights to future income from songs he’d written, specifically when those songs are played on the radio or streamed online – as opposed to downloaded or sold on CD.  As the seller, he was able to define the terms of the sale, maintaining control of precisely which parts of his royalty income were to be sold.  The Times reporter also describes another, competing service, Lyric Financial, that provides royalty advances against future earnings. Musicians are charged a fee for the service.

As I learned from reading the article, the issues surrounding copyrights and ownership are complex, but not to the extent that they are insurmountable.  And, yes, the dynamics of building out both sides of a marketplace so that it becomes a dynamic, thriving thing can be tricky.  But…

After all of the negative news and dire predictions for the music industry overall, and individual musicians specifically, due to the rapid changes in the online world, it is encouraging to read about potentially viable options for revenue and funding of the creative enterprise.  And I am hopeful that creative business people will continue to find ways to use technology to develop new models that create value, rather than destroying it, so that musicians and other artists are able to continue to ply their craft and make a living doing so.

All of this nascent hopefulness for at least one aspect of the industry got me thinking about music, and the movies l love that are about music.  So, here you go: my top 5 picks for the best musical moments in movies about music.

Almost Famous – Tiny Dancer

Dreamgirls – And I’m Telling You

Hustle & Flow – Hard Out Here for a Pimp

Hard Day’s Night – Can’t Buy Me Love

Ray – Mess Around

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