Seeing Visions Of Cracks Along The Wall

This song is special for me. When the album Yield came out in 1998, I was going through a rough personal time. When was the last time I had a fine personal time? Anyways, I was about 21 not yet 22, and I saw that the album was out in record stores here in Kochi, India. I bought my tape and went home. Post dinner and it must have been around 10pm when I finally settled down in my bedroom. Sometime later I put the cassette in my stereo system and listened to the album for the first time.

Just before In Hiding came on, I fell asleep and woke up at around 2 am, I woke up again. I decided to play the album again at this song and the lyrics hit me deep. According to Eddie Vedder, the song lyrically was inspired by the work of Charles Bukowski, who often locked himself way for long periods of time so he could work in absolute solitude. “It’s about taking a fast from life,” Eddie Vedder has said. “Doing anything to get yourself back in touch with something real.”

I felt that the lyrics meant that the protagonist was in hiding from society, from family, from friends because he wasn’t happy with several things about life and therefore he decided to become a recluse for a bit. I felt really sad at that time and started tearing up listening to the song, which I ended up playing several times over the next few days. It has remained a strong favourite since then.

La La Land

La La Land is a 2016 American musical romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. It stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress, who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles while pursuing their dreams. The film’s title refers simultaneously to music, the city of Los Angeles, and to the idiom for being out of touch with reality. The movie also stars Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend, J.K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, Callie Hernandez, Tom Everett Scott & Damon Gupton in supporting roles.

While stuck in a highway traffic, Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress, has a moment of road rage with Sebastian Wilder, a struggling jazz pianist. After a bad day at work, her subsequent audition goes poorly when the casting director takes a call in the middle of an emotional scene.  That night, Mia’s roommates take her to a lavish party in the Hollywood Hills, where Mia hopes for a breakthrough. She walks home after her car is towed. As she passes a restaurant she hears piano playing; Sebastian slips into a passionate jazz improvisation despite warnings from the owner to stick to the setlist of traditional Christmas songs. Moved, she enters the restaurant, but Sebastian is fired for his disobedience. As he storms out, Mia attempts to compliment him, but he brushes her off.

Months later at a party Mia spots Sebastian playing keyboards for a  1980s pop cover band; she teases him by requesting “I Ran (So Far Away)”, a song he considers an insult for “a serious musician”. After the gig, the two walk to their cars, lamenting each other’s company despite the chemistry between them and a nice song & dance scenes. The next day, Sebastian arrives at Mia’s work, and she shows Sebastian around the movie lot, where she works as a barista, while explaining her passion for acting. Sebastian takes Mia to a jazz club, describing his passion for jazz and desire to open his own club. Warming upto each other Sebastian asks her out to see Rebel Without A Cause but she forgets that she has a dinner date with her boyfriend and another couple. Bored at the dinner, she he runs to the theater and finds Sebastian as the film begins. When the projector breaks, the two conclude their evening with a romantic dance at the Griffith Observatory.

After more failed auditions, Mia decides, at Sebastian’s suggestion, to write a one-woman play. Sebastian begins to perform regularly at a jazz club, and the two move in together. Sebastian’s former classmate Keith invites him to be the keyboardist in his jazz fusion band, where he will be offered a steady income. Although he is dismayed by the band’s pop style, Sebastian signs after overhearing Mia trying to convince her mother that Sebastian is working on his career. The band finds success, but when Mia attends one of their concerts she is disturbed, knowing Sebastian does not enjoy their music. During the band’s first tour, Mia and Sebastian get into an argument; she accuses him of abandoning his dreams, while he claims she liked him more when he was unsuccessful. Mia leaves, insulted and frustrated. Sebastian misses Mia’s play due to a band photo shoot that he had previously forgotten. The play is a disaster; few people attend, and Mia overhears dismissive comments. Sebastian attempts to apologize to Mia for missing the play, but she is unwilling to forgive him and ends their relationship. Despondent and unable to pay the theater back, Mia moves back home to Boulder City, Nevada.

Sebastian receives a call from a casting director who attended Mia’s play, inviting her to a film audition. Sebastian drives to Boulder City and persuades Mia to attend. The casting directors ask Mia to tell a story; she sings about her aunt who inspired her to pursue acting. Sebastian, confident the audition was a success, encourages Mia to devote herself to the opportunity. The two profess they will always love each other but are uncertain of their future. 5 years later, Mia is successful as an actress and married to another man and has a baby. One night back in Los Angeles, after dinner out she and her husband the couple stumble upon a jazz bar. Noticing the “Seb’s” logo she had once designed, Mia realizes Sebastian has opened his club. When Sebastian notices Mia in the crowd, he plays their love theme on the piano, and the two imagine what might have been had their relationship worked perfectly. Before Mia leaves with her husband, she shares a smile with Sebastian.

Perfectly acted by the two leading stars, some great songs and music (though jazz isn’t really what I usually listen to), wonderful choreography and cinematography. This is a movie for the ages. It won in every category for which it was nominated at the 74th Golden Globe Awards, with a record-breaking seven wins, and received 11 nominations at the 70th British Academy Film Awards, winning five. It received 14 nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, tying the record for most nominations with All About Eve (1950) and Titanic (1997), and won six Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Actress (Stone), Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song (“City of Stars”, and Best Production Design. I give it a 8.5 outta 10!

Sing (2016)

Been meaning to check this out since I saw the trailer last year. Sing is a 2016 American 3D computer-animated musical comedy film produced by Illumination Entertainment. It was directed and written by Garth Jennings, co-directed by Christophe Lourdelet, and starring the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, and Tori Kelly. The film is about a group of anthropomorphic animals that enter a singing competition, hosted by a koala hoping to save his theater.

A koala named Buster Moon has always dreamed of making it big in the musical theatre business, ever since his parents took him to see famous singer, Nana Noodleman, a sheep. His father scrapped a tough living to earn enough money to buy Buster a theatre but as years pass by Buster is struggling to pay bills and the banks are calling. He hits upon the idea to start a singing contest, with a prize of $1000, but accidentally his assistant, an aging Miss Crawly, prints it out as $100,000 and many apply. Those selected include: housewife and mother of 25 piglets Rosita; street musician mouse Mike; mobster’s son gorilla Johnny; punk-rock porcupine Ash; a trio of frogs; and a camel named Pete. Shy teenage elephant Meena fails her audition out of stage fright, while Ash’s boyfriend Lance is dismissed from the contest. Rosita is paired with another contestant, an exuberant pig named Gunter, for a dancing routine.

Although Buster discovers the flyers show a prize of $100,000, money he does not have, he remains optimistic. Buster convinces Eddie to arrange a visit with Eddie’s grandmother, former opera singer and theater actress Nana Noodleman, to persuade her to sponsor the prize money. She is hesitant to contribute, but agrees to see a private screening of the show. Encouraged by her grandfather, Meena tries to ask Buster for another chance, but becomes his stage hand instead. When the frogs quit, and Pete is injured, Meena is added as an act. The performers’ individual problems begin to hinder rehearsals: Rosita flounders in her dance routine with Gunter, after having been distracted by her parenting duties that have fallen into disarray. After discovering Lance with a new girlfriend and evicting them from her apartment, Ash is devastated and can no longer sing her assigned song, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”

Johnny is torn between having to help his father as the driver of a getaway car in a heist and making the practices. When he tries to do both, he does not show up for the planned pickup in time, and his father and his gang are arrested. Meena does not get any help in overcoming her stage fright, and Mike, certain that the prize money is as good as his, buys a fancy car to impress a female mouse, and then swindles a group of bears in a card game in a nightclub. The bears interrupt the show, demanding the money from Mike, who in turn, points to Buster. The bears open the chest containing the prize money, but it is nowhere near $100,000. Disaster strikes as the shoddily patched up theatre blows a pipe and after the place floods with water the building collapses. With the lot repossessed by Judith, Buster, who had been living in his theater’s office desk, takes up residence at Eddie’s place (his parents’ pool house). Although the contestants (besides Mike, who saw Buster as a fraud) visit him and try to cheer him up, Buster is too despondent to listen to them. He tries to start over by opening a car wash, using the same bucket that his father had used to earn money for Buster’s theater.

When Meena goes to the theater’s rubble lot and sings Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Buster hears her and is inspired to reinstate the show without the prize money. They perform on a makeshift stage on the lot in front of Rosita and Meena’s family members. As Rosita and Gunter perform Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” more animals are attracted to the scene as the show is broadcast on the news. Johnny’s rendition of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” impresses his father, who then escapes from prison to reconcile with him. Despite interruption by Judith, Ash sings her original rock song “Set It All Free.” Mike returns to the show and sings Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” Meena finally overcomes her fears and sings Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing,” which literally brings down the house. The show becomes a success and impresses Nana, who was in the audience. Nana buys the lot and the theater is rebuilt and reopened.

It’s nice family friendly and a lot of fun. Lots of great singing by a solid cast. I give it an 8 outta 10!

What’s The Beat?

Who in Your Life Introduces You to New Music?

These years I dread listening to new music. Well, I guess dread is not he right word. It’s just that it seems like I have so little time for listening to music these days that I can barely find time for new stuff. So when I find a new song that I really like or even a song that is from years ago but I am listening to for the first, I dread the fact that I can’t just stop at that one song from the band/duo/artist because if I liked that song so much then there must be so many songs from the same artist that I will like a lot.

That is a dilemma. I don’t have time and/or energy to discover new bands anymore. I am 41 now and I haven’t been into listening to new music for the past 4-5 years. I like what I have and I can barely listen to all of my current mp3 collection – infact my rather neglected collection as I usually just play music on Youtube with music videos or live versions of these songs. You also find just the audio of the songs or even whole albums worth of just audio on Youtube which makes it easy for you to listen to stuff while you do other things online – like Facebook or blog.

No one really introduces me to new music these days. I am part of 2-3 music related groups on Facebook that share music videos and stuff online and from time to time I have been surprised by how much I like a new song or band and that is great. But music has become much of a downer for me as more and more crappy pop and rap artists rule the roost and people just don’t want to learn to play instruments anymore.

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times

RIP Gregg Allman

Gregg Allman, the singer, musician and songwriter who played an essential role in the invention of Southern rock, has died at the age of 69. Allman’s rep confirmed to Rolling Stone that the artist died Saturday afternoon. Allman “passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia,” a statement on the singer’s website read Saturday. “Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years. During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times.” He is best known for performing in the Allman Brothers Band. He was born and spent much of his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee, before relocating to Daytona Beach, Florida. He and his brother, Duane Allman, developed an interest in music in their teens, and began performing in the Allman Joys in the mid-1960s. In 1967, they relocated to Los Angeles and were renamed the Hour Glass, releasing two albums for Liberty Records. In 1969, he and Duane regrouped to form the Allman Brothers Band, which settled in Macon, Georgia.

The Allman Brothers Band began to reach mainstream success by the early 1970s, with their live album At Fillmore East representing a commercial and artistic breakthrough. Shortly thereafter, Duane was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1971. The following year, the band’s bassist, Berry Oakley was also killed in a motorcycle accident very close to the location of Duane’s wreck. Their 1973 album Brothers and Sisters became their biggest hit, and Allman pursued a solo career afterward, releasing his debut album, Laid Back the same year. Internal turmoil took over the group, leading to a 1975 breakup. Allman was married to pop star Cher for the rest of the decade, while he continued his solo career with the Gregg Allman Band. After a brief Allman Brothers reunion and a decade of little activity, he reached an unexpected peak with the hit single “I’m No Angel” in 1987. After two more solo albums, the Allman Brothers reformed for a third and final time in 1989, and continued performing until 2014. He released his most recent solo album, Low Country Blues, in 2011, and his next, Southern Blood, is set to be released in 2017.

For his work in music, Allman was referred to as a Southern rock pioneer[1] and received numerous awards, including several Grammys; he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. His distinctive voice placed him in 70th place in the Rolling Stone list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.[2] Allman released an autobiography, My Cross to Bear, in 2012. In 2016, Allman was forced to cancel his summer tour due to unspecified “serious health problems.” After briefly returning to the stage – Allman’s last concert was at his 2016 Laid Back Festival in Atlanta – and scheduling a winter tour, Allman again canceled the dates, citing a vocal injury. Allman’s partners included Shelley Kay Winters, Janice Blair, Cher, Julie Bindas, Ganielle J. P. Galiana, and Stacey Fountain and had 5 children.

RIP Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell (born Christopher John Boyle; July 20, 1964 – May 18, 2017) was an American musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter and rhythm guitarist for Seattle rock band Soundgarden and as lead vocalist and songwriter for the group Audioslave. He was also known for his numerous solo works and soundtrack contributions since 1991, and as founder and frontman for Temple of the Dog, the one-off tribute band dedicated to his late friend Andrew Wood.

Cornell was known for his role as one of the architects of the 1990s grunge movement, for his extensive catalog as a songwriter and for his near four octave vocal range as well as his powerful vocal belting technique. He released four solo studio albums, Euphoria Morning (1999), Carry On (2007), Scream (2009), Higher Truth (2015) and the live album Songbook (2011). Cornell received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his song “The Keeper” which appeared in the film Machine Gun Preacher and co-wrote and performed the theme song to the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006), “You Know My Name“. He was voted “Rock’s Greatest Singer” by readers of Guitar World, ranked 4th in the list of “Heavy Metal’s All-Time Top 100 Vocalists” by Hit Parader, 9th in the list of “Best Lead Singers of All Time” by Rolling Stone, and 12th in MTV’s “22 Greatest Voices in Music”.

Cornell was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, and attended Christ the King Catholic elementary school,[9] and Shorewood High School. Before becoming a successful musician, he worked at a seafood wholesaler and was a sous-chef at a restaurant named Ray’s Boathouse. Soundgarden was formed in 1984 by Cornell, Thayil and Yamamoto with Cornell originally on drums and vocals. Soundgarden signed to Sub Pop, releasing the Screaming Life EP in 1987 and the Fopp EP in 1988 (a combination of the two was issued as Screaming Life/Fopp in 1990). Though the band was being courted by major labels, in 1988 they signed to SST Records to release their debut album, Ultramega OK (198, for which they earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Metal Performance in 1990. The band subsequently signed with A&M Records, becoming the first grunge band to sign to a major label. In 1989, the band released their second effort, and their first for a major label, Louder Than Love. Following the release of Louder Than Love, Yamamoto left the band to finish his master’s degree in physical chemistry at Western Washington University. He was replaced by former Nirvana guitarist Jason Everman. Everman was fired following Soundgarden’s tour supporting Louder Than Love. In 1990, the band was joined by a new bassist, Ben Shepherd.

Along with Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden became one of the most successful bands from Seattle’s emerging grunge scene in the early 1990s. With Shepherd, the new line-up recorded Badmotorfinger in 1991. Superunknown became the band’s breakthrough album. Upon its release in March 1994, Superunknown debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.[18] The album launched several successful singles, including “Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun”, and granted Soundgarden international recognition. The band’s fifth album was 1996’s self-produced Down on the Upside. The album spawned several singles, including “Pretty Noose”, “Burden in My Hand”, and “Blow Up the Outside World”. The album was notably less heavy than the group’s preceding albums, and marked a further departure from the band’s grunge roots. However, tensions within the group arose during the sessions, with Thayil and Cornell reportedly clashing over Cornell’s desire to shift away from the heavy guitar riffing that had become the band’s trademark.

Due to tensions within the band, reportedly due to internal strife over its creative direction, Soundgarden announced it was disbanding on April 9, 1997. In 1998, Cornell began working on material for a solo album on which he collaborated with Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider of the band Eleven. The album, titled Euphoria Morning, was released on September 21, 1999. On June 5, 2007, Cornell released his second solo album, Carry On, produced by Steve Lillywhite. It debuted at number 17 on the American Billboard charts. Audioslave was formed after Zack de la Rocha left Rage Against the Machine and the remaining members were searching for another vocalist. Their debut album, Audioslave, released in November 2002, spawned hits such as “Cochise”, “Like a Stone” and “Show Me How to Live”, and has reached triple platinum status in the United States. Audioslave’s second album, Out of Exile, was released in May 2005 and debuted at number one on the U.S. charts. The album has since gone on to achieve platinum status. In early 2006 the band returned, recording their third album as they had written most of the material during the tour. The band released the album, titled Revelations, in September 2006.

On February 15, 2007, Cornell officially announced his departure from Audioslave, stating that “Due to irresolvable personality conflicts as well as musical differences. He reformed Soundgarden with Thayyil, Sheppard & Cameron (who is also the drummer for Pearl Jam). Their sixth album, King Animal, was released in November 2012 to largely positive reviews. Cornell was married to Susan Silver, the manager of Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. They had a daughter, Lillian Jean, born in June 2000. He and Silver divorced in 2004. He was married to Vicky Karayiannis,[113] a Paris-based American publicist of Greek heritage. The union produced a daughter, Toni, born in September 2004, and a son, Christopher Nicholas, born in December 2005. He has fought a long battle with alcohol abuse and has been sober for a while. On May 18, 2017, Cornell died suddenly in Detroit after performing at a show with Soundgarden according to his representative, Brian Bumbery. The cause of death is currently unknown.

Update : his death was ruled as suicide by hanging.

Rocking The Law

What do you when your band has guitarist problems? You hire your lawyer to play for you!

Yes, 80s rock band Dokken had several personnel changes on guitar, that finally their attorney Jon Levin stepped in to fill the role in 2004. Levin, now 51, who was the guitarist for German band Warlock, took a break from music in the early 90s and became an entertainment lawyer and served as legal counsel, working with Jim Paidas, of Paidas Management, on a myriad of licensing programs; some of which include Orange County Choppers, Dog the Bounty Hunter, American Hot Rod, and Rockstalgia and a few musiceians. He was invited by one of the membrs of Dokken to play guitar for them in 1998 and over the course of the next few years played in some of their shows before becoming a permanent member in 2004.

He’s been with the band ever since, enjoying the career resurgence they’ve had since their 2008 return-to-form album, Lightning Strikes Again. Levin himself, who now co-writes most of band’s material, had a strong hand in shaping that record. “I wanted us to do a Dokken-sounding record,” he explains — a concept Don Dokken was slow to commit to, but has since fully embraced. Now, when Levin goes to perform with Dokken at big classic rock and metal festivals, he’s a rock star guitarist onstage and a rock star attorney backstage. Of the Rocklahoma festival, which Dokken last played in 2013, he says, “So many of the bands that were there, I represent someone in the band.”

Musical Marker

We all have songs that remind us of specific periods and events in our lives. Twenty years from now, which song will remind you of today?

I guess I haven’t really found songs for just today but if you ask me about the past month, I guess it will have to be the song “Drifting” by Andy McKee. It’s because of me changing processes at the job, attending an interview process and getting through and looking forward to the new challenge. Also a friend at work, who I am close with, is moving from this industry, the only one she has ever worked in, and moving to another. In a sense we are drifting a little bit.

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com

On The Stage

Have you ever played in a band? Tell us all about that experience of making music with friends. If you’ve never been in a band, imagine you’re forming a band with some good friends. What instrument do you play in the band and why? What sort of music will you play?

I was in a band actually…..for a few days! Hehehehe, I was the singer for a “band” that we setup at one of my previous work places, First Source Kochi all the way back in 2007. It was me, a guitarist, a bassist and a keyboard player and we had additional tracks (including guitar parts and drums) added to the keyboard.

We practised and performed three songs for a company function back in 2007 and it was great. For 15 minutes or so I was rocking on stage and it was fun. When it was over I was on such a huge high and it was intoxicating. And literally a few minutes later, a friend I went to smoke weed under a large tree. Yeah, just like rock stars! Hahahahaha

It was a very memorable and excellently radical time. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com