Music Friday- Star Wars

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 2, 2014 by goatmeal

I’ve been wanting to write about Star Wars for at least half the time I’ve had this blog. It was a movie franchise before movie franchises existed. It was the defining movie series for anyone who spent any part of the 1980s in elementary school, which is basically our generation.

As the franchise evolved, we stuck to our guns. We were the ones who hated Jar Jar Binks. We were the ones who knew that Han Solo shot first. We were the ones that spent the 80s breaking in VCRs on Star Wars and Indiana Jones: we knew it better than George Lucas ever did.

I feel like I should say a lot more, but just listen to the damn music: you know what I’m talking about.


Music Friday- Nathan and Stephen

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 25, 2014 by goatmeal

OK, I’m breaking all the rules here. Not only is this a band you’ve probably never heard of1, they aren’t even from our generation. There are a few Gen Xers in the band, but as far as I can guess they are somewhere between 2/3rds and 7/9ths Millenials. And as Millenials, they are doing something that our generation never really figured out how to do very well: be happy.

So why am I breaking all the rules? Well, I suppose partly because it’s Easter, which in its own way is about breaking rules in the name of happiness. I randomly grabbed this CD the other day for a long drive and it reminded me of that time in my life when their music was very important to me. It was a time when so much death and so many broken promises somehow gave way to undeserved happiness. A lot of that had to do with the woman who is now my wife. And a lot of it had to do with Easter.

I know we’re normally about doom and gloom, but every once and a while it should be all right to wear lots of white and go frolicking in the park. What better time than Easter.
1- Unless, of course, you lived in Denver around 2006-2008 and went to shows at the Hi Dive.

Music Friday- One of Us

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 18, 2014 by goatmeal

Music Friday- I Think We’re Alone Now.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 11, 2014 by goatmeal

So before anyone thinks it’s going to just be a bunch of grunge from here on out, I thought I’d share something a little bit different. This might very well be our generation’s theme song. It wasn’t written by anyone in our generation, which sounds about right. And our generation wasn’t the only one to cover it. But our generation is the only generation that sent it to number 1 on the charts. I think it’s pretty obvious why this song spoke to our generation in a unique way back then. And if that’s not enough to convince you that this should be our theme song, well the song this replaced at number 1 was by Billy Idol.

Oh Well. Whatever. Nevermind.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 5, 2014 by goatmeal

Somehow it seems very appropriate that these were the only intelligible lyrics from the breakout hit song of the spokesperson of our generation, the so-called Meh Generation. And more than twenty years later, my word processor is still giving me the red-underline for Nevermind.

Sometime last summer, I saw this website about a college student inviting Nirvana to perform at their homecoming football game. On one hand it might seem a bit hilarious that someone could be so stupid. But then I realized this wasn’t the first time that something like that has happened.

A few months prior, I was in the company of a number of people in their early twenties. I don’t remember the entire conversation, but at one point a girl asked “Who is Kurt Cobain?” I rubbernecked from whatever I was doing with a look of complete incredulity on my face. “Who is Kurt Cobain?” I wanted to shake her and say “Kurt Cobain is the reason why you have purple hair right now!” She wasn’t just any 20-something, she was the only one within a hundred mile radius who could show up at a Siousxie and the Banshees concert and not look out of place. At least that I’d met. She was that one person in a Midwestern rural town who dressed like a freak. And experience had told me that if you ever meet that person they pretty much know their shit. But she didn’t. Unless those rules had somehow changed in the past 20 years. Or unless Kurt Cobain wasn’t actually the shit.

When he died twenty years ago, it certainly seemed like he was the shit. At least that’s what Kurt Loder and all the other Boomer music journalists were saying at the time. There were comparisons to John Lennon.

For today’s young adults, maybe not so much. That girl who didn’t know who he was did know who John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin were. Our music is overshadowed by music even older than it is. I wonder if, in the grand scheme of things, anything that matters came from our musical heritage. Manic Panic can sell hair dye in rural America now? So what?

But I think there is something significant to come of it: diversity. How did we get from a place where rock stars can wear T shirts that say “AIDS kills fags dead” to a time when they get boycotted for opposing gay rights laws? Partly by Kurt Cobain kissing his bass player on live TV. And maybe Manic Panic doesn’t seem like such a big deal these days, but there was a time when the freedom to express yourself in the way you dressed was a pretty freakin’ big deal.

The year before Nirvana broke out, we had to listen to some guys list of 40 songs on Sunday afternoons to know which music we were supposed to like. High school class presidents were elected based on if they were cool enough to walk on stage to give their speech while a boombox played Vanilla Ice music. Everything was about being cool enough, measuring up to some standard of 80s bling. Nirvana released us from the tyranny of manufactured happiness. It wasn’t even necessarily about whether or not you liked Nirvana specifically: after their unprecedented, unpredictable success, anything seemed possible. Nirvana opened the door to bands like Primus, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead, and even the Meat Puppets and the Vaselines if you really wanted to go deep. If “I’m so happy ‘cause today I found my friends, they’re in my head” wasn’t your particular cup of gloom, you could always choose from “My Name is Mud”, “Now I’m down in it,” or “I don’t belong here.” Remember, this was in the days before internet was much more than a gimmick: certainly not a tool for finding music. Sure, there were alternative record stores, ‘zines, and even 120 Minutes for those of us a little more industrious and finicky in our musical tastes. But most of us, myself included, had to rely on the radio. Nirvana put a wrinkle in what radios were doing long enough for the internet to give us things like Napster. And the rest is history: media gatekeepers collapsed as everything became about “alternatives” and “choices” in the mid to late 90s. And perhaps on some primal level we knew that was what would happen as those punk rock cheerleaders on nonstop rotation on MTV cheered Nirvana all the way to the top of the Billboards in 1992:an indie band who wasn’t even expected to make a gold record replacing the King of Pop whose music videos always debuted at prime time on network television. The gatekeepers had lost, and for a few brief and glorious years the inmates got to run the asylum.

History might not remember how these changes occurred. But hopefully those of us who lived through them will.

Music Friday: Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For a Sunbeam

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 5, 2014 by goatmeal

Goodnight Everyone. That’s all the Nirvana music I have to share today.

Music Friday: The Man Who Sold the World

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 4, 2014 by goatmeal

More than anything, I think what Nirvana did for us in the 90s was give us permission to listen to something other than the same over-enthusiastic formulaic bullshit that had been on the radio since we were in 4th grade. This was never more obvious than when they chose to mostly play other bands’ music when they did their Unplugged set: we got to hear lots of things we’d never heard before, check them out, and see if we liked them. Of course we’d heard of David Bowie, even if we hadn’t heard much of his music: we’d spent the 80s watching Labyrinth on Laser Disc at slumber parties, after all.
I’ve admittedly heard the Nirvana version more often than the Bowie version, so I don’t know if I can make an unbiased comparison of the two. On one hand, the Nirvana version is very faithful to the original, but on the other hand Bowie’s version sounds like Bowie and Nirvana’s version sounds like Nirvana. The one thing that is the most striking about this song is that oh-so-cynical riff. Bowie, of course, is cynical in his own way: like an astronaut detached from an imploding world. Meanwhile Nirvana’s cynicism is rooted in a very real present from which there is no escape. I think that’s the best I can do at comparing the two renditions. And I think it explains a little bit why Nirvana’s version of this song was so successful in the America of the 90s.