Tag Archives: music

What’s So Funny ’bout Peace, Love and Understanding?

People watching can be lots of fun.

It can also be very eye-opening, especially when watching people on social media, where they can hide behind their keyboard with relative anonymity.

By and large, people tend to conform to behavioral norms when they know their actions can be seen. Sure, there’s always exceptions, especially if alcohol is involved, but we’re talking in general. But, there is ample evidence to show that once they hit social media…the “rules” of good conduct are completely optional.

I’m not going to go into the unprecedented nastiness of the current political atmosphere – that would be too easy – and probably incendiary. No – I have a much lighter example to illustrate my point…although there is no guarantee that there will be no “spirited debate” here.

The story began on January 9, 2013.

I posted, what I thought was, a humorous meme on my facebook page. I had no intention of offending anyone, I just thought it was funny. But what I discovered almost immediately was that while many saw the humor in the meme (as well as in my intent) there was a fairly significant number of people who took offense to it.

Here is the meme…

zep-minaj

As I said, I posted it on Jan. 9, 2013. And as you can see (or maybe not) it;’s relatively inane.

However, it received a steady flow of likes and comments for about a month – until around Feb. 5, 2013 when the interest seemed to fizzle out.

I was actually surprised it lasted that long. I’ve posted things which I thought were much funnier that barely got a reaction.

Little did I know that the fun had not even begun!

Let’s fast forward to Jan. 20, 2016 – for those of you keeping score at home, that’s 3 years later. I had all but forgotten about the meme. Generally I post anywhere from 3 to 10 memes, pictures, etc. on my page every day…so after 3 years, even a conservative estimate would have the Led Zeppelin/Nicki Minaj debate about 6,000 posts in the past. So when I got a notification about a reaction to the meme I was, needless to say, a bit surprised.

Imagine my surprise when my facebook page blew up shortly thereafter!! The likes, dislikes, comments, arguments, and counter-responses started rolling in at a rate that defied explanation – and it didn’t slow down.

As I watched Super Bowl 50 (Feb. 7, 2016) I had my laptop on the stand next to my recliner and the facebook notification counter looked like the odometer of my car…the comments were coming in almost one every minute.

This surge lasted quite a while before eventually petering out.

But this meme is quite literally the meme that will not be silenced!

Here we are in January, 2017 – a full 4 years after the original posting – and a fresh round of chatter has commenced!

I have to admit, I find it a bit mind-boggling.

As of this writing (Jan. 31, 2017) the meme has been shared 111,897 times. On my page alone it has received over 13,000 likes, dislikes, etc., and there are more than 1,800 comments. I can’t imagine how many people have viewed it without responding, and thousands of people have tagged others in it.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself…here is a link to the meme on my page… http://tinyurl.com/j5gca5k

Now back to the original point of this post…the behavior of people on social media.

As you can easily imagine, the comments on this meme range from complete agreement, to complete disagreement.

There has been laughter and anger.

People have defended Zeppelin and Minaj with equal enthusiasm.

These reactions are all understandable, but there have been some responses I never would have expected.

I’ve had to delete several comments made by people who were a little over-zealous in the expression of their position. People have called those with differing opinions all sorts of nasty names, and I have been called a racist (among other things) for posting it.

This is what really surprised me.

Anger…and so much of it.

Music, like life, is subject to opinion.

To be offended or angry because somebody’s opinion doesn’t jive with yours is nothing but destructive.

If their opinion is going to change, it will not be the result of your outrage…and more importantly, carrying that anger around with you will never do you any good.

Whether you prefer Led Zeppelin or Nicki Minaj – you’re right. And if somebody disagrees with you – they’re right too.

As for those who have the effrontery to take the opposing view…it doesn’t make them a bad person. It just makes them somebody with a different perspective…it’s what makes the world go ‘round.

Don’t take it personally – that’s when the trouble starts.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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The Johnny Bravo Protocol and How #TheBeatles Ruined Music

It’s practically common knowledge that when Brian Epstein took over as the manger for the Beatles they were, at least by all appearances, four hoodlums from Liverpool with enough potential for five bands.

hoodlums Desperate for competent management and enticed by even the most remote chance at stardom, the Fabs agreed to Epstein’s conditions…one of which was an overall image makeover.

Hence the matching suits, haircuts, etc.

hoodlums 2

Epstein knew, way back then, that despite the overwhelming talent pool in the band, he would have a much easier time selling them if they didn’t look like teddy-boys (one of the first classifications of young men whose looks and behavior had a tendency to frighten the older generation).

He was right of course, and the rest, as they say, is history.

made over 2

made over

By the time Epstein died the boys were the biggest performing group on the planet, they had already ditched the “mop-top” look and were moving into their own individual looks – and it didn’t matter because by that time they could have recorded themselves singing in the shower and sold a million copies.

hippies

You’re probably wondering if I have a point to this little history lesson…I do, even if it makes me sound like an old man.

It’s probably appropriate that I sound like an old man, because the entire impetus for this post came as a result of me being couch-bound with a bad back…or as the old joke goes…a weak back.

So I turned my TV on this morning and before I could switch over to my DVR, and the most recent episode of Hell on Wheels, I was greeted with a morning talk show host introducing a new band which, according to his teleprompter, was the new up-and-coming thing.

I figured…I love music so what the hell, let’s see what this band is about.

The name of the band was R5, and let me save you the trouble…unless you’re a twelve-old-girl or a housewife striving to look cool for the friends of your twelve-year-old daughter…just don’t bother.

I hate using the saying five minutes of my life I’ll never get back, but in this case I am going to make an exception.

Visually, this “band” looked like the unwanted love child of Prince and The Goo Goo Dolls. As for their sound…it can only be described as if somebody found an unreleased out take by the Bay City Rollers and tried to recreate it in the style of Hanson.

The drummer looked like he wasn’t sure which song they were playing. I would bet that the bass player’s bedroom is wall-to-wall mirrors. As he sang, I could see the lead singer mentally calculating his chances of getting laid at any time in the near future. The lead guitar player looked oddly out of place, in that he actually seemed like a talented musician – hopefully he’ll come to his senses and leave this abomination before any chances of ever being taken seriously as a musician go down the toilet. And then there was the keyboard player…an attractive girl obviously included to keep the band from being pigeonholed as a boy-band.

damn kids

It was, I suppose, the natural progression of The Brian Epstein Theory – looks will sell before talent.

It is also a depressing commentary on the music industry.

I use the word industry rather than business because this band is a perfect example of the definition of the word – economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods.

When I see bands like this all I can think of is some Donald Trump wannabe trolling the internet for kids who can, even marginally, sing, dance or play an instrument so he can package them, promote them, make a million dollars off of them and then move on to the next big thing.

Back in my day (I told you I was an old man!) bands had to compete with each other musically…these kids today – all they need to do is have the right look, throw a video up on YouTube and wait for it to be seen the right person. Don’t believe me…please see prosecution Exhibit A – Justin Bieber.

Actual musical talent not required.

As long as there are pre-pubescent girls with cash, the Johnny Bravo Protocol will lead to huge profits every time.

The sad truth is that, despite whatever minimal musical talent these kids have, their musical future can probably be charted in months rather than years.

I realize, of course, that comparing these poor kids to the Beatles is grossly unfair. Comparing any band, at any level to the Beatles is unfair for that matter, but it seems to me that, since the inception of the music video (something else pioneered by The Beatles ) the music business has deteriorated to a point where it is no longer about the music – it’s about the look.

Thanks for nothing MTV.

mtv sucks

It’s a cruel irony that the greatest band ever to make music started a chain reaction that would lead to, what seems to be, the inevitable demise of good music.

End rant.

As always – thank you for reading

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What Skeletons are in Your Musical Closet?

I was raised on rock and roll.

Being born in 1960, and having four older brothers who were already teenagers, well on their way to becoming full-blown hippies, my musical education began while my peers were still enjoying the tune played by their jack-in-the-box.

I was the only kid in my third-grade class to know who Jimi Hendrix was.  hendrix woodstock

I had trouble understanding why the rest of my friends didn’t know about Woodstock, and I could sing Born on the Bayou like nobody’s business (today, not so much).

It’s safe to say that my taste in music is predominantly rock and roll…or classic rock if you want to be more specific, but as I grew older my tastes expanded. In my early twenties I discovered the blues (which would also include soul and R&B). As I approached thirty I took a liking to jazz and classical and during my forties I got into country. rock and roll

I can honestly say that I at least try to appreciate all forms of music to some degree.

I’m not a really big fan of rap, mostly because I think it is often inspired by anger, hatred and violence – three things for which I have no use in my life. Even still, there are some examples of rap that I do appreciate and enjoy.

Disco…since dancing and the whole nightclub scene was never really high on my list of favorite things, I never had much use for it, but again, I have developed a taste for a small sampling of disco songs.

I also enjoy some good funk.

airplane disco

So, with all that being said, there is another category of music I think we all share…something that goes beyond “like and dislike.”

Each of us has music we like, and we’re usually not ashamed to talk about it. Likewise music we dislike, and these we are usually less ashamed to advertise.

There is a third category…the one we keep to ourselves…the one we refuse to acknowledge…the one we hope nobody finds out about.

I call it “skeleton music” – as in the skeleton(s) in your musical closet.

teach them to dance

A friend of mine is a huge metal fan, which is not only to say he is a fan in a huge way, but also that he is a huge guy. To look at him you’d think he would just as soon kick your puppy as look at you (he wouldn’t, but he looks like he would). Somehow, during a recent conversation, he revealed to me that he loves Bon Jovi. He even told me a story about him standing in line at Dunkin Donuts singing a Bon Jovi song out loud while he scanned the menu…drawing some pretty interesting looks from the other patrons.

Yet he doesn’t talk openly about his “secret affair” with Jon and the boys…

Why?

I don’t know, but to paraphrase the famous Life cereal commercial – “I’m not gonna ask him – you ask him.”

On a nine hour road trip with some friends back in the early 90s (all guys) we were in a remote part of Pennsylvania where there weren’t many radio stations available, so we were forced to listen to an Easy Listening station.

Imagine our surprise when one of the guys started quietly singing along with Barry Manilow’s I Write the Songs.

After several miles of relentless torment from the rest of us, he finally copped to it (but, not before trying to blame his mother for listening to it so often that the lyrics were embedded in his brain).

“Hey,” he said in his own defense. “I don’t like him, I just think this is a good song.”

A co-worker of mine was born and raised in Nassau. Naturally, being from the islands his musical tastes lean heavily toward reggae with a healthy scattering of R&B and rap. He also has a fondness for 80s synth-pop.

One day a few of us were having a discussion about old time TV shows when somebody mentioned Hee-Haw. My island-native friend’s brain wasn’t fast enough to censor his own response…he blurted his love for the music on the show and even confessed to begging his parents to buy him a banjo when he was eight-years-old. (They didn’t, but if they had he would have been a pioneer of the rasta-billy scene.)

hee haw

When he saw the looks on our faces (mostly stunned confusion) he laughed and tried to pull the old “just kidding” defense – unsuccessfully.

They say confession is good for the soul, so here goes…

Despite my love of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Willie Dixon, Miles Davis, Dwight Yoakam and Mozart…when I’m alone in the car I will crank the hell out of an ABBA song (until I get to a stop light).

abba

There, I said it.

I’m out.

Laugh if you will – but they have some great songs! (I even attended a live performance of Mama-Mia in Rhode Island and was blown away!)

So what are the skeletons in your musical closet?

Come on – you can share it with us, we’re all friends here…

 

As always – thank you for reading

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What a Night for an Interview – Steve Boone of The Lovin’ Spoonful

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

That wasn’t meant as a question…it was my way of cleverly introducing this post.

Baby-boomers and rock-and-roll fans of all ages probably sang the words while they read them…or they’re humming the tune right now (and probably will be for the next few hours).

Most of you know who sang them back in 1966, or you used to know, but the band’s name is on the tip of your tongue.

For the record…it was The Lovin’ Spoonful.

The Spoonful had a pretty impressive run between ’65 and ’68 which included seven Top 10 hits and another seven in the Top 100.

You might say they were hotter than a match head

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000

Like many bands they also had their trials and tribulations…

Tomorrow night (Friday October 31, 2014) on my radio program I will have the bass player from the Spoonful – Steve Boone – live in the studio with me.

B Sides cover

We’ll be talking about all kinds of stuff, and playing some music in-between topics – beginning at 7:00 pm EST.

Tune in if you believe in magic…

spoonful 2

For those of you in Flagler Beach – you can listen on 97.3 FM and for the rest of the world, join us on the internet at www.flaglerbeachradio.com – you can also listen on your mobile device using the TuneIn app and searching Surf 97.3 FM.

If you’d like to ask Steve a question jump over to facebook and post it on the Tim Baker’s B-Sides, Deep Cuts and Cool Covers page.

 

As always – thank you for reading (and listening)

spoonful

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Do You Ever Wonder if You’re a Good Writer?

“Good taste is the first refuge of the non-creative. It is the last-ditch stand of the artist.” ~Marshall McLuhan

Writing is a bi-polar occupation.

It can fill you with pride, confidence and satisfaction that you never thought you’d feel (ask any author how it felt to hold that first book in their hands) and it can make you feel unworthy of teaching basic composition to second graders (for more on this, ask an author who gets a rejection letter or a scathing review).

drama

Since the release of my first novel in 2009 I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many authors and I haven’t met one yet who hasn’t ridden that roller coaster of emotions.

Some jumped off and went in search of pursuits with more predictable results, but most of them hung in there and ran back to get in line for another ride.

I guess that’s what separates the men from the boys.

Recently, an author friend of mine sent a manuscript to a prospective editor. Said editor has a very impressive resume and my friend was looking forward to his reply. I will let her tell you the specifics (click here), but suffice to say that he was less than complimentary.

No – that’s being nice…he was only slightly above insulting.

The response he sent (I read it) was very polite, and professional, but it wasted no time, or words, in telling her that he, and I’m paraphrasing here, wouldn’t touch her book with a ten-foot eraser.

As I read his response I wondered how she would react to it. Believe me; it would have discouraged a lot of up-and-comings… giving up

Not her.

She said (paraphrasing again) that she was taking his comments as suggestions of ways in which to improve her book, not as an excuse to quit, because she felt that she was a good writer regardless of what he said.

That is the kind of attitude you need if you want to call yourself a writer, because as sure as you’re sitting there, you will encounter people who don’t like your work. They will tear it down like it isn’t worthy of lining a bird cage.

They’ll tell you, in every way imaginable, that you aren’t a good writer.

Screw them.

Being a “good writer” is an imaginary and totally arbitrary title.

Writing is an art-form, and as such its quality, or lack thereof, is completely based on the taste of the reader.

Like listening to music or looking at paintings, one man’s Led Zeppelin is another man’s Van Gogh.

opinionPoint being…there is an audience for every style. The thing to remember is that writing the book is the easy part—finding your particular audience is the real challenge.

You are a good writer…and a bad writer…we all are – it just depends on who you ask.

 

As always – Thank you for reading

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Are Independent Authors like Heavy Metal Bands?

A very good friend of mine plays guitar in a heavy metal band in Denver.

BTDSince I really don’t care for heavy metal, I won’t get into my personal opinion of their music. What I would like to discuss comes from a recent thread he started on facebook regarding the lack of air time that metal bands receive from radio stations. He claims that metal bands don’t get air time because they “refuse to follow the ‘code’ and ‘rules’ of radio.”

His comment implies that the reason we don’t hear bands like Anvil, Dream Theater, Slayer and Sepultura on our car radio, is that these bands refuse to cave in to “the man”. Furthermore, it could be inferred from his other comments that the only reason Metallica is heard on the radio is that they sold out.

What does this have to do with writing books, you ask?

Bear with me…

There are a few possible answers to the question of what keeps these bands off the air;

It could be that they just plain suck and they are blinded to that fact because they are lost in what they are creating.

It could be that, although they are talented, there is just not a big enough audience out there to warrant a radio station devoting serious (and expensive) air time to them.

Or it could be a grand conspiracy by said radio stations to only play that which they deem “worthy”.

Whatever the answer is (probably a little of each) I think this example can be carried over to the book world also.

The book industry used to be dominated by the major publishing companies. Back in those days, would-be authors would literally have to beg for a chance to get published. I don’t know the actual statistics, but the chances of an author getting published were somewhere between “don’t quit your day job” and  “not friggin’ likely.”

The recent upsurge of small press houses, vanity presses and self-publishing has thrown all of that out the window. Nowadays anybody, literally ANYBODY, can write a book and have it published.

Going back to our metal-band analogy…this is the equivalent of a band recording their own CD – which is also much easier today than it was 20 years ago.

However the same road block that exists for heavy-metal bands also exists for Independent Authors…getting air time – or in our case, shelf time. Book stores, even though they may be going the way of the dodo, still make it nearly impossible for Indie Authors to have their books presented in large quantities to the public.

So we have to rely on other methods. Just as a local band will play in bars and clubs to garner a fan base, authors will usually hold book signings at small venues, where they might sell a dozen books, and consider it a success.

The other tool we have at our disposal is the internet – a (basically) free outlet which has the potential to connect us to millions of people – instantly.

So here’s where you come in…

You may not realize it but you have great power to help your favorite Indie Author (like me)!

It is soooo helpful to us when you do simple things like sharing facebook posts, retweeting us, talking about us on Goodreads and LinkedIn and posting reviews on Amazon after you’ve read one of our books.

I’ll use myself as an example…

Currently I have almost 1,000 fans on my facebook page (thank you, by the way!).  If I post something about the upcoming release of a book, it will be seen by most of those people – let’s say 500. If half of those people (250) share it with their friends, and we assume that they each have 250 friends, that post has now been seen by 62,500 people.

That’s just facebook…

Numbers like that can really, really help.

I know you’ve probably heard all this before, but since Independent Authors are their own marketing assistants, we have to periodically remind the world that we are here. So consider yourself reminded!

Unfinished Business will be released in June, 2013

Unfinished Business will be released in June, 2013

 

And by the way, my next book, Unfinished Business, will be released in about 2 weeks (on or about June 30) – so spread the word!!!

You can read the first two chapters by clicking this link.

As always, thank you for reading.

Thanks to Chris Tucker and Beyond the Descent for being my example!

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