October 14, 2011

Free For All Friday, October 14, 2011

by jim — Categories: Free For All Friday — Tags: , , , Leave a comment

Food Fight!

Hey, kids! Welcome to Free For All Friday, where we throw random stuff at the wall to see what sticks. It’s like a musical food fight! What’s on the menu today, you ask?

Today’s selections include:

1 – “Disappointing” facts about pop music
2 – A belated “Happy Birthday” to a blues giant

Rock and roll!

Pop Music Fail

Black Eyed Peas

To me, this is a compelling article/comparison “study”, but not in the way the author intended. It’s supposed to be about how “disappointing” it is that today’s pop artists have sold TONS more than the greatest artists in pop/rock history, such as The Beatles, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, etc.

Now, I’m as judgmental as the next guy (stop smiling), but there are three issues at play here which make me uncomfortable:

1 – Calling it “disappointing” is basically taking a swipe at modern pop music/artists, as if they’re inferior. Those of us who grew up on the “classics” may believe that to be true, but most young people grew up on these artists. And obviously, there are legions of people who love Justin Beiber and the Black Eyed Peas – who am I to discount their accomplishments? That falls under the heading, “To each his own.” I don’t bash ANY artist, but that’s just me.

2 – The other problem is that the way music is delivered today – which is to say cheap (or free) and instantaneous – completely skews the numbers. Example: I’ve got about 7000 songs on my iPod. Back in the day, I might have had a few hundred albums and 45s. Modern artists are absolutely going to trump “classic” artists, at least in terms of sales of singles, since buying one song a la carte is the method du jour. Wow – I didn’t even know I knew French…

3 – You can bash Celine Dion if you wish. You can hate on Shania Twain if it makes you feel better. But where does this dude get off saying it’s “disappointing” that Barbra Streisand has sold more records than Pearl Jam? Please. Barbra is one of the all-time greatest singers – in pop music and musical theater – and has written some great songs her own self (“Evergreen” anyone?). She’s one of the only entertainers in history with an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy and Tony. Basically, Babs is a boss and a living legend and this dude needs to step off and check himself. Rant over.

Anyways, the article is great for giving one perspective on the relative popularity of modern artists via media exposure and the instant delivery of modern pop music, and how that translates into greater sales figures for Creed than Jimi Hendrix (“a travesty of the highest order!”, he says, tongue in cheek). Check out the link and weep a little, if you’re old like me.

12 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music

A Belated “Happy Birthday” to B.B. King

BB King

Not sure how I missed this in my “File of Stuff to Review and Possibly Include on Free For All Friday Posts”, but I did. One of my all-time guitar heroes, the legendary B.B. King turned 86 on September 16 – yes, a fellow September baby like me and anyone else who’s super-cool – and now it’s October and I feel like a tool. Oh well. It’s not the first time.

For the uninitiated, Riley B. King is simply one of the greatest blues guitarists and singers in history. He’s arguably done more to spread the blues gospel than ANYONE, owing in part to his relentless touring schedule and now those cute diabetes commercials.

My recommendation: Go get you some B.B. King! It’s all good, but for the King connoisseur, the classic live recordings are where it’s at. They are:

Live at the Regal and Live in Cook County Jail.

Absolutely awesome, including the dated banter with the inmates in the latter recording. Here’s an Amazon link if you wanna go the CD route: B.B. King

For more B.B. goodness, check out his performance of “When Love Comes to Town” with U2 in Rattle and Hum. I dare you not to get chills when he sings that chorus. Priceless moment: when B.B. tells Bono, “Real heavy lyrics. You mighty young to write such heavy lyrics.”

And here’s a link from Guitar Squid with some other cool King-related birthday shizz…

Happy Birthday, B.B. King

Have fun, kids! See you next Friday!

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Jim Bowley is a professional guitarist, teacher and blogger. A native of Baltimore, he has over 30 years of playing experience and an advanced degree in Music Education from Towson University. Jim lives in Bel Air, MD where he maintains a thriving private lesson studio and performs with his band, Remains of Radio.

© 2012 Jim Bowley All rights reserved.
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