Friday Night Covers


Truth be told, cover songs are an obsession. Not the debilitating obsessive compulsive sort; more the kick back, work doesn’t beckon till 2 pm Saturday afternoon kind. In my world diversionary cover quests are like panning for gold, every so often a nugget winks back. Most valuable – songs I wasn’t looking for, covers transforming ordinary to extraordinary. Bells ring when covers of radio station changing originals smack me in the face. A classic example –

Searching for cover breaks my heart one moment, warms it the next. Ponder this –

A handful twinkle brilliantly beside originals from the soundtrack of my life –

Very late now, Friday night cover concludes with Playing For Change covering Bob Marley –

Brian May Asteroid Day


On June 30, 1908 an asteroid exploded over Tunguska, Siberia releasing energy of 100 tons TNT – the force flattened 800 square miles of Russian wilderness. Last year astrophysicist Dr. Brian May, Apollo 9 astronaut Ricky Schweickart and astronaut Dr. Ed Lu co-founded Asteroid Day to coincide with the anniversary of the Tunguska event. June 30, 2016 was the second official Asteroid Day.

Hold onto your hat – astrophysicist Dr. Brian May is Brian May, guitarist and songwriter for rock band Queen (he wrote We Will Rock You ). Brian May, ranked 26th of the top 100 guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2011, is an astrophysicist.

With a degree in physics from Imperial College London, 1974 found May working on his thesis ( the study of reflected light from interplanetary dust and the velocity of dust in our solar system ). Academic pursuits ended with the rise of Queen’s star. Over 40 years and honorary degrees from Hertfordshire, Exeter and Liverpool John Moore universities later, May buckled down. Submitting an updated thesis “Motions of Interplanetary Dust” to Imperial College – Brian May earned his PHD in 2007.

Dr. Brian May

From a 2015 interview with the Guardian –

“The aim is to ramp up public awareness and the awareness of governments to the fact that we are under threat from a meteor strike,” May told me during a visit, “It’s been made light of, and we’ve seen some great films, like Bruce Willis saving the day, but it is a very serious threat.”

A key aim of Asteroid Day is to lobby for a 100-fold increase in the detection rate of Near Earth Objects.

“This is a catastrophe that could be averted,” he said.

I leave you with “We Will Rock You – Asteroid Day”

Dr Brian May

Hunting For Cover


Hunting for the best cover of Bob Dylan’s Knocking On Heavens Door dominated well over an hour this evening. Concluding every version has merit, led to pondering why the original hadn’t factored in the quest. ( that’s an exaggeration, in truth I went “huh” mid hunt and clicked on more covers).

Some time later it came to me – certain songs are destined to carry weight from generation to generation. Lyrical plucks of conscience, melodic fists erupting from belly aches of social injustice. Here’s the thing, Knocking On Heavens Door is an anomaly – it wasn’t born a protest anthem. Dylan’s now metaphorical heaven of consequence, was penned for a movie soundtrack.

Bob Dylan wrote and sang Knocking On Heavens Door for the soundtrack of  1973’s movie Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In the film it played as the voice of a deputy sheriff, dying of bullet wounds, telling his wife “Mama take this badge off of me”.

Mama, take this badge off of me
’cause I can’t use it anymore.
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

Mama, put that gun to the ground
’cause I can’t shoot them anymore.
There’s a long black cloud comin’ on down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

I don’t care if a definitive cover exists. Hunting for cover reminded me – music is protests’ mightiest weapon.

Argh!

Everyday People


When was the last time you heard a politician address disabilities, poverty or education? Quibbles over religion, immigration, crime, oil, same sex marriage and climate change trivialize everyday people. If  “Everyday People” produced by PFC in conjunction with Turnaround Arts doesn’t slap you with a wake the f**k up, I give up.

Turnaround Arts, the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities empowers high-need, low performing schools with innovative arts, dance, theater and music programs, arts integration across subject areas, arts resources, musical instruments, and high-profile artist mentors, as a proven strategy to help address broader school challenges and close the achievement gap.
Learn more: http://turnaroundarts.pcah.gov
Twitter: @TurnaroundArts
Facebook: @TurnaroundArts
Instagram: @turnaroundartsnational

Playing For Change is a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music. The idea for this project came from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people.
Learn more: http://playingforchange.com
Twitter: @playing4change
Facebook: @PlayingForChange
Instagram: @playing4change

Click play – it won’t hurt a bit….

For an encore, take a listen to Jeff Buckley’s version –

Strumbellas


I’m a sucker for the Strumbellas, a six member Canadian band formed in 2008. Wikipedia describes them as indie rock, alternative country and folk popgrass. I say chuck the pigeon holes – “folk popgrass”, who comes up with this stuff? Music doesn’t need contrived designations, we like it or we don’t. Me – I can’t stop humming Wild Sun.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Strumbellas

 

Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain


I have some weaknesses, one being an addiction to reality TV’s the Voice. Screw American Idol, the Voice explains why Idol went off the air. If you haven’t been exposed to Voice the premise is simple – contestants have 90 seconds to entice judges to “turn their chair”. Blind auditions result in chairs “turned” for the voice rather than appearance. Over weeks, competition evolves from blind auditions to “battle rounds” (head to head competition forcing judges to eliminate one “voice” ) Finally, American voters whittle down contestants, determining “The Voice”. Last night a nail biter found Emily Keener in the “bottom two”. Emily “sang for her life” against Owen Danoff. Owen prevailed, Emily was sent home. Reduced to screaming WTF at my television – Emily was robbed! Did I mention she’s 17 years old? Watch Emily’s performance followed by Owen’s – you decide. Me – I can’t stop watching Emily,

Stones Rock Havana


Oh to be in Havana tonight – shoulder to shoulder with over 200,000 spectators at Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana baseball stadium, witness to a free concert by the Rolling Stones.

The Stones released their first album in 1964, two years after the Cuban missile crisis, five years after the revolution in 1959. Considered diversionismo ideologico ( ideological divergence ) by a regime unwilling to tolerate influence of enemy culture, the Stones joined Elvis Presley and the Beatles, headlining an official list banning all foreign rock music. ( One notable exception – approval of John Lennon’s 1971 release, Power To The People. Lennon has a park named after him in Havana, complete with his statue ).

News of Stones in Havana didn’t find me until yesterday. first reaction dropped a jaw, followed by pining for a stolen heart. No time to ponder implications – too busy walking streets, lost in the heartbeat of Havana night, vignettes of musical expression erupting around every corner. My only thought – kick ass Havana, better late than never.

Morning arrived with bag of squirrels cacophony – Cuba deserves more than a knee jerk “kick ass, better late than never” or media fawning over “iconic” historical concerts, akin to David Bowie at the Berlin Wall in 1987, or Wham in China, 1985. No argument on iconic, without question hundreds of thousands packing a baseball stadium in Havana for a Stones concert, warrants that designation. Worrisome resides in perspective, call it media spin whirling about translation of iconic.

Regardless of opinion’s nationality or political affiliation, we mustn’t forget the Cuban people. Personal experience left indelible marks, a life altering view of tenacity, perseverance, creativity and resourcefulness. Despite oppression and civil rights violations, remember people whose fortitude fill the night with music. Music monitored by government, musicians arrested for subversive lyrics, artists who dare not stand in line for the Stones because they fear detention.

This concert straddles a full spectrum of intent, in time meaning will show itself. Until then, honour the people of Cuba. Ignore sniveling right wing quips promoting cultural arrogance and blanket assumption of robotic communist conformity. Nip the bud of tiresome debate over ulterior motives, scold yourselves for thinking a concert might erase Cuban woes. Allow the Stones to rock Havana, and let chips fall where they may.