A couple of weeks ago I got you all to ask whatever questions were on your mind - a chance to ask me about bands I love and loathe, about why I do this and why I haven't written the blog-posts that you want to read. I answered some of your questions and then I had a break, and then I answered some more. Now it's time for even more of your questions. So let's hit it.
Lo-Fi Sheriff kicks us off today with a trick question: "My question is, with a wife and child and a job like myself, how to manage to read, listen, write, review, comment, update, like, dislike, tweet, mail, email, blog, absorb, discover and share so much?" Aw shucks. The Sheriff continues, "there cannot be a TV in your house I'm sure, and I'm picking Oscar has a turntable set up next to his cot so you cuddle, feed and listen". There's a suggestion for me to run a seminar on time-management for the modern music lover, something the Lo-Fi Sherriff would be prepared to sign up for.
Well, it's a trick question because there is no way to answer this without sounding like a bit of a plonker. But, there are over 1300 posts that were written and pinned up on the internet by me before this question. So that feeling - of seeming like a giant pull-through - has clearly never bothered me. So, in short, I do all the listening, reading, posting, writing and engaging with music (and readers) that I can because I (mostly) enjoy it. And feel a need to do it.
Social media is both interesting and annoying - and I maintain that if you treat it with the contempt it deserves you can have a good time. No point getting too serious - but, that said, it's been a handy tool for me in helping people to discover Blog on the Tracks and for me in meeting some like-minded(ish) music fans.
I got this idea when I signed up to Twitter that I would just tweet about everything I watched, read and listened to - and I guess I do that because I want to show people (if they're interested - and remember, this social media lark is opt-in, if you don't like it you can get lost elsewhere...) that I'm doing the work. I don't ever feel that I'm trying too hard to justify what I do and why I do it - but for every drip that's prepared to decide after reading one post that I know nothing about music and - therefore - have terrible taste, I've got Facebook pages and tweets and blog-posts and assorted ramblings and rantings to either prove them wrong entirely or - in a very long-winded way - prove them to be utterly spot on.
I found my diaries from high school when I was last visiting my folks. These are 20 years old now, or thereabouts, and I hand-wrote diary entries every day listing all the music I was listening to. Sad? Probably. But at least there's consistency. And people wonder whether I have qualifications for this gig - well, it seems I've been training for it all my life. I think in the end that's all I hope to show by doing all this posting and rambling.
It's important to me to work hard doing this. To show up. To front up and be counted. Someone (a regular reader) very snidely/smugly told me that I'd struggle to do anything near a post a day after my son was born. Well, he's nine months old today - and I haven't missed a day here. I've turned up at work as per normal too. And I wrote a book. And I don't think my son or my wife has really missed out on any of my time. I love nothing more than hanging out with the family. You can do it if you want to - at the end of the day I'm very aware that I'm not curing cancer or raising money for an important charity. But this stops me from being unhappy - and maybe it even makes someone else (very occasionally) happy. That's all I need.
Next up is Old school folk fan, who asks what my opinion is on the "new folk revival movement that has arisen partly due to the predominance of electronic-driven music within the mainstream in the past few years?" There's a supplementary question here - and an acknowledgment that the question is broad - "has it contributed positively to the folk genre or is it overrated?"
It probably has contributed positively to the folk genre. But then the folk genre is probably overrated. And this new folk movement is more than likely overrated too. This is my way of (not so) simply saying I have no opinion on this. But I didn't want to appear rude and not answer your question. It's possibly a subject for another day - or possibly it is not. Every few years we see fads recycled and styles that were never in come back and are suddenly in, or styles that haven't been in for a while give it a go at being in again. And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I'm a big fan of one person and a guitar. And I assume that, in part, is what you mean by the folk genre and the new modern folk genre. But I find, increasingly, that it's hard for my interest to be kept by just one person and a guitar. On an album, okay. But in concert? There aren't that many people I could watch a whole set from. So there, I guess I almost do have an opinion on this. But what do you think Old school folk fan? Oh, I see, you already told me what you think.
I like the Drive By Truckers a fair bit - though I've only really picked around at their catalogue, also Patterson Hood has done some nice solo stuff too. As for the Felice Brothers, don't quite get that myself. And Simone Felice has recently released this album. And it's something of a disgrace.
Joe the Boxer heard Amazing Grace and Auld Lang Syne recently and it got him to thinking about how there's always talk of how an album or song will be viewed in 10 or 20 years. His question then is what songs from the last 50 years do I think will still be part of culture in 500 or 1000 years' time? Are there any, he wonders. And if could I take a wild guess, what three songs would I choose.
Well, in some ways I think Richard Thompson's 1000 Years of Popular Song is a clever answer to this and possibly a rebuttal/denial of it at the same time. (Incidentally, I would love to see a whole acoustic set by Richard Thompson, solo - or any set by RT, band or solo, acoustic or electric). It's a good question that Joe the Boxer asks - and it's deep. I imagine something like Sitting on the Dock of the Bay might endure and that would be nice if it did. I also think that Daniel Johnston's Story Of An Artist should - but there's then the question of whether it even resonates now. A better bet is probably Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or Blowin' In The Wind - but I don't want to make those choices. I'd like to think that people will always want to have a little shimmy when they hear Ain't Too Proud To Beg - and really, since it's music, that desire should mean the most, right? That idea that a song literally moves someone, gets them up to dance. Let's not try to dig much deeper than that. At least for now - we might have to revisit this in a post dedicated to answering this question in more depth.
Now, Jordan wants to do know if I could pick a great vocalist who perhaps hasn't had such great success lately or has had pretty awful songs to deal with as far as I'm concerned, and then pair them with a favourite songwriter. So, who would I pair up and why?
This is probably a great question - and I say that because I'm drawing a bit of a blank. That means I have to think. So in that sense it's also a horrible question. I tend to think that a lot of the great songwriters need their own voice to put the song across - in that I want to hear Leonard Cohen sing Leonard Cohen songs or Bill Callahan/Smog singing Smog/Bill Callahan songs. But I am in support of a not entirely popular idea that the world has enough great songs (and, therefore, enough songwriters) so here's what I am going to suggest - Norah Jones singing songs written by Kurt Wagner - with the added bonus (please) of Lambchop actually backing her. That would (quite possibly) be sublime. Good question though. Will think more on this.
H is next with the old "screw/marry/kill" staple - asking who I would pick for those options out of Paul McCartney, Prince and Paul Simon. Next H asks for the same game but with Jagger, Richards and Watts. There is another question: attend a Justin Bieber concert or a Twilight movie marathon?
Okay, so it would be screw Prince (and possibly inspire the shortest song of his career), marry Paul Simon (he looks like that Sad Sam dog, I imagine he would mostly keep to himself and would have a nice house) and kill Paul McCartney (I watched the Olympic Games opening ceremony).
As for the version of the game with The Rolling Stones - it would be screw Mick Jagger, kill Keith Richards and marry Charlie Watts. That's the only sensible answer to that very serious question.
I would obviously rather attend a Justin Bieber concert because I have had the training. I have sat through Pink, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Amici, Ronan Keating and dozens of other concerts by artists I don't care for at all. I could take on the Bieb.
Dr Zoidberg wants to know what I made of the latest Smashing Pumpkins album.
And we covered that in the last post answering questions - because more than one person asked some version of that question.
From ryanmaiden comes the question of what is more important - the lyrics or the music. "Can a song be great (in your opinion) as long as the lyrics are up to it? What is more enjoyable for you to listen to, a great story or a great riff/melody?"
Another very tough question and there's no one correct answer here. I love songs like Bob Dylan's Seven Curses that don't appear to do very much musically and are all about the story. But I can dig something like McCartney's Silly Love Songs just for that bassline. And so that's always been it for me, just as I'm happy - very, very happy - hearing some great second-line drumming, a New Orleans feel that is about the music, I'm also a sucker for great lyrics. But most often I like the lyrics to be correctly married up with the right tune. Paul Kelly's song How To Make Gravy is amazing - it's strong enough to stand his solo acoustic renditions, but the recorded version of the song, with the electric guitar strum/jangle, while not the most mind-blowing example of virtuosity, works for the song. I keep going back to this song I'm Drinking Again by The Jeff Beck Group. I like the sentiment, and the way Rod Stewart sings it, but I also hear Jeff Beck's lovely solo in my head just before it happens. Every time, I anticipate it. Ben Folds' song Landed is one of many examples where I feel the marriage of an emotional lyric and an emotional/emotive piece of music have been perfectly paired. They have, as is the way with marriage, found each other.
Nathan asks "whatever happened with that interview you were going to do with Tim Finn on the release of his last album that flew so under the radar that I have never seen a copy anywhere?"
I decided to not interview Tim Finn because though I have enjoyed the best of his work - and had a nice chat with him, here - I did not think anything much of his new album. Interviews are poorly organised, as a rule, here in New Zealand. Often you get asked if you'd like to do the interview and then you find out it's the next day. Later that day, just after you agree to do the interview, you are sent a file, so you get to listen to some of the new tracks, or the whole new album. Sometimes it's a restricted/listen-once sample. And then you're expected to do a great interview. And of course interviews based around the new album are often a letdown - it's just PR-guff. That's what the label wants and it used to be what the publication wants. What I like doing, here at Blog on the Tracks, is giving you a longer interview that gives a little bit more than just "come and see my show" or "buy the new album, it's great". And the thing is - the main thing here - Tim Finn's new album, was, to my ears, really horrible; the worst thing he's done. And I couldn't do it. So I politely asked to not do the interview.
Gecko41 asks me if USB turntables really work and wants some recommendations for what to buy. I'm also asked "just for a giggle" if there's one song that every person on planet Earth would love.
I haven't used USB turntables so have no recommendations here - though I'm sure they work. Anyone got any ideas?
As for the one song that every person on planet Earth should love, you mean apart from Ain't Too Proud To Beg right? Well, I fail to see why anyone wouldn't like Prince's I Wanna Be Your Lover or, for that matter, Modest Mouse's Float On.
What a Wookie says "you were joking about Led Zeppelin being crap and Upper Hutt Posse being great, right?"
Now, you see, this will happen if you only read this blog occasionally - and that's fair enough, that's for you to decide. And you can easily tell me you don't think this blog is worth reading - and that's fine. But don't ask silly questions like this. This just shows you're not paying attention in class. I can only presume that What a Wookie read a couple of posts recently (reading only two posts is probably, somehow, more dangerous than reading just one). I raved about the new Upper Hutt Posse album as part of a post of the best albums I've reviewed this year. And I stand by it. It's a great album. And then I poked a bit of fun at Led Zeppelin in the context of them ripping off some blues and folk tunes, as part of this post here. I'm a big Led Zeppelin fan. Great band. Next.
Well, next is Paul T, who says "what do you think of the folk scene in Wellington? Are you aware of it?"
Allow me to answer your second question first and your first question second. No, I am not aware of it. And so, yes, absolutely, I (therefore) think the folk scene in Wellington is fantastic!
Ben wants to know if I can name an artist/band that I consider to have always put out good work even if I didn't love everything by them.
Another good question that could stretch the patience of many readers - if I were to answer this at length...but I figure there must be some artists who have delivered super-strong work across their career even if I haven't been in love with everything they've done. My immediate thought is the solo career of Paul Simon. Huge hits, the groundbreaking album Graceland, super records across the 1970s, a comeback of sorts last year, and in fact everything he's done has been very good. Even if I haven't loved every album. I applaud his quality-control. He doesn't flood the market like so many from his generation have. But then, I have to practise saying nice things like this. I'm marrying him, after all. And come to think of it - I do own every album he's done. So that's maybe not the best example.
I imagine that some of you might have some examples...
That's got to be it for today. I reckon I can get through the rest of your questions next time - in another day or so. Thanks again, to all of you, for the challenging, funny, fun, interesting questions.
If I haven't answered your question correctly feel free to whinge in the space below.
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