It was late in the evening…

I meant to write this immediately after seeing the Paul Simon and Sting concert, but as per usual I procrastinated and then an entire week passed before I had the time to sit down again and blog.

Soooo, jumping back a week…on Presidents’ Day I saw Paul Simon in concert for the 3rd time, but this time was unique because he shared the bill with Sting. Not gonna lie, I was skeptical of this pairing, but after hearing a lot of good reviews and learning that Paul and Sting are like BFFs, I warmed up to the idea. It also meant that Lauren and I spent an entire drive from Bakersfield to Oceanside listening to The Police’s entire discography, which is probably an important musical milestone to have experienced. I can say that I definitely appreciate Sting’s catalog more now, but I have to admit that there were still parts of the concert when I completely forgot that he was part of the show at all. I wonder if the Sting fans felt the same about Paul Simon?

A few tweet-sized observations:

  • Being the auxiliary percussionist for Paul Simon’s band might just be the best job in the world.
  • Never would’ve thought that it was possible to transition from “America” to “Message in a Bottle,” or that I would ever hear it. 
  • Sting’s drummer was Vinnie Colaiuta, who in my opinion, bears a striking resemblance to 2013 Christoph Waltz. Now, in some far corner of my mind, I’m convinced that Christoph is a really good drummer. 
  • Also, I kept mistaking Sting for Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He really has that look to him (the hair, the face, the stance). Very amusing to imagine Captain Picard singing Police songs. 
  • Paul Simon’s stage banter is sparse, so I feel very jealous of the guy he addressed directly: “You’re a drummer, aren’t you? Yeah, I saw you during ’50 Ways’…” LUCKY GUY.
  • That night I learned that “Desert Rose” is in fact a Sting song (not Enya), and so is “I Hung My Head,” which was covered by Johnny Cash in 2002 (fun fact: Sting’s version is in 9/8). 
  • “That Was Your Mother” is one of my favorite live songs, because Paul always puts down his guitar and busts out his dance moves. 
  • Another favorite was “Call Me Al.” I remember being sad that he didn’t play it when we saw him in LA, but this definitely made up for it. Here’s a video I took from my phone (I’m impressed that my dancing isn’t more obvious…good job, iphone video stabilization!).

How about a video where you can actually see the performers, eh? In case you ever wanted to see Paul Simon sing “Every Breath You Take” (followed by one of my all-time favorites, “Late in the Evening”), enjoy:

[gremlin! I love you, PS]

Ladies and gentlemen…

50 years ago today, America met the Beatles. 50 years! What was life even like before that? I’m slowly making my way through Tune In (which has a lot to say about pre-Beatles music), and while Elvis and Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly certainly got the ball rolling, nothing in the history of music seized the world quite like Beatlemania. Here’s the famous first performance on the Ed Sullivan Show:


I love everything about this. Cool, steadfast John, ever-enthusiastic Paul, dorky adorable George, bobble-head Ringo on his little platform…not to mention that glorious awkward interaction at the end (*hand shakes* *hand shakes* *waves* “…well, see ya!”). How crazy that this was so many people’s first look at the Beatles. That they hadn’t always been around, their faces weren’t plastered on t-shirts and lunch boxes yet, Rubber Soul and Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road hadn’t been recorded. Ahhhh, how exciting to have witnessed the start of a musical era!

I’m usually just fine with the fact that I don’t have cable, but times like these I really wish I could watch a CBS Beatles special on a Sunday night (that, or you know, the Olympics).
But since I can’t, I’ll just have my own little celebration watching online videos and listening to records.
Happy 50 years of Beatlemania, America.


These people deserve Oscars too

Just wanted to share a couple of really cool behind-the-scenes videos (fascinating material for a rainy day…or is that just me?)…

The first one is about foley artists. How awesome are these guys? The first time I learned about foley was when I took a recording engineering class at UCLA, and the “classroom” was actually a studio inside the film school, complete with foley room. The fact that so much of a movie’s sound is recorded with minimal props in a little studio like this blew my mind.  Watching these guys just confirms the fact that it’s really an art form (the action starts at about 1:30, and gets pretty crazy around 4:45):

This next one is a behind-the-scenes long shot from Hugo. So much coordination for about one and a half minutes of film! I like how the wall at 1:04 has to be pulled back to make room for the camera. Not something you’d necessarily think about when watching the finished product. (PS – HUGO IS AN AMAZING AND MAGICAL MOVIE, if you haven’t already seen it. Highly recommended!)

Also worth sharing is this one of 12 session drummers playing a Hans Zimmer score. After watching these, I may or may not have spent a good part of my afternoon browsing r/TheMakingOf. Endless entertainment!

Angels wanna wear my red shoes

So, it would appear that our Album of the Week became more of an Album Every Two Weeks, which then turned into more of an Artist of the Week…which I am not opposed to.

To catch y’all up, last Saturday we took a trip to Rasputin in Berkeley and couldn’t decide between two Elvis Costello albums: My Aim Is True and This Year’s Model. So we chose both. We realized that the main reason most albums are on our list is because they are by artists we haven’t listened to. So why stop at one record?

We also found some other awesome albums over the weekend. In Berkeley we picked up Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust (etc.) and Kishi Bashi’s 151a (which I was SUPER excited to find). Then we stopped briefly at the Alemany Flea Market (more on that below) and then finally went to the Genco household and brought back Joni Mitchell’s Blue and Derek and the Dominoes: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.

But anyway, back to Elvis.

[Side note: I really love these album covers for some reason. There’s nothing too special about them…maybe it’s the old-timey, Buddy Holly look that I just think is so cool.]

Turns out Alex prefers the 50’s-flavored My Aim Is True, while I like This Year’s Model  better (*dat organ*). Either way, I realized after the first few listens that Elvis Costello is a lot more punk than I originally thought. A lot of those catchy upbeat songs are actually pretty dark and cynical. Plus, “Alison” sounds like a pretty love song but is quite bitter/sad (some people interpret the classic “my aim is true” line to mean the singer’s aim with a gun??). Tricky for someone like me who often doesn’t pay attention to lyrics, haha.

I think the best word to describe both of these albums is solid. Unlike Rumours, I wouldn’t call every song a hit. And unlike Dirty Mind, I didn’t immediately latch on to a lot of them. It took a few listens to get really into it. But each song, on each album, is just incredibly solid. We’ve listened to these albums every day this past week, and I just keep getting more and more fond of them.

A lesson learned this time around: just because it’s a classic/popular album does not mean you will be able to find it in record stores. It’s obvious that these are records people want to hold onto. So, of course they’ll be hard to find in used record bins. Buying reissues is all well and good, but I refuse to do it. I’m not going to pay $30 for a brand new record when there are used gems to be found in a dusty crate somewhere. That’s what makes the search fun! Case in point: when we went to the (rainy) Alemany Flea Market, we came across a whole bunch of 60s and 70s records that a talkative boomer was selling for $1 or $2 apiece. So in addition to an imported version of Janis Joplin’s Pearl and CSNY’s Deja Vu, we also got some free stories about the 60s.

So continues the search. We’ve now got a couple weeks’ worth of albums lined up, but I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of heading to Haight and seeing what I can find.

Next up…Bowie!