Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm too young to feel this old

"I'm too young to feel this old" From Cold Desert by Kings of Leon

These guys have quickly become a new favorite of mine. They have an old school authentic rock sound that just feels like home to me. I don't think there is a song on their latest album (Only by the Night) that I don't thoroughly enjoy. Pensive guitar riffs, steady droning drums, and rich throaty vocals make you feel this music more than just listen to it.

Anyway, on to the song. This song, Cold Desert is the last on the new album. A fitting end to a well layed out and grounded album. I can't tell you how many times I've said those exact words to myself at different times in my life (speaking of course of the line at the top of this post). The funny thing is that I can remember saying it, but I don't recall what the motivation for the statement was for any of the times that I said it. What that says to me is that whatever was going on that was illiciting this emotion must not have been that big of a deal really. This points out the fact that we tend to take ourselves a bit too seriously. Situations come up and they can feel like the end of the world, but so far none of them have been. A few years goes by and we can't even recall what we were so caught up with. Thats the beauty of the human mind. We forget. We forget the pain of child birth, the heartache of love lost, and the sadness of loss. I'm not saying that the events are lost in the recesses of our minds, but rather that as time goes by the pain dulls until eventually you are able to move on.

Crazy, a simple line in a great song can inspire thoughts that don't really have anything to do with the song itself. Another great example of the power of music. If you ever get the opportunity, support the arts.

I couldn't find a decent live video of the song, but at least you can hear it below. Enjoy, and thanks to the Kings for a great album.

Peace within, peace without...J...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


"I can hear the sound of the city. Sunrise and set all the same to me. My hesitating pulse is good company. My reflection offers no apology." -From "Close Yet Far" By CKY

CKY (or Camp Kill Yourself for those of you who prefer the less palatable designation) is a straight up rock band. In fact, the song I felt like discussing today is the slowest and softest song I think they have. I'm going to include one of their other songs so you can get a taste of what drew me to this band in the first place.

I was a skateboarder (man, I can't stand that, we used to just call ourselves skaters, but ever since friggin rollerblades I have to clarify) for a long time growing up. I got into it with my brother when I was about 11yrs old and skated until my first year of college. To this day I love watching skate videos (the slam sections are my favorite).

Well, a short while ago a series of skate videos came out called CKY. Featured in the series is a skater some of you may know from the Jackass series...Bam Margera. Probably fewer of you know that Jackass started as a result of the CKY skate videos. Many of the pranks and stunts in Jackass were taken straight from the first CKY video (yes, even the shopping cart crashes). Well, not so coincidentally, featured in the CKY videos is music by the band CKY. This may or may not have to do with the fact that Bam's brother Jess Margera plays drums in CKY. So, thats when I was first exposed to the band. They have a raw, reserved energy in their sound. It feels heavy though it really isn't. Their unique sound attracts all kinds of music fans, and I have definitely become one. I love the line at the beginning of this post. Most specifically the last part. It ties in well with one of my earlier posts (the Ani DiFranco one). It speaks of confidence and acceptance in who you are. When you know yourself you have no apologies...for your actions, beliefs, appearance, or anything. Another line from a Beastie Boys song "Stay true to yourself and you will never fall".

Peace within, peace without...J...

And so you have a taste of what the rest of their music is like..

Monday, April 6, 2009


"Nobodys gonna come and save you....we've booked too many false alarms" -from Slow Dancing in a Burning Room by John Mayer.

Man, I think the title says it all from my perspective regarding John Mayer. I know some people will think to themselves "What?!?! Underappreciated?!?, he's one of the highest paid, biggest touring artists in the country!!". That is absolutely true, and I know that the man has a ton of fans, but I think the majority of his popular music fans don't really appreciate the talent that this man possesses. Most people like the smooth vocals or the catchy tunes like "Your Body is a Wonderland", and "My Stupid Mouth". The truth of the matter is that this guy is one of the great guitar players of my generation. I think its a shame that he isn't traditionally known as such. Just the other day one of his songs was on at a friends house and another buddy asked "Hey, do you like this whiny bitch?". Man, that was upsetting. I just wanted to take this guy aside, put on some of his less known bluesy songs and educate, I decided to do it in this blog instead, and hopefully reach a couple previously doubtful people out there.

I've seen John Mayer play live several times, and each time I am more impressed. I have to admit, initially I dismissed his music as pop when I first listened to the album Room for Squares, but by Heavier Things I had come around. The more I got away from the music on the radio I was able to stop focusing on the "pretty" aspect of his music and get into the technicality of it. The fact is, this guy is a phenomenal singer, songwriter, and most of all, guitar player.

But hey, you don't have to take my word for it, you can take Eric Clapton's. He has played backup to Mayer's lead many times and has had him on stage with greats like Buddy Guy, BB King, Robert Cray and others at a little event called the Crossroads Guitar Festival. There's no question that he's earned the respect of a lot of the greats, and its time he got more from those who just haven't taken the time to listen.

Here's a sample of one of the songs that even those who consider themselves fans may not have heard (I know this from talking to many of them), and I have no idea why. I think this is one of his best songs. There is a guitar riff in here that just'll know it when you hear it. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Skylit Drive

Alright, so the past few posts have been slow songs, and sung by women, so for this week I wanted to pick things up a bunch. If you haven't guessed from the title, the band of the day is A Skylit Drive. Oddly enough I found out about these guys while searching through local concerts on my iGoogle page. The name was interesting and so I decided to dig a little deeper. Unfortunately I didn't make the show, but I have to say that these guys have quickly become one of my most played bands. There is something about this genre of music (if you can call it any one genre) that just appeals to me like no other. I find that the dichotomy of the deep screaming and the high pitched pure vocals is intriguing, there is some really great guitar work in here, and that friggin double bass pedal on the drums just lights me the F up! One of the clinchers for me was that I listened to some of their live stuff and they actually sound just as good live. Thats no small feat for this kind of music. I won't miss the next show.

I know most of the people who read this will not find the same appreciation as I have for these guys, but one of the central themes of this blog is to show you all what I listen to and give some explanation as to why I listen to it. So, here it is. This is really the stuff I listen to most often, and if I had my way, I would write music along these lines. Unfortunately, it would sound completely ridiculous with just me and a guitar. I need a band for this. Over the years I've developed an appreciation for the singer/songwriter realm and have adopted it as my own, but truly, if I had my way I would be cranking up the Boss distortion pedal with a black Les Paul Custom, plugged into an all tube Marshall head with a full on 4x10" Marshall stack and screaming into that friggin microphone. I've said it before, but music is a means of letting what is inside....out, and this style of music is one of the clearest depictions of that philosophy. Some of you will want to stop the song as soon as it starts, but do me this one favor and listen to it all the way through. Feel it, and Enjoy.

Peace within, peace without...J...

Thursday, March 12, 2009


"Everything I do is judged, and they mostly get it wrong, but oh well. Cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged, and the woman who lives there can tell
the truth from the stuff that they say. She looks me in the eye and says,
'You prefer the easy way...well...ok....don't cry' " - from "Joyful Girl" by Ani Difranco

Taken somewhat out of context this may not make all that much sense, but I was listening to her today and this line caught my attention. It reminded me of one of those moments in your life that isn't really significant at all, but for some reason you think about it from time to time.

I was living in Lubbock, Tx with a good friend. I had just graduated from Texas Tech with a BA in Psychology. This time in my life was a real period of growth, exploration, and honesty. I was living hand-to-mouth and was loving every minute of it. Working full time in a bank during the day, and part time in a bowling alley snack bar in the evening. I felt everything. Life just made sense.

One morning as I stood in front of the bathroom mirror I felt like I found the pinnacle of self awareness. I was looking myself in the eye. It struck me like a slap in the face that in my (at the time) 22 years of life I don't think I had ever looked myself in the eye. Its funny, but when we look in the mirror we are always doing something. Checking ourselves out, brushing our teeth, shaving, or whatever.

There was something so pure about just standing there and staring into my own eyes. I felt all the questions and confusion in my life just lift away. At that moment I knew myself. I was.....awake.

This song reminded me of that moment. Yet another example of the power of music...and lyrics. Thinking of that time gave me a renewal of that feeling. The song has that air of reflection in it, and that just makes it all the more fitting for this little story. I hope you enjoy.

Oh, and if you haven't looked yourself in the eye, do it, and give it some time. Just shut up for a minute and stare. Look directly into your eyes, and nowhere else, for a good minute or so. You might be surprised at how it makes you feel.

And you owe it to yourself to listen to more of Ani's music. She is truly a one-of-a-kind songwriter.

Friday, February 27, 2009


"He goes along just as a water lily
Gentle on the surface of his thoughts his body floats
Unweighed down by passion or intensity
Yet unaware of the depth upon which he coasts
And he finds a home in me
For what misfortune sows, he knows my touch will reap
And all my armor falling down, in a pile at my feet
And my winter giving way to warm, as I'm singing him to sleep" -from "Pale September" by Fionna Apple

Ah Fionna can always get me back in touch with my emotions. Her lyrics, melodies and voice just drip with feeling and whenever I need to feel around my emotional parts I'll put her music on, close my eyes and just let her show me how to feel again.

I've had several requests for a line that is more positive than previous posts. So, here you all go.

The line above speaks of the risks involved in giving yourself completely to another person. She first talks about falling for someone and how that can be very shaky ground for the other person involved. What I mean is that when a relationship develops to the point where one person has almost committed completely to the other, there is a period of fragility where, although the other person doesn't know it, any violation of trust can cause all that was built up to tumble like a stack of cards. But then she goes just a step further and talks about what happens if you can make it past that point. She beautifully flows into the chorus with tremendous harmony and you can just feel the release of the tension. There is a comfort and warmth that comes from trusting and loving another person, and especially in feeling that love fully returned.

I have several wishes for all people, and one of the main ones is for everyone to love completely and accept completely the love of another person.

I'm including a youtube video that isn't really a video at all, but a picture of Fionna with the music behind it. I normally hate these things, but this particular clip is from a live performance and she gives some background to the song. Thought that would be a nice comparison from my interpretation. Enjoy.

Peace within, peace without...J...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whats in a man....not much as it turns out

"A man needs somethin' he can hold on to
A nine pound hammer or a woman like you.
Either one of them...things will do" -from "Jolene" by Ray Lamontagne

Ray Lamontagne is one of the great songwriters of our time. He has a truly classic vocal style that always takes me back to a simpler time. My life is filled with technology and tends to run at such a fast pace, but something about the way this guy writes, plays and especially sings just makes everything slow down.

Anyway, to the line above. I think this pretty much sums up guys in general. Give us a tool or a woman and we're pretty content. Men are simple creatures. We need food, sex, and something to keep us busy (which could also be either of the two previous things). I love it when songwriters come up with unique ways to say ordinary things like this. I think its pretty clear that the way Ray describes a man's psyche is much more poetic than my depiction (food, sex and something to do). Both get the message across, but one does it with an air of dignity and romance, while the other just lays it out there.

As you listen to this song take note of some of the other things he says. If you can come up with another line you really enjoy leave it in a comment. Or again, if you have anything else you'd like me to discuss just let me know. You can either leave a comment here, or send me a message from the Contact page of my website

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Today I thought I'd get into another genre of influence for me. Hip-hop. I've listened to rap and hip-hop since the late 80's. My first rap album was one of the all-time classics...NWA's Straight Outta Compton. Man we loved that album. From there we moved on to Geto Boyz, DJ Quik, and Too Short. The hip-hop came in with...who else...De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest.

Anyway, a while ago a friend of mine told me about a new guy named Lupe Fiasco. He's a skater turned rapper and he writes primarily with a purpose. He can tell a story with the best of them, like in his song "The Cool" he lays out the story of a former drug dealer who was shot and killed and then wakes up in his casket and has to dig his way out. With lines like "...working like a...hmm....reverse archeologist, except his buried treasure was sunshine" he goes through the first person experience of this dead gangster. I thought this was an interesting idea for a song, and one that would be hard to pull off. If I tried to do something like that I'd get laughed off the stage.

My favorite song of his is called "American Terrorist". Its kind of a chonicle of the many terrorist activities that Americans are responsible for which most of us forget about. The way I see it, this song shouldn't be taken as a bash on America, but there are some dark spots in our history that shouldn't be forgotten. From the treatment of Native Americans, to slavery, to domestic terrorism. I think these things should be kept in mind when looking outside the country at the rest of the world. These represent valuable lessons in the treatment of other people and the understanding of other cultures. Have a listen and try and pick out all the things he's talking about in the song. There's a lot in there.

Lupe Fiasco - American Terrorist

Found at bee mp3 search engine

Dude, I saw this guy live at the Mile High Music Festival in Denver this past summer F-ing awesome. I highly recommend checking out his concert schedule and hitting that up if you get the opportunity.

Peace within, peace without...J...

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Reply

No lyrics for today. I started responding to a comment made by a friend of mine to the 1/23 post regarding Deathcab for Cutie, but realized I had more to say on the topic than a comment should contain. So, here is the comment, and my response below that.

Reader Comment (not sure if you'd want your names here James, doh, oh well, I guess its out there now):
If you enjoy Death Cab for Cutie, I'm curious what your thoughts are of The Postal Service? Do you lump them as the same or is there some distinction for you to highlight Death Cab and not mention the other.

Please elaborate!

Author (thats me) Response:
Haha, well, I know the motivation for James' comment, but the rest of the readers do not. James and I have had discussions about the distinctions between The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie and can't seem to come to a consensus. James likes both, perhaps equally, whereas I prefer Deathcab. For those who don't know, Deathcab and Postal Service share two band members, Ben Gibbard (the center motivator for this post) and Chris Walla. That similarity might be enough for some to equate the two bands, but I cannot explicitly agree with this. Yes, the vocals and much of the lyricism is similar between the two bands as both are guided by the talents of Gibbard, but the primary difference for me lies in the music itself. I think the fact that Gibbard sings in both the bands is the source of the "similarity" argument, but in my mind the music is entirely different. The Postal Service has a prevalent electronic influence stemming from the presence of band member Jimmy Tamborello. For me, electronic music just doesn't have the feel of....well...played music. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the music as an artform, but it really has to be exceptional for me to enjoy listening to it. In trying to come up with some examples of electronic music that I enjoy (other than hip-hop, as that is a genre in its own class that I'll leave for another post) I am having a difficult time. Hmm, there is a band that my friend Troy in Japan showed me some time ago called Quruli. These guys are not primarily an electronic band, but they do dabble in the realm, and I think what they do is a good example. Radiohead got into electronic music on their Kid-A album (and others) and I rather enjoyed their take on it. Take a look.

Oh, and of course Bjork. There are others, but they evade me at the moment. Even though I can appreciate and enjoy electronic music, I still prefer the more organic nature of played musical instruments. They breathe with the flow of the music and every note is different. With an instrument, the same note can have a completely different timbre the next time it is played depending on the way the note is struck or altered by vibrating, bending, muffling, or any other techniques. These little idiosyncrasies may not be something you notice out right, but I believe play a huge part in giving music that organic, home-made feel that I don't get with electronic music. Sure, it has a nice beat and you might be able to dance to it, but from my perspective, it can't touch the sound of a well played instrument.

Just my two cents. Oh, and here is an example of a well played instrument.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"I'm thinking we're in trouble 'cause unless I'm seeing double
We've been slowly taken over by clones
Did you ever stop and wonder if the world is going under for the
Sake of keeping up with the Joneses"...From "Clones" By Speechwriters, LLC

Speechwriters LLC - Clones

Found at bee mp3 search engine

These guys are one of my all-time favorite bands. I have been waiting patiently for them to start producing music as a duo for some time now, and it finally looks like it might happen soon. They are a duo out of Cali (currently) and I can't wait to hear what these guys come out with next.

Anyway, on to the lyric at hand. Well, I live in Phoenix, and in this haven of capitalism and commercialism its hard not to notice just how corporate America has seeped into the minds and hearts of the young people around. This "street kid" look the mercantile industry has been pimping is just a little outrageous. These kids spend so much money and time to try and look like they just got out of bed and put on the clothes they found in the dumpster around the corner. Its funny, they try so hard to be different, but they all look the same to me.

Hey kids, your hair and clothes don't make you different, your actions do.

Peace within, peace without...J...