Thursday, August 23, 2012

concert (elaboration)

When I posted my brief comment about the concert, I was intending to follow up very shortly with a fuller post. I'm finally getting around to it.

There were four bands on the bill - Cracker, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Blus Traveler and Barenaked Ladies

Cracker were on first. Surprisingly, they went on on time, so I didn't see most of their act from my seat. My sister and I were just getting in the Theatre (Jones Beach -- it's an open-air venue) when they started, and we spent time buying food. But I could see them on the monitors. I would have thought I'd like it better, since I have a few Cracker albums. I've never really been into them as a band, but I did like "What the World Needs Now" when I heard it on the radio once about 15 or so years ago. They're OK. A few good songs. But the performance that I saw seemed uninspired.

Big Head Todd were a little better, but for the most part I didn't really get into them. A lot opf loud directionless guitar-leads. There was one really good song -- "Sexy and I Know It." I assume that's the title. Slide guitar, George Thorogood-style vocals. If the whole concert would have been like this, I would have been a happy man. John Popper joined them onstage for a few songs. Boy, has he lost weight.

Blues Traveler was on next. The good thing was that at this point it was clear that each band was better than the previous. The thing with Blues Traveler is that I really want to like them -- they have lots of elements that should make for a band I'd like. But I just can't get into them. They played "Run Around," which was cool. But other than that, meh. The most interesting part of the performance was that at first my sister and I were trying to figure out if it was Blues Traveler or Barenaked Ladies. The presence of John Popper should have given it away, but for some reason I was under the impression that Blues Traveler wasn't on the bill. Finally, after they mentioned their new album, Suzie Cracks the Whip, and we could look it up online we concluded that it was Blues Traveler.

Barenaked Ladies was much better than I expected. Since it's a band I've never really been into, and I'm not really familiar with their repertoire, I didn't expect to enjoy them. But they were good. Humor helped. I actually did recognize a few songs -- "If I Had a Million Dollars," the theme from Big Bang Theory. The set was on the short side, but I have to weigh that against the fact they were the fourth band to perform. The played all the songs my sister wanted to hear, which was good. The liveliest part of the performance was the encore, where the drummer came out from behind his kit and sang lead -- while jerking around the stage like a spastic chicken. I liked that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Went to see the Barenaked Ladies concert.

I was really looking forward to it. My kind of show, or so I thought.

Talk about false advertising

Friday, August 10, 2012

barenaked ladies concert next week

My sister is visiting from out of state -- she arrives today.

Next week she's taking me to a Barenaked Ladies concert at Jones Beach.

When she first mentioned it, I was thinking that BnL was one f those swing revival bands that were big in the '90s -- like Cherrypoppin' Daddies, Squirrel Nut Zippers and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. But looking them up on Wikipedia, I see that they're more alt than swing. And I recognize the song "If I had $1000000," which was adapted by the New York Lottery for their ads. Sounds, from the Wikipedia article, like the concert should be fun. Unfortunately, they are all fully-clothed males. Can I sue for false advertising?

A sample:

Oh, since they also did the theme from Big Bang Theory (which I assume is how my sister is familiar with them -- she loves BBT), this post sort of fits in with the series on TV theme songs.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

someone else's list of top tv theme songs (part i)

I was at work and, for no reason I asked a coworker (let's call him "Peter") what he thought was the best TV show theme song ever. He thought for a second and came up with Hawaii Five-O. A good choice. I picked -- though I caveated it that within a day, or even an hour, I might pick something else -- The Munsters.

Curious to see what others might say, Peter looked it up on Google, and found this list, purportedly of the top 50 theme songs of all time. I don't agree with all of the picks. But what I'm going to do is go through them and provide my own comments. To make it more manageable (OK, you got me, I'm just trying to draw it out), I will comment on 10 themes per post. Then, after I finish off in five posts, I'll comment on a few themes that I think should have been on the list but weren't.

So, here we are, with their picks 50 through 41:

50: Beverly Hills 90210
They tried to rock on this theme, which I suppose was appropriate. But they ended up with some overproduced boring 90s rock. The fact that it's an instrumental works against it as well -- at leat in my ears (my comment regarding The Munsters nothwithstanding). I wouldn't have included this.

49: Rawhide
A great choice. Great old country music. And the Blues Brothers' version in their movie was a great cover version.

48: The Odd Couple
You know what is even more likely to annoy me than instrumental themes? Spoken narration themes. This starts with narration, then gives way to instrumental. It's designed to have me hate it. But I have to admit it's catchy. Maybe.

47: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Lousy show. Great theme. I love that line "Yo, Homes, smell you later." This is a great example of the exposition theme song -- the kind that explains the backstory, so that someone coming off a desert island who has never heard of the show can turn it on and know the premise. Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch are other examples of shows with exposition themes. Fresh Prince came with one that was so long and detailed that they had to cut it down after the first few episodes.

46: The A-Team
Like The Odd Couple, this starts with spoken narration and ends with instrumental theme music. Unlike The Odd Couple, the theme music isn't catchy. I suppose it's fitting for the tone of the show. But I just don't like it.

45: Dallas
The first thing I should note is that I never watched Dallas. That tends to cut against it, since sometimes repeated exposure to a theme song can make one like it more than it deserves. That kind of works along with some theories I have about musical taste that I should talk about in a future post. At any rate, unfamiliar with the Dallas theme, I had to look it up on Youtibe specifically for this post. It's actually not bad. Kind of catchy for an instrumental theme.

44: Barney Miller
I love that bass run. Wonderful. The rest of the song is a bit of letdown. Not bad, though. I can see including this.

43: Twin Peaks
Another show that I never watched, and whose theme I had to look up on Youtube. Is the video below the actual theme? It sucks. I mean, bioring as all getout. What were they thinking?

42: Bonanza
A great bouncy theme that suffers only for being an instrumental. And I should note that there were lyrics that were, for some reason left off when they ran this with the show.

41: All in the Family
This is a much better theme song that the actual performance of it for the show. Of course, the O'Connor-Stapleton rendition fit the show much better than a more polished renderring would have. And it became better in later seasons when the diction was better and you could make out that line "Gee our old LaSalle ran great!" There are a bunch of other verses to this song that didn't make it to the show.

And here, as a bonus, is a clip of Carol O'Connor singing the closing theme:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

now to plan for recording with wreckless

I wrote about Wreckless Eric's Kisckstarter campaign here.

The campaign is closed, and Eric and Amy have gotten $12,000 in pledges -- 50% more than they were shooting for. I've been charged my $500, and I now am looking forward to recording with them. I have gotten two emails. The first was a very generic one that was sent to all 292 people who pledged. It simply said that the rewards were being prepared and would be sent out when ready. The second one is more specific to my situation:

hi [Moish]

Thanks for backing us (or whatever the correct terminology is here). We need to work out a time when you can come to the studio and do a track with us.

So what we probably need is a list of likely dates from you plus any sort of demo you might have - though you don't have to have a demo, or even a finished song, just some sort of idea of what you'd like to do. Anything - six lines on the back of an envelope, a snatch of a tune whistled onto a cassette... Or nothing and we'll improvise on the day!

I'm probably not making much sense - we've never done this before - Kickstarter I mean. We've done plenty of recording sessions!

Anyway, let me
know - best thing would be to contact me by email directly - [ wreckless eric's email address ]
I have to write back. I'm not sure what song I would want to record with them. Seems clear they're open to being flexible.  I have three complete songs, any one of which I'd be thrilled to record with them. I guess I'd most love to record "Jackpot" with them, since that's my favorite. But since that's the one with the most-polished demo, it seems that I get the least additional value if one of my purposes is to improve the quality of what I have to send as demos to artists, agents, record companies, etc. On that score, though, I think all three demos are usable. So maybe rerecording one of them is of limited value in those terms.

I've been hoping to finish writing another song -- I have a couple in process -- a chorus and general concept for "Bleed Me a River," as well as a concept and opening verse for something that I am (for now) calling "Missing One." I also have a title and little more for "(Fresh Out of) Give a Damns." But between work and family, I just don't have the time to sit down with the guitar and complete anything.

I am, though, open to working with them to complete one of my fragments, or to write something totally new. As one of Wreckless Eric's fans for more than thirty years, I'd love the chance to write with him. But that then creates new complications. Would they be OK with my registering the copyright in all of our names? Would they be OK with my trying to shop the song around? In the event that I get it recorded, who owns what percentage? 50% for me and 50% for them together? 33 and a third  % for each of us? Something else? Of course the thought of being able to register a copyright in my name and Eric's and Amy's is something quite fantastic for me (note that I am using the word "fantastic" to mean something out of fantasy, rather than simply "great"). And perhaps if I have a song that I cowrote with them there is a greater chance that they would record it on one of their albums, thereby giving me a credit (and a few dollars).

I will probably write back, explaining that I am having a hard time choosing between songs. I have three demos (of varying quality) that I'd like to send. I'd like to go with whichever they find most suitable. Of course, I will note, I also have some partially written material that I'd be happy to work with if any of those strike them. I can also mention the logistical (copyright,ownership, etc.). I think I'll note that my preference is to complete a song with them.

There is another issue to check on: I assumed, though they never specifically said, that I can have Eric take the vocals on our recording. I want to make sure that that's OK -- partly because I love the idea of having a recording of him singing one of my songs, and partly because I am a lousy singer.

 I am also hoping that they know how to go about registering specific songs (or recordings?) with ASCAP so that if by chance something of mine gets recorded and played on air (or, for example, my friend HP Mendoza uses one of my songs in one of his movies), I can get the few dollars of royalties. Given that I won't get much money, it's almost a point of pride just to get a royalty check from ASCAP.

Finally, there's something I want to ask Eric. On the Live Stiffs album (from the Stiff Records package tour from the late '70s, featuring performances by Nick Lowe, Eric, Larry Wallis, Elvis Costello and Ian Dury), before he starts "Reconnez Cherie," he anounces that his guitar doesn't work. After some confusion he plugs it in and says, "Ahh. I forgot to plug me in." I want to know if that was truly him being himself and legitimately not realizing that he wasn't plugged in, or if it was an act that he did at every show.