Somewhere a soft greeze is blawing...

For all of your Dylan needs and needn'ts

Friday, August 28, 2009

I actually purchased this?!!!

Yes, it's true. I purchased this about eight years ago. Now, to be fair, the first four Live albums were good (at least if you were into that whole almost-grunge, pseudo-spiritual rock thing they had goin'), so I gambled that this would be good too. I should have just stared at the album cover for a few minutes until it sunk in: look at how cool they are attempting to be. Their last four albums had interesting artwork featured on all the covers. This has a bunch of "bros" or "bras" in their early thirties trying to look cool to the rap-rock generation. PUT IT BACK DYLAN!!!!

Alas, I did not.

I'm also sad to report that eight years ago, I enjoyed this album. Not as much as the first four, mind you. I acknowledged that much, but I still enjoyed it much more than I should have. Fancy that, I found it the other day in my now "musically advanced" collection and popped it in. What an ear-opener.

The music is adequate, if not relatively forgettable. The only reason I recalled it as well as I did was because I listened to the CD SOOO MUCH back in the day. Why? Because when you're young, broke, and Napster has been shut down by the RIAA, you have to purchase one CD at a time. Regardless of if an album was bad, I'd still usually play the crap out of it. But I digress...back to the music. Some songs still hit that guilty-pleasure sweet spot for me. Ed's voice doesn't grip me like it used to, but he uses it to good effect in some songs like "Call Me A Fool."
Most of it though is weak.

The lyrics are where this album firmly takes a nosedive into Ginger Ale's litter box. Let me post an excerpt for you:

Let's go to ray's, not the pizza hut
Let's go to the pig, not the starbucks
Let's vote for nadar
What are we waiting for
I'm gonna live to be a 164
To crib then back to the studio
To write a song so good and make a midgit grow
From the northpole down to mexico
If you don't know the words
F*** it, let's go

Now, to complete the musical picture, imagine this being rapped, not sung, by the "bra" with his shirt open on the cover. Oh yeah, bad. Even in 2001, this would've been regarded as laughable by real "bros" like Jay-Z. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???!!!! They were coming off of the high of their 1999 masterpiece "The Distance to Here." They had made four good-to-great albums. There is no reason why they had to go down the toilet, except....

They wanted to follow a trend AND be themselves at the same time. Up until this point, Live had been put in the grunge category, but they weren't really grunge. They weren't hard rock or folk-rock. They were always themselves, a little left of the mainstream. I remember reading an interview with the lead singer when this album came out, and he said something to the effect of wanting to make "V" his party record, similar to Limp Bizkit and bands of that nature. They failed. They should have continued to be themselves and not gone head first into the rap-rock trend that lasted all of two years.

Now, let us reflect on greatness:

Oh snap! That song was amazing. It's their biggest hit for a reason. Now... this.

Hmmm... "We're the boys in Live just pissing in the mainstream??" First of all, WHAT?! Second of all, no, you're not. You're making weird wuss rock, while attempting to act "hard."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cover songs - the good and the bad

For as long as music has been around, artists have covered other artists' stuff. Perhaps it's in our human nature to steal things, or perhaps (to cast humanity in a better light) we just want to experience other artists' emotions by playing their work. Whatever the reason for the existence of cover songs, for the most part, they are a worthwhile art form and they aren't going anywhere. Bands love performing cover material, people love hearing good songs performed by other bands, and sometimes, the cover version can be as successful as the original; in other words, it's also a quick way to make a buck, as some of the artists on this blog can attest to.

Personally, I think cover songs are great, but only if they reveal new depths and dimensions to the song that weren't already there.

An example would be Bill Withers "Ain't no Sunshine."

The original song is a great R&B classic, but transformed through Woven Hand's gothic power, you can really feel the lack of sunshine. And that haunting banjo in the background gives the song a mournful Southern touch.

There are some songs a band should never touch though, like Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." Here's Alien Ant Farm's rockier take on the song. Sorry, I couldn't embed this one.

Let us compare to the far superior MJ song (again, no embedding on this one):

There's not much else to say about cover songs. Everyone has their favorites, and so I think I'll list mine in no particular order:

"Wonderwall" by Ryan Adams (originally performed by Oasis) - the original tune is alright, but the high British accents, courtesy of the Gallagher brothers, can be like nails on a chalkboard to me. Adams cuts the song down to the bare emotional core, with his tender voice and acoustic guitar. It surpasses the original in every way.

"Personal Jesus" by Johnny Cash (originally performed by Depeche Mode) - Cash's late career comeback rested a lot on his cover versions, in particularly Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." For this cover, Cash transforms Depeche Mode's synth-drenched gothic hit, into an acoustic ballad about his own personal Savior, Jesus.

"Nobody 'Cept You" by 16 Horsepower (originally performed by Bob Dylan) - As any musician worth his salt can attest to, Dylan songs are a joy to cover. 16 Horsepower decided to pick an obscure Dylan song off of his box set "Biograph." The original is an interesting little carnival-esque ditty that highlights Dylan's country phase, but the cover gives it an epic, heartfelt power lacking in the original.

"The Ghost of Tom Joad" by Rage Against the Machine (originally performed by Bruce Springsteen) - It's a testament to a song's power when it can be reinterpreted any number of different ways. This song, as performed by Bruce Springsteen, is a quiet acoustic song about poverty and injustice in the world. While he performs it with quiet resignation, Rage performs it with righteous anger. Both versions are among both artist's best songs.

All of these songs can be found on or if you're interested.

As for the worst, well, there's too many to choose. I'll just list three:

"Under Pressure" by The Used and My Chemical Romance (originally performed by David Bowie and Freddie Mercury) - This is how you destroy a perfectly good song: by replacing two world-renowned artists (and for good reason) with two sub-par bands that will be forgotten in five years.

"Just Like Heaven" by Goldfinger (originally performed by The Cure) - Again, who is Goldfinger? There's only one answer: they're not The Cure, nor should they try to be!

"Landslide" by The Dixie Chicks (originally performed by Fleetwood Mac) - The cover that nobody asked for is here! Seriously, this song has been covered to death, and by far better artists. This version adds nothing of worth to the original.

And now, for your listening/viewing pleasure, two worthwhile unique covers I just recently found:

Radiohead covering The Smiths' "Headmaster Ritual"

Antony and the Johnsons covering Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" (the video's OK, but the song's a trip)

Give me feedback, ya'll! What are some of your most/least liked cover songs? Looking forward to it!

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

And a-way I go!

Welcome to the blog to end all blogs! I am your host, Dylan "D-Jiggz" Cornelius. During our exchange on this virtual interface, you will be pleased to note that I will update on just about anything I care to update about: married life, Don Rickles, Hello Kitty, my undying hatred for Chevy Astros, etc. HOWEVER, I will mostly be discussing music, reviewing music, and things of a snobby, elitist musical nature. That doesn't mean that if you aren't a die-hard music fan, you won't enjoy reading my posts. I will try and make my posts readable and entertaining for all.

You may notice that there are (or eventually will be) ads at the end of each post. This is not because I think they look pretty or even because Blogger forced me to put them there at gunpoint. They are there in hopes that profit shall be had. How is this? Why, you my most loyalest of chums, you will do me the greatest of favors and click on them! It doesn't matter if you click once and then close the inevitable pop-up window. Just click and, with any luck, I'll start receiving checks from Google. It would be most helpful, as the wife and I are most definitely poor.

I would love to hear feedback and perhaps ideas for future posts. This is not "My Own Private Blog" starring a wistful Dylan on a lonely moonlit night. Despite my mostly musical intentions, I want this to be your blog too! Your ideas will keep this blog alive, and it will make it more interesting for everyone, myself included. Any music, movies, games, books, life experience, etc. you want me to discuss, I will most certainly be "down" (within reason, of course - nothing too perverse please). In other words, leave comments and lots of 'em. Thanks friends!!

My last comment: I just tried to post a video of the Keyboard Cat being hilarious, but to no avail. Does anyone know how to post Youtube videos on this thing or is it even possible?

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