Friday, July 29, 2011

Throwing Stones

There is nothing more entertaining than watching awkward celebrity encounters.  So, I present for your viewing pleasure, one of the most awkward of such encounters I've seen, this time between Mick Jagger and Jerry Garcia.  The quick backstory is that they were all waiting for helicopters to take them to Altamont, which apparently never arrived, so they were forced to wait even longer for a plane.  No words can really describe the degree of awkwardness here, but Mick's reaction at 0:44 pretty much sums it up.  When asked if he knows Jerry, Mick has the most disinterested, smug look on his face which basically tranlates to, "I don't give a fuck about Jerry Garcia, his poncho or his band of hippie weirdos.  Just get me the fuck out of here!!!" 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Trial

Good morning, Worm, Your Honor! The crown will testify that the prisoner who stands before you, was caught red-handed showing feelings.  Showing feelings -- of an almost human nature. This will not do!

So much for The Happiest Days of Our Lives, Charlie Gilmour, son of Pink Floyd guitarist Sir David Gilmour, was sentenced today to 16 months behind bars for charges of "violent disorder." According to the BBC, Gilmour, 21, was jailed for defacing the Cenotaph, throwing a bin at a car carrying Prince Charles and smashing a window.  He has since apologized for his behaviour. At the sentencing hearing, the Judge had this to say: "Such outrageous and deeply offensive behaviour gives a clear indication of how out of control you were that day. It caused public outrage and understandably so...For a young man of your intelligence and education and background to profess to not know what the Cenotaph represents defies belief. You have shown disrespect to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to those who fell defending this country."

For the full story, click here.

Day Trippers

In recognition of Paul playing Yankee Stadium tonight (despite my not going), I thought this photo appropriate...and because it's just a f'ing classic shot.  The photo, reportedly from 1975, depicts Paul, Linda and Dave Gilmour, all hanging out, probably at a concert, passin' around the dutchie (see Paul's eyes).  Anyone out there know more details regarding the background of this photo?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brothers in Arms

No real back story here, but I stumbled upon this clip of legendary guitar greats Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and felt compelled to share it with y'all. The clip contains a medley of two songs:  the 1920's pop standard, "I'll See You in My Dreams" and Lennon's "Imagine," and is absolutely brilliant.  For those unfamiliar with the extent of Knopfler's solo work or with the storied career of The Country Gentleman himself, I think this clip exemplifies not only both guitarists' extraordinary technique and proficiency, but perhaps more importantly, a rare and genuine passion for the instrument and the unique range of sounds it is capable of producing.

Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler, The Secret Policeman's Ball, 1987:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Karas v. Robertson

Cryptomnesia is a phenomenon that has always fascinated me -- especially as it applies to songwriting.  For those not familiar with the term:

Cryptomnesia occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognised as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a song, or a joke, not deliberately engaging in plagiarism but rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration.  Source:  Wikipedia

A guitarist myself, I can't even tell you the number of times I've put together a series of chords only to realize that I've basically just re-written, for example, a Ryan Adams or Elliott Smith tune (which in turn, creates great anxiety that one is physically incapable of writing their own songs without the fear of plagiarizing, which is itself called, the anxiety of influence).  And for the record, I'm in no way claiming to be even in the same stratosphere as Adams or Smith; rather, my point is that certain melodies or riffs stick in your memory more than others, and if you like them enough, your fingers naturally fall into those positions. Anyway. This isn't about me, so back to my original point.   

This phenomenon afflicts not only amateurs, like yours truly, but the big-leaguers as well.  Recall the case of Bright Tunes Music Corp. v. Harrisongs Music, where George Harrison was sued for "borrowing" parts of The Chiffons' "He's So Fine" (written by Ronald Mack) for his own "My Sweet Lord."  As it turned out, Harrison was ordered to pay damages despite the Court's finding that his borrowing was "subconscious."  On Harrison's cryptomnesia, John Lennon had this to say, "He must have known, you know. He's smarter than that. It's irrelevant, actually—only on a monetary level does it matter. He could have changed a couple of bars in that song and nobody could ever have touched him, but he just let it go and paid the price. Maybe he thought God would just sort of let him off."  So much for getting by with a little help from your friends.

Maybe because I have a morbid curiosity with this occurrence, but I think my ear is always on the prowl for other examples in everyday music.  Sexy trait, I know.  So, I present another possibility for debate.  This one involves Robbie Robertson, of The Band, and a one Anton Karas.  Anton who, you ask?  Karas, was a Viennese zither player who achieved international acclaim after composing the theme to Carol Reed's The Third Man, which was later used (and renamed) as the theme to the Orson Welles' radio show, The Lives of Harry Lime.  The song, simply entitled, "The Third Man Theme," is perhaps the most famous song to feature the zither, and barring a major zither comeback, the only famous song to feature this most curious instrument.  In any event, I'm on a recent kick of listening to old time mystery radio shows [insert un-original insult here] and in particular, The Lives of Harry Lime, and I couldn't help but notice that the theme to Harry Lime and the "Theme to The Last Waltz" are strangely similar.  Now this is where it gets really freaky.  As I'm typing this, I'm just seeing that The Band actually covered "The Third Man Theme" on their album Moondog Matinee. I swear on all things holy, I did NOT know this beforehand.  So, my music genius aside, I think I just confirmed my theory, by sheer accident, that Robertson was in fact influenced (consciously or subconsciously) by the "Third Man Theme" when he composed the "Theme to The Last Waltz" (e.g. the arrangement, the phrasing, the picking style, the instrumentation, etc.). But judge for yourself.  And Robertson, if you happen to get sued by some distant relative of the Karas family because of this post, I do apologize in advance (as Levon Helm snickers to himself).
"Theme to The Last Waltz":


"Third Man Theme":


The Band's rendition of "Third Man Theme"