Stranglehold

Take a moment, if you are so inclined, to listen and watch this always incredible footage of Jimi Hendrix performing our National Anthem at Woodstock in 1969. Just watch this brilliant performance.

I appreciate this performance more the older I get. It is simultaneously hyperbolic and yet strangely understated, mostly due to the cool of the dude who’s grasping the guitar. Yet, there is nothing ambiguous regarding the intent here. Jimi’s rendition is a savage protest and a damning indictment. If you don’t get it by the time he belts out “Taps,” then you’ve got mushrooms in your head. This performance is a big FU to militarism and to fucked up stupid dirty war.

So. It is somewhat bizarre to me to see Ted Nugent take on the ol’ Star Spangled Banner during an appearance on the Huckaboo show. And to watch Huckaboo stand there with his hand over his heart. My dear sweet gravity, conservatives are weird.

First, please allow me to attack Nugent’s strange assertion: “Name me a cool rock and roll song from France.” This is just bloody strange, and where should I start?

No, Ted. No good music ever came from France. Hector Berlioz wasn’t French, and nor was Claude Debussy. Maurice Ravel, Georges Bizet, Pierre Boulez? No? Right. Ignorant rednecks have no use for these fellows, I reckon.

Not to mention the fact that, perhaps, not much French rock music—which does exist, actually—gets to us because, well, they speak FRENCH in France…do I really need to mention this? Really?

The weird gist of Nugent’s assertion really reveals itself when you embark on a countdown of the greatest rock bands of all time. No, they’re not from France. But guess where else they aren’t from?

The Beatles. Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd. The Who. The Rolling Stones. All. European. Bands. And, as far as Jimi goes…guess where he had to succeed first before he hit it big in these Untied States? That’s right. England.

Ignorant rednecks.

But what’s most offensively weird about this tape is seeing all of these conservagoats standing around and watching this guy play a mediocre rendition of this thing on his guitar and acting like they’re watching Betty Buckley. Does it get any more uncool than this spectacle? What a humiliation.

I’m embarrassed for Ted, for Huckaboobie, for Fox, for America, for hunters, and for rock and roll. Ted. You should have stopped at Cat Scratch Fever.

Yes. I’m Fine, She Said. Please Stop Asking, You Freak.

Sharing today (via my cousin Jonathan, thank you sir) this brilliant vignette from cellists Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic, a scorching arrangement of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” The execution of this piece by these two dueling musicians is nothing short of brilliant. The phrasing, the intensity, the dynamics, and watch the one fellow put harmonics to use! Damn. I could have done without much of the superfluous photography, the action sequences, the camera angles; just show me these two guys playing the shit out of their instruments and it would be entetaining enough. But put on some headphones and prepare for goosebumps. You’re gonna rise some up when you hear this.

By way of context, the original:

And the also excellent 2001 cover by Alien Ant Farm (embedding disabled). I’ve always loved the AAF cover and the video as well. Everything a cover should be. These guys clearly love the song but also love making fun of it. Absurdly self-referential, yet reverent. Chimp included.

I hesitate to mention it, but I do have a bone to pick with Mr. Jackson, though fat lot of good it does me now, I reckon: A crescendo is not a sound, sir. A crescendo is something that is done TO sound. I know there are precious few words in the English language that rhyme with “window.” It is odd though, I think, for a musician to have taken such license with a musical term.

Oh, well. What are you gonna do. Music and a better world.

We All Shine On

Occasionally here at KIAV we write about something other than silly politics. Like sometimes, we write about music (56 shopping days until Zappadan, kids). I’m gonna do that today.

First, I want to call out Mark David Chapman and tell him he can go to Hell. Go to Hell, Mark David Chapman. Burn there. Burn there forever.

Because if it weren’t for you, John Lennon might just be 70 years old today.

And, were that true, I suspect this would be a better world. Certainly, we would live in a better United States of America. And, I think, music would be better, too.

Here’s a little tidbit about Lennon: “Instant Karma” is a record-setting song. It was one of the most quickly released recordings ever, written and recorded in a day and released ten days later. From Wiki:

Lennon remarked to the press, he “wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we’re putting it out for dinner.”

I think that “Instant Karma” is one of those songs that’s easy to overlook simply because it’s been there forever. It’s like your old sofa that you sit in every day but never really look at.

Here. Put on some headphones and listen carefully.

I know. I know. Why in hell is Yoko blindfolded and knitting in front of a microphone? Ignore that. She’s just a weirdo. Listen to the song.

This recording is a pantheon of “fifth Beatles.” Billy Preston is on it. Klaus Voorman, who knew the mop-tops in their Hamburg days, is on here as well. Who’s laying down the drum track? Yes drummer Alan White, that’s who. And, oh yeah, some guy named George Harrison might be noodling around in there, too.

The recording is brilliant, a beneficiary of Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” (a phrase not initially coined for or by Spector, by the way, but to describe the sound that came out of Stan Kenton’s big band). I don’t know how you think to set up a room like this, but it sounds amazing, and unique to boot. You know there’s not another piece of recorded music that sounds like this one. It’s just brilliant.

Listen to Lennon. This is an inspired performance in front of a microphone. Lennon is both playful and rocking hard, both teasing and imparting wisdom. He’s a performer at the top of his game; he is excitement and professionalism and balls-out creativity. And, for me, this is always something interesting to wonder: Does Lennon get tired at the end of the song? Has he lost count? Or has he just decided on a new dynamic for the tune? I think he put so much energy into it that at the last, he just deflates. I dunno.

I think an argument can be reasonably made that John Lennon was better when he wasn’t part of Lennon/McCartney. And, although I’ve always been a Wings fan, I think one can also argue pretty convincingly that Lennon’s post-Beatles catalog was considerably more substantial. Let’s face it. John was the indispensable Beatle.

So, a big FU to Mark David Chapman, I hope you rot in Hell, you fat murdering thief. You stole possibly 30 more years of a world with John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE, in it. There will be an especially comfy chair for you at Belial’s side for certain. Bastard.