Proof That Touring The World Inspires Prolific Album Creation

The Beatles set out to tour in 1962 and by 1964 the Top 5 songs in the country – were ALL Beatles songs. Not only did they take the music world by storm, the rest of the world too, had a ticket to ride. In Ron Howard’s Eight Days A Week we see just how it happened. And how the Beatles touring inspired society and themselves to capture that live show energy and craft some of the greatest LP’s ever created.

The first show where the amp did not go to 11

The Beatles toured the US, the UK and the Globe and a second time around to the US and UK creating a power in live music never seen before. Their sound so unique that it caught people’s breath. Their humor made them accessible. Their love and band kinship helped them impress on society that their values were caring, their viability as artists were unending, their and venues would not be segregated.

While on tour the connected with Larry Kane, a youthful reporter, who without protest, was required to report and the Beatles tour. He became the voice of the Beatles to the generation that leaned on their every word. While the band played venues across America they came into contact with all types of society that they would confer with Kane about. And he remained a friend.

The film Eight Days A Week showed the power of the Beatles lyrics. The way they brought people together. The way they changed societies conventions. They way they reflected main stream and alternative culture simultaneously. And this is what they left behind, hopefully a society that respects the arts and a peaceful society:

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From Deconstructing Comes New Creations

One film I would consider including in this course is The Wrecking Crew. It’s a 2008 American documentary film directed by Denny Tedesco. It covers the story of the Los Angeles-based group of session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, famed for having played on numerous hit recordings throughout the 1960s. Tedesco is the son on of the famed musicians Tommy Tedesco.

The Wrecking Crew was more of a building block for the music industry. Innovative musical skills, diverse backgrounds and unique personalities allowed them to make any artist or song better. They created comfort, they create style, they created memorable riffs and they helped create stars. Brian Wilson used them as a tool the execute on his inspirations.

The Crew were more like educators than backing performers. They were instrumental (pun intended) in helping create a LA pop/rock sound of the 60’s and 70’s. The Monkees learned how to become a band. Sonny and Cher learned how to perform. Petula Clark learned about American musical audiences. Glenn Campbell learned – everything. The Wrecking Crew is not to be missed. Then play all the records talked about in the film and dig it!.

Music Is Emotion, Film Wears It On Its Sleeve

If was asked “What is you favorite documentary?” A few come to mind. In no particular order – An Inconvenient Truth, Hearts of Darkness, The War Room, Woodstock, Harlan County USA, Hoop Dreams, Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room and Super Size Me.  But to round out the top ten, it would include Amy, and at the top – 20 Feet From Stardom. Both films fill you heart and soul with emotions, one empowering and deserving, the other mesmerizing and depressing.

When 20 Feet From Stardom begins,  the sounds of the baritones and bass lines precede the video. That is the sign of a good film, is one that stresses audio as a storytelling tool as opposed to just background support. Here the sound helps bring presence, passion, and patience as motivating tools for the performers who are just thinking about the simple act of singing. Thinking about how much impact they have,  been though they are not the center of attention or the frontman/woman.

Watching this film feel makes me feel good about the music business. About how artists who wanted to get into the business saw the rigors and trappings, worked to get stardom but somehow it just quite didn’t come their way. They then went back to their first love, of just singing. Like they did when they were a kid, when they were in the church choir, when they were happy at the record label or part of the tour team not having to be anything for anyone but themselves.

Amy Winehouse was herself and tried to stay true to herself until the trappings of fame and fortune drove her to try to be everything that people wanted her to be. And it killed her. The soulful voiced, immensely talented writer put it all out their. For use to see, hear and enjoy. She did not hold back with her singing, the amazing voice she had at 14 but wanted to sing jazz with. The emotionally in touch writer who took her life and made it into songs. The twenty something who was looking for love her father never gave, in the arms of a trouble man who was always there for her when se needed to escape. Then taking it all an turning it into a fabulous career. Short-lived as it was.

The directing style of Amy made it emotional sad for me. The mostly told through home movies and only voice over made me feel like I was given access to a place no one could go. A place that Amy showed to her two close girlfriends and her pal who launched her career but could not/did not want to manage it.  He may have seen the writing on the wall of the alcohol abuse, the bulimia, the paparazzi, the record company pressure and the idol worship that drove her career and drove her mad. It was as if what she wanted and achieved, was almost too much for her. And she knew it and could not resist.

The sharing of lyrics is how Amy Winehouse showed the viewer what was inside her and how deep she was. The heartbreak of Darlene Love or Merry Clayton or Lisa Fischer showed us what was inside them and how in touch they were. Some on them having it all snatched away and having to work twice as hard to get it back. But they drove on well in into there 70’s to reap the awards. Alas, one who drove on and on as it all came almost to easily, but it came to a crashing halt to soon.

 

Musicians Long For Obscurity and Familiarity

Musicians love their craft. They love talking about how they music, why they make music and what music means to them as creating their voice on society and culture.  Documentaries like Buena Vista Social Club and It Might Get Loud take us inside the minds of musical artists who are filled with passion,  fear, wonder and realities of entering into the craft of music making and the obtuse paths that it sends them down.

The storytelling by the Directors of these two films takes a hands off approach, letting the artists tell their stories, show their talents, explain their misgivings, explore their feelings and show us who they are. This allows us as a viewer to get invested in what they are telling us and become mesmerized by the artists the same way the Directors are.

Wim Wenders lets Ry Coder take us on a journey of rediscovering the Cubano sounds he experienced 25 years earlier. He brought his son on this journey to record a sound and came away rebuilding careers, lives even. Wenders lets the Cuban stars lives play out of the screen, capturing the tears, dreams and standing ovations that rediscovered a genre and realigned the jazz scene in America.

 

Davis Guggenheim takes the viewer on a different journey by taking inside the minds of three of rock and rolls greatest, most versatile guitarists. The ultimate opportunity for every lover of music is to not just to sit down with musicians to talk, but to let the musicians talk to each other and by the fly on the wall. With the unique openness by the Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White, this happens extensively in looking at their craft, there maturation, their struggles and the successes. If you love playing the guitar, this film will enthrall you. And if you can’t play the guitar this film will make you want to learn.

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https://www.musicradar.com/tuition/guitars/how-to-play-guitar-like-the-edge-219547

In both of these documentaries, the Director is equally as important in the content delivery as is the artist. Compared to documentaries like Gimme Shelter, Woodstock or Rattle and Hum – the artists as humans are on display rather that the music scene. The artists ability and craftsmanship to make music is profiled, as much as that musics impact on society is.  When documenting peoples lives it does not matter what they do but the film will have true value if it shows who they are.

Music Videos R Us

 

Coming of age professionally in the 1980’s allowed me to utilize my high school love of film, college love of alternative radio and early career in video production to enter the music video world.  Be it films like Tommy, The Outsiders, Rock n Roll High School or Repo Man – they all used music video styles to create/enhance the story. And music video producers and directors were inspired by those films. Which inspired the long form music video/music documentary. For them and me.

The music video was indicative of 1980’s culture, art form, band/artist marketing and music industry. It felt like A&R guys/gals almost forgot that radio existed. It was all about the art of the music video; the creative, societal or political perspective of the band and the statement the director/band could make.  Sort of an esoteric documentary about the song and artist.

Then take the video production and filmmaking skill sets that matured during the 1980’s. We saw the combining of 16mm & 8mm film with Beta, SVHS and even PixelCam formats coming to bear on the product. The dutch angle frenzy, soft focus fracas, stylized editing, avant guard graphics, live/digital audio mixing were all crafts explored that allowed for the “behind the making of video” segments which became a new form of music documentaries – like Rattle & Hum and Decline of The Western Civilization.

The motivation of all these crafts, formats and films pushed me to work on and make music videos. The culmination was the producing of two projects for Shelter – a Hare Krishna hard core band, born out of the straight edge movement of the late 80’s early 90’s. The idea was to understand the mindset of the musician and why they use music to espouse their religious perspectives.

 

The art of the music documentary to me is to develop a story that communicates the values, personalities, ideals and idiosyncrasies of the musicians. It’s to capture the moment in society that impacts the artist or how the artist effects change in society. Alas, it’s about educating and entertaining the viewer on the music world.

My-my-my-My Generation, My Generation Baby!

I was born in 1964, the last of four children. Our youth culture in Wyckoff, NJ was some farmland based suburban community 45mins outside New York City. We were ready for anything. The oldest, was 9 years before me so he bought the mid & late 60’s music into the house: James Brown, Temptations, The Byrd’s, CSN, Janice, Joplin, Traffic, Fleetwood Mac, early Jimmy Buffett. My other brother 6 years older brought in the crossover of the Beatles, Jefferson Airplane to The Doors, from Hot Tuna to Led Zepplin. My sister 5 years older, brought in the full 70’s: from The Grateful Dead to Bowie,  The Who to Cheech & Chong.

The Hippies, Mod’s, Rockers and Glam kids were all present in my musical educaton. But this was all before MTV (born 8/1/81). I had Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert on late night TV, saw Soul Train on the weekend bringing Detroit/LA/Harlem into my living room,  then let Saturday Night Live tap into the future and push the envelope. These media experiences showed me how multi-cam coverage and quality sound can bring the artist to life. I saw how the background signers, backing bands, wardrobe and set design can compliment showing off the artists personalities.

I was the generation MTV was designed for. So much it inspired me to find a variety of roles allowing work on or design music videos for folks like Living Colour, Faith No Moore, Placid Domingo and dream gigs with Debbie Harry & A Tribe Called Quest for Red Hot & Blue. And produce them for Sweet Lizard Illtet and Shelter.  Here focus was not a requirement and editing had no structure. As long as the sound was top notch, all options were open.  It’s all about the music, maaaan.

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Storytelling At Its Finest

Growing up in suburban New Jersey I liked writing. Mostly sports writing, but also music reviews, profiles of unique rock n’ roll characters, the analyzing of cultural impact by TV shows and their quirky theme music. Shows like WKRP in Cincinnati, One Day At a Time The Rockford Files and of course Happy Days. The musical trends of the late 70’s and early ’80’s mirrored my upbringing.

After college, to make extra money while I explored and marketed my video skills, I got reacquainted with my love of DJ’ing honed during college. And the early ’90’s were exploding with alt rock, grunge, hip-hop, rap, dance hall reggae and techno. The understanding of musical artists and how they convinced young people to be reactive to government, technology, business and themselves was an art form.

Thus, the idea of an honest gritty story about a great musical artist’s seminal moment became something that I was forever in search of. My viewing of the rock documentary become a regular happening, and the discussion of them one of my pastimes.  Then in 2014, the media magazine of my generation, Rolling Stone, printed this list – https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/lists/40-greatest-rock-documentaries-20140815 – and FLM 3320 at NVU- Lyndon was born.
Understanding why Docs That Roc is even a topic, takes one simple sentence: What better to see a how a visual storyteller focused on the musical artists form of storytelling.  When you put these music and film creatives in proximity,  you never know what’s gonna comes out. The handpicked 11 films: Don’t Look Back (1967), Gimme Shelter (1969), Woodstock (1970), The Kids Are Alright (1979), Decline of Western Civilization I & II  (1981 & 1988), Rattle & Hum (1988), Buena Vista Social Club (1999), It Might Get (Loud 2008), Twenty Feet From Stardom (2013), Amy (2015) and Eight Days A Week (2016) can show how the craft, message and societal impact of music

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My Brand Of Freedom, Frustration & Finality.

My first car was a Volkswagen. A 1969 VW Fastback. It came on the heels of my bothers both having Beetles – cars that were fun to drive but did not seem “cool” to me. So the Fastback was bought, without a working clutch thus the affordability for a 16 year old.  So I learned how to repair VW’s too. That car was the enjoyment of my high school years and got me to sports games after school for my newspaper reporting gig. I had to sell it as college did not allow freshman to bring cars.

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My 1981 Rabbit after college was a serviceable car but a bit of clunker until after a year of a video shooting & editing  job in NYC, where I’d pass under the World Trade Center (that’s another story) gave me funds to buy a “new” used car not a VW. A mistake. I learned the meaning of reliability of that clunky old Rabbit and remember its drafty sun roof well.

A life partner, then marriage. A home then child came in Boston. A winter ready jeep seemed right but after it ran its course I was back to VW. And not to my own accord. The 2003 New Beetle was bought by my wife, as she was working on their “Drivers Wanted” Ad campaign, seemed to fit our life perfectly. The single child family of suburban living, with creative executive jobs that needed to be commuted to – our daughter drew in that car, threw up in that car, basically grew up in that car. We paired with a 2006 Jetta Wagon so we could go camping, golfing, vacationing and drive to the country, to a piece a land we dreamed to build on one day.

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The opportunity to build a house and move to the White Mountains of New Hampshire allowed us many options – hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing, snow shoeing and general merriment but a Beetle had become to small for our lives. A few years later a brand new jeep was nice but when wife’s new job travel called, a 2013 Diesel Golf responded. The new car bought during the move it ran its course and it was paired with a 2014 Diesel Passat sedan.

So all is good, right. No. Two words – Diesel Scandal. WTF! VW! – I was a committed, passionate brand evangelist. Then you tricked me into doing more harm than good. I was really saddened. I really liked that Passat. My wife was more pissed than I – see for yourself

Well your buyback program for one car afforded me a Mini Cooper on your dime. And when time for the other diesel to be sold back we went for a 2016 Golf because the deal was too good to pass up. Two cars – no car payments, thanks VW!  But while the anger slowly goes away I think of these VW’s and its brand that made an impact on my life. I think of the few other V-dubs who were used/repaired/sold and did not make the cut for this story. I think of the VW schwag my daughter grew up with. The VW agency pals of my wife’s who became friends. The VW ads I awed, mocked and eventually taught with.  I think of all the mile and memories we’ve had with Volkswagen. A brand that greatly impacted me – sure. Yeah, I guess the folks in Wolfsburg ain’t that bad.

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Welcome to Vermont Veterans

Thank you for your service. I had a friend in the Green Zone two years ago for a year. And a friend in Kandahar during Desert Storm.

Vermont Vets

This site is dedicated to news and opinion pieces for and about Veterans in the Vermont Army National Guard.

My name is Jessie Hazen. I am a 3x Veteran of the Iraq war. After my service in the active duty and reserves, I’ve settled down and have spent the last 6 years with the Vermont National Guard. I have a wife, an 11 year old step son and a 3 year old daughter. We have 3 cats, a German shepherd and I have a fish breeding hobby. I was born and raised here in Lyndonville, and other than my 5 years of active duty time, have lived here the whole time. My desire to post specifically for Vets of Vermont is to keep my buddies informed of what’s going on around the state, and the global sphere. Hopefully this site can be used by vets to gain information they otherwise…

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HOW TO LIVE AN EXCEPTIONAL LIFE: 10 TIPS FROM RICK RUBIN

I had the pleasure of reading an interview with Rick Rubin and his insight into the creative process blew me away,  You might not know his name but you definitely know his music.  MTV has called him the most important music producer of the last 20 years. He’s produced everyone from Adele to ZZ Top and he’s worked in all genres. He produced Johnny Cash’s last album, where he covered Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” you must check it out.

Rick shared some of the lessons that he’s learned along the way which can be applied to all areas of your life:

1. Only Compete Against Yourself: If you set out to only write songs that are better than The Beatles, it’s gonna be a hard road. But if you only try to write a song that’s better than the one you wrote yesterday, that’s much more realistic. If you do that everyday, you’ll get better. Take small steps.

2. Study The Greats: Competition is only good if you’re looking at the big picture. Don’t try to write a song better than the current hit on the radio. Submerge yourself in the great works from all time and try to learn from them. You can get inspiration from all different kinds of media not just your own. Watch great movies, listen to the best albums of all time, read the classics.

3. Be Extreme: People like extreme things, so don’t water it down. The best art divides the audience: Half love it and half hate it. If everyone says, “That’s pretty good,” why bother making it?!

4. Be Coachable: Rick lost over 100 pounds and part of the reason for Rick’s success is that he made a commitment to do whatever his doctors and trainers told him, no matter how ridiculous. Wake up in the morning and go outside for 20 minutes to soak up the sun. OK. Abandon your vegan diet for a high protein animal based diet. OK.

5. Anything Is Possible If You Break It Down Into Small Steps: Don’t expect to be great at something right away. You’re going to fall down a lot in the beginning. If you can break complicated projects into small, digestible pieces then you can tackle anything.

6. Have A Mentor: Rick mentioned having lunch with his mentor, Mo Ostin, who told him he was getting fat and he was concerned for his health. Having a support system with people you respect and aspire to be like is important to personal growth.

7. Don’t Think Too Much: Creativity is more emotion and heart work than head work. The head work is later for organizing.

8. Hang With The Winners: Rick mentioned hanging with big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, NBA player Jokim Noah, and the magician David Blaine. These guys may not have much in common other than being exceptional at what they do. If you want to be great, you need to hang with the winners

9. Don’t Beat Yourself Up: You can’t expect to be great out of the box, yet a lot of us put unrealistic expectations on ourselves and get down on ourselves when we fail to meet them. .

10. Define Your Success: Rick defined it as being great at what you do, being passionate, and truly enjoying life. He said he knows a lot of people who are successful in business and entertainment and have a lot of money but are miserable. They’re not successful in his eyes. A guy like Don Wildman.