The news just came that Rock & Roll pioneer, legend, Velvet Underground front man and all around rebel Lou Reed has passed away today. Undoubtedly, there will be tons of tributes to a man that became an icon in the eyes of many fans for much of what he did for an to rock music throughout his life and career. I admit that I still am learning a lot about rock and some of it’s biggest figures, including Reed. One of the things that has always intrigued me about him is how he seemed to intentionally take the road less traveled throughout his career, from fronting a band that the basic antithesis of the Flower child generation in the late 60′s and early 70′s in The Velvet Underground, to all of his tongue-in-cheek, sometimes questionable and mysterious issues with sexuality that he touched on in his music, to releasing some of the most divisive pieces of music in history, from Transformer to Metal Machine Music. Even more interesting to me was how he was tapped earlier this year to review Kanye West’s album Yeezus, and the praise that he bestowed upon it. Here’s a piece of music by Reed that can be found on the Internet and will probably have at least 2 million views by tomorrow morning, but is still pretty amazing.
It’s kind of unbelievable that the debut album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers turned 29 years old this year, but it just goes to show that good music is timeless. This song, though not on the debut, has always been one of their most popular and one of my favorite tunes from the group. They always had a knack and a mastery of combining funk and rock into a beautiful hybrid, and “Under the Bridge” demonstrates that beautifully and possibly more than any other song in their catalog.
I was introduced to this song during my time in Austin at SXSW this year. No, I hadn’t been living under a rock for the last year and a half, and I had known about Foster the people and all of their success with “Pumped Up Kicks”, but I had personally not been privy to do more research on them as a group. Then, while staying with a friend from undergrad that is currently living just outside of Austin and he played it for me. Essentially, it’s a happy song. Very upbeat, and something that someone can listen to when they’re feeling down in the dumps to lift spirits. One of the strengths of Foster The People’s music is that in does well to incorporate different feels and attitudes: at it’s foundation, a song like “Call It What You Want” is pop and radio friendly, but there are also lots of soul and R&B elements, as well as the endearing piano keys, the cuts and scratches to help open the number and call-and-response chorus that stays stuck in your mind to the point where you start repeating it to yourself over and over and over. It’s lighthearted, it’s energetic, it’s music from musicians that know not to take themselves too seriously.
For the first installment of a curiously-titled but what I hope turns out to be informative segment that I’m starting for this blog, I’m highlighting this song that I’ve literally been trying to dig up for YEARS! I first heard the song while working as a cashier at an Old Navy Outlet clothing store in Ferndale, MI while in college. It was a song played during both the slower summer months as well as the busier holiday season, and throughout my day at the store I remember swaying back and forth to it, hoping that the hours would zoom by a little bit faster. And for one reason or another, the melody and the hook stayed lodged in my subconscious for a long time, yet I could never remember the name of the song, or who the artist was. And lo and behold, earlier this week, it randomly came on the radio at a local indie station. Fumbling and fidgeting around with my phone desparately trying to Shazam it, I triumphed, and here we are! I’m not totally sure of why I’ve always like this song and why it stayed with me for so long. Could it be the nostalgic, sentimental feel of missing the Winter season in the Midwest (everything except for the snow)? Could it be the gentle strum of the guitars? Could it be the airy, lighthearted breeze of the lyrics that make you think they’re gazing endlessly out a window as snowflakes descend one by one to the frozen ground, blanketing and enveloping entire neighborhoods in Winter’s majesty? Or maybe it just makes me think back to the days of struggling through undergrad and trying to keep a part time job. In any case, it’s a great song by Fountains of Wayne and an awesome way to kick off a new part of a growing music blog. Take a listen and be taken away!