Pieces of Vinyl vs. Digital Music – Which is Better?

Vinyl Records

Pieces of Vinyl vs. Digital Music – Which is Better?

I entered the record store and was immediately bombarded by the sound of Joe Walsh performing live and the faint aroma of mold, mildew, and dust.  I exchanged greetings with the owner behind the counter and then made a beeline to the first row of vinyl records.

At the head of the row resided several dozen vinyl records that just recently entered the establishment’s inventory.  I began to flip through them looking for classic releases and hidden gems.

The Rolling Stones… Exile on Main St.  Gotta have that.

Simple Minds… Once Upon A Time.  Need it.

The Blues Brothers… Briefcase Full of Blues.  Can’t pass that up.

Then I came across this high fidelity album called Do The Hula.  It actually contains a multi-page insert that teaches one how to do Hawaii’s unofficial dance step.  Finally, I came across a record of Sammy Davis, Jr. singing Mel Torme’s California Suite.  It’s a definite must have.

Later that night, I turned the lights down low and procured a cold beverage.  I sat back in my comfiest chair and enjoyed my new vinyl records.  It was musical nirvana.

So I guess I’ve answered the age old question—well, a question that’s at least a decade old—what’s better: vinyl records (a.k.a.pieces of vinyl – thanks baba-booey!) or digital music.

Actually the answer to that query is digital music.  There’s no way around it.  Digital music is ubiquitous, utilitarian, and user-friendly.

Most people already have a computer, laptop, and/or smartphone capable of playing digital music player.  Digital music is cheap, and let’s not be naïve, it can even be free.  Even better, digital music takes up no space and can be played indefinitely.

Depending on how deep you want to get into digital music you can use it for working out, entertaining at parties, and while you’re driving around town.

Digital music wins the head-to-head battle but that doesn’t mean it’s the only champion in the equation.  The true story that began this article could not have happened with digital music.  Vinyl records lend themselves to excitement.

Nothing beats the experience of flipping through a stack of records and finding a piece of vinyl that strikes your fancy.  And nothing beats putting that vinyl record on your turntable and setting the needle on the groove.

There are pops, hisses, and crackles, but those noises don’t distract from the experience they add to it.  They’re charming.  The fact that you have to flip the record over is endearing not an inconvenience.

Then there’s the album cover.  The album is the perfect canvas for a piece of art.  Digital music has no cover, no linear notes, and no inner sleeves.  What do you read while listening to a digital piece of music?  What do you look at?  How do you know who produced the album or who played bass on the opening track?

My Love affair with vinyl records isn’t coming from nowhere.  According to Nielsen SoundScan, the sales of vinyl records went from 4.5 million in 2012 to 6 million in 2013.

We are in the middle of a vinyl renaissance.  And why not?  Like I’ve extolled, vinyl records offer a great experience and are a whole lot of fun to listen to.  The format also favors artists who are talented and creative enough to fill both sides of a vinyl record with quality songs.  Digital music is tailor made for one-hit wonders.

The vinyl records Nielsen counted are obviously new releases, or relatively new releases.  The real fun comes when you find that quaint, little record store on some sleepy downtown corner.  Inside are must-own platters from the last half of the twenty century; the more eclectic the better.

You don’t need to subscribe to digital music news to realize digital music is a workhouse and vinyl records are a show pony.  Digital music is the dependable car that takes you to work every day.  Vinyl records are the hot rod you drive on dates.  Digital music is the familiar restaurant where you go for lunch every day.  Vinyl records are the restaurant you frequent every once-in-a-while, you know the type, the one where they set your food on fire.

You need digital music.  You should want vinyl records.

Some audiophiles swear that vinyl records produce a better quality of sound than digital music.  I’ve never had the system or the ears to hear if that’s true.  It really doesn’t matter.  The joy of vinyl records isn’t really the sound quality but the experience.

Vinyl Records & Digital Music Milestones

>>Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877.

>>Twelve-inch records were introduced in 1903.

>>In 1948, Columbia Records developed and marketed the 33 RPM LP.

>>In February of 1949, RCA Victor released the first 45 rpm single.

>>A Japanese-based company sells a turntable that uses a laser to read vinyl discs.

>>On July 7, 1994, the Fraunhofer Society released the first MP3 encoder called l3enc

>>Karlheinz Brandenburg used a recording of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” to refine the MP3 compression algorithm.

>>Winamp was released in 1997 and was quickly downloaded 3 million times.

>>In 1999, the first large peer-to-peer file sharing network was launched.  It was called Napster.

>>iTunes was released on January 9, 2001.

Ten Or Twelve Of The Greatest Stand-Up Comedy Movies Of All-Time

RichardPryorTen Or Twelve Of The Greatest Stand-Up Comedy Movies Of All-Time

Gabriel Iglesias is one of the funniest and most likable stand-ups working in comedy today.  He sells out shows all over the world and his DVDs always threaten the million-units-sold plateau.  That’s why it’s a surprise to learn that his concert film, The Fluffy Movie, opened with a $1.3 million weekend.  As of Sept. 1, the genial funny man’s live performance flick has earned a total of $2.8 million at the old box office.

I think Guardians of The Galaxy earned more than that in its first 17 minutes of release.

The Fluffy Movie was filmed during two Gabriel Iglesias tour stops—one on Feb. 28 and another on March 1.  The movie was directed by Manny Rodriguez and it dropped July 25.  The project was filmed and released in less than five months.

Don’t feel bad for Iglesias or his release.  Despite the seemingly underwhelming returns, The Fluffy Movie is the tenth highest grossing comedy film of all-time (if time started in 1982).  By the way, the list was compiled by the Web site Box Office Mojo.

If you think about it, this is not only one of the smallest cinematic genres of all-time but it’s also on life support—only two of the two dozen films are from this decade.  Not only have YouTube and Netflix killed the stand-up comedy concert film but so has the price of movies tickets. 

If I’m going to take out a mortgage to go to the Cineplex, the movie better have at least three dimensions and enough explosions to permanently damage my hearing.  I’m not the only one who thinks like this.  Combined, the 24 films on BOM’s list earned less than $232 million. 

Eddie Murphy Raw (1987)
The highest grossing stand-up comedy concert film of all-time is Eddie Murphy Raw.  It made more than $50 million.  At the time, and until 1990, Raw held the record for the most utterances of the f-word.  That iniquitous curse was spoken 223 times.  Now, the movie isn’t even in the top 30.

The Original Kings of Comedy (2000)
The Original Kings of Comedy was directed by Spike Lee and contained sets from Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac.  The film was a huge success making more than $11 million in its opening weekend.  It also inspired a bunch of similar enterprises like The Original Latin Kings of Comedy, The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, The Queens of Comedy, and The Comedians of Comedy. 

Anecdotally, The Comedians of Comedy (starring Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Brian Posehn, and Maria Bamford) was released on Nov. 11, 2005.  It was shown in two theatres and grossed $354 in its opening weekend and $549 overall. 

Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982)
Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip was the most lucrative concert film of the legendary comedian’s career.  That’s saying something because his 1983 concert film, Richard Pryor: Here and Now, is sixth on the list with $16 million.  Remember, Pryor invented this genre in 1979.  His Richard Pryor: Live in Concert is the first movie ever released that was devoted to one guy doing nothing but telling jokes on a stage.  In Live on the Sunset Strip, Pryor discusses the infamous incident when he was freebasing cocaine and lit himself on fire.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (2013)
Let’s look at the numbers.  Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain grossed $32 million at the box office and cost $2.5 million to make.  His traditional film, Ride Along (2014), grossed $153 million and had a budget of $25 million.  I wonder what kind of movie Hart will make next?  The diminutive comic’s 2011 stand-up film, Laugh at My Pain, comes in at number eight (thanks to $7.7 million in gate receipts).  Let Me Explain was filmed at Madison Square Garden while Laugh at My Pain was recorded at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. 

Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat (2002)
Martin Lawrence has two stand-up concert films in the top ten: Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat is fifth with $19 million and 1994’s You So Crazy is seventh with $10 million.  Runteldat was filmed at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington D.C the same venue where Eddie Murphy shot his television special Delirious.  You So Crazy was originally rated NC-17. It was then sold to another studio who released it as “unrated.”

Divine Madness (1980)
I’ve mentioned directly, or indirectly, nine of the top ten stand-up comedy concert films of all-time.  The only film I have yet to enumerate is number nine, Divine Madness.  Yes, the one with Bette Midler.  Although the 94-minute film has the Divine Miss M singing 16 songs it also has her performing several stand-up comedy routines.  Apparently, that qualifies it as a stand-up comedy film.  The $5.3 million it earned at the box office qualifies it for ninth place.

Comedian (2002)
If you reject Divine Madness then The Fluffy Movie moves to number nine and Comedian, starring Jerry Seinfeld, slides to number ten.  You can argue that Comedian should be disqualified from consideration because it’s more of a documentary than a performance concert.  If that’s the case then our new number ten is Eddie Griffin’s DysFunKtional Family (2003), which grossed $2.25 million.

Gabriel Iglesias
For the sake of argument let’s not count Divine Madness or Comedian.  If we do then all ten of the top grossing stand-up comedy concert films star minorities.  All but one, Iglesias’ The Fluffy Movie, star African-American comedians.   

Also, of all the comedians in the top ten (or 12 if you include Midler and Seinfeld) only Iglesias and Hart are in their 30s.  In fact, everyone but Eddie Griffin (46) and Martin Lawrence (49) are in their 50s.  While many on the list still perform stand-up, all most all are working in film or television.  The only member of the top ten (twelve) that’s primarily a stand-up comedian is Gabriel Iglesias.

Garth Brooks To End Long Retirement With Tour And Album

GarthBrooksconcertGarth Brooks To End Long Retirement With Tour And Album

He’s back!

Garth Brooks is returning to the music industry with a world tour and a brand new studio album.  Both are firsts for the country music superstar since he retired in 2000.

His new tour begins Sept. 4 with a Garth Brooks concert in Rosemont (Chicago).  He has ten shows planned for the Windy City.  After that, Garth Brooks will be in Atlanta.

No word on when his new album will be released, but it’s been confirmed that he’s working on it.  When it does drop, it will be Brooks’ first new collection of songs since 2001’s Scarecrow.

Brooks officially announced his retirement on Oct. 26, 2000.  Yet, the following year he released a studio album and made a few promotional appearances.  That’s why you might see one Web site use “2001” and another use “2000” as the commencement date of his employment hiatus.  For the purposes of this article this Web site is using the 2000 date.

For the most part, Brooks has been relatively dormant during his retirement.  He released a couple of greatest hits collection, signed a deal with Walmart, and launched a four-year residency show in Las Vegas.  He certainly hasn’t been working on GarthBrooks.com.

You can argue whether or not he’s actually been retired but since the release of Scarecrow in 2001, Brooks hasn’t toured or recorded a new studio album.  Touring and recording is what singers do.  That’s why you can say, without fear of incrimination, that Brooks has been retired for nearly fourteen years.

Brooks’ break from making music is unprecedented.  Singers have stepped away from recording and touring for a few years but nothing close to nearly a decade and a half.

Below, Musicology-101 looks at the longest gap between albums for some of the biggest names in popular music.  What the following list doesn’t reveal is that all the singers released their first album long before Brooks’ debut.  Many of the acts on the rundown are from the decade of the sixties and their gaps occurred when they were in their sixties.

Longest Gap Between Albums
>>George Strait… 2 years
>>Madonna… 4 years (went seven years without touring)
>>Neil Diamond… 4 Years
>>Bob Dylan… 5 years
>>Elvis Presley… 5 years (but released several soundtrack albums during that time)
>>Paul McCartney… 5 years
>>Michael Jackson… 6 years (died without having released an album for 8 years)
>>Bruce Springsteen… 7 years
>>Elton John… 7 years
>>Billy Joel… 4 years (although he hasn’t released a rock album since 1993)

Just how long has Garth been on the sidelines?  He announced his retirement in October of 2000 and in January of 2001, iTunes was released.  Basically, Garth’s retirement from the music industry is older than the digital music industry.  He left when people were still buying albums and returns when they’re downloading songs from the internet.

To put the length of Brooks’ respite from touring and recording in perspective, Musicology-101 has put together a list of what was happening in the careers of today’s major recording artists.  As you’ll soon see, some of today’s biggest stars were barely old enough to pick up a guitar when Garth Brooks called a career timeout.

When Garth Brooks retired…
… Justin Bieber was 6…
… Harry Styles (of One Direction) was 6…
… Liam Payne (of One Direction) was 7…
… Louis Tomlinson (of One Direction) was 8…
… Niall Horan (of One Direction) was 7…
… Zayn Malik (of One Direction) was 7…
… Hunter Hayes was 9…
… Taylor Swift was 10…
… Miranda Lambert was 16…
… Jason Aldean was 23 and in between recording contracts…
… Florida Georgia Line was still a dozen years away from releasing “Cruise…”
… Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, and The Band Perry had yet to form…
… Vince Gill had only won 13 of his eventual 20 Grammy Awards…
… Brad Paisley was celebrating the release of his debut album…
… Keith Urban had just released his first solo album in the United States…
… Reba McEntire had yet to star in her own sitcom…
… Rascal Flatts had just one platinum album to their name (they now have seven)…
… Blake Shelton had yet to sign a record deal…
… Toby Keith owned exactly zero “I Love This Bar and Grills.”

Eight Of The Worst Names For Popular Musicians

Elvis Costello

Eight Of The Worst Names For Popular Musicians

John Lennon.  Mick Jagger.  Eddie Van Halen.  Dave Matthews.  Harry Styles.  If your parents gave you a name like that you had no choice but to join a rock band (in Harry Styles case a boy band).  The above names are strong and memorable.  They are easy to pronounce but hard to forget.  They are perfect names for popular musicians.

However, not all popular musicians are as lucky as Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Page.  Some were given names that are better suited to owning a comic book store then blowing the roof off of Madison Square Garden.  Below, Musicology-101 looks at eight of the worst names for popular musicians.  Some of these dorky appellations were dropped for sturdier sounding nom de plumes while some were actually kept (we admire their courage and loyalty).

Now, just because a name is on our list doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the artist or their music.  In fact, we here at Musicology-101 are big fans of all of the following artists.  All we’re saying is these eight names sound more like geeks into cosplay than musicians who play at Coachella.

Brantley Gilbert
The “Bottoms Up” singer is the epitome of cool.  All you need to do is check out Brantley Gilbert’s Web site to know he’s virile, rugged, and flawed (just enough to where you think you can fix him).  If anyone can turn “Gilbert” around it’s Brantley but there’s a lot of nerd in that sobriquet.   As names go, “Gilbert” immediately conjures up images of pocket protectors, Magic the Gathering, and Dr. Who.  It’s hard to believe that Brantley Gilbert’s Facebook page has three million likes.   You’d think with a name like “Brantley Gilbert” his only Facebook friends would be his mom and favorite hobby shop.

Maybe Brantley Gilbert can continue rehabilitating his dorky sounding name this summer during his “Let It Ride Tour.”  His trek begins Sept. 19 in Austin, Texas and ends Dec. 6 in Pikeville, Kentucky.  Highlights of his outing include Brantley Gilbert performing in Worchester on Sept. 27, Raleigh on Oct. 30, and Anaheim on Nov. 22.  Gilbert will be joined by Aaron Lewis or Tyler Farr (depending on the date)—now, those singers have cool names.

Chaim Witz
The Demon’s real name is “Chaim Witz.”  Then he changed it to “Eugene Klein,” followed by “Gene Klein,” and finally “Gene Simmons.”  “Chaim Witz” is not an awful name.  One could go through life as “Chaim Witz” and be happy and productive.  One cannot go through life as “Chaim Witz” and sing rock songs while wearing platform shoes, stage makeup, and leather pants.  “Chaim Witz” is the name of a computer programmer or a deli owner.  It can’t be the name of one of the founding members of KISS.

Declan MacManus
“Elvis Costello” is one of the most contrived sounding names in rock history.  That’s okay because E.C. is responsible for such great albums as This Year’s Model, Armed Forces, and Get Happy!!  He adopted the stage name in part to honor his father (who performed under the name “Day Costello”) and part because his real name is Declan MacManus.  That isn’t the worst name but it certainly doesn’t work if you’re one of the greatest songwriters of your generation.  He could have kept Declan MacManus had he been a drunk, Irish novelist or the assembly group leader of Sinn Féin.

Donavon Frankenreiter
If you think Donavon Frankenreiter is an odd name for a rock and roller just think how weird it sounds for a surfer.  Before becoming a successful recording artist, Frankenreiter was a professional surfer.  We doubt they did a lot of hanging ten in the Motherland.  If things weren’t bad enough for herr Frankenreiter, one of his closest friends is the Jack Johnson, a musician with a great name.

Lemmy Kilmister
Now that we’ve placed Lemmy Kilmister on a list of the worst names for popular musicians we’ve decided to enter the witness protection program.  Anyone named “Lemmy Kilmister” must own an embarrassing amount of anime.  They can’t front a hard rock band named Motorhead.  Of course, the real Lemmy Kilmister is the exact opposite of an anime-watching nerd.   He claims to have slept with more than one thousand women (a thousand more than most nerds), he used to drink a bottle of Jack Daniels a day (many nerds can’t even stand the taste of beer), and he collects German military regalia (as compared to Star Trek memorabilia).  Kilmister might be the guy who shoves nerds into lockers, but he has an awful name for a rock star.

Reginald Dwight
“Reginald” is okay.  So is “Dwight.”  But, if you put them together you have the perfect name for a twit.  “Reginald Dwight” is the guy who tells your boss all the bad things you said about him during lunch or points out a stain on your tie when you’re talking to a pretty girl.  It’s easy to understand why Reginald Dwight pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose one last time and changed his name to “Elton John.”   Selling 300 million albums is a good indication that the nomenclature switch worked.

Robert Zimmerman
“Robert Zimmerman” isn’t too bad but it’s no “Bob Dylan.”  Think about it.  Statements like “Dylan has gone electric” and “I’m seeing Dylan tonight at the Fillmore” just roll off the tongue.  Meanwhile, “Robert Zimmerman” an insurance salesman.  “Hello, I’m Robert Zimmerman.  Can I talk to you about your policy?”  It’s a god thing Zimmerman altered his designation.  “Bob Dylan” sounds like one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.  “Robert Zimmerman” sounds like the Twin Ports insurance salesman of the year.

Rufus Wainwright
In 2009, Rufus Wainwright wrote an opera.   You can get by writing operas with a name like “Rufus,” but making pop albums is a little bit harder.  Still, Wainwright has managed to make more than half dozen of them.  “Rufus Wainwright” is the name of the wealthy trust fund baby in every movie that has a wealthy trust fund baby.  High affluent names run in the family, Rufus’ father is folk singer Loudon Wainwright III.  You can’t help but say both names like your Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island.

Five Moody Blues Songs You Must Have In Your Music Library

Five Moody Blues Songs You Must Have In Your Music Library

Moody Blues

On Aug. 1, The Moody Blues will launch their “2014 Timeless Flight Summer Tour.”  The trek keeps them on the road through Sept. 5.

Fans of the band are already showing their excitement on The Moody Blues’ Facebook page and other similar sites.  As sad as it sounds, this may be the last time they tour.  The three remaining Moody Blues members are a combined 208 years old.

For those who have never heard of The Moody Blues, or their music, please excuse us for saying so, but what is wrong with you?  They are one of the great bands to come out of the 1960s.  Furthermore, The Moody Blues of today are not a nostalgic act.  They don’t whisk hippies back to a woebegone era; they take fans of all ages on a musical journey.

Now, to really appreciate The Moody Blues you need to listen to their music on vinyl, via large speakers, while sitting on beanbags, under a black light, with maybe some “other stuff” there too.  That’s a huge commitment to make for a band you’ve never heard before. 

Instead, Musicology-101 has compiled a list of five Moody Blues songs you must have in your music collection.  These five songs are a great introduction to their catalog as well as proof that they’re not your traditional old fogey band.  After all, you’d probably love these songs if you thought they were originally crafted by Wilco or The National or Phoenix or Passion Pit or…

“Tuesday Afternoon”
What good ever happens on a Tuesday afternoon?  It might be the dullest part of the week, but it’s definitely not a boring Moody Blues song.  The album version, from the Days of Future Passed, clocks in at 8:21.  The single version, released in January of 1968, is only 2:16.  Get the longer album version.  It’s a baroque pop masterpiece. 

Moody Blues’ lead singer, Justin Hayward, wrote this song on his guitar while sitting in a field on a sunny afternoon.  He claims the tune just came to him.  The orchestra part of “Tuesday Afternoon” is performed by the London Festival Orchestra and arranged by Peter Knight.

“Nights In White Satin”
“Nights In White Satin” is probably the Moody Blues’ most famous song.  Like “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Nights In White Satin” comes in multiple varieties.  There are two singles versions and another one from the album.  Once again, download the track that appears on the album (Days of Future Passed).  It’s 7:38 but contains all the great orchestra parts and the poem (“Late Lament”).

The song was written by Hayward when he was 19 after a girlfriend gave him a gift of satin sheets.  Graeme Edge composed the poem and it’s spoken by keyboardist Mike Pinder.  Graeme is still a part of The Moody Blues and their concert tours, Pinder is not. 

The string parts during the main body of the song are not from an orchestra but from Pinder’s keyboards.  The string sound he produces is known as the “Moody Blues sound.”  The symphonic part in the second half of the song was performed by The London Festival Orchestra.

“The Story In Your Eyes”
The Moody Blues released “The Story In Your Eyes” in 1971.  It’s found on the studio album Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.  This is an upbeat tune with a pronounced guitar riff.  Still, the song employs that famous Moody Blues sound.  In fact, it’s the last Moody Blues single to use a Mellotron. 

Of all the songs on this list, “The Story In Your Eyes” sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.  In fact, Fountains of Wayne covered the song in 2010.  It was written by Justin Hayward.

“Ride My See-Saw”
“Ride My See-Saw” was the first U.K. rock single to be made on an 8-track tape multi-track recording machine.  The song, from the album In Search for the Lost Chord, was written by John Lodge.  It was released in 1968. 

Often, you’ll hear this song coupled with the track “Departure,” a short spoken-word/soundscape. “Departure” begins the album and leads right into “Ride My See-Saw.”  A hardy laugh overlaps the end of one and the beginning of the next.

“Ride My See-Saw,” with its thick vocal track, sounds a little dated, but it’s so unique and innovated we had to include it.  They don’t write songs like this anymore.  The Moody Blues often end their live shows with “Ride My See-Saw.”

“Lovely To See You”
“Lovely To See You” is the only song on our list that was not released as a single.  Don’t worry, you can still download it from iTunes.  The track is from the 1969 album On The Threshold of a Dream and is widely considered the LP’s most popular song.  It too was written by Justin Hayward.

“Lovely To See You” is a fast-paced, feel-good tune that will get stuck in your head (in a good way).  It’s also one of the group’s most straight-forward songs.  By that we mean it doesn’t need a 50-peice orchestra.  The band uses this song to kick off most Moody Blues concerts.  You need it to kick off your Moody Blues music collection.

Brief History Of Popular Music And Food

Zac Brown Band

Brief History Of Popular Music And Food

Before most Zac Brown Band concerts you can meet the band and enjoy some fantastic food.  The events are called “Eat and Greets” and they are opened to members of the ZBB fan club, affectionately known as the “Zamily.”

Regardless if Zac Brown Band is in Boston or Eugene, Oregon, you won’t find any rubber chicken at an “Eat and Greet.”  Chuck Yarborough from The Plain Dealer attended an “Eat and Greet” prior to Zac Brown Band’s concert at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.  He raved about the grub. Yarborough said they had the best coleslaw he had ever tasted, and when it came to dessert (chard flavored with pistachio, balsamic vinegar, chickpeas) he didn’t know whether to eat it or rub it over his body.

An “Eat and Greet” is not the only time Zac Brown Band involves itself with food.  Since 2011, the band has hosted the Southern Ground Music & Food Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.  The fourth edition of the three-day event kicks off Oct. 11.  The festival is both a feast for the ears and the taste buds.  Attendees get to enjoy great music (ZBB headlines each night) as well as delicious chow.

Popular music and food have a long history together.  If you think about it, music and food satiate two of our three biggest appetites (if you know what I mean).  Below, Musicology-101 takes a brief look at some of the most significant examples of when food and music crossed paths.

“Shake, Rattle and Roll”
“Shake, Rattle and Roll” was recorded by Big Joe Turner and Bill Haley & His Comets in 1954.  Turner’s version is a classic blues number while Haley’s rendition is one of the earliest and most successful rock and roll songs.  The lyrics to “Shake, Rattle and Roll” are as dirty and misogynistic as anything you’ll find in today’s musical clime.  That includes the line “I’m like the one-eyed cat peeping in a seafood store/Well I can look at you tell you ain’t no child no more.”  Interestingly, Haley was blind in one eye.

“MacArthur Park”
“MacArthur Park” is a very successful song.  Richard Harris had a number two hit with it in 1968.  Then, a decade later, Donna Summer took the ditty all the way to number one.  Yet, Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” is widely considered one of the worst songs ever recorded.  It’s pretentious as a cucumber finger sandwich and contains some of the worst lyrics ever put down on paper.  That includes the famous line “Someone left the cake out in the rain.”  During the recording of the song, Harris sang “MacArthur’s Park” instead of “MacArthur Park.”  Webb, who produced the recording, tried to correct the bombastic actor but eventually gave up after Harris failed to correct his pronunciation.

“Savoy Truffle”
“Savory Truffle” appears on The Beatles’ White Album (1968).  It was written by George Harrison about Eric Clapton’s legendary sweet tooth.  A lot of the lyrics came from a box of Mackintosh’s Good News chocolates: “Creme tangerine and montelimat/A ginger sling with a pineapple heart.”  Apparently all of the desserts Harrison mentions re real except for cherry cream and coconut fudge.

“The Lemon Song”
Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song” (1969) evolved out of the band performing Howlin’ Wolf’s “The Killing Floor” in concert.  Today, “The Lemon Song” gives Chester Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf’s his real name) a songwriting credit.  In “The Lemon Song” you’ll find a line that can be traced all the way back to the 1930s.  This line is just as dirty as the one previously cited from “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”  That line is: “Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg/The way you squeeze my lemon, I’m gonna fall right out of bed.”   

"Cheeseburger in Paradise"
Jimmy Buffett took a boat trip where he had to subsist on canned food and peanut butter.  With his stomach growling he dreamed of eating a juicy cheeseburger.  When he arrived at his destination, Road Town in the British Virgin Islands, he was amazed to find a restaurant serving American hamburgers.  That story is the inspiration behind "Cheeseburger in Paradise" (1978), one of Buffett’s most popular songs and a staple during his live show.  Historically, there’s been some confusion as to whether or not Buffett croons “in paradise” or “is paradise.”  There’s evidence that he sings both.

"Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic has made a living combining popular music and food in hilarious song parodies.  His most famous is 1984’s “Eat It,” a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”  Other Yankovic songs involving food include "Addicted to Spuds," “Fat," "Girls Just Want To Have Lunch," "I Love Rocky Road," "Livin’ in the Fridge," "Spam," "Taco Grande,” and "Waffle King."

“Ice Cream”
In the earlier 1990s, Sarah McLachlan sang: “Your love is better than ice cream/better than anything else that I’ve tried.”  Wow, that’s high praise.  She continues: “Your love is better than chocolate/better than anything else that I’ve tried.”  That’s even higher praise.  I’d settle for my love being better than spray cheese or peanut butter M&M’s.  “Ice Cream” was not released as a single but it’s found on S-Mac’s breakthrough opus Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993).  Still, the song is very popular. 

Paul McCartney And His Greatest Achievements By Decades

McCartney Paul McCartney And His Greatest Achievements By Decades

The 2014 U.S. leg of Paul McCartney’s “Out There Tour” begins June 14 in Lubbock, Texas, which just so happens to be the hometown of Buddy Holly.  McCartney’s string of dates ends Aug. 7 in Salt Lake City.  His itinerary includes several cities Sir Paul has never performed in before including Lubbock, Louisville, Albany, Fargo, and Lincoln.

Macca has been in the music business for over 50 years and has accomplished just about everything one guy can do with a song.  Below, we look at the biggest McCartney moments from each decade.  Musicology-101 begins with the 1970s and ends with the 2010s.  We skipped the 1960s since we all know what he did during that decade. 

1970s

In the 1970s, McCartney was responsible for seven Platinum albums, four number one albums, and six number one singles.  He formed the successful band Wings, launched one massive tour after another, and released “Mull of Kintyre,” the first single to sell more than two million copies in the U.K.  Out of all that, we picked “Live and Let Die” as the quintessential McCartney moment of the 1970s.  We picked it not so much because the single peaked at number two or because it was nominated for an Academy Award.  We picked “Live and Let Die” because it’s the epitome of a James Bond song.  Leave it to the greatest songwriter of all-time to write the greatest Bond theme ever.

1980s

Music tastes changed in 1980s.  This made it a tough decade for many classic rockers.  They needed a few years to reinvent themselves in the Brave New World of synthesizers, drum machines, and rap, but not Paul McCartney.  He began the decade by releasing the classic album, McCartney II.  Later in the decade, he played Live Aid (McCartney has always been into causes), recorded “Ebony and Ivory” with Stevie Wonder, and launched his first world tour in over a decade.  What’s often lost about McCartney’s musical contributions in the 1980s is his appearance on a little album called Thriller.  McCartney and Michael Jackson recorded “The Girl is Mine” in April of 1982.  It was released as the album’s first single the following October.  Singing on “The Girl is Mine” means McCartney played a part in two of the greatest albums ever made, Thriller and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).

1990s

In the 1990s, McCartney launched forays into classical and electronic music.  This decade was also wrought with tragedy.  In April of 1998, Linda McCartney succumbed to cancer.  After spending a year mourning her passing, Paul returned to the studio to record Run Devil Run.  Released in October of 1999, the 15-track opus only contained three original McCartney compositions.  The rest were covers of obscure songs from the 1950s—back when Paul was a teenager.  The critics loved Run Devil Run and McCartney showed the world that while he had mastered the technical side of his craft, he could still make music with energy and vibrancy.

2000s

Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001?  Paul McCartney was on the Tarmac at JFK Airport.   His close proximity to the attacks of 9/11 inspired him to organize the “Concert for New York City.”  The event took place on Oct. 20, 2001 and featured performances by David Bowie, Billy Joel, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bon Jovi, Elton John, and several others.  McCartney closed out the concert by singing “Freedom,” a song he wrote in response to the attacks.  Yet, it was The Who who stole the night.  Their performance of “Baba O’Riley” brought down the house.  This was also the first decade you could follow Paul McCartney on Facebook.

2010s

Despite turning 70 in 2012, Paul McCartney has managed to stay relevant and vital in the 2010s (for proof just check out Paul’s Twitter accout).  In 2013, he performed at three memorable events.  In June, he closed Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubliee Concert.  Then in December, he performed with the three surviving members of Nirvana to wrap the “12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief.”  It’s the middle of the three shows, however, that makes our list.  On July 27, McCartney was the final act of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  It was seen by more than 900 million people.  For his time and effort, McCartney was paid £1.  Although, the concert for Sandy Relief was seen by two billion people, we went with his Summer Games performance because… well… the Olympics are the Olympics.

Austin Mahone And Other Famous Musicians At 18

Austin Mahone And Other Famous Musicians At 18

What did you do on your 18th birthday?  Well, on Austin Mahone’s 18th birthday he announced the release date of his debut album and details of his upcoming tour.  That means he’ll be spending his 19th year on the planet promoting his new music and performing all over North America.  Judging from his popularity, he’ll probably be celebrating a number one album too.

The name of Mahone’s debut offering is The Secret and it will drop on May 27.  His trek, dubbed “MTV’s Artist to Watch Tour 2014,”begins July 25 in San Antonio, Texas and ends Sept. 9 in Cleveland, Ohio.  You’ll want to circle the following dates on your calendar: July 26, there’s an Austin Mahone concert in Houston; July 30, Austin Mahone performs in Los Angeles; and Aug. 13, there’s an Austin Mahone show in Toronto.

Austin Mahone’s insanely busy year ahead got everyone here at Musicology-101 thinking about famous musicians/singers and what they were doing during their second-to-last year as a teenager.  Were they touring the globe like Mahone or were they trying to earn enough gas money to make it to Tower Records and back?  Below, is a list of seven great artists as well as a brief description of their trials and tribulations as 18-year-olds.

Justin Bieber
Let’s start with the singer Austin Mahone is compared to the most, Justin Bieber.  The Canadian pop star turned 18 on March 1, 2012.  He had a fairly quite year.  His released his highest charting single, “Boyfriend,” on March 23 (it peaked at number two).  He released his third studio album, Believe, on June 15 (it went straight to number one).  And he launched his second world tour, “The Believe Tour” on Sept. 29.  Also in 2012, Forbes named Bieber the third-most powerful celebrity in the world.

Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake has been around forever.  Certainly, he had a big year at 18?  He did.  The future Mr. Biel was eligible to register for selective services beginning Jan. 31, 1999.  At that time, his band ‘N Sync was between albums.  Respectively, those albums were certified 10x and 11x Platinum.  As an indicator of just how much the music business has changed, ‘N Sync’s debut offering stalled at number two.  Timberlake spent a large portion of 1999 making Model Behavior.  Released in 2000, the Disney Channel flick was Timberlake’s acting debut.

John Lennon
We’ve included John Lennon not because we’re comparing him to Austin Mahone, but because we were curious as to what a Beatle was doing as a teenager.  Lennon turned 18 on Oct. 9, 1958.  His birthday came in the wake of tragedy.  Over the previous summer, his mother was struck and killed by an automobile.  As an 18-year old, Lennon was working on getting thrown out of college, playing music with some kid named Paul McCartney, and fronting a skiffle band known as The Quarrymen.  Also, Lennon wrote his first song, “Hello Little Girl.”  It became a hit for The Fourmost in 1963.

Rod Stewart
Ten days into 1963, Rod Stewart celebrated his 18th trip around the sun.  He spent the year supporting the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, getting deported from Spain for vagrancy, joining the band The Dimensions, and becoming a father for the first time (although his daughter was given up for adoption).  Clearly, Stewart had a busy 19th year.  Yet, the most significant happening in 1963 was Stewart implementing his patented, rooster-spike hairstyle.  It’s impossible to think of Rod the Mod without it.

Billy Joel
Billy Joel turned 18 on May 9, 1967.  This was also the last year he attended high school.  He never graduated because he spent most of his time tickling the ivories at piano bars.  Later, Joel famously said “I’m not going to Columbia University, I’m going to Columbia Records.”  Joel may have been a high school dropout but he could certainly predict the future.  He signed with Columbia Records in 1972.  Also in 1967, Joel left The Echoes to join The Hassles.  The Hassles released four singles and a couple of albums but none made much of a splash.

Morrissey
It’s hard to imagine Morrissey as a teenager.  One thing is for sure, he was probably mopey.  Steven Patrick Morrissey celebrated his 18th birthday on May 22, 1977.  As an 18-year-old singer, Morrissey joined the punk band The Nosebleeds.  The group never released an album but it’s well known for not only Morrissey’s involvement but Billy Duffy’s too—Duffy would later gain fame as the lead guitarist of The Cult.

Slash
Slash blew out 18 candles on July 23, 1983.  That same year he formed a band called Road Crew (named after a Motörhead song).  Road Crew didn’t record an album, or even play a significant gig, but the project did introduce Slash to future Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan and created a riff that would eventually develop into “Rocket Queen.”  It will be interesting to see if 18-year-old Austin Mahone meets anyone in the upcoming year that will become an integral part of his musical career.

Top Seven Rock Songs About Astronomy

LaMontagne

Top Seven Rock Songs About Astronomy

For thousands of years humanity has looked up to the stars for inspiration.  Those tiny, twinkling lights in the sky have fueled mankind’s imagination and creativity.  While the night sky is still wondrous, it’s not getting the ratings it used to.  Nowadays, we look down, at little handheld screens, to see stars.  And unfortunately by “stars” I mean celebrities, athletes, and musicians.

While heaven’s heyday has long since passed, it still managed to inspire a few great rock songs.  Below, are seven of the best songs ever written about astronomical phenomenon.  We’re talking stuff like nebulas and pulsars although no one at Musicology-101 could think of song with “nebula” or “pulsar” in the title. 

The idea to compose the following list came from Ray LaMontagne and his Website.  The folk singer just released a single called “Supernova.”  The album of the same name drops May 6.  Three weeks later, LaMontagne kicks off a 40-plus date tour of North America.  Highlights of his trek include Ray LaMontagne in Boston on May 30 and May 31, Orlando on July 11, and Dallas on Aug. 2.

“Across The Universe” by The Beatles
Leave it to The Beatles, John Lennon in particular, to write one of the all-time great spiritual songs.  For this song, Lennon was greatly influenced by transcendental meditation as is evident by the phrase "Jai guru deva om.”  Lennon thought “Across The Universe” contained some of the best lyrics he had ever written.  I would agree.  The song has been covered by a plethora of artists including David Bowie, Fiona Apple, and Rufus Wainwright.

“Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden
Chris Cornell’s “Black Hole Sun” is Soundgarden’s most popular and successful song.  Lead guitarist Kim Thayil calls “Black Hole Sun” Soundgarden’s “Dream On.”  You can make the argument that the song shouldn’t be on our list.  Cornell’s lyrics have nothing to do with a black hole or even an event horizon.  He was just playing around with words because he liked the riff/music so much.  According to him, the lyrics really don’t mean anything.

“Gravity” by John Mayer
It’s appropriate that John Mayer, a louder, more douchier, Facebook version of Ray LaMontagne, calls “Gravity” the most important song he has ever written.  Since actual gravity is pretty important to the fabric of the universe.  Without it where would we all be?  “Gravity” is found on three John Mayer releases: Try! (2005) by the John Mayer Trio; Continuum (2006); and Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles (2008).  Mayer performed the song at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards as part of a melody with Corinne Bailey Rae and John Legend.

“Life On Mars” by David Bowie
You’ve got to love a song that sounds good when sung by either David Bowie or Barbara Streisand (although Bowie thought her version was “bloody awful”).  Bowie wrote “Life on Mars” as a response to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” (well, Old Blue Eyes made the song popular but Paul Anka wrote the lyrics to a tune written in 1967 by Frenchmen Claude François and Jacques Revau).  The lyrics to “Life on Mars” are some the strangest and most surreal lyrics ever written in the history of rock and roll.  Rick Wakeman played piano on the original recording.

“Star” by Erasure
A bunch of artists have written songs titled “Star” or “Stars” including  Bryan Adams, Roxette, The Cranberries, Simply Red and Dan Fogelberg.  I selected “Star” by Erasure because the list needed a little disco and Vince Clark and Andy Bell know how to write a great pop song.  Their “Star” has an uplifting chorus that will raise your spirit and get your foot tapping.  Lyrically, “Star” is an anti-war song.  To be exact, it’s an anti-nuclear war song.

“Supernova” by Ray LaMontagne
The song is barely a month old but it’s so damn catchy, and has such a great groove, that it easily makes our list.  Ray LaMontagne may have just released “Supernova” but clearly the tune is going to be his signature up tempo song (with “Trouble” being his most popular song overall).  “Supernova,” which is about a romantic relationship and not an exploding star, is a bit of a musical departure for the folk singer.  Produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, “Supernova” dabbles in psychedelic rock and Sixties power pop.

“2000 Light Years from Home” by The Rolling Stones
“2000 Light Years from Home” is from The Rolling Stones’ 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request.  This great track was released as the B-side to “She’s A Rainbow.”  In Germany, it was released on the A-side and charted.  Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote the song while in prison on drug charges.  I’m taking a great liberty by including this song since a light year (also written as lightyear or light-year) is not a celestial body but a unit of measurement (of length not time) used by astronomers.  A light year is six trillion miles or the distance light travels in a vacuum in a Julian year.

Linkin Park Three Past and Three Present Achievements

Linkin Park In ConcertLinkin Park Three Past and Three Present Achievements

This is a big year for Californian rock band Linkin Park. They’re releasing an album and going on tour.

While 2014 is shaping up to be special, it’s definitely not “make-or-break” for LP. The band is long past that stage of their career. In fact, it’s time to start talking about their legacy as in where they stand in the annuals of rock and roll.

Linkin Park combined rap and metal and did so in a palatable way. Some of their fans may find that remark insulting, but it’s not meant to be disparaging. It’s undeniable; the band can sell records and concert tickets. That ability should be applauded not jeered.

Below, Musicology-101 looks at three of Linkin Park’s past achievements as well as three more on the horizon. After reading our list, you’ll surely agree with us, and their millions of fans, that they are one of the all-time greats.

Past Achievements

Hybrid Theory Gets Certified Diamond
On June 14, 2014 at the Download Festival in Leicestershire, England, Linkin Park will play their seminal album, Hybrid Theory, in its entirety for the first time ever. Hybrid Theory has been certified Diamond (10 million sales in the United States) by the RIAA. Worldwide, it has sold 27 million units. That’s not bad for a first album. In fact, Hybrid Theory is the bestselling debut album of the 21st century.

Collision Course
In 2004, Linkin Park teamed with Jay-Z on the EP Collision Course. Each of the albums six tracks is a mash-up of a Linkin Park song and a Jay-Z song. The album is just over 21 minutes long and took a mere four days to make. Critics hated it—Rolling Stone magazine gave it two out of five stars—but what do they know? Collision Course has sold more than five million copies and peaked at number one on the Billboard 200. If you don’t think that’s an accomplishment then you form a nu metal band, team with a hip hop legend, make an album of mash-ups that sells five million copies, and tell us how easy it is.

Triple Threat
Some artists can sell records, some can win awards, and some can win-over critics. Linkin Park can do all three. In a recording career that started in 2000, they’ve sold more than 60 million albums. That’s impressive when you consider that most of their career has occurred in an era when no one buys records. Linkin Park has been nominated for more than 170 music awards winning 60 of them. On the top shelf of their trophy case are two Grammy Awards. The band has placed high on various “all-time” and “best-of” lists compiled by the likes of Billboard, MTV2, and VH1. The critics may not have liked Collision Course, but overall they love Linkin Park.

Future Achievements

The Hunting Party
MTV favorites Linkin Park will enter the “six album club” on June 14, 2014. That’s the date their newest studio offering, The Hunting Party, is set to drop (yes, it’s the same day they’re set perform at the Download Festival). The band released the album’s first single, “Guilty All the Same” featuring Rakim, on March 6. Founding member Mike Shinoda said the track is a good representation of the album.

Carnivores Tour
On Aug. 8, Linkin Park will launch a 25-concert tour of North America. Joining them on the road will be 30 Seconds to Mars and AFI (who will miss two shows in mid-September). Dubbed the “Carnivores Tour,” it ends Sept. 19 in Concord, California. Highlights of their massive excursion include Linkin Park in Mansfield, Massachusetts on Aug. 16; Linkin Park in Toronto on Aug. 24; and Linkin Park in Los Angeles on Sept. 15.

Mike Shinoda: "’Carnivores’ is a metaphor that is meant to convey an appetite for something visceral and substantive. I feel that’s exactly the hunger this tour will feed."

Record Store Day
The Hunting Party won’t be the only album Linkin Park releases this year. To celebrate annual Record Store Day on April 19, they, along with Jay-Z, are re-releasing Collision Course. The EP just so happens to be celebrating its tenth anniversary. The Record Store Day edition will come on transparent blue vinyl. It will also come with a DVD of Jay-Z and Linkin Park in concert. Other artists coming out with special LPs on vinyl’s big day include Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, The Flaming Lips, Green Day, and Soundgarden.