Category Archives: Music

What did you learn in school today?

That’s one answer down my alley…

 

And for all of you who want to sing along with this song “What Did You Learn in School Today?”  by Tom Paxton – here you go…

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that Washington never told a lie.
I learned that soldiers seldom die.
I learned that everybody’s free.
And that’s what the teacher said to me.
That’s what I learned in school today.
That’s what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that policemen are my friends.
I learned that justice never ends.
I learned that murderers die for their crimes.
Even if we make a mistake sometimes.
That’s what I learned in school today.
That’s what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned our government must be strong.
It’s always right and never wrong.
Our leaders are the finest men.
And we elect them again and again.
That’s what I learned in school today.
That’s what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that war is not so bad.
I learned of the great ones we have had.
We fought in Germany and in France.
And some day I might get my chance.
That’s what I learned in school today.
That’s what I learned in school.

A Hollywood Experience

st_schoeneOne of my early Hollywood-experiences occurred in the late 80s – the place was the Irish pub ‘The Cat & Fiddle‘ on Sunset Blvd.

My buddy and I hung out there pretty regularly, had learned that just a single extra dollar in tips was well worth the investment for much faster and friendlier service and were, that fine summer evening, out in the patio, slurping our Guinness.

The table next to us was occupied by two guys, one of the a very tall, and cool, guy that looked so familiar but I could  not place him. I heard somewhat of a German accent, but that did not help much at that time.

If was a few days later that my buddy dragged me to the gig of a German guy he had met a few days earlier. As yours truly is from that area of the planet as well and ethnic support is a given I was glad to comply.

Even this big Hollywood is a small place and so I was only mildly surprised that this tall guy I had seen at the Cat and Fiddle was there as well. The gig was great and I still have a video document of this band, Bigger than Blue, even though this is not of the gig, which was much wilder and much more hard rock.

Already at that time I perceived the vibes between this tall German guy and the cute, absolutely petite, singer of Bigger Than Blue, Francesca Capasso.

To make a long story short, the tall German guy turned out to be a very well-known German actor, Reiner Schoene (Schöne), whom I had seen in television shows when I was a lot younger. He and Francesca started dating and we (my buddy and I) had a few parties at our house with the whole Bigger than Blue and so Reiner was there, obviously.

Francesca and Reiner did get married and had a little farm in or around Agua Dulce but, despite efforts to do so, we never managed to visit and the contact went away eventually, especially after Reiner moved back to Germany and he and Francesca separated, unfortunately.

So, why would I write all this after more than twenty years? Simple, when going through my old music collection, I found demo tapes of Reiner as well as Francesca and the most amazing piece on that was a song, written and performed by Reiner, telling the beginning of the story…

 

 

Rammstein – The Next Generation

The music of the German band Rammstein is not – I have to admit – one of my favorite types of music. I might just be too old for that, even though some of the comic elements in their art is appealing to me. Maybe it’s just that the mood in their songs is just too dark for me or maybe simply that I don’t want to jeopardize the good hearing I still have.  – - Boy, do I sound like my parents when I started to listen to the Beatles or the Stones!

I case you don’t know what I talk about, here is an example…

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Now, what made me talk about Rammstein is not Rammstein themselves but the fans – and not just any fans, but those fans that are very young and active. So active in fact that they not only listen to their music, but also play it themselves…

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I just wonder if the kids understand what they sing, but as they are home schooled, they probably do.

Strangely Mesmerizing – Kids Song with Rifle Cartridges

I wonder if there is something built into this video that hypnotizes me…

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There is nothing really worth seeing – OK, the girl is cute, but that is not that unusual – still I could not stop watching until it was all over.

Maybe somebody could go over the video with a fine comb and find the hidden subliminal message – watch – stay – don’t move – consume!

UPDATE: on one of my repeated (mesmerized) views of this video something caught my eye. I first could not believe it – had to rewind – watch it again – rewind – screen-capture it – and here is what I saw…

A duck with a crown of rifle cartridges?? – Now I am really curious what this video is all about.

 

What makes Cool Cool?

Flemming introduced me to the violin-playing of Vanessa Mae.

Give me a break – the violin must be the most conservative and boring instrument of them all and I get stuck on Youtube watching all kinds of videos about her music?

This is how violin playing is supposed to look…

and not like this…

And then play music like this…

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I mean – this IS cool violin playing! Made me think about what makes cool cool?

I told my son, who is now at the age where he thinks that accessorizing with cool things will make him cool, a story from the days when I still tried to find that which would make me be cool…

It were the days of our first cars at the end of high school. I personally certainly had the un-coolest car your could get, but it was all I could afford. In our class we had one guy who was just the coolest, Mike. He had, at that tender age, traveled the world on a shoe-string budget. He was so cool, that he did not even give in to female attempts to reel him him. How cool was that – something I dreamed of  – he just shrugged off!

Once, a few of us planed to go on a social visit to our favorite teacher. Only few of us had cars, my car was too small for all of us, so Mike offered to drive us and got the car from his dad and thus was our designated driver.

You might have to learn a bit about car culture in Germany at that time to grasp the gravity of the following.

For example, you could not drive an automatic – you would be considered a grandpa – but those cars were too expensive anyways so that was never an issue amongst us. At the top of the un-cool list, right after the automatic, was a station wagon with the shift-stick at the steering wheel and a single bench in the front.

And that was exactly the car Mike drove up in to pick us all up that evening to go, visit Hartwig! But believe it or not – that car did not make Mike un-cool, instead his coolness rubbed off on the car and it became totally acceptable to drive a Taunus or Ford station-wagon.

Applying that lesson to myself took many years, so I don’t necessarily expect my son to understand when I told him this story, but for me this example of the violin of Vanessa Mae re-enforced the lesson for me.

She just did not let the un-coolness of the violin rub off on her, instead she made the violin cool.

So, now, how can I apply that right now?

All About the AppleGirl

I know, the title might be a little pretentious, maybe even a lot, but running into her on a Google Help page was a rather interesting experience – who would expect to find a music video on a Google Help page – and so I dug a bit deeper and by collecting my findings here I might save you your own digging.

First things first – here is the video that Google gave me as an example for what it was explaining on the help page…

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I certainly liked the music and video, but why was she ‘AppleGirl’?

A bit digging let me find the likely answer that it was because the instruments she played in her first video on the internet were iPhones – yes, iPhones! Four iPhones running different music apps, attached to some kind of rack-contraption, were her instrument(s) of choice. And she became famous – the video and the follow up went viral. Here is that first one…

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and the next one where she explains a bit more about here instruments.

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Mysteries do get people hooked. So, the mystery of who that girl, only known as AppleGirl, was, might have helped the fast spreading of these videos. By now the mystery is solved and it’s all known that she is Kim Yeo Hee, and the latest video (the first on at the top) with it’s professional lighting, recording and editing is a strong indication that her careers is taking off.

So, what was the effect on me? I got some enjoyment out of watching these videos, and got the idea that if there is music apps for the iPhone, there must be some for Android as well. This assumption turned out to be true and I now have a virtual piano and guitar on my G1. I know, it’s ridiculous, I still have a G1 but at least I have it rooted and running Froyo (2.2) on it – even though a bit slow. By the way, even with that version of Android and an adapter directly from HTC my squareup.com card reader, “the cube,” still does not work.

Ray Manzarek about the beginning of the Doors

During my first semesters at the University of Dortmund a break-through in album sales happened. While at the regular record store you had to shell out over DM 20 (that’s Deutsch Marks for all you young kids, the currency they had in Germany before the Euro) for a 30cm album, some entrepreneurial students started to sell those same albums for DM 14.95 or less in the entry hall of the cafeteria (mensa in latin-german).

This is where I got pretty much the whole collection of my albums I still have after so many years. Some of the early and important items in this collection are records from the Doors. Sure, we knew Jim Morrison by name but the other members of the band were more or less face and name-less.

Until today, when I found the great video site called L-Studio. L must be standing for Lexus as this site is hosted on a subdomain of Lexus.com. And why not – BMW sponsors TED, why should Lexus not have it’s own video site with – I have to say – excellent video.

Some of these videos are with and about Ray Manzarek, the creator of the Door’s characteristic keyboard sound. Hear him tell about the Door’s beginnings …

… and then look through the other video for more Ray Manzarek and try not to miss the series of Web Therapie with Lisa Kudrow.

UPDATE: just ran into the new video of Weird Al Yankovic – ‘Craigs List’ – were he pays homage to the doors – in his own special way. And the great thing is that Ray Manzarek actually plays the keyboards in this spoof of the doors! No wonder that Yankovic version sounds so authentic…

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The Voice of an Angel – Grown Up

It was at a fundraiser for KCET or some similar TV station many years ago that I learned about the – then – 13 year old Charlotte Church. I was amazed and even though I usually don’t think highly of fan-dom of any artist or star I ordered – to support KCET, you know – her CD and Video.

Recently I stumbled over her CD in my collection and I wondered what had become of her. Thanks to Google I found out quickly. Here is a before and after (so-to-speak)…

charlotte church then and nowAfter some more investigative work I found out that it is rather quiet around her now, the last album released dates back to 2005 and it is very different in that it went away from the opera repertoire she had before into the land of pop, where she has to face quite a bit of competition. I personally like her new music but it is not something that would get me up and buy her CD.

One of the songs on that CD gives an idea why she went away from the arena where she was so amazingly successful. The title is “Finding my Own Way,” where she tells her fans in poetic form, that they might disagree with her and that it might be a mistake, but that she has the right to make her own choices and possibly  mistakes and that that’s OK.

I believe that is a very honorable thing to do. There is the temptation of riding the wave of safe continued admiration and she has chosen a way that is not so safe but is her own. So, she does not fall into the trap I described when I mused about the curse of good looks.

For me the old and the new Charlotte are just two different worlds and I fortunately have the choice where I spend my time. I want to share one song I found on Youtube that is a neat combination of John Lennon, the master song writer, and Charlotte Church, a singer that can make my tears flow freely…

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