Archive for the 'Music' Category

What is Hip? Tell Me Tell Me if You Think You Know

CharlesMingus.MingusAhUmIt’s pretty easy to understand the purpose of the recent viral Facebook poll, “100 Influential Albums” from the perspective of the creator. The quiz has links to buy all of those listed through Amazon, and the data mining of personal information is a goldmine. But  the motivation behind those taking the quiz to me is much more telling.

These sorts of quizzes and polls are becoming increasingly popular on the social networks as the sheer numbers of people willing to share just about anything about themselves publicly becomes a virus of its own. But why are we so drawn to these public displays of hipness?

Many I imagine do so merely out of curiosity. Wanting to know what these records are and whether we may have missed something that we “should have”, thus filling in an empty spot in our own cultural landscape. But one could find countless other lists that could help one accomplish this. Rolling Stone has it’s 500 Best Recordings of All Time, as does NME with theirs, “100 Best Albums Of All Time” How about 100 Best Lists of 100 Best Albums of All Time? Google that, I haven’t the time.

I believe that these polls work because of our need to be hipper than others. In the social world of Facebook, Twitter and Yelp where we share every last sound, bite and image that we experience, the only thing that makes us feel like an individual is doing, hearing seeing or tasting something that no one else (or any of our friends) have. The fact that I may own even 20 out of these 100 should make me feel better, because that’s better than 45% of others who have taken the poll. These numbers matter. To know that having only 1/5th of these recordings puts me above 45% of others? That’s validation. Imagine how good one could feel if they had say 60 or 70 percent of these? So maybe the tendency would be to work the numbers. I mean who “owns” records anymore? Sure I have heard and once owned “Trout Mask Replica“, but with music streaming services like MOG and Spotify amongst others, we can all “own” them all, or more accurately own none of them.

But boasting your personal numbers is not enough reason for many. No, the hipness level continues to rise above your percentile score, when you shout from your social mountain top that the list itself sucks. How on earth can “Clap Your Hands Say Yah” be on this list when there’s no mention of Charles Mingus’s, “Ah Uhm“? No metal bands? C’mon. No Sgt. Peppers? I am hipper than the list itself.

Did I take the quiz? Yes. Did I agree with the list? Some of it. How did I do? Well show me yours and I’ll show you mine. At least I won’t try and sell you something.


Time for Some Analog Engagement-Record Store Day

Fingerprints Music, Long Beach, CA

With so much of our time being spent gazing at our reflection in a glass screen, having our personal “Likes”, “Fans” and “Friends” responding with resonant echoes of our thoughts, an opportunity to get out and rub elbows with real honest flesh and blood to really socialize is welcome relief. And on April 16th, a world-wide event gives us all this chance to return to the land of brick and mortar. Record Store Day , founded in 2007 by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner is a celebration of the independent record store.

There are legions of young folks that have built their music libraries of nothing but zeros and ones via the numerous download sites and don’t know the beauty of a wall of  oversized vinyl albums, much less the excitement of getting their fingers dirty flipping through stacks of previously loved treasures to discover a rarity. Sure, I still listen to almost everything through a digital device, but my favorite memories of my musical history lie in the places I once wandered the aisles listening to the whims of whoever was working that day and piling 10-15 must-haves that would be whittled down to the two that I could afford to take home.

For me it was a weekend ritual of taking the bus to the now defunct Arcade Music in the seedy downtown of San Diego of the 70s. My brother and friends would eventually build libraries of thousands of jazz LPs and teach ourselves the history of  this great American music on the recommendations of various clerks, and even strangers who would overhear our conversation or  see with a sidelong glance what we had picked up. In college it was Morning Glory Music in Isla Vista, CA. Alas this small independent is gone as well.

In Long Beach, CA , Fingerprints Music has opened a brand new store in the burgeoning East Village Arts District. Rand Foster, the owner has dedicated the last 18 years of his life assuring the Long Beach community that they had a place to come and share their passion for music. Rand and Fingerprints was featured in a recent article in the LA Times that focused on the importance of these stores.  You have an excellent opportunity to be sure that your favorite shop survives by attending a local Record Store day venue. There are special live in-store performance events scheduled as well.

On April 16th, shut the lid on the laptop (after you Google search the location of a store near you naturally) and spend a few hours hanging out in a real chat room. A room full of others like you and maybe not like you in many ways, but kindred spirits in the love of all that is music.


As Bill Tweets

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