All posts tagged: Music

A Warped Tour: One Lunachick’s Life on the Road

It was 1999, a full-on, hot and sweaty Summer. We were getting ready to go on the infamous Vans Warped Tour that is ironically — or un-ironically — touring for the very last time this year. By “we,” I mean me and my BFF’s — three friends from Laguardia High School with a big sister from another mister who, in 1987, started an all-female band called the Lunachicks. We did it for shits and giggles, but it became an accidental career. All of our favorite local bands had broken up, died from heroin overdoses, or other accidents, or literally just disappeared into the ether. (That happened, but that’s another story.) So we figured we’d just make our own thing. Each one of us — Squid, Gina, Sindi and me — all had good, diverse musical tastes. We liked everything from Funkadelic to The Runaways to The Stooges, to Black Sabbath to KISS…. Just for starters. And we just thought playing in a band would be a good time. By 1999 we had been doing it …

Rise: The Midlife Mixtape

Numerous studies show the link between a high-energy playlist and the uplift in mood it can inspire. And when it comes to songs that play on the word “rise,” there’s no shortage of tunes that remind us to get up and keep trying, no matter how dark things seem. A RISE playlist may not be a cure, but if all it does is help us uncurl from the fetal position and take stock of what we do next, that’s a pretty good place to start. “Rise to the Sun” – Alabama Shakes. Sometimes it’s a victory just to get up and power through your day. It’s especially daunting when your goals feel infinity miles away, or as Alabama Shakes sing, “Well, my eyes are full of stars, But I just can’t reach ’em… oh, how high they are.” Take comfort in knowing you’re in good company in the struggle, and take heart in the fierceness of Brittany Howard’s vocals. “The Rising” – Bruce Springsteen Off his 2002 album of the same name, this Bruce Springsteen …

The Best Voice in the World Is… Need You Ask?

For the most part, I don’t trust most people’s taste in music. To debate a musical topic or question with someone is to know for sure that you and your opponent have a shared music-listening lineage and appreciation or, at the very least, the two of you share a mutual understanding and interest for the music that one of you likes that the other person doesn’t. For me, someone with a baseline understanding of many musical genres, the mutual understanding thing is tricky, especially when the mutuality is to be established with: 1. A non-black person — especially a non-black person who hasn’t spent much time around black people. 2. A black person who hasn’t spent much time around non-black people 3. A much-younger person — any race, doesn’t matter. 3a. Case in point: my much-younger white coworker who didn’t know Bananarama’s “Venus” outside of the razor commercial (which until writing this piece and being schooled by our beloved EIC Margit I didn’t know was originally sung by the Dutch garage band Shocking Blue) 3b. …

10 Ways We Remember When Music Was a “Thing”

 Remember when music was a physical object — before it was just an ethereal file floating from one digital device to another? There were technical snafus, social mores and some heavy lifting that went along with the era of vinyl and magnetic tape. Herein, a few: 1. Using a pencil to fix an unraveling cassette tape. 2. Moving boxes and boxes of LPs from dorm room to apartment to apartment (Sorry, Dad.) 3. Merging record and CD collections with your partner. My rule: Do not merge until married. (And even then, Dave Matthews is never allowed to mingle) via GIPHY 4. Taping over someone else’s mixtape. The ultimate diss.  5. Using Scotch tape as a cassette-tape wonder tool. By taping over the little notches on top to record a mixtape over an unwanted cassette. 6. 8-Track Tapes And that satisfying sound of the 8-track tape clicking and connecting into its gears in your parents’ Buick Regal car radio. 7. When people actually cared about speakers. via GIPHY 8. Losing the 45 spider Aka that little …

Lift Every Voice And Sing: A Q&A with Activist and Singer Abby Dobson

The night before Donald Trump’s inauguration, two black feminist icons — Alice Walker and Angela Davis — spoke at the annual Peace Ball in Washington, D.C. offering two key messages about the intersection of art and activism. Walker revealed that the creation of art was one of her five tools of resistance. Davis noted that right now, “We need art, we need music, we need poetry.” Davis and Walker both understand the healing power of art, especially for women who feel under assault under the current administration. Jamaican-born Abby Dobson is a vocalist who carries with her both the activism of Angela and the art of Alice in her song. Dobson says she uses her gifts to birth powerful “genre-nonconforming” music, which is deeply resonant, at times mournful, in turns joyful, but always authentic. Dobson is currently Artist in Residence for the African American Policy Forum, a gender-equity organization founded by the “mother of intersectionality,” Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw. Dobson was featured in Crenshaw’s TED Talk (see below) singing as part of the #SayHerName campaign, a movement to bring …

Midlife Mixtape: Albums, Books and Other Music-Inspired Gifts

O Holy Night, it’s already end of November and I’ve done zero holiday shopping so far this year – whoops. Normally all that’s left for me buy by December 1 are the tangerines for the toe of the Christmas stocking (that go uneaten in favor of the chocolate, but at least I try for the healthy option.) Not this year –  2016 kept knocking me down every time I got up. Suck it, 2016. No tangerine for you. I do, however, have lots of ideas for Christmahannakwaanzukah gifts for the music lovers, book readers, and sense of humor-havers in your lives. Some caveats: I believe in paying creative people for their work, so I still buy albums and print books (for which the musician/author gets a much higher royalty percentage.) I encourage you to shop locally. And this year in particular, I’m trying to find products that are made in parts of our country where manufacturing jobs have been lost. Maybe if people weren’t so disaffected and hopeless about the economy, they wouldn’t have been …

Here’s Your Protest Playlist: 11 Songs to Fight the Power

One of the things we love about music is its power to tap straight into the emotions you need to feel and get out, the ones that defy words and logic. This week saw me put in my earbuds and walk and walk and walk, finding messages in every song I heard that helped me process shock, disappointment and fear. I’m trying to be ready to move on. And if you are too, I’m sharing a list of inspirational protest songs to fuel you for the hard work ahead of us. What would you add to the list? “Can’t You Tell?”  — Aimee Mann In the run up to this election, Dave Eggers’ 30 Days, 30 Songs project saw artists released 30 songs in the days leading up to Election Day, “united in our desire to speak out against the ignorant, divisive, and hateful campaign of Donald Trump.” It’s no longer a campaign but a presidency, which just makes the need for creative protest and creative community more urgent. I mean, as Aimee Mann notes, it’s not like …

Prince Taught Me My Dirty Mind Was Just Fine

Prince was the first man I ever loved. When I heard Prince’s first album, For You, I was a chubby 12-year-old girl with thick thighs, an ample rear and a dirty mind. I was an honor student whose tendency to correct my teachers and point out their flawed logic in class got me called to the principal’s office for insubordination. I was the girl the boys in school either ignored or called fat, while men in cars drove behind me as I walked home, shouting out of cranked-down windows what they’d like to do to my pre-teen ass. I sat next to my dad on the sofa every weekend, watching sports with him while quietly lusting over the quads and abs and glutes of my favorite players. As the youngest of six kids, I read everything my siblings read, from their biology textbooks to porn magazines, and I listened to all the music they listened to, from hard rock to jazz to pop to easy listening to R&B. Musically and culturally, I was ready for …

How Prince Brought Unlikely Music Fans Together – and Turned Us Purple

The world turned purple when Prince died. Civic buildings and bridges in his Minneapolis home town and around the world were awash in his signature color. On Saturday night, heading out of San Francisco south on highway 280, with Sirius XM’s Prince tribute channel on the radio, we passed a suburban mall’s roadside message board flashing Prince’s glyph, the control tower and international terminal of San Francisco International Airport glowing purple ahead of us in the distance. As a fragmented society, we agree on so little, culturally. But we agree on Prince. And we agree on how to celebrate him. By allying himself so inextricably with a color (and, later, a symbol — turns out, he was a branding genius), Prince left us with a natural way to express our grief and love for him in the public space, writ large and without words. It may feel like no artist’s passing has ever been so publicly and universally mourned , but that’s not entirely true. When John Lennon was murdered in 1980, the shock of it …

tuenight prince penny wrenn

I Rarely Play Any Prince Songs. So Why Am I Crying?

The day of Prince’s death, I, like you and everyone you know, was distraught. For hours, my despair was haughty and demonstrative. But late last Thursday night, there was a pause in my grief. It came around 11 p.m., which is just about the time that my aunt said this: “But I never hear you play any Prince songs….” Her voice trailed off, stopping short of a direct accusation. But the implication had been cast, and it was damning enough to stop my mourning in its tracks. Was I not enough of a hardcore Prince fan to be in such hardcore distress? In the wake of a famous musician’s death, the only thing worse than being outed as a non-fan is being outed as a semi-fan acting like a fanatic. I know diehard Prince fans. Fans who go to the annual Prince vs. Michael Jackson Soul Slam dance parties. Fans whose homes are decorated with lithographs en homage to the purple one. Fans who can tell you every member of every one of Prince’s offshoot …

tuenight prince paisley park studios neil gladstone

What’s Inside That Vault at Paisley Park?

In 2006, I walked through the front door of Paisley Park for arguably one of the un-coolest reasons ever: as a member of a team filming self-help videos for AOL. That’s because in addition to being the Purple One’s lair, Paisley Park is a production studio for hire. I wasn’t there to record soul tracks, but to tape a segment with the author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” I expected the 65,000-square foot facility to resemble a Wonka-esque factory, but the outside looked more like a shiny white office park. In the wake of Prince’s death, his inner circle is undoubtedly debating the facility’s future, including turning it into a museum. Ten years ago, parts of the inside already seemed like a shrine. Off the lobby was a hallway with a timeline of Prince’s major accomplishments, featuring larger-than-life images of his bikini-bottom Controversy years and jazzy period when he put on more clothes and dropped from pop culture consciousness. The car grill from the cover of Sign ‘O’ The Times was hanging in the …

tuenight prince caroline edgar

Prince Gave Me a Condition of the Heart

In the mid-‘80s, when I’d get home from school, my parents were still at work. Sometimes I’d eat cereal and watch TV or get on the phone with friends. But very often I’d pull out Prince’s 1999 and play “D.M.S.R.” on the family turntable and dance across the dark brown wall-to-wall carpet in my living room, using the staircase landing as a stage. I gave Purple Rain its due, too. I mean, it was the ‘80s; who didn’t? But “D.M.S.R.” was my jam, and I played it over and over and one more time after that. I only danced in my living room when I was alone, not because I was shy — I love dancing, and I’m good at it — but because it was like a meditation that I didn’t know I was doing. It was me creating a space where I could be my authentic self and let it all out, long before I could put words to what I was doing. My parents were music lovers who bought records all the time, …

A “Young American” Remembers David Bowie

Bowie was my everything music – the alpha and omega. He was the artist who singlehandedly turned me on to sound. So when he passed yesterday, I was demolished. In his last album Blackstar, Bowie continued to tweak musical boundaries, creating a bleaker version of himself — a Major Tom still in outer space.  In hindsight, his customarily freaky and brilliant videos clearly hint at his coming demise. I wrote a little something a few years ago for my friend Nancy Davis Kho’s Midlife Mixtape site about one of my favorite Bowie albums that was still in heavy rotation — Young Americans. On the occasion of his passing, I thought I’d share that here. I’ll miss you David. Gone but never, ever forgotten — your legacy lives on in every musician and fan. ** As an 8-year-old in mid ‘70s Philadelphia, I’d rise most school days to the snap and crackle of WFIL-AM, and the Bay City Rollers, Starland Vocal Band or Hot Chocolate imploring me to get up, “you sexy thing.” Whatever that meant. (I also used to sing, “Voulez vous couchez avec …

Aaliyah, J-Love and Britney: My 20s Pop Culture Education

“When you grow up, your heart dies.” When I first heard mop-topped goth girl Alison Reynolds utter this dismal pronouncement in John Hughes’ 1985 now-classic The Breakfast Club, it sent shivers down my spine. Like her, I was a teenager at the time and imagining myself in college — forget about later on, as part of the work force — was enough to make me break out in zits. But the idea of spending the subsequent 75 years or so wandering the earth as a bored, numb, jaded adult? That was downright terrifying. Today, at 44 (an age my teen self couldn’t fathom; back then, I thought 30 was ancient), I can honestly say I’m almost as unjaded, wide-eyed and goofy — not to mention, passionate about my obsessions — as I was as a teen, and I have my 25-year-old self to thank for it. That’s how old I was when I hit my stride as a teen magazine editor. I knew I’d wanted to be a journalist since age 11, but “teen magazine …

Madonna’s Most Beautiful Love Song

In 1985, I was 16 years old and spent my weekend nights cruising the streets of Kansas City in my 1979 Fiat Strada. I realize now that a four-door hatchback is not every teenage girl’s dream, but I loved that car because it was mine, because it gave me freedom, and because it had a really great stereo system. I spent most of the money from my part-time job on cassette tapes that would become the soundtrack of my teenage years—The Bangles, the Go-Go’s, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. I was a straight girl back then, though my interest in the women of pop music should have probably been a clue. It wasn’t, however, and it took me years to figure it all out. Now, when I look back on my deep feelings for each of those women, I ask myself one question: Did I want to be them or did I want to do them? This is a very important distinction. Upon much reflection, I can say without a doubt that I wanted to do …

8 Seriously Cool Subscription Services to Give This Year

In 2015, as Facebook algorithms remind us to ping each other with birthday e-cards and Amazon gets closer to making deliveries by drone, the idea of gifting someone a jelly of the month — an anything of the month — feels quaintly retro. Strike that: It feels right. Send your favorite humans some good-old-fashioned, curated-and-dispatched-by-real-people, recurring snail-mail love. (It doesn’t have to be jelly.) 1. Vinyl Me, Please The “best damn record club today” kicks off your recipient’s new bespoke music library with one of their special-edition color LPs (think Wilco’s AM in swirling marigold, or a limited-edition clear pressing of Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear). Each month thereafter, they’ll send a new album, a 12”x12” art print inspired by the album and a custom cocktail recipe pairing. Starts at $99 for 3 months + 1 bonus album, vinylmeplease.com   2. One Story Your favorite bookworm might now prefer an e-reader to full-sized tomes — I get it, I nearly dislocated my shoulder trying to read War and Peace on the subway a few years ago …

9 Passive Aggressive Gifts They’ll Love. I Guess…

Ah, the holidays. ‘Tis the season to rejoice, make merry, listen to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” and bite one’s tongue when one’s confronted with the time-tested barrage of unsubtle passive aggressive comments from friends and family. Well, two can play that game. In the name of holiday harmony (and your sanity), why not bite your tongue as you wrap the world’s most passive aggressive gift ever? Why say it when you can pay it forward with a gift that does the indirect communicating for you? Why not give something that says you care enough not to say exactly how you feel but not enough to not be somewhat passive aggressive about it in your gift-giving? What? I was only joking! God. You don’t have to get so upset. 1. Fiberglass Confetti Eiffel Chair The gift that passive aggressively says “your taste in housewares is beyond basic.” $395, Modernica.com 2. Basic Repellant Phone Case For your “friend” who IS basic. $38, Valfre.com 3. Shut Up Cards The gift that passively aggressively says, “Literally …

After The Alt-Weekly, Where Will You Find Your Roots?

Wednesday morning! Better get up and see what you can pitch to Pat. Then you remember. After 34 years, there is no more tempting your editor with tidbits of roots music. Philadelphia City Paper has been purchased by the competition and put down. But why, why would I put in 34 years in the first place? It wasn’t the next-to-no money nor the non-existent recognition. (“Hey, are you still writing for City Paper?” asks an old friend who should know.) No, it was purely to share the joy of music that is made by the people and for the people. What is Roots music? Think the old story songs and ballads of an Appalachian town. The community of union organizers like Joe Hill, who would write barbed anti-boss lyrics to familiar tunes. Hill’s memory is being recalled this year on the 100th anniversary of death. The Freedom Singers who were invaluable aid to civil rights marches of the 60s. They, too, would take a familiar melody, gospel especially and lead the crowd in unison, adding …

Fear and Listings in Philadelphia

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published in the Philadelphia City Paper July 19, 2001. As a former Listings Editor myself, I can 100% identify. — Margit Lots of people ask me, “What’s it like to be a listings editor?” I tell them it’s sort of like being shot into a cannon every day. Other people ask me, “What does a listings editor do?” I hate people. The short answer is this: All week long I get press releases and calendars from local galleries, rock venues, artists, musicians, comedy clubs, hospitals, rodeo planners, fetishists, support groups, cat lovers, etc. My crafty fleet of interns and I sort the press releases into little piles and type them into humorless little summaries. Then something magic happens when I sleep and the listings show up in the paper. But this hardly explains my job here. To help you see the world through the Listings Editor’s eyes, I decided to keep a log of a typical day in my professional life. Mon., July 9, 9 a.m. sharp. I arrive …

15 Women Reveal Their Madonna “Life Moments”

Where were you when Madonna told you to Express Yourself? Had you been living in a Material World? Cherish-ing your boy toy? Desperately seeking a place to Vogue? We asked our contributors and friends for those moments in time when Madge was the backdrop to their lives — the soundtrack, the fashion, the filmic inspiration and even a dinner party companion.   “Borderline” I tried out for Drill Team in junior high to the song “Borderline.” I didn’t like Madonna. I had no desire to try out for drill team. I had no dance skills. The only way you were allowed to try out for drill team, however, was as a four-person squad. So I was drafted by three of my friends to complete theirs. We practiced relentlessly (six times counts as relentless when you’re 13). When the time came to perform and the play button on the boom box was hit, Ms. Carter gave us the head bob that said “YOU’RE ON!” I thought we actually had a shot. Twenty seconds later, I managed …

In Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour, Expect The Unexpected

Where were you when you first heard Madonna? It’s a question that pop fans who devoured the offerings put forth by MTV and top-40 radio during the ’80s and ’90s can probably answer without thinking. Mine: “Borderline,” off her self-titled debut and an MTV staple thanks to its video, which mixed high art and graffiti and hopscotch. The song’s wounded, yet bubbly production made me dance; Madonna’s effortless cool gave me a glimpse at what bohemian adulthood might be like. The songs of hers that I probably remember best, though, are the ones on her 1986 album True Blue, which served as the official warm-up album for a dance class I took during sixth grade; any mention of the pugilistic actor Jimmy Cagney, to whom Madonna dedicated that album’s feisty “White Heat,” flashes me back to the afternoons of leotards and stretching at the barre. [pullquote] 30 years on, the Material Girl still packs stadiums around the world.[/pullquote] No matter what era of Madonna one remembers most fondly — the crumpled white dress of the “Like …

Truth or Yawn: When Did the Material Girl Get So Boring?

I was surfing through radio stations in my car when I first heard Madonna’s latest single, “Bitch, I’m Madonna.” Her new album had been in the press, more due to her recent attention-grabbing antics than the music itself — the topless photos, the skirt that she flipped up to expose her well-toned tush to photographers — but Madonna has always courted controversy. I’d seen her simulate masturbation on stage and pretend to give a blow job to a bottle in the 1991 documentary Truth or Dare; if I was ever scandalized by Madonna, those days are long gone. But listening to “Bitch, I’m Madonna” made me change the station in disgust. I wasn’t shocked, and I wasn’t titillated. Really, I was just bored. Look, I grew up with Madonna. I was a fan. I stacked black rubber bracelets on my arms because she did. I attempted to style my bad perm into her tousled waves. I watched and re-watched Desperately Seeking Susan wishing that I could cultivate her “I don’t give a shit” attitude. Through her …

I Got Dumped – and Madonna Made It Okay

In the summer of 1989 just before our senior year of college, my friend Jen and I confessed to each over the phone that we were really loving Madonna’s song “Express Yourself.” This was a confession rather than a plain old conversation because we both fancied ourselves cooler and more indie than your average pop music fan. But nobody sang about girl power and washing-that-man-out-of-your hair better than Madge did, and we both had men in there that it looked like they might need to be washed out. I hate to say it but, musically speaking, “Express Yourself” hasn’t held up for me. The song was remastered and heavily smeared with ‘80s horns somewhere along the way, which hasn’t helped matters any. But that song meant a lot to me that summer, and its sentimental value has endured. [pullquote]School breaks were no good. Love died over them. This had apparently been proven by science.[/pullquote] The song came out when I had my first serious boyfriend, whom we’re going to call Chad. The guy I’d dated …

She Must Be My Lucky Star

For the first 12 or so years of my life, I was the good girl. My first act of rebellion came in seventh grade when I threw a bunch of baby carrots in the bathroom at church. (I have no idea know why I did this.) Before I could even be accused of the carrot caper, I confessed. Bowing down to authority seemed to be inked into my DNA. While other middle schoolers were experimenting with smoking, I could be found in the school band. I didn’t even play a cool instrument like the drums or the saxophone. No, I played the oboe, and the oboe is just about the nerdiest of the nerdy instruments a junior high schooler could play. Then in 8th grade, MTV came bursting into my room. That year, I spent every afternoon glued to the TV. I was enthralled by Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf. I escaped through a-ha’s comic book-styled world in Take On Me. I spent hours learning the moves to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. But the song that captivated …

Margit’s Note: Mad for Madge

Bold, brave, annoying, cool, fierce, trend-setting, trend-following, kooky, tired, inspired, diva, mother, lover, talented, hack. In short, Madonna is just like us! (With a little more cash and a gold tooth.) We’ve brought Ms. Ciconne along for our ride since we were teens, and she provided the soundtrack, the raunchy stunts and the idea that anything is fair game in love and fashion. Tear up that sweatshirt, wear your pointy bra on the outside and pile on the rubber bracelets. Express yourself. These days, we want to shame Madonna for not acting her age (she’ll be 57 on August 16), for overly sinewy arms, for trying to be a comedian when she should stick to music, for dating younger men. She gets it harder because she constantly puts herself in the spotlight. She won’t go quietly. The tone of her latest single, “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” is a bit “Hey, don’t forget about MEEEEE.” It’s a feeling that, as we grow older, we all have to combat. When people tell Madonna to chill out and just be a role …

My Personal Hair-Metal Hell

There are only two bands on Earth that I truly hate. Despite having run the gauntlet of indie record store employee, college radio music director and Senior Music Editor of college radio weekly CMJ between 1988 and 2002, I only really have it in for two bands. First, the Doors. We’ll leave that one for another time. Second, and the target of my most virulent, Technicolor ire, is Mötley Crüe. Put simply, Mötley Crüe took some of the greatest influences in rock – the seed of glam that bloomed into the New York Dolls, the pull-no-punches riffs of countless fierce ‘70s bands like AC/DC and Cheap Trick, the parent-spooking studs and black leather of punk – and amalgamated them into the biggest pile of party-hardy excrement to hit the charts ever. Do I seem bitter? That’s because I was in high school at the apex/nadir of hair metal: 1986-1990. By the time I was 14, I was already a deeply invested music nerd, scouring liner note lists of “thank yous” to find new bands, leaning …

The Rise and Fall of the “Indie” Artist

I came to college radio in the ’90s, when “alternative” was earning itself a capital “A” among marketing types and when bands that existed for as long as a 7-inch were snagging major-label deals. This was also the period of slackers and Slacker, when corporate rock continued to suck and when Coca-Cola’s attempt to tell Gen Xers that they’d created a soda that was totally OK was met with derisive eye-rolls. The palpable tension between the creation of culture and its ever-quicker path toward commodification was probably best    exhibited in my world by the extended argument — written in Sharpie and a variety of pens — that covered the inlay of Built to Spill’s 1997 album Perfect From Now On. The trio’s major-label debut was a marvelous album full of sprawling songs and gorgeous textures, with singer-guitarist Doug Martsch tossing off explosive solos and meditative drones featuring lyrics about finding eternity’s true size and standing up to the demands of the metaphysical world. Perfect remains a fairly astounding piece of work, a shining example …

Out of Time: How My Teenager Fell in Love With R.E.M.

My son doesn’t remember the first time an R.E.M song soothed him, but I tell him the story often, much to his chagrin. He was not even a month old, screaming his lungs out, defying sleep as only an infant can. My younger brother Philip, about 25 at the time, grabbed him from me. The song “Electrolite” was playing and Philip rocked my rapidly quieting son in rhythm, singing along softly, “Don’t be scared…you are alive.” Not a typical lullaby, by any stretch. But I’d always been a big music lover and in particular, a lover of R.E.M. Since 1982, R.E.M. had a song for whatever mood I was in, milestones I celebrated, or challenges I faced. In early 1997, R.E.M.’s album, New Adventures In Hi Fi was just a few months older than my son, and it eased and guided me through shifting postpartum emotions that were amplified by exhaustion. That night, as my son wondrously nodded off, I saw music settle him as it had so often settled me. It was one of …

Margit’s Note: Fight the Power

Jim Jarmusch’s quirky, black and white Stranger Than Paradise. David Lynch’s bizarre (Dennis Hopper!) Blue Velvet. Robert Townsend’s hilarious skewering of the movie industry, Hollywood Shuffle. Offbeat and entirely unique, indie movies of the ‘80s were the films that fueled my early passion for cinema. The same could be said for the indie music of the ‘80s — the bands on small, independent labels that filled up our mixed tapes. We’d emblazon them with “death to corporate rock” stickers — this was when indie actually meant independently produced, instead of just being a moniker for a genre of sound or style. That independent sensibility defined our 20s and allowed us to feel like we could be and do anything, too. Starting this week, the Brooklyn Academy of Music is launching a series featuring some of the amazing films of the ‘80s era, dubbing it “the neglected decade” of cinema. I’m not quite sure I know anyone my age who neglected that era, though; for most of us these were the movies that inspired our creative lives. …

A Superstar Visits Buenos Aires

Gospel music has a way of making people sound like better singers than they are. I should know—I’m one of those people. In general, one should not make too many assumptions about someone’s talent simply because that person sings professionally or publicly. When a person chooses to sing or not sing in front of other people, that choice doesn’t necessarily reflect the person’s musical ability (or lack thereof). Not all people who can sing do sing, and not all people who do sing can sing. If you’re wondering into which category I fall, the answer is who the hell knows? Can I carry a tune? Absolutely. (*Clears throat. Puts right index finger to ear and points left index finger to sky, like Mi-mi-mi-miiiiii. Do-re-mi-fa….*) Can I hit high notes? Usually. It depends on how many Marlboros I smoked (or how much Malbec I drank) the previous night. But when you sing in a gospel choir, especially an African-American gospel choir, hitting your notes is beside the point. The music is as much about the message …