Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Roadway

Not the actual roadway but a band called Roadway. I am listening to their self titled EP from 2011.

Has anyone heard their song “This Is Why” recently. It is a derivative version of “Soldier of Fortune” from the David Coverdale era of Deep Purple. If “This Is Why” broke through and the mainstream press got a hold of it, guess what kind of conversation people would be having.

Yep you guessed it.

Everyone would be saying “What a rip off”. Lawyers will contact David Coverdale and Richie Blackmore and whisper in their ears, that they have a case for plagiarism.

“This Is Why” is a great song and no one has even heard it. By the way, it features Doogie White and it actually made me call up “Soldier Of Fortune” on Spotify. Yep, “This Is Why” made me want to revisit the Coverdale era of Purple. I even set up a playlist with both of the songs. It is also their most played song on Spotify, however at 17,620 streams it’s virtually unknown.

In no way does Roadway’s song, “This Is Why” take away from the original. Much in the same way that most of the music from the Seventies didn’t take away from the blues music that came before that. And that is what Roadway do well. The Seventies hard rock vibe. They have it down and it is so refreshing to hear a current band be influenced by that era, especially when the main songwriter Ross McEwen was born in 1988.

“Fight For Freedom” is a derivative version of “Fairies Wear Boots”. I saw on Spotify that there is another EP called “Set In Stone” released in 2013.

Ross McEwen is a star. He is cut from the same old school coat that spawned Deep Purple, Rainbow and Whitesnake. He wears his influences on his sleeve. He writes music because he doesn’t want to do anything else. He wants to be involved in music. He has a music career. Not only is he the main song writer for Roadway, he is also part of Doogie White’s solo band and part of Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell’s band. In addition to all of that, he also underwent a shitload of surgeries on his knee.

Musicians rarely have just the one gig/band. These days, it is more common for artists to have more than one musical outlet.

Of course, when a band got picked up by a label back in the day, there was a good chance that the band would be the only gig that the musicians would try to keep, however up until then, musicians jammed with other bands, changed bands, played in cover bands and just gigged with anyone. You see Ross, gets it. Roadway is just one outlet in his music career. He also is a lecturer in commercial music courses.

However, in Roadway he shines. Check em out on Spotify. You will not be disappointed.

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Music, My Stories

And The Grammy Goes To……. Metallica

The Grammy awards is not about the awards, it is about the performances. The Grammy organisation exists solely to sell a TV show and advertising. Go on all the music and news websites and what are people talking about after the Grammy’s.

If you said, Metallica and their mashed up performance of “One” with classical pianist Lang Lang, then you are right.

If you said, it is people blasting Metallica’s terrible and pitchy performance of “One” then you are right again.

If you said, it is people applauding Metallica’s performance, then you are right again.

That is why after the Grammy’s, Metallica got a 125% boost in Spotify streams for the song “One”. So if they had 100,000 streams the previous week, they had 225,000 streams after their Grammy performance for their song “One”. Overall, across their whole catalogue, their Grammy performance gave them a 63% increase.

Heard anything about the actual winners in the Best Metal category. Who was it again? Who won the Metal award?

To prove my point, look at the Daft Punk performance of “Get Lucky”. Their performance of “Get Lucky” included Stevie Wonder and a large portion of Stevie’s song called “Another Star”. Guess by how much that song streams increased by on Spotify after the Grammy performance?

Did you say 635%?

Yep, spot on. Was Stevie Wonder nominated for anything?

Okay that was a trick question, he was part of two nominations. A massive group nomination for Best Musical and a nomination in the R&B category for a song that he featured in. However no other song performed at the Grammy’s got even close to the percentage increase experienced by Stevie Wonder on Spotify.

When you carry out a performance in front of 28.5 million U.S viewers, it is bound to get a reaction. Metallica and their management team know this. Credit Cliff Burnstein. A good manager is the difference between the haves and the have-nots. And that is what Cliff is. A good manager.

So what about the winners of the metal category. “God Is Dead?” from Black Sabbath didn’t get much traction after the awards. Out of mind, out of sight is what I say.

But back to Metallica.

You see while Keith Urban and Beyonce played some of their new stuff that no one cared about, Metallica played what the people wanted to hear. They used that exposure to remind people, why they care about them in the first place. They didn’t try to promote something recent or a special new song, written for the Grammy’s. They played “One” goddamn it. Even though I didn’t really like the mash-up, it was still Metallica, playing a signature tune that is 26 years old.

Who cares about the categories? There are too many of them anyway, so no one cares about who wins. The artists that do win at the Grammy’s are the ones that perform. And the Grammy for Best Metal Performance goes to Metallica once again.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/01/28/daft-punk-post-grammy-streams-jump-205-percent-on-spotify/4968507/

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

A Metal Heads Guide To The Key Of Music Success

The technology of today allows for convenient costless copying and transportation of large chunks of data across the internet. Before the rise of streaming, people were still given a raw deal when it came to digital music and forced to overpay. In Australia, an iTunes song costs between $1.69 and $2.69. This price remained the same, even when our dollar was stronger than the US dollar.

Then the ACCC, our competition watchdog launched an inquiry into these geo-blocking price restrictions. Apple went in front of the commission and stated that they didn’t set the price for music in Australia and that the price was set by the Record Labels. It was found by the Commission that there should be no reason why Australians should pay more for software and music. However, nothing has changed in relation to the prices.

When music is offered in a convenient and low-cost legal alternative, the rate of piracy drops because most people do want to support artists and the various research out there points out that is the case.

For example, let’s look at TesseracT, the band. They released a great album in “Altered State”. It didn’t sell huge amounts in the U.S, so based on the record label success model, the album is a fizzer. However, the band knows that touring is where they make their money. And that is what they are doing. Musicmetric data showed (before it went behind a pay wall) that TesseracT’s music was downloaded the most in North America via peer-to-peer Torrent networks. So guess which area’s TesseracT have toured?

Yep, North America. They are touring there again from March and April 2014. The previously toured North America between September and October 2013. Coincidence. Maybe.

In relation to Spotify, they have a combined album stream count of 1,705,734. What this means, is that if you tally up all of the album songs shown in their popular list you will get to that number.

Go on YouTube and you see that the “Nocturne” (OFFICIAL VIDEO) by Century Media Records has 302,002 views. My favourite track from “Singularity” on the Century Media Records channel has 260,817 views compared to the 130,835 on Spotify. These numbers matter. Especially for a band that plays to a niche market.

What about the band Volbeat? They fall on all sides of the equation. They are one of the most streamed metal bands out there, plus they are downloaded a lot via peer-to-peer networks and in addition to all of this, they are still selling albums in the U.S. Their “Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies” album was released on 5 April 2013 and as at 29 January 2014, it is still selling in the U.S.

Yep, that’s right, in an era were physical sales of recorded music are non-existent, Volbeat has been selling consistently for 42 weeks straight. Prior to the release of “Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies”, their previous album “Beyond Heaven, Above Hell” was still selling up to and past the release date of the new album.

From a record label point of view, this is pure gold. They have a band that can consistently sell albums and Volbeat has been doing that each week for the last three years in the very competitive US market.

That is why they are hitting the U.S market again for the third time, this time with “Trivium” and the best DIY independent band out there in “Digital Summer”.

Look at their song “Still Counting” on Spotify. It has 21,193,159 streams. On the YouTube channel of Tomas Grafström “Still Counting” has 11,725,300 views.

My favourite song “Fallen” has 12,392,089 streams. On the VolbeatVEVO channel, “Fallen” has 4,583,706 views.

“Cape Of Our Hero” from the new album has 5,838,326 streams. On YouTube, “Cape Of Our Hero” has 2,999,070 views on the VolbeatVEVO channel.

Another band that is doing great numbers both in actual sales, streams and peer-to-peer downloads is Skillet. The album “Rise” was released on June 25, 2013 and at this point in time, 31 weeks after that, it is still selling. That is what the labels want, bands that can sell week in and week out. What does the band want? They want people to listen to their music.

To compare to the current mainstream rock band, none of these bands come close to Imagine Dragons. “Night Visions” came out on September 4, 2012. 73 weeks later, the album is still moving physical albums. At this point in time the album has sold over 1.8 million copies in the US. The main songs are high on Spotify’s streaming chart. They are also very high on the peer-to-peer download lists.

Seriously their Spotify numbers are insane. “Radioactive” is at 172 million streams compared to 128 million views on YouTube. “Demons” is at 73 million streams compared to 50 million views on YouTube. My favourite “It’s Time” is at 75 million streams compared to 59 million streams on YouTube.

Music is now a game of data. The key to any artist is not how many albums or songs are sold. The key is this;

ARE PEOPLE LISTENING TO YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE SHARING YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT YOUR MUSIC?
ARE PEOPLE DOWNLOADING YOUR MUSIC?
WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE LOCATED?
MUSIC IS A RELATIONSHIP BUSINESS. DO YOU HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THESE PEOPLE?

If you answered YES to the first question, move on to the next question. If you haven’t answered YES to the first question, take a step back and start writing more music.

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Music

While My Depression Gently Weeps – Part 1 of The Music My Savior Chronicles

I gave up smoking in 2010. My last cigarette was at Thessaloniki Airport, Greece in August, 2010. I had the last drag, coughed and gagged like I was choking and said with determination that I quit.

I haven’t had a smoke since then. You see back in November 2008, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. For a 32 year old, this came as a big surprise. When I went into the doctors surgery complaining of migraines, my blood pressure was 170/120. This was on a Tuesday and the doctor said to come back on a Friday to see if it was just an off-spike. So what did I do after hearing this news.

I started drinking straight whiskey, three shots a day, believing that whiskey will ease the pressure readings. I walk into the Doctor’s office on Friday and proceed to sit down while the doctor puts the arm band on, presses start on the machine and I am confident that all will be well.

210/130. The Doctor’s eyes popped out of his head. He wrote referreals for echograms, cardio tests and blood tests for blockages, along with scripts for blood pressure meds. He asked me if I was a smoker and I said yes. He said to me to STOP immediately if I want to watch my kids grow up. He asked me to lose weight and to start taking the medication and to come back on Monday morning.

So of course, I started taking the medication however I didn’t stop smoking. On Monday, my blood pressure was at 150/110. Another type of tablet was added to my dose that involved two tablets in the morning and one at night. I went back on Friday and it was all better. 140/90.

I was still smoking and every month when I went for a check up the blood pressure was still up but “controlled” in my own twisted way. I was spending $90 on Blood Pressure medication a month, along with a $200 smoking habit. The good deeds of the medication was getting undone by the smoking habit.

It wasn’t until 2010 that I started coughing and gagging every time I had a smoke and eventually that year I stopped smoking. Apart from the blood pressure problem, I was in between houses, selling one house and building another house, while the Global Financial Crisis was happening all around me. On top of that, one of my boys was hospitalised on two occasions for urinary tract infections and had to undergo two procedures. I swear I couldn’t see the light at the end of this journey. To top it all off the band I created was splintering and I had so much money invested in it, I couldn’t walk away from it without the guys paying me back. So during this period 2008 to 2010, I started listening to music with sad and depressing lyrics.

Breaking Benjamin entered my life around this time. The “Phobia” and “Dear Agony” albums got played constantly.

Machine Head’s “Descend The Shades Of Night”, “Goodbye To Romance” from the Blizzard Of Ozz band (yep, every time I refer to the Randy Rhoads era it will be via the name Blizzard Of Ozz) and Megadeth’s “A Tout Le Monde” came back in my life.

And as depressing as some of the songs are they helped me through my own depressive period.

The reason why I started thinking about smoking is because I was at a party on the weekend and everyone smoked, making it very difficult to interact with the people.

20. Give Me A Sign

It is from the album “Dear Agony” by Breaking Benjamin released in 2009. On YouTube it has 7,088,460 views and on Spotify it has 1,229,610 plays. The song is a superstar in the modern metal and rock circles.

Daylight dies
Blackout the sky
Does anyone care?
Is anybody there?
Take this life
Empty inside
I’m already dead
I’ll rise to fall again

Benjamin Burnley sings the above over a slow haunting riff about losing his way and screaming for help, looking for the sign. My advice to myself from listening to this song is that “when it comes to the end, you have to let go”.

19. Break Away

It is from the album “The Illusion Of Progress” by Staind released in 2008. One YouTube channel has the song up to stream and it has been viewed 382,520 times.

Like a wheel
That keeps turning
If I could break away
From this moment
Break away
What is real
Break away
Never showing
Break away
How I feel
If I could break away

Apathy
The ignorance it brings
The tragedy
Of all these things
We keep repeating

I felt like the song was about me when I heard it in 2008. It is about repeating the same actions everyday, looking for a change and not having the guts to make it happen, believing that some deity in the sky will do it all for me.

My advice to myself from listening to this song is that it was time to make the change and break away. By the end of 2010, the band was over (at a large financial loss to me), the house was finished and I had quit smoking. I made the change/s.

18. What A Shame

It is from the album “The Sound Of Madness” by Shinedown released in 2008. On YouTube, 4 channels have it up with a combined view count over 2.5 million.

Two packs of cigarettes a day
The strongest whiskey
Kentucky can make
That’s a recipe to put a vagabond
On his hands and knees

When I heard the opening verse, I said to myself, damn, that is me. That is exactly what I am doing. Brent Smith nails the emotion in this song. It is about his uncle and a beautiful song. So many of us are judged from everyone around us. It is wrong. Even I do it. Sometimes we all need some help and what we get is criticism instead.

My advice to myself from listening to this song is the chorus line; “What a shame, to judge a life that you can’t change.”

17. Broken Bones

“The Rev Theory” is a very underrated hard rock band. “Broken Bones” is from their 2008 release “Light Me Up.”

Caught in the confines of the simple life
And I am
Holding my head high in the rising tide
And I can’t win
And I can’t fight
I keep holding on too tight
Running away from the world outside

It’s the denial principle within us all. We run away from the problems we are facing by putting on a smile when all we want to do is cry. And when we have problems, the person that we need the most isn’t there to help or is there and doesn’t understand what the hell is going on, which is a shame.

I’m not coming home now
I know
I’m so far away
So far from home
I’m not coming home now
I know
I’m so far away
I’m so far away

This part is emotional. I know that the song is about a band member that they lost along the way, however when i was in hospital with a shattered foot waiting surgery to reconstruct it, this song got me through the days. Coming into 2010, I was in a dark place that I didn’t think I would survive to see the end of the year. “Broken Bones” helped me through it.

My advice to myself from listening to this song is that I needed to get back home and realise that everything that loves me and everything that I love is right in front of me. Like the Three Doors Down song “Heaven” released in 2011 on the “Time Of My Life” album, “I didn’t have to let myself get so far gone, I didn’t have to make the ones I love feel so alone, I didn’t have to die to go to heaven, i Just had to go home.”

16. Let Me Be Myself

Three Doors Down nailed what I was feeling in this song. It was released in 2008, on their self-titled debut. To me it is all about doing what society and my family wants me to do, instead of doing what I want to do. You only get one chance at life, so why waste it living someone else’s life.

I guess I just got lost
Being someone else.
I tried to kill the pain,
But nothing ever helped.
I left myself behind,
Somewhere along the way
Hoping to come back around
To find myself someday

Life has its highs and lows, however I made the choices that got me in these situations. So when I made the choice to get married, the part of the word “me”, I should have left behind and focused on the word “we”. However for years, I focused on the ME and the I. Even after I had kids. Listening to this song when it came out, I said to myself, damn, this song nails my feelings.

Then listening to it at the end of 2010, my view was different. When the lyric states “I guess I just got lost being someone else”, I saw that as me being lost on how to be a dad, thinking I had to do things in a certain way because hey, everyone is a judge in life.

15. Alias

Released in 2009 by In Flames on the “A Sense Of Purpose” album.

Don’t tell me,
Tell my ghost,
Cause I blame him
For all I don’t want to know

In Flames are a great band. I love this song and the title and the Freudian lyrics.

We all keep the real part of us hidden. That is why we are able to adapt to different situations. The ghost is the face that the people all see. It is the mask that we all wear to keep ourselves protected from the truth.

Life’s wrapped in a riddle,
Easier said than done,
Hate to play the victim,
Rather run and hide.

It was time that I acknowledged that I was in fact my own victim. Only I could make the decision to change.

14. Wake Up

Story Of The Year are very underrated in the metal community. From the outset the band got labelled as Emo. However, to me I always saw them as a metal band. It took an album about “The Black Swan Theory”, released in 2008 that got my hooked.

So what is “The Black Swan Theory”. It is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight;

Wake up!
To the sound of this time bomb
Wake up!
To it’s deafening song
Wake up!
Cause you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone
Until it’s gone

With all the chaos in my life at that point in time, this song made me feel alive, calm and confident. It was like it understood me. The message was simple. Wake Up.

13. That Was Just Your Life

Call it the “Enter Sandman” riff backwards. Call the harmony guitars at about the 5.50 minute mark Thin Lizzy rip offs. Call it that they plagiarised “Jump In The Fire”. Call it a great song, to open up the “Death Magnetic”.

“Like a release from a prison that i didn’t know i was in”

What a brilliant lyric. That is what music is on the days where the blues kick in. A release from the prison we are in.

“I blind my eyes and try and force it all into place,
I stitch them up, see not my fall from grace.
I blind my eyes, I hide and feel it passing me by
I open just in time to say goodbye.”

Denial and acceptance of what I believe the version of the truth is. You can easily combine verses from so many different songs and come up with a new Buddhist mantra that is a hundred pages long.

12. The Forgotten

The last album of the Howard Jones Killswitch Engage era released in 2009 and what an album it is.

What have you given up will never return again
Now you’re dead inside I hope it was worth the cost

This is like looking in the mirror at your own reflection and asking yourself “was it worth it”. Sometimes it is better to be the forgotten.

11. The Unforgiven III

Set sail to sea, but pulled off course

A welcome return from Metallica. By 2009, I thought I was doing what I wanted to do and that I was going out to be the best that I could be in my own way, however, I started to see that I was getting side-tracked, following paths that I never should have walked on. By the end of 2009, I was frustrated and I got even more frustrated when I realised that the position I was in, was all of my doing. There was no one to blame except me.

These days drift on inside a fog
It’s thick and suffocating
This seeking life outside its hell
Inside intoxicating

Alcohol and tobacco. It’s easy to numb the feelings when you are intoxicated. The funny thing is that even the songs mentioned deal with dark subject matters, I saw a sense of hope in them and when Robb Flynn screamed “Music My Savior – Save Me” in “Darkness Within” two years later, I knew exactly what he meant.

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Influenced, My Stories

Life Messages from The American Wolf Of Hustle Wall Street and others – 2013 Best off in Cinema… Part 1

American Hustle and The Wolf Of Wall Street

These two movies are for all the people who don’t know how the world works. For all those people that still believe that if you work hard, get a good education and put in the 12 hour days, that somehow, success will work itself out and befall on them.

But it doesn’t really happen that way at all. Everybody is hustling. Everybody is putting a scam in motion. The whole recording business is a scam, overrun by liars and cheaters, who get artists into contracts and then proceed to underpay the artists due to some creative accounting.

Both movies show an accurate reflection of life where scammers and hustlers work only for themselves, constantly tweaking and adjusting their methods to stay ahead of the law. Look at “The Pirate Bay” in music. It innovated more in one year than what the whole recording business did in 15 years and the law still cant get to it. Heard the music business scream “Piracy” lately. It’s because fans of music are slowly getting serviced with streaming.

What these movies have shown is that it doesn’t matter what level of education a person has. It doesn’t mean that they will win. Quitters never win and it is the winners that write history. The winners write history because they bend the laws and they twist social morals to suit them. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Oblivion

I love it’s eeriness. Director Joseph Kosinski, who also wrote the story did a great job in bringing back the Seventies sci-fi movie with “Oblivion”. Progress is derivative right.

This movie is for the people who only believe what they are told and even when they come across something that questions that belief, they re-frame it and twist it, so that it conforms with what they believe in, because that is all the know. Whatever Mission Control said was the truth and the whole truth.

We life in an information society right now with everything at our fingertips.

Don’t be a fool. Do your own research and question everything. Don’t just follow. Whereas “The Wolf Of Wall Street” and “American Hustle” reflect the hustling mentality of life, “Oblivion” reflects our servitude to institutions.

We serve the needs of companies and get paid a wage in return. That wage gets broken up and some of it goes to the tax institution. Some of it goes to the banking/mortgage institutions, some of it goes to the utility companies. If you get paid a basic wage, basically all of your wage is consumed before the next one is due.

We serve different religions and different creeds. That is what “Oblivion” is about. Serving “Mission Control”. The powerful and the wealthy tell us how to act and behave by rewriting history and bending laws to suit them. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Now You See Me

This movie was a super surprise. A sleeper hit. I read the reviews about how this smaller budgeted movie blew away the big budget blockbusters during the 2013 US Summer. For a movie that cost $75 million to make and promote, it has returned over $350 million. French director Louis Leterrier did a great job bringing the movie to life. As is the norm these days, the directors are as a big as the movie stars and in some cases bigger. They have their own blogs, own social media accounts and what not.

So what does this movie teach us about life.

In a similar vein to “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street”, scammers and hustlers are everywhere however in this case, revenge is obtained by the person that was wronged.

The insurance company scammed the dead magician’s family. The dead magician’s tricks got exposed by another magician who was a hustler. Fast forward a few decades and the son of the dead magician is now old enough to orchestrate the greatest trick/scam/hustle ever.

The powerful and the rich write bend laws to suit themselves. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

World War Z

Yeah, I know it’s got Brad Pitt and Zombies, however I really liked this movie. It played out like stages in a video game.
We have had a pretty clean run in relation to epidemics compared to previous centuries. This movie got me thinking about “The Happening”.

In “The Happening”, humans had become a threat to the planet and the plants released some form of a neurotoxin (which I will call a virus) that causes anyone exposed to it to commit suicide. In “World War Z” the virus needs a viable host to spread and therefore it is found that people inflicted with various diseases are immune from the zombie swarms as they cannot spread the disease.

In both movies they deal with nature. Nature requires a live host to spread the virus in “World War Z” and Nature fights back against the humans in “The Happening”. Respect our world is the message that I get from WWZ. The more we disrespect it and pollute it, the more we and our future generations will suffer.

The rich pharmaceutical companies care about treatments. There is no money in cures for them. They lobby hard to rewrite the laws and protect their business models. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Escape Plan

I don’t know what people have against Stallone and Schwarzenegger as actors. They have proven themselves in the entertainment business for over 40 years. Swedish director, Mikael Håfström delivers again in Escape Plan. It is a great story line.

As I am watching “Escape Plan”, I am thinking, wow, if someone wants to imprison a person just to get them out-of-the-way, they can, just because they have power or money.

Bradley Manning is in jail. He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t hurt anyone. All he did was embarrass his government.

Ed Snowden is on the run, seeking asylum. He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t hurt anyone. All he did was embarrass his government.

On both occassions, Manning and Snowden also informed the world at large to the crimes of their government. Torturing inmates is something that is associated to dictatorships, not to democratic countries. Spying on your citizens is common in dictatorships, not in democratic countries.

In both cases, if Manning and Snowden are reporters, they would have been seen as heroes.

Then you have the cases, where power and money gets you off on charges. Last year was littered with the kids of rich parents, driving cars intoxicated, killing others while driving or just speeding, Guess what they didn’t do any time and they also kept their driving permits.

The wealthy bend the laws to suit them. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Another thing that Escape Plan brought to mind is the conflict of interests that people have and the revolving door of politicians to private firms or to lobby groups.

The politicians write and pass laws to benefit the wealthy and then when their term in office is finished, they get a well-paying job for the same companies that they made rich while in office. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Australia Day

It’s coming to the end of Australia Day. It has been another hectic day, taking the kids into town, where they purchase tokens and go on the rides. You see, while it is Australia Day, it is the actual theme park show and events that steals the day and the fireworks that steal the night.

For the Indigenous people, Australia Day is the day that they got invaded. For people who reside in the other states, Australia Day is on the day that celebrates the colony foundation of the state of New South Wales.

I love Australia. I am Australian by birth, the son of European migrants. My two older brothers were born in Europe in the Sixties. I don’t know any other way of life, except the Australian way. My three boys born in the two thousands are the second generation of Australians. They don’t know any other way of life, except the Australian way.

My father worked his whole life for BHP Steel. From when he arrived to when he retired hurt. He and so many other workers. So when Jimmy Barnes released “For The Working Class Man” in 1985, I saw that song as the perfect definition of what it means to be Australian. And it is written by Jonathan Cain (the keyboardist from Journey) who is American.

Working hard to make a living

My dad was a bloody hard worker. Not only did he make a living for his family in Australia, he sent money every month to his father in Europe. He supported two families.

He’s a simple man
With a heart of gold
In a complicated land
Oh he’s a working class man

My parents left their communist country two days before their visa to come to Australia expired. The main hold up was my dad’s father (aka my grandfather that I am named after). Since my Dad was the oldest, my Grandfather wasn’t happy that his eldest son was leaving to come to Australia. He threatened to harm all of my Dad’s brother and sisters as a way to make Dad stay.

Now from the stories that I have heard, my grandfather was a bad ass. No one messed with him. My grandfather was born in the 1920’s and my father was born in 1944, towards the end of World War 2. This guy was battle hardened and very protective of his family. He expected obedience.

I saw my Grandfather for the first time in December 1993. Dad paid for his ticket to come to Australia for my oldest brothers wedding. By know he was over seventy and man I almost cried when I saw this frail looking 150cm tall, a bit hunchbacked, walking through customs. Time is a killer. The whole three months he spent in Australia, I just sat with him and asked him about stuff and he told me story after story, along with a lot of regrets, like NOT LISTENING TO MY FATHER AND COMING TO AUSTRALIA WHEN HE HAD THE CHANCE.

Saving all the overtime
For the one love of his life

I hardly saw my dad growing up. He was always at work, doing double shifts and triple shifts. Yep back in the Seventies and the Eighties, workers did triple shifts. I remember a lot of times when I misbehaved and my mom used to say that if I don’t behave, she would call my dad. I ran straight to my room and locked the door. I was frightened of him because I didn’t know him. And the funny thing is that he wasn’t even home. That was the power he had in the household. Whereas today, I want to be mates with my kids.

There is another lyric that is similar.

I hear my father’s working night and day
In Struggle Town it has to be that way

It is from the song “Struggle Town” by the Australian band “The Choirboys” that was released in 1987 on their “Big Bad Noise” album. The town I grew up in “Port Kembla” was becoming a bit like towards the end of the Eighties, so this song resonated and then when I started to drive around to other towns, you start to see the same thing. People working hard to make a living and struggling at doing it.

Jimmy Barnes is more or less an Aussie legend. Typical of Australia’s multiculturalism, he was born in Scotland. His previous band “Cold Chisel” was just about to sing a lucrative contract with Elektra Records in the US and at the last-minute Elektra Records reneged on the deal and took a chance with Motley Crue. If you don’t believe me, read “The Dirt”. It’s all in there. Eventually Cold Chisel called it day, however, Barnsey just kept on working hard to make a living.

The Choirboys are also Aussie legends. One of the bands I was in even opened up for The Choirboys back in the day. Still to this day they put on shows, working hard to make a living.

Australia is just that. People working hard to make a living, so that we can let our hair down, have a few beeries and catch some sun and surf. And then we call in sick after a long weekend. Happy Australia day everyone.

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Music

Black – Some Songs Just Cannot Be Covered

I had a pretty crazy 36 hours that involved a three-hour drive (with toilet stops and breakfast stops) to Canberra, the Australian National Museum, some shopping, dinner and then the next morning, we took in Questacon, some more shopping and another three-hour drive home (this time I made sure that I laid down the law on the toilet breaks).

I have three boys, aged 8, 7 and 2. I love em to death, but they drive me mad. Especially on holidays. For example, today, we had breakfast at the hotel. My eldest and me were the last ones to leave and from the looks of it, he looked pretty full. So we go back to the room and we start packing. I open the fridge to grab the few items we had in there and he asks me, “Can I have a coke?”

I am thinking to myself “WTF”. Didn’t he just tell me, two minutes ago that he is so full he cannot breathe. Now he wants to drink a bottle of coke and it’s not even 10am. I turn to look at him, with an upset angry face and reply a stern, “NO”. I hate doing that, however I am seeing that the kids have no self-control when it comes to soft drink.

Quick getaway’s are stressful. I don’t even call them getaways. I call them stressaways. Sometimes going back to work is more of a holiday than the actual holiday. Especially when kids are involved, however I wouldn’t even dream of going somewhere without them. The room we stayed in at the Grand Mercure had two levels. I don’t know what the hell my wife and I were thinking when we booked the room. For the short time that we actually stayed in the room, all we did was walk the 2 year old up and down the freaking stairs. Then towards the end of the stay, he started screaming the room down to go solo on the stairs. Fun and games. Fun and games.

So in all of the craziness of today, I had a small window, a small opportunity, a small chance to read some emails and one of them was an email from YouTube, telling me that the song “Black” is up for viewing from the Smith and Myers acoustic project.

For those that don’t know, Brent Smith and Zach Myers are from Shinedown. In order to pass time between albums, the band asked fans to vote and recommend songs that they would like to see the guys cover. The final agreed list was finalised and in April 2013, Smith and Myers went in and recorded the final ten songs acoustically.

We are finally seeing the songs starting to filter through on YouTube. What a 9 month build up to the release? Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, Pearl Jam and Adele didn’t approve the YouTube releases because that meant that Smith and Myers are effectively giving the performances away. For the original artist (or whoever owns the rights at this point in time), this means no income.

So the original 10 song release is down to six for the time being. “Acoustic Sessions” will be released digitally on Jan. 28, and the list of songs are as follows;

“London Calling” by the Clash
“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding
“Nothing Else Matters” by Metallic
“She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes
“Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum
“Blue On Black” by Kenny Wayne Shephard

The other 4 songs that will be released at another time are;
“Black” by Pearl Jam
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Bob Jovi
“In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
“Someone Like You” by Adele

So I was very surprised to see the email that “Black” from Pearl Jam was up. Thinking that it was a mistake and that the song would get taken down, I suddenly made sure I found some time on my holiday to check it out.

First, let me tell you a story about Pearl Jam and “Black”. I really didn’t like “Even Flow” or “Alive” when they hit the air waves back in 1991. They just didn’t connect with me at that point in time. In addition, I was really anti-grunge because all of the rock bands that I was into started to disappear. So I was staying loyal to my team. The hard rock team.

Then in 1993, I saw an live performance of the band doing “Jeremy” going into “Rockin In The Free World” with Neil Young at the MTV Awards and I was suddenly interested. Loyalty to hard/glam rock was still strong, however in the end I am a fan of music and if there is great music to hear from other genre’s I will dig deep and hear it. So I asked a previous hard rock friend of mine who switched to the grunge side to copy the album onto a cassette for me.

Oh, the shame of admitting defeat. My mate made sure that he dug in the hooks, while twisting the knife. On my way home, I pressed play on the Sony Walkman and there it was, hidden away at track 5. “Black” had entered my life. “Her legs spread out before me”. What a hard rock lyric, however it doesn’t sound cliche or derivative of the hard rock genre. It is original and fresh.

By the time “Black” finished, I wanted to hear the whole song again, just to hear that unbelievable outro this time around. And when it finished for the second time, I rewinded the tape again and heard it again. I did that non stop for about two weeks, until the tape got tangled up (or chewed up – the people that had tapes would totally understand what I mean by this) and then I was off to the record shop to purchase the CD. I paid $27, just to hear the song “Black” over and over again, almost 2 years after it was released.

“Black” was the car that put me on the road to Seattle.

So now I am listening to the Brent Smith and Zach Myers cover of that song. It takes a lot of guts taking on a song that was a hit, however it was never released as an official single. The fans made this song go viral back in the early nineties, by spamming radio stations to play it and since the Billboard charts have some funny connection with radio plays, the song hit number 3 on the Billboard Rock Charts, beating out songs that had actual single sales on the board.

So Smith and Myers have shown a lot of guts taking on a song that has over 50 million YouTube views from all the various channels that host it. One channel from Nothingman54 has the song at 33,717,347 views.

Aaron Lewis from Staind has also taken the song on. He slowed it down a little bit and his version would have been a definite keeper if the ad lib Eddie Vedder outro was nailed. Again it was a good version, but the pure raw emotion that the original version invokes is not achieved.

For Brent Smith to cover the song and to do it justice he needed to have lived the song before covering it. I always say that some songs cannot be covered. And I have always said that Pearl Jam’s “Black” is such a song.

While the Smith and Myers version is good, it leaves me feeling a bit empty. Maybe I expected a lot more. Maybe they should have included a piano into their acoustic version, as the piano is an integral part of the song. Maybe Brent should have strummed some chords while Myers took the song on in the outro with the piano that wasn’t there.

I really really like Shinedown, so to be critical of Brent Smith (who to me is Shinedown) is painful. I actually went back to hear the original Pearl Jam version after this. Spotify has the “Ten Redux” album up and I was transported back to the same day in 1993, pressing repeat over and over again to hear the song. Then I went to the 2004 remixed version that appeared on “rearview mirror” and set it to repeat.

So even though the Smith and Myers version didn’t connect with me, they did make me go back and listen to the original version, over and over and over again. And that is the power of music. Du Du Duu D Du Du Duu

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