A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Magic Words

I came across a book summary about “Magic Words” by Tim David. And of course I was interested as to what are magic words.

But it starts off with a warning, that magic words will only work when there is a strong human connection. And the most important magic word is “yes” and the word you should avoid the most is “no”.

And I’m thinking, “No shit” or “Yes what a crock of shit” because Dee Snider said “No” when he was told to turn it down in “I Wanna Rock”.

Well not exactly.

More like “can you help me?” style of questioning which gets the person answering either “yes” or “no”. Because, if they say yes, then there is a high chance they will actually do it. But they need to feel connected to you to make the words magic.

So it all comes down to our need to belong to something. Hence the reason why Rock and Metal songwriters had a lot of “We” in their lyrics and song titles like “We Rock” or We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

Avoiding the questioning which could lead to a “no” is important because the mood shifts from positive to negative and feelings of rejection.

The other magic words are But, Because, If, Help and Thanks.

And I’m thinking how this writer Tom David is telling the world what heavy metal and hard rock fans already know. That communication is the key to all human interactions.

So to make connections, get people saying “yes” a lot and “no”, not so much, unless someone is trying to exploit the group/you then a big “NO” is warranted.

To get peoples attention directed use the word “but,” and use “because” and “if” to motivate them and show your appreciation with “help” and “thanks.”

A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes


The theory was that the most technical musicians become great artists. The fastest kids become professional athletes in the sports they selected and the smartest kids become good leaders or innovative ones. And that proved rarely the case.

When CC DeVille did a guitar solo spotlight live, people wanted to walk up to the stage and unplug his guitar. Same deal with Mick Mars. Reviewers in guitar magazines had a certain elitism in their writing and used these two guys as punching bags, but people are more aware of the music that DeVille and Mars created, than the words the elite journalists wrote.

Then another theory came out, that we all need to be better at what we do, that companies need to get better at their social responsibilities, that we need to be better at inclusion and how we need to keep learning to be better.

But better is always in the eye of the beholder.

I subscribe that we always need to be improve. For me, it’s a basic need to learn new stuff, as I am a curious person to begin with, and I like to create, so to create, I like to spread my learning wide so I have enough tools and information to create. Because nothing is created from living in a vacuum. Even those artists or the heirs of the artists who believe that their songs are so original, well they ain’t.

Every new song has to push the sound, the melodies, the lyrics and the music a little bit more than before, but not too much, otherwise the artist will lose the trust of the audience which they battled so hard to gain. It’s a big reason why some artists don’t stray too much from what made them famous, like Kiss, AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

Buy an album from these bands and it will still sound like an album they did, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago and even 40 years ago. And then there are artists who did stray a lot from their sounds and divided their fan base.

Def Leppard with “Slang”, which is a great album by the way and perfect for the time and era it came out. Motley Crue with their self-titled debut, which is one of their best albums for me and “Generation Swine”, which has great rock songs but an industrial production from Scott Humphries which I don’t like.

Bon Jovi with “Lost Highway”, a cool pop rock take on the country/southern rock sounds.

Queensryche with “Promised Land” an album full of dissonance and bleak landscapes so far removed from the polished sounds of “Empire” and even further removed from the operatic and concise storytelling of “Operation Mindcrime”.

Dokken with “Shadowlife” and their attempt at Nu-Metal, which is their worst album by far and after this, George Lynch reformed Lynch Mob, smoked some Limp Bizkit and delivered “Smoke This”, a rap metal album which was a complete disaster. Two from two for good old Georgie.

And then you have an anomaly in Metallica. They pushed the limits of technical thrash and then dropped a self-titled album with shorter songs, a powerful sound and concise lyrics. But it was still rooted in metal. Then they became a classic rock band with the “Load” releases. Then with “St Anger” they became a hybrid, but that trash can drum sound with James spitting out words rather than singing was interesting before they returned to their speed metal roots.

The truth it this, it doesn’t matter how technical you are, how fast you run, how much better you get or improve your skills, it all depends on your execution. Sometimes you will win, sometimes you will lose. But don’t ever stop executing. Just keep going and keep creating.

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

Streaming in COVID-19

It’s strange how things work out.

In reality, most artists and the labels wanted a return to the old sales model for recorded music.

This meant that the labels acted as gatekeepers and they decided who got a chance to come into the walled gardens of a record deal.

As we know, then came Napster and everything changed. iTunes, torrents, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify and other streaming services all came.

The recording labels hated digital services, in the same way the book business and the movie business, and they all did everything in their power to stifle or kill the digital book and streaming services.

All because it meant they had lost control.

The record labels kept arguing about rising prices on monthly steaming rates and then they kept running stories everywhere about limited edition vinyl and record stores and the tradition of seeking out a vinyl and dropping the needle.

And now, COVID-19 is everywhere and suddenly physical sales are non existent and even online orders will not be delivered.

But this is when people can listen the most or read the most. And if you are championing physical, the problem is you can’t really buy anything as all of the stores are closed.

Suddenly streaming services are a source of income. In some cases the main source of income since all postal services are prioritizing essential deliveries over non essential. Somehow physical albums don’t matter when life and death is at stake.

Is this when streaming really takes over the world?

Because if there is a winner here, it’s the record labels, as they hold the majority of the copyrights, so they will keep getting paid forever. Yeah, I still see articles from the labels RIAA about people still obtaining music illegally, but hey, those people will never pay for recorded music in the first place.

And I haven’t heard of any label executive taking a pay cut during these unprecedented times.

But I have heard of artists doing it tough. And now we are getting artists dying as well from COVID complications.

And the labels are doing nothing to help their artists or even their former artists, the ones they still hold the copyrights for.

A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Unknown Heroes

For every guitarist that makes it, there are a lot of well-known guitarists who have a large impact on their development and style. And there are also a lot of guitarists who didn’t make it out of the club/pub circuit, who despite never attaining platinum albums, inspired a generation of guitarists to pick the guitar and rock like hell.

Dave Sabo and Scott Hill kept talking about several unknown musicians from New Jersey who inspired them to rock and roll. These hometown guitar heroes and the thousands of other gifted musicians who play in cover bands, one man shows, who teach, who jam in their rooms and once in a while break out the electric to inspire their kids or grandkids, these people we don’t know about are nothing short of legendary.

And the same goes to the blogging community who share their stories and experiences around the music they love. Even though they are unknown, they are all legendary.

A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Interesting Times

Interesting times we are living through. We have gotten so used to everything just happening. Flick on a switch and the light comes on instantly. It doesn’t matter where you go, you are connected to the internet and to all of the good and bad things that comes with it. Book a holiday and it happens.

But now, everything is getting cancelled or postponed.

Machine Head just cancelled their European tour, so did Sons Of Apollo a week earlier. Festivals are cancelled. NBA cancelled its season, football leagues in Europe and the US have either suspended their leagues or cancelled their leagues or are having matches/events go ahead behind closed doors.

Goes to show how much dollars the TV rights are.

In Australia, the Formula 1 Grand Prix was on with an audience, then it was on with no audience and now it is off, when McLaren pulled out because they had members in their team with Coronavirus.

Holidays have been cancelled, my Euro trip in April has been postponed to sometime in September, whatever that means and countries have shut down people movements and from all of this, there is no toilet paper in Australia but plenty of alcohol to buy.

And this will be a hard time for artists who make their coin on the road and the crew that also rely on these tours to make coin.

Brian Slagel posted on Twitter how fans should purchase something from the artist, like buying music or merchandise. It’s a nice suggestion, but then again Slagel is in the business of selling recorded music, while the world has gravitated to streaming, which based on the streams that rock artists get, it doesn’t pay enough to be split between band members, management, legal and labels.

But, the people who buy, have already purchased something. The people who stream, will continue to stream, regardless of the pleas. It’s just the way it is of the interesting times we are living in.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

And The Cradle Will Rock

From the jet flanger in the intro, played on an electric piano, cranked through a Marshall, to the cruising vibe of the song and DLR freestyling over the verses, it makes this one of my favourite Van Halen songs. In addition, the purchase of this electric piano led to the “Jump” keyboard riff.

Well, they say it’s kinda frightening
How this younger generation swings
You know it’s more than just some new sensation

It’s like the movie “Footloose” before it was even written and made.

No one wanted to go to school.

We just wanted to hang out somewhere, listen to music, read about music, talk about music and do so many other things. Because going to school was like being in the military. It’s why “I Wanna Rock” resonated. The teachers demanded obedience and everyone was moulded to fit a box.

But that doesn’t work.

It’s been proven to not work. The military even stopped this kind of teaching in the early 70’s, but schools kept at it, up to the late 80’s. Kids need to have their beautiful uniqueness kept intact, it’s what makes em special.

And these days we tell our kids to enjoy school, as it should be the most stress free time of their lives. Unless they freak out over exams, which means, it’s not as stress free. But you know what I mean.

Teachers are also at a different level these days, being more enablers than disablers. But kids need to deal with social media and the good and bad which comes from it. So maybe not as stress free as it should be.

Which brings me back to the words of the mighty David Lee Roth which I quoted above.

Well, they say it’s kinda frightening
How this younger generation swings
You know it’s more than just some new sensation

The younger generation swings to technology more than music these days.

Once upon a time, having an album from an artist was like a badge of honour and now, the kind of phone you have is the new totem. Plus, the mainstream news outlets just don’t understand the youth of today. They worry about climate change and student debt and all the things that the current powers ignore, while they drain our Earth of its resources.

It was the youth that blew apart the record labels business model. They killed CD’s, adopted Napster early, then iTunes, then YouTube, then other streaming services. And the youth have short attention spans, moving from one thing to the next. The only thing they can do for a short time is binge Netflix.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes


I really like The Night Flight Orchestra, otherwise known as TNFO for short. This little side project from melodic death metallers which paid homage to their classic rock and pop influences from the past has grown into its own beast.  

The first album, “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and I thought it was a one off. Then in 2015 they dropped “Skyline Whispers”, then “Amber Galactic” in 2017, “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough” in 2018, then a couple of stand-alone tracks in 2019 called “Satellite” and “Cabin Pressure Drops” and in 2020, the new one.

In between the album release years, the guys in the band did albums and tours with their “original” bands of Soilwork and Arch Enemy and released albums with those bands and toured with those bands.

So for all those artists from the past complaining about everything not being like how it used to be, change your mindset and your work ethic and anything is possible.

And man there are so many good songs on this.

The opening track, “Servants Of The Air” has a similar riff to “This Time” from their previous album, “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough”. The similarity is enough to make me a fan.

“Divinyls” is one of the pre-release tracks, with its infectious keyboard lick still remaining in my brain long after the song is finished. Actually the keyboard lick is the chorus vocal melody, hence the reason why it remains.

Glancing at the stars, mending my own heart
Is it time to break the chains?
Now I will embark, making my own mark
Waiting for the world to quake

We all had dreams to get out of the town we lived in and make it in the big city. Then we grew up and became comfortable and we don’t want our kids to even think about things like this. But we still yearn and dream of making our own mark.

“If Tonight Is Our Only Chance” sounds like it came from an ABBA album, but with metal overtones.

If tonight is our only chance, we’ll take it,
If tonight is our only chance, we’ll try it

So much truth in these lines. Our situations and lifestyles determine what chances we take. And when those chances come up, the aim is to be free to take it.

“Transmissions” is another pre-release track. It’s classic TNFO, full of hooks and homage to past influences, even a killer violin solo to close it off.

Talk to me
Won’t you talk to me?
You’re the remedy
For my starless visions

Ace Frehley once said talk to me, all he needs is a little conversation. I guess he wasn’t wrong. It’s why we always look for connections.

“Aeromantic” has my favourite drum beat in the intro. “Curves” has this funky groove. “Taurus” sounds like it could come from a Styx/Toto/Steely Dan album (the earlier ones).

“Carmencita Seven” has this musical passage after the chorus that I keep scrolling back to listen to. “Sister Mercurial” has a super catchy synth riff over my favourite drum beat. I call it the tark, tark, tark, beat, as its metronomic in nature.

“Dead Of Winter” is the closer and it’s such a good closing song, that the only thing I can do is press repeat and re-listen to the album again.

In other words, I love this album.