Archive for July, 2010

SA’s Dylan is nobody’s fool in The Big Apple

Posted on July 29th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 119 Comments »

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SA’s Dylan is nobody’s fool in The Big Apple

New York Groove

Posted on July 21st, 2010 in Uncategorized | 115 Comments »

By: Sion Smith

 

Considering I’m basically just a guy who loves rock, since I had a couple of kids – both girls – I’ve found my musical taste somewhat expanded. Before I begin though, I’d like to point out that this is a two way street. Both can quite often be found with their little ears throbbing to Nickelback in the back of the car.

 

But to the point – and I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time now. The song I’m about to kick all over the show is only a puppy in the big scheme of things but I didn’t want this to be a knee-jerk reaction. I wanted to think about it, make sure I was right and that there was no way anybody could argue with me – and here it is:

 

The song Empire State Of Mind. I can take quite a large amount of Ms Keys. I think she’s a pretty talented singer and Mr Z can also hold his own in anytown. The big issue I have with it are the lyrics – and I use the term loosely.

 

The song was apparently written back in 2009 by two people who I’ve never heard of – who may or may not be songwriters – after they took a trip abroad and started feeling homesick. It was pitched into various places until they decided to send it to Mr Z who fell in love with it and the rest is “history”.

 

Whoa! Back up a second here. Did nobody read the lyrics? At any given time during the recording process, did nobody have big enough steel balls to stand up and say “Excuse me. Do I have the correct lyrics here? I seem to have somebody’s school homework in front of me.

 

“On the avenue, there ain’t never a curfew, ladies work so hard”

 

Awww – come on. “There ain’t never a curfew, ladies work so hard” What kind of a lyric is that? It conjures up images of um, let me think… nothing at all and is, I’m sure you’ll agree, pointless. Name me one place in the West that has a curfew these days – apart from that place in 30 Days Of Night. It would be kind of OK if it was an analogy but it’s not. It’s lazy. No, I’m being kind. It’s not lazy, it’s awful. Who hands out these damned awards and why haven’t I got one?

 

But worse is still to come:

 

“Hail a gypsy cab, takes me down from Harlem to the Brooklyn Bridge
Some will sleep tonight with a hunger far more than an empty fridge”

 

Back in the early nineties, in the first draft of a song I was writing called well, never mind what it was called, I almost, almost, allowed myself to rhyme the word View with Barbeque. That idea stayed on the page about 4 seconds.

 

How did the phrasing “empty fridge” get through the lyric police? The one and only time it would be allowed would be if Weird Al was juicing up to deliver another classic and I suspect even he would think twice about it.

 

This is even worse than that god-awful lyric from Heart about wandering in a garden and planting a tree – now there’s a couple of other people who should have known better. (Which reminds me, one day I must publish the results of my interview with Nancy Wilson, who the record company guy told me moments before I called her up was Anne Wilson. I asked “Anne who was really Nancy” if it was OK to talk about anything at all and inevitable got onto the subject of weight loss… yeah, you can imagine how well that went down).

 

Anyway, there are so many holes in this song, it’s untrue. I love New York – absolutely most of my favourite things in life come from New York, but this song doesn’t do it justice. Would I be out of order to suggest it get permanently struck off the record? New York was doing pretty good in the PR stakes last time I looked…

 

Tell me I’m not alone in this.

 

Sion Smith is a pop culture writer and author of speculative fiction. You can keep up with his almost daily meanderings at www.zodiaclung.co.uk.

A Halo of Flies

Posted on July 1st, 2010 in Uncategorized | 135 Comments »

By Sion Smith

 

I detest festivals. I hate everything about them. I don’t like going to them and I never liked the one I played at either. On both sides of the fence, a festival isn’t about music, having fun or working hard. It’s about waiting. Waiting for the next band to come on, waiting for a meeting, waiting for the rain to stop, waiting for your friends, waiting for the other band to finish, waiting for the food stalls to open…

 

I detest festivals now simply because I am older. I would much rather watch the damn things on the TV where I can grab a cold beer and a sandwich with meat inside that I’m sure is dead whenever I like. In fact, the only decent way to play a festival is to be so damn famous that you get shipped in from a hotel 300 miles away ten minutes before you’re due on and then shipped back as soon as you’re finished – before the coke you left on the table even has a chance to go flat.

 

Hell, if you’re uber-famous, you can probably even get back before the ice has melted.

 

There’s a caveat though. If you’re in a band, where the hell else are you going to display your wares in front of 100,000 people? Nowhere. Not even the internet can drive that much traffic into a 20 minute slot. I’ve fallen in and out of love with bands based on festival appearances.

 

If I was in a band right now, I would have my agent/booking guy/mother – whoever it is that  takes care of business – get me on every major festival the world has to offer. You’re talking about being able to play in front of more than a million people in the space of maybe a dozen weekends.

 

You probably shouldn’t even consider doing the math on this one. To say in your PR that you’ve played to over a million people this summer is far preferable to working it out and finding only 49 people can remember who you are. It doesn’t matter. Fact of the matter is, for the little guy, festivals are a springboard for far superior things. They won’t make or break you but if you’re hellbent on moving forward, you can’t avoid them.

 

Actually, truth be told, festival line-ups are so big these days that you could say you played one when you were really over at your girlfriends house rustling up a cake – what’s more, you can then find people who have actually seen you play there!

 

I know this is true because I have done it. Not using a festival, but back when I was a PR hungry wolf-cub of just 18 or 19, I mailed a press release to a few regional newspapers telling them all about my (non-existent) band, listing tracks that were going to be on my album and towns (not specific venues) that I would be playing over the “coming months”. It was all very vague, but I did include a very professional picture of myself for publication.

 

Two things came out of this. The first of course was publicity, which was good all round as  local musicians who knew I was lying about my “band”, now wanted to form one with me – the end result being of course, that I then had a band and we had some positive PR without having to do any work. A far superior way of doing things I’m sure you’ll agree (but don’t tell Ida).

 

I expected that much at least out of it.

 

What I didn’t expect was some guy joining my friends and I at a table in a bar one night, claiming to have seen my band play live (which we hadn’t and never did), said we were pretty good – (not awful, not brilliant but “pretty good”) and then proceeded to name the set-list which was made up of the song titles I had given to the press! It was so bizarre, that I remember sitting there telling him how I made it all up for some publicity, but he was so adamant that he had seen us, I eventually began to doubt myself.

 

If you’re in a band and can get yourself on a festival bill, it’s an awesome experience and you should never let such an opportunity pass you by. On the other hand, if you’re in a band and can’t even get arrested outside the gates of one, don’t let it stop you. Legends have been built on far less than this.

 

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 Sion Smith is an author of supernatural fiction and a pop-culture writer in the finest gonzo tradition. He also edits and publishes The Lung magazine and is working on independently releasing his increasing stack of “great ideas for books.”