Tag Archive: Music


Where Were You?

We have very few moments in our life that everyone remembers. Sure Mom and Dad remember your birth, friends remember their favorite concert, and too many people remember the time you rear ended the mail truck, and had to pay to fix his rickety little vehicle. But what about memories shared across a state? Across a nation? What do we have that everyone in our country will remember in the future?

I had a professor that first inspired this; He told me about where he was when he first saw the Beatles play on the Ed Sullivan show. He told me how he sat down in front of his television set as a kid, and watched as he knew history was being made. He was right too, they won 7 Grammys, put out dozens of albums, and are still one of the most easily recognized artists 50 years later.

He told us about how everyone in his generation knew exactly where they were and what was going on when they saw The Beatles, whether they were rushing home from work, sitting in a friend’s dorm room, or waiting to make a major life decision. It was a defining moment that everyone in our country shared and brought them together.

He then told us the same thing about when the Apollo 11 landed on the moon. No matter where they were or what they were doing, everyone dropped what they were doing to see what was the most amazing technological leap of its time. As Neil Armstrong set his first steps on the moon, it was no doubt that history was made once again. Unity and an unadulterated since of patriotism filled all of them as they knew that our free country had beaten the Russians, and finally made it across space to our moon.

It saddens me to say that we have only one of these moments, maybe two now. We don’t have any great moment to bring us together and unify us under happy times. We only have the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks.

I remember being a Junior in High School walking into my chorus class as I saw the first tower fall. I just stood there staring dumbfounded as I tried to comprehend what was going on. I think I went through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression all at the same time. It just seemed like a hoax, and I wanted to know why someone would play this mean of a joke on me.

I worked with a girl that was visiting New York that day. She told me about the sheer panic as she tried to find a way home, taking a train two days after she was supposed to fly home. It hit us all hard, didn’t it?

The 9/11 attacks were our “Where Were You?” moment. It brought us together as we knew that life wouldn’t be the same. Life never was the same either, even though we all tried to return to our normal lives. History was made, and there was no going back.

This was however, still a moment that brought us together. We felt stronger, felt more alive, felt more cohesive with our fellow countrymen than we ever have before. We watched as our heroes risked everything to save so many people from the wreckage. We smiled at our Policemen and Firemen, knowing that they would do the same for us if a tragedy struck our city. It was a bonding experience that we all walked away from better than on 9/10.

I still hope, though. I hope we get to have a more innocent “Where were you” moment one like The Beatles or the Moon Landing. One of these days I hope we get to feel that sense of Patriotism without such sorrow. But, for today, at least we get a certain level of closure to know that Osama Bin Laden is dead.

God Bless America.

Music to buy; rock

Well I know what you’re probably thinking- you’re thinking ‘Dan Jones, I’m loaded with cash, I love music, and I want you to tell you to tell me what to buy!’

No? Ok, I still have some suggestions for you.

I love music. I struggle to think of any genre of music that I dont like. Even music I dont regularly listen to, I have an appreciation for everything. Today’s topic is a broad one; Rock music.

In short, Rock has been around since the 1940s. It stems from old time blues music made by artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, W.C. Handy, and Robert Johnson. Johnson was arguably the originator of Rock and Roll, writing classics that are still sung today by huge artists like Clapton and John Mayer. It has worn many faces, and changed many times, but it still keeps pieces of origins.

#1 Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton has been playing the rock and blues for longer than most of my readers were alive. Starting off in a band called The Yardbirds, he grew to fame almost immediately after joining the band. He has been in Cream, Derek and the Dominos, and in a very effective solo career.

I very rarely suggest buying “Best of” albums, in short I think that its not the way most music is intended, but in Clapton’s case there is little choice. Unless youre into collecting vinyls, you will find it very hard to come across his albums.

#2 Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck was in the Yardbirds as well. He has grown into a blues/rock/jazz musician, and loves to prove that there is nothing he cant do. With his guitar in his hands, he becomes a jack of all trades and merges with whatever artist he is around.

You can pick up Emotion and Commotion and learn what hes all about. He also plays some killer tracks with artists like Joss Stone, and really brings out an old time Rock and Roll that . He also does a killer song with Imogen Heap in his Live at Ronnie Scott’s. You can watch it here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuXcGHjBeac

#3 Foo Fighters
The Foo Fighters started off as more of a grunge rock band, not reaching too far from Grohl’s roots in Nirvana, but they have grown over the years, and have perfected their own unique version of rock. They still hold to that old grunge feel, but they have refined their tastes at the same time. You can check out their latest album Wasting Light and see what they are all about. Two albums from them? The Color and the Shape is my favorite, and I know I have already plugged that album several times before.

#4 Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams is first and foremost an Alternative Country artist, but his album Rock and Roll is a brilliant display of how much he knows about rock music. With songs like “This is it”, and “1974” he blows the album up with a genuine classic rock feel. Its only disappointment is towards the end of the album when he sings “Everybodys cool playing rock and roll, but I dont feel cool, feel cool at all”, so I suppose that he quit the rock and roll scene and returned to the Alt Country scene, because he never put out a sequel.

#5 People in Planes
The next band is what I think would technically be considered Alternative Rock, but its roots are so steeped in classic rock that I think its unfair to put them in the same category as Alt Rock bands like Hinder and Disturbed. People in Planes is a great band that has really brought back a classic rock feel that I havent heard from a contemporary band in a long time. Its a tough call to say which of their two albums to buy, but I think that I slightly prefer “As Far as the Eye Can See” to “Beyond the Horizon”.

Just you wait, I have every genre keyed up for you. Polka is gonna be a tough one.

How to pick a coffee shop

So as you know coffee is a passion of mine. Being the shortest of the four guys in my family (even though I’m 6″ 2′), I’ve been told that if I didnt drink so much, I may have been the tallest. I might start a monthly thing where I do something on coffee (subjects on my previous coffee post) every month.

Everyone knows that theres a difference between Maxwell House and premium coffee. Thats not a problem, the problem is that signs outside of coffee houses aren’t clear on which they are really brewing. This blog is for those of you who have been curious about that coffee house across the street, or for those curious if you should even bother with that kiosk in the airport.

If you just want a coffee, its quick and simple to tell if its going to be quality; ask what they are brewing. Look for answers that give a specific reigon or country. Lots of roasters will buy cheap, leftover coffee from farmers and give them names like “breakfast roast”, “light roast”, or “Columbian”. Does this mean that they will be awful coffees with these names? Not necessarily, but its a good indicator. Some indicators of good coffees? Descriptions of the roasting process. “Sun Dried Kenya” or “Aged Indonesia” is a great clue that you are going to be drinking quality brew.

Ok, so size isnt everything, but if their machine looks like something you can get at wal-mart for $50.00, then it cant be a quality drink. Its true that Great espresso machines arent always huge, but honestly, most are.

Take a look around the store, and look at their menus; is it just coffee and cappuccinos? Or do they have specialties? Is the coffee from Seattle’s Best, or is it from a local roaster? Is their coffee brewed in the same kind of pot as they do at your work? Some shops just try to copy Starbucks, and offer a worse quality in the process, while others branch out and offer something new.

On that note, did you know that an independent coffee shop is the most likely business to fail within two years? If they are going to be a lasting store, then they will have to have found a way to set them apart from big chains like Starbucks. Some stores offer soup and sandwiches, others offer teas like mate (mah tay) and special chai blends, some have rice and almond milk, and others have a constant lineup of local music for you. Ask what keeps their business afloat, and figure out what makes them special.

Here’s the most important part, though. If your coffee is called “light blend”, and is brewed through a coffee maker that has “Waffle House” scratched off from the side, but turns out being your best cup of Joe ever…. Keep going. If the espresso machine only cost $20, but it’s the best latte you have had… keep ordering it. Theres no reason to be snobby about something you love, and your local coffee shop needs the business!

So go out there, and try something new. These people need your business, and won’t judge you for asking questions!

2 sizes too small

Alright, so you want a feel good Christmas post? Too bad. Christmas is when the animal comes out of people, and we all start acquiring a mob mentality that leads to people being hurt, and others getting depressed.

Thats what I would have said the last few years, but this year I have sworn not to be a grinch. This post is for all of the other Grinches out there who need their heart to grow a couple of sizes.

Wow, I just threw you for another juke. I had no idea I started off so many blogs like this…

So the first thing that gets me upset about Christmas? Traffic. I mean people run red lights, hold up intersections, and will flip you off for almost anything! I mean, I cant help but get a little road rage from time to time, but the honest truth is that you have to leave your house a little earlier, plan your trips a little wiser, and make the decision that random bad drivers dont get the priviledge of ruining your Holiday.

Then theres the music. Its the same 10 songs sang 1,000 different ways, right? No! Christmas songs are a piece of history. Songs like “Joy to the World” were written in the 1700s, and they range from then to even the last ten years! Pay attention to the songs, and realize that even though some get played WAY too much, give them memories from childhood (or make new memories now) and get a little cheesy with them.

Still sick of it? Try out the soundtrack for the movie “The Holiday”. It was written by one of the best composers of our time, and it is guranteed to put chills up your arms.

People can also get nasty during the holidays. They camp out all night for the best deals, and will let no one stop them from getting everything on their list. Its quite unavoidable, to be honest. I mean whole movies are written to show how far a parent will go just to get their kid what they want for Christmas. But, before you go “Jingle All The Way” all over someone, make a point to be courteous to others. Yeah some will try to snake your parking spot, cut in line, or grab something out of your cart, but that doesnt require a fistfight to solve!

Heres the basis of it; either your Christmas holiday will be spoiled by strangers, or be enriched by friends and family. Its that simple! Be good to people, and remind them why they are supposed to be happy, and maybe you can make someone esle’s Christmas better for it.

Lastly, a shout out to my family this Christmas: I love you guys, and I’m sorry I cant come out this year. I love you and will miss you all.

There, you feel it? All you haters, Grinches, and Scrooges out there have a warm feeling in your chest. No, its not a heart attack, its your heart growing to normal size. Now get over yourselves and have a Merry Christmas, like it or not (sounds like a new song for next Christmas season).

throwback time!

So has anyone noticed the old throwback drinks in their supermarkets? How about the old jerseys in the NFL right now, have you seen those? Well then step into my bubble bath time machine, and  jump on this bandwagon to check out the music from a distant era.

Now step out from my lavender scented tub, dry off and look around. Its not the courtyard in front of your old college, full of stoners with Led Zepplin shirts, we are in the 70s!

Now I never understood why this music from the 60s and 70 was still so big. I mean how many people do you see walking around listening to Elvis or Buddy Holly? Do you see people dressed like these guys walking around the street (if you live in Vegas, then you don’t count)? Then why are there still so many people walking around listening to Bob Dylan and wearing Greatful Dead shirts? So many people write these stereotypes as hippies or stoners, but I have found that there is really so much substance to this music, and in a lot of ways, it parallels us today.

Lets start with the social aspect of this era; music had long been segregated just as much as the black people themselves were. My History of the Recording Industry Professor one told me that by the 1950s, the only real difference between Country music and R&B was the color of the artist’s skin. It was a separation of music that was as obvious as the separate bathrooms. Black artists like Chuck Berry were only able to succeed in white communities because there were no pictures of Berry on the album covers, and because they thought he sounded “white enough”.

But then, by the end of the Civil Rights Movement, the music was growing together too. People started ignoring racial or social boundaries, taking conventional rock and roll with old R&B, and started experimenting with their own style. It began to grow together as a melting pot for the first time in our country’s history. This same professor told me that if old blues artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Robert Johnson could have sued guitarists like Led Zepplin’s Jimmy Page, they probably would have won! So this music formed the way that we hear music today.

On a political side, there was a highly contreversial war going on in Vietnam. Now Im not trying to make any parallels with Iraq or Afghanistan here, other than just trying to show some of their basic similarities. This war had been going on for years, and thousands upon thousands were dying each year, pushing many peaceful people to their limits. What made it worst was the fact that there was still a draft, so many of the soldiers were forced into serving this country despite his family or career.

This war greatly influenced people to write and sing too. Many of the lyrics were well thought out, so as to help make their argument more understandable to its listeners. It seems that  when our country has its biggest fires, it draws more passion and strength from its people,  which in great part created this genre. This war brought out sentiments so strong that anti war artists were actually getting play on pop radio too. I mean think about it; do you think that you can see Ke$ha singing “Blowing in the Wind”? Or watching Christina Aguilera sing “White Rabbit”?  Me neither, but good luck getting that awful image out of your head.

So if you take anything from this entry, just give this music a chance. Sure, there were some crazy drugs taking place, and it definitely had its part in shaping the music too, but what you are also hearing is History.

Some Epic Songs

So now its time to get back to music. I love music so much it hurts, and I just may go on about it till you hurt too.

I don’t know what brought this on, bit I wanted to tell you about some of the most epic songs in my life. I love all kinds of music, maybe even polka. Maybe. Anyways, I just wanted to hopefully inspire you the ways these songs have inspired me.

There are just some songs out there that do so much more than make you sing ” ga ga ooh la la”. They can take your own feelings and emote them in a way that you never could, or maybe it’s so strong that you feel like they stole it from you.

Anyways, heres my list, it’s here to get that Lady Ga Ga song out of your head, ready or not.

Athlete, Tourist. One of my favorite songs all time, just a great song by one of my favorite bands ever.

Barcelona, Its about time. This is a band that I am addicted to. I hit play and cant turn anything else on for weeks.

Kings of Convienience, Homesick. Like a modern Simon and Garfunkel, I just love to sit back and enjoy them.

Mutemath Noticed. So good! I saw them live a while ago, and they put on the best performance I have ever seen, even better than DC Talk. They are a great band with very moving lyrics.

David Crowder Beautiful Collision. I love this song, and especially this version. If you want to know how I feel, check out my blog on my most influential albums.

TLC Dont Go Chasing Waterfalls. Such a great song from the 90s. I love the message in this song, its like its speaking right to me. I used to chase “waterfalls” all the time, and now that I’m sticking to my rivers and lakes, I feel so much more balanced and happy.

Death Cab for Cutie Transatlanticism. What moving lyrics. I mean how many 7 to 8 minute songs can you listen to without changing the song? It just builds and builds with so much passion and emotion

Regina Spektor Samson. Regina seems to be the child of Elton John and Salvatore Dali. She is so proficient in piano playing, and writes very moving lyrics, yet there is a certain feel of lucid dreaming in her lyrics. Even though her words dont really make sense all of the time, you still get the feel of what she is trying to convey.

South Loosen Your Hold. This is a band that I used to keep secret, cause I wanted to be the only one who knew about them (how uncharacteristically hipster of me), but I hope you enjoy them.

Decemberists Engine Driver. These guys have been transported from the 1800s, brought here to write their era’s music through a modern means. I’m not being metaphorical, I honestly think that they have to be over a hundred years old, and you can’t tell me any different.

Joe Purdy, Wash Away. Listen to this song and try to feel sad. Just try it. You can’t, can you? Well thats cause Joe Purdy Rocks. I first heard him on Lost season 1, but it took me forEVER to find out who he is.

http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/user/thisisdanjones/5429752/playlists  I tacked a few others on here for your enjoyment, I hope you like them!

Also, note that TLC is not on the playlist. Thats cause I was joking.

What makes a movie so amazing? If your answer is “Whether or not is was originally a Nicholas Sparks book”, then you are dead to me.

No, you first think of Actors, of course. They are what you see. Then you probably think of directors. Then, who knows what? Well, what I would love to try and get everyone to do is go out and buy a soundtrack by the time you finish reading this blog. You hear the music going on whether you realize it or not.

Think of Jurassic Park, in the scene where they are looking at the island as they are approaching by helicopter. You see all of the lush green land as it lands on the pad. Imagine Dr. Grant as he looks out of the Jeep and runs out excitedly towards the Brontosaurus. Now  I can gurantee you that John Williams’ score is stuck in your head by just the memory. It shapes your feeling of awe inspiring as they tour the island watching dinosaurs walk about without any of the actors saying a word. Think of the opening credits of Star Wars, can’t you hear the music just by imagining the blue font?

Star Wars brings me to a story I was not able to reinforce with a citation. Someone told me that Williams’ score wasn’t ready when they first screened the movie to critics. All of the voices and effects were fine, but there was simply no music. After the movie was over, the critics scolded George Lucas to his face, telling him the movie was unacceptable, and that it will go nowhere.

Then, as you know Star Wars ended up being a huge hit! Was it all thanks to John Williams? Or was it just a cruel batch of critics? Who knows, but I think that the answer is obvious.

So if you want to start listening to a soundtrack, let me paint a guide for you.

1. Find your favorite movie, and buy the score to it. Dont get the soundtrack with all of the bands on it, make sure its the score that goes with it. Relive the movie with the sounds as it takes you up and down.

2. If you’re looking for something to get your heart racing; Grab the 300 soundtrack. Tyler Bates sets out tracks that capture the gritty, adrenaline flowing music that gets you going. Another good one is The Man on fire Soundtrack. Its pretty dynamic, going back and forth from strings to rave music.

3. If you’re looking for a great all around soundtrack, go for Pirates of the Caribbean (any or all of the three). Listen to Gladiator or Avatar and experience a wide range of music that you can enjoy whether you have seen the, or not.

4. If you want to really get in the Christmas spirit, try listening to the Holiday Soundtrack. Without a word, it gives you a feeling of wonder and joy. Zimmer gives you that chill up your spine that forces a smile on your face and really puts you in the holiday spirit.

5. After you have discovered a few Composers that you love, try searching for more! Heres a few I really like; Hans Zimmer. Harry Gregson Williams, John Williams, James Newton Howard, Steve Jablonsky, James Horner, Clint Mansell, and Tyler Bates.

Go out and expand our horizons today.

5 Albums that changed my life

I know that There has been a trend going on since the earlier days of myspace.com of writing your top favorite albums, favorite songs, or random songs on your iPod, so I know I’m not exactly groundbreaking with today’s post.

But music has the ability to cross certain paths that conversation simply cannot traverse. Once defined for me as “organized sound”, music is found everywhere; its in every store or restaurant you enter, its playing in every car you pass, and its being played every night in the deepest parts of the rainforests by the most primitive people. Its quite inescapable.

I don’t think that we could ever accurately depict what music does to us. Its almost magic how we can be moved by a homely old Scottish woman singing in a language we don’t understand. Or how we can watch one person moved by a song that just feels silly or corny to us.

Anyways these are the first five albums that came to mind when I thought up the topic. Ask me next week and I might give you five different ones.

First up is an album by David Crowder, “A Collision”.

“Everybody wants to go to Heaven….. But nobody wants to die.”

This album is beautiful. When I listen to it, I hear a man who really believes. Its not someone who writes for a living, its someone who writes to live. Its set up like an old sermon you might hear on the side of a crowded street; first you are invited to come and listen, he tells of his own flaws, he talks about losing his best friend, and how he came back from his despair in the 7th track “A Collision”. This song was written not long after he lost his friend, and it one of the most powerful songs I have ever heard. It goes on for over 20 tracks detailing his message eloquently to anyone who would hear.

Then at the end is this strange interview in which he torments a poor radio host by trying to talk about his album in a jumbled, enigmatic way ( I have a feeling that this is what happens when he tries to express himself in speech, which explains why he writes music and not speeches). I always thought of this as an opportunity to talk with  him after its all over.

The next album is especially influential because of how I came across it. When I was in middle school, I would tape songs on the radio, so I could listen to them whenever I wanted. There was this one song, though that always eluded me. I would turn my radio on, and it would already be playing, and the DJ wouldn’t say the song name or the band when it was over. I had about the last minute of it for the longest time, and I would listen to it over and over.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school, when my buddy John starts playing it on the guitar. I immediately got chills down my back, I hadn’t heard that song in so long, and yet as soon as it started I recognized it. I found out that it was “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters, and I bought the album “The Colour and the Shape” as soon as I could.

This album really shows Dave Grohl’s ability to write.

“what have we done with innocence
it disappeared with time
it never made much sense”

“real life is so hard
we hide in the stars
that’s where our heads are
my head and your heart”

“come and I’ll take you under
this beautiful bruise’s colors
everything fades in time it’s true
wish that I had another
stab at the undercover
was it a change in mind for you”

The band does an amazing job at timing lyrics with music, and placing crescendos at the most vital parts of the songs. They are still one of my favorite bands ever.

Heres my favorite off this album “Everlong” on youtube;

Just a heads up, its a really strange video. I heard in an interview once that its based off of dreams he used to have.

I have to thank my old roommate Jon for introducing me to Stars. They are a Canadian band on Arts and Crafts Records, and I don’t even know how I would categorize their music. Want me to try anyways? ok, here goes. Going by this album alone, I would describe it as semi-electronic, jazz influenced, modern somewhat progressive indie rock. There, theres my categorization; take it or leave it.

Its the perfect music for almost anytime in your life.”Ageless Beauty” is a feel good song about being in love, “One More Night (your something something something) is about a hard breakup and letting go,  “Your Ex-Lover is Dead”  is about running into an ex, as they are getting over each other, and then “Celebration Guns” and “Soft Revolution” seem to have a political overtones (not sure I agree with them). Its not just an album about love, it really seems to hit you wherever you are in life.

Ok, I had no idea that this blog would be as long as it is. I’m going to take a break, post it, and write more later.

Up next: My other two albums, and honorable mentions!