The Tenacious D rock band with Jack Black and Kyle Gass are back with a new album, “Rize of The Fenix,” coming out on May 15, 2012. (Yes, folks, that’s a penis with wings on the cover art.) This “mock rock” band is not for the faint of heart as their music puts the vulgar into vulgarity. If you’re a writer, you can appreciate the colorful usage of language sung to hilarious melody. Jack Black is far more funnier in Tenacious D than he was in his last movie, “Your Highness.”
“Weird Al” Yankovich has made a living of turning pop hits into parody songs that often became pop hits in themselves. He decided to do a new song based on Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” called “Perform This Way,” which he planned to be the lead single for his new album. Unfortunately, Lady Gage choosen not to grant permission through her manager to release this song on the album. (Which is ironic since Lady Gaga is often accused of recycling Madonna’s entire career without permission.) Although his songs fall under the fair use provision of the copyright law, he had always requested permission before releasing a song based on another artist’s work. Since he didn’t want his work to go to waste, he released the video on YouTube with the full lyrics for everyone to enjoy yesterday.
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Later in the afternoon, after a tremendous outpouring from the Internet, it turned out that Lady Gaga wasn’t aware of the song because her manager never told her about it and granted Weird Al approval to release the song on his album (coming out in June). It’s a catchy song. I’m looking forward to the actual music video to see how outrageous Weird Al can outdo Lady Gaga in the costume department.
This came up in Twitter last night: Why do I hate the Bee Gees? Simple, it’s all Walt Disney fault. During the disco craze of the 1970s, my parents gave me a portable cassette recorder for my birthday that was smaller than a shoebox. (The iconic Sony Walkman wouldn’t be a must have item until the early 1980s, and I never got one until the late 1990s.) I was still young enough to appreciate Walt Disney storybooks that had a sing along cassette tape, like Robin Hood and Pete’s Dragon. But there was one cassette that I had played over and over again because I had nothing better to listen to: Mickey Mouse Disco. That, plus watching every re-run of the Bee Gees in Sgt. Pepper’s Loney Hearts Club Band on cable TV, and getting The Beatles album, sour my taste in music for years to come.
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Not that I ever had much taste in music. Although I was born a Californian native, my parents came from Boise, Idaho, where hard work on the farm and smuggling on the road went hand in hand. My father and his brothers used to smuggle untaxed cigarettes from Oregon and sold out them of the trunk in Southern California in the 1950s, and a distant cousin is serving time in the Florida state pen for smuggling cocaine from Cuba in the 1990s. Since my father’s truck only had two radio stations—country and talk—I grew up on classic 1970s and early 1980s country music (i.e., Johnny Cash, John Denver, Willie Nelson, The Oakridge Boys, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and Hank Williams, Jr.). Needless to say, country wasn’t very popular when I was going to school with all the wannabe Duran Duran and George Boy running around. Bad enough that I was a normal student misclassified as mentally retarded by the school system, I was considered a freak among the retarded for liking country.
Unlike some of my friends, I have a modest music collection on my iPod. Over the last 20 years I grew to like the top hits from the 1980s music that I never got into when growing up, especially Cyndi Lauper and Joan Jett. I listened to Hootie & The Blowfish, Jane Monheit and U2 in the 1990s. These days I’m listening more to the early The Rolling Stones, especially the recently remastered Exile on Main St. album. The only disco song that I still listen to is “I Love The Nightlife” from the theatrical release of “Love At First Bite”, which is my favorite vampire movie of all time.
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But I don’t listen to today’s country because it sounds like crap, trying too hard to be half country and half rock. Beside, the only real country music radio station in the San Francisco Bay Area, Radio Keen, went off the air in 1992. When the current country radio several years ago decided to switch to Mexican music—their last English song was “Mexican Radio” by Wall of Voodoo—and switched back to country music three months later, I never bothered to listen to them again. The only thing I listened to while driving in the car (which used to belong to my father) is talk—KGO Newstalk 810AM—or the old Dolly Parton cassette tape still stuck inside the player.
You know a Silicon Valley technology company has gone mainstream is when “Weird Al” Yankovic makes a signature song around the company’s signature product. The parody music video, “Craigslist,” based on the classified ads website, Craigslist, has music from The Doors and a very 1960’s psychedelic background. Previous songs included “White & Nerdy” (Segway), “It’s All About The Pentiums” (Intel), and “eBay” (eBay).
My friend and I went this past Saturday to the Bruce Springsteen concert at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. This was my first “full on” rock concert. I went to a Michael McDonald and Steely Dan concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View in 2006, but sitting on the back lawn isn’t the same thing as being down in the mosh pit 20 feet from the stage. This was also my first broad exposure to Bruce Springsteen since the only song I’m familiar with was “Born In The USA” in 1984 when I was a teenage Reagan Democrat.
We got there three hours before the show started to get the pink wrist band for the mosh pit. The number on my wristband was 666—an interesting number. What made it more interesting after we got our green wrist bands and lined up to enter the building was two men standing on the sidewalk out in front, one wearing a sandwich board that proclaims “JESUS SAVES YOU FROM HELL” and another with a bullhorn reassuring us that we were all going to hell (but not because we were attending a rock concert). They managed to annoy everyone in hearing range and prompted some people put in their earplugs sooner. After haranguing the front of the line for 20 minutes, they moved 30 feet down the sidewalk to annoy the people in the middle of the line. I seriously doubt that security would nab these two if they stepped off of the sidewalk (protected speech) on to city property (trespassing). The traffic officers on duty were more interested in the taxi drivers who stopped wherever they please.
Once the doors opened, it was an orderly mad rush into the mosh pit.
My first impression of the HP Pavilion (previously known as the San Jose Arena) was that the interior layout doesn’t seem to match the exterior layout, looking smaller inside than outside. I expected the interior to look as impressive as the exterior for the $100 million USD that the city spent for the arena. This was the same city council that dropped $500,000 USD on an Aztec snake god statue that looks like a giant pile of dog poop.
Bruce was had a great time singing, playing his guitars or harmonica, and taking requests from the audience. The most memorable moment was when he pulled up a guy from the front row who had the song title, “Glory Days,” written on his bald forehead with a permanent marker, and playing that song nearly blew the roof off the place. Another moment was when Bruce showed a sign that said, “Bruce, You’re my real Dad!”, admitting that he was here in these parts back in 1969.
Come to think of it, I was born in 1969. Hmm… I could never grow a soul patch like his.