Friday, February 29, 2008
What is Advancement?
It is basically the opposite of the theory expressed by Sick Boy in Trainspotting: “Well, at one time, you've got it, and then you lose it, and it's gone forever. All walks of life: George Best, for example. Had it, lost it. Or David Bowie, or Lou Reed.” (Ironically, he told this to Renton, who Advances in the movie by renouncing drugs and "choosing life.") The Advanced Theory says that Sick Boy had it all wrong, that Bowie and Reed hadn't mysteriously lost “it,” they just changed “it” to something that is harder to appreciate. And since change is scary to most of us, we declare that the problem is with the artist and not us.
Of course it is difficult for anyone to accept that Mistrial represented artistic progress from Transformer or that "All For Love," Sting's collaboration with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart, could be more advanced than "Roxanne." (It's difficult for me too.) But a great artist is great because he challenges himself and his audience rather than doing what is comfortable. Artistically, "All For Love" was more exciting for Sting than writing another "Roxanne." And what could be more challenging than doing a song you know your fans will hate just on principle?
Finding these kinds of challenges is essential to the Advanced because it is relatively easy for them to write great songs (in the traditional, non-Advanced sense) because songwriting comes naturally to them. This is not limited to Advanced musicians of course. Late in his life Tolstoy got more satisfaction from making mediocre shoes than writing sublime novels. To Tolstoy, the challenge of driving a nail into a sole without breaking it was more stimulating than writing the greatest novel of all time. After all, he did the latter twice.
Before the Advanced had to look to Honda or Rod Stewart for inspiration, the challenge of breaking through to an audience was enough to motivate them to write music. As they aged, though, they began to understand that catering to an audience is limiting. Some reacted by making music designed especially to make the audience mad. But this is ultimately just as limiting because it is still allowing someone other than the artist to dictate what the art will be. So eventually instead of trying to please or infuriate others, they make music that they find interesting, regardless of how people might feel about it. And that's when true Advancement begins.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Singer-songwriter Lou Reed will induct Canadian folk legend Leonard Cohen into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.Now that I think about it, the whole story was in the headline. So let's watch "Indian Sweet Child O' Mine" to fill up the rest of our time:
Monday, February 25, 2008
At his best, the 66-year-old legend was full of spit and venom – a grizzled blues master with a voice that bordered on the demonic. And even when the show wobbled – as it did for about a third of the 105-minute set – Mr. Dylan still gave it his all, bobbing his shoulders and pummeling his keyboard in "Highway 61 Revisited" like he was Little Richard.This reviewer might be on board with Advancement. And by the way, how awesome would an Eno/Dylan record be?
Dressed in black, with a wide-brimmed hat blocking his face, Mr. Dylan walked on to the dimly lit stage flanked by his usual band – longtime bassist Tony Garnier, drummer George Recili, pedal steel player Donnie Herron and guitarists Stu Kimball and Denny Freeman (who’s originally from Dallas).
They had their share of tentative moments in slower songs like "Nettie Moore." And some of the new arrangement didn't work, especially the dirge-paced "Positively 4TH Street."
But for every fizzled experiment, another one soared, like the bizarre, Brian Eno-style "Girl of the North Country" and the fiddle-laced waltz version of "Blowin’ in the Wind" that closed the show.
Curveballs like that tend to confuse casual fans who like to hear the hits played the way they know them. But Mr. Dylan couldn’t care less: He keeps everyone guessing – including himself – which is why he’ll never be past his prime.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
This reminds me of another question that's been bugging me for a while. What's the deal with advanced artists and Bette Midler?Before we go to the video, I'm not totally sure about her. The Advanced do love her, but the Advanced often love those who are not Advanced. I think, though, that there is some Advancement in her and at the very least she would understand what it is to be Advanced. She's also quite bawdy at times.
She's done duets with Dylan and Tom Waits, and she had Ian Hunter as the guitarist on some of her albums. Is she an accessory?
PS: Here's a video of her rapping...
Here's the video:
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
There are the times you go to the theater. And then there are the times you go to the theater and look over and discover you are sitting next to Lou Reed. Now, we are a celebrity journalist, and this was BAM's gala benefit for the opening of Macbeth, starring Patrick Stewart. But usually we're used to at least a few rows separating us from the famous ones, for their comfort but also, as it turns out, for ours, since it's really hard to concentrate on Shakespeare when you're simultaneously trying to concentrate on how Lou Reed is reacting to the show.Apparently he fell asleep. But when the writer approached him, he said it was "just magnificent" and then recited:
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,Sometimes I miss living in New York.
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Starlet Scarlett Johanson (or ScarJo, as she is affectionately called by the Fug Girls) has cut an album of Tom Waits covers with Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio that is due out on May 20, 2008. The collaboration between Johansson and Bowie started when the two ran into each other at a party a few days before Johansson started recording. According to Rolling Stone, Bowie said he heard that she was working with Sitek. She told him that she indeed was and considered inviting him to visit her in the recording studio. Bowie didn’t stop by during ScarJo’s recording but while she was filming on location in Spain, Sitek called to tell her Bowie had recorded vocals for the tracks “Falling Down” and “Fannin’ Street.”I don't think I need to add anything to this.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Are fans of "High School Musical" and Ziggy Stardust about to have an awkward meeting of the minds? According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Bowie is in talks to play an unspecified role in the coming-of-age comedy "Will," which will star "HSM" leading lady Vanessa Hudgens.I've never imagined David Bowie as the coming-of-age movie type, but then, there's Advancement for you. Would he play a teacher? A guidance counselor? The gay best friend? I look forward to finding out.