Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Top 10 Favorite Martin Scorsese Films

Martin Marcantonio Luciano Scorsese (born November 17, 1942) is an Academy Award-winning American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, and film historian. Also affectionately known as "Marty", he is the founder of the World Cinema Foundation and a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for his contributions to the cinema and has won awards from the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Directors Guild of America. Scorsese is president of the Film Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to film preservation and the prevention of the decaying of motion picture film stock.

(in order)

1. Casino (1995)

2. Taxi Driver (1976)

3. Goodfellas (1990)

4. The Last Waltz (1978)

5. Raging Bull (1980)

6. The Color of Money (1986)

7. Gangs of New York (2002)

8. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

9. Cape Fear (1991)

10. The Departed (2006)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Up Next on the Stage: The Handsome Furs...

I listed the Handsome Furs at number nine on my "must see live" top 10 list back in November. Well, the Furs will be crossed off that list when I see them tonite at Southgate House in Newport, KY.


Handsome Furs is an indie rock band from Montreal, Canada. The band is comprised of husband/wife duo Dan Boeckner, from Wolf Parade, and his wife Alexei Perry. The band signed on to Sub Pop Records in late 2006, and released their first full-length album, 'Plague Park', in 2007.

Songs I most want to see performed later:

"Sing! Captain"
"Handsome Furs Hate This City"
"Hearts of Iron"
"Legal Tender"

Suggested listening:

"Plague Park" (2007)

"Face Control" (2009)

Suggested viewing:

Top 5 Songs I am Currently Listening To...

1. Morrissey - "Speedway"
2. Nuuro - "Secret"
3. CFCF - "You Hear Colours"
4. Phoenix - "Rome"
5. The Modern Lovers - "Hospital"

Friday, March 27, 2009

From the Vault: Postal Service - "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"

It was late 2003 and I was at a crossroads in my life. I was on the path to southern California to pursue a career in screenwriting when "life" happened. With my Hollywood mission derailed for the time being, I landed in Bloomington, IN living on a temporary basis with my best friend. A new town, a new start...a new life. I was 23 years old at the time and I did not know that one certain song would carry me through that difficult time in my life.

I left everything behind and started my life over in an attempt to grasp what I would become in the wake of my failure to reach the west coast. Long mornings of contemplating my choice to move to a new town were common. Long nites of hard drinking and making new friends were even more common. As the days became weeks and the weeks became months, one song stood out above all the rest: "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" by The Postal Service.

The song itself was written by Death Cab for Cutie/Postal Service frontman Ben Gibbard. The genesis of the song began during the Death Cab for Cutie and Dismemberment Plan tour of 2002 (aptly titled "The Death and Dismemberment Tour" which is funny considering both bands play a style of indie rock/pop that would not conjur up metal-mania tour titles like "Death and Dismemberment"). Gibbard, struggling with where to go next in his life, spent a short period of time living in the Washington D.C. (the district) area with Dismemberment Plan lead singer Travis Morrison. "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" is essentially a journal entry for the time Gibbard spent searching for himself in our nation's capital.

I attached to this song so much so that it became my personal anthem of losing, gaining and understanding that I won't always foresee all of the trap doors that will occurr in my life. Every line of the song became my gospel for making it through the difficulties of poverty, confusion and my overwhelming fear of the unknown. I learned more about myself by not having life work out the way I wanted it to. I learned that strangers can become some of the most wonderful people you will ever get to know...and most importantly, I learned that I was the one worth leaving in order to become who I wanted to be.


Smeared black ink
Your palms are sweaty
And I'm barely listening
To last demands
I'm staring at the asphalt wondering
What's buried underneath where I am

I'll wear my badge
A vinyl sticker with big block letters
Adherent to my chest
That tells your new friends
I am a visitor here: I am not permanent
And the only thing keeping me dry is where I am

You seem so out of context
In this gaudy apartment complex
A stranger with your door key
Explaining that I am just visiting
And I am finally seeing
Why I was the one worth leaving

D.C. sleeps alone tonight

You seem so out of context
In this gaudy apartment complex
A stranger with your door key
Explaining that I am just visiting
And I finally seeing
Why I was the one worth leaving

The district sleeps alone tonight
After the bars turn out their lights
And send the autos swerving
Into the loneliest evening
And I am finally seeing
Why I was the one worth leaving

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Top 5 Favorite "War" Movies...

(in order)

1. Apocalypse Now (1979)

The best ever...no questions asked.

2. Platoon (1986)

I was about 9 years old the first time I saw this, I never looked at war the same again.

3. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Another modern classic. Vietnam through the eye of Stanley Kubrick.

4. The Deer Hunter (1978)

"You have to think about one shot. One shot is what it's all about. A deer's gotta be taken with one shot."

5. Jarhead (2005)

"Every war is different, every war is the same."

please note:

I have never seen 'Saving Prive Ryan' or 'Patton'

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Music: Kleerup - "Longing for Lullabies"

My #39 favorite song of 2008, from my second favorite album of 2008...Swedish DJ Kleerup releases his first proper video for "Longing for Lullabies" which features the lovely sounds of Titiyo. As I have stated before, Kleerup is the perfect soundtrack to driving a lamborghini through Paris at 110 mph at some point past the hour of 1:00 a.m.

From the ablum:

Kleerup - 'Kleerup' (2008)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

20 Years Ago Today: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989. It is considered one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters ever to occur at sea. As significant as the Exxon Valdez spill was, it ranks well down on the list of the world's largest oil spills in terms of volume released. However, Prince William Sound's remote location (accessible only by helicopter and boat) made government and industry response efforts difficult and severely taxed existing plans for response. The region was a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals, and seabirds. The vessel spilled 10.8 million U.S. gallons of Prudhoe Bay crude oil into the sea, and the oil eventually covered 11,000 square miles of ocean.

The oil tanker Exxon Valdez departed the Valdez oil terminal in Alaska at 9:12 pm on March 23, 1989 bound for Washington. A harbor pilot guided the ship through the Valdez Narrows before departing the ship and returning control to Joseph Jeffrey Hazelwood, the ship's master. The ship maneuvered out of the shipping lane to avoid icebergs. Following the maneuver and sometime after 11 pm, Hazelwood departed the wheel house. He left Third Mate Gregory Cousins in charge of the wheel house and Able Seaman Robert Kagan at the helm, both of which were not given their mandatory 6 hours off duty before their 12 hour duty began. The ship was on autopilot, using the navigation system installed by the company who constructed the ship. The outbound shipping lane was covered with icebergs so the ship's captain, Hazelwood, got permission from the coast guard to go out through the inbound lane. The coast guard was given the task of ensuring safe passage but failed to keep watch over the Valdez; subsequently the ship struck Bligh Reef at around 12:04 am March 24, 1989.

According to official reports, the ship was carrying 53.1 million gallons of oil, of which 10.8 million gallons were spilled into the Prince William Sound. This figure has become the consensus estimate of the spill's volume, as it has been accepted by the State of Alaska's Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. Some groups, such as Defenders of Wildlife, dispute the official estimates, maintaining that the volume of the spill has been under reported.

The first cleanup response was through the use of a dispersant, a surfactant and solvent mixture. A private company applied dispersant on March 24 with a helicopter and dispersant bucket. Because there was not enough wave action to mix the dispersant with the oil in the water, the use of the dispersant was discontinued. One trial explosion was also conducted during the early stages of the spill, in a region of the spill isolated from the rest by another explosion. The test was relatively successful, reducing 113,400 liters of oil to 1,134 litres of removable residue, but because of unfavorable weather no additional burning was attempted in this cleanup effort. Mechanical cleanup was started shortly afterwards using booms and skimmers, but the skimmers were not readily available during the first 24 hours following the spill, and thick oil and kelp tended to clog the equipment.

Exxon was widely criticized for its slow response to cleaning up the disaster and John Devens, the mayor of Valdez, has said his community felt betrayed by Exxon's inadequate response to the crisis. Working with the United States Coast Guard, which officially led the response, Exxon mounted a cleanup effort that exceeded in cost any previous oil spill cleanup. More than 11,000 Alaska residents, along with some Exxon employees, worked throughout the region to try to restore the environment.

Because Prince William Sound contained many rocky coves where the oil collected, the decision was made to displace it with high-pressure hot water. However, this also displaced and destroyed the microbial populations on the shoreline; many of these organisms (e.g. plankton) are the basis of the coastal marine food chain, and others (e.g. certain bacteria and fungi) are capable of facilitating the biodegradation of oil. At the time, both scientific advice and public pressure was to clean everything, but since then, a much greater understanding of natural and facilitated remediation processes has developed, due somewhat in part to the opportunity presented for study by the Exxon Valdez spill. Despite the extensive cleanup attempts, a study conducted by NOAA determined that as of early 2007 more than 26 thousand U.S. gallons of oil remain in the sandy soil of the contaminated shoreline, declining at a rate of less than 4% per year.

Both the long-and short-term effects of the oil spill have been studied comprehensively. Thousands of animals died immediately; the best estimates include 250,000 to as many as 500,000 seabirds, at least 1,000 sea otters, approximately 12 river otters, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles, and 22 orcas, as well as the destruction of billions of salmon and herring eggs. Due to a thorough cleanup, little visual evidence of the event remained in areas frequented by humans just 1 year later. However, the effects of the spill continue to be felt today. Overall reductions in population have been seen in various ocean animals, including stunted growth in pink salmon populations. Sea otters and ducks also showed higher death rates in following years, partially because they ingested prey from contaminated soil and from ingestion of oil residues on hair due to grooming.

20 years after the spill, a team of scientists at the University of North Carolina found that the effects are lasting far longer than expected. The team estimates some shoreline habitats may take up to 30 years to recover. Exxon Mobil denies any concerns over this, stating that they anticipated a remaining fraction that they assert will not cause any long-term ecological impacts, according to the conclusions of 350 peer-reviewed studies. However, a study from scientists from NOAA concluded that this contamination can produce chronic low-level exposure, discourage subsistence where the contamination is heavy, and decrease the "wilderness character" of the area.

Top 5 Songs I am Currently Listening To...

1. Cymbals Eat Guitars - "And the Hazy Sea"
2. Peter, Bjorn and John - "Last Night"
3. Santogold - "Shuvit (Feat. Three 6 Mafia)"
4. Pavement - "Spit on a Stranger"
5. Jay-Z - "Blueprint 2"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Albums I Would Take to Space, Vol. 1

Brian Eno - 'Ambient 1: Music For Airports' (1978)

There are only a few artists I've really invested time into learning about and have listened to most of their music, and Brian Eno has been that archetype; he is a prolific figure whose work has accumulated to finally capturing an entirely subtle dimension of music appreciation and composition. No, Brian Eno did not invent Ambient music, instead he did something much more important which was to coin the term, and give a genuine, innovating purpose for music. Now, the environment was very much a product of the music because the listener had a much more important role, the listener is to perceive his environment as described by the music. Ambient music cannot be imposing, but still retain its dignity while it is ignored. The listener should use the music only as a catalyst for his perception, and not intend to entirely focus on the composition as it may lessen the stimulation from the environment.

Branching away, or more specifically, focusing further on abstract landscapes than pop music, Brian Eno's effort is a true masterpiece in the new era of modernism. The record is a transitional work, as it never grasp the listener entirely, but gives them enough to sense the warmth that pours throughout each note. Each piece is a subtle, placid one, but never in so much to become too homogeneous---truly, it is a unified work, with each piece working towards the effect of manipulating space and time. The purpose of the recording was to be used in mundane settings wherein activity was moving, even as uneventful as it was. Specifically, Eno wanted this recording to contrast with the uninspiring settings of hospitals and airports, places where people are in constant motion, or completely idle and feel at ease as the music is playing.

Released only a year after the advent of punk, historically, and significantly, Eno's recording works as foil to the simplicity of punk's ethos. What was currently in fashion was the rebelliousness of youth and a more active response to society. However, unlike the principles of that movement, ambient music chose not to direct the listener's emotions, but instead allow for the music itself to manifest through the realization of the listener. That is a brilliant paradox, for ambient music attempts to be an artwork that does not demand, but under scrutiny, Eno's work is an achievement on its own. For instance, "1/1," a piece composed by Eno along with Robert Wyatt and Rhett Davies, is an experiment in tape loops. The extended track at 17 minutes, it allows for the piano notes to work as an ostinato, while interacting with the different intervals of the other tonalities. In this process, the music, at chance, binds completely close, or drastically apart. Fundamentally, this composition of these pieces relies on only a few principles. One, the tonalities of each note, for instance the piano in "1/1" exhibits both forte and piano notes. Second, the tempo of the tape, and thus the instrument. Giving liberty to the tempo allows for an improvisational method of increasing the dynamics of each note. With this kind of tempo, which comes lastly is how the dynamic and timbre of each note changes, for they increase in volume or duration. As mentioned, the music are just loops, but with this method, the music changes drastically, in fact, it changes so much that no two notes are similar in any respect as soon as they are played.

The instruments in this record are very minimal, but are used efficiently. "1/1" employs the piano and synthesizer, while the following two tracks, "2/1" and "1/2" alternate between the interaction of the vocals. It is unbelievable as to how beautiful and colorful the timbre of the vocals are in both pieces. The melodies are at times conjuncted and very loud, or are slow, slightly detached and extremely soft. The human voice is just a far superior instrument than the synthesizer. However, the beauty of the synthesizer is not entirely overshadowed by the other two instruments as the final track includes only the synth. "2/2" creates the ambient musical world. The notes sound soft, warm, interweaving with each other only to forever become lost. The melody is nicely connected and its slow tempo allows for the beauty of building dynamics. It is almost impossible to not pay attention, for the attention to detail is magnificent. For its musical brilliance, Brian Eno's work is extremely contradicting, but its true success lies at its execution.

The beauty of Ambient 1: Music for Airports is how it is a living work, similar to a painting in a living room, or as rare and elegant as the moonlight bending through the cracks as an eternal ray. To ameliorate the setting, and to allow the human mind to add meaning to the music is an absolute accomplishment of Eno's work. For once, the intentions of the artist are no longer in his hands, as the work itself proves to be a piece for multi-purposes, never losing its dignity and continually proving to be a work of the modern space and time.

- youngprayer review from Rateyourmusic.com

Friday, March 20, 2009

Modest Mouse on The Late Show

"Satellite Skin"


If you break these moth wing feelings
Powdered dust on your fingers
Well know that I'm praying on leaving
You know just to say you believe in
Well how the heck did you think you could beat them
I could say on that you're trying to be them
Oh no, just to say you don't need it when they
Took it up while you were still eating

Oh Satellite, satellite skin
Just long enough just to say you don't need it
Well everybody's willing to listen
So satellite, satellite skin
You could say what you want, you're forgiven
Well happy fucking congratulations
Well everyone, everyone wins
Just like me in my own solar system
You could do things up then totally twist them
Oh what will you, oh what the hell
If you break these moth wing feelings
Butterfly knives in the ceiling
Well everyone, everyone's waiting
Detachments get praised and completed
You can say what you want and not mean it
Well no one really seems to be waiting

If you sweep up this mess I've created
Nothing left to show I existed
Except satellite, satellite skin
Asking for the question
Was it easy to say and walk out, you were gone
Do you even believe that
Do you even believe me, if you did so before
If you break these moth wing feelings
I have seen it all
In hotel lights
In old eyes
You had to look at it all before you even said
You are the future of what old souls are
Just to tell you I could not have seen you through the
Happy as you've been

From the Vault: Ghostface Killah - "All That I Got is You" (Feat. Mary J. Blige)

The first time I ever saw this video was in the spring of 1997. At the time, I was 17 years old and I loved two things: rap music and basketball. I was staying at my uncle Rick's house for spring break and his home two very important things: a basketball goal and a television that displayed the wonderful world of BET. My home cable package did not carry BET or even MTV, so, I was stuck with the stepchild of video networks...VH1.

My mind was nearly overwhelmed with all the videos and new music I was taking in. 12 years later, I am still affected by one of the songs I discovered during that exposure to BET..."All That I Got is You". Ghostface Killah sat at that shiny black piano, sang of his impoverished upbringing and changed my life forever. The song instantly reached me and never let go. I walked around with the song playing over and over in my head until a month later when I presented my Side 1 records gift certificate in exchange for the Ghostface album 'Ironman'. I recall getting home, unwrapping the CD and listening to "All That I Got is You" on repeat well into the night. To this day, "All That I Got is You" remains one of my all-time favorite songs and is a lock in my Top 100 songs list.

The video itself illustrates the images described within the lyrics of the song, featuring a young boy who portrays Ghostface in his youth. Born into a family of fifteen, with his mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins; all living in a three-bedroom apartment. The boy experiences all the hardships depicted in the song: growing up in a poor family in the Stapleton Housing Projects, watching his father leave their family at the age of six, sharing a small bed with three other siblings, picking roaches out of water-filled cereal and going next door to borrow leftover bread from neighbors.

My favorite line:

"Things was deep, my whole youth was sharper than cleats"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

5 Albums You Probably Don't Own, But Should... (Vol. 3)

1. Junior Boys - "So This is Goodbye" (2006)

Canadian duo, Junior Boys, released this great sophomore effort in September of 2006. 'So This is Goodbye' sounds like the soundtrack to a commercial flight to Mars that hasn't happened yet. Heavy on the synth-pop and delicate vocals, the album is a perfect listen for this time of year. The album also features the Frank Sinatra cover "When No One Cares". 'So This is a Goodbye' received a 9.0 out of a possible 10.0 from Pitchforkmedia.com in a 2006 review.

Favorite Tracks:

"Count Souvenirs"

2. Rainer Maria - "A Better Version of Me" (2001)

This was one of the first indie records (that was not released by Modest Mouse) that I truly fell in love with. Nine tracks, all perfect in their own little way. The heavenly vocals of Caithlin De Marrais coupled with the post-punk influences make 'A Better Version of Me' as good now as it was when it was released in 2001.

Favorite Tracks:

"The Contents of Lincoln's Pockets"
"Save My Skin"

3. Leonard Cohen - "Songs of Leonard Cohen" (1967)

'Songs of Leonard Cohen' wass the debut album of Canadian musician Leonard Cohen, which foreshadowed the future path of his career as the melancholy laureate. Cohen lead the post-folk movement of the late 60's along with the likes of Tim Buckley, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell. Many of the songs on this album are certainly void of cheer, yet the listener is left with a better feeling after they have absorbed these ten tracks.

Favorite Tracks:

"The Stranger Song"

4. Moby - "18" (2002)

'18' was the 2002 album released by electronic artist Moby. The album finds Moby following a similar direction to that of his previous album, the commercially successful 'Play', sampling old field recordings of negro spirituals and combining them with mellow dance beats. However, '18' features a far sadder tone than that of 'Play'. The album also saw Moby beginning to branch off into the world of alternative rock.

Favorite Tracks:

"At Least We Tried"
"Great Escape"

5. Damien Jurado - "Ghost of David" (2000)

'Ghost of David' is an album by the singer-songwriter Damien Jurado, released in September 2000. In tone, 'Ghost of David' is bleak, spare, and overall pretty depressing. Most of its thirteen songs concern deception, death or tell tragic stories of deception and death. I fell in love with the album during the fall and winter of 2000 and I managed to find the true beauty in its sadness.

Favorite Tracks:

"Johnny Go Riding"
"Walk With Me"
"Tonight I Will Retire"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Top 5 Favorite Live Performance Documentaries...

1. 'The Last Waltz' (1978)

My all time favorite, 'The Last Waltz' was a concert by the Canadian rock group, The Band, held on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. For their final concert, The Band invited a dozen or so of their closest friends to join them in their finale: Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Ronnie Wood, Muddy Waters...oh, and don't forget BOB DYLAN!! The Band were the official back up band for Bob Dylan went he went electric in 1966 (see 'Don't Look Back' below) and that is how they became to be known simply as "The Band".

The event was filmed by director Martin Scorsese (yes, that Martin Scorsese who used to live with [read: do drugs with] The Band in upstate New York) and made into a documentary of the same name, which was then released in 1978. The film features concert performances, scenes shot on a studio soundstage and interviews by Scorsese with members of The Band. I watched 'The Last Waltz' about 30 times during the summer of 2003, I swear it got better each time.

Favorite Song:

"It Makes No Difference"/
"Helpless (Feat. Neil Young & Joni Mitchell)"

2. 'Stop Making Sense' (1984)

'Stop Making Sense' is the highly acclaimed concert film featuring Talking Heads live on stage during their 'Speaking in Tongues' tour. Directed by Jonathan Demme, it was shot over three nights in December 1983. Coming off as more of an art exhibit than an convential concert, the Talking Heads were at their apex of creation in late 1983, early 1984.

The movie is also notable for lead singer David Byrne's "big suit", an absurdly oversized business suit he dons late in the concert for the song "Girlfriend is Better" (which gave the movie its title from one of its lyrics). This concert film is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of the performance documentary genre. Film critic Leonard Maltin rated the film with four stars out of a possible four stars, describing it as "brilliantly conceived, shot, edited and performed" and "one of the greatest rock movies ever made."

Favorite Song:

"This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)"

3. 'Rust Never Sleeps' (1979)

'Rust Never Sleeps' is Neil Young's 1978 concert tour, documented in this acclaimed two-hour film that was directed by Young himself (using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey). The concept of the show is, well, bizarre (not for Neil Young though), if not down right odd: roadies (here called "Road Eyes") decked out like the Tusken Raiders from Star Wars, stage announcements from the original Woodstock during set changes, and giant amps, microphones, and so on for an "Incredible Shrinking Man" effect.

Of course, it's the music that counts, and there's plenty of that, what with nearly 20 songs (including two versions of "Hey Hey, My My," his nod to the "punk is killing rock" movement), acoustic and electric (with longtime backing-band companions Crazy Horse), dating back to his days with Buffalo Springfield ("I Am a Child") and continuing through his popular solo numbers like "Cinnamon Girl" and the extended "Cortez the Killer."

Favorite Song:

"After the Gold Rush"/"Cortez the Killer"

4. 'Don't Look Back' (1967)

'Dont Look Back' is the 1967 documentary film by director D.A. Pennebaker that principally covers Bob Dylan's 1965 concert tour of the United Kingdom. The film shows a young Dylan confident if not arrogant, confrontational and contrary, but somehow charismatic and charming at the same time. The scene in which Dylan argues with singer Donovan over "who threw the fucking glass?" is probably one of the most entertaining five minutes in recorded history.

In 1998, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Favorite Song:

"Like a Rolling Stone"

5. 'Rattle and Hum' (1988)

'Rattle and Hum' documents the 1987 North American tour of the rock band, U2. Fresh off the success of their best selling album, 'The Joshua Tree', the band play each song from somewhere deep in their spirit. Along the way, the band takes the opportunity in indulge in some special musical moments like playing with BB King and performing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking" with an all black gospel choir. All the while, concert footage of the band's soon-to-be biggest hits on the tour are featured while Bono speaks his mind on the problems of his homeland and the world at large (something we would come to bemoan years later).

Favorite Song:

"With or Without You"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

36 Years Ago Today: Pink Floyd releases 'The Dark Side of the Moon'

'The Dark Side of the Moon' is a concept album by the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd. It was released on March 17th, 1973 in the U.S. and March, 24th 1973 in the UK.
'The Dark Side of the Moon' builds upon previous experimentation that Pink Floyd had explored in their live shows and recordings, but without the extended instrumental excursions that, according to critic David Fricke, had become characteristic of the band after founding member Syd Barrett left in 1968. Guitarist David Gilmour, Barrett's replacement, would later refer to these instrumentals as "that psychedelic noodling stuff." Gilmour and Roger Waters, the band's bassist (and principal lyricist on 'Dark Side'), cite 1971's 'Meddle' as a turning point toward what would be realized on 'The Dark Side of the Moon'.

The album's themes include conflict, greed, ageing and mental illness (or "insanity"); the latter inspired in part by the deteriorating mental state of Barrett, who had been the band's principal composer and lyricist. The album is notable for its use of musique concrète and conceptual, philosophical lyrics, as found in much of the band's other work. The band's most successful release, 'The Dark Side of the Moon' is often considered to be the group's defining work, and is still frequently ranked by music critics as one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time.


'The Dark Side of the Moon' explores the nature of the human experience and according to Waters, "empathy". For example: "Speak to Me" and "Breathe" is about birth and being a child with new earthly experiences; "On the Run", a synthesizer-driven instrumental, evokes the stress and anxiety of modern travel, in particular Richard Wright's fear of flying; "Time" looks at youth misspent, then gone before one even realizes it, and the surprisingly fast approach of death; "The Great Gig in the Sky" explores thoughts of religion and death; "Money" mocks greed and consumerism, with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and wealth-related sound effects; "Us and Them" addresses ethnocentrism, conflict and the belief that a person's self is "always in the right"; "Brain Damage" looks at mental illness and whether "insanity" is only relative, and growing too old to be who one once was; and "Eclipse" ends the album with a grand statement about free will and causality.

Waters is credited as author of all the lyrics on the album, and he created the early demo tracks in a small garden shed-turned-recording studio at his home. It was also there that he recorded the effects loop for "Money", by recording the sounds of various money-related objects, including coins tossed into a mixing bowl from his wife's pottery studio. All four members of Pink Floyd - bassist and principal lyricist Roger Waters, guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason and keyboardist Richard Wright - participated in the writing and production of the album, which is a rarity among later Pink Floyd albums. However, it is the first of five consecutive Pink Floyd albums with lyrics credited only to Waters.

Although 'The Dark Side of the Moon' was the planned title of the album, upon the discovery that the band Medicine Head was to release an album of the same name in 1972, the year prior to The Dark Side of the Moon's release, the band changed the album's title to 'Eclipse: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics'. However, the Medicine Head album flopped, so Pink Floyd reverted to the original title.


Recorded by the band and staff engineer Alan Parsons at Abbey Road Studios between June 1972 and January 1973, the album sessions made use of the most advanced techniques available for recording instruments and sound effects in rock music at that time. Along with some Moody Blues albums, it is known for being one of the very first surround sound mixes, taking advantage of the early technology of quadraphonic systems. A quadraphonic surround sound mix of the album was created by Parsons, however, he never completed it to his satisfaction, due to lack of time and multi-track tape recorders.

Alan Parsons pictured mixing 'The Dark Side of the Moon' in quadraphonic sound along with the conventional rock band instrumentation, Pink Floyd added prominent synthesizers to their sound. For example, Roger Waters and David Gilmour experimented with the EMS VCS3 Synthi A and analog sequencers on "On the Run". The band also devised and recorded some unconventional noises: an assistant engineer running around the studio's echo chamber (during "On the Run"); myriad clocks ticking then chiming simultaneously (during "Time"), and a specially-treated bass drum made to sound like a human heartbeat (during "Speak to Me", "On the Run", "Time", and "Eclipse"). The heartbeat is most audible as the intro and the outro to the album, but it can also be heard underneath most of the album—the song "Time" and "On the Run" has the low thudding underneath the rest.

Another novelty of the recording is the metronomic and rhythmic sequence of sound effects played during "Speak to Me" and "Money". This was achieved by Parsons laboriously splicing together recordings of ringing cash registers, clinking coins, tearing paper, and buzzing counting machines onto a two-track tape loop. The sonic experimentation on the album required every member of the band to operate the faders simultaneously in order to mix down the intricately assembled multitrack recordings of several of the songs (particularly "On the Run").

Perhaps one of the less noticeable aspects of the album is the ability of Richard Wright and David Gilmour to perfectly harmonize with each other, such as on "Us and Them" and "Time". In the Making of 'The Dark Side of the Moon' DVD, Roger Waters attributes this to the fact that, along with their talent, their voices both sound extremely similar. To take advantage of this, Parsons perfected the use of other studio techniques such as the doubletracking of vocals and guitars, and other vocal multitracking which allowed Gilmour to harmonize with himself. He also made prominent use of flanging and phase shifting effects on vocals and instruments, odd trickery with reverb and the panning of sounds between channels. Despite Parsons' significant contribution to the success of the album, Pink Floyd have occasionally tried to downplay his role. He said in an interview with Rolling Stone:

"I think they all felt that I managed to hang the rest of my career on Dark Side of the Moon, which has an element of truth to it. But I still wake up occasionally, frustrated about the fact that they made untold millions and a lot of the people involved in the record didn't".

Suggest listening:

Suggested viewing:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Top 5 Songs I am Currently Listening To...

1. The Clash - "Ghetto Defendant"
2. Songs:Ohia - "John Henry Split My Heart"
3. Electrelane - "The Greater Times"
4. Kings of Leon - "Arizona"
5. The Anniversary - "Perfectly"

March Mikeness: My 2009 Final Four Picks

Another year, another bracket. From the beginning of this college basketball season, I have had very little interest in the collegiate hardwood. I'm not really sure why, but it never changed all season long. I watched enough ESPN to gather the most vital information. This season seemed to consist mostly of who could lose the #1 ranking from week to week. I am not sold on Pitt, UConn or UNC (who didn't even win the ACC for fuck's sake). All three of those teams seem to be quite vulnerable and able to go down to anyone willing to play just a little bit harder than them. At the end of this tournament, I will not be surprised by any matchup...it's just one of those years.

My Final Four Picks:

1 Louisville vs. 2 Memphis

2 Duke vs. 2 Oklahoma

Championship Game:

1 Louisville vs. 2 Duke

2009 NCAA Champion:

Louisville Cardinals over Duke Blue Devils in Championship game

(note: I picked Louisville to win it all even before they won the Big East tournament)