lifestyles of the rich and the famous

To fans of music: Rock stars/musicians/bands are in no way better than you. There seems to be a universal acceptance of a rock star’s disrespectful and arrogant attitudes and actions, but I find this unacceptable. My guess is a lot of kids start bands because they want to be famous and have people love them. This is a natural human desire and that’s probably why we keep on idolizing bands and artists, even if they have little or no talent.

As a musician in an aspiring rock band, I meet a lot of fans (who are awesome by the way). They like to express their feelings towards our music and I really appreciate it when they do that. But when liking our music goes as far as basically worshiping us, I don’t want any part of that. At the risk of sounding pretentious (Joel), I don’t want to be worshiped. That goes against everything a “rock star” should think, but I’d rather chill with fans after shows and really try to get to know them. We’ve met so many awesome people all over the place as a band and I don’t think any of us would want to trade that for pseudo-praise or a hedonistic lifestyle.

So in conclusion, I want to make it known that I am not against voicing your thoughts to your favorite or least favorite bands. I have many favorite bands that I would love to meet and talk with. But just watch how much effort you put into over-complimenting and worshiping your favorite band. They might deserve that praise for their talents, but on the human level, they are the same as you.

you never give me your money

I love antique shops. There are 3 here in Naperville but only one of them is that good. I just love walking through aisles and aisles of history and nostalgia. Recently I’ve been finding piles upon piles of old records. Because of my love of history and good music, I naturally appreciate a good record. I only own two so far; The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Billy Joel’s The Stranger, but I plan on getting a lot more in the future.

I realized that back when records were the only form of music, you couldn’t just throw your entire music library on shuffle like you can nowadays with iPods and CD changers. They required listening to the whole record straight through, so music back then was made to make this possible. Consequentially, albums made sense. They weren’t just random songs put together to make some money–they were fluid and coherent. So recently I’ve been making myself pick an album to listen to and listen to it straight through. It makes the experience so much more fruitful and enjoyable. You can get the overall feeling of the record and then decide if you like it or not. Just try it a few times. I will suggest starting with Abbey Road because it is the greatest album ever made.

P.S. Don’t forget to send me your guesses for the Academy Award nominations which are immediately under this post.

Soundtrack of the moment, part I

No, this isn’t that stupid random listing of songs that supposedly follows your life. These are some songs that have changed me, made me think, made me cry, and want me to become a better person. Enjoy.

“Candy Shop” – Andrew Bird – Oh! the Grandeur
So nostalgic. The groove makes you want to do the Charleston.

“Martha My Dear” – The Beatles – The White Album
There are so many Beatles song I could have chosen but this one is so catchy and my current favorite. Do yourself a favor and listen to this whole double album.

“Vienna” – Billy Joel – The Stranger
I recommend this entire album. I wish I could make music like Billy Joel.

“Love Affair” – Copeland – Eat, Sleep, Repeat
Ridiculously good song off of a ridiculously good album. Their musicianship and composition skills inspire me so much.

“Changes” – David Bowie – Hunky Dory
One of the catchiest songs you’ll ever hear.

“Time Bomb” – The Format – Dog Problems
This band is going to be huge. Such a great blend of acoustic pop, rock, and brilliance.

“Backyard” – Guster – Keep It Together
I just love the grooves they create. The chord progressions are so emotionally charged.

“The Mixed Tape” – Jack’s Mannequin – Everything In Transit
I didn’t know anything about this band before listening to this disc. So glad I did. The first time I heard this track it felt like music was completely new and uninhibited.

“At the Mercy” – Paul McCartney – Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
I never listened to any Wings stuff, so that’s probably why I love this. Paul’s still got it.

“Bicycle Race” – Queen – Greatest Hits I
At a weird yet awesome song. You will not be able to forget it.

“Short People” – Randy Newman – Little Criminals
Most people probably know Randy Newman from the Toy Story soundtrack but his other stuff is piano pop at its best.

“Samson” – Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope
Brass + strings + inspiration = musical bliss. Such a heart throbbing song.

“I So Hate Consequences” – Relient K – mmHmm
Lyrically, this band is the greatest I’ve ever seen. Everyone can relate to these songs, and this is just a taste of the spiritual and emotional maturity that Matthew Thiessen brings.

“The Only Song” – Sherwood – Summer EP
Pop rock glory.

“The World” – The Starting Line – Based on a True Story
An solid, anthemic pop punk rock song.

“Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” – Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel the Illinoise!
This man is truly gifted. Where he gets his inspiration/ideas is beyond me.

“Amateur Lovers” – Switchfoot – Oh! Gravity.
This album is so much better than Nothing Is Sound. Had to pick one song but listen to the whole album.

“View From Heaven” – Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue
Such an emotional song from an unlikely source. A great summer record.

So there are just a few of the songs that fill my day. What are yours?

I fought you for so long…

Imagine: Darkness, accompanied by golden light from surrounding “Narnia” lamp posts. The snow slowly permeates everything in sight, including your face. The path you’re on shines like diamonds and swivels oh so gracefully alongside a sparkling river. Soft piano music dances into your ear, choreographed perfectly with the falling flakes. Now, tell me that God is not with you at that very moment.

Snow is commonly thought of as a metaphor for a sense of renewal or rebirth, but I see it as being able to see our worth. God drops this stuff down on us to show us that we can sparkle like diamonds and are so clean and new if we choose to be. Go outside the next time it is snowing at night and see what happens.

P.S. If you want to experience a living and breathing God, listen to Relient K’s album mmHmm. He is all over those lyrics.

you’re coming alive to me

I love it when music and movies come alive. Recently I listened to Copeland’s new album, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. That album, as well as Jack’s Mannequin’s Everything In Transit, somehow opened up a new gateway into music and life for me. When I listened to them, everything else I had ever heard before that seemed stale. They completely revolutionized music for me, however hyperbolic that may sound. I was in just the right mood for the music to reach right into my soul and shake things up. I’m sure that if you are more than a casual listener to decent music you’ll know what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve had a bad day, or bad month, and listening to a certain album just smashes a window open you didn’t know existed in your soul. I love it.

With Jack’s Mannequin, I remember my heart just throbbing and getting goosebumps while walking home from the public library. At that moment, God just came alive to me. It doesn’t even matter what kind of music you’re listening to. Each strum of the guitar was like a shock to my heart. Another time, I was listening to Sanctus Real’s The Face of Love. During that season of my life, I had been thinking a lot about love and what it really meant. Three different arenas of my life–classes, church, and music–all happened to focus specifically on this subject, which I know now wasn’t a coincidence. Listening to The Face of Love and thinking about the lyrics and how they applied to my life, it was like another jump start to my heart. My windshield had just been wiped clean and I could finally make sense of the stuff that was ahead of me.

This happens with movies as well. My sister could attest to this. In the months before our grandpa and grandma died, she was away at college and couldn’t be with them as much as she wanted. She had always been really close to them, so whenever she was getting down about it, she watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I cannot vouch for the quality of the movie, but that doesn’t matter. She is emotionally bound to that film and to this day she watches it whenever she is having a bad day. We all can be moved by certain movies, whether it be because of its sadness or uplifting message. I recently watched Casablanca. I’ve only met one person who does not like/love this movie, and for good reason. I love the romance, I love the stubbornness of Rick (which I can relate to), and I love how there are so many things I can learn from it. That movie, along with a few others, lifts itself off the screen and into my heart. And sometimes, with all the crap we carry with us, that is exactly what we need.