Tag Archives: Frank Zappa

The Colors Of Rock: Songs

A list of songs on the palette making The Colors Of Rock (updated periodically)

18 Yellow Roses (Bobby Darin)
99 Luftballons/Red Balloons (Nena)
All Cats Are Grey (The Cure)
Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk (Dr. Hook)
Back In Black (AC/DC)
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (Jim Croce)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
Black Celebration (Depeche Mode)
Black And Blue (Van Halen)
Black Cat (Janet Jackson)
Black Cow (Steely Dan)
Black Diamond (Kiss)
Black Is Black (Los Bravos)
Black Night (Deep Purple)
Black Water (The Doobie Brothers)
Blue Collar Man (Styx)
Blue Eyes (Elton John)
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (Willie Nelson)
Blue Jean (David Bowie)
Blue On Black (Kenny Wayne Shepard)
Blue Suede Shoes (Elvis Presley)
Bluer Than Blue (Michael Johnson)
Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)
Brown Shoes (Frank Zappa)
Brown Sugar (The Rolling Stones)
Caribbean Blue (Enya)
Crystal Blue Persuasion (Tommy James & The Shondells)
Colour My World (Chicago)
Desert Rose (Eric Johnson)
Don't Eat the Yellow Snow (Frank Zappa)
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue (Crystal Gayle)
Fade to Black (Metallica)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
Green Earrings (Steely Dan)
Green Eyed Lady (Sugarloaf)
Green Green Grass Of Home (Johnny Darrell, Porter Wagoner, Bobby Bare, Tom Jones)
Green Light (Lorde)
Green Onions (Booker T. & The M.G.s)
Green Tinted Sixties Mind (Mr. Big)
Gold (John Stewart)
Golden Lady (Stevie Wonder)
Golden Slumbers (The Beatles)
Lady In Red (Chris Deburgh)
I Saw Red (Warrant)
Indigo Eyes (Peter Murphy)
It's Not Easy Being Green (Kermit the Frog)
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (Brian Hyland)
Little Red Corvette (Prince)
Mellow Yellow (Donovan)
Men In Black (Will Smith)
Midnight Blue (Lou Graham)
Mr. Brownstone (Guns N' Roses)
Orange Crush (R.E.M.)
Paint It Black (The Rolling Stones)
Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Cole)
Pink Houses (John Cougar Mellencamp)
Purple Haze (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Purple People Eater (Sheb Wooley)
Purple Rain (Prince)
Red Barchetta (Rush)
Red House (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Red Sector A (Rush)
Red Skies (The Fixx)
Song Sung Blue (Neil Diamond)
Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree (Tony Orlando and Dawn)
Touch Of Grey (The Grateful Dead)
True Blue (Madonna)
True Colors (Cyndi Lauper, Phil Collins)
Still Got The Blues (Gary Moore)
White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
White Room (Cream)
Yellow (Coldplay)
Yellow Flicker Beat (Lorde)
Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

© Composer Yoga

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Talking To Your Bandmates During The Song Vol. 1

For those unfamiliar with our organization, DPAC, the Dork Prevention Advisory Committee has been entrusted with the ardent task of upholding, maintaining and preserving standards of cultural coolness & integrity for successive generations. We conduct ongoing policing of pop singers recommending safeguards and protocols with the noble aim of curbing, avoiding and eliminating Dorky Dialogue in popular music.

 

Our panel of experts have compiled a series of reports entitled “Talking To Your Bandmates During The Song: Case Files And Conclusions.” In addition to this website, copies of our reports will be available at all Federally funded government offices and institutions including but not limited to your local DMV, Post Office, and Public Library.

 

DISCLAIMER: DPAC should not to be confused with 2–Pac, nor is in any way affiliated with Self Help author Deepak Chopra.

 

Abstract & Origins

Dorky Dialogue is indeed a razor’s edge many have slipped from iconified grace and wound up impaled on Dork Stalactites in the corny canyon years or decades later. Such dialogue risks launching self–inflicted salvos at their own careers and creates blundering boomerangs as their own “Towers of Babble” return to sender. CAUTION is the watchword for unfiltered enthusiastic utterances in the studio or onstage, impromptu or planned.

 

DPAC aims to erect a “Speech Line: Do Not Cross” Auditory Police Tape so future musicians and entertainers may refer to maintain a successful “Bell Curve of Cool” throughout their careers as well as protect the airwaves and internet from Nerdy Noise Pollution. Our Publication SM 58: Dampening Dorky Dialogue (see below), provides helpful guidelines for singers to learn when to palm mute their given instrument. The Singer Modification 58 Protocols outline safe and unsafe lead vocal territories in regards to unnecessary chatter, gibberish, babble, bragging, ego stroking, superfluous filler, fluff, Paul Stanleyisms, etc.

 

Publication SM–58

 

Showing Some Love Towards Cover Bands

The first thing such Inter–Song Socializing (ISS) or Inter–Band Dialogue (IBD) on a recording does is it renders a particular song Cover Tune Unfriendly (CTU). Before engaging and risking such utterances, ask yourself “What are the odds cover tune band members will have the same names and/or play the same instrument?” Or be the same gender for that matter. If you are not good with math like a singer, the odds are about that of a Beatles reunion, Charlie Manson getting a record deal, or another Tiffany album.

 

Acceptable Usage and Examples

Neneh Cherry saying “Hey DJ…” in the intro to her hit track “Buffalo Stance” is one such example. Note that this is acceptable as Ms. Cherry refrained from naming the particular DJ, and just telling him (or her) to “Stop that effing scratching and give me a beat!”

 

Vanilla Ice prodded “Yo VIP–let’s kick it!” to get his DJ to press a button and get the the synth drums going on “Ice Ice Baby.” Again no one is insinuated by name and thus cannot be charged as an Accessory to Nerdy.

 

Steve Perry shouting after the piano intro to “Don’t Stop Believin'”, “Neil!”  to Neil Schon to cue in the 4 note guitar lick build that increases in speed and crescendos with the drums entering. Steve did this live but NOT on the actual sound recording which would have definitely been North of dork and South of cool.

 

Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention could get away with lots of inter band conversation onstage because it was musical theatre and part of the show.

 

Rap & Hip Hop have taken Inter–Song Socializing to new plateaus, talking to and about themselves with a frequency density far greater than that of other genres as they do not seem concerned with having their material covered by bands in nightclubs. Since it is so much a part of the genre, we have determined a hands off policy is the recommended approach.

 

When did all this Inter–Song Socializing (ISS) start?

DPAC has determined its origins seem to have been with James Brown, shouting “MACEO!!” To Maceo Parker his horn player. However these were live recordings and part of the spontaneity of being in the moment.

 

Note that doing so on an actual STUDIO recording is a logical contradiction, since if a band member is dumb enough to not know when to solo or play a certain part, then why would they be in the band to begin with? One presupposes they ARE in the band because they are competent on said instrumentation. ISS on recordings is further innecessitated when hiring session players for an album, who it can be safely assumed, know their ass from their elbow.

 

Recommendations

One recommendation is yelling out the name of the instrument about to take spotlight such as “Guitar!!” In regards to such solos, riffs, fills and licks, fans already know it’s coming and who’s playing it, so doing this in substitute of a bandmates name can prevent a dork meter spike and keep you safely south of dork. Bret Michaels finally learned this wise strategy on Poison’s sophomore album with the track “Nothin’ But A Good Time” after his horrendous transgression to C.C. on “Talk Dirty To Me.”

 

Consider the fact that your band members will already be listed in album liner notes and also on your website. You also get to introduce them live on stage every performance. Is there really a need to have such a conversation during the song?

 

Just Shut Up And Sing!! Well, you know what we mean—avoid mentioning your bandmates by name and at all during recording sessions. (The SM–58 Gold Standard—our preferred recommendation)

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Sharpening Your Cool IQ

Imagine a Steely Dan recording session where Donald Fagen yells out to Jeff “Skunk” Baxter “Go Skunk!” Or to Elliott Randall, “Elliott!” on the opening solo of “Reelin’ In The Years.” A voice sample of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial saying “Elliott”, although getting points for originality, still fails to be a Trojan horse in the cool army.

 

Picture “Tom Sawyer” with Geddy Lee saying “Gimme a roll Neil!”  to Neil Peart right before his first gargantuan drum fill. Then “How about another?”, and finally a “One More time.” Or alternately after the 3 big drum fills, Geddy saying “Wow, Neil was on a roll!” in some form of schlocky musical slapstick.

 

Singers are most often the guilty parties. Think about how dumb it would sound for another band member telling the lead singer to sing. Can you picture Jimmy Page telling Robert Plant “Scream Robert!” Or Keith Richards telling Mick Jagger “Sing unintelligibly like you always do Mick!” ISS seems to be a symptom of Lead Singer Disease (LSD) as guitarists, drummers, bassists, pianists and keyboardists, etc. are not prone to such fanciful faux pas.

 

Did we ever hear Freddie Mercury telling guitarist Brian May “Go Brian go!?” In the classic Rob Reiner Mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, the track “Gimme Some Money” on the band’s CD makes fun of Inter–Song Socializing. It’s a retro 60’s Flower Power song, where lead singer David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) says to guitarist Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), “Go Nigel Go!!” as he begins a wimpy guitar solo replete with stellar garage band cacophony.

 

“Gimme Some Money” is a parody song. DPAC exists to prevent parody from unintentionally becoming reality, and any Careless Whisper or Momentary Lapse Of Reason from becoming a parody later on. That being said, we wish you a long and productive career filled with years of Certified Dork Free Recordings (CDFR).

–DPAC

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Case Files:

 

Poison “Talk Dirty To Me”

“C.C. pick up that guitar and talk to me”

Bret Michaels yells out “C.C. pick up that guitar and talk to me” to C.C. DeVille on Poison’s debut album during the track “Talk Dirty To Me.” It’s like what the hell was C.C. doing prior to this in the song—NOT playing guitar? Sitting on his monitor amp painting his fingernails? It makes little sense. One needs to factor in and consider before doing so “Will this still sound cool 20 years from now?” Because unless you’re in a tribute band, and dress and pretend to be the actual members of the original band onstage, such lyrical appendages are better omitted.

 

 

Def Leppard “Armageddon It”

“Come on Steve, get it!”

Joe Elliott talks to one of his guitarists on the track “Armageddon It” off of the monstrously successful Hysteria album. He calls out to Steve Clark, “Come on Steve get it!” right before the guitar solo. Was this encouragement because Steve flubbed the last 5 takes in the studio? DPAC wonders if there could be some kind of curse in doing this—In Def Leppard’s case, this was Steve Clark’s last completed album (due to his untimely death) and our friend C.C. got fired from Poison later on as well.

 

 

Mötley Crüe “Girls, Girls, Girls”

“Hey Tommy check that out man
What Vince where?
Hey hey right there
(whistle)
Hey baby going somewhere?”

Vince Neil and Tommy Lee are obviously not at a strip club during this conversation even though that’s what most of the song is about—a tour of the world’s finest nude entertainment establishments. Unfortunately due to the global recession, some of the strip clubs mentioned in the song are no longer in business.

 

But does this dialogue have real world authenticity? Like any girl wouldn’t be like “Who are these juvenile douchebags?” Like they would say, “Oh that’s okay, they’re in a Rock Band so high school kinda stuff is still pretty cool. They’re socially exempt from being any more sophisticated than a cruder construction worker Cassanova to be successful with women. They’ve got motorcycles so they MUST be cool.” Ah, the ‘ol Harley hat trick.

 

Although the strip club bonding Bromance between Vince and Tommy was some drunken drooling over imaginary Double–D’s, fortunately the motorcycle starting up in the song’s intro was real as one of our Board of Directors knows the person who did it on the actual studio recording.

 

 

Rick James “Super Freak”

“Temptations Sing!”
“Blow Danny!”

Rick slipped up twice in his hit dance track “Super Freak.”  First he tells his backup singers, “Temptations Sing!.” We’re sure after a successful recording career prior to Rick getting his first pubes, that Motown veterans The Temptations know the difference between choruses and verses and when to get their backing vocals on. And hiring session musicians as experienced as The Temptations requires conductor caliber instructions from Maestro James during the track?

 

Rick also tells his sax player when to take a standard 8 bar solo, with “Blow Danny!” Really? Like Danny would do a solo during the verses when Rick was singing about some very kinky girl? We think not. There are “Lead Drummers” who inappropriately intervene thunderously real or imagined virtuosity over lyrics but the phenomenon of “Lead Sax Players” has yet to spike our grievance and peeve meters.

 

 

Prince And The Revolution “Computer Blue”

“Wendy?
Yes Lisa.
Is the water warm enough?
Yes Lisa.
Shall we begin?
Yes Lisa.”

Although we’ve never heard Stevie Nicks or Christine McVie yell out “Go Lindsey” to Lindsey Buckingham telling him when to rip into a guitar riff or solo, one example of women talking during the song is on the Purple Rain Soundtrack. Our research has indicated female singers don’t tend to talk to their band members by name as frequently as their male counterparts. The intro to “Computer Blue” being a notable exception. The track begins with a conversation between Wendy and Lisa with no discernible reference to even playing an instrument.

 

What does this “girl talk” conversation have to do with a song entitled “Computer Blue?” Your guess is as good as ours. Incidentally, you shouldn’t have water anywhere near your computer as it can short it out and damage the circuitry. Yet certain questions still remain as to what they’re actually talking about. Our panel has narrowed it down to the following possible scenarios:

  1. Making herbal tea
    2. Shaving their legs
    3. Making sure the pasta they’re cooking turns out Al Dente
    4. Visiting a day spa while on tour

Regardless, don’t let no thermometer stop you from purifying yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka:

 

This concludes Case File Installment #1. And remember:

Some singers get hip replacements, others need lip replacements.
Don’t get a D in Dork, score a C in Cool!
Loose Lips Sink Hits!!

 

The Dork Prevention Advisory Committee (DPAC)

© Composer Yoga

Related Posts To Check Out:
Prince Joke (Little Red Corvette)
Yoda’s iPod: “When Doves Cry” By Prince
The Prince Prophecy & The Let’s Go Crazy Code
Sound Mines: Prince “Mountains”
First Recording Of Purple Rain In America




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Laugh Tracks: Frank Zappa “Baby Take Your Teeth Out”

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Quite possibly the greatest pop song ever written. Ok, next to “Wooly Bully” by Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs of course. Musically you think “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” is going to bubble gum land then the lyrics take you on a 180 degree comical detour. Surprise! It’s a journey to gum job land. When I first heard “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” (it’s my music teacher’s fault for introducing me to Frank Zappa) I couldn’t believe anyone would write a song about this. As I got more familiar with the Frank Zappa catalog, nothing seemed to be off limits for Frank’s comedic salvos even a tale of gum jobs in your golden years.

 

Only Frank Zappa could write Bubble Gum Pop about Gumjobs—YES someone actually wrote a song about the Golden Years besides David Bowie.

 

“Baby Take Your Teeth Out” is a track off the 1984 Frank Zappa album Them Or Us, the 40th official release from Zappa and crew. It’s bouncy happy music that goes where eagles wouldn’t dare. It sings joyfully of taboos that most talk shows wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole save Howard Stern and Jerry Springer. But on the bright side, the recommended practice of “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” just may get a safety endorsement from AARP bringing greater awareness to denture etiquette. And unlike Stern and Springer, Frank Zappa put nursery rhyme calibre lyrics affixed to the Polident bedrock of sunny Beach Boys musical sensibility:

The opening lyric “Moo–Ahh” by itself is funny. It becomes the catchphrase our narrator employs to mark his territory as the pimp daddy OG daddy mack of the song: Senior moments such as these need some reminding. In a larger context, it becomes another call of the Zappa Army among the zany eccentric lexicon he donated to the world.

 

“Baby Take Your Teeth Out” is dirty Doo–Wop complete with full bodied male/female backing vocals. It’s another example of some fine Frank Zappa satire and parody of a musical idiom. The opening track on Them Or Us “The Closer You Are” is a cover of the Earl Lewis and Morgan “Bobby” Robinson Doo–Wop song recorded by The Channels done in a serious tone (well for a Frank Zappa tune anyway) and minus lyrics about the joys of geriatric fellatio. This song reminds me of the 50’s classics “Venus” by Frankie Avalon (1959) and “Johnny Angel” by Shelley Fabares (1962). “Be In My Video” is another Doo–Wop style song that’s in the halfway house between Frank Zappa parody and Frank Zappa serious (lyrics comedic, music serious). Zappa takes on the role of narrator between the full rich 50’s style harmonies. There’s a cute little tribute to Astronomer Carl Sagan in the lyrics if you can find it:

 

Atomic light will shine
Through an old Venetian blind
Making patterns on your face,
Then it cuts to outer space

With it’s billions & billions &
Billions & billions and…

 

The “With it’s billions & billions…” part is the Carl Sagan bit based on a quote from him. This track also has the obligatory (and perhaps parodic in the Zappa World) sax line and a falsetto reminiscent of the song “Stay” by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs (1960–the version used in the film Dirty Dancing) and later covered by Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons (1964). “Be In My Video” also has some Moo–Ahhs thrown in too because it was so much fun a few tracks ago.

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Ike Willis of “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?” and “Fembot In A Wet T–Shirt” fame off the amazing album Joe’s Garage takes lead vocal duty on “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” with his deep resonant bass range. The most hilarious part of the song for me is the bridge section which jumps forward a few decades in a time warp to progressive rock. At the :50 second mark, the tempo slows and a synth horn fanfare sound something Keith Emerson would have programmed into his Jenga stack of keyboards forms the atmospheric bed our narrator can recline and partake in his ultimate tooth fairy fantasy:

 

C’mon, baby
That’s what I like
Yeah…Well, c’mon
Mmm…yeah…Moo–Ahh
The way you handle that
No, oh baby
Don’t mind them blisters
On your hand
Moo–Ahh

 

Ike Willis was doing a Barry White impersonation that they later referred to as “Barely White.” The bridge section was actually done with Ike’s tongue taped to his mouth to get a more comical effect and to get that coveted senior citizen sensual slur. In fact, Ike’s alter ego “Barely White” was born during the session of “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” and fortunately has a full set of teeth.  The last bit of narration in the song is also a cute quip at denture care and maintenance:

 

Go ahead and eat the label
Boiling water kills germs
Mmm–hmm…Yeah
I told ya!!

 

“Truck Driver Divorce” is a country parody song on the album which also uses this same prog morphing formula that gets very fusiony. It’s almost like Mahavishnu Orchestra walked onstage during the the song and the country band was too intimidated to return and just went back to their hotel. And speaking of virtuosity, believe it or not, “Baby Take Your Teeth Out” includes Steve Vai on guitar although playing sparsely and way under his capabilities as it’s intended as a parody of a simple pop song. The track “Stevie’s Spanking” is more on par with what you’d expect Vai to bring to the table next to the dentures in “Baby Take Your Teeth Out.”

 

Them Or Us also had 3 of Frank Zappa’s children involved in it: Dweezil and Moon performed on it and Ahmet co–wrote the track “Frogs with Dirty Little Lips” with his father. Them Or Us happened around the time of the Parent’s Music Resource Center (PMRC) witch hunt hearings. As a result, Frank Zappa wrote a satiric warning that it contained content that a truly free society wouldn’t fear or try to suppress. There was also a guarantee that the lyrics won’t “cause eternal torment” in hell. If anything, it’s made my stomach sore from laughing as many Frank Zappa songs have.

 

“Baby Take Your Teeth Out” never made a Hallmark card but the funny thing is, you know it’s been uttered in human history by someone in moments of hot sloth–paced amourous abandon. It’s been a closet romantic phrase that’s in a sex talk museum (renamed the “Talk Dirty To Me” museum post Poison) now with the advent of superior dental technology like ceramic restoration with titanium implants. So enjoy a hearty laugh, don’t forget to take your B12,  and when you win Thursday night bingo, give a proud Moo–Ahh! from bubble gum job land.

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Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain And Indigestion

‘Tis the season for overindulging and eating more than usual. Not just the stretch from Thanksgiving to New Years, but even single day holidays like Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, The 4th of July and Memorial Day. We all can overeat to an extent since holidays are so centered around food. So to avoid the negative consequences of putting on pounds and digestive issues here’s a few things I’ve compiled from what I’ve learned over the years. There’s more information about dietary principles here than just simply avoiding weight gain, so use what you’re interested in and add others as you are comfortable with later on if you choose. At the basic level of following ideal macronutrient combinations per meal you’ll avoid weight gain. If this is all that interests you now, go right to the (*) towards the bottom of this article. There’s a lot of information here so don’t be overwhelmed about understanding all of it or feeling everything needs to be followed to a “T” right away.

 

Applying other aspects of the principles outlined here you’ll gain further health benefits. Don’t readily dismiss your situation as “good genes, bad genes” (possible Led Zeppelin parody song) or “there’s nothing I can do about it” when we do have control over what we eat and what we eat it with. Think of eating meals as a slot machine of FAT PROTEIN and CARBS (carbohydrates). These 3 kinds of fuel (sources of calories) are known as macronutrients. Every meal we eat we pull the slot machine and wind up with different ratios. If we do it consciously of a few winning formulas we benefit. It’s the ratios of these macronutrients per meal which lead to better health or not. There is a formula for eating 777’s at every meal and makes the chemistry of food interacting with our hormonal pathways work for us. Nature gave it to the planet aeons ago…

 

Okay the background: First off, understand the processed food industry has created foods with ratios of fat, protein and carbs which DO NOT occur in nature. This sends conflicting messages to our bodies when consumed in these unnatural ratios.

 

Also due to social habits and customs, people tend to combine ratios of different types of foods with ratios of fat, protein, and carbs that only human beings encounter by having different types of food readily available.

 

What this leads to is humans consuming ratios of fat, protein and carbs that no other creature on the planet eats in nature because foods in nature contain certain predominant combinations and ratios of the macronutrients of fat, protein and carbohydrates.

 

We consider eating this way normal though. Civilization can be hazardous to your health. The effects of it is it leads to numerous digestive issues and gaining unwanted weight. Our bodies are designed to best assimilate things in a certain way. Eating in alignment to certain formulas/ratios, you can save yourself digestive ills and unwanted weight gain. The good news is you don’t have to give up any type of food either. It’s the combinations and ratios that matter.

 

In nature, most animals eat a mono diet. A mono diet means they eat one thing at a time because a plate of the four food groups isn’t readily served to them on fine British porcelain dinnerware. So they do not improperly food combine (eat improper combinations together) because they cannot.

 

Animals also do not eat solid food and drink water (or any other liquid) at the same time because food and water are most often in different places (unless your name is Moby, Jaws, or SpongeBob). But we’re too cool for a mono diet–it’s freaking boring for social get togethers. The problem is this leads to eating food combinations which trigger the body’s “store what I’m eating now as energy reserves for later” mechanism. In other words, to store as fat.

 

The other problem is certain combinations cause havoc on digestion because the body cannot break down certain combinations of macronutrients well when certain foods are eaten together. Especially food combos of high carbs and high protein. There’s only one common food I’m aware of that contains a high ratio of these together: beans. Insert bean jokes and the exquisite scene from Blazing Saddles here:

Ahhh…the memories

Our bodies have a difficult time digesting the combination of high carbs and high protein when eaten together because they require different kinds of stomach acids which cancel each other out. Not surprising high protein/high carb is rarely a combination found in nature within a food.

 

A simple guideline for a better diet and long term health is…
EAT FOODS IN THEIR NATURAL STATE OR CLOSE TO IT (AKA Whole Unprocessed Food)

 

Along with the most basic practice of eating foods in their natural state, here’s some general healthier dietary habits to move towards:

REDUCE/ELIMINATE EATING FOODS WITH TOXINS/CHEMICALS/PRESERVATIVES/GMOs
The average infant today is born with over 200 foreign chemicals in it’s body. That’s right, exposed in utero, as the baby is developing in the womb. Out DNA is in a boxing ring before we are even born. Really, what are we doing to ourselves and long term health with all this daily overload in our diet? The cards are already stacked against long term health at birth.

 

Eat Organic as much as possible. If you don’t have the budget, realize conventional (non–organic) fruit has the most pesticides used on it because insects love simple sugars. Conventional dairy and meat are also things to avoid due to the unhealthy conditions they are raised in plus the overuse of antibiotics used to keep unhealthy confined animals from getting sick. There is only one “last resort” antibiotic left due to this overuse in the medical profession and in these factory farm operations known as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). Not a comforting thought thinking that whatever is in the meat most people are eating might be resistant to most antibiotics already.

 

Also ask yourself if you want to play GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms or Genetically Modified Food) roulette when these foods have been banned in numerous countries due to health concerns and studies which demonstrate a different result from what the “safety studies” done by the manufacturers of these foods have submitted to the FDA. They are deliberately not labeled in the US because they don’t want the public to be aware of what they’re eating because it’ll hurt sales of their products. GMO producers spend millions of dollars to prevent labeling. Vote with your dollar. These companies have deep pockets, lobbyists and political connections so don’t expect elected officials to answer any Batman floodlight or don a Superman cape in the fight for your health when these GMO companies are very large campaign contributors to both Democrat and Republican legislators. Buy foods that have the USDA Organic circle or contain the phrases GMO free or No GMOs etc.

 

The PLU# (sticker) on fruit and produce indicates organic or conventional. If it starts with a number 9 it is organic (usually it says organic as well). If it starts with a 4 or a 3 it is conventional.

GMO’s were supposed to start with an 8, but I have never even seen anything labeled this way. They even succeeded having it not identified among the suppliers before it gets to store shelves.

 

REDUCE SUGAR CONSUMPTION
Liquid sugar (soft drinks, juices, energy drinks), and refined flours (which have little or no fiber to slow it down during digestion) cause too rapid an increase of insulin. These foods are not found in nature (fruit in it’s natural state has fiber) and this rapid spike in insulin over time may lead to type II diabetes not to mention the early warning sign of cavities. Too much sugar is implicated in numerous degenerative health conditions not to mention tooth decay, so if you want to have robust health and energy over a lifetime you’d best initiate a bitch slap reduction plan on sugar and carb consumption both in frequency and amount per meal. I’ve seen several of my relatives get type II diabetes, some of which did not have the so called affinity of a “sweet tooth.”

 

Another harmful thing about sugar is this: Cancer needs a high sugar, acidic environment to flourish. This is exactly what the SAD (Standard American Diet) produces. So the processed food industry with it’s practices to make things taste better by adding sugar, removing fiber, and using salt & chemical preservatives to extend shelf life has made products that are not only nutrient deficient from their natural state but also harmful to long term health. We also live in a culture where most food producers know little about nutrition and health (like the Frank Zappa album, most are “Only In It For The Money), and the medical industry pays little or no attention to food. A far cry from the father of modern medicine Hippocrates who among being known for the oath all physicians take to “First do no harm” he’s also known for saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” The most basic and frequent activity people do (eating food) is so overlooked by conventional medicine.

 

AVOID LIQUIDS WITH MEALS FOR BETTER DIGESTION
If you drink enough water, (use spring or filtered tap water without added fluoride) between meals, you won’t have to drink during meals. Liquids dilute stomach acid leading to digestive complications. drink water no closer than 20 minutes before a meal and wait 40–50 minutes after a meal to resume drinking water. This ensures optimal digestion.

 

AVOID WATER WITH ADDED FLUORIDE
Fluoride does not occur in water in nature nor is it needed by the body or essential for life. Dentists and Doctors haven’t been running things on this planet for a few billion years nor do they have the full panoramic multifaceted understanding and wisdom of Nature. They just see a short term “solution” of adding fluoride to water when a diet high in sugars (carbs) is what causes tooth decay. This same diet leads to Type II Diabetes and a high acid body environment favorable to cancer. Fluoridated water is a band aid “solution:” questionably effective and possibly harmful when ingested inside the body and accumulated over time. It also should be illegal to add any kind of medication (even in the name of health or public good–it is always presented this way) to public water supplies because the dosage cannot be controlled. People drink different amounts of water thus will have different exposures to fluoride. Children will be more vulnerable than adults to excess ingestion of this misguided and shortsighted practice done in the name of public good. Limit your consumption of sugars and you won’t have nearly as many problems with your teeth or long term health for that matter. Here’s a great book that gives other information on maintaining healthy teeth naturally:

HAVE FRUITS ALONE 30 MINUTES BEFORE A MEAL OR EAT FRUITS ALONE 2 HOURS AFTERWARDS
This Food Combining 101. Fruit is digested quickly when eaten by itself but when eaten with anything else our body waits to digest it, leaving time for it to become a food source for unhealthy bacteria leading to Putrefaction inside your intestines and digestive issues.

Back to the formulas…

There are 3 macronutrients found in food:
FAT
PROTEIN
CARBOHYDRATES (which are or break down to simple sugars)

Another thing is since animals eat a mono diet, the macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrates) occur in certain combos in nature so they don’t gain extra weight with their normal eating patterns and frequencies. With few exceptions, foods in nature contain predominant ratios of either one of the following:

A) Fats combined with protein with minimal carbs (sugars–all carbs break down into sugars)
Examples of this “fat/some protein” food are nuts, seeds, dairy, meat.

B) Carbs with small amounts of protein with smaller amounts of fat.
Common examples are grains, breads, fruits, potatoes

 

Veggies have small amounts of the 3 macronutitents.

There’s a few exceptions to the guidelines of fat/protein/carb (macronutrient) combining. For instance, combining bread (mainly a carb) with olive oil (which is a fat) seems to be okay. Also coconut oil (which is a fat) increases metabolism and is digested like a carb (it does not require the secretion of bile to break it down like most fats) and provides quick energy. Coconut oil is also beneficial on several other levels–the type of fat it is, plus it has anti–bacterial, anti–viral, and anti–parasitic properties. It’s also high heat stable and I cook in it exclusively. A spoonful a day does wonders. A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down but it’s far better to have a diet which produces robust health where medicine is not even necessary.

 

REMEMBER:
Call any vegetable and the chances are good the vegetable will respond to you!!

Great advice from Frank Zappa. You can eat veggies with carbs, fat, and protein (but avoid eating anything else with fruit for best digestion). Veggies are alkalizing–good to combine with meat, dairy (if you eat animal proteins) and grains which are acidic or near acidic on the pH scale, plus they provide necessary fiber for regularity (fiber is the “tire treads” which moves food through the long winding track of our intestines).

 

So when we are eating lots of decadent sugary and carb based snacks and desserts along with high amounts of fat, we trigger high insulin (from the sugars/carbs). When insulin is high, the way the food is allocated for use will be different. It’s like the train conductor flipping the switch to make a train go onto a different track. Instead of it being used for immediate energy, it will be stored as energy for later. Aside from the chronically elevated insulin levels from eating carbs too frequently, (which can lead to insulin resistance–Type II Diabetes) it produces unwanted weight gain in the short term and long term.

 

So by having the high carb/sugar snacks separate (and in moderation of course) and not eating them with high fat content food, you can avoid triggering the fat storage mechanism. Problem is, most often these desserts have high carbs and high fat in them (which again is not found in foods in nature nor does it happen when eating a mono diet).

 

Look at what happens to pets when they’re fed diets of these misaligned fat/protein/carb combinations as well. They gain weight where their wild counterparts do not. Ever see an overweight feral or stray cat? It’s not so much because they can’t find enough food–they’re eating a mono diet with macronutrients in optimal ratios found in nature even though they may not be eating the cleanest food.

 

Another issue with high carb meals is it can lead to brain fog. Following a diet of proper macro combos does not eliminate any of the macronutrients at each meal, you just learn to combine them in certain orders and times:

 

The basic principles:

HAVE HIGH CARB MEALS SEPARATELY
For instance, I only have high carb meals (bread, rice, yams) a few times a week (2 or 3 max). It is always the last meal of the day as well. Since I’ll be going to bed in a few hours, the brain fog is actually beneficial because it has the effect of relaxation. Also going to bed with elevated insulin levels sets up the condition to produce IGF (insulin growth factor) during sleep which is good.

 

WE GROW AND REPAIR DURING SLEEP

 

FAT AND PROTEIN IS ANABOLIC (builds and maintains the body)
CARBS ARE CATABOLIC (degenerative). If most of your meals are predominantly fat/protein combos, you maintain youth and health better than with a high carb/sugar diet.

 

The Dentist Dr. Weston Price did all this research on this already way back in the 1930’s. “Primitive” cultures around the world which were eating more of a mono diet were not experiencing the same degenerative health conditions (and tooth decay) that industrial society was encountering more and more.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weston_Price

Dr. Price’s Groundbreaking work:

Still don’t believe it?

GET A TIME MACHINE OR A PRE–OWNED DELORIAN AND PICK A FIGHT WITH A STONE AGE HOMO SAPIEN

They did not eat high sugar, high carb diets. I’ll bet any man alive today couldn’t kick his ass. We probably couldn’t kick HER ass either.

 

Bone thickness for pre history homo sapiens provides a mathematical ratio for how much muscle strength they could generate. The bones have to be thick enough not to break under muscle contraction. Translation: They could take out a lion. Barehanded. Spears are for sissies. As far as apes go, the average chimp on this planet today is biologically stronger than Arnold Schwarzenegger, any bodybuilder, Mr. Universe or NFL player even though these men may look bigger and stronger. A chimp is strong enough to pull a man’s arms completely off his body. Still want one as a pet?

Okay, okay, I can’t resist!!:

The difficult habit to break is having carbs for breakfast. I know having spent my time as a kid in Pop Tarts Anonymous. It took time and effort to correct my bad dietary habits to give up soda and junk food. Because garbage in…garbage in–don’t feed your body low quality nutritionally poor processed food if you want better health and energy.

 

Some further guidelines:

AVOID HIGH CARB MEALS FOR BREAKFAST
Proper marco cycling means you do not have a high carb meal for breakfast ever. The majority of your daily/weekly meals will be combos of fat and protein with veggies.

 

Fat/protein combos are pound for pound better for energy and mental clarity. They provide more calories (which is not a bad thing because it is used differently–fat for energy, protein to rebuild/maintain your body). You’ll need to eat less of this combo than carbs. Your meals will be the same or greater in calories for energy but you won’t need to eat the same amount in volume as with high carbs meals.

 

HAVE HIGH CARB MEALS LESS FREQUENTLY
Having carbs too often causes the body to crave it–carbs produce “hormonal hunger” meaning being hungry when you are not actually hungry needing food. Carbs are sugar and sugar is habit forming regardless of what anyone says. There’s a reason it’s called “comfort food.” People can and do get addicted to sugar but it’s not seen as a problem because it’s socially acceptable over say heroin (and way cheaper). Want proof of this? Go 1 week without carbs/sugars. Even though you’re eating other foods and not anywhere near starving you will feel the pangs of sugar withdrawal. You can reset your body’s energy preference by doing this (for fat/protein instead). After a week of feeding your body fat and protein, it will switch over to preferring these as it’s main energy source. In order not to get re–addicted to carbs, you’ll have to limit them–meaning don’t have high carb meals every day. Skip at least one day between high carb meals and only have one or two high carb meal on that day at the end of the day.

 

The body will use as a preferred energy source whatever is fed most often–we are programmed biologically for fat/protein. There are no “essential carbohydrates” like essential amino acids. Early humans lived for thousands of years without grains and high carbohydrate diets. Civilization then switches us over to carbs out of abundance and convenience. Again, Civilization can be hazardous to your health.

 

High fat and some protein is the body’s first and best energy source. What is breast milk made of? Fat and protein. Carbs became the food of civilization to sustain larger populations in cities over hunter gather/tribal communities. With the addition of grains some 20,000 years ago, we are eating much more sugar/carbs than ancient man who ate more of a mono diet and with better food combining by living in line with nature.

Bears eat carbs before winter to prepare for hibernation–this triggers the hormonal pathways in them for fat storage. This is the only time they gain excess weight and it is triggered by eating high amounts of carbs. Think about that. Most people eat this way the majority of the time. Is it any wonder the majority of people are carrying some extra weight?

 

Common diets focus on counting calories. Calorie counting isn’t as important as proper macronutrient combining. Certainly don’t overeat even with proper macro combining which will lead to indigestion. Also realize restricting calories as in common dieting while improperly combining macronutrients still triggers the same “store for later” mechanisms. So you can still gain weight even though you are “eating less by the numbers” counting calories.

 

IN A NUTSHELL:
**********************************************************************
*AVOID EATING HIGH CARBS AND HIGH FAT AT THE SAME MEAL. This is the dietary formula for weight gain.

This produces high insulin levels from eating high amounts carbs. When insulin levels are high due to having a high carb/sugar meal combined with high amounts of fat, what is eaten will be stored as fat (energy for usage later).

Fat by itself was never the bad guy. Improper food combining and excess sugar (expecially fructose) is the dietary villain.

 

So how do you calculate the right ratios of fat/protein/carbs to prevent this?

The caloric content on food labels is measured in grams (g). If fat is kept ideally below 20gms with a high carb meal, you can avoid triggering the hormonal response that triggers the fat storage mechanism. Even keeping active carbs under 30 grams per meal will be a huge improvement if that’s easier for you to transition to this way of eating.

Carbs over 20 grams produces insulin to rise at ANY meal. You’ll actually feel it if you experiment with this.

This flips the elevated insulin switch. When insulin is high, if fat is eaten in high quantities along with high carbs, what you eat will be stored as energy reserves for later like a bear getting ready to hibernate.

During fat/protein meals, keep the active carbs below 20 grams per meal–this will not raise insulin levels sufficiently.

 

What are active carbs?
carbs—fiber (soluble and insoluble)=active carbs [Carbs minus Fiber equals Active Carbs]
carbs are listed as “total carbs” (this includes sugars even though they are listed separately on labels)

 

Example Label:
Total carb 10g
Fiber 3g

So this food has 7 grams of active carbs

 

The body doesn’t digest fiber–it’s used to move food through the digestive system. This is why it’s necessary to eat veggies or something which contains fiber especially with dairy or meat which have no fiber or else risk constipation or worse, diverticulitis in the future.

If a food label lists total fiber, then use that number. If the label lists soluble fiber and then insoluble fiber, add them together to get total fiber and subtract from total carbs to get active carbs like this:

 

Total carbs 30g
Soluble fiber 3g
Insoluble fiber 2g

So total fiber is 5g (3g+2g) and active carbs would be 25g

 

The good news with eating this way is you can still enjoy all kinds of foods. Just eat them more in line with how certain ratios would occur in nature not how cultural habits have skewed things by combining fat/protein/carbs in ratios on our plates outside the way all the other creatures on the planet eat.

So no milk and cookies for Santa, and no beans for them Reindeer!!

We don’t want Santa to get sick or have to bail out over Greenland

Enjoy Your Holidays and Best Wishes For Better Health 🙂

 

Disclaimer: This article is for informational/educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Consult your physician or health care professional before beginning a diet or exercise program.

© Composer Yoga

 

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The Prince Prophecy & The Let’s Go Crazy Code

There’s the Bible Code and the Da Vinci Code—but is there a “Let’s Go Crazy” Code?

 

Before anyone thinks I’ve stared at the Abbey Road & Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album covers Clockwork Orange style way too long, isn’t a bit of poetic coincidence that Prince died in an elevator?

 

I mean you know the narration before the full band enters in “Let’s Go Crazy”:

And if de-elevator tries 2 bring u down
Go crazy – punch a higher floor!!!

 

It seems Prince indeed punched a higher floor in that Paisley Park elevator and left the Earth plane.
The second verse of “Let’s Go Crazy” going into the chorus is even more prophetically elaborated:

We’re all excited
But we don’t know why
Maybe it’s ‘cuz
We’re all gonna die

And when we do (When we do)
What’s it all 4 (What’s it all 4)
U better live now
Before the Grim Reaper come knocking on your door

Tell me, are we gonna let de-elevator bring us down?
Oh, no let’s go!

 

(Note to Steven Tyler & Aerosmith: The Grim Reaper takes elevators)

 

I never met Prince nor saw him perform live but he was one of the people on my concert bucket list I wanted to see. Actually the only time I was in his home state of Minnesota was in Minneapolis to catch a connecting flight from the west coast. One of my relatives however did meet Prince at a club in Miami and talked with him.

 

An actor friend also met Prince when he worked for a network TV station in New York City. He didn’t get to ride in an elevator with Prince (most definitely a Scavenger Hunt Selfie), but did so with Neil Young. Interestingly, Neil Young had a backing band called Crazy Horse…hmmm…and further down the Purple Paisley rabbit hole we go. Later in his career, Prince also wrote a song called “Cinnamon Girl” which was one of the biggest hits of Neil Young And Crazy Horse.

 

When I was out in Hollywood visiting friends and wandering around (the occasional olfactory overture of concrete mingled with fermented urine while on The Walk Of Fame comes to mind), I came upon the fabled Sunset Sound recording studio where so many famous acts such as The Doors recorded their historic and iconic albums. Prince also recorded there in a cute story by Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks.

 

Nicks was working on her solo album The Wild Heart at the time. She was driving around and heard “Little Red Corvette” on the radio and came up with lyrics to “Stand Back.” Since a song written by Prince inspired her lyrics, she called him up and asked if he was in the area (Prince had another residence nearby) and if he would like to come down and play on the track.

 

Like calling a pizza delivery session player, Prince was there in under 30 minutes and laid the keyboard parts down for “Stand Back.” Prince influences Nicks and in turn it seems Nicks influences Prince. Being asked to play on “Stand Back” seemed to give Prince the foundational ideas for one of my favorite Prince tunes: “I Would Die 4 U.” There’s an apparent aural geneology to these two songs: “Stand Back” and “I Would Die 4 U” have similar tempos and utilize the same kind of pulsating staccato synth bass bed.

 

Prince wrote several pop rock anthems: “1999”, “Purple Rain”, “I Would Die 4 U”, “When Doves Cry”, and “Let’s Go Crazy” to name a few. I remember first becoming aware of Prince with the single “Little Red Corvette.” After Purple Rain, I went on to buy all his earlier work and then every now and them, I’d pick up his later post 80’s material.

 

The albums 1999 and Purple Rain are still my favorites because I really liked the musical chemistry of Prince and the Revolution as well as the mix of male/female vocal trading and harmonizing. The Revolution was for Prince his “original Kiss lineup” to my ears. Another irony here being Prince wrote a song called “Kiss.” With bands, there’s a certain unique chemistry every now and then that can’t be duplicated even if the band goes on without earlier members for any number of reasons in the Rock and Roll playbook.

 

In 1984, “Let’s Go Crazy” became a number 1 hit. If only George Orwell lived to see that. Big Brother in a Jheri curl*? Dressed in a purple trench coat wielding a white guitar? Prince’s Purple Rain soundtrack and the movie became joined at the hip with the 1980’s. The eulogy intro narration to “Let’s Go Crazy” is one of those 80’s pop culture moments along with the intro to Twisted Sister’s music video “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that nearly every child of the 80’s has grooved into their neurons. “1999” was a playful dig by Prince at Big Brother and his nuclear arsenal during the Cold War 80’s with the lyrical mention:

 

Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb,
We could all die any day

But before I’ll let that happen,
I’ll dance my life away

 

This was misheard by some at the time to be a reference to President Ronald Reagan (Yeah, Ronnie’s got a bomb, we could all die anyday…)

*Invented by a white guy from Illinois—go figure




For a guy who rode a motorcycle, Prince was never the “biker type rocker.” Then again those types of bands wouldn’t dare to write a song like “When Doves Cry”, “Purple Rain”, “Raspberry Beret”, or “Kiss.” I mean can you imagine Mötley Crüe pulling that off?

 

Prince was more multifaceted as an artist which gave him broad appeal over successive generations and crossed lines of gender and race with his fan base. This is hard do do especially now as the recording industry tries to segregate fan bases to maximize profit. Michael Jackson, Madonna, Sade, Gloria Estefan are other contemporaries of Prince that crossed these “Pop Picket Lines.” Prince’s music also escaped the vinyl witch hunt of rock radio station record burnings and steamroller rodeo rides over popular Disco hits. He was rock enough for the rockers—one of his fans being, oh some guy named Eric Clapton.

 

Enjoy The Talents Of Others And Let It Inspire Your Own

Prince was an incredibly creative and multi–talented musician. I know many critics and fans will use the word Genius when referring to him and his prolific body of work. It’s a deserved compliment and helps celebrate how his music touched millions of people around the world. However I take a different perspective on the nature of Genius as I believe the current way it’s used and how who’s labeled as such or not separates people from participating in art and their own creativity.

 

The Genius label encourages the “Why should I bother, when THOSE people are Geniuses and I can only play “Lean On Me” on piano or “Pretty Woman” on guitar mentality.” If we all felt that way as we did when we were young looking up to our heroes and inspirations, no one would try to write music on their own—even Prince.

 

We all should participate in art and creativity. It’s just fun and a form of play which becomes in shorter and shorter supply when many people become adults. Every child innately enjoys art and music and participates in these then they get to a certain age and internalize the cultural message that they are wasting their time because they aren’t Geniuses or they aren’t that talented.

 

By all means be inspired by artists like Prince and whoever came before you that inspired you down the road of creativity so you can take your own tuning forks to deeper self expression. But don’t get stuck behind the starting gate just because certain people are better or more successful than you. No one comes out of the womb a concert pianist. Every future “Genius” can’t even play “Three Blind Mice” during that early stage of life.

 

What often gets lost in praise, compliments and fan worship is the nature of art and creativity itself—which even Prince would have probably said the following of his body of work. That Genius, like gender identity and sexuality is along a spectrum, not a black or white, either or static state. Stated another way, a Genius will not always produce works of Genius every single time and an artist of average talent can produce works of Genius at times.

 

The more important thing as an artist or anyone producing works of creativity is to keep producing and don’t censor or judge. Your favorite pieces may very well differ from the works your audience loves and considers “your best stuff” or “your works of Genius” but it’s all part of you and you don’t want to play favorites—even your own.

 

In another example from baseball, for decades Babe Ruth held the record of 714 career home runs. His nickname was “The Sultan Of Swat” not to be confused with Dire Straits “Sultans Of Swing.” What people fail to often see with such talent and ability is that Babe Ruth struck out quite a large number of times in his career as well (1,330 times in fact as has EVERY other Hall of Famer). He could have just as easily earned the derogatory nickname “The Sultan Of Flyswat” or “The Sultan of Sloth” if he wasn’t getting his “hits” on the other side of the ledger.

 

The important thing was Babe Ruth kept stepping up to the plate, kept having another opportunity at bat. Similarly, Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler has stated he is not the most skilled guitar player on the technical level yet he still wrote “Sultans Of Swing” which is an amazing guitar composition by any standard. And music schools crank out dozens of dazzling technicians every year yet how many have actually written a piece with the depth of “Sultans Of Swing” or “Purple Rain?”




The Prince Prophecy

Prince dying in an elevator is one of those coincidences we can embellish into pop culture lore and legend. Songwriter John Denver died in a glider accident and one of his well known songs was called “Leaving On A Jet Plane.” If Denver’s tune was titled “Leaving On A Glider”, I’d weigh that more in the neighborhood of authentic foreknowledge.

 

Another coincidence here is John Denver was one of the people who testified against the PMRC (Parent’s Music Resource Center) along with Frank Zappa and Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister after one of Prince’s songs on Purple Rain, “Darling Nikki” sent Tipper Gore into a tizzy over it’s masturbation reference.

 

Such ironies of life will happen on occasion as statistics and probability can demonstrate. Case in point, say I wrote a novel about a female pilot and named her Amelia Earhart. You’d think the characters name was made up for the fiction novel because it alludes literarily that Amelia has her heart in the air—hence the two words “air heart” combined in her last name and more poetically spelled as Earhart.

 

But such “novel names” and situations like our “Let’s Go Crazy Code” here actually do happen in real life some of the time. So have we negated the “Prince Prophecy theory” and de–romanticized the departure of a pop legend? We’re just chasing white doves formulating such theories—dig if you will that picture.

 

The body of work is what matters and the body of work is what’s still here. We have to look deeper and ask the internal question: What did the creative works of Prince mean to you? For starters, it didn’t make anyone’s life WORSE in the final analysis. It even had a happy ending for Darling Nikki.

 

The Aural Autopsy on the artist we knew as Prince is clear though. Prince is one of the best selling artists of all time with over 100 million records sold. Prince released 39 studio albums, racked up 7 Grammys, an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. He was a shoe–in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible in 2004. He walked down the Red Carpet but also made his own Purple Carpet as well—and luckily didn’t slip on any purple bananas while dancing on it.

 

Still, none of these awards, accolades and sales figures means as much as the fun and joy of making music. And Prince loved making music. It was about making music long before the money and about making music even after he had plenty of it. And that’s what I really admire about him.

 

There’s works of his I absolutely love, there’s works I think are cool and okay, there’s works I think aren’t his best. But Prince was never alive to write to specifically please me nor or any of his audience. He had the right to be an artist, to explore his creativity and he truly exercised that right—just look at his creative output.

 

It’s easy to slack off on the Fame Train after even one or two successful albums. As an artist, I experience and understand creativity this way because I write to enjoy doing so myself BECAUSE making art and being creative is it’s own reward. Whoever resonates with a creative work besides the originator is secondary and an added bonus to the joy of creation. And the more work you produce, those odds on connecting and resonating with an audience go up exponentially.

 

For myself, I have Prince tunes in iPod mixes for all moods and occasions. I’ve grooved out his classic tunes at friend’s dance parties into the early morning hours numerous times. Writing music is a celebration of life and listening and dancing to music is celebrating life as well. We can all always party like it’s 1999 on the dance floor and revisit our own sacred time outside the confines of the calendar. Why? Because the Messiah of the Minnesota Music scene said so. Stick that white dove feather in your Raspberry Beret.

 

Indeed, the Pale Blue Dot did turn a bit Purple with his time on the planet.

So goodbye Prince, and thank you for adding to the soundtrack of my life.

© Composer Yoga

Related Posts To Check Out:
Prince Joke (Little Red Corvette)
Sound Mines: Prince “Mountains”
Yoda’s iPod: “When Doves Cry” By Prince
First Recording Of Purple Rain In America
Talking To Your Bandmates During The Song Vol. 1

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First Recording Of Purple Rain In America

Jimi Hendrix first described a Purple Haze in 1967. Back in 1983, The Weather Girls forecasted that “It’s Raining Men.” Amen. Not just “a men” but LOTS of them. Unfortunately for women, most of that “man rain” fell on gay nightclubs as the song got absorbed and usurped by gay culture.

 

However, the conditions seemed ripe for these two songs to combine into a huge storm front at some point—and it most noticeably did in 1984 as radio, MTV and theaters worldwide were saturated with the purple deluge.

 

On other ends of the weather song spectrum, The Fixx saw “Red Skies” at night over London in 1982. A couple years later in 1986, Peter Gabriel reported “Red Rain” in England and Slayer saw it “Raining Blood” in America that very same year.

 

But where was the first record of “Purple Rain” falling? Minnesota? Hollywood? Does Purple Rain make doves cry? Would Gene Kelly sing in it? Is it responsible for Teletubbie Tinky–Winky in England?

 

Due to it’s massive notoriety and cultural impact, most people would think the first record of Purple Rain mentioned in the pop world was by Prince in the song/album/movie of the same name. But Prince did not coin or originate the phrase. Purple Rain didn’t first pour into the mainstream audience in 1984—it was actually recorded years earlier by another band.

 

First Recording Of Purple Rain: London, England

Purple Rain was first seen by America on “Ventura Highway” on their 1972 album Homecoming. America are a British born trio composed of musicians Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek. They met as sons of American servicemen stationed overseas around London.

 

The second verse in “Ventura Highway” contains the reference to Purple Rain which seems to have no particular intended meaning other than it rhymes nicely with ‘train’:

Wishin’ on a falling star
Watchin’ for the early train
Sorry boy, but I’ve been hit by
Purple rain

 

Another lyrical possibility could’ve been, “Sorry boy, but I’ve been hit by a Herpes strain.” Maybe for the Weird Al version…

I’ve always been entranced with the mood “Ventura Highway” creates. It’s a trip back in time for me even though I was in the area for a first time as an adult. “Ventura Highway” is a combination of haunting nostalgic longing for moments of a heightened sense of freedom and the joy of being alive.

 

In addition to capturing moods in aural photographs, America was always able to pull off creating very full sounding acoustic folk rock. Their sonic recipe being the interplay and layering of the 3 guitarists individual tracks and the multi part choruses. Instrument wise, it’s stripped down but the vocals have a rich fullness where the listener doesn’t notice there’s anything missing in the auditory department—just guitars, bass drums, vocals and strategic use of space.

 

America’s style of songwriting doesn’t need a Rick Wakeman, Al DiMeola or Neil Peart sitting in on a recording session. It’s complete in itself and most importantly, very singable by an outside nighttime fire as a bunch of musician friends and relatives often do when I’m visiting family in the Northeast.

 

“Ventura Highway” as well as another favorite, “A Horse With No Name” are great mood pieces—narrative story songs with some of the most fun memorable sing along choruses and interludes in pop music.

 

Kudos to America for creating several earworms which stimulate alpha and theta waves of relaxation, personal reflection and deeper connection instead of the more common beta consciousness of numerous pop songs which don’t venture beyond major chords—and are color blind to how the wider sound palette of 7th chords and above can furnish the listener with deeper, more profound harmonic textures. Songs like “Ventura Highway” have the endearing ability to become part of the soundtracks of people’s lives as it’s done so with mine.

 

Should you try to find Ventura Highway, you may have more luck finding Ausfahrt, Shell Beach, or Bigfoot hitching a ride back to Seattle from Burning Man. The song refers to the section of Highway 1 along the coast of California, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway or PCH.

 

When I was in Southern California, I drove up that famous ‘fictional’ highway and took in the beauty of the sharp jagged coastline and images of the mighty Pacific which relentlessly carved it over eons. Of course, people will tailgate then pass and flip you off while you’re trying to take in the same awesome spectacle that they take for granted. Welcome to California—land of “no worries” but not no hurries.

 

That kind of motorist etiquette just shows the mentality of young adults who have very little life experience and growing up in California doesn’t give you a fully stamped passport either. It also demonstrated to me there and in numerous other places I’ve traveled around the country, how most people are not in control of their lives. If you’re always in a hurry, how in control of your life are you? If you ARE in control of your life, then you wouldn’t be in a rush or hurry all the time. That just means lots of other people and things own your time and you’re their bitch.

 

Regardless, I wasn’t going to let a few testosterone cases and stressed out SoCal speedometer slaves interrupt my Ventura Highway moment and another one of my pop culture pilgrimages. They certainly didn’t personify the youthful hunger for wonder, Indian time schedule rebellion and explorative quest for freedom captured in America’s “Ventura Highway.”

 




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My journey continued. I drove up to Ventura then Santa Barbara, soaked up the State Street shopping district a friend who went to UCSB told me about then onto Santa Barbara’s beach and the Stearns Wharf pier.

 

The PCH is a windy and at times mountainous stretch of road. Traveling north from LA, you’ll pass Vandenberg Air Force Base outside the city of Lompoc, just north of Santa Barbara. It was in this area years ago a young Dewey Bunnell formed impressions he later translated into some lyrics in “Ventura Highway” as he and his brother were standing around waiting for their father to change a flat tire and saw a sign for Ventura.

 

Ironically I had my own car issue in the same general location but AAA took care of me nicely as my father was most likely on a golf course several states away. Like Dewey, I also formed some memories of vivid nomadic optimism and several “Freedom of the Road” impressions of my time spent there.

 

I was considering relocating to that area north of LA—I enjoyed Ojai in the mountains, Ventura and Santa Barbara, all less crowded and congested areas of southern coastal California. Driving the “Ventura Highway”, it’s easy to get tangled up in blue there—the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean reflecting the western sun as you ride the snake along that ancient lake.




Second Recording Of Purple Rain: Chanhassen, Minnesota, United States

 

Back to Purple Rain Prince style. Ah, the Wendy & Lisa era of Prince, with The Revolution. It’s highly likely Prince got the title idea from the “Ventura Highway” lyrics. Perhaps while driving up Ventura Highway in his Little Red Corvette.

 

In any case, Purple Rain was the most massively successful and enduringly popular album and movie Prince has ever done. Purple Rain spawned a phenomenon—sprouting several hits: “Let’s Go Crazy”, “When Doves Cry”, the title track “Purple Rain”, and perhaps my favorite Prince tune “I Would Die 4 U.” Mr. Slowhand himself, Eric Clapton is partial to “Purple Rain”—supposedly one of his favorite songs.

 

Prince and the Revolution live at the 1985 American Music Awards introduced by Lionel Ritchie:

 

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Some of the other tracks on Purple Rain however had unintended consequences for the Prince of Minnesota as well as the rest of the listening public. Purple Rain set off its own Water–gate or more aptly, an Ear–a–gate scandal.

 

“Darling Nikki” was the track that tipped off (and ticked off) Tipper Gore thus beginning the Parent’s Music Resource Center (PMRC) crusade and the black sticker stampede against explicit lyrics all because, according to Prince, Darling Nikki was masturbating with a magazine in some hotel lobby and her aforementioned grinding ability was irresistible.

 

This was the creative inspiration for Tipper Gore to co–found the PMRC and spiked the moral VU meter of the masses putting popular music under a microscope and bringin’ on the ear gates so we could all become Def Leppards to bad influences. The Censor Ship was bound to set sail up everyone’s auditory canal.

 

Perhaps a brush up on remedial Reverse Psychology 101 would have been a better course of action in retrospect before cooking up a controversy casserole which usually has a few tablespoons of the secret ingredient “personal embarrassment” in the recipe.

 

The “Sticker from Tipper”, Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics/Explicit Content was to teenagers and adolescents as appealing as stray beer in their parent’s fridge and sneaking into R rated movies (like Purple Rain) after buying a ticket for some tame G or PG flick not that I would know about such things.

 

Fortunately Purple Rain did produce the fabled “Trickle Down Economics” of the 1980’s as it created additional production jobs for duplicate censored versions of albums to be sold at more conservative retail stores like Walmart thus insuring purchase by parents on the cutting edge of cool.

 

These Clean Version Technicians or Song Sanitation Technicians have been protecting impressionable ears by erasing all discouraging words home on the range here in America since the mid 80’s. I doubt France or Europe got in such a tizzy over dirty words, but in America, the sound sanitation continued with questionable results.

 

Santa may have bought you the wrong version of that 2 Live Crew CD in those turbulent turntable times. And building an auditory F–Bomb shelter Skinner Box only enhances the future culture shock to befall the Rod & Todd Flanders types portrayed in The Simpsons.

 

Regardless of the controversy Purple Rain set off, ask a group of people the top albums that defined the 80’s and you’ll hear Purple Rain right up there in moonwalk orbit with Thriller. Purple Rain duked it out with Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A. for the #1 album spot twice—a showdown between Minnesota and New Jersey; Two primal elements, “Purple Rain” vs “I’m On Fire”, battling it out in a Billboard boxing match each scoring successive hits on their opponent.

 

“Purple Rain” is Prince in a more introspective tone which I tend to really enjoy when he wrote songs in this manner as opposed to his more explicit “I’m a Sexual God” song catalog. He could write deeper stuff well which is why “Purple Rain” has more widespread appeal than say “Pussy Control” —Errr…bad pun there. This is the chorus of this particular tune on The Gold Experience album but thanks to Tipper, it’s track listing being the self–censored and unassuming “P Control.”

 

Prince really shows off his guitar acuity on “Purple Rain” like he does on the more uptempo rocker “Let’s Go Crazy” and moderate tempo “When Doves Cry.” The thing with Prince is he was able to do some guitar flash without alienating his female audience because it’s not overkill—it’s strategically placed and thematic to the melodic exposition of the song.

 

Gratuitous guitar masturbating (being a Guitarling Nikki?) and shredding generally is more interesting and impressive to men. When you hear the outro guitar line of “Purple Rain”, it’s reminiscent of other 80’s hits like “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister and “Who’s Crying Now” by Journey.

 

“Purple Rain” is a modern gospel rock ballad and his guitar playing is nicely legato and played in a smoothly connected singing style known as Cantabile as all the standard musical terms from the classical tradition are in Italian. This is because both the violin and piano originated there a few centuries after pizza did. Cantabile is the art and technique of playing a musical instrument in the manner of imitating an actual human voice singing.

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As for the movie, a little known fact is one actress who was approached to play Prince’s love interest in Purple Rain before Apollonia Kotero eventually got the role. Some girl named Jennifer Beals. A movie called Flashdance came out the year before in 1983.

 

They probably figured since Beals got drenched already onstage dancing to “He’s a Dream” by Shandi Sinnamon and in the “Maniac” montage to the Michael Sembello tune, she’d be game to purify herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

 

Unfortunately, Beals was in college at the time and declined the offer as she had aspirations in life other than welding and exotic dancing. On the upside, Flashdance did win a Grammy in 1984 for Best Album of Original Score. Another fun fact is Lee Ving from the punk band Fear was also in Flashdance as a strip club owner, not that this stereotypes vocalists in punk bands in away way, shape or form.

 

The classic 1980’s album opens with Pastor Prince giving his famous sermon from the pop pulpit on Purple Rain in the beginning of “Let’s Go Crazy” with the church organ sample rocking out behind his “Dearly Beloved…we are gathered here to get through this thing called life…” spiel. It culminates in the sage advice as the drums kick in elevating the tempo and just before the full band enters:

“And if the de–elevator tries to bring you down…go crazy…punch a higher floor.”

 

People who grew up in the 80’s memorized this Prince dialogue as much as the opening dress down rant by actor Mark Metcalf (the Doug Niedermeyer character in National Lampoon’s Animal House) in Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” video, one of the funniest things to grace the early days of MTV. “A Twisted Sister pin?! On your uniform?!…”

 

Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snider later found himself defending free speech to Congress along with Frank Zappa and John Denver after that “Darling Nikki” incident from Purple Rain. Seems the Purple Rain washed Dee’s makeup off for the congressional hearings as he wasn’t sporting his trademark stellar Cover Girl looks.

 

All in all, Prince seemed to weather the controversy of Purple Rain fairly well. The album and film have held up over time and aren’t going to wash away with censorship soap anytime soon. Pop history knows the Censor Ship set sail after the Purple Rain and wouldn’t have had the degree of controversy buoyancy without it’s success being embraced on a wide scale by the culture at large.

 

Years later, the controversy fizzled out and ran aground on it’s own moral high ground. People can read into things and create and inflate issues like our tale here of how a little Purple Rain turned into the Perfect Sh*tstorm.

 

Let me take a retroactive stab at it before I wrap up this purple banana: On “Purple Rain” Prince states, “I only wanted to see you bathing in the Purple Rain.” Okay, so maybe that means the Prince has a bit of a voyeur fetish as well. Cover your ears! Release the hounds!

 

The good news is, we can baptize ourselves with Purple Rain in more than one way and in more than one location thanks to America and Prince. So before you build that F–bomb shelter or call up that shrink in Beverly Hills, it might be better for your sanity to go crazy and take a long leisurely meditative drive along Ventura Highway in the sunshine after the purifying cleansing of a freshly fallen Purple Rain.

© Composer Yoga

Related Posts To Check Out:
The Prince Prophecy & The Let’s Go Crazy Code
Prince Joke (Little Red Corvette)
Sound Mines: Prince “Mountains”
Yoda’s iPod: “When Doves Cry” By Prince
Talking To Your Bandmates During The Song Vol. 1

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Bill Douglas: Give Deep Peace A Chance

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Years ago, my regular Sunday night ritual included eating vegan Goats Head Soup with Cups And Cakes, praying to the Great Pumpkin and listening to Stephen Hill’s Hearts of Space on my local NPR station. I was fresh out of college, it was my first apartment and for several months I ate meals on my Yamaha piano bench. That is, before my sweet grandmother felt sorry for me and bought me a wooden dining table and chairs even though I was enjoying dining Japanese style. From my standpoint I was getting in touch with my inner Mr. Miyagi.

 

Hearts of Space, or HOS (not to be confused with Santa’s A–Game catchphrase or types of women Sting became famous for singing about) was on at later evening time slots where I lived which sometimes made it hard to get up for work Monday mornings *insert Todd Rundgren song here.* The shows creator, Stephen Hill has been hosting Hearts of Space out of San Rafael in Marin County California since 1973 or since bell bottoms were still the fashion rage thanks to Derek and the Dominos “Bell Bottom Blues” and The wardrobe department at The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.

 

Very often I would fall asleep listening to the themed episodes of ambient, new age, choral, classical, Celtic, electronic & experimental music Hearts of Space featured—music Clear Channel program executives probably wouldn’t dare play unless they all had Near Death Experiences and were instructed to do so personally by Archangel Yanni. Or perhaps a Charles Dickens version of “A Listener’s Carol” with successive visits from the Ghost of Listener’s Past might convince them to loosen the playlist leash and broaden their sonic horizons once again. Unfortunately as we’ve seen over time, The Spirit of Radio was replaced by a radio monopoly, playlist dictatorships, FM formula fascism & airwave homogenization—all we hear is the same “Radio Ga Ga” Freddie Mercury & Queen forewarned us about.

 

It was here on HOS I first heard of Canadian composer Bill Douglas on a winter themed show while laying down for a few hours listening to music like I usually do before falling asleep. I was in the right mood, the opportune window of the Soul open to receive this specific sonic side dish of something that spoke the language of spirit through sound. “Deep Peace” struck me as a profoundly beautiful elevating piece of music—ethereal, nebulous, contemplative, spiritual, transcendent harmonized vocal lines weaving sonic paths though my temporal lobes as I lay on my pillow, bathing me in a nice alpha–theta meditative wave. You’ll see why it’s one of my favorite contemporary choral pieces. Try listening to this lying down with your eyes closed before bed when you’re relaxed for maximum effect:

There’s some nice pockets of space here to inhale the harmonies into your energy field. This choral piece allows you to breathe deeply and recalibrates the relaxation settings so you can recline deeper into yourself. I’m glad I was introduced to the music of Bill Douglas and this composition, the title track off the album Deep Peace which is worth owning in it’s entirety. If you’re a fan of Enya’s music, Deep Peace is quite Enyaesque. Bill Douglas’ work also has crossover potential much like Enya. I mean, for someone like me who wouldn’t list choral music in his top favorite genres, that says it right there that Douglas made me a fan. That and how modern choral music can be profoundly moving internal experience.

 

Some time ago I spent several months traveling all throughout California. After spending time in SoCal, I gradually made my way north to Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz & the Monterey Bay, then further up to hang out in San Francisco for a few days. I then crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to explore San Rafael and the surrounding areas before heading further north to Santa Rosa to commune with Charles Schulz (creator of the world famous Peanuts comic strip) and see what all the hype was for Gino Vannelli to actually write a song about—was Schroeder a childhood idol of his too? Maybe Gino got lost as his directions in the song probably lead to Ausfahrt and not actually Santa Rosa California.

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San Rafael became the home of “Space Music”, the term coined by Stephen Hill to describe the mixture of music he played on the show into a variety pack genre. And how can one visit San Rafael and not do a drive–by of Skywalker Ranch? It’s indeed one of the most beautiful inspiring locked gates my eyes have ever beheld located coincidentally on Lucas Valley Road. And no, it was not named after Father George—that’s what the road was called a long, long time ago in a valley far north of the bay.

 

In addition to George “Original Gangsta Star Wars Mac Daddy” Lucas, Carlos Santana & James Hetfield have residences in San Rafael. There’s also a who’s who who’ve lived there in Marin County (I know Dr. Seuss would dig this sentence from whatever Whoniverse he now resides in):

Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons)
David Crosby (Crosby, Stills, Nash & sometimes Young)
Jerry Garcia
Janis Joplin
Van Morrison
Huey Lewis
Tony Williams
Alan Watts (author of numerous books on Taoism & Buddhism)
Ram Dass (author of Be Here Now)

Philip K. Dick (Science fiction author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which was made into the cult Sci-Fi film Blade Runner with Harrison Ford and The Man In The High Castle currently a series on Amazon. Dick’s works have also been made into the films Total Recall with AHHNOLD Schwarzenegger and Minority Report with Tom Cruise).

 

So we can deduce from the evidence here Marin County is kinda cool or else it wouldn’t attract all this riff raff.

 

Another pop culture, or rather pot culture fun fact about the area is San Rafael High School is believed to be the epicenter of the term 420. It referred to the time joint subcommittee meetings would commence after “School’s Out” and Alice Cooper sang.

 

As for me, I found a sense of peace making that pilgrimage to the Heart of Hearts of Space. I still remember hiking in the mountains off Lucas Valley Road having close encounters with deer and seeing the skylines of San Francisco and Oakland in the distance. And most importantly, my prayers to the Great Pumpkin all those years ago were answered a short while later while visiting Santa Rosa when Linus appeared to me in the woods like Obi–Wan.

 

As an added bonus, “Deep Peace” is a non–denominational prayer for personal peace so even hypervigilant politically correct types can enjoy listening to without it ringing their church bells. Maybe we can’t do anything about War Pigs and warmongers but you can’t please everybody. If you want to pray some more at the First Church of Bill Douglas, there’s other albums in his discography such as Earth Prayer.

 

Perhaps the title of this post was inspired via a psychic nudge from spirit of John Lennon as we do share the same Birth Star in Vedic Astrology. Where my Vedic Birth Star homies at? You know you’re in the Golden Age of Sat Yuga when street gangs start rapping phrases like that instead of bitches and hos—unless it’s the other kind of HOS as in Hearts of Space. So farewell space fans, wherever you are…Drift Long and Prosper in a galaxy far alpha wave and give “Deep Peace” a chance.

© Composer Yoga

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Swiss Time Was Running Out For Deep Purple And The Pet Shop Boys

Question: What do Deep Purple and the Pet Shop Boys have in common? Give up? Outside of both being British musical groups, they both mentioned Lake Geneva lyrically in respective songs…

 

And for good reason: Geneva, Switzerland is a stunningly beautiful European city.

 

When you’re coming in for a landing in Geneva, the Jet d’Eau (water jet in Lake Geneva) can be seen high above the buildings in the city. It’s an amazingly magnificent sight to see a fountain launching water 459 feet into the air from an airplane.

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Geneva is a very clean sophisticated city offering that “walk around and explore” intimacy and old world charm and character of many European cities which I love.

 

And all this is set on the doorstep of the European Alps like a living Ricola commercial—so remember to pack that long Alphorn for a jam session at the base of the Matterhorn.

 

You can tell you’re nearing the Alps from the air when the rivers below turn a crystal clear translucent glacial blue color more magical than Elvis’ bathwater.

 

Known as the “Peace Capital” as well as a top financial center in Europe, Geneva ranks high among cities having the highest quality of life in the world—it’s also one of the world’s most expensive cities.

 

Geneva is located on the western side of Lake Geneva at it’s southernmost point. This body of water has been made famous in the realm of popular music in the following songs:

 

1. Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple)
2. West End Girls (Pet Shop Boys)

 




Smoke On The Water

“Smoke On the Water” came out in 1972 off their Deep Purple’s Machine Head album which was recorded in Montreux, Switzerland. It remains Deep Purple’s most successful album to date, and also includes the tracks “Space Truckin'” (obviously requiring pricier fuel than the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin'”) and the indomitable early metal classic “Highway Star.”

 

I can attest to the pure unbridled mayhem of playing “Highway Star” in a few classic rock bands. It’s one of those tunes you save for later in the night to kick everyone’s ass before last call.

 

At all our strategic band setlist negotiations, our drummer would jokingly declare at the outset “Highway Star stays or I go.” Indeed. It’s such a fun, full out balls to the wall tune to play live. I still remember Jon Lord’s scorching Hammond B3 organ solo and break into it now and then while practicing.

 

Ritchie Blackmore’s classically influenced guitar work provides a look into a guitarist’s style before the Yngwie Malmsteen neo–classical revival and Van Halen’s two handed tapping technique became the new upgraded mainstay for the instrument—a technique embraced (sometimes bear hugged to death) by the Shredders and Hair Metal monsters of the next decade.

 

“Smoke On The Water” is one of the most identifiable riffs ever. Ritchie Blackmore created this simple anthemic rock riff that even those who are NOT guitarists can learn in 5 minutes. It’s based on perfect fourths played across two guitar strings which one can play with just one finger. It’s simplicity however does not erode it’s granite like staying power and appeal to multiple generations of musicians and fans.

 

Ian Gillan goes right for the Lake Geneva jugular in the first verse of “Smoke On The Water”:


We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn’t have much time
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
Were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
Burned the place to the ground
Smoke on the water, fire in the sky

 

For those unfortunate souls who’ve never seen Beavis and Butt–Head “Dunt Dunt Dah…” this classic rock anthem, the first part of the post title here is a lyric from “Smoke On The Water” as well.

 

Montreux, where “Frank Zappa and he Mothers were at the best place around” (casino gigs paid well back then too) is located on the eastern most side of Lake Geneva. But as the story goes, unfortunately “some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground…”

 

Right in the middle of a gig too. A fan with a flare gun inside the theatre set off the fire. Fire bad. Fan stupid.

 

Zappa and the Mothers lost their equipment and the Casino de Montreux went up in flames. Hence the song title from bassist Roger Glover as members of Deep Purple saw this incident from their hotel across the lake.

 

The Casino de Montreux was where Deep Purple originally planned on recording their Machine Head album. The casino reopened a few years later and there’s a sculpture commemorating Deep Purple and “Smoke On The Water” next to the lake—it even has the notes of the riff on it to survive the Zombie Apocalypse or should those Zombies have a 2112 moment and decide to rock out.

 

The monument is also next to a statue of legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury who had a home in Montreux.

 




West End Girls

The Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe hold the distinction of being the most successful duo in UK music history (oh just over 50 million albums sold). They’re kinda like the Hall & Oates of Great Britain and at least one of them is a Maneater I hear. Coincidence?

 

“West End Girls” was a single off the Pet Shop Boys 1986 album Please. The track charted on both sides of the pond. Please also spawned several other hits for them including “Love Comes Quickly,” “Suburbia”, and “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money),” which by now that prophetic Pet Shop Boys tune has come to fruition and then some.

 

When I was in London, I made sure to wander all those sections of the city connected to famous pop songs including the West End. Maybe someday there’ll be a bus tour—a Magic Bus tour to take fans to all these places.

 

Love may come quickly but the Lake Geneva reference comes later in “West End Girls”:

In every city, in every nation
From Lake Geneva to the Finland station
(How far have you been?)

 

Anyone catch the Chevy Chase Fletch movie ad in this video? It’s around the 2:57 mark, right before Neil sings about Lake Geneva in the last verse.

 

So what have we learned from this musical meandering? In conclusion, even a blind Aristotle, or one playing Fifty Shades of Plato can see the causal connection between success in the music industry and mentioning Lake Geneva in a song.

© Composer Yoga


Related Posts To Check Out:

Primal Scream Therapy: Deep Purple “Woman From Tokyo”

Awesome 80s Albums You May Have Overlooked

Convincingly Sung By A Gay Man: Freddie Mercury (Queen) “Fat Bottomed Girls”

Eddie Van Halen’s Pure Gargantuan Nastiness

 

Recommended:

Closet Singles: Hall & Oates “You’ll Never Learn”

George Michael: The Careless Whisperer

Sights That Made Me Gasp

Closet Singles: Devo “Later Is Now”

Closet Singles: The Outfield “New York City”

 

 

 

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Hammer To Fall: Jan Hammer From Mahavishnu To Miami Vice

Metaphorically Jan Hammer fell into greater recognition within popular culture from the relatively private beaches of being a musician’s musician. Czech composer, multi-instrumentalist Jan (pronounced YAN) Hammer knocked out an instrumental gem which went on to become one of the coolest TV show themes of all time: Miami Vice.

 

So cool it didn’t even need lyrics or still frames of Don Johnson in a Ferrari Testarossa smiling and showing teeth whiter than his $3000 sport coat and the coke he and his partner Rico were after. So cool it was simply called “Miami Vice Theme” and not something more embellished like “Linus And Lucy”, that awesome theme song for all those Charlie Brown holiday TV shows we all grew up with by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi.

 

A Mahavishnu Orchestra alum (the fusion supergroup founded by British guitarist John McLaughlin), Jan went on to achieve heights heretofore unattained amongst his Jazz Fusion peers: his music synchronized to boobs on MTV. Dreams really did come true for this lad from Prague, Czechoslovakia.

 

So what makes this instrumental piece north of cool you ask? Well for one, the composition’s melody is played across several instruments (albeit sampled and played on keyboard) in different octaves as related parts that play off each other.

 

The instrumentation is just soooo tasty: from the badass machinesque staccato opening riff that he surfs the groove over, to the beat–you–down percussion hits, to the elegant synth stab riff, to the raunchy guitar riffs, he’s got an APB on your gonads.

 

And just for good measure, he threw in some inverted soundwave notes on bass to run aground on some low end. You wanna mess with that low synth bass? It brings a “Get on the ground, you have the right to remain silent DIRTBAG” authority to the piece. But all this is aural academics. If writing the show’s main themes like this piece wasn’t enough, he also wrote new material each episode.

 

With Mahavishnu Orchestra, he became one of the first keyboardists to play a Moog* synthesizer in a ensemble. Mahavishnu Orchestra was one of those bands with absolutely devastating musicianship creating experimental music which blended a myriad of musical styles and compound (odd) time signatures.

 

A musician and sound engineer friend I’ve worked with saw Mahavishnu Orchestra perform at a college when they were just starting out. His recollection was as that of a “shock wave of sound rolling over him of something so completely new it took him several minutes to process what just hit him.”

 

There’s a raw visceral energy, a ferocity to their compositions, undiluted even though it’s coming from high level musicians. As a musician, I totally love it when musical energy isn’t eclipsed by “studio sterility” in the process of recording because recording is a different skill set that performing live.

 

Jan also toured with Jazz vocal legend Sarah Vaughan, played on that awesome Jeff Beck album Wired with a fellow Mahavishnu Orchestra alum, drummer Narada Michael Walden**, was inducted into the Keyboard Hall of Fame, won a few of them Grammy thingys, but all that pales in comparison to the aforementioned synchronization of his composition to boobs does it not? Here’s the MTV video of the full composition with Jan rocking out:

(KEYTAR ALERT!!: sensitive musicians cover your eyes from 1:32 to 1:57)

Miami Vice show intro (chopped down to one minute):

Things came full circle when there occurred a music trivia moment on Miami Vice. Years prior to his days writing for the show, after he left Mahavishnu Orchestra, the next lineup included a member of the Mothers of Invention (French violinist Jean–Luc Ponty*** replaced Jerry Goodman formerly of the Jazz-Rock group The Flock) whose band leader was none other than Mr. Frank Zappa.

 

Frank guest starred on Miami Vice as a drug kingpin who lived on a yacht and sold “weasel dust” (There’s a Mothers album called Weasels Ripped My Flesh). The episode is also called “The Payback” which is also a classic James Brown song/album. The article title here is also a Queen tune so give yourself a gold star if you caught that 🙂

FZ on Miami Vice:

“The Payback” episode trailer:

Footnotes:
*A friend of mine who studied electronic music in college actually met Bob Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer.

 

**Jan Hammer and Narada Michael Walden were NOT in Mahavishnu Orchestra at the same time. Jan played with percussionist Billy Cobham (I know, poor him). There’s not alot of footage of them out there, but here’s Jan Hammer, Billy Cobham and John McLaughlin freaking tearing it up in a crazy odd time signature back in the day on the track “Meeting Of The Spirits” (riff comes in at 1:38):

With “El Becko” Jeff Beck and Narada Michael Walden on “Led Boots”:

***Jean–Luc Ponty was actually John McLaughlin’s first choice for the original lineup of Mahavishnu Orchestra. Boo to the government for not granting him a work permit visa to move to the United States. Instead, John went with Jerry Goodman, another electric violin virtuoso from Chicago.

 

Here’s one of my fave Mahavishnu Orchestra tunes, “Lila’s Dance.” Jean–Luc’s playing on here gets nicely otherworldly in the middle. Gayle Moran starts the tune off in 7(that’s how I’m counting it) on piano, the band enters with the main riff in a 10 meter, then John shreds some blues intestines in 4/4 a bit later.

 

The most amazing thing however happens after John’s solo where the band sneaks the 10 meter back in under the 4/4 for a “WTF? they can’t do that but they just did!” moment:

When your ears want to get more adventurous and date songs other than the musical equivalent of the nice guy or girl next door (the major chord, the I-IV-V progression–think “Louie, Louie” by The Kingsmen, and 4/4 time), then Mahavishnu Orchestra is a group I recommend.

 

Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report completely redefined what music could be for me and expanded the sound palate of possibilities. And that’s always welcome fuel for inspiration and creativity.

 

Wow, this was like playing the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in Jazz Fusion.

© Composer Yoga

Recommended:
Closet Singles: The Outfield “New York City”
Amazing Instrumentals: Eric Johnson “Trademark”
Closet Singles: Alan Parsons Project “Can’t Take It With You”
Yoda’s iPod: “When Doves Cry” By Prince
Laugh Tracks: Frank Zappa “Baby Take Your Teeth Out”
The Prince Prophecy & The Let’s Go Crazy Code

 

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