Hindi pop and coffee

bollywood-dancerWhy is it that all female Bollywood singers sound the same?

Bear with me – I’m not sure if you’ve heard any East Indian female pop stars sing, but they all seem to have a similar high, thin voice.

Someone who does not drink coffee might think that all coffee tastes the same. As a real coffee drinker, I can tell them that they are wrong. And a real Bollywood fan might tell me that I am wrong.

It’s all a matter of perspective, perception and level of experience.

The photo is from Flikr. Thanks tony4carr!

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Popular taste vs critical taste

radiohead-1Rolling Stone magazine ran an section at the end of last year called, “50 Best Albums of the Decade”. Though I did not entirely agree with their choices, my tastes ran much closer to the critics who wrote the article than to the tastes of the public. A small evidence of that: I had seen live 18 of the groups or people represented in that list – and none of the top 40 albums for the week at the end of the magazine.

Where do your tastes lie?


A song I can do without

journey“Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ ” by Journey.

If I went the rest of my life without hearing that tune again, I’d be very happy.

I actually do like one Journey song, Anytime. That was before they went to the pure pop phase, which is a bad move on any band’s part. I left top-40 radio behind when I hit about age 15.

Question for you: What song can you live without?

(Photo is from Wikimedia Commons. And if you liked this post, go here.)


Influenced, though never met


In fourth grade, I chose to play violin because I had a crush on a girl named Linda Cardone. She chose the violin as her instrument, so I did too. I thought I might get to sit next to her in orchestra.

My youngest sister chose violin, maybe because I had played. (Haven’t had the chance to ask her about that.) If that’s true, my fourth grade crush influenced the course of my sister’s life. She got a bachelor’s degree in viola performance and later a master’s degree in the same.

Thank you, Linda.


The best things are free, sometimes


Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

It was incredible.

Every summer, Aspen has a music festival where classical musicians from all over the world come to learn and perform. The schedule is very full. Each day there are at least four or five events. the showcase symphony concerts at the big music tent are not cheap – try on $72 a ticket. We couldn’t feature spending $144 for one evening’s music. So we dug a little deeper. A young artists’ orchestra was performing at the music school. Free.

Ray Chen was the soloist. He gave it his all. The small hall was about half orchestra and half audience. It was like he was playing just for us.


Takeaway: Before you spend the big bucks, check around to see what’s free. You just might be surprised.


Closed captioning for music


Most public places feature canned music that hits my ears at varying volumes. (The younger the target demographic, the louder the music.) Most of the time, it bears no connection with what I would choose to play, given the opportunity.

I propose that when entering an establishment, you would be given a bluetooth headset to hear what they are putting out. Or not. I would always refuse the headset – except maybe at Urban Outfitters.


Of bicycles and music


My brother Bill and I got seriously into rock music about the same time. I was in junior high and he was in his early high school years. We shared tunes and pushed each other deeper.

Then one weekend I took the bus down to Cambridge from our home in Woburn, Massachusetts with my buddy Bryan. We had begun enjoying racing bicycles, and The Bicycle Exchange was known for its selection of superlight Italian imports. I learned that Campagnolo was not pronounced “cam-pag-no-lo” but rather “cohm-pan-yo-lo”.

So they had deeply intriguing music playing over some warm walnut-veneered speakers. I heard Bach, followed by bluegrass, followed by Jimi Hendrix, followed by reggae. Anything was game. I asked the bearded shop expert the radio station’s name. “WBCN,” he said.

When I got home, WBCN became my staple. I was stretched over and over but learned that music was far richer and deeper than what the mainstream stations played. I still returned to those highways from time to time to get a pop fix. But I was changed forever.

Epilogue: WBCN is now one of those mainstream music outlets. The Bicycle Exchange is still operating, but they outgrew their little shop at 3 Bow Street. They’re now at 2067 Mass Ave. And my brother and I still share music.