Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

The S&R Interview: 22 questions with Sarah Lewis of Jag Star

I remember distinctly how I first discovered Jag Star. I was snooping around on eMusic for new bands and was using the old triangulation method – who sounds like band X? One of my favorite bands is VAST, and Jag Star turned up as a “Similar Artist.”

That was both a great moment and a confusing one. On the one hand, I immediately liked Jag Star’s music. I’ve long loved Power Pop, and while you wouldn’t exactly slot Jag Star in with other bands in the contemporary disciples of The Beatles / Raspberries / Who / Big Star / Badfinger Pop Underground scene, they write great hooks, play really well and aren’t at all afraid to turn up the volume. Not only that, they’re doing it on their terms, the establishment and labels be damned.

On the other hand, I can’t for the life of me figure out how they got into the “Sounds Like VAST” queue. Continue reading

ArtSunday: Microsoft and the end of culture

Verily, we have arrived at the end of all culture. Perhaps predictably, the culprit is technology. Or, to be a bit more specific, the culprit is Microsoft, which has now infused the art of songwriting with the same kind of magic and warmth you’ve come to expect from Excel.

Microsoft is pitching software designed for you, no musical training required. You sing the words as best you can, and its Songsmith software supplies computer-matched musical accompaniment.

Words … fail. Continue reading

Poetry and lyrics are not the same thing: Hegemony, part 2

I’m tired of hearing that rock stars and rappers are poets. They’re nothing of the sort.

A couple weeks I go I offered up part one in a series on poetry vs. lyrics, noting from firsthand experience the differences between the two. In brief, I’ve always felt like it was wrong to call rock stars poets – even if their words are fantastic, as they often are, the very nature of bending words to suit a song structure makes what they do a very different thing from what poets do.

In that piece, I looked at the song version of “Hegemony,” which I penned for Fiction 8‘s most recent CD, Project Phoenix. “Hegemony” was adapted for music from an existing poem, which I wrote for my most recent book, Chained to the Gates of Heaven (a book that is in search of a publisher, by the way – so if you know somebody….)

In this installment, Continue reading

Music lyrics, even great ones, are not poetry: Hegemony, part 1

How often have you heard someone call a rock musician or a rapper a poet? As a poet and a lyricist, let me assure you that they’re not the same thing.

Reach out and touch me now
Aphrodite said
You aren’t the only one
with armies in your head

We’re fond of calling our great rock stars poets. Dylan is a poet. Springsteen is a poet. John Lennon was a poet. Jim Morrison (*gag*) was a poet. And so on. Certainly the first three (have) produced some marvelous words, but as a poet – forgive me if I call myself a “real” poet here – I’ve never quite been willing to accord their work the status of poetry. This isn’t necessarily a slam – their work isn’t architecture, either. Continue reading