Friday, April 25, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Most helpful map EVER

Lynnae has to play violin in the school orchestra at Oakland Christian Reformed Church on Sunday night and she asked me where it was. I said it was out in the country. (Actually, I think I said "boonies.") She wanted to know where it was more specifically.

So, being an internet kind of guy I found their address on line and plugged it into google expecting a map. Here is the map that showed up. VERY HELPFUL! (click to enlarge)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Can’t Buy Me Love by Jonathan Gould

I finally finished Can't Buy Me Love by Jonathan Gould. It took me a long time because a) it is a long book and b) I've been quite busy lately. In the prologue, Gould writes that this book is unique in that it combines "three main perspectives – the biographical, the musical and the historical – in an effort to convey the full import of the Beatles' lives art and times." (p. 12) Gould is looking to do all these things in one book, something he claims no other book on the Beatles does. He succeeds on nearly all counts.

As for the biographical, Gould's book is not quite the definitive biography that Bob Spitz' recent book is – and it couldn't be, especially since this book is not as long and covers things that Spitz never intended to. That said, I wonder if a novice could read this book and get a sense for the whole story. I'm not sure. It struck me, at times, that one had to know the story of the Beatles to really understand what was happening in the book. For me, that was a good thing – I don't need five pages explaining things at a level that someone who is culturally illiterate would need. I just found myself wondering if this book was written primarily for people like me who has seen, heard and read it all as far as the Beatles is concerned.

The historical part I found especially enlightening and learned things about the band and the things that were influencing them that I had not learned. The part of the book that is WAY over the top for novices are track by track discussions of nearly each and every song in the Beatles catalog. While the discussions are enlightening and interesting, the level of detail sometimes goes beyond being a fan to being something else entirely. On the other hand, I really dug thinking about the songs that way, and thought that the critique was especially interesting on the Beatles' top albums, Revolver, Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road.

So if you've read at least one other Beatles book I highly recommend this one. It's very very good.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Switchfoot at Calvin College 4-5-08

I was pretty ready to see Switchfoot at Calvin College on Saturday night by the time they came out for their show. I have been playing Jon Foreman's EPs, Fall and Winter, a lot the past month, I had put their last two albums, Oh! Gravity and Nothing is Sound, on rotation in my ipod and I had them in the car. I went to the conversation with Jon Foreman in the afternoon and it was really excellent to hear him talk about his new EPs and his songwriting. We had a fairly quick dinner and then back to campus to wait in line for quite a while. While in the car I played "Stars" for Lynnae and said how it was my favorite song on the album. I sure hoped they'd play it. We got in about 45 minutes before the show was scheduled to start and then had to wait until TWO opening acts did their sets. Emory and Athlete both had 45 minute sets which were, for me, about 45 minutes too long each. To make things a bit worse Emory were really really really loud. To the point where I went to get earplugs. So, after all of that it was almost 10:00 by the time Switchfoot hit the stage. I was already tired and I hoped it was worth it.

Then the lights went down and the band took the stage with Jon Foreman going over to the piano where he sang the chorus from "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine" and when he got to the end of the chorus the band came in with a wash of sound which morphed into the amazing opening riff of "Stars." It was clear almost immediately that this band was not going to be content with merely playing album versions of their songs – they were rethinking and reworking them. I was immediately hooked. They went right from "Stars" in to "Oh! Gravity." The sound was great and the band was on target. By the fourth song Jon Foreman announced that this was the best audience of the tour and it felt like it. The crowd was very much into the band and the band responded with a high energy performance that left nothing in the dressing room.

Foreman is a really good front-man, reminding me of Bono in spots, the way he speaks between and during songs, the way his music deals with larger themes and how he seems to want to raise the level of conversation but also encourage all his listeners to be better people. Jon went out into the crowd at one point standing on the armrests of the seats just behind me. (The picture is my daughter Meredith with Jon Foreman right behind her.) It was clear that the band was watching him for cues on when to change the music around and that Foreman was free to improvise over the band because they knew what they were doing and they were following him well. I saw them a number of years ago outdoors and they've improved greatly since then. The addition of the two newer band members has allowed Foreman to have much more latitude in concert – he doesn't have to worry about playing guitar so much – he has other people to do that.

The concert ended with their hit "Meant to Live" after which Jon came out to do a solo song from his newest EP, Spring. Then he started a solo version of "Dare to Move" which was great but before he was finished with the first chorus the rest of the band joined him and rocked the song out to close out the show. I have liked their music on CD but I really didn't expect them to be that good in concert. I am now a big fan.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

a blog milestone

I've mentioned before that my daughter Bethany is a bit of an internet celebrity. Her "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks has been written up by the Associated Press, the Chicago Tribune and even the Holland Sentinel!!!!

Today, her blog reached a milestone - she has had over one million page views. That is astonishing. Way to go, Bethany!