More random musings.

One nice thing about being repeatedly hacked in your email and social networking accounts is hearing back from old friends and business colleagues you haven't been in touch with for years.

In my case I can't say that everyone on my spammed contact list has been entirely pleased to hear from me—or who they thought was me—but their responses have got me thinking.

Hundreds of folks are now wondering how I've been able to start so many multi-million-dollar home businesses this year and successfully sell cheap meds on the side (while maintaining a consulting practice).

Well I've decided to exploit this opportunity and share my trade secrets in a new book, How You Can Make Millions From Getting Hacked & Spammed In Your Spare Time. (The first step will be "don't give up that AOL account.") Subtitle: Business Lessons From Viagra.

Wow, I've discovered a treasure trove of American music history at Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music". Russ Strathdee & Gary Copeland provide detailed info on the pioneers of pop music, with extensive narratives and audio clips.

Until I started to frequent the blog, I thought I knew it all about the chief architects and early adopters of R&B, Doo-wop, Rockabilly, Urban Blues, Motown, and Rock & Roll. But I've been seriously schooled by Russ & Gary on all the major characters—and their artistic and business struggles. There's some amazing archival recordings here as well. (No, I don't get commissions on my referrals… yet.)

Lately I've been warming up to the twistedly talented My Chemical Romance. Hey, you have to love a post-hardcore, pop-punk, alt-rock, emo band out of Jersey City, New Jersey (which, for all I know, may be the post-hardcore, pop-punk, alt-rock, emo capitol of the world). Not so sure about the band's name though. What romance isn't chemical?

I have an ongoing gripe about the negative US media reaction to the Who's performance at the Superbowl two months ago. Yes, I know they look their age and lead singer Roger Daltry can't hit the high notes he did at twenty-five. (Is that some freakin' biological anomaly?)

They still play great—despite the demise of iconic band members Keith Moon and John Entwistle. Pete Townshend ranks among the top-five guitar performers in the Solar System. And the Who's songs—three of which are featured on the tv crime drama, CSI—stand up as brilliantly as any rock material from the '60s & '70s.

This band is an artistic and business success story. As a question or as an assertion: Who's better?


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20 Comments

  1. MCR rocks -- they have a great live show. The Who are great too. Hope I can play and sing like that at 65.

  2. Peter, I haven't seen My Chemical Romance in concert but I hear they have a strong live show. I heard the Who at the Shrine Auditorium in LA in their early days with Moon & Entwistle. Best rock performance I've ever seen.

  3. AOL = lots of hacking & spamming. I've only been hacked twice, so I've made my password an impenetrable mnemonic...much safer now.

    "Well all right, well, all right..."
    Another great music site that I will have to find some kind of time to check out....after a quick scan, I like what I see....can't wait to listen to the Buddy Holley songs!! Thanks for finding this one John!

    I know little of My Chemical Romance....only what I've heard on WERS....

    Have a great day!!
    :-)

  4. I get a bit twitchy about terms like "better" when it comes to music. It implies there's some kind of objective scale against which any piece of music can be measured and graded. I can spot a cliched lyric or a hackneyed riff as well as the next person but quite often, they're really entertaining! So I prefer to think, rather than "better," of what I like, don't like and what comes in between. Songs move along the scale all the time and my scale is different to anyone else's - it doesn't matter. It's music so try it and if you don't enjoy it, try something else.

    That said, better than The Who? Tricky! The main problem is that teenagers always want a unique, noone's-ever-had-it-so-bad spin on their angst. It could be The Who with "My Generation" or Black Sabbath "Paranoid" or The Sex Pistols "Pretty Vacant" or Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or more recently MCR.

    What distinguishes The Who for me is that they've grown up and kept their integrity and their artistic vision strong. Many of the bands above did the angst thing and then... either imploded or did more of the same (but not as good). The Who grew up and that will be the challenge for MCR. Apart from Green Day (much better songs as they've matured, although they're beginning to look ridiculous) and The Kinks, I can't think of many bands that have pulled off that trick as well as The Who.

  5. Nick, it will be tough for me to abandon American Online, patriot that I am.

    Yeah, Russ & Gary are like archeologists when it comes to digging up good stuff on the origins of rock/pop. Maybe we should refer to them as the evolutionary biologists of the modern beat.

  6. Mark: so when you wail on John Lennon we should interpret that to mean you just don't find him entertaining? :-) Actually, I've argued your point many a time. But to be rigorous about it, I would have to state my CRITERIA for what "good" means when it comes to rock - which I'll do one of these days. Of course it's easier to evaluate bands commercially than artistically because business success is more easily measured. Though I haven't closely studied the Who from this perspective they appear to be among the leaders - aided by longevity (45+ years and counting).

    Good point on the "unique, noone's-ever-had-it-so-bad spin on their angst." Every generation has to discover its own spokesmen.

  7. John - you're right to call me out on having used the "better" argument myself. It's all too easy to confuse "I prefer" with "better" and "I like" with "good."

    On the Lennon front, I do enjoy quite a lot of his music. Where I disagree with some people, and Trevor Gay, is in calling him a genius. One of the rock n' roll greats? Yes, absolutely no doubt. Up there with Einstein, da Vinci, Hawking, Mozart, Socrates and Copernicus? No.

    BTW, heard the new Peter Wolf album? The ex J Geils Band man has just released his second corker in the last decade.

  8. Mark, can't say I've heard the Peter Wolf album. 42 years ago when my band, the Morning, did its farewell gig for our New Haven, Connecticut fans, the J. Geils Band was the opening act. I remember Wolf hooked up with my ex-girlfriend that weekend. Haven't seen either of them since.

    The first part of this post has just been reblogged on tompeters.com which has about 20,000 more visitors a day than this - but who's counting?

  9. Lennon - Genius? - Maybe not in the same league as those names you mention Mark but he’s way ahead of the crowd in rock history. It’s laughable for instance they even dare compare Liam Gallagher with the great John. Gallagher is not fit to strum Lennon’s guitar :-)

    PS Mark - Barca got stuffed!

  10. Lennon himself wasn't sure about the validity of the term "genius." As he said in a Rolling Stone interview: "If there's such a thing as genius – I am one. And if there isn't, I don't care."

  11. That quote is typical of Lennon - to the point, no frills with a touch of sarcasm and cynicism – and maybe a little bit on the dark side. They are some of the reasons I liked John Lennon.

    I suppose it doesn't really matter if he was or wasn't a genius - that’s an academic argument in some ways.

    There is no doubt in my mind however Lennon was a realist.

  12. Trevor: great photos of John Lennon at http://www.bobgruen.com/files/johnlennon.html

    Adopting Lennon's argument...*IF* genius applies to any popular music figure it applies to JWL - for reasons I've argued years ago. What pop artist or songwriter would tower above him? But if one prefers to use the g word for only the great scientists or literary figures, no prob.

    Genius certainly didn't apply to some of Lennon's business decisions. Pushing the Beatles to embrace Allen Klein as their manager - and alienating McCartney in the process - wasn't a smart move.

  13. What songwriter would tower above Lennon? Well, not all that many would tower over him but there is one name that certainly does and in my view towers over any other songwriter since WW2:

    Bob Dylan.

    And as his superb autobiography showed, he's an awesome prose writer, too. If anyone from the wonderful world of rockaboogie was to be considered for the tag genius, I'd suggest Dylan.

  14. Bob Dylan is certainly a brilliant song writer - shame he can't sing.

    Genius is in the eye of the beholder I guess. Lennon is a genius in my eyes as far as rock history is concerned. Clearly he was not a business genius – and as far as I know never claimed he was a businessman.

  15. Mark, Dylan is one popular music figure who might belong on the same level as Lennon on the g list (McCartney is another) though not above Lennon. And I love Dylan and have sung his praises on the Tom Peters site. http://www.tompeters.com/dispatches/008320.php

    Lennon was the founder of the most commercially and artistically successful popular music group in history. Pop music was never the same after Lennon and the Beatles hit the world charts. He’s the co-creator of the most impressive pop music body of work ever (namely the Beatles’ recordings)—as singer, musician, and songwriter. And he was as influential as Dylan as a counter-cultural icon & anti-war spokesman. It also says something that NO popular music figure terrified the US government—particularly in the Nixon years—as much as John Lennon. (That’s an entertaining story for another occasion.) Perhaps living in the UK you don’t fully appreciate the impact that one of your own has made in the world—musically and culturally—and especially in the US.

  16. Trevor, I actually think Dylan is a great singer - and especially loved his vocals in the days of "Mr. Tambourine Man," "I Want You," and "Like a Rolling Stone." To me having a "pleasing" voice has little to do with great singing. (Give a listen to Howling Wolf sometime.) Of course this may be my way of justifying my own vocal attempts. :-)

  17. I agree John ...Dylan is a great singer .. When compared to me :-)

    Love your summary of John Lennon's impact. I'm very proud of Lennon's legacy as a Brit - partcularly his anti-war stance.

    Its great to know how influential he is seen in your heritage on that side of the pond.

  18. Hey John, Thanks for referral to Russ and Gary's info site, terrific content. I agree on your Who superbowl opinions, wished I could've seen them in their prime. I will check out Weeples, not familiar with them. Love the stories and wisdom and keep 'em coming. Cheers from Paul M

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