Miscellaneous opinings.

Someone recently asked me what rock band of the last quarter-century—formed after 1985—has been the most successful. (That eliminates U2 of course.) My immediate answer was 'Green Day'.

Some could make the case that Nirvana, despite their short seven-year lifespan, has been the most influential band—and has justifiably earned its title as 'the flagship band of Generation X'. But it's hard to argue with Green Day's twenty years of commercial success and the critical acclaim of its last two albums, American Idiot and Twenty-first Century Breakdown.

And now the punk trio has inspired a Broadway musical.

Income from record royalties, music publishing, live performances, and merchandising should keep the boys off food stamps for a while.

As someone who is clueless on exploiting social media, I was pleased to come across a book that uses rock & roll metaphors to educate folks on how to take advantage of LinkedIn, the social networking site for business.

The book is 'Rock the World With Your Online Presence: Your Ticket to a Multi-Platinum LinkedIn Profile' by Mike O'Neil and Lori Ruff. They may actually be able to decode LinkedIn (which I used to pronounce 'link-a-din') for us technomorons.

I hear China is opening its arms to Western rock & roll now. I'll believe it when David Bowie's 'Seven Years In Tibet' gets regular play. (Oops, I'll never get back into Shanghai now.)

Just got a tip that the debut issue of Bible & Gun magazine features a review of 'True Americans' by Sarah & the Death Panels. Not sure what style of music they play, but I'm guessing it's not Hip Hop or World Music.

Forty-five years ago this month, I played what I think was my first live band gig—with the immortal Fetal Pigs. Well, not quite immortal.

We had to change our name after the gig so we could keep working—an important business lesson for all you young bands out there.

Of course I was barely out of the crib then, but I was already recognizing the economic advantage of changing one's brand identity when necessary.


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28 Comments

  1. You ever have a person or a band that their success made you angry and think the world is unfair? Green Day is that band for me!!

    That said, it is to their drive and their willingness to forge their brand identity that is such a big part of their success.

    Do you still play yourself??

  2. The answer isn't so much a band as... Dave Grohl.

    The former Nirvana drummer swapped to guitar ("...recognizing the economic advantage of changing one’s brand identity when necessary"?) and formed Foo Fighters.

    He's also frequently labelled as The Hardest Working Man in Rock and also The Nicest Man In Rock. A couple of important lessons in there, eh?

  3. Mark, I confess I overlooked GD for years, but "American Idiot" won me over. And "Know Your Enemy" grabbed me and wouldn't let go. (I've always been a sucker for a primitive rock song.) Like many bands (U2 for instance) they started off as a pretty unremarkable group, but just kept at it, refining their craft. I'm surprised, tho, that you like Clash but don't like Green Day.

    I'm not playing out these days, just writing songs. Keeps me sane—but drives my cat ("Hendrix") crazy. He walks out when I pick up my Guild.

    Wish I could match your blogging productivity.

  4. Mark #2: yup, Dave Grohl is the real deal. He sure knows how to build a resume, doesn't he?

    There was a time when the public seemed to expect their rock stars to be reprobates (who insulted their fans, picked fights with the media, etc.) but—alas—times have clearly changed. Where are the Johnny Rottens when we need them?

  5. Mark #3, I'm sorry to say you're right. President Hu and Premier Wen (hu and wen they speak) aren't particularly supportive of Tibetan autonomy. They LOOK like such nice, polite, diplomatic, pragmatic businessmen in their European suits, don't they? But Hu & Wen turn emerald green when the name of the Dalai Lama comes up—that "traitorous, radical separatist."

    Speaking of The Fetal Pigs (the band, not the Chinese leadership) I'm surprised we haven't gotten any comments on this post from the Pigs' fans so far. (Maybe they're both busy.)

    Just for clarification purposes, this blog thread is open to commentators who have names other than Mark.

  6. Hey John!!

    Green Day is/has growing/grown up. If they stayed doing the same thing, they sure wouldn't last long....

    Bible & Gun?? Hmmmmmmm.......

    The Fetal Pigs?? I don't think I'd go see a band called The Fetal Pigs!! Brand ID is most important, as sometimes a band or act name is enough to turn off the fans!!

    Catch ya soon, John!!

    :-)

  7. Nick, you're right. We probably could have come up with a more attractive (and thoughtful) name - like ones that were used by later bands... Throbbing Gristle, Cradle of Filth, Dogs Die in Hot Cars, Olsen Twin Suicide, Poopfist, Napalm Death, Jungle Rot, Eccentric Toilet, We Will Eat Rats To Survive, or...Lubricated Goat. (These of course are actual band names.) Yeah, Fetal Pigs might have been a turn-off.

  8. Some bizarro band names, courtesy of http://www.walkingdead.net/bands.mhtml

    Nation of Actuaries
    1-900-BOTULISM
    Pound Signs of the Apocalypse
    Tapeworm Enchilada
    Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders On
    Your Back
    I Don't Know Officer, She Just Died
    Waco Bell
    Bring A Lawyer
    Call Security
    It's A Bug And It Hates You
    Your Mom
    Because We're Penguins
    The Fight Or Flight Attendants
    You'll Shit In Terror
    The Toy Problems
    The Soft Economy
    Cocaine Has A Kid

  9. Thanks, Anon, for elevating the dialogue (tho I guess I started it).

    The most terrifying name on that list is The Actuaries. But now that I think about it, maybe every band should include one.

  10. Somewhere, in a parallel universe far away from here, President O'Leary (the only man to serve 3 terms after the constitution was changed to allow this exceptional President to stay in office) revealed that he had in fact made his first public appearance as the drummer with legendary California hippies, Fig Petals.

    President O'Leary, who left the Fig Petals after his election as Governor of Connecticut in 1978, has donated all royalties from the band's recordings to Trevor Gay Healthcare Institute.

  11. Mark, you now have my official blessing to write my authorized Presidential biography. I'm available to you for extended interviews whenever you're ready. (And this parallel universe isn't THAT far away. I spend my weekends there.)

  12. Great news, Anon. That means I can use Tapeworm Enchilada as a name for my next band! That would strike just the right chord for corporate gigs. Oh, but I really like Waco Bell too. Darn. But then if I'm looking for gravitas I'd have to go with Because We're Penguins. I hate these decisions...

  13. John: We were friends waaaay back in 1968 - San Clemente - Four Muses -
    I would love to reconnect - Is there an email address I can use?
    I have been reading your blog, enjoying it lots. Watched the Presidential interview - I think Anthony Weiner is channeling you. (Love him).
    Will you have my email from this? Maybe. Not sure about how that works.
    It's good to find you.
    Dorothy

  14. OMG, Dorothy! How ARE you?? I VIVIDLY remember those San Clemente days, the chats we had, Deb, Jana, the Tuttles, and the gig at that terrific folk club, the Four Muses. The band got paid half what we expected for that weekend, but I'm sure that was our manager's screw-up not Jim's. (That's a "business lesson from rock" for ya: clarify the PER DIEM wage.) I'm guessing we got paid about $150, which wasn't bad for the times, given it was a prestigious coffee house and The Morning was a fairly unknown act from LA. (I keep in touch with all of them through Facebook. We almost got back together to play a Yale class reunion a few months ago.)

    Can't wait to catch up, though not much has happened on my end since 1968. Well, I DO have a cat now.

    You should be able to email me through the Profile page on this blog. (This protects me from spammers, almost.) If you have any trouble let me know thru this Comment page.

  15. John, I would love to reconncet with you too, and Mark Pines (yet another Mark?), if he's still around. I lost touch with Deb long ago, but you know how women are...sometimes they go and change their last names!
    Much love,
    Jana

    I'm on FB as Jana Dieter

  16. John, I'm sure Jonathan Morgan Jenkins would love to reconnect as well. He's the mioddle son of Mary and Jim Jenkins and he's put together a Four Muses FB group.

    So glad to find you still on the planet!

    Love,
    Jana

  17. Hi Jana, I left a FB message for the wrong Jana apparently - who probably has the police looking for me. But I'll try again.

  18. . . . . . feeling just a little bit left out . . . the message you left on my fb page wouldn't have been police report worthy . . . . . .

    I wish I had a tongue-in-cheek button. Sometimes I worry about tone of typing coming through clearly.

  19. I'm with you most of the time, John, but your question to Mark (or was it Mark?) about "liking Clash but not Green Day" has me baffled; I'm not catching the similarities.

    I admit GD is influential and popular. I just can't decide if their stuff is boring or annoying, or if they've somehow managed to be annoyingly boring.

    Man I'm old. My younger friends keep saying it and I keep denying it, but I don't understand Muse, or Green Day, or John Legend either.

    I would, however, go see the Fetal Pigs if and only if they were opening for Fig Petals, which would make me believe there was an evil mastermind at work.

  20. Hey Joel, re GD & Clash: they're two political punk bands who have made a dent in pop music. But I know there are Clash fans who would begrudge the comparison, who think GD is a sell out, etc. etc. Personally, I'm a GD convert. If you can write & record a song like "American Idiot" you're a TRUE American, IMHO. (Plus the fact that Billy Joe uses this one chord change a lot in his ballads—the major to minor IV—that makes me nostalgic for John Lennon—In My Life, Nowhere Man, etc.)

    Now it's true we ARE geezers, but there's more going on here. As one who was spoiled by GREAT rock & roll growing up (Beatles, Stones, Who, etc.) I have trouble finding modern rock acts with as much creativity, personality, and drive—not to mention sheer songwriting talent. But many of the successful post-2000 rock bands—e.g. Maroon 5, All American Rejects, My Chemical Romance—are very strong live acts—and they're young enough to evolve into something really special if they're willing to push the creative envelope.

  21. So if anyone is thinking Who The Hell are Steve and Edie? I meant Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. AKA Steve and Eydie.

  22. Dorothy: given that you left that comment about Steve & Edie on the other comment thread about the Beatles, and not on this thread, readers probably ARE thinking 'who the hell are Steve & Edie?' :-)

    But our readers always expect the unexpected on BLFR. And thanks for being among the 1% of readers who actually leaves comments.

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