thoughts on music, design and literature

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Record Industry's 20 Greatest Screwups

For some reason I take perverse pleasure in reading disaster stories about the record industry. It's not that I have any sort of deep-seated hatred towards them; it's more about taking comfort that mistakes get made up to the highest levels of the industry, and if I wind up making a few of my own, it's still comforting to know that I'm not the guy at Decca who passed on the Beatles. (The #2 all-time worst mistake.)

Anyway, read the whole Blender article here.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Baba Yetu....The Role Playing Game?

One of the great joys of having written something that people connect with, is that you get to see all the creative works that your own work has inspired. Over the two years since the release of Civilization IV, I've been sent all sorts of writing, music, and videos from fans who found something in my music that sparked their creativity....and I love seeing that! But perhaps the most unique derivative work that I've seen thus far is the Baba Yetu Role Playing Game.

Apparently it's about lions. You create a lion character, then you wander around the prides, hunting, challenging other lions for territory, and occasionally mating (I'm really curious how they plan to make that work). Unfortunately, I think the game's creators have given up on trying to develop it....I think they may have gotten a dose of reality, and realized that creating and maintaining an online world is not the easiest thing to do. But still, I have to give them credit for trying.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

A Recommendation: Keren Ann

It’s been awhile since I’ve stumbled across something new and worthwhile, but this singer’s got me good. And the thing is, she’s really not all that new….I’ve just been in a cave, apparently.

Keren Ann is an Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter. She writes, among other things, acoustic guitar ballads: but not the clichéd whiny-coffee-shop-emo variety. She writes GOOD SONGS. This is the one that caught my attention…it’s called “I’m Not Going Anywhere”:

Here’s another one….check out the Lou Reed-inspired semi-spoken vocals (the classical term for this is singspiel…forgive me, but I’m in Professor Tin mode these days…):

“Lay Your Head Down” makes me feel like I’m listening to the Velvet Underground, and I don’t mean that in a derivative way; I mean that she’s very economical with all her musical gestures, which is something that I admire in musicians, and practice in my own writing. She gets straight to the point—no fussy intros, no long lead-ins. I believe strongly in that.

Here’s one more, called “Chelsea Burns.” just because I like to do things in threes:

UPDATE: It’s Tuesday evening, and I’ve been listening to “Not Going Anywhere” on repeat for the last 72 hours. That song has hit me in a soft spot. The chord changes, the phrase lengths, the performance…..I just love it!

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