Thursday, October 25, 2012

When did we stop listening to albums?

Has anyone else noticed that in the 70's we listened to albums and today we listen to songs? I'm not sure what that means, or says about the music of today, but it's made me curious. I'm listening to Boston, the full album and I realized I don't normally do that anymore. I have playlists with favorite songs.

Has anyone else notice that? Anyone over 40 that is. Did we change or did the music change? Or is it the difference between record players and digital? Yet, I used to make cassette tapes in the 80's & 90's of my favorite songs - my playlists, if you will - so was it truly the way albums, in particular rock albums, were made/written in the 70's?

There are albums by Boston, Rush, Styx, Billy Joel and more that I can still sit and listen to from beginning to end. Yet I haven't actually bought a CD, let alone sit and listen to a whole CD in years. I download individual songs. So what's the difference? Me or the music?

I don't have an answer. I'm just putting it out there.

Some albums I can still listen to from beginning to end:

Boston - self titled
Rush - 2112, Moving Pictures (technically not 70's. Released in 1980)
Billy Joel - 52nd Street
Styx - Crystal Ball, Pieces of Eight (links are not to full albums)
Van Halen - self titled
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Idina Menzel Live and Barefoot in Boston

I was fortunate enough to see Idina Menzel perform at the Wang Theatre in Boston last night . What an amazing concert. The best part of the evening was the fact that it was simply a girl and her orchestra. No fancy light show, over-the-top costumes, half naked dancers... It was about the music and the voice. That, to me, is the mark of a true artist.

Now before I get flamed, let me say that I don't mind the over the top all-out concerts. They have there place, and performers like Lady Gaga have proven they have the chops to simply sit at a piano and sing, and keep you captivated. This is not a slam to anyone else. It is simply my view on the core of a true singer, songwriter, performer and how they seem to get lost now-a-days by the "show."

Idina opened the show without even stepping foot on stage. She sang a beautiful rendition of "Over the Rainbow" from back stage. Rainbow naturally lead into her song from the musical Wicked, "The Wizard and I", and her entrance on stage. One amazing moment was at the end when she dedicated "the next song" to all of us, then put her mic down and sang "For Good" (also from Wicked) acapella,.

Throughout her performance she was witty, honest, open... The chatting between songs would sometimes get almost a rambling quality (not in a bad way) and she would sometimes get off track, telling us a story that you could tell wasn't a rehearsed speech. It was simply Idina speaking from the heart, talking to her audience in a very open and relaxed manner. She connected with us. She made it personal, choosing songs that meant something to her, giving her audience a peek inside.

There were a lot of young people there, thanks I'm sure in part to Idina's role on Glee. I was very happy to see that they were loving the concert every bit as much as the older crowd. It made me wonder about the flashy over-the-top performers. How much of that is really necessary to give your audience a great concert? My personal opinion is that it's not needed. It's fun, it's a party atmosphere, but what of the singer? What of the musicians? Are they getting lost in today's techno-dance-mix age of filling the stage with dancers, costumes and light shows? I don't have the answer. I only know what I feel and that is that we need more performers to get back to basics. Stand on the stage and sing for us. Share with us that piece of you that you can only share through music. Idina did and it was magnificent.

I like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and others like them. Quite a few of their songs are on my mp3 player, but I have no desire to see them in concert. However, should Idina Menzel come back to Boston I will be the first in line for a ticket.

Oh, and for those of you that may be wondering, yes, she really was barefoot.