Monday, April 30, 2012

Where are they now? Cosma Shiva

You know how songs pop into your head at the oddest times?

Well, that happened to me over the weekend, when the old Nina Hagen song "Cosma Shiva" popped into my head.

This song is from 1982, and was written by Hagen in honor of her baby daughter.

I sought the song out on YouTube, and discovered (via video) that the baby had grown up.

It turns out that Cosma Shiva Hagen is an actress - mostly in German-language films.

So what about Nina's other songs? New York has had its problems but is still standing.

And the white punks are still on dope.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

(empo-utoobd) Life is even less easy in Germany - YouTube lost, Grooveshark gone

Over three years ago, I wrote a post that described how YouTube had stopped showing music videos in Germany because of a dispute with GEMA, a German agency collecting music royalties. It turns out that the stoppage was temporary, but the legal fight dragged on. Helen Sventitsky-Rother shared a link to a BBC article with the results of the German court case.

In short, YouTube lost.

A court in Hamburg ruled that YouTube is responsible for the content that users post to the video sharing site.

It wants the video site to install filters that spot when users try to post music clips whose rights are held by royalty collection group, Gema.

In essence, this means that YouTube will have to take longer to review uploaded videos to ensure that they do not violate German law.

The BBC article notes that one company has previously taken action as a result of GEMA:

Music streaming site Grooveshark pulled out of Germany claiming licencing rates set by Gema made it impossible to run a profitable business in the country.

Here is what Grooveshark says about the matter:

Due to the excessive cost of operation, Grooveshark discontinued access from Germany on January 18, 2012.

Feel free to write to us if you have any questions. If you are a premium subscriber, please contact our billing team to arrange a refund for any time remaining on your subscription.

If you'd like to help lower the cost of operation for services like Grooveshark, you can contact GEMA:


Postal Mail:
Bayreuther Straße 37
10787 Berlin
Postfach 30 12 40
10722 Berlin

+49 30 21245-00

GEMA has a different view:

Contrary to its statements, the provider Grooveshark did not discontinue its services in Germany due to disproportionately high operating expenses.

The fact is, as a service provider Grooveshark fundamentally refuses to pay compensation in any shape or form at all for the service. As of this writing, Grooveshark has also not contacted GEMA in any way.

After detailing the many lawsuits against Grooveshark and other issues, GEMA concludes as follows:

If you as a user of Grooveshark have suffered any monetary damages, please contact the provider of this service directly with your complaints:!/grooveshark

It took me a while to find this statement. I searched the GEMA website, but was told that search was not working.

Perhaps Google can help GEMA with that. Or not.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lena Katina "Never Forget" remix hits Number 1 on Billboard dance/club chart

You may recall that I wrote about Lena Katina's song "Never Forget" last August.

Well, Dave Audé has remixed the song, and Lena just announced that the remix has reached #1 on Billboard's Dance/Club play songs chart.

If you haven't heard the remix, here's a remixed video.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whole Lotta Helter Skelter

In the fall of 1968, the Beatles released a very unusual song - at least for the Beatles. With inconsequential lyrics about an amusement park ride, the song "Helter Skelter" was a complete rock assault. Singer Paul McCartney brought his Little Richard voice into the psychedelic era, the guitarists and bass guitarist were zooming all over the place, and drummer Ringo Starr was at the absolute center of the madness, resulting in his famous shout "I've got blisters on my fingers!"

In the fall of 1969, a relatively new band called Led Zeppelin released a very unusual song - for anybody. The instruments used were, for the most part, similar to those employed in the Beatles' earlier song, and John Paul Jones laid down some bass lines comparable to McCartney's. But the drummer, John Bonham, had a different set of skills from Ringo, and was known for his power. The vocalist, Robert Plant, wasn't as well known as McCartney, but his English wails would distinguish him in this song and in years to come. Oh, and the guitarist, Jimmy Page, was a madman, taking old blues songs and converting them to eleven volume rock anthems. And the lyrics? Well, they weren't about an amusement park ride.

Two roaring rock songs, both in the key of E. To mashup artist Soundhog, it was obvious what needed to be done.

H/T Rob Michael.

P.S. See Soundhog's own account of the mashup.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I prefer the English exercise styles

Rodney Bingenheimer, the Mayor of Sunset Strip who hates the 90s, received a huge amount of fame from his early 1970s club, Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco, formerly located at 7561 Sunset Boulevard.

But that club closed over 35 years ago.

What's there today?

A gym.

And while people in the early 1970s devoted themselves to getting their bodies in motion, people at the location today do...well, they do the same thing:

Fit Arts’ unique training program provides efficient methods to building long, lean, and toned bodies. The program uses a natural approach by using the body’s own weight, as opposed to heavy weights and bulky gym equipment. Bodyweight Training is natural and practical for your body. The body is more capable of handling its own weight, as opposed to outside forces like heavy weights, producing more natural looking results.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I prefer the English clothing styles

Let's say you're a real estate agent in the Westside of Los Angeles. (Empoprise-MU link.) When working with Brentwood clientele, you need to look your best, so you may do your clothes shopping at Theodore in Beverly Hills. You would prefer to deal with someone who knows Los Angeles well.

When you walk into the store, you realize that the manager looks familiar. You've seen her somewhere before, but you just can't place it. Perhaps you might recognize the manager from a recent night in Hollywood.

Or perhaps you recognize her from years ago.

The music industry does not offer lifetime employment. Far from it. And if you're on the periphery of the music industry - perhaps you're the wife, or mother, or girlfriend of someone in the industry - your time in the spotlight can end even more quickly than the time that the musicians themselves spend in the spotlight.

Those who continue to thrive after the spotlight disappears, such as Marilyn Wilson Rutherford and Lori Mattix (Lori Maddox), are the true winners.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Reading beyond the title - "American Woman"

Have you ever run across a song with a particular title and liked the song for its title - and then found out that the song itself has nothing to do with the title?

Take The Guess Who's song "American Woman." Perhaps a guy from a foreign country might hear the song title, see a beautiful woman from the United States, and think to himself, "I'll impress her by singing this song to her!"

But then he starts to learn the lyrics to the song and realizes that it is not a love song to an American woman. After all, the song begins:

American woman, stay away from me
American woman, mama let me be

Let's face it, this is NOT "California Girls."

And as you continue to read the lyrics to the song, you realize that it's not about a woman at all.

I don't need your war machines
I don't need your ghetto scenes
Coloured lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else's eyes

And yes, I know that the transcriber at wrote "Colored," not "Coloured." But I suspect that the spelling with a "u" is correct, since the song was written by Canadians. After all, it was conceived in a curling rink.

And when you read those lyrics from the perspective of a 1960s Canadian writing about the United States, the song makes sense - a sense that can't be discerned from its seemingly innocuous title.

Incidentally, this song entered my head one day after finding this post in a blog called "War Machine." Perhaps it was the George Harrison in Haight Ashbury stuff that I had been reading previously, but seeing the title of the blog took me on a musical, um, trip.

Drifting along

My Monday evening was certainly interesting.

I was eating dinner with relatives, and someone observed that it was windy out. This led me to comment that you could tell that it was windy if you saw tumbling tumbleweeds drifting by. The fifteen year old who heard the comments is certainly familiar with tumbleweeds, but does not understand the significance of the phrase "tumbling tumbleweeds." Long-time readers of this blog, of course, know that this is a reference to a Sons of the Pioneers song that has been covered by other people, such as Todd Baio.

A few hours later, I received some upsetting news. I will not be discussing this news publicly, other than to say that it involves another relative (one who was not present at the dinner), and that it's very sad.

After receiving this news, I found myself thinking about the tumbling tumbleweeds some more.

Since I had some credits on Amazon, I ended up buying an MP3 of the song. And, as is my custom, I began scrobbling it repeatedly. It appears that I bought a 1950s version of the song, but it's still a good version.

I haven't searched for "Old Man Atom" yet.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Steve Taylor, Essayist

Time for another piece on Steve Taylor.

Since I last blogged about Mr. Taylor in depth, Sarah Gibson has created an interactive website about the musician/producer/filmmaker. (You can see the story of the creation of the website here.) I'm still navigating around the place, but I was struck by this essay, written in the 1980s while Taylor was on tour.

Sometimes it's funny.

Glen (my bass player--may not be his real name) has awakened from a deep sleep with the perfect imprint of a corduroy seatcover across his face--looks like one of those tribal warriors in National Geographic. Everyone's hair is a memorable sight after an all-nighter (reminds me of the guys in Undercover).

(This was written before Gym Nicholson played guitar on a Steve Taylor album.)

Sometimes it's thought-provoking.

The concert promoter introduces himself, immediately asks that I tell tonight's audience not to dance, and wants to know if I'll be doing an [altar] call. I question him extensively on the preparation he's done for counseling and follow-up, and decide that he is ill-prepared. He insists that even if thirty make a commitment to Jesus tonight and only two are committed Christians a year later, that's better than none. I ask him about the twenty-eight who will think from lack of follow-up that they tried Christianity and it didn't work for them. The subject is a very touchy one for me, because after five years as a youth pastor, I've learned how easily young people can be manipulated into doing something they neither understand nor want. I'm interested in using my music to communicate Christian truth to my culture. I'm not interested in using an emotionally-charged rock concert to get numbers streaming down the aisles in order to justify a "ministry".

And sometimes it's REALLY thought-provoking.

I'm beginning to understand what makes the road such a struggle. It's not fatigue, it's not unprofessional promotion, it's not malnourishment. It's the constant battle I have with pride. All the rationale for doing concerts and insisting on quality publicity and staging make perfect sense. But there's times when the medium begins to take over the message, and even when I'm maintaining a Godly perspective on it all, my ego keeps sneaking up on my blind side. There's no room for selfish ambition and pride in Christian service, but the battle can be exhausting.

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