Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dylan in December, W00T?

Let's take a ride on the magical tour that is Earth, on the giant database that is collecting up information to tell someone far in the future that the answer to the universe is "42." There's nothing on this planet that is not just now being viewed on Youtube (well, except for all the stuff you can't watch on Youtube, but there'll be other sites for that.) Do a search for Bob Dylan's Dream (just click on the link), and find any of the amateur covers of this great Dylan song (which was best sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary on the Album 1700 release). Yes, lots of bad singers putting their voices on Youtube. Same reason you have scores of people on American Idol singing horribly. Because they don't know they sing horribly. It's amazing how the mind can only interpret an action as being superb, but when it's actually horrid to anyone else.

Specifically, I find it amusing how most of the covers are people trying to sound like Bob Dylan. It's accepted that Dylan doesn't have a great singing voice, and yet there are people that want to imitate him. When I sing Bob Dylan's songs in the car, of course I sound like him. You open the throat, the nose, and growl it out through the nasal cavities. But I'm not going to let the rest of the world hear it. It's the same when I sing, for instance, Miley Cyrus' "The Climb." Sure, I sound like a girl, but I'm not going to let anyone else hear it. It's an emulation of the words, the emotion, that the song portrays and evokes. It has nothing to do with me performing it for anyone. That serves no purpose. Like I've said before, see here, I'm selfish.  I sing for me, and not for money or popularity or to look stupid or whatever.  I sing in my voice only in my car, or in empty staircases, or in my room.  Sure I can sing like Dylan, or Miley Cyrus, or Frank Sinatra, etc... but it's just an imitation.  And sometimes an imitation is what is best, as they can evoke the best images and emotions with their style.  That's what Bob Dylan does with his poetry and his style of singing.  And if others take his songs and do just as good a job, then that's wonderful, too.  But don't expect me to add my renditions to Youtube like so many other lemmings.  I don't want to.

I bring up Dylan because we've been listening to an excellent CD over the speakers at work. The Decemberists (a group I've never heard of prior to now), and their album The King is Dead.  Think of it as Alternative Dylan, or what he would have sounded like had he been thrown into R.E.M. (which, not surprisingly, one of the REM guitarists plays on several of the tracks).  Their older works are darker, with more of an electronic edge, but this one, they take on folk and bluegrass and add their own twist to it.  Bold lyrics, ones to be painted in the bold color markers they discontinued from Crayola.  The strongest tracks are the Hymns, one to January, one to June, with battling wrens, creeping jasmine vines, and words like "panoply" and "ambling" which are such treasures to roll off the tongue.  I'll add the Youtube video of them singing the latter on NPR.  A note, the lead singer, Colin Maloy, looks exactly like my dad did, except my dad couldn't sing a note.

A quick shout out to a company that has solved one of my problems in buying t-shirts. Namely, that I never can find ones I like. They're all the same at the stores, and while the ones at Hot Topic are really cool, they're expensive. So Martin posted this link to his Facebook page, W00T Shirts sells one shirt a day at $10, a different one each day, picked out from professional graphic designers or amateurs picked by those that have bought shirts from them (the "community"), and then the ones that sell the best go into rotation at $15 a piece. Very unique ideas, and an awesome way for graphic designers to get their work out to the public and earn money at the same time. And the way they use Facebook and other social media is a prime example of the new successful businesses that use the media correctly. I guess it's annoying that they were bought out and are now a subsidiary of now, but that's how the Internet (and most business) works. So go look at their t-shirts... great stuff, and a great marketing scheme.

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