Monday, January 26, 2009

The Boss Is Back

Bruce Springsteen's latest album, Working on a Dream, is to be released Tuesday.

According to the Associated Press, Springsteen believes music can influence society:

"He tells Rolling Stone magazine he doesn't think rockers have a whole lot of influence, but can create a vision of the world as it should be."

We live in a society that is highly populated with avid listeners and musicians, so Bruce’s words hit home. The album's title-track is embedded with his revolutionary message. Springsteen’s lyrics are inspiring: “I'm working on a dream / Though sometimes it feels so far away / I'm working on a dream / And I know it will be mine someday.”

The video for Working on a Dream (posted here, courtesy of Yahoo! Music) runs through various aspects of the writing and recording process. It shows Springsteen deep in thought, often with a smile on his face. His lyrics are simple, and true. Aspiration and effort are without a doubt two essential components of a rocker’s mix, and are also integral to personal achievement.

A sneak preview of Life Itself, thanks to the Irish Times, allowed me to further glimpse into Springsteen's 24th album. A catchy piece, and undeniably a love song, Life Itself carries a pounding rhythm that merges with Bruce's strong chorus: "You were life itself, rushing over me..." The drum and guitar beat also leads the verses, which are slowed with sometimes layered vocals. What sounds like slide guitar riffs carries listeners into the heart wrenching bridge: "Why the things that we treasure most slip away in time / 'Til to the music we grow deaf and to god's beauty blind / Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart / 'Til we fall away in our own darkness, stranger to our own hearts.”

Here's the track listing:

  1. Outlaw Pete
  2. My Lucky Date
  3. Working on a Dream
  4. Queen of the Supermarket
  5. What Love Can Do
  6. This Life
  7. Good Eye
  8. Tomorrow Never Knows
  9. Life Itself
  10. Kingdom of Days
  11. Surprise, Surprise
  12. The Last Carnival
Plus, there are two bonus tracks in store -- The Wrestler, and A Night with the Jersey Devil.

Can’t wait for Tuesday? Download Life Itself!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama: A Sound Movement for America

January 20th’s inauguration of U.S. 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama, marks a memorable day not only in American politics, but in music history. Supporters of the arts across the country have been fighting to bring music and arts back into public schools where such classes have been drastically cut. Obama believes that the arts benefit education:

“Children who learn music actually do better in math and kids whose imaginations are sparked by the arts are more engaged in school” - Barack Obama (The Christian Science Monitor).

Obama’s cause speaks from the heart as he recalls his own education:

"When I was a kid," he told a crowd in Wallingford, Pa., on April 2, "you always had an art teacher and a music teacher. Even in the poorest school districts, everyone had access to music and other arts" (The Christian Science Monitor).

Music and art have always been education staples, at least in my experience. I still have some of the pictures I painted in Kindergarten, and recall rhythms and musical activities I participated in from a young age. Music makes memories, and Obama's plan to implement a presidential arts platform, the first of its kind, is certain to make magic. His three main objectives are to:

  • Expand Public / Private Partnerships between Schools and Arts Organizations
  • Create an Artists Corps
  • Publically Champion the Importance of Arts Education

The arts are integral to an ongoing sense of community, which bellows through in form of an online petition started by producer Quincy Jones. Jones has collected nearly 200,000 signatures in favour of a Secretary of the Arts under Obama’s new presidency.

Obama will also show his support by increasing funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, promoting cultural diplomacy, attracting foreign talent, providing health care to artists, and ensuring artists' tax fairness.

You can help support the arts and make the most of Obama’s call for change when you sign Jones’ petition and download Obama’s motivational compilation, YES WE CAN: Voices of a Grassroots Movement.

From the start of his candidacy, he is a man who has been dedicated to a country of new hope -- I have no doubt that Obama will rock the White House.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Music That Melts...

Well, only in the process that Pasquale Ramunno uses to sculpt his art! Ramunno’s wax figures stand as solid as rock’n’roll’s grounded fan base. From Chuck Berry to The Beatles to Madonna to David Bowie, the local artist has hand-crafted over sixty legends exclusively for Rock Legends Wax Museum in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Music has had great influence in sparking creativity in Ramunno. His work intricately details the facial expressions and finger positions of Clapton, Hendrix and Page as they rock out on their guitars! These features combined with the contours of the figures’ lifelike bodies remind us that music is a phenomenal art that moves us both physically and emotionally as we listen and play.

According to the Royal London Wax Museum,
“The wax museum must determine the scene and the location within the scene that a new personality will occupy.”
And Rock Legends makes it clear that Ramunno has an interest in the scene -- his art is evidence that he has studied rock’n’roll in-depth from its early influences in rhythm and blues all the way to its effects on punk rock, and rap. Ramunno has certainly developed a widespread audience, drawing music lovers from around the world. His art appeals to Motown and heavy metal fans, to name a few.

Personally, I loved Rock Legends! It was awesome to be so close to Robert Plant, and to stand next to Kurt Cobain. This tourist attraction is a must for anyone interested in rock music and its influences. The wax musicians are showcased by era, alongside tour posters, which takes visitors on an adventure through 20th-century rock history. The museum’s music, dim hallways, and colourful spotlights compare to the atmosphere of a good show. And just when you think it’s over, you enter the Rock Shop, known to sell some extremely hard to find memorabilia -- a must have for every devoted fan!

It is definitely exciting to see the effects that music has had on one man’s creative mind. Music is a unique and personal journey and I will be using Retrograde Music to examine the different ways that the musical realm gains so many followers in the physical world. I will look, for example, at the unique places that music leads us to, and its ongoing effects. I also hope to use it as an outlet for examining artists, albums, and songs, to introduce you, my readers, to music you may or may not have heard of. Enjoy!