Aug. 2nd, 2007

peace gesture, daryl sacred songs

Creative reuse

Good to see that Hall & Oates have a healthy attitude about allowing their music to be repurposed, even if that repurposing is done with more than a hint of irony.

Speaking from his home outside of Aspen, Oates credits Yacht Rock for rekindling interest in his band — and lowering the overall age of Hall & Oates' fan demographic.
[...]
And musically, it means that the time is ripe for a Hall & Oates mashup album — the first of which is in the works from Gym Class Heroes.
[...]
Oates calls the final product "the most unique steps I've heard coming out of hip hop in quite a while," and says he'll give permission to anyone to use his music, so long as the intentions are good. "Once you make a record, it's out to the world. Who cares?" Oates says.


I'm a bigger fan of Daryl Hall creatively than I am of John Oates, but from what I know of the two, Oates deserves most of the credit for this laissez-faire attitude toward reuse. Color me impressed, oh mustached one.

Apr. 26th, 2007

daryl close-up

On a lighter note

I love this, but then, I would.

Even as their music became increasingly bogged down by vintage cheesy synths, Sonar drums and other trendy production tricks of the time, the Philly soul element still managed to emerge from it — "One On One" is a prime example. If you listened closely enough, you'd find that John Oates was a better than average singer. Daryl Hall's singing was simply outstanding, and you don't have to listen closely at all to know that.

Nov. 23rd, 2006

daryl close-up

Major micro-management

Good observation from John Oates:

[Hall & Oates] had been in the traditional music business for over 25 years and in the mid-90s it had changed so drastically that it really didn’t have much to do with us and what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do things. The record labels became very proactive with artists, in terms of choosing material and deciding what they were going to be and what type of music they should make, and that really was completely one-eighty from the way we approach music and how we grew up in the business.

In the ‘70s and ‘80s they let us pretty much do what we wanted and they figured out a way of marketing it and that was the kind of the paradigm that we operated within.


I'd read this sort of commentary before, but it usually has more of the flavor of "the labels don't nurture the artists like they used to." This slant on it is different and perhaps more accurate. Increasingly in the past few years I've seen calls for band demos that dictate the sound the artists should have, such as "Looking for male singer-songwriter with Jack Johnson lyrics and John Mayer guitar sound" or whatever. Instead of relying on A&R scouts to find something original and interesting happening in the clubs, the labels have already decided what copycat sound they want to release next, and are out looking for someone to be good impersonators.

Some of my in-the-know friends would probably make the argument that that's always been the case, more or less. But it feels more like truth than ever. If you're a true original, major labels are probably not the place for you.



Yes, I know, the icon is Daryl, not John. But I don't have a John icon, nor do I want one. Daryl is so much nicer to look at.

Jul. 6th, 2006

epiphone, guitar, no strings

Best songwriters, via Paste and NPR

Paste magazine published its list of 100 best living songwriters, and Robin Hilton on NPR's Mixed Signals followed with a rewritten version of the 10 best living songwriters. It seems to me that the Paste list skews a bit older and hippier, whereas the NPR list skews a bit younger and edgier.

Compare Paste's top 10:

1. Bob Dylan
2. Neil Young (Buffalo Sprinfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
3. Bruce Springsteen
4. Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan
5. Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings)
6. Leonard Cohen
7. Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys)
8. Elvis Costello
9. Joni Mitchell
10. Prince


with NPR's:
1. Bob Dylan
2. Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan
3. Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings)
4. Bruce Springsteen
5. Vic Chestnutt
6. Stephin Merritt
7. Sufjan Stevens
8. Aimee Mann
9. PJ Harvey
10. David Dondero

Personally, there are points on both lists I agree and disagree with: "Joni Mitchell feels like a token pick"? Huh? But the inclusion of Aimee Mann in the top 10 feels right to me, so maybe we're even on that one.

And it's unclear what some of the criteria for inclusion on either list are. In the NPR list, the notes on PJ Harvey include "Anyway, I really think if she were a man she'd get a lot more credit than she does. She plays guitar and rocks better than most. And her sound is so distinctive. Listen to the crunch of the opening guitar in 'One Time Too Many'." Are we still talking about songwriting? There's surely a blurry line between songwriting and instrumental performance for singer-songwriters who use their primary instrument to convey melody and message, but a good chunk of that spills over into musicianship, arrangement, and production rather than songwriting, per se.

Anyway, I'm very happy to see some of my absolute favorite songwriters represented in the Paste list, like Bob Dylan (#1), Elvis Costello (#8), Joni Mitchell (#9), Paul Simon (#13), Holland-Dozier-Holland (#17), Lou Reed (#21), Elton John & Bernie Taupin (#23), Tom Petty (#29), Kris Kristofferson (#38), Ryan Adams (#43), David Byrne (#46), James Taylor (#53), Aimee Mann (#54), Morrissey (#57), Conor Oberst (#67), and Lyle Lovett (#87).

Though honestly, I've been influenced at some level by almost every single name on that list.

And to that list, I would add at least the following, if not a few more (though I'd have a tough time deciding who would get cut to make room):

Daryl Hall (& John Oates sometimes & Sara Allen sometimes) on the incredible merit of songs like "Dreamtime" and "She's Gone" alone, if not the entire balance of the H&O catalog.

Tori Amos for the sweet melancholy and plaintive lyrics of "Sleeps With Butterflies," "Tear In Your Hand," "1000 Oceans," and so many others. She's every bit the songwriter anyone else on this list is.

Don Schlitz for sincere, down-to-earth songs like "The Gambler" and "When You Say Nothing At All."


What about you? Who would you add? Who are you especially glad to see represented?

Jun. 27th, 2006

peace gesture, daryl sacred songs

Arif Mardin

There are tons of news stories and obits floating around about Arif Mardin's death, and many of them quote Daryl Hall's written statement calling him a "father figure.'

So, in a way, Daryl Hall has now lost a father to cancer, too.

I remember as a kid reading the liner notes on my new music (cassettes, as previously admitted in this space), and running across Mardin's name frequently. That probably has a lot to do with his formative work with Hall & Oates (the Abandoned Luncheonette album is really the beginning of their sound as it came to be known and several of that album's songs are among my favorites), but includes quite a few other artists whose work I would have owned back then, too (and the Boy Meets Girl album Reel Life with its infectious pop songwriting -- songs like "Waiting For a Star to Fall" -- was particularly influential on this aspiring then-teenaged songwriter).

Mardin certainly made his mark on music history.

Jun. 18th, 2006

daryl close-up

Oregon, Hall & Oates, and "Almost Famous"

This article in the Oregonian made me smile; it's like a Hall-and-Oates-flavored version of "Almost Famous."

I was 9 years old when the H2O album came out, and a girl in my fifth grade class (I sure wish I could remember her name) introduced me to the album. I'd decided that I wanted to give them a try, too. It was the first cassette (yes, cassette) I bought at full price and with my own money. Definitely a risk, but as soon as I got it home and listened to it all the way through several times, I knew I was hooked.

20-some years later, I'm still a fan. I haven't been to see them in concert in maybe five years, but I've seen them several times, beginning with their Ooh Yeah! tour in 1988 (I was 15, just like the author of the article in the Oregonian was when he saw his first H&O concert). They are wonderful performers, Hall is an incredible singer, they have had some of the most talented musicians accompany them (G.E. Smith, Charlie DeChant, Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, etc), and crowds just love them all.

And, like the author, my tastes have broadened considerably over the years, and although I have a more educated ear listening to music now than ever before, their music still impresses me. My songwriting has doubtlessly been shaped irreversibly by the craft of their lyrics and the hookiness of their melodies. And yes, they're still my favorite act.

Jan. 29th, 2005

hand on head - b&w

Being argumentative, my subconscious, and Daryl Hall

I think my subconscious is trying to prepare me for success in music. That's why I keep having bizarre dreams that include run-ins with celebrities.

I just woke up from a dream in which I was one of the facilitators at some kind of conference retreat in a cabin by a beach. It must have been a long dream -- I can vaguely approach some of the outlines of what happened earlier on -- but the parts I remember were right at the end, just before I woke up.

I was supposed to be facilitating a session on some new or obscure language acquistion method (therealjae, I suppose this had something to do with your post the other day and our subsequent exchange) that basically insisted that everyone speak like Tarzan at the beginning: "Me Kate, English, teacher, you?"

To my great relief, my coworker Jill, who was one of the other facilitators, offered to take that session for me at the last minute so I could go lead her session on "Being Argumentative." Why was she letting me lead it?

Because Daryl Hall was sitting in the room, ready to begin.

When I started the session, I had a little dream-within-a-dream where I saw myself beginning the session by admitting to being a huge, huge, HUGE fan of Daryl's. In my mini-dream, it was obvious what a huge, huge, HUGE mistake that would be. I snapped back to "reality" and began the session by asking for intros around the circle. Daryl was clearly grateful to be being treated like everyone else.

Incidentally, shortly after the session began, a man I recognized walked by and a woman's head with no body floated by beside him. I recognized the head, too, and said hello, and she and I chit-chatted for a minute before I turned back to my session. I have no idea what that section of the dream means.
hand on head - b&w

February 2011

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