Posts tagged music
Posts tagged music
Good luck to the Curiosity rover, all of NASA, JPL, etc. … I’m excited to land on Mars in a few hours*.
*Yes, I did this.
I’m using my Pete Townshend doodle for my next promo mailer to send to art directors, so I ended up recoloring it for more drama. This palette is inspired by all those super-cool Philips record shop posters from the ’50s and ’60s. (They had some killer artists!)
I love how prominently his eye is featured now … also, since the card is rectangle, I crop the bottom off, so I moved the music notes and records up to the top … I like it even better that way on the full version here.
Also, I had to do a design for the back … it’s not totally done yet, but here’s an idea of what it looks like … I think the broken neck should be Townshend’s logo or something. :)
(BTW, this isn’t the Part 2 that I spoke of before … consider this Part 1b. I’m still trying to decide how/where to post the second part of the original illustration that I did already.)
Another “Weird & Unnecessary” exercise. (Examples/explanation here.) Got stuck on my piece for the Hitchcock show at G1988, so I did this in the middle of the night to clear my mind. Oddly enough, as creative projects often go, this exercise also inspired me to do this and this.
Anyway, I woke up three days in a row with “Love, Reign O’er Me”* in my head, so after pulling out The Who’s killer performance of “A Quick One While He’s Away” (my fave tune of theirs) from the Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus, I’ve been listening to way too much of them the last few weeks. I’m especially (finally!) reclaiming those three tracks that the CSI shows made me sick of over the last decade. (Watch this and you’ll never again associate Daltrey’s “YEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHH!!!” with Caruso and his stupid sunglasses. Instead: power slide!!)
Been wanting to mess around with geometrics, so everything is made from either a circle and/or a square/rectangle, which is also a nod to the Who’s roots as Mods. (Amazingly I was half-way through this before their song “Circles” even occurred to me. D’uh.) The red & blue swirls are the Who logo RAF bullseye, sound waves, record grooves, and the motion of Pete’s windmill. THOSE GLORIOUS WINDMILLS!!! According to his guitar tech, he often got the gear back all bloodied after a set because Pete frequently dropped his pick during a round of windmills but would keep doing them anyway. I also love how he gets so hyper jumping around that he tangles himself up in his cords, so I had to add that. (I would TOTALLY buy a Pete Townshend exercise DVD … “Won’t Get Fat Again”??)
Pete here is more of his mid-’60s self, but his guitar is a bit of a bastardization of several of his custom Gibsons from the ’70s, including the number 8.
*Am I the only one in the history of the Who to prefer QUADROPHENIA to TOMMY??
UPDATE: Click the “Pete Townshend” tag at the bottom of this post to see a recolored/reworked version. :)
I wasn’t going to post this group yet, because I still have a LOT more products to upload, but someone just showed me what the email blast looks like that they get from being subscribed to my store. (I tried to sign up for it, but I guess you can’t “like” your own shop. Cue sad trombone …) I have to admit, I am really digging how this looks all together here.
This is group 2 in my pseudo nod to the early days of the Who (look up old pics of them in their early-to-mid-’60s days as Mods), and it coordinates with the Union Flag group I posted a few days ago. It’s very simplistically rendered 45s in colors repeated from the other collection so you can mix-and-match!
A ton more stuff in the next few days. Also, you’ll see why the Who’s been on my mind a lot the last few weeks. It’ll all come together and make sense very soon … :)
‘Til then, here’s where you can pick up what’s already available.
Comin’ at you from Snoopy Sounds Records!
Another project from my Peanuts portfolio. This was for Japanese bedding manufacturer Nishikawa. There were a ton of different ’50s-styled graphics in this collection, but I liked the faux records group the best. (As well as the look of the ’50s-era Peanuts characters.)
“Live From the Doghouse” and “Good Grief!” are more Decca/Blue Note homage, and Schroeder’s “In a Ludwig Kind of Mood” is courtesy of Peanuts Grammophon. :) (BTW, you can’t really tell here, but Beethoven’s ghosted face is on the right side of the Schroeder cover.)
I hear that Charlie Brown can really wail!
Good luck to Adele tonight (as if she really needs the luck!)
If she wins all of the awards for “21”, I plan to take full Nostradamusian (Nostradamian?) credit for sticking a Grammy in her face in a teeny tiny corner of a larger editorial cartoon a year ago.
Anyone else want to win an award?? Hang on while I doodle your cartoon. :D
(BTW, “doodle your cartoon” is now my new favorite euphemism.)
It’s that time again!!! Yes, it’s time for the queen of all things Christmas to choose this year’s list of 25 awesome Christmas songs. Not that anyone’s put me in charge of that, but hey, why not?
Much of the list is the same this year (although shuffled around a bit), with some “new” additions: Mike Doughty’s brand-new “Holiday” knocks Sir Paul’s “Wonderful Christmastime” off and Josh Groban (although not new, but new to me) bumps out the Smashing Pumpkins. I wish I could include all my favorites (dang it, the Carpenters! and James Brown! and Aimee Mann!) but there’s only 25 days, yo.
Oddly, even though I am not the least bit religious, I am a sucker – a totally sappy sucker – for the most gut-wrenchingly heartfelt religious Christmas carols. The heavier the message the better. Also, Christmas carols now always give me a warm fuzzy and make me think of one of the most adorable holiday memories … when my good friend Sarah “Ultragrrrl” Lewitinn — who is Jewish — kept me company on my first Christmas in New York and at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, excitedly asked, “What happens now?? Should we sing a Christmas carol??”
And then she gave me a DONNIE DARKO DVD and some Strawberry Shortcake soap-on-a-rope.
I’ll tweet/Facebook one each day, but for the whole playlist upfront …
1) IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR — Andy Williams: the perennial holiday season kick-off. Damn, this makes me want to dance down the middle of a busy New York street with everyone busting into song and dance around me. It’s always the very first Christmas song I play each season and— oh, hang on, I see a hot dog vendor, mounted cop and a group of school kids warming up for our big number.
2) HOLIDAY (What Do You Want?) — Mike Doughty w/ Rosanne Cash: I tend to stick to timeless Christmas carols and mid-century classics, but this is the best holiday track to come out in decades. Take THAT, Bieber’s “Mistletoe” …!
3) SNOWFALL/SNOWFALL CHA-CHA — George Shearing/Billy May: basically I love “Snowfall” in any incarnation, but this one is exquisite. I actually listen to it all year round. Makes me wish I was a 1950s housewife hosting a big suburban holiday party in my best poofy skirt and wielding an overstuffed chip-and-dip.
4) MY FAVORITE THINGS — Tony Bennett: I have no idea how this SOUND OF MUSIC thunderstorm comforter ever became a Christmas song (the mittens part??), but I approve. Tony’s version is nice and breezy and I love how he breaks into a chuckle like a dozen times. Tony’s the man; he once performed at our company Christmas party when I worked at Barnes & Noble headquarters. Ahhh … for the old decadent days. Recession? What recession?
5) MR. HEATMISER — Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: swingin’ mash-up of the two awesome “Snow Miser”/”Heat Miser” jingles from the Rankin/Bass claymation special THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS. An old roommate and I used to host a Christmas party every year, and finding it hard to schedule one when everyone else wasn’t already having a holiday party, we started having December 5th Repeal of Prohibition bashes complete with bathtub hooch and required period dress. This song always reminds me of those awesome, unprohibited times. For various reasons I don’t throw that party anymore. :)
6) MERRY CHRISTMAS, BABY — Lou Rawls: freakin’ underrated Rawls … overshadowed by those other Christmas crooners, although he was the coolest cat of them all. Reminds me of the tale of another cool cat — those Garfield cartoon specials that Rawls sang on — which in my opinion, were also underrated … overshadowed by those other comic strip cartoon specials.
7) O HOLY NIGHT — Sufjan Stevens: for starters, I usually hate really precious indie hipster junk, but Sufjan slips through my twee filter … I adore him unabashedly. I also have some sort of serious addiction to this song in general. I am not religious AT ALL, but this song wrings my heart … especially the “fall on your knees …” bit which chokes me up every time. The slightly out-of-tune vocals and every bit of percussion in this version are priceless. (And precious. Agghhh … I should really hate this, but I can’t!)
8) WINTER WONDERLAND — Ray Charles: I became smitten with this jazzy rendition through multiple viewings of WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, but then fell even deeper in love after getting his whole Christmas album THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS. And unlike a wagon-wheel coffee table, that record never goes out of style. (And I’m pretty sure it won’t spark any arguments, either.)
9) ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU — Mariah Carey: this tune is like SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, in that I’ve never met a person who could let it pass on the dial, even if it’s halfway over and you already have a copy in your media library. Whether you like Mariah Carey, pop music or Christmas, if you don’t love this song, then you have no soul and deserve to swim through a river of crap because now, dang it, you’re just making the baby Jesus cry.
10) CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE — Vince Guaraldi Trio: ::sigh:: The ultimate Christmas song from the ultimate Christmas album of the ultimate Christmas special. Ever. Period. Now, Schroeder please play that classic holiday jam where everyone dances weirdly at the school play rehearsal … you know, this one.
11) WHITE CHRISTMAS — Bing Crosby: I’m proud to report that I have a first pressing of this original 78 release. If that doesn’t qualify me to compile this Christmas music playlist, then I don’t know what does. Also, I don’t care if Ol’ Bing was a wife-beater that wore a horrible toupé and was hated by his kids … ol’ Mr-High-Waisted-Pants-and-Velvety-Voice-guy can fill my stocking any day.
12) FATHER CHRISTMAS — The Kinks: some have called this track the big Kinks sell-out. But if I’m not mistaken, isn’t that the meaning of Christmas?
13) SLEIGH RIDE — Ferrante & Teicher: come on, don’t even pretend that you don’t love the total department-store kitsch of this lively little number. But if it’s really too Liberace ticklish for you, then give John Williams & the Boston Pops Orchestra’s rendition a spin. (Although it still has that fey little horse whinny at the end.) And for a vocal version, you can’t do better than The Ronettes.
14) CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS — Run-DMC: do I even need to explain why this is here?? Simply put, one of the best things to come out during my childhood. Also introduced this native Midwesterner-turned-Queens-girl to the gloriousness of collard greens.
15) IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR — Frank Sinatra: I kid you not … this was the exact track that was playing when I received my favorite gift ever — the Barbie Dream House — when I was in grade school, and if you read my sappy essay that was featured a few years back on CNN.com about said gift, you’ll understand why it’s burned into my memory. (And why this song is ALWAYS on this list.)
16) HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER) — John Lennon, Yoko Ono & the Plastic Ono Band: so this is Christmas/hope you love this one/’cause the shops overplay it/when the season’s just begun …
17) WHAT CHILD IS THIS? — Josh Groban: OK, so about 93% of his catalog is too upliftingly anthemic for this awkward tortured soul to get into (to be fair, he’s mad talented — and incidentally, funny as hell — but soaring pop songs just don’t speak to my [love-]life experience, which is why I probably do like his romantically-ambiguous ILLUMINATIONS), but mom had this CD on repeat over Thanksgiving, so I’ve now latched on to this track. As with “Snowfall”, I’ve always loved this moody traditional tune in most forms (there’s TWO jazzy Charlie Brown versions, yeah!), but Groban’s is extra-Greensleevesy, which if you get what I’m describing there, I’d love to share a pint of mead over a roast goose with you. And then we can go a-wassailing. And maybe have a roll in the manger. I might’ve mixed some historical periods there, but who cares … it’s all Christmas.
18) YOU’RE A MEAN ONE, MR. GRINCH — Thurl Ravenscroft: again … do I really need to explain?? If so, then just quit reading (and listening) already, as your heart’s probably two sizes too small for seven more days of Christmas music.
19) 2000 MILES — The Pretenders: I’m struggling to figure out … is there a rock chick cooler than Chrissie Hynde?? (And I’m not just saying that ‘cause she’s a hometown girl.) A song for their late guitarist and friend James Honeyman-Scott, this is one of the most beautiful (and still rockin’!) modern holiday tunes. And the fact that it’s a lovely ode to their lost friend makes it all the more perfect, since that’s what the season’s all about: remembering that you forgot them, or whatever nonsense Billy Crystal rambles on about at the end of that movie, because I didn’t understand one bit. (Just like you probably don’t know what I’m even talking about now.)
20) THE CHRISTMAS SONG (CHESTNUTS ROASTING …) — Nat King Cole: all Christmas songs have been done to death by multiple folks, but there’s always someone who completely owns each classic (Bing Crosby and “White Christmas”, Dean Martin and “Marshmallow World” etc.) and although everybody’s recorded this nutty number, nobody did it better than Ol’ King Cole. Nobody. You hear that, Bieber?? Keep your little mitts off my favorite chestnuts.
21) JINGLE BELLS — The Ray Conniff Singers: I present this selection with zero irony or snark … this whole album (save for the creepy, head-scratching [and mouth-popping] intro to “Frosty the Snowman”) is a MUST for every holiday season.
22) CHRISTMAS WRAPPING — The Waitresses: again … possibly stacking the deck here with more hometown girls, (hey! I’m feeling nostalgic!) but this is so much the epitome of that playful early-‘80s spirit, that it (w)raps my little homesick heart with glee. Speaking of which, DON’T EVEN THINK of going anywhere near the GLEE cast version. Bah humbug to that.
23) HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS — Judy Garland: One of my favorite songs of all time, during Christmas time or not. From the film MEET ME IN ST LOUIS, this is the best of all those kinda downer Christmas songs (“I’ll be Home For Christmas”, etc.) because it has the realest message: hey, this year kinda sucks, but let’s make the most of it, and if we play our cards right, next year might just rock. Because Christmas needn’t be perfect year after year … it should be whatever it is, as it’s always the thought that counts. And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
24) ‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS — Art Carney: I remember hearing something with Seth MacFarlane (Loveline??) where he was tearing into Carney for this … it was then that I realized that MacFarlane too hated the baby Jesus. This is truly an odd, odd recording, but was a yearly tradition in our house. My mom once busted me dancing wildly to it in my PJs when I was supposed to be tucked in recuperating from the mumps. But despite her stern warning to the contrary, Santa still visited this bad little kid that year. Stewie Griffin’s got nuttin’ on me.
25) WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS — Weezer: Weezer’s Christmas album was so weird … it just sorta snuck up silently on everyone a few days before Christmas … kinda like that relative you forgot about until they arrive on your doorstep with a tasty figgy pudding … and although this is the kick-off track to that kick-ass EP, it sounds more like the perfect Christmas season wrap-up to me, so I say put your finest reindeer sweater on over those Superman skivvies, cue this up, and bring me that damn figgy pudding … bring it right here.
Apparently pianist/composer David Benoit fell in love with jazz due to the Charlie Brown Christmas special and Vince Guaraldi’s iconic Peanuts soundtrack. That was precisely my entry point to that wonderful genre of music as well. (Incidentally, Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies turned me on to classical music.) Years later, I designed the cover for David’s JAZZ FOR PEANUTS album. Fate? :)
The moody color palette was inspired by some of my fave mid-century jazz records, although it drives my friend Tim nuts that CB’s shirt is not bright yellow. (Sorry, Tim!)
Check it out … also includes one of my most loved musicians Wynton Marsalis, who released his own spectacular Peanuts album with his dad Ellis in the mid-’90s.
CLASSICAL GAS (archive piece)
Illustration commissioned by Barnes & Noble for their music department. It was to be used on gift packaging, but I actually have no idea how or if it was ever used. (I got paid, anyway.) I have long loved to do portraits in colored pencil so this was a fun twist on that, as it’s really more of a still life than a group portrait. I’m a total classical music addict - I’ve played classical piano since grade school and fantasized about being a composer (but I had no talent for writing music, unfortunately) - so this was a project I could really throw my heart into.
I have no idea why I’ve always called this piece “Classical Gas” - other than I just love that song and this color palette seems fiery (gassy??) and fun, so …
The music is real, although honestly I picked it based on visual aesthetics, so it would sound like a bunch of nonsense if you actually played it. Oh, and as with most of my portraits, I worked my name into the layout. :)
(l.-r.: Beethoven, Liszt (my fave!), Mozart, Chopin, Bach)
Follow me on iTunes Ping!
I’ve added my Ping account to my contact page. I need to find some great playlists on there since I lost my music collection a few months back and want to start over with some great new recommendations. So swing by, connect and show me yours! :)
The loss of all my copies of digital work last fall has left me really OCD about backing everything up in as many places off-site as I can. :) Thanks to the internet, I was able to recover some things, so I’m going to post some projects here in archive.
Anyway … two assignments archived here — a drawing and a written piece — thanks to people never deleting things off the net!
CHRIS CORNELL - “Euphoria Morning”
Sacramento News & Review, November 1999
“Jesus Christ Pose” as elevator music?? The dread of recognition rushed in like a sure sign of the apocalypse. To puree one of Soundgarden’s roughest mid-career cult faves into mellow background drone seems too impossible to fathom, but there it was — just waffling down the refrigerated aisle, sandwiched between Tori Amos’ “Cornflake Girl” (OK, that one makes sense) and Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America”.
But the horrifying marriage of Seattle’s two musical genre exports — grunge and Muzak — isn’t far off from what really hardcore early-Soundgarden fans might feel about the post-Garden solo release of lead singer Chris Cornell’s bluesy “Euphoria Morning” — an album that pits ’60s equipment against cutting-edge digital technology.
Truthfully, Cornell’s transformation occurred before Seattle’s sonic sons even went their separate ways, back when “Black Hole Sun” hit the pop stations (and supermarket loudspeakers — although in its original form), and the raucous singer snipped his Samson locks, graced the cover of DETAILS and shed his trademark shriek.
It was around the time that he began experimenting with more soulful melodies on side-project work such as the soundtrack for SINGLES. Cornell since has leaned a bit more towards “twangy”, but Soundgarden even hinted at a bluesy core resting below its abrasive topcoat. (After all, Johnny Cash did cover their “Rusty Cage”.)
And thankfully, Cornell isn’t morphing into Sting yet. Always the raw songsmith, he still possesses plenty of crass hooks and some cool, raggedy song titles (“Pillow of Your Bones”), and will hopefully steer clear of striking any messianic poses of his own.
“If I’m influenced by something, I want to take it to another place rather than emulate exactly what they did,” he elaborates. “It doesn’t matter what style it is, what it reminds me of, what it doesn’t remind me of. If it doesn’t give me that feeling of inspiration, then it’s not there yet. That’s the beauty of being able to do this as my job. It’s intangible. Nobody can tell me how to do it. I can’t tell anyone else how to do it. You have to invent it as you go along. It’s challenging, completely unpredictable and sometimes frightening, but that’s what makes it all worthwhile.”