Taylor Swift — Still Not Feminist Enough

I’m pretty tired of the constant political onslaught (I mean, still #nevertrump, but remember when we used to talk about other things? no?  Homestar Runner? cat memes?), especially from random famous people.   But apparently this is blasphemous for anyone who thinks they are feminist, and Taylor Swift is the shining example.

The Washington Post has an article laying out the many “feminists” attacking T. Swift, along with some good commentary:

[Y]ou might think, given our current focus on women’s rights and dignity, that “Reputation” would land with a girl-power splash. But you’d be wrong. Very wrong. In fact, Swift is already under fire from feminist critics. And their attacks reveal something very ugly about modern feminism: While today’s feminists claim to champion the rights of all women, they speak only for women who agree with them – vocally, frequently and on demand…

The test of a feminist’s commitment should be how she treats women who are different from her. It shouldn’t matter if Swift agrees or disagrees, if she speaks or remains silent. We should applaud her ability as a person, independent, with her own heart and mind, to be who she wishes.

Taylor has been criticized (often throughout multiple articles) by Bustle, Salon, and The Daily Beast, among others.   Buzzfeed seems to be the one of sole holdouts – having articles going back up to four years about her feminism.

I’m not sure what or who these kinds of criticisms are going to help.  Nitpicking about being feminist “enough” can only make the movement look unnecessary.  So ladies, let’s spend some more time attacking the patriarchy (I don’t usually say that literally, but the time is ripe) and leave our fellow sisters alone, including Ms. T-Swizz.

Ex-Megadeth Guitarist: The “Ryan Seacrest of Japan”

“Tornado of Souls” off Megadeth’s Rust in Peace is often considered one of the best–if not the best–solos by then guitarist Marty Friedman (solo starts at 3:09). Being a metal head in high school (and still a big one today), I listened to a lot of Megadeth. I’ve seen them live twice: once with Dream Theater and again with Slash. The majority of my Megadeth albums feature Friedman, who was with the band from 1990-2000. I hadn’t ever thought much about where Friedman went or what he was doing. Apparently, he ended up as the “Ryan Seacrest of Japan.” According to Billboard, Friedman has been there since 2003 and has since “logged more than 600 TV appearances; landed major endorsements with such companies as Coca-Cola (Fanta), Sumitomo Bank and Suntory; written a monthly J-pop column and two best-selling books; acted in a feature film; become a manga comic and performed with some of J-pop’s biggest stars. It’s an incredibly long way from rocking a million faces with Dave Mustaine and Megadeth in their 1990s heyday.” The article goes on to detail his stint with Japanese singer Aikawa Nanase’s band to hosting a TV show called Mr. Heavy Metal in which Friedman woud “create live metal skits on guitar in collaboration with the guests, in which he would play traditional Japanese songs and mix them with heavy metal riffs. While the show did well, it was a biproduct that inextricably change Friedman’s career.” The show was remade into Rock Fujiyama, in which he would go head-to-head with other rockers in various music games. Case in point, Rock A to Z with Mr. Big’s Paul Gilbert:

“When Friedman arrived in Japan he was already fluent in Japanese,” reports Rolling Stone,

which he’d taught himself as a hobby, but it was the pull of a musical culture he’d long admired from afar – and as a visitor with Megadeth and his earlier band Cacophony – that compelled him to move halfway across the world. “It all comes down to the music,” he emphasizes. “That’s why I’m here. As much as I love Japan, I would not be living 7,000 miles away from my family and friends in America if it weren’t for the great music. If you look at the Top 10 on the charts here, I can pick any day of the week and nine of those songs, I would definitely say, ‘I dig that a lot.’ In America, I would be very lucky if there was one song in that Top 10 that I could enjoy.” Not for the only time throughout our day together, Friedman moderates that statement — he wants to make clear that he’s not looking down his nose at American pop. “It has nothing to do with good or bad or valuable or not valuable,” he says. “It’s just my own personal taste tends to be what’s going on in Japan.”

…Friedman explains that Japanese pop music is typically much more complex than its American counterpart. He compares the structure of Japanese pop songs – which he says might contain as many as 60 chords, compared to six or so in a typical Western pop song – to that of a jazz format but with extremely strong, pop-sensible melodies. “And this is not considered progressive at all,” he says admiringly, “This can be in the poppiest music you’ve ever heard.” Put another way, “the amount of information within a song if you were to reduce it to data would be a lot more than you’d find in Western mainstream music.” 

Friedman has expressed his adoration for Japanese metal idol group Babymetal and even the more pop-oriented Momoira Clover Z (whose “Infinite Love” he calls the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ of idol music”). But “[w]ould Friedman conside[r] moving back to the States after more than a decade in Japan?” asks Rolling Stone.

Maybe. “This is my home,” he says, “but I would love to be in L.A. My mom’s there, the weather’s good, the music’s good. I can barely get away long enough to tour for four or five weeks, so, living there.” He pauses. “I wouldn’t even know what to do in America.”

And now, enjoy him rocking out with Queen M. from Animetal the Second as they perform a metal version of the opening song to the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica (performance starts at 2:01).

Top Ten Teen Albums: Walker Edition

There’s a new Internet/Facebook list going around: “10 albums that made a lasting impression on you as a teenager.” I thought it’d be fun to give you a glimpse into the musical tastes of my teenage self, which largely continue today. Attempting to think of whole albums was a little difficult because this was the age of mix CDs. I had a ton of mix CDs with various artists. I also had a lot of “Greatest Hits” and “The Best of…” albums (I wore out The Cream of Clapton as well as The Best of Bond…James Bond), which I’ve decided not to count. I’ve also limited the list to one album per artist. Otherwise, my list would likely be made up of two bands. It should also be noted that my musical tastes were largely seen through the eyes of a budding guitar player. Virtually everything was interpreted through the filter of, “How can this affect my guitar playing?” So, without further ado, here are my top ten teen albums (in no particular order):

Image result for enema of the stateBlink 182 – Enema of the State: I went through a huge Blink 182 phase through middle school and into my freshman year of high school. Aside from some radio play (“Dammit” was actually the first song I ever heard by them), my first proper introduction to them was at scout camp one summer. One of my best friends at the time had Enema of the State with him (I want to say on cassette) and he let me listen to some of the songs as we made our way to different merit badge sessions. This led to mixtapes featuring songs from Enema, Dude Ranch, and even Buddha. My parents weren’t particularly thrilled when they finally heard some of the crude themes and coarse language on these tapes, but that didn’t stop me from getting my secret stash of Blink CDs. It was this album that made me want to play an instrument. I decided I wanted to play bass because (1) everyone and their mother plays guitar and (2) Mark–the Blink bassist–was in my eyes the coolest member of the band (though now I know it’s definitely the drummer Travis Barker). My parents opted for a guitar instead and I’ve never once regretted it. Even though I prefer their 2001 album Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (see what they did there?), Enema is the one that started my musical journey. Below is the highly immature video for the single “What’s My Age Again?”

Image result for make yourselfIncubus – Make Yourself: During one of our family vacations, my older sister Tori let me listen to her copy of Make Yourself by Incubus. I’d heard some of their hits on the radio, but this was the first time going through the entire album. I fell in love with it to the point that my sister just gave it to me. Brandon Boyd’s vocals and the somewhat unique twist on 90s alternative rock stood out to me as did its ability to capture my various teenage emotions, from angst to puppy love to a desire for self-direction. Their follow-up albums during my high school years–Morning View and A Crow Left of the Murder–received even more constant rotation than Make Yourself, but it was this album that began my still ongoing love affair with Incubus and their talent for both capturing my emotional states and transporting me to new ones. Below is the video for their song “Stellar.”

Image result for Ride the lightningMetallica – Ride the Lightning: I had heard Metallica growing up. Who hasn’t heard “Enter Sandman” or “Nothing Else Matters“? But I only started paying attention to them after hearing their live album S&M in the weight room at my high school freshman year. It was my first year of guitar playing and my initial thought was, “If they are this good live, what are they like on their records?” As I started downloading Metallica songs, I saw them perform one I hadn’t heard before on VH1 (trivia: it was bassist Jason Newsted’s last performance before he left the band). The song was “Fade to Black” and it was found on Ride the Lightning. I bought that album soon after and brought it with me on a family vacation to Washington, D.C. I listened to it non-stop and decided that I wanted to be able to play like guitarists James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett. This was my pathway to metal. I ended up with all of the Metallica albums, as well as a large chunk of Megadeth, Pantera, Ozzy Osbourne, and Dream Theater albums. I probably spent far more time listening to these metal bands than anything else, but it was Ride the Lightning that started it all. My guitar chops improved as did my musical taste because of it. You can see the VH1 performance of “Fade to Black” that ignited the flame below.

Image result for dark side of the moon albumPink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon: My brother-in-law JC has been a guitar player since he was a teenager (at least). Whenever we would visit my sister, he would always go through his ginormous digital collection of music in hopes of educating me out of my Blink 182 phase and moving me beyond Metallica. He first used David Gilmour’s ending solo in “Comfortably Numb” to peak my interest in Pink Floyd. I ended up getting Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd (on my own or as a gift, I can’t remember), but Dark Side of the Moon was the first actual album that listened to heavily (followed by The Wall). The musical style was so different from what I was used to; a kind of progressive, psychedelic rock. Gilmour’s less-is-more melodic playing was such a contrast to the shredding I was accustomed to from metal bands. Plus, the idea of a concept album was pretty new to me. Composing songs that bled into each other as they told a coherent story or relayed similar themes was a new level of creativity for me. Dark Side taught me to slow my playing down and told me that emotion and melody were key to a good lead. You can see what in my estimate is the best version of “Money” from the concert Delicate Sound of Thunder below, which I watched over and over again as a teenager.

Image result for led zeppelin iiLed Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II: I originally bought Led Zeppelin II for my dad for his birthday(?) one year at the suggestion of my mom. I wasn’t very familiar with Led Zeppelin at the time and even though I thought “Whole Lotta Love” was pretty cool, it didn’t peak my interest all that much. However, after picking up the guitar and shifting away from pop punk bands, I started “borrowing” (i.e., making a permanent part of my personal collection) Led Zeppelin II from my dad. While I acquired The Best of Led Zeppelin: Early & Latter Days, Vol. 1 & 2, it was this album that made me really appreciate the bluesy elements of rock. It felt like a bridge between the old and the new, between traditional blues and modern rock. And everyone was amazing: Plant’s vocals, Page’s guitar, Jones’ bass, and Bonham’s drums. Hard to find a band in which every member is of the highest caliber. And yes: I still prefer it to Led Zeppelin IV. You can see them performing “Whole Lotta Love” live from the Led Zeppelin DVD I watched consistently in my later years of high school.

Image result for pearl jam tenPearl Jam – TenI used to hate Pearl Jam.  I remember revealing my dislike of them to a bass player friend my freshman/sophomore year and he was flabbergasted that a guitar player would not like them. “But they’re such good musicians!” he protested. I don’t know what it was about them. Maybe it was Eddie Vedder’s voice (a co-worker of mine once described him as sounding like a man singing in a freezer). Maybe it was the flannel. My suspicion is that I just had not been properly exposed to them beyond “Jeremy” (which is an awesome song, mind you). I started downloading a number of Pearl Jam songs in my later years of high school and found myself appreciating them more and more. I finally caved and bought Ten. The album was (and is) phenomenal. There isn’t a song on it that isn’t top-notch. You can see them on full display with “Alive” below.

Image result for moving picturesRush – Moving PicturesMy first introduction to Rush was their video for “Time Stand Still” early one weekday morning on VH1. The video was ridiculous, but there was something about the band that I really liked. I stumbled on them again when “Test For Echo” came on one of those satellite music channels that I had playing in the background one day. I recognized the vocals and the band name and once again found myself being drawn to their style. On another fateful weekday morning, I saw their video for “Limelight” on VH1. The video was incredibly dated, but the song blew me away. Their mastery of the instruments was incredible and I was sold on Alex Lifeson’s wammy-heavy solo. I had to have that song. I ended up buying Moving Pictures soon after. I couldn’t believe that a trio could create that kind of sound. Typically, I focused solely on the guitar playing, but Rush made it impossible to ignore Lee’s bass playing or Peart’s drumming. This opened the flood gates: virtually every album and a couple concerts (one of which was as recent as 2015) later, I still consider them one of my favorites. You can see the video for “Limelight” below.

Image result for dirt alice in chainsAlice in Chains – DirtLucky for me, my YM/Scout leader for the longest time was also one of my best friend’s dad. While I was listening to Blink 182, my friend (due to his dad’s influence) was listening to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and even the chainsaw-wielding Jackal. One Wednesday night, as I caught a ride with my friend, his dad popped in one of his many CDs. Suddenly, a chugging, metal chord progression filled the car, along a with a jolting scream and eerie harmonies. I was caught off guard, but thoroughly entranced. About halfway through, the guitarist ripped into a headbanging solo. My ears perked up. The song, unfortunately, came to an end after only a couple minutes. When I asked what this was, my friend’s dad answered (with a smile), “Alice in Chains.” The album was Dirt and the song was “Them Bones.” I borrowed the album, ripped it, and became an AIC fan from then on. Jerry Cantrell, the guitarist and co-vocalist, provided a blues-based, melodic metal I could rock out to. More importantly, he provided a type of playing that seemed achievable: not because his playing was sub-par, but because it evidenced a moderate partaking of the best rock music had to offer. Cantrell was not a shredder, a blues master, or a progressive rock composer (he still isn’t). But he was and is a fine guitar player, lyricist, and all-around musician. He instilled me with confidence and inspiration in my first few years of playing and remains influential even today. You can see the video for “Them Bones” below.

Image result for rumoursFleetwood Mac – RumoursFor Christmas one year I received a year-long subscription to Guitar World magazine. In one of the issues, it featured a kind of boxing bracket for guitarists, rating them on a 0-5 scale on things like chops, influence, creativity, etc. Unfortunately, my mother trashed all of my Guitar World issues while I was on my mission (I’m still not sure why), so I’m unable to reference it properly. But at the time, I used the bracket to learn about guitarists I had never heard of before. At one point, I came across the name Lindsey Buckingham with something like a 3.7 in chops. When I discovered that he was the guitarist/co-vocalist of Fleetwood Mac, I remembered that my mom had Rumours in her van. I promptly borrowed the album and began soaking in Buckingham’s fingerpicked style. The album remained in constant rotation along with their (then) new album Say You Will. The mix of male and female vocals gave it a more diverse sound than I was used to and my enjoyment of Rumour‘s more pop-oriented style helped expand my musical palate. You can see their performance of “The Chain” from their live album The Dance (which I also spent of fair amount of time listening to) below.

Image result for texas floodSteve Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble – Texas FloodIn my first year of guitar playing (and therefore still in my pop punk phase), I had a Sunday School teacher who recognized that my fellow Blinkophile friend and I were “big into music.” One day, she held us after class and gave each of us a copy of SRV’s Texas Flood. Because we were guitar players, she knew we would appreciate SRV’s skills. In actuality, we both had a bit of an aversion to the album: it was straight blues and that just wasn’t us. We were “punk rockers” and SRV was definitely not that. Fast-forward a year or so. I was going through my CD collection and pulled our Texas Flood to give it another listen. I was floored: the tone, the bends, the precision. It was beautiful. While other artists (see Zeppelin and Floyd above) opened the door to a bluesier style, it was this album that solidified the blues in my book. It paved the way for my embrace of other blues guitarists like B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford, and others. Texas Flood is the reason that I earned the name “Blues Man” from a co-worker due to my Pandora picks. You can see SRV & Double Trouble performing my favorite track off the album–“Lenny”–below.

Here are a few honorable mentions with a brief explanation:

Megadeth – Rust in Peace: After Metallica, Megadeth was the next biggest metal band I listened to (Dave Mustaine was a former member of Metallica before they kicked him out). Rust in Peace was the first album of theirs I bought and it is still my favorite.

Tool – Lateralus: A friend of mine had a select few bands that he insisted were required listening. One of them was Tool and he made me promise to listen Lateralus all the way through without stopping. If I loved it, he would burn me the rest of their albums. I did and he did.

Prince – Purple Rain: I probably listened to “The Very Best of…” more, but Purple Rain put Prince’s skills on full display. The talent of the man was almost sickening.

Les Miserables: Original Broadway Cast: My older sister Nicole was a big theatre geek, so Les Miserables became a staple of my growing up. I still listen to it fairly often and I wept like a baby at the end of the 2012 film.

Phantom of the Opera: Original London Cast: Ditto. I dragged my high school girlfriend to the 2004 film. She kept trying to get friendly in the theater and I kept telling her to leave me alone so I could watch the movie. Priorities.

 

There you have it: my top ten teen albums.

New Metallica Album: “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”

Image result for metallica hardwired

Metallica’s first studio album in eight years was released today. When I first heard that they were returning to the studio, I was a little skeptical. I love Metallica, but 2003’s St. Anger took a toll on me. And even though 2008’s Death Magnetic was leaps and bounds better, I kind of felt like the band was on its way out. But so far, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with their new album Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. I expected good things after hearing the singles “Hardwired“, “Moth Into Flame“, and “Atlas, Rise!“.

I wasn’t disappointed.

I found myself literally yelling in excitement over the full-on thrash of “Spit Out the Bone.” The heavy plod of “Dream No More” reminded me of a mix of “Sad But True” with ReLoad‘s “Devil’s Dance” and “Where the Wild Things Are” (not to mention a return to Lovecraft-inspired lyrics a la “The Thing That Should Not Be” and the instrumental title “The Call of Ktulu“). The bluesier riffs of “ManUNkind” and “Am I Savage?” would be welcome additions to either Load or ReLoad. “Halo On Fire” could easily rank as one of the best on Death Magnetic, while songs like “Confusion” and “Here Comes Revenge” would feel right at home among the other tracks of that album.

In short, Metallica is back. And for my money, this is their best album since 1997’s ReLoad.

“I know who you are now, and I name you my enemy.”

For those who haven’t read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Wormwood is the demon the letters are addressed to. It’s Wormwood’s job to weaken faith and encourage sin in the human he’s assigned to, and the letters are from his uncle, a demon named Screwtape, who gives Wormwood advice on how to do this.

Yesterday while meandering through Spotify, I came across the song “Dear Wormwood” by the Oh Hellos.  From what I can tell, the song is about a demon who weakened the singer’s faith since childhood and how the (now adult) singer is recognizing and trying to overcome the demon’s influence.

I’m a secularist, and by that I mean I don’t practice a religion and don’t have faith in anything supernatural. But I’m a reluctant secularist, and by that I mean I had good experiences with the religion of my childhood, I miss it and wish it were true, but I don’t actually believe it is. From that context, the song kind of hits a nerve.

You can listen to it here:

Here are the lyrics, though I recommend listening to it first or concurrently rather than reading them on their own:

When I was a child, I didn’t hear a single word you said
The things I was afraid of, they were all confined beneath my bed
But the years have been long, and you have taught me well to hide away
The things that I believed in, you’ve taught me to call them all escapes

I know who you are now

There before the threshold, I saw a brighter world beyond myself
And in my hour of weakness, you were there to see my courage fail
For the years have been long, and you have taught me well to sit and wait
Planning without acting, steadily becoming what I hate

I know who you are now

I have always known you, you have always been there in my mind
But now I understand you, and I will not be part of your designs

I know who I am now
And all that you’ve made of me
I know who you are now
And I name you my enemy

I know who I am now
I know who I want to be
I want to be more than this devil inside of me

Yo-Yo Ma on Collaboration, Risk, and Life

Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma is one of the best and most popular cellists in the world. With the brand new documentary The Music of Strangers out this month (from the same creators of the incredible 20 Feet From Stardom), Ma sat down with Harvard Business Review for an enlightening interview in the June 2016 issue. Here are some of his insights on:

  • Fruitful collaboration: “Two words: ego management. It’s easy to get locked into “in my world” or “this is the way I see it,” so you have to move your brain to a different time or structure. If you were nine years old and suddenly went to a new environment, yes, you would make comparisons, but your mind would still be in a somewhat spongelike state, as opposed to a judging one. It’s absorption versus critical thinking.”
  • Collaborators: “First I look for generosity; second, mutual respect and admiration. You might do something incredibly well, but if you’re a schmuck, if I don’t think we’d enjoy having dinner together, it’s not a complicated decision.”
  • Risk: “Bobby McFerrin, a one-man orchestra and improviser, once asked me, “What are you doing that’s interesting?” Inherent in that question is the assumption that you can do a lot that isn’t interesting. All great music is the result of successful invention…If you deliberately limit your experiences, your reporting will be limited.”
  • Practice: “[B]e tactilely engaged in engineering a solution, translating it to physical sound in physical space in the most efficient way, moving your fingers, arms, and body to elicit that which is in your head. That kind of practicing is deeply fulfilling. It’s not emergency practicing. It’s more like information becomes knowledge becomes love. The final achievement is to say, “I truly love this, and I have enough mastery to be able to share that love with someone else.””
  • Performance: “You have a responsibility, one, to know what the narrative is and make sure you’re telling the story and people are receiving it, and two, if anything impedes the narrative, to fix the problem.”
  • Avoiding burnout: “By retooling goals.” (I’ll let you read the entire paragraph is see how he has done this over the decades.)
  • Being a leader: “I just see myself as a human being trying to play my part. I am happy to share what I know and to work with people and be part of a movement in the arts and sciences, humanities, and technology that uses great thinking and invention to solve intractable social problems. But I don’t see myself as much of a leader. I don’t like to make pronouncements.”
  • Travel (life?) tips: “Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. When the inevitable delays happen, when something horrible goes on, just go into neutral and choose the high road. The other way never helps. Always go to the next time zone, and always carry on everything you need.”

And much more. Check out the full interview.

 

Master of Puppets: 30th Anniversary

Thirty years ago today, one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time was released: Metallica’s Master of Puppets.

Philosopher William Irwin puts it well:

Something outsiders may not have realized at the time should be crystal clear to all 30 years later: Master of Puppets is serious music, a work of art. It is not mere entertainment, and it certainly is not party music. It’s meant to be felt and contemplated. Please don’t confuse Metallica with Kiss or Van Halen. Like ancient Greek tragedy, serious heavy metal can deliver a catharsis, a purging of negative emotions. With Master of Puppets, the chief emotions are anger and despair. The galloping guitar riffs and soulful solos, backed by the pounding bass and drums provide the soundtrack for alienated adolescent life. But it was the lyrics that spoke to me most.

“A theme of manipulation and resistance runs throughout the album,” including that which comes from addiction (“Master of Puppets”), religious and political power (“Leper Messiah,” “Disposable Heroes”), and insanity/social constraints (“Welcome Home/Sanitarium”). Metallica was the reason I began taking guitar playing more seriously. They were the catalyst for my expanding musical palate. And they continue to be one of my favorite bands and Master of Puppets one of my favorite albums.

After the Cultural Revolution

One of the most surprising things about Cixin Liu’s award-winning science fiction novel The Three-Body Problem was its direct and unflinching portrayal of China’s Cultural Revolution. The descriptions of bloody civil war and widespread oppression of academic intellectuals was not what I expected from a novel that was first published in China, and the specific dialogue as student protesters harangued a physics professor for daring to teach special relativity was at once chilling and fascinating. In some ways, there are elements of the excellent sequel (The Dark Forest) that are even more haunting. The way that an author who is so willing to stare the political doublethink of the Cultural Revolution directly in the face has no qualms about positively describing the important role that political officers would play in a modern (presumably less totalitarian) Chinese military shows, to me, how deeply embedded some of the assumptions that led to the Cultural Revolution still remain. So many things that do not seem political to use are that way purely because nobody has bothered to politicize them. But physics, like anything else, can be and has been politicized.

And then just a couple of weeks ago, I saw this fascinating article in Foreign Policy about an obscure Chinese folk singer (Yang Le) who was allowed–on national television–to sing about the personal costs to his family of the Cultural Revolution. The article notes that “Yang’s song likely made the cut, even earning accolades in a November 2015 article by Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, by focusing on emotion rather than details, telling a family rather than a political story, and declining to place blame.” Here is a video for you to watch, and then the lyrics (translated into English by Foreign Policy) after:

When I was small
A family of six
Older brothers and sisters, I was the youngest
Dad was handsome and brave
Mom was young and beautiful
They worked earnestly, and were kind-hearted

After the Cultural Revolution, only five were left.
Dad suffered a wrong, he passed on first.
Mom had no choice, she married someone from a different place.
My siblings went up to the mountains and down to the countryside.

From that time on, our family was dispersed.
Brothers and sisters to the four corners of the earth.
At each holiday, we could only send distant greetings
Distant greetings
Distant greetings

Many years later, looking back again,
Brothers and sisters, no need to comfort each other
We all remember, Dad wanted us to be honest and kind
We should never change
We remember, Mom wanted us to be strong
And happy
Even today
We sing Dad and Mom’s favorite song
Strong and happy
Kind and honest
We sing Dad and Mom’s favorite song
Good and kind
Living happily

 

Kaskade: Global Mormon Superstar

851 - Kaskade

Brandon Flowers, Neon Trees, Imagine Dragons, Lindsey Stirling, and now another Mormon superstar: Kaskade. Or, as the Daily Beat puts it, The Straight Edge Mormon DJ Taking Over the World. As the article’s lede puts it:

Kaskade has been DJing dance parties for 20 years, and last year was the No. 8 highest-paid DJ in the world, raking in $17 million. But he isn’t like other DJs.

Why is he not like other DJs? Well, because he doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and is married with three kids. I’m not one of those who cares overly much about Mormon celebrities perfectly representing our faith (who can do that?), but I’m always happy to see someone willing to go public about their commitment to our basic ideals.

“I don’t party at all!” he says. “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I’m a bit of a freak that way because I’m completely different from what you would think. Look, you can’t put all electronic musicians or DJs or whatever you want to call us in one pot. A lot of these guys live in the night and party, but with me, I’m married and have three children. I have a life outside of this.”

Not that that’s all there is to him; the article goes into his years of struggle and honing his craft to build the career he has today:

I mention the booming business of EDM and what exactly the word “DJ” encompasses these days, since many of the so-called “world class DJs” of today are programmers who don’t actually know how to spin records.

“It’s a little insulting,” he says. “Right now, the landscape of what encompasses the word ‘DJ’ is so broad and vast now. You have guys like me who learned on vinyl, know the technique, and know what this really is. I witnessed the whole rise of it. I was friends with Frankie [Knuckles], and I was going to his weekly parties at Medusa’s when I was in high school in the mid-’80s.”

“It’s changed the landscape of what this is. The entry point used to be so much higher, and there was so much more respect for the art of DJing and what it was. We’ve lost some of that now.”

So, if you’re curious to check out some of his music, here’s the track that Buzzfeed featured in their article, “Let Me Disarm You.”