Friday, November 6, 2009

Fickle Fan?

Do your music interests change over time? Looking back over the past 20 years, I'd say that mine have, although every group that I've liked in the past I tend to still like today.

If I had to pick the top four or five band most important to me, though, here's what the past 20 years of preference looks like. What's yours?


The 69 Eyes


Iron Maiden



Lacuna Coil


The 69 Eyes




Iron Maiden


Type O Negative




Iron Maiden







Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Most Popular Band in Finland -- Writer's Poke #264

The 69 Eyes may not be the most popular rock band to come out of Finland, but if not, they're right up there. And what does all of that success translate to in terms of mainstream American recognition? Zilch.

Of course it's not surprising that commercial radio doesn't play their songs, and granted, their Gothic style and vampire-themed songs have a built-in limited audience appeal. Nevertheless, when I recently attended a concert in Minneapolis promoting their latest album Back in Blood, I was more than a little shocked to see the venue. It was just a hole-in-wall bar in a very generic-looking strip mall.

I hadn't ordered advanced tickets, but when I arrived just before show time, maybe 100 people were there for the concert. On the other half of the bar, people watched the World Series and played pool. They didn't seem to know that the Helsinki Vampires had flown all the way to America to play for just us.

So, one of the most popular bands from Finland, a band that can sell out much bigger venues across Europe, drew maybe 200 souls at fifteen bucks a pop. Was the show good? Sure, but how disheartening it must be to work your tail off for twenty years, make ten solid studio albums, and still have almost no name recognition outside your home continent.

How important is it to be popular?

"Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.” -- Immanuel Kant

It's Alright to Cry -- Writer's Poke #263

In 2nd grade, it was a big honor, of course, to be allowed to run the film projector. Mrs. Brandt made us earn the privilege by handing out tokens for good behavior. Being in charge of the film projector might be worth 25 tokens, and it took a LONG time to earn 25 tokens -- maybe as long as two weeks or more, depending on how naturally naughty you happened to be.

Those of us that hadn't yet learned the benefit of deferred gratification might elect, then, just to man the film strip, turning the crank every time the accompanying record beeped. Film strips weren't nearly as sexy, but at 10 tokens, they were quite the second grade bargain.

So what kinds of things did we watch? It's been nearly 30 years, but I still remember Rosey Grier singing "It's Alright to Cry." How unusual was Rosey, a big, African-American football player, singing a song about how it was okay to express your feelings. And as far as I remember, none of the guys immediately started crying all of the time around school, but neither did any of us make fun of Rosey for singing about crying. He was tough, and that gave him some credibility, at least to a pack of 2nd grade boys. I'm sure if he had tried to pass off that notion to a bunch of 4th graders, things would have been much different.

When is it alright to cry? When was the last time you cried? Cried in public? Cried in front of complete strangers?

"Tearless grief bleeds inwardly." -- Christian Nevell Bovee