Alternative ideas you can use to start conversation or to add interest to speeches or presentations

Music - The Wisdom of the Crowd

Music Letters

Need more quotes? Extracts from books on Music


(LT article with Roger Walters moaning about record piracy - 'When this gallery of rogues and thieves had not yet interjected themselves between the people who aspire to be creative and their potential audience and steal every f***ing cent anybody ever made and put it in their pockets to buy f***ing huge mega-yachts and Gulfstream Fives with. These . . . thieves! It's just stealing! And that they're allowed to get away with it is just incredible.' Waters went on to say that music lovers must take some responsibility for this parlous situation. 'I blame the punters as well to some extent, a whole generation that's grown up who believe that music should be free,' he said. 'I mean why not make everything free? Then you could walk into a shop and say 'I like that television' and you walk out with it. No! Somebody made that and you have to buy it! 'Oh, I'll just pick up few apples.' No! Some farmer grew those and brought them here to be sold!'.)

Have to be skeptical of the views of anyone who equates music piracy with stealing a TV set from a shop. That's the old, flawed argument that was discredited years ago.

More interesting is his total lack of understanding of the history of record industry.

He and his contemporaries thrived in a brief period when a few artists got very very rich just from records. A huge mass market opened up, and if you wanted to listen to the music, there was no alternative to buying the discs.

Pre-1960, few made anything like a living from their records - they had to perform on stage continuously.

Post-1990 the rules reverted to the norm - punters didn't see the need to pay for recordings, so they didn't.

He can moan all he likes about how immoral the Real World is, but grizzling doesn't change a thing.

Performers today have realised that they have to treat YouTube and the Pirate torrents as marketing, and figure out alternative ways to make a dollar.

And that means live performances, Tshirts, memorabilia.

Very few are going to get as rich as Waters, but some are doing well - Lorde, for example.

Sounds like a very grumpy old man. He has also forgotten that in his day it was managers who made all the money from bands and singers which in many cases left many of them penniless after their careers faltered and they then had to return to more mundane jobs. Actually today artists appear to be able to make large sums of money relatively quickly, Adele who has produced only two albums but has toured extensively has a reasonably large fortune.

Roger Waters has always been a grumpy old man, even when he was young.

What is Toto's "Africa" about?

(Reddit ELI5) The song is catchy, but when I read the lyrics, they make no sense. What exactly are they singing about?

According to David Paich (keyboards and vocals) the song is about "a white boy trying to write a song on Africa, but since he's never been there, he can only tell what he's seen on TV or remembers in the past".

I'm not doubting your source, but this explanation takes a lot of fun out of thinking the song has a meaning.

Cool thing about songs is that they can be great even when the meaning is different than what you perceive it to be. Music is a personal experience, enjoy it on the level you would like to enjoy it. It's a song with some great vocals and catchy beats, rhythm, and hook.

At least you're not of the populace that thought "Today" by Smashing Pumpkins (song about suicide), "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind (song about a really bad crystal meth trip), or "Greased Lightning" as all happy, fun, upbeat songs with positive messages.

I thought Greased Lightning was a song about making a cool car so the protagonist can get laid. I mean, it's not necessarily wholesome, but it ain't suicide or meth either. Unless I've completely misunderstood the meaning of the song.

That's exactly what the song is about. Just a dude making a hotrod to win races and get chicks.

The meaning of a work doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what the original artist intended. That is a big facet of the beauty of art. The first time I heard "Africa" was during Karaoke on one of the first dates I took my current GF to, so hearing it makes me think of that and makes me feel good, regardless of the intention of the song or even what the lyrics say.

I'm in the camp of "lyrics don't help me enjoy a song". It feels very non-intellectual to say that but I just find lyrics don't make me enjoy a song I don't already like the sound of. In the same token I can't think of a song I like that I stopped liking once I actually parsed the lyrics.

I know that lots of people enjoy actually listening to the meaning behind the song, not just the sound, but I'm not one of them.

I'm in the camp of "It depends on the song". When you get the Lyrics of David Bowie's Major Tom, that song becomes even better... Other songs, the lyrics really don't matter, since the beat and flow is way more important.

I think this is him being slightly revisionist - the song was just him writing an imaginary song about Africa, but decades later it makes him sound kind of dumb so now he's acknowledging the fact that he had never been there when he wrote it, and acting as though that was a conscious element of the songwriting. There's nothing remotely self aware in the lyrics.

Various sources say a multitude of things, but the main themes are about a woman. The more vulgar side of it is that the singer is anxious/awaiting his date, and the feelings and thoughts of entering "Africa" for the first time, where "Africa" is a euphemism/metaphor for her own hot, sticky jungle area. Others have said it is a song about a man loving both a woman, and the stark, violent, and primitive life in Africa, and he can't have both, so must choose her and leave , or stay and lose her. I guess you can read many things into it, which makes it an even better song than just a catchy tune, IMHO.

My interpretation would be much simpler. The woman in the song is in fact Africa itself. "Nothing a 100 men or more could do to drag me away from you" He doesn't want to leave Africa. "I miss the rains down in Africa" If you have ever been in an afternoon thundershower in a place like the Serengeti in Tanzania you would understand it. Or a sudden down pour in hot and sticky Mali. It really is something special. In Africa old men are often seen as wise and in a lot of rural areas these elders are often consulted on problems or asked for advice.

The drums are the beating of his male libido, growing ever stronger, but she only remembers their quiet conversations, and does not realize that he has these physical feelings for her. He sees an old man, which could a reflection of himself from the future, who urges him onward towards manhood or a version of manhood which exists past his virginity ("she's waiting there for you"). In other words, "Go for it!" He is fighting his urges - should he or shouldn't he make that move? The second verse is a little more blunt with its' symbology. the echoing drums become wild, restless dogs crying out. Kilimanjaro, Olympus are obvious phallic images of mountains jutting up. The "deep inside" line could be the obvious, it is the consummation act. It could be the man's inner beast giving in to the physical lust, or possibly a feeling of guilt after the fact for becoming more animal than human.

All I know is this line: "Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti" has way too many syllables crammed into it for comfort.

According to Toto's site, the song is about "A balanced loss of cellular proteins via degradation or export. Translation, the assembly of proteins by ribosomes, is an essential part of the biosynthetic pathway, along with generation of messenger RNA (mRNA), aminoacylation of transfer RNA (tRNA), co-translational transport, and post-translational modification, and Africa."

Like most songs, reading too deeply into it ruins the magic. Just enjoy the sweet synth track and the catchy vocals.

VR Concerts

Jacob Aron's article on the new generation of virtual reality (VR) equipment focuses on its use in films or games (7 March, p 20). As the article notes, this can cause problems: in the case of games, the viewer can't see his or her controller, and in the case of films, he or she doesn't know what to focus on and the film equipment is hard to hide.

Why not instead use VR for live performances such as rock gigs, theatre showings, opera, sports games and so forth? In all those cases, the focus of attention is one particular area, and the presence of technicians and film equipment is a natural element. Additionally, in a performance attended by people through VR, the venue can be anywhere and the audience is almost limitless.

With microphones and headphones, the audience can cheer and applaud and hear those around them in the virtual venue cheering too, creating a very real atmosphere. It could transform live entertainment.

Keith Richards calls Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band "rubbish"

He said "'s a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like Santanic Majesties..."

And he's not really wrong.

/love She's A Rainbow

Here's the difference, though, no one plays tracks off Their Satanic Majesties Request anymore, but you hear songs from Sgt Peppers all the time.

It's not like he's wrong. If that exact album was released by an unknown band, it would be at best forgotten, at worst be on a crappy Buzzfeed list like: "17 albums that we wish we had what they were smoking when they thought this was music." It would also make the "23 worst album covers" lists.

If you made a musical time machine and had the Beatles release "Lulu" 45 years ago, hipsters and aging boomers would be fellating it right now.

Well how else do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?

If I had put out an album as bad as Emotional Rescue, I'd keep my farking mouth shut.

Sgt. Pepper perfectly captured the mood and the zeitgeist of the summer of was so 'in the moment' that once that moment was over, it doesn't seem to be as wonderful as it once was. That doesn't mean that it's not a terrific is. It's just that it seems more dated than most of the rest The Beatles catalog and probably doesn't appeal as much to the modern listener.

And think how much better Sgt. Pepper would have been if the first two songs that were recorded for it - Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane - were actually included instead of being released as a single. Take off 'She's Leaving Home' and 'Within You Without You' for example, and replace with the previous two....completely different album.

2000 Light Years From Home is an awesome song.

It's a hell of a lot better than Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.

Let's try an experiment: imagine a world in which "Sgt. Pepper's" was an album released not by the Beatles, but by The Kinks. Same songs, same production, the whole bit, except it's Ray and Dave Davies singing instead of Paul and John. (Ok, we'll let Mick Avory do "With a Little Help.") Is it still regarded today as "the greatest album ever"?

Of course not. About 10%-20% of the critics would still fawn over it for the same reasons, but the vast majority of people would have written it off as another one of Ray Davies' quirky little experiments -- a good album, probably, but not necessarily great and certainly not "the greatest."

"Pepper's" gets its reputation not because the album itself is intrinsically great but because it was: (i) an fairly innovative step, (ii) by a band that was, by then, regarded as "great," and (iii) didn't suck. There's very little "genius" on it, and what there is isn't really the songwriting -- for all its praise, it really only put three songs in the pantheon of classics ("With a Little Help," "Lucy," and "Day in the Life") and really, only "Day in the Life", does something that wasn't already being done at the time. ("Lucy" isn't all that different from the psychedelia that was springing up independently in the US at the same time, "With a Little Help" is a solid song, but not especially innovative.) The rest of the album either falls within the middle of the pack of the Beatles catalog ("Rita," "Getting Better," "Leaving Home," "Sixty Four") or languishes as quirky little experiments that mostly fail ("Within You," "Mr. Kite," "Good Morning"). The "concept album" framework is ephemeral at best, so no points there. Admittedly, the production is impressive and undoubtedly an innovative step beyond what was out in the mainstream at the time, but innovative production just isn't the thing that elevates a good, solid album into "the greatest of all time."

Is it a good album? Of course. Is it a great album? There's a case to be made for it, although I wouldn't consider it a shoo-in for that title. Is it the greatest album ever? Not even in the top 10.