It's not hard to get stuck in a rut. Whether at work, at home or pretty much anywhere. I got stuck in one with my university studies last semester. Although I got a solid mark in the end I found the whole thing dry, boring and very uninspiring. Employment Relations might not be everyone's cup of tea but I really think that there should be enough in there to keep me at least mildly engaged.
Four weeks into the start of semester this year I faced the same problem. The readings and online lectures were putting me to sleep and I had to somehow come up with two short pieces of writing as well as a response to one written by a fellow student. Piece number one was duly written, referenced and submitted along with my critical response. The beauty of online learning is that if the lecturer is organised then feedback is given fairly quickly. It was and while my responses were adequate it was clear that she was less than impressed. Me too.
The second piece I had to write was about perception of how time is spent in the workplace. Yawn. But then a song jumped into my head, I read a reference article from a very Marxist point of view and it suddenly got interesting. I took a chance, quoting the song in my response and allowing some of my more left leaning ideas to come to the fore. Shazam, it worked! A very positive response from the lecturer and the feeling that my brain was re-engaging. This doesn't mean that my next essay will be accompanied by the Red Army Choir, Billy Bragg and Che Guevara but I will allow myself to deviate from what had become rather boring and corporate. Here's two versions of the song that might just mean I get a better grade than I was heading for...
Joe Jackson – Got The Time - http://youtu.be/sxrRMi3GHVE (lyrics included – they really matter in this case)
Anthrax – Got The Time - http://youtu.be/be7iNHw8QoQ (the version that introduced me to the song)
It's not often that I manage to read much during term time apart from record reviews and news feeds – my brain can't cope with much more. But I spied a book in the library which piqued my interest. It was called "
The Apple Revolution: Steve Jobs, the counterculture and how the crazy ones took over the world". It's NOT written by Apple fanboys and is a surprisingly good read. Very much a warts and all type of affair.
This next song is straight from the book. You'll need to read it to know why as well as why Steve Wozniak doesn't promote rock concerts.
Jeffrey Jeff Walker - Mr Bojangles - http://youtu.be/cycD8SBS84I
Yesterday my Dad retired. He's been a doctor for a long, long time. Longer than I've been alive. I remember him going out at night in Dundee to do house calls armed with a medical bag, a large torch and a very big stick - it probably wasn't the most friendly place. To my mind he comes from a generation of doctors who cared about their patients rather than their bank balances. I can picture him being very frustrated on the other end of the phone when he hears tales of some of the interactions my family has with the medical profession. However, some young doctors are fortunate enough to have him still being involved in their education through tutoring and mentoring. I'm glad he's retiring - he deserves some time to himself.
I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash - http://youtu.be/NkwJ-g0iJ6w
In 1981 Charley Pride had a big radio hit with "Mountain of Love". It was one of a few songs that I used to hope would come around on AM radio. It wasn't his song of course, having been released in 1960 by Harold Dorman, 1964 by Johnny Rivers and the Beach Boys. In looking for a good version to play for you I stumbled across this. Magic!
Bruce Springsteen - Mountain of Love - http://youtu.be/gFsulgiAWqI
Iggy and The Stooges have been in the country (they're probably still here). Gig reports are really, really good. Remember that Iggy is almost 65 and still ripping up the stage at 100 miles an hour. The band have a new album coming and a new single that you can hear on any video music site you choose - it's called Burn and I'm not at all sure I like it. But, hats off to the boys for having the drive to keep working hard. Although I soon tire of people who only like classic tracks from a band it's hard to pass this one by for pure, unadulterated rage and energy. This is what rock 'n' roll is all about:
Iggy and The Stooges - Raw Power - http://youtu.be/0PeuL9ISvn8
Last weekend I had a blast riding with some friends in the MONT 24hr mountain bike race. All up our team managed just shy of 400km on some sweet single track and the odd bit of fire trail. At about 2 in the morning I caught a glimpse of weird lights and smoke out of the corner of my eye. "Aliens!" was what I thought in my sleep deprived and weary state (this was my 4th lap of 5). But no, it was a band with a lightshow and a smoke machine blasting out some tunes to keep crazed mountain bikers going. This is what they were playing when I went by....they were LOUD!
Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe - http://youtu.be/-vsNQE-I6E4
Thanks to DJ AB for keeping me going with espressos and encouragement!
Every now and then I hear of a pairing of musical minds that seems very, very unexpected. The latest one is Roy Orbison and Glenn Danzig. I'm sure you all know who Roy is but for the uninitiated here's Glenn singing...
The Misfits - Astro Zombies - http://youtu.be/HZJPPOLBDcc
...and here's the song he wrote with the Big "O".
Roy Orbison - Life Fades Away - http://youtu.be/b6h1FnuJciE
Billy Bragg's new album arrived in the mail on Thursday along with a DVD of some of his video clips. Pretty cool. I'll do a full review of the album in the next couple of weeks. I was interested to read that the feedback from Billy's fans convinced him that there was still enough interest to record albums.
Let me indulge my love of hard rock to finish off this week. Cinderella, according to Wikipedia, are a "glam metal band from Pennsylvania". My take is that they are more of a hard rock band with clear country influences. They were never huge like Motley Crue for example but 15 million albums sold is a pretty fair effort! Singer Tom Keifer lost his voice in 1991 due to paresis of the vocal cords and rumours were that he would never sing again. After singing on and off from 1994-2006 it happened again. But, it seems that Tom is a fighter and he's back with a solo album. Anyway, Cinderella are a solid rock band with a great sound. Here's a couple of their tracks that I really like as well as Tom's latest single.
Cinderella - Heartbreak Station - http://youtu.be/Uuegke22rdA
Cinderella - Gypsy Road - http://youtu.be/6j7E7pvLxmI
Tom Keifer - Solid Ground - http://youtu.be/4HJozX2bL8g
Rock on folks,