18 October 2007

8+

“So What” by Miles Davis which clocks in at 9:22

Dumb love: I'm a bit of a fanboy when it comes to The Smiths. You know this. I've worn it on my sleeve for a long time now. Sometimes very literally, often in the form of t-shirts, bumper stickers, or complete Moz-clone makeovers. I've got pictures to prove it - but don't ask to see them. Just imagine for yourself and laugh.

Though time has tempered this obsession more than you can imagine, it still takes over now and again. Mostly, when an ex-Smith is in town. You'll see what I mean next week when I attend all five of Morrissey's shows at Hammerstein. Today, it took the form of me rushing to NYU's Frederick Loewe Theater to see the CMJ panel about Iconic Songs.

As I sat there reading the panelist name cards (Rick Carnes, Erin Davis, Mele Mel, Robert Christgau, and ex-Smith Andy Rourke) I felt my excitement building up. Without a doubt I was going to approach Andy after the session and talk to him. Maybe try and set up an interview? Amazing.

Then, as the non-Smith panel members filed in and took their seats, someone from CMJ calmly walked up to the table and removed Rourke's name card. Gone. Woosh. Just like that.

My immediate impulse was to get up and leave. After all, the man I was there to see clearly wasn't going to show up. However, having the legendary MC/rapper Mele Mel, the critic Robert Christgau, and Miles Davis's son Erin Davis sitting before me prompted me to stay and give the panel a chance. That and the fact that they suddenly started playing “So What” over the soundsystem in the room.

So I ended up staying, and really enjoying the panel discussion. Rick Carnes played a bit of "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" on guitar and spoke about the historical importance of said song; Robert Christgau held court/moderated, talked about the Kris Kross song "Jump" and posed an interesting question I'd like to ask all of you to consider answering in the comments*; Erin Davis expounded upon the legacy of his father, specifically relating to the song “So What” and its iconic status in the annals of music; and Mele Mel discussed his role in the creation and production of one of the greatest songs released in my lifetime - "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Dumb love: so apparently, according to Mele Mel, "The Message" was co-written by himself and one Duke Bootee. But that's not the interesting part. According to Mel, Duke showed up with two brand new songs he had been working on. One was the groundbreaking hip hop classic "The Message", and the other was called "Dumb Love." Mel said that Duke pushed for the guys to record "Dumb Love", but thankfully their producer talked them into doing "The Message" instead. The entire discussion was filled with interesting little stories such as this, and a variety of fun quotes. I started making note of some of them about two-thirds of the way through the discussion.

Here are some snippets of things said during the Iconic Songs panel:

    "I write these little reviews of albums..." - Robert Christgau

    "According to Wikipedia, source of all knowledge as we know it..." - Robert Christgau (citing Wikipedia for bio information on Kris Kross)

    "Don't be the only sucker, BEOTCH." - Robert Christgau (reading a quote about a Kris Kross record)

    "When we first cut the song ("The Message"), I thought it was weird." - Mele Mel

    "People who don't want to be famous should just go work at Wendy's." - Mele Mel

    "Next time you think about illegally downloading a song, hey, $0.99 ain't gonna kill you." - Rick Carnes (when asked for a suggestion about where people should be buying music)

    "A song is 90% the melody, but that other 10% is the most important part." - Rick Carnes

    "Everyone's first jazz record is Kind of Blue - it epitomizes cool." - Erin Davis
Dumb love: I don't know a whole heck of a lot about jazz, but I sure do love Kind of Blue and the song "So What." It's beyond cool. In my opinion, in most peoples' opinions, it is one of the very most quintessentially iconic songs of all time. It towers over the other songs discussed at this panel, and definitely has an impact that far outweighs anything written by The Smiths that Andy Rourke would've been talking about. Did I end up happy that there was no member of The Smiths at the Iconic Songs panel? Hell no. But I am pretty pleased that I was reminded of Miles Davis, an artist whose work I've barely even scratched the surface of.

Your adventure in jazz begins now.

*one audience member asked the panel to name some iconic songs of the past few years (let's say 10) and none of the panelists really had an answer. Then Robert Christgau flipped the question and asked us audience members to name some. As a group we listed 4 or 5, but honestly were fairly stumped. So I ask you: what are some of the most iconic songs of the past 10 years?

Buy Kind of Blue on Amazon/on iTunes.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Tori Amos - "Yes, Anastasia"
Boduf Songs - “Bell for Harness”
8 Bold Souls - "Odyssey"
Artanker Convoy - "Open Up"
Dan Deacon - "Wham City"
Clan of Xymox - "A Day (Remix)"
Built to Spill - "Broken Chairs"
Spacemen 3 - "Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here)"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.

22 comments:

Trevor said...

"Iconic" seems pretty slippery a term, but I guess you mean defining. What songs do I think have a stamp on the last 10 years? Two come to mind right away, at opposite ends of the decade, like bookends:

"Paranoid Android" - Radiohead
"Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" - Arcade Fire

And Kind of Blue kicks the shit out of both those albums. I'm pretty sure it was my first jazz album. Certainly the one that woke me up to it.

Anonymous said...

how about "crazy"? or maybe "since you been gone"?

Tina said...

10 years...1997-2007 - why can't I think of anything good?

Anonymous said...

radiohead is all i can come up with

george said...

Perhaps the iconic thing only comes with time passing? Sadly though, it appears that the songs I would consider iconic from 97-07 are all meaningless pop songs. I mean, if we're putting "Since You Been Gone" in the same category as "What's Going On" or "THe Message" I'm a little worried.

george said...

ooh ooh wait! Wasn't "Bittersweet Symphony" from 97?

Anonymous said...

while i hate the band, and everyone has a different definiton of iconic, i can really only think of one arena sized rock band being a product of the last ten years and that is unfortunately coldplay, so with regret i say yellow by coldplay

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