Where no man has gone before

First vinyl record played in outer space.

 

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It was 20 years ago today…July 1996

Fiona Apple: Tidal

When Fiona Apple burst onto the musical landscape in 1996, it was as a pianist singing confessional songs in a sultry and inviting voice. Her videos reaffirmed that image, giving her an appeal far beyond contemporary jazz. The image didn’t come without a price however. Apple became identified more for her image than for her talent. Released July 23, 1996, Tidal stands as a monument to what songwriting prowess, an ear for musical composition, and an inviting voice can accomplish beyond expectations. Songs from this album received mainstream acclaim and success, despite being a decidedly un-pop friendly sound.

Shadowboxer”, the first single from the album, tells the tale of a woman who used to be in love with a man, but has wisened to his ways. She realizes that he is using her for sex, but won’t commit and she begins to suspect that she is only being kept around as his own private form of entertainment. Learning to fear him, she begins to plot her way out of the relationship, waiting for an unguarded moment or an opening.

The very next track, “Criminal” flips the story of “Shadowboxer” on its ear. This time, the narrator of the song knows she’s done wrong after chosing to sleep with another man, and feels the need for being redeemed by him. As repentant as she is, she feels that her role in the situation had been that of the devil on her own shoulder, and now she feels as if she needs the angel to tell her what to do. The video for the single was shot in the style of Calvin Klein ads that were popular at the time, depicting scantily clad people in skimpy clothing. The images played well with the theme of the song, with her being the seductress who had led another into temptation.

Never is a Promise” is one of three tracks Fiona Apple put on the demo tape that got her signed to a label. It tells the story of her as a 16 year old, upon hearing that the man with whom she had lost her virginity, was taking an interest in another woman. Her ex-lover tries to smoothe things over by saying that he understands her hurt, but she knows that there is now way he can understand. She determines never again to trust him…and never is a promise. By the time this song was released for radio play, I was already deeply hooked into what Fiona Apple had to offer as a musician, as a songwriter, and as a going concern in the world of alternative and pop radio.

Before the release of her second album, Apple would cover the Beatles classic “Across the Universe” for the Pleasantville soundtrack. A music video was released for the song, using the diner of the movie as the setting.

In the years to come, Fiona Apple would shy away from pomoting herself as an artist. She has as of July 2016, released four albums and a few one off singles. Her album Extraordinary Machine was finished for some time, but the studio wanted popier, so she finally consented to re-writes. I have a few of the original tracks, the local alternative radio station emailed them to their newsgorup at the time, and continue to hope that the album as originally intended will one day see official release.

In 2011, Apple released a cover of “Every Day” on one of the Buddy Holly tribute albums released in honor of what would have been his 75th birthday. 2012 saw the release of the track “Dull Tool” to accompany the movie This is 40. 2013 featured Fiona Apple covering “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for an ad for Chipotle.

Ever one for collaborating when she feels both partners in the collaboration have something to offer, Fiona Apple appears in the 2016 Andrew Bird track titled “Left Handed Kisses”, a track which looks to feature prominently in my top 50 songs of 2016.

Third Eye Blind trolls GOP at event near RNC

Third Eye Blind, a band I don’t think I’ve thought about for a decade, were apparently invited to perform at an exclusive event taking place near the Republican National Convention.  As part of the event, they largely eschewed their biggest hits, instead playing an obscure non-album track with a shout out to “young gay Republicans”.

The lead singer also asked the crowd to “raise their hands if they believe in science”.

So, let me get this straight…conservatives really wanted to hear a song about doing crystal meth, but were upset when they heard a song about LGBT?  Got it.

Three great bands want me to give them all my money

Today was a busy day for my music news emails.  Between 10:30AM and 12:10PM, I received three emails telling me about things I already know I would want to spend my money on.  In chronological order of how I received the emails:

Bright Eyes is releasing a box set of his entire discography on vinyl…at the low low price of $130.00.  I already own I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, and one of these days Digital Ash in a Digital Urn will be mine, but this sounds like a good deal for a 10LP set.

My Chemical Romance sent out a cryptic email of a video, titled MCRX, which features a white flag with a Fleur de Lis (a symbol of resurrection) with 09/23/16 at the end of the video.  Their album, The Black Parade, came out 10 years ago this October.  Here’s to hoping that they’re getting the band back together…and by the band, I mean “The Black Parade”.

Temple of the Dog, the side project/tribute band that featured members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, will be embarking on their first ever US tour this fall in celebration of the 25th anniversary of their album.  Tickets for their Seattle show at The Paramount Theater are $95 and go on sale next Friday.

I blatantly rip off two pop culture stories from Consequence of Sound

Two teenagers recently performed the theme from Star Wars outside composer John Williams’ house…and he came out to meet them afterward.

Coldplay’s lead singer Chris Martin’s son recorded a video for a recent Coldplay show, asking his dad to play some songs from their favorite movie “Back to the Future”.  Martin and company obliged the request…by having none other than Marty McFly himself come out on stage to perform “Earth Angel” and “Johnny B. Goode” with them.

Welcome to Seattle, Kimya!

First bathroom foot shot in the new Seattle apartment!

A post shared by Kimya Dawson (@kimyadawson) on

As my girlfriend asked me the other day, I have now confirmed via relatively easy search of the internets that Kimya Dawson, former member of The Moldy Peaches and all around awesome person, has recently moved into an apartment in the Ballard neighborhood.

Welcome to Seattle, Ms. Kimya Dawson!  I don’t get to that neighborhood too often, but if I happen to see you there, I may be unable to stop myself form asking if I could give you a big hug.  You’re one of my favorite current singer-songwriters and i can honestly call several of your songs “beautiful”.

All:  Here’s an early version of “All I Could Do”

And a few more of her best output:

Alan Vega: 1938 – 2016

Alan Vega, lead singer of the proto-punk band Suicide, passed away peacefully in his sleep last night.  When the band was starting, Elvis Costello billed them as the opening act on his European tour.  One of those concerts was released as the track “23 Minutes over Brussels” with the crowd hazing the band relentlessly, and the band continuing to play in spite of the crowd’s displeasure.

Perhaps what most people remember of the show is where Alan Vega shouted to the crows “Shut up!  This is a song about Frankie!”.

And now ladies and gentlemen, a song about Frankie, though not from that show…