Category Archives: awards

If You’re Under 25 & Write About Music, the Wilko Johnson Writing Award Contest Is For you!

Wilko Johnson

The second annual Wilko Johnson Writing Award contest is currently open for business.

If you’re 25 or younger and write about music, you’ve got until midnight, Friday October 17, 2014, to submit your entry, a 350-word essay addressing this question:

“’The charts are dead!’: Is the Top 40 still relevant in 2014?”

All the details are here.

The contest, which is part of the Louder Than Words literary festival, is named after the acclaimed British guitarist Wilko Johnson, best known as a member of Dr. Feelgood in the ‘70s; early this year Johnson’s collaboration with Roger Daltry of The Who, Going Back Home, charted at No. 3 in the U.K.

“It’s named after Johnson because it is a competition for young writers and Wilko Johnson was a teacher – he has an English degree from Newcastle Univeristy,” explained Louder Than Words co-curator, Simon Warner, author of “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture.”

“In addition, he [Johnson] is a capable and committed wordsmith in his own right,” Warner said. “Beyond that, too, he is a respected, avid and obsessive reader – appreciationg words associated with music and in books and journalism, national and international.”

The winner will be chosen by a “panel of high calibre judges drawn from related industries – writing, the academy, the music business,” Warner said.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 and the award will be presented at the festival on Sunday, November 16, 2014.

The winner will receive: a full weekend festival pass, a complete set of 100 titles from Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 album series, and will be published on the Rock’s Back Pages website.

Louder Than Words will take place November 14-16, 2014 at The Palace hotel in Manchester, England.

As described on the Louder Than Words website, the festival includes “’in conversation with’ sessions, panel discussions, interviews, workshops, performances and casual opportunities for engaging with performaners, authors, editors, publicists, reviewers, press, artists and aficionados.”

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in the new issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Video/ Audio: Bob Dylan Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom – May 29, 2012 – Plus White House Performance of ‘The Times They Are A-Changing’

Two years ago, on Tuesday May 29, 2012, Bob Dylan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Listen as President Obama talks about the award, and each who are receiving it including Bob Dylan.

Here President Obama, who said Dylan was one of his personal heroes, presents the award to Bob Dylan.

And while we’re at the White House, here’s Dylan performing “The Times They Are A-Changing” on February 9, 2010:

–- A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Video: Bruce Springsteen Sings ‘The Times They Are A-Changing’ – Finding Hope Where I Can

Today I was thinking about the huge gap that now exists in the U.S. between the very very rich, the .01 percent, and everyone else, when I came across the beautiful rendition of “The Times They Are A-Changing” that Bruce Springsteen performed on December 7, 1997 when Bob Dylan was honored by President Bill Clinton at the Kennedy Center.

The last election in the U.S. was between a .01-percenter, Mitt Romney, and a man of the people, President Barack Obama.

The majority of Americans who voted, voted for President Obama despite attempts by Republicans to limit voting, in particular, to make it more difficult for people of color to vote. We’ve all seen the video of the long, long lines at the polls. Old people waiting for many hours to exercise their right.

And yet nothing really has changed since President Obama was reelected. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has stopped pretty much any meaningful legislation from getting passed.

The gap between the super rich and everyone else has only widened.

It is with the heavy weight of that knowledge upon us, that I listened to this song of hope and change today.

Sometimes it seems that the “darkness at the edge of town” that Springsteen sings about is covering everything.

Music is such a powerful force. We all know how one song can completely change our mood, turn a bad day to good. The corporate world we now live in wants to co-opt everything. They take music that meant something and turn it into a soundtrack for selling yogurt, or cars. It’s like they want to drain the meaning from the songs.

Yet songs remain powerful.

“The Times They Are A-Changing” is a song that gives us hope. Perhaps it’s a fool’s hope, but I’ll take it where I can get it.

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Ten Reasons Why I Didn’t Watch the Grammy Awards

Should have gotten album of the year award.

1 The Grammys has always been a joke. The artists that record albums and songs that I listen to rarely get an award.

2 I don’t care about Lorde or Justin Timberlake or even Bruno Mars (you can hear the sarcasm, right?).

3 Even if Neil Young had gotten the best rock album award, it would have been for Psychedelic Pill.

4 I don’t need to see Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr perform in 2014. 1964, yes, 2014, nope.

5 Ariel Rechtshaid, who deserved the producer of the year award, naturally didn’t get it. The year he produces a Billy Joel album, maybe he’ll get it.

6 I don’t need to see Trent Rezner, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham perform together or solo in 2014.

7 Bob Dylan’s Another Self Portrait, one of the best albums released last year, didn’t get a Grammy.

8 Savages wasn’t one of the performers; Silence Yourself didn’t win an award.

9 Kim Gordon and Bill Nace didn’t perform and didn’t get a Grammy for their amazing Body/Head album, Coming Apart.

10 Enough already. (Plus they’ve always sucked in the past.)

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

What Do Haim, Sky Ferreira & Vampire Weekend Have in Common?

Ariel Rechtshaid. Photo via the New York Times.

Last year, my first confrontation with Haim came when I saw their set at the Treasure Island Music Festival in the Bay Area.

Afterward, on my way home, I streamed Haim’s Days Are Gone. At the time, I thought the group’s live set blew away the album. But with time I’ve come to dig the album.

Flash forward to the day I listened to Sky Ferreira for the first time. It was a track off her previous album and I didn’t get it. But when her latest album, Night Time, My Time came out I gave it a listen and I liked it a lot. I heard a modern day version of Phil Spector’s Wall-of-Sound.

Both albums made my best-of-2013 list.

The link between those albums, as well as Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City turns out to be 34-year-old producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who has also worked with Usher, Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg and Cass McCombs.

Crazy, right?

The latest issue of the New Yorker and today’s New York Times have stories about Ariel Rechtshaid.

Writes Ben Ratliff in the New York Times today:

Many eminent producers say they don’t have a signature sound, and they may be telling the truth, but they do have signature associations, or ideals. They want to make records for the radio, or records that are expansive, organic or precise, or they favor certain mixes and combinations of sounds, or they tend to work with artists in one particular stratum of the pop industry. Most producers — including this year’s other nominees — have a trackable version of what is often called “production values.” Mr. Rechtshaid (pronounced RECK-shide) avers that he doesn’t have a signature sound, and it’s hard to say what his production values are. In general, it has been unclear exactly what he’s up to. I suggested a listening session with him on his own turf, so I could try to crack the code.

And later in the article:

In his studio, I suggested that we listen to some pop music that he found particularly meaningful. For a while, he talked about context: the desensitizing experience of hearing a song too many times, even a great one by Michael Jackson or Chaka Khan or Fleetwood Mac; the stigmas that attach to certain songs or sounds or styles when certain opinion makers deem them uncool; the importance of helping musicians make music that sounds like no other well-known reference point.

As an example, Mr. Rechtshaid came up with the Clash’s 1982 song “Rock the Casbah,” then started looking up other songs on YouTube, pushing toward an interesting idea. He loved the first Clash album and the first Sex Pistols album, both released in 1977, and other punk records from the movement’s beginnings. They were “honest,” he said, “in that they reflect what’s going on around them.”

But by the time of its fifth album, “Combat Rock” — which included “Rock the Casbah” — the Clash had moved toward disco, reggae and rockabilly. And in the shift away from naïve impulses toward a bigger sound and more expensive production values — in a possible move away from some of their original impulses — something important happened. “The best bands kept making records and had this evolution, where by the end, by their commercial phase or sellout phase, the records are from outer space. No one else could have made that record. You don’t know what era it’s from.”

For all of this story, head to the New York Times.


Sky Ferreira:

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Nirvana, Kiss, Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel Among Artists to be Inducted into Rock Hall of Fame

Nirvana, Kiss and Cat Stevens are among the six artists/bands that will be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on April 10th, 2014.

Also to be inducted are Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates and Cat Stevens.

The Beatles manager Brian Epstein (who died of an overdose in August 1967) and Andrew Loog Oldham, who worked with the Rolling Stones, will each be given the Ahmet Ertegun Award. Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band will be given the Award for Musical Excellence.

Nominees who didn’t make it in this year: Chic, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Deep Purple, LL Cool J, the Meters, N.W.A., the Replacements, Link Wray, Yes and the Zombies.

For what it’s worth, I would have liked to see these artists inducted: Nirvana, the Replacements, the Meters, N.W.A., Link Wray, Peter Gabriel and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Oh well.

Cat Stevens, “Wild World”:

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Watch & Listen: Bob Dylan’s Infamous 1963 Tom Paine Award Speech

Dylan accepting Tom Paine award.

Fifty years and two days ago an inebreated Bob Dylan shocked an audience of liberals at the Emergency Civil Liberties Union’s (E.C.L.U.) annual Bill of Rights dinner when on receiving their prestigious Tom Paine Award, he launched into a rant (see below) that in part attacked members of the audience as well as those on the stage with him.

In the days following the speech a letter was sent by one of the organizers of the dinner to all the attendees of the dinner defending the E.C.L.U.’s choice of Dylan to get the award that year.

Dylan ended up writing an open letter which was really a long poem (on page two of this post) in which he tried to explain where he was coming from when he made his speech and what he was talking about.

The video below is taken from Martin Scorsese’s “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan” documentary.

Transcript of the full speech:

I haven’t got any guitar, I can talk though. I want to thank you for the Tom Paine award in behalf everybody that went down to Cuba. First of all because they’re all young and it’s took me a long time to get young and now I consider myself young. And I’m proud of it. I’m proud that I’m young. And I only wish that all you people who are sitting out here today or tonight weren’t here and I could see all kinds of faces with hair on their head – and everything like that, everything leading to youngness, celebrating the anniversary when we overthrew the House Un-American Activities just yesterday, – Because you people should be at the beach. You should be out there and you should be swimming and you should be just relaxing in the time you have to relax. (Laughter) It is not an old peoples’ world. It is not an old peoples’ world. It has nothing to do with old people. Old people when their hair grows out, they should go out. (Laughter) And I look down to see the people that are governing me and making my rules – and they haven’t got any hair on their head – I get very uptight about it. (Laughter)

— continued —

Use this link or the one below below to get to the rest of this post.

Daft Punk, Vampire Weekend Head Amazon’s Best Albums of 2013 List

Amazon has posted Best Albums of 2013 list. At thier website they explain how there came up with the list.

The 2013 best-of lists were voted on by the Amazon music and MP3 teams, which includes not only the editors, but everyone else behind the scenes, too. It was a very democratic process. These are strictly our favorite albums; sales information did not factor into our choices at all.

Here’s the list:

1. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
3. Chvrches – Bones of What You Believe
4. Jason Isbell – Southeastern
5. Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob
6. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
7. Lorde – Pure Heroine
8. Bastille – Bad Blood
9. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
10. Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park
11. Drake – Nothing Was The Same
12. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
13. Haim – Days Are Gone
14. The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars
15. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get…
16. Deafheaven – Sunbather
17. Foals – Holy Fire
18. Miley Cyrus – Bangerz
19. Fitz & The Tantrums – More THan Just A Dream
20. Icona Pop – This Is… Icona Pop