Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shut Up and Sing!

Shut Up and Sing!
I missed this movie while it was in the theatres due to my traveling schedule, and have been pining to see it ever since. For those of you who don’t know the story, it is the story of what happened to the Dixie Chicks after their lead singer, Natalie Maines, stated in front of a sold-out London audience, that they were ashamed that the President of the United States was from Texas. And then…. the fire started. And it burned… and burned….

Thank God for Netflix, because this documentary was one of the first things I ordered. As I write this, it is 4am and I am so motivated and inspired by what I just watched that I cannot sleep. I feel like I could write an entire album right now. I am so proud to be both a woman and a musician that I am not even sure I can accurately express it into words, but I am going to try.

First off, I would like to state that these 3 women, (Natalie Maines, Marty Maguire, & Emily Robison) are strong-slated heroes of mine. They are beautiful, articulate, smart and amazing musician/songwriters. After a mere 10 second comment, they were served death threats, hate mail, were banned from many radio stations and slandered all over the news, yet they stuck together with their heads held high with their instruments in the air and continued to write and perform. I have had the opportunity to go overseas many times since Clinton left office, and I will tell you that as soon as people find out you are American, you have a lot to answer for. Most countries think we are all self-seeking assholes and that Bush was and is a completely ignorant, intellectually-challenged, power-hungry idiot. That is a fact, not my opinion, from my many visits overseas, and the day that the Dixie Chicks played London, London was having the biggest war protest against American involvement the country had ever seen. (You are allowed to pass judgement on the appropriate way to handle such an uncomfortable situation when you have experienced it yourself.) When the band returned to The States,they were shown a death threat stating that Natalie would be shot in Dallas the day of their Dallas performance and they did not cancel the show. They took all security precautions, and took the stage scared as hell. You could tell from the pre-performance footage that Natalie had little to no blood in her face. You could see it in her eyes that she was scared and didn’t know if she would survive the entire set. Now, let me explain something to you. If you are brave enough to take the stage and sing your truth after someone told you that they would kill you for doing so…? You are a hero. You are a warrior and a visionary. This is music. Music is meant to be expressive and celebratory. These women never planned on being involved in politics, yet they were hurled straight into the lion’s den. On some plane though, I have always considered our musicians to be the young people’s politicians, because they have a public voice and openly express their opinions, allowing many to live vicariously through them. This also partially explains the strong bond between fans and their favorite bands. Try and censor or take away someone’s favorite band, and it is like you are trying to take away their voice. Fox, Cumulus and several right-wing organizations tried to take away the Dixie Chicks’ voice.

Now, let’s talk about the first amendment of The Constitution of The United States of America. It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Marty Maguire - “It’s easy for people to feel a sense of anonymity behind their computer and write ugly things and hateful things and you know, a lot of that stuff you don’t take seriously, but when somebody hates you so much for what you say that they want to kill you…..”

I cannot express how vitally important it is for us to take every measure necessary to protect our Constitutional rights, ESPECIALLY the first amendment. I don’t care what your political affiliation is, just educate yourself, keep an open mind and don’t believe everything you see or hear on tv. I have friends of all political affiliations, and my political views are a mish-mash of a little bit of everything. I consider myself to be incredibly open-minded, while not being afraid to call ‘bullshit’, and I have a Ron Paul sticker on the back of my van. I believe Voltaire said it best when he said, “I may not agree with that which you say,…but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I consider someone to be civilized when they are emotionally and mentally mature enough to agree to disagree. I, personally, do not associate myself with individuals that I consider to be intolerant or uncivilized. I have fans that come from all political backgrounds and I do not judge their views, I just want to bring more light into their lives. I have been given a gift and it is my job to share it. I have received hate mail and threats for the name of my band being Devil Doll, my explicit lyrics, and even opinions I have expressed in interviews. The show goes on. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The people I have helped far outweigh the people who are somehow offended. I truly believe that the reason we are here is to express ourselves, follow our bliss and make known the unknown, and that looks different for everyone. I am not your God, and it is none of my business what excites you, moves you to tears or motivates you to get up in the morning. As long as you have something. Music plays a role in here somewhere for many people. Music has gotten me through times that I thought I could not survive. There are songs that inspire me that you may not be able to stand, and vice versa, but THAT is what makes the world go ‘round. How boring would this place be if everyone all liked the exact same things and dressed the exact same way? No thank you. Let’s defend our right to be different and enjoy this big tossed salad that we live in.

I want to have more faith in people. If we all stand together to protect our Constitutional rights, we will not fall. We can say no to intolerance and ignorance and demand our questions to be answered. We MUST see the bigger picture and protect eachother. How can we stand by and allow a man like Bill O’Reilly to say, live on television, “I think they are the Dixie Twits. These are the dumbest, dumbest bimbos, with due respect, that I have seen, they are foolish women that deserve to be slapped around.” What the fuck?? Seriously?? What kind of fallout happened to him for saying that? Did he get suspended for encouraging physical violence against women? Oh sure, let’s just start teaching everyone to threaten physical violence against anyone who expresses opinions different from our own. Better yet, let’s burn them at the stake. I call BULLSHIT, as well as openly stating that I am embarrassed that Bill O’Reilly is Irish. Toby Keith created and displayed images of Saddam Hussein with his arm around Natalie as a fake cd cover called “The Dixie Duo – Songs of Peace and Love”, while he sang a song about shoving his boot up her ass. Really? Sure, freedom of speech, but it’s aggressive, threatening and no one banned him for saying whatever he wanted. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXPRESSING AN OPINION AND MAKING A THREAT. Are people really that afraid of people who think differently than them? Natalie responded by wearing a shirt onstage that said “FUTK.” Perfect.
Let’s evolve and agree to disagree whenever the occasion arises. Can we perhaps enjoy a good debate, ask why the person feels that way while being open to learning a thing or two, and end it in a handshake? Can we? Can we learn to enjoy and celebrate our differences? Try it and then teach someone else how to do it. Let’s support free-thinking instead of punishing it.We can all learn something from the Dixie Chicks whether you like their music or not. I just bought more of their songs off iTunes, this one being one of them – “Not Ready to Make Nice”
"...and how in the world can the words that I said, send somebody so over the edge, that they’d write me a letter sayin’ that I better shut up and sing or my life will be over…..
I’m not ready to make nice I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right, I probably wouldn’t if I could
Cause I’m mad as hell, can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should..”

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It Might Get Loud...

I just saw the movie, "It Might Get Loud," starring The Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White. I did not read any reviews, had no idea what it was about, and walked into the theatre like a blind man seeking out air conditioning on a hot, humid Louisiana afternoon..."Is this the place? Is this where I can seek temporary refuge?" Yes it is!! This movie reminded me once again of why I am a musician and proud of it. From the moment the first frame spun, I felt like I was in Church. My eyes filled with tears every 10 minutes or so and I could nearly contain myself from my own overwhelming sense of gratitude and awe reassured with a long-lost bear hug of "It's gonna be OK kid, you're home now." My jaw unhinged at every uncanny resemblance, and my hair stood on end every time the guitar picks touched the strings. EVERY TIME. I don't want to give away the entire movie, but I would like to talk about how the movie affected me and my personal relationship with each of these artists’s body of work.

First, I want to talk about The Edge. I have been an avid U2 fan since I first heard them and I truly believe that because of his willingness to explore the nether-regions of soundscape he paved the way for other bands like Radiohead to do the same. He pulls out an old box of cassette tapes, stating, “I have no idea what's in here.." and they happen to be the demos of his famous chilling intro ideas for "The Streets Have No Name." That alone was worth the price of admission. That intro has to be one of the most dynamic, explosive, yet ethereal intros ever written in the history of music. He craves to discover new ways to project and distort the amplified guitar sound and has long gotten over his fear that he may be "just a guitarist." He takes us back to the school hallway where Larry first posted a flyer looking for band mates , and the classroom where they used to practice. The band had no tolerance for the violence and the economic depression that was forced upon Dublin in the 70's and 80's and therefore made up their mind to not play the game and rise above they did. Being of Irish descent myself, it was hard to hear of what was happening in Ireland at that time, and when we would visit, we were blocks away from bombings. The band used music to elevate consciousness and we all listened. He recalls going into the studio to record their first big release, and trying to explain to the producer that the guitar he was holding was the only guitar the band owned, and therefore, couldn't get all these "other sounds" the studio was trying to pull out of him. A monster was created and well, we all know how that story ends, don't we?

Let's talk about Jimmy Page. I am going to be really honest about this one. I LOVE Jimmy Page but I can't stand Robert Plant's whiny, nasal voice. Therefore, not a huge Zeppelin fan. There are some songs dear to my heart where he doesn't annoy me, like "Thank you," but I wish I could purchase every Led Zeppelin recording sans vocals. I even have a rule in the van, "NO LED ZEPPELIN, unless Robert Plant is not singing." Jimmy Page came along and single-handedly placed a 'mystical' component into rock n roll. I listen to what he did with Zeppelin, and I can't help but deduct that at times the guy was channeling! I love his work in The Yardbirds as well, but what was really touching was his story about the moment he decided to quit being a studio musician. He was a VERY accomplished studio musician, and what most may not realize, is that when you are constantly being asked to play every single different genre of music immediately upon request with perfect accuracy, well... it evolves you into a badass . It pushes you even closer towards mastery of your craft. I sing on commercials and I learned this firsthand and consider my studio experience essential to my sense of discipline and professionalism, as well as my ability to sing just about anything, very, very well. When he realized that his sessions had morphed into soulless muzak, he trustingly abandoned ship, taking his chops, versatility and soul with him. When you listen to Page talk, you can feel his discipline and his kindness, and when he puts on a Link Wray record, it's as if he morphs into a schoolboy, so excited that not even he can put into words the energy and emotion raining upon him. So,.. he plays air guitar. I don't think another guitar player can receive a higher salute than that. Jimmy Page will always be considered one of the greatest, most inventive guitar players that ever lived, and to witness how humble and open-minded he remains to this day, well, that probably explains why he seems so genuinely happy and looks younger than his true age.

Jack White. What can I say? Being from Cleveland, I have to say that I am partial to supporting a fellow North-Coaster from 2 ½ hours away with humble beginnings and a relentless flair for breaking the rules. I was unsure if he was trying to re-create The Flat Duo Jets with The White Stripes, but falling in love with his delivery as well as watching him give credit to Dexter Romweber for inspiration, my front and back door are still open. But, what I had always sensed, but was not sure of, was, "Does Jack White have the blues?" The answer to that question is, "FUCK YES." White boy got the fucking blues yo. If he and Nick Curran played a night at the Continental Club together, everyone in the whole damn place would go blind. Bring canes. I want to write a song with THAT guy. People can say what they want and have their opinions about every type of music, why they don't like this band or that band, or who rules and who sucks,...but no one can ever say that Jack White doesn't have soul. Little brother gets it, has more soul and is more in touch with Blues roots than most of his Black “chart mates” and would spend his last few dollars on strings or a weird thrift store musical find over a sandwich. Guaranteed. I have a new found respect for him and couldn't help but beam with pride over his reel to reel skills and vinyl collection. I am a hardcore LP collector and one who still believes that The Stones should be listened to on vinyl with the lights off. But when you throw on an old Howlin' Wolf or Son House record to the tune of 2009, that makes you a seeker. The true musician has an unsatisfied hunger to recreate the feeling they get when they and the music are one, when the song speaks for them. Wanting to be there in the exact moment that the song was written and recorded. Challenging yourself to experience your instrument in a new way to create chaos, tension and birth. These are things Jack White understands. He lives on the cutting edge of creation. (I hear that the view is always best from the edge.) Something that he talks about which is so important, is the moment that he realized he could break the rules. He had this revelation while listening to Son House, and I had the revelation while watching Diamanda Galas perform live. At that moment you realize how big you are and that you haven't even scratched the surface. The world never looks the same again and your writing changes forever. When you throw out the rules, you allow the divine to possess you, (if you've got the guts.) Jack's got the guts and so do I. I feel a song coming on... needless to say, I have gotten out my White Stripes records.

In closing, my favorite part was watching the whisper of "someone pinch me" twinkling in the eyes of The Edge and Jack White while they strummed along with Jimmy Page. Three generations of pioneers sharing moments together, in their own language and cadence, bonded by passion for the unexplainable force that one feels while creating a perfect musical moment with another. I call it "home." Go see the movie, support the vision,(in this fast-food digital society of compressed mp3's), and break the rules. We must protect our heroes. Amen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Accounting for Dummies

So I signed up for an accounting class for non-accountants, in the attempt to learn how to manage the mana that comes and goes from the label, record sales, pomade sales, recording costs, etc. and tonight was the first class. Wanna know how it went? Well, it felt like I was trying to force my head through a keyhole. Over and over and over again. Did I mention that the lecture took place in a high school classroom, so I got to relive all things I loved about high school?! Yay everyone! Big fat balls of 'YAY!' I can't decide which turned me on more, the rock hard partially molded seats, (which offended bones I didn't even know I had), or the non negotiable way the desk domineered me into the same posture for hours at a time. Good God, I would have done anything for a fucking bean bag or a patch of grass. But the best part, was how the teacher continued to talk and explain blah blah blah expendables, debit, receivables, while my eyes glossed over like an ice rink. Dorothy Hamill was performing her greatest hits, while I stared on into the void. Perhaps I should have told the truth at the beginning of class when we all were asked to introduce ourselves and state our reason for being there. If I would have told the truth, it would have sounded something like this, "Hi. My name is Colleen, and I am taking this class so that I can learn how to hide as much money as possible without going to jail. The IRS can kiss my fucking ass, the non-supreme-court-abiding-cartel-scumbag-shake-down-mother-fuckers." In hindsight, it was perhaps better that I didn't reveal my true identity. After all, I was the only person in there with two-toned hair and tattoos, and the instructor was a granny. Every single person in the room seemed to twinkle at the idea of arranging numbers in little, perfectly aligned rows that always mathematically resolved themselves in such a perfect little way, and it made me feel like a whore in church. I was thinking, "Man, this is how I feel about shoes. NOT numbers." So, I wrestled with the idea of just walking out of the class 3 hours into it, or staying the extra hour to announce my well thought-out dismissal speech. The final hour was like trying to sit through "Teen Wolf" in Japanese. I survived the crazy number gym gone wild, and felt 2 degrees smarter and 5 years older. I said to myself,"Screw this. I am going to go buy a copy of "The Dummy's Guide to Accounting," and read it in the privacy of my own down couch. They really should consider publishing, "The Dummy's Guide to Tax Evasion." I personally believe it would be a best seller.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

the movie "9" and some other stuff

I went and saw the movie, "9" tonight. I went by myself because that is my viewing preference. It has been that way ever since the night I went to see "The Matrix" the first time and the people I went with said that it was, "the worst movie they had ever seen." Really? I could feel my head crack open while watching that film, forgot to breathe and went out the next day and bought a brand new pair of knee high leather boots. I was determined to acrobatically dodge bullets, rid the streets of crime and get into my first fight by 7:30pm. (I own like 4 leather trench coats, fyi) People have asked me in interviews what would I be doing if I wasn't doing music and I always say, without skipping a beat, VIGILANTE. I digress! What was I talking about? Oh yes....9.

Nice little movie. Interesting indeed. I am very opinionated when it comes to movies, and I must say that I don't really know WHAT to say exactly. It made me jump alot. I do think that it was geared more towards kids than adults, and I was hoping for more adult influence. I wanted it to be darker than it actually was. I still haven't really made up my mind if I liked it or not. Hmmm... let me focus on what I DID like about the film. I loved the inspiration in the film. It really presented you with a constant dilemma of risking your life for what you know is right, or sinking into the shadows in fear and denial. Everyone needs a good moral asskicking if you ask me. We are losing our freedoms day by day and people are too busy watching mind-numbing reality shows about tattle-tales to notice that when they first stepped into the pot it was cool but now there is steam rising from the surface. DUH! People need to wake up. Stand for something or fall for everything. Don't believe what the guy wearing the biggest hat tells you as infallible truth. ASK QUESTIONS. ASK WHY? If they can't give you an appropriate response, then there's your answer. Fate favors the bold. Live full throttle. Why are you here? What motivates you everyday? If your 'why' doesn't make you 'cry,' then you need to keep searching til you find it. period. Are you a pioneer or are you a pussy? As Earl Nightingale so eloquently stated it, "Most people tip-toe through life hoping they make it safely to death." What are YOU doing?

There is an interesting moment where a bossy-pants, self-appointed-type leader, has to let go of his cherished regal robe in order to save his own life, (insert religious metaphor here.), and another character who is discovered (after being declared dead and missing) to be very much alive and kicking ass, making the choice to be free and live alone versus live in fear and submission with the group. I especially loved how the newest born character is the bravest because he has the least amount of societal programming to breakthrough and the least amount of fear references. The most interesting part of the movie is the power in 3 ancient symbols or hieroglyphs and I wanted to jump straight down that rabbit hole, but then remembered it is kind of a kids flick. So, in summary, ...don't tiptoe. Let them know you're coming.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Once upon a time, we would all get together and gather around the TV every Sunday night and watch X-Files. It was an event. We lined up for our one hour paranormal meltdown every week and did not let anything stand in the way. Every once in a while I lay awake in bed with all the lights on dissecting an episode I saw 10 years ago. There are two episodes in particular that come to mind. I won't tell you which ones for the mere refusal of making them more alive than they already are. Blend metaphysics, science and paranormal storylines, presented on a thrill-lined platter of mothership fairytales and I will buy it even if it's not on sale. Well, those days have come and gone so now I resort to late night History Channel specials about the pyramids, Edgar Cayce or alien astronauts. YUM! I recently discovered a show which dabbles in the X-Files realm, yet is not as dark or extraterrestrial. It focuses on a government duo researching paranormal incidents while locating and containing historical relics with SUPERPOWERS. I'll still buy it. I just bought it again tonight actually. I am impressed with the quality and storylines of the show for the SYFY channel. It is a breath of fresh air basking in the creative vibes of the SYFY channel versus the bloodsucking tentacles of CNN, ABC, CBS and the like. Sure, I may find myself zoning out on Stargate episodes every now and again at 3:30 am, but I don't need portable nautilus equipment, noni juice or bra extenders. I will just settle for my weekly episode of Warehouse13 on the SYFY channel every Tuesday night at 9pm.

This is Colleen's (Devil Doll) new blog page

This is Colleen Duffy, (Devil Doll). I am activating this page in the name of blogging my thoughts and experiences. Stay tuned...