Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

New CD club bounty

I’ve been listening to the G3 live album all day, and I’ve realized that I really need to see Steve Vai live again. His albums are incredible, but his live guitar is mind-boggling. Everything is twice as complex and four times as fast. And it’s all incredibly exact. He only has three tracks on the CD, but the stuff he did at G3 really blew me away. I went on November 8, 1996 at sat in about the 10th row. I think his sound is perfectly engineered for people in the first few rows who are wearing earplugs. The low end bass sounded completely alien – it was totally undistorted, but felt like it was ripping through my chest and rumbling my bones. And he was all over the place, holding his guitar to the side, high, low, above his head, not even looking at it and playing things inhumanly fast yet hitting every note perfectly. The way he bent notes, wrapped them up and down and used the whammy at the same time, it felt like he was talking to me telepathically, through his guitar. His face would like like he was in a conversation, but the sound wasn’t coming from his mouth. Sure, Satriani was good both times I saw him, but Vai – it must’ve felt like this when people saw Hendrix for the first time 30 years ago. I wish he’d come out with a 3-CD live album for his last tour. He’s allegedly working on some huge 8-CD boxed set, so maybe it will have some cool stuff.

I got a bunch of CDs yesterday. Well, 7 – new CD club. I’m trying to clear out their AC/DC and Ozzy back-catalog. I’m about 18 CDs short of 500, which was my goal for the year. My next goal is to find a place to put all of them, since they are currently stacked on top of every piece of A/V gear I own.

I’m not in the journaling mood today. I’m going to go eat my sandwich.

12/11/98 20:45

I guess it’s a day to talk about what’s in the CD player. Now it’s Rush again, and I’m listening to all of these old Rush songs that remind me of spending an entire summer on a ten-speed bike, or in the basement putting together model airplanes. It’s really amazing how much scope my career with Rush really covers. One summer, I’m listening to the brand-spanking-new Grace Under Pressure and mowing lawns to save up for a drum set, and only a couple albums later, I’m listening to Presto in my walkman as I trod around the Indiana University campus. It’s pretty eerie when you think about it.

For the longest time, I thought that the last line of Rush’s song “The Trees” was “And the trees were all kept equal by magic acts and song.” It’s really “hatchet, axe, and saw.” And there’s still this Dokken song where I swear the guy is saying “your cufflinks are gold” but I know it has to be something else. Speaking of Dokken, I watched almost all of one of those greatest hits of the 80’s infomercials and almost ordered all 125 dollars’ worth of CDs. Several observations: First, the girl doing the commercial is the model who was in the Cherry Pie video. She is allegedly two years older than me, which is about right. So, while I was mixing paint at Monkey Wards for $3.50 an hour, she was only two years older and probably driving a pink Ferrari or something. Also, have you noticed the large number of vaguely metal-based songs that were popular back then? I don’t even remember that much of a bias, even from the middle of Indiana, but I guess it was true. About every third time I talk to Ray, we have a huge disussion about this. Right now, part of the country’s default musical taste is R&B-type stuff, and the rest is “alternative”, meaning almost nobody listens to metal anymore. Ray wouldn’t listen to Poison if they were the equivalent of, say, Green Day, but it would mean a lot of people would be willing to make the transition from Poison to Motley Crue to Metallica to Motorhead to Rotting Christ. Somebody listening to the Backstreet Boys isn’t going to follow the same path.

I don’t care too much, since I don’t listen to the radio much, and selling metal CDs is not my livelihood. But I’ve noticed that I don’t have a default preference for music anymore. I liked it back in high school when I was into bands like Anthrax and Megadeth, and there were tons of other similar bands. I’d buy a tape or two every week, and when I got to the store, the people there would point me to new stuff or cool bands. I didn’t make much money back then and couldn’t afford CD binges like now, so my biggest problem was that there were hundreds of new things I wanted, and I could only buy a few a month. Now I seem to drift, and I buy a lot of old stuff. I feel somewhat cheated when buying something old – it’s like watching an old Seinfeld rerun vs. going to see a new, really good movie. The Seinfeld rerun is great, but there’s a certain something in seeing something new. Sometimes I wish I was into rap or techno or jazz or punk or industrial just so I could go to the store and say “I’m into this scene” and have the guy behind the counter hand me some new stuff that I’d like. But now I pick through the racks and come up with some really disjointed selections.

I have almost 500 CDs, but sometimes spend 15 minutes trying to find something to listen to. Is that pathetic?