When I bought my piano this past February, I started on a journey that has ended up taking much longer than I initially thought it would. That journey was learning Tifa’s Theme by Nobuo Uemtasu.
Well, last night, nearly seven months after starting, and after probably well over 100 hours of time spent at the piano, I finally played the whole thing through from start to finish.
It wasn’t perfect, mind you. But, it was decent and coherent, and largely listen-able. Honestly, for the amount of time that I spent learning it, one would probably expect the song to be more complex than it actually is. It really boils down to the fact that I’m moderately OCD when it comes to learning a piano piece, as I want it to sound as close as possible to the original. So, I spend a lot of time on each part that I learn playing it again and again trying to get it to sound the best I can. And, even though I played I finally played Tifa through, there’s still lots of work to be done to tweak it and get the dynamics down. Knowing all the notes is only half the battle.
But, it was still something of a landmark, and I thought it worth mentioning on my otherwise sparse blog.
American Idol tryouts. Not nearly as glamorous as you might think. I mean, I had pretty low expectations, and it far exceeded them. Or… deceeded them? Is that a word? Probably not. But, since when has that actually made an ounce of difference to me?
So, the first round of American Idol “auditions” is composed of getting up at 5:00am Saturday morning, driving to Texas Stadium, and standing in line for four hours just to get a ticket and an armband (see previous post). It continues with waking up at 2:30am on Monday morning, driving to Texas Stadium, standing in line for five hours, sitting around for six more hours, all so that you can have the honor, joy, and privilege of experiencing the most built-up thirty seconds of rejection you’re likely to encounter your whole life through.
All that to say, not an experience I expect to ever repeat unless under threat of… well, one of the few things in the world that would be worse than going through that again. That would have to be one creative threatener. Something like, “launched into the sun submerged in acid” or “devoured by piranhas while my bones are slowly being liquefied.”
Well, maybe it wasn’t quite as bad as I’m making it out to be for the sake of an entertaining read. It still wasn’t all that great, either. Fortunately, I went in to this for the experience and the “bragging rights,” though as I’ve already demonstrated, there wasn’t much worth bragging about, so I wasn’t too disappointed when I didn’t make it.
Probably the highlight of the whole ordeal, though, was a girl standing next to us in line, who was holding a sign saying, “Justin Nubby. The Next America Idol.”
Father, it has been… too long since my last confession. Since then, I’ve done many sinful things. I’ve taken countless pennies, but left only one, and that was an accident. I constantly cruise in the left lane going a consistent eight miles and hour under. When I’m with certain company, I refer to my cross necklace as “bling”.
But, Father there’s… there’s something else. Since my last confession, and even since long before then, I’ve been fighting the greatest temptation. It strikes when I least expect it. When I’m walking around the mall, or listening to the radio. Though my flesh wants to indulge, my mind always tells me otherwise.
“Its not worth it,” I tell myself. “Think of the consequences. You have standards, Caleb. What are principles if you completely neglect them?”
But, Father, justification has been slowly gaining ground on my principles, and I fear that they have finally been overtaken. I can fight it no longer, Father. Ready your holy water and excommunication paperwork.
The next installment of my on-going series of “People Care About My Musical Tastes” posts, I thought I would reflect on some of my favorite albums. Why not, right?
As a disclaimer, let me say that by no means do I call this a list of the “10 Greatest Albums of All Time.” No, no, no. I have long recognized and embraced the fact that I have terrible taste in music. Don’t get me wrong, though. I love my taste in music, but as you will soon realize, few people share it. These are just a few of the albums that I’ve enjoyed the most, or have influenced me in one way or another. Anyways, in no particular order:
Boston – Boston (1976)
I bought this album over ten years ago for “More Than A Feeling” and “Long Time.” After I listened to it, I realized that I already knew every song on the album, and they were all incredible. I absolutely love Boston’s style, and it has a real nostalgic feeling to me. I am a huge fan of Classic Rock, and Boston is kind of the epitome of that genre in my mind. From their incredible solos to their dynamic vocals, none can match Boston in my mind.
Room For Squares – John Mayer (2001)
This is a great, almost completely irrelevant album. I love the fact that Mayer’s lyrics deal almost entirely with completely insignificant issues. From reminiscing about High School or childhood to regretting stupid stuff that he said by accident, few of his songs deal with anything of any relative weight. The real genius, though, is in the way he writes, making something as trivial as wishing he could have snapped a picture of a beautiful sunrise, for instance, seem extremely significant without taking himself too seriously. Plus, his music is top-notch. A unique mix of jazz, blues and pop, I find it incredibly refreshing and original. It’s just a great chill-out album.
A Rush of Blood to the Head – Coldplay (2002)
This is one that a lot people probably agree with me on. Coldplay has an amazing ability to create rich, lush sounds with very basic ingredients that I find fascinating. The whole album has a raw, natural, unrefined sound throughout that was actually a turn-off to me at first. Now, though, I think it is one of my favorite things about the album. It’s been extremely overplayed, but I never get tired of it, and I am constantly noticing things about it that I hadn’t noticed before. Plus, this album is really the first that inspired me to want to play pop/rock songs on the piano. Bonus points!
Black Holes & Revelations – Muse (2006)
Muse constantly amazes me. And, that’s not a figure of speech. I still listen to this album, and just sit there dumbstruck sometimes. Even their calmer, more low-key songs are incredibly lush and intense. And when Muse does epic, they do it to catastrophic proportions. The only big complaint that I have is that BH&R (like all of Muse’s stuff) is laden with political overtones, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the most amazing albums I’ve ever encountered.
Kaleidoscope Superior – Earthsuit (2000)
This album is on this list mostly because Kaleidoscope Superior has influenced my drumming more than any other album. When I got this for Christmas in 2000, I had never heard anything like its fusion funk/jazz/rock drumming (or instrumentation in general). It completely changed my concept of drumming, and caused me to think outside of the box as a musician. Even now, I’ve heard few bands that had such a tight, unique rhythm section.
Give Up – The Postal Service (2003)
Another exception, because in my experience, nobody doesn’t like the Postal Service. Myself included. I love the super-emo vocals & lyrics mixed with 8-bit synth and techno effects. It’s almost surreal how those two styles mix together so well on this album. Either one on their own would merely be passively “cool,” but the Postal Service is able to pull them together to create something incredibly unique and catchy.
The Final Countdown – Europe (1986)
Anyone who knows me well should not be surprised that this album is on here (but you’re forgiven if you are). This is one of those albums that humanity as a whole would probably disagree with me on. This is, by all accounts of musicianship and good taste in general, a wretched album. 80′s cheese with a side of 80′s cheese. However, there are few albums that can so consistently put a smile on my face. It’s shallow, it’s lame, and I love it. Absolutely love it.
Room Noises – Eisley (2005)
If I was to fall in love with somebody whom I’ve had no actual interaction with, it would probably be one of the girls from Eisley. It’s difficult for me to explain this album to someone who hasn’t heard it. Lyrically at least, it almost seems like the album is best summed up as “childish,” but it is written in such an innocent, genuine way that it goes beyond being juvenile to more of a post-adolescent reminiscence of an idealized childhood. Which is something that I can completely relate to. Their eclectic music and stunningly beautiful vocals and harmonies only further hurl this album into its rightful place on this list.
Final Fantasy VI – Piano Collections (1994)
This spot should really go to all seven of the Final Fantasy Piano Collections albums, because they have pretty much single-handedly (hepta-handedly?) inspired me to delve into Classical piano. This spot was something of a toss-up between VI and IV, but VI won out because it was the first one that I really got into. Granted, I still feel extremely juvenile when I admit that my entire repertoire of piano music is from a Japanese video game, but the music really speaks for itself, and I honestly think it is some of the most beautiful piano music I’ve ever heard.
Katamari Fortissimo Damacy (2004)
This is the most bizarre, quirky, catchy album I’ve probably ever heard. Not coincidentally, it’s the soundtrack to a Japanese Playstation 2 game, Katamari Damacy. I still don’t really understand the theme or purpose behind the album, except to compile the most diverse group of amazing, happy songs. One song is an excellent Samba/Jazz piece, the next Japanese Pop/Dance, then a folk number, and back to J-Pop. It is extremely unique, quirky, unpredictable, and (most significantly) infectiously cheery. This is an album that frankly must be experienced to be understood. Granted, it’s not something most people would be able to get into right off the bat, but I honestly can’t imagine anybody not falling in love with at least one song on this album after any significant exposure to it.
Well, there you have it. 1,000+ words about music that I like and why I like it. I hope those of you that did actually read it didn’t keel over from boredom or disgust, because I certainly enjoyed writing it.
So, yesterday, I randomly listened to a song that I had never heard before called “Cherry Blossom Color Season” from the Katamari Damacy soundtrack. It’s Japanese kids singing along with a guitar and violins, and I absolutely loved it. It’s gorgeous and super-cheery. It just makes me happy. And, by the end of the day, I had listened to it more than twenty times.