Fight the Power

Radio Raheem

Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It’s a tale of good and evil. Hate: it was with this hand that Cain iced his brother. Love: these five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished. But hold on, stop the presses, the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Ooh, it’s a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Left-Hand Hate KOed by Love.

–Radio Raheem

In the wake of the expected, yet unfortunate news that Darren Wilson won’t be charged in Michael Brown’s killing and the violence that is sure to follow, I felt like this was more important than ever. It’s very easy to give in to the hatred that has been simmering under the surface in the months since this shooting. Yet, wouldn’t it be something if we rose above it all and conquered the world with love and not hate.

Just something to think about. Always do the right thing.

Natural Blues

Christina Ricci and Moby

2014 marks some the anniversary for some absolutely fantastic albums, so I thought it would be fun to write about some of my favorite albums that came out a gulp long time ago. This is the first post of a multi-part series.

Eminem may have been right that no one listens to techno anymore, but for one glorious moment in 1999, a bald headed vegan techno DJ became a big deal in the music world, almost by accident. If you think about it, it’s kind of amazing that Moby had such a blip of success. When Play came out in May of 1999, he was a has-been DJ. After getting a major label deal in the mid 90s, he put out Animal Rights, a punk record that turned off both critic and fan alike. There were low expectations for Play, and it was slow to take off once it was released. Yet, history has a funny way of making something of nothing, and now we regard Play as the high point of Moby’s career, exactly at the point he thought he was washed up and was ready to get out of the music business all together.

It’s funny how it happens too, because Play is an album that’s really all over the place. Everyone remembers the Alan Lomax stuff, and for good reasons. “Honey”, “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?”, “Run On”, and “Natural Blues” are all phenomenal songs. To be frank, “Natural Blues” is still my all time favorite Moby song. Yet, there’s a lot more going on here. There’s a lot of wonderfully ambient stuff on this album. Most people remember “Porcelain”, which while not being one of the best ambient songs Moby’s ever done, is quite good. There’s even some more rock sounding stuff on here. If there’s one thing people really remember, it’s the video from “South Side”, and mostly because Gwen Stefani was in it. She wasn’t even on the album version of the song. Apparently, she was supposed to be, but something happened and they couldn’t get her on it, but she’s in the video (and in subsequent pressings of the CD, they include the version with her in it, so you’re something of a fan if you have the original one with just Moby singing on it). That was the thing that really launched Moby out there.

Well, that, and the fact that Play was the first album that had every single one of its tracks licensed for a commercial, movie, or TV show (this is a pretty good telling of just how that happened. Tanking your career with an album that everyone hates makes for some interesting ideas on how to market your next work). It’s only happened twice since apparently. You may not remember hearing that song on the radio, but you sure heard it on every other commercial you saw on TV between 1999 and 2002 or so. It’s one of those fantastic things that happens to come together and serendipitously make an album that was expected to do nothing in sales actually do several million sales and become the album everyone remembers you for.

Of course, what goes up must come down, and it didn’t really take Moby all that long to come back down. The albums that followed have never generated the same level of buzz and Moby has retreated to being a niche artist these days, but I still love him. And for a brief moment 15 years ago, so did everyone else.