Giles Martin-This Week’s Podcast

If you want to learn about the music for “Love” in Vegas and remixing “Sgt. Pepper” and being the son of a legendary father, THIS IS THE PLACE!

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Giles Martin-This Week’s Podcast




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We finished it yesterday.

For those playing the home game, yesterday was my birthday. With its triple tradition of Langer’s pastrami, hot fudge sundae and a movie or two or three.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

Actually, I prefer to be skiing on my birthday, but the prednisone has my calf freaking out and every time I think I’m out of the woods I’m pushed back into rehab/frailty/recovery and it’s getting damn old. Somehow I missed the whole ski season, and I ain’t happy about it.

Anyway, Saturday I interviewed Moby for a podcast at the L.A. “Times” Festival of Books, and only one person left during the whole presentation, that may be a new record! You see Richard Melville Hall was riveting. He’s soft-spoken, but what he says… He defies the image of nonverbal musician, he’s smart, erudite, he’s thought about it and when he speaks…

He tried really hard to follow up “Play,” he wanted to continue to surf the fame/model continuum. But he couldn’t. And he’s adjusted in the wake, given up drugs and alcohol, happy to be blessed by the little things in life. We call that perspective, and few have it.

Then we moseyed over to a tent to hear the L.A. “Times” editorial board give its perspective. Which was pretty interesting. Because the paper has more power than any entity, just less power than ever before. I realized this at the “Alta” party the night previous. “Alta” is a new California magazine and they commissioned a story from me so I thought I’d better show up and meet the brass. I connected with “Alta”‘s owner William Randolph Hearst III, who I’d spoken with on the phone for an hour the month before, and I connected with the editor and his number two, but I was stunned how many people didn’t know who I was. Because fame ain’t what it’s cracked up to be anymore. I realized this when my inbox filled up with messages from people who’d never heard an Avicii song. I realized this when everybody at Coachella was raving about Beyonce’s performance and everybody who wasn’t there couldn’t care less. This is not a judgment on the art, although I’m willing to do that, are Beyonce’s songs as memorable as those of Prince, Aretha or Joni Mitchell, is that how far we’ve come, where performance trumps music? And the truth is you can’t say this, because she’s black and a woman, but it’s this same groupthink/silence that’s preventing progress. Unless we can hash these issues out, discuss them, include men in the #MeToo movement, as David Chappelle so eloquently said, we’re not gonna get to the destination.

And Saturday night I went to this charity function in Calabasas, way up in the hills, behind the gates, at the home of producer John Feldmann. There were a lot of players there. Jason Flom, John Alagia, ZZ Ward, Robby Krieger, and talking amongst ourselves it became clear…

It’s a business again.

It used to be the fame game, a way to make millions, now everybody’s hustling and struggling and to tell you the truth, the highlight was the charity component, these ex-military men at VETPAW

Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife

saving the rhinos. But Greta Van Fleet performed and I can trumpet my inclusion but the truth is…

I enjoyed watching “Fauda” more.

That’s right, after sneaking away from the Festival of Books to get a #19 at Langer’s before they closed on Saturday, since they’re not open on Sunday, partaking of their pastrami chili cheese fries in addition

Langer’s pastrami chili cheese fries

we went to Brent’s for brunch on Sunday, where I loaded up on lox and whitefish, and then went off to the Holocaust Museum and finally to the couch, to finish “Fauda.

Arab/Israeli relations. We’ve got the biased, like the anti-Semitic Roger Waters, imploring people not to perform in Israel, and we’ve got Natalie Portman refusing to accept an award, which I think is more about her image than her politics, and the truth is…

I’m not in support of the settlements.

I’m not in agreement with Netanyahu on so much.

But the truth is Israel can only lose once and it’s done. All over. And that’s the goal of Hamas. No two state solution. No hashed-out agreement, just extinction. And I deplore the deaths of Arabs at the hands of Israelis at the border but you must read Bret Stephens from Saturday’s “New York Times” for perspective. This is the goal of Hamas, to gain sympathy, to get the world’s support for their position:

“Jewish Power at 70 Years”

But it’s not only that, the truth is anti-Semitism is rampant, and Stephens delineates this, and one of the head-spinning experiences at the Holocaust Museum is all the newspapers highlighting what was going on in Europe back in the thirties and we Americans did nothing. We’re always told we didn’t know, but there it is, we did.

And “Fauda” is a Netflix series about the Arab/Israeli conflict on the border.

I watched it because Cliff Burnstein recommended it. And I trust him, he’s one of the most intellectual people in the music business.

But the ratings are not as good as some other shows but we were a bit sick of whodunits, although the fourth season of “Bosch” is STUPENDOUS! You must watch it on Amazon Prime.

Anyway, “Fauda” is twelve episodes about an elite Israeli team trying to kill a supposedly already dead terrorist. And people are blown up and killed willy-nilly and you realize how precious life truly is. And the landscape is raw and in so many ways inhospitable, the most modern things are the cars.

But the people…

The Israelis focus on the mission more than their everyday lives.

And the Arabs…are willing to be martyrs.

And you wonder how there can ever be a solution.

And this is not American television, where everybody’s beautiful. But by time you watch a few episodes you fall in love with some of the characters. The lead, Doron…he’s fierce and driven, he’s not a hothead, but he will follow his own direction, he’s more of an American hero than anybody in our movies or government today. And Shirin, the Arab doctor, has one of the worst noses in film history. But you watch her long enough and you no longer see it, she too is beautiful, illustrating character trumps image.

And everybody else…

Is living on the edge.

Wanna feel really alive?

Be close to death.

And is the mission more important than humanity? Can you park your feelings at the door and just execute? And can anybody lose their life in a terrorist incident just that quickly? And…

You see modern warfare.

We hear so much about the NRA and guns and the Second Amendment that we fail to realize today’s combat is done via drones and technology. They know where you are, they can spy on you via satellites. And both teams know each other. That’s right, the Arabs and the Israelis interact constantly, trade secrets and prisoners and it’s hard to keep the characters straight and you watch long enough and you wonder what they’re fighting for.

And if the fighting can ever end.

So I’ve seen more watchable series. And if you don’t like to grimace and groan, this is not for you. But “Fauda” exposes you to truth that’s out there that we ignore, or are unaware exists.

And that’s what I did last night, finish the series, and eat some carrot cake and left over pastrami. After having a Carvel hot fudge sundae. After not going to the movies.

I looked, I tried. I could go see the horror movie “A Quiet Place” or the autism love story “Keep The Change” at the Laemmle, yet why go to see them or the poorly-reviewed Amy Schumer comedy when there’s so much entertainment at home and speaking of entertainment…

I like mine visceral, I like mine real, I like to feel like I’m being tested, brought to the edge. And I’m sure attendees at Coachella had a good time, but I didn’t see any envelope pushing, that’s no longer the point, it’s all about feeling good in a world where musicians have turned themselves into second class citizens, pawns in the game, believing if they’re getting paid then success is achieved, not knowing message is paramount, and that message must be in the record itself.

Maybe a change is coming, I certainly hope so. Hell, if you want to see zombies, just look at the walking dead who’ve been in the music business for thirty years, like my compatriots at the charity event, we’re shell-shocked.

And then I fire up Netflix and feel fully alive.

On my birthday.


I am the only one fucked up about this?

I was at a doctor’s appointment and when I got out my phone was blowing up. Put me in a bad mood, ruined my whole day.

Death is final. What about this do young people not understand?

I’m not sure what happened here. But I’m thinking it’s drugs, it’s always drugs, especially when it comes out of the blue. Sure, Avicii spoke of health problems before, they caused him to retire from the road, but what was he doing in Oman anyway.

But he’s gone now, we’ll get no answers, what went through his head, he’s just another casualty on the music road. But at 28? THAT’S CRIMINAL!

Now this is having the wrong tone. Funny how between your brain and your fingers your thoughts change.

But why does this have to happen? Why are drugs glorified by the music set? Is that what makes you a rebel, doing drugs?

And I know sometimes they’re used to deal with the lifestyle, but how come the handlers don’t acknowledge this. But the truth is musicians are like racehorses, run into the ground, shot when they’re broken, sometimes by themselves. They’re not seen as people.

Life is short, but in truth it’s really long. And it’s not a constant upward arc. Nobody’s on top forever. The key is to adjust and to live.

And sure, taking a break can sometimes mean you’re passed over.

But at least you get a chance to come back.

I always think about what Joe Walsh said, that the challenge is LIVING!

So it’s kinda like school shootings. Everyone laments the deceased’s passing, talks about what a wonderful person they were, how great their music was, and then it’s business as usual.

Meanwhile, what kind of outlaw ties up with corporations, doing sponsorships? If it’s about image, your credibility is immediately shot.

So we never get to hear another Avicii song. Oh, they’ll plumb the archives, come up with something, hell, Jimi Hendrix just made a new record. But imagine what Jimi Hendrix would be playing today.

Then again, the longer you live the less of a legend you are. You’re revealed to be normal, with foibles.

But ain’t that the truth, how we’re all equal under the skin, normal?

And I don’t want to stop typing, because I’ll be left with that creepy feeling again. The exact opposite of how I felt when I heard “Wake Me Up” come out of the speakers for the very first time. It’s hard to have a hit, but it’s even harder to create a track you only have to hear once to get, that you’ve got to hear incessantly, over and over again, until it’s so embedded in your brain you can play it to yourself. That’s what Avicii achieved.

And there will be more hits. Time marches on. That’s what the dead don’t realize, no one is that important, everyone is superseded, time doesn’t stop.

It’s bad enough when people are ill, get cancer…but when you mistreat yourself…

Like all the people still smoking. Why do you think you’re the exception? You’re gonna get old and wanna live but you won’t. And your spouse and your children will be so disappointed when you’re gone.

I didn’t even know Avicii and I’m disappointed when he’s gone.

And they must reveal the cause of death for all these people who die before their time, although it will come out, it almost always does. We demand it as human beings. Life is a struggle under the best of circumstances, we want answers, explanations, guidance, we don’t want to think we can just go along minding our business and have it all end.

But it can. In an automobile accident. Or maybe your time is up, like that woman sucked out of that Southwest plane.

Tom Petty O.D.’ed. As did Prince. And they might not have had hits recently, but if you saw them perform they were still at the top of their game.

And Bonzo killed Led Zeppelin with his death.

And I’m not saying everybody can stand up and fly straight.

But the truth is the body is quite resilient. It takes a lot to kill yourself.

Drugs are not cool. No matter what you say.

It’s uncool to say that, but all my best highs have been natural, when I’m fully aware and can experience the excellence.

I know, I know, I should be lauding Tim Bergling, talk about how wonderful he was.

But the truth is I’m still here and he’s not. And I’m off-kilter, I’ve got this horrible feeling inside.


Little League

I lived to play baseball.

This was back when the Yankees never lost and the Giants were in San Francisco and the biggest stars in the game were Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. I knew that Mickey grew up in Oklahoma and suffered from osteomyelitis and I purchased a biography of the Say Hey Kid on vacation in Atlantic City that I never read and I listened to the game on my transistor, under my pillow, I was addicted.

Not that my father paved the way. My mother was very athletic, she played golf, she’d watch the game, but my father never would.

But he stoked my jones, buying me a glove, taking me to the Stadium, but even more than being a fan I liked to play.

This was back when you’d leave the house and tell your mother you’d be home for dinner, when she had no idea where you really were, not that she was worried. And sure, there were some couch potatoes, but most kids played outside, sometimes making up their own games, I remember building miniature golf courses in the backyard, and walking up to the schoolyard to play baseball.

It wasn’t organized. It was just whoever showed up. And you knew who was good and you knew who was bad but you chose teams and decided who’d be up first by choking up on the bat.

Actually, I never walked, I always rode my bike, before you had to lock it up, when tires were fat and pedaling was slow and you had to haul it up a hill but the bike was just a vehicle…

To the diamond.

And in my town there were three leagues, National, American and Greenfield Hill. And ultimately, in July, a town championship played amongst the three. We made it all the way back in ’64, but were bounced in the final in ’65. In ’63 we didn’t make it at all, I was on the Beechmont Dairy team, one of two designated ten year olds, I got a weak infield hit before I went to camp, I never told the coach I was going, missing the final four games, and when I showed up the following season to play…

I got cut.

Now this was back when it used to snow. Although it’s snowing again now, how wacky is the weather? But you never brought out the ball in February, it was unheard of, but as soon as you got to March 1st…

It was baseball season!

We watched the Grapefruit League on TV, but even more we threw the ball, even though the ground might still be frozen. We were ready.

And in Connecticut in March, the winds are fierce. To the point where it would impact the game. But we played anyway.

And tryouts began on April 1st.

By time you hit April…

It was spring. It was not gonna snow again. There were occasionally winds, but practice was never canceled.

There was a new coach for Beechmont Dairy, his son had to play, therefore I got bounced. But I ended up on a much better team, the Korner Market, where down the street they had the team photos in the store, coached by Mr. Russo, who only had girls, who was into the game, who was doing it to give back, where are these people today?

My father knew him, he was a liquor salesman and my dad owned a liquor store.

And we had a very good team.

Opening day was right around now. We’d all go down to Gould Manor Park where we’d strut around in our uniforms and there would be introductions and a game and my parents would come with me, which was the only time they’d show up. Oh, once during the season maybe my dad would come, but when they moved the field further away he never did.

And if we won, we got Dairy Queen.

If we lost, we headed home heads down, dejected.

But I lived to play.

And I thought of all this when I looked out the window last night and it was still light at 7:30. You see at the beginning of the season that was always a factor, whether the six inning game would make it to the end, before it got dark. You’d be fighting the light, it would be hard to see the ball, but as spring moved on this was no longer an issue.

And it was not like Los Angeles, because of the humidity spring would get HOT! You didn’t need a jacket when you rode your bicycle, but you didn’t go to the beach and swim the day of a game, that would slow you down, but that was the only precaution.

I know it’s different now. I know little kids play soccer. And then comes t-ball. And everybody gets a trophy. But back in my day…

You either had the goods or you didn’t. Either you made the team or you didn’t. And a trophy meant everything.

Maybe that’s the difference between baby boomers and their children. We strove towards excellence, it was more important than being a member of the group. Then again, we were bullied with no pushback from our parents. We endured and we survived. Physically anyway.

And I never watch baseball anymore. I got out when the teams went to double knits. And now it’s even worse, because of the dedication of my brethren, my fellow baby boomers. They believe the game will keep them young. But the players are faceless and the kids would rather play eSports and the excitement is gone.

But still… The one great thing about baseball is it ain’t over till it’s over, you can always come back.

Like life.