In One Ear

And here’s where my inbox is inundated with missives by hipsters abusing me, telling me I don’t know shit, that I’m behind the times, that I’d better do the public a favor and stop writing.

I was driving from Santa Monica to Pacific Palisades pushing the buttons on satellite radio.  First I heard a live version of John Mayer’s "Half Of My Heart" that sounded incredibly good, more about that later, and pushing the buttons I landed on Cage The Elephant’s "In One Ear" on Lithium.

Sometimes you’re in one of those moods where everything sounds good, although having a great time, you doubt your taste, you ask yourself HOW IS THIS GOING TO SOUND AT HOME?

So I whipped out my BlackBerry and sent myself a note about both, and I just dialed up "In One Ear" on Spotify…

And then I hit the Web.

I want you to check out this cartoon Christine at Q Prime sent me:

That’s how we listen to music these days.  We immediately do RESEARCH!

I went to iTunes to check the action, to see what the reviews said, to find out when the album was released.

2009…  Boy am I behind the curve.

Then I went to Wikipedia to find out more.

And while that page was rendering, I looked up the lyrics to "In One Ear" and pulled up the band’s homepage too.

And then scrolling back down the Wikipedia page, I found out "In One Ear" WENT TO NUMBER ONE!

Holy shit, let the abuse begin.  Aren’t I supposed to know this shit?

Then again, clicking through to the Wikipedia page for "In One Ear", I found out the single didn’t hit number one on the Alternative chart until AUGUST 7TH!  A full fifteen months after it was released as a single in March 2009.  It took that long to make it!  And this is for a band that wanted the success, that wanted to make it.  How do I know?  THE LYRICS!

They say that we ain’t got the style, we ain’t got the class
We ain’t got the tunes that’s goin’ to put us on the map
And I’m a phony in disguise, tryin’ to make the radio
I’m an anti-social anarchist who sounds like so and so

You’ve got to give these guys credit, at least they own their shit!

But the reason "In One Ear" is so great is the chorus.  The verses are good lyrically, but they’re somewhat pedestrian, they’re not good enough to make a hit, they’re singsongy, you can hear this stuff in clubs played by a zillion wannabe bands.  Then…

It goes in one ear and right out the other
People talkin’ shit, but you know I never bother
It goes in one ear and right out the other
People talkin’ shit, they can kiss the back of my hand

Sure, the lyrics are good, they’ve got the rock and roll attitude, but it’s the changes that grip you, make you want to sing along. The verse is just a set-up for this incredible chorus!

You want to go to the show and nod your head, singing along with your fist in the air.  But until Cage The Elephant comes to your town, you’ll satisfy yourself by doing this in your car.

Yes, in a crazy mixed-up shook-up world where the rich want more and the poor have no alternative we look to music to energize us, make us feel good.  We don’t want you aligned with the man, we want you separate, like us.  Coke and the rest of the corporations are not looking to sponsor nobodies.  But the nation is FULL OF NOBODIES!

Then again, maybe Cage The Elephant has sold out and I’ll find out and be off them in a couple of days, isn’t that the essence of the graphic linked to above?

Meanwhile, "Half Of My Heart" was part of "Battle Studies", released back in November.  I loved "Who Says", but I didn’t get deeper.  The album didn’t immediately hook me and even Mayer said it was substandard and I’ve only got so much time and you can only listen to one song at one time.

And now I’ve dialed up the studio take on Spotify.  And it’s good.  But the live track they played on the Coffee House last night was INCREDIBLE!  It wasn’t perfect, it was just John and his guitar, it was so intimate, it was like I was in a club and he was playing just for me.

Hell, maybe Mayer will be playing clubs soon!

Why are they blowing out tickets for his show?

They say it’s his "Playboy" comments.  I don’t agree.  I think it’s the lack of success of this new album, relatively.  But even more, people want to tear him down, he got too big for his britches, he needed to be taken down a notch, and the casual ticket buyer decided to pass, after all, the guy’s been on the road endlessly.

Meanwhile, just when the public starts turning its head, THAT’S WHEN I GET ON BOARD!

Yes, the mainstream is denigrating him and I’m getting hooked.

Ain’t that the modern era.  We’ve got supposed experts in the mainstream telling us what’s going on when they’re completely clueless.  Just like most people have no idea what’s really going on in politics, never mind on Wall Street, they certainly are out of the loop in music.  There’s just too much.

But when you stumble upon something, and it’s great, you’re thrilled even if it came out years before!  That’s why kids love classic rock.

Satellite radio is my trusted filter.  But there are over a hundred stations.  I’ve got to surf to your track by accident.  But when I do…

You can hate Mayer, and part of me still does, the part that sees his visage all over the Web, but I know when someone’s got talent, when someone’s put in the hours, when he’s gotten himself to the point where he can create without being uptight about making it and come through with something naturally.  This is what keeps Clapton atop the heap.  When he stopped wailing and went acoustic, went intimate, that’s when he cemented his place in the firmament.

But we live in a track world.  Just because I love "Half Of My Heart", that doesn’t mean I’m gonna listen to the rest of Mayer’s album…  There’s too much else to listen to!  Then again, now that I like "Half Of My Heart" and "Who Says" I’m nearing the tipping point, just a couple more tracks and I’ll go on a Mayer marathon, in search of everything he’s ever recorded, b-sides, rare takes… That’s how it works today.  We want nothing.  We accede to a little.  Then we want EVERYTHING!

So even though it looks like you may not be making it today, all that "ignored" work may be devoured years down the road, you never know.  Then again, are you willing to practice?

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