If I Had a Million Dollars…

I taught a writing lesson to first graders this week about “If I Had a Lot of Money.” I remembered the old Barenaked Ladies song, “If I Had a Million Dollars” and played it for them. One kid said, “Why can’t I stop singing this song?” One kid said, “That’s not true, you can’t buy love.” He got a star for saying that. Continue reading

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Kanye West: Awards Aren’t the Only Measure of Art (OR Celebrity in the Age of Celebrities)

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s, Dennis, had a hard time a few weeks ago when he found himself being rated (very low scores) by women on a group-dating site. Dennis is usually a charming sociopath; he is witty and charismatic before ultimately disappointing any possible paramours by avoiding contact or outrightly disrespecting them. But now, completely overcome by a desire for good ratings, he forgot how to be charming, and was solely focused on his one star rating. Continue reading

Pearl Jam is Back

There was a time, between hair metal and boy bands, when MTV still played videos, and radio wasn’t streaming online, that scruffy dudes in flannel and Doc Martens ruled the airwaves. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and, arguably, to a lesser degree, Soundgarden were the kings of rock radio. They wrote songs about teenage angst, depression, suicide, drugs, metaphors for the new comfortable life our generation was provided and the emptiness that was found within such coziness. Continue reading

Samuel and Jimi Hendrix

One of the best things about teaching ESL is that you meet awesome students. You can meet impressive, precocious youngsters who correct your grammar or wild, excitable hooligans that are incapable of sitting still. You can meet demure, sweet kids who draw you cute pictures or give you their last piece of candy. You can meet the kindergarten munchkins who’ll tell you they love you every day. You can also meet a kid like Samuel. Continue reading

God Bless The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead, the quintessential hippie rock band, forged in the belly of the San Francisco underground Acid Tests, has kept us all rolling, twirling and tripping along with them on their long, strange trip since 1967 with the release of their first album. They have gained and lost band members, written timeless songs, and allowed us all an excuse to feel that freeing feeling of communal liberation that is, a Grateful Dead show. Continue reading

강남 스타일 = Gangnam Style

About 12 years ago, PSY hit the K-pop airwaves with his first album, immediately being fined for its inappropriate nature for sensitive Korean listeners. He remained his idiosyncratic self throughout the next decade, singing, writing, getting busted for marijuana, serving his mandatory military time, and getting married with children. This is also a guy who studied at Boston U, and University of Berklee. Moreover, he is fluent in English, making him a marketer’s dream. About a month ago, he released the amazingly irresistible video, “Gangnam Style.” It was all over Korea. We spoke about how this could totally be a hit song in America. We were right. Continue reading

The Sounds of Music

The Sound of Music, a whimsical musical which belies the serious undertones of the Nazi takeover of Austria, features songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, came out in 1965 at the moment of America escalating the Vietnam War. It is a war movie, despite the happiness of its songs. It is magical, it is fantastic, and it is a classic. And I never saw it until I was 30 years old. Continue reading

Music: of the People, by the People, and for the People

Did you ever wish you could go back to the first time you heard a song? Back to where you were when “Thong Song” blasted out of your friend’s convertible one crazy midsummer night, or any of the wonderfully great rap songs of the 90’s that helped define summers. What about the first time you heard “November Rain” or “Sweet Child O’ Mine” ripping your eardrums open without ever thinking of turning it down. Continue reading