Sooooo…The Phone Can Tell Me If It’s Raining?

May 12, 2012

I have never negotiated a hostage release.

I am not a surgeon awaiting word that an organ needed for me to perform a transplant is on ice.

Those are two of a cornucopia of reasons that I didn’t bother getting a cellphone until two years ago.

The phone I have is basic, a mere conveyance for telecommunication that would have been an impressive device in a ’70s sci-fi flick from my childhood.

It would have still wowed us when I was in college and Gordon Gekko had a mobile phone the size of a brick pressed to his head.

My phone doesn’t talk to me or advise me.

I keep seeing a commercial for the iPhone in which Zooey Deschanel asks her phone if it’s raining.

Her home doesn’t appear to be very large. In fact, it has a cozy bungalow feel. So, unless the place isn’t hers and she secretely lives in the attic, there has to be a window within a few steps.

In fact, as the voice in the phone gives an affirmative on the precipitation, Zooey is shown peering out the window.

Thus, you might not need a weatherman, to know which way the wind blows, but apparently a talking phone is needed to know if it is raining.

I’ve read that mountain gorillas in the wild have been observed to remain in their nests, delaying the start of their day, if they wake and it is raining.

Without a phone to tell them, the gorillas are able to figure out that it is indeed raining and have the good sense to stay in bed.

Undoubtedly, they will be ruling the planet in the future.

A search for songs about “talk” yielded a few dozen. Here are four of them that seemed good for today…

The Tubes – Talk To Ya Later
from The Completion Backward Principle (1981)

I was well acquainted with The Tubes via a high school buddy who worshipped the band. Though The Completion Backward Principle probably mortified long-time fans of the band’s more outrageous stuff, my friends and I loved it.

The slick, new-wave tinged Talk To Ya Later featured Toto’s Steve Lukather on guitar was infectious beyond belief and its title became our salutation for years to come.

A Flock Of Seagulls – (It’s Not Me) Talking
from Listen (1983)

When A Flock Of Seagulls arrived with I Ran (So Far Away) and their self-titled debut, I quickly adopted the Liverpool quartet as my own. I was hearing the music of the future and I wasn’t about to be left behind.

The future was short-lived, but it was fun while it lasted and the band left behind more than just their lone hit in an underrated catalog that produced two wildly entertaining albums.

The hyperkinteic (It’s Not Me) Talking is about a man who believes that he is receiving messages from aliens in his head.

The Alan Parsons Project – Let’s Talk About Me
from Vulture Culture (1985)

The progressive-pop/rock consortium The Alan Parsons produced a string of successful albums during the latter half of the ’70s and early ’80s. Songs like I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You, Games People Play, Eye In The Sky, and Don’t Answer Me were radio staples during those years.

Vulture Culture marked the beginning of the decline in The Alan Parsons Project’s commercial fortunes. However, I did hear the catchy Let’s Talk About Me fairly often on rock radio during the spring of ’85.

Bongwater – Everybody’s Talkin’
from The Big Sell-Out (1992)

I discovered the avant-garde, art-rock duo Bongwater through Paloma with their gorgeous cover of Roky Erickson’s You Don’t Love Me, Yet on a various artist tribute to the Austin cult musician.

On The Big Sell-Out, Bongwater’s final release, the pair offered up a strange, surreal take on the Fred Neil/Harry Neilsen classic Everybody’s Talkin’ that reimagines it as a spoken word tale delivered by a failed actress who has had a nervous breakdown and believes she is actually working with suicidal people.

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“We have a piper down. I repeat – a piper is down!”

January 31, 2009

Well, not exactly a piper, but a drum major…

As further proof that everyone gets their fifteen minutes, John Coleman has popped up in headlines the last few days. Coleman has left the pipe and drum regiment of which he was a member because he waved to Barack Obama during the inaugural parade.

So, yeah, I suppose he violated the esprit de corps and broke ranks with his fellow pipers and drummers, but it’s an understandable, spontaneous lapse in decorum. It’s not like he molested a collie.

The article I read made me feel like this incident has left Coleman a broken man (“burned bridges” and “hurt feelings” are mentioned). Sure, it’s probably a bummer as he’s been with the band for 17 years and I suppose finding a pipe and drum band to join is probably in needle/haystack territory.

However, in the long run, I think he’s coming out ahead.

Thirty years from now, he’s retired and living in some condo enclave (though, he’s not entirely relaxed) in Florida (unless, due to a rise in the oceans, South Georgia is on the coast three decades from now).

Coleman will be the toast of the compound, though. He can regal them with embellished tales.

“Yeah, I was a drummer in a band…”

The women will swoon, their eyes glazing over (except for the ones who might once have dated a drummer), having spent decades married to bankers, plumbers, doctors, and others engaged in more mundane professions.

The men – most of who will have once aspired to be in a band – will take a jab to their egos (except for the ones who might once have had a drummer crash on their couch for more than a year).

The tale will conclude – each and every time – with him recounting getting kicked out of the band, how it was politically motivated by a controversial incident involving him and Barack Obama during his band’s gig on the day Obama was sworn in.

The chicks are going to dig John. I have no doubt.

He might even be able to put the band back together.

Todd Rundgren – Bang On The Drum All Day
Pound for pound, few artists over the past forty years have made as much wonderful music that has been as relatively ignored as Todd Rundgren. Sadly, Bang The Drum All Day, is probably one of his better-known songs as it seemed every radio station would play this song on Fridays.

The Beautiful South – You Play Glockenspiel, I’ll Play Drums
I can’t say I’m overly familiar with The Beautiful South (despite owning several albums), but what I have heard is consistently wonderful.

Peter Gabriel – A Different Drum
Peter Gabriel’s music for the movie The Last Temptation Of Christ is powerful stuff, drawing on Middle Eastern instrumentation. A Different Drum is certainly one of my favorite tracks from that album.

Bongwater – The Drum
Bongwater was a strange little duo (which is not surprising as they opted for the moniker Bongwater). Singer Ann Magnuson has popped up as an actress on a handful of mainstream movies and television shows, quite against type as Bongwater was as much avant garde performance art as music.