Saturday, September 05, 2015

One Thing Is Clear: Backmasking In Secular Rock Music Is Always Negative

This is so much fun.  When I was a kid, I discovered "backmasking" - it was because of a list in a book that had "proof" that Paul McCartney was dead, that the other Beatles left "clues" in songs & in album designs to tell the world about it.  (In case you've never heard this, you can read about it here & here.)  I was completely floored by the backwards segue from "I'm So Tired" to "Blackbird" which seemed to have John Lennon say, "Paul is dead, miss him, miss him."  & then of course, "number nine" backwards is "turn me on, dead man"!  Truth be told, I was a little freaked out by it all.  I took the book - it was called "The Book Of Rock Lists" - & hid it downstairs for a while, afraid it had some kind of weird dark magic.

(When I was a kid, I dearly wanted to believe in magic.  Have I told you my astral projection story?  Remind me to tell you my astral projection story one day.)

It was only later when I found out that some fundamentalist Christians were freaking out about backmasking as somehow the work of satanic forces, which didn't affect me as much because I wasn't really raised Christian, didn't really believe necessarily in Christian mythology, & by that point I was pretty disillusioned by most supernatural stuff.  The Christian trappings made it seem even more unlikely to me.

Besides, if the messages played backwards were so obvious, why did the person presenting the messages have to tell you what you were supposed to hear before they played it?  It's because they needed you to expect to hear what they told you to hear.  Mostly it's just paranoid nonsense used to justify a social agenda.

That doesn't mean it's not fun to listen to!  I found this website which has one of these tapes, the tape booklet of which is above.  The straight face with which this is presented makes it the more ridiculous.  But except for the boring witnessing at the end, the "26 Amazing Examples Of Backward Messages In Rock Music" is pretty entertaining.  Black Oak Arkansas has never felt so relevant!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Self Help Radio 090115: Failure

(Original image here.)

It's only natural a show like Self Help Radio would celebrate failure.  After all, many self-help websites (I know, I read a lot of them this past week) encourage people to learn from their failures, to pick themselves up & dust themselves off, & of course to try, try again.  They consider failure to be a stepping stone - a setback - a speedbump on the road of life.

Only sometimes failure isn't that.  Sometimes - more times than we perhaps know - it's the thing that happens right before the end.  & sometimes - more times than we doubtless know - the end takes a long time.  I'm just saying.  We hear about & applaud those who fail & recover & go on to bigger things.  We hear less about those who fail & never make it out of that failure.

That got depressing fast.  Whew.  Can I just say that today's show, while certainly not a success, wasn't quite the failure I hoped it would be?  I think it helped that there was good music, a sort-of interview with internet sensation Mr. Failure, a report from Marge Most at the Museum Of Failure, & a special "word of encouragement" from the Rev. Dr. Howard Gently.  I tried to keep my head down.

The show can be listened to (unless I failed to upload it properly) at the Self Help Radio website.  If you fail to look at the page, you might not notice there's a username/password combo you'll need to listen to shows.  & what songs you will hear are listed below.

Don't fail to listen!

(part one)

"The Will To Fail" Katie Lee _Songs Of Couch & Consultation_
"Love Will Make You Fail In School" Mickey & Sylvia _Love Is Strange_
"He Hasn't Failed Me Yet" Wendy Rene _You Thrill My Soul: Early Stax Females & Girl Groups_

"I'll Never Fail You" Billie Holiday _The Essential Brunswick Recordings_
"Don't Make Me Fail" The Creary Sisters _Man From Galilee: Tabernacle Studio One_
"There's One Thing That Beats Failing" Bobby Womack _The Very Best Of Bobby Womack 1968-1975_
"Nothing Beats A Failure (But A Try)" The Natural Four _Night Chaser_

"Failures" Joy Division _Heart & Soul_
"Capital (It Fails Us Now)" Gang Of Four _A Brief History Of The 20th Century_
"Rudie Can't Fail" The Clash _London Calling_
"Jeane" The Smiths _This Charming Man_

"Failing In Love" The Waltones _You've Gotta Hand It To 'Em: The Very Best Of The Waltones_
"My Failure's Success" Brighter _Heol_

(part two)

"You Love To Fail" The Magnetic Fields _Distant Plastic Trees_
"Other People's Failure" John Wesley Harding _John Wesley Harding's New Deal_
"I'm So Happy You Failed" Laptop _Opening Credits_

"Failure" My Robot Friend _Soft-Core_
"Failure" A Sunny Day In Glasgow _Ashes Grammar_
"Failure" Kings Of Convenience _Quiet Is The New Loud_
"Failure" Fragile _Popular World_

"Failure" P:ano _The Den_
"Failure" Juliana Hatfield _There's Always Another Girl_
"The King Of Failed" From Bubblegum To Sky _A Soft Kill_
"Holy Failure" Certain General _Invisible New York_

"The Bar Is Too Low To Fail" BOAT _50 Sweaty BOAT Fans Can't Be Wrong_
"Mission Failed" San Cisco _San Cisco_

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Whither Failure?

(I found this here.)

Why a Self Help Radio show about failure?  Are you kidding?  Have you ever met a radio show with such low self-esteem?  All right then.  Why are you so surprised?

Personally I don't think of life as a game or a contest you can win, though I am fond of how comedian Marc Maron describes certain people with the phrase "he or she won life."  I don't think I've in any respect "won" life (Maron used the phrase to describe Iggy Pop, I think), but I also hope that I haven't gotten to the point where the determination can be made that I have failed life.  Give me a couple more years, please!

Hey!  The show is on today from 4 to 6 pm (like usual) on 88.1 fm in Lexington, & online at wrfl dot fm.  If you fail to listen today, I'll archive it tomorrow.  If you fail to listen after that, I'll adopt my best Donald Trump voice & say, "Oh well!  It doesn't matter.  He/she is a failure!"

But I hope it doesn't come to that!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Preface To Failure: The Failure That Is Me

The show - Self Help Radio - was not yet two years old when I got one of the first "criticisms" of it by a listener.  I don't remember her name, I just recall she called & said she had noticed that the show tended to be more "negative" than positive.  She remembered a show I did called "the broken show" where I played songs & talked about being broken.  She mentioned a show about war, about being lost, about being stupid.  It occurred to me at the time that maybe she had actually heard only four shows.*  But there is no denying it: I am a negative person.

When my sister died a couple of months ago, those in my family who are reflective tried to paint a picture of her that was more complete than the moments we spent with her, especially those last moments.  It became very clear to me, at least, that somewhere along the line both she & I had inherited, if not from our mother's behavior, something genetic which made us the blackest of pessimists.  As my nephew, her son, said, "I didn't realize how strong the Dickerson** was in her."

In addition to our bleak outlook on life - we "expect the worst" - apparently we're a bunch of quitters.  Honestly, I thought it was just me.  I have quit a lot of things in my life - I have found catharsis in quitting - but those who see things through obviously disdain even the best intentions for bailing.  I don't know enough about my brothers to know exactly what that means, unless it's about quitting work - except for my little brother, who goes to church, I don't know about any of my siblings having hobbies outside of televised sports.  I should also ask my nephew what his mother quit that he remembers.

In any event, there is reason to believe I'm something of a failure.  I went to college with the intention of becoming a teacher, but that obviously didn't happen.  The "career"*** I had for twenty years is not something I want to return to.  The thing I've loved most is a thing I will never ever get paid for, which is the radio.  Crazy, right?

Do you know those lists of so-called "famous failures" which is designed to make you realize that many successful people fail a lot before they succeed?  I know, it's all about inspiring people.  But I wish I could find a list of failures that never ever succeeded, never got out of the hole they found themselves in.  I can't - they're unmemorable.  Although I have an idea
for something to talk about on the show...

Where was I?  Oh, I was just thinking of whether I am actually a failure.  I confess I don't even know what I'd do if I could somehow find success.  Which reminds me of the sad Woodentops line from "Last Time": "I found success in the Eden that we made."  Maybe my wonderful life with a wonderful woman & eight infuriatingly wonderful animals makes me a few notches above a failure.

Nah.  The Dickerson is too strong in me.

* Actually, someone called me a few months ago on WRFL & mentioned that he liked my show, but that he had only heard it "about four times."  So perhaps four times is the average saturation point.

** That's my last name, my sister's maiden name.

*** The job I had after college that I stumbled into.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

History Section

Sometimes when I'm in a bookstore I stand in the Self-Help section to see if I feel a sense of belonging.  There are Glenn Beck books in the Self-Help section.  That was weird to see.  I guess narcissism is a kind of self-help program, sure.

Today though I was looking for a book about the Middle Ages.  I was at a store whose name suggests that they sell books for half their cover price, although that's not always true.  It's like so-called "dollar stores."  Lots of things there cost much more than a dollar.  But I suppose you could have a store called "Chicken Express" & only sell candles & most people wouldn't bat an eyelid.

As I was saying, something about the Middle Ages.  It's a minor interest of mine.  I am reading a book now about popes.  I wanted some background & most of the articles on Wikipedia about the subject are kind of terrible.  Not really readable.  I wanted something by a person who could actually write.  A writer.  A historian.

Standing therefore was I in the small history section when the fellow who had been standing behind me said to me, "I guess they're all kinda mixed-up, hunh?"

Sensing he wasn't sure how the shelves were organized, I showed him the little flags which indicated the areas about which the books were supposed to be.  Little areas for "England," "Germany," "Eastern Europe," etc.

He said, "I was looking for a book about Scandinavian history."

Suddenly I felt like he thought I was an employee, but I did scan the area where European countries were represented & couldn't find a section about Denmark or Sweden or Finland or Norway.

"Yeah," I said, "there seems to be sections for a lot of countries, like this giant section for Russia, but it seems that the northern European countries got short-shift."

"Got what?" he said.

"Short-shrift," I said.  "Treated poorly, neglected," I added.

"I like that!" he said.

Guess he found something in that section after all.  He's lucky I hadn't yet read about the origin of the phrase.  It was first written down by Shakespeare!  He would've gotten an earful from me.