Monday, December 17, 2007



I always liked Stephen King. He writes brilliantly, He’s an XM listener, then here’s an excerpt from his recent interview in TIME:

Do you actually think Britney and Lindsay should be on our cover?Yeah, I do.
Sort of a, 'This is what the media's actually interested it, so let's just put it out there' thing?I think there ought to be some serious discussion by smart people, really smart people, about whether or not proliferation of things like The Smoking Gun and TMZ and YouTube and the whole celebrity culture is healthy. We've switched from a culture that was interested in manufacturing, economics, politics — trying to play a serious part in the world — to a culture that's really entertainment-based. I mean, I know people who can tell you who won the last four seasons on American Idol and they don't know who their f------ Representatives are.
But you've been well in the public eye for decades now. Is it pretty blatant how much worse it's gotten?It's worse every year. And the guy says to me — the Nightline guy — I didn't get the guy's name. Granted, I haven't been feeling real well and it was a long day of interviews. But he said to me, "If we didn't cover cultural things, we wouldn't be covering you and The Mist, and promoting the movie." And I'm like, "Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan aren't cultural." They aren't political. They're economic only in the mildest sense of the word. In fact, if I had to pick somebody, some celebrity who has had some impact this year, some sort of echo in the larger American life, I would say Hannah Montana. That whole issue of online ticket sales and scalping fascinates me. There are [legitimate] issues there about the Internet, so that actually does seem to have some cultural significance.But Britney? Britney Spears is just trailer trash. That's all. I mean, I don't mean to be pejorative. But you observe her behavior for the past five years and you say, "Here's a lady who can't take care of her kids, she can't take care of herself, she has no retirement fund, everything that she gets runs right through her hands." And yet, you know and I know that if you go to those sites that tell you what the most blogged-about things on the Internet are, it's Britney, it's Lindsay. So I think it would be terrific [to have them as TIME Persons of the Year]. There would be such a scream from the American reading public, sure. But at the same time, it's time for somebody to discuss the difference between real news and fake news.
True, in terms of Britney Spears, she's still fairly young. When you were young, fame sort of screwed you up a bit, didn't it?The difference is that Britney is now famous for being famous. Her sales have gone down with almost every album, bigger and bigger jumps, so that nobody really cares about her music anymore. They care about the tabloid headlines and whether or not she's wearing panties. I mean, is this an issue that the American public needs to turn its brainpower on? Britney Spears' lingerie, or lack thereof?

OK---Can't blindly argue with popularity--I get that…but I continue to believe that his comments reflect one of the most important issue our Country faces. A slow growing disease that sneaks up on the public consciousness. In a perfect world, if you correct this dumbing, SO much else GOOD flows from the cultural correction…then again, if it’s not corrected and JUNK CULTURE continues to spiral unchecked—then we are completely fucked and it’s just a matter of time that it’s Rome all over again. You can't tell a Britney fan that they're stupid. Doesn't work that way. It's a bigger mission that real leaders can change. Since we are so driven by Capitalist instincts—I believe that the OPPORTUNITY in “smartening” the culture is huge...and done intelligently and with mass North America in mind, will be a massive one. In other words, there’s money in correcting the Junk Culture mentality…smartening CAN be extremely lucrative. Apple is a favorite rarely see them doing "dumb down" stuff, or clichéd stuff, or 'because the focus group told us so/we do it but we have no clue why' stuff. Saw two surveys showing 89 and 87% of adults have NO interest I hearing about Brittney and Paris in the news…but guess what? It’s still there.

What’s dumb? In my opinion:

*Anything the Simpson’s make fun of. They have the best dumb radar on TV.

*Anything that doesn’t make people’s lives better.

Big money smartening in a world where dumb down or simply being so locked into the business and mechanics of trying to be successful that you are anesthetized on what it actually takes to do it is standard operating procedure among the old line. There's opportunity is being balllsy enough to generating mass appeal lasting quality. As always--BALANCE: Information with innovation with execution. I think the "next big thing" will be SMART.


Saw a poll. Average age of Hannah Montana fans is 9. I actually kind of like that show for what it is. It’s just breezy kid stuff. I’m glad she’s a sensation. I'm glad she's a massive success. A lot different from a "serious" story about Paris Hilton’s DUI. It is what it is. Not dumb...Not smart...just fun stuff for kids.

Then there's Dara Altman is our Attorney here. She brought her Son’s class by. I guess he’s about 12. Hannah is not a player there. All the boys asked about was Jimi Hendrix…Led Zeppelin…Ozzy and Alice Cooper. Reverence. Odd, as each of those could be their grandfather.

Dispatched Lou Brutus and George Taylor Morris to the Led Zeppelin show in London. Lou filed this report:

Set list:
Good Times Bad Times (9pm local time)
Ramble On
Black Dog
In My Time of Dying
For Your Life
Trampled Underfoot
Nobody's Fault But Mine
No Quarter
Since I've Been Loving You
Dazed and Confused
Stairway to Heaven
Song Remains the Same
Misty Mountain Hop
Kashmir (Main set ends 10:51 local time)
(Encore 1)
Whole Lotta Love
(Encore 2)
Rock and Roll (Show over at 11:03 local time)

An incredible show. The first three numbers suffered (very) slightly from some microphone feedback, a less then stellar house PA mix and what appeared to be the band taking a bit of time to find their footing. From the 4th song on it was full steam ahead and they continued to pick up momentum until the end. Once they found their groove it was obvious that they were enjoying themselves immensely. The crowd was riveted from the moment the lights went out. As the show opened the air seemed to go out of the arena and it almost seemed like the 20,000 attending were in a slight state of shock at the site of the band finally playing. A simply breathtaking night. Very well played with exciting musical and emotional moments.

Then there was this….

In their heyday they were the lords of excess - with vodka for breakfast and champagne for supper fuelling a 24-hour party habit.
Yesterday, however, it was clear that Led Zeppelin had come down to Earth after a very long high.
Instead of the notorious "coke" lady employed on their 1973 U.S. tour to keep the rockers rocking, last night's reunion gig was more in need of a tea lady.
More than one million people applied in a lottery for one of the 20,000 seats
The band - reformed for the first time in 19 years - requested little more than a constant flow of caffeine-free herbal tea and sparkling water for their backstage dressing room.
Concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith said: "They are much older now obviously and are very low maintenance. They've asked for cups of tea. We'll have some beer and a bottle of wine for them backstage but they have said they require very little.

..A low maintenance Led Zeppelin….?

If they tour in 08, I’m sure it’ll be amazing as they’ll likely have a clear head to re-interpret their classics. HOWEVER, as unPC as it is to say this, I doubt if anything new they write will be in the Kashmir mode. I believe you HAD to be in the state they were in order to create music like that. They of course can likely still create great new songs, but THOSE kinds of songs are part of the era, the environment and drug induced state they were immersed in. Realistically, a key reason that much Classic Rock was “better then” is because of the time and the head space. Few artists will admit that publicly, but the 1965-1975 era and general environment –and that includes the “mind expansion” stuff common to that era WAS part of the magic they created. You cannot deny that. The upside is that a clear head in the 21st Century makes for better re-interpretations of those songs. Performing them with a clearer head. Those drug hazes come with the turf in that business…it happened…it was part of the music culture and era. I get appalled by those who scorn those drugged out hippies. It’s reality of what it was. A lot of them self destructed. But a lot came out of the tunnel in a positive way. Those who came out of the tunnel can bring new magic to dongs that could have only been created in the environment and time that they were hatched. Hey—I know it’s BAD stuff that comes back to bite you, but at a given time…in a given place, it HAS aided the music process. I’m not condoning...I am just pointing out the reality, as well as the possibilities of presenting the writing on then with the knowledge and clarity of today. As consumers of the output—I’m fine with it as long as the artist doesn’t kill themselves and eventually evolves to a saner state with the experience behind them but without guilt. File it under ‘you had to be there’…

Speaking of drugs, our Baseball channel went OTT in presenting wall-to wall coverage of the Mitchell Report. It was really expertly executed. Kudos to Eric Logan, who as usual, was completely on top of things and commissioned a dedicated channel to READ the whole report. For a baseball fan, it was a remarkable audio resource. And the coverage continued throughout the weekend with REAL PLAYERS telling the story. It was XM at it's best.
Our Led Zeppelin Channel is going to Phase two. Introducing new features… And my favorite: LICKIPEDIA, where our John Stevens teaches listeners classic Page licks. Both are cool.

..Check XM PODCASTS…On I-Tunes.

OK, Presidentially, Obama and Oprah turning politics into a game show?—absolutely silly, and Huckabee with idiotic comments like “"Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?". Actually, I think Jesus and the Devil played in a band together back in the 60’s. Can’t anyone get it right? I think Obama is very fresh and adds a positive dimension to the old boys club of politics—I just hope he doesn’t blow it via the celebrity thing. Nothing against Oprah--she's golden, but the IDEA of celebrity bonding like this...Speaking of Comedy, we wrapped up the first season of UNMASKED. It’s kind of like Artist Confidential, but no music…makes sense since its comedians. We’ve done George Carlin, Bob Newhart, Carlos Mencia, Robert Klein and scores of other timeless and emerging artists of comedy. It’s REALLY an amazing show. We also have a series called “Stand Up Sit Down” that Sonny Fox does. That list is instance, ranging from John Cleese to Bill Cosby. Between the two shows, XM is a funny place.


At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on the iTunes podcasts Lee. I believe the future of audio entertainment lies in the area of personal(on demand) listening and podcasts fit this mold perfectly.

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous George said...

Last Monday I turned on Eddie Trunk's show on XM41 when he said the Led Zeppelin concert was just about finishing up and he had information and phone calls "after these songs", the classic radio tease. I listened for a minute then it dawned on me to tune into the Led Zeppelin Channel on XM59. They would surely have something on the show, right? Wrong, I heard "That's The Way" and "Whole Lotta Love" before turning it off. Isn't that why we have an exclusive Led Zep channel?

At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that it's been confirmed that the Zep reunion was a one-off deal and there'll be no reunion tour, can you please pull the plug on the single-artist channel (Sirius clone) and redistribute the bandwidth to music channels that desperately need it to upgrade their sound quality?

BTW, I agree with "George"; If XM's going to be pimping Led Zep, at least you could have negotiated for exclusive sat-radio rights to the actual concert, either live or same-day delayed.

At 8:26 PM, Blogger Tim said...

unmasked is great, that ronnie b is quite the interviewer. I am still tired of zepplin from the 80's, might listen to them again in 2010


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