Learned to Play "Annie’s Song" on the Guitar (53/366)

“No one taught me how to kip or climb a rope”
Annie Sakamoto

Two cool things are happening today. It’s my dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad!), and today they’re announcing the first WOD in the CrossFit Open, which essentially means the 2012 CrossFit Games are gonna be underway (Nick and I went to the Games last year for the first time). The Open is a worldwide, 5-week event where anyone who registers can compete with CrossFitters from around the globe, and for the truly elite, earn a spot at the Games.

I wanted to do something for my dad today, and I know my dad used to really like John Denver‘s music. I thought I’d learn “Annie’s Song” (one of Denver’s greatest hits, which he wrote for his then-wife) on the guitar, and then I found out Nick had never even heard the song before. So I decided I really did have to learn that one, and I found the chords here. But also wanted to do something to celebrate the Open, and one of the original CrossFitters – my CrossFit heroine, Annie Sakamoto – so of course I couldn’t leave well enough alone; I changed the lyrics a bit.

Here’s an example of the original:

And here’s my version of “Annie’s Song”. Please turn the sound down low, and enjoy.

Related Links:
John Denver’s Definitive All-Time Greatest Hits


Seen Nirvana "Live at the Paramount" (51/366)

“The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.”
Kurt Cobain

Today is Kurt Cobain’s birthday and marks the day Kurt would have turned 45. His band Nirvana changed the face of the music industry forever in the 90’s, and Kurt Cobain is Nick’s favorite musician of all time. When he died, he was only 27 years old. While he left us way too young, he certainly did his duty as he saw it – he challenged all established boundaries and rules of music in the rock world.

I’ve been a Nirvana fan since their single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came out in 1991 from their second album, “Nevermind“, but I never got to go to a concert. When the 20th Anniversary of Nevermind was celebrated last year, a previously unreleased concert, “Live At The Paramount” was made available and Nick snagged a limited edition copy. We were stoked to watch it tonight.

Here’s the trailer:

“Live At the Paramount” is the only Nirvana concert that was shot on 16mm film, and it really was a fantastic recording. Nirvana’s music is very emotional – sometimes angry, sometimes contemplative, always raw – and that came through in their live performance, which I was so happy to see. There are unfortunately plenty of musical acts that have good sounding albums but are not too great when it comes to live concerts. Nirvana was not one of them. The energy and dedication to the music that the band shows is enthralling. When all of your songs are as emotionally charged as Nirvana’s, it’s not an easy task to give so much of yourself at every performance – but that’s another reason Nirvana was such a great band – because they did write their own songs, and that makes every one that much more powerful, and important to the group.

I’m really glad I got to see this concert. While it’s sad to be reminded of the tragedy of loss in the story of Kurt Cobain, it’s also comforting to be able to appreciate his talent, his spirit, and his humanness by seeing him perform, and nice to know that that performance is captured for others to enjoy even though he is gone.

Related Links:
Nevermind 20th Anniversary Special Release [4CD/DVD Super Deluxe]
Nirvana: Live at the Paramount [Blu-ray]
Nirvana: Live at the Paramount [DVD]
Smells Like Teen Spirit Single
Nevermind Album

Watched the Grammys (43/366)

“When I heard Aretha, I could feel her emotional delivery so clearly. It came from down deep within. That’s what I wanted to do.”
Whitney Houston

When Whitney Houston passed yesterday, it shocked the music industry. Today is the day of the Grammys, The American Music Industry‘s awards ceremony. I didn’t even realize the Grammys were this weekend, until I heard the news of Whitney’s death. I’m usually not very interested in watching the show – many people feel it’s just the music industry celebrating itself, with a lot of commercialism and self-promotion. With Whitney Houston’s passing, we started hearing stories of people scrambling to make changes to the awards ceremony, and that there would be a tribute to her at the event. Tonight, for the very first time, I watched the Grammys.

Bruce Springsteen opened the show with a performance, and showed that at 62, he could still rock out. LL Cool J was the host, and began the evening by saying a prayer for Whitney Houston. A clip was played of her 1994 Grammy performance of “I Will Always Love You“, and was met by a standing ovation from the crowd. Along with plenty of solo performances, there were a lot of combined performances, which felt a bit strange to me (like R&B artist Rihanna and alternative rock band Coldplay basically each doing their own song, with a small interlude of a collaboration they’d worked on in between). Another somewhat odd pairing was veteran crooner Tony Bennett and American Idol star Carrie Underwood singing “It Had To Be You” before presenting the award for Best New Artist (folk band Bon Iver). Some low points in the night were the two performances and award presentation that featured Chris Brown, who in 2009 was found guilty of felony assault of his then-girlfriend, R&B artist Rihanna (mentioned above), is still on probation, and has a restraining order against him.

There were also two salutes: one to The Beach Boys by pop rock group Maroon 5 and indie pop band Foster the People, followed by a performance by the remaining members of The Beach Boys themselves; and country artists The Band Perry and Blake Shelton joined together in a tribute to country star Glen Campbell, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award, and performed as well. Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson also gave a stirring rendition of “I Will Always Love You” in tribute to Whitney Houston, after which she had to leave the stage before her spotlight dimmed, because she was so emotional.

British singer/songwriter Adele was the big winner of the night, sweeping awards in all six of her nominated categories, including Record and Album of the year. Paul McCartney closed the evening with the second half of the medley from “Abbey Road“, The Beatles‘ final recording, and was joined by Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen and Joe Walsh for an electric guitar finale (yes, pun intended).

What I didn’t realize about the Grammys is that it doesn’t seem to be as much about the awards as other “awards shows” are. It’s more like a huge concert with acts from many popular artists and of different styles of music. During the show there were mentions of people winning in various categories, and there were 78 Grammys awarded this year, but only 9 awards were actually presented during the show, while there were more than 20 musical performances. I’m guessing that’s why most feel the Grammys are just a big self celebration, but for me, it was pretty interesting to see. I’m not 100% sure I’ll watch The Grammys again (it was a 3 1/2 hour show!), but I’m glad I did this year.

Related Links:
GRAMMY.com | The Official Site of Music’s Biggest Night
2012 GRAMMY Nominees CD

Screened a Whitney Houston Movie Marathon (42/366)

“I believe that love will never end. And like the river finds the sea … I was lost, now I’m free. ‘Cause I believe in you and me.”
Whitney Houston in “The Preacher’s Wife

This afternoon, in her suite at the Beverly Hilton, on the day before the Grammys, Whitney Houston passed away.

Whitney Houston was an astonishingly gifted singer with a voice that has never been equalled. I’ve loved her voice since I was a kid, and her debut album, “Whitney Houston” was released in 1985. I wore that tape out. She went on to become an international superstar, and even took on the silver screen. Though she was always more talented in song than with acting, her talent and stardom always helped make the films she was in a success.

Along with the tremendous highs of her career, there were excruciating lows – a troubled and abusive marriage, drug use, and erratic behavior cast a shadow on the once brilliant star’s reputation. I had always hoped she would overcome her tumultuous personal struggles and emerge the weathered but triumphant diva I knew she was. When I learned of her death, I was without words. Tonight, we watched all the feature films Whitney Houston starred in. I wanted to remember Whitney for the awesome talent she was and just see her for the beautiful woman I remembered her as.

In 1992, Whitney co-starred in a movie called “The Bodyguard” with Kevin Costner. Both were in their career primes, and although the film received mixed reviews, it was a box office hit. The single “I Will Always Love You“, a Dolly Parton song that Houston covered for the film, hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 List and stayed there for a record breaking 14 weeks. The soundtrack is one of the top 10 best-selling albums of all time.

In 1995, she co-starred with Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon in the film “Waiting to Exhale“. It was another box office success and the soundtrack debuted at No. 1, and was certified 7× Platinum in the United States. Entertainment Weekly named it one of the Top 100 Movie Soundtracks.

In 1996, Houston starred in the holiday dramedy “The Preacher’s Wife“, with Denzel Washington. While it was not the box office smash of her two previous films, it was successful, and earned her an NAACP award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. The soundtrack became the largest selling gospel album of all time.

Although she had many ups and downs in her career and personal life, and was criticized by many in her later years, Whitney Houston was a beautiful woman with a truly amazing gift. The world was certainly a brighter place with her magnificent voice in it, and I am deeply saddened to see her light extinguished. I, along with many, many others, will always love you, Whitney.

Related Links:
The Bodyguard: Special Edition DVD
The Bodyguard [Blu-ray]
The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album
Waiting to Exhale DVD
Waiting To Exhale: Original Soundtrack Album
The Preacher’s Wife DVD
The Preacher’s Wife: Original Soundtrack Album

Rang in the New Year at a Concert (1/366)

“I can’t f—ing hear you!”
~ Ozzy Osbourne, Ozzfest 2002

One of the coolest concerts Nick and I have been to was Ozzfest in 2002. We were 7 rows from the stage and got to see a lot of awesome bands, but seeing Ozzy in the flesh, even though he performed in sweats, was really, really awesome. We’ve been to several more super cool shows, but today’s particular New Year’s concert was something totally unique.

Nick’s music tastes are very eclectic, and I love that about him. When he saw that Primus was doing their two annual New Year’s concerts in San Francisco (one New Year’s Eve and one New Year’s Day), he was stoked to go. Originally, Primus were supposed to take this, their 21st year doing the New Years concerts, off and do a show in Hawaii, but that was cancelled. Lucky for us!

I know Primus, but not all their music, but I had never done a concert for New Year’s Eve before, so I thought it would be a fun experience. Our friends Ryan and Aaron joined us, got into the spirit, and even hammed it up a bit for the camera.

The concert was in the
Great American Music Hall on O’Farrell and Polk. It’s a smallish venue with a standing room area and dance floor downstairs and tonight, seating upstairs for people who also paid for dinner there. *Mental note – if we ever go to a concert in a smallish venue, buy the dinner too. Priority seating FTW. “Seating” being the operative word.

The show was awesome. Les Claypool is the greatest bass player on earth and a fantastic vocalist, but their complete sound is really deep and totally makes you want to move with the music – whether it be weirdo hippy dancing or head-banging – we saw them both.

At about 5 minutes to midnight, they even passed out bubbly for a Champagne toast! Classy. At midnight, they dropped balloons on us. So fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed ringing in the new year at the Primus Hawaiian Hukilau. Happy New Year! Here’s to an absolutely spectacular 2012.

Related Links:
Green Naugahyde
Sailing the Seas of Cheese
Pork Soda
Tales From the Punchbowl