Posts Tagged ‘music’

Burning Man Is Not A Damn Music Festival

burning man

Every burner has lived through a similar moment many, many times because of the confusion that exists in the general public over what Burning Man really is all about. In this particular instance I was sitting in my mother’s kitchen back east with two of my brother’s friends, these guys are about 15 years younger than me and they knew that I go to Burning Man.  They were excited to talk to me because they too were planning to go that year.  You see they had met a band, whose name meant nothing to me although I could see in their eyes that I was supposed to be impressed.  This up and coming band they had befriended had told them that they were playing the main stage at Burning Man and these guys were going to get back stage passes if they showed up.  I blame Woodstock, Glastonbury  and Coachella.  You see there are some commonalities between Burning Man and these types of large gathering multi-day festivals.  However having attended a couple of them and spent several years on the Playa, I can tell you there are some major differences.

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There certainly is tons of music on the Playa there are radio stations, entire theme camps dedicated to nothing else but cranking out 24 hour dance beats, I have visited blues camps and jazz cafes and I’m quite sure there are a myriad of music based theme camps that I’ve missed in my years in the dust.  Individual musicians and bands have shown up and even played on the Playa, hell Joan Baez probably holds the distinction of the only artist to play Woodstock and sing at Burning Man.  However, Burning Man is not centered around the music, the music is just another art form at the festival.  There is no main stage, unless you consider the small stage at center camp to be the “main stage”, but if you’ve been there you would not confuse that stage with the main stage, or even a side stage at Coachella.

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A huge difference is that every music festival I’ve ever been too, not matter how hippy driven the vibe, is highly commodity driven.  There are food vendors and booze vendors, you can buy t-shirts and knick knacks and a full assorted range of shit that once you get it home you wonder why the hell you bought it.  At Burning Man you can buy, ice, coffee, tea and lemonade.  Burning Man is a no trace event, there are principles involved, hell the community builds an actual physical community for a week, infrastructure and all.  The venue if you will, is a dry lake bed in the Nevada desert, there is a lot of fire, there is more art than you could imagine, did I mention the fire?

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So what’s my point with this piece?  Simply that if you, as the ticket deadline is approaching are thinking about going to Burning Man for the first time understand what you’re getting into it.  There is a lot written about what the festival is and what it means to people, I’ve written virgin guides, 30 days worth of warm up pieces, hell 70 pieces in total on this blog.  There are tons of other pieces written as well, the organization’s website and even their own awesome survival guide.  So know what you’re getting yourself into, Burning Man is a lot of things to a lot of people, but it’s not a damn music festival. ~ ZD Blue


June Poetry: Day 8 – Leonard Cohen

Many of you probably already know the name Leonard Cohen, he’s been a singer and song writer since the 60’s and I knew him from his singing career as well.  The links below are to my two favorite Leonard Cohen songs:

Dance me to the end of love

I’m your man

 To me the lyrics to I’m your man are pure poetry and the pacing and the music are the song in my opinion are utter perfection.

Cohen has also been writing poetry since the 50’s and I’ve selected a couple of his pieces for your reading pleasure.  So enjoy the dual sensations of music and words today.

Beneath My Hands (“In my hands, your small breasts …”) from “The Spice-Box of Earth”

Beneath my hands
your small breasts
are the upturned bellies
of breathing fallen sparrows.

Wherever you move
I hear the sounds of closing wings
of falling wings.

I am speechless
because you have fallen beside me
because your eyelashes
are the spines of tiny fragile animals.

I dread the time
when your mouth
begins to call me hunter.

When you call me close
to tell me
your body is not beautiful
I want to summon
the eyes and hidden mouths
of stone and light and water
to testify against you.

I want them
to surrender before you
the trembling rhyme of your face
from their deep caskets.

When you call me close
to tell me
your body is not beautiful
I want my body and my hands
to be pools
for your looking and laughing.



I Have Not Lingered In European Monasteries from “The Spice-Box of Earth”

I Have Not Lingered In European Monasteries
and discovered among the tall grasses tombs of knights
who fell as beautifully as their ballads tell;
I have not parted the grasses
or purposefully left them thatched.

I have not held my breath
so that I might hear the breathing of God
or tamed my heartbeat with an exercise,
or starved for visions.
Although I have watched him often
I have not become the heron,
leaving my body on the shore,
and I have not become the luminous trout,
leaving my body in the air.

I have not worshipped wounds and relics,
or combs of iron,
or bodies wrapped and burnt in scrolls.

I have not been unhappy for ten thousand years.
During the day I laugh and during the night I sleep.
My favorite cooks prepare my meals,
my body cleans and repairs itself,
and all my work goes well.


I know John Mellencamp has been in the news lately for his recent split from supermodel Elaine Irwin and his possible relationship with Meg Ryan.  Unfortunately I think this press has taken away from his new album release and I really hope all this wasn’t planned to come by some PR idiot to get people to notice the album because it has really overshadowed it completely.

Recently Mellencamp sat down with NPR to talk about the album, the interview was fantastic and it discusses the locations and methods used to record, it’s a side of Mellencamp I don’t think most people know, it’s a really interesting interview, you can find it here:

I have always thought that in my lifetime there have been two American musicians who tell the story of this country better than anyone and get little credit for it, Randy Newman and John Mellencamp.  Unfortunately most people only think of “Short People” when they hear Newman’s name and the big hair of Johnny Cougar when Mellencamp is mentioned.  As they have aged, Mellencamp in particular has really become reflective and regretful of the over produced pop sound he used in the 80’s, although he does seem cognizant of the fact that the sound made him rich and famous.  It’s really interesting to listen to him play some of those songs these days, “Jack and Diane” in particular sounds like a country ballad.

Mellencamp has always been a brash in your face sort of guy but I have a lot of respect for someone who has remained loyal to his home, (he still lives in Indiana), his work with Farm Aid and his willingness to tell the mainstream music business to kiss off.

For this current album, Mellencamp worked with T-Bone Burnett to really reduce the songs to their folk rock core, with stripped down recordings that were done over one microphone in the center of the room.  The rooms themselves are interesting as they used Sun Studios in Memphis, a hotel room where Robert Johnson recording much of this work and a Baptist Church in the south where Mellencamp got baptized.  Here’s a link to the first song on the album, it may be the best of the bunch:

One more thing I really like about the album there is an open source code used on the digital files that produces high-definition recordings and allows for easy manipulation from disk to mps to itunes or any other way you want to use the file.  The format has been developed by Burnett and I think shows a really wonderful understanding of the modern realities of how we all use music.  Not surprising from T-Bone Burnett who is widely recognized as the best in music business.  I’m including a few track notes below:

Tracks 1, 3, and 7 seem to find Mellencamp really exploring his mortality for the first time and all three are really sweet, simple folk rock songs which highlight Mellencamp’s ability to tell a story like few others.

Track 4 I realize just from its sound is meant to be the single off the album and it’s a solid song but I really think at least two of the tracks mentioned above are better.

Tracks 4, 11 and 12 are subtle and bits of social commentary and track 12, County Fair has a really haunting edge to it that I find really addictive.

All in all a solid album top to bottom, if you have any affinity at all for Mellencamp pick it up or load it down.