Author Archive
Legends

My Bloody Valentine

The informant is a 23 year old musician who enjoys learning exchanging stories about legendary bands with his fellow musicians. This piece would be exchanged during a band practice  or when speaking with another musician to prove knowledge of game-changing bands.

“I’m talking about the Irish rock group, My Bloody Valentine, who, I guess rose to prominence in like the late eighties – early nineties. They released a series of EPs, um, that they recorded, uh, and attracted some attention of, like, independent labels. So they were signed to like one of the biggest indies in the UK, or in like the isles, the British Isles. Okay, so basically they, uh, they finally got the go ahead to start recording a full-length album on Creation Records. And they hauled in a ton of, like, vintage gear – which was less expensive at the time. Like it was valued as like a cheap alternative to new gear. Like it wasn’t like vintage gear yet, it was like this is a crappy amp from the sixties. It was like, you know, and it was worth like nothing then. So they had these like huge stacks and basically started getting really experimental in the studio. Um, and then… they would get tinnitus – which is ringing of the ear – from how loud all the stacks of amps were and would have to take a break. And so they would spend like a week trying to record part of a song and then have like a big bout with tinnitus and have to stop and then forget what they even wanted to do. So this album took, like, a couple years and, like, basically almost bankrupted their tiny label. Uh.. and I don’t remember the exact amount, but I think the legend has it that it was almost like half a million dollars they spent recording this album. And, I mean, it ended up, like… being the completely different, like, scene-altering record that they were going after. But it was like a huge, uh, a huge, um… risk for the label to undertake. And I hope they made that back, I mean, this really is on everybody’s list of the best albums of that era and most influential for bands. I could list, like, a ton of bands that were heavily influenced by that album and the tones.”

 

My informant heard this story from one of his fellow band members. It is important to him because this band changed the course of music in his eyes and people have different theories about how this band came to have such an original sound.

 

Analysis:

I believe this is in line with what most musicians do when speaking to one another. They love to exchange stories about different legendary bands and add to the legend of that band’s music and influence.

Legends

The Smiths Guitar

The informant is a 23 year old musician who enjoys learning exchanging stories about legendary bands with his fellow musicians. This piece would be exchanged during a band practice  or when speaking with another musician to prove knowledge of game-changing bands.

“So, uh, some label executives were trying to woo The Smiths to sign with them. I believe it was probably the one that they ended up taking, so it was Warner in the US for distribution. And um, they, you know, took them out to the guitar shop – ‘cause that’s how you could woo people back then and they had the budget to do that kind of thing. And so, he saw the beautiful red, hollow-body guitar with all gold hardware, and it ended up actually being the guitar he used for like the entirety of The Smiths, and like a big part of their sound. But, uh, he sat down, and the first thing he played, the first thing that popped into his head that he did was the opening riff of “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.” Which is ironic, seeing as like, the guitar, you know, like spoke to him and like made him happy. But that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about the duality, the irony. That’s what The Smiths are all about.”

My informant learned this piece from a fellow band-mate. The Smiths is one of my informants favorite bands. Many modern-day indie-rockers look to The Smiths for inspiration and guidance on how to make music that is important but popular as well. This would be exchanged during band practice or when speaking to fellow musicians to prove one’s knowledge of music.

Analysis:

This piece is interesting because it has the nostalgia factor of what the music industry used to be with the line “‘cause that’s how you could woo people back then and they had the budget to do that kind of thing.” Today’s musicians envy the prominence of labels and flow of money that bands had just ten years ago. However, today’s musicians enjoy their freedom and the fact that most of them don’t have to answer to a label.

Legends

Drew Barrymore’s Basement

The informant is a 23 year old musician who enjoys learning exchanging stories about legendary bands with his fellow musicians. This piece would be exchanged during a band practice  or when speaking with another musician to prove knowledge of game-changing bands.

 

“So, English rock group Radiohead found themselves in need of a place to record their new record, The King of Limbs, in Los Angeles. They ended up using – uh, I believe she’s – because she’s a fan, actually um, Drew Barrymore’s basement. And um, in the, you know, her name was included in the liner notes and that’s when people figured out. Everyone thought that it was like some weird joke. And then after some more, uhm, you know, further investigation, they found that uh, it’s actually because that’s where they truly recorded it. And then, that album was actually like, pretty universally, hated by fans and critics, initially. And then, a few weeks later, everyone was like “Uhhhh actually this is like some of the freakiest, coolest stuff Radiohead’s done!” So, make a album in Drew Barrymore’s basement. People might not like it at first. So, just beware.”

 

This is important to the informant because it is an example of a band whose popularity did not guarantee an understanding of their music. The informant learned this from a fan-rub website about Radiohead. This would be performed during band practice or when in conversation with fellow musicians to prove one’s knowledge of music.

 

Analysis:

This story is interesting because it demonstrates the fickleness of the music industry and its fans. Even though Radiohead was already a highly successful band, successful enough to have fans like Drew Barrymore, their music was not understood immediately by the media or their fans. Musicians that are trying to make it in today’s industry are hyperaware of the fact that people will not blindly accept what you put out. However, in telling the legend of the making of this album, it reminds musicians that success is achievable and negative reactions to one album does not end a career.

Legends

The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now”

The informant is a 23 year old musician who enjoys learning exchanging stories about legendary bands with his fellow musicians. This piece would be exchanged during a band practice  or when speaking with another musician to prove knowledge of game-changing bands.

“So, uh, The Smith’s track How Soon is Now, which actually ended up being their biggest US hit, um, arose from a single session. And now actually I’m forgetting what the single was. But they had a single, a B-side, and they were looking for a third track to record to put on the second side because they had, they did these things called “maxi singles” where there was the single and then you got like two songs on the back side. Uh, and they came on, uh, twelve inch records instead of seven inch. And, so, they brought in – Johnny Marr, the guitar player, brought in a cassette of that guitar part and it was called “Swampy.” That was all it said on the cassette. And he got the idea “why don’t we put this over a hip-hop beat,” because it was the eighties and hip-hop was like starting to blow up. Um, and, uh, it was never officially on an album. Um, and the band never made a music video for it. Now the label had different ideas for this song. They knew that the way hip-hop was blowing up in America that they could, that this song had potential. So, they actually made a video without consulting the band at all. Put it together with like clips from a movie. And uh, they made it without the band’s permission. The band was very furious. And then, also, I believe this time with the band’s permission, um put the song on their album Meat is Murder – their second album – uh, only on the US version of the album because of its overnight success in the US. So it’s not on the UK version, it is on the US version, crazy.”

This story is important to the informant because it is one of his favorite bands, as it is of many of his fellow musicians. The informant learned of this story on an internet forum for fans of the band. This would be performed during band practice or when speaking to fellow musicians to prove knowledge of music trivia.

Analysis:

This story is important because it demonstrates that while it may have been easier for bands during the time of big labels to have a steady income, these bands did not have freedom. Bands today envy the popularity of legendary bands just ten years ago but value their independence and freedom in their ability to write and perform what they please. It also speaks to the fact that a wildly successful song was created by happenstance, alluding to the fact that success can come unexpectedly and at any moment.

general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Pibitin

My informant is a 19 year old student studying neuroscience at USC.

“Okay, this is a game that my family plays on Christmas, and it’s this Filipino game called “Pibitin.” Um, basically, it’s kind of like pinata, but you have this – it’s kind of like a grid made out of wood, um, and hanging off of the grid, you hang like little gifts and prizes and whatnot. And then, um, you hang it like a pinata, but you can lift and lower it. And so the idea is like, you go and you run and you have to jump and grab the gift. And then like the person that’s controlling it, can like, pull it up when you’re jumping so it makes it like harder to get it. Um but yeah, I don’t know, I guess we play that on, um, Christmas Eve with my family – like my grandparents and everything, which is funny, because like, we have to lower it a lot for them ‘cause they can’t really jump, like more than an inch off the ground. Um, but, yeah so I don’t know, it’s just not really like, gifts gifts, it’s kind of like … random, you know… uh, I don’t even know. My grandma will put random stuff that she buys at like the dollar section of Target, like pencils or like staplers.  I don’t – it’s always like school stuff. I don’t know why. Um, or a gift card, like a five dollar gift card to like Starbucks, or socks. Grandma is like really into putting socks in every gift.”  

Analysis:

My informant uses this tradition to stay connected to her family and her Filipino roots. It is a fun tradition that they perform every year. My informant does not know the exact reason why they do it or where it comes from, but for her it is an essential part of their Christmas tradition.

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Shab e Yalda

My informant is an Iranian immigrant to the United States. She is a classical pianist and teaches piano.

“So there is Yalda Night, Shab e Yalda, which we celebrate the last night of the fall – winter solstice! Which it is the longest and darkest night of the year! And in our calendar is the last day of the 9th month, which is the last night of autumn! We get together as friends and family and eat fruits, especially watermelons and pomegranate, and dried fruits and nuts and stuff and while we sip on hot tea we read Hafez the Persian poet till after midnight. Basically it’s the celebration of the lights overcome the darkness! And it is my favorite festivity by the way.”

Analysis:

This is a tradition that my informant still celebrates every year, even though she has been in the US for 12 years. It reminds her of where she came from and her family that is still in Iran. She gets together with her Persian community here in the United States and celebrates this holiday to remember her identity.

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Norooz

My informant is an Iranian immigrant to the United States. She is a classical pianist and teaches piano.

“So we have Norooz which literally means “new day” … “no” means new and “rooz” means day. It’s Persian new year as well as many other middle eastern countries. Its rebirth. The first day of spring! We set up a table called ” haft seen” means seven Ss. We put 7 items that starts with S which each symbolizing different meaning…Symbolizing health, beauty, rebirth, patience, love, prosperity, and affluence, as well as self reflection. We have a special food and dishes for new year. Parents grand parents aunt and uncles gives gifts which is almost always money. We celebrate Nowruz for 13 days, you visit families and friends during these days starting from older member of the family like grandparents. We call it ” eid didani.” On the last day which is the 13th. Families go out to the parks and nature and spend the day outdoors in a picnic manner.”

Analysis:

This is a tradition that my informant still celebrates every year, even though she has been in the US for 12 years. It reminds her of where she came from and her family that is still in Iran. She gets together with her Persian community here in the United States and celebrates this holiday to remember her identity.

 

Legends
Narrative

The Wheelbarrow

My informant is a 19 year old student who enjoys reading and acting. She grew up in a predominantly homogenous neighborhood.

“So, in elementary school, we had really short fences. You could see- our elementary school was in a neighborhood, so through the short little fences you could see all the surrounding houses. Most of them were pretty normal, you know. Not all picket-fence houses, but like they were like pretty well-groomed lawns, just like, normal, normal little houses. Except for this one… on the corner. It was on the corner of .. *laughs* except for this one! It was on the corner of, I think, Agette and Clearbrooke, I wanna say but I’m not quite sure. So this one house on the corner had a dead lawn, and this was before the drought – they could’ve watered it. It was a completely- it had crabgrass all over it, it was brown and unwatered, unkempt. The house had chipping paint and one of the, the window panes was knocked out, there was only a screen in it. So, naturally we were all creeped out by it. In first grade, I think this was, we were terrified by this house because it threatened our sense of first-grade normalcy. And so we made up all these stories about it. We said that the house was owned by an old man that knocks the window pane out so that he could look at the school more easily and like spy on us. We said that like wild dogs lived in the house and, like, they came out at night and like ran the school. Um, and then, this one day, like after all these stories that we had like, you know, we were sharing them. This one day, this giant wheelbarrow like appeared on the lawn. We don’t know where it came from. And we assumed that the house was abandoned, ya know, we don’t really believe that like wild dogs ran it. So we were so confused as to what happened to it. You know, like who brought the wheelbarrow in, why they put it there, what was in it – that was the biggest question. So more rumors spread, you know, like that the old man was getting ready to go on some hunt or like harvest and he was going to put all his reapings in the wheelbarrow whether that be human heads, or like, wheat, or whatever it would be. *laughs* So, we got really excited, even though we were scared, you know. Um, and like our imaginations were just runnin’ wild. This wheelbarrow, this simple wheelbarrow like had caused all this, right. And I hadn’t thought of this before, but I just asked my mom like if she knew who lived in the house. And she was like “Oh yeah, um, the person that lived there was really old and he passed away but his daughter owns it now and they’re gonna renovate it. And they were just, they’re clearing out the house.” Something really simple and boring. And it just goes to show that your imagination is always better than reality.”

This story would be performed when sharing tales of childhood and stories about things out of the ordinary.

Analysis:

As children, we are most often taught that things that are different are bad. Seeing a house that was out of the ordinary did not fit into the schema of my informant and her friends of their neighborhood. Therefore, they assigned bizarre tales to this house and theorized as to why it was so different. In the end, she realized that it really was not that different at all.

Legends
Narrative

Summer Camp Haunted House

My informant is a 19 year old student who enjoys creating films.

“Alright, so when I went to summer camp as a kid, we – there was, uh, we went to camp on this, um, sort of reserve in Costa Mesa. And there was this old adobe building that stood there. And it’s probably about a hundred years old. And, uh, it was real dark inside, you know, uh – when you first got to camp, you noticed it, but you didn’t really pay much attention to it… until storytime, when uh, some of the older kids would tell stories about the house. And they would talk about how old it was and how people were murdered on the property and how there were ghosts inside of the house, and that there was one ooold man living inside the house. There were days where me and a couple other kids would go up to the house, and you’d be full of nerves, and you’d just be like really, really… you know – just scared of the house. Um, and uh, one time, one kid was looking in the window, and he, he *laughs* he felt his legs go numb and fell while looking at the house. That freaked the shit outta everybody. And we all ran away. Me and another kid picked him up and carried him away. We were screaming and, um, so for the longest time, you know, I used to think that house had paranormal…connections. Until I worked there as a counselor. And um, I, one day we were outside and I notice a tour group going inside of the house. And um, it turns out that the bodies that we saw inside of the house were just a bunch of mannequins. Yeah, there were like creepy mannequins. It just turned out to be an old historic site. It was like on of the first adobes built in Costa Mesa. The mannequins were just there to be kind of like “this is how they dressed back in the time” you know. But those mannequins, like, it was just silhouettes ‘cause of the light, and sometimes you think they would move. But of course, that was just children’s imagination.”

This story would be performed when sharing scary or strange stories.

Analysis:

My informant, like most children, was taught by his peers to fear things that were out of the ordinary. As humans, we put people and things into groups to better understand and process the world around us. But when we are young, we fear the things we do not understand or do not know how to label. Therefore, we end up assigning paranormal or fantastical stories to the strange. My informant realized this and understood it when he grew older.

 

Legends
Narrative

Ghost Father

My informant is a 23 year old filmmaker who lost his father when he was nine years old.

“So the first story is the story of my dead father appearing to me. Um, so this happened about three months after my father passed away. I had just turned nine and we were having lunch in, uh, the kitchen of our house. And I’m with my friends and my brother and my mom’s making us chicken nuggets because chicken nuggets are the greatest. Uh, and I look up and directly across from me, standing in the doorway of the kitchen, in um, in a hallway, is my father. Plain as day. And i just instinctively say, “Hi Dad!” Everyone looks up and my mom just dismisses it saying, “Honey, no one’s there.” She later then approached me saying “I saw him too.” And since then I have seen my father on ten occasions.”

This would be told when recounting stories of lost loved ones or paranormal activity.

Analysis:

My informant was clearly missing his father. I and others I know often see images of those they have lost, especially if they were young when their loved one died. It is not out of the ordinary to think you’ve seen your loved one after they’ve passed, especially for children.

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