Blogs by Erik Christensen

Play That Song Again: When Two Things Come Together

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

As usual, the key is paying attention. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you’ll see how, like magic, things line up. “Coincide” from its early Latin roots means to “fall together,” something that’s not really random, but two things that fit together perfectly. It’s surprising—although it shouldn’t be—how often two random things have brought me to some good music.

My all-time, top-five musical coincidences led me to Kevn Kinney, Billy Joel, Jason Isbell, Kevin Gordon, and BJ Barham. So, these days, I pay attention. Things come together in a beautiful way.

Play That Song Again: Before They Were Cool, Man

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

Ah, springtime: when a young music nerd’s thoughts turn to saying, “I know more than you, and I liked that band before they caught on to the mainstream.” I’m ashamed to admit it, but I fall victim to this dread disease; I try very hard to be nice and unassuming, but every now and then, the “cooler-than-thou” feeling deep within me rears its ugly head.

In May, 1994, I was at the much-beloved Crocodile Café in Seattle, waiting to see great Georgia songwriter Kevn Kinney. I was unfamiliar with the opening act, a local Seattle band called, auspiciously, The Presidents of the United States of America. Since I was in the front of the crowd pushed up against the stage, I could see that they had a small drum kit and — wait, did the bass player have only two strings on his guitar? And look, the guitarist with the Fender Telecaster had only the middle three strings of his guitar. Pretty interesting. This power-trio then proceeded to explode into a crazy set — loud, silly, energetic songs that had the 100 or so people in the audience jumping up and down with pure joy. Those minimally-stringed guitars packed a real Ramones-like wallop. “Holy cow,” I thought. “These guys are really great.”

Play That Song Again: Not Fade Away

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

I always wait until we’re out of time
Speak my mind
Right before you go

So don’t hang up, there’s just one last thing
I’m imagining
You’ve got to know

The above is from a new song called “Postscript,”

What I’m trying to get at is the urgency of the last moment, the magical thing that happens as a song fades out, the emotion right before you say goodbye to someone, or the waiting until the discussion is almost over to get to the point.

I guess these moments are just examples of people letting their guard down, the not getting to the good stuff until you’re almost out of time. The looming deadline, the cut-off at the end of a song, the speaking what’s really on your mind at the end of a conversation are all too important to miss.

Play That Song Again: Heard Ya Twice The First Time

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, History, Music

When I first heard “Please Please Me,” the big takeaway was that it was real — the Beatles weren’t gods, they were people who sat in a room, recorded music, and occasionally made mistakes. This was a revelation; no one in my family sat around and made music. Music was made by other people; it was pristine and sort of unavailable. Mistakes made the music all the more human, and mistakes made me feel I could be part of it.

Play that Song Again || Like It Was Written In My Soul

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Literary, Music

Great year. Terrible year. A year that killed off several close friends and a handful of musical heroes. (Prince, David Bowie, Guy Clark…the list goes on.) It’s also the year a skinny songwriter kid from Hibbing, Minnesota won the Nobel Prize. So let’s go positive and celebrate with a stack of musical books that I’ve read in the last year. Pull up a chair, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and enjoy my 2016 Top Five Reading List.

Play that Song Again || Stealing from real life: If you hit your ball into my yard, you ain’t getting it back

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Humor, Literary, Music

Today we talk about theft. Stealing. Purloined ideas and stories.

Elvis Costello has said, “every artist is a magpie and a thief.” I believe that statement, and there have been several well-known court cases about copyright infringement.

Play that Song Again || It’s Money I Love: How To (Not) Write A Hit Song

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Feature, Music

There are unwritten rules for writing pop music.

Play That Song Again || It’s Only Funny ‘Cause It’s True

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Feature, Music

What gets you through the day? Where do you turn when feeling down?

Play That Song Again || Geography, family history and what it really means

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Feature, Music

This week I’ve been pondering songs about specific places. There are so many classic songs—think “Free Man In Paris” or “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans.”

Play That Song Again || ‘Please Dear Santa, Mr. Santa Please—Can’t You Make The Firing Cease?’

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

Call me nothing if not traditional. Ok, call me “old-fashioned,” if you must.

Play that Song Again || The Joy of the Mixtape: Practicing Safe Compilation

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

“Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you ‘re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.” —Rob Gordon, High Fidelity

Play That Song Again || Poems, movies, songs and the laws of attraction

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Film, Literary, Music

“One good thing about music / When it hits, you feel no pain….” —Bob Marley

We’ve all heard Bob Marley sing these lines, yes? And if not, we can probably relate to music and art that can soothe the pain or help us get through hard times.

Play That Song Again || What do you believe in? The All-Time, Top Five musical beliefs

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

“And what do you believe in?”
This question is posed in my favorite scene from a favorite film, “Bull Durham.” I’ve always wanted to string together a list like Kevin Costner does in that scene.

Play That Song Again: Music, Weather, and the Spoken Word—Austin Road Trip Diary, #2 of 2

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

BY ERIK CHRISTENSEN January 8, 2015 As mentioned in a previous blog post here—for me, there’s always been an attraction to Texas music. When I was given a chance last summer to attend a conference for English teachers in Austin—ground zero of country, folk, and singer-songwriter music—I jumped at the chance. Let’s call it research […]

Play That Song Again: Music, Weather, and the Spoken Word—Austin Road Trip Diary, #1 of 2

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

The first hint of something in the air: Dallas Cowboys jerseys (Mark Witten and DeMarcus Ware) in the security line at Sea-Tac Airport. Unlike my daughter on a recent trip to California, I did not wear any Seahawks gear.

Play That Song Again | On Technology and Music: It’s The Drug, Not the Needle

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

Back in the summer of 1978, I spent a great deal of time riding around in an old Ford F-150 pickup. My girlfriend’s brother had rigged up two six-inch Delco speakers in the roof, one directly over the head of the driver, the other over the head of the passenger.

Play That Song Again | All The Right Junk In All The Right Places—Your Top Five Songs of Summer

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

One of my first memories of summer here is what I call the “summertime silhouette.” Want to try it? Get in your car in the early evening of a summer day and drive south on Hwy. 20. As the sun disappears, the sky reddens and the razor-sharp relief of the Olympics comes in to view.

Play That Song Again | Sky songs, dream songs and the great unknown

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

One of my songwriting heroes, Jason Isbell, said something recently that really struck me. I scribbled it on the inside cover of my notebook: “Inspiration likes to find you busy.” The gist was that you should work on your craft…

Play That Song Again: Love Songs for your Valentine

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

Ok, so let’s forget Hallmark. Let’s forget those chalky candy hearts that taste horrible but are still irresistible. Let’s forget chocolate hearts, chocolate kisses and chocolate roses. Let’s get to—forgive me—the heart of the matter. Love is respect, and acceptance, and damn hard work.

Play That Song Again | ‘Like dancing about architecture…’ Another top five list

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

BY ERIK CHRISTENSEN Dec. 7, 2013 “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” (Martin Mull) OK, I agree.  Mr. Mull’s comment is a little tongue-in-cheek, a little smarmy, but I get it.  You really can’t capture what music is all about by writing about it. I’ve spent a lot of time playing music — […]

Play That Song Again: Homage to 1978 and its music

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

As always, (as explained in my “High Fidelity” post a few months ago) I spend my time compiling Top Five lists. Today is no different.

Play That Song Again: Notes on another sad song

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

Whether it’s a sad song or a tragic story, you can count me in.

‘Musical Moments’ – Christensen remembers his important ones

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

I was half awake as a grainy, dark video with a repetitive guitar riff came on: “You’ve got a fast car/I want a ticket to anywhere….”

New TBIF blogger, Erik Christensen, extols the fabulousness of ‘High Fidelity’

by Erik Christensen in Blogs, Music

Here it is: the Top Five Reasons Why I Love “High Fidelity.”