Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Crust Thickens!

Don't Forget. Dallas this Saturday at Club Dada. Be there!


I was feeling bad around this time last week.

I was feeling guilty for comparing


Tom always seemed like a pretty likable guy.

He’s always holding his guitar and smiling.

I mean, if you're going to pick on someone, why Tom Petty? There are so many better targets.

So, I felt bad. Tom didn't deserve it. I even apologized.

Then, I started noticing things.

I noticed that Tom's name

Tom Petty

is quite similar to Pizza Hut's name

Pizza Hut.

Actually, the names are almost mirror images of each other. For example, there are five letters in "Pizza" and five letters in "Petty."

Moreover, each word starts with a P, has two vowels, and has double consonants in the three and four slots.

Then there's "Hut" and "Tom."

Three letters, two consonants, one vowel. And that T in both names.

That T...

That T...

The similarities were too compelling, so I delved further.

Which of course means I went to Wikipedia.

There I found a bevy of similarities.

For example, did you know both Tom Petty and Pizza Hut came to existence in the fifties?

Pizza Hut started in 1958 when Dan and Frank Carney borrowed $600 from their mother Kathy and purchased some second-hand pizza-making equipment. They took a family pizza recipe, rented a small building, and opened the first restaurant at a busy intersection in Wichita, Kansas.

Tom Petty "started" when Petty's mom and dad got together in early 1950.

It was also something of a family recipe.

In 1977, Pizza Hut was acquired by Pepsico, along with KFC and Taco Bell.

Also in 1977, Tom Petty’s single "Breakdown" was re-released and peaked at #40, beginning his two-decade “ownership” of the pop charts.

In 1997, the three Pepsi restaurant chains-Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell-were spun off to Yum! Brands, and in 2002, they were joined by Long John Silver’s and A&W Restaurants.

The years don’t correspond, but it’s hard not to notice the similarities between those five big restaurants and another “Big 5” that joined forces in 1988: Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne, who were, of course, the Traveling Wilburys. I’ll leave it to you to match up each Wilbury with his correct fast food chain.

Hint: Roy Orbison is not Taco Bell.

Pizza Hut experiments with new products frequently. These include the Bigfoot, the 16 Big New Yorker, made with sweet sauce and a foldable crust, the Chicago Dish Pizza and Sicilian pizza, the latter also offered in 2006 as Lasagna Pizza.

Tom Petty experiments run the breadth of the entertainment industry. He’s explored many musical styles, with results that were, predictably, pretty good. He’s also had stints as an actor in movies such as The Postman, on TV shows such as It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, and on cartoons such as The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

Wait a second.

King of the Hill.

This is starting to get interesting.

Until next week, when we’ll celebrate a very special anniversary. Anyone know what it is?


Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Apologies

OKC this Friday! Be there.


You'll have to forgive me for last week's post. This was a good bout of silliness on my part, and I don't want my regular readers to think that I've sunk so low as to demean other well-meaning artists by comparing them to cold, faceless corporate retail chains.

I'm talking about true rock 'n' roll originals who deserve better than some punk with a computer taking cheap shots at them.

Who the hell do I think I am, anyway?

I'm talking about the great singer-songwriters, the great bands of ours or any generation.

These are irreplaceable pop music icons. We'll never hear music that wonderful again.

John Austin

They sure don't make 'em like they used to.

Dead Hot Workshop

Too bad no one is writing great songs today.

Stephen Ashbrook

Or making great records.

(The first two are out. The last one is in stores 6/17.)

So, no more clowning,

Until next week.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Why Tom Petty is like Pizza Hut

My friend John Austin sent me this YouTube link today:

This is probably the most exciting song and video combo I've seen and heard in some time.

John and I had one of those back-and-forth email exchanges yesterday where you wind up saying things you may or may not mean, but they're fun to say anyway.

I compared Tom Petty

to Pizza Hut.

My feeling is this: Pizza Hut makes pretty good pizza. But it's pizza. Isn't "pretty good" the least we can expect?

I can enjoy frozen pizza,

Or corporate pizza,

Or shee-shee gourmet pizza,

It's all at least pretty good pizza.

But don't we want more from pizza?

John, of course, loves Tom Petty, and may have been a little offended at my comparison of Tom Petty to Pizza Hut.

I felt likewise when he claimed not to care much for Joni Mitchell.

I told him he must be lying, that he must be getting back at me for all I said about Tom.

He said he wasn't, that he'd simply already been through his Joni phase, and was sort of over it.

John likes "American Music."

Petty, Willie, Townes.

I told him I'd try some of that stuff, and I bet I'll think it's pretty good.

He's feeding me shee-shee gourmet, and all I hear is Pizza Hut.

My loss.

We both love Dylan, thank god.

But I think I've hit on what's changed so much in the music business in the last decade or so.

It's never been cheaper or easier to write a pretty good batch of songs, to record them pretty well, and to get them out to the world. Much easier than it used to be.

This is a good thing, but it's harder than ever to raise yourself above the din of musical Pizza Huts.

Cheap, easy to get, pretty good to eat.

Sustaining but in the end not really satisfying.

People seem to want something better--I know I do--but in the end we settle for Pizza Hut.

If you want to be in the next wave of great pop music--assuming there is one; there may not be one--you have to try something a cut above Pizza Hut.

What would that be?

I wish I knew.

Maybe California Pizza Kitchen.



Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Price of Freedom

First of all, Jon Grayson was kind enough to post our radio appearance on the KMOX Web site. Interested? You can stream it here.

Radio Show

I want to talk about free mp3s.

I like to give away free music, as evinced here and here.

(These offers are still good, by the way. Send me an email with "Birds Sing" or "Nickel" or both in the subject line, and I'll send you mp3s of "Birds Sing" and/or "Nickel." I have another free song, an outtake from Songs from Memory, I plan to give away later in the year. Stay tuned.)

But I don't like to give away everything for free. There are things, like Ghost Notes and Songs from Memory, I can't afford to give away for free.

In casual conversation, I've even been known to suggest that CD replicators offer the option to make your CD un-copy-able. The buyer can't download the songs, or duplicate them, or put them on his iPod or iTunes. You buy a CD, you can play it in your car or on your jam box or on your computer, and that's as far as it goes. "There's got to be a scrambling device that could make this a reality," I've said. "They do it for DVDs." If you want an electronic version, you can buy that too, but with some limit on how many times it can be replicated, if at all. I think iTunes does it this way, even if they don't like it.

In the last month or so, I've found a few people who disagree with me. At one point, one guy referred to me as "Lars," as in Lars Ulrich, the drummer of Metallica.

Another guy said there's no sense in employing such a scrambling device, since people can always put a mic up to a speaker and record it anyway.

I did my share of this back in the day, or a similar thing.

The old "play/record" option on the jam box.

When I was 20 years old and first moved to Arizona, I had two Memorex cassettes with a total of four Talking Heads albums on them. I drove around the Valley all day, doing one of my many driving-related jobs, listening to those two cassettes. When one finished, I replaced it with the other.

It was my favorite part of going to work, listening to those cassettes over and over again.

So here I am, 18 years later, claiming to have stolen Talking Heads records and claiming to have listened to them over and over again for free and claiming to have loved every minute of it, and yet I talk of making my CDs so they're not replicatible.

What a hypocrite, right?

What's the difference?

The difference is, I never once had to worry whether Talking Heads would survive my two blank cassettes to make another record.

The Talking Heads were doing just fine; there was never a chance they wouldn't make records together, as long as they wanted to make records together.

(After a while, they didn't.)

Not so with the independent recording artist in 2008 (if ever). If we enjoy Dead Hot Workshop's new record, or John Austin's new record, or Stephen Ashbrook's soon-to-be-released new record (I've heard it; get ready), we probably should pay for it.

Metallica? Who cares? Go ahead and steal 'em, baby!

Just kidding.

Kind of.