The Shape of Things To Come

We are ridiculously excited and deeply humbled to announce that Rexly has been acquired by Live Nation Labs, an innovation group inside Live Nation Entertainment that is building a portfolio of digital products from scratch and overhauling the Fortune 500 company’s brand. Team Rexly will open a San Francisco office for Live Nation Labs and focus primarily on mobile. The Rexly iOS App will remain available and continue to be developed.

Rexly is joining forces with Live Nation Labs first and foremost because of shared values and vision. We are all lean entrepreneurs. We obsess over user-driven design and data-driven decision making. Most important, we are deeply committed to creating phenomenal experiences for music fans, nurturing the music tech community and breathing new life into a challenged industry.

Live Nation Labs was established through the acquisition of Big Champagne, a ten year old bootstrapped startup, and will continue to work like a startup. But unlike a startup, we are operating at scale out of the gate, inheriting products with millions of users and visibility that would make any founder quiver. The group has a blank slate and an enormous mandate – have we mentioned how exciting and humbling this is?

We’re recruiting a team of like-minded builders immediately in San Francisco. We’re seeking iOS developers, front-end developers and mobile designers to start ASAP. If you’re a music freak and want to hack on the world’s biggest stage, please do drop us a line. As our mandate is too big for us to handle alone, Labs has launched a fund to foster innovation in the music tech ecosystem.

Despite what Sand Hill Road might say, this is absolutely the best time to work in music tech. The current social/mobile platforms, API ecosystem and licensing landscape create enormous opportunities for music entrepreneurs to build their dreams and reach large audiences quickly. Yes, it will always be hard to raise money, but you don’t need that much. And if you’re in this only for the money, you definitely won’t succeed.

To everyone who helped us along: A huge thank you. Investors, advisors, family and friends—we wouldn’t be making this announcement today if it hadn’t been for your unconditional support. It’s a lot easier to reach for the sweetest fruit on the farthest branches when you know there is a bouncy castle below full of advice, feedback, ramen, band aids, and tissues. We are deeply grateful, and will pay forward everything we’ve received.

To our startup friends in the trenches: Stay relentless. We almost failed 100 times. We never had enough money. We took enormous competitive risks. We spent a lot of time on things that didn’t move the needle. We almost gave up, more than once. But we kept moving in the right direction, and that’s all that matters. This acquisition isn’t an exit – it’s a next step. We’re still doing everything we can to move forward.

Good times,

Joel Resnicow, Co-Founder & CEO
Kyle Fleming, Co-Founder & CTO
Bradley Lautenbach*, Co-Founder Emeritus

*Bradley is now VP of Creative Development & Production at Zuckerberg Media

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The Song That Changed My Life: Kyle Bylin

Kyle Bylin (@kbylin) is a former Hypebot editor and Billboard chart manager, and he now serves as a content manager at LiveNation.com.

I discovered the song “Beautifully” by Jay Brannan on a Pandora a year or two ago. I don’t relate to the lyrics on a personal level, but I love the psychology they display.

When something cuts to the center of us, we bleed in public and often cry alone. We have these moments and realizations that change our being for the rest of our lives.

Everybody hurts, and everybody hurts someone, intentionally or not. As we live this wonderful life, we learn things about ourselves that sometimes hurt people we love.

In these moments, we peer into ourselves and realize, “And now, I am different.”

♬ Listen to Beautifully

Submissions are welcome.  Please send to hello@rexly.com

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The Song That Changed My Life: Tom Pitts

Tom Pitts (@MrTomPitts) is a San Francisco writer. Find more of his work at http://tom-pitts.blogspot.com/

In 1992, I was 25 and stuck in rehab. Well, not really a rehab, but an Arizona ranch posing to be a rehab where we baked under the merciless sun outside of Tucson, cut off from the real world and our lives. I was told that there’d be music up there, that there were musicians—even the old drummer for Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band was at the ranch hiding out from a massive coke problem. That’s what I was told. The pitch for a rehab facility, I found out, is not unlike the pitch for a time-share.

There were no musicians at the ranch, nor instruments. Bob’s old drummer had relapsed and left. I was told, upon arrival, that I wasn’t even allowed to have a guitar. Weeks and weeks into my stay, they brought onto the ranch a renowned therapist who was rumored to have been simultaneously seeing Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and that poor drummer from Guns n Roses—not my punk rock heroes, but real live superstar mega-fiends just the same. I was vicariously star-struck. It took some string pulling and some extra cash, but soon, I, too, was seeing the rock n roll therapist. In his wisdom, he determined that I needed access to a guitar. “Get this boy an axe, Stat!” is the way I’d like to remember it. His first assignment? Go and write a song about my addiction. As corny as that sounds, I came up with a pretty hip tune.

In our next session, I played it for him and, when I’d finished, he said, “Hey, you know who you remind me of? John Prine.”

I said, “Who’s John Prine?”

He was both astonished and disappointed. He went about getting me a cassette of John Prine Live and I drank it up. It was like reuniting with an old friend. 18 tracks into my new discovery, I hit the song, That’s the Way That the World Goes ‘Round. It was the most unpretentious thing I’d ever heard. It crystallized my view of the world. Its easy blend of pain and humor, framed in the joyous simple key of G, put my world back on its axis. Prine perfectly married the harsh reality of abuse with the whimsy of hope in just a few lines. It was a complete palette of emotion and I knew then that I’d never be able to write anything as good.

The song made me feel well-adjusted again. Everything under the unforgivable Arizona sun was in its place, imperfectly, where it was supposed to be. It was okay with John, and it was going to be okay with me.  

♬ Listen to That’s the Way That the World Goes ‘Round ♫

Submissions are welcome.  Please send to hello@rexly.com

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The Song That Changed My Life: Matt Rosoff

Matt Rosoff (@mattrosoff) is the West Coast Editor of Business Insider SAI. He used to blog about digital music for CNET.com and play bass in lots of bands you’ve never heard of.

Perry Farrell pouring Rosoff a drink in 2011 

They’re a sad joke now, a washed-up sold-out Los Angelized imitation of their former selves, but Jane’s Addiction changed my life.

In high school, I was a classic rocker and metalhead. Denim jacket, long messed up hair. I only listened to music with loud guitars, played by people who actually knew how to play them. Zeppelin, Maiden, Ozzy, Eddie (pre-1984), Scorpions, Judas Priest. Synths were suspect, with exceptions for Pink Floyd and Rush. The Beatles were for little kids. MTV metal — Def Leppard, Motley Crue — was for girls. Punk was for losers. Bands like the Police and Devo and the Talking Heads were beneath contempt, reserved for clove smokers who paid too much attention to their hair. 

My mind stayed stubbornly closed through most of my first two years of college, although occasionally I tolerated some new-ish bands like REM and Love and Rockets. Especially if a girl was involved.

Then came spring break of my sophomore year. April 1989. I spent an endless glorious afternoon wandering Seattle with a friend, riding the bus to go see Terry Gilliam’s “Baron Munchausen,” sitting on park benches and watching the trees move against the sky, freaking out at the gigantic cellphones wielded by suit-wearing men with black sunglasses on the way home. At the end of the day, we landed in his basement and he put on side one of “Nothing’s Shocking.” I remember staring at the cover — this was back when most people still owned more records than CDs — and being startled at how photorealistic the flames were,  jumping and crackling from the heads of those topless conjoined rocking-horse twins.

I’d heard bits and pieces of the album before, but when “Up The Beach” started with that simple two-note bassline, I was completely riveted. The first two blasts of guitar-drums-vocals sent me spinning, but it was that third one that really did me in — ugly twisted barbed-wire guitar with Perry Farrell’s voice on the Echoplex, everything slightly flanged, spinning up and to the right into infinity.

The song was only 20 seconds in.

Then he started singing “Here…we go…away…now” and I was hooked. Every single note, every word of that album seemed to be thought out, sculpted, perfect. It was everything I had been thinking and feeling, secretly, to myself, for the last couple of years, but here it was articulated in music and words. “God is…dead…he’s not there at all!” Or the endless variations on “sex is violence.” Or the split vocal harmonies of “me and my … girl … friend.” Or the secret Masonic call — IAOM! — at the end of “Idiots Rule.” 

It was unlike any music I’d ever heard before. It was heavy and loud…but kind of arty, too, like Pink Floyd or (yes, OK) Love & Rockets. It was kind of punk, but with guitar solos, which made it  OK. And then there was the guy on the back cover — Perry Farrell, although I didn’t know his name yet — a crazy beaded transvestite, sort of like Boy George but much more frightening. I dind’t know what to make of that. Those eyes! I remember those eyes. Wolf eyes. Junkie eyes, I realized years later. 

But the best part came a few hours after that, when I was home alone in my bed. I’m still not sure how this happened, and it’s never happened again, but “Up The Beach” started playing in my head. This wasn’t like when you get a song caught in your head — this was like hearing a song on the radio. It was note-perfect, 100% accurate, and I’d only ever listened to it once. It stayed like that through big swaths of the album. I can’t swear that the whole record played in my head, but it sure seemed like it at the time.

After that, I started listening to any and all music — anything that anybody liked, I was game to hear it. Talking Heads! Tales From Topographic Oceans! Dead Kennedys! Neil Young! Stevie Wonder! The Replacements! So much great music, so little time. I began collecting records in earnest, building the collection of 700 heavy petroluem-based discs (it used to be more) that I still schlep with me on every move. I started DJing on the college radio station. And by the time I graduated from college, I was learning to play the bass. My only goal in life was to join a band and learn how to make music. And that’s what I did.

♬ Listen to Up the Beach  ♫

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The Song That Changed My Life: Joe Clifford

Joe Clifford’s a writer.  He’s been to jail, but never prison.  www.joeclifford.com

MTV’s 120 Minutes started airing around the time I turned 18, and I was introduced to this new brand of music.  Up until then I’d been raised on a steady musical diet of mainstream radio, classic rock, Springsteen, the Stones, the Who, shit you can find on the dial just about any time of day, anywhere in the country.  

I lived in a small farm town on the East Coast.  I had a band.  Mostly we noodled around with spacey jams and Pink Floyd covers in my parents’ basement.  But with 120 Minutes came an introduction to the Connells, Material Issue, Soul Asylum, the Smiths, and suddenly we had a direction.  Exchanging 18-minute shapeless dirges for tightly crafted 3-minute power pop, we started to take off, and began playing around the state, getting some press.  And with that came the confidence…and the girls.

I became too big for my little farm town.  I’d already discovered Kerouac and wanted to hit the open road for adventures, and like any 18-year-old with a band, I thought I could be a rock ’n’ roll star.  But where to go?  New York?  LA?  Then I heard the Replacements’ “Left of the Dial.”

Pretty girl keep growin’ up,

Playin’ make-up, wearin’ guitar,

Growing old in a bar,

Headed out to San Francisco,

definitely not L.A.

There’s never been a more ragged, raw voice in rock than Paul Westerberg, who would become as influential an author as I’d ever read.  Took it as my cue.  San Francisco.  Packed up my shit, and took off cross-country with my girl.  

Then like Neil Young, I hit the city, and I lost my band…

I’m 41 now, a home-owning dad in the East Bay Hills.  I’ve got a couple scars, a few tattoos, and whole bunch of stories.  And I can honestly say I would not be here but for one little song…

♬ Listen to Left of the Dial 

Submissions are welcome.  Please send to hello@rexly.com

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The Song That Changed My Life: Graham Nash

By Graham Nash: Los Angeles, CA / September 15, 2011

My best friend Allan Clarke and I were 15 years old in 1957, living in Salford, which is very close to Manchester in the North of England…

It was a Saturday night and we were going to the local school dance….

I remember going down the stairs to the dance and handing over our tickets….

You Send Me by the great Sam Cooke had just finished playing and the kids, who had, moments before, been ‘close dancing’ began to clear…

We noticed Norma Timms, a girl we both knew, across the way….

We both headed towards her, crossing the room….

We were in the middle of an empty dance floor when Bye, Bye Love by the Everly Brothers came blasting out of the speakers..

The music stopped us both in our tracks… we couldn’t believe the effect that the two harmonies had us…

My life has never been the same since that moment and, all my life, I’ve tried to make music that made me feel the way I felt that night…

Music is love…

♬ Listen to You Send Me ♫

♬ Listen to Bye, Bye, Love ♫

Submissions are welcome.  Please send to hello@rexly.com

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The Song That Changed My Life: Steve Silberman

By Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman): Investigative reporter for Wired & other magazines; Writing a book about autism/neurodiversity for Avery/Penguin 2013; One of @Time's selected science tweeters. NeuroTribes Blog.

In 1970 or so, when I was about 12, I walked into a sandal shop in Provincetown, Massachusetts and heard music more strange and beautiful than any I had ever heard before. Now a wealthy resort, Provincetown was then a bohemian art colony – a sort of rustic Greenwich Village North. The song I heard that day didn’t have many of the features that made a song a pop hit — there was no anthemic chorus or unforgettable hook; the lyrics were elliptical and evocative, something about a mysterious woman drawing pentagrams in a garden, and a bay that reminded me of Provincetown harbor; and the melody seemed to spiral inward upon itself, built on a kind of hypnotic drone rather than a rousing chord sequence. It did, however, have beautiful, haunting harmonies that somehow called attention to the silence around them. In fact, the whole song seemed to generate a kind of meditative state of mind, as if it stood outside of time.

Even as a kid, I knew this song was special. When I asked the guy behind the counter who was singing, his answer didn’t sound like any other rock group I’d ever heard of — in fact, it sounded more like a law firm. I said so, and the guy laughed and agreed.

The album was the first album by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and the song was David Crosby’s “Guinnevere.”

Hearing that song that day changed my life in many obvious ways and some subtle ones. I ended up buying all the music I could by Crosby and the rest of the band, particularly Crosby’s luminous first solo album “If I Could Only Remember My Name,” which featured musicians from the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Eventually, I would move to San Francisco in search of the elusive “vibe” I got from that body of music; I still live there, 40 years later. Crosby’s approach to “Guinnevere” had been informed by everything from the ragas of Ravi Shankar to the left-hand chords of McCoy Tyner in the John Coltrane Quartet; by listening to Crosby’s music, my ears would be opened to a whole universe of non-pop music. (He did the same thing for the Beatles — and thus, the rest of the Western world — by introducing George Harrison to classical Indian music.) I would eventually see The Dead 250 times, and spend my life chasing down other music that had contributed to that “vibe” — including the jazz of Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and many others.

More surprisingly, decades later, I would become close friends with Crosby, and help him put together his career-spanning box set that included a gorgeous, forgotten song I hunted down in the CSN vault myself called “Kids and Dogs,” recorded with Jerry Garcia the same year I heard “Guinnevere” for the first time. Crosby — a life-long sailor, and also the author of CSN’s “Wooden Ships” — and his wife Jan once even came to visit my family in Provincetown, and when he stepped to the end of our rented deck and sighed, “Man, what a beautiful harbor!” it was as if some huge cosmic circle had completed itself in the narrative of my life. I also ended up co-producing the Dead’s box set “So Many Roads (1965-1995),” for which I earned a gold  record.

I don’t even know who I’d be if I hadn’t walked into that long-gone sandal shop that day and heard that song.

♬ Listen to Guinnevere ♫

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The Song That Changed My Life: Davis Webster

Davis Webster is an early Rexly power user and all around great guy. He’s got excellent taste in music, so follow him!

In the summer between fourth and fifth grade, my family was making our annual pilgrimage to Missouri to visit my mother’s side of the family, a trip not only miserable because you spend two days driving there, but once you get there you have to spend a week in Missouri (apologies to anyone in Missouri). After a day and a half of traveling we stopped at a small town somewhere near the border of Kansas and Missouri whose main attraction was a strip mall consisting of a Sears and a Target connected by a chain of empty stores.

I followed my dad down the half empty aisles of the Target, looking for snacks to last the rest of the trip when he suddenly stopped at a CD rack and grabbed a small, plastic wrapped, silver square off the shelf.

“Do you know who Guns N’ Roses are?” he asked me.

“No,” I said, my knowledge of music at that time consisting mostly of Britney Spears and N*Sync.

“You have to hear this,” he said as he tossed “Guns N’ Roses: Greatest Hits” in the cart.

When we got back to the car he slid the CD in and suddenly Slash’s thundering intro to “Welcome to the Jungle” seemed to leap out of the speakers. I was immediately lost in the song, this was a new sensation: I had heard music before, but I had never listened to music before this moment. Axl’s shrieking, Slash and Izzy’s intermingling guitars, Duff’s bass, and Steven’s pounding on the drums seemed to wrap around me, like I could reach out and touch the song—a feeling indescribable to those that haven’t experienced it and entirely understood by those who have.

The car was gone, my family was gone, Missouri was gone; it was just me and five guys from LA making pure, raw rock n’ roll. Listening to “Welcome to the Jungle” that first time (pardon the cliché) flipped a switch in mind. Before, I struggled to understand people that obsessively listened to music. It was inconceivable that one could sit down and just listen to an album. I had seen my dad do it plenty of times, but it never appealed to me. Music was something for the background, a way to kill time but not to spend it. But after only four minutes and thirty-four seconds, Slash, Steven, Izzy, Duff, and Axl showed me a part of myself I never knew existed. This was something I could sit down and just listen to. Something that could fill my time and not just waste it. Something that could fill me.

By the end of the trip to Missouri, I knew the words to every song on that album by heart, knew the names of every member, and, despite only owning the one album, knew their entire discography in chronological order, admittedly not all that impressive considering it only consisted of 5 studio LP’s, one live collection, and my coveted Greatest Hits CD (this was before Axl and the Sunshine Band’s “Chinese Democracy” crap).

Guns N’ Roses became, and still is, my favorite band not just because I love their music, but because they showed me that I love music. They set me on a path that has led to a collection of thousands of MP3s, countless hours spent wandering the aisles of record stores (shout out to the best: Twist & Shout in Denver!) and an endless stream of concerts, the greatest being the time I was in the front row to see Slash.

As I watched him play “Paradise City” I was just as stunned as the first time I listened to “Welcome to the Jungle” on that Greatest Hits CD. When people ask me why I love GNR (or why I have a GNR tattoo), or even why I love music, the only reason I can come up with is that feeling the first time I listened to “Welcome to the Jungle.” I have felt it thousands upon thousands of times since then and every time it is just as great as the first. That’s why I love music. That’s why I’m always searching for new music. I’m chasing that high you can only get from hearing a truly great song.

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The Song That Changed My Life: Parth Shah

Parth Shah (@parth16hacks the cloud with @VMWare. He’s a Carnegie Mellon alum, and ex-Yahoo. He’s passionate about consumer web, mobile, e-commerce & public clouds: http://about.me/parth

For me the greatest power of music lies in its ability to create a deep emotional attachment. It is remarkable how music can bring back memories about people and places in a powerful way. There is something about music that goes beyond boundaries and barriers, beyond culture, race and religion.

Being born and brought up in western India & having been working in the US for the last few years, there have been multiple formative music experiences at different stages of my life. However, the most recent & powerful one has been my introduction to Trance. It was last year in Seattle when my cousin introduced me to the incredibly deep music of Armin Van Buuren. It is amazing how an introduction to a new genre of music can open up a whole new world for you. Since last year, I’ve discovered some awesome tracks produced by Paul Van Dyk, DJ Tiesto, Benny Benassi, Markus Schulz, Paul Oakenfold, etc. I think most captivating quality of Trance music is to create those occasional Adrenaline surges.Trance songs typically have a mid-song break in which the rhythm tracks are faded out, leaving the melody to stand alone for a few minutes and then bringing back the rhythm at a potentially faster tempo to create that rush of blood. There a only a few of genres of music that really keep me going and Trance is right at the top.

(Note: This post was originally published on 09/17/2011 on the Rexly website blog)

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The Song That Changed My Life: Jarod Reyes

Jarod Reyes (@jreyesdesignis a designer with Voxy.  http://jarodreyes.tumblr.com

The formative moments sometime happen when you’re passed out, when the musical gods plant a seed that changes your life. I was a freshman at college, in a dorm full of guys whose musical epiphanies usually involved rebellious teenage-angst rock… or at the time every post-punk piece of garbage on the radio. I too, having been raised on an unhealthy amount of Amy Grant, was woefully unaware of the potential of music, and so I began seeking out any artist I had never heard of.

I started hanging out with the less-cool kids, who conversely had the best taste in music, going to coffee shops to watch open mics and I started doodling on the guitar in a serious way. It was all par-for-the-course “coming of musical age” stuff, but I was cramming it in at light speed.

Then one night, while studying, I put on a CD my friend Alex had given me. I had tried a few times to listen to it, since Alex had insisted I give it a try, but it was a slowish album and dammit, I was in a hurry to hear as much music as possible. This one night however I let it play in the background as I studied, paying little attention, but the silky voice of the singer did it’s work and I promptly fell asleep.

It must have been 4am when I awoke to realize I had fallen asleep at my desk. And in the fog of waking, confused and groggy, I heard a melody in my ears, ghostly and gorgeous. It was incredibly sad, like the weight of the emotions could at any moment crush the lilting chorus, and it was and still is a song I sing at every special occasion, to whoever will listen, any time I have my guitar. It was Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” and it was stunning. Aside from awakening me to the power of a poet, and the beauty in pain, it was formative for another reason. Jeff Buckley had been dead at that point for 3 years, and to me, his new biggest fan, it was heartbreaking. So to this day, I seek out music from every corner of world, with as much of my time as possible, hoping to hear that melody that reaches more than the ears, and if I’m lucky, wakes me up.

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The Song That Changed My Life: James Bailey

James (@jameshbailey) is a full-time husband and father, part-time venture capitalist with GRP Partners, surfing and active lifestyle enthusiast, amateur foodie and style connoisseur.

Instead of really dating myself and telling the story of when I bought a Kriss Kross tape, I’ll tell the story of the first music that moved me. When I was 11 I bought the Led Zeppelin 4-disc box set with the blimp and the crop circles on the cover, right before going on a trip to Greece. As we walked around sites like the Parthenon, Delphi, Myceanae and Crete the epic guitar riffs and haunting vocals of “When the Levee Breaks,” “Kashmir,” “Black Dog” and “Stairway to Heaven” introduced me to what would be one of my favorite bands to this day. I remember vividly walking around Delphi listening to “The Battle of Evermore” and realizing the music has an incredibly powerful mythology and being completely caught up in it. It was the first time I really connected with music and the history and grandeur of the location where I first experienced the music make the two forever intertwined in my memory. I still remember the songs in order from that box set.

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The Song That Changed My Life: Jeff Morris

Jeff Morris (@jmj) works at Zaarlyhttp://about.me/jeffmorrisjr

I was the only student in my high school class with a CD burner. In the early 2000’s, this was a very big deal. When one of my dude friends needed to be romantic, I was the first person to get the call. “Hey Jeff, my girlfriend is mad at me. Can you burn her a CD? I think she likes Goo Goo Dolls.” “Yo, Morris. We’ve been dating for like 8 months.  Tonight is the night! Do you have any Counting Crows?”

Every time my phone rang, I reminded myself that Sean Fanning and Napster were not evil. My friends needed the perfect playlist and I was the guy they called. Mp3’s empowered me. They got me through puberty. Something about being “that guy” made me a tastemaker in my high school.  I was suddenly known as the kid who knew everything about music. The upperclassmen started to treat me with more respect.  I was the “Jeff With The CD Burner.”  My high school needed me. But then college started. Every computer came pre-loaded with a CD burner.  My CD-RW 4x technology was no longer needed.  I needed new forms of technology to win the hearts of my peers.

So I started a music blog called “1000 Ships” and I posted an uber cool mp3 every single day. 1000 Ships became one of the most popular music sites at UCLA (whatever that means) and I overcame the mass adoption of CD Burners around the globe. I still keep up with every innovation in music and tech; it’s the best way to make new friends and not get beat up. And now that nobody has CD burners anymore, I’m back! In my heart, I’ll always be “Jeff With The CD Burner.”  If you need an emergency mix tape, just call me. I might have some Counting Crows.

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The Song That Changed My Life: Semil Shah

Semil Shah works on operations at Votizen and is a contributor to Techcrunch. He is also a super awesome advisor to Rexly.

I don’t think of my formative musical experiences as tied to a specific song, or a live show, or some experience — for me, it’s about the full length album. Albums that we all remember, first to last song, and have played over and over again. For me, those albums are ThrillerLed Zeppelin IVThe Unforgettable Fire, andAppetite for Destruction. These are all great albums, no doubt, but while I remember each track, in order, and have pegged it to a series of specific memories and times in my life, they didn’t really transform how I listened to music. Instead, they are more nostalgic for me. That has a lot of value, but yet remains static, in the past. When I fire up these albums, I’m only taken back in time.

The first album that really opened my ears to the depth of music was OK Computer. One of my best friends in college took music appreciation to a new level. In those days (mid 90s), we were impressed by how many CD “books” someone had. My friend had more than I could imagine. I happened to be with him on the Tuesday morning when Radiohead released this album, and saw him buy 6-8 new CDs that had just been released. I kind of felt like buying one. I asked him for his guidance. He thought about it for a while, and then picked up not one, but two, copies of OK Computer, proceeded to checkout, and then handed me my new CD. His rationale was that, based on what he knew about me, I may like this particular album.

He was right.

I loved OK Computer. I still do. I know all the songs, in order. I know every beat, riff, chord, cymbal, piano key, and wail. I know the songs that slow you down, rev you up. I hadn’t heard anything like it. There was something orchestral about it, but it was so electric and computer-generated. I’d be lying to if I said I understood what the sociopolitical messages in the album were (I don’t even know today), except that if felt as Radiohead’s frontman, Thom Yorke, felt alienated in some way, and well, yeah, I did too — and still do, to some degree. OK Computer wasn’t an album you listed to “with friends,” it was a solitary pursuit. While I was walking to class, or studying, or just kicking back in my room. Sometimes in the car on long rides on a fall night, or in the dead of winter.

While I’m a big Radiohead fan, I wouldn’t say I like all of their songs. In fact, I only really like about 50% of their stuff, but I am insanely obsessed about those 50%. Everything from ballads to dub-step beats in their music. Before listening to this album, I realized my interests and tastes in music were so mainstream and sheltered. Had I been gifted OK Computer a few years earlier, I may not have reacted as I did in 1998. I don’t even like their prior work. I don’t like their “old stuff,” like Creep or Fake Plastic Trees. Boring.

By fully absorbing OK Computer, I was able to dig deeper into different types of music, less out of the mainstream. I listened to OK Computer so much that my own standards for deeming albums “complete” rose, and I was constantly on the hunt for other albums that did the same thing for me as OK Computer did. Some of those albums are Pinback, by Pinback; Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, by Wilco; andThe Suburbs, by The Arcade Fire, to name a few. Each one of these albums has opened the door for me into new sounds that I wouldn’t have had to tools to find had I not stumbled upon OK Computer. With Pinback, I’ve found artists like Jose Gonzalez; with Wilco, I went back in time to learn about the formation and influence of Uncle Tupelo (and Jay Farrar); and with The Arcade Fire, they completed captured my imagination by penning an album that simultaneously evokes a childhood from the suburbs as well as my unwitting foray back into them in the present day.

I still remember ripping off the cellophane on the OK Computer jewel case, some 14 years later. Little did I know it would have such an impact on my taste in music going forward.

-@semilshah

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Cheers to the last weekend of 2011!  When you show up for work on Monday, it will be a new year full of new musical possibilites.  Here’s DJ Earworm’s mashup of all things Pop in 2011.  See you in 2012!

(DJ Earworm- United State of Pop 2011 World Go Boom)

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The Song That Changed My Life: Ethan Kaplan

By Ethan Kaplan (@ethank): owner of Murmurs.com and former SVP Emerging Technology At Warner Music Group.  www.blackrimglasses.com/

I grew up on music. My dad is a Los Angeles born baby boomer and grew up in the Buddy Holly world we all see in Rob Reiner films and Stephen King books. Where everyone listens to “Everyday” walking down railroad tracks. My mom came of age in the early 70′s in Orange County so everything was amber tinted and disco. Growing up we had music everywhere, and MTV starting in late 1981 when it was added to our cable.

In the summer of 1987 a video premiered on MTV that at the time was profound to me. Lightning, people hanging from trees, an empty derelict building. I was 8 at the time and it was the height of the summer heat, so I was inside escaping from it. I saw the video every day, introduced by Adam Curry or Martha Quinn.

The song was simple really. Only a few lines: “This one goes out to the one I love, this one goes out to the one I left behind. A simple prop, to occupy my time. This one goes out to the one I love.”

My uncle, who was 5 years older than me bought me the record later that year for Hanukkah. A year later he bought me Green. After that I bought my own records.

I’ve been friends with the band now for over 15 years, and at this point got all of the “fan” things I needed to tell them out of the way long ago. But I will never be able to explain what the first viewing of that video did to me, nor what every one since has done. It’s why I do what I do.

Submissions are welcome.  Please send to hello@rexly.com

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