A New Beginning

This post is meant to serve as an update on what has been happening to the music posts I was producing and what is going to be happening next. So, let’s begin with a quick recap on The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History, first.

In the last two weeks, I have worked hard to make all 500 music posts accessible to you in two different ways: first of all, I produced a series of ten checklists…..organized in groups of 50 songs……that all linked back to each, individual song post, as well as, linking to the other checklists. If you have one checklist, you actually have all 500 posts. Secondly, I placed all 500 songs on a Spotify playlist. All songs on the playlist are written down in descending order, from Song #500, all the way to Song #1….including the 25 Honourable Mention songs that came up at the end. Finally, I have gone back through all 500 posts and updated any of the header photos; removing any that were blurry or out of frame. As a result of all of this work, that music series is now finished and we are ready to move on. ***If you did not see a checklist or receive the Spotify link to access the playlist, let me know in the comments below and I can set you up.

So, what do we do now?

There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the original countdown, with many people asking for it to continue in a new format. So, I put on my thinking cap and thought about the different ways that songs interested me. That thought process allowed me to come up with a variety of categories of songs/music that I felt were worth exploring. This past week I have spent time researching content for each category and am happy to announce that I believe I have more than enough materials to re-start the music post series. So, without further delay, here is what is going to be happening, as of this Monday……which is May 9, 2022.

On Monday…..and on every Monday going forward…..I am starting a series of posts under the heading, “Keeping It Classy”. In this series, I will post one piece of famous Classical music and tell you the story behind it. Believe me when I tell you that you will know all fifty of these musical pieces. In addition, by the time we are finished, we will all sound like professors who know the difference between a sonata, an adagio, a fugue, a concerto, a symphony, an opus and so on. It will be more enjoyable that you probably imagine it will be. I am excited to get started.

On Tuesday, the 10th…….and on every Tuesday going forward……I will explore Canadian music. Specifically, as I fleshed out the songs and artists for this category, I noticed a sub-category emerge and that has caused me to re-evaluate a little bit…..tweaking here and there….so that on this coming Tuesday, we are starting something I call “The Great Canadian Road Trip”. There will be fifty or so songs that all namedrop particular geographic location in Canada or else, an actual bar or restaurant or hockey arena or so on. In any case, I will work that vein until it is tapped out and then, after that, I will split the category into one that it simply “Canucklemania”…..which is purely songs by Canadian singers and bands but, without the geographic connotations….. and another that it remains a travelogue of non-Canadian destinations i.e., “Leaving Las Vegas” by Sheryl Crow, “Shipping Up To Boston” by The Dropkick Murphys, “The Belfast Child” by Simple Minds and so on. I will replace “Keeping It Classy” with the World Travelogue when I run out of Classical tunes. Overall, I should have 250 Canadian songs, as well as, 250 travelogue songs, too.

On Wednesday, the 11th…..and on every Wednesday going forward…..I will be starting a series called, “Stars of Stage and Screen”. In this series, I have 250 songs that come from Broadway musicals or from Hollywood movie soundtracks. Believe it or not, I am confident I can do all 250 songs without repeating a single movie or broadway show. In all cases, I will use each post to highlight the composer of the song, the way it was used in the play or movie, the artist who sang the song and a bit about the play or movie, itself.

On Thursday, the 12th….and every Thursday going forward…..I am starting that most important of categories……”Today’s Top 40″. This is a series that will profile songs that are hits right now, as we speak. Each week, I am going to take a fresh look at the Top 40 charts from KEXP-fm, Billboard Magazine, Spotify and Toronto’s own, Chum-fm radio station. I will start with Position #40…..see what songs are listed there on each chart……determine which one has the best potential for a good story and present that to you in post form. The next week, I will look at chart position #39 and repeat the process. After I get all the way to Song #1 on the four charts, I will simply start all over again at #40 the next week and, in doing so, I can repeat the process indefinitely. Hopefully, by doing this, you will get to meet some new singers and bands that you may not had heard of, otherwise.

Finally, on Friday the 13th……and every Friday going forward……I will start a series called, “Reader’s Choice”. These are songs that you, as my faithful readers, have submitted and have asked me to consider writing up. To start, I have taken all of the extra songs that were submitted during the round of Honourable Mention songs a few months ago and created a new list out of them. I have forty songs to start. Please feel free to add to this list by sending me new requests at any time. The “Reader’s Choice” series will keep going as long as you keep sending me good tunes to write about.

When I was a classroom teacher, I got paid to juggle five or more things at one time all of the time so, doing this “next phase” in the music post series this way feels like putting on comfortable clothes. I intend to do one post per day and then, spend a bit of the extra time I would have put into doing a second daily post…….instead, into creating five new playlists on Spotify and amassing new linked checklists for each series, too. I learned a valuable lesson this past few weeks. It takes a lot of work to do a big job but not so much work to do a series of small jobs along the way. So, I will focus on producing interesting content for you all and organizing it as I go this time around. Hopefully, it will all work out and we will continue to share an interactive, informative and enjoyable journey together through the world of music.

Until next week…..take care. Bye for now.

The Power of Success

I had an unexpectedly interesting day while using social media today. I am not usually someone who fawns over celebrities when it comes to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram but, every now and again, because of technology, a connection is made with someone that people would consider to be “famous”. In my case, while on Twitter this morning, I found myself chatting, via tweets, with Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk.

Chantal Kreviazuk has been a star in the Canadian music scene for a couple of decades now and has several number one hits. For over twenty years, she has been married to another Canadian music star, Raine Maida, lead singer of rock group, Our Lady Peace. I have long been a fan of both performers because they have always been about way more than just their music and record sales. In fact, a few years ago, I wrote a post about them. I will insert that post in now and, after it is done, I will tell you what it was that caught my attention this morning and helped reaffirm the strong level of respect I hold for both performers. Here we go……

     Success means different things to different people.  To many of us, the measure of success is purely quantitative; those who have the most are the most successful because, well, they have the most.  The Education System is groaning under the weight of using standardized testing to measure success. In Music, record sales and concert ticket sales are often the standard by which the success of a singer or band is measured.  But, is this fair? 

     In order for data-driven criteria to be the most valid indicator of success in Music, an artist or band has to play that game as well.  While record sales are always important, in so much as they generate income and help pay the bills that allow artists to produce albums and to hold concerts, for some artists, record sales are just a means to an end and are not the single most important measure of success for them.  Sometimes, an artist is in it for something grander. Sometimes, an artist aspires to use their fame and notoriety to promote a cause that they champion that, is important to them and that, in their eyes, is more more than ticket sales and album units moved.  Such a band was Our Lady Peace.

     Our Lady Peace is a fairly successful Canadian pop-rock band. Over the course of their career, they have been awarded four Juno Awards and nine Much Music Video awards (the most ever by a single band.) They’ve had numerous Top Ten radio hits such as, Is Anybody HomeStarseed, LifeInnocentSuperman’s DeadSomewhere Out There and Clumsy.   While never quite ascending to the lofty heights of stadium rock maintained by bands such as Rush or Bryan Adams in his day, Our Lady Peace still managed to be that band that would come to your hometown and sell out the local theatre or hockey rink.  They were a made-in-Canada and maintained-in-Canada success story, as far as record sales are concerned.  But, record sales do not tell the whole story.

    Lead singer, Raine Maida, has always been noted for having one of the most powerful and unique voices in Canadian rock.  He is handsome and personable, too.  In the early days of Our Lady Peace, Maida was certainly being groomed to be a “rock star”, in the mode of a Corey Hart, perhaps.  But Maida, to his credit, had a higher purpose to his life and refused to be lured into the false trappings of stardom.  Raine Maida is married to fellow singer Chantal Kreviazuk.  Lovely and talented as they both are, the potential to be a musical “power couple” was certainly there. However, both performers are Christians.  Because of their personal beliefs, both singers have dedicated much of their adult lives to helping others in need.  They perform at benefit concerts, they do mission work in third world countries and, at home, they have both dedicated sales of their hit songs to charity.  In the case of Our Lady Peace, sales of one of their biggest hits, Clumsy, have all been directed to helping support an anti-bullying venture in Canada known as Kids Help Phone, where children who feel lost or scared and alone can call and talk to a supportive adult.

     In my eyes, Our Lady Peace has to be considered a great Canadian success story. They have used their music to make a positive difference in the lives of others. At the end of the day, knowing that what you did mattered is among the most important measures of success there is.  Ask any kid who was contemplating suicide but didn’t follow through because of that voice on the phone. Ask any refugee who was given shelter and a warm meal. Ask any church whose coffers were bolstered because Our Lady Peace and Chantal Krevizuk appeared, without fanfare, at their church hall for a benefit concert…..ask any of them and they will tell you that fame, itself, is not the measure of success but, instead, it is using fame as a tool to make a difference that can make one a success.  Our Lady Peace and Chantal Kreviazuk had that figured out all along and, as a result, have enjoyed a most successful career as there has been.

I wrote that three years ago. This morning, I discovered that Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida are still using their fame, their platform, to help others. They have completed a documentary about the struggles and heartbreaks and love and successes they have encountered as a married couple. The documentary is set to air at the end of January and is called I’m Going To Break Your Heart. The link to the trailer is here. It can’t be easy to lay your soul bare for all to see but, that’s what Chantal and Raine have done. In the information I read about this documentary, they said that they have often been asked how their marriage has survived so long in the spotlight, as it were. They replied that no marriage is perfect and every relationship has its ups and downs and that it was important for people to see the human side to their world. They ended by saying that they believed love is worth believing in and fighting for. Their hope was that this documentary would inspire couples who were, perhaps, questioning the strength of their commitment, to, in fact, renew their will to fight for their own relationship instead of giving up.

So, I spent a few minutes this morning tweeting back and forth with Chantal Kreviazuk about Love, marriage and the power of success to help make a positive difference in the lives of others. Like I said off of the top, I don’t normally go on about celebrity encounters but, in this case, I am willing to make an exception. Do you have any advice for how to maintain a good marriage? Have you had any interesting celebrity encounters? If so, feel free to add your thoughts in the comment box below. Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read my words.