The Riff

Introducing The Riff. A place to share your musical story.

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Photo by Jisu Han, Unsplash

We started The Riff out of frustration.

It was at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and I was reading Anthony Kiedis’s memoir Scar Tissue.

I’ve always liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but my connection with their music fell deeper after reading the book. I wanted to write about that connection.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a good place to do so.

As a listener who doesn’t play instruments, I feel that writing is another art form I could take on to enhance my intimate connection with music. …

The Greatest Album Ever

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Creative Commons licence, Author: Helge Øverås,

In the punk days, double albums were as rare as hen’s teeth — and for very good reason. The only bands at that time who produced double albums were hoary old rockers like The Eagles or Genesis. They were generally considered the most rockist thing on the planet, and let’s be honest — being branded rockist was tantamount to being cast into the seventh level of hell. Unthinkable. Utterly beyond the pale. Never trust a rockist.

So, in 1979, in the wake of the firing of Bernie Rhodes — their manager of 3 years — the Clash were at an impasse. They had no new songs and no rehearsal rooms. Their last record had been a cover version (“I Fought The Law”) and a damn good one at that, but new material was, as they say, ‘contractually obliged’, and their main songwriters, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, were suffering burnout after an extended US tour and unable to write anything useful. …

Here’s what’s happening to the digital world of music

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

If you haven’t heard about the recent news in the music industry, let me update you real quick.

Many famous artists have started selling their songs to record labels, investment firms, and to anyone willing to pay the big bucks. They’re selling both their future income on their music and the right to decide where it will be featured from now on.

They’ll remain credited as authors of these musical pieces, but all else is gone.

These artists have finally put a price tag on their most valuable possessions:

  • Bob Dylan sold his entire catalog for $300–400 million to Universal Music. …

And leave you feeling a little less meh.

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Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Winter can often be a difficult time for many of us. Every year we are reminded of how short the days are and just how long it can really feel. Add on the stress of a pandemic and it’s enough to make you want to curl into your sheets and not come out until spring.

Whether you’re like me, stuck in a third UK lockdown, or experiencing a turbulent time across the pond, or just in need of a big old hug, then this is for you. …

Perfect Song Series, PT 2

Charming the savages

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Photo by Whitney Wright on Unsplash

I love that this perfect song challenge is bringing out so many who have personal faves that they’re not reluctant or too shy to admit. One day I’ll get to Neil Diamond and maybe other things even more subjectively embarrassing, but for now, I’m sticking with tunes that I either can’t quit singing — actually I have a pretty good voice and my wife keeps begging me to sing more, and so maybe I’ll reprise “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” or “Windy” from my ninth grade choir days — OR

The songs that fill me with longing or help me recall some moment in time when I felt lost, or found, with them, maybe even because of them. They’re healing songs even now, and ones I might have covered in other lists. So, there is no theme other than I’ll still be playing and listening to these gems when I no longer remember my name. …

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Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

If you’re like me, music is the engine that moves you. It’s been that way for as long as you can remember and the tank never seems to run out of gas.

As someone who needs music in his life in the same way I need food and water, I sometimes find it difficult to explain to people who aren’t like me why I am this way. Even answering seemingly easy questions can become a monumental task.

A question you hear a lot of when discussing music is “what songs or artists can’t you live without?”

Another frequent one, and one I find the hardest to answer, is “what is your favorite song?”

From an infinite number of choices

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Photo by Lee Campbell on Unsplash

Any editor that has ever dared to print a “The 50 best XXXX” type list will tell you that taste is a subjective thing. Their inbox will soon be flooded with praise and scorn- in equal measure if they’ve done it right.

Those attempts are even more fraught when the list involves the arts. It’s easy to quantify something like the utility of a software program, or the most downloaded apps. How do you apply the same criteria to something like a song? Some might argue time on the charts, record sales (or streams), but by design that leaves out huge swaths of music. Not everything is going to chart. …

In Conversation with Kevin Cardinale: No More Death Stars, smashing guitars, The Ramones, Joy Division, Jonathan Swift, etc.

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“Kevin Cardinale” — Photo by Joel Barlow

Kevin Cardinale, who truly believes in “punk” as an idea, and not a genre, thinks that he may have gotten him and his band, No More Death Stars, banned from a bar in upstate New York, for saying into his microphone something to the effect of, “DIY punk is a lie!”

Kevin elaborates: “And I don’t always think the people involved in a scene can make that distinction, because it’s hard to step outside of yourself. But the belief is that from the ruins of a record “industry,” a community emerged. And I do think there is a community, but I also think there’s a lot of performing involved. At the end of the day, most people are still in it for self-interest or gain. But maybe I’m just cynical, I don’t really identify with the idea of a “scene” these days. …

Mom was my first musical inspiration

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Photo by Jack Hamilton on Unsplash

As the new year came along, I started to think about my writing. I’ve only been writing on this platform since the end of July and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I just know that I enjoy writing. I couldn’t help but think about why I wasn’t writing more about the things I really like? …


The Riff

A new publication on music and how it’s impacting our lives ❤

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