Dave Carroll Launches Second United Breaks Guitar Video

Dave Carroll of the group Sons of Maxwell has released the second of three songs and videos chronicling how United Airlines baggage handlers carelessly thrashed his high quality $3500 Taylor guitar and won’t be accountable for it.

The short of Dave’s broken guitar story is as follows:

“In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world.”
— from davecarrollmusic.com that also has the full story

Dave-Carroll1

The first video was a huge hit, shown at bottom for your convenience in case you didn’t see it. It is now bordering on 5 million YouTube views as of this writing on Aug 19 2009. The story of its success, as Dave has told audience, was that after posting the first video and going to bed, there were six views… five of which were probably his. The next day, there were 300 views, and he was ecstatic. He called Curve Productions, who produced that first and this second video, but they told him to not get too excited. However, when he was out in little Pictou doing a show the next night and someone told him the LA Times wanted to talk to him, Dave knew for sure he was on to something big.

Well, at 5 million views in 6-7 weeks, you’re doing super great, Dave! Much better than your initial goal of 1 million views for all three videos within one year!

Despite all this grief, though, Dave maintains a great attitude towards United. He has said he may fly United again one day, if this gets settled adequately. That would mean they’d have to meet his challenge:

“If United would go online and on record saying that they were going to make substantive changes to customer service and make the experience better for people, I’d be inclined to write about that. [The third song] is still not written and it’ll be released in the fall, though. If United wants to take part, they just have to come to the table and share what they’re going to do to make it better for everybody.”
Yahoo News

Dave Carroll was my former songwriting teacher at Sherbrooke Village, Nova Scotia, in a great Road to Stanfest songwriting camp they have there. I’m extremely happy for him and his success, and wish him all the best to resolve his guitar tragedy with United Airlines. His viral first video is below for your reference.

Short link: http://wp.me/pr5TE-1sl

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 9.1

Serendipitous Discovery of Leah West’s Music

Leah West, from her ReverbNation profile

Leah West

I am not active on MySpace, checking into my MySpace profile just once in a few months, probably. It’s not my main point of contact, but rather a venue to share the one song I have written and recorded thus far… which will change this summer. I usually check in just to see if anything happened I should know about, that’s about it.

Tonight, I saw a Friend Request from one Leah West (MySpace), a musician (and model, actress, painter, photographer, etc.) formerly of New Jersey and now of Kelowna, BC. I had never heard of her but am long past that sort of thing to be surprised by it. I know it’s about social networking, not necessarily people who know each other. On the same principle, if people send a Friend Request of me, I won’t turn them down unless they seem really scary… more in a social sense than physical sense. I just accept, be flattered at face value they sent me a Friend Request, a little more if they typed something like Leah did, and have a listen to their music. I often enjoy it, but that might be that. However, every once in a while, I find something that’s delightful and tonight, it was Leah West’s music!

First thing to notice was her beautiful voice. The music moves and is moving. There is breadth to it, from simple and fun songs to deep and personal songs loaded with intelligent, thoughtful, meaningful lyrics. All of them are tied together by a genuine sense of honesty that it all came from within Leah, that this is the person she is. Someone who has decided to give us the privilege to look into her soul, just the way it is, through the sounds of her music.

There are six great songs on Leah West’s MySpace profile, but her ReverbNation profile has 54 songs. I’m half way through the list now and have not found a bad track yet. So many good songs I’m starting to believe there isn’t a bad one! They are all of the pop / alternative / indie styles she classifies herself as, though, so if you have a quota on that for how much you can listen to at one time, 54 might be a bit much. Mind you, 54 of anything, even the Beatles, can be a bit much for most. Still, I believe there is a lot more to this young lady than p/a/i. With a voice and, more importantly, a spirit like hers, I think she can do and succeed in a lot of other genres. She just has to determine which of them are within her, when the time is right for her. But absolutely, I very much highly recommend you have a listen to her music at the link above.

Both profiles contain a lot of other interesting information about Leah, including artists she’s worked with, appearances and so on, but Leah’s website has even more, including her photos from modeling, acting, her blog and so on! Rocking! She’s also on YouTube as the video above shows, though it only had 280 views at time of this posting. Contrast that to the well over 1 million views her MySpace profile has had since June 24 2008 (i.e. just 10 months from this posting!).

Anyway, social networking is quite a lot like the lottery. A lot of times, there isn’t much to be gained, if not something lost like time. You have to have that mentality to play it and survive. However, every once in a while, you feel like you won something. Discovering Leah West’s music tonight has definitely been worth my while. As for her, I see she’s got close to 12,000 “friends” on MySpace, but she won over one geniune fan tonight in me!

Clay Shirky (photo from TED.com)

Clay Shirky (photo from TED.com)

Btw, did you know the mean number of Friends a user on MySpace has is 55? That’s just if you averaged out the number of friends every user had, though this should probably be 54 since everybody has Tom, the default friend on MySpace. Compare that to Facebook users who have an average of 125.

However, and this is a BIG however, the median number of MySpace friends a user has is just 2! That is, if you ordered each user in a list from most friends at one end and least friends at the other, and you walked halfway down that line, the person there would have 2 MySpace friends! (Source: Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody)

Wow! Talk about saying something about the nature and interactions of its users given people like Leah has almost 12,000!

What social networking if half the users literally have 2 or fewer friends, with 1 by default to start???

This fact is true despite MySpace still being ranked #9 on Alexa.com’s web traffic rankings at time of posting! Lots of traffic but not of the true interactive kind, obviously. At least not anywhere near where it could be. ReverbNation sits at 7,347 at time of posting, if you’re curious.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.3

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What’s Your Song of Knowledge? (Part 4 of 7 on the World in Six Songs)

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Book and Theory Background

Daniel J. Levitin wrote an absolutely brilliant book called The World in Six Songs, supported by a great website with the many music samples referenced, among other great related material.

My basic paraphrasing of the concept is this. All the songs in the world could be fit into at least one of six categories providing an evolutionary benefit to humanity, often ultimately tied to our social nature.

The book and website offer far more detailed interpretations, of course, but I will expand on my paraphrasing with each post and the associated topic.

Daniel J. Levitin and The World in Six SongsIn a series of posts, I will describe each of the six categories in brief, one at a time:

  1. Friendship
  2. Joy
  3. Comfort
  4. Knowledge
  5. Religion
  6. Love

I will describe what the categories are about because they are not as limited in scope as the category names suggest. I will then supply one of my choices and ask all readers to do the same if they so wish. In the seventh post of the series, I will offer the chance to put the song choices all together so readers can read the entire set on one post. I do this because it would be a long post to describe all six categories at once, but to have all the answers in one place might be nice.

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This post focuses on Songs of Knowledge

July 30th add-on in italics, from Dan Levitin in a summary article
Historically, songs have been used to transmit various information such as religious texts, survival and life lessons, and even the ABCs. Studies have shown information set to song is memorized more reliably than when simple rote memory is used. Increasing the reliability of transmitted information provides the next generation with valuable information.

Songs of knowledge are aptly named because they preserve and spread knowledge. However, it’s not that simple since we have language, which is a far more versatile means of conveying and preserving language than music, having far fewer limitations in composition. Language, though, doesn’t have nearly the mnemonic power of music to help preserve the knowledge being conveyed. This was of great value before we had written language, though it should be pointed out that Daniel Levitin did not pick sides whether the musical or linguistic brain came first. Rather, he favoured the likely to be correct idea they developed together. Another limitation of language is that it can be too specific.

For difficult or awkward situations, a little ambiguity afforded by songs might actually help dissolve conflict, or at least manage social uncertainty, benefiting survival. Songs are also more genuine because it is partly an emotional output, not a rational one, and not as easily to fake.

Finally, knowledge songs are performed by many people, and often. That is partly how they are maintained as per oral history. You can neither preserve nor spread songs if only one person knew it and/or it were rarely performed. Too risky to lose those songs and their knowledge forever. These songs are also sometimes sung in groups, which helps identify those who can bond into groups that increase chances of survival and promote evolution.

As for some examples, many kids’ songs like those which teach counting and the alphabets are excellent, albeit simple examples of knowledge songs. With English as my primary language, the Alphabet Song comes to mind.

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This is the same tune as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by the way, although the latter helps teach things like rhyme rather than an alphabetical sequence… kind of like the video link demonstrates hilariously.

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However, on the other end of the spectrum is the Oral Torah, which, as a Christian metaphor if you are not familiar with it, is a bit like reciting the Bible by memory by song. That’s not entirely accurate, with the history of the Oral Torah being very interesting compared to the written Torah, but you get the idea. Despite the religious text, though, the “song” is meant to preserve and spread knowledge. Religious songs, covered next, are more about rituals. Finally, in the middle are songs like those sang by traveling minstrels and pop songs that tell of historical events like Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Audio sample of songs from the Knowledge chapter in The World in Six Songs can be found on the website. No direct link was available, but click on the Songs menu option and appropriate page number range link carrying pages 137 to 188. Please note that not all songs are meant as samples of Knowledge songs. Some are just referenced material in the book text.

Daniel Levitin talks more about the impact of songs in our lives, including songs of knowledge, in this video below.

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Author Daniel Levitin chose

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My choice for Song of Knowledge is

Woodstock, by Joni Mitchell (lyrics).

This was a really tough one for me to answer because I don’t live in a place and time of traveling minstrels and some choices I had thought about were covered (Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald). However, after thinking long and hard, I decided on my choice above. While not a full historical account by any means, Joni at least wasn’t there like most of the minstrel singers would not have been at the events about which they sang.

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What is your choice for Song of Knowledge?

Please leave your choice as a comment.

Lyrics and YouTube/audio link would greatly enhance your answer so readers can know more about your choice. They are not necessary, though, and not possible if no lyrics or version exist.

You can include songs you wrote as a choice, too!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.3