Archive for the Music Category

Book Review: Moonwalk by Michael Jackson

Posted in biography, Book, books, Celebrities, Entertainers, literature, michael jackson, Music, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by payjturner

moonwalkMoonwalk is basically a recollection of Michael Jackson’s life, in his own words, through 1988.  He discusses his music, family, friends, career, views, relationships, influences, and much more.

Obviously, there is a tremendous amount of discussion about his music and its history. For instance, he says that he did “This Place Hotel” because he had a fascination with revenge and couldn’t really understand why people would want revenge. “The Lady in My Life” was the song where Quincy Jones asked him to “beg”. “Blues Away”, which he didn’t sing anymore by this time, was about a deep depression even though the song has a light feel to it.  

He says that he is surprised when people think that all of an artist’s work comes from personal experience or their own lifestyle because many times nothing is farther from the truth. It is the artist’s job to create a mood or feeling using imagination, which is the most useful tool an artist has.

Michael Jackson was obviously a perfectionist who was extremely professional and serious when it came to his work. He recalls that during the making of The Wiz someone was joking around while he was filming a scene. They were trying to make him laugh and he was very upset and hurt by that. He couldn’t understand why someone would want to act that way knowing that it could mess up the scene.

He talks about all of the people who influenced him from Sammy Davis Jr. to Jackie Wilson to Fred Astaire. He reveals some of the pranks played by he and his brothers, what it was like for a child to play in seedy night clubs, why Janet was like his twin, and what it was like to drop his father as his manager. He recalls what happened after the famous Pepsi commercial where he received 3rd degree burns and how it was his childhood dream to ride in an ambulance with the sirens going. He also says that he dreamed of having a family with 13 kids.

He describes himself as “one of the loneliest people in the world.” He touches on his relationships saying that girls want to “figure out what makes me tick.”  They want to either save him or be lonely with him and he wouldn’t wish that on anyone. He discusses the fact that he had a hard time looking them, and the public, in the eye due to his shy nature. He used sunglasses to hide his eyes and, in some tiny way, to have some sense of privacy that was almost impossible to come by without barricading himself inside a room. A doctor gave him a surgical mask once after having his wisdom teeth taken out. He recalls that he liked the feeling of wearing it out in public because, like the sunglasses, it gave him a sense of privacy. Some of the more chilling moments in the book were his thoughts on celebrities, like Elvis for instance, who have tragically fallen victim to their lifestyle. He says that he didn’t think he would end up like that and he didn’t want to.

I found Moonwalk to be smart, sensitive and extremely insightful. He seemed like, to use his own words, “a young person with an old soul” who felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility not only to his family and friends who depended on him but also to his fans. I personally enjoyed the book a great deal. I feel like it gave me a better understanding of Michael Jackson beyond the music. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan.

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Book Review: The Way I Am by Eminem

Posted in biography, Book, books, Celebrities, Eminem, Entertainers, Hip Hop, literature, Music, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2009 by payjturner

embookOk. First, let me say (& this has nothing to do with the book so if you don’t want to hear it skip to paragraph 2) that I have always liked some of Eminem’s music. Sometimes I don’t know whether to be amused, sad, or offended by it but, love him or hate him, I think he is super creative, a fantastic story teller and lyrically a genius. And most of the time, if you can get past the explicit lyrics and exaggerations, his songs actually have some meaning to them. You may have to read between the lines and know something about his life or history to interpret but it’s there. But it’s only music. It’s entertainment. And like any other form of entertainment it’s not necessarily meant to be taken seriously. I mean, I don’t watch a horror movie and think “Wow, the person who wrote this movie must be a horrible monster who actually did these things so I can’t watch their movies.” I’m not a murderer, thief or prostitute. I don’t cuss like a sailor…most of the time. I have zero interest in drugs. And for the record, listening to Eminem’s music or watching movies with horrific scenes has never made me want to do any of the above. Ok, a boring movie or song might make me want to do drugs but I resist the urge. And when someone hurts me or makes me mad I might call them names and think of committing homicide but I would never actually do it. Anyway, for some inexplicable reason I have been more into his music lately. I suppose I’ve just gotten way beyond bored with the music that is out there and I need something to wake me up. I’ve been reading a lot more too so when I ran across his book I had to read it.

I have to say that I found Eminem’s book to be pretty interesting. Probably because it wasn’t exactly what I expected…meaning it wasn’t all about music. He makes a living expressing his emotions and thoughts so I’m not sure why it surprised me so much that his book would contain so much of both but it did. I suppose it’s the ease with which he seems to convey them that catches me off guard. Who knew that he could do it in a semi-biographical, not-meant-to-be-taken literally, funny song & in a book that is serious? I mean, isn’t it the guys who are supposed to be bad with expressing thoughts & emotions? He comes across as being very real…just a regular guy. He touches on things that most people wouldn’t reveal because it’s embarrassing or shameful in some way. Again, why the shock? He does that in song lyrics all of the time. That serious book thing just really throws me off.

There are a few things that really stick out to me and surprisingly the most memorable ones are not about music. As soon as you open the book you are smacked in the face with 4 pages of pure emotion as Eminem talks about his best friend Proof who was shot in 2006. It’s very powerful and relatable. He talks about how Proof taught him to fight and helped him out with a cash making scheme battling (with words not fists) kids at Proof’s school. Of course there are plenty of stories about his music and career. You get some behind the scenes info on his lyrics and videos like when he got beat up as a kid, had blood coming from his ears and blacked out, hence the song “Brain Damage”. You get to read about how his uncle Ronnie introduced him to hip-hop when he was still listening to (get this) New Edition and Michael Jackson. Who knew? He breaks down the fine lines between Marshall Mathers, Eminem, and Slim Shady which I found very interesting. I sort of got it before but now it actually makes total sense. He talks about where the peroxide ‘do came from, what he thinks could be his biggest contribution to hip-hop, and the point where he realized that he didn’t need to get high to do shows anymore because the crowd was actually there for him. There are stories about his background that include moving around every few months, his house getting robbed constantly, choosing to be the clown over the shy kid in school, and legal problems. He talks about his kids, what they mean to him, and how he explains himself to them. He mentions his father basically to say that he has no interest in knowing him anymore. He mentions his ex-wife mostly to say that they get along now for the kids sake. He mentions his ex and his mom to say that it’s not ok for others to talk negatively about them.

What is clearly missing from this book is all of the drama from his past that involves his mother and ex-wife but I suppose he has addressed that enough in his lyrics. One other thing that is noticeably missing is his journey to get clean. These things could probably be another book in themselves. Maybe this isn’t the last book we’ll see from him?

The book comes with a dvd. It’s pretty short though so don’t get too excited about that part. It’s got some good concert footage and some of Eminem and his crew joking around. The book contains copies of lyric sheets or chicken scratch as some would call it. You can see how his lyrics started out before he perfected them. I don’t know how he deciphered all of them but I guess there’s a method to his madness. There are sketches of superheros and people that he drew…50 cent, Tupac, and himself. They’re impressive. I’m no artist but I think if the rap/producing thing doesn’t keep going he could definitely work on the comic book circuit.

Overall, it is serious and amusing at the same time. And, as always when it comes to Eminem, it is thought provoking. You can tell he feels like he is often misunderstood because sometimes when he makes a joke he puts “(just kidding)” after it. Imagine that. Eminem misunderstood? I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is an Eminem fan, a hip-hop fan, or a good rags-to-riches story fan.

Oh, one more thing…this is Eminem we’re talking about not Nathaniel Hawthorne. Expect lots of colorful language and imperfect sentence structure. If you’re a literary nut who can’t stand it when a comma is out of place this book is not for you.

Book Review– Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case by D. Dimond

Posted in biography, Book, books, Celebrities, Entertainers, literature, michael jackson, Music, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2009 by payjturner

mjbookI’ve always been fascinated by Michael Jackson & his life as most of the world has. Admittedly, I’ve always been a fan. I was looking for a book that would present as many FACTS as possible about his life & the allegations made against him. Normally, all we hear through the media is speculation, exaggeration, sensationalism, rumor, opinion, hearsay, lies & gossip that sends ratings through the roof & gets people paid. When I first read a description of this book & read about Diane Dimond I thought “this might be more credible and unbiased than usual”. Boy was I wrong. This book reads in large part like a tabloid…particularly in the beginning & toward the end. But to be fair, I wonder if a book could be written about him and not sound like a tabloid?

This book is full of shady characters that the author (& the court apparently) uses as “witnesses” or “proof”. Boy has the meaning of those words been bent & morphed to the point that many of us don’t even recognize when it’s happening anymore. In somecases she does present both sides even if it still seems biased and, in a lot of cases, is all hearsay that can’t really be corroborated with much, if any, legitimacy. In my opinion, those things shouldn’t even be included in the book if it is intended to have a shred of a credible feel to it. Otherwise, you get the tabloidesque undertones that in all honesty made me want to just stop reading it after about page 20 or so. But again I wonder could a book be written without hearsay? There probably wouldn’t be much to say if not for hearsay.

The one point that does not seem like speculation, gossip, hearsay, opinion or exaggeration is chapter 9. This is where the author presents a conversation she had with a profiler that works on sex crimes. One thing bothered me about this chapter…well, a lot of things bothered me about this chapter but at the top of the list was the fact that it was supposed to be anonymous…meaning that the profiler was not supposed to be commenting on Michael Jackson but he obviously knew who Dimond was referring to. That doesn’t make what he supposedly said untrue but I just felt like it was thrown out there and then the chapter was over. This definitely wasn’t the only instance where I felt like I needed more information or that details were missing.

She does present some testimony from the trial in 2005 and I have to side with the jurors in this case….the prosecution (according to this book anyway) wasn’t particularly convincing no matter how hard the author tries to make it so with her commentary. The book jumps all over the place. There are bits & pieces scattered here and there so that it is a little hard to keep track of everything. Details from one instance will be presented in the beginning of the book but the big picture & the author’s comments or opinions will be at the end or in the middle somewhere. It would be very easy to forget the details that were presented if you are not taking notes (Although I read this book in the span of about 24 hours so it wasn’t that hard for me).

One of the biggest problems that I have with this book…maybe the only real problem that all of the others stem from…is that while she somewhat tries to pretend like she is being an unbiased reporter, it is written with an obvious undertone and theme throughout…one of her obvious belief that Michael Jackson is guilty on all accounts from 1993 on. Not to mention his guilt of just being a weird, undeserving human being that brought everything on himself no matter how many un-credible, money hungry people he had around him. There are many justifications presented by the author for the witnesses’ (I use this term loosely) accounts relayed through whatever means to her (the author). When presented with a chance to ponder what Michael Jackson/Jackson Team’s circumstances or justifications might be this is clearly left out a large majority of the time.

Were there parts that startled me? Yes. Were there parts that made me rethink my thoughts & opinions previously? Yes. Did it change my thoughts & opinions in the end? No. It did however give me a great respect & possibly pity for the 2005 jury. I have a clearer picture of how hard it must’ve been to sift through all of the information given & come out feeling like you accomplished something. For me, it also proves, crime or no crime, that money really is the root of all evil. I think based on this book a circumstancial case could be made for either side but in the end there was just way too much reasonable doubt and no real proof on either side.

In the end, I walked away from this book feeling like I had just wasted too much of my life reading tabloid trash. I didn’t feel like I had any more concrete answers than I had before I read it. Even though some of the details were shocking, it wasn’t anything that I didn’t expect. Really the only thing shocking to me is that Michael Jackson didn’t run out of money way before he did….guilty or not.

Don’t waste your money on this book. If you must read it get it from a library.