lady gaga vinyl

Born This Way.

Right now I am sitting in the Tar Pit coffee shop in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. As I wrote this I’m listening to the fantastic new album by The War On Drugs, A Deeper Understanding.  In about four and a half hours, I’ll be inside the Brooklyn Steel music venue when one of my favorite bands, The Afghan Whigs, takes the stage.  I’ve only seen The Afghan Whigs one other time (four days ago), and I’ve also seen lead singer (and fellow paisan) Greg Dulli another time last year.  One of the things I like most about The Afghan Whigs is how they blend Motown and soul and rock into one genre.  And Greg Dulli’s voice does the same thing.  He’s one of my favorite singers.  When he sings, you can hear the Motown and soul influence in his style.  At the same time, he definitely sings like a rocker.

There’s so much passion and feeling in The Afghan Whigs’ music.  The music and singing are so moving and emotional.  I often ignore the lyrics and just focus on the passion. That allows the songs to become my own. Regardless of the musician, with my favorite songs, I almost don’t even hear them anymore.  I just feel them.  It’s like that with my favorite Afghan Whigs song, “Faded”, from their incredible album Black Love.  You need to hear it.  Actually, you need to hear both “Summer’s Kiss” and “Faded”, which end the Black Love album back-to-back.  Luckily they ended their show in Philly with both of these songs, and I was there to witness (and more importantly FEEL) it. Hopefully they will play them again tonight.  

I’m pumped for the show tonight.  I haven’t been to this venue yet, and although it’s new, I’ve wanted to see a show here since I first read about it.  I’ve only known The Afghan Whigs’ music for about 3 and a half years now, but they’ve been favorites of mine since I first heard them.  I devour and LOVE everything by them, as well as anything I’ve ever heard Greg Dulli do.  As long as he’s coming to the Northeast, whether with The Afghan Whigs, solo, Twilight Singers or Gutter Twins (hey, I can dream, right?), then I will be there.

Unless things change in the next few hours, I’ll be attending this show by myself, just like I did on Tuesday.  While it’s not my preference, I am more than comfortable going to shows by myself.  I’ve been doing this for so long now that I am more than used to it.  It’s never even been something I’ve learned to do.  Ever since I first started going to shows by myself, it’s felt natural.  I was born listening to music.  Still, I have definitely been to shows by myself where I’ve felt judged for being there by myself.  That itself can make me very uncomfortable.  It’s interesting that this is something that gets judged or that others feel is weird.  I’m there for the music.  If my family or friends can, and want to, join, then that’s great.  I’d rather be at the shows with people I know.  But I’m not going to depend on others to go to a show (besides that Iron Maiden tour earlier this summer, but that’s another story). I never lose sight about WHY I do this. I have to do this.  It’s what I know.

You know one show where you don’t feel judged, for anything at all?  Lady Gaga.  I went last week, and I really cannot truly describe what an experience it was.  I am a HUGE fan of hers, for many reasons, and the show only added to that list of reasons.  She puts on one of the better shows you could possibly see.  The kind of show where you don’t care what the ticket price was.  You cannot put a price on the experience that you get.

This was my first time seeing her, and I am really down on myself for not doing so earlier.  I missed out!  But guess what.  I am someone who usually learns from their mistakes, and I have learned that it was a mistake to miss Gaga’s previous tours.  That mistake will not be repeated!

This tour is definitely heavy on her new album Joanne. That’s okay with me, because I think it is a really solid album with some GREAT songs on it.  “Diamond Heart”, “Joanne”, “Million Reasons”, “Perfect Illusion”, “Angel Down” were all played and I actually think they sound better live than on the album.  While I do like Joanne, I thought it didn’t sound as big as it was intended to.  These songs sound much bigger (and better) in a live setting.

Do not worry.  Gaga also played her massive hits, of which she has many.  This is an understatement.  “Poker Face” was the first classic she played.  That really shook up the crowd after the start of “Diamond Heart” and “A-Yo”. I could feel the rafters shaking and swaying when that went on.  “Just Dance” was incredible.  That piano intro is so perfect.  It’s iconic. I will never forget first hearing that song in the end of 2008.  I kept hearing it on the radio, and the reassuring line “Just dance, it’s gonna be okay.”  I kept up with Gaga’s radio songs after that, but never checked out her albums until recently.  I’m glad I finally started going that.

“The Edge Of Glory” and “Born This Way” were definitely the most powerful one-two punches of the show. She did “The Edge Of Glory” solo on piano, about TWENTY YARDS from where we were sitting.  Oh.  My. God.  The voice!  You almost don’t even believe how good it is.  That’s how good her voice is!  The piano arrangement showed what I already knew – it’s a truly great song.  if you heard that version on the radio, and didn’t already know the famous version, you would think “Wow.  This is amazing.”  That’s the mark of a truly great song.

But wait.  It got even better.  During “The Edge Of Glory”, she brought a young boy onstage and sat him on her lap while she played the piano and sang.  She made a few comments about how she knew he liked her music, and about how brave he was.  But she never said WHY.  I loved that she didn’t say why.  It made it a more genuine moment.  She knows that her music helps him, with whatever it is that he’s dealing with. Telling the crowd about why would remove the personal connection between them.  It would remove OUR personal connection with THEM.  It was a beautiful moment, and further verifies Gaga’s reputation of caring about her fans.

A similar thing happened again before she played “The Cure.”  She read an emotional letter from a fan in the pit.  Someone threw the letter on stage, and she picked it up and started to read it.  Basically, the person was talking about how, despite his adversity and a very difficult personal situation, he was saved by Gaga’s music.  Her music has helped him survive.  He wrote that if he ever got the chance to meet Gaga, he would just say “Thank you” and give her a huge.  It put chills on my arms and tears in my eyes, because I feel the same thing about my favorite musicians.  I have been lucky enough to meet some of the musicians who have saved my life, and all I need to say to them is “Thank you.”  It means the world to be able to say that.  And even better, this person got to say it in front of a crowd AND got to hug Gaga.  It was awesome!

The fan also wrote in his letter that his favorite song of Gaga’s is “Hair”.  That’s amazing, because it’s also MY favorite Gaga song. I don’t think it’s a very famous song, but you should really check it out.  It’s such a good song.  She then went on and sang the first few lines acapella.  Hell yea!  What a great moment!

During the show, Gaga continuously talked about strength and compassion and empathy.  It was such a welcoming and loving environment.  If ever there was a safe zone at a show, this is one of them.  I felt very empowered throughout the night, and I still feel that way.  One message that stood out was when she said that to be strong, you have to experience feeling weak.  I know that I always feel strong the moment I step into a venue. Hopefully you feel the same way!

Here is a list of some of the music I’ve been listening to the past week.  Format: musician – album title, or musician – “song title” (album title).

  • Kesha – Rainbow
  • The National – Sleep Well Beast
  • Iron & Wine – Beast Epic
  • Jeff Tweedy – Together At Last
  • The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
  • Justin Townes Earle – Kids In The Street
  • John Moreland – Big Bad Luv
  • The Menzingers – After The Party
  • The Afghan Whigs – In Spades
  • Foo Fighters – Concrete & Gold
  • Haim – Something To Tell You
  • The Afghan Whigs – “Summer’s Kiss” (Black Love)
  • The Afghan Whigs – “Faded” (Black Love)
  • The Head and The Heart – The Head and The Heart
  • Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain
  • Lady Gaga – Joanne
  • Lady Gaga – “Hair” (Born This Way)
  • Lady Gaga – Born This Way
  • Husker Du – Flip Your Wig
  • The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
  • The Replacements – Pleased To Meet Me