dave_diamond_sunshine

Break on Through: Remembering The Diamond

The studio light would blink. I’d answer the phone, expecting a buzzed request for Metallica or Aerosmith. “KDDX, this is Dan.”

“Dan. This is Diamond. Tighten the fuck up!” Click.

dave_diamond_sunshine

In a radio studio the phone never rings, but the light is always blinking. Nighttime radio is great. Broadcasting from the Black Hills of Western South Dakota a 100 thousand watt FM signal travels across five states of prairie towns, military bases, and truck stops. Thousands of people all dial in to the same chatter of music, local low-budget ads, fast jokes, and rock ‘n’ roll.  The listeners talk back to the radio. The phone rings and the studio light blinks.

I used to work the afternoon drive at a big rock station in the Black Hills region. It’s a small but fun radio market, and we were a highly-rated station. When the drive time shift ended I would stick around on-air as I recorded my evening voice track recording for the weekend hours. Punching the ‘on-air’ button is a lot of fun regardless of market size, and our station had a big and rowdy audience. Answering the phone at X-Rock station was frequently an adventure. Sometimes the caller just wanted to hear that one Alice in Chains song. Again. And sometimes the listener was roaring backstage at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Talking up and down the ramp of Walk This Way is fun every time, though, and with a big audience it’s easy to get a little cocky on-air. I turned up the studio monitors, glance at the music and production list, cut an ad, punched a talk set, and repeated the cycle through the hot-clock. The station light blinked. I had just cut the air and was expecting to get a buzzed request for Metallica or Aerosmith.

The light blinked. I answered.

“KDDX, this is Dan.”

“Dan. This is Diamond.”

“Hey Diamond, thanks for-“

“I’ve been taping your show all night. Tighten the fuck up!”

Click.

dave_diamond

In May my friend and mentor Dave Diamond passed away. Here’s the post from his website, and a eulogy from The Hollywood Reporter:

In 1967, Diamond was one of the first disc jockeys to play “Light My Fire” by The Doors, then a largely unknown L.A. band, and he connected listeners to The Seeds, Iron Butterfly, Love, Linda Ronstadt and other acts who at the time could not find airplay.

Through his Black Hills Music publishing company, the South Dakota native was the publisher of “Incense and Peppermints,” the psychedelic pop hit from The Strawberry Alarm Clock that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list in May 1967.

Named one of “America’s Early Radio Idols” by Billboard, Diamond was one of the few radio reporters to tour with The Beatles during their first trip to America.

And on a 1967 edition of The Dating Game, Diamond was one of the three bachelors attempting to woo actress Yvonne Craig (TV’s Batgirl.)

Diamond was an academic and a rock ‘n’ roll radio jock. His influence was both personal and vast. “Tighten the fuck up” is the closest I can come to a story that properly (impossibly) summarizes the personal impact of a guy who also influenced thousands listeners and students. I’m willing to be that a lot of Diamond’s friends and family have similar stories and feel the same way about their relationship with him.

“Tighten the fuck up” became a mantra that was always coupled with a productive and inspiring session of granular critiques. Always tough, never negative Diamond expected work to be good, rehearsed, and repeatable. This value was one many Diamond’s Laws to Live By to which he attributed his personal and professional success.

Here’s one of my favorite Diamond’s Laws to Live By:

Life is short. It can be snatched from you instantly … that is why we must do our best to do good, to love, and not waste too much time! Time bleeds!

Of course, Diamond taught more than just the value of practice and hard work. From him I learned a ton of practical lessons about the media industry, the history of rock ‘n’ roll, and his home, the Black Hills. Diamond helped coach me through the process of running a radio station, starting a business, and managing people. Sure, Diamond was a successful guy and taught a lot of lessons. The practical lessons, however, were always coupled with his consistent reminders about healthy and smart living.

Be a good person. Do the right thing. But don’t take no shit from fools.

I was fortunate to be one of many young people Diamond mentored. As a great DJ, one of Diamond’s many skills was his ability to develop intimate and sincere relationships with a diverse and large group of people. His method was hands on, cerebral, and personal. Diamond’s friends and students now work in media across the country. And with the success of his friends comes the inherent dissemination of Diamond’s values and creativity.

As he was in life and on-air, with his passing Diamond remains a broadcaster. His values are the transmitter, and the people he taught are the signal.

Turn up the radio. Thanks for listening. Break on though.

- Dan

Here’s Diamond during the final hour of Burbank’s KBLA rock program:

black_boom_box_yay-5180796

Top Five Records (of 2013); And: Music Culture As Self-Identity

This is a list of the music I enjoyed this year.

We (read: I) used to take music very, very seriously. In our youth we look for emotionally-charged ways to articulate abstract ideas about ourselves, our friends, and our role within culture. Often music becomes a proxy for self identity, and the culture of music – your ‘scene’, their aesthetics, and the politics – serves as an important interpretative and priming role within social groups. Listing what we ‘like’ becomes confusing: do we appreciate the politics of a band, yet hate their sound (eg, every Fugazi fan ever)? Do we love the sound (‘Call Me Maybe’, maybe?) but are ashamed of what our friends will think by starring it in Spotify? Qualifying subjective taste using an

An Structured List
Structured List

is a loaded proposition.

As a passionate but sober and ambitious bastard, in my 20’s I wanted to transform my emotional musical self-identity into a progressive career identity. I took music and music culture very seriously because both represented who I was, and who I thought I would become. I began  my on-air career in college and FM rock radio, worked low on the chain for Capitol Records and Warner Brothers Records, managed a few bands, started a publishing company (Creepy Sleepy Music, ASCAP), and learned to cut two inch tape at Serious Recording Studio(s).

Fortunately, I was not one bit successful in the record industry. I learned a lot, but building a career in the music business during the early 2000’s was a particularly weird experience (think: P2P, Napster, and the first iPod). My self-identity eventually became more nuanced and I opted to return to school, explore the tech industry, and eventually (though unintentionally) become a journalist. As I suspect happens to many an aged punk-rocker, maturity, experience, and a few years working in Not The Music Business has provided space to enjoy the music my ears and brain like, not the music that might express my identity and place within my peer and professional group.

To that end, 2013 was a kick-ass year for wonderful earworm music. Here are my Top Five Records of 2013:

5) Lorde – Pure Heroine: Hype, ubiquity, and teen-pop youth be damned, this record is spotless, clever, unpretentious, and catchy as hell. White Teeth Teens are out and are a lot of fun.

4) Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe: We can intellectualize this record by stating that the saccharine synthpop hooks do a great job of obfuscating The Bones of What You Believe‘s smart lyrics and weird introspection. But that’s bullshit. We all know that, like, the entire L train has been rocking Recover for months. You know who you are. ;)

3) Lucius – Wildewoman: Sincere, sensitive, and mostly-acoustic. Ug. I hate it already. In this age of diluted rocknroll I need another singer-song writer record almost as badly as another ‘Blurred Lines.’ Yet Lucius can charm the pants off (literally, I’m sure) the Too-Cool set, sell out the Bowery Ballroom, and are loved by Paul Krugman (really). Smile and join the gang on the chorus of Two of Us on the Run:

2) Haim – Days Are Gone: I can recall no record since Is This It (which really was) as hyped pre-release as Days Are Gone. And just as The Strokes’ debut was like listening to the sounds of the LES pre-Bloomberg, Haim’s freshman set sounds better than the 405 without traffic. Yeah, the pop is blubbly and transparent. Yet in contrast with Arcade Fire’s cynically constructed dull dud Reflektor, Haim’s pop  – especially The Wire – is more rocknroll than any other record released in 2013.

1) Daft Punk – Random Access Memories:

DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK
DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK
DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK

And: Pharrell. Seriously. Also, this happened: 

Leave your favorite records of 2013 (or whenever) in the comments below.

Kthxbairok.

- DHP

Reading List: The Winners History of Rock and Roll

Link: Reading List: The Winners History of Rock and Roll

This is a great longform series on the history of rocknroll by Steven Hayden for Grantland. This series does a remarkably good job of touching the seminol moments in rock history, while avoiding typical cliches of rock criticism. 

Hayden wrote a similar and immensely enjoyable series for AV Club a fear years ago called Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation.

I’m not sure that anyone really cares anymore if rocknroll is alive or dead, but The Winners History of Rock and Roll does a great job of tracking it’s trajectory. 

From Longform.org:

As mainstream rock declines and disappears from the radio, an examination of seven bands who were amongst the biggest of their respective eras.

K’Naan Considering Suit Against Romney Campaign for Using “Waving Flag” as Victory Song

Link: K’Naan Considering Suit Against Romney Campaign for Using “Waving Flag” as Victory Song

kopoint:

Mitt Romney probably isn’t a hip-hop fan. If he were, the Presidential hopeful would have known that K’Naan wouldn’t be too keen on the idea that his song “Waving Flag” be adopted as the victory anthem for the potential GOP candidate. Now, the rapper may take legal action.

“Romney campaign debuts new victory song. ‘Wavin Flag’ by K’NAAN,” tweeted Jon Ward, a Senior Political Reporter for The Huffington Post, following the former Massachusetts governor’s win in the Florida Republican primary Tuesday night.

“My manager called me on the phone and was like, ‘Hey, Mitt Romney has just used your song and people are hitting me up like crazy,’” K’Naan told XXLMag.com. “Then I checked my e-mails and Twitter and, sure enough, it’s blowing up with crazy outrage.”

Full Story -»

Pogues – Fairytale Of New York Feat Kirsty Maccoll

http://assets.tumblr.com/swf/audio_player.swf?audio_file=http://www.tumblr.com/audio_file/14674118023/tumblr_ldt05aZrZn1qzppji&color=FFFFFF

“Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues featuring Kristy Maccoll

Merry Christmas!

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can’t make it all alone
I’ve built my dreams around you

[Link]

London Sky Orchestra: To mark one year to go until the 2012 Olympics the Mayor of London has teamed

London Sky Orchestra:

To mark one year to go until the 2012 Olympics the Mayor of London has teamed up with the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) to bring UK artist Luke Jerram’s Sky Orchestra to the city.