Lauren has the details on events leading up to and immediately after spring break on campus, including women’s sporting events and a talk on understanding election issues and candidates.
Archives for February 2020
On this edition of the podcast Dean Melissa Gresalfi uses her Dean’s Minute to discuss kindness. Estelle delivers your weekly Commons Calendar of events, and Andrei has a great interview with first-year student Jessica Barker, Deputy News Editor of The Vanderbilt Hustler.
Finally. It’s 1 in the afternoon. You’ve just woken up and the sun is shining through your windows. It’s spring break and you have nothing to do and no one to-
You reach over for your phone and see 367 missed messages from the group chat, 9 Snapchat messages, and a missed FaceTime call. You may be tempted to just put your phone on Do Not Disturb.
I know some people who just disappear over breaks. No warnings, no heads up. During winter or spring break, I’ll be lucky to get a text back.
But are they doing something right?
How can you use your spring break as a way to recharge and take a bit of a break…from everyone else?
Well, figure out what you need. That might mean being that person who ghosts the group chat then shows up a week later with a meme.
Or maybe you just need to figure out when to be present. This can mean talking to your friends at random times throughout the day and then turning off your notifications at night to you can have more personal time to yourself.
It can also be only hanging out with friends and completely ignoring whatever is going on in your phone.
Whatever it is, just remember that this is spring break. It’s supposed to be what gives us that final bit of energy to get us through the last two months we have before the school year is officially done. We are so close to the finish line for this year. Make sure you don’t burn out before you get there.
With a school as geographically diverse as Vanderbilt, we knew that y’all would be going all over the place for spring break. So, we asked over 100 Vanderbilt students where they would be going for Spring Break and here are 10 of the top answers:
- Ft. Lauderdale
- New Orleans
The majority of answers said somewhere in South Florida. Make sure to grab a snap with your fellow Commodore if y’all see each other over break!
We live in musically exciting times! Lizzo and Billie Eilish are in the process of changing the aesthetics, values, and tonality of popular music — and, in the process, they’ve introduced personable and woke ways that celebrities can deal with their mega-stardom. We’ve grown deeply invested in not only the era of music streaming, but the era of democratic music production — soundcloud rappers now achieve fame from their laptops. Is rock dead? Are mumble rap and trap legitimate musical movements? Do ya like jazz? Many questions remain unanswered.
However, in the midst of all this buzz, I find it cathartic to reflect on the progress we’ve made as a musical culture. The “pop” our parents and grandparents listened to is radically different than what we expect from our car radios (or, er, Spotify playlists). For this reason, I present here a list focusing on one of the most transformative and hectic years of music history — 1970. The world was at a crossroads of inventive beatles-esque pop, the rowdiness of hard rock, and the swagger of early R&B and soul. 50 years later, we can now make informed judgements about the dominant movements of the year and the places they led.
Without further delay, here are what I consider to be the most influential songs released in 1970.
5. Led Zeppelin — Immigrant Song
Immigrant Song is one of those rare tunes whose melodies I could recall perfectly after the first listen. And how can one give anything less than their absolute attention once the song starts? Four counts, and suddenly the band stampedes onto the scene, viciously trampling your ears with one of the most harmonically simple — and badass — riffs imaginable. Robert Plant shrieks a worldless, primordial chorus over the main riff, a dreadful sound befitting of the vikings envisioned in the song’s lyrics. And the music doesn’t overstay its welcome. Two and a half minutes of pure adrenaline — and over. No guitar or drum solo, no fluff to dilute a musical gut punch of a song.
In the decades since Immigrant Song’s release, artist after artist have covered it, from American Idol contestants to Nirvana. It’s a technical showcase for vocalists, an ear-grabbing piece for your local bar band, and a hell of an upper in your movie soundtrack. Led Zeppelin mixed concision with unyielding aggression. Music hasn’t been the same ever since.
4. Jimi Hendrix — All Along the Watchtower
Electric Ladyland, The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s last studio release, is widely considered Jimi Hendrix’s opus magnum. The album captured Hendrix at the peak of his songcraft, combining visionary electric guitar with consistently intelligent songwriting.
No single song off the record better captures Hendrix’s force-of-nature, fearlessly innovative ethos than All Along the Watchtower, a complex cover of Bob Dylan that rockets the folksy, quaint original to astrophysical heights. In its four-minute run-time, the track commits to some adventurous paths — multiple guitar solos weave between verses, each among the greatest guitar moments in rock; the rhythm section crescendos and recedes cunningly, exploring all extremities of the dynamic spectrum; and the song contributed significantly to the popularity of the newly invented wah-wah pedal, a cutting edge piece of equipment for the period. Perhaps most impressively, All Along the Watchtower executes these choices seamlessly, effortlessly integrating a whole host of Hendrix innovations into his most dazzling singular piece of music. Truly the greatest guitarist that ever lived.
3. Santana — Oye Como Va
Rock changed for the better when Carlos Santana released Abraxas in 1970. The record’s far-minded fusion leans into jazz, blues, and latin music influences — all while remaining irresistible to mainstream rock audiences. Oye Como Va is one of the band’s most unabashedly latin performances, retaining many elements of Tito Puente’s original 1963 cut. The conga, cha-cha-cha rhythm, and spanish lyrics feature prominently in both versions. On full display, however, is Santana’s most notable talent — the ability to strike a perfect balance between World Music roots and a carefully calibrated dose of rock flair. David Brown’s bass, Michael Shrieve’s drums, and Gregg Rolie’s keys all play iconic parts that mark a neat middle ground between the known and the new (not to mention some melodic guitar genius from the band’s namesake himself, Carlos Santana). All the familiar rock elements are there, albeit with a tasteful twist. Upon releasing Abraxas — and especially Oye Como Va — Santana proved Mainstream Rock’s transformative potential to cross cultures and defy tradition.
2. The Beatles — Let It Be
Even with their dying breath, the undisputed masters of pop music managed to churn out one of the most beloved songs of all time. Of course, Let It Be isn’t representative of The Beatles in their heyday — the song sees no collaboration on Lennon’s part, and the production is quite different than what fans grew accustomed to during the band’s stunning creative period. But Let it Be, besides simply being a spectacular tune, embodies the tremendous musical turnover of 1970. Jimi Hendrix’s death, Janis Joplin’s death, Jim Morisson’s jailing, all coupled with the yearlong tragedy of The Beatles’ ugly, drawn-out breakup. Gone were picture-perfect pretty melodies, the naivete of the hippie era, truth-seeking psychedelia. The 70’s did away with the previous decade, instead overseeing the rise of Prog, Disco, Funk, Soul, Hard Rock, Punk, Metal — developments that were as informed by The Beatles as they were their antitheses.
But in the meantime, don’t pay the stress any mind. Just listen to George Harrison’s killer guitar solo. Let It Be.
Allman Brothers Band — Midnight Rider
The Allman Brothers popularized Southern Rock and gave it an intellectual edge, incorporating jazz sensibilities into their catchy jams. Midnight Rider is one of the shining moments of their discography.
The Jackson 5 — ABC
Almost definitely deserving of a top spot, but I’d argue that I Want You Back, released in 1969, broached the same musical territory. Sorry, boys.
The Kinks — Lola.
Wonderful lyrics from one of the greatest songwriters ever, an infectiously catchy song. The Kinks are wildly underrated.
Creedence Clearwater Revival — Have you Ever Seen the Rain?
The band’s most famous song is on their worst album. Go figure.
James Brown — Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine
James Brown is undoubtedly the founding father of funk. Need I say more?
Derek and the Dominos — Layla
Perhaps the most famous lead guitar harmony in the history of rock. This track also proved Eric Clapton’s capabilities as a songwriter.
Miles Davis — Bitches Brew
The entire Bitches Brew album is utterly indescribable. An avant-garde take on jazz that has influenced the likes Herbie Hancock (who plays on this track) as well as Radiohead.
The Velvet Underground — Sweet Jane
Yes, I know, the critics’ darlings are here. But seriously, go listen to the Velvet Underground.
1. Black Sabbath — Paranoid
What’s wrong, didn’t expect this to be number one?
The title track of Black Sabbath’s second album might strike you as a somewhat average song by today’s standards. Three power chords chugging devilishly on the downbeat, occasional riffing in a pentatonic key, guitar and bass distortion pushed to the max — typical fare for metal and hard rock. Yet the commonality of these tropes cloaks a revolutionary truth: these very same rock stereotypes were largely started by Black Sabbath. This song, in particular, is the most major single step in popularizing the doom-and-gloom aesthetic we accept as normal in modern society. Listen to Black Sabbath’s heaviest contemporaries — Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, etc. All of them rock undeniably hard. But compare their songs to Paranoid, and you’ll understand that Black Sabbath stands in a class all its own. Some of the most important musical movements of the following decades owe an enormous debt to early Sabbath — punk, metal, hair rock, grunge. The butterfly effect then carries the impact further to alternative rock, garage rock, post-punk, even hip-hop. I would be lying if I claimed that these genres wouldn’t exist without Paranoid. But they surely wouldn’t be the same.
On this episode Dean of the Commons Melissa Gresalfi discusses anxiety, how it can get in your way, and how you can overcome it. Andrei delivers your weekly Commons Calendar of events, and he also has a terrific interview with Ulysses Yu, resident adviser in Hank House.
Chioma has the details on events coming up on campus this week, including the Chancellor’s Lecture Series, the Harvest Festival, and the Lunar New Year Festival.
Last week I had the opportunity to review Cold War Kids’ and The Wood Brothers’ concerts here in Nashville. Along with some of the highlights from both nights, I’ll also be sharing some songs I think are more than worth a listen (if you’re reading this in a time crunch, song recommendations are at towards the bottom).
The Cold War Kids concert started off with an opening from Overcoats, an electric duo made up of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. Their beautiful harmonies and feel-good music set the stage for an extraordinary time, and they sound as good live as they do on record. They performed a couple of songs from their latest album “Young” and even debuted a couple from their upcoming album that’ll be released in January. Overcoats commanded the stage with their personality and had the crowd always either laughing or screaming. If you haven’t already heard of them, their last album is worth a search on YouTube.
Cold War Kids was amazing live, as well. If you haven’t already heard of them, the group is an indie/alternative rock band based out of Long Beach, CA. The musicians, who are talented in so many different instruments it’s insane, awed the crowd with their passionate delivery and energetic stage presence. My favorite segment of the night was when they performed some stripped-down versions of several fan-favorites like “Hang Me Up to Dry” and “So Tied Up.” Overall, I’d give the night an 8.5/10.
The Wood Brothers, on the other hand, were a completely different type of sound. This trio has deep roots in folk; I caught them on Valentine’s Day which also happened to be the last stop on their tour. This band makes the kind of music you want to listen to while you ride in a convertible with the windows down in the summer. On top of that, you know they’re something notable because they could keep people on their feet the whole concert without a grand setup, choreography or background singers. Somehow they managed to get that big band sound with only three people, instruments strapped all over them. The funniest part of the night was when Oliver, the lead singer, said that he thought he’d been on tour a little bit less than two weeks and that his wife disagreed, and then his wife yelled out from the crowd, “I CAN COUNT!” I was in awe the entire night, and if you’re into folk music, I bet you’ll be in awe, too.
Some songs to check out by Cold War Kids:
- We Used to Vacation
- Tricky Devil
- Who’s Gonna Love Me Now
- Hang Me Up to Dry
- 4th of July
- Fine Fine Fine
Some songs to check out by The Wood Brothers:
- One More Day (Live)
- Postcards from Hell
- Little Bit Sweet
- Who the Devil
On this episode of the official podcast of The Commons, Dean Gresalfi shares details on The Murray Lecture, Estelle delivers the Commons Calendar of upcoming events, and she also has a great discussion with Carolyn Floyd, the Director of the Office of Immersion Resources. So if you’ve been wondering about Immersion Vanderbilt requirements, Carolyn has the answers.
An introvert being in a relationship sounds like an oxymoron.
How does someone who prefers to be by themselves most of the time end up in a situation where they have to be with another person most of the time?
How does an introvert even get to the relationship stage?
I’m no love expert, but for this Valentine’s Day, I’ve picked up a few tips for y’all to work up your nerve to tell that someone how you feel (or… at least think about doing so).
1. Vibe Them Out
A lot of times, people will show you who they are. Vibe them out. Can you actually talk to them or are your conversations a series of awkward silences?
If you find yourself putting in too much work to make it work, maybe you need to reconsider whether this person is for you.
2. Don’t Fear the Answer
Those two letters, or really any another answer that isn’t a yes, is enough to stop someone from telling another person how they feel. This is less about introversion and more about being shy or scared, but it can be easy to let your fear of an answer stop you from saying what you want to say.
This is just college! We’re not in a race or some crazy version of Love Island where you have to be with someone or have someone in your life by a deadline. Say what you want to say and don’t fear the answer.
3. Now What?
Remember life goes on. If you have your eye on a special someone this Valentine’s Day and you’re willing to put in the work to make room for them in your life, just try.
If you don’t, ordering cinnamon sticks and pepperoni pizza and watching Archer is also a very valid way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Either way, I think you’ll find yourself satisfied.