Saturday, September 29, 2012

Eddie Van Mozart

Music is a fairly common theme on this blog. It was huge to my mother and she passed that down to her kids. Old musicals, piano lessons, guitar lessons, stereo always on while she dusted. It is so huge to me now that no matter how loud it is in whatever venue I'm at or how wonderful the conversation is that I'm involved in, I always hear the music over anything else.

Ron and I have a zillion CDs, tapes and albums. We know all of the songs and most of the words. Music speaks to us in a way it does to countless others but not everyone is as connected to the meaning of music as we are.

This week, I brought up Van Halen to Ron and we reminisced about the band. Ron dug up the Greatest Hits CD for me and I've been listening to it all week in the car.

The first half of the CD is the Diamond Dave days and the second half is mostly Sammy. There's a constant dialogue among Van Halen fans about what version of the band was better. It seems the vast majority likes the cheeky days with David Lee Roth.

Dave was and is a bit of a musical and social clown. He wore the front man costume with great ease. He is very very bright and articulate during interviews but is a complete nut on stage and in the popular videos from the 1984 album that kept them in heavy rotation on MTV (when MTV actually played videos.)

Personally, I like both versions of Van Halen equally. The band changed when Dave left to start a solo career (which didn't last long) and Sammy Hagar came on board. I liked Hagar and thought he'd be a different but great addition to the band.

While listening to the band's greatest hits it became clear just how much better musically the band became when Sammy came on board. Lyrically the songs ditched the girl-chasing themes and started talking more about true love and other important things in life.

Musically Eddie's keyboard work became almost as important as his guitar god status. The melodies were more complex, the harmonies were richer, the mixing became more robust. 

I've always thought the song Right Now was the best song Van Halen ever wrote and produced. In fact, upon listening to it a few times this week, I would like to say it is one of the best songs ever written.

The video won all major awards at the MTV video awards that year. Watch it once because it's great stuff. Then "watch" it again with your eyes close. You cannot adequately hear the musical creation while watching the video.

I found it interesting that Eddie Van Halen and then-wife Valerie Bertinelli named their son Wolfgang. Eddie is a huge Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart fan (as am I) and I often think that Mozart would have been blaring Right Now in 1991 - the year that Wolfgang Van Halen was born, Right Now was released, and the music world marked the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death.

The song's opening is a simple yet fast-moving piano solo that winds its way through the song at different points. My favorite work by Mozart is his piano concertos. They are often very light-hearted pieces with great "hooks" and playful melodies.

There are those who will disagree with me, but I believe that some of my generation's music is on the same level as Mozart's concertos. 

Eddie, in his heydey, was the Mozart of the rock world. I wonder while I'm listening to Van Halen's songs again if 200 years from now another Amadeus will break onto the music scene and name his son Eddie. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

An open letter to Market Basket

Dear Market Basket owners,

I hear that you're opening a new and larger store in Westford soon. I really like your lower prices and friendly employees but must that come at the price of a poor shopping experience? Given that you have the opportunity to have a fresh start, I would like to make some suggestions.
  • Can you please tell your grocery managers that the absolute worst time to pull large wooden dollies out into your incredibly narrow aisles is Thursday afternoons and Fridays? These are the busiest shopping times during the work week and shoppers can't get around the dollies and the stock personnel.
  • Speaking of aisles, is it possible to have wide enough ones that allow two shopping carriages to pass with more than an inch between them? How about allowing for a couple of feet so that shoppers don't have to move other shoppers' carriages if they happen to leave said carriages in the middle of the aisle as they look for something on the shelf?
  • Is there a reason for the orange stickers that you instruct your cashiers to put on everything that isn't in a bag? I've never had anyone stop me on the way out to look for these stickers. It is an incredible waste of everyone's time and energy, and a sad waste of natural resources. How about dropping the practice to gain efficiency and contribute towards a greener planet?
  • And while I'm on the subject of bags, if I give your bagger six reusable shopping bags and ask him to keep the bags light, can you tell him not to jam everything into four bags with the heaviest items in one bag and the lightest stuff in the other three? I have to stand at my car in all types of weather and re-bag everything so I can lift my groceries into my trunk and carry them into my house.
  • I've heard from several cashiers that they are not allowed to have bottled water at their stations. Really? Why? I'm not liking what that says about your HR policies. Let's keep the "human" in Human Resources, shall we? I'd hate to stop shopping at your store like I did at Walmart because of employee treatment issues.
  • Since every other supermarket gives up to $200 for cashback on debits, do you think your $50 limit needs a competitive reality check?
  • This is a pet peeve but I still feel compelled to share it: Your in-store music is great but the guy who voices the recorded ads that punctuate it needs a better script. The "Hey, folks" and "Listen to this" lines do not make me feel like I'm being spoken to by something other than a recording. Do you think your customers are fooled by that? 
Thanks for letting me take the time to offer a shopper's perspective. I look forward to your new store and hope that some of these questions can be discussed by your staff at all of your stores.

Oh, and hey, folks! Listen to this! If anyone would like to add their own comments to this blog post, be my guest!