Don’t laugh. I’m going to attempt a music review. It’s probably an exercise in humiliation, since nobody in their right mind would take music advice from me. I can’t sing at all, and I had to drop out of flute lessons in fifth grade when I couldn’t grasp the concept of “notes.” It only got worse. In college I was on sound crew for a production of Iphigenia, where I played pre-recorded tapes of bass lines while the composer played keyboards live. I never once knew what was live and what was memorex. So, music remains a foreign language to me, but I know what I like. I just don’t know if it’s good.
Two weeks ago I got three CDs by Enation, an indie band fronted by actor Jonathan Jackson. It’s probably a mistake to base your music selections on whether the musician is a good actor, but sometimes you get lucky. (Okay, bad joke. Jackson plays Lucky on General Hospital.) I’ve listened to my CDs many times, and I love a couple of the songs, I like most of the rest, and I dislike none of them. Well, there is this one thing…but I’m getting to that. First things first.
These are the albums, in the order of their original release:
Enation: Soul & Story
Soul & Story: This album is very mellow, mostly acoustic folk, and deeply personal. Jonathan Jackson wrote all ten songs, and one of them is about his daughter (She’s My Little Girl), and one is for his son (A Letter to My Son).
Enation: World in Flight
World in Flight: This is my favorite of the three, and it’s much more of a rock album than the other two. All ten tracks are again written by Jackson, with his brother Richard Lee credited with co-writing lyrics on two songs. Two tracks here are favorites: Permission to Dream and Everything is Possible.
Enation: The Future Is A Memory
The Future is Memory: Live from the Northwest is a live album, but the songs that repeat from World in Flight are different enough from the studio versions to make it worth having. It’s fun to hear Jackson sing a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne. I love the last song, The Coming Dawn.
I don’t know about all the other band members in Enation, but the Jackson brothers have deeply held Christian beliefs, and their faith is reflected in their song lyrics. I don’t have a problem with that. I listen to quite a few contemporary Christian groups and singer/songwriters. I just have a problem with one line in one song, and it’s not a religious reference. It’s from A Letter to My Son, and it goes “A home without a father is a home without a gun.” Now, I hate guns. I equate guns with violence, and unfortunately, some people have grown up with violent fathers. To me, a home without a gun is a very good thing. In the context of the lyrics, which are words of advice from a father to his young son, I assume a gun is being used as a metaphor for a protector. I still find it disturbing, but I’m not going to stop listening to the music just because I don’t agree with this one reference.
It seems to me that Enation has a bit of an identity crisis about the kind of music they play. Somebody who’s only heard a couple of their albums might be confused at one of their concerts. Their albums are much mellower and less electric than the live performances that they’ve posted online at Ustream and on their YouTube channel. Still, I haven’t been to an actual concert yet, so I should probably reserve judgement. It’s too bad I can’t get down to Los Angeles this weekend for Enation’s acoustic concert, since I have trouble at rock concerts these days. Really loud music causes me actual physical pain, and earplugs don’t help.
It’s been amusing trying to follow Enation on all the online social networks available these days. Lines get crossed, misunderstandings happen, and certain information is either out-of-date or just wrong. Now, this isn’t criticism. I find it a form of entertainment. For example, a couple of days ago, a flier was posted on Jonathan Jackson’s facebook fan page that seems to say that this weekend’s LA concert is going to be broadcast live on Ustream. But wait, could this actually be a reference to the live concert from two weeks ago? There’s nothing on the Enation facebook fan page or website to clarify the information, and the tweets from the band don’t mention it either way. Yet. I’m watching and waiting.
Update: Enation tweeted that the LA concert is not going to be broadcast online. I hate twitter, but it can be useful at times.
This is a completely different subject, but it’s too exciting not to write about. I got new eyeglasses today. I can see! My old glasses were so scratched that it was like viewing the world through a fog bank. Now colors pop and everything is sharp again. The scariest thing is looking at my hands. When did they get so old? Naturally, I’ve avoided looking in the mirror.
I ordered these new glasses from an online store for the first time. It was terrifying, but it was so cheap that I couldn’t resist. I used Zenni Optical because they are located in the Bay Area. The total cost—with high index lenses, non-reflective coating, frames, clip-on polarized sunglasses, case, an extra fee for the strong prescription, tax, and shipping—came to $53.80. I think that’s terrific. The order took exactly two weeks. The glasses are fine, but the frames do need some adjusting, so I will have to take them to a walk-in optician and hope it won’t cost too much to get them fitted to my face.