If you’re not watching HBO’s newest hit series Vinyl, you need to start. Vinyl was created in part by Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese, which should be enough to persuade anybody to tune in. But in case you need another reason, here’s one: the rawness of this show will make you want to become a devoted watcher.
Vinyl is a period piece based on New York City’s music scene during the 70’s that dedicates most of its storyline to events that actually happened. The series stars Bobby Cannavale as Richie Finestra, a record executive trying to resurrect his music label, American Century. Olivia Wilde plays his wife, Devon, who was a former model in Andy Warhol’s Factory scene, and Ray Romano plays Zak Yankovich, Richie’s right-hand man, who is in charge of promotions at American Century. Other notable familiar faces in the series include Andrew Dice Clay and Bo Dietl.
In Vinyl, American Century was once known as one of the most successful music labels in the industry, but after 20 years in an ever-changing market, it has diminished to being known as “American Cemetery.” Richie and his greedy partners are considering selling the record company to a German company, much to the dismay of his clients. Overall, Richie appears to be conflicted in many areas of his life: he wants to have a positive impact on music but he is derailed by commercialization and cocaine. The series pops off with the sight of buckling walls during a powerful New York Dolls concert where the building literally crumbles to the ground in front of Richie, leading him to have an epiphany about his life, his company, and the industry he helped build.
HBO has already renewed Vinyl for a second season, which was a wise decision. America NEEDS a television program that has substance and purpose, while simultaneously educating viewers on American history. For those of us who weren’t around for the 60’s and 70’s, Vinyl has a great knack for showcasing the mindset of those years, as well as re-introducing us to some bands (i.e., The New York Dolls and The Velvet Underground) that were overshadowed by groups that went mainstream. Most importantly, this series gives young viewers an idea of just how much racism and sexism were prominent during these times and how these issues impacted the music industry (and the country) as a whole. Some viewers may find that the issues we face in 2016 are not that much different then the ones that contributed to the 60’s and 70’s revolutions. While that may be depressing to some, the idea that Vinyl will bring these issues to light may have some point of optimism linked to them: if we familiarize ourselves with our history, perhaps we will not be doomed to repeat it.
Vinyl has it all: inspired fashion styles, convincing character depictions (Robert Plant, Kool Herc and Andy Warhol) and a plot that pulls you in: a struggling good-guy-turned-cocaine-addicted-business-man who is torn between wanting to bring back rock and roll and wanting to provide for his family.
HBO also released a soundtrack (Vinyl: MUSIC FROM THE HBO ORIGINAL SERIES VOLUME 1), giving viewers the opportunity to hear musicians that they probably weren’t familiar with, like Ty Taylor and Ruth Brown. You can also hear Vinyl’s front running band, the Nasty Bits (fronted by Mick Jagger’s son, James) and their song “Rotten Apple”. Check it out on ITunes and look for the next volume, set to be released later on as the series runs.
AN OPEN LETTER TO KANYE WEST
Kanye, Kanye, Kanye.
What has happened to you?
I used to be a fan, using your lyrics to express myself on MySpace and AIM away messages. I blasted The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, and 808’s & Heartbreaksin my car and sang along proudly during long rides with friends. I laughed to “Workout Music”, danced to “All Of The Lights”, and cried because of “Roses”. I even bought tickets to your Glow In The Dark tour back in 2008 (Full disclosure: I ended up selling them and went to California instead – still a great decision).
You were at the top of your game – you were IT.
Look at you now. Twitter rants. Complaining about debt when you’re building a fortress in the swankiest section of Los Angeles. Ordering an 18-year-old not to endorse Puma. Rapping about banging Taylor Swift. Cursing off Amber Rose for that whole #TwoFingersInTheBooty thing (okay, that one I get). Now you claim that you want to run for President in the future? Tell me again how being a celebrity and a musician gives you the type of experience that entitles you to run a country. Not just any country, for that matter…our country…the United States of America.
I owe it to you, as an old fan of yours, who admired your cunning wordplay and enjoyed your beats, to say this: you have to get back to the music, man.
Or, maybe you don’t. Nobody would blame you for focusing on your family. Everyone loves a man who is focused on the right things.
Do one or the other; just get off of Twitter. You know how some celebrities are too cool to be bothered with social media? You used to be one of them. I’d rather hear very little from you (distance makes the heart grow fonder – and nothing drives album sales more than long-awaited returns) than too much, because to be honest, your cocky, over-saturated ego is overshadowing genuine talents you have.
If you keep making a mockery of yourself all over the place, nobody will care about how good your music is, because at the end of the day, you make your work a joke because of your actions. You worked too damn hard for it to come to this. Be humble.
…oh, and just so you know, the prices in your clothing line are kinda insulting.