5 Songs With Weird Backstories

Ever wondered about the story behind some of the world’s most popular rock songs? I did some research, and put together a small list of what I found were the most bizarre. I’ll never hear them the same way again…

“Every Breath You Take” – The Police

117898460Most fans assume this is a sweet love song about someone who’s beyond infatuated with their partner…so much so, that they simply cannot stand to be apart from them. But according to Sting, the track is a bit darker than that. He wrote it during the aftermath of his divorce from his first wife, Frances Tomelty, and during the beginning of his relationship with Trudie Styler. (The women were best friends — yikes.)

In reality, the song is about a possessive lover who is obsessed with his ex. He becomes jealous of everything she does without him, so as a result, he watches her every move.

“One couple told me ‘Oh we love that song; it was the main song played at our wedding!’ I thought, ‘Well, good luck’. I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle little love song, when it’s quite the opposite.” – Sting

So, if someone crushing on you sends you this song…run.

“Total Eclipse Of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler

total_freakin_eclipse-1Written by composer Jim Steinman in 1983, this song, paired with its haunting music video (left), is actually about vampires. (I love vampires, so I now love this song even more.) The original title was “Vampires In Love,” as it was composed for a Nosferatu musical. When Jim first played the song for Bonnie, it sent shivers down her spine. She was eager to get in the studio and record it as soon as possible. The song was originally seven minutes at full-length, but Bonnie cut it down to four minutes for radio-play. Jim said in an interview that the song is about “the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in the dark.”

Why wasn’t this song featured in Twilight?! Talk about a missed opportunity.

“Smoke On the Water” – Deep Purple

1-QrmtM44Us4r6ihV69Btl6wOn December 4, 1971, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were playing a show at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland. About halfway through the gig, some crazy person in the crowd fired a flare gun at the wooden roof. It immediately went up in flames, and panic ensued. All of Zappa’s band equipment was destroyed. Nearby, the members of Deep Purple were recording music for their upcoming album. According to npr, “They were forced out of their rooms by the fire, but memories of the smoke billowing out across Lac Leman, or Lake Geneva, gave them a song title.”

Turns out, this go-to guitar track has a more somber history than you might have thought.

“Never Learn Not To Love/Cease To Exist” – The Beach Boys

the-beach-boys-never-kearn-not-to-love-capitolCharles Manson was an American criminal and cult leader in the 60’s. Manson and his followers, known as the “Manson Family,” committed a series of seven murders, all part of Charles masterplan to spark a race war.

Before the murders, Charles was a struggling singer-songwriter living in L.A. He became friends with Dennis Wilson, drummer and founding member of the Beach Boys, and in 1968, the group recorded one of Manson’s original songs, “Cease to Exist.” The Beach Boys re-titled the track “Never Learn Not to Love,” altered some of the lyrics, and released it as their own.

Try listening to THAT song in the same way. Creepy.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana

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“Teen Spirit” was a popular deodorant brand in the 90’s, and you can still buy it! The title of this iconic song came from Kathleen Hanna, (a member of the band Bikini Kill) who wrote on Kurt Cobain’s wall one night. She gratified “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit,” teasing him and referencing the deodorant brand that Cobain’s girlfriend wore. When Nevermind was released in 1991 with this track on it, sales skyrocketed for Teen Spirit Deodorant.

 

“He actually didn’t know it was a deodorant. I felt like a bit of an asshole that I didn’t tell him, but I kinda thought it was funny. He just liked the ring of it, smells like Teen Spirit, but he also just had a good knack for picking out interesting phrases.” -Kathleen Hanna

Kurt Cobain totally gave Teen Spirit deodorant free PR without even knowing it!

My Dream Job: A Career In the Music Industry

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I’ve been feeling nostalgic, excited and reflective these past few days as I enter my last term of college. As a result, this blog post is a little different than the usual, which I thought would be fun. 🙂

I’ve always loved to create. Whether it be through writing, art, or music, creating something that I can then share with others is a passion of mine. Since I was old enough to read and write, I’ve loved to create my own publications. It started with “Sophie Magazine,” when I was nine, then led to my first blog at twelve, “DottyZine,” which I named after my pet hamster. “Sophie Magazine” usually featured interviews with my little sister, lists of my favorite books and music at the time, fake advertisements, and “letters to the editor” submitted by my babysitter. 😉

IMG_4324I am now entering my last term of college. I’ve studied journalism for the past four years with a focus on public relations, and I’ve enjoyed every minute. I feel so lucky to be able to say that I love what I study every day. It has absolutely been the right fit for me. My dream is to someday work in the music industry doing PR. This could mean serving as a PR rep for a band, label, music venue…who knows? Although I’m unsure of where exactly I’ll end up as of now, I’m beyond excited to get started. “Sophie Magazine” may be out of print, but I still have the same passion and drive to create that I did when I was nine!

I remember the day I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the music industry. It was one sunny, adrenaline-filled afternoon during my sophomore year of high school. My high school was located in the middle of downtown Portland, so I was surrounded by a vibrant community where things were always happening around me. I heard about a small, free concert venue through my local radio station that was just a few blocks away, and I started going to shows during my lunch breaks. As soon as the bell would ring for break, my friends and I would burst through the high school doors and race down the block. The shows were always short, usually ranging from 30-40 minutes, and the artists would often do a meet-and-greet with the audience after the show–the perfect amount of time to fit a high school lunch period or quick, after-school activity. 😉

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After meeting Ed Sheeran, October 2012

The first time I met one of my favorite artists there, Ed Sheeran, I walked outside afterward and sat on the curb, taking in what had just happened. A newfound level of joy washed over me–I could hardly contain myself. (If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember my previous post about this experience/venue.)

This joy eventually developed into a passion for meeting the people behind the lyrics–the artists who changed my life, face-to-face. I remember grinning so hard that day my cheeks ached. I thought to myself, I want to be involved in this world. I want to help other fans feel this way. But how could this translate into a career?

I began exploring options within the industry as I entered college, and eventually settled on the path of journalism. My parents are both writers, so I’ve grown up around pen and paper, journals, and books my whole life. (The Tripod Trilogy, A Wrinkle in Time and The Golden Compass are a few of my favorites.) It was an area in which I was familiar, but I wanted to explore the branding, promotional, client-interactive side of the journalistic field. I discovered the world of public relations, and quickly realized I could apply my passion for music, and the excitement I felt that day meeting Ed Sheeran, to that area.

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Chatting with The Paper Kites, March 2017

I considered pursuing music journalism, but decided I’d like to be even more involved in the industry (both PR and music) than that. I want to help artists,’ and bands’ visions come to life, meet PR professionals, collaborate, learn, and create a brand, plan, or event that will not only benefit a client, but allow fans to feel that same joy I did that first time I met a favorite artist.

Music is such a huge part of what makes me who I am. It sparks an excitement, joy and enthusiasm in me that nothing ever has before. It drives me to take risks, venture outside of my comfort zone, meet incredible people, and continue on the path to becoming a PR professional. I’m thrilled to have found an area of study in college that I can connect to this passion. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Want to read more about PR/journalism in the music industry? I created a blog about this specific topic for a class I took last term! Check it out here.

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My first “concert review”? LOL.

College & Local Radio is RAD!

KWVA_905As many of you may already know, I have a passion for radio. When I was a junior in high school, I visited my (now) college campus for the first time, and I was immediately drawn to the student-run radio station, KWVA. I loved the idea of a community of like-minded, music-obsessed students talking about/ playing what they love on the air.

The station, at the time, a small hole-in-the-wall studio that was once a women’s bathroom, was covered in stickers and band posters. Promo CDs were scattered among stacks of cassette tapes and vinyl, and hipster-looking students rushed in and out of the studio, welcoming me with giant smiles. I knew I had to get involved.

giphyI’ve been a part of my college radio station for 2 years now, and I will be heading into my last year in the fall. (That’s me in the studio on the right!) Since my first visit, the studio has expanded and moved to a shiny new space in the student activities center, located at the heart of campus. While on my summer break from school, I haven’t strayed far from the radio biz. I’m interning with the Portland Radio Project, a local radio station in Portland. I’ve met so many cool DJs, learned about some crazy talented local artists, and made some great connections.

According to Pitchfork, “college radio can reflect what local broadcasting should strive for: freeform programming that’s community organized and unentangled in market-based obligation. It is also a continually replenishing talent pool for the industry at large, and every part of the musical ecosystem can count former college radio DJs among their staff” (2017).

Both student-run and local, community radio provides music-lovers and radio enthusiasts the opportunity to think outside of the box. It’s an outlet for up-and-coming artists to receive recognition, listeners to be exposed to new genres, and a place for community members to share their music knowledge on the air without corporate involvement. This is how it should be when it comes to sharing the music we love!

According to FRG, “community and local radio stations focus on local areas they are an opportunity to give the community a voice. Community Radio Station’ staff are usually volunteers, and they are nearly always not-for-profit organizations. Funding is mostly given through donations or would incorporate fundraising in the form of events, pub quizzes and advertising.”

Kirsten at KATUKirsten Nicolaisen, a Portland-based journalist working in the social media and digital world of TV news, is a KWVA alumn and DJ at the Portland Radio Project! (We have a lot in common.) 🙂 Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kirsten made her way north for school where she spent four years working at KWVA Eugene. From production assistant, to DJ, to eventual News Director, Kirsten wore a number of hats at KWVA. A stint at Oregon Public Broadcasting brought her to Portland, which she now calls home. Now, Kirsten  works at KATU News. (Photo to the right.)

kirsten at KWVA“My favorite memories from KWVA are late nights and early mornings spent in the studio” Kirsten says. “KWVA was my library, my office space, my living room, and my little world tucked away down a long hallway at the student activities center. I loved diving into the music library in the wee hours of the morning when I first started DJ-ing during the Tuesday 4-6 AM shift, and sticking around afterward to catch up on school work… constantly distracted by all the messages and jokes scribbled on the walls. It was in those quiet hours that my love of music, radio and media truly blossomed.” (Left: Kirsten in the KWVA studio as a student.)

Kirsten believes that local radio stations like PRP provides music fans with the most unique music and best radio-listening experience.

“Without stations like PRP, I believe many talented local musicians would not have the platform to properly showcase their work. I feel lucky to be a part of a growing force in the local music community!” she says.

College and local radio is pretty rad. Let’s help keep it alive!

2014/365/351 On The Air At CFBX

I Was Featured On My Favorite Radio Station!

plA few days ago, I entered in a contest through 94.7 fm, my favorite alternative radio station. The contest required you to enter five of your favorite songs you’d like to hear on the radio, a short description as to why you chose them, and a little bit about yourself. Of course I entered, since this type of thing is right up my alley! 🙂 I listen to this station every day, and love hearing other people’s playlists that are highlighted.

To my surprise, I was chosen to be featured on the radio segment last night at 6 pm! The segment, funnily enough, is called 94.7’s Perfect Playlist, and if you’d like to listen to last night’s episode to hear the five songs I chose, as well as a little bit about me, you can do so by clicking the image on the left! (Photo of me by Kendra Siebert.)

If you’d like to listen to these five songs more clearly, here are the individual links.

“Phantom Limb” by The Shins

“Bridge Burn” by Little Comets

“Packed Powder” by Blind Pilot

“She Moves In Her Own Way” by The Kooks

“Linger” by The Cranberries

Enjoy, and thank you so much 94.7 fm for this awesome opportunity!

My Most Favorite Place

Feeling grateful for all the amazing things this particular place has given me, so I thought I’d write a lil post about it. Random, happy thoughts. Hope you enjoy, and that it inspires you to continue to pursue your passions! xox

During my sophomore year of high school, I discovered a place called the Skype Live Studio, an intimate concert venue located in the downtown area of my hometown. I had won tickets to see and meet one of my favorite singers, Ed Sheeran, with my best friend Beth from our local radio station. After walking through the lounge door for the first time, I had no idea how much this experience would truly impact my life, and help me decide what I might want to do with my future.

IMG_6459 A typical show at the lounge consists of the artist performing two to three songs (usually new stuff, especially if they have a new record), a short interview, and then a meet and greet. What may surprise you is that my favorite part of going to shows at the lounge is listening to the interview with the artist. The shows are usually hosted by a DJ from one of my local radio stations, so it’s always cool to see them in real-life and up close, interviewing the artists. I always pay close attention to the questions and comments that the DJ brings up during the interview–I love getting ideas for my own interviews with bands for a new blog post. After my first experience at the lounge, I was hooked. After that, I started seeing and meeting artists there monthly. It served as a perfect opportunity for me to pursue my passion for music in an active way–not only was I was getting to see the artists perform their music in an extremely intimate setting that sounded unreal, but getting to meet them afterwards was truly magical for me. (Right: my friend and I got signed posters from Ed Sheeran at the lounge!)

CBl_SY3UgAEWWiYIn the future, I’m interested in working in radio (possibly public relations for a station), or being involved in the music industry in some way. Coming to the Skype Lounge has been a perfect opportunity for me to not only get a taste of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into radio jobs, but has also allowed me to make connections with people who are currently working in the field I’d like to pursue. I have met so many incredible staff members at the lounge, as well as a few incredibly kind, fun, and helpful radio DJs, who have become some of my close friends. (Talking about you, Raleigh!)

10672365_726389130766965_681008246505485377_nMeeting artists through the lounge has been a life-changing experience for me. Not only has it been incredible to finally meet a few of the artists I’ve listened to since I was little, but it’s also really pushed me to become more of an outgoing person. I’ve hugged, had conversations with, and laughed with artists like Nathan Sykes, Ed Sheeran, and George Ezra over the last few years, which is incredible for me look back on. I tend to be more an anxious, shy person, so people often wouldn’t expect me to do this type of thing. But the reality is that I’m so passionate about music that when it comes to meeting my favorite artists, I’ll do whatever it takes. Sometimes when I’m nervous about something important I have to do, or just trying something new, I think to myself: you met Ed Sheeran…and you didn’t faint. You can do THIS. 😉 (Left: meeting The Kooks with a few friends. I’m in the middle!)

mentionThis special place has benefited me so much–I wrote my college essay on the lounge and my experiences there, and the confidence and determination I’ve accrued from my many visits even lead me down the path to my very first job at my favorite record store. Now, I’m college, working towards a degree in journalism. Like I said, I’d love to work in radio or for the music industry is some way. I am currently volunteering at the radio station on my campus, which is a blast. So far, I’ve been reviewing CDs, and contributing to the station’s music blog! (Update 4/24/16: Thanks for posting about my blog, Skype Live Studio! See right.)

Recently, the Skype Live Lounge, this place that has meant so much to me over the past five years, turned five years old! They asked me to submit a video message chatting a little bit about why I love the Skype Live studio, so here it is. You can catch me at 1:28, 2:07, and 3:42 of the video. (Plus, I’m the video’s thumbnail…woo!)

Books For Music Lovers

Besides music, bands, concerts and records, books are one of my favorite things. I’ve always loved reading–especially books related to music. (Ha, what a surprise, right?) If you’re like me, and you want to combine your passion for music and books, this is the post for you! I found a few books that all music lovers should consider reading, and I’ve shared them below.                                  

                                  Thank You, Goodnight by Andy Abramowitz

thank-you-goodnight-9781476791777_hrTeddy Tremble is 40 years old, and struggling to move on from his past as the lead singer of a one-hit-wonder band (Tremble) in the ’90s. When Teddy suddenly receives a strange call from one of his former bandmates after 10 years, he finds himself attempting to get the band back together. As the story continues, Teddy tries to make amends with someone he loved years ago, and create a new record to rekindle Tremble’s popularity. (This book is so well-written, and a quick read. It’s touching, fun, and will leave you laughing out loud. The humor is quick and witty, and the characters are so lovable! By the end, you’ll want to form your own band.)

 

                                                 Ed Sheeran: A Visual Journey by Ed Sheeran

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Even if you aren’t an Ed Sheeran fan, this is definitely an autobiography worth reading. It follows Ed’s journey in becoming the successful artist he is today. Beginning his music career as a busker at just 17 years old in England, to selling out Madison Square Garden multiple times in just a matter of minutes, Ed’s truly worked his way to the top. The book explores his songwriting process, stories behind his numerous tattoos, his early influences, and more. (Loved this book. It was so much fun to read about a young artist’s real experience with the music industry today.)

                        

                        Love Is A Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

46190This is autobiography memoir written by a rock critic. Through out the book, fifteen mix tapes frame a story of love, loss, and an adorable couple’s passion for music. At the beginning of each chapter, the author provides a track list for each of these mix tapes, which is super fun to read. (Warning: this book has a pretty tragic twist to it, but that’s what makes it so touching. I found myself learning about artists and the history behind some well-known songs that I didn’t know about. A quick, fun read! This book made me want to dig out all my old cassette tapes.)

                        

 

                           Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

71LkLmxqgjLThis is one of my favorite books from last year. Set in the ’80s, it follows the developing love story between two high schoolers who share a passion for music and comic books. Eleanor is a bit of outcast, with her fiery red hair, odd clothing, and dysfunctional family. Park, however, is popular, handsome, and seemingly confident. The unlikely relationship between the two of them blossoms into something more, which results in an adorable story. (I read this in a single day. So good!)

Movies For Music Lovers

Whenever I watch a movie, I always pay attention to the music. Movies are a great way to find new artists you might like–even if you don’t end up liking the movie, the soundtrack may feature some awesome new bands you didn’t even know existed. Here’s 4 music-related movies I love–and most of them come with great soundtracks, too! If you’re a music lover like me, listen up. 😉

Almost Famous

MV5BMTI0MDc0MzIyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMzc4NzA5._V1_SY317_CR2,0,214,317_AL_Have you ever dreamed of interviewing a band for Rolling Stone Magazine? Well, that’s exactly what music-lover William Miller gets the opportunity to do in Almost Famous. Billy, a teenage journalist, follows an unpredictable band named Stillwater on their concert tour, interviewing them for Rolling Stone–his big break. He gets into some pretty insane situations that include dealing with love, fangirls, and his crazy over-protective mother. I LOVE this movie! It basically depicts my dream job, and shows the importance of music in people’s lives. My favorite scene in the movie is when William is on the tour bus with the band, and they all start singing along to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Watch the scene HERE & check out the movie trailer HERE!

(Photo via IMDb)

School of Rock

MV5BMjEwOTMzNjYzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjczMTQyMQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_This is my favorite movie of all time–it sparked my love for music at 1o years old, and since then I’ve seen it over 100 times. No joke. The story follows Dewey Finn (AKA Jack Black, my favorite actor), a guitar-playing, wannabe rock star in his quest to earn some cash to pay off his rent. After being kicked out of his former band, “No Vacancy,” he takes a job as a substitute teacher…even though he can’t teach. As he forms the 5th grade class he’s “teaching” into a rock band, (set on winning Battle of the Bands for the money) some crazy things happen. This movie is hilarious, and the soundtrack features some old favorites everyone loves, including Stevie Nicks’ “Edge Of Seventeen,” Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love,” and Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song.” Check out the movie trailer HERE!

(Photo via IMDb)

Once

MV5BMTEwNjExOTc2MTJeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDYzODQ3NDE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Once is a perfect movie for sentimental music-lovers. This adorable film follows an Irish busker and a Czech immigrant who begin to record songs together, and of course, fall in love. After the movie came out in 2007, it’s been made into a musical. The soundtrack to this movie is amazing. My favorite song from the movie is called “Falling Slowly,” which you can listen to HERE, and watch the movie trailer HERE!

                      (Photo via IMDb)

 August Rush

MV5BNDIwNjE3NjU2NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTQ2NjQzMw@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Not only is the music and idea behind this movie amazing, but the film itself will have you on the edge of your seat. The story is about Evan Taylor, a young music prodigy and orphan who runs away to New York City. There, he uses his connection and passion for music to find his birth parents, Lyla and Louis. Along the way, he joins a group of homeless children who are taught music and trained to be street performers by a man named Wizard. I obsessively listen to the soundtrack of this touching movie. My two favorite songs in the movie are “This Time,” which is performed by Evan’s dad and his band in the movie, (played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and “Something Inside,” also performed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Watch the movie trailer HERE!

(Photo via IMDb)