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Five Potential Concept Albums

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With Neil Young singing about his car and the Decemberists traversing centuries for their ideas, the time is right to start thinking about what other concepts are out there for us to explore. It can't all be "Silly Love Songs" after all. Nuclear destruction is kind of boring and overdone. I mean, really, the world is going to be over. We won't be around to know. I'm sure Al Gore will team up with someone to sing about Global Warming, but I like it hot, so if we have to lose a few polar bears in the process, so be it. I like my soda without ice, if you know what I mean.

Anyhow, it was suggested to me that I might have some great insights into potential concept album ideas. Usually you get paid a consulting fee for sitting down with a band and helping them with their grand design. Wouldn't you like to be the guy handing Bruce Springsteen the spreadsheet that says an album about 9-11 or the new Obama administration is where the money's at?

As it stands, I'm working with a great bunch of kids. They look like elves and are young as heck. I'm supposed to advise them on what they should write about. They keep wanting to compose songs about how mean their mom is. But they'll come to regret that when they see that she still wields the power and can conveniently pack their lunches with diet soda and liverwurst.

Never bite the hand that feeds you, kids!

Here are the five concepts I've presented to my band of the future whom shall remain nameless until they pay me.

5) Channel Surfing: No one has any attention span anymore. With all the options out there, no one watches anything from start to finish, so to expect anyone to sit down and listen to an entire album is a bit much. However, if your album mimics the sound of channel surfing and consistently shifts every 10 to 30 seconds, you'll have made your own piece of Captain Beefheart-like intrigue--and even if the album doesn't sell, you'll have a critical rave on your hands that one day will be looked upon fondly and will remain a legendary artifact of a bygone era. Provided we're not all dead.

4) Boy Meets Girl And Falls In Love: Sounds pretty obvious and trite, right? Shakespeare didn't go broke cashing in on the obvious. Romeo and Juliet was a classic. And so if my little midgets decide that their band isn't ready to write some Space-Age classic, they can fall back on this goofy little story about how they meet some girl at a high school dance and eventually end up moving in together, having children, and working jobs that make them question why the heck they ever signed those mortgage papers in the first place. Who needs a "great room" when life isn't so great? If in doubt, ask Springsteen.

3) Ishtar: The movie went overbudget and was a financial flop and considered to be one of the worst movies of all-time. What better way to rectify a bad situation than to write an album based on one of Hollywood's biggest failures? Because everyone knows the last shall one day be first! And revisionist history can always be manipulated however you see fit. Starred Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman as two crappy lounge singers wandering around the deserts of Morocco where they discover a cold war stand-off. How does it end? You think I watched this piece of junk?

2) Lunch Money: Kids need to write from experience. There is no better way to do so than to think hard about the trials and tribulations of growing up. What is of greater consequence than the lunch money dilemma? Whether you're getting beat up for your lunch money or figuring out whether or not to spend it on the unidentifiable school food or "something else," lunch money represents a major financial decision and says much about your lifestyle as a teenager. Yet no one--to my knowledge--has ever written an album about it. Has anyone even written a song? Please let me know.

1) Real Estate With No Money Down: These days with the economy the way it is, all I'm seeing are infomercials for getting cash for gold, but only a few years ago Carlton Sheets was marketing a plan for Real Estate With No Money Down, which when you're really drunk and/or tired makes complete genius sense. I never got around to calling up for the booklets or instructional tapes but if they're anything like the mesmerizing quality of the infomercials then I am sure it can be set to music as quickly as someone can strum an "A" chord. What better concept than an album that practically pays for itself?

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