Musical Monday: Michael Franti

All right. Well, first of all, Michael Franti is HOT. That is what I’m talking about. Where is my dready hippie man? Jeez.

I would like to say for the record that I was a huge fan of Michael Franti and Spearhead way before the current album surfaced on mainstream radio. It’s kind of validating. I pride myself on finding bands before everyone else knows about them. I could totally be a younger, female Clive Davis. I can recognize talent, man.

My freshman year of college, I was obsessed with four bands: Dave Matthews, Sister Hazel, the Wallflowers, and Vertical Horizon. All of whom I saw perform at random frat parties. All year, I was blasting those bands from my dorm room on repeat. We used to hang out of our windows and talk to each other while overlooking field hockey games,, and frequently I heard, “What is that you’re listening to? That’s cool!” I was that girl who always had her thumb on the hip new music. Incidentally, I just got a Flip Video, and after recording myself playing guitar, I have a new appreciation for Dave Matthews’ constant cracking on himself for his weird facial expressions. I look like the sun is in my eyes whenever I hit a high note. Also incidentally, my boss refers to the Flip Video as “some kind of modern day video camera.”

Yes, it was poppy. But I like pop music, man. It has its place, and it’s entertaining for its sing-along quality. I am really not enough of a music snob to pretend that I only like obscure, hipster bands. In fact, I think I’m more of a music fan that I can embrace all different types of music and appreciate them for their various attributes. Maybe it’s because I grew up as a classically trained violinist. I love music in every form. It’s all about how it makes me FEEL. There is some classical music that makes me feel unstoppable and empowered and high. There is also some pop music that makes me feel that way. I don’t discriminate. In my mind, I don’t care if everyone on the planet loves your band if you make me feel good.

Michael Franti and Spearhead were typically a band with an obscure hippie following until they had a single featured on that Showtime show Weeds. Didn’t take long for it to show up on the radio. It’s a decent album. But I love the earlier live stuff more. Songs like “Love Invincible” and “Everyone Deserves Music.” Their music is just full of happiness and positivity. And relevancy and honesty.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever read about them was from the last time they performed live in Asheville. They pointedly did an all-ages show at the Orange Peel. The Mountain Xpress did a review, and some of the people they interviewed were quoted talking about how they played Spearhead for their kids during their morning ride to school, and they brought their kids to the show because they just have such a positive, inspiring message and good melodies that their little kids appreciated. I mean, how awesome is that? That’s why I know and love classic rock, because that’s what my mom listened to when she was driving me to school in the mornings.

I love the fact that Spearhead does not shy away from political topics. And I think it’s great for kids to be exposed to that, in a positive, honest way. I give you the lyrics to “Life in the City.”

Life in the City
by Michael Franti and Spearhead

Some say you only get so many breaths
When they’re gone you’ll meet your maker
Some people always try to cheat their death
But when it comes you just can’t shake it

Some people try to make a deal to get
a little bit more but they just can’t take it
Some of them just end up in debt
When they’re called they try to fake it

But one morning the clock will chime
And no more birds come flying by and
Temperatures keep rising higher
Sixteen bullets come flying by and

Aye aye aye throw your hands up high
Cause you never know how long you’re gonna live til you die
Aye aye aye throw your hands up high
Cause you never know how long you’re gonna live til you die

They’re gonna hit you with a missile
Hit you with a bomb
Hit you with the law and try to take your home
Break into your house in the middle of the night
Track you on a cell phone by satellite

Stopped any time you’re in your car
Ssearch your body
Search your home and
Listening in on your phone calls
Still no politician got enough balls

Lining the people up against the wall
When the truth comes out all hell will call and
Someday Guantanamo will fall
Until that day we all will ride on

Aye aye aye throw your hands up high
Cause you never know how long you’re gonna live til you die
Aye aye aye put your hands up high
Cause you never know how long you’re gonna live til you die

That’s life in the city
That’s life in the city
Yeah
That’s life in the city
A mad world in the city
Yeah

Aye aye aye throw your hands up high
Cause you never know how long you’re gonna live til you die
Aye aye aye throw your hands up high
Cause you never know how long you’re gonna live til you die

Some holding on, some so damn gone
Their whole lives living with their TV on
Then radio play the same ten songs
Set your clock by which one’s on
And watching the news try to see what’s wrong
Find somebody else to blame it on

Hope they never come and research you
Cause your grandmother was an immigrant, too

So if you love somebody
Better tell them so
You never ever, ever, ever know when they’re gonna go
If they love you back
Just give thanks
Can’t keep love like money in the bank, no

Aye aye aye throw your hands up high
Cause you never know how long you’re gonna live til you die
Aye aye aye put your hands up high
Cause you never know how long you’re gonna live til you die

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4 Comments

  1. March 2, 2010 at 4:38 am

    I embrace the poppy music at times just as much as the non poppy stuff. (Let’s talk about the Glee soundtrack I just downloaded. Don’t tell the hippies.) I have to say, I never got into Franti much, though…I’ve tried, and I like a few songs, but eh. Will have to give them another try at Smilefest! yay!!

    • meggitymegs said,

      March 8, 2010 at 5:08 am

      Dude, I love Glee, and I really don’t care who knows it. Franti is fun live. Maybe you will enjoy it more if I bring my hula-hoop. 🙂

  2. metamorphys said,

    May 22, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Check out Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy for some pre-Spearhead Franti. Political, a little darker than Spearhead, but very cool. I agree about the new album – I like it, but like the older stuff more.

  3. makalove said,

    June 22, 2010 at 6:55 am

    i love michael’s older stuff, too, but even older than what you’re mentioning, like the “home” and “chocolate supa highway” albums. if you haven’t heard them, you should. you might also check out http://www.loveisdashit.com if you haven’t seen it – it’s a franti music archive site. 🙂


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