Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 37

My Three Songs with David Kersten

 

Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE 37 – My Three Songs with David Kersten:  Welcome, everyone, to Episode 37. This is the 27th in our series of episodes called My Three Songs where my guest chooses three memorable songs and we listen to the songs and talk about why they are meaningful to my guest. David Kersten is a good friend of mine also from the San Francisco Bay Area. We listened to and discussed three songs he chose because they brought back strong memories of the 80s and new music style breakthroughs.

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Three Songs

  1. Cuts You Up – Peter Murphy (1990)
  2. Walking on the Moon – The Police (1979)
  3. Blue Monday – New Order (1983)

Aaron’s Radio Show has been licensed by ASCAP and BMI to include songs from their repertories in performances on this website.

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Transcript

This transcript was originally generated using artificial intelligence ("AI") software. It has been edited by a human being, but it may still contain some misspellings, lack necessary punctuation, or include other anomalies. We are regularly working to improve our transcripts!


Jake:

Coming to you almost live from Berkeley, California. It's Aaron's Radio Show with your host, Aaron Gobler.

Aaron Gobler:

Thanks, Jake. And welcome, everybody to Episode 37. Welcome to My Three Songs where I play three special songs chosen by my guest, and we talk about why they chose each song. Today, my guest is David Kersten. David also lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and I've known him for several years. He's a professional photographer, videographer and an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco. And I'd like to add a special note of appreciation to David today. He's been producing live Facebook business interviews nearly every Tuesday for the past year or so. And his dedication to the craft and his disciplined schedule were part of my inspiration for starting my interview format. And I've also been a guest on his shows as well. So David, thank you so much for your inspiration and thank you for being my guest today. I'm psyched to talk with you about music, what inspired you to be on the show?

David Kersten:

I'm really you know, I've been intrigued by your show for a while I love your artwork and the concept. You know, music is one of my favorite topics to think about. And normally I don't talk about it with anybody. So it's nice to actually have somebody who shares that same passion and, you know, talk about some music.

Aaron Gobler:

That raises interesting thought in my mind in that music can be a very personal thing. We never know how another person's gonna respond to us talking about music or about the music we enjoy. And I have found for my guests that they appreciate having this kind of forum where they can get kind of geeky about the music or get really, really into the music or very passionate about it. And I'm glad this can be a great venue for opening up about music and sharing your your interests and your, your background in it.

David Kersten:

Yeah, no, I agree. And there's so much to music, you know? I feel like certain music reflects parts of our personality or times in our lives. So, you know, for me music, you know, I love Schopenhauer actually said kind of music was basically the most important thing in the universe because it contains, you know, all the important elements. And he didn't quite say it like that. But, you know, I would really agree with that in not in his exact words. But as far as it's importance.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, I can't imagine my life without music. It is similar to visual art, just auditory art has a certain magic and inspiration and can trigger all kinds of feelings, emotions, and bring back memories. Very, very powerful things in your mind.

David Kersten:

Yeah, part of it. I just add to that I actually use it for business now because I put it in my videos, I really have gotten such a deeper understanding of how important music is for creating feeling and thoughts. And I just think a lot of people don't really realize how influential music is, you know, in the whole world and kind of the, you know, TV or all these mediums that we consume.

Aaron Gobler:

I think that a lot of people enjoy visual media like movies or television and don't, like you're saying, don't really necessarily understand how the music is being used as a mechanism to set their expectations or their attitudes or be like an auditory establishing shot. For example, one of my previous guests, Dan Kaplow is a Hollywood television and movie producer. And we had a great discussion in his interview, about how he selects music and how his deep background in music has really inspired him and instructed him on how to to effectively use music in visual media.

David Kersten:

Very interesting. That's a topic I'm interested in learning more about for example, I think it's interesting in movies how certain characters like have their own score, select the Joker, or Batman so when that character appears, you get that certain feeling and there's such a really an impressive kind of art and science to it that these Hollywood greats really, you know, use to create this movie magic.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. And then the the viewer doesn't necessarily know consciously or, or think about consciously that this is going on. And but it is being used scientifically like you said. So David, before we get started, can you tell me how music fits into your life? Like do you seek it out? Is it usually in the foreground or the background of each day,

David Kersten:

You know, it's really kind of in the in between, it's, throughout my day, I mean, I, I do a lot of commuting with two girls that I take to school. So I listen to it in the car, and all my meetings, I do listen to music at night for even like an hour, maybe even more, sometimes I watch a lot, some music, videos, and Spotify. So it's really something that I use to kind of relax and inspire me and something that kind of re-energizes me and energizes me to really connect with, kind of let go of my daily day and just be happy. And in my zone, kind of.

Aaron Gobler:

Mhmm. Do you seek out certain playlist or certain artists at different times, or just kind of switch on Spotify or whatever, and what's playing or what's already there is something you listen to?

David Kersten:

Um, I mean, I listen to a lot of the same artists songs over and over some every night I'll listen to it, and I do change, I do like to go through my YouTube feed and see what new videos or songs that are coming out. And YouTube actually puts these playlists together things that you've listened to. So it might be some I listened to a month ago, and it'll pop back up, I kind of listened to a lot of this same stuff at night. But then during the day, I do use Pandora and that has a lot of these playlists that are put together that I've listened to these songs so many times, but they never get old. They're just part of what makes me happy living my life. So my one regret is that I don't discover enough new music because when we find new songs, and they kind of become part of our list I tried to build that into and Pandora does put that in there. But I would like to kind of continue to discover new music.

Aaron Gobler:

I find it fascinating that you and I and others, I'm sure many, many other people feel guilty in some capacity of not listening to new stuff as much. I'm not about to explore why that is, I think it's perfectly fine to keep listening to the stuff that you enjoy. There's, for me, it's certainly an excitement of hearing something that I've never heard before that I'm like, wow now that's one of my favorites. But I don't go down that path enough, there was a period of time where I would be like, you know, tuning into Pandora, and letting it play songs for me. And and I'd find some some new favorites. But, but that generally is not my mode. I don't know why we feel sometimes we can feel guilty about not listening to the newer stuff.

David Kersten:

Yeah, that's what can be fun about going to an event or going to a friend's house and having them pick the music and just turn it over to because it's something maybe we wouldn't normally listen to. But then when you start listening to it, you're like, Oh, this is great, or I never even knew this band existed. Or maybe it's a whole genre that we didn't know about. So discovering stuff on just online, I'll be going through Facebook, or you'll hear certain songs that are used. And I do have kind of a professional use for it too. And that I buy a lot of music online that is not lyrics but it's like certain like, I don't know, like Far Eastern pop, or stomp or all these different genres. And those are kind of like tracks I use for my videos. So I just kind of study it and use it in my in my life too. So I'm always trying to find new outlets. That's what I love really about, you know, Spotify, you can get almost anything on there. If you know what it is. If you know what it's called.

Aaron Gobler:

It's intriguing to consider that you know, since you're searching for music for a particular purpose for your work, that is kind of making you be more open or searching for different kinds of sounds. And then also hearing those sounds in your mind you're imagining how you can attach those sounds to certain visuals.

David Kersten:

Yeah, music is really the feeling of a video. Not everybody gets how much goes into video, but music is really the key to that so I believe a whole song can make a video if it has the vibe that you want. Depending on the video I could put The Police or New Order in there but I actually like to kind of create my own without lyrics so you're getting that vibe. It's not the easy way out everybody knows The Police you know "Walking On The Moon" which I love but I I love to be able to try to like create my own little music based on these samples or tracks that I get because the great musics out there. And it's either common license or it's licensed to me, I just have to like know how to use. So kind of a hobby of mine is to just go through these different playlists and listen to stuff. And every time I buy a new playlist, I listen to the music.

Aaron Gobler:

So why don't we jump right into the songs we already mentioned a couple of songs that are in your list. And here they are in the order, we'll be playing them. The first song is "Cuts You Up" by Peter Murphy from 1990. Then we're going to hear "Walking On The Moon" by The Police from 1979. And finally, "Blue Monday," by New Order for 1983. I had not heard the first song before, but I'm familiar with the others. And I'm eager for us both to listen to these songs together. And I'm interested in knowing why each of them is meaningful to you. So let's start with the first song, "Cuts You Up" by Peter Murphy.

Aaron Gobler.:

David, this was Peter Murphy's most successful hit. And as I listen to it, I'm feeling like it's got a Bowie-esque kind of feel. And it also struck me as both like being somewhat melancholy and danceable at the same time, if that's possible. So what inspired you to include this song on your list?

David Kersten:

So there is really a lot to this song and some of the songs that I chose that they really almost created their whole genre of music. And I actually hadn't hadn't heard this song until a couple years ago, and maybe I'd heard it but I didn't know. But you know, I follow the Chinese proverb, "we never see what we see until we're ready to see it." And as long as it kind of about personal discovery, and, you know, growth, and I just think I wasn't really into that is much earlier on in my life. And, you know, if you look in the Peter, he just started to fascinate me as an artist, how he is basically known as the kind of godfather of the goth movement, which is a whole music genre and movement, you know, people identified with that in high school or throughout my life, but I never understood that didn't kind of click with me at that time. But I think when you listen to this song, you know, just knowing that history, and it's really about a personal journey, that he actually went and traveled over to India and was inspired by his own personal growth and journey. And then he put that into his music. So, you know, this, this song is really inspiring, and it has incredible melodies, about overcoming challenges, he says, "we're going to cut the thick and break the thin" and it's really about kind of overcoming barriers to being a better self, a better person, and a better, whatever we want to become. So if you really look at the the lyrics and the intent behind it, it, it is really the full package, in my opinion.

Aaron Gobler.:

And did you find when you heard it, that it was inspiring to you, or that it matched with your current journey or both.

David Kersten:

I mean, both I really like songs that I can listen to over and over because they just make me kind of feel good and think about things and feel the way I want to feel. And this one made me think just makes me think about being making progress and being hopeful for the future and being overcoming challenges and obstacles. And it's just so nice to spend part of our day, feeling like that, because that actually helps us make that progress in our lives. I really see music as helping facilitate our progress in life if we pick the right ones that kind of make us feel the way we want to feel.

Aaron Gobler:

And are you the kind of person who will say like, Okay, this song is really inspirational or something really resonates with you from a song and then seek out other music from that artist?

David Kersten:

You know, I'm interested in some of his other music, but this is really the only song ... I actually have another couple of his songs on my playlist on Pandora which I really liked. But this is you know, the song I listened to most of the time from him and he has some other very interesting music and his music kind of really changed over the years as well. So I forget how the one artist Jay Z put it you know, "you don't want just a song you want a classic" and I really see this as a classic. These certain classics, I can just never get enough of you just listen can listen to them over and over and over and over.

Aaron Gobler:

I guess in the business they call certain songs, one, you know, certain groups, one hit wonders. And I actually had a discussion about that in a previous episode about one hit wonders. I mean, in some cases, an artist just will hit upon an amazing song or just, they'll just release something that's really fantastic and then nothing else that they produce matches that and in some cases the artist actually has put out a lot other good stuff, it just nothing is matched the big hit. And in some cases, it seems like it was just inspired. That song is like, it's a wonderful song, but then the rest of the stuff that they've done is not as inspiring.

David Kersten:

Yeah, you know, I think part of that is, some of this music really takes a team to create, I don't know all the elements, I'm interested in finding out more about that. But really, you know, if you listen in the beginning of this song, that's an electronic, it's not a cello or wood, it's not actual stringed instrument that's electronic. So you almost need other people to help you create some of these melodies or the beats, and then you bring the lyrics. So I really see that as a challenge for artists that maybe is like a one hit wonder they get, I hate to say lucky, but they produce maybe everything on their own, or some something comes to them, but to actually set up a ongoing process to create hit after hit. That is more than one person that I see, in most cases. Maybe Taylor Swift or somebody, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there's so many elements that kind of have to fall into place for that the true hits like them.

Aaron Gobler:

Mm hmm.

David Kersten:

Yeah, and one other thing I'll say about this, that is such an interesting point. And I'm glad we're talking about this is that I think there's almost a certain renaissance around certain music that not unlike Italy, you know, back in the Renaissance period, but like, not early 80s, for you know, that some of that music, we're going to talk about next New Order, where people create this whole genre, and they were inspired by other artists right before them. And then the whole industry kind of feeds off of one another, you know, I think we saw it with house music in the Bay Area. And you see it in hip hop, that when when a genre kind of breaks out, all the people who were doing it really inspire one another, and there's just this kind of explosion of creativity. And that's what I see with this, goth, you know, the goth movement, and this music that I think this song really inspired a whole different genre of creativity, and you don't see songs exactly like this, but people heard that music and go, Whoa, this is completely different than anything I've heard before. And then they give their own mix on it's kind of like Led Zeppelin or, you know, the Beatles. So they come along, and then they bring with them this whole new movement of music, that's just an exciting experience, you know?

Aaron Gobler:

I have this a somewhat cynical approach to some of this. And that, like, when Dave Matthews Band came out, that there's an example where I hadn't heard a sound like that before. And then suddenly, there were just like, suddenly, you know, within a month or so, there, all of a sudden, all these other bands out there sounding very similar that were, you know, coming out with hits and such. And in my cynical mind, I'm imagining that there are record companies that had demo tapes of these bands, and thought it was not marketable, mainstream marketable music. And when they saw that Dave Matthews Band had broken through, they're like, you know, pulling out all these tapes and getting their people to, to bring these bands back in and, and such. So that's my cynical view of that, that it inspired, that certainly, he inspired other people, but I think other people may have been doing similar music, but just never getting it out there in the mainstream.

David Kersten:

Yeah, no, you're definitely right about that. And there is a element of the music industry where people try to copy what's successful, what, so what's come after is kind of like trying to copy it. But, you know, if you do look at, you know, I think all those breakout artists, you know, and I'd say, you know, the punk movement, or the 80s, you know, when I grew up, those were my, that was my music when I was growing up in the 80s, that you see bands like Bad Religion, that, you know, still aren't like the huge commercial success that, you know, maybe Green Day is. And they were kind of inspired from basically like garage bands, like, you know, Circle Jerks, or D.I., a lot of bands that people never even heard of even bands from England that nobody had ever heard of. Because it was kind of like an underground movement. But then these bands are inspired by them. And then they come kind of popularize it, you know, like Green Day, which was until like, the early 90s, that kind of punk went mainstream, so to speak. So that's the beautiful thing about music is you really see this collaboration and inspiration of, you know, ideas are like that too. But you really see it in music, too. So I've always been fascinated by artists and you know how these people just seemingly overnight, just come onto the scene and completely blow up. You know, like, I remember Green Day in '94. You know, they went from, I saw them in the city of San Francisco a couple years ago, they were before that they were opening for Bad Religion. And then two years later, they're playing, you know, all the sports arenas all around the US. And today, they still play in sports arenas around the US when they go on tour. You know, 25 years later, their music influences are timeless, so yeah.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, I agree.

David Kersten:

They're, they're actually right here in Oakland, too. So I drink their coffee. So like, as an example, they actually used to play right, a half block away from my house, or they still play, there's little, they'd like to play some kind of smaller scenes. So it's just exciting scene here in the Bay Area with all types of music, really.

Aaron Gobler:

David, your next song is "Walking On The Moon" by The Police. So let's listen to that right now. And we'll talk about it on the other side.

Aaron Gobler.:

David, The Police are best known for their for their later hits, like "Every Breath You Take" and "King of Pain." But I'm still more of a fan of the work from their first two albums. Like I said before, this is one of my favorites by them, what inspired you to include this song on your list?

David Kersten:

You know, there's a number of things, this is another one of those classics, and definitely one of my top three songs from them. But you know, it really reminds me of a certain time of my life back in college, you know, that was when I first started listening to it on this $5 radio, and I never get tired of this song. And, you know, a whole metaphor that I use for my business. And really life in generals is kind of space metaphor. So you know, this idea of weightlessness, walking on the moon paired with these just beautiful, like those guitar riffs and then the bass line with the lyrics, it has just such a amazing formula for the song. So you know, I really just like the, the uniqueness of it to talk about you just feel like you can envision yourself, you know, on the moon kind of floating in one of those moon suits that have like the weighted boots, taking a step. So it just always brings that image to my mind, which I don't hear that in any other song in terms of bringing that that image and feeling to my mind. So that's what really makes this song special. I do think The Police are an amazing band with their, you know, melodies and their songwriting, and just all the, you know, they've just turned out the classics. And this is one of my favorites.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, one of the things I'm really enjoying about producing the show is sitting here in a quiet room, just listening to the song and studying it as opposed to just kind of doing something else and having it in the background. And as you're talking about the moonwalk, I mean basically, that's what he's talking about in the song. I'm thinking about how Sting is the bassist in the band. And he also wrote this song so there's a heavy baseline in this. And then there's this dun dun dun that, that kind of like end sound of each stroke there. And it's almost like it's almost in a pattern of if you imagine that you're walking, and each time your foot hits the ground. Because when you're walking on the moon, it seems like you're floating for a period of time and then you come back down again. And so I'm now imagining that kind of sound accompanying somebody walking on the moon, so I don't know if they were trying to like simulate that kind of feel of buoyancy and then boom, whenever you land on the moon.

David Kersten:

Yeah, no, had to be deliberate. Yeah, I mean, Sting is a genius with that.

Aaron Gobler:

David, let's move on to the third song on your list, which is "Blue Monday" by New Order.

Aaron Gobler.:

David, this song oozes the 80s sound that has lots of keyboards and drum machines and the tempo is is very upbeat. But overall, it kind of leaves me with a chilled feeling especially with with the spoken lyrics instead of them being sung. So why did you choose to include the song?

David Kersten:

I mean, this is one of my favorite songs ever. And I really chosen because it really created a whole new genre and music. I think, you know, that wasn't only then this is a representative of a whole new movement that when we got this technology in the early 80s, or maybe the late 70s to do that type of electronic drums. We got music that we'd never heard before anything like it, and I, you know, the energy that's conveyed in those electronic drum beats, and then I do like, I agree with you the chilling lyrics, you know, and then that baseline that goes with it is such a unique feel and vibe. And, you know, this is great dance music to you know, I grew up a dancer and you know, to match those beats in the tempo on the dance floor. It's just some, you know, powerful music and in terms of the energy, and the feeling created that is so unique.

Aaron Gobler:

It has a kind of goth feel to it also. That also seemed to be somewhat of a sub theme in a number of songs from the 80s. Would you agree?

David Kersten:

Yeah, yeah, that kind of a little bit colder, more emo. You know, I don't quite know, like I said, I actually don't listen to goth as one of my primary genres. But then people say tha'st goth, and I like some, I like some of it. So, you know, it's really a blending. Yeah, it does have pretty crazy lyrics too if you listen to it. I'm curious how they actually came up with this song, or what was the motive behind the lyrics and things because it's, I just love some of that wackiness and craziness of the 80s. And you see that music that it's just so off the wall, some of it that it's just, it's just fun stuff to listen to and dance to not have looked at the lyrics and tried to understand them at times. And I'm never quite can get to the bottom of it. But this person was slighted and made to feel cold. So they kind of rebel back. And then they this is their kind of response, you know, which is interesting.

Aaron Gobler:

Huh, and it does immediately bring you back to the 80s. For me, when I hear the song, it's like, just epitomizes this, the kind of, you know, like you said, the the, the drum machine, the drum that percussion sounds were new. But then they became kind of rote by the end of the 80s. Everybody was using these drum machines and reverse gate drums and all kinds of reverb. And this was kind of fresh when this came out. And I'm also thinking about the song "Cars" by Gary Newman. And I don't remember what year that came out. But that was also kind of a revolutionary song around that time. Well, thank you, David, for this discussion. It was great listening to these songs with you and talking about them and how they impacted your life. I hope you had a good time, too.

David Kersten:

Yeah, no, I did. Definitely. And it was nice to spend the time with you. I think music is so much about feeling and I love analyzing things. But sometimes you just have to feel and experience it. And we can't really get to the bottom of everything. But I love to try to and just share how these things make us feel in those certain eras and music and how, you know, to really just kind of music takes you back to, you know, when you first lived and started liking that song. And we can put that on today and feel like kind of like we did back then. So it's such a nice idea for a podcast, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to you know, share these experiences with you.

Aaron Gobler.:

Great, thank you for your time today and for putting your list together and being on the show. And to my listeners. If you want to be part of the show, start by going to our website Aaron's Radio dot show, and clicking on the My Three Songs button on the homepage. You can also sign up for our mailing list, so you'll know immediately when a new episode is available. You can also find Aaron's radio show on your favorite podcast service, but the podcast episodes only include interviews and no licensed music. So until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

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