YouTube Treasures

I spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos, to the point that I don’t own a TV anymore. Often times, after work, I will have dinner accompanied by whatever video the app has selected for me; keeping me company, feeding me sounds and shapes from around the world that somehow seem intimate, personal, as if only made for me. Come to think about it, it has been a while since I last looked for any specific video – probably YouTube has a pretty elaborate psychological profile of me by now.

Anyway, thought I’d share some videos that I find particularly good. My main interests are music videos, cars, F1 and astronomy. Maybe I’ll keep updating this post from time to time. If anything, just for my own record keeping as I doubt anybody really reads this blog.

Before I forget, what is the deal with Google’s 3 separate music apps? It gets confusing, not even sure if my Google Play subscription provides me access to YouTube Premium and YouTube Music. On that note, YouTube Premium is a great service. At fist I thought it was ridiculous to ask for a fee just for the option of keeping the service streaming with the phone’s screen off. I was wrong, it makes all the difference in the world and provides so many more opportunities to enjoy content while you are at the office, walking around, etc.

Where was I? Yes, the list, here it is:

1. Mark Martell – Cover of Freedom

Mark has become famous for his covers of Queen but his musicianship is much deeper than just imitating Freddie. I think that he genuinely sings in that full strong voice with a bit of distortion at the top, he is not just a copy-cat – – the similarities are more of a coincidence if you ask me. Of course, this is not to say he hasn’t studied Freddie but just check this version of Freedom (or any other of his 90’s covers series) to see how naturally it flows. It is an amazing cover of a song that until I heard this version I didn’t appreciate how deep and profound the message is. Nothing lays bare a song better than an acoustic guitar and if you close your eyes it is like having Freddie sing it. I can’t help but think he would have enjoyed and approved the lyrics to this song. One thing though, I haven’t found original songs of his or his band, maybe that will come in the future.

2. U2 – Even Better Than the Real Thing Live Sidney

You really thought I wouldn’t put U2 in the list? Wrong. So wrong.

I think the Zootv Tour was back in 1994 when I was 14 years old. I still remember the day I got hold of the Acthung Baby CD, it blew me away. Not a single bad song in there. The CD didn’t leave my stereo player for months on end and my U2 addiction only got worse when I saw this concert on a VHS at my neighbour’s apartment. Everything about it blew me away – the customes, the imagery, the quality of the sound, the belly dancer, McPhisto, etc. It just blew me away.

What a time to be alive that was. The radio was playing INXS, Oasis, Mr. Big, Soda Stereo, G’n R, Metallica, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and so many others bands that were doing their own stuff. I guess most older people missed the sarcasm of the whole Zootv concept, thinking that Bono was indeed inviting us to watch more TV instead of slapping us in the face to wake up. It seems prescient of the new era of people, constantly stucked in their phones reading top-10 lists concocted by strangers on the internet whilst losing sight of how precious and fleeting life is. The days, they run by like horses over the hill.

This is the concert I would travel back in time to watch, U2 at the peak of their power.

As a side note, it is amazing how well they played considering that this was the second show of two scheduled in Australia. On the first set Adam Clayton (bassist) failed to show up because of how drunk he got and the roadie had to sub in to play the bass. This concert footage all comes from one night and it explains why Bono was so aggressive towards him later on an interview where he said “oh, so the bass player has a brain?” (or something like that). I remember reading the interview many years ago thinking how rude that was. Later I found out that that interview took place right after this show and the emotions where still high because of how they had to play they first ever show without Adam the night before and how it would affect the live album which was already scheduled to be released some weeks later. As far as I know, Adam never drank again (reverting instead to just smoking pot) and this is their best show. Nice.

3. Guitar of the Day

I hope to one day be able to go to Normans Rare Guitars are maybe purchase something unique there. In the mean time I will have to settle to seeing this vintage instruments being played by incredible musicians like Mark Agnessi and Michael Lemmo. I must admit that Lemmo’s use of the looper pedal is something that inspires me to try harder to incorporate it my own playing. 

If you like music and guitars, this show will give you countless hours of pleasure and probably will even make you play more often.

4. Ayrton Senna 1989 Monaco Pole Lap

Not much to say about this one. Anybody that has an interest in F1 has heard about this lap where Senna qualified 1.5 secs faster than Alain Prost (not that I think Senna was that much faster than the Professor, clearly he had help from Honda or something like that). It is a sublime lap from start to finish. Just focus from 52 to 56 seconds, how Senna locks up the brakes and immediately lifts as he approaches the first tight right turn and then on the next left hander he power-slides using only his left hand to control the car while he changes gears to second at the same time. It is even better when you hear later Senna narrating how he felt that he had an out-of-body experience while doing the lap and was no longer in control of his thoughts. It always stuck with me that once you touch the limit suddenly it is not there anymore and you can push beyond it with the power of your mind.

5. Aventador SJV Nurburgring Lap

I think the Aventador is one of the prettiest cars ever designed. This is a lap breaking the 7 mins barrier with no turbos, regenerative brakes, electric engines, etc., none of that. Just a plain old powerful V-12 engine and a impressive driver. As some poetic YouTube commenter said: the car could have gone a few seconds faster if it hadn’t been weighted down by the balls of the driver.

6. Rendez-Vous

Paris, romance, cars, adrenaline. Fast and Furious Paris 1976, all in one. This is the first ever viral car video and maybe the most influential. Very little is known about the video, but it seems Lelouch (the director and driver) mounted a camera on a Merc 450 SEL 6.9 and later added the sound of a Ferrari engine. Probably the film is also accelerated but still it is made with such taste that it doesn’t break the fantasy.

7. Carl Sagan and The Tesseract

We all live in flatland and go on about our flat activities everyday. I cannot explain how much of an impact Carl Sagan had on me when I was about 9 years old and saw for the first time Cosmos. This episode, in particular, made me think hard and long about what is time and how certain concepts are so inherent to us that we cannot see them. Bonus point for his new-Yorker accent!

8. Interview with the Mafia.

Michael Franzese rised up the ranks of the mafia during the 90s and is one of the very few mafia bosses that has managed to walk away from that life and live to tell the tale. Even though there are so many things he has done that I cannot agree with, the way he speaks and how he turned around his life is incredibly interesting.

I wonder if in these times of hyper-connectivity and vindictiveness in social media – where people are destroyed based, among other things, on jokes or comments made decades ago when they didn’t know better – a story like this of turning your life around for the better can still happen.