First we take Manhattan

21 09 2016

That was my first Leonard Cohen song, although I didn’t quite know it.

I’d gotten the Jennifer Warnes’s album, Jenny Sings Lenny, and First We Take Manhattan was the first cut on the first side. It’s a great song—probably why I bought the album—but I had no idea who Leonard Cohen was.

Oh, I got that he was a singer—he did his thing in a duet with Warnes—. . .

. . . but I didn’t really know him.

I don’t know when I thought he might be worth knowing—at some point in grad school, I think, relatively late, I think—and I can’t say that I know all there is to know about him. But oh, yes, I think he is worth knowing.

(An aside: of the singers who can’t sing, I’ll take Cohen and Reed over Dylan and Waits every time. They’re all killer songwriters, though, so I’d want ’em all for that.)

Anyway, a coupla’ more, of just him, singing songs I mention often on this blog:

and, for that one beautiful, heartbreaking line:

Happy 82nd birthday, Old Man. May you live to be Ancient.

 





This is ourselves

12 01 2016

I was never a huge fan of David Bowie’s.

I mean, I liked his music, had a few records, and generally enjoyed his work, but I was never a super-fan, and never had a full-on Bowie fever.

So why am I so sad today? And why can’t I stop reading about him?

~~~

David Bowie is actually associated with one of my worst memories from high school.

I wanted to be the yearbook editor my senior year. I’d started working on the yearbook staff when I was a freshman (which frosh usually didn’t do), was generally acknowledged to be ‘the writer’ in my class (not that hard, really, in a class of 150), and fully expected that the adviser, Ms. G., would appoint me.

She did not.*

L. and T. were appointed instead, and I’d be pissed about it to this today had they not a) put together a kick-ass yearbook; and b) treated me really, really well, allowing me to contribute in all kinds of way. They were champs.

Anyway, my idea was to create a yearbook around the lyrics to “Changes”—which is how Bowie gets dragged into this bad memory.

I have no idea whether or not this would have worked: it could have been amazing, it could have sucked, it could have been Eh.

Woulda liked the chance to have found out.

(*She had her reasons, which were legit. Still. . . .)

~~~

I’ve said “Under Pressure” is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but today I’ve read all kinds of pieces holding that song out as some kind of genius.

I don’t think it’s genius, but yeah, it is a good pop song, undeserving of the guilty-pleasure label.

~~~

One good thing that’s come from all this reading today is that I found, courtesy of the Huffington Post, a couple of videos of Bowie playing with Arcade Fire.

First I saw this one, one of Bowie’s songs:

Then one of Arcade Fire’s:

I like Arcade Fire’s cds just fine, but watching them live, man, I realllly want to see them live.

What it would have been like to see them live with Bowie.

~~~

I think the main reason I considered “Under Pressure” a guilty pleasure is that every time I hear it I tear up.

I cannot handle my own tears, cannot handle that I am moved to tears.

~~~

It’s kind of astonishing how amazing a singer Bowie was, given that he didn’t have much of a voice.

He’s not like Leonard Cohen, who can’t sing at all, but if I were asked for the best straight-up voices in pop, I wouldn’t name Bowie.

But oh, could he sing, so many different types of songs, with so many different types of singers. Some of these collaborations (Arcade Fire) work better than others (Mick Jagger), it wasn’t down to him.

Something about that thin reed, stretched across the universe.

~~~

“Space Oddity” reminds me of John Lennon. I don’t know why. Maybe I heard it while thinking about Lennon’s death.

Or maybe it just reminds me of high school.

It’s not every time I hear the song I’m reeled back, but sometimes, sometimes I’m in the parking lot at Sheboygan Falls High School, Bowie on the car radio, singing And I’m sitting in my tin can. . . .

~~~

“Under Pressure” is about love, after all.

And love, I don’t know what to do with love.

Thus my chagrin over my tears, my chagrin over love.

~~~

And all of the work he’s done, all of the chances he took, all he gave and all he withheld, all he hid and all he revealed.

David Bowie, 1947-2016, was a Starman, a man who fell to earth, an alien, an artist, but most of all, most of all, David Bowie was a human being.





Upsot?

24 12 2015

My mom loves Christmas music. Loves loves loves.

Back when we had a stereo she’d load up that little thingamabob in the turntable with, I dunno, 5, 6, albums and let ‘er rip. Nowadays, she loads up the cd player and lets ‘er rip.

When I was little I loved the music and then I got older and teen-crabby and hated it and now that I’m not forced to listen to it I’m kind Eh about the whole thing.

Still, there was one song I was amused by:

And yes, I listened to it while writing this.

I still like it.

I hope you do, too. Merry happy peaceful.





You’re bad for me I clearly get it

13 01 2015

So Mike Huckabee, who just quit his Fox gig to maybe kinda consider reflecting on the possibility of perhaps running for president, demonstrates his credentials for the post by criticizing not only Malia and Sasha Obama’s musical tastes, but her parents for allowing her to listen to  “mental poison”.

Who is the fiend behind such neuro-toxin?

Surely you know by now, but in case you don’t: Beyoncé!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given that he had recently wondered if Jay-Z weren’t a “pimp” exploiting his “incredibly talented” (tho’ apparently intellectually-venomous) wife.

Max Lockie has the appropriate response to this.

On a not-unrelated note. . . man, I am so looking forward to the Republican primary.





Autumnsongs: Joni Mitchell

12 10 2014

Young Joni Mitchell is late spring, early summer.

That high, high voice streaming up clear like water from a bubbler, so pure your heart stills as your breath is pulled out of you. If you’re not given to tears you close your eyes to keep them in, but that voice, that high, high voice steals them from you anyway, the song carrying them away.

It took Prince to make me appreciate Joni Mitchell. I was a horrible music snob when younger, and by horrible I mean: I missed so much good music because the artist did not fit into what seemed to me ought to matter. I wasn’t quite sure about Prince, either, but when that small, strange genius said that Blue was one of his favorite albums, I thought, Well.

And oh, is Blue a genius album. I generally favor low voices, but Joni was one of the exceptions.

Was is the operative word, here: time and cigarettes have sunk her soprano into the sand, and instead of singing the clear blue sky she sounds like forests and falling leaves and a retiring sun.

She sounds like October.

I was reminded of this as I listed to a Tierney Sutton rendition of “Woodstock”—which is lovely, but I wanted to find a late edition Joni, to hear her sing herself back to a song that was wistful even in her youth.

If you are no longer so interested in keeping the tears in, this version of “Both Sides Now,” from 2000, is for you.

I’m still in my summer, perhaps my late-summer, years. And all this regret and wisdom and that voice, that incredible charcoal voice, makes me yearn for all I didn’t learn in my spring, and all that autumn will bring.





Summersongs: Frente!

31 08 2014

How did I hear of Frente? I have no idea.

I didn’t have cable so I wouldn’t have seen them on MTV (if they were on MTV), and I mostly listened to MPR when I lived in Minneapolis, so I doubt radio was the source.

I can think of two possibilities: a music review in either City Pages or the Twin Cities Reader, or it was playing at the Electric Fetus.

Anyway, “Accidentally Kelly Street” is pure confection, a state I associate with summer:

This is not wholly complimentary, insofar as I’m a more tang/salt than sweet kinda gal, and, of course, I don’t like summer.

Still, if one is in the right—which is to say, light—mood, it can be kind of charming.

Not all of the songs on Marvin the Album are as, well, twee, as this one, but Angie Hart’s high and breathy voice makes even political songs like “Cuscatlan” sound like bouncy summer fun:

Now, I’m not unalterably opposed to twee—I do own a coupla’ Belle & Sebastien cds, after all—but I can only listen to so much before it’s helium “hi! hi! hi!” attitude grates.

Still, in the summer, a song or two of helium-hi’s aren’t all bad.





Summersongs: Romeo Void

7 08 2014

Had enough of the angry money posts? How about biting sex posts?

Biting sex. . . hmmm, I see how that could be taken a couple of different ways. In any case, the “biting” refers to the attitude of Deborah Iyall toward sexy sexytimes and the occasional aftermath.

I first thought “A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)” would be the summersong, but after a night out with C & K, thought that maybe “Never Say Never”

Whatever. It’s Romeo Void, and even tho’ Iyall tells the girl that old man would “be warm in your coat”, why be literal about the coat-wearing and the presumably cold weather?

It’s about the beat and the attitude—and the backup boys singing temporary temporary in the chorus.

Do pop songs even use sax anymore? And, yeah, those Eighties video production values. . . .

I might like you better if we slept together
I might like you better if we slept together
I might like you better if we slept together

How can you not sing along to that?