Named By A Poet

April 2, 2011

We live, we die. We’re fragile, more fragile than we care to notice. In a snap of the fingers, it can all disappear. And on the flipside, if you live long enough, everything you came to know will disappear, and an entire landscape of the unfamiliar will expand out before you. It’s that sort of heady stuff we tend to shirk from, because it’s just too overwhelming. It’s part of why we drown out our confusions and preoccupations in a haze of television and other bright screens. The modern world is just a fantabulous cataclysm of marvels and mayhem.

Avalon, Mad Men, Imitation of Life… Plenty of big and small screen creations tell the stories of our chaotic times tremendously well, what with all the frenzied changes upon changes unleashed by the Industrial Age.

I’m in such a weighty mood after watching that terrific eighties film, Avalon, again after many years. (It features a young Elijah Wood, if that’s what it takes to get your attention.) I couldn’t keep from crying, even though I already knew the scenes were going to play out the way they did. Serendipitous, really, that I wanted to watch that film today, when in my grand plans for National Poetry Month, I’d already slated today’s spot for R.E.M.’s classic single, “Imitation of Life,” itself titled for the fifties film starring Lana Turner, perhaps the style icon dearest to my heart.

What attracts me to poetry is the way it cuts through all our layers of b.s. and puts us face to face with our own fragility. Mortality, after all, is the poetry at the heart of everything, from theatre and film to sunflowers and sunsets. For me, nothing encapsulates that truth more than my own little staged funerals as a four year-old. Even as a young’n, I was attracted to melodrama, theatricality, movement, family history, the geography of a sterile Soviet concrete fortress of an apartment building, through the fact of death. Our ultimate fates are difficult to acknowledge, but it’s best if we face the music sooner rather than not soon enough.

“Imitation of Life” was prevalent on the airwaves back when I obsessively listened to my hometown’s rock stations, before I dabbled with Christian radio and hip-hop and then completely gave up on radio for a decade (TMI? Yeah, probly). At one point, I got the melody stuck in my head, along with the word “sugarcane,” but internet search wasn’t as good back then as it is now, and it took me years to trace the song back to R.E.M., even though I had some of their other tunes, such as “The One I Love,” perfectly squared away in my mental musical ledger. (I remember I had something like “na na na” and “sugarcane” scrawled on a faded blue Post-It note for years, and I tried my hardest not to lose it. Good thing I did not.) Hold tight to your childhood loves, my friends, for you never know if, or when, words like “sugarcane” will be all that you have left.

In the words of the poets…

Imitation of Life

Charades, pop skill;
Water hyacinth, named by a poet–
Imitation of life.
Like a koi in a frozen pond,
Like a goldfish in a bowl.
I don’t want to hear you cry.

That’s sugarcane, that tasted good,
That’s cinnamon, that’s Hollywood.
C’mon, c’mon, no one can see you try.

You want the greatest thing,
The greatest thing since bread came sliced.
You’ve got it all, you’ve got it sized.
Like a Friday fashion show teenager,
Freezing in the corner,
Trying to look like you don’t try.

That’s sugarcane, that tasted good,
That’s cinnamon, that’s Hollywood.
C’mon, c’mon, no one can see you try,

No one can see you cry.
That’s sugar cane that tasted good.
That’s freezing rain, that’s what you could.
C’mon, c’mon, no one can see you cry.

This sugarcane,
This lemonade,
This hurricane, I’m not afraid.
C’mon, c’mon, no one can see you cry.

This lightning storm,
This tidal wave,
This avalanche, I’m not afraid.
C’mon, c’mon, no one can see me cry.

That’s sugar cane that tasted good.
That’s who you are, that’s what you could.
C’mon, c’mon, no one can see you cry.

That’s sugar cane that tasted good.
That’s who you are, that’s what you could.
C’mon, c’mon on no one can see you cry.

Advertisements

Sadness is My Girl

March 6, 2011

Well, aside from the gap between today and yesterday’s fun post, that hiatus was a bit longer than two days! Oops!

So let’s hit the ground running, with…

Music News (or, if you prefer, Reports from the Turtle):

Charmar… Yup, still pregnant!

*NEW* William Fitzsimmons album out March 22nd (U.S.) – lusciously titled Gold in the Shadow.

Via @indabamusic: Queens of the Stone Age, the rock band responsible for the hit, “No One Knows,” have apparently admitted that they allegedly performed an appendectomy on a fan backstage in Munich.

Umm…yeah.

All the Rest

“My wounded rhymes make silent cries tonight…”

Speaking of fresh albums, let’s talk Wounded Rhymes. The buzz of Lykke was wearing off when HypeMachine previewed the album Wounded Rhymes for a week pre-release. By the time I heard the whole thing, I wasn’t impressed. “I Follow Rivers,” played thirty-plus times, had kind of exhausted me, I guess, and even in spite of the exhaustion, that particular song is the powerhouse on that album, so it largely overshadowed everything else on my first listen-through. And then, post-release, listening to it on Zune, I found the album growing on me. I’ve also found myself having difficulty refraining from crooning the chorus to “Sadness is a Blessing,” the track whose lyrics are responsible for the laudably original title –- “Sadness is my boyfriend. Oh sadness, I’m your girl.” This track is all the more meaningful for me, having read SPIN’s cover-story interview (mentioned in the previous Lykke-centric post), in which she describes how her sorrows have shaped her music. (“[S]orrow, the only lover I’ve ever known.”) As such, I have decided I dig this new Lykke Li album, after all. That is, with one heck of an exception. By this I mean… I enjoy Wounded Rhymes, with the exception, and I stress with the exception, of “Unrequited Love,” which is just too whiny for my tastes. The way she lingers on words and draws out the spaces leading in to the chorus, and, well, let’s be honest, the lackluster quality of the subject of unrequited love, which has been done to death in music for centuries!…  it just doesn’t cut it for me. It makes for impossible listening. I skip it every time it comes around. As for the album as a whole?  I’d say it’s a superb addition to Ms. Zachrisson’s growing oeuvre.

“I gotta feeling… tonight’s gonna be a good, good night!”

And I’m not just quoting lyrics! I’m serious! Tonight, Rosi Golan is playing Rockwood Music Hall. And! Alex Wong is playing at the stage next door after Rosi finishes her set. I’m so excited! This will be one heck of a worthwhile trip to the city! Will definitely post photos and other tidbits after the shows!

“Sometimes I feel like I am drunk behind the wheel, the wheel of possibility – however it may roll. Give it a spin, see if you can somehow factor in… You know there’s always more than one way to say exactly what you mean to say.”

Moving into some territory we haven’t yet covered here on the Turtle’s music blog…

My favorite nineties bands are the ones that are still going, still kicking. I’ve found Gin Blossoms radio on Last.FM radio to be a great overarching station to tune in to all my favorite nineties bands (e.g. The Goo Goo Dolls, Tonic, The Wallflowers, Fastball, Sugar Ray, The Barenaked Ladies, etc.)! Check it out sometime, yo.

And why are Gin Blossoms so named?

According to Wikipedia, Gin Blossoms “took their name from a photo of W.C. Fields, which bore the caption, ‘W.C. Fields with gin blossoms,’ referring to what appeared to be the actor’s gin-ravaged nose, but was actually a skin condition known as rosacea.” Ha ha ha. Quite a story for a band naming! The stories aren’t always so entertaining. But those that are, they’re usually delectable!

Okay then, that was one jam-packed, if a bit jumpy, post! Until next time, folks!

Now if I could just get the crazy-cool word, “sriracha,” out of my head!

I have decided I dig it, after all.with the exception of “Unrequited Love,” which is just too whiny for my tastes. The way she lingers on words and draws out the spaces leading in to the chorus, and, well, let’s be honest, the lackluster quality of the subject of unrequited love, which has been done to death in music for centuries!…  it just doesn’t cut it for me. It makes for impossible listening. As for my review of the album in general? Superb addition to Ms. Zachrisson’s growing oeuvre.