Free Your Mind, Today!

September 20, 2011

Katie Herzig’s freshest album, “The Waking Sleep,” hit the stores today with its official release. Herzig celebrated yesterday evening with a launch party at Mercury Lounge in Manhattan.

The album comes with a lovely booklet filled in with photographs that are just my style – quotidian, simple, and elegant all at the same time. The dedication is also my speed, with lots of thanks in every direction. Ms. Herzig credits her mom as a lyric-lover for our ability as listeners to make out most of the words, which I find adorable. I do have one question, though. Where are the other Ten out of Tennessee folks (ToT’ers) in the dedication? If they’re such a close-knit, world-changing music collective, why aren’t more of them mentioned? I’m stumped.

What I’ve found so remarkable about this album is Herzig’s uncanny ability to remind me of all sorts of artists and specific songs, and the sum of the parts is a strikingly unlikely combination.

“Free My Mind,” the first single off “The Waking Sleep”

“Free Your Mind” – This track, the first song of hers I heard her play at the HighLine Ballroom with the ToT gang last Saturday night, reminds me of The National lyric, “My mind’s not right…” from “Abel,” her voice reminds me of Allie Moss, and the orchestration toward the end reminds me of a Trent Dabbs’s tune I can’t place, perhaps “Wishful Thinking”…

“Make a Noise” – Well, this one’s simple — it flat-out sold me on the album.

“Way to the Future” – This track is surprisingly Austra-esque. Some hella good production. Danceathon!

“Best Day of Your Life” – “I’m gonna race you to the fence, to the fence. I’m gonna race you to the fence.” Now if these “race you’s” don’t remind you of Elizabeth & the Catapult’s “Race You,” I dont know how any of this is going to remind you of anything.

“Wasting Time” – “It’s easier wasting time than breaking hearts you love.” Also, “Fate is just math, choosing sides.” With her soft, high voice, she delivers these straight-to-the-point aphorisms, encapsulating the heart of problems we’ve all had to deal with. Her voice here also reminds me of some songstress I can’t recall.

“Midnight Serenade” – This one’s peculiar — the reminder is almost Blonde Redhead, but also Sarah Slean at certain moments, and definitely Marketa Irglóva on “I Have Loved You Wrong.” I always notice, “There’s a world between these words and how we use them.”

“Oh My Darlin'” – Here with the crisp voice, or at least crisp pronunciation, she turns into Rosi Golan twin. Additionally, she waxes Rosi Golan -esque in style, too. Then, there’s the classic standards style — the build in the overarching “Doo Doo Doo’s” made me think of perennial children’s songs). In fact, the “Doo doo doo’s” are pretty much identical to Manu Chau’s “Minha Galera,” and the “Oh my darlin’, oh my dear, the times is hard, but…” bit just reminds me of the vaudeville part of The Newsies. It all definitely makes you want to “go back to the younger days.”

“Closest I Get” – … More Marketa…

“Waking Sleep” – This track’s got noisier, more distracting background instrumentation. Still Marketa…

“Lost and Found” – This little baby’s strong suit is great instrumentals, which feature the Ten Out of Tenn band/crowd took advantage of as part of the closer at the H. B.. What a catchy, amped up, emotional, cathartic… well… experience. “Oh, I’m afraid of the world I’m in.” That part always gets me.

“Daisies and Pews” – This bonus-y track/finish to the album completes the downward arc of the resolution to “Lost and Found.” It’s a gentle calm with soothing humming, distant. And then Katie’s voice breaks the far-away with the quite close. Apparently, as the title indicates, this final track is much more directly Christian, a modern Benediction of sorts, and why not when you’re already on the Nashville scene, or uh, map, or what-have-you? It seems Ms. Herzig took some cues from Ms. Amy Stroup, who it seems started out on the Christian side of the Nashville music-verse. Ms. Herzig here has woven some similar underlying beliefs into her current songwriting. Then again, aside from the pews and perhaps the line, “making sense of all the good news,” one can’t entirely tell that the wording is specifically Christian. After all, the strong refrain, “fire in my soul,” is subtle enough that you could add your own interpretations, as all the Abrahamic faiths have similar imagery and language. I think the neatest part of this track is the use (apparently) of chimes.

The fact that Ms. Herzig’s voice is reminiscent of so many contemporary artists is actually very much to her credit. This quality puts her at the head of the pack in terms of versatility and makes the album an exciting adventure among the various artists recalled in all the different catches of her voice from track to track. For fans of hearty folk, from Rosi Golan to The Swell Season, this little gem is worth tracking down. And in Katie’s own words,  “[Don’t just stream the songs.] Support the artist.”

The production and instrumentals are fantastic, as well, and in the end, there are no better words to capture the essence of the album than upbeat, inspiring, and catchy, definitely catchy. I woke up the morning after hearing “Free My Mind” both live and on CD with the chorus zinging about in my head, and I’ve gotten other parts of her songs stuck in my head the last few days, too!

Video Review

July 28, 2011

Debut single and music video, “Anna Sun,” from breakout Ohio (it’s always Ohio) indie rockers, Walk the Moon. The first day I had a chance to check out this video, I was in absolute awe. They shot the whole video in one cut à la Russian Ark? Ho yah! …Or so I thought. When I finally started compiling this treasure trove, I gave it my undivided attention. Twice. Maybe thrice (lead singer Nicholas Petricca is très adorable). And promptly realized that the single cut is only the first portion in a potpourri of dancing joy. Watch it for the multiple types of film roll (shot in studio, shot in natural light, shot on vintage film, or at least with vintage, Super8-esque effects), the dazzlingly bright colors, and to throw a hop into your step! “We got no money, but we got heart… What do you know? This house is falling apart./ What can I say? This house is falling apart…” Some of the best hooks I’ve heard in a while… or since “Pumped Up Kicks.” Ha. Giggles.

This whimsical little vid. features the band members of Fair Fjola lackadaisically bobbing along to “Water Tower” while their animated little log cabin house floats away in a great big animated flood among some very whimsical mountain peaks (Would be hard to find such triangular formations out in any real-life mountain ranges… is all I’m sayin’!).

This creation to accompany Blonde Redhead’s “Equus” is also a semi- or mostly-animated extravaganza… The whole thing is actually severely disturbing.  The female lead of the band, Kazu Makino, who in 2002 was trampled by a horse after it bucked her, transformed the traumatic event that disfigured one side of her face (and left her to reconstruct her singing voice and self-perception) into fantastical, lyrical tales like “Equus”: “Sometimes I think I must/ just let you be a horse./ All I want is to be a rider,/ to be part of you.” The semi-animated video seems to feature all the band members, with the instrumentalist twins playing Kazu’s doctors and Kazu playing herself, with her face almost entirely masked and flattened by the animation effects and her body turned into a mannequin-robot mechanical entity. It also, of course, prominently features a horse and then a panoply of horses. … “Equus, by nature,/ timid creature,/ ready to run away. Equus, by nature,/ timid creature,/ cares nothing/ for the plans they made.” Better Propaganda has speculated that the band’s creative process was already centered around world-weariness before The Accident. That might be a fair assessment, but as this video and one or two other songs were my first introduction to the 18 year-old band, I cannot at this moment judge that assessment. But disturbing effects and imagery aside, I’m quite glad Kazu got back on her feet and brought those breathy vocals back. Otherwise, I would be down one heck of an indie band (signed to 4AD!) in my listening dossier!

“Mr. Peterson” – Perfume Genius

This is another one of those instances where I wasn’t paying enough attention the first time I encountered something. When I first heard “Mr. Peterson,” the main thing I noticed was the Joy Division reference – which carried extra points in my tally. But I missed the whole point of the story. In the video, it’s beyond difficult to ignore the palpable pain of singer Mike Hadreas as he relives the story of the teacher with a thing for the sixteen year-old, who commits suicide the same year. The stark simplicity of the video, just two keyboards and their players spotlighted against a black backdrop, definitely honors that life.

“Round the Moon” – Summer Camp

Here I absolutely have to resort to the words of TurnTable DJ Neowman – ” This video is awesome, too… it’s like a cut from some crazy 80’s Swedish movie.” Having watched the film and mulled over it for a couple days, I can definitively say that Neowman is absolutely right. There is no better way to describe this video than to summon the ghost of Ingmar Bergman (and maybe a bit of John Hughes, while you’re at it). From the color processing to the coming-of-age themes (Someone tell that girl she is much too young to be sleeping with that bullied-about, leather-jacket-wearing houligan and that there is never a good age to wear miniskirts that miniature!), 80’s all the way. Minus those cars that date back probably earlier than just the 80’s.

“Vampires” – Mr. Gnome

Oy. Where do I even start? I watched this epic ten-minute narrative twice this week, and both times, I shirked from the gruesome images on-screen and resorted to peeking at the frames through my fingers, only difference being that the second time I was prepared, with a blanket to hold tight for reassurance. I guess it’s a bit of a new day “Thriller,” but with buckets and buckets of blood. The story revolves around four characters who work on the set of a some wacky children’s television program titled, tellingly, Space Magic. With some intensive drug use, glorification of fire-arms, and a ghoulish army of sharp-toothed vampire-zombies sprinkled in for good measure. You might pick up a whiff of Pulp Fiction, I Am Legend, Alice in Wonderland, and some horrifically demented Pappyland, etc.. A ghastly short which might be three parts horrid, five parts pure genius.

“Shake Me Down” – Cage the Elephant

Okay, this one isn’t so much a new find as just brilliant, in every sense of the word. Whimsy, love, loss – the very stuff of existence and the hardiest stuff for creative inspiration. Not much else to say! “In my life, I have seen/ people walk into the sea,/ just to find memories,/ plagued by constant misery,/ their eyes cast down…”

Oh, and I forgot to mention! It’s made me cry every single time I’ve watched it. That powerful!

“Simple Math” – Manchester Orchestra

I really don’t know anything about this group and am not feeling up to researching them at the moment. I only know that they make me think of Mannheim Streamroller… and then gag. Until the music starts in, of course. And this video? Just… Wow. A whirlwind tour through childhood, imagination, and a deer-riffic wood, with some great staging, effects, and editing. I can’t remember much of the song at the moment, but the imagery certainly stuck with me.

“Out Getting Ribs” – Zoo Kid

This kid is way too young to be singing with that voice! What is going on? Gah! What? Woah! Wow. So this is Archy Marshall, 16 or 17 year-old vocal wunderkind. Well, yeah, he plays instruments, too, but can’t you hear it? Ohmygod. Leave it to the Brits! I think there’s a new Brit indie icon on the horizon. If he can just manage some snazzier titles for his tracks!

I’m really confused by the lone observer in the room here. Is that his mom? Can someone please explain it to me? What the ‘eck is she doing there?

“Frontier Psychiatrist” – The Avalanches

The Avalanches are hands-down my favorite Aussie group (and that’s saying a lot, with disbanded Leonardo’s Bride quite close to my heart). I love what they do with radio, er – audio, collage. Lots of recycled and collage art I’m gushing about these days… which is a good thing, as I am always gushing to myself. So this means the terrain of this little blog, Turtle-landia, is moving toward more and more nuanced reflections of those cultural insights lodged somewhere in my thoughts. Woo. Anywho… The Avalanches! Apparently their collage aptitude goes beyond the merely audible. What the heck is going on here? (Oh, sorry. Is that refrain getting too familiar?) My favorite part are the dancing sheets. What’s yours?

“Seven Sisters,” self-made/homemade/home-brewed music collaboration from the Bastard Child of Rock And Roll – self-christened Le Blorr – based out of the dueling worlds of New York and Florida, not-at-all-understandably unsigned, and quite possibly the next big thing, electronic, drum-loving duo of Adam Winn and Chris Hess are… (I’m gonna go out on a limb here…) decidely bigger and better than, but still close genre neighbors to, Film School. If it were even a contest, this video should cinch the deal. Look, just look. Muted mermaid-enchanted waters and the way the air bubbles multiply to evoke the feel of shimmering stars… it doesn’t get much better than this.

…Oh, you noticed the predominance of double-lettering, too?

First Aid Kit, energetic, shimmering, siren, Swedish sister duo, covers “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” off the 2008 debut album from Seattle’s Simon & Garfunkel, The Fleet Foxes. We’re transplanted to another wooded scene, though this one’s much more serene than Manchester Orchestra’s. All quite stunning in its simplicity!

Elevator Poem

May 11, 2011

I’ve been busy travel-planning, packing, and traveling “by land, by boat, by dirigible” (“Sons and Daughters,” The Decemberists) … Well, fine! Taxi, plane, bus, moving walkway, plane, moving walkway, shuttle/train/subway, and car (for a whopping thirteen hours!), to be accurate. I’m hoping to write up something this week about composing good travel mixes and being a good roadtrip DJ — we’ll see how fast I can churn that out. In the meantime, some travel-themed poetics I composed in a jiffy while stressing out over the countdown to my first plane’s boarding time. And you thought we were all done with poetry! And so, with no further ado:

Door Door Open Close

Insert Fire

Run Stop Emerge Stop

Warm Weather

April 11, 2011

A word-sparse post for you today, whoever you may be, from contemporary folk legend, Iron & Wine. To make everything okay, let’s just say we’re functioning on Mountain, Pacific, or Hawaii time for the purposes of feeling less bad about posting at 1:20 Eastern time. And remember, it might feel like summer outside, but death comes knocking any time Death pleases. But that’s a cause for letting go and living each moment fantastically, rather than cowering in a corner, teeth clacking, all lit up with fear (though I admit I am guilty of the latter far more than the former; in other words, don’t get too down on yourself if you also struggle to pull off that stunt of living thoroughly, day in and day out). Cheers!

 

Naked As We Came

She says, “Wake up, it’s no use pretending.”
I’ll keep stealing, breathing her.
Birds are leaving over autumn’s ending.
One of us will die inside these arms,
Eyes wide open, naked as we came;
One will spread our ashes ’round the yard.

She says, “If I leave before you, darling,
Don’t you waste me in the ground.”
I lay smiling, like our sleeping children.
One of us will die inside these arms,
Eyes wide open, naked as we came;
One will spread our ashes ’round the yard.


9, 10… Take Up My Pen

April 10, 2011

For tonight’s special, we have another double-feature (since yesterday was an off-day).

These songs share related themes, but that is incidental, folks. I wanted to share these achievements (of literary, lyrical, vocal, and instrumental natures) with you this month, regardless of which other song-poems they ended up contrasting with, or, in this case, being paired with. But since they do share overlapping themes, that makes writing about them that much easier. Yay me.

Those themes are pretty straight-forward, from their titles on. We’re dealing with that perennial tug of war, here. Love. (It just ain’t so simple as it used to be.) With passion, comes the ensuing waves of questioned affections, strained interactions, entrapment (not in the legal sense, but clearly in the sense of feeling obliged to stick around in a relationship in ruins), separation, rending, letting go, walking away, and (eventually) finding healing for all parties involved. Yeah, yeah, we’ve been over this before. These are the most explored themes across cultural forms, no doubt. And this makes sense, in proportion to the huge, gaping holes loss leaves behind. Sometimes they are overdone, but as often as not, artists find new inroads from which to explore a piece of the most intense and intricate puzzle there is (or so it seems) — human emotion.

These particular song-poems are imbued with both subtle and explicit angles on the sublime. Sarah McLachlan reaches lightly toward divine wisdom — “Through this world I’ve stumbled,/ So many times betrayed,/ Trying to find an honest word,/ To find the truth enslaved” — while The Swell Season’s Markéta Irglová pecks gently at fresh wounds (that is, to those not in-the-know, Strict Joy grew amazingly gracefully out of the romantic break-up of the band’s front man and woman) in overtly religious language — “Forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,/ For I have loved you wrong.”

Ultimately, journalistic language fails to uphold the sanctity of the verses and their musical treatment. All my words sound profane in the face of these artistic monuments. Listen for yourself.

 

Possession

Listen as the wind blows
From across the great divide–
Voices trapped in yearning,
Memories trapped in time.
The night is my companion
And solitude, my guide.
Would I spend forever here
And not be satisfied?

And I would be the one
To hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away,
And after I’d wipe away the tears,
Just close your eyes, dear.

Through this world I’ve stumbled,
So many times betrayed,
Trying to find an honest word,
To find the truth enslaved.
Oh, you speak to me in riddles,
And you speak to me in rhymes.
My body aches to breathe your breath;
You words keep me alive.

And I would be the one
To hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away,
And after, I’d wipe away the tears;
Just close your eyes, dear.

Into this night I wander;
It’s morning that I dread.
Another day of knowing,
Of the path I fear to tread.
Oh, and into the sea of waking dreams,
I follow without pride,
‘Cause nothing stands between us here,
And I won’t be denied.

And I would be the one
To hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away.
And after, I’d wipe away the tears.
Just close your eyes, dear.

I’ll hold you down,
Kiss you so hard,
I’ll take your breath away,
And after, I’d wipe away the tears.
Just close your eyes.

I Have Loved You Wrong

Forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,
For I have done you wrong.
For I have hurt beyond repair,
And when tears occurred, no, I didn’t care.
Forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,
For I have loved you wrong.

But this estranged organ in my chest
Still beats for you; It will not rest
So meet me in our secret place,
When the time has come.

And rest your head in my lap,
And I’ll lead you out of your own trap,
And I’ll show you how much you have missed,
through the time we weren’t right.

Oh…, Oh…

So forgive me, lover, for I have sinned,
For I have let you go.
But you’ve been
Every now and then on my mind,  yeah.

Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.
Every now and then on my mind, yeah.

On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,

On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind,
On my mind.

 

I have to say that in this creation, The Swell Season have pulled off the most tasteful use of repetition I have ever heard. And you’ve already heard me gripe about the shortcomings of repetition on the page! So if you’ve only read this post, I urge you to follow the link in the song title to hear the song performed with some of the most angelic a cappella in existence.

Show Me Sunset

April 8, 2011

When I get a smartphone in a couple of years, I surely will have lost all of my values. The best way to support built-in obsolescence in cellphones and automobiles? Buy cars and smartphones. The older I get, the more strange urges I get to own such things, despite their inessential natures. Surely, I will have moved too far from the simpler self, a simpler me, that needed only to savor a vivid sunset to find joy, to heal the wounds of the past, and to deal with what could not be got rid of from the vast repository of memory (forgiveness, memory, happiness, healing …recurring theme much?). If and when I get that phone, samples from the lengthy and awe-inspiring instrumental sections of this Bat for Lashes (moniker for prodigious Brit, Natasha Khan) composition will make up my ringtone.

The deeper we get into this grey, cold month of April, the more evident it becomes that some of these song-poems become so flat on the page–all words, no orchestration. Yet the same goes for the inverse. That future (sell-out) ringtone will pale in comparison to the full song, not only for the tinny timbre of the cellphone speakers but also for the lack of the words (impeccably original, profound, lucid, ad infinitum…) that accompany the electronic fantasia of this piece. Please, enjoy!

 

Two Planets

We are all strangers in a strange land,
Wanderers in a vast and unknowable universe.

Show me moonlight on the sunrise.
I’ve seen so many planets dancing,
I’ve seen too many people hiding.

Show me sunset, and I won’t forget
That I am one of two planets dancing,
I am one of two planets dancing.

Shallow man,
Sign your name
On my sun.

Where the song of Solomon
Died in the battleground,
Where the song of Solomon
Died in love’s battleground,

I am full,
Shattered by this sailing time,
For all your suffering by night,
Oh warm, but under bright.

And life is so much dark and light,
When day cannot exist without a night.
And you are not separate from me.
I am a heart that’s full of life.

And to be shared, on this night,
Feel my hands, feel my life,
For the sun and the stars,
Oh my Mother and my sisters.

I know where the form is changing.
I know that the stars will follow me.

Forget Me Not

April 7, 2011

Switching modes slightly today, we’re taking a turn from the splendidly surreal yet quite grimy lyrics from The National to the simple but exquisite storytelling of William Fitzsimmons, that beloved folk musician with the light, airy, rather magical voice and the fix’d beard. (Check out Gold in the Shadow, released in recent weeks. A balm of an album! Such soothing songs for the soul! – If you have hurts, your own compounded sadnesses, and you’re human so you do, check it out!)

Today’s song-poem, “Find Me to Forgive,” is structured around a heartbreaking story of botched romance. I know enough of his bio to know that some of his earlier work is pitted in the pain of divorce, yet I cannot tell whether (or how much) this composition is true-to-life or entirely fabricated. If I were acquainted with him in person, I wouldn’t want to pry. And in any case, the storytelling is spell-binding. Just try and resist its tugs on your heart-strings! Futile!

Musically, I (think I) love the time-signature in this piece. The song comes on, and I start thinking of tangos (hung up on strings!*), but there’s probably no correlation. Something for a ballroom, though. Lots of wooshing, dazzlingly red skirts to distract attention from runny mascara and sobbing frames. Or you could just go the Parisian route. I imagine myself in a cramped historic quarter with lots of light bouncing off soft stone, the faint trail of concertinas and violins wafting through. But I’m definitely teary-eyed, reenacting the last scenes of L’Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment), where, in this case, I am Xavier. Not that that’s much of a stretch. Would the film have been as moving if I didn’t have so much in common with Romain Duris’s character? Do we ever?

Find Me To Forgive

You were the only thing I ever loved.
Taken for granted, you couldn’t stand it, anymore.
You were my lover for nearly eight years,
But I am my father, and I found another.

The last sixteen months have been nothing but hell.
I thought about jumping, well that would be something.
In the short time that I learned how to fly,
Would you forgive me, or bring flowers to me, by the grave?

Will you look the same when I meet you up there?
Remember my name, please.
Will you look the same when I meet you up there?
Remember my name — find me to forgive.

I haven’t seen you for over a year.
I heard you were married. The baby you carried isn’t mine.
I don’t suppose that you’ll still have my name.
You’ll have another, if you’re not my lover, anymore.

Will you look the same when I meet you up there?
Remember my name, please.
Will you look the same when I meet you up there?
Remember my name — find me to forgive,
find me to forgive, find me to forgive, find me to forgive.

 

 

*From a poem I wrote for a creative writing class several years ago.

I know I just shared another brilliantly composed song from The National a couple days ago, but while that bit was impromptu, this one was planned into the National Poetry Month schedule over here in Turtle-land. “The Geese of Beverly Road” is probably tied with a gazillion other songs by the Ohio-via-Brooklyn band for my third-favorite out of their entire collection. By far, the aspect of The National I most adore is the way that Matt Berninger’s lyrics get stretched across the entire ouevre. There’s all this delicious repeating imagery of feathers, swan-geese, and such, the threads of which you can spend years following across their albums, like some young kid in a red coat chasing a red balloon down city streets.

"Serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon..."

In this case, the geese reappear two albums after Alligator, on “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” from High Violet. And, in between, we mistakenly listened to our mother-in-laws and passed over the “swans on t.v.” while asking Jenny to “Wake Up Your Saints.” When the geese make their comeback, they manage to flock there with the swans. “Man, it’s all been forgiven. Swans are a swimmin’. I’ll explain everything to the geese.”

As this marathon month of blogging progresses, my stockpile of readily-available adjectives and other discuss-able material diminishes, and I find myself lavishing blander and blander praise on musical compositions I genuinely love. Really need to take some cues from established music bloggers and bona fide music journalists.

I wanted to share something clever about a step-by-step of how to explain everything to the geese (and why doing so is a good idea), but right now, I’m too spent. To be continued!

The Geese of Beverly Road

We’ll take ourselves out in the street
And wear the blood in our cheeks,
Like red roses.

We’ll go from car to sleeping car
And whisper in their sleeping ears,
“We were here, we were here.”
We’ll set off the geese of Beverly Road.

Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome, totally genius.
Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome.

We won’t be disappointed.
We’ll fight like girls for our place at the table,
Our room on the floor.
We’ll set off the geese of Beverly Road.

Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome, totally genius.
Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome.

We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.

We’re drunk and sparking, our legs are open,
Our hands are covered in cake,
But I swear we didn’t have any.
No, I swear we didn’t have any.

Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome, totally genius.
Hey, love, we’ll get away with it.
We’ll run like we’re awesome.

We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.

Oh, come, come be my waitress, and serve me tonight,
Serve me the sky up tonight.
Oh, come, come be my waitress, and serve me tonight,
Serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon.

We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world,
We’re the heirs to the glimmering world.

Oh, come, come be my waitress and serve me tonight,
Serve me the sky up tonight.
Oh, come, come be my waitress and serve me tonight,
serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon.

I hardly need to write anything because these glorious words from the Barenaked Ladies say everything I could say about life’s poetries a million times better than I could say them! I do, however, have a little image from today to accompany the imagery of dreaming of music and quantum mechanics. It includes some bars from Béla Bartók, satirizing my beloved “Leningrad Symphony” (by Shostakovich), and some equations related to the Pauli exclusion principle. Cheers!

Music. And quantum mechanics!

 

When You Dream

With life just begun, my sleeping new son
Has eyes that roll back in his head.
They flutter and dart;
He slows down his heart
And pictures a world past his bed.
It’s hard to believe,
As I watch you breathe,
Your mind drifts and weaves…

When you dream,
What do you dream about?
When you dream,
What do you dream about?

Do you dream about music or mathematics
Or planets too far for the eye?
Do you dream about Jesus or quantum mechanics
Or angels who sing lullabies?
His fontanelle pulses with lives that he’s lived,
With memories he’ll learn to ignore,
And when it is closed, he already knows
He’s forgotten all he knew before,
But when sleep sets in,
History begins.
But the future will win.

 

When you dream,
What do you dream about?
When you dream,
What do you dream about?

Are they color or black and white, Yiddish or English,
Or languages not yet conceived?
Are they silent or boisterous?
Do you hear noises
Just loud enough to be perceived?
Do you hear Del Shannon’s “Runaway”
Playing on transistor radio waves?
With so little experience, your mind not yet cognizant,
Are you wise beyond your few days?

When you dream,
What do you dream about?
When you dream,
What do you dream about?

When you dream,
What do you dream about?

 

In place of an embed, which we will have in several months when we upgrade this blog to the big leagues:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzzJZs–YZM

Common Vs. Common

April 4, 2011

Today only!

Geographers’ Special: Cities, Decadence, et cetera …

Another day featuring bands with male vocalists. I kind of feel like I need to wedge The Go-Go’s in here somewhere just to balance it out. Or Portishead, maybe. And it’s another British and another American band. C’mon, other countries, catch up! (Actually, that’s ultimately the focus of this blog – more on that in future posts!)

Architectural Style: Brutalism. Exhibit A.

I’m really glad I had the month divvied up before I started blogging musical poetry for National Poetry Month because it sure keeps things flowing smoothly around here, but I’ve only stuck to the chosen song once (on the 2nd), and every other day, I’ve shuffled things around, made alternate arrangements. Today, I changed my mind, on a dime, as usual, this time due to a lovely line I came across in an interview with poet Catherine Theis on the semi-blog from Salt Publishing. She responded to a question, in part, with the remark, “The inside of a verse play or poem (or a painting or a song) is one of the last decadent places on earth.” I then went hunting for a decadent song tucked away in my little list of April’s flowers. (If you didn’t guess on the first day, yes, that’s a layered reference to all these gorgeously-written and mellifluously-echoed songs, as well as the fact that in spite of April’s showers, April has some of its own flowers.) And after paying more careful attention to the exact wording of one of my newer favorite compositions from Editors, “The Boxer,” off their most recent 2009 album, In This Light and On This Evening, I decided it would make an even better double-feature with my second-favorite creation from The National, “City Middle,” off of Alligator, from way back in 2005. The amateur geographer in me tries to look for inspiration even in diversions, like rock music obsessions, which really shouldn’t be considered diversions but appreciated for the high art they so often achieve (and critiqued when they don’t, of course!).  I think part of me feels guilty for lavishing more attention on this blog than on my more academically-oriented endeavors. Ah well. Music heals those wounds, too.

Architectural Style: Brutalism. Exhibit B.

As much as I want to wrap this up and get this syndicated to you guys, some points I shouldn’t put off:

1. If there’s a Simon & Garfunkel connection in Editors’ lyrics, it’s slight, but I don’t disavow its potential presence. That would, of course, only make the gravelly-smooth beauty of the song more delectable.

2. “City Middle” (and its counterpart, “Karen”) features some of The National’s most explicit, grimy lyrics, but the instrumentation and vocals are so beautiful that they would perfectly make up for the partially crude storyline if the storyline itself didn’t have its own redeeming qualities. For me, its in the vividness of the imagery and the way that hazy (or not so much hazy as uncertain) childhood memories are evoked for me by the line “pissing in a sink, I think.” I swear the woman that lived in the next room in the communal apartment of my childhood, who I wholeheartedly believed was my Great Aunt (also uncertain on that now, after all these years, though I still continue to believe it, for lack of an alternative explanation for pieces of my memories, some including threads of conversations structured explicitly around the referent, Great Aunt, though what if that’s an inaccurate memory, too? My toddler years were so very long ago, after all!), had some incident in the apartment which afterward involved a lot of screaming by all parties about pissing in sinks. Maybe a fabrication of my imagination? What an imagination that would be, though… Doesn’t seem right to me. TMI again? Oops. Sorry.

3. The thing about what remains, in our society, of archaic poetry — that is, sung verse — is that there seems much more repetition in song than in printed, never-attempted-sung verse. Aside from ballads, most of today’s songwriters, even the best ones, adhere fairly strictly to industry conventions involving choruses, bridges, echoing of verses, and all that jazz. It’s true — We the audience do very much like the tantalizing hooks, mostly to ensure we have some snatch of tune stuck in our heads all day. We hate silence above all else, it seems (which is quite disheartening!). Repetition works. Poets do use it, too. And there are songwriters who use it less than others. (I dare you to give me example of those who hardly use it at all!) But in our inexhaustible taste for easily-devour-able material, written lyrics can seem not at all smooth, a bit jumpy, a bit coarse, a bit bogged down, to drag their feet more than slightly. Yet when we listen, we are hardly aware of the echoing. It’s a strange phenomenon, and I’m not entirely sure that I have a preference one way or another in terms of the written versions, in spite of all that obstructiveness.

4. Okay, I’m getting antsy and impatient now. Tennessee Williams references! You can easily connect them back to Ms. Theis’s comment about “verse plays” ; I once dreamt that Common Vs. Common was a band that came to play at my school ; I’m having too much fun adding punctuation to lyrics to find the best ways to enunciate the poetic in these lyrical creations, which we might otherwise overlook as too mundane for poetry (shame!) ; … long red socks and red shoes! Are you overwhelmed yet? Great!

Now on to the poems of our bleak cities, occasionally beautiful in their dreariness!

When all the world is dripping poetry, how easily we forget our concrete prisons.

 

The Boxer

A bruised full moon
Play-fights with the stars.
This place is our prison,
its cells are the bars
So take me to town,
I wanna dance with the city.
Show me something ugly, and
Show me something pretty.

Damn this place
— makes a boy out of me.
The ring meets my face
by the count of three!

An unwanted sun
pulls rank in the sky.
The boxer isn’t finished,
He’s not ready to die.
I’m attracted to the light,
I’m attracted to the heat.
It’s a violent night;
There are boxers in the street.

Damn this place
— makes a boy out of me.
The ring meets my face
by the count of three!

And damn this place
— makes a boy out of me
The ring meets my face
before an oak tree!

Dazed in the final rounds,
Dazed in the final rounds,
Dazed in the final rounds,
Dazed in the final rounds.

"I wanna dance with the city..."

 

City Middle

Karen, take me to the nearest famous city middle,
Where they hang the lights,
Where it’s random,
And it’s common versus common, la dee la.

Karen, take me to the nearest famous city middle,
Where they hang the lights,
Where it’s random,
And it’s common versus common, la dee la.

I’ve got five-hundred in twenties,
And I got a ton of great ideas;
I’m really worked up.
I’m on a good mixture, I don’t want to waste it.
I’m on a good mixture, I do not want to waste it.
I wanna go gator around the warm beds of beginners;
I’m really worked up.

Karen, take me to the nearest famous city middle,
Where they hang the lights,
Where it’s random,
And it’s common versus common, la dee la.

Karen, take me to the nearest famous city middle,
Where they hang the lights,
Where it’s random,
And it’s common versus common, la dee la.

I have weird memories of you,
Wearing long red socks and red shoes,
I have weird memories.
I have weird memories of you,
Pissing in a sink, I think;
I have weird memories of you.

I wanna go gator around the warm beds of beginners.
I’m really worked up.
I wanna go gator around the warm beds of beginners.
I’m really worked up.

Karen, take me to the nearest famous city middle,
Where they hang the lights,
Where it’s random,
And it’s common versus common, la dee la.

Karen, take me to the nearest famous city middle,
Where they hang the lights,
Where it’s random,
And it’s common versus common, la dee la.

I have weird memories of you,
Wearing long red socks and red shoes,
I have weird memories.
I have weird memories of you,
Pissing in a sink, I think;
I have weird memories of you,
Parking your car — you said, “I’m overwhelmed.”
You were thinking out loud, you said, “I’m overwhelmed.”

You were parking your car, you said, “I’m overwhelmed.”
You were thinking out loud, you said, “I’m overwhelmed.”

You said, “I think I’m like Tennessee Williams.
I wait for the click,
I wait, but it doesn’t kick in.”

“I think I’m like Tennessee Williams.
I wait for the click,
I wait, but it doesn’t kick in.”

I have weird memories of you,
Wearing long red socks and red shoes,
I have weird memories.
I have weird memories of you,
Pissing in a sink, I think;
I have weird memories of you,
La da da da …

I have weird memories of you.