“When the Rainbow Comes” by World Party (1990)

4 01 2017

This is the second World Party song I’ve posted, the other is “Ship of Fools,” so I won’t rehash my love for Karl Wallinger’s music.

This is another medicinal song. A sober song about hope. Or the struggle to find it. This song was released in a time I needed hope, so I know this song well.

It starts with an ideal:

“Build a new house down by the sea
Get to the place we were meant to be
You’ll know it when you smile.”

Of course most of us can’t do that. So if you can’t live by the sea, then what?

“Slippin’ and slidin’ around in your head
It’s be-bop-a-lula and baby you’re dead
So come on, make a bright new day.”

It’s never that easy, but just singing it out loud makes it seem just slightly more possible to make that bright new day.

“I need a prayer here
I need a blessing
Cast your eye back as you run
Turn around, boy!
See the rainbow come!”

I do believe there is something to the “power of positive thinking.” It’s just not that easy for some folks.

What’s easier is the power of positive singing. If things seem a tad dark, crank it up, belt it out. It might help.

“Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads (1979)

14 11 2016

These “United States” of America have just elected Donald Trump.

I am so, so sorry, sweetheart. Rational people did their best to stop him. But he said what people wanted to hear, and he stoked division and fear.

He has no respect for women, or minorities, or the press, or the courts, or our taxation system, or anything but his own interests as far as anyone can tell.

And with both houses of Congress plus his own conservative appointment to the Supreme Court, this nation is doomed. And we’ll take the rest of the world down with us.

So, we fight. What else can we do?

Here’s one lesson: Young people HAVE to get to the polls and vote. I know you’re too young to vote now, but when you can vote, please do. And talk about it with your friends, encourage them to vote, too.

If young voters–who overwhelmingly favored Democrats–turned out for the election, we wouldn’t have Donald Trump as president. We wouldn’t have had George W. Bush, either. And Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, would probably have been the Democratic nominee, easily beating Trump. There were other factors, of course, but one thing you can do is vote and get involved. Or you end up with our own Il Duce.

This song came out when I was about your age. I remember listening to its ominous words about changing hairstyles “so many times now, I don’t know what I look like.” It’s about fighting in the resistance. Perhaps it was foreshadowing.

And you can dance to it!

“Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there”

“This Time I Won’t Forget” by KONGOS (2014)

25 04 2015

KONGOS is a band from South Africa, all brothers with the last name “Kongos.” Their dad was a famous musician back in the day, and judging by how tight and driving their music is, I’m guessing they spent a lot of time playing music together as they grew up.

You’ve probably heard their big hit, “Come With Me Now,” with its manic, infectious groove, but their album has many sonic dimensions, often incorporating elements of traditional music from southern Africa.

I think “This Time I Won’t Forget” is my favorite on the album. It’s a haunting aria about loss. Something everyone can relate to:

“Oh, I will try
But I tell you it ain’t easy using only words
And so I’ll begin
But I’ll start at the end, the day I said so long my friend”

But it’s not just a sad song about lost loved ones. It’s also an affirmation of life:

“Cause now I’m alive
I’m taking my first breath
Oh I’m alive
And this time I won’t forget”

Sad, beautiful, and uplifting. These are the songs that last, and I think this song will and should seep into many souls.

“Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind (1997)

1 11 2010

Before I bloviate about drugs yet again, let me tell you how much I love this song musically. It’s tight, melodic, energetic, and has some truly tasty guitar playing, layered on like expert masonry, intricate yet rock-solid.

And the frenetic energy of the song fits the honest lyrics about the drug crystal meth. It’s a cheap drug widely available, and it traps otherwise good people. This is one of those drugs that takes you too far away from who you are, with the danger of becoming a lost soul, feeding needs you never had before.

Please, sweetheart, stay away from it, or at least be very wary of it. It’s bad news.

“Doing crystal meth
Will lift you up until you break
It won’t stop
I won’t come down”

(Thanks to BurningSwade6 for the great YouTube upload with lyrics!)

“Message to My Girl” by Split Enz (1984)

3 08 2010

I first heard Split Enz when I was in college, which is a perfect time to absorb and revere music, adding it to the soundtrack of your life. They had at least one hit in the U.S. (“I Got You”), but unless you bought their albums, you would have missed out on some glorious songwriting. These New Zealanders made wonderful music, then morphed into another terrific band, Crowded House, which I’m going to post up here soon.

I love the frank expression with this song, and the terrific way it builds from verse to chorus, a beautiful flow of energy and emotion. This track never fails to move me. Reason #12,347 why I love music.

Oh, and this isn’t a message to a “girl,” but a woman, a lover, who meant a great deal to someone. Or at least that’s my take. And let’s face it, “Message to My Girl” is a lot easier to sing than “Message to a Great Woman Whom I Respect Dearly and With Whom I Wish to Have Another Chance.”

“And there’s nothing quite as real
as the touch of your sweet hand.
I can’t spend the rest of my life
buried in the sand.”

“I’m the Man Who Loves You” by Wilco (2002)

16 07 2010

This song comes from what I think is one of the best records of the decade, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” by Wilco. It’s a fantastic record. Raw, experimental, emotional, accessible and magnetic.

And mostly joyful, like this song, a simple declaration of love. It doesn’t get much better than this. I’ll let the song speak for itself:

“If I could you know I would
Just hold your hand ’til you understand
I’m the man who loves you!”

(Huge thanks and respect to hoganfan for the great quality upload and for being what seems to be an awesome dad to a beautiful daughter.)

“Souvenir” by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (1981)

2 07 2010

This is another track and band that picked me up through some rough times. I was late to know OMD and their expansive, synth musings. But ten years after this was recorded, I used it to relax, to contemplate, and to get out of my head, if only for a while.

I know, it sounds dramatic. Maybe I’ll never be able to describe how much music has helped me survive this proverbial mortal coil. I mean, not literally. So much.

OMD had a big hit in the US, “If You Leave,” but they had many more hits in Europe (and to me, that’s usually a solid endorsement). They were one of the first bands to prove you could make good music with synthesizers and electronic instruments. At the time, the technology was primitive compared to today, and many felt that synthesizers would never be anything more than cold, abrasive gimmicks for the soundtracks to low budget science fiction films.

I think the lush and organic textures of this track completely disprove that assertion. At least it did for me.

Anyway, just imagine your old man, lying on his cot, treasuring even 20 minutes of music like this when he could get it. Hiding his extra AA batteries to power his escape.

I still remember how much I had to fast forward side one of the cassette to get me to this track, so I could hear it before the rare, short bursts of solitude would end.

(thanks to FallingDown08 for the YouTube upload)