“California” by Delta Spirit (2012)

30 10 2016

This is such a fantastic song. And Delta Spirit is one helluva good band.

Boy loses girl, boy’s heart is broken. But boy wishes girl happiness, even though he hurts like hell. Because he likes her, and he wants the best for her:

“All of the feelings that I know you’ve never felt
And all of the simple words you never said
I want you to keep them like a secret to yourself
They’re not for me”

That’s righteous. Evolved.

Unnnnfortunately, it’s also pretty rare. Especially among boys.

We boys are never really taught how to deal with our emotions. In fact, the opposite: “Walk it off,” “Big Boys Don’t Cry.” So without being able to deal with hurt, or rejection, we turn to our ready-to-fire default emotion, anger.

You will encounter this, if you haven’t already:

BOY: Do you want to dance/a drink/to go steady?

GIRL: No, but thank you very much

BOY: Stuck up B*TCH! I wouldn’t dance/drink/go steady with a slut like you anyway!

It’s just a shitty encounter all the way around. That you didn’t ask for. And there’s really nothing you can do to prevent it. No matter how nice and gracious you are (which, by the way, you shouldn’t even have to be), it’ll happen.

Well, it’s never on you. It’s “us.” Do the best you can to shake off any hate that comes as a result of our deficiencies.

Maybe songs like this can plant the seeds in some hearts and minds.





“I Am Not My Hair” by india.arie (with Pink) (2005)

14 08 2016

You are 13 years old, and about to start high school. I’m skeerd.

Have you read “The Lord of the Flies” yet?

We’ve watched “Heathers” together, so I know you’re at least somewhat prepared.

What I want you to know, on the deepest possible level, for your entire life, is what the great Persian poet Rumi wrote 700-ish years ago:

I am not this hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within


Brilliant. And so true.

But you wouldn’t know it in our society, would you? When you’re constantly reminded that you don’t measure up to some bullshit metric pulled out of the arses of snake oil salesmen? When you are reduced to the lowest common denominator, your appearance, detectable by only one of many senses?

So, yeah, what Rumi said. Memorize it and take it with you through life.

I like it so much, I’m going to use it in a song. An anthem, actually. Fair warning, I might post it here.

India Arie beat me to the punch. But it’s in the public domain, and I don’t think Rumi would mind. And I think Ms Arie would agree that the world could always hear more of his poetry.





“Even It Up” by Heart (1980)

19 01 2016

Ann and Nancy Wilson kick ass.  And they were kicking ass before it was acceptable for women to do so.  The musicianship is stellar, tight, and tasty, a testament to all the band members.  But the Wilson sisters were power and glory and proved that rock is not just a boys’ game.  Their influence is huge.

And not only could they rock, they shoved some truth and defiance into the dialog.

“Now something tells me you’re
going to use me again
You think you can lay down the how and
the where and the when”

Bad. Ass.

Your grandma loved this song, and her Heart LP’s.  She was a badass, too.





“Buena” by Morphine (1993)

2 12 2015

Drums.

Saxophone.

Bass guitar (two strings, played with a slide).

Mark Sandman’s remarkable voice/vision.

This is greazy, heavy, visceral stuff.  Like human emotion, human struggle.

And it grooves, like a badass.

What is “buena”?  A drug?  A woman?  Love?  Righteous music?  I’m not sure I want to know, preferring “all of the above” as the multiple-choice answer to such questions.

If I had to try to define “cool,” I would offer this as Exhibit 1A.





“Torn” by Ednaswap (1995)

17 07 2015

This is such a fantastic song. Most of the world knows it well from Natalie Imbruglia’s cover version, a huge, international hit in 1998, and that’s when I first heard the song.

Imbruglia’s version is great, emphasizing the melody, with a jaunty beat that makes your feet tap while you sing sweetly along:

“Nothing’s fine I’m torn
I’m all out of faith, this is how I feel
I’m cold and I’m ashamed lying naked on the floor”


Wait, what? What’s this song about? Who the hell wrote this?

“Illusion never changed into something real
I’m wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn
You’re a little late, I’m already torn.”


Turns out a band from LA called Ednaswap wrote the song, led by the fierce Anne Preven (who co-wrote the song, including the dagger-like lyrics). Ednaswap was a tight, terrific band that should’ve been heard by more people.

The Ednaswap version is very different from Imbruglia’s cover. Not a bouncy, wistful track, but a bluesy slow-burn dripping with resignation and barely-contained disgust (at the betrayal? At herself?).

THIS is the version I play when misery needs company. It’s great for your music toolbox, when you feel hurt or (especially) betrayed. I’d like to say that will never happen to you, but just in case, here’s “Torn”:

And just for reference, here’s Imbruglia’s cover. Still a great song, just done very differently:





“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.





“Man In Black” by Johnny Cash (1971)

12 11 2013

Not much anyone can add to Mr. Cash’s music. He says it pretty plainly.

Written and recorded during the Vietnam War, the song is something of a manifesto. The manifesto of a good man speaking up for what’s right.

Naturally, he’s something of a hero of mine.

“Oh, I’d love to wear a rainbow everyday
And tell the world that everything’s okay
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
‘Til things are brighter, I’m the man in black.”

cash