30 Day Music Challenge Day 30: King of Pain (The Police)

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In an effort to drum up some posting after leaving this blog essentially dormant for, well, too long… here’s me taking the 30 Day Music Challenge. It’s spreading well enough that it’s still interesting, and it’s relevant enough to my interests that it’s worth pursuing. I love music, and I’ve come to associate certain songs with certain parts of my life, and it’s a fun opportunity to talk about some well-remembered songs.

Day 30 is “a song that reminds you of yourself”, and again while there are a few I feel are a decent fit, this song sums up a lot about my current state of mind.

King of Pain by The Police is in large part a gathering of dark images, mostly contrasted against brighter or otherwise more pleasant ones. The chorus really says it all, speaking to both a constrained hope for being saved from this state of mind but a resignation to it after a lifetime of thinking and living like this (which ties into the stanzas, which reflect how he sees things). It’s gotten to be so darkly fascinating (er, not to be self-centered or anything) that it’s become the basis for a script I’m working on, exploring whether or not a character/person who naturally thinks like this can ever dare to amount to anything.

30 Day Music Challenge Day 29: I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon (Ernie)

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In an effort to drum up some posting after leaving this blog essentially dormant for, well, too long… here’s me taking the 30 Day Music Challenge. It’s spreading well enough that it’s still interesting, and it’s relevant enough to my interests that it’s worth pursuing. I love music, and I’ve come to associate certain songs with certain parts of my life, and it’s a fun opportunity to talk about some well-remembered songs.

Day 29 is “a song you remember from your childhood”. Initially I thought I’d be cheeky and link you to the Pinball song (“1-2-3-4-5, 6-7-8-9-10, 11-12!”) from Sesame Street, but that actually served to draw my attention to the brilliant thing about Sesame Street — Children’s Television Workshop actually invested a ton of effort into designing, writing and scripting the show, down to the songs (even this Pinball song has a ton of flavor of the era and is so catchy it’s good for kids learning the numbers).

I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon is one song that stuck with me. It was unusual to see upbeat and always-laughing Ernie actually being introspective for a change, reflecting on the fast-fading fascination of living in far-off places and the immense power of homesickness. Deeper than you’d expect, for sure. In a kid’s show! With puppets and whatnot! And it’s played completely straight, with no punchline at the end to undermine the point being made. Such good stuff can arise when you trust the weight of your material and the learning capacity of your audience.

These days while I entertain the thought and dream of traveling to Tokyo and Paris and New York and whatnot I can’t ever consider living there long-term, which I guess has caused career limitations and such. Blame Thank Ernie!

30 Day Music Challenge Day 28: When I’m Thinking About You (The Sundays)

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In an effort to drum up some posting after leaving this blog essentially dormant for, well, too long… here’s me taking the 30 Day Music Challenge. It’s spreading well enough that it’s still interesting, and it’s relevant enough to my interests that it’s worth pursuing. I love music, and I’ve come to associate certain songs with certain parts of my life, and it’s a fun opportunity to talk about some well-remembered songs.

Day 28 is “a song by an artist with a voice that you love”. I mentioned Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays at the top of this daily list, and this is the song that cements that idea for me. When I’m Thinking About You is actually the song that introduced me to the band (thanks, NU107), and after all these years is a top five all-time favorite for me. Unabashedly sweet, with no need to adulterate the song with any other vibe but this one. I’ll shut up now and leave you to listen to the song, because you have to hear it to enjoy how the simple electric guitars complement her effortlessly light and airy vocal.

 

Could I, could I keep dreaming, for a little while longer?

30 Day Music Challenge Day 27: Paglisan (Color It Red)

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In an effort to drum up some posting after leaving this blog essentially dormant for, well, too long… here’s me taking the 30 Day Music Challenge. It’s spreading well enough that it’s still interesting, and it’s relevant enough to my interests that it’s worth pursuing. I love music, and I’ve come to associate certain songs with certain parts of my life, and it’s a fun opportunity to talk about some well-remembered songs.

Day 27 is “a song that breaks your heart”, and while so many certainly manage to do that, I’m giving the nod to a song that — like Minsan and Good Riddance before it — does so in such an artful manner that you can’t help but appreciate it anyway.

Color It Red’s Paglisan will always be one of the best things about the alternative-band wave of the early 90s. The whole onslaught of group after group brought on a much-needed infusion of musical and lyrical creativity, and for what is essentially a sawi song to be done so artfully (I can’t find another word for it!) is quite impressive. While an acoustic guitar offers much of the accompaniment along with simple percussion, it never, ever comes across as lazy (a true feat considering most acoustic acts only ever come across as lazy/overreliant on the appeal of one instrument). I keep running into songs whose lyrics are simple but don’t sink the quality of the song, and this is certainly similar to that — while there is some straightforwardness, there’s some quite striking poetry in it as well (I defy you to beat “Kung ang lahat ay may katapusan/itong paglalakbay ay makakarating din sa paroroonan.”)

It’s not quite laslas-inducing “heartbreaking” on its own, but you can’t no-sell it either. No way.

 

30 Day Music Challenge Day 26: Elephant Love Medley (Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman)

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In an effort to drum up some posting after leaving this blog essentially dormant for, well, too long… here’s me taking the 30 Day Music Challenge. It’s spreading well enough that it’s still interesting, and it’s relevant enough to my interests that it’s worth pursuing. I love music, and I’ve come to associate certain songs with certain parts of my life, and it’s a fun opportunity to talk about some well-remembered songs.

Day 26 is “a song that makes you want to fall in love”. There were only really ever going to be a handful of choices for this one for me, and this is the obvious one that won out today.

Elephant Love Medley always struck me as an odd title for a song, but when the time came to take a closer look at it and actually get a feel for the material (while studying how to adapt the film to the stage for Cue), the whole thing just blew me away. I looked like a goon who could simply not stop grinning at the faculty room computer. I’m a sucker for cleverly working in references to things, so this was always going to really work for me. The sheer cleverness of folding in damn near every existing lyric with the word “love” in it into a medley with such a lovely melody (brought to life by their wonderful vocals) had me sold on it from the intro (“A life without love? Love is like oxygen! Love is a many-splendored thing! Love lifts us up where we belong — all you NEED is love!”). That it fit so well with the narrative by being the spur-of-the-moment composition of ahead-of-his-time writer character Christian was nothing short of brilliant.

What can I say, the whole thing just makes you want to believe in falling in love.

I’ll link you to the number from the film so you can see the delightful chemistry between Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, which works in concert (heh) with the great romantic mashup that the medley offers.

We could be heroes, forever and ever.

30 Day Music Challenge Day 25: Space Oddity (David Bowie+Kristen Wiig)

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In an effort to drum up some posting after leaving this blog essentially dormant for, well, too long… here’s me taking the 30 Day Music Challenge. It’s spreading well enough that it’s still interesting, and it’s relevant enough to my interests that it’s worth pursuing. I love music, and I’ve come to associate certain songs with certain parts of my life, and it’s a fun opportunity to talk about some well-remembered songs.

Day 25 is “a song by an artist no longer living”. Wiig is still alive and well (and for god’s sake, 2016, don’t take this one), but David Bowie is sadly no longer with us.

Space Oddity by David Bowie is a song that has long been quoted here and there (such as in the pop-culturally-literate Friends) because of its distinctive “Major Tom”-centric dramatic situation. But it’s actually a lovely, melancholy and… lonely song the longer you get into it. The Walter Mitty movie mix with Kristen Wiig adding vocals is quite nice too, especially given how well it meshes the new vocal with the original.

Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.

30 Day Music Challenge Day 24: Ang Aking Awitin (Side A)

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In an effort to drum up some posting after leaving this blog essentially dormant for, well, too long… here’s me taking the 30 Day Music Challenge. It’s spreading well enough that it’s still interesting, and it’s relevant enough to my interests that it’s worth pursuing. I love music, and I’ve come to associate certain songs with certain parts of my life, and it’s a fun opportunity to talk about some well-remembered songs.

Day 24 is “a song by a band you wish were still together”. I’m fairly certain Side A fits the bill, as they stopped even doing concerts a while back. Icons of the era tend to be retired by this point in time, their legacy already being left (and consumed by hungry younger artists as covers.)

Ang Aking Awitin, I feel, is one of the most underrated Filipino songs. It has a lot in common with modern hugot nonsense, but the sheer artistry with which this is executed makes that forgivable to me — the care with which the vocal is delivered matches the poetic lyrics (the stanzas are so loaded with images and such that a simple la-la-la-la for the chorus is enough), and the layering of synth/violin and piano and clean, simple drums makes it all really come together.

Sure don’t make them like this anymore.

30 Day Music Challenge Day 23: You Better, You Bet (The Who)

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In an effort to drum up some posting after leaving this blog essentially dormant for, well, too long… here’s me taking the 30 Day Music Challenge. It’s spreading well enough that it’s still interesting, and it’s relevant enough to my interests that it’s worth pursuing. I love music, and I’ve come to associate certain songs with certain parts of my life, and it’s a fun opportunity to talk about some well-remembered songs.

Day 23 is “a song you think everybody should listen to”, and many among you can attest to the fact that I have a hard time shutting up about this song.

I discovered You Better, You Bet through The Newsroom. For all his writing faults — mainly a tendency toward the anvilicious and inconsistency in writing female characters — Sorkin did manage to put together some pleasantly clever and driven characters, all to a very good soundtrack. The song has some fairly straightforward lyrics, but the main hook alone captures what being in a demanding, unfair relationship can be like.

Their The Who-heavy second season brought in You Better, You Bet as a clever catchall for both Will McAvoy’s contentious relationship with the viewing public he was trying to educate, as well as his will-they-(again-)or-won’t-they(-ever-again) relationship with ex Mackenzie McHale. The simple shot of him sitting, concerned for her and guilting himself over her involvement, outside the room where she’s being deposed by the lawyers is elevated by the opening strings of the song playing in the background.

 

30 Day Music Challenge Day 22: Mr. Brightside (The Killers)

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In an effort to drum up some posting after leaving this blog essentially dormant for, well, too long… here’s me taking the 30 Day Music Challenge. It’s spreading well enough that it’s still interesting, and it’s relevant enough to my interests that it’s worth pursuing. I love music, and I’ve come to associate certain songs with certain parts of my life, and it’s a fun opportunity to talk about some well-remembered songs.

Day 22 is “a song that moves you forward”, which is just ambiguous enough to work.

Mr. Brightside by The Killers does the job here, as it “moves you forward” as a hard-charging upbeat psyche-up song with a healthy dose of anger and bitterness that can be pretty good fuel. That anger is sometimes necessary to “move you forward” in terms of moving on, as wallowing in self-pity has got to feel stupid after a while if you’re ever going to stop giving yourself over to it.

Destiny is calling me.

30 Day Music Challenge Day 21: Roxanne (Sting and The Police), Hey Jude (The Beatles)

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In an effort to drum up some posting after leaving this blog essentially dormant for, well, too long… here’s me taking the 30 Day Music Challenge. It’s spreading well enough that it’s still interesting, and it’s relevant enough to my interests that it’s worth pursuing. I love music, and I’ve come to associate certain songs with certain parts of my life, and it’s a fun opportunity to talk about some well-remembered songs.

Day 21 is “a song with a person’s name in the title”, and those of you who KNEW I’d pick “Roxanne” by (Sting and) The Police can now claim your betting winnings. Even as a straightforward poem it’s solid, because the persona/speaker is so conflicted and obliviously possessive it’s fascinating. (The Moulin Rouge tango takes it to a whole other level.) And it’s just funky!

I’m also picking The Beatles’ Hey Jude, partly because it’s awesome and partly to mess with you and cost you your betting winnings. Hey Jude is an iconic song, no doubt about it — but while most (including myself) tend to get caught up in the super-catchy “na na na NANANANA” bridge-to-forever, the lyrics themselves are quite meaningful. While I talk a lot about wonderful, poetic imagery in things like Sky Blue and Black, if you’ve followed this series of posts at all you’ve seen me praise simple but striking lyrics as well. This is a fairly straightforward song, as were many Beatles songs, but it’s hard not to appreciate how there’s just enough room for interpretation in what “make it better” means — for a sad song, for a stalled relationship, for being Jude.