Monday, May 30, 2011

Beyond Barbecue

Originally published last year...

It's easy to forget the reasons for holidays.

Beyond the three-day weekends. Beyond burgers and barbecues. Beyond the unofficial start of summer and the promise of longer days and the freedom of warmer weather and school being out.

Memorial Day is about something else. It's a chance to remember and honor sacrifice.

I didn't understand that as a kid; probably no kids really do.

But the past several years, I've been rediscovering the real meaning of holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day (which bookend summers in the U.S.).

Which brings me to what inexplicably is my favorite XTC song. (Which is far from their catchiest song or their best-known song or even their best-written song.)

The first time I heard this, it resonated with something deep inside me. The evocation that happens with the best music? Some kind of trapped intergenerational memory of another lifetime? I don't know.

But I knew the first time I heard this that it was profoundly meaningful to me. So on Memorial Day, there's only one song I want to hear:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Frost on the Rigging

Hurry and See

The slow-motion movement of the first rays of dawn.

Cold, withering glances on the streets.

Hurrying along sidewalks dusted with snow, slippery beneath.

The bundled-up masses moving past me. Everyone filled with purpose, needing to be somewhere.

And I have somewhere to be, too.

But I'm not there. And as the sun moves slowly up into the sky, melting icicles on the side of the building, I stop and watch the slow, slow dripping.

Wondering how it can become a torrent... and whether that will happen anytime soon.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Craigslist Ads and the New Wave Songs That Love Them #8

Rapture Edition

So they say the world is ending on Saturday.

Do you really think you're gonna get raptured? If so, do you wanna spend all eternity regretting not hooking up with me?

If not, do you wanna spend the next 12 hours regretting not hooking up with me?

Plus, if we don't get raptured, I'll buy you brunch on Sunday.

Plus, I'm sure Jesus would want you to hook up with me.

Well, pretty sure.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Inquisitions and Missionaries Seem Fairly Bizarre

I Can Lounge About

If you're going to form a rock band, there's worse things you can do than model yourself musically after XTC in the early to mid-80s.

In a more perfect world, these guys would've been huge:

But sadly, of the groups from last decade that most resembled XTC, these guys flamed out the quickest, leaving behind one unspeakably brilliant album.

The second album was never finished... but the band made all the raw tracks available online as an "open source album." So if you're inclined to finish these songs, remix them, add or subtract elements and combine them into something new... then go at it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Now That You Know Who You Are

Tuned to a Natural E

"When you name something, it gives you power over it."

I don't believe that.

"Then how come you felt better when you learned the name of the weird flu you had?"

That wasn't about the name. It was about being able to get better.

"By using the name. Because knowing the name gave you power."

But what about before anyone named it? Naming a disease doesn't mean you've cured it.

"Maybe not. But if you divide everything into two... before you name it and after you name it... the before part is all swirling and amorphous."

And the after part is swirling and amorphous with a name.

"What about you? What were you before you had a name?"

I didn't exist. My parents named me long before I was born.

"Maybe they did. Maybe you just came into existence with a name. And that name seeped through the membranes until your parents recognized it. And knew it was part of you."

I can't find the reference anymore... But a few years ago someone told me that, before the word "hippie" caught on, people who were... basically hippies referred to themselves as "the Beautiful People." (And if you know where this "fact" originated, let me know.)

I know this much: John Lennon had a weird psychedelic song fragment called "One of the Beautiful People" and Paul McCartney had a chorus that started "Baby You're a Rich Man." And they strung the two together, tweaked the lyrics, and came up with a hippie anthem for the period just before anyone knew the word "hippie."

By the way, Wikipedia says the original mono mix of this song featured a spin echo feedback delay that bridged the end of one verse with the start of the next. When it came time to make a stereo mix, engineer Geoff Emerick could not recreate the spin echo effect, so he just took it out. (Feel free to compare and contrast.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Go Here, Read This, Listen to That

Weekend Grab Bag

J.B., whose regular blog is the fantastic The Hits Just Keep On Comin', shares the story original version of "Brown Sugar" (with Eric Clapton and Al Kooper) over on WNEW's Rock Flashback blog. It's even better than the "official" version (in my opinion).

Uncle E surveys Wilco and finds them... well, go read for yourself.

Peter's Power Pop shares a great new (to him and me, anyway) song by the Wellingtons.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming

Forty-One Years

Hat-tip to Whiteray for the reminder of what happened all those years ago (and for the Assembled Multitude version).