Posted by purplemary54 on April 19, 2017
I memorialize a lot of musicians and other pop culture figures here. I do it because I think it’s important to note their passing into the next plane. I also do it because, like most living people, death scares me. It’s a natural fear, although one uniquely human. I’m pretty sure mole rats don’t sit around in their burrows obsessing over the inevitability of their deaths; they’re probably too busy hunting for food or making baby mole rats. It makes me wonder if our big brains and the commensurate level of self-awareness are really worth it.
What this boils down to is that I take death pretty seriously. I hurt a little for everyone who is left behind when someone they love passes. (The person who died is actually okay at that point; whatever fear, pain, or suffering they experienced while alive is gone.) I grieve along with them. I also grieve for all those I’ve loved who are no longer here, people and animals alike. (We lost a beloved kitty just a few days ago, and I can’t tell you how much Mom and I miss her.) It all adds up to a lot of heartache. Sometimes it is easier, sometimes it’s better, but it never really leaves you. But suffering over that pain is a choice. And while I feel that pain and grief, I don’t wish it gone. I don’t revel in it, but I try to accept those emotions and feel them. It’s okay to hurt; just don’t make it the only thing you feel.
Which leads me back to today’s song. My extended family recently became a little smaller in number and a lot less fun. My mother’s cousin, Mike Foster, died several weeks ago. It is still a raw wound, but I know that he’s not really gone from the Universe. (Mike and his family are Christian, but I don’t think my beliefs conflict too much with their vision of heaven.) He’s not here physically and that’s what hurts, but his energy is still part of everything else. Mike was generous and open and loving with everyone. And, like my much missed Daddy, he never met a corny joke he didn’t tell to everyone within hearing distance. Mike had a wonderful sense of humor, even if it did make you groan occasionally. For whatever reason, his passing made me think of this wonderful old John Prine song. (I know I’ve probably posted this one before, but I’m too lazy to look it up right now.) I know Mike wouldn’t want people to be sad about his death. He’d want them to celebrate his life and have a good laugh in his honor. And for people like me who take death a little too seriously, this is a great antidote for that.
Have fun in the next plane, Mike. Love you.
Posted in Music, Obituaries, Singer-Songwriters | Tagged: death, family, life update, music, songs | 2 Comments »
Posted by purplemary54 on March 18, 2017
I’ve got two or three other posts I’m working on right now, one of them a much more personal remembrance, but this news today has to come first. Dammit.
The passing of Chuck Berry at age 90 isn’t really a surprise; his health had been slowly failing for years. But it is sad to see one of the original Rock & Roll greats leave us. Even though I now concede Elvis Presley’s undeniable talent and status as the King, for many years I argued that Berry was the true King of Rock & Roll. He did so much to create and shape the sound so many of us love so much. He made some of the greatest music I’ve ever heard, and I never get tired of hearing it. His guitar style was iconic. His performances were magnetic and charismatic. Yeah, he was kind of a jerk as a human being (and more than a little problematic for this feminist), but he was a legend. The world is a slightly poorer place without him.
Posted in Music, Obituaries, Rock | Tagged: chuck berry, music, musicians, news, obituaries, video | Leave a Comment »
Posted by purplemary54 on March 2, 2017
I just watched David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the 1992 prequel to his brilliant television show. The film’s ostensible story is the telling of what happened in the days just before Laura Palmer’s death. It’s real story is a human soul and mind in disintegration, of the hidden dangers lurking just beneath the seemingly normal exterior of the human psyche. One of the things I enjoy most about Lynch’s work is their deliberate interiority, the way the line between what is real and imagined is blurred into non-existence. It’s difficult to tell the difference between things that happen in the physical world, the so-called “real” world, and the things that happen in the minds of his characters. It’s a very real possibility that there is no “real” world in Lynch’s films, just an extended dream sequence meant to represent the darkest thoughts, desires, and nightmares of human beings. In short, this is one weird movie.
This song from the soundtrack of Fire Walk With Me is definitely cut from the same cloth as the film. David Lynch wrote the lyrics, Angelo Badalamenti the music. And like everything else Lynch has his hands on, there is a sense of unreality to this song. It’s unmoored from context or genre. Jazzy but not quite Jazz. Spoken, not quite sung. It reminds of Pere Ubu or the Residents. Or Was Not Was’ great “Dad, I’m in Jail.” I googled the name of the band listed as the performer, but there doesn’t seem to be any information on Thought Gang; most of the hits related to a novel of the same name by Tibor Fischer. That seems appropriate.
It’s also totally appropriate that this clip simply uses the empty red room from Special Agent Dale Cooper’s dreams. And Laura Palmer’s dreams. And the Black Lodge. You won’t know what any of this means unless you’ve seen Twin Peaks. I’m not sure you’ll understand this post at all unless you’ve seen Twin Peaks. I highly recommend both the TV show and the movie, and pretty much every other movie David Lynch has made. He’s one of my favorite filmmakers, although I admit to not having seen several of his films; I think he’d like that. I am positively vibrating in anticipation of the new Twin Peaks episodes premiering in May. I’ve been watching whatever they air on Showtime in preparation for the return to one of my favorite imaginary places. But then again, isn’t every place in Lynch’s world imaginary?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden craving for cherry pie.
Posted in Gone to the Movies, Music, Soundtracks | Tagged: david lynch, fire walk with me, movies, music, songs, twin peaks | Leave a Comment »
Posted by purplemary54 on February 22, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, resistance fighters of all ages, I give you our new anthem!
Okay, so the song is about a year old, released during the presidential primaries last year; it is, unfortunately, still quite relevant. It lacks mainstream publicity, largely because of certain words it uses repeatedly that the FCC takes issue with. I only heard about thanks to an article on Slate. Rappers YG and Nipsey Hussle (who deserves some kind of prize just for his awesome stage name) recorded this as an angry response to the hideously racist rhetoric of the maniac living in the White House. Now this is not the best Rap song I’ve ever heard. It lacks eloquence and style, relying instead on profanity and swagger. Public Enemy this is not. But the raw emotion behind it propels the song and gives voice to the inarticulate anger and fear that so many people of color are feeling (not to mention all the anger and fear emanating from every other group of people threatened by this maniac). “Fuck Donald Trump” becomes not just an epithet but a rallying cry. I recommend playing this one REALLY loud.
Posted in Music, Rap | Tagged: music, news, nipsey hussle, politics, Rap, songs, video, yg | Leave a Comment »
Posted by purplemary54 on February 13, 2017
My adoration for Shawn Colvin knows no bounds. As a songwriter, she pens intensely, deeply, personal songs that are somehow universal. As a performer, she can take other artists’ songs and turn them into her own intensely, deeply, personal experiences. It’s a gift that as a music fan I do not take lightly.
In 1994, Colvin released Cover Girl, a collection of songs she loved by artists she loved; it is to this day one of my favorite albums. In 2015, Colvin decided it was time to collect a few more covers and released Uncovered. I finally got a copy for myself and although I don’t think it’s quite as passionately felt as Cover Girl, I think it shows her gift of turning covers into her own quite nicely.
Take “Tougher Than the Rest” for example. This song by Bruce Springsteen originally appeared on his Tunnel of Love from 1987, an album that is full of some of his most intensely, deeply, personal songs (it’s his divorce album, presciently written and released before his divorce from Julianne Phillips). Colvin switches a few pronouns, and presto, it’s her song not Springsteen’s.
If you know anything about Colvin’s history, you know how utterly heartbreakingly poignant this version is. She imprints herself all over the romantic yearning for a real relationship. She’s had a rocky romantic life, due in part to her struggle with mental illness. When she sings the title refrain, “honey I’m tougher than the rest”, you know it’s true. The last verse really gets to me. She delivers it so quietly, so matter-of-factly: “Well it ain’t no secret, I’ve been around a time or two. I don’t know baby, maybe you’ve been around, too. But there’s one more dance. All you gotta do is say yes. If you’re lookin’ for love, honey I’m tougher than the rest.” Her eyes show all the hope and fear those words encompass. Just one dance, just one chance to prove she’s the one for him. I like to think she did, but of course, that’s where the song ends. There’s room for both love and heartbreak. How the story turns out is up to the listener.
Posted in Music, Singer-Songwriters | Tagged: music, musicians, shawn colvin, songs, video | Leave a Comment »
Posted by purplemary54 on February 12, 2017
You might only remember Al Jarreau if you are a person of a certain age or if you were a huge Moonlighting fan. A consummate singer and performer, Jarreau had pretty much dropped out of the spotlight in the last couple of decades. In fact, I think the last pop culture hit he had was the theme to Moonlighting. At 76, Mr. Jarreau has moved on to the next plane of existence.
Take a minute to familiarize yourself with Mr. Jarreau if you don’t already know his work. He was originally a Jazz singer, but he crossed into so many genres that he was impossible to pigeonhole. And wow, was he smooth. No. Not just smooth. Al Jarreau was smooooooooooth. His voice was silky and pure and clean. There were no missed notes, no extraneous flourishes, no gratuitous posturing. There was just music, and it was good.
Now all the smooth leaves no room for rough edges, which means Jarreau was never quite to my taste. But this, singing his 1981 hit “We’re in This Love Together” is how I will always remember him. Another great voice is just a memory, but it’s a pretty fine one.
Posted in Jazz, Music, Obituaries, Pop, R&B/Soul | Tagged: al jarreau, artists, music, news, obituaries, songs, video | Leave a Comment »
Posted by purplemary54 on February 9, 2017
Real life has been a little hectic, and I neglected to note the passing of Asia frontman John Wetton last week.
Asia was always one of those reliably catchy bands that I listened to on the radio, but never really thought too much about. I’ve got a few of their songs on the iPod, and I’ll sing along when I hear them. I guess my relationship with this band can be described as casual, an acquaintance I’m generally happy to bump into but not someone I seek out for anything special. But they were responsible for one of those songs that is inexplicably special to me: The 3 AM Song.
So thanks for that, John Wetton. I’m so glad you shared that little bit of musical serendipity with me. Considering the state of my life right now, I can use the inspirational boost I get every time I hear “Days Like These” more than ever.
“What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. And today I am strong enough, and anyway I love the rain.”
Posted in Obituaries, Pop, Rock | Tagged: asia, john wetton, music, news, obituaries, songs, video | Leave a Comment »
Posted by purplemary54 on January 29, 2017
Some years ago (at least three, but probably more) the Disney behemoth began advertising its Hawaiian resort Aulani with this utterly enchanting version of “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. Even in the little bit they played in the commercial, I was in love with it.
I’ll be the first one to admit I don’t know much about Yuna, the singer who created this song (anyone who does can click here). But she gives me the general impression of being quite charming. I also believe she is a Muslim, which means she is persona non grata in Trump’s worldview; all Muslims are terrorists to him. Even the one’s who sing songs as wholesomely American as Disney songs. Of course, this particular Disney movie is now suspect in Trump’s vision of the world. It is, after all, set in an Arab country and features brown people as characters.
I didn’t mean to make this one political at all. The song is just an innocent romp meant to further the Disney-fied romance between Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. And this cover is, as I stated earlier, utterly enchanting. I just wanted to share it with you. And to remind you that not all Muslims are out to get Westerners. Some of them just want to create music.
Posted in Music, Pop, Soundtracks | Tagged: aladdin, disney, music, musicians, songs, soundtracks, yuna | Leave a Comment »
Posted by purplemary54 on January 25, 2017
Not that long ago, I posted the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show as interpreted by Minneapolis Punk band Husker Du. Now I’m posting it because Mary Tyler Moore has left this plane of existence. (I hate saying “died.” Yes, her physical body has died, but her spirit and energy will always be a part of the Universe.)
I like this clip because it includes just a bit from the final episode. You can here the rest of the WJM gang singing “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” as Mary takes one last loving look at the newsroom before turning out the lights and closing the door. It was a great good-bye then, and it’s a great one now. So long, Mary. I’ll be sure to laugh as hard for you as your TV namesake did for Chuckles the Clown. (And please, jukebox listeners, for your own sakes track down the episode “Chuckles Bites the Dust” if you haven’t seen it. You will never be sorry.)
Posted in As Seen on TV, Music, Obituaries, Soundtracks | Tagged: mary tyler moore, music, news, obituaries, songs, tv themes | Leave a Comment »
Posted by purplemary54 on January 20, 2017
There are always a few different lists going around Facebook at any given moment designed to tell people who you are, what kind of person you are based on a handful of questions. Sometimes these things are thematic–like using only one word, or basing each answer on a consecutive letter of the alphabet, etc. I never take part in these things. It’s not that I’m all that closed off, although I can be. It’s not even that the questions are mostly irrelevant, although they often are. I just don’t think these things would really tell you who I am.
I think of myself as a private person, but given that I blog and am on FB, I’m not so sure that’s true anymore. I also like to think I have a pretty tight rein on my emotions, but if I’m being honest that is probably the biggest lie I’ve ever told myself. I have about as much self-control over my emotions as your average three-year-old. But I hate losing control of my feelings in public, so I guess that’s something. I do have trouble letting people in; intimacy and I are not exactly on speaking terms. I’m opinionated and I like to blast my opinions and thoughts (educated or otherwise) out there for the world to see. It’s actually something of a defense mechanism, though. I know that distracting people with my opinions on politics, etc. will get them to think they know who I am and stop asking about me.
So in the spirit of full disclosure, I will occasionally be posting songs I really relate to, that I can see myself in. There’s the me I project, and the me I see in my mind’s eye. The latter is the person these songs will let you all see, too. Maybe. Maybe not. I guess all that stuff really is in the eye of the beholder. My eye beholds this.
You ever get the sense that you’re waiting for something to happen? The feeling that there is something else in this world that is meant for you, but you have no idea what it is or how to articulate it? Not greatness or a great romance, necessarily. Just something. . . different. That’s me. That’s this song for me. I know there’s something out there but I haven’t found it yet. Maybe I never will. I’ve tried to define it in so many different ways but I can’t quite. It’s a search for peace and contentment, something that will finally allow me shut my brain off and let the anxiety and worry disappear. I also know by now that I’m probably never going to find whatever it is outside of myself. It won’t stop me from looking. But in the meantime, I have Jackson Browne to help me at least put a name to it. I’m a Hold Out.
Posted in Music, Rock, Singer-Songwriters | Tagged: jackson browne, music, songs, thoughts | Leave a Comment »