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Who Am I?

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.

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“Borderline”

Posted by purplemary54 on January 7, 2017

Psst. . . over here.  Wanna here something really cool?  There’s this song called “Borderline” and it’s really awesome.

Oh, you thought I meant the original version by Madonna.  That’s okay; totally natural mistake.  And to be fair, Madonna’s version is a great song, one of her earliest and best hits.  It’s an 80s classic.  But in the hands of the Counting Crows, aka the Kings of Mope, “Borderline” turns into a loose, almost sloppy, Country Rock ramble.  A different song, not quite as good as the original but still pretty damn good.  Fun.  It sounds a little bit like Adam Duritz and the boys had a few beers, maybe smoked a joint, and let it fly.  Underwater Sunshine is the Crows’ cover album, released in 2012 to little fanfare (it also features their equally loose version of the Faces’ classic “Ooh La La”).  The Crows have long since lost any cultural cache they had in the 90s, but they’re still an awesome band, and Underwater Sunshine one of my favorites.  I like hearing musicians play the songs they like by other artists, the stuff they probably jam to when they’re hanging out in someone’s living room or backyard.  And that’s exactly what this song and album sound like.  It’s easy and relaxed, and you won’t be sorry if you listen to the whole thing.

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“Love is All Around”

Posted by purplemary54 on January 4, 2017

One of the things I love most about music is that there is a never-ending treasure trove of incredible, wonderful songs to discover.  While watching Jeopardy! today, I discovered this little gem from Husker Du.  It might sound a little familiar to sitcom fans.

Yes, that’s the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show performed with fuzzy guitar and whipcrack drums by one of the darling bands of the post-Punk 80s.  Husker Du, for all their rage and raging sound, could be surprisingly gentle and tender.  This is one of the most optimistic songs ever about one of the most optimistic TV heroines ever, played by one of its most wholesomely appealing stars.  But while Bob Mould and company manage to keep that optimism and wholesome appeal intact, they can’t help but add a slight edge of Lou Grant style curmudgeon.  “You got spunk.  I hate spunk.”  There is absolutely nothing about this I don’t love.

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Happy New Year!

Posted by purplemary54 on December 31, 2016

This hasn’t been much of a year for me.  It’s been an unbelievably bad year in terms of politics and celebrity deaths.  I’ve been sad for pretty significant portions of the year.  I’m hoping for something else in 2017.  And I think old Ludwig had the right idea on this one.

I wish for nothing but joy for everyone this year.  I’m not holding my breath for it, because that would be childish and silly.  But I wish it nonetheless.  Joy and peace and happiness and love.  Absolutely.

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Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds

Posted by purplemary54 on December 28, 2016

I don’t really have any words for this.  Losing Carrie Fisher was hard on her fans, but I knew it was a million times harder for her family.  And a little part of me knew that losing her would kill Debbie.  I really fucking hate being right.  They were so devoted to each other.  When Eddie Fisher left her, Debbie Reynolds really made her life about Carrie and Todd.  Yeah, she got married a couple more times (to real asshats), and she spent a great deal of their childhoods working away from them.  But they were a complete little universe those three.  I’m just so sad and sorry right now.  I can’t imagine the grief Todd Fisher must be feeling, or Billie Lourd.  (Gary the dog will be living with his human sister now, so I think he’ll be okay.  After a while.  Animals mourn, too, after all.)

So here’s a little bit of Debbie and Carrie singing and loving.  The next plane of existence is a far more witty and sparkling place today.

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George Michael

Posted by purplemary54 on December 25, 2016

I shouldn’t be posting this after so much wine, but goddammit, I’m just so tired.

George Michael has passed at 53, presumably from heart failure.  Carrie Fisher had a massive heart attack at 60 just a couple days ago, although she is still hanging on (and will hopefully recover).

No one should die at Christmas.  I know that there is a statistical increase in deaths this time of year, but my heart tells me that no one should die during a time of celebration.  Logically, that would mean no one would ever die anywhere because there is always a celebration of something happening somewhere on the globe, but the heart wants what the heart wants.  In this case, the heart wants no one to suffer or feel pain during a time of joy in my world.  Self-centered maybe, but there it is.

I was never a Wham! fan, and had little patience for most of Michael’s solo work.  I did like “Faith,” though.  It was one of those perfect little Pop songs that burrowed into your consciousness and never let go.  It is a relentlessly catchy song, with an irresistible hook.  And Michael delivers it with the ease and charisma of a true Pop star (in spite of the fact that he used a butt double at the beginning of the video).  I always thought his pussyfooting around his sexuality was kind of wimpy.  (It took him a very long time to confirm the fact that he was homosexual, something everyone already knew–and no one is ever going to convince me that Wham! didn’t break up because he and Andrew Ridgely ended their affair.  Facts be damned!)  But he had style and popularity, and he could sing with the best of them.

It’s just been so bad that it’s hard to follow the dictum of George Michael’s song and have faith.  There have been some small victories and minor miracles on the personal front in recent days.  I have hope that there are better times, a light at the end of this really long dark tunnel, etc, etc.  I do still have faith in the Universe.  I try to be accepting of the pain that seems to be unending these days, because I know in my head that you cannot have yin without yang, dark without light, enlightenment without suffering.  But my heart still says that all of this is wrong, that the balance of good and bad is desperately out of whack.  Like the song says, I need a little time to pick my heart up off the floor.

Posted in Music, Obituaries, Pop | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

“A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”

Posted by purplemary54 on December 18, 2016

I seem to only check in these days to commemorate the passing of a celebrity or other luminary.  2016’s been a really hard year.  Beyond the cataclysmic political changes, my personal life has kind of gone to hell in a handbasket.  With Mom’s illness (illnesses, if you count the last couple of weeks), I’ve just been barely keeping my head above water.  A hard rain is indeed falling on me.  It’s falling on a lot of people, but I’m having a tough time getting out of my own way enough to care.

Patti Smith’s performance of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” is something of an antidote to my personal storm, in spite of this song’s melancholy and ominous sense of doom.  She is so breathtakingly human, so perfectly imperfect.  Smith is that rare artist who means what she says.  She is not putting on characters in the sense that she is masking herself from her audience; the personas she adopts for her music and poetry are all authentic reflections of the person she is.  When she bothers to adopt a persona that is.  Mostly, when Patti Smith says “I” she means herself.  That kind of honesty and bravery is really beautiful and terrifying.  And her fumbling of these lyrics–from a song she probably knew inside and out long before heading to Stockholm, a song by one of her greatest influences–is beautiful in its own way.  She admits to her own fear and nervousness, something most artists would never do on any stage.  But Smith remains as open about that as she is about pretty much everything.  I don’t think most people know how to deal with that.

It’s one of the reasons I tend to retreat when I have problems of my own.  I have a tendency to not want to bother people (something I know I got from my mother; the last couple of months have shown me that many of the qualities I find most upsetting in myself seem to have been inherited from her, either through nurture or nature).  But my retreat is more than that.  It’s also more than my feeling that my problems don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world (quick. . . name that movie!).  I know, deep down, that people really don’t know what to do with honest emotion and I am crap at hiding my emotions.  I know I don’t know what to do with other people’s feelings.  I always want to do something to help, to make them feel better, but I also know how fucking annoying I find it when people do the same thing to me.  I don’t always want comfort; sometimes, I just want to feel.  It’s hard to do that around other people without making them really uncomfortable.

So I’m gonna try to come out of my self-imposed exile.  Music helps heal me, and I’ve been neglecting even listening to it lately.  I don’t need advice or comfort, although I won’t stop anyone from offering it.  Distraction is nice; waving shiny objects in front of me almost always helps me feel better, but it’s not obligatory.  I just want to break out of my own tangled web of emotions.  I’m still gonna feel them, I’m just gonna try not to hide it so much.  I might melt down on y’all.  I know I’m gonna say stupid stuff.  And like Patti, I’m gonna fumble the lyrics occasionally.  But I’m gonna own that, just like she did.  If Patti Smith can be that open and generous and honest, then I can try it too.

Crap.  I think I just made a New Year’s resolution.

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John Glenn

Posted by purplemary54 on December 8, 2016

Losing Greg Lake was a blow for the music world (now two-thirds of Emerson, Lake & Palmer live on another plane).  But losing John Glenn was a blow for the entire world.  I can’t speak of him any better than anyone else.  He was just great.  So I’ll let Elton John do the talking for me.  So long, Rocket Man.

Posted in Music, Obituaries, Rock | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Leon Russell

Posted by purplemary54 on November 13, 2016

I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Unfortunately, it seems to be raining Manolo Blahnik’s lately.  What may go down as the crappiest year in history just got a hell of a lot crappier for me.

Leon Russell has left this world.

That might not mean much to a lot of you, but it breaks my already beat up heart into a million tiny little pieces.  I love Leon Russell.  He’s one of the oddest of the odd ducks in music, a musician’s musician, an influence and a mentor to so many others.  He had a brief moment in the sun in the 70s, but he mostly toiled in semi-obscurity.  He toured with Joe Cocker on the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour.  He helped organize the concert for Bangladesh.  He wrote hits for so many others, and it’s a crying shame that not more people know who he is.

I’m crying, anyway.

 

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Leonard Cohen

Posted by purplemary54 on November 10, 2016

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they do.  In the middle of all the personal and political difficulty comes the news that Canadian poet, songwriter, and singer Leonard Cohen has left this plane at the age of 82.

He’s one of those cult figures, an acquired taste if you will.  Cohen made the kind of music that other musicians listened to.  He is best known in the United States for his very nearly perfect song “Hallelujah,” which was covered to perfection by the late great Jeff Buckley.  (It’s also been covered by a lot of other people, so many that there’s a book about all the iterations of this one song.  I’m also especially fond of k.d. lang’s version.)

He was a cynical romantic.  He wanted to believe in all the fairy tales but experience taught him to know better.  He was dark, but the way a smoke-filled bar is dark: there was always a neon light in the window selling beer and sputtering candles on the tables to light your way, after all.  It seems weirdly appropriate that his voice is suddenly gone at a time when it was suddenly the truest voice in the room.  We’ll just have to find our own way out of this crappy dive bar we’re suddenly living in.

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