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Archive for October, 2012

“I Found a Boy”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 21, 2012

After visiting a local flea market with my aunt, a nice lunch out, and a nap, I got online to find out that beautiful, funny, foul-mouthed, powerhouse singer Adele has given birth to a son.  You go, girl.

Adele sort of took over the world a couple of years ago when her second album just exploded onto the airwaves.  A break-up album extraordinaire, 21 chronicles the anger and sadness that the end of any relationship leaves behind.  “I Found a Boy” is the final track on the itunes version.

This acoustic song seems unassumingly gentle and sad at first.  Until you listen to the words.  She excoriates her ex for insinuating himself back into her life after she’s moved on, “look how you want me now that I don’t need you.”  It’s a searing indictment of the kinds of emotional head games people play all the time.  “I don’t want you , but I don’t want anybody else to have you.”  We all think it, but it sounds so slimy and wrong in this song.  The only instruments are a guitar and Adele’s voice, which lends an air of intimacy and immediacy to the tune.  This feels real.

Of course, Adele’s reality has just changed drastically.  She moved on from the broken relationship that inspired 21.  She found happiness with Simon Konecki, and they made a beautiful little human together.  (I don’t have to see pictures; all babies are beautiful.)  She found a boy, all right.  Congratulations to the happy family!


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“All Together Now”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 20, 2012

Thanks for all the good wishes and good vibes I received after yesterday’s post.  It really wasn’t anything serious, but my dad’s 71, so any trip to the ER with an overnight stay in the hospital comes with a great deal of stress.  To top it off, I don’t sleep well when he’s not home, so I’m just a bit tired.  But I did some laundry, and he’s coming home sometime this afternoon, which is good, because I think Sasha misses him.

Anyway, I was thinking about something Carrie posted yesterday over at Hello Sailor  about coincidences and signs, and my comment to that.  See, I really do believe in signs.  I believe that sometimes, the universe really is trying to tell you something.  I’ve gotten two signs since yesterday morning that things are okay. One I’m not sharing, because it’s too personal.  But the other is this song.

I was sitting down at the computer, skipping around on shuffle, when I got the notion to listen to “All Together Now.”  It’s always been one of my favorite Beatles songs.  I love the sing-along quality to it, and how it gets so manic near the end.  It was used to great effect twice in Yellow Submarine.  Watching that movie every year on TV is my first conscious memory of the Beatles.  (For you younger folks, back before they even had VCRs, annual showings of certain movies on TV was quite the event.  You looked forward to it.  The Wizard of Oz was around Easter, I think, and I’m pretty sure Yellow Submarine aired during the summer sometime.  Then there were the holiday specials.  Anything by Rankin & Bass, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas were required viewing.)

Anyway, listening to “All Together Now” made me happy, and it led to two more songs (which will not be discussed today), which reminded of some home truths I probably needed reminding of.  One simple, happy song led me to a nice catharsis.  Burden lifted, at least for now.  Just a little nudge from the universe.  Go this direction.  You won’t be sorry.

Go ahead and sing along.  And don’t forget to vote if you haven’t already (or vote again, if you’re like me and you think voting is fun).  I’ve decided that the top two vote getters will be new features.  How regular they are will probably be up for debate (mostly because I’ve met me).

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Jukebox Down Today

Posted by purplemary54 on October 19, 2012

Sorry.  Dad got to take a trip to the ER this morning (don’t panic, everything’s okay. . . it’s sort of just maintenance).  This means my brain is broken.

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Posted by purplemary54 on October 18, 2012

This upsets my theme of lesser-known women in music because The Indigo Girls are pretty well known.  In my defense, this was inspired partly by this post by Kina.  All that talk about forgiveness got me thinking.  Because while I am not a Christian, I strive toward the ideal of forgiveness the church preaches.  It’s not just Christians, of course.  Our Jewish brothers and sisters have devoted an entire holy day to atonement, which is similar to asking for forgiveness.  Buddhists preach forgiveness in the form of compassion for all living things–including yourself.  Because that’s the real trick of forgiveness.  Getting and receiving it isn’t about the sin or atoning for it.  It’s about forgiving yourself.  Even when you forgive the trespasses of others, you are essentially forgiving yourself (especially if you believe in the Buddhist principle that we are all one).  So here it is. . . .

I forgive myself.  If reincarnation is real, I forgive all the Me’s that have ever been and all the Me’s that ever will be.  I forgive everyone who has ever harmed me or someone I love.  (Well, almost everyone; I’m still working on forgiving a certain man who shot a certain rock star.)  I forgive my brother for being an ass.  I forgive all the kids who ever teased me.  I forgive myself for ever teasing another kid.  (I was really rotten a few times.  I’m sorry, and I ask your forgiveness, wherever you are.)  I forgive all the bigots and creeps and Wall Street criminals (but that doesn’t mean I’m letting a single one of you off the hook).  I’m not perfect.  Hell, I’m not even enlightened, yet.  But no one else is either.  So we’re cool.

Don’t forget to vote(See, I’m getting better already.)

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Poll Extended!

Posted by purplemary54 on October 17, 2012

I’ve decided to keep my poll open, largely because I still suck at reminding people to vote.  So I’ll keep it open until next week, let’s say October 24th.  Seven more shopping days.

Find the poll at this post.  Vote.  I’m starting to feel a little unloved.  (Okay, not really.  I know if nothing else, the cats, my mother, and my BFF’s amazing child still love me no matter what.  I figure that’s a win.)

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Posted by purplemary54 on October 17, 2012

Okay, so this is becoming a theme: Women musicians you might not have heard of before.  (I finally bothered to download the Soundcloud plug-in that lets me post their tracks.)

I only heard this song because a CD single came as a bonus with another disc I bought.  I knew the name.  Mary Gauthier was getting a lot of critical attention for her album, Mercy Now (this song is not from that album), so I’d been reading about her in various places.  She is a rootsy, Americana, alt-country singer, drawing on her painful past for musical inspiration (and we all know that nothing makes for better art than pain).

From the first notes, “Snakebit” drew me in to its swampy, sweaty, gothic tale.  This is “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” stripped of its glossy pop sheen and laid bare.  It is the tale of a woman pushed too far.  How or why is left a mystery.  Maybe she was abused–by her father, her husband, the church, society.  Maybe she lost her job.  Maybe the local family services is about to take her children away, and the IRS is breathing down her neck.  Who knows?  All we know is that “everything worth holding just slips through my fingers, and now my hands are wrapped around the handle of a gun.”  Someone is probably dead.  There’s a good chance she’s going to put that gun to her own head in a few minutes.  The tone Gauthier sings in is almost monotone–despair doesn’t even cover it here.  This is the sound of the abyss.  It is almost unimaginable.  Almost.

There’s too many stories about mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives who are beaten down by life for so long that killing and death seem like the only way out.  Women who’s untreated or under-treated mental illness leads them to commit horrific acts.  They are scared and sad and voiceless.  This song gives them a voice.  If nothing else, this makes Mary Gauthier one of the best songwriters ever.

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“No Telling”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 16, 2012

This is not the post I intended, largely because no one seems interested in allowing me to post a link to Linda Thompson performing her sublimely beautiful song (I can’t even find the lyrics).  There are lots of covers, but I refuse to listen to them because they cannot possibly do justice to what Thompson does with this song.  That might be closed-minded of me, but you don’t know because there’s a darn good chance you’ve never listened to the original.

Linda Thompson is best known as half of the husband-wife duo of Richard and Linda Thompson.  Their album Shoot Out the Lights is one of the best albums ever made, full of piss and vinegar, fearful and paranoid.  Most of that was Richard, who is one of the angriest dogs in the kennel. (He is also a brilliant guitarist and songwriter.)  The most gentle moments of that album came from Linda, whose voice is as clear as a ringing bell, a pure and perfect instrument.  Her solo career is a little less consistent, due in part to some health problems related to her voice.  In 2002, she returned to the music scene after a long absence with Fashionably Late.  The album was filled with folky, vaguely Celtic sounding songs, all good, but none as outstanding as “No Telling.”

“No Telling” is a wonderful little story.  A man, “just a crazy old man”, walks into a ballroom in a small town somewhere, and orders a drink, “they paid him no mind.”  He is depressed, ready to die, “he was weary of living the days of his life, and tonight was the last he could stand. He’d shut out the future, he’d shut out the past, and even the present was running out fast.”  While he sits at the bar, the glittering “Queen of the Ballroom” gets up to sing “for the very last time” for her hometown crowd.  It’s a love song, and there’s “No telling what a love song will do.”  Thing is, with all that foreshadowing, I kept waiting for something horrible to happen.  Depressed stranger, all the emphasis on this being the last song she sang. I was waiting for him to pull out a gun and start shooting.  Maybe I’ve been conditioned by one too many mass shootings, but she sets it up so beautifully.

Because nothing happens.  And everything happens.  “As she started to sing for the very last time, he trembled as he stood there alone.  And the pain he’d been holding inside for so long just fell from his heart and was gone.  It was only a love song, simple and clear, but he bowed as it shook him with every last tear.  And he cried from relief, and he cried half from fear.  No telling what a love song will do.”  He is set free from his despair by the sound of her voice.  Transformed, in fact.  Because then music changes, and you get the rest of the story.  “I think she got married, to a stranger they say.  Just a crazy old man who come passing one day.  And the whole town still dances, and the music still plays, no telling what a love song will do.”

The gentle, offhand manner Thompson delivers these lines in incomparable.  I cried the first time I heard it, almost every time I hear it, because I understood how that old man felt, how the music lifted him from the darkest place imaginable and shined a light on him.  The idea that you can be set free by music is the one thing I will always believe in.

Buy it here.  Hunt it down somewhere else.  Don’t let yourself be sold some inferior cover.  Listen to Linda Thompson weave this little bit of aural magic herself.

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“Light Enough to Travel”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 15, 2012

I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of people who’ve never heard of The Be Good Tanyas.  I’m going to try to fix that.  I would like all of my followers (and any casual readers) to tell someone they know about The Be Good Tanyas.  You don’t have to go into great detail.  You don’t have to say they’re from Vancouver, British Columbia, or that a couple of their songs were featured on Showtime’s The L Word.  You don’t have to be able to name the three women in the group (Frazey Ford, Trish Klein, and Sam Parton).  You don’t even have to direct them to the Tanyas official website (though I’m pretty sure they would like that).

Just tell them to listen to this.

If this song doesn’t sell The Be Good Tanyas to people, then I really don’t know what will.  The despair and resignation in Ford’s voice is a living thing, pulsing beneath the surface of the entire song.  (I believe she does the lead vocals; see, I’m a fan and even I don’t know that much about them.)  This character is a woman who’s been disappointed by life so often she doesn’t know any other way to exist.  “Keep it light enough to travel” is the only thing she still believes in.  Be able to throw everything you own into a couple of bags at a moment’s notice, because you never know when everything is going to go to hell in a handbasket.  In fact, it’s probably better to get before the gettin’s good, “don’t let it all unravel.”

This particular song came from their debut, Blue Horse, which is sadly the only album I have by them right now.  I’ll get the rest as soon as I can.  They are one of those minor miracles of music that come along every so often.  Give them a listen.

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“I Do”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 14, 2012

I took a nap this afternoon, which left me all off kilter.  I was tired because I stayed up late watching The Avengers, and then was awakened earlier than I wanted to the sound of my father yelling repeatedly at the big fat kitty, Sasha, because she was doing things he didn’t approve of (okay, scratching the furniture is never approved of, but she isn’t scratching the furniture every time she stretches out her paws).  He has some issues dealing with her because she tends to be a little cranky and lashes out (read: bites) when she feels threatened or scared or irritated.  She’s bitten him a few times, partly because he doesn’t really read her signals that well and partly because she’s kind of a bitch.  I have to deal with her when she gets her claws caught or is super cranky because he can’t (or won’t, which I don’t really blame him for).

San Francisco lost their football game today (on the upside, the Raiders lost, too, so at least there’s cosmic balance).  I knew we needed to go to the grocery store today, but I essentially put it off because I didn’t really feel like it; now dinner is going to be kind of slapdash (and I don’t really feel like cooking, anyway).  It was hot (in the 90s here), although the house didn’t get too warm.  I have a touch of allergies, which means my eyes are watering and I’m a bit congested.  And as I said at the beginning, my nap left me out of sorts.  To top it off, I lost at solitaire on the computer a few minutes ago. *sigh*  It’s just been one of those days.

For the record, this is the cutest angry song ever. She’s like a pissed off kitten, all tiny claws and hisses.  Until your hand gets a little too close and you start losing blood.  It might be cute, but it is true.  “Everybody feels this way sometimes.”  This is the sound of finding your own voice, of standing up and saying you’re tired of getting pushed around precisely because you’re cute.  Or young.  Or female.  Or any number of other things people use to diminish each other and deny the fact of someone else’s anger.  “I will be ignored, and I will be denied.  I could be erased, I could be brushed aside.  And I will get scared, and I will get shoved down.  But I feel like I do because you push me around.”

I feel like I’m a little angry today, but I have no reason to be.  I know I’m cranky because I’m tired, but it feels like there’s something else there, too.   That’s the problem with generalized or free-floating anxiety: it kind of hovers around until it finds something to latch onto, and then it’s like a baby howler monkey, refusing to let go until you pry it off with a crowbar.  I’m not quite to that level, yet.  I’ll try to go to bed at a reasonable time and meditate tonight to head it off.  And I’ll get to the grocery story eventually.  And maybe someday my father will learn how to deal with the cat.  San Francisco doesn’t really suck this year (even if they played like it today).

But this song is still cute.

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“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 13, 2012

Turns out October was a great month for Rock & Roll.  Just a few days ago was John Lennon’s birthday (not to mention Jackson Browne’s. . . Amy over at readncook sure shares her big day with some pretty awesome company).  Today, it’s Paul Simon’s birthday.  I don’t know what is about Libras that makes them such creative and passionate songwriters (and bloggers), but I’m not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.  (I remember reading a year or two ago that October 5th was actually the most common birthday.  It makes sense: a lot of babies getting born almost exactly nine months after the Christmas and New Year’s cheer.)

I decided to share one of my favorite Paul Simon tunes to honor this amazing and poetic artist.  He writes such beautifully moving, deeply personal portraits, songs with such charm and wit.  This is one of the more charming and witty songs of his career.  “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” is wonderful bit of nonsense that may or may not be based on something that really happened in Queens, New York.  It always made me think of teenage rebellion, the freedom of hanging out on the streets at all hours with your friends.  Smoking on the sly, boys and girls flirting in that wonderfully awkward way of teenagers everywhere–the weird and wonderful time when you’re not a child and not an adult.  The world is still full of fun, but danger is becoming a real possibility.

This video was made some sixteen years after the song’s initial release, and it just makes me smile.  The supposedly mean streets of NYC are just a playground here (check out those girls doing double-dutch).  Watch out for Yankee legend Mickey Mantle (Paul Simon is a well-known Yanks fan; he and Art Garfunkel still get spotted at games together occasionally).


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