Why Are the Same Songs Always Relevant?

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I’ve posted a few songs more than once, and not just because I reposted something.  Some songs are so wonderful, so resonant, that they bear repeated listening.  And some are just relevant to what’s going on in the world.  They fit my mood, whether it be angry or sad, hopeful or depressed.

I’m still angry and upset about what’s been going on in France the last few days.  I know I’m not the only one, and my rage at the carnage at Charlie Hebdo is nothing compared to what those who worked there and the victims’ families must be feeling right now.  But I saw on PBS Newshour the other night that 2014 was one of the most dangerous years in recent times for journalists.  Hundreds have been imprisoned or killed because they were simply trying to report the news.  Most of them were killed in conflict zones, where the wars and repression are happening.  But the attack on the satirical French weekly shows that anyone with a pen or a camera is at risk.

France has had a lot of issues lately with immigration and Islamophobia.  (And doesn’t it just suck that we had to coin a word to describe the fear of a particular religion?)  There’s been civil unrest in the country for some time now, and it finally boiled over into this barbarous act.  Now right wing nut jobs over there are going to use this as leverage to try and get xenophobia and discrimination legalized.  And that’s going to lead to more trouble and unrest.  And on and on in a vicious cycle.

I feel like it’s trite to say that the only way to end all this violence and hatred is with love–partly because that isn’t the whole truth.  It begins with love, as well as tolerance, understanding, knowledge.  We need to ignore any politician or religious zealot that tells us the problem is some other group or ideology, and that we can solve the problem by banning that group or ideology.  We need to stop being afraid.  We need to stop listening to anyone who preaches fear or hatred.    And then we need to help each other–food, clothing, money, education.  Stop dropping bombs on people and start dropping books.  Maybe if we really started listening to each other, we might learn that nobody is really that different.

I don’t know.  I’m getting a little ranty, so I should probably stop.  But I want this song to stop being relevant.  And the only way to do that is to play it again.

 

Words. No Song

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Imagine if a fundamentalist group of one religion or another decided to storm the offices of Mad magazine and shoot staffers because they didn’t like one of the cartoons.  That’s kind of what happened in Paris this morning.  Twelve people are dead because some religious fanatics were offended.  So today, we are all Charlie Hebdo.

“Love is a Battlefield”

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Why?  Because I was a teenager in the 80s.  That’s why.

And if you don’t love this pretty good song and its cheestastic video in all its cheesy glory, then clearly you didn’t grow up in the 80s.

Pat Benatar is more than just some goofy dance moves and a pretty face, of course.  She trained as an opera singer before turning her formidable voice to Rock and Pop.  Her string of hits throughout the 80s solidified her place in the Rock pantheon, and her tough chick persona made her appealing to both girls and guys.  Although I think it was the pretty face that most guys were into; I don’t know that many dudes who name Benatar as one of their favorite singers.

But she could sing the hell out of pretty much anything.  While there are any number of Benatar songs I don’t particularly care for, she always turned in a great performance.  I think her classical training helped her imbue even the most inane and clichéd lyrics with real emotion.  She was further aided by her rocking backing band, which included her husband Neil Giraldo (probably making the chemistry between singer and band that much easier).  All in all, Pat Benatar is one of the best Rock singers to make it out of the 80s.

“Crazy on You”

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Still in the mood to rock.  And women can rock just as hard as men.  Ask the Wilson sisters.

Because Rock music is such a male-dominated genre, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are a lot of rockin’ women out there.  Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson have sometimes been pushed into styles–both musical and fashion–that they weren’t comfortable with.  (Most of their mid to late 80s output was pretty much forced on them by the record company.  Which is kind of sad for me, because I like a lot of that stuff, and I feel weird about enjoying music they’ve pretty much disavowed.)  I think the same thing has happened to male artists, but it feels more insidious when it happens to women.

There’s an underlying tension of sexism/misogyny that colors the way female musicians get presented to  (mostly male) audiences.  The Wilsons got pressured into recording more radio-friendly, Pop-style music during the 80s: ballads and love songs and such.  Because videos had become so popular, there was even more pressure on them to look pretty and sexy to attract that oh so popular male 18-35 demographic.  Ann had put on some weight during that time, so the suits naturally focused on Nancy to be the sexpot of the band.  (Because goodness knows, big girls can’t be beautiful.  Except when they look and sing like Annie Wilson, of course.)  It was all pretty demeaning, especially since these women already had a string of successful albums and tours behind them.  Why mess with a formula that clearly worked?

The bottom line was always how much money the record company could squeeze from them.  Eventually, Ann and Nancy got sick of it and quit acquiescing to the demands being made on them.  I don’t know all the details of their exit from the mainstream industry (I’m sure the label will say they got dropped because they didn’t sell enough albums anymore).  But these days, Heart records the music they want when they want to, and they do it looking however they damn well please.  That’s what I like about them.