“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

Standard

While my ability to enjoy Christmas music has its limits, this is one song I could enjoy pretty much all year round.

Even if this wasn’t already a favorite carol, I’d like this plucky, jazzed up version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (morphing into “We Three Kings” in the second half).  With Sarah McLachlan contributing her heavenly voice, the Barenaked Ladies turn this into a jolly romp while managing to retain the reverence of the original tunes.  While I’m a much more secular celebrant, I understand the deep religious meaning of the holiday for many.  And I think this song manages to cover all the bases, appealing to all varieties of Christmas listener.

But mostly I like it because I think it’s cool.

Repost: “If I Had a $1000000”

Standard

Brain dead tonight.  Too much tutoring.  So hopefully this song will make you giggle the way it always does for me.

The Barenaked Ladies are well-known for their somewhat silly songs.  What makes them interesting is that these are silly songs with some depth, a purpose other than just pure silliness (which is a legitimate purpose).  With BNL, there is usually an underlying sadness.  The characters they sing about use humor to defuse the loneliness of their lives.  “If I Had $1000000” is one of the silliest and one of the saddest.

The guy in the song muses about all the things he would buy for a girl if he had a million dollars.  (I’ve always found it interesting that they wrote it the way they did in the title, but I have no idea why they did it that way.)  It starts normally enough, with him buying her things like a house and furniture, “a nice Chesterfield or an ottoman.”  But this doesn’t seem to be his girlfriend he’s daydreaming about, because he states in the chorus he’d “buy your love” (cue the sadness and loneliness).  He begins thinking of really outrageous things to buy, like John Merrick’s remains, “ooh, all them crazy elephant bones”  (the debacle of Michael Jackson and The Elephant Man’s remains was still pretty fresh in the public consciousness at that point).  He’d buy her some art, “a Picasso or a Garfunkel.”  A fur coat, “but not a real fur coat, that’s cruel.”  A green dress, “but not a real green dress, that’s cruel.”

There’s a childlike quality to the ever more expensive list of things he’d buy for this girl, which contributes to the poignancy of it.  There’s the wish “to build a tree fort in our yard.  You could help, it wouldn’t be that hard.”  As if that’s the one thing that would win her over.  I keep imagining a twelve-year old with a crush on the girl who sits in front of him in math class, thinking up new ways to impress her with his fortune.  But there’s a sophistication here that a twelve-year old wouldn’t possess, even today.  He’s just a lonely guy who want to win over some girl he knows, but is just awkward enough not to know how.  He knows logically a million dollars wouldn’t buy all these things, but he knows it would change his life somehow.  Just like having her love him would change his life.

We are all always daydreaming about how our lives could be different, sometimes realistically, sometimes not.  But that’s what daydreaming is for.  These days, a million dollars wouldn’t go too far.  It would probably get you a house and some furniture, a new car and clothes.  It wouldn’t buy love.  And the guy in the song knows that.  He knows that the only thing that would happen if he had a million dollars would be “I’d be rich.”

Buy a Mega Millions (or Powerball) ticket, if you live where they’re sold, and you can daydream about all the things you’d buy if you were rich.

“Falling for the First Time”

Standard

This post feels a little lazy to me, because I’m going to let the song do all the work.

I’ve always associated this song with BNL keyboardist Kevin Hearn’s recovery from leukemia.  I heard about his recovery shortly before the album Maroon was released, and this particular song always felt like a renewal to me.  It’s contradictory, about both a relationship on the brink of self-destruction and the moment of emotional freefall that “feels just like I’m falling for the first time.”  It is also a much edgier song than first appears, but that kind of camouflage is something BNL excels at.  They hide strong emotions–anger, depression, sadness, love–beneath bouncy tunes and witty lyrics.  It’s a formula that doesn’t always work, but when it does it packs a wallop.

The witty lyrics of this song are also some of the finest words of wisdom I’ve ever heard in a pop-rock song.  They’re words to live by, so listen to the chorus carefully.

Maybe the worst is behind.

“If I Had $1000000”

Standard

The Barenaked Ladies are well-known for their somewhat silly songs.  What makes them interesting is that these are silly songs with some depth, a purpose other than just pure silliness (which is a legitimate purpose).  With BNL, there is usually an underlying sadness.  The characters they sing about use humor to defuse the loneliness of their lives.  “If I Had $1000000” is one of the silliest and one of the saddest.

The guy in the song muses about all the things he would buy for a girl if he had a million dollars.  (I’ve always found it interesting that they wrote it the way they did in the title, but I have no idea why they did it that way.)  It starts normally enough, with him buying her things like a house and furniture, “a nice Chesterfield or an ottoman.”  But this doesn’t seem to be his girlfriend he’s daydreaming about, because he states in the chorus he’d “buy your love” (cue the sadness and loneliness).  He begins thinking of really outrageous things to buy, like John Merrick’s remains, “ooh, all them crazy elephant bones”  (the debacle of Michael Jackson and The Elephant Man’s remains was still pretty fresh in the public consciousness at that point).  He’d buy her some art, “a Picasso or a Garfunkel.”  A fur coat, “but not a real fur coat, that’s cruel.”  A green dress, “but not a real green dress, that’s cruel.”

There’s a childlike quality to the ever more expensive list of things he’d buy for this girl, which contributes to the poignancy of it.  There’s the wish “to build a tree fort in our yard.  You could help, it wouldn’t be that hard.”  As if that’s the one thing that would win her over.  I keep imagining a twelve-year old with a crush on the girl who sits in front of him in math class, thinking up new ways to impress her with his fortune.  But there’s a sophistication here that a twelve-year old wouldn’t possess, even today.  He’s just a lonely guy who want to win over some girl he knows, but is just awkward enough not to know how.  He knows logically a million dollars wouldn’t buy all these things, but he knows it would change his life somehow.  Just like having her love him would change his life.

We are all always daydreaming about how our lives could be different, sometimes realistically, sometimes not.  But that’s what daydreaming is for.  These days, a million dollars wouldn’t go too far.  It would probably get you a house and some furniture, a new car and clothes.  It wouldn’t buy love.  And the guy in the song knows that.  He knows that the only thing that would happen if he had a million dollars would be “I’d be rich.”

Buy a Mega Millions ticket, if you live where they’re sold, and you can daydream about all the things you’d buy if you were rich.