“Only a Lad”


This one came out of the blue for me today, inspired in part by this Dangerous Minds post about a different song from the same album.  They used the word “spiky” to describe it, and that’s the best word I can think of to describe pretty much all of Oingo Boingo’s music.  Spiky.

Prickly is another good word.  Sharp and razor-edged also work.  There is nothing soft or easy about this band, and that’s a good thing.  I’m not a huge fan of their work, but I’d probably hate all of it if it didn’t sound like they’d all just gotten out of mental hospitals and been allowed to play with scissors again.

Oingo Boingo’s frontman Danny Elfman is best known today for his film scores, but it’s interesting to hear how he cut his musical teeth.  “Only a Lad” is one of the few Boingo songs I own, and it’s so much fun to listen to.  Dark, kind of subversive fun.  The kind of fun I used to get from reading Uncle Shelby’s ABZ’s or watching The Twilight Zone after midnight.  Come to think of it, those two things can be combined to form yet another apt description for Oingo Boingo’s music.  There’s something so wonderfully weird about it.

Around the time they got really popular was also about the same time they went to heck in a hand basket.  I know plenty of people who think “Weird Science” and “Dead Man’s Party” are great tunes, but those to me are kind of the hallmarks of their decline.  The edges were dulled by then, the spikes worn down to dull nubs.  They still needled and poked a little, but nothing ever broke the skin.  That was the beauty of Oingo Boingo in the early years: you never knew when someone was going to lose an eye.  And you know what they say.  It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

And then it’s just fun.

Gone to the Movies: Milk


Danny Elfman went from being a slightly deranged pop-rock  musician singing about “Little Girls” to one of the finest and most respected film composers today. One of my personal favorites is his score for Milk, Gus Van Sant’s moving biopic about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay legislator of any sort elected in the United States (he was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors).  Sean Penn won an Oscar for his portrayal of Harvey (which was masterful by any standard), and Dustin Lance Black won for his screenplay.

But Elfman did not win for his gorgeous score.  Now I know part of the reason I like this music is because I associate it with a film I love, but it’s also really good music that fits the film very well.  By turns tender and funny and elegiac, the score is filled with lush orchestration built around a recurring theme, a refrain if you will (I freely admit that I don’t know much technical language about music, but I’m pretty sure that’s right).  It evokes many different emotions, but the most common one is the biggest theme of the film–and arguably of Harvey Milk’s life: Hope.

Which leads me to my real reason for choosing this beautiful, hopeful music for today’s post, and it has nothing to do with music.  I’ve mentioned visiting The Breast Cancer Site before.  It’s the easiest way to give to charity ever.  Each page donates to a different cause (you click, the sponsors give), and you can give more by purchasing items from their store.  Every year, The Greater Good Network posts the results of all that clicking.  In 2012, visitors to the site who clicked or bought products donated the following:

42.6 million cups of food for hungry people around the world.

8,633 acres of rainforest were protected.

4,546 mammograms for women.

366,740 books to kids.

Healthcare for 505,003 children

4,564 hours of research and therapy for Autism.

235,136 meals for veterans.

68.3 million bowls of food for animals in shelters.


Now that’s what I call hope.  If you don’t click already, start today.