Archive

Archive for February, 2009

Will I win a Grammy?

February 26th, 2009 6 comments

Borrowing Rol’s concept from his Sunset Over Slawit blog (via the Facebook tagging craze): Make up your own debut CD using the following steps:

1 : Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random” or click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 : Go to Quotations Page and select “random quotations”
or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your first album.

3: Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 : Use Photoshop or similar to put it all together.

I cheated a little, because I was not going to call my band Meanings Of Minor Planet Names: 188001–189000. Instead I got a Sudanese town, a Woody Allen quote and lucked out on Flickr with a really nice photo (there were quite a few nice photos) by kumo36, and I was good to go.

The result:

abidiya

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Cover art: The Smiths – Hatful Of Hollow (1984)

February 24th, 2009 1 comment

The Smiths released their debut LP, and seven months later a compilation. How’s that for audacity?  Hatful Of Hollow included singles, their b-sides and BBC session versions of songs from the eponymous debut album (and, it must be said, the BBC session tracks are not all superior). It was just the first of several albums featuring repackaged Smiths material (The World Won’t Listen, Louder Than Bombs etc) Read more…

Great covers: Dexys – Searching For The Young Soul Rebels

February 18th, 2009 18 comments

Although Dexys Midnight Runners drew their influences widely, the debut album Searching For The Young Soul Rebels sounded like nothing before it. Certainly Kevin Rowland’s voice was unique, and his lyrics never far from idiosyncratic. Although Rowland took time with his songs, eschewing radio-friendly abbreviations in favour of giving songs the treatment he thought they deserved, the sound was nervous and insistently impatient. The cover articulated the record’s atmosphere of agitation. The green-tinted cover photo communicated a sense of chaos, confusion and commotion. Read more…

Sea of heartbreak

February 17th, 2009 1 comment

Finding songs about broken hearts is like shooting whales in a barrel of treacle. So, naturally, those represented here are not necessarily the best or brightest in the genre (though the two Motown songs probably are). But I hope they provide a decent round-up. The series of songs about love will run for a while yet, but I will space the remaining posts put a bit. It’s time to run other stuff again…

.


The Temptation – I Wish It Would Rain.mp3

temptations“Sunshine, blue skies, please go away. My girl has found another and gone away. With her went my future, my life is filled with gloom, so day after day I stayed locked up in my room. I know to you it might sound strange, but I wish it would rain.” Motown lyrics are pure poetry. “Day in, day out, my tear-stained face pressed against the window pane. My eyes search the skies desperately for rain, ’cause raindrops will hide my teardrops, and no one will ever know that I’m cryin’. When I go outside to the world outside, my tears I refuse to explain. Oh, I wish it would rain.” Promise me you will punch them.

—————————

Ben Folds – Gone.mp3
A year after she left, Ben says he’s ready to let her go. Unless she gets in touch with him. But if not, he’s ready to end it. I think we can spot the snag in his strategy. “And I hope you find some time to drop a note, but if you won’t, then you won’t – and I will consider you gone.” As he notes, she went straight to somebody else (he thinks “that you should spend some time alone”), but hope springs eternal, even at the cost of dignity. “I wake up in the night all alone and it’s alright. The chemicals are wearing off. Since you’ve gone, the days go on, the lights go off and on, and nothing really matters when you’re gone.” But, girl, here’s Ben given you another chance – and he hasn’t even set you a deadline.

—————————

Kris Kristofferson – From the Bottle To The Bottom.mp3
Kris was happy once with a woman. She left him and now he’s shacking up with a bottle of booze. “You ask me if I’m happy now; that’s good as any joke I’ve heard. It seems that since I’ve seen you last I done forgot the meaning of the words. If happiness is empty rooms, and drinkin’ in the afternoon, well, I suppose I’m happy as a clam. But if it’s got a thing to do with smilin’ of forgettin’ you, well, I don’t guess that I could say I am.” He proceeds to make his point by way of analogies and metaphors involving moisture, empty pockets and shoes to conclude that he is “from the bottle to the bottom stool by stool, learnin’ hard to live with losin’ you.”

—————————

Todd Tibaud – Unbroken.mp3
todd-thibaudThe unaccountably obscure Tibault in his song from 2000 acknowledges that he was dumped for being a bit of an ass (“And everything about me drags her down”), and he now pretends, Smokey-like, not to be affected by the break-up. But he really still loves her (“She moves around me like the air I breathe, gets inside of me and she never leaves”) and wants her back: “Someday I’ll find my way back in; somehow I’ll cross that bridge again. And then I won’t have to pretend to be unbroken.”

—————————

Don Gibson – Sea Of Heartbreak.mp3
don-gibsonA very jaunty number for so sad a lament wrapped up in nautical metaphors. Since she “sailed away” there are no lights in the harbour and ships lost at sea all because Don is crying so much, he is “on this sea of tears – sea of heartbreak”. He tried to woo her back with another maritime call: “Oh, what I’d give to sail back to shore, back to your arms once more.” Poor Don, chances are that another man has put down his anchor in the good ship ex-girlfriend.

—————————

Sugar Ray – When It’s Over.mp3
Naked Eyes – Always Something There To Remind Me.mp3

naked-eyesYou know what it’s like when a song comes on that reminds you of an ex-partner (or, worse, of the break-up itself)? In this rather quirky tune, Sugar Ray bemoan not only the loss of a girlfriend, but also the diminishing delight in the things they used to enjoy together: “All the songs she used to sing, all the favourite TV shows have gone out the window.” It’s worse than that. Not only does he no longer enjoy re-runs of Friends or whatever, but when he does catch one, the old feelings for her return. Which calls to mind Hal David’s lyrics for Always Something There To Remind Me: “I passed a small café where we would dance at night, and I can’t help recalling how it felt to kiss and hold you tight. Oh, how can I forget you, when there is always something there to remind me…” The version posted here is a 1982 cover by the English synth-pop duo Naked Eyes, featuring the late Rob Fisher, later of Climie Fisher. Burt Bacharach once said their version was his favourite…

—————————

Loudon Wainwright III – Lost Love.mp3
This song comes courtesy of my Facebook friend Garth (to become my FB friend click here). In this ’20s-pop-cum-country song, Loudon is sending mixed messages, and it might even not be all defiant bravado. He seems to be OK with the break-up, but occasionally it catches up with him. “I’m happy that it’s finally over, but when I’m not bad, then I’m sad.” He notes that she doesn’t call him and “I understand the reason why” (but the way he delivers the line suggests contempt for the reasons). Indeed, “there should be no reason why you shouldn’t call me, darlin’”. So he is getting on the telephone, “I’m not calling you for a reason, dear, and the reason is because there is no reason why I should call you because your love, darling, I have lost.” What price logic when you’re missing you ex so much, you call her (or him) for no good reason?

—————————

Amy Rigby – Keep It To Yourself.mp3
amy-rigbyThe Bee Gees asked for pointers in mending broken hearts. One way of doing so is to enter into a loving relationship with somebody new who will take care of you. In this song, Amy Rigby found such a man, one who’d do anything for her. But sometimes even that doesn’t work, when there remains so much residual anger that the contemptible ex still dominates emotions. In this instance, the new man in Amy’s life wrecklessly* offers to “shoot the dude who screwed me up”. Amy responds that she is “trying so hard to forgive”. With that in mind, “Here’s his address, here’s his picture, here’s the make and model of his car. He works until 4:30, then he hangs out at the topless bar with a girl on each arm.” Amy reminds the new paramour: “Remember how he cheated and he lied to me. You told me that it makes you lose your head… I don’t believe you’d do those things you said.” And did she mention they’re pouring concrete on Route 33? But if he does the things he said he’d do (and here’s the address and a photo), he must not tell her, but keep it to himself. Then Amy sighs: “I like the way that you take care of me. I like the way you that you’ll take care of things.” Hell hath no fury etc. (* google it)

—————————

Jimmy Ruffin – What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted.mp3
Echoing the anthem of brokenheartedness, Love Hurts, poor Jimmy has turned cynical: “Love’s happiness is just an illusion filled with sadness and confusion.” He sees other people in love: “The fruits of love grow all around, but for me they come a-tumblin’ down.” Then depression sets in: Every day heartaches grow a little stronger, I can’t stand this pain much longer. I walk in shadows searching for light, cold and alone, no comfort in sight. Hoping and praying for someone to care, always moving and going nowhere.” Morrissey would have killed for lyrics like that. Then comes the threat of suicide – “All that’s left is an unhappy ending” – before he catches himself and insistently resolves that he can find happiness again: “I know I’ve got to find some kind of peace of mind. I’ll be searching everywhere just to find someone to care. I’ll be looking every day. I know I’m gonna find a way. Nothing’s gonna stop me now, I’ll find a way somehow; I’ll be searching everywhere.” Next time somebody claims that Motown lyrics lack depth, please contact Amy Rigby’s new boyfriend.
Previously in this series:
Longing For Love
Love Hurts
Unrequited Love
Being in love (Any Major Love Mix)

More songs about love

Longing for love

February 13th, 2009 5 comments

Is it better to have love and lost than never to have loved? There aren’t many songs about yearning for love. So, as decided by a staw-poll on my Facebook page (become my friend here), for Valentine’s Day here is a collection of songs for those who have nobody to share the commercial feast with, or don’t have the bitterness of love lost, rejected or betrayed to commemorate on the day.

.

The Smiths – How Soon Is Now.mp3
how-soon-is-nowThe Smiths canon is brimming with songs about Morrissey’s unlovability. He doesn’t even get rejected; he just can’t find the right person to reject him (and when a girl comes on to him, as one does in Never Had No One Ever, he can’t even get “sorrow’s native son” to rise to the occasion). How Soon Is Now is the anthem of these songs. Every person afflicted with shyness will probably identify with Morrissey’s sad disco tales: “There’s a club, if you’d like to go. You could meet somebody who really loves you. So you go, and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home and you cry and you want to die.” Which more or less mirrors my juvenile experience, minus the crying and suicidal tendencies.

One day, when I was 19, some friends took me to Heaven, the great gay club in London. It wasn’t long before a very nice man timidly offered to buy me drink. I was flattered to be considered attractive enough to be targetted for a pull (and here is a collorary to the shyness: a lack of self-esteem) but declined politely. I thought what a displeasure it was to be a straight man in a city where the women in the clubs I went to were so stuck up when I wouldn’t even have to try to get laid if I was gay. What did not seem to occur to me was that the girls were probably not so much stuck-up as I was a victim of a shyness that was criminally vulgar which prevented me from actually approaching them. No wonder I couldn’t get laid.

——————————

Richard Hawley – Coles Corner.mp3
coles-cornerLike Morrissey, Hawley is looking for company in bright, busy places, only to find nothing. “I’m going downtown where there’s music. I’m going where voices fill the air. Maybe there’s someone waitin’ for me with a smile and a flower in her hair.” And with such hopes our hero puts on his best shoes and (as Kris Kristofferson would have it) his cleanest dirty shirt and heads to Coles Corner, apparently a popular hang-out in Sheffield. “I’m going downtown where there’s people. My loneliness hangs in the air, with no one there real waitin’ for me, no smile, no flower, nowhere.” And so he’ll make his sad way home.

——————————

Kevin Devine – Probably.mp3
Set in a train carriage, Kevin is admiring a fellow passenger, imagining her life (covering all the bases of contradiction): “You probably don’t wear your glasses but you probably need them to read, and you probably value your downtime and you probably don’t get much sleep, and you probably don’t like the movies but you probably go anyway, and you probably fight with your parents a lot when you feel like there’s nothing to say, and you probably don’t care for punk rock but you probably own Nevermind.” He thinks of chatting her up – “you probably don’t talk to strangers but you wish they’d talk to you all the time” – but either shyness or self-loathing preclude him from approaching her: “So I should probably say something to you, but I’d probably ruin it then. It’s best for us both if I keep my mouth shut and just stay on my side of the train.” It may well be his loss and hers. This is the far superior version from 2003’s …Travelling The EU EP.

——————————

Hello Saferide – Loneliness Is Better When You’re Not Alone.mp3
hello-saferide_2Annika Norlin (for she is Hello Saferide) has nobody in her life, so she is looking to compensate for that with meaningless one-night stands, rationalising it with the statement of the song’s title. No strings attached. “I will be gone when you wake up. No awkward breakfasts, I swear. And don’t you look for me, because I could be anywhere – in someone else’s house, in someone else’s arms, with someone else to warm the pain away.” Her promiscuity is a band-aid for the sores of loneliness. She really would like closeness, to open up herself, not just her legs. “If I told you my stories and sang you my songs, would you laugh at me? Would you pity me? What would you say if I asked of you not out of accident, out of loneliness: would you shelter me? Will you shelter me?” And why does she not ask? Low self-esteem seems to be at play: “What can I ask of you? What would you want from me? What would you say if I just fell asleep?” Annika, there’s a club, if you’d like to go…

——————————

Liz Phair – Fuck And Run.mp3
phairAnother song about promiscuity compensating for loneliness. She wakes up with a one-night stand guy and instantly has regrets, thinking: “Whatever happened to a boyfriend, the kind of guy who makes love cause he’s in it… I want a boyfriend. I want all that stupid old shit like letters and sodas.” But it doesn’t seem that a boyfriend is on the cards (maybe Liz should look in the unrequited love section; loads of nice guys there), even when a one-night lover reaches out to her. She doesn’t want his pity. So, she concludes, “I’m gonna spend another year alone. It’s fuck and run, fuck and run.” But there is an alarming clue in the lyrics which might explain her disposition. “It’s fuck and run, fuck and run, even when I was 17. Fuck and run, fuck and run even when I was 12.” Does that suggest that she was abused, leading to these trust issues?

——————————

John Prine – Aimless Love.mp3
in this 1984 song, Prine is singing about a sensitive soul, a guy who is suspicious of strangers and “a bit too gun shy to have his heart touched without a glove”. He really wants love to find him. Prine reminds him, and us: “Love has no mind. It can’t spell unkind. It’s never seen a heart shaped like a Valentine. For if love knew him. It’d walk up to him and introduce him to an aimless love.” In other words, open yourself up to let love in when you find it.

——————————

Jay Brannan – Housewife.mp3
brannanIn an alternative riff on Audrey’s Somewhere That’s Green in Little Shop Of Horrors, Jay is describing a scene of domestic bliss (and great sex): “I’m making guacamole, he’s working on the car. When he grills turkey burgers he knows I like them charred. I like to wash the dishes, I like to scrub the floors, don’t mind doing his laundry, what are boyfriends for?” Yes, he wants to be a housewife. “What’s so wrong with that?” But, as it turns out, he’s not one yet. “Can’t wait to till he’s in my life, ’cause we haven’t met.” (Read my interview with Jay)

——————————

Colin Hay – Waiting For My Real Life To Begin.mp3
colin-hayAt first glance, this song (from Hay’s 2001 album Going Somewhere; one of three versions) might not belong in this series, but I think it has a place, and right here. The singer has a girl, but she’s obviously not what he really wants. He’s holding out for a better life which does not seem to include her. Indeed, even now, she is peripheral. “And you say: ‘Be still my love, open up your heart, let the light shine in.’ Don’t you understand I already have a plan, I’m waiting for my real life to begin.” It seems to me that our friend could be in depression, vainly holding out for a better future — “Let me throw one more dice, I know that I can win” — and in the process is unable to return the love offered by his current partner. Which is really just as tragic as Morrissey’s shyness, Annika’s and Liz’s promiscuity, and Kevin’s lack of self-confidence.

Previously in this series:
Love Hurts
Unrequited Love
Being in love (Any Major Love Mix)

More songs about love

Any Major Love Mix 2009

February 10th, 2009 11 comments

Amid all the heartbreak and unrequited love (with lovelessness and death still to come) we are looking at this month, we need a respite from the gloomy tears and instead frolic in the calm waters of true love reciprocated — which in itself, as some of the lyrics here suggest, is a source of anxiety and uncertainty. And, well, perhaps some lucky person might need a decent mix for Valentine’s Day which does not include the unlovely horrors perpetrated by Chris DeBurgh, Jennifer Rush, Peabo Bryson, Céline Dion, Engelbert Humperdinck, Stevie Wonder and, of course, Michael Bublé – and who prefer to do without “edgy” comps featuring the love musings of Coldplay, U2, Avril Lavigne and James Blunt. As always, the mix is timed to fit on a CD-R. It might be a good alternative to an overpriced VD card (and if anybody tries that, please let me know if it was a good idea).

.

1. Donny Hathaway – A Song For You (1971)
You taught me precious secrets of the truth withholding nothing, you came out in front and I was hiding. But now I’m so much better and if my words don’t come together, listen to the melody, ’cause my love is in there hiding.

2. Carpenters – I Won’t Last A Day Without You (1972)
When there’s no gettin’ over that rainbow, when my smallest of dreams won’t come true, I can take all the madness the world has to give, but I won’t last a day without you.

3. Ben Kweller – Sundress (2006)
I don’t need a smile from a mannequin, I just want to hold you in my hands. I do everything you want me to…for you.

4. The Weepies – Happiness (2004)
Friday 13, lights go red, green, in a coffee shop. I’m giving you the look while someone else is fingering your wallet in my pocketbook. It’s a mean town, but I don’t care. Try and steal this! Can’t steal happiness.

5. Mindy Smith – Falling (2004)
When I’ve almost had enough, something about you draws me back again. When I’ve almost given up, something about you pulls me in. And we’re falling…

6. John Prine with Iris Dement – In Spite Of Ourselves (1999)
She thinks all my jokes are corny, convict movies make her horny. She likes ketchup on her scrambled eggs, swears like a sailor when shaves her legs. She takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. I’m never gonna let her go.

7. Moldy Peaches – Anyone Else But You (2001)
Here is the church and here is the steeple, we sure are cute for two ugly people, I don’t see what anyone can see in anyone else but you.

8. Simone White – The Beep Beep Song (2007)
(Yeah, the one from the Audi commercial) Despite all the warnings I landed like a fallen star in your arms.

9. Curtis Mayfield – So In Love (1975)
This love affair is bigger than we two. Lose our faith and it will swallow you. Loving you is what I’ll always feel, never ever doing things against our will. Loving means, never require any kind of test … Ya got me so in love.

10. Aretha Franklin – Baby I Love You (1967)
If you want my lovin’, if you really do, don’t be afraid, baby. Just ask me, you know I’m gonna give it to you. Oh, and I do declare: I want to see you with it. Stretch out your arms, little boy, you’re gonna get it – ’cause I love you.

11. Ron Sexsmith – Never Give Up On You (2006)
I’d never give up on you because I know you’d do the same for me. Never give up on you because you take me as I am, how I’ll always be.

12. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Grow Old With Me (1999)
Grow old along with me. Two branches of one tree face the setting sun when the day is done. God bless our love. (Beautifully sung by Carpenter, the real poignancy of this song derives from its authorship: written and demoed by John Lennon shortly before his murder in December 1980, it first appeared on his posthumous Milk And Honey album)

13. Tom Waits – Falling Down (1988)
For she loves you for all that you are not …You forget all the roses, don’t come around on Sunday. She’s not gonna choose you for standing so tall; go on and take a swig of that poison and like it.

14. Alexi Murdoch – Love You More (2006)
Love you more than anyone. Love you more than anyone. Love you more in time to come. Love you more. (That’s the complete lyric…)

15. Finley Quaye – Dice (2003)
I was crying over you. I am smiling, I think of you. Misty morning and water falls, breathe in the air if you care, you compare, don’t say farewell. Nothing can compare to when you roll the dice and swear your love’s for me.

16. Dexys Midnight Runners – This Is What She’s Like (1985)
“Well how did all this happen?” “Just all at once really. The Italians have a word for it.” “What word what is it?” “A thunderbolt or something.” “What, you mean the Italian word for thunderbolt?” “Yeah, something like that. I don’t speak Italian myself you understand?” “No.” “But I knew a man who did. Well, that’s my story. The strongest thing I’ve ever seen.” (Single version)

17. The Cure – Lovesong (1989)
Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am home again. Whenever I’m alone with you , you make me feel like I am whole again. Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am young again. Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am fun again.

18. Jens Lekman – I Saw Her In The Anti-War Demonstration (2004)
And the skies were clear blue skies, and her eyes were clear blue eyes, and her thighs were about the same size as mine, and we were walking in the anti-war demonstration; it was a sweet sensation of love.

19. Kacy Crowley – Kind Of Perfect (2004)
The last few years have been much harder than we ever thought they’d be. I know you hate it when I say I’m sorry, but I’m sorry. There was never a point in our love that I didn’t love you; not a point in our love. I always did, I always will, I always do, love you still, I always would, how could I not? Just look at us baby, we’re kind of perfect.

20. Joshua Radin – The Fear You Won’t Fall (2007)
I know you’re scared that I’ll soon be over it. That’s part of it all, part of the beauty of falling in love with you is the fear you won’t fall.

21. Nina Kinert – Through Your Eyes (2004)
All the time I stood here holding dandylions and chocolate for you. Tumbleweeds and fireworks go by. It’s hard to keep them still for you to see, nut you know that I try. I want to see you watching what I see, now that you’re mine, through your eyes.

22. Sarah Bettens – Grey (2005)
Will you be my everything? Maybe just this time we can really think that I am yours and you are mine; I am yours and you are mine…

DOWNLOAD


More songs about love

Unrequited love – Glad To Be Unhappy

February 6th, 2009 11 comments

What is worse: losing a love you once had, or never been loved, or not being able consummate reciprocated love, or never having been loved back? They all suck, of course, and we’ll visit all of these in this series. Here we deal with unrequited love, a subject we’ll return to again later in the series.

.

The Mamas and the Papas – Glad To Be Unhappy.mp3
glad-to-be-unhappyThe group’s main songwriter John Phillips was a bit of a bastard. He had Cass Elliott singing about being fat, and he had his not always scrupulously faithful wife Michelle sing about her inability to remain monogamous. On 1967’s Glad To Be Unhappy he had Denny Doherty and Cass Elliott sing about unrequited love — knowing well that Cass was in unreciprocated love with Denny and that Denny was in love with John’s wife (need I post a Venn diagram?). There was, clearly, a lot of pain. So John has them croon the sadistic taunt “Like a straying baby lamb, with no Mama and no Papa, I’m so unhappy”! And then the mocking: “I can’t win, but here I am, more than glad to be unhappy.” The sentiment is not foreign to the experience of unrequited love, of course. “But for someone you adore, it’s a pleasure to be sad.” That ties in with the lyric of a song used in last year’s series (and which will be recycled this year): “There is pleasure to be had in this kind of pain” — the emotional masochism is a lifeline to hope, the delusion that the true love will come eventually.

——————————

The Holmes Brothers – I Want You To Want Me.mp3
holmes-brothersThis is a slowed down, quite superb cover of the Cheap Trick hit by the blues/soul/gospel Holmes Brothers. The lyrics make more sense when sung by a goofy pop-rocker, but this version is just too lovely to be ignored. Unsurprisingly, the singer is promising sacrifices to get the girl, right down to shining “up the old brown shoes” and making himself even more presentable by wearing a new shirt (throw in the use of deodorant and shampoo, and you might clinch the deal). It is not clear, of course, whether our hero’s sartorial countenance is the problem. Indeed, he seems quite clueless if he thinks that shiny shoes will provide comfort to the girl who seems to be experiencing a case of dejection herself, as our singer observes: “Feelin’ all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin’. Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you cryin’?” Or is he just projecting?

——————————

Damien Jurado – Simple Hello.mp3
Frienditis is the condition when the person you’re in love with just wants to be friends. It usually happens to nice guys. Women love these men, but “just not in that way” (the dreaded phrase). And if she gets a boyfriend, the former confidante might well be dispatched (and he’d be an idiot to stick around anyway, having her relationship mock him into perpetuity). This is what seems to have happened here. Damien in his 2005 song recalls that “we used to be friends” who’d talk on the phone every night. He later reveals that she has her own group of pals now, having previously established that she now completely ignores him (“Simple hello would’ve been nice. Instead you walked right by”). But this isn’t a song about just friendship; his feelings obviously ran deeper. Now she has a man: “Every time I see you with him I think: ‘Why even try?’” It’s not that Damien is bitter; he is despairing: “Think I’ve had enough, and I think I’ve lost control …Think I’ve lost my mind.” Sorry, mate, but you‘re on your own here. Burn the pictures. Let her go.

——————————

Ani DiFranco – Untouchable Face (live).mp3
ani_difranco2There is an even more acute sense of hopelessness when the object of unrequited affection is in a solid, happy relationship. So it is in this superb song. “I think you two are forever, and I hate to say it, but you’re perfect together.” Which sounds pretty magnanimous. Except it isn’t, as we learn in the next verse: “So fuck you and your untouchable face, and fuck you for existing in the first place.” Quite right. This isn’t in angry outburst, though. There is some self-loathing and immense sadness in this song. Witness the final verse: “In the back room there’s a lamp that hangs over the pool table, and when the fan is on it swings gently side to side. There’s a changing constellation of balls as we are playing. I see Orion and say nothing. The only thing I can think of saying…is fuck you.”

——————————

Weezer – Only In Dreams.mp3
weezer-blueAfter all this profundity, we can find refuge in Weezer and in dreamland. Mr Cuomo is in love: “She’s in the air, in between molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide”, but evidently he is too shy or otherwise reluctant to approach her, except in his dreams where he has the courage to ask her to dance, and she accepts (rhyming ‘dance’ with ‘chance’ – charity impels me to interpret this as a shrewd homage to the lyrical genius of Abba). In his fantasy he is charming and considerate, literally sweeping the girl off her feet on the dancefloor: “It’s a good thing that you float in the air – that way there’s no way I will crush your pretty toenails into a thousand pieces.” We imagine she laughs with her head tilting back, revealing her throat (Body Language 101: it means she wants you). We don’t go to Weezer for lyrical sophistication, so we see the conclusion coming: “But when we wake, it’s all been erased.”

—————————

The Association – Cherish.mp3
This 1966 hit was recommended last year by the great whiteray of Echoes In The Wind. The opening verse is perfectly eloquent in expressing the yearning of the fool in unrequited love: “Cherish is the word I use to describe all the feeling that I have hiding here for you inside. You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I had told you; you don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could hold you; you don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could mould you into someone who could cherish me as much as I cherish you.”  Then comes the despondent resignation: “Perish is the word that more than applies to the hope in my heart, each time I realise that I am not gonna be the one to share your dreams.” So wonderfully poetic, you’d think she’d fall for him. And yet: “I’m beginning to think that man has never found the words that could make you want me, that have the right amount of letters, just the right sound that could make you hear, make you see, that you are driving me out of my mind.” The trouble is, our bard here thinks that she’ll call bullshit on his attempts of persuasion: “Oh, I could say I need you, but then you’d realise that I want you, just like a thousand other guys who’d say they loved you with all the rest of their lies, when all they wanted was to touch your face, your hands and gaze into your eyes.” And here’s the obstacle many people in unrequited love face: they are so fearful of rejection, the end of the dream, that they will scratch for excuses not to make a move. Some other schmuck will, she will fall for it, and The Association will sing their beautiful and sad song forever.

——————————

Barenaked Ladies – Jane.mp3
The songs so far have described pretty straightforward situations of unrequited love. This one is more complex. He is what seems to have happened. Our hero met the apparently very lovely Jane (named after a Toronto street corner) in a shop where she worked. They moved in together and, at Jane’s insistence the relationship remained platonic (he’d sing and she’d dye his hair; sounds like frienditis to me). Jane is being admired by many men, but doesn’t want relationships. “Jane doesn’t think a man could ever be faithful.” Experience might have given her good reason to think that. And our hero seems to agree. “Jane isn’t giving me a chance to be shameful.” And he seems to think that the relationship wouldn’t work anyway (“I wrote a letter, she should have got it yesterday. That life could be better by being together is what I cannot explain to Jane”). The housesharing arrangement ends – nicely put by reference to Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando. Jane still works at the shop, and our hero is “still dazzled by her smile while I shoplift there”.

——————————

Billy Bragg – The Saturday Boy.mp3
billy-braggThere aren’t many songs that feature the word “unrequited”. We’ve had Glad To Be Unhappy earlier, and here’s Billy Bragg using it in perhaps the best song from his 1984 debut album. It’s the poignant story of a schoolboy crush. At first she reciprocates the affection, but after a while (which in schoolboy terms is a wink of the eye) things cool off. “But I never made the first team, I just made the first team laugh. And she never came to the phone, she was always in the bath.” The boy experiences his first broken heart, poor kid. “In the end, it took me a dictionary to find out the meaning of ‘unrequited’, while she was giving herself for free at a party to which I was never invited.”

Love hurts

February 4th, 2009 7 comments

The alert consumer of mindless advertising will have noticed that the marketing industry has officially declared February the month of love by dint of Valentine’s Day falling smack bang in the middle of it. So, this month we’ll run through the emotions produced by love (as we did last year), including the joys of being happily in love but much more the utter torment of not being happily in love. Let’s kick things off with just how horrible love is.

.

Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris – Love Hurts.mp3
I know, I included Love Hurts in last year’s series, and more recently in The Originals. It is the finest recording of one of the finest songs ever written. Gram has been burnt by love (which, as he tells it, is like a hot stove) and now it’s payback time. Love, he accuses, “is just a lie, made to make you blue”, which evokes the notion of an elaborate conspiracy theory involving The Man and the Illuminati reptiles hatching devious plans to break hearts worldwide. Gram has no time for the idiots who buy into the myth of love. “Some fools think of happiness, blissfulness, togetherness. Some fools fool themselves I guess, but they’re not fooling me. I know it isn’t true.” And yet, we suspect that it is Gram who’s fooling himself: just listen to the way Gram and Emmylou sing the word “togetherness” with such hopeful yearning.

——————————

J. Geils Band – Love Stinks.mp3
Gram and Em have had their emotions bulldozed, yet their cynicism is diluted by the tenderness with which they try to paper over the cracks in their hearts. J Geils and friends, on the other hand, give up on love altogether, with bullish defiantly and utter immaturity, as the title immediately suggests. They sound a clarion warning: love’s a devious bastard (as you might have suspected once you learnt aboiut the Illuminatis involvement). “Love’s gonna find you… You’ll hear it call, your heart will fall, then love will fly. It’s gonna soar. I don’t care for any Casanova thing; all I can say is LOVE STINKS.” To which they might add: nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! (Which might take us to the chorus of Centrefold.)

——————————

John Prine – All The Best.mp3
Passive-aggressive is a pretty good response to being hurt by someone – at least in song. John Prine provides a template for how it’s done: “I wish you love and happiness, I guess I wish you all the best,” which is very magnanimous indeed. Oh, but here comes the sting: “I wish you don’t do like I do, and ever fall in love with someone like you.” We’ll dispense with the awkward rhyme that follows before we arrive at the smackdown:  “But kids…can only guess how hard it is to wish you happiness.” Isn’t that bitter? Prine isn’t quite as self-pitying as Gram or cynical as Geils, but he is abundantly resentful of love nonetheless: “I guess that love is like a Christmas card. You decorate a tree, you throw it in the yard. It decays and dies and the snowmen melt. Well, I once knew love, I knew how love felt.”

——————————

Velvet Underground – Who Loves The Sun.mp3
After Prine’s Christmas metaphor, we join the Velvet Underground jaunty weather centre of broken hearts: “Who loves the sun? Who cares that it makes plants grow? Who cares what it does — since you broke my heart?” They follow that with similar riffs on wind and rain. Says it all, really. Ba-ba-ba-ba indeed.

——————————

Skeeter Davis  – The End Of The World.mp3
This series will visit the home for break-up songs a couple of times, but few of those that will feature pack as much pain in one song as Skeeter’s lamentation for a love lost. Best of all, this 1961 country hit has a spoken bit. Skeeter tries to make sense of a world unchanged despite the seismic transformation in her life after her boyfriend or husband left her (she sounds like a 16-year-old, but was 31 when this song, remarkably a top 10 hit on the R&B charts, was recorded). “Why do the birds go on singing? Why do the stars glow above? Don’t they know it’s the end of the world? It ended when I lost your love.” Those who have experienced real heartbreak — not a crushed crush, but the whole damn gig — may empathise with the repeated verse: “Why does my heart go on beating? Why do these eyes of mine cry? Don’t they know it’s the end of the world. It ended when you said goodbye.”

——————————

Bob Dylan – If You See Her, Say Hello.mp3
Bob is rebounding from a break-up – or so he tries to pretend as he tells his friend to send his regards to the ex. “Say for me that I’m all right, though things get kind of slow. She might think that I’ve forgotten her, don’t tell her it isn’t so.” Oh, but he hasn’t forgotten her at all, “she still lives inside of me”. At social gatherings he still hears her name and it’s all he can do to block the pain. He suffers unhappy love’s equivalent of Chinese water torture: “I replay the past. I know every scene by heart, they all went by so fast.” And then there remains that cancerous glimmer of hope which won’t let you bury the painful love as Bob asks his pal: “If she’s passin’ back this way, I’m not that hard to find. Tell her she can look me up if she’s got the time.” Way to get over her, dude.

——————————

Angie Stone – No More Rain (In This Cloud).mp3
Smokey Robinson asked the girl to look at his face to see just how broken his heart is. Thirty-odd years on, retro soul singer Angie Stone namechecks Tracks Of My Tears in 1999’s gorgeous No More Rain as she explains: “There’s no hiding place when someone has hurt you. It’s written on your face, and it reads: ‘Broken spirit, lost and confused. Empty, scared, used and abused, a fool’.” She goes on to berate her tormentor, but the song isn’t really about him; it’s about the process of healing from the pain he inflicted. Angie still feels pain, but it’s really a song of comfort and hope. After all the emotional turmoil, at some point the tears will dry up. “My sunshine has come, and I’m all cried out. And there’s no more rain in this cloud.” Take note, Gram and Geils, there is life after love.

——————————

The Delgados – All You Need Is Hate.mp3
If Angie’s zen recovery doesn’t work for you, some anger might. Here, Scottish exponents of Indie pop The Delgados are your friend as they subvert several musical clichés about love. And it’s not just romantic love they don’t need. All love is dead, all you need is a heart of stone — or not, because hate is really a very visceral emotion. So the song should really say: All you need is indifference, and you shouldn’t care about that either. But it doesn’t. “Charity, a joke that friendly cities think that we believe … Everlasting hate, feel it in the people where it’s warm and great  … Hate is all around, find it in your heart in every waking sound; on your way to school, work or church you’ll find that it’s the only rule” and so on. Obviously they’re taking the piss. “Come on hate yourself; everyone here does, so just enjoy yourself.” Poor Gram Parsons would probably agree with that.

Last year’s season of songs about love

Intros Quiz – 1969 edition

February 2nd, 2009 5 comments

woodstock-posterContinuing of five-year cycle, this month’s intros quiz covers the year 1969: all songs were single releases in that year (which means they may have been on LPs released in 1968 or hits in 1970).  All were big hits. One is a recurring track in the TV series Lost.

As always, each of the 20 intros is 5-7 seconds in length. I will post the answers in the comments by Thursday. If you can’t wait till then to find out what the blasted number 11 is, please feel free to e-mail me or, better, message me on Facebook. If you’re not my FB friend, click here.

Intros Quiz – 1969 edition


Categories: Intros Quiz Tags: