Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Deadbabymama Tunes

I thought I'd post a deadbabymama playlist replete with little audio clips and such, but while I can sort of figure out how to put clips in the post, I can't really find a definitive answer as to whether that's technically legal. Have I skirted the law? Crossed against the light? "Shared" a CD with someone? Not reported a slight overcharge here and there? Um, yeah. But being new to all this would hate to have some lawyers on my ass because I really don't have the time. Oh hell, who am I kidding, I really don't have the time to make little clips anyway, so I'll just try to send you somewhere that has them and THEY can deal with the lawyers, ok?

A bit of background that will probably bore you to tears and if you are already, I'm sorry, feel free to skip ahead. I started playing violin around 5 years of age and played "seriously" until I was 22. At that point, "working my way through graduate school" did not include busking. (I was in the Midwest. It would have been difficult 9 months out of the year, anyway.) I took out the fiddle for the occasional Handel "Messiah" at the holidays, and now I pull it out to show Bella that indeed, that little diddy on her electronic gizmo is in fact a real piece of music that sounds a bit better (usually, when someone has warmed up a bit and practiced) on a violin.

Contrary to popular belief, growing up around classical music does not preclude one from considering all other genres of music utter trash. (Just teen pop shlock.) I actually feel that my background has opened me up to accept pretty much any music with the caveat: it has to be good. So, if the rock/pop/rap/jazz/R&B/C&W/grunge/garage/folk/"world" song is "good," I'm game. Now, granted, some of these genres don't lend themselves so much to "good" -- C&W, I'm looking at you. But, with some appreciation of lyric, tone, complexity, and general interest, Patsy Cline not only makes the cut but is a favorite. There's much to learn about breath and phrasing and just good feelin' listening to some Patsy. You're probably thinking I played Mozart to Bella in the womb but Ha! The Outkast CD had just been released, so Bella is a "Hey Ya" and "I like the way you move" baby. She gravitates toward a good bass line.

To paraphrase Nick Hornby extremely liberally to the point of offense, I too believe that people's musical taste evolves as far as it will by age 17 and doesn't mature much thereafter. Not that you don't listen to different music (you do, right? RIGHT?) but that it has some connection to the stuff you liked when you were 17. (Hornby's theory may change with the ongoing American Idolization of "the single" (or god forbid, "the ringtone") replacing "the album.") I fall into this trend. Not to date myself here, but when I was 17 I was in the thick of Sting, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Rush, and a plethora of 80s rock groups (Echo and the B'men, anyone?) so I tend toward the musically complex (I like a lot going on, especially in the percussion section), lush dense sound yet sophisticated, with some (but not always) interesting lyrics. Throw me something with an interesting beat and introduce an instrument I wouldn't otherwise expect and you'll have me in your palm.

Classical music is actually where I get picky. Things that are boring to play are boring to hear, and I would sooner sort my sock drawer with my eyelids pinned back than listen to Bolero or the Pachabel cannon. I've also pretty much had my life's fill of the Brandenburg concertos and the Beethoven Overtures and Vivaldi's Seasons, although sometimes I surprisingly find myself listening to them. I like the complex here too: Brahms, Sibelius, Brittan, Tchaikovsky, Bach. One thing I only realized recently is that I have NEVER really liked the slow stuff. I'm not sure if it was the actual pace of things (I'm a person that has to always be in motion -- has to be doing something while watching TV, walks around while brushing my teeth), or the underlying sentiment that I didn't have the maturity or life-experience to appreciate. Maybe I never got sad, and now it's a bit too close? I always appreciated the slow, found it "pretty" or "nice", but I was always looking ahead on the score through the second movements of seemingly endless Adagios and Largos and Lentos gleefully anticipating the Scherzos that followed. Interestingly, this sentiment bleeds into my "other" musical taste as well -- I turn the dial when slow and melancholy and angst come on, and aim for something with a little movement. Not to say I'm not a romantic: I love Scheherezade, Swan Lake, American in Paris, the Lalo violin concerto, as well as pretty much any rendition of "You Can Leave Your Hat On" and Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and the Beatles' "Michelle."

You can damn well believe that Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" and anything off Pink Floyd's "The Wall" will not make my current list (although if "Comfortably Numb" comes on, I'm probably not moving the dial). Not only are they slow, they're downers. I'm depressed, but I'm not up to pouring flaming hot molten lava into the wounds either. When I stopped to consider what my top few iDevice tunes were over the past few months and really dissected them, lyrics and all, I was actually a bit surprised to discover how upbeat some of them were. Aren't I cynical? Brokenhearted? Shaking an angry fist at the sky? Should I be listening to Nirvana? Eminem? Somebody's "Requiem?" Yeah, but I guess I have to locate that inner cynic I can dance to. There's an occasional slow down, but not a slow one per se.

1. Jonatha Brooke, "Careful What you Wish For" And I mean really, doesn't that just say everything? There's just something sad and angry in this that really speaks to me.

Relevant Lyrics:

Careful what you wish for, careful what you do
Even when you whisper, someone's listening to you
Careful what you wish for, careful what you say
Careful what you wish for, 'cuz it just might come true someday

Now that I have everything
I'm a puppet on a string
Someone's got the end and I'm unraveling
And here's the thing
I would throw it all away
If I could only hear you say,
"Baby I'll stay, baby I'll stay"

First I wished for money and a house on a hill
I had so many friends around me, but which ones were real?
Careful what you wish for, careful what you dream
'Cuz no matter what you wish for, it's never gonna be what you need

2. Jem, "It's Just a Ride" A little pop-y, and techno-y, a wee bit zen-y, and perhaps a bit too shallow of a message for my current state of affairs (because if this is the ride, I shoulda gotten off a lonnnnngggg time ago and blown up the car), and yet I can't stop listening to it. Why?

Life, it's ever so strange
It's so full of change
Think that you've worked it out
then BANG
Right out of the blue
Something happens to you
To throw you off course
and then you

Yeah you breakdown
Well don't you breakdown
Listen to me

It's just a ride, it's just a ride
no need to run, no need to hide
It'll take you round and round
Sometimes you're up
sometimes you're down
It's just a ride, it's just a ride
don't be scared
don't hide your eyes
It may feel so real inside
but don't forget it's just a ride

3. Patty Griffith, "No Bad News" Bordering on the country genre here, with a smackeral of folk maybe, and yet timely message with a catchy tune. Get yer banjo right, and you can't go wrong. That and the trumpets. (Although the slimmed down acoustic version is pretty great too.) The one thing I do like about country is it's a rare genre that you can really grouse about life being in the shitter, knee deep in the gutter on Christmas, lamenting lost love with a plastic cup of Jack Daniels, to some wacky upbeat guitars, banjo, and harmonica. And make it work.

Don't bring me bad news, no bad news
I don't need none of your bad news today
You can't have my fear, I've got nothing to lose, can't have my fear
I'm not getting out of here alive anyway
And I don't need none of these things, I don't need none of these things
I've been handed
And the bird of peace is flying over, she's flying over and
Coming in for a landing

4. Modest Mouse, "Float On" (Sorry, that's actually a link to the video -- it's off their not-new album and therefore impossible to locate anywhere anymore.) It's happy lyrics (more or less) with an angst-ridden beat. I like it.

And we'll all float on alright
Already we'll all float on
Alright don't worry even if things end up a bit to heavy
we'll all float on alright
Already we'll all float on
Alright already we'll all float on
Ok don't worry we'll all float on

5. Peter Gabriel, Downside/Up (live). This was on my run mix before the disaster. And I never really paid a whole lot of attention to it, other than it was Peter Gabriel and I like him. So imagine my surprise when I ran for the first time post disaster and actually heard the lyrics. I'm sure he's referring to being in love, or a love affair gone bad (if I had few more moments I could pinpoint this on the PG timeline and know for sure), but all the lyrics are so pointedly appropriate, I could put the whole song here. But I won't.

All the strangers look like family
All the family looks so strange
The only constant I am sure of
Is this accelerating rate of change

Downside up, upside down
Take my weight off the ground
Falling deep in the sky
Slipping in the unknown

6. Queen Tribute Band, "Somebody to Love" Yes, the original Freddie Mercury (may he RIP) power ballad was pretty kick-ass too, but there's something about this a capella group set-up and the more upbeat tempo that I find rather endearing.

Each morning I get up I die a little
Can barely stand on my feet
Take a look in the mirror and cry
Lord what you're doing to me
I have spent all my years in believing you
But I just can't get no relief, Lord!
Somebody, somebody
Can anybody find me somebody to love?

7. Ben Harper, "Better Way" This is probably more a political statement for me than personal, but I appreciate the lyrics and damn if it ain't a good song too. Would love to hear an extended live version where the end drum stuff goes on for another ten minutes. I don't know how you can't help moving to this.

Reality is sharp
It cuts at me like a knife
Everyone i know
Is in the fight of their life

I believe in a better way!

Take your face out of your hands
And clear your eyes
You have a right to your dreams
And don't be denied

I believe in a better way!

8. Beethoven," Emperor" Piano Concerto, No. 5. (Scroll down beyond the discussion and you can hear all three movements.) Listening to classical music after February was really hard. Probably because there are no lyrics or music videos (the movie "Aria" and some Bugs Bunny cartoons notwithstanding), so you could just insert your own wretched thoughts into the piece. None of it helped. It was all awful. The first thing I reached for when I was ready was this. It's probably less to do with the piece itself, and more to do with the fact that I know it inside/out like a comfortable shoe. Every phrase, instrument entrance, pause, breath. This to me is my musical mashed potatoes, carton of Ben & Jerry's, and sweatpants. The last movement is pretty good, too.

I should probably also add Feist's "1234" with the following caveats: 1) I liked this back at the beginning of the year, before the commercials and overhype, 2) it's currently Bella's favorite song. She's memorized it all, and sings it on pitch and everything. Nothing like hearing your 3-year-old crooning, "Woah, oh oh, change in your heart." Good thing. Five Little Pumpkins was really starting to bug.


kate said...

Similarly -- i played piano & cello for years, my mother was grooming me to be a musician....until her life fell apart & she didn't have the energy anymore. I actually think that classical music is more difficult to appreciate because it is more if you are exposed to it as a young child you are used to complexities and thus are *more* capable of appreciating all different musical genres.

Do i play classical music for my kids? Well, i would, if anyone had managed to hook up the stereo system in the last 9 months...

After Nicolas died, i listened to Brahms deutsches requiem alot. That, and hip-hop music. Apparently there is a Mahler song cycle called 'songs for dead children' but it is hard to find... unpopular subject matter, i suppose?

niobe said...

I am so non-musical that I'm in awe of anyone who is.

Searching said...

Flutist here. I kept wanting to play this week, but these darn incisions weren't well timed with my sporadic musical desires. I'm often too tired to play. Perhaps you have inspired me today. :) How wonderful that you play for Bella!

I like Pachabel, but do love a fingers-flying scherzo as well. I was last working on a Vivaldi piece and something wretched with 5 sharps that kept changing keys and was fast as the dickens. Unfortunately, I needed science more than music in college and never got my music minor. Work also keeps me from church where I played once a month. I really miss music.

Thanks for sharing your list. I might look up some of those songs. I am no help on the legal aspects there, sorry. Oh, and I grew up on MTV. My mom was 20 and my dad was a sailor at sea. :)

Searching said...

ps- I know what you mean about the job thing. I wish your body would have you pass out when you get to a "bad" level of drugs/alcohol, or make you puke if you had any sip of either while pregnant. Save the world alot of heartache. My crack baby started to have issues so he is there a week past when I thought he would be home. Pretty sure the massive crack use shortly before he was born was the cause of his prematurely and resulting problems. Some days I feel I am about to bite my tongue clear off.

kris said...

the mahler is kindertotenlieder. It's around, but man, what a downer.

Tash said...

"kindertotenlieder." God I love German, what is that, Deadchildrensongs? Can you imagine that getting any traction in ENGLISH? No. It would be "Interludes for Children who no longer walk among us" or some such. Bah. Kris knows this already, but not a Mahler fan. This post may cause me to dissect that a bit more, but up front, I don't get him, don't get the point. Heavy. Piano falling on your head, heavy.