Robotic

Do you ever feel like life needs a “reset” button when things are out of control? Or maybe things are so off-kilter that total reprogramming is what’s needed…

That’s what Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based Hannah Georgas (b. 1983) is saying in “Robotic.”

“Someone fill me in on what I missed
Come on give me hope, tell me anything
’Cause I’ve been on another side, on another trail

I don’t mean no harm
Don’t mean much these days
I can come back another time
I can come back any day
But I’ve been in another world
And I’m trying to escape

I want to be reprogrammed
I want to be robotic
No more blood in these veins
I want to press reset

Go on brush it off
’Cause no one sees it anyway
Come on you’re much too soft
If you want to win you’ve gotta play
I think it’s easier for you to say

I want to be reprogrammed
I want to be robotic
No more blood in these veins
I want to press reset
I want to press reset
I want to press reset
I…”

“Robotic,” by Ryan Guldemond, Hannah Georgas.
Lyrics retrieved from Lyrics.com.

Georgas recorded “Robotic” on her second studio album, Hannah Georgas (2012), which won best pop album of the year in 2013 at the Western Canada Music Awards. She has also received Polaris, Juno and The Verge (Sirius XM) award nominations.

The song has been recorded numerous times as a stripped-down version, and that’s what I’m featuring today: a video of Georgas singing with acoustic guitar accompaniment. It was filmed in 2013 at 69 Vintage, a clothing store in Toronto, Canada by Wood & Wires, a music and film production company.

Georgas is one of the Canadian artists I’d regularly hear on CBC Radio 3 (the national broadcaster’s internet radio presence for new alternative music) when I was a regular listener years ago. R3 (as it is sometimes called) gave her their Bucky Award for best new artist in 2009, the year she released her debut EP, The Beat Stuff. I like Georgas’ voice and the instrumentation of her backing band and have been enjoying acoustic versions of several of her songs. Her indie pop is not overly complex but is pleasing to the ear.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy the video from Wood & Wires:

And, here’s the full-band, album version from the Hannah Georgas YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Solid Ground

Serendipitously, after yesterday’s “walk on the ocean,” today we’re back on solid ground.

Browsing through some YouTube suggestions, I found an achingly beautiful video of English indie rock/soul singer-songwriter and musician Michael Kiwanuka performing an acoustic version of his song “Solid Ground.”

There is melancholy in the singer’s plea for help and reassurance, and the simplicity of the grand piano and solo voice performance adds to the mood’s sparseness. The first few words of the first verse remind me so much of another song, but I cannot recall it. Anyway, it’s an extraordinary piece.

“How does it feel when it’s quiet and calm?
And will I be denied?
How will it feel when it’s time to move on?
Mother says kneel and pray
When it gets hard, I will roll those sleeves
Life can be so unkind
I will be found on the edge of the world
Where there’ll be no one around

Oh, solid ground
Solid ground
Solid ground
Solid ground

How does it feel to be on your own?
No one to understand
I know I’m here and I don’t belong
I’m on my knees today
When it gets dark, I will know no fear
Life can be so unkind
Hanging around on the edge of the world
Finally no one around, ooh

Would you help me?
I don’t understand
Is it over?
Am I losing solid ground?

Solid ground
Solid ground
Solid ground
Solid ground
Solid ground
Solid ground
Solid ground
Solid ground”

“Solid Ground,” by Michael Kiwanuka, Dean Josiah Cover, Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse).
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

“Solid Ground comes from Kiwanuka’s third studio album, Kiwanuka (2019). Writer Ann Powers of Slate magazine describes the album as a “song cycle alchemizing violence through compassion.” Kiwanuka wrote all songs on the record along with fellow songwriters and producers Dean Josiah Cover, aka Inflo (from England) and Brian Burton (from the USA), who also goes by the name Danger Mouse. For more of Burton’s work, please visit my post on Norah Jones’s “Good Morning.” And for more Kiwanuka songs co-written with Cover and Burton, please check out my posts on the incredible songs “Cold Little Heart” and “Love & Hate.”

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the official video for the song on the Michael Kiwanuka YouTube/VEVO channel, from a live performance for The Late Late Show With James Corden:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Walk on the Ocean

Today on the way home from a three-hour breakfast meetup with two of my brothers, one of the first songs to start playing randomly on Apple CarPlay was “Walk on the Ocean” by the American alternative rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket.

It’s a song I’ve heard many times before but always in the background, and I never knew whose song it was. I am not a follower of Toad, as they call themselves, but seeing the title today, I remembered the first time I heard of the band: they were introduced as musical guests on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. I don’t know precisely when this was, but it must have been when the group was breaking through, in the late 1980s. I do recall, though, that particular night was, for my naive young self, an introduction to weird band names.

As I listened to the song today, my mind immediately went to the notion of walking on water, something my sweety and I did a couple of days ago… well, sort of: in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where I live, the winters are very cold, and the river surfaces freeze to a depth of up to two feet, allowing people to walk, cross-country ski, or skate on specially-groomed paths (and workers even drive utility vehicles on the river surface to service the tracks). On that frigid afternoon, we suited up and walked to a nearby boat dock where there is a temporary stairway to access the river ice and paths. We walked under a clear, sunny blue sky up the Assiniboine River, stopped under a bridge, then turned back for home.

Still in the car listening to the song today, my mind went farther back, to January 1, 2010, when we were staying with friends who used to live on the shore of Lake Winnipeg. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a 24,514-square-kilometre (9,465-sq.-mi.) freshwater lake, 416 km long (258 mi.) from tip to tip, the third-largest freshwater lake entirely within Canada’s borders, and 11th largest in the world. So it’s big: standing on the shoreline feels like looking out over an ocean. After a morning of sitting in the warm cocoon of the wood-stoved-heated straw bale cottage talking New Year’s Day talk (i.e., reminiscing about life in the past year, all the good and bad things we all lived through, and hopes and dreams for the coming year; you know, that kind of thing…), we set out walking over the frozen lake surface to meet up with a group of families who were holding a gathering a kilometre or so away.

Silhouette of two people walking across a frozen lake with a tuft of smoke, the shoreline, blue sky and sun in the background.
Walking out to the lake party (where the smoke is rising in the distance).

The people there celebrated with barbecues, hot chocolate, a skating rink, a curling rink, ice fishing and other activities out on the lake ice.

A woman with a broom and child's size curling rock on a curling rink made on a frozen lake.
Sweety trying out the kids’ curling equipment.

We’d seen some of the same folks the night before, around a New Year’s Eve bonfire on the shore, with children waving sparklers.

A nighttime photo of a child holding a lit sparkler.
New Year’s Eve sparkler.

Listening to the song in this (mildly) contemplative state today (I was, after all, driving), I was drawn in by the melody and lyrics. I feel like the songwriters are trying to express a sense of youthful curiosity about life, making (and breaking) connections, feeling wonder about the living world around us and, ultimately, our powerlessness over the passage of time.

“We spotted the ocean at the head of the trail
Where are we going, so far away
And somebody told me that this is the place
Where everything’s better, everything’s safe

Walk on the ocean
Step on the stones
Flesh becomes water
Wood becomes bone

And half an hour later we packed up our things
We said we’d send letters and all those little things
And they knew we were lying but they smiled just the same
It seemed they’d already forgotten we’d came

Walk on the ocean
Step on the stones
Flesh becomes water
Wood becomes bone

Walk on the ocean
Step on the stones
Flesh becomes water
Wood becomes bone

Now we’re back at the homestead
Where the air makes you choke
And people don’t know you
And trust is a joke
We don’t even have pictures
Just memories to hold
That grow sweeter each season
As we slowly grow old

Walk on the ocean
Step on the stones
Flesh becomes water
Wood becomes bone

Walk on the ocean
Step on the stones
Flesh becomes water
Wood becomes bone

Walk on the ocean
Step on the stones
Flesh becomes water
Wood becomes bone”

“Walk on the Ocean,” by Glen Phillips, Todd Nichols.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

For as much as people try to find the meanings in songs, it’s interesting when artists share what they were thinking when writing them. In a 2014 interview for the online music database Songfacts, singer and co-writer Glen Phillips says about “Walk on the Ocean,” “It’s always an embarrassing song to talk about from a lyrical standpoint, because maybe a couple of weeks before I wrote the lyric, I had gone on a trip with my wife up to Orcas Island [part of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington state] and hung out at Doe Bay hot springs with a bunch of hippies – it was great. But it was a five-minute lyric. It was supposed to be a scratch lyric. Todd (Nichols) had written the music. We were doing a demo and I didn’t want to just go, ‘Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’ So I wrote down literally the first thing that came across my mind. The lyric and the chorus, I have no idea what it means, unfortunately. Then I tried rewriting it and nothing ever really worked. I tried to make the chorus mean something, and eventually said, ‘Well, it sounds like I know what I’m talking about.’ So we just left it as is. It was the least-conscious, least-crafted lyric.”

Many songwriters I’ve talked with about lyrics either don’t share their lyrics’ intended meanings or prefer to let others find personal meaning in them. I think many enjoy the serendipity that can come from the latter approach; at least, that’s what I’ve experienced when sharing my interpretations of song meanings with artists.

“Walk on the Ocean” comes from Fear (1991), the band’s third studio album.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy the official video from the Toad the Wet Sprocket YouTube channel:

What does the song make you think of? Please share your thoughts in the comments! And thank you for visiting.

With my best wishes,

Steve

A Change Is Gonna Come

The American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke (1931-1964) is considered one of the most influential soul music artists of all time, and this distinction earned him the title “King of Soul.” Several musicians I follow are admirers of the music Cooke made in his career, from 1951 until his death by homicide in 1964 at age 33.

Cooke’s influence also extended to the careers of other great musicians, including Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and others.

Among the hit songs Cooke wrote or co-wrote are “Wonderful World,” “You Send Me,” “Chain Gang,” “Twistin’ the Night Away,” “Cupid,” and others, including today’s selection, which, while it wasn’t his biggest hit, is considered to be one of his most significant songs. Events in Cooke’s life inspired “A Change Is Gonna Come,” including when a whites-only motel in Shreveport, Louisiana refused service to him, his band and others with him. (It wasn’t until 55 years later—in 2019—that the then-mayor of Shreveport apologized to the Cooke family and awarded Sam the key to the city.)

Cooke had hesitated to write a song about segregation as he did not want to turn off his non-black listeners. But he was compelled to write about the struggles he and his fellow Black citizens were experiencing and, fittingly, the song became an anthem for the civil rights movement in the United States.

“I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh, and just like the river I’ve been running ever since

It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes, it will

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die
’Cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky

It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes, it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me don’t hang around

It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes, it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say, “Brother, help me please”
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees

There’ve been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on

It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes, it will”

“A Change Is Gonna Come,” by Sam Cooke. Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

If Cooke were still alive, I’m sure he (and those leading the civil rights movement) would be deeply troubled by attempts to erase Black-American history and by the erosion of their hard-fought-for rights in some states.

“A Change Is Gonna Come” appears on Cooke’s 11th and final studio album, Ain’t That Good News (1964) and was also released as a single later that year.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy the official lyric video from the Sam Cooke YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001, II: Fuga

Today on Classical Sunday, I’m featuring a piece for solo violin written as part of a collection, the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin BWV 1001-1006, completed in 1720 by the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). I’ve previously posted about another work in this series, the Partita for Violin Solo No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002.

The soloist I found playing today’s selection is Jennifer Koh (b. 1976), an American solo violinist born to Korean parents. She is well known for her Bach repertoire, though she is also a frequent performer of contemporary classical music.

Today is somewhat relaxed, as I’m taking the day off the indoor bike trainer, having exceeded my weekly goal by racking up 150 kilometres (93 miles) and, riding particularly hilly virtual routes, 1,670 metres (5,480 feet) of climbing as of yesterday. In addition to researching some music, I had a birthday call and catch-up with a brother, which was good as it had been a while since we’d talked. It’s frigid here in Winnipeg (-24C or -11F), so a walk on the frozen river path is an option later, though that’s a bit daunting…

When deciding on a piece to post today, I chose the second movement, the fuga (or fugue), from the Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001. From what I’ve read and understand, a fugue is a form composed of independent melodic lines or voices where the first voice is introduced playing the main melody, and successive ones join in staggered stages, often in a subject-answer-subject-answer organization. It’s maybe like a telephone conversation between two people, where one makes a statement, the other responds, and back and forth it goes (though, of course, we’re not repeating the same phrases again and again, or at least I hope not… that wouldn’t be very meaningful!). The fuga is complex and, like my general preference in classical music, I find a slower tempo here makes it more accessible and enjoyable than some of the rest of the sonata, as some parts were too cacophonous.

Koh’s recording of the sonata comes from her two-disc album Bach & Beyond, Part 2 (2015). I really like the way she executes the complexity of the fuga in a way that is pleasing to hear.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy the audio from the Jennifer Koh YouTube topic channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Lucky Few

This week I’ve taken an abbreviated tour of the decades, and today, we’re up to the current one.

The first song I listened to today from the 2020s on Apple Music random play was “Lucky Few,” by indie/folk-rock singer, songwriter and musician Tim Baker of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada.

Hearing the opening bars of the track instantly took me back to its performance at a show Baker gave this past November at Winnipeg, Canada’s Park Theatre, a gig I attended with one of our lads (a fellow Baker fan). He and I have been followers since hearing the 2006 single “Lions for Scottie,” which I discovered after serendipitously picking up one of those iTunes single-of-the-week cards Starbucks gave out in their stores until about ten years ago. The song was by Baker’s former band Hey Rosetta!, whom we saw together a half-dozen times before they went on hiatus in 2017.

As soon as I learned of the recent show (through a poster I literally walked on as it had blown onto a sidewalk near Sweety’s and my home), I texted my lad and we bought tickets. And Baker did not disappoint; it was an unforgettable evening of music enjoyed in a smaller venue, so the setting was more intimate than an arena-style show; it felt like listening to an old friend playing some music for us.

An overhead view of a poster for a November 24, 2022 concert by Canadian musician Tim Baker at Winnipeg's Park Theatre. The weathered poster, which shows stylized drawings of flowers and grass, is laying next to the feet of a person standing on a sidewalk.
Poster for Tim Baker’s November 24, 2022 show, spotted while out for a walk, October 23, 2022.

To me, “Lucky Few” is a poignant invitation to lean in, get closer, and share the present moment together.

“It’s too bright for too late at night
my eyes are tired, all I would like
is to close them with you
and see the things that you do

I miss you, I miss everyone
If I haven’t met you yet, well then I miss you most of all,
I want your heat & your sweat & your hand in my back at the festival

Picture a room full of people all feeling the same way,
it’s hard to explain
crying or laughing, you try understand it and you can’t

Are we meant just to try, try, try to overlap?

I miss you, all of you, I miss my life before
we are the lucky few, I know it’s true, but God my eyes are sore
I want to close them with you and see the same things that you do

Rain on the bay, terror in the streets
yeah but nothing in the way of the sunlight through the trees
and your hand on my hand across enemy lands and sea”

“Lucky Few,” by Tim Baker.
Official lyrics retrieved from the YouTube video notes.

Baker released his first solo album, Forever Overhead, in 2019, following it up with the EP Survivors the next year. In 2021, he performed his original composition “Songbirds” at the investiture ceremony for Mary Simon, Governor General for Canada.

“Lucky Few” is the opening track from the album The Festival (2022). Baker’s website says the album is, “…a sonic embrace, a call in for love, and a cry out for connection. Baker wants us to bring our pain and suffering, and align it all with melody. The Festival is a kaleidoscopic view in these complicated times.”

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy the official video from Tim Baker’s YouTube channel.

If you like the song, please give the video a thumb’s up, and subscribe if you want to hear more from Baker. And, as Guy Garvey, Elbow’s lead singer and the host of BBC 6 Music’s Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour would say, buy the record so Tim can afford to make more!

With my best wishes,

Steve

Exodus of the Year

Content warning: lyrics contain a cussword.

Today on my circuitous look back at a few decades, we’re on to the 2010s and today’s random selection is by a group formed in the first year of that decade.

Royal Canoe is an alternative pop band whose members come from my city, Winnipeg, Canada, and the neighbouring city of Steinbach. Some of its members were previously in the local band The Waking Eyes.

I’ve never seen a Royal Canoe show and only know a little about them, though I know a few of their songs. I recall that in 2018, they advertised a concert in conjunction with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (they teamed up to perform Beck’s Song Reader project, a book of songs Beck Hansen wrote in 2012). it sounded like a very creative and compelling show, but I had a commitment booked for the same time, so I had to give it a pass.

And in 2016, I saw an article reporting that their touring trailer, with CAD 90,000 in instruments and gear, was stolen in Laval, Quebec. To supplement insurance, fans and other supporters took to an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help them keep on the road, and they only had to cancel one gig.

Okay, on to today’s song choice. I like to find the meanings of songs, but some are a mystery…

“Up in my room, working it out
Trying not to make a sound
Chasing another arrow of light
It’s always the same somehow

Flat on my back, afraid to admit
That I’m getting older now
It’s calling you out, calling you out
Calling you out at night

Shaking in the cold oh so gallantly
The advantage of withholding your honesty

Most of my friends got the f*ck out
In the exodus of the year
It’s just me and you in dim winter light
Straining ourselves to hear
Those three stupid words, I haven’t said
While calling you out at night

Shaking in the cold oh so gallantly
The advantage of withholding your honesty
Shaking in the cold oh so gallantly
The advantage of withholding your honesty”

“Exodus of the Year,” by David “Bucky” Driedger, Matt Peters, Matt Schellenberg.
Lyrics retrieved from Lyrics.com.

“Exodus of the Year” may be about looking at one’s life in the context of what friends have done with their lives and, sometimes, the need to separate from them to feel free to pursue personal directions that peer pressure would smother. I can certainly relate to having felt that at times in my life. And following those passions—or as the late American writer, philosopher and professor Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) named it, “following your bliss”—can make one feel alone and left out in the cold, at least until plans start coming together and creative seeds begin to sprout.

This song has a catchy melody, and the instrumentation and production make it an enjoyable four minutes of music. The official video for the song, created by Winnipeg-born experimental filmmaker Matthew Rankin, uses visual effects to give the represented sites a barren, vintage look that is, honestly, a bit jarring, as a lifelong resident. though those places depicted definitely do exist. (There are also many beautiful spaces here and a vibrant arts, entertainment and sports scene, so if you never have, you should come to visit!)

“Exodus of the Year” comes from Today We’re Believers (2013), Royal Canoe’s second full-length album.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy the official video from the Royal Canoe YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Fallin’

Continuing with the focus on decades (though I messed up so far by missing the 1970s and posting two from the ’90s… oh well), today I’m featuring a song from the ’00s, 2000-2009.

American singer-songwriter and classically-trained pianist Alicia Keys’ (b. 1981 as Alicia Augello Cook) rhythm & blues/soul debut single “Fallin’” sits at #62 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Best Songs of the 2000s and made number one on the Billboard Top 100. One of her best-known songs, “Fallin’,” achieved critical and commercial success for the new recording artist. It was the lead single from her first studio album, the 12-track Songs in A Minor (2001).

Keys told Billboard magazine of the song soon after its release: “[‘Fallin’] is about the ins and outs of a relationship. Sometimes, you’re completely head-over-heels in love with someone, and sometimes you can’t stand that person. You fall in and out, sometimes it goes back and forth, and that’s just what relationships are about.”

“I keep on falling in and outta love with you
Sometimes I love ya, sometimes you make me blue
Sometimes I feel good, at times I feel used
Loving you, darling, makes me so confused

I keep on falling in and out
Of love with you
I never loved someone
The way that I love you

Oh, oh, I never felt this way
How do you give me so much pleasure
And cause me so much pain? (Yeah, yeah)
Just when I think I’ve taken more than would a fool
I start falling back in love with you

I keep on falling in and out
Of love with you
I never loved someone (Someone)
The way that I love you (Way I)

Oh, baby
I, I, I, I’m falling (Yeah, yeah)
I, I, I, I’m falling
Fall, fall, fall (Sing)
Fall

I keep on falling in and out (Out)
Of love with you (Love with you)
I never loved someone (Loved)
The way that I love you (I)
I’m falling in and out (Yeah)
Of love with you (Of love with you)
I never loved someone (No, no, no)
The way that I love you
I’m falling in and out (Yeah)
Of love with you (Of love with you)
I never loved someone (No, no, no)
The way that I love you
What?”

“Fallin’,” by Alicia Keys.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

The song has a slow, soulful and sultry blues tempo, with understated instrumentation, including piano and strings that support the deep, passionate vocals of Keys and her backup singers. Keys’ then-20-year-old voice has a level of maturity that reminds me of a young performer I once heard many years ago, which I write about in my post on Annie Lennox’s cover of “Summertime.”

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Please enjoy the official music video from the Alicia Keys YouTube channel:

That’s it for today, friends… thanks for stopping by this time-warped blog. We’ll see which decade I get on to tomorrow!

With my best wishes,

Steve

Wonderful

Well, since I started the week with a 1970s tune, then posted a song from the ’80s yesterday, I might as well go with that trend and feature something from the ’90s today for my 650th post on Song of the Day for Today. (Edit, Jan. 26: okay, I didn’t start with the 1970s… and with this post end up with two from the 1990s… how did I do that?!)

I was convinced I’d mentioned the English singer, songwriter and actor Adam Ant (b. 1954 as Stuart Goddard) before, but searching my site, I couldn’t find anything. It could be that I thought of posting a song by him earlier. Once in a long while, Apple Music will play his song “Wonderful,” and each time, I think, well, I never was into his music back in the day, but that’s a good song, and I should post it. Luckily, it’s from the 1990s… ha!

Inspired by a Sex Pistols concert in 1975, Goddard wanted to differentiate himself and changed his name to Adam Ant. He told BBC News, “I really knew I wanted to be Adam, because Adam was the first man. Ant I chose because, if there’s a nuclear explosion, the ants will survive.” He formed his band, Adam and the Ants, in 1977 while the punk rock movement thrived. Ant then asked English singer, songwriter, musician, clothes designer, visual artist and boutique owner Malcolm McLaren, then manager of the Sex Pistols, to manage him and the Ants. Instead of taking that on, McLaren lured away Ant’s band members to form another band, Bow Wow Wow (a new wave band that’s still together).

The next iteration of Adam and the Ants was active from 1977 to 1982 as the new romantic movement was forming, and they generated some hits, including “Stand and Deliver” and “Prince Charming.” “Goody Two Shoes” may be one of their most recognizable hits. But, its marketing with Adam and the Ants on the cover and, later, Adam Ant led to confusion about its timing regarding him going solo. At any rate, the song is generally regarded as Adam Ant’s debut solo single.

Ant put his music career on hold in 1985 to focus on acting, then released another album in 1990 and has continued making music since then. He last toured in 2019, then postponed a subsequent tour due to Covid-19 and later abandoned it due to the excess of music tours being rescheduled once live music venues reopened.

“Wonderful” is the title track of Ant’s fifth solo studio album. It is a more mature, acoustic sound than his previous releases, which broadened the appeal of his music. The acoustic guitar, coupled with a subtle electric, creates a pleasant riff that holds the song together.

“Did I tell you how much I miss
Your sweet kiss?
Did I tell you I didn’t cry?
Well I lied
I lie lie lied
Over real over
When I nearly hit the face I loved
So tired of packaging the anger
Always pushing you away

Did I tell you you’re wonderful?
I miss you yes I do
Did I tell you that I was wrong?
I was wrong
Cos you’re wonderful yeah

Did I tell you how much I miss
Your smile?
Did I tell you I was okay?
Well no way
No way way way

You’re wonderful yeah yeah

Now now now each and every day
I realize the price I have to pay
You you’re wonderful
And now for your information
I’m walking around like an arm decoration

You you’re wonderful
So high I can’t get over it
So deep I can’t get under it
You
You’re wonderful yeah
You’re wonderful yeah yeah
You’re wonderful yeah yeah
You’re wonderful yeah yeah
Wonderful

Did I tell you you’re wonderful?
I miss you yes I do
Did I tell you that I was wrong?
I was wrong
For so long long long”

“Wonderful,” by Marco Pirroni, Bonnie Hayes, Adam Ant.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

I think the song is about the realization of losing a loving relationship because of a lack of attention or care, focusing on the negative and becoming angry about things instead of cherishing the other and working on getting over problems together.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio track from Adam Ant’s YouTube channel where he says, “I am a songwriter and singer, who with the passing of each day is realising how much there is to be thankful for, and to look forward to in the future.” (I am grateful for his optimism, as the mention of creating his stage name and only ants surviving nuclear war is a little too close to home given the current global state.)

With my best wishes,

Steve

Precious Things

Well, from yesterday’s post on a 1980s song, let’s move on to the 90s!

I’ve been a fan of the classically-trained American singer-songwriter and pianist Tori Amos (b. 1963) since one of our sons introduced me to her music through her 2001 covers album Strange Little Girls (please see my posts on her renditions of Tom Waits’ “Time” and the Stranglers’ “Strange Little Girl” from that collection; I’ve also posted her interpretation of “Carry” by the French classical composer Claude Debussy [1862-1918]).

At age five, Amos was the youngest person to be admitted to the prestigious Peabody Institute, a music academy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Her career spans rock, alternative and classical genres; in fact, her album Night of the Hunters (2011) marked the first time a female artist’s work appeared simultaneously on rock, alternative and classical charts.

“Precious Things” was initially recorded with a full backing band. It appears on her debut solo album, Little Earthquakes, which she issued 30 years ago this month. The album chronicles her efforts to find her identity, sexual awakening, religious upbringing, and sexual assault. A solo piano/voice version of the song also appears on the album Live at Montreux 1991/1992 (2008).

In “Precious Things,” I believe she tells of her childhood and youth, growing up amid the usual struggles with self-acceptance and fitting in with peers, and alludes to darker experiences.

“So I ran faster
But it caught me here
Yes, my loyalties turned
Like my ankle
In the seventh grade
Running after Billy
Running after the rain

These precious things
Let them bleed
Let them wash away
These precious things
Let them break
Their hold of me

He said, ‘You’re really an ugly girl
But I like the way you play.’
And I died
But I thanked him
Can you believe that?
Sick, sick, holding on to his picture
Dressing up every day

I wanna smash the faces of those beautiful boys
Those Christian boys
So you can make me come
That doesn’t make you Jesus

These precious things
Let them bleed
Let them wash away
These precious things
Let them break
Their hold of me

I remember, yes
In my peach party dress
No one dared
No one cared
To tell me where the pretty girls are

Those demigods
With their nine-inch nails
And little fascist panties
Tucked inside the heart
Of every nice girl

These precious things
Let them bleed
Let them wash away
These precious things
Let them break
Let them wash away

These, these precious things
Let them bleed now
Let them wash away
These, these precious things
Let them break
Their hold of me

Precious, precious”

“Precious Things,” by Tori Amos.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com

In addition to Little Earthquakes, the full-band version appears on disc two (the live recordings side) of To Venus and Back (1999), the compilation albums A Tori Amos Collection: Tales of a Librarian (2003) and A Piano: The Collection (2006), the official bootleg Legs and Boots (2007), and the limited edition From Russia with Love (2010). In one unofficial 2007 video, Amos introduces the song as her most requested piece.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy.

The video I’ve chosen of a 1998 live performance by Amos and her band is an unofficial version, but the music is credited to the artist. It shows a compelling and dramatic, high-energy performance of the song.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Would I Lie to You?

While I keep discovering new-to-me music from the present and sometimes the past, I find I often go back to songs from the 1980s. That was an influential time for me in developing my musical tastes not only in rock and new wave but also in classical.

So back to the 80s it is today with “Would I Lie to You,” by Eurythmics, the synth-pop/new wave duo of Scottish singer-songwriter, philanthropist and political activist Annie Lennox (b. 1954) and English songwriter, musician and record producer Dave Stewart (b. 1952).

“Would I Lie to You” was a milestone song for the group as it marked a transition in their music from synth-pop to rhythm & blues and rock. In fact, the song, and the album it came from, were played by a full backing band instead of their previous reliance on synthesizers and programming.

Well, it sure worked. From the bass slide lead-in, the song erupts and never calms down. It’s a banger, as the Brits call them, and is one of the group’s most recognizable tunes. A Cash Box magazine review of the 1985 single “Would I Lie to You” says, “Hard rocking early Kinks guitar and a pounding Motown drum beat forms the background for Annie Lennox’s R&B lead vocal. Pure dance rock complete with a tantalizing horn section high-stepping throughout, ‘Would I Lie to You?’ is guaranteed to fill all the promise this band has showed in the past.

In the song, Lennox confronts a cheating lover, and empowers herself to leave him once and for all. The melody is top-notch, as are the backup singers’ answering harmonies.

“Would I lie to you? (oh yeah)
Would I lie to you honey? (oh, no, no no)
Now would I say something that wasn’t true?
I’m asking you sugar, would I lie to you?

My friends know what’s in store
I won’t be here anymore
I’ve packed my bags
I’ve cleaned the floor
Watch me walking
Walking out the door

(Believe me) I’ll make it, make it
(Believe me) I’ll make it, make it

Would I lie to you?
Would I lie to you honey? (oh honey, would I lie to you?)
Now would I say something that wasn’t true?
I’m asking you sugar, would I lie to you?

Tell you straight, no intervention
To your face, no deception
You’re the biggest fake
That much is true
Had all I can take
Now I’m leaving you

(Believe me) I’ll make it, make it (oh yes, I will)
(Believe me) I’ll make it, make it (make it, make it)

Would I lie to you?
Would I lie to you honey?
Now would I say something that wasn’t true?
I’m asking you sugar, would I lie?

Would I lie to you?
Would I lie to you honey?
Now would I say something that wasn’t true?
I’m asking you sugar
Would I lie to you?

My friends know what’s in store
I won’t be here anymore
I’ve packed my bags
I’ve cleaned the floor
Watch me walking
Walking out the door

(Believe me) Watch me, watch me
(Believe me) Watch me, watch me, yes I will, yeah

Would I lie to you?”

“Would I Lie to You,” by Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

Eurythmics were active from 1980-1990, after which Stewart and Lennox began solo careers, and she had a baby. She also released her debut solo album, Diva (1992). (It’s an incredible album… one of my all-time favourites. Check out one of my earliest posts, on “Stay by Me”—it’s one of my favourite posts, and songs, and my sweety and I included the song on our wedding CD!) The duo reunited from 1999-2005, then again in 2014 for a Beatles tribute concert, in 2019 for a benefit concert and, finally, in 2022 for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (where their set included today’s selection).

“Would I Lie to You” is the opening track and lead single from Eurythmics’ fourth studio album, Be Yourself Tonight (1985).

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Please enjoy the brilliant, rousing music video by American director Mary Lambert Gary (b. 1951) from the Eurythmics YouTube/VEVO channel (click on the “cc” icon at the bottom of the video pane for subtitles, as some might find the British accents in the dialogue hard to make out):

I read in Wikipedia that the video played extensively on MTV, though I feel like I was seeing it for the first time today. Wowza.

Did you notice, in the dressing room at the beginning, Dave Stewart’s encouraging words to Annie Lennox are the album’s title? And, I counted about 12 people on stage. You? Let me know your thoughts about this song and post in the Comments section!

With my best wishes,

Steve

Mitt hjerte alltid vanker

Welcome to Classical Sunday on Song of the Day for Today.

This morning, I was excited to stumble upon a new-to-me recording by Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen (b. 1984). “Mitt hjerte alltid vanker,” which translates to “My Heart Will Always Wander,” is an old Danish hymn. Christian Badzura, the German classical record label Deutsche Grammophon’s Vice President of New Repertoire, wrote an arrangement for solo violin and chamber ensemble, played piano and synthesizer, and produced and mixed the track.

I’ve previously published posts on two Samuelsen recordings: “By This River,” a classical arrangement of Brian Eno’s (b. 1948) alternative music track, and “Moonlight,” where the Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) piano sonata was arranged for string orchestra and solo violin. (Badzura was also the arranger of these two pieces.) I recommend clicking the above links to visit those posts when you’ve finished here… both pieces of music are divine, and the posts feature videos of the performances.

Deutsche Grammophon released “Mitt hjerte alltid vanker” in 2021 as both a single and as part of Winter Tales, a classical crossover album reimagining Christmas and Hanukkah music under its Classical Sundays series.

Today’s selection does have a yuletide sound, in a lyrical, tranquil and solemn way that mixes with hope and, I think, also suggests the indomitable spirit of living through the harshest of wintry conditions (or any other challenge, for that matter). The title reference to a wandering heart may refer to the Christian gospel story, or perhaps it implies perseverance in times of darkness, or even a spirit of discovery.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy the audio from Mari Samuelsen’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes to you,

Steve

Life Is Yours

Today’s selection comes from the long list of songs I enjoyed while the blog was on hiatus.

The title “Life Is Yours” seems a good fit as I reflect on the retirement party I mentioned in yesterday’s post. It was great to see so many of my former colleagues and reconnect with several of them. At the end of the night, I realized there were a few I didn’t get to speak with, including my former boss. Almost comically, despite living near each other, he and I have been trying to arrange a meet-up since last summer, without luck, so far, anyway.

In the context of last night’s celebration, the mantra “life is yours” is meaningful in the many stories I heard from people, like the deliberate choice to end a long career of public service and look ahead to travel and other fun, to take valuable skills and experience and put them to work elsewhere, or even to reclaim one’s own time for health and wellness despite the voracious and insatiable demands an employer places on its people. Self-care too often takes the place of consideration by organizations. Anyway, the main thing was I am so glad I could see so many folks, to wish them well, and be wished well, too.

“Life Is Yours” blasts off with a celebratory, disco-esque, rush-to-the-dance floor vibe ushering in a song that its composer and the lead singer of British alternative rock band Foals, Yannis Philippakis says (in the Apple Music album notes), “…is set along that coast between Seattle and Vancouver, where my partner is from, conversations that happen in private in car journeys along the Pacific Northwest.”

“Now that I’m less hungover
I can finally hear all the words you say
Driverless cars all end up in the ocean
Even when they think they know the way

Now that the great storm is over
I can finally learn all the things you know
All good roads lead us back to the ocean
Even if you cannot bear to go

Life is yours
Break away
Life is yours
I heard you say

Now that I’ve proved my devotion
I can see the start of a brand new day
At the edge of the Pacific Ocean
Life is yours, I heard you say

Life is yours
Break away
Life is yours
I heard you say

Life is yours
Break away
Life is yours
We’ll find a way

The choice is yours
Don’t be late
Escape your fate
And break away

The choice is yours
Don’t be late
Escape your fate
And break away

Life is yours
Break away
Life is yours
I heard you say

Life is yours
Break away
Life is yours
I heard you say”

“Life Is Yours,” by Jimmy Smith, Yannis Philippakis, Jack Bevan.
Official lyrics retrieved from the YouTube video post notes.

About the 2022 album Life Is Yours, the Apple notes go on to say, “‘It’s a positive and fun record made for communal moments, but the title is quite solemn advice,’ (guitarist and lead singer Yannis Philippakis) says. ‘It’s meant as an antidote to depression. On every record, there’s been a balancing act that goes on between the levels of melancholy.’”

The opening, title track’s funky beat brings back memories of some of the 1980s music I heard in cabarets with my “friends 2.0” and Philippakis’s vocal has hints of The Human League’s lead singer and songwriter, Philip Oakley.

Life is full of change, though the band is on the right track giving “solemn advice” and serving it up with a generous side dish of fun. (No cilantro, please and thank you.)

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from the Foals YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Like I Used To

Today is a grandchild caregiving day with another outing to The Leaf in Winnipeg, Canada, then out for lunch, and tonight I’ll be going to a retirement dinner to celebrate a former colleague. The latter will be my first large gathering since the pandemic began, and the first time I’ll see some of my former co-workers since I took early retirement almost six years ago. A pretty full day.

This morning, I was taking a look through suggested videos from YouTube. I found “Like I Used To,” a 2021 collaboration single by two longtime-mutual-admirers, American singer-songwriters Sharon Van Etten (b. 1981) and Angel Olsen (b. 1987).

Van Etten, who had met Olsen many times, decided to contact her to explore the idea of singing together. She sent Olsen a song she’d been working on, and the collaboration began. In a Pitchfork magazine review, Olsen says, “I’ve met with Sharon here and there throughout the years and have always felt too shy to ask her what she’s been up to or working on. The song reminded me immediately of getting back to where I started, before music was expected of me, or much was expected of me, a time that remains pure and real in my heart.

The two create moving, magical harmonies in this piece.

“Will the marker stain the skin?
Stole the dress I saw you in
Now nothing comes to mind
Saw a life as override
One more session overdrive
The ceiling is the roof

Change address and draw a line
Show my friends the silver line
Call my family just to know they’re there

Sleepin’ in late like I used to
Crossing my fingers like I used to
Waiting inside like I used to
Avoiding big crowds like I used to

Crawl the field and let you in
Brand my heart I found you in
To say nothing’s more apart
Will my lover be there, stay
Follow them to less the pain
The ceiling must be wrong

Well, my head’s gone today
Sell my past for a way
To sing and have something left to say
Pray my hands, pray my voice
Give the reason, take away
Make believe an order for to stay

Lighting one up like I used to
Dancing all alone like I used to
Giving it up like I used to
Falling in love like I used to

Open my heart like I used to
Making out long like I used to
Holding hands openly, rights to
Taking what’s mine like I used to

Like I used to (Like I used to)
Like I used to (Like I used to)”

“Like I Used To,” by Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

“Like I Used To” was produced by John Congleton, the recording wizard behind Van Etten’s 2019 album Remind Me Tomorrow, which features the angst-fueled track, “Seventeen.”

The song is a good reminder to, paraphrasing Olsen, get back to where you started before external influences made you feel you had to change the way you lived your life to fit someone else’s ideals.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video, by American writer, producer and director Kimberly Stuckwisch, from the Sharon Van Etten YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Everybody Here Wants You

Today’s selection is new to me, as would be most music by the American singer-songwriter and guitarist Jeff Buckley (1966-1997); I have never been familiar with his music, and certainly not during his short lifetime.

I’ve previously posted a cover of “Song for the Siren,” by American musician Tim Buckley (1947-1975) and, for a while, had confused the two Buckleys. Reading up on them today, I learned they were father and son; Tim died of a drug overdose at age 28 when Jeff was only ten. Jeff also died prematurely and accidentally at the age of 30.

After briefly cruising around Buckley’s YouTube channel, I found “Everybody Here Wants You,” which I found quite captivating.

“Twenty-nine pearls in your kiss
A singing smile
Coffee smell and lilac skin
Your flame in me

Twenty-nine pearls in your kiss
A singing smile
Coffee smell and lilac skin
Your flame in me

I’m only here for this moment

I know everybody here wants you
I know everybody here thinks he needs you
I’ll be waiting right here just to show you
How our love will blow it all away

Hmm, such a thing of wonder in this crowd
I’m a stranger in this town
You’re free with me
And our eyes locked in downcast love
I sit here proud
Even now you’re undressed in your dreams with me

Oh, I’m only here for this moment

I know everybody here wants you
I know everybody here thinks he needs you
I’ll be waiting right here just to show you
How our love will blow it all away

I know the tears we cried
Have dried on yesterday
The sea of fools has parted for us
There’s nothing in our way
My love

Don’t you see, don’t you see?
You’re just the torch to put the flame to all our guilt and shame
And I’ll rise like an ember in your name

I know I, I know I
I know everybody here wants you
I know everybody here thinks he needs you
I’ll be waiting right here just to show you
Oh let me show you
That love can rise, rise just like embers

Love can taste like the wine of the ages, oh babe,
And I know they all looks so good from a distance
But I tell you I’m the one

I know everybody here, well, thinks he needs you
Think he needs you
And I’ll be waiting right here just to show you”

“Everybody Here Wants You,” by Jeff Buckley.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

In 1996, Buckley began working on an album with the working title, My Sweetheart the Drunk. In May 1997, dissatisfied with the state of the songs, he brought on a new producer and worked on demos himself in preparation for a recording session with the full band. Buckley died while swimming in a channel of the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, before that session could occur. An autopsy showed no sign of drugs or alcohol, and his death was determined to have been an accidental drowning.

After his death, many musicians wrote and/or recorded tribute songs to him, including Rufus Wainwright, Chris Cornell, Aimee Mann, PJ Harvey, Glen Hansard, and many others. Elizabeth Fraser, who sings the Cocteau Twins’ cover of father Tim’s “Song for the Siren” mentioned above, wrote the lyrics for and recorded the song “Teardrop” by Massive Attack as a tribute; Fraser and Jeff had once been in a relationship. (Some may remember “Teardrop” as the instrumental theme music for the TV series House MD.)

The song has a slow, beautifully sensual blues vibe, with Buckley singing in his higher range, contrasting with the light depth of the electric guitar, backing band and singers. On this song, his voice reminds me a little of the British-Nigerian singer Sade (b. 1959). When listening, I find it impossible not to wonder where the Buckleys’ careers would be taking them now, had they both not died so young. It gives the song title added meaning, I think.

“Everybody Here Wants You” appeared on the posthumous release, Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk (1998).

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from the Jeff Buckley YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

I Got You (I Feel Good)

Today as I went through my morning routines, I was aware of feeling really good. It’s not that I don’t usually feel fine; it was just a little different, more evident. I wasn’t thinking of any nagging worries or any of the bad stuff going on in the world. I suppose I was living in the present moment… you know, that thing that self-help and meditation teachers always advise us to do. Well… news flash: it works!

On I went in my bright mood, with minor chores and making coffee, then settling in to finish an instalment of Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on the BBC Sounds app (January 8, 2023: “Garvey in a French wood”). I suppose I thought to play the show as it was on my mind a few days ago. After that, the player automatically started the next episode, with English actor Bill Nighy spinning a set drawn from his massive record collection, while sitting in for host Garvey.

Nighy’s playlist was mainly rhythm & blues and soul music titles, many of which I knew. One that jumped out for me was the American singer, bandleader and record producer James Brown (1933-2006) belting out “I Got You (I Feel Good).” Serendipity.

“Wo! I feel good, I knew that I would, now
I feel good, I knew that I would, now
So good, so good, I got you

Wo! I feel nice, like sugar and spice
I feel nice, like sugar and spice
So nice, so nice, I got you

When I hold you in my arms
I know that I can do no wrong
and when I hold you in my arms
My love won’t do you no harm

and I feel nice, like sugar and spice
I feel nice, like sugar and spice
So nice, so nice, I got you

When I hold you in my arms
I know that I can’t do no wrong
and when I hold you in my arms
My love can’t do me no harm

and I feel nice, like sugar and spice
I feel nice, like sugar and spice
So nice, so nice, well I got you

Wo! I feel good, I knew that I would, now
I feel good, I knew that I would
So good, so good, ’cause I got you
So good, so good, ’cause I got you
So good, so good, ’cause I got you

Hey! Oh yeah-a”

“I Got You (I Feel Good),” by James Brown.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

I’ve heard the song countless times, yet it was only today that I realized the main title is “I Got You,” and the I Feel Good mantra is the secondary title. I guess we often view or experience things differently, depending on the mood or state we are in, in the moment.

“I Got You (I Feel Good)” comes from Brown’s ninth studio album, Out of Sight (1964) and appeared on Foundations of Funk: A Brand New Bag, 1964-1969 (released in 1996).

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from the James Brown YouTube channel. Volume up!

How did you like the song? Did it lift your mood? What song or songs do that for you? Let me know in the comments! And thanks again for stopping by.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Waking Light

In my post on Beck’s (aka Beck David Hansen, b. 1970) song “Heart Is a Drum,” I talk about Parlour Coffee in Winnipeg, the shop where I used to have my morning coffee when I was working. Parlour was also where I first heard Beck’s Grammy-winning (album of the year) Morning Phase (2014). The album started playing just as I walked in one morning. It was a dreamy feeling, being in my favourite shop, listening to fantastic music.

Today’s selection is the closing track from that same album. Thinking about “Waking Light,” a quote from a post a few days ago, where Future Islands singer Samuel T. Herring talks about ending a record with “Hit the Coast” came to mind: “It made sense to end on this kind of triumphant note.” “Waking Light” ends Beck’s album on precisely the same kind of high Herring speaks of.

“Waking Light” has been on my list to post for a while, so here it is…

“Waking light, it grew from the shadow
Brace yourself to the morning low
Night is gone, long way turning
You’ve waited long enough to know

When the memory leaves you
Somewhere you can’t make it home
When the morning comes to meet you
Lay me down in waking light

No one sees you here, roots are all covered
There’s such a life to go and how much can you show?
Day is gone on a landslide of rhythm
It’s in your lamplight burning low

When the memory leaves you
Somewhere you can’t make it home
When the morning comes to meet you
Rest your eyes in waking light

When the memory leaves you
Somewhere you can’t make it home
When the morning comes to meet you
Open your eyes with waking light”

“Waking Light,” by Beck Hansen.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

The song is such a terrific ending to an outstanding album and always leaves me with a light, hopeful, positive feeling. I hope it does the same for you.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from Beck’s official YouTube channel. If you like the song, please purchase it to support the artist, and remember to give the video a thumb’s up.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Like a Rolling Stone

Today I went to my YouTube feed and took a little trip down an internet rabbit hole, ending up on a page with videos featuring English guitarist Jeff Beck (1944-2023), who died a week ago in East Sussex, England. I never followed Beck’s career, though I recall my older brothers enjoying his music when we were growing up.

The song I decided to post today is Beck and fellow English musician Seal (b. 1963, aka Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel) performing Bob Dylan’s (b. 1941) blues rock hit “Like a Rolling Stone.” Their version appears on a four-disc, 76-track compilation, Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International (2012). Beck’s guitar playing and Seal’s vocals mix with other fabulous instrumentation and backup singers, creating a rousing rendition of the song.

Dylan wrote the rather cynical lyrics using a piece of poetry he wrote during a period of exhaustion following a tour, making them into four verses, adding a chorus.

“Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal

How does it feel?
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You’ve gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street
And now you’re gonna have to get used to it
You said you’d never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He’s not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And say do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel?
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
A complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal

How does it feel?
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They’re all drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made
Exchanging all precious gifts
But you’d better take your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?”

“Like a Rolling Stone,” by Bob Dylan.
Lyrics (from original Dylan recording) retrieved from AZLyrics.com

Beck and Seal also collaborated on a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s (1942-1970) 1967 song “Manic Depression” on the 1993 tribute album Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix.

I wonder if today’s artists will get together to produce a tribute album to Beck’s musical career…

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from the official Jeff Beck YouTube channel.

Did you follow Beck’s career? If so, what are some of your favourites among his music? Please let me know in the comments!

With my best wishes,

Steve

Prière in F Major, Op. 16 (Arr. for Classical Accordion & Piano)

The accordion is not a musical instrument I automatically associate with classical music, though I did hear a concerto for accordion and orchestra back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Canadian composer and accordionist Jim Hiscott (b. 1948) wrote the concerto and played the solo part, accompanied by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. It was quite a memorable piece of music.

Today, I was searching for something unique to post for Classical Sunday. After sampling a lot of music, I found a piece for cello and organ, Priere in F Major, Op. 16, by the French organist and composer Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911). The version I heard today is an arrangement for classical accordion and piano, arranged and played by Milos Milivojevic and Simon Callaghan.

The Priere (French for “prayer”) is serene and thought-provoking, and I am grateful to have discovered it today. The accordion sound in the piece makes me think of sitting in a Parisian cafe after strolling through the French capital. (I can’t wait to go back there again someday.)

Today’s selection is a pre-release from a collection with piano and harmonium duos composed by French organist, conductor and composer Charles-Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) that is scheduled to be issued by Nimbus Records next month.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy.

Here is the audio track from the upcoming album, on the Milos Milivojevic YouTube topic channel. (The recording is so new, I was the first to give it a “thumb’s up”! Be sure to give one if you like it, too.)

With my best wishes,

Steve

Unconditional

I first heard the music of English musician and singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey (b. 1984) on Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour which airs Sundays on BBC 6 Music. That program has been a staple of my musical diet for years, though I haven’t listened to it much in the last month or two.

From the first listen, I became enamoured with Mulvey’s voice and alternative/indie folk stylings. (I’ve previously posted two of his songs, “I Don’t Want to Go Home” and “Fever to the Form.” If you haven’t seen them before, please check out those posts after you’re finished here!)

“Unconditional” is an ode of adoration to the writer’s lover; at the same time, he demonstrates that either partner can lose sight of the unconditionality of their love and may need reassurance. But the foundation of that love is strong enough to keep bringing the light shining again. It’s quite a beautiful piece.

“Unconditional
Venus by my side
Uncontainable
Nowhere you can hide
It’s something to know
No matter where you are
The Venus light is shining in your star
And it’s back with my heart again
Saying that you do
Indivisible
Loving inside you
It’s nothing to know
Knowing that you are
The Venus light is shining in your star

Oh come on
It was right here all along
What you’re looking for is never gone
How did we do this, we’re here
Hold me close and hold me near
Near

Unconditional
Yeah
Unconditional
Yeah

Uncontrollable
How could I resist
Underneath it all
The way that you undress
Irreplaceable
The mark upon your lip
The Venus light is shining in your kiss

Oh come one
It was right here all along
What you’re missing was never gone
How did we do this, we’re here
Hold me close and hold me near
Yeah

Unconditional
Yeah
Unconditional
Yeah
Unconditional
Unconditional”

“Unconditional,” by Dean Brodrick, Nick Mulvey, Federico Bruno.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

The song is beautifully written and played, with wonderful little vocal surprises such as the African-influenced chanting by the backup singers.

“Unconditional” was the first of three singles to be released from Mulvey’s second studio album, Wake Up Now (2017) and the Wake Up Now (Unplugged) EP (also 2017).

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video of a live, unplugged performance of the song by Mulvey and his band, from his official YouTube channel. If you like the song, please give the artist a thumb’s up on the video and subscribe if you want to find more by him.

HWhat did you think of the song? Does it resonate with you and feelings about your intimate partner? Please let me know in the comments… and feel free to suggest a song you’d like me to feature on the blog!

And now, it’s on to pizza and movie night with my sweety!

With my best wishes,

Steve

The Old and the Young

After lunch and today’s aventure with one of our grandkids, I opened up Apple Music on my laptop and “The Old and the Young,” by the Denton, Texas, USA folk-rock sestet Midlake, was the first song to play.

Today’s selection is about holding onto dignity and grace while aging. Younger folk sometimes see older people as irrelevant and invisible, which I find very sad. The young can gain much from the wisdom of elders through mentoring, and the old can receive the gift of attention and honouring in this exchange.

“Time will have warranted all that the foliage brung
Falls to the ground at the feet of the old and the young
Tired and worn from a life made of wallow and pain
Of what will be made is all that remains at the core

Bear the old and the young
Time will have warranted
All that the foliage brung
So bear the old and the young

Awoke from a long one that came on the heels of a day
Where sun would arise and then grant us the kindness of ray
Fields full of gladness surrounded by droves that await
And look for the grave in everything adorn

Bear the old and the young
Time will have warranted
All that the foliage brung
So bear the old and the young

Bear the old and the young
Time will have warranted
All that the foliage brung
Bear the old and the young
Time will have warranted
All that the foliage brung
So bear the old and the young”

“The Old and the Young,” by McKenzie Smith, Eric Pulido, Jesse Chandler, Joey McClellan, Paul Alexander, Eric Nichelson.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

In the video, two boys come upon a camper in a field and, approaching curiously, find that an older man lives inside. They startle him, and he comes out angrily as if to say, “Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!” The boys disperse, but one returns later to leave something for the man.

The boy’s offering brings a youthful glint to the eyes of the man, and when he discovers what it is, he soon begins to smile, dance, and savour life and his place on the earth. The story is a powerful reminder that we all need to feel we matter, regardless of age, and that even the simple act of giving someone our time and attention is one of the greatest gifts.

“The Old and the Young” comes from Midlake’s fourth studio album, Antiphon (2013). The song has a slow and deliberate vibe that I find quite appealing.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the music video from the Midlake YouTube channel:

With my best wishes for a pleasant weekend,

Steve

Even in the Quietest Moments

It’s been many years since I’ve listened to the song “Even in the Quietest Moments” by the English progressive rock band Supertramp. The 1977 album of the same name came up in the suggestions on my YouTube stream today.

In my previous post on the group’s hit “Gone Hollywood,” I describe seeing the band in concert in 1979 when they were promoting their album from that year, Breakfast in America.

Today’s selection is a typical progressive rock track; at six minutes, twenty seconds, it’s longer than most songs that would have made it onto AM or FM radio at that time, or even now on most stations. It has a peaceful vibe, reminiscent of some of the slower sections in a Rush concept album of the 1970s.

“Even in the quietest moments
I wish I knew what I had to do
And even though the sun is shining
Well I feel the rain — here it comes again, dear
And even when you showed me
My heart was out of tune
For there’s a shadow of doubt that’s not letting me find you too soon
The music that you gave me
The language of my soul
Oh Lord, I want to be with you.
Won’t you let me come in from the cold?

Don’t you let the sun fade away
Don’t you let the sun fade away
Don’t you let the sun be leaving
Won’t you come to me soon

And even though the stars are listening
And the ocean’s deep, I just go to sleep
And then I create a silent movie
You become the star, is that what you are, dear?
Your whisper tells a secret
Your laughter brings me joy
And a wonder of feeling I’m Nature’s own little boy
But still the tears keep falling
They’re raining from the sky
Well there’s a lot of me got to go under before I get high

Don’t you let the sun disappear
Don’t you let the sun disappear
Don’t you let the sun be leaving
No, you can’t be leaving my life
Say that you won’t be leaving my life
Say that you won’t be leaving my life
Say won’t you please, stay won’t you please
Say won’t you please, stay won’t you please
Lord, won’t you come and get into my life
Lord, won’t you come and get into my life
Say won’t you please, stay won’t you please
Say won’t you please, stay won’t you please
Lord, don’t go

And even when the song is over
Where have I been — was it just a dream?
And though your door is always open
Where do I begin — may I please come in, dear?”

“Even in the Quietest Moments,” by Richard Davies, Roger Hodgson.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

The song was a fitting accompaniment to a sleepy feeling I have this afternoon after a busy day. We’re caring for one of our grandkids for a few days this week, and today, Sweety and I took him on an outing (an aventure, as he called it) to The Leaf, a new horticultural conservatory and event centre that opened in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park about a month ago. He wasn’t too interested in the plants but enjoyed running around the tropical biome and feeling the wet wind on his face near the bottom of the indoor waterfall. Now he’s having an afternoon nap, so it’s a quiet moment in a time of fun and togetherness.

Tropical plants fill the foreground as a tall glass and steel column rises in the middle of the image, with a faintly visible waterfall. The metal framing of a translucent plastic-like roof runs in curves in the background.
The tropical biome, with waterfall tower in the background, at The Leaf, Winnipeg, January 2023.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from the Supertramp Official YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Seattle

Many people are familiar with the British guitarist, singer-songwriter and record producer Mark Knopfler (b. 1949). If not, they’d probably know of Dire Straits, the band he co-founded and fronted from 1977-1988 and 1990-1995.

Dire Straits burst onto the music scene in 1978 with their debut, self-titled album. Side two of the record opens with their first big hit, “Sultans of Swing,” which I featured in one of my earliest blog posts. I remember the first time I heard the song; it was at my part-time job, a McDonald’s restaurant. The song was playing on late-night radio over the public address system after the store had closed for the night, and the overnight cleanup crew was listening to music while working.

I’ve also posted about a piece Knopfler wrote and played on the soundtrack for Local Hero, one of my all-time favourite movies.

Since the disbanding of Dire Straits in 1995, Knopfler has had a very successful solo career. A few weeks ago, a friend shared a song he thought I’d like, “Seattle,” telling me a friend of his sings the background vocal on the track.

It’s a lovely, poetic song.

“Above the bar the TVs are showing the game
But we’re not watching it, we’re hardly focussing
Through the windows in the fading day
1st Avenue is turning grey
Do you ever look at me and see another man
Let’s get two more beers and try to make a plan
Sometimes it feels as though I have a key
But every time I try it it won’t turn for me

Seattle – you’ve got to love the rain
And we both love rain
We both love rain

We watched the city skyline from the ferry deck
And you put your arms around my neck
We talked of looking just out of town
Now it’s looking like a dream shot down
I still believe that there’s somewhere for us
But now it’s something that we don’t discuss
And you’re the best thing I ever knew
Stay with me, baby, and we’ll make it to
We’ll make it to

Seattle – you’ve got to love the rain
And we both love rain
We both love rain
Seattle – I want you just the same
And we both love rain
We both love rain”

“Seattle,” by Mark Knopfler.
Lyrics retrieved from Genius.com

In the love letter “Seattle,” it is easy to recognize Knopfler’s trademark evocative, lyrical guitar style and smooth vocals. He’s a fantastic performer and is still active in the music industry.

I have only been to the city of Seattle, Washington once. It was in 1991 with my former partner, for a brief stay en route to visit family in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver was an annual road trip back then, and that year we drove west across the US instead of Canada for a change of scenery, as the drive across the prairies can be quite monotonous… though it was pretty much the same on the other side of the border, too!

While in Washington state, we stopped in a small city called Snoqualmie, the site of the majestic Snoqualmie Falls, and a hotel overlooking the waterfall, plus many other buildings that fans would recognize from the original TV series Twin Peaks (1990-1991). From that lush, mountainous and rainforest-like setting, it was another hour or so to Seattle, and that latter stretch was my first time on a major interstate highway… it was pretty daunting!

“Seattle” comes from Privateering (2012), Knopfler’s seventh solo album, and the first double album in his then-35-year career.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video for “Seattle” from the official Mark Knopfler YouTube channel. It features moody views of the Seattle skyline, including some handheld video footage of a thunderstorm over the city.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Miss Sarajevo

In 1995, English musician, composer, producer, author and visual artist Brian Eno (b. 1948) teamed up with the Irish rock band U2 on a side project called Passengers. They released one album, Original Soundtracks 1.

Eno chronicled the Passengers project in his 1995 diaries, published in 1996 as A Year with Swollen Appendices (the appendices included essays, opinion pieces and other personal works that he referred to in the diary. Eno reissued the book with a new introduction in 2021. I bought the book, and while I can’t say I enjoyed all of it, it was an interesting concept to follow his daily life for a year, albeit well after the fact.

The group wrote most of the songs on Original Soundtracks 1 for imaginary films, except for a few, including “Miss Sarajevo,” which was also the only single from the album. The song was inspired by a documentary by American director and journalist Bill Carter, produced and funded by U2’s lead singer, Bono.

“Is there a time for keeping your distance
A time to turn your eyes away
Is there a time for keeping your head down
For getting on with your day

Is there a time for kohl and lipstick
Is there time for cutting hair
Is there a time for high street shopping
To find the right dress to wear

Here she comes, heads turn around
Here she comes, to take her crown

Is there a time to run for cover
A time for kiss and tell
A time for different colours
Different names you find hard to spell

Is there a time for first communion
A time for East 17
Is there time to turn to Mecca
Is there time to be a beauty queen

Here she comes, beauty plays the clown
Here she comes, surreal in her crown

Dici che il fiume
Trova la via al mare
E come il fiume
Giungerai a me
Oltre I confini
E le terre assetate
Dici che come il fiume
Come il fiume
L’amore giungerà
L’amore
E non so più pregare
E nell’amore non so più sperare
E quell’amore non so più aspettare

Is there a time for tying ribbons
A time for Christmas trees
Is there a time for laying tables
When the night is set to freeze”

“Miss Sarajevo,” by Brian Eno, Paul David Hewson (Bono), David Howell Evans (The Edge), Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr. Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007) sang the operatic solo in the song, adding a rich depth to the piece. Bono translates the Italian libretto roughly as:

“You say that like a river finds its way to the sea
You will find your way back to me
You say that you will find a way
But love I’m not a praying man
And in love I can’t wait any more.”

The song was inspired by the documentary film about a beauty contest held in Sarajevo, the then-war-torn capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The intent of the film was to show the human side of the conflict, and it featured unedited clips of citizens speaking in the streets. In the video for the song, clips from the Carter film appear along with video taken during the first public playing of the piece at the 1995 Pavarotti & Friends concert in Modena, Italy. Late in the song, a documentary clip shows the pageant contestants holding a banner saying, in English, “Don’t Let Them Kill Us.

I feel the song is a tribute to the human spirit and capacity to savour life despite being in horrendous circumstances beyond one’s control. I love the piece, particularly the vocals by Pavarotti and Bono, the layers of synthesizer by Eno, and Edge’s steady guitar. English singer-songwriter George Michael (1963-2016) covered “Miss Sarajevo” on his 1999 album Songs from the Last Century. His version is quite different from the original, as it doesn’t include the operatic solo, but it’s quite beautiful, with a gorgeous acoustic guitar line and other instrumentation where the solo would have appeared. And his voice… what a loss it is to the world that he is no longer on this earthly plane.

“Miss Sarajevo” is one of my favourite U2 songs.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the concert version of the video from the official U2 YouTube channel:

I thought I’d also share the George Michael cover for comparison; here’s the audio from his YouTube channel:

Is there a version you prefer? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

With my best wishes,

Steve

Hit the Coast

Last summer, when I started writing down the names of songs for future posts on Song of the Day for Today, one of the first titles I recorded was “Hit the Coast,” by the Baltimore, Maryland, USA-based synth-pop group, Future Islands. Soon after, I added their hit, “Seasons (Waiting on You).” The latter track was honoured as the best song of 2014 by two online publications, NME (New Musical Express) and Pitchfork. I’m sure I’ll post it sometime, too.

On my first and every subsequent listen, “Hit the Coast” has always grabbed me with its dreamy synth line, steadily thrumming bass and, of course, the inimitable vocals of the band’s frontperson, Samuel T. Herring. After selecting the track for today’s post, I searched for a video accompaniment, and landed on an instalment from the Tiny Desk Concert series from NPR Music (National Public Radio, headquartered in Washington, DC, USA). NPR Music, like many organizations, went into a “work from home” mode during the pandemic. This video shows how they carried on their work creatively under the restrictions needed to preserve the health of artists and production staff. (In the credits to the video, they even list two people as Covid-19 compliance officers!)

In “Hit the Coast,” the singer seems numb with grief at losing an intimate relationship, though he is determined to move on and continue his life in a new place. While travelling there, he listens to music that evokes memories symbolized by the old tapes they used to listen to together, now relegated to bake in the sun on the car’s back seat.

In the Apple Music album notes, Herring writes about a tabletop desk recorder the band used for jam sessions, which one can hear in the song. He concludes, “Sometimes I think a record label will usually tell you to start big, go with your hit, go with your single for the first song, and end things more sombre. And we just wanted to flip it on its head. It made sense to end on this kind of triumphant note.”

“I can’t feel
I can’t feel for you
I’m just fine, as is
I don’t mind if that’s it
If I can’t feel, I can’t fight for you
It’s not my right
If I can’t fight, I can’t lose for you
So without you

I’ll hit the coast
Hit the coast
Hit the coast
Hit the coast

Pressing play on this old tape was a bad move
Reduced to hiss, some record I loved
Some record I’ve missed, just static, an absence
And I heard you say you didn’t need me
Or any of these things these tapes
And these days they’re frying in my backseat
But I’m flying and free
I’m not crying but I can’t even look to think

Hit the coast
Hit the coast
Hit the coast
Hit the coast

Driving in silence in my car
It’s all that I can take and nothing I could do
I put my whole life in my car
Oh, when you go just take what you can take
And change what you can do
I’ll hit the coast”

“Hit the Coast,” by Samuel T. Herring, Gerrit Welmers, William Cashion.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

Watching the video, I was immediately drawn in by Herring’s stage presence. Of the several Future Islands songs I’ve heard, the inflection in his voice in this one is more melodramatic than the others. And in the video, his dance moves are theatrical, some of them reminiscent of 1980s club dancing styles. He’s a unique, quirky and unabashedly delightful performer, and I’d genuinely love to see the band play live someday.

“Hit the Coast” is the closing track on Future Islands’ sixth and most recent studio album, As Long As You Are (2020).

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy.

Here’s the video that includes “Hit the Coast” from the official NPR Music YouTube channel. The piece is first up in a four-song, 18-minute set.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Nocturne No. 1 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 9, No. 1

Welcome to the first Classical Sunday of the year on Song of the Day for Today! I’m glad you’re here.

Today, I am featuring a nocturne for piano by the Polish composer Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). He wrote the Nocturnes, Op. 9, in 1831-1832; it was the first set of nocturnes that he published.

In an episode of Three Pines (2022), a TV series my sweety and I watched this past week, a troubled character is portrayed at the piano playing Nocturne No. 1 during a transition scene. The series is on Amazon Prime (in Canada) and is based on the Louise Penny novels about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, the fictional commander of the homicide squad in the Surete du Quebec in Canada. I’ll say a bit about the series, and no spoiler alerts here, folks… but if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know anything about it, you’d better not read on.

The transition was from a particularly heavy scene where detectives connect their case with crimes committed when the site had been used by the Canadian government and the Catholic church’s Indian Residential Schools system. (This program stole about 150,000 Indigenous, Inuit and Metis children from their families in a deliberate act of cultural and human genocide from the 1870s to the late 1990s.) The series subplots include several emotionally-challenging scenes that highlight, in a humble and honouring way, victims’ and survivors’ experiences of abuse and neglect in the school system, along with the ongoing issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited (MMIWG2S+).

We thoroughly enjoyed the series, and I’d highly recommend it. It is very well written, acted and produced, and features some great music. (I’ve read one of Penny’s series of books that feature Chief Inspector Gamache, Kingdom of the Blind. It was an excellent read, and I’d recommend it. (Sweety has also read others from the series and really liked them.)

The Shazam app tells me the music in the scene actually comes from a 1997 recording by Turkish concert pianist Idil Biret (b. 1941).

I’ve heard a lot of memorable music in films and TV over the years, and when something really caught my attention, I’d buy the soundtrack or the recording it came from, if I could identify it. (How did we get on in the years before the internet and Shazam?)

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here is the audio from the Idil Biret YouTube topic channel:

Do you try to find out who makes the music used in films you watch? Let me know this or any thoughts you have, in the comments; I’d love to hear from you.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Crystal Caving

The song “Crystal Caving” sometimes plays from the personalized choices Apple Music serves up on its “Steve’s Station” playlist while I prepare the toppings for our traditional Saturday pizza, for pizza and movie night.

My sweety simmers marinara sauce in large batches and freezes it, and creates the crust. I make the toppings and bake the crust, broiling the cheese at the end. Each week, I vary the toppings. However, we often repeat a few (like ground pork or turkey fried with onions, garlic and rosemary, topped with spinach, sometimes mushrooms or tomatoes, then grilled yellow and orange peppers on top of a mixture of various kinds of cheese; almost every other time, we skip the meat). And every time, we say, “that was the best one ever!”

I don’t know any other songs by the Boston, Massachusetts, USA, indie folk band, Darlingside. There is an in-depth write-up by the band on their website, and here are some excerpts that stand out for me: “But in addition to the usual vocal charms and wordsmithing within verse, Fish Pond Fish makes a finer point on the band’s broader storytelling philosophies. The story here, it seems, is submitting to forces larger than yourself in the same way you do when heading outside — throwing your head back to the stars or diving down to the ocean floor, looking for something without really knowing why. ‘In every walk with nature,’ naturalist John Muir wrote over a century ago, ‘one receives far more than he seeks.’ Nature is a looking glass, with songs like Ocean Bed, Green + Evergreen, Mountain + Sea, and Crystal Caving making metaphors of their titles. An experience of nature is an experience of self…” and “In some cases, repetition and return are a desirable way to deal with uncertain times (‘Every little thing and large is off its track and banking hard’); in others, the stagnancy of the present is overwhelming (‘Nothing growing but the trees erupt in black light and gold / you can’t repurpose what was never there.’) Much of the album considers how repetition and change complement one another — how either one can be a stress or a salve depending on the circumstances, and how even change itself predictably repeats (‘Things will change and change again.’).”

On the site, the band also talks extensively about the experience of completing an album during the Covid-19 quarantine in early 2020. And, website excerpts aside, I haven’t figured out the significance of the song title, “Crystal Caving,” though that doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the track.

Going down a little internet rabbit hole, I read over the band’s discography and on their Bandcamp page, I noticed a song titled “Lindisfarne” from a 2018 album (the piece also appears on a 2020 instrumentals album). The name jumped out to me as there is a tidal island on the northeast coast of England called the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Sweety and I visited there with my cousins, their partners and children on a sprawling, seven-day road trip through northern England, Wales and southern Scotland in 2011. The tide was in on the day of our visit so the causeway onto the island was underwater, but we toured around the mainland village in light rain. The most remarkable place we saw was the ruins of a monastic priory established around 634 AD. The pub we stopped in was much newer.

My sweety and me in the village of Lindisfarne, England with the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in the background, August 2011.

“Dial a light for a natural fade
Seasons can change
Menus scroll and the needs are met
All I’ve got left

Feed a family and we’re all grown up, yet we’re all still
Here nothing growing, crystal caving in the atmosphere
Everything’s golden

Natural and the disasters
And everything after
On the hour, every hour, yes
At your convenience

One of many, and the many make the garden grow
Here nothing growing, but the trees erupt in black light and gold
Everything’s golden”

“Crystal Caving,” by Don Mitchell, Auyon Mukharji, Harris Paseltiner, Dave Senft.
Lyrics retrieved from the band’s website.

“Crystal Craving” is the second part of an opening medley (with “Woolgathering”) from Fish Pond Fish (2020), the third album by the current four-person lineup of Darlingside.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy, while I go figure out what tonight’s pizza toppings will be…

Here’s the audio for “Warning Signs” from the official Darlingside YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Sun Song

A happy Friday to all!

There is so much great music out there. And sometimes, the most remarkable songs come to us by chance, as if by serendipity. In the past year, I heard many songs that I had never known before, some of them from as far back as the 1980s!

Another recent discovery for me is Laura Veirs (b. 1973), a folk/alternative singer-songwriter from Portland, Oregon, USA. Released ten years ago, her “Sun Song” is a joyful, grateful homage to the sun and how its presence warms us and lifts our moods.

The piece has gorgeous melodies, superb guitar (I hear acoustic, electric and a little pedal steel) and a beautiful string arrangement carried on a soft rhythm section.

The official video for “Sun Song” is reminiscent of Super 8-type home movies of the 1960s and ’70s, with rural scenes of cottage country and a summer festival and, of course, sunny skies.

“First rays of light are coming through
Been several months since I saw that much blue
Water a-rushing in the banks
Freed from the ice

It has the sun, the sun to thank
It has the sun, the sun to thank

Matches inside your golden hair
Catch all the light I’d fight to the death, I swear
As all the other mothers would, the land
Stalked by winter, solace in a small warm hand

We’ve got the sun, the sun to thank
We’ve got the sun, the sun to thank

Early morning riser to the east
Shadows fall behind me, shiner never sleep
‘Til that day I’ll bask in everything
That you paint, the arrows and the wheat

We’ve got the sun, the sun to thank
We’ve got the sun, the sun to thank
We’ve got the sun, the sun to thank
We’ve got the sun, the sun to thank”

“Sun Song,” by Laura Veirs. Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

It’ll be a few months before the sun frees the frozen waters of our rivers in Winnipeg, Canada and coaxes up the wheat fields that surround our city; in the meantime, today has been a sunny day and, looking at the blue sky from my warm home listening to Veirs, I’m thankful for the sun, and her beautiful take on it.

“Sun Song” is the opening track from Warp and Weft (2013), Veirs’ ninth studio album. The song features backing vocals by fellow American singer-songwriter Neko Case, a member of the Canadian group The New Pornographers (please check out my post on Case singing lead on their song “Champions of Red Wine”).

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy.

Here’s the video for “Sun Song” from the official Laura Veirs YouTube channel.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Warning Signs

Today, Song of the Day for Today is three years old! Thanks for dropping by today to share a little music together.

Music is such a powerful force in life. It can influence moods, motivate and move us, create community, and enrich us. Happy, sad or in-between songs, all music can be inspirational and therapeutic.

Today’s song, “Warning Signs,” is by Band of Horses, a Charleston, South Carolina, USA-based rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 2004. I’ve previously posted three other Band of Horses songs, “On My Way Back Home,” “Monsters,” and “Ode to LRC.” All three are bangers, as the Brits call terrific songs. (Please check out the links to those earlier posts while you’re here on the site!)

In “Warning Signs,” the band discusses mental health and relationships, topics that have gained more public attention since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the isolation of lockdowns and, to a lesser degree, public health restrictions when those were in place in much of the world.

I believe the song also touches on male toxicity and how this permeates society due to traditional expectations of men’s roles: tough guys who don’t cry and will start fistfights to protect “their women.” Such stereotypes are so damaging to all of society.

“Small talk with a registered nurse
Not to cry in front of people at work
Well that’s hard, hard, hard, at times you know

Get reminded of the earlier days
The end of April ’78
That was a long, long, long, long time ago

And you showed a lot of warning signs
You made your own situation mine now your problem is mine

You don’t want help
You don’t need me
You don’t look well
And you don’t want anything
You don’t want anything

Slim pickings when the weather is snow
Pretty winded on a bicycle
It’s been quite, quite, quite, quite a row to hoe

A hot dinner on a souvenir plate
The part of town where the money ain’t
But things are fine, fine, fine, we’re on our own

We don’t want help
We don’t take handouts
We won’t seek sympathy
And we don’t want anything, we don’t want anything, we don’t

Get reminded of the earlier days, April ’78, long, long, long, long time ago
And you keep it bottled up inside and let it out from time to time yeah the problem’s mine
I don’t want help, I don’t want counseling, I won’t go to therapy
I won’t do anything”

“Warning Signs,” by Benjamin Bridwell, Ryan Monroe.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

In the official video, a man, clothed in grass and flowers — maybe he feels invisible and neglected or is trying to hide his true self for fear of rejection — drives into the country on a sunny day and stops in a scrubby area. He carries his memories —a boxful of VHS tapes — and sits in a nature-surrounded, makeshift living room to watch them on many TV screens stacked upon each other, perhaps symbolizing the many thoughts that can consume us in a moment. He watches the tapes to connect to his childhood memories and pictures showing animals and plants, possibly concluding that nature has been the only constant in his life, thus, his clothing.

The film’s powerful message at the end seems to be that we only truly bloom after we break open.

“Warning Signs” is the opening track from Band of Horses’ latest album, Things Are Great (2022). Lead singer Ben Bridwell’s assertion, “But things are fine, fine, fine, we’re on our own…” seems to be a play on the album title. This song’s vocals, instrumentation and production are excellent, making it captivating and thought-provoking.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy.

Here’s the video for “Warning Signs” from the Band of Horses YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Days

As with Sunday’s selection, today’s is a song I only first heard in the last year and, likewise, on Apple Music’s personalized picks.

“Days” comes from Reality (2003), the 24th studio album by English singer-songwriter and actor David Bowie (1947-2016). Though I’ve considered myself a fan since first hearing his music in the early 1970s when one of my brothers brought it home and the records became a staple in our household, I don’t know the album. I still listen to many of Bowie’s works, though the last full album I bought was Black Tie White Noise (1993).

In Reality’s “Days,” Bowie sings a melodic and poignant piece anchored on a softer acoustic guitar while he tells of regretful self-awareness, having not given much of himself in his relationships and now thinking of “all the days I owe you” as he pleads for a companion in his dark moment.

“Hold me tight
Keep me cool
Going mad
Don’t know what to do
Do I need a friend?
Well, I need one now

All the days of my life
All the days of my life
All the days I owe you

All I’ve done
I’ve done for me
All you gave
You gave for free
I gave nothing in return
And there’s little left of me

All the days of my life
All the days of my life
All the days I owe you

In red-eyed pain I’m knocking on your door again
My crazy brain in tangles
Pleading for your gentle voice
Those storms keep pounding through my head and heart
I pray you’ll soothe my sorry soul

All the days of my life
(All the days of my life)
All the days of my life
(All the days of my life)
All the days I owe you
All the days of my life
(All the days of my life)
All the days of my life
(All the days of my life)
All the days I owe you

All the days of my life
(All the days of my life)
All the days of my life
(All the days of my life)
All the days I owe you”

“Days,” by David Bowie.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

Bowie and his longtime collaborator, American singer, musician and recorder producer Tony Visconti (b. 1944), co-produced the Reality album, creating demos for the songs before bringing the band (primarily Bowie’s touring band of the time) in for recording sessions. Visconti’s demo bass playing ended up in some of the final mixes of the songs, including “Days.” Of the song, Bowie said at a live performance in Australia, “I sometimes feel I wrote this song for so many people.”

It might be a function of age and maturity, where many people look back on their lives and second-guess their choices or how they showed up (or didn’t) in their lives. I sometimes think back to how I was compelled by the apparent (or perceived) urgency of my work in government. As important as much of it was, it too often came at the expense of personal and family time, as was the case for many of my colleagues; a fact lost on the masses that love to decry and heap disdain on the nameless, faceless folk in public service.

Retirement is an opportunity to reclaim and make amends for some of that lost time. I am grateful for paying back some of those days and my sweety and I spending memory-making ones, like today, caring for our one-year-old grandson (which I have been doing for a full day every week since autumn), or having our kids, partners, and grandkids over to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions together.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for “Days” from the official David Bowie Youtube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

The Spirit of Radio

Almost one year ago, I published a blog post on the 1981 single “Limelight” by the Canadian band Rush, and shared a little of the band’s history I had either recalled or read up on. Today, I’m sharing a song they released 43 years ago next month.

I still remember the buzz the song created when “The Spirit of Radio” hit the airwaves; other than listening to vinyl records or cassette tapes (sometimes known as compact cassettes) and the soon-to-be-phased out eight-track tape, radio was one of the primary ways to consume music in the early 1980s, before compact discs (or CDs, first manufactured in late 1982), and well before the internet and streaming services. For car audio, in those days, many people recorded vinyl albums onto blank cassette tapes; I did that a lot to enjoy my record collection in the car, using premium cassette tapes like the Maxell XLII-S to maximize sound quality for playback. I felt it wasn’t piracy as long as it was personal use of an album I owned. I still have a lot of those old tapes kicking around…

Today’s selection begins with the cheery narrative of a start to the day that is accompanied with a song on the radio. Later in the piece, lyricist Neil Peart (1952-2020) writes more cynically about the record industry and its obsession with profits and artistic control, which, as a June 2021 article from Classic Rock magazine points out, eroded the sense of “adventure” in radio and, in Rush’s case, put pressure on the band to produce shorter, more radio chart-friendly pieces. (In response, in 1976, Rush recorded a 20-minute title track for the album 2112.)

“The Spirit of Radio” is a high-energy, upbeat, catchy tune, and the hardest-working threesome in rock music — drummer Peart, guitarist Alex Lifeson (b. 1953) and lead singer/bassist Geddy Lee — churns out a ton of sounds on it.

“Off on your way
Hit the open road
There is magic at your fingers
For the Spirit ever lingers
Undemanding contact
In your happy solitude.

Invisible airwaves
Crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle
With the energy
Emotional feedback
On a timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price –
Almost free…

All this machinery
Making modern music
Can still be open-hearted
Not so coldly charted
It’s really just a question
Of your honesty

One likes to believe
In the freedom of music
But glittering prizes
And endless compromises
Shatter the illusion
Of integrity

‘For the words of the profits,
Are written on the studio wall,
Concert hall –
Echoes with the sounds…
Of salesmen.’”

“The Spirit of Radio,” by Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee.
Official lyrics retrieved from the Rush website.

“The Spirit of Radio” is the opening track from Rush’s seventh studio album, Permanent Waves (1980). The band released the song as a single in February of that year.

Below you’ll find the official video for the song from Rush’s YouTube channel. The animated film was released in 2020, about six months after Peart’s death and contains an in-memoriam dedication at the end. The video is filled with radio-themed imagery and is quite a clever production.

And for those who enjoy a live performance, here’s an unofficial video from a 1984 show in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which was the band’s home city.

With my best wishes,

Steve

PS: On rare occasions, and for some unknown reason, email subscribers may see a “video not available” message after clicking “play” on the video pane in the email message. If this happens, please follow the link at the bottom of the message to visit the website post and you will be able to play it from there.

Heading for Nowhere

I first heard the Victoria, British Columbia, Canada band Jets Overhead through their song “Heading for Nowhere,” a song with an appealing, road trip kind of vibe.

The song has a very catchy and highly melodic sound, founded on a driving beat featuring the trademark, fuzzy sounds of bassist Jocelyn Greenwood’s instrument setup and other excellent instrumentation and production.

It’s been a favourite for years; the metadata in my iTunes library says I bought the track on June 9, 2009, four days after the band released No Nations, their second full album, which features the song. I must have heard it on CBC Radio 3, the Canadian national broadcaster’s internet radio station, as that was my go-to station for several years. R3’s tagline, “Breaking New Sound,” was accurate as it introduced me to many new sounds I still enjoy. The platform has had its challenges though. In 2015 live hosts were replaced by automated programming. This took away much of the station’s appeal, replacing personalities with repetitive playlists. And this past October, SiriusXM dropped the streaming station from its satellite radio lineup, though Radio 3 can still be heard on the CBC Listen app. (I primarily use Apple Music in the car now, and was already thinking of ditching SiriusXM. Their abandonment of this notable — albeit pared-down — Canadian content provider helped seal the deal for me.)

Vocalist and founding member Adam Kittredge is said to have coined the band’s name while observing air traffic patterns over London, England. My sweety and I haven’t travelled there in almost six years, but I can still envision the latticework of contrails woven in the sky by a never-ending parade of jet planes travelling to and from London Heathrow Airport.

I believe the song is about the speed and complexity of life and how those factors can contribute to us not living in the present moment. When we finally start paying attention, we realize we have missed important things that went on while we were absent. It’s a commentary on society and how many people are tuned more into their smartphones than the life around them, carrying this fixation into nighttime, leading to sleep deprivation and further inability to connect with the living world.

“I’m looking for something that I didn’t notice was gone
Weeks, maybe months just went by without anything wrong
Now I’m aware I can’t stop the repeating alarm
Here in this place I get peace, I get war, I get on

Standing at the station
Falling out of line
Missing my connection
Asking for the time

End at the beginning
Back onto the street
Always chasing something
Even in our sleep

(We got the time)
Heading for nowhere

I’m ready for something I finally noticed was gone
Head to the place where I go when I know what went wrong
Moments repeat, colors change to the beat of a song
Counting the days I get by and the days I get on

End at the beginning
Back onto the street
Always chasing something
Even in our sleep

(We got the time)
Heading for nowhere

Standing at the station
Looking at the map
Stopping for a moment
Just before the crash”

“Heading for Nowhere,” by Jocelyn Greenwood, Adam Kittredge, Piers Henwood, Luke Renshaw, Antonia Freybe-Smith. Lyrics retrieved from Genius.com.

The video for “Heading for Nowhere is brilliantly conceived and made. Much of it is set in a railway yard, implying travel, though the band members are frozen in place as if in a theatrical tableau; this is wonderfully mirrored by singers Kittredge and Antonia Freybe-Smith taking and changing their places, directed on a warehouse-style stage. These aspects combine wonderfully to symbolize the irony of the societal disconnection that can result from online substitutes for authentic connection. However, the two infuse the stage scene with a spontaneous moment of play near the end. Meanwhile, the train yard appears derelict and maybe abandoned, with nature sprouting and reclaiming it. This scene builds upon that moment of playfulness as if offering a message of hope for our world.

If we replace people with programs, and don’t look up from our devices to see the world around us, we lose true connection with others and nature. Then we truly are… heading for nowhere.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy.

Here’s the video for “Heading for Nowhere” from the official Jets Overhead YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Coming Up Close

Hi! And happy new year! For those who receive my posts by email, it probably comes as a surprise to see a message from me today, since I haven’t published a post since April 29, 2022.

If you’ve dropped by here in the past, you will know I enjoy listening to music throughout the day. And I’m happy to be back here to share some of it with you. I plan to go back to writing a blog post about a song each day. Next week, I’ll resume my practice of posting a classical piece every Sunday. I may not always have much to say about the songs I share, but I’ll serve something up…

In that last write-up before my hiatus, I wrote that I was planning to spend more time cycling outdoors, as I was coming off six months of Zwifting on the indoor bike trainer (a typically indoor season lasts about four). And, I said I would also be looking for a volunteer opportunity to build on purpose and service.

Well, I did do the latter, which affected how much time I had for the former: I volunteered for a little more than four months on an election campaign. It felt like a really important cause to get behind. A lot of long hours, some fantastic working relationships and friendships made, though, at the same time, politics can be quite foul, which was truly hard on my soul. And… we lost, which was a crushing disappointment, as our candidate spoke with a bold, innovative and humane vision to make our city a better place for all who live here. The defeat took some time to get over, and a couple of months later, it still seems surreal that all the policy announcements we developed will not come to fruition.

Life’s like that, though. Sometimes things don’t turn out despite doing all the work.

In a 1989 interview with the music industry trade magazine Cash Box, American singer-songwriter Aimee Mann (b. 1960) said of today’s song, “‘Coming Up Close’ made people nervous ’cause there were no other songs like it on the charts; now there are. We could’ve been groundbreakers, I think, if (the album) Welcome Home had gotten the attention it deserved.” Having a musical talent within my own family, I see the passion, creativity and effort that goes into making music; to share it with the world and feel it hasn’t been embraced and widely heard must be a kind of heartbreak.

I first heard “Coming Up Close” on Apple Music earlier this year. I didn’t realize until seeking out a video for the song that Mann was the lead singer of the former Boston, Massachusetts, USA new wave band, ‘Til Tuesday. I’m familiar with some of Mann’s solo work and have featured one of her pieces, “Goose Snow Cone,” on this site. While I now recognize Mann’s singing in today’s song and enjoy it, I notice an added maturity of tone in her later work.

‘Til Tuesday was together for a relatively short time, from 1982 to 1989.

In “Coming Up Close,” Mann and ‘Til Tuesday’s drummer Michael Hausman weave words and music into a beautiful, lilting ballad of love, and perhaps hope:

“One night in Iowa
He and I in a borrowed car
Went driving in the summer
Promises in every star

Out in the distance
I could hear some people laughing
I felt my heart beat back
A weekend’s worth of sadness

There was a farmhouse
That had long since been deserted
We stopped and carved our hearts
Into the wooden surface

We thought just for an instant
We could see the future
We thought for once we knew
What really was important

Coming up close
Everything sounds like welcome home
Come home, and oh, by the way

Don’t you know that I could make
A dream that’s barely half-awake come true

I wanted to say
But anything I could have said
I felt somehow that you already knew

We got back in the car
And listened to a Dylan tape
We drove around the fields
Until it started getting late

And I went back to
My hotel room on the highway
And he just got back
In his car and drove away

Coming up close
Everything sounds like welcome home
Come home, and oh, by the way

Don’t you know that I could make
A dream that’s barely half-awake come true

I wanted to say
But anything I could have said
I felt somehow that you already knew

Coming up close
Everything sounds like welcome home
Come home

Coming up close
Everything sounds like welcome home
Come home, come on home”

“Coming Up Close,” by Aimee Mann, Michael Hausman.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

Billboard magazine’s record review described “Coming Up Close” as a “nostalgic rock song,” saying it was a “contemplative follow-up” to “What About Love” (the other single from the 1986 album Welcome Home) and that it “incorporates elements of both country and western.” Indeed, the deep, resonant tone of the electric guitar riff has a solid country twang that adds a layer of thoughtful reminiscence about a love affair that didn’t come together in the end.

English record producer and engineer Rhett Davies (b. 1949) produced Welcome Home. He’s a familiar presence in my musical collection, having worked on albums I have by Roxy Music, plus several of ex-Roxy Music keyboardist Brian Eno’s solo albums (for me, most notably Taking Tiger Mountain [By Strategy]) and some by Eno’s former Roxy Music bandmate Phil Manzanera, along with albums by Genesis, Robert Palmer, The HolliesDire StraitsKing Crimson, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and many others. 

“Coming Up Close” was the second and final single from Welcome Home. The band had wanted it to be the first single, but the record company pushed for “What Above Love,” which I find — at least in comparison — kind of a dull song. Back to Mann’s comments quoted earlier, “Coming Up Close” really did deserve more attention. The album didn’t realize the commercial gains Epic Records sought… and maybe that’s another example of record executives chasing profit over artistry. But the song has aged well and gives me a lot of pleasure when I hear it. It’s kind of like welcoming a loved one home.

We don’t not always get where we planned. Coming up close will work, maybe, but it is not always a lasting thing.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy.

Here’s the video for “Coming Up Close” from the official TilTuesdayVEVO/Youtube channel. (By the way, I always have an added bit of admiration for a band that takes the time to customize their Youtube channel URL or handle… now, I mean, of course, anyone can do this, but only months ago, one still had to reach a threshold of followers before being able to add the customization… but I digress.)

Besides the sound of the drummer counting in, the video appears to have been synced to the studio audio track. In the film, Mann sings while strumming an acoustic guitar. It’s been reported that this was one of the first songs she wrote on the acoustic instead of her usual instrument, the electric bass. The clothing, hair and makeup in the video truly give off the vibe of the 1980s new wave/new romantic era.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Both Sides Now (from the film, CODA)

As a person born with the miraculous gift of hearing, I savour the sounds of music, people and the world, every single day. Music has such power that it can elicit many moods and feelings. Each morning, I turn on my computer and speakers and listen to music while going about my morning routines. It’s one of my favourite times of the day, discovering new music and hearing old favourites while the delightful scent of coffee slowly emerges from our espresso maker.

And speaking of old favourites, today’s selection is a cover of a 1960s song. It comes from the soundtrack of CODA, a movie Sweety and I watched about a woman born into the global community of children of deaf adults, or CODAs. I was inspired to add the film to our watchlist when a dear friend from Colorado shared a video of English actor, singer and songwriter Emilia Jones (b. 2002) singing “Both Sides Now.” Canadian singer and songwriting legend Joni Mitchell (b. 1943) wrote the song, which made the charts as a single in 1968 and was included on her album Clouds (1969).

Numerous artists have covered “Both Sides Now,” including Judy Collins (b. 1939), Dion (b. 1939), Herbie Hancock (b. 1940), Paul Young (b. 1956), Willie Nelson (b. 1933), Neil Diamond (b. 1941) a duet by Josh Groban (b. 1981) and Sara Bareilles (b. 1979), and many others. Jones’s rendition is lovely and certainly belongs alongside those of her musical elders.

“Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all”

“Both Sides Now,” by Joni Mitchell.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

“Both Sides Now” is one of the songs I remember very well from my childhood. It always brought out (and still evokes) a range of feelings: longing, loss, confusion, delight, and wonder.

When I started My Song of the Day for Today in January 2020, I posted daily. Then after a year and a half, I took a break and then reduced my posts to three times weekly. Today’s is my 625th and last blog entry for a while as I put the site on hiatus and focus on being outside more now that our seemingly never-ending winter seems to be giving way to a nearly-two-month-late spring (well, that is, after one more Colorado Low storm system that is set to move in to our area tonight… for those counting, that’s three of them in as many weeks!).

In today’s post, I’ve linked to previous posts that include artists I mention today. I invite you to visit (or revisit) those posts along with the many others on my blog feed. You can search in or scroll through the listing of songs on my Index of Songs/Search page, too.

Like the ending song lyrics, sometimes I feel “I really don’t know life at all” and want to spend less time on the computer and social media (I already abandoned Twitter, for the second time) and invest myself in experiencing things I’ve set aside while researching and writing about songs. (I have a massive pile of books to read, for example…) And to find a renewed sense of purpose, I’m looking for a new volunteer commitment to put my skills and experience to work contributing to my community.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here on this journey of appreciating music and life. I hope you continue to enjoy music each day.

Here is the audio from the Republic Records YouTube channel:

Until we meet again over a song, be well and stay safe, friends.

Steve

Champions of Red Wine

I can’t remember for sure but think I first heard “Champions of Red Wine” by Canadian indie rock group The New Pornographers on KEXP Seattle’s The Morning Show with John Richards. Either that, or on Apple Music.

Anyway, The New Pornographers aren’t a band I know much about, though after reading about them today I see they’re a supergroup formed in 1997 of musicians well-known in the Vancouver, British Columbia area and who also have independent musical projects. A founding member, Canadian musician and songwriter Carl Newman (aka A.C. Newman), named the band after a 1966 Japanese satire film, The Pornographers.

“Champions of Red Wine” is uptempo and brilliantly played and produced, with a powerful, anchoring vocal chorus that builds up to the entry of the song’s lead singer, American singer-songwriter Neko Case, and fills spaces between her early lines then revisits later as a kind of tagline for the piece. The song starts with an electric guitar and arpeggiated synthesizer (plus a tambourine), and the melody kicks into gear once the drummer comes in. (Interesting sidebar: in a 2014 interview with the American non-profit National Public Radio, Case and songwriter Newman talk about the album Brill Bruisers and how, during the recording of the song, he was singing lead and Case was backup; in production, he removed his vocal from the mix and felt her singing was much better for the piece.)

The meaning of “Champions of Red Wine” is unclear. Some reviewers think it’s about a turbulent relationship (one that obviously includes consuming red wine together).

“We are champions of red wine, poured all over
It’s what we’re known for, the fine art of crossed lines
Crossed for old times, like starting over

Open up the headlamps, be poised to look for
You’re coming over, you’ve done your research
It has the force of water, and we’ve got a lot here

The steps I take, back to you
The steps I take, back to you

I think we could save lives, if we don’t spend them
Way undercover, I am not your love song
Love song gone wrong, I’m coming over

The steps I take, back to you
The steps I take, back to you

We are champions of red wine, poured all over
And we’re coming over, we’re coming over
We’re coming over, we’re coming over”

“Champions of Red Wine,” by Carl Newman.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

The song is a high-energy piece I really enjoy hearing. I think it belongs on my Car and Bike Trainer Tunes playlist as motivation for one of the faster virtual group rides I join sometimes on Zwift.com!

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from The New Pornographers’ official YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007, I: Prelude

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) wrote the Cello suites, BWV 1007-1012, six pieces for unaccompanied cello, between 1717 and 1723.

The suites are very technical and complex; not unusual characteristics for Bach’s music. Surviving copies of the original manuscript were not annotated and, therefore, difficult to interpret. The music was not well known or publicly performed until Puerto Rican cellist, conductor and composer Pablo Casals (1876-1973) played them in the early 20th century. Now, they are considered to be among Bach’s most notable musical accomplishments and are frequently performed; they also have been transcribed for other instruments.

American cellist Yo-Yo Ma (b. 1955) has recorded the Cello Suites numerous times. A link in the official video he released in 2019 takes one to stores and services that sell or stream his 2018 Sony Classical album Six Evolutions – Bach: Cello Suites.

The video opens with a quote by Ma, “Culture—the way we express ourselves and understand each other—can bind us together as one world,” and ends with the hashtag #cultureconnectsus. Ma plays the “Prelude” from Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, and the film is interspersed with people of all ages and backgrounds expressing their customs, ideas, art and play. A set of three stylized musical staffs weave together these visual vignettes. There is much diversity and beauty to see and hear.

Ma’s interpretation of the music and his message to the world is essential—especially in the current global overabundance of cynicism, individualism, disconnection and hate—to the survival of our species and, indeed, the entire living world. 

The complexity of the “Prelude” brings out many emotions, though perhaps the most important is hope, which I hear building powerfully, starting at about 2:11 in the video, near the end of the piece. (And on a weekend when we’re experiencing what many in Winnipeg, Canada, are calling “fourth winter,” I’m hopeful that I’ll soon be able to take my bike outside… over a month and a half behind last year’s first outdoor ride, which was March 8th.)

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today, on Classical Sunday. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the official video from Yo-Yo Ma’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Nothing Good Comes to Those Who Wait

Nine years after its release, I still find the alternative rock compilation Arts & Crafts: X a captivating grouping of musical brilliance. No wonder it is one of my favourite compilation albums.

I’ve previously posted about two other tracks from the album: the hypnotic and brooding tale of a solo travelling musician, “Lonely Is as Lonely Does,” and the thoughtful and dreamy ballad, “Time Can Be Overcome.” Like those two, the other nine tracks on the collection are pairings of artists signed to the Canadian record label Arts & Crafts.

In “Nothing Good Comes to Those Who Wait,” the Montreal, Quebec indie pop/rock band Stars teams up with fellow Montrealer and singer, songwriter, rapper, classical composer, producer, actor and screenwriter Chilly Gonzales (the stage name for Jason Beck, b. 1972). I first came to know of Gonzales through his 2004 release, Solo Piano, the first of a series of albums. I think I heard that album during one of my daily visits to Parlour Coffee, one of the first of the third-wave coffee shops to open in Winnipeg, Canada.

The song opens slowly with solo piano, then voice, and builds incredible power as more voices and instruments enter to create a shifting, magical mix of sounds.

“You came to me
Last night in a dream
Through the dark
Hand to heart

You touched my face, electric scar
I ask you why, but there’s no voice
Just a look in your eye

Then the sun breaks through
I’m awake without you
How cruel this mind
To say goodbye twice

Leave me alone, why come to me
Just to leave, a cage no key
I crave the dark, I close the blinds
And force my mind

How I will wait
Oh how I will wait
For this bitter sleep to come
So this dream will care

Last night I had a dream that I woke up screaming
Only to realize that I was still dreaming
Nothing good comes to those who wait
Nothing ever comes ’til it comes too late

Last night I had a dream that I woke up screaming
Only to realize that I was still dreaming
Nothing good comes to those who wait
Nothing ever comes ’til it comes too late

There’s no cage in the world
That can come between us
We don’t need a kid
We’ve got a musical genius

There’s no cage in the world
That can come between us
We don’t need a kid
We’ve got a musical genius

Nothing good comes to those who wait
And nothing ever comes til it comes too late
Lost in impossible gospel
Playing solitaire with my own apostle

This is the cost of exhausted options
And colossal obstacles, constantly boxed in
I’m in mourning this morning in black pajamas
A life’s sentence with question marks and lots of commas

Too much baggage, my heart’s sluggish
This dream is meant to carry on
Hand luggage

Wide awake so I wrote these bars
I close my eyes and I hear stars”

“Nothing Good Comes to Those Who Wait,” by Amy Millan, Chris Seligman, Evan Cranley, Jason Beck, Patrick McGee, Torquil Campbell.
Lyrics retrieved from Deezer.com and corrected as sung.

The vocals are unique and masterfully varied, starting with Stars co-lead singer Amy Millan (b. 1973) solo, then her harmony with co-lead Torquil Campbell (b. 1972) at 0:47 into the song, then Campbell alone at 2:08 and, finally, a chill rap by Chilly Gonzales at 2:44 that brings the song to its close a minute later. All the while, there are electronic effects, like on the subdued-metallic electric guitar riff, then sounds like electronic crickets punctuating the end of each line on the third verse. In the fifth verse, Gonzales’ piano playing is like a conversation with the vocals.

Each time I listen to the song, I notice something new; today, it was the horns in the sixth verse. I also love Gonzales’ final line, “I close my eyes and I hear stars” which I always associate as him saying he’s hearing the band Stars.

With all its complex parts combined, “Nothing Good Comes to Those Who Wait” is a truly stunning work. If you don’t yet own it or the album Arts & Crafts: X, I urge you to buy it in support of Canadian music. You won’t be sorry you did.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is audio from the Bandcamp song page (and you can find the entire album here):

With my best wishes,

Steve

Line of Fire

Today’s selection is a song I’ve heard many times on Apple Music, and have thought several times about sharing. It’s by Junip, a Swedish rock band.

A trio of childhood friends, Jose Gonzalez, Elias Araya and Tobias Winterkorn, formed the band in 1998. Araya left the group around 2010, and the remaining duo has kept active, adding musicians for recording and live performances.

Before I read the band’s description of the piece on their website, I felt the song had a brooding, dramatic vibe, maybe illustrating the difficulties that can accompany life transitions. The write-up seems to come to a similar conclusion, adding the notion of redemption; I find “Line of Fire” adds a lingering effect that speaks to a yearning for, well… maybe absolution… and a wish to be able to set down the burden of regret as a step toward healing.

From the Junip website: “… ‘Line of Fire is more about taking responsibility and doing what you can to change your life in a new situation. For González, the words aren’t meant to be specific, but meant to make you feel something, and create an emotion. Stuff I think about is more about human nature in general: songs are about love and death – not necessarily relationships, really. There’s a high ambition to reach deep emotions, and I tend to write about these topics. For him, the key topic remains redemption – those life-changing moments that shake people up, which unite all the themes. It’s ultimately about how the grass will grow after snow melts away: finding that hopeful feeling between the lines, that’s what the whole record is about.

It was helpful to read that as I made my way through the song, pondering its meaning.

“What would you do
If it all came back to you?
Each crest of each wave
Bright as lightning

What would you say
If you had to leave today?
Leave everything behind
Even though for once, you’re shining

Standing on higher ground
When you hear the sounds
You realize it’s just the wind
And you notice it matters who and what you let under your skin

If put to the test
Would you step back from the line of fire?
Hold everything back
All emotion set aside it

Convince yourself
Someone else
Hide from the world
Your lack of confidence
What you choose to believe in
Takes you as you fall
Takes you as you fall

No one else around you
No one to understand you
No one to hear your calls
Look through all your dark corners
You’re backed up against the wall
Step back from the line of fire

What would you do
If it all came back to you?
Each crest of each wave
Bright as lightning
Do the same as you

What you choose to believe in
Takes you as you fall

No one else around you
No one to understand you
No one to hear your calls
Look through all your dark corners
You’re backed up against the wall
Step back from the line of fire

Step back from the line of fire”

“Line of Fire,” by Jose Gonzalez, Tobias Winterkorn, Elias Araya.
Lyrics retrieved from Lyrics.com.

About halfway through the song, a synthesizer line enters briefly, with a sound somewhat like a siren. It returns about three-quarters of the way through and sustains in a way that builds the song’s urgency; it’s dramatic, so much so that I am sure I feel like my blood pressure rises when I hear the tune going into that outro. The whole work is a brilliant piece of music, very captivating and mesmerizing.

Junip’s music has appeared in many TV programs. “Line of Fire” has been featured on the series Breaking Bad and The Blacklist, as well as The Originals. I wasn’t surprised to see that in one of the Wikipedia articles I read when looking into the piece. It’s one of those songs with a definite edge that can heighten and add depth to the drama in a motion picture.

“Line of Fire” is the opening track on the band’s second full album, Junip (2013).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from the Junip YouTube topic channel:

And here is a performance on KEXP Seattle. It is always great to see the musicians play, though I thing the multifaceted album production process adds layers of sound that make the piece more dramatic than what can be broadcast through a live internet radio channel.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Sicilienne, Op. 78 (Arr. for Flute and Guitar)

In 1892, a theatre manager in Paris, France, asked French organist, pianist, composer and conductor Charles-Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) to write incidental music for the production of a play by the French poet, actor and playwright Jean-Baptiste Polequin (aka Moliere, 1622-1673). 

Articles on Wikipedia tell that Saint-Saens was too busy to take on the proposition. He recommended his friend and former student, Gabriel Faure (1845-1924), also a pianist, organist and composer, as well as a teacher in France.

Faure composed the short orchestral piece Sicilienne in 1893, but the play’s production was never realized as the theatre went bankrupt. He rearranged the work for piano and cello in 1898, incorporating it into music he was writing for the English debut of another play, Pelleas et Melisande, by Belgian poet, essayist and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949).

Had Faure not reused the music, might it have been discarded and never heard? It’s a lovely piece that will be familiar to many of you. I think that learning about its journey makes it more unique and special.

Faure also set Sicilienne as a suite for full orchestra in 1909. And more recently, Japan’s Takatsugu Muramatsu (b. 1978) arranged the piece for guitar and flute.

Today’s selection is a recording of Muramatsu’s arrangement, played by Japanese flutist and model Cocomi (b. 2001) and classical guitarist Milos Karadaglic (b. 1983) of Montenegro, released as a classical single in March 2022.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from the Cocomi YouTube topic channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

I Talk to the Wind (Duo Version)

The English progressive rock band King Crimson is a group I don’t know much about. There’s a lengthy article about them on Wikipedia, and I skimmed it looking for bits of info I’d maybe recognize about the band, which formed in London, England, in 1968.

The only members of the band I’m relatively familiar with are a couple of its founders, Greg Lake (1947-2016, who was also in Emerson, Lake and Palmer), and Robert Fripp (b. 1946). The longest-serving group member, Fripp has also been a frequent collaborator with numerous artists including Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie (also 1947-2016), Talking Heads, Midge Ure, and David Sylvian. American singer-songwriter, musician and producer Adrian Belew was also a member of the group at three different times in its history. (A look through the linked posts will show you just how interconnected many artists are, often having overlapping relationships with many other musicians. The connections map out a rich and eclectic community of creators.)

Surfing around YouTube and Apple Music today, I discovered a familiar track or two, like “Three of a Perfect Pair,” the opening track from the 1984 album of the same name. (It’s also a song that a friend put on a mixed tape for me in the 1980s and included other King Crimson tunes along with solo works by Fripp, Belew and others in the experimental/new wave genres). I also heard a few songs that illustrate the often mystical quality of progressive rock that influenced bands like Genesis and Yes, leading to the emergence of the “concept album” style that mixed fantasy with sprawling storytelling.

My previous post was an instrumental piece. In the same vein, today’s selection “I Talk to the Wind (Duo Version)” is an instrumental version of “I Talk to the Wind” from King Crimson’s debut, long-play record, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969). The band reissued the record in the 1980s and 1990s and remixed the original tapes several times from 2002 to 2019. The duo version appears as a bonus track on several reissues of the album.

Fans and critics consider In the Court of the Crimson King one of the most influential works from the early years of the progressive rock movement. It is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2005).

In its fifth iteration which has been active since 2013, the King Crimson lineup features three drummers, a pretty rare sight (and sounds).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio for “I Talk to the Wind (Duo Version)” King Crimson’s official YouTube channel:

Here is the song’s original arrangement, a longer track with vocals, which also appears on the expanded album. While I haven’t listened extensively to either rendition, I think I prefer the duo version’s calming and cheerful acoustic vibe and its relative simplicity.

Lyrics for the song can be retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

With my best wishes,

Steve

One Quiet Night

It’s a snow day here on the prairies in Canada. A spring blizzard started overnight and is expected to continue until Friday morning, bringing up to 80 centimetres (31 inches) of snow in some areas. We’re more likely to receive less than half of that amount in Winnipeg, Canada. Today’s snow is heavy, wet and sticky due to the temperature hovering around freezing.

After a couple of group bike trainer ride events on Zwift.com and watching a replay of professional cycling race, the Strade Bianche in Tuscany, Italy last month, I sat down to decide what song to post today.

“One Quiet Night” by American jazz guitarist Pat Metheny (b. 1954) felt like a good choice due to its slower, more serene vibe. It is the opening track of the 2003 album of the same name, a set of acoustic guitar pieces written mainly by Metheny. It includes a few covers, one being “Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey,” originally by Gerry Marsden (1942-2021) of Gerry and the Pacemakers.

The album cover art reminds me of the blowing snow today as the photo captures an urban evening scene obscured slightly by rain… or maybe wet snow.

Here’s hoping the current storm passes without major incidents and that folks remain safe and well without interruptions to electric power or other services.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from Pat Metheny’s official YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Étude Op. 25, No. 1 in A-Flat Major

Today on Classical Sunday, I’m sharing a solo piano piece by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). I’ve previously posted several works by the Polish composer.

The Etude Op. 25, No. 1 in A-Flat Major was composed in 1836 and features fast arpeggios throughout. The piece is also known as “Aeolian Harp” and “The Shepherd Boy,” the latter name under the belief that Chopin suggested a student imagine a shepherd boy sheltering from a storm, playing the melody on a flute.

It is a short and delightful piece of music.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is a video of Daniel Barenboim (b. 1940), a citizen of Argentina, Israel, Palestine and Spain, playing the Etude in the empty Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, Germany, in 2020, posted on the official Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Charango

In my May 2020 post about the Morcheeba song “Otherwise,” I tell how I heard of the group and found the British electronic trio’s fourth studio album, Charango. Please check out that post and song while you’re visiting.

Today’s selection ventures into a genre I know almost nothing about, rap. The album title track “Charango” features American producer and rapper Pace Won (Jerome Derek Hinds Jr.). I had a fascinating, in-depth explanation from one of our lads about rap, as well as the meaning of DAMN., an album by American rapper, songwriter and producer Kendrick Lamar. I suggested he should do a guest post sometime after he told me all about the album and the song “DUCKWORTH.”

As I mention in the above-referenced post, the two-CD set of Charango includes a full version of with all the vocals removed. It’s intriguing to listen to the backing tracks without the familiar voices my brain expects to hear. I’m not aware of any other albums that have been released that way. It’s a solid album and today’s song is a great one.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the audio from Morcheeba’s official YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are available at AZLyrics.com.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)

Today’s selection was English singer-songwriter Kate Bush’s most successful song of the 1980s. It opens her 1985 album Hounds of Love and was also issued as a 12-inch single record. I remember being very excited about the record’s release and buying the single and, later, the album. The single was released as “Running Up That Hill” as the record label EMI had concerns about using a title with God in it. The album version reverted to Bush’s original title.

A 2012 remix of “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” was used during a segment of the closing ceremonies for that year’s Summer Olympics in London, England. The remix used the original music backing track transposed down slightly to match a change in Bush’s range when she re-recorded the vocal.

A few meanings have been attributed to the song, but it’s believed that Bush wrote the song about a man and a woman in love who can’t get along and the idea that if they could get God to arrange for them to swap places, they might understand each other better. Another view of the song is that one is discouraged by the struggles of life and actually wants to change places with the higher power, thinking that would ease the person’s burdens.

“‘If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.
If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.’

It doesn’t hurt me.
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know that it doesn’t hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I’m making?
You, it’s you and me.

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could, oh…

You don’t want to hurt me,
But see how deep the bullet lies.
Unaware I’m tearing you asunder.
Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts.

Is there so much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don’t we?
You, it’s you and me.
It’s you and me won’t be unhappy.

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building,
Say, if I only could, oh…

You,
It’s you and me,
It’s you and me won’t be unhappy.

“C’mon, baby, c’mon darling,
Let me steal this moment from you now.
C’mon, angel, c’mon, c’mon, darling,
Let’s exchange the experience, oh…”

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems.

If I only could
Be running up that hill
With no problems…

‘If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.
If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.’”

“Running Up That Hill,” by Kate Bush.
Unofficial lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

The song has a captivating rhythm that takes some of its mystique from a sustained synthesizer line and Linn drum electronic percussion supplementing the drum kit. It’s a song I have returned to many times in more than 35 years of knowing it.

Bush performed the song in 1987 at the Secret Policeman’s Third Ball, the last in a series of benefit concerts to aid the human rights organization Amnesty International. Accompanying her was former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. In the mid-1970s, Gilmour, impressed by her talent, helped Bush get her start in the music business by producing a professional demo tape when record companies rejected her earlier efforts.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the official music video from the KateBushMusic YouTube channel:

And, the 1987 performance with Gilmour:

With my best wishes,

Steve

String Duo No. 1 in G Major for Violin and Viola, K. 423, II: Adagio

Earlier today, I thought I would like to post about a piece featuring the viola. It’s an instrument with a beautiful tone, slightly deeper than a violin and less so than a cello; it helps fill out the soundscape of a string orchestra.

Surfing around YouTube, I landed on a wonderful string duo featuring American violist Kim Kashkasian and Xiang Angelo Yu of the Shanghai Quartet. The piece has a light mood, characteristic of many of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756-1791) works. Born in Salzburg in the Holy Roman Empire (a Middle Ages political entity covering parts of western, central and eastern Europe until it was dissolved in 1806), Mozart wrote the piece in the summer of 1783. It was the first of two duos he wrote to finish Austrian composer Johann Michael Hayden’s set of six duos for the Archbishop of Salzburg. Strangely, the work was attributed solely to Hayden.

The second movement (Adagio) has a summery feel, a welcome sound as the slow, grungy spring melt continues.

The piece is mellow and calming and has an optimistic, even celebratory tone. It’s the perfect music to enjoy after a strenuous ride on my indoor bike trainer and as I think of a friend in Colorado, USA who’s celebrating a birthday today, and while I enjoy the aroma of the lovely pot of stew my sweety is making for us today.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the video of a performance by Kashkasian and Yu at the WGBH Boston Performance Studio, posted on the official Front Row Boston YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Spring Frost

Today’s selection is the eighth track I’ve shared from the 2020 collaboration album Mixing Colours by English ambient musicians and brothers Brian Eno and Roger Eno. In my June 2021 post on “Iris,” I provide a link to an earlier post that, in turn, links to the other six.

The extended 18-track collection was the first full album by the duo since they worked with Canadian musician and producer Daniel Lanois on 1983’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.

“Spring Frost” is the opening piece from Mixing Colours and has a theme that recurs through the rest of the work. The music came to mind this week as my city of Winnipeg, Canada has experienced a lot of cold weather since the first day of spring, a little over a week ago. As I stepped outside yesterday for a few minutes, I felt some joy at hearing water trickling down the drain in our back lane as the heavy, hard-packed accumulations of snow and ice began to melt again under bright sunlight. We are finally starting to return to milder, more seasonable temperatures.

The onset of spring always gives me hope, and despite all the suffering witnessed and lived around the world and the later start of spring here, this year is no different. The massive snow piles are slowly dwindling and will soon expose the remnants of my sweety’s beautiful flower and perennial garden and lawn from last year. Then the ferns, hostas, and other plants will slowly emerge and gradually green up our yard.

In the official video for “Spring Frost,” chosen from 1,700 entries to the video competition promoting the Mixing Colours album, the opening shot shows fluff mixed with twigs and other forest floor residue. At first, the image reminded me of thawing snow and how road dirt and other debris give it the grey, dirty look that we must endure before seeing the beautiful splashes of green and other vibrant colours of new plant and animal life. Human life is like that, too; we often have to pass through unpleasant, uncertain times as we learn and grow and can embrace—or at least accept—all those things in our lives.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the official music video, submitted to the competition by Alexander Kasstan of London, England, posted on the official Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Running to Stand Still

Listening to the Irish rock band U2’s “Running to Stand Still” yesterday, I was struck by the beauty and slowed-down simplicity of the song.

As I sought information about the piece, I found a lengthy and fascinating Wikipedia article telling about the background, composition, recording and production of the song from U2’s highly successful 1987 record, The Joshua Tree, produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.

The band wrote the song about a heroin-addicted couple living in one of seven high-rise towers built in the Ballymun district of Dublin, Ireland. The government housing project, eventually growing to 36 buildings, was constructed in the 1960s and became infamous for its poor maintenance and inadequate amenities and living conditions. Unfortunately, these are common characteristics of large-scale public housing built without the thoughtful intention to provide suitable services and amenities that support healthy, comfortable living and thriving. These factors, in turn, lead to compounding socioeconomic stigmatization, isolation and suffering. The development was demolished between 2004 and 2015.

Starting with the twanging chords of a guitar, leading into the piano melody, vocals and a subtly strummed electric guitar line, the song develops while bass, a captivating drum line and a second guitar gradually join in to build drama and intensity. Co-producer Lanois played the first guitar part as the band improvised the music in the recording studio. The Edge’s guitar track, played while he was in a lounge next to the studio, was overdubbed directly into the recording room console. The song ends with the same guitar twangs that open it. It’s a remarkable piece of music, and the masterful production collaboration of Eno and Lanois is evident.

I think it’s an exquisite song about resilience and perhaps even finding hope and beauty in the face of hopeless living conditions. The simple instrumentation cradles Bono’s compassionate and raw balladeering vocal.

“And so she woke up
Woke up from where she was lyin’ still
Said I gotta do something
About where we’re going
Step on a steam train
Step out of the driving rain, maybe
Run from the darkness in the night
Singing ah, ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day

Sweet the sin
Bitter the taste in my mouth
I see seven towers
But I only see one way out
You gotta cry without weeping, talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice
You know I took the poison from the poison stream
Then I floated out of here, singing
Ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day

She runs through the streets
With her eyes painted red
Under a black belly of cloud in the rain
In through a doorway
She brings me white golden pearls
Stolen from the sea
She is ragin’, she is raging
And the storm blows up in her eyes
She will suffer the needle chill
She’s running to stand still”

“Running to Stand Still,” by Paul David Hewson (Bono), David Howell Evans (The Edge), Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
Unofficial lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the music video from U2’s official YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major, Op. 73: II. Adagio un poco moto

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll notice I feature a piece of classical music each Sunday. The practice developed from a suggestion one of my brothers made a couple of years ago to feature classical pieces more often.

And if you’ve really been watching and listening, you’ll know I’m partial to adagio movements. Today’s selection is one of my favourites of this tempo style: the second movement (Adagio un poco moto) from the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major, Op. 73 by the German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).

Beethoven composed the work, known in English-speaking countries as the Emperor Concerto, in 1809. It premiered in Leipzig, Germany in 1811 with the Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Johann Philipp Christian Schulz (1773-1827) and Freidrich Schneider (1776-1853) as soloist. Beethoven himself would have generally played the piano part, but was unable to as the hearing impairment that had begun in his 20s was almost complete by then. It’s remarkable and tragic to think of the beautiful music he wrote without being able to experience, fully, the sounds he composed later in his life.

The Piano Concerto No. 5 is seen as an innovative work for its period, with a heroic, militaristic style, no orchestral introduction to the entrance of the solo, a lengthening of the concerto form, and the creation of a new relationship between the orchestra and the solo instrument.

I found a YouTube video of the piece played at LSO St. Luke’s in December 2020 by the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of British conductor Simon Rattle (b. 1955) with Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman (b. 1956). This grouping made recordings of the five Beethoven piano concertos, releasing them as the compilation album Beethoven: Complete Piano Concertos (2021). The record label Deutsche Grammophon (DG) also released the fifth piano concerto as a visual album that is quite beautiful to listen to and watch. I savoured the whole work yesterday and added it to my digital collection.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the Adagio un poco moto from the visual album, posted on DG’s official YouTube channel. I feel it is magical to hear and watch the musicians, particularly Zimerman’s expressive playing (especially his magnificent trills).

At the end of the video, Zimerman begins a slow transition into the piano theme of the third movement (Rondo: Allegro), and the second movement ends like a cliffhanger! Don’t despair though… here is the audio for the Rondo: Allegro from the Complete Piano Concertos recording on the Krystian Zimerman YouTube topic channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Philosophia

The Irish playwright, author and poet Oscar Wilde (1864-1900) said in an 1889 essay, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”

Today’s selection is a song I have heard several times on random plays and when I heard it this morning I wanted to know a little more about it and the band that created it.

In the music video for “Philosophia,” a song by the Irish band The Guggenheim Grotto, this quote is illustrated as the band shares its impressions of what it takes to be a work of art. And scenes in the film, created by San Francisco, California, USA-based Hannah Ariel Ross, mimic paintings. One viewer of the video on YouTube commented that one segment (starting at 1:45) resembles the Le Chef d’oeuvre ou les Mystères de l’horizon by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte (1989-1967). I can’t name any others, but several shots really remind me of artworks I’ve seen before.

“When we’re young we set our hearts upon some beautiful idea
Maybe something from a holy book or French philosophia
Upon the thoughts of better men than us we swear by and decree a
Perfect way to end the war of ways the only way to be a…

Work of art, oh to be a work of art

But in time a thought comes tugging on the sleeve edge of our minds
Perhaps no perfect way exists at all, just many different kinds
Oh but if it’s just a thing of taste then everything unwinds
For without an absolute how can the absolute define…

A work of art, oh to be a work of art”

“Philosophia,” by The Guggenheim Grotto.
Unofficial lyrics retrieved from SongMeanings.com.

The term philosophia comes from the Ancient Greek, meaning “love of wisdom.” With that inborn love, we come “tugging on the sleeve” of our elders, eager to learn from them. But we also comprehend from societal signals early in life that we must be like works of art: perfect, something to be admired… from a distance. The implication is we have to be the best, the brightest, the most talented if we are to be loveable. So we internalize these unrealistic expectations to our detriment, always striving for the immaculate and usually failing unless we manage to overcome historical patterns of unhealthy attachment.

Art can be messy, ugly, broken, just like most of us feel at many points in our lives due to these pressures, and I feel like that’s what the band is saying in the song. I love how the brief story develops, though, as they sing, toward the end, “Perhaps no perfect way exists at all, just many different kinds.” The line is a powerful message of illumination, clarity and inclusion for a very divided world.

“Philosophia” comes from … Waltzing Alone (2006), the band’s first full-length album. Kevin May and Mick Lynch formed The Guggenheim Grotto as a duo in 2003, joined later by drummer and producer Shane Power. In 2013, Lynch and May signed to a record label and continued their partnership as Storyman, a band that remains active today.

In April 2007, “Philosophia” was one of those single-of-the-week giveaways the iTunes Store used to offer. I never saw this one and only heard the track for the first time recently, but used to seek those freebies out as a way to discover new music. I would also pick up cards with the free download codes from Starbucks when they offered those, around the same time.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the music video from The Guggenheim Grotto’s official YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Verbovaya Doschechka

Sometimes, even the shortest piece of music can hold a depth of feeling and meaning far beyond the time it has your attention.

An excellent example of this complex brevity is “A Gaelic Blessing” (which I posted here in August 2020 to mark the occasion of a friend’s ordination ceremony).

Today’s selection is another wonderful instance. There is so much emotion condensed into one minute and ten seconds that it takes considerable time afterward to process and consider the music, its context and meaning, and the feelings it evokes. That is especially so, given that a young Ukrainian violinist, Illia Bondarenko, plays a traditional Ukrainian spring song, “Verbovaya Doschechka” (“The Willow Board” or “The Willow Plank”) while in a basement seeking protection from Russian bombing.

The video below is a collection of Bondarenko and nine other sheltering Ukrainian violinists, joined by musicians representing 29 countries. Producers combined all the videos and meticulously mixed the sound so we can hear the 94 individual contributions to the whole. This type of video compilation will be very familiar to many people, as musicians used it extensively to simulate the unity of concerts during pandemic lockdowns over the past two years.

The United Kingdom-born violinist Kerenza Peacock connected with Ukrainian musicians on social media and decided to collaborate with them. An excerpt from the notes to the YouTube video post sums up her intention beautifully: “So we play an old Ukrainian folk song together across continents, called Verbovaya Doschechka. Never before have violinists gathered together from so many countries. Or collaborated across so many different styles of violin playing. Violinists are a fellowship who all have rosin and broken E strings in common, but sadly some are currently having to think about how to arm themselves, and hiding in bomb shelters instead of playing Beethoven or bluegrass. Some more Ukrainians wanted to take part, but now have guns in their hands instead of violins.”

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here is the video for “Verbovaya Doschechka” from the ViolinistsSupportUkraine YouTube channel. The video post also points to ways one can support aid for the people of Ukraine.

And, here’s a recent BBC interview of Peacock and Bondarenko, posted on Bondarenko’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Talk Talk

The opening track on the 1982 debut album by English new wave/synth-pop band Talk Talk, led by singer Mark Hollis (1955-2019), is “Talk Talk.”

Reading up on the song this evening, I learned that Hollis’s previous band, The Reaction, recorded and released it in 1977 as “Talk Talk Talk Talk.”

That’s a lot of talk.

Based on the lyrics, the song seems to be about communication difficulties and abusive behaviour, particularly but not solely in romantic relationships. “Talk Talk” has played on my random morning play of Apple Music, a list of which contains a lot of songs by bands whose music I’ve posted about on this site. While it’s played, I’ve thought a few times how its themes are echoed, albeit on an incomprehensibly more consuming scale, by horrific acts being committed in Ukraine. There’s so much conflict around the planet, and so much of it is rooted in how some treat others.

Hollis’s vocal is accompanied by a (primarily) electronically-played fast tempo punctuated by urgent and electronic drumming, staccato piano, and varying synthesizer melodies that play above and below the bounding beat of the electric bass. (I’ve been listening intently to the synthesizers this evening while hearing it and reading little bits on it, like in Wikipedia.) The many sounds in the song combine to create a strong sense of, well, angst.

But that aside, it’s also a great song that has a beat and musicality that makes me recall 1980s post-disco, post-punk cabarets where recorded music started a serious run against the late-night, live-band bar circuit. (Often, a song would be remixed in an extended, dance-oriented version specifically to be played in 80s clubs, and many such tracks are getting new purchases and plays due to the 2020s resurgence of disco. Come to think of it, the song has probably played on random playlists in part due to my preferences as well as complementary songs from earlier eras making comebacks on media like online disco shows.)

“Hey

Well, did I tell you before when I was up?
Anxiety was bringing me down
I’m tired of listening to you talking in rhymes
Twisting around to make me think you’re straight down the line

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk

If every sign that I see is complete
Then I’m a fool in your game
And all you want to do is tell me your lies
Won’t you show the other side, you’re just wasting my time

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk

When every choice that I make is yours
Keep telling me what’s right and what’s wrong
Don’t you ever stop to think about me
I’m not that blind to see that you’ve been cheating on me

You’re laughing at me when I’m up
I see you when you’re crying for me when I’m down
I see you when you’re laughing at me when I’m up
I see you when you’re crying for me

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk”

“Talk Talk,” by Ed Hollis, Mark Hollis.
Unofficial lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com

As I hear and read those words, I get a sense of the frustration—and quite likely, fear—the singer could be describing. Relationship conflict or global conflict: it is all hard, and when there isn’t a desire to communicate openly and honestly, it just gets more troublesome. I have learned an awful lot about communication, am still learning, and think I still have a lot more to learn. As I’ve learned, though, it’s helped me become more present and contribute to relationships.

Honest communication… I think that’s the yearning the composers, Hollis and his older brother and mentor, Ed Hollis, were writing about. And it’s something the world needs. For starters.

“Talk Talk” comes from The Party’s Over (1982).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the remastered, 1997 version of the song from the Talk Talk band YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

The Unfolding

It has been over a week since I made a blog post to My Song of the Day for Today. The past week has been quite full, with Covid-deferred appointments finally starting to happen again.

Yesterday, a reader reached out through my Contact page with a brief but sufficient message, “Hey Steve, song of the day please?” That was all the prompt I needed and, really, it always gives me great enjoyment to discover some new music (or land on an old, familiar piece), then to think about the music and write an article to share with you.

A week ago or more, I spotted an unfamiliar artist and title in the suggested videos section of my YouTube feed and decided to check it out. “The Unfolding” is a pre-release from the album of the same name by Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra, due out on April 1, 2022. The iTunes Store/Apple Music classifies it as electronic music, so I’m not sure it completely fits the mould of “Classical Sunday.” However, it has solo voice and subtle orchestral elements that I found quite captivating, so I felt a slight blurring of the boundaries was justifiable.

The official video for “The Unfolding” is an ambitious work. It begins in near darkness, and as a bit of sunlight spills over the horizon, we see a mainly barren landscape with an almost post-apocalyptic, or perhaps even prehistoric quality, though the silhouetted mountains have a primordial kind of beauty in that low light. After about a minute, mysterious little lights emanate from the ground that is still shrouded in dark by the shadow of the mountains. As these lights persist, we see they uplift stone shapes that float across the gradually-more-lit landscape. The stones float above the ground, coming together to form something similar to an inukshuk (a human-made stone structure made by the Inuit and other Arctic and Indigenous peoples… these also can be seen further south, such as places along the Trans-Canada Highway in Northwestern Ontario, Canada). The scene also brought back memories of the monolith in the prehistoric, present and future segments of the epic Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

The “head” of the stone structure appears to be looking around the bleak terrain, maybe in search of something, and eventually meets up with another tower of stone moving along the land. They stop and lean into each other as if bowing in respect. The forms settle upon the ground then seem to become electrified and are surrounded by glowing pillars, or monoliths, which cast a light pattern onto the taller structure, as if it were becoming some other-worldly spacecraft. Maybe this is the stone species’ path to adventure and wonderment? It’s quite mystical.

Then, we see the energy dissipate from the structures and at the end, they appear as lifeless boulders, like all the other rubble scattered across the vastness of the desolate land.

In my interpretation, the music video portrays a kind of evolution or lifecycle where a species develops, comes together in community, thrives, then mysteriously disappears to extinction, whether naturally, or maybe by an immense and willful act of destruction.

Perhaps it is a message to us humans, one of the most recent species on our planet and the ones doing the most harm to the fragile ecosystems of our living world. At the beginning of this month, the United Nations published yet another report on climate change, reiterating many of the dire warnings we’ve read and heard for years. The ever-declining number of years in which to “do something” receives a pretty consistent response: lots of media coverage, plenty of opinions and promises by governments, but no concrete, long-term, meaningful actions beyond the latest election cycle. I hope nations finally join together and do something, and very soon. Otherwise, I fear the state of the world that our grandchildren and their children will inherit from us and the questions they’ll ask about why our generations failed to act in the face of repeated, urgent warnings.

Here’s to hoping the young ones will instead have many different questions to ask in their innocent, safe curiosity as they venture out into the beautiful world.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here is the official video for “The Unfolding,” created by Stefan Goodchild, a freelance developer, motion graphics and interaction designer and coder from Bristol, UK, on the Real World Records YouTube account (the record label launched in 1989 by English singer, songwriter, music producer, and activist Peter Gabriel).

With my best wishes, and gratitude for friendly reminders,

Steve

We Resist

Around the time when I was hanging out with the friend I mention in my post on R.E.M.’s song “Drive,” he introduced me to the music of the rock band Midnight Oil.

Formed in 1972 under the name Farm and after changing their name in 1976, Midnight Oil developed a strong following in their home country of Australia. The band has always been staunch in its political and social views and activism, particularly environmental issues and Indigenous rights, though they delve into war and other forms of oppression as well. Lead singer Peter Garrett (b. 1953), known for his shaved head and tall, energetic and lanky stage presence, took that passion to new and different heights when he quit the band to run for election for Australia’s Labor Party. He was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in the 2004 election. And when Labor formed the government in 2007, he served as a cabinet minister, first for Environment, Heritage and the Arts (having served previously in opposition as the shadow minister, or opposition critic, for that same portfolio), and later for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Garrett resigned from politics ahead of the 2013 election.

I was telling my sweety earlier this week about a rumour I’d heard back in the 1980s when Midnight Oil was becoming more widely known by what would now be referred to as alternative rock music fans. The story was that Garrett had almost become prime minister of Australia while being a band member. In truth, he had run for a seat in the Senate as a member of the country’s Nuclear Disarmament Party in the 1984 election but lost, albeit by a narrow margin.

During Garrett’s time in parliament, the other band members continued working together, just not as Midnight Oil. The whole band did get together again briefly, on two occasions: first in 2005 to play the WaveAid concert, benefitting victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, sharing the concert lineup with artists including Nick Cave, and Neil and Tim Finn (formerly of New Zealand’s Split Enz); and in 2009 for another charity concert, Sound Relief, this time aiding those affected by a bushfire disaster. (In it, Midnight Oil played alongside similar acts as the 2005 show, plus another Neil Finn project, Crowded House, and Neil Finn’s son, Liam.)

Midnight Oil reformed in 2016 and remains active today.

It wasn’t until 1982 and “the Oil’s” fourth album, 10, 9, 8,7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, that they started to receive attention in North America. Two singles from that album, “US Forces” and “Power and the Passion,” highlighted their strong criticism of US foreign policy of the 1980s. Their sixth album, Diesel and Dust (1986), which features the runaway hit “Beds Are Burning,” brought them worldwide attention.

Fast forward to 2022, when Midnight Oil’s socio-political beliefs remain as strong as ever. Cruising around their YouTube channel today, I played the videos for the above tracks and stumbled upon a song I hadn’t heard before, “We Resist,” which, it turns out, comes from an album the band released this year, their 13th studio release, RESIST.

The official music video is a compilation of videos taken over the years at protests held by the band. The various crises affecting the planet today, including war, the climate change emergency, and the ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples, among many other critical issues, made it seem timely to discover and share this song today.

“Putting flowers into guns
This is not the summer of love
Throwing tea into the sea
Indigenous apology

Only if
We resist
It’s a storm without end
Where’s the lighthouse? where’s a friend
Come to think
It can’t last
Only if
We resist

Free market and labour rights
Women’s vote and hunger strikes
War is over in times square
Please don’t say that nobody cares
Standing up to those who sell fear
With a polite insistence to hear

Only if
We resist
It’s a storm without end
Where’s the lighthouse? where’s a friend
Come to think
It can’t last
Only if
We resist”

“We Resist,” by Jim Moginie.
Official lyrics retrieved from the YouTube post for the video.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the music video from Midnight Oil’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes to you,

Steve

Kalina

The week-old war in Ukraine remains high in the global consciousness. In the past few days, I’ve heard some state that it is getting a level of attention never devoted to other illegal invasions through history. This may be true, though, in my opinion, it doesn’t change the fact that the world is in a dangerous place right now.

Sure, this kind of ground invasion has happened before without the swift, unified attention of North Atlantic governments, but that does not mean we should not be deeply concerned. There is a potential for increased bloodshed and mass destruction of residential areas, schools, hospitals and other crucial infrastructure, as well as the threat of even more unthinkable devastation implied in threats that are being made. As for the attention of world governments; well, any (and all) injustice deserves a bright light to be shone upon it, no matter where it happens or to whom, and by whomever.

This week a good friend commented on me featuring music of Ukraine on “Classical Sunday,” and so with her words in mind, I thought I’d stay in that vicinity another day. Wikipedia helped me find a long list of Ukrainian pop, folk and rock groups, and gazing at that list I randomly landed on Mandry, a band formed in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 1997 as an acoustic threesome. The founder, bandleader and singer-songwriter Serhiy Fomenko, had already been active in Kyiv’s underground music scene and developed the group through some personnel changes, adding an accordionist, drummer and percussionist and replacing the original bassist. The five-member band played its first concert in 1997.

From what I read about the group, Mandry is committed to unification and cultural pride, having performed in festivals that commemorate the European Union and promote Ukrainian culture both locally and, in 2002, at the Hippodrome in London, England, for the Festival of Ukrainian Culture. That same year, they released their second album, Legenda pro Ivanka ta Odarku, on which today’s selection appears. Mandry participated in the Day of United Europe in Kyiv the following year. Then in 2004, they toured Ukraine in support of the presidential campaign of Viktor Yushchenko and performed for protesters in Kyiv following the election. They continued to play in music festivals throughout Ukraine and other countries and, in 2006, made a video for their song, “Ne spy moya ridna zemlya” (Don’t sleep my native land). According to Wikipedia, the band remains active today.

“Kalina” is a song I found (again, rather randomly) through casting out a wide search on YouTube. The piece exemplifies the band’s style, described as having influences from traditional, folk, reggae, punk, blues and French “chansons” music styles. The music video is entertaining and audacious, with a cranberry bush being one of the unusual items a procession brings into the performance space. Intermingled in the joyful crowd are folks in traditional Ukrainian costumes, and throughout the song, people are savouring bunches of tart, juicy cranberries that fall from above in a scene that looks almost hedonistic. Some eat the berries while others slather them on their skin. There’s also a barrel where a barefoot woman crushes the berries as if preparing them for winemaking. Toward the end, as if representing the loss of inhibitions as the party continues late into the night, some end up crushing berries on the floor. 

The juxtaposition of traditional costume and dance with post-punk partygoers creates an exciting and wild, celebratory mix that amplifies a salubrious joy for life I often fondly associate with Eastern European folk I’ve known in my life. It is quite a spectacle of celebration.

And as I watch the music video in the context of current events, I wonder what the people in the film are enduring, now, 16 years after Mandry posted it to YouTube… Are they all alive? Safe? Evacuating? Are the men in the video walking around Kyiv in street clothes with automatic weapons slung over their shoulders, ready to defend their city and the lives of their families, friends and neighbours against the heavily-armoured invasion? What will happen to these people from the party and, indeed, all the people in countries worldwide that are subject to violence and oppression?

May peace fall gently upon all, like the nourishing fruit in the film.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the music video from MandryUA’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes to you,

Steve

Melody

I have been thinking a lot about the people of Ukraine as the Russian aggression continues.

We see the Ukrainian people’s indomitable spirit and examples of the worldwide support being offered to them during this horrific time. Yesterday afternoon, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress held a rally at the Manitoba Legislative Building. Organizers say about 5,000 people attended, flying Ukrainian flags and cheering on federal, provincial, municipal and community leaders who united to speak up for the cause. It was a moving and inspiring event.

Also, this weekend, Zwift.com, the indoor online bicycle training platform, hosted group rides for subscribers to show solidarity. More than 1,800 cyclists from around the world signed on to one of these rides today. Many of us changed our countries of origin in the program so that our avatars displayed the Ukrainian flag, and switched to virtual jersey designs that featured its blue and yellow colours. And most of us stopped pedalling to observe a minute of silence halfway through the 60-minute ride. It was quite something to be part of.

And, my sweety also told me that the Canadian government will match donations to the Canadian Red Cross dollar-for-dollar. These are just a few of so many initiatives in a hopeful outpouring of support for Ukraine, at a time where there is much upheaval and suffering in many places around the globe.

I thought I would post music by a Ukrainian composer to feature today, on Classical Sunday. I chose “Melody,” by Myroslav Mykhaylovych Skoryk (1938-2020), from the album Consolation: Forgotten Treasures of the Ukrainian Soul (2017). The 21-track collection represents numerous musical styles and settings from the 19th to the 21st centuries.

“Melody” is a short piece featuring Polish-Ukrainian soprano Olga Pasichnyk and her sister, Ukrainian pianist Natalya Pasichnyk, and Swedish violinist Christian Svarfvar.

I feel that today’s selection solemnly conveys the qualities of perseverance, courage and depth of soul we are witnessing from Ukraine’s people. I recommend listening to the whole album as a sampling of the country’s culture.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the audio from the Natalya Pasichnyk YouTube topic channel, where the entire album appears as a playlist.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Peace Train

Now I’ve been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating, why can’t we live in bliss
…”

For a few months now, I’ve had the meagre beginnings of a post on British singer-songwriter Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ 1971 song “Peace Train” in my drafts folder. It felt like the right time to complete it now, with all that’s going on around the globe.

Over the past two days, the world has watched in horror and disbelief at the sudden and violent act of war against Ukraine and the swift, brutal arrests of those in Russia demonstrating against the government’s actions. In my previous post this week, I refer to the extreme political and social division and polarity that exists globally. Wednesday’s invasion adds to that sense of worldwide imbalance and precariousness. It is a time when hope is again seriously challenged in a world that’s already weary of effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that range from minor inconveniences to devastating losses.

Yusuf / Stevens’ song is a powerful anthem for unity and harmony. I believe he summed it up best in a statement he made during the Iraq War: “‘Peace Train’ is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions. There is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again. As a member of humanity and as a Muslim, this is my contribution to the call for a peaceful solution.”

It is a beautiful song.

“Now I’ve been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun

Oh I’ve been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be, someday it’s going to come

’Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again

Now I’ve been smiling lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun

Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train

Get your bags together, go bring your good friends too
’Cause it’s getting nearer, it soon will be with you

Now come and join the living, it’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer, soon it will all be true

Now I’ve been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating, why can’t we live in bliss

’Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again”

“Peace Train,” by Yusuf / Cat Stevens.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Many songs begin with a problem or issue, and, as the story develops, resolution unfolds. “Peace Train,” however, opens with light and hope, and near the end, the writer tells of his sorrow over conflict. Nevertheless, he reprises the hopeful chorus, beckoning the arrival of the Peace Train.

May it come calling at all stations soon.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

“Peace Train” comes from the 1971 album Teaser and the Firecat.

Here’s the audio for the song from Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ YouTube channel:

And, a 2021 video featuring over 25 musicians in 12 countries under the Playing For Change organization’s Song Around The World initiative, “created to inspire and connect the world through music”:

With my best wishes,

Steve

PS: If you are feeling overwhelmed by the situation, remember to be gentle with yourself and take breaks from news and social media.

Message to My Girl

I get my morning fix of music from numerous sources, and lately, my go-to has been Apple Music, as it’s been helping me find more pieces that match what I like to hear. But as I said in a recent conversation with one of my lads, I wish it would suggest more songs that are quite the opposite to my tastes. I think this would help me expand my musical horizons and deepen my appreciation.

Anyway, a few times in the past few weeks, Apple has continued to serve up stuff I (mostly) like, including on several occasions a song I hadn’t heard in decades, “Message to My Girl” by the New Zealand new wave/art-rock band Split Enz.

While formed in 1973, Split Enz only broke through commercially in 1980 with their fifth album, True Colours. I remember them for the distinctive clothing and hairstyles they sported then. True Colours was a very popular record and was the first instance I’d seen of a laser-cut vinyl disc that reflects the shapes and colour themes of the album cover art. By the time they released True Colours, Split Enz had moved to Australia to expand their fan base and made a few personnel changes, including the recruitment of co-founder Tim Finn’s brother Neil, who proved to be an outstanding songwriter and singer. The band’s greatest successes were in their home country, plus their adopted home of Australia, and my country, Canada.

Split Enz disbanded in 1984 (though they had five reunions dating up to 2009), and the following year, Neil Finn went on to form Crowded House (whose lineup currently includes his sons Liam and Elroy). He also has had a successful solo career and, more recently, was hired to replace Lindsey Buckingham in Fleetwood Mac.

Starting in the March 2020 lockdown, Finn broadcast live internet-based shows from his home studio on Fangradio.com, which I discovered while surfing the American radio station KEXP Seattle’s website. These events continued daily until May then ran every few days, ending with a Christmas 2020 special. Thinking back to listening to those early shows, I’m struck by how strange the world seemed then… many of us hunkered down in our homes, venturing out only for groceries and other essential items as the economy quickly shifted to online ordering and “contactless” delivery under stay-at-home orders that most governments issued. Nearly two years later, the world is still in a disrupted state and more prone to political and social division than any time I can remember.

Against that backdrop, “Message to My Girl” is a bright spot. It follows one of those fairly common song themes of hesitancy or reluctance to fall in love. However, as such songs typically do, the singer ends up in that hopeful place of choosing to be open to the magic feeling of going beyond oneself in a blissful love partnership. Various online sources mention that Finn dedicated the piece to his wife Sharon during a 2006 performance. The song, video, clothing and hair are all somewhat dated, as is the title’s use of the term “girl,” which in the 1980s was still a common way to refer to an adult woman. In the song, I feel its usage straddles the historical meaning and is intended as a term of endearment. But in today’s world of continued efforts toward gender equity, it’s a term of diminishment we’re much better off without.

The official music video for “Message to My Girl” opens with a cityscape that turns out to be a blown-up photo that men move against a wall in an art-house/warehouse/theatre backstage. The video seems to tell a story that images we portray to the world are not always our true selves. In the song, Finn rejects those facades, realizing he’s better off with his head out of the sand and being vulnerable to love.

“I don’t want to say, ‘I love you’
That would give away too much
It’s hip to be detached and precious
The only thing you feel is vicious

I don’t want to say, ‘I want you’
Even though I want you so much
It’s wrapped up in conversation
It’s whispered in a hush

Though I’m frightened by the words
Think it’s time that it was heard

No more empty self-possession
Visions swept under the mat
It’s no New Year’s resolution
It’s more than that

Now, I wake up happy
Warm in a lover’s embrace
No one else can touch us
While we’re in this place

So I’ll sing it to the world
This simple message to my girl

No more empty self-possession
Visions swept under the mat
It’s no New Year’s resolution
It’s more than that

Though I’m frightened by the words
Think it’s time I made it heard
So I’ll sing it to the world
A simple message to my girl

No more empty self-possession
Visions swept under the mat
It’s no New Year’s resolution
It’s more than that

Oh, there’s nothing quite as real
As the touch of your sweet hand
I can’t spend the rest of my life
Buried in the sand”

“Message to My Girl,” by Neil Finn.
Unofficial lyrics partially transcribed from the song/adapted from AZLyrics.com.

As with many songs in my memory and library, I hear them remembering, anticipating and savouring certain sounds like, in this case, the occasional and unexpected variations in the time signature followed by the player of the electric piano and the beautiful little fills on the snare drum heading into the chorus. It’s pretty amazing to think what memories a specific sound or other sensation can evoke, as well as invoking feelings of gratitude for love and life together in the present with my sweety.

“Message to My Girl” comes from Split Enz’s eighth studio album, Conflicting Emotions (1983). The song was also released as a single in early 1984.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from Neil Finn’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Partita for Violin Solo No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002, IV: Double (Presto)

This morning, we awoke to heavily drifted-in snow from a second blizzard this week.

While my sweety was out walking this afternoon she heard from a friend that, so far this month, we have had the sixth-heaviest accumulation of snow since the late 1890s! Overall, it has been a very cold and very snowy winter. I am ready for it to be spring.

After spending over two hours clearing the snow from our walkway and parking pad, then helping a few neighbours, plus snow-blowing the sidewalk for our entire block, I was feeling pretty tired out and had a short snooze. I got up and sat at the computer, checking out YouTube suggestions for classical music videos. I found one with American violinist Hilary Hahn (b. 1979) playing the fourth movement of a partita by the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

Today’s selection, the “Double (Presto),” is a quick-tempo, energetic piece that certainly brought me back to life from my mid-afternoon slumbers.

Bach completed a set of six pieces for solo violin in 1720. From the 1670s to 1730s, composers were producing many works for solo violin, including Bohemian-Austrian violinist and composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704), who wrote a Passacaglia (please see my post about a transcription of that piece for the lute). Bach’s set (BWV 1001-1006) was published much later, in 1802, by German music publisher and horn player Nikolaus Simrock (1751-1832). And even then, it wasn’t played often until later in the 19th century (perhaps to rejuvenate those fatigued from snow-clearing efforts!)

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the music video of Hahn performing the “Double (Presto)” on her official YouTube channel, highlighting the excerpt from her album Hilary Hahn plays Bach: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2; Partita No. 1 (2018). I’ve been listening to the album while reading about the piece and writing this post; it’s a wonderful album with some beautiful sounds.

With my best wishes,

Steve

Isn’t It Time

For my 600th blog post on My Song of the Day for Today, I decided to go back to the 1970s. That decade was a time when my lifelong love for music really was blooming and branching out as I discovered more bands, often listening to late-night FM radio; other than concerts, that was the leading platform to hear emerging bands in a pre-Internet world.

Serendipitously, “Isn’t It Time,” recorded in 1977 by the British rock group The Babys, has come up on random play a few times lately on Apple Music. It seemed like a good accompaniment for this little trip back in time. Until listening to the song recently, I didn’t pay that much attention to its lyrics and meaning. For me, the song’s theme of deciding whether to surrender to love is symbolic of a time of life when I was trying to make my way in the world as a youth and young adult; often lonely and yearning, and constantly facing choices that could have lasting consequences.

I talk about the band in my post on their 1979 hit “Every Time I Think of You,” including then-bassist and lead singer John Waite’s explanation of the band name and its odd spelling. Please check out that post while you’re visiting.

The Babys didn’t write “Isn’t It Time.” It was composed by the same duo who wrote “Every Time I Think of You,” American singer, songwriter, musician and producer Ray Kennedy (1946-2014) and Jack Conrad (for whom I couldn’t find any information). Not surprisingly, today’s selection has a much different feel from some of the group’s other pieces that I’ve heard.

“Falling in love was the last thing I had on my mind
Holding you is a warmth that I thought I could never find

(Sitting here all alone) just trying to decide
(Whether to go all alone) or stay by your side
(Then I stop myself because) I know I could cry

I just can’t find the answers
To the questions that keep going through my mind
Hey, babe!
Isn’t it time?

(Baby in life it’s your time to wait)
(Falling in love could be your mistake)
Isn’t it time?
(Baby in life it’s your time to wait)
(Falling in love could be your mistake)

I’ve seen visions of someone like you in my life
A love that’s strong reaching out
Holding me through the darkest night

(Sitting here all alone) just trying to decide
(Whether to go all alone) or stay by your side
(Then I stop myself because) I don’t want to cry

I just can’t find the answers
To the questions that keep going through my mind
Hey, babe!
Isn’t it time?

(Baby in life it’s your time to wait)
(Falling in love could be your mistake)
Isn’t it time?
(Baby in life it’s your time to wait)
(Falling in love could be your mistake)

I feel a warmth in my heart and my soul that I never knew
This love affair gives me strength that I need just to get me through

(Sitting here all alone) just wondering why
(Then I stop myself because) I know I could cry
(Then I think of you) and everything seems alright

I’ve finally found the answers
To the questions that keep going through my mind
Hey, babe!
Isn’t it time?

(Maybe this time you don’t have to wait)
I know it’s time
(Losing this love could be your mistake)
Ooh, yeah
(Isn’t it time?)
I know it’s time

(Maybe this time you don’t have to wait)
It must be time (don’t have to wait)
(Losing this love could be your mistake)
(Isn’t it time?)
It must be time

(Maybe this time you don’t have to wait)
(Don’t have to wait)
It oughta be time
(Losing this love could be your mistake)
(Isn’t it time?)

(Maybe this time you don’t have to wait)
(Don’t have to wait)
It must be time
(Losing this love could be your mistake)
(Isn’t it time?)”

“Isn’t It Time,” by Jack Conrad, Ray Kennedy.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

The production of “Isn’t It Time” is impressive and lavish, right from the introductory piano riff and Waite’s polished vocal, plus chorus singing by The Babettes (Lisa Freeman Roberts, Pat Henderson, Myrna Mathews). And the band’s excellent instrumentation, including some brilliantly-controlled drum work leading into the chorus, is significantly expanded with string and horn arrangements by Alan MacMillan. Finally, in the song’s outro, the chorus lines “Isn’t it time?” and “Don’t have to wait” alternate between left and right stereo channels, a production method often used as studio recordings became more sophisticated. (Another example of this is the left-right shifting of the chorus “The boys are back in town” in the famous 1976 Thin Lizzy song).

“Isn’t It Time” comes from The Babys’ second studio album, Broken Heart (1977).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from The Babys Official YouTube channel:

With my best wishes to you,

Steve

Chants d’Auvergne, Book 1: No. 2, Baïlèro

While recently checking out YouTube’s recommended videos, I found a piece I wanted to share with you.

Wikipedia tells me that the French author, composer and musicologist Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957) wrote an arrangement of Chants d’Auvergne, a collection of folk songs from the Auvergne region of France, between 1923 and 1930. The compilation, which is arranged for soprano and orchestra or piano, includes five series or books. Today’s selection, “Bailero,” is the second song in Book 1.

It’s a song whose title I was unfamiliar with, but once I listened, I remembered hearing it many times throughout my life. In 1930, the French classical singer Madeleine Grey (1896-1979) was the first to record selections from the collection. “Bailero” also appeared in the 1944 film Henry V and, in 1972, it was featured in a commercial for the alcoholic aperitif Dubonnet. I don’t know those two instances, but I’m sure I have heard it in many other contexts.

A recording of the piece, sung by American soprano Arleen Auger (1939-1993) accompanied by the English Chamber Orchestra under the direction of the French violinist and conductor by Yan Pascal Tortelier, appears on a four-disc classical compilation Zen Voices (2010). There are also many, many other recordings of the piece and the series by a wide array of classical artists.

“Bailero” is also referred to as “Le Baylere” or “The Shepherd’s Song” and is a lovely piece of music that feels hopeful and life-affirming. Auger’s soprano tones float high above the orchestra’s soft string arrangement, mixing with the playfulness of wind instruments, making me think of birdsong in a pastoral nature scene.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from the Arleen Auger YouTube topic channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Put It Behind You

After taking a whole week off, it’s back to the blog with a song by the English alternative rock band Keane.

I used to listen to a lot of Keane and still enjoy their music. My CD and digital libraries include several of their albums: Hopes & Fears (2004, plus an expanded, deluxe edition from 2009), Under the Iron Sea (2006), Live at ULU (2006, video album), The Night Sky (2007, EP), Perfect Symmetry (2008, deluxe edition) and Night Train (2010). I stopped following them before their 2012 release of Strangeland and haven’t heard it or the two albums that followed their 2014-2108 hiatus.

“Put It Behind You” is an energetic, uptempo number that I believe is urging the listener into self-care and growth. It’s an old favourite that has come up on random play a few times in the past couple of weeks. And, I even mention today’s selection in my only other post on a Keane song, “My Shadow.”

“Time goes by at such a pace
It’s funny how it’s easy to forget her face
You hide the cracks, the facts will find you
Turn your back and leave the lonely days behind you now

You better put it behind you now
You better put it behind you now
Too much to hold on, hold on to
You better put it behind you now

All the things you took for granted
Hit you like a bullet in the gut
You can’t get up
Well, are you even going to try?
Because if you never even try
Time will pass you by

You better put it behind you now
You better put it behind you now
Too much to hold on, hold on to
You better put it behind you now
You better put it behind you now
Too much to hold on, to hold on to
You better do what’s best for you

Don’t care what she said
Only in your head
Time will help you out
Still you don’t see how

You better put it behind you now
You better put it behind you now
Too much to hold on, to hold on to
You better do what’s best for you
You better do what’s best for you”

“Put It Behind You,” by Tom Chaplin, Richard Hughes, Tim Rice-Oxley.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

After almost two full years of living with public health mandates of some sort or other, it’s easy to get discouraged and fall into patterns that don’t serve us well. While not easy to do on some days, our collective challenge is to move forward, working to put our difficulties behind us. As we look ahead with hope for the future, indeed, “time will help (us) out.”

“Put It Behind You” comes from the band’s second studio album, Under the Iron Sea.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Keane’s official YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Ruckert-Lieder, III: Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen

Today I’m sharing the third in a set of five songs Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) wrote in 1901-1902.

Mahler’s collection is a setting of poems by the German professor, translator and Romantic poet Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866). The first four pieces in the set were premiered in 1905, with Mahler conducting the performance. (While you’re here, check out this post for another composer’s setting of Ruckert’s poetry.)

The title “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” has been interpreted as “O garish world, long since thou hast lost me,” indicating the feelings of world-weariness and isolation experienced by the writer. Mahler is said to have felt a deep, personal connection to the poem, having felt disrespected throughout his career.

The piece moves from a mournful beginning to a peaceful conclusion as the writer reaches what I interpret as acceptance and a move to stability with his music and place in the world.

“Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
[I am lost to the world]
Mit der ich sonst viele Zeit verdorben,
[with which I used to waste so much time,]
Sie hat so lange von mir nichts vernommen,
[It has heard nothing from me for so long]
Sie mag wohl glauben, ich sei gestorben.
[that it may very well believe that I am dead!]

Es ist mir auch gar nichts daran gelegen,
[It is of no consequence to me]
Ob sie mich für gestorben hält,
[Whether it thinks me dead;]
Ich kann auch gar nichts sagen dagegen,
[I cannot deny it,]
Denn wirklich bin ich gestorben der Welt.
[for I really am dead to the world.]

Ich bin gestorben dem Weltgewimmel,
[I am dead to the world’s tumult,]
Und ruh’ in einem stillen Gebiet.
[And I rest in a quiet realm!]
Ich leb’ allein in mir und meinem Himmel,
[I live alone in my heaven,]
In meinem Lieben, in meinem Lied.”
[In my love and in my song!]

“Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen,” poem by Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866). Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
from the LiederNet Archive — https://www.lieder.net/.
Used with kind permission. See official translation here.

The piece appears on an album of songs by Mahler and German composer, conductor and theatre director Richard Wagner (1813-1883), featuring Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca performing in concert with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of German conductor Christian Thielemann. The order of the five pieces is altered on this recording, with “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” closing the album.

The recording is a compilation of performances from the 2020 and 2021 Salzburg festivals. Such events were, and still are, significantly reduced by the pandemic and lockdowns. This ongoing crisis has affected the livelihoods of musicians and many others and isolated most of us from loved ones and favourite activities (like live concerts). I think it’s fitting that the album should close with this piece as it acknowledges the feelings of loneliness though doing so with the intention of acceptance, or resignation, depending on how one looks at it.

I’m certainly feeling this weariness and isolation while, at the same time, appreciating my good health, activities and fun times with my sweety, and how we’ve been able to maintain relationships with loved ones, making some new connections along the way.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video from the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

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You’re So Vain

One of American singer, songwriter and children’s author Carly Simon’s most popular hits is “You’re So Vain,” which she wrote in 1971 and recorded the following year.

Over the years, part of the song’s allure has been the mystery surrounding who exactly she’s saying is so vain. There has been much speculation, guessing and prodding over the years, with much of it pointing to American actor, director, screenwriter and producer Warren Beatty. Wikipedia tells me Simon confirmed in 2015 that, yes, he was the subject, but only of the second verse; two other as-yet-unnamed men also share the “spotlight” in the others. The song initially had a fourth but rarely performed verse (possibly implicating another man!).

Aside from all that drama, another thing attracted me to the song.

I was listening to random songs from my library the other day while answering a person who had reached out via the “Contact” page on my website to send a kind message about my post on Band of Horses’ “Ode to LRC.” During that time, “You’re So Vain” played and, as I listened to it, I heard something I had never noticed before: a backup singer who sounded just like Mick Jagger, the (now) near-octogenarian lead singer of the English rock band The Rolling Stones. Sure enough, reading up some more, I learned Jagger provided uncredited backing vocals on the piece. The word is, Jagger was in the studio when Simon et al. were recording backing vocals, and she invited him to come and join in.

“Son of a gun.

You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner
They’d be your partner, and…

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you?

You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
When you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and…

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you? Don’t you?

I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and…

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you?

Well I hear you went up to Saratoga and your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well you’re where you should be all the time
And when you’re not you’re with some underworld spy
Or the wife of a close friend, wife of a close friend, and…

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you? Don’t you?

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, bet you think this song is about you”

“You’re So Vain,” by Carly Simon.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.

I must have heard “You’re So Vain” thousands of times since Simon released it but, strangely, have never caught Jagger’s vocal before. I think he adds a magical sort of country music twang in his singing of it. What do you think? Did you always know he was on the recording? It’s interesting to me that, in the context of corresponding with another music lover, maybe I was open to more of the artistry of the song. Either way, it’s a terrific hit that stands up well, fifty years after its release.

“You’re So Vain” comes from Carly Simon’s third studio album, No Secrets (1972). I’ve previously posted writeups on two other Simon songs, “Anticipation” and “Touched by the Sun.” Please check those posts out while you’re here visiting.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a 1987 performance of the song at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA from a concert DVD on Carly Simon’s official YouTube channel:

And, the original studio version:

Thanks for stopping by,

Steve

Mysteries (1)

“… i’ll be there anytime…”

It’s the tail-end of a really full day that followed a night somewhat empty of sleep. By the time I did all the important stuff I had set out to do today, and after a top-up of some time in nature, I walked in the door awash in fresh snowflakes and thought I might skip the Friday installment of My Song of the Day for Today. Tired out, I didn’t feel like I had anything to say, just wanted to sit, relax and receive. It’s been a busy week. My sweety also spent much it being of service. It’s a gift to us when we can do things for our people, especially in this extended time of saddening isolation.

So, I sat and opened Apple Music on the computer to play some random music to help warm up the space for Sweety and me. I heard and immediately surrendered to the songbird-like chorus of the main vocalist and backup singers in “Mysteries (1),” by English singer-songwriter Beth Gibbons in collaboration with Rustin Man (aka English musician Paul Douglas Webb). The song must have already started the last time I was listening and resumed as I reopened the app this evening, as the mixture of quasi-industrial and other sounds of the intro had already given way to those mesmerizing, calming heavenly voices.

So, I was immediately drawn to it, and in the background, Sweety said in a her deep, knowing way, “I think you just found a song for today.” I said, “Yeah, or… it found me.”

And she was correct. It is a blessing to be with such a wise woman. I must digress here for a second, though, before I continue… those mystical sounds at the start and end of the track immediately took me to the intro to Buffy Sainte-Marie’s stunningly beautiful “I’m Going Home.” As I mention in a post on it, I’ve always found that part of the song to have an especially ethereal quality. I feel the same thing present in “Mysteries (1)” as the sounds of the universe, the world, the heart, the mind, life, fill my ears.

“God knows how I adore life
When the wind turns on the shores lies another day
I cannot ask for more

When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I’ll be there anytime

Oh mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I’ll be there anytime

When the time bell blows my heart
And I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I’ll be there anytime

Mysteries of love
Where war is no more
I’ll be there anytime”

“Mysteries (1),” by Beth Gibbons.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.

We all leave this earthly plane at some point; sometimes far too early, and yet, isn’t any death too early? It is for the bereaved. My deepest hope is that when I’m not physically here to lend a hand, my lovelies will be comforted in knowing how I felt: “God knows how i adore life / when the wind turns on the shores lies another day / i cannot ask for more.”

And I hope when they recall that, the sentiment will embody itself in a presence that assures them, “I’ll be there anytime.”

There’s so much in this song… each line has volumes of meaning that I’d have to spend a few days unpacking. Just one more thought on it, before I go and sit in front of the cozy fire I hope is still burning in the wood stove: “When the time bell blows my heart / and i have scored a better day / well nobody made this war of mine…” This line resonates for me thinking of those times in life where I have struggled, often due to my own weaknesses… that nobody made that war of mine… that I myself held suffering within my soul (as they would know from witnessing and supporting me in it). Some of those struggles were inherited or otherwise beyond my choosing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t reconcile with them, with my own resilience and the support of others when I falter.

While the song seems to focus (at least in my interpretation) on mortality, by contrast, it also speaks so poetically to the wondrous, remarkable, wildly wonderful thing that is life.

From a quick consult with Wikipedia, I only know that Gibbons is the lyricist and lead singer of the English band Portishead. And Webb is an English musician who was the bassist for the innovative and earth-changing band Talk Talk (please check out this post for a song by them).

Today’s selection comes from the album Out of Season, a 2002 release by Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man. The song with the title omitting the “(1),” also appears as a solo work by Gibbons.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Beth Gibbons’ YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

Fever to the Form

Music or madness? Quite possibly, it’s one or the other.

If you’re like me, music is an integral part of your life and brings you enjoyment and connection to emotions, and maybe your creativity. And solace in low times.

Today, songs were playing randomly on Apple Music, and I heard the unmistakable and soothing voice of English singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey. I don’t know much of his music, but I featured him on this blog once before, with my post on his 2014 single, “I Don’t Want to Go Home.” (Please check it out; it’s a beautiful song.)

In “Fever to the Form,” I believe Mulvey is saying it is essential to find something to be passionate about and then become immersed in it. A post I found by the well-travelled Pack the Story blogger Nathalie Alyon references the piece in a longer narrative about similar struggles, ultimately pointing to art and other creative activities to help make sense where there seems not to be any. Her post is is an enlightening piece; I recommend you check it out.

So, what else does Mulvey say?

“So whether music or madness
We live by one of the two
By one of the two
So go on, fill your heart up with gladness
Not a moment too soon
Not a moment too soon

Should we ration the reasons
Choose a child to ignore
Of this I’ve never been sure
So I will follow the feeling
And sing fever to the form
All of my fever to the form

Cause the very thing you’re afraid, afraid of
It keeps you clean but unclear
Clean but unclear
Is the dirt that you’re made, you’re made of
And that’s nothing to fear
No, it’s nothing, my dear

But how do I know what you’re thinking
Maybe I thought it before
Maybe that’s why I’m at your window
Heal me at your door
Singing give me some more

Oh fever to the form
Won’t you hear me at your door
Singing give me some more
Cause you were never empty
And we’ve been here before
Yes, we’ve been here before
And that was always plenty
Yet still we ask for more
Singing fever to the form”

“Fever to the form,” by Nick Mulvey.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

While listening to “Fever to the Form” and following the lyrics, I was struck by the lines, “Should we ration the reasons / Choose a child to ignore / Of this I’ve never been sure / So I will follow the feeling / And sing fever to the form / All of my fever to the form.” To me, this speaks to intergenerational trauma brought on by cyclical, learned habits of silencing and shaming children, snuffing out their innocence and joy—a truly senseless and damaging practice.

Another verse that captured my imagination was, “Cause the very thing you’re afraid, afraid of / It keeps you clean but unclear / Clean but unclear / Is the dirt that you’re made, you’re made of / And that’s nothing to fear / No, it’s nothing, my dear.” That passage reminds me so much of an essay I read this past weekend by the prolific, Bulgarian-born, American-based Maria Popova, who creates The Marginalian (formerly known as Brain Pickings). Her article, “What Happens When We Die,” takes the reader on an intimate, illuminating tangent on what happens to not only the body—the “borrowed stardust,” the dirt—but also to the mind, the consciousness, the soul. It’s a captivating read that I also highly recommend.

In the spoken introduction to a live performance of “Fever to the Form” captured on an unofficial video I watched, Mulvey speaks of the fever as the busyness of life and the form being the music, the structure. These words embody the stability in his voice contrasted with the feverish strumming of his guitar. So, not only fever to the form but also fever in the form.

May we all find some form amongst all the fever.

“Fever to the Form” comes from Mulvey’s 2017 album Wake Up Now.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a solo performance by Mulvey for the BBC during the 2014 Glastonbury Music Festival:

And, the studio audio from Nick Mulvey’s YouTube channel:

The Turning Year

This morning, while contemplating what piece of music to share on what I like to refer to as Classical Sunday, I sampled a few violin pieces on Apple Music. Then I shuffled over to YouTube where, serendipitously, its suggestions served up a new work by British ambient music composer and musician Roger Eno.

Debuted on January 14, “The Turning Year” is the title track from a classical crossover album set for release on April 22, 2022.

I came to know of Roger Eno’s music through his recent collaboration with brother Brian, Mixing Colours (2020), from which I’ve featured eight tracks on this blog, the latest being “Iris.” (Please see my post on that piece; it contains direct and indirect links to the other seven.) The album was an ambitious project that included an international competition inviting videos to portray the tracks.

Eleven years younger than Brian, Roger started his commercial music career around the same time in life as his older brother. Brian began recording in 1972 with the English glam rock/rock band Roxy Music. Roger’s first recording project was in 1983, Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, which the two brothers created along with Canadian musician and producer Daniel Lanois. As an interesting side note, it wasn’t until August 2021 at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, that the two brothers performed together in a public concert.

“The Turning Year” is the sole pre-release track available from the upcoming album. The official video for the piece shows Roger Eno playing a grand piano, accompanied by the German string ensemble Scoring Berlin in the Teldex Studio Berlin. At 1:21 in the video, Eno’s face lights up with pure delight as he looks over at the ensemble… it’s a beautiful and joyful expression he displays twice more in the short film and it adds much to my enjoyment of the hopeful piece.

About the album, Eno says, “The Turning Year is like a collection of short stories or photographs, each with its own character but closely related one to the other. These pieces allow us, perhaps, to think on how we live our lives in facets; how we catch fleeting glimpses, how we walk through our lives, how we notice the turning year.” While the track and album title meaning isn’t explained further, I think it relates to the turning of years as we age, since the album’s release will come one week to the day before Eno’s 63rd birthday.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video from the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:

Bizarre Love Triangle

Today’s selection is a cover of a song by the English post-punk band New Order from their 1986 album Brotherhood. (For other songs by New Order, please see my posts on “Love Vigilantes,” “Your Silent Face,” and “Crystal.”)

Nouvelle Vague is a French cover band that I’ve featured once before. A friend had enthusiastically told me about their repertoire of bossa nova-styled covers of 1980s songs. As I describe in my post on their rendition of “In A Manner of Speaking,” I realized I had heard of them before, though I had forgotten having a song of theirs in my library until looking them up. I stumbled upon the video in this evening’s post while surfing around YouTube and my in music collection.

I liked the group’s interpretation of the song, including the duelling vocals in the chorus. I enjoy listening to covers as I find reinterpretations add to my appreciation of a beloved song.

I’m not sure of the meaning of “Bizarre Love Triangle,” though the lyrics seem to hint at yearning for things to be the way they were back at some earlier stage in a relationship before the people in it grew and developed and perhaps drifted apart.

“Every time I think of you
I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue
It’s no problem of mine
But it’s a problem I find
Living a life that I can’t leave behind
There’s no sense in telling me
The wisdom of a fool won’t set you free
But that’s the way that it goes
And it’s what nobody knows
Well every day my confusion grows

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can’t say

I feel fine and I feel good
I feel like I never should
Whenever I get this way
I just don’t know what to say
Why can’t we be ourselves like we were yesterday
I’m not sure what this could mean
I don’t think you’re what you seem
I do admit to myself
That if I hurt someone else
Then I’ll never see just what we’re meant to be

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can’t say

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can’t say

Every time I see you falling
I’m waiting for that final moment”

“Bizarre Love Triangle,” by Gillian Gilbert, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner.
Unofficial lyrics (based on New Order recorded version) courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

This week, My Song of the Day for Today turned two years old, and over that time, I’ve enjoyed posting writeups on numerous covers that I—or my sweety and I—have enjoyed over the years. Do you like listening to cover versions of songs? If so, please share some of your favourites in the comments.

“Bizarre Love Triangle” comes from Nouvelle Vague’s digital compilation Rarities (2019).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video for the song from the Kwaidan Records YouTube channel:

Ode to LRC

Today’s selection is the third song I’ve posted by Charleston, South Carolina, USA-based Band of Horses. (Please see my 2021 post on “Monsters” and 2020 writeup about “On My Way Back Home.”)

I’m not sure when I first heard “Ode to LRC,” but I Shazamed it the other day to catch the title after recognizing the vocals of bandleader Ben Bridwell. It’s a rocking number, with a wall of rhythmic guitars and a strong and toe-tapping beat—a very catchy song.

A listener annotated the lyrics on Genius.com recounting a story in the online database Jambase that tells of Bridwell having stayed at a place called the Little Red Caboose. In the song, he reflects on LRC guests’ journal writings in the 20 or more years before his stay.

“In the logbook of the LRC
Well I knew I’d find something
A hundred stories sitting there to read
I got my ‘focals out I put ’em on

And all is calm, all is calm

There’s a doggie coming here to eat now
Which dated back to 1993
I don’t care what the people say cause
That dog he don’t come around anymore

No, no the dog is gone, the dog is gone
The dog is gone, the dog is gone

The town is so small
How could anybody not
Look you in the eye
Or wave as you drive by

The world is such a wonderful place
The world is such a wonderful

I see everyone before me
There was birthdays, sex and sleep
Some weren’t getting along
Nobody’s outside trying to murder
Nobody’s outside, there’s no one really at all

What the hell I saw, the hell I saw
The hell I saw, the hell I saw

The town is so small
How could anybody not
Look me in the eyes
Or wave as I drive by

The world is such a wonderful place
The world is such a wonderful place
The world is such a wonderful place
The world is such a wonderful place

La-dee-da
La da-dee-da-da
La-dee-da
La da-dee-da-da”

“Ode to LRC, ”by Ben Bridwell, Creighton Barrett, Rob Hampton.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.

I think Bridwell is making a commentary on modern society, how people often won’t take the time to greet those they pass by, especially if such folks are from somewhere else. Whether it’s people prejudging or being exclusive of foreigners, or just being wrapped up in their own lives, it obviously made an impression on Bridwell that no one looked him in the eye or waved to him. Maybe he just needed a friendly greeting that day, something that costs nothing but can mean everything to a lonely soul.

That part of the song reminds me of a habit my dad had, one I have written about here before, I’m sure. When I visited him and my mum, and we’d go to a store, he’d always smile and say hello to strangers. It made a profound impression on me, and I vowed to do the same as a remembrance to him after he died.

The greeting we give a stranger today might be the only warm human contact they have that day or for longer. What incredible power there is in such a gesture!

“Ode to LRC” comes from Band of Horses’ second album, Cease to Begin (2007), released around the time Bridwell moved the band from Seattle, Washington and three founding members left the band. While reading up on them again today, I see Band of Horses has a new album, Things Are Great, dropping later this month. I look forward to hearing it.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio for “Ode to LRC” from Band of Horses’ YouTube channel:

Ab Ovo

For this first Classical Sunday of 2022, I’m sharing a piece written and performed by Dutch pianist and composer Joep Beving. I stumbled upon today’s selection after listening to another work by him.

Wikipedia tells me the title “Ab Ovo” is Latin for “from the beginning, the origin, the egg.” The term refers to the Greek myth about the birth of Helen of Troy, the child of Leda and Zeus, born from one of twin eggs.

Finding a piece themed on beginnings seemed serendipitous as we step into a new year. Awkward, confident, happy, weary, afraid, disappointed, angry… these are some of the many feelings people are experiencing nearly two years into the global pandemic, and these feelings can strain one’s sense of hope.

Beving’s music is categorized as minimalist classical, and he claims influences ranging from Chopin, Mahler, Philip Glass and Arvo Part, to Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and Radiohead. A public administration student, he worked in advertising, then composed music for short films as a start to his solo musical career.

“Ab Ovo” comes from Beving’s second album, Prehension (2017). While Apple Music describes the piece as melancholy, I find it to have determination and hope. It’s a fine piece to listen to in solitude, thinking of the year that has passed and assembling hopes and dreams for the new one. It is interesting to think of Beving’s work as minimalist; to me, the style carries complexity and layers, and I’m glad I discovered him while surfing the Deutsche Grammophon Youtube channel. I’ve listened to several of his pieces while writing this post.

The first, repeating note in “Ab Ovo” reminds me of a clock’s movements. This steadying and reliable presence is delicately intertwined with the rest of the composition to create pleasing and contemplative music.

Hopefully, the march of time into 2022 will see the pandemic fading as a public health crisis, allowing us the freedom to gather and live our lives without restrictions that have mostly not been enough to control the problem, though, cumulatively, crushing to the spirit.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video from Joep Beving’s YouTube channel:

Stumblin’ In

American singer-songwriter and actor Suzi Quatro and English rocker Chris Norman, the lead singer of the band Smokie, teamed up on the single “Stumblin’ In,” released in November 1978 in the United Kingdom and January 1979 in the USA.

At the time, I was recently out of school. I hated high school, having felt like I never fit in, and had been desperate to join most of my friends in dropping out. Thankfully, my parents were staunchly opposed to that and somehow convinced me to make it through that seemingly unending final year. Thinking back, I realize that must have been a colossal exercise in patience for them.

So there I was, out in the world, trying to make my way as a young adult, looking for love and a full-time job. I remember the song well from that time and recall feeling it had such a positive, hopeful and nostalgic vibe that contrasted a mood of listlessness that lingered after graduation.

“Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

Wherever you go, whatever you do
You know these reckless thoughts of mine are following you
I’m falling for you, whatever you do
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I never knew
Whatever it takes, baby I’ll do it for you

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

You were so young, and I was so free
I may been young, but baby that’s not what I wanted to be
Well you were the one, oh why was it me
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I’ve never seen
Whatever you need, baby you’ve got it from me

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Aagh stumblin’ in
Mm stumblin’ in
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in
Oh stumblin’ in
I’m stumblin’ in
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Whoa stumblin’ in
Aagh stumblin’ in
I’m stumblin’ in
Keep on stumblin’ in
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in”

“Stumblin’ In,” by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Quatro’s recurring role from 1977 to 1979 as bass player Leather Tuscadero in the TV series Happy Days undoubtedly influenced the popularity of “Stumblin’ In.” Unfortunately, the association didn’t leave a lasting impact; it was her only top 40 song in an American music industry dominated by men. She was, however, very successful in the British and Australian musical scenes. I remember Quatro as having kind of a badass persona at the time; her name alone, not to mention the leather jumpsuit, made her super cool, I thought.

“Stumblin’ In” was written by frequent collaborators Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, who also wrote hits for The Sweet, Tina Turner, Huey Lewis and the News, and other musical acts.

While released as a joint single, “Stumblin’ In” also appeared on some versions of the 1978 album If You Knew Suzi…. The song has appeared in several films, most recently director Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza (2021). After I hadn’t heard the piece for what seems like decades, it played in the car the other day on SiriusXM’s soft-rock stream, The Bridge, bringing up so many memories.

As we close the year and another holiday season in which COVID-19 has put up many obstacles, it’s easy to feel like we’re stumbling, in this chaotic world. In the coming year, may we all be gently “stumblin’ in” to happiness, good health, and togetherness.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks so much for joining me here, and please enjoy!

Here’s the audio for the song from the Suzi Quatro Official YouTube channel:

And, an unofficial but credited video of a 1978 TV appearance, obviously dubbed with the studio track:

Neon Noon

Happy holidays, friends, and blessings to you on the sacred and secular traditions you celebrate at this time of year.

I’m sorry for bailing on last week’s Classical Sunday. It was a day of rest and reflection on the many blessings in our lives, including a new grandchild (as mentioned in my previous post), and I gave myself permission not to write a post that day. The day’s focus was on those family connections, complicated as most are by the ongoing and mostly government-mismanaged pandemic. But I’m back today for what will be the last post of the year 2021 for My Song of the Day for Today. Thank you for visiting. I appreciate you being here.

About a month ago, I heard a song on Apple Music that I found pretty enjoyable, and have thought a few times about sharing it (as I have about some of the band’s other music).

When I Shazamed the song, I was surprised to learn it was by Kasabian, a band I heard of many years ago when following the Twitter posts of a local brand and advertising firm, which would put up weekend playlists for folks to enjoy. I discovered a lot of new music through them, but alas, the company, which I’m pretty sure was Clark + Huot, merged and expanded, with an office in Winnipeg and New York City, USA. I didn’t see music digest posts after that, though admittedly, I probably didn’t follow the company’s evolution or social presence faithfully, either. But I was always impressed by their diligence in curating the playlists while tuned in.

Over the years, I’ve heard other songs by Kasabian, a rock band from Leicester, England, formed in 1997. I enjoy their sound and own a few of their songs, from albums L.S.F. (2004) and Velociraptor! (2011). While the band has sometimes been classified as indie rock, band frontperson and lead singer Sergio Pizzorno strongly rejects that title, saying he hates indie bands. Regardless of the box they fit in (or not), Kasabian has grown to claim a massive presence in the music industry. In 2010 and 2014, the UK magazine Q named them “Best Act in the World Today” and, also in 2014, “Best Live Act,” a distinction also granted to them in 2007 and 2018 by the UK’s NME Awards.

Reading these accolades has only added to my wish to hear and see the band live someday. I’m mentally adding them to that list of UK bands I’ve “missed by that much” (as TV’s Agent Maxwell Smart would say on Get Smart) or missed by foolish choices (for example, Elbow, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and Wolf Alice, though I did get to see an excellent set by the latter on the Glastonbury Music Festival’s 2021 online offering Live at Worthy Farm and they opened their set with one of my favourites of theirs, “Don’t Delete the Kisses” and did so just as drummer Joel Amey described in a Song Exploder podcast episode. (I reference some of the above in my post on the Wolf Alice song. Please give it a read.)

Okay, I digress… When listening to “Neon Noon,” I found it has one of those simplistic synthesizer-founded melodies that often makes me think of observing the Earth from a place up in high orbit. That type of tune always captures my imagination, taking me out of my internal universe and broadening my awareness about the world around me and its magnificence, but also its fragility and the absolute vulnerability of all life on it. With new life in Sweety’s and my family, the health of the Earth remains something that occupies a lot of my mind and heart. I posted three entries about this topic during COP26, the November 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

In today’s selection, songwriter Pizzorno tells the story of walking into his son Ennio’s bedroom to turn off the nightlight and being entranced by light and reflection. “I was at home turning off Ennio’s night light and I noticed that it was projecting psychedelic images on my shirt, so I decided to shoot a little video for Neon Noon using my phone and 4 mirrors. I hope you enjoy it – Sink Like a Stone.

“Sink like a stone, hear no sound, time stood still
Enter the void, leave no trace where you’ve been

Never thought you’d understand
The years are slipping out of your hand
And all we ever wanted to be
Was floating in the emerald sky
Our skeletons remain under a neon noon

Hands turn to dust, psychic waves fill the air
All what we have is what we’ve done to what we had

Never thought you’d understand
The years are slipping out of your hand
And all we ever wanted to be
Was floating in the emerald sky
Our skeletons remain under a neon noon

Sink like a stone, hear no sound, time stood still
All what we have is what we’ve done to what we had”

“Neon Noon,” by Sergio Pizzorno. Unofficial Lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

I believe the song is a rallying cry for society to care for the world itself, but also (like Pizzorno, in the mindset of a parent) for each other; not just our families and people we hang out with but also those who are unsheltered, without money, without friends or connections. In my judgement, our world is consistent in doing a deplorable job of caring for those who have no supports. It makes me very sad. I think Pizzorno captures this in his homemade video… his reflection symbolizes the person each of us needs to make a difference in the tire-fire that is our societal norm of governance and service-to-other.

It’s up to each of us to see those reflections, those commentaries on and from within our own souls, and to boldly step up and make a difference by safeguarding future generations. With the increasing severity of natural disasters, it’s more than obvious we need to do something.

May 2022 be the year we finally accept this call and opportunity seriously and take action to protect the lovely planet I sometimes dream of floating over, to preserve all the life and beauty on it. For the children. For us all. That’s the happiest new year I can imagine.

And for tonight, my wish is for you to “sink like a stone” into your pillow, to paraphrase this song and as a favourite meditation offers.

“Neon Noon” is the closing track on Velociraptor!

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video from Kasabian’s official YouTube channel:

Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal)

Hello friends, family, followers,

One year ago, I posted the instrumental version of “Christmas Time Is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. It’s a family favourite… well, most of the family likes it. Last December, I also posted “Linus and Lucy” and “Für Elise” from the same album, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Please have a listen to those, too, while you’re here.

Today’s slection comes from an expanded version of the 1965 album.

In the last year, we’ve all made it through so much, and it still feels like there’s a lot to get through. And here we are again, set to celebrate, in whatever way is your custom and ability in this time of the pandemic, the holiday period culminating the Christian Advent season, Christmas. Whether you observe the day alone, with family, with friends, are working, or if you don’t mark the day, I wish you peace and hope and thank you for accompanying me on this journey.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Vince Guaraldi YouTube channel:

Do You Realize??

This week has been an emotional and exciting one, and the highlight came when one of our lads and his partner gave us the most wonderful Christmas gift: a healthy, wonderful, baby grandson.

Among the first songs this beautiful miracle listened to with his parents was The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??” It’s a song I’ve heard many times, but never realized it is by the same band and from the same album as “Are You a Hypnotist??” (The latter song has a solid rock beat, so it is stylistically quite different from the softer, dreamy quality in today’s selection. Please check out my post on it.)

Listening to the words of “Do You Realize??” in the context of a new life, I was moved by the message of the songwriters. The lyrics offer a beautiful philosophy, gently telling the realities of life, love, beauty, wonder, and grief, and making the most of the good things in life. What sage advice to the very young!

“Do you realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do you realize – we’re floating in space
Do you realize – that happiness makes you cry
Do you realize – that everyone you know someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Do you realize – Oh – Oh – Oh
Do you realize – that everyone you know
Someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Do you realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do you realize”

“Do You Realize??” by Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd, Michael Ivins, Dave Fridmann. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

In Western society, we often avoid talking about death and generally sugar-coat or sidestep the topic with children altogether. But when young people encounter the loss of the loved one, it can be normalized as part of life; not any less distressing, of course, though talking about it can help lead them toward acceptance and the eventual comingling of grief with gratitude for the life lived. (The connection between grief and gratitude is one I’ve discussed here a few times, including a year ago, in relation to Francis Weller’s book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief. Talking about death is a complicated and challenging discussion, for sure. Still, I can imagine these new parents doing it with lovingkindness, helping their child grow in confidence and trust in the world. (And playing this song was, I believe, a beautifully symbolic way to start that.)

I think the lasting benefit of these discussions is that children can learn to face problems rather than retreating in fear and hiding from them (and, by extension, any of the challenges they will face throughout their lives). In the end, the lessons make them more brave, self-sufficient, and able to cope in healthy ways with the difficulties life will bring to them.

The Flaming Lips are an American psychedelic/alternative/experimental rock band from Oklahoma, USA, formed in 1983. They’re prolific musicians with 16 studio albums, ten compilations, 18 extended plays, 15 singles, and four video albums. “Do You Realize??” comes from their tenth studio record, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, released in 2002.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from the Flaming Lips’ YouTube channel:

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for Chorus, Op. 31, XII: Hymn of Praise, “We sing to Thee”

The Christian church is most of the way through observing the season of Advent (for 2021, November 28 to December 24). Today on Classical Sunday, I felt drawn to playing an excerpt from choral work I heard at a friend’s around the first week of the period, two years ago.

The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for Chorus, Opus 31, is one of two major, unaccompanied choral creations of the Russian romantic composer, pianist and conductor Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943, sometimes written as Sergei Rachmaninoff). The work, which Rachmaninov composed in 1910, contains 20 movements. When it debuted that year, authority figures in the Russian Orthodoxy found it too modern, hampering the work from gaining much recognition.

John Chrysostom (347-407 AD) was Archbishop of Constantinople and one of a group of early leaders who developed Christianity’s liturgical basis. Numerous churches honoured him as a saint after his death. In addition to preaching and public speaking, he was famous for condemning the misuse of authority. It would be interesting to see how Chrysostom would address some of the systemic abuses that churches have been implicated in through history, such as the running of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools system.

The twelfth movement of Opus 31, “We sing to Thee,” is a piece I like for its slow, soft, contemplative quality, compared to some other parts that are heavy and dramatic. The rendition I’ve chosen seems to have been recorded even lower in volume than different versions, and, for me, this makes it even more attractive and inviting.

“We sing to Thee” comes from a 1993 recording of Valery Polyansky conducting the Russian State Symphony Capella.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from the Valery Polyansky YouTube topic channel:

My Sweet Lord

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a blog entry by Canadian music broadcaster and historian Alan Cross about a new music video set to a 1970 hit by the former Beatles member, George Harrison (1943-2001).

The video for “My Sweet Lord” celebrates last year’s 50th anniversary of the song and the triple album All Things Must Pass, Harrison’s first solo release after the Beatles’ breakup.

Over the years, the song has been covered by numerous musicians including Nina Simone, Brian Wilson, and Edwin Starr to name just a few, as well as a 2002 tribute performance by Elton John, James Taylor, Ravi Shankar, Sting, Anoushka Shankar, and others.

Along with archive footage of Harrison, the 2021 short film for “My Sweet Lord” features 40 actors, musicians and other celebrities making brief appearances. Actor Mark Hamill dispatches “The Bureau” agents played by American actors and comedians Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer into the field to “see something.”

In some ways, I feel like the film is a commentary on modern society and our collective lack of focus and attention on beauty and other things that truly matter. Understandably, the stresses of a nearly two-year-long and worsening pandemic have exacerbated this distractedness. Yet, beauty is there if we stop to see it; it’s always there.

Harrison initially offered the song to American R&B, soul and funk musician Billy Preston (1946-2006), with whom he and English blues and rock singer, songwriter and guitarist Eric Clapton had been with in Denmark in 1969. In 1970, Harrison also recorded the piece. His version was a massive worldwide hit in 1971 and remains one of his most popular post-Beatles works. “My Sweet Lord” is an homage to the Hindu god Krishna, written while Harrison experimented with writing gospel songs. To me, the alternating use of the Christian and Jewish “hallelujah” with the “Hare Krishna” of the Hare Krishna faith (the latter with which Harrison related) weaves a sense of global unity that adds to the inclusive and positive vibe of the song.

“My sweet Lord
Hm, my Lord
Hm, my Lord

I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord

My sweet Lord
Hm, my Lord
Hm, my Lord

I really want to know you
Really want to go with you
Really want to show you Lord
That it won’t take long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)
Hm, my Lord (Hallelujah)
My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)

I really want to see you
Really want to see you
Really want to see you, Lord
Really want to see you, Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)
Hm, my Lord (Hallelujah)
My, my, my Lord (Hallelujah)

I really want to know you (Hallelujah)
Really want to go with you (Hallelujah)
Really want to show you Lord (ahh)
That it won’t take long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

Hmm (Hallelujah)
My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)
My, my, Lord (Hallelujah)

Hm, my Lord (Hare Krishna)
My, my, my Lord (Hare Krishna)
Oh hm, my sweet Lord (Krishna, Krishna)
Oh-uuh-uh (Hare Hare)

Now, I really want to see you (Hare Rama)
Really want to be with you (Hare Rama)
Really want to see you Lord (ahh)
But it takes so long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

Hm, my Lord (Hallelujah)
My, my, my Lord (Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Krishna Krishna)
My Lord (Hare Hare)
Hm, hm (Guru Brahma)
Hm, hm (Guru Vishnu)
Hm, hm (Guru Devo)
Hm, hm (Maheśvaraḥ
My sweet Lord (Guru Sākṣāt)
My sweet Lord (Para Brahma)
My, my, my Lord (Tasmai Srī)
My, my, my, my Lord (Guru Namah)
My sweet Lord (Hare Rama)

[fade]
(Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Krishna Krishna)
My Lord (Hare Hare)”

(“My Sweet Lord,” by George Harrison.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Today, during our twice-weekly meditation practice with our teacher Padma, she mentioned having listened to the 1968 album The Beatles (aka the White Album) at the recommendation of one of our group members. She highlighted the line, “Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright…” from the track “Revolution 1” to emphasize the message of this week’s mantra meditation. I later thought of the serendipity in these two Beatles-related pieces having come together for me in a week that has been heavy with memories of grief along with a very uncertain outlook on the global health situation due to the latest COVID-19 variant. These can be discouraging times, and as I wrote on Wednesday, such feelings can be magnified in the Christmas/holiday season by society’s value on always putting a brave face forward. It’s the same custom that prompts us to habitually say we’re okay when asked how we are, even when we’re not okay.

“My Sweet Lord” and the new video combine to make a lovely diversion from the problems of the day, or that can enhance a day that’s going well. (And, digging into hope, the album title is a good reminder of the adage, “These things too shall pass.”) In whichever way your day has been going, I wish you a gentle Friday.

And I hope you “see” what the agents were sent for…

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the music video from the official George Harrison YouTube/VEVO channel:

All This Joy

I have a weekly Zoom call with a man who, though we’ve never met in person, is one of two dear friends from Colorado, USA. In between calls, he and I often text each other to check in, and sometimes send audio texts. A variety of ways to keep connected when travelling to meet up in person just doesn’t seem right yet.

Today he sent me a song played at a workshop he recently attended, thinking it might resonate with me. It sure did. “All This Joy,” written and sung by American singer-songwriter, activist, and humanitarian John Denver (1943-1997), is a beautiful piece with a spiritual/faith aspect to it. (For more of Denver, please visit my post on his song “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”)

“All This Joy” is a powerful message about connection to community, the world, spirit, and each other. It’s simple and lovely.

“All this joy, all this sorrow, all this promise, all this pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love.
City of joy, city of sorrow, city of promise, city of pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love.
World of joy, world of sorrow, world of promise, world of pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love.
All this joy, all this sorrow, all this promise, all this pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love. Such is spirit, such is love.”

(“All This Joy,” by John Denver.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com, with a couple of corrections.)

The last few days have been emotionally draining. Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the killing of the daughter of dear friends. She died in a school shooting that shocked the world as 20, six- and seven-year-old children were murdered along with six educators. This year, the days leading up didn’t seem terribly hard, though as a mutual friend affected by the tragedy said yesterday, it can be unexpected but the day comes at you like a runaway train.

And today, I was at a hospital for an ultrasound test. The imaging unit is on the same floor as the intensive care unit, a place I spent several nights more than four years ago when a beloved was ill and died. So as I walked by the ICU and the waiting room, I recalled the many hours and silent nights of hoping while I watched the medical professionals faithfully doing their incredible work, always with a moment to stop and share a smile or answer a question.

So, today was a serendipitous day for me to hear this song. And it felt like an appropriate one to share with you, in this season where sorrow can be amplified by societal pressure to go out, shop and be happy. In the Christmas holiday season, those mourning often feel sidelined and isolated in their grief, when what they really need is to be seen, heard and included with whatever mood and feeling they bring to a gathering. Several memes on the internet tell us to be kind to strangers, as we never know what they’re going through. I sure felt people acting on that advice today, and hope I did the same.

“All This Joy” comes from Denver’s 1988 album, Higher Ground, recorded in his Snowmass, Colorado studio. In 1974, the “Centennial State” governor honoured the entertainer and human as its poet laureate.

(And, as I was finishing writing this post, I had the gift of a long and wonderful phone call from the other of those two dear friends from Colorado. I’ve known and treasured him for many years and have learned much from him. As he would say with ancient wisdom about all these things, “blessed be.”)

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from John Denver’s official YouTube channel:

Artificial Nocturne

I don’t remember how I came to know the music of the Canadian band Metric. It might have been through CBC Radio 3, the public broadcaster’s internet-based station. At any rate, I know that when I discovered them, I was hooked.

Founded in 1998 in Toronto, Ontario, by Emily Haines and James Shaw–who are also the group’s primary songwriters–the foursome is a vibrant part of my country’s contribution to the alternative rock music scene.

Metric’s fifth studio album, Synthetica (2012), cemented my relationship with the band’s music. It’s a terrific album that even includes a collaboration with the legendary American singer, songwriter and poet Lou Reed (1942-2013), “Wanderlust,” released on the album which came out not long before his death.

The album also contains one of the most brilliant song transitions I’ve ever heard, between “Youth Without Youth” and “Speed the Collapse.” In the digital age, such edits lose some of their effects as tracks end and are cut off from the next song instead of flowing together as they would on a long-playing vinyl record. (Actually, if listening on YouTube, the transitions are relatively smooth, unless interrupted by ads, of course…)

One of the digital re-issues of Synthetica closes with a series of numbered “reflections,” which were later compiled as a separate album. The pieces are synthesizer-driven variations on themes in the original album. And a deluxe version of Synthetica also includes some acoustic songs like “Gimme Sympathy” (please see my post on the original, plugged-in version of the track). The album, with its permutations, was heavily promoted, especially online, in a way I was unfamiliar with at the time. It was a pretty big deal.

In November 2012, my sweety and I, with family and a friend, attended the Winnipeg stop on a tour Metric gave to support the album. It was just weeks before our lives would change forever due to the death of the daughter of dear friends of ours. And this was not long before an untimely and tragic death in our own family so, for me, the album carries those accompaniments.

Memory and emotional associations aside, Synthetica is a fantastic album that really deserves to be heard as a whole in one sitting. There are many great songs on the collection, and the driving beat of “Breathing Underwater” is a longtime favourite of Sweety’s and mine. (I will have to post that song sometime, as the official video is amazing.)

Written by Haines and Shaw, “Artificial Nocturne” is the powerful opening track on the album. It begins slowly with a heavy synthesizer backing and then transitions into a second segment kicking up the beat and energy. The song sets the stage for a kick-ass collection of musical stylings. It was also the perfect opening for the concert: a slow burn, then an explosive start to an incredibly high-energy performance that drew me in from the start and left me wanting more after the encore finally faded from my ringing ears.

I still enjoy listening to this album nine years after its release and after sitting through it countless times. Synthetica goes between dark and light as if pushing ahead through the complexity of life’s ups and downs. It was hard to choose just one song to feature in a time when the unease of the pandemic fluctuates while, at the same time in our corner, new hope gets ready to come into the world.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official lyric video from Metric’s YouTube channel:

Rhymes of an Hour

Today’s selection is a song whose title I mentioned in a July 2020 post. In that entry, I featured “Fade into You” by Santa Monica, California alternative rock band Mazzy Star. (Please check out my July 29, 2020 post for more information about the band.)

Re-reading the post today, I saw that Elbow frontperson Guy Garvey had played Mazzy Star’s “Rhymes of an Hour” in a July 2020 installment of Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC 6 Music. It must be a favourite of Garvey’s, as he played it again during his November 14, 2021 program. I didn’t remember hearing it in the earlier show but listening yesterday to the archive of the more recent program, the vocal of lead singer Hope Sandoval was familiar. I thought I heard a bit of American soul-rock singer Janis Joplin (1943-1970) in Sandoval’s voice, though with less of that raspy, electric quality.

Opening with a rich, deep electric guitar played by founding member David Roback (1958-2020) and a tambourine accompaniment, “Rhymes of an Hour” undeniably has a melancholy edge. But it’s still an enjoyable piece. As the song progresses, a rhythmic drum fill punctuates the end of each line. The instrumentation and singing are simple, but solid.

I think the song is about the sense of despair that can be amplified by one’s environment, like when a bleak sky or cold temperatures add to a feeling of helplessness or loneliness, for example.

“Cannot hear what you’re saying
Could I tell you so
And I can’t leave my troubles
And I’m going home

Lie and sleep
Under deep
You know

While the cold winter waitin’
While you stumble home
All these things we were searchin’
Now we just don’t know

Lie and sleep
Under deep
I think you know

For the rhymes of an hour
Now I’m goin’ home
And I can’t believe I’m nothin’
’Cause I’m coming down

Lie and sleep
Under deep
Do you know”

(“Rhymes of an Hour,” by David Roback, Hope Sandoval.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

This past week it’s been quite cold in Winnipeg, Canada, getting down to -22°C (-8°F). The sun has been out at times, but when it’s been cloudy or overcast, that has definitely made me think twice about going outside. Thankfully, my sweety and I live in a warm home and have plenty to eat, so there’s no need to go out and not much to be searching for. (Well, except for family Christmas presents…)

“Rhymes of an Hour” comes from the 1996 album Among My Swan.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Mazzy Star’s official YouTube channel:

Nocturne No. 20 in C Sharp Minor, Op. Posth.

One can discover a lot about history by reading various articles related to a piece of music and those who wrote or have played it.

Polish-Jewish author, composer and pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman (1911-2000) wrote The Pianist, a memoir of the Holocaust, in 1946. His book was the basis for Roman Polanski’s 2002 biographical drama film of the same name. If you’ve seen that movie, today’s selection will sound familiar as it appears in the soundtrack.

Polish romantic composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) wrote the Nocturne No. 20 in C Sharp Minor in 1830 and dedicated the piece to his older sister Ludwika. It was published in 1870, 21 years after his death.

The notes from a YouTube post on the nocturne say, “Wladyslaw Szpilman (Wladek) played this music in the last live broadcast for the Polish Radio on 23.9.1939. An hour later German bombs destroyed its power supply and the Warsaw Radio closed for long 6 (sic) years.” Later in World War II, Szpilman played the nocturne for a German army captain who eventually helped hide him and other Polish Jew from the Nazis.

The Liverpool Echo newspaper’s version of the obituary for Polish pianist and Holocaust survivor Natalia Karp (1911-2007) tells that she played the piece at a birthday party for the commander of the Nazi concentration camp Krakow-Plaszow. Karp and her sister were imprisoned there after being captured in Krakow, where her first husband was killed in German bombing. After she played, the officer said he would keep her alive, though she asked him to spare her younger sister instead; he spared both lives. Later, the sisters were sent to Auschwitz, but both survived the horrors of the Nazi death camps. 

The Nocturne No. 20 is slow and contemplative and has a slightly mournful quality, perhaps because of its associations. Containing numerous beautiful trills, it’s an extraordinary piece of music.

As with all classical music, the timings of versions can vary widely. Interestingly for such a short piece, a 1980 rendition by Szpilman, at three minutes, thirty-nine seconds, is over a minute faster than one played in 2010 by Russian-German pianist Olga Scheps (4:54).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today, on Classical Sunday. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the audio for the Wladyslaw Szpilman version:

And the Olga Scheps rendition:

Touch the Sky

Black Pumas is a psychedelic soul music group I featured in January after hearing their song “Colors” earlier that month on The Morning Show with John Richards on KEXP Seattle (which, by the way, I have not listened to very much lately).

I updated that post a couple of days later after serendipitously hearing the same song played at a concert celebrating the US presidential inauguration. If you haven’t heard it yet, I invite you to head over there after finishing this post and song.

This past weekend, I had a strong desire to listen to the song when driving to a family gathering, though when I requested it, Apple Siri/Carplay played the (shorter) album version. The live recording studio version, at nearly double the length, is much better.

After “Colors,” Siri played some similar songs, and one of them was “Touch the Sky,” also by Black Pumas’ and from the same album, their 2019 debut, self-titled release. The collection has since been re-issued as an expanded, deluxe version (three discs instead of the original one).

When hearing “Touch the Sky,” my sweety and I were really taken by the long and intricate acoustic guitar riff that forms the central part of the piece, surrounded at times by a rich horn section and later, a short but ripping electric guitar solo. While brilliantly instrumented, I don’t think the song carries the power and depth of “Colors.” However, it does show the diversity of talent in the duo of singer/guitarist Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada and their backing band, and is definitely worth a listen.

This morning I woke up well before dawn. I decided to go for a walk and then shovel the light, fresh snow from last night since the temperature was mild and a lot of last week’s uneven ice on the sidewalks and car parking area had softened. The sky was uniformly dull, though it was not so dark due to light reflected from heavy cloud cover. The clouds seemed almost low enough to touch in the quiet of the early morning, and it was a good time for a slow, contemplative walk with only the occasional car’s spray interrupting the silence.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio from the Black Pumas’ YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Ercole su’l Termodonte, RV 710, Sinfonia. II (Andante)

It’s been a whole week since I posted something on this blog. My sweety and I had a visit from one of our lads who lives away. It was our first time together with him in almost two years.

We had a wonderful time, including some family dinners and gatherings and other outings. Our home was a hub for many comings and goings over the past ten days. And after an emotional drop-off at the airport this morning, the house was quiet this afternoon as I wrote.

Meanwhile this past week, I caught a cold, probably my first in about eight years, so I’ve been feeling low energy through a busy week, catching a snooze here or there whenever I could.

Thinking of all that, today, being Classical Sunday, seemed like a good day to post a rather pleasing piece I’ve heard on the Classical A.M. playlist a few times since subscribing to Apple Music (as I explained a few weeks ago).

In 1723, Italian Baroque composer, violinist, teacher and Roman Catholic priest Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) set to music the opera Ercole su’l Termodonte (Hercules in Thermodon). He conducted and played solo violin at its premiere that same year.

Similar to the misogynist practice in England during Shakespearean times, a mandate by a pope of the Catholic Church prevented women from appearing on stage in Rome. Therefore, the female roles in Vivaldi’s opera were sung by castrati (males who were castrated before puberty or did not reach sexual maturity due to other physiological factors). Whenever I read of this practice, I think, what a barbaric tradition! Unfortunately, the patriarchal attitudes that led to such gruesome customs and the displacement and dishonouring of women are still alive and well in many institutions and cultures.

In what seems a series of ironies, this particular opera portrays the ninth of twelve legendary labours of the Greek hero Hercules. In this particular one, he attacks the Amazons, a tribe of female warriors, and captures Martesia, the daughter of Queen Antiope. In turn, the Amazons capture Hercules’ fellow traveller Theseus, but the queen’s daughter Hippolyte falls in love with him, preventing him from sacrifice. What drama!

Today’s selection is a lovely piece of music. It’s soft, calming and beautiful, and comes from French-Italian mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre’s album Amazone (2021). On it, she is accompanied by the Jupiter Ensemble and its creator and artistic director, Thomas Dunford, a French lutenist. Desandre explores Amazonian themes and the way composers treated characters embodying the duality of female/male identities.

The album comes at a time when western society is finally beginning to recognize gender fluidity or ambiguity, a philosophy entrenched in Indigenous culture for thousands of years. However, the West’s evolution of the concept of gender is often subject to attack by those it does not affect in any real way; those whose deeply-held ignorances and prejudices keep them rooted in a black-and-white mindset; one that denies the rights and needs of others. A former colleague once described such folk as “CAVE people”(Citizens Against Virtually Everything). Theirs is the same narrow-mindedness that upholds marriage as a rite that can only be conducted between a man and a woman, while at the same time pretending not to condemn anything different than their privileged, white, heterosexual upbringing.

Thankfully, true inclusivity is not a new idea, though it still seems to face an uphill challenge in many of the places it is needed.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from the Thomas Dunford YouTube topic channel:

You Said Something

During the morning of October 31, 2021, I Shazamed a song I recognized as being sung by English alternative rock singer-songwriter and musician PJ Harvey (aka Polly Jean Harvey). The track was “You Said Something.”

I like how the nondescript but pleasing opening instrumental blends into Harvey’s bluesy vocal, and how I can hear a touch of the Pretenders’ frontperson Chrissie Hynde in her voice.

The song seems to tell a story of being haunted by things said to the writer, presumably by a lover. It reminds me of statements I heard as a youth that were sometimes out of affection, sometimes in anger, and how such words remain and resonate for years, for good or bad. It also makes me think of things I’ve said in my life and the lingering effects they might carry for the hearers. (This also reminds me of the ancient Chinese book of divination, The I Ching, which a brother told me about once long ago, interpreting one character of it as saying something like, “Life is short. Repair the damage.” Or at least that’s how I remember the conversation…)

Looking back on one’s life with a critical lens is not necessarily a bad thing; it can happen naturally, as it comes from a place of hopefully more growth and self-awareness than in the immaturity of younger life. And at the same time, it can lead to feelings of guilt, which is not a very productive emotion, especially if taken too intensely or obsessively; I think it’s important to accept accountability and also to contextualize memories and not beat oneself up for not meeting, back then, the heart, standards and principles we might have now. At the same time, this brings to mind the admonishment of British progressive rock band The Alan Parsons Project’s songwriters Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson (1945-2009) in their 1982 song, “Eye in the Sky,” “Don’t say words you’re gonna regret / Don’t let the fire rush to your head…”

PJ Harvey is an artist I don’t know a great deal about, and suppose I may have heard of her in relation to music she made with Australian singer, composer, musician, screenwriter and author Nick Cave, with whom she had a brief relationship (and unfortunately, that has been pinned onto her identity in a sexist way men rarely have to endure after being romantically linked with equally famous women). I’ve heard quite a few of her songs and enjoyed most, though there are some I just do not like at all… a few of both types have been auto-playing on YouTube as I’ve been writing this post, and I’ll admit hitting “skip” on a few.

In the end, Harvey never does disclose the “something” her person said to her in the song, leaving it as a mystery. Life can be unpredictable, and we don’t always get answers. But kindness, consideration and civility go a long way and can fill in for certainty at times. I hope I remember this the next time I say something that could hold meaning for years into the future.

“You Said Something” comes from Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000), Harvey’s fifth studio album.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from PJ Harvey’s official YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Bright Star

I recently saw that the North Carolina, USA singer-songwriter and poet Jonathan Byrd featured “Bright Star” on his Facebook page. The song is written and performed by American singer-songwriter and playwright Anaïs Mitchell.

The piece, which premiered in late October, has a simple but lovely melody and beautiful vocals. I think it’s a love ballad to a bright star that may represent either the human object of the singer’s affections or perhaps really is about a heavenly body seen as she romanticizes about her travels on the sea, under a starry sky.

In an evening sky with a near-full moon last night, there were “movie clouds” as a brother described them. It’s easy to see where Mitchell’s inspiration and rich imagery come from when thinking of that breathtaking view. Sometimes, standing there in silence is all one needs to recall we are part of this big, beautiful, fragile living world.

“Bright Star” is a pre-release track from Mitchell’s self-titled eighth album, being released January 22, 2022. She developed her fourth album, Hadestown (2010), into a folk musical for theatrical performance, with an expanded version hitting the stage in 2016.

Mitchell appeared on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in 2020. Her parents named her after the French-Cuban-American author Anaïs Nin (1903-1977). My sweety featured some of Nin’s writing in our marriage ceremony.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from Anaïs Mitchell’s YouTube channel:

Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G Minor

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was a pianist, composer and conductor in the Romantic period in Germany, and a friend of the composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856). Brahms is one of the composers who came up in a conversation with one of my sons that I referred to a few weeks back; I was looking for some classical music that matched the boldness of the samples in Little Simz’s rap tune “Introvert.”

Published in 1869 in the first of four books, the Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G Minor isn’t Brahms’ most famous (I’d say No. 5 is; most people will recognize it, and I’m sure it’s been in a few film soundtracks, too). While it’s spritely, I like the elegance and relative simplicity of No. 1 compared with the hyper-liveliness usually found in that musical form, even Brahms’ own interpretations of it.

The Hungarian Dances were initially composed for piano with four hands (a duet on one piano) and later arranged for various orchestral instrument configurations.

Like many of the suite of 21 dances, No. 1 is based on material by another composer, though which one is not entirely clear: some sources cite Hungarian Béla Kéler (1820-1882) as the inspiration, while one names the (also Hungarian) composer and conductor Miska Borzó (birth and date years not found, though he seems to have been a contemporary of Brahms’).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from the official YouTube channel of Italian conductor Claudio Abbado (1933-2014) directing the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in a recording of all 21 dances:


Mr. Blue Sky

One of the most incredible things about modern technology and the internet is how they combine to bring us together when we’re separated by geography, a pandemic, or both. Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, or video messages sent by text or WhatsApp… they’re all tools my sweety and I have used at various times to stay in touch with family and friends.

We often receive video messages from family, and a recent example showed one of our grandkids dancing to his parents’ music. (This guy loves to dance and, whenever he’s over at our home, I always have songs playing just to watch him start his trademark move of rocking from one foot to the other, with a big grin on his face.) In the particular video message I remember, the background music was “Mr. Blue Sky,” by the Electric Light Orchestra, also known as ELO and, later, Jeff Lynne’s ELO.

Electric Light Orchestra is a band whose music I heard a lot of in my youth. I liked their progressive rock sound, though, oddly, I never bought any of their records. One of their big hits, “Don’t Bring Me Down,” is another standard from the typical playlist you would hear if attending that local phenomenon, the Manitoba social evening.

“Mr. Blue Sky” is a really upbeat song, praising blue sky after rain and taking joy in the celebration of light, play, and humanity. It’s a great song for a Friday, and up here in Winnipeg, Canada, a day of digging out after a significant snowstorm. It was one of those snowfalls where you go out and shovel while it’s still snowing so that it won’t be too deep when it ends.

“Morning! Today’s forecast calls for blue skies

Sun is shining in the sky
There ain’t a cloud in sight
It’s stopped raining
Everybody’s in the play
And don’t you know
It’s a beautiful new day
Hey ay ay!

Runnin’ down the avenue
See how the sun shines brightly
In the city
On the streets where once was pity
Mr. Blue
Sky is living here today
Hey ay ay!

Mr. Blue Sky
Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Mr. Blue Sky
Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
A celebration
Mr. Blue Sky’s up there waitin’
And today
Is the day we’ve waited for
Ooorrr

Oh, Mr. Blue Sky
Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

Mister Blue Sky!
Mister Blue Sky
Mister Blue Sky-yiy!

Mr. Blue you did it right
But soon comes Mr. Night
Creeping over
Now his hand is on your shoulder
Never mind
I’ll remember you this
I’ll remember you this way!

Mr. Blue Sky
Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue (Sky)
We’re so pleased to be with you (Sky)
Look around see what you do (Blue)
Everybody smiles at you

[Instrumental]

[Choir singing]

[Robotic voice:]
Please. Turn. Me. Ov-er”

(Mr. Blue Sky, by Jeff Lynne. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Today as I was clearing up the last of the heavy, wet snow off the parking pad, I was greeted by, you guessed it, Mr. Blue Sky! The weather was mild, and all the people I encountered had a positive frame of mind. I chatted for a few minutes with two men who walked by and complimented me on my snow clearing. They explained that they are unsheltered, living in an encampment and trying to get their lives back together after the effects COVID-19 has had on their lives. I gave them the money they asked for to buy coffee, and then they were back on their way.

“Mr. Blue Sky” comes from ELO’s seventh album, Out of the Blue (1977), a double album that was one of their most successful releases.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a video of a performance of “Mr. Blue Sky” by Jeff Lynne’s ELO. In it, band members Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy are backed up by the Take That/Gary Barlow Band led by Mike Stevens, and accompanied by the BBC Orchestra at a BBC Radio 2 concert in September 2014 at Hyde Park in London, England. (A Wikipedia article tells me the 50,000 ticket show sold out in 15 minutes.)

Wading in Waist-High Water

Today, heading out to an appointment, I had an intense craving to hear Fleet Foxes’ recent album, Shore (2020). I’ve previously shared another song from that collection, “Quiet Air / Gioia.” (That’s a terrific song, by the way; if you don’t know it, please check out my post on it.)

The album, the band’s fourth, was released on the autumnal equinox in September 2020. It has an unassuming yet mystical quality that seemed appropriate as I drove slowly in the season’s first snowfall, the snow melting as soon as it landed on the windshield and the winter tires firmly and loudly whirring over the wet concrete.

It’s pretty rare for me to listen to a whole album in one sitting, and I enjoyed being immersed in the music, albeit in the background.

“Wading in Waist-High Water” is, for me, reminiscent of so many hot summer days at the beach with my sweety. Those days, each so deeply appreciated and savoured, seem so recent; it’s really only about a month since our last visit with toes in water which soon will be frozen solid as if waiting in stasis for us to return next summer.

If you don’t own the album, I highly recommend buying it. You can sample it on a YouTube playlist if you want to hear it first.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video for the song from Fleet Foxes’ official YouTube channel, where you’ll also find official lyrics in the notes beneath the video pane:

Blackbird

Well, I finally did it. I signed up for a music streaming service. I know… the horror, right?!

I decided to take on a free trial of Apple Music, as I found it can co-exist with the owned content in my iTunes library. As I’ve often said here, I buy music to support the artists as streaming pays such a small amount per play. And at the same time, I sometimes grow tired of the music in my library. I like that Apple Music makes suggestions based on what one listens to. So, I thought it could introduce me to artists I’d benefit from and I could still support them by purchasing music of theirs I like.

On “Classical Sunday” mornings, I often listen to a station like CPR Classical, part of Colorado Public Radio. But sometimes, the playlist becomes a bit too busy and spritely for the morning vibe I’m seeking. So this morning, with my senses slightly puzzled by the annual and archaic changing of the clocks to end daylight savings time, I settled into the Apple Music playlist Classical A.M. It has a level, non-intrusive quality that I’ve been enjoying throughout the day, when not cycling or out on an afternoon date with my sweety.

A piece that I quite liked from earlier in the morning was an arrangement for Baroque orchestra and saxophone of the Beatles’ “Blackbird.” This arrangement is played by Lautten Compagney of Berlin, Germany, conducted by Wolfgang Katschner with saxophonist Asya Fateyeva. The piece appears on the Lautten album Time Travel, released last month.

Originally from the 1968 double album, The Beatles (more widely known as the White Album), “Blackbird” was composed by John Lennon (1940-1980) and Paul McCartney. McCartney performed the song solo on the album. He has said the inspiration for the song came from both the sound of a blackbird while the band was on a Transcendental Meditation retreat in India and the racial conflicts in the United States during the late 1960s.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Lautten Compagney YouTube topic channel:

Moondog

It’s often said that change is a constant.

From the handing off of the suits, shirts and ties that were part of my identity for so many years as a public servant, to serving as a resource to a group that is overseeing a major organizational transition, to the upcoming ending of a group that has gathered for over a year to share exploration of the journey through grief, this week feels like one of huge change. It’s been pretty exhausting! (And I don’t even have to work full time, so yeah, gratitude for that!) Some of the change is only symbolic, as in donating clothing that I haven’t used in four years. But it’s all significant…

In the song “Moondog,” I believe the Canadian singer, songwriter, musician and record producer Daniel Lanois explores our primal connectedness to the moon as part of the universe and all life in it.

Moon dogs are a visual phenomenon slightly less visible than sun dogs, as the former depend on the moon to create refracted light. But I suppose it could be argued that, in an existential sense, they are there all the time, whether we notice them or not. (Much like the old adage, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”)

“Moondog, I love you, love you so strong
And, moondog, I trust you, it’s been long

I trust you when it’s corporate bound
In facelessness I know your sound
Sweet water run where there was dust
I need to lift the weight I must

Better to feel that weight fall down
Better to feel that weight fall down

Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind
Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind

And, moondog, I lay my face down the night
My sleep not come, I hear your cries
In the omnipresence of the laughing gun
You reach me, moondog, you’re the one

Better to feel that weight fall down
Better to feel that weight fall down
Better to feel that weight fall down
Better to feel that weight fall down

Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind
Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind

Moondog, please send me a friend
A friend, moondog, please send

Looking for a place in the world
I used to have a place in the world
Better the heart in the whistling wind
Better the part deep from within
I feel you in these moon days
Messages in moon rays

Better to feel that weight fall down
Better to feel that weight fall down

Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind
Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind
Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind
Two ways of looking just as easy to be kind

Hey, moondog, yeah
Oh Moondog, oh moondog
Moondog, yeah
Oh Moondog, yeah”

(“Moondog,” by Daniel Lanois. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.)

Handing off inanimate objects can be easy — not always — though the acts of moving on from a meaningful phase of life or saying goodbye always seem to carry an air of finality. Change can be very challenging and can feel like loss.

This afternoon, while reading what I expected to be a routine email update from American author, professor, lecturer, researcher and speaker Brené Brown, I was drawn to her new website and, serendipitously, landed on a piece on her site called “The Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted.” (I recommend you go to brenebrown.com and use the search function to find it as I don’t want to infringe on her copyright terms.) I believe the piece could help those challenged by life and could feed resilience and perseverance. I think it’s kind of magical how life often hands us what we need, just when we need… if we are open to that.

In times of transition (and I cannot count how many I’ve been through in my personal and professional lives), I believe kindness and compassion are the most significant and essential elements. Those have been absent in many of the changes I’ve lived through, and I’m sure I didn’t always model these attributes as best as I might have, either.

When “Moondog” came on Apple Carplay autoplay last evening on the way home from errands, the line that stood out for me was “Two ways of looking / just as easy to be kind.” Indeed. That line influenced how I felt when interacting with the person who would distribute my suits and, later, when buying some food at a nearby market. It felt like, aside from the transactional nature of our relationships in those moments, we all recognized each other as fellow humans. It seemed we were all connected by kindness, something I think is always there as a possibility, just not always enfleshed into action. We all exist, sure, but we actually noticed each other, and made connections. It was a pretty good feeling, and I had a sense they felt the same. There can be opportunities like these everyday, even just meeting up with and smiling with a stranger on a sidewalk as we proceed on our journeys.

“Moondog” is the 15th of 18 tracks on Lanois’ fifth studio album, Here Is What Is (2007).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy. And have a wonderful weekend.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Daniel Lanois YouTube topic channel:

Good Morning Starshine

Sometimes, it’s just good to hear a song that rings with optimism.

That’s how I was feeling when trying to decide what song to share with you today. When searching the internet for “songs about positivity,” I found a list that included many good songs, including “Good Morning Starshine” by the American pop singer Oliver (the professional name for William Oliver Swofford, 1945-2000).

The song, and its easy, sometimes gibberish lyrics, exudes such lightness, it is hard not to be swept up by the mood it conceives.

“Good mornin’, starshine
The Earth says, “Hello”
You twinkle above us
We twinkle below
Good mornin’, starshine
You lead us along
My love and me as we singing
Our early mornin’ singin’ song

Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba
Early mornin’ singin’ song

Good mornin’, starshine
There’s love in your skies
Reflecting the sunlight
In my lover’s eyes
Good mornin’, starshine
So happy to be
My love and me as we singing
Our early mornin’ singin’ song

Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba
Early mornin’ singin’ song

Can you hear me singin’ a song, lovin’ a song, singin’ a song
Lovin’ a song, laughin’ a song, singin’ a song
Sing a song, song a sing, song, song, song, sing
Sing, sing, sing song

Song, song, song sing, sing, sing, sing song
Sing, sing, song, sing a song
Yeah, you can sing, sing, sing song, sing a song
Sing, sing, song, sing a song
Sing”

(“Good Morning Starshine,” by Gerome Ragni, James Rado, Galt McDermot.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Lyrics.com.)

“Good Morning Starshine,” which appears on the 32-song soundtrack for the 1968 Broadway musical Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical (better known as simply Hair), was a massive hit for Oliver in 1969. Opening the soundtrack is “Aquarius,” a number I remember well from a performance of it in many years ago in my school gymnasium by a musical theatre group dressed as “Flower Power” era hippies.

Hearing the song tonight, I didn’t recall hearing the instrumental lead-in before, but then it has been a long time since I last heard it.

In 1979, Czech film director Milos Forman (1932-2018) made a film based on the musical. I haven’t seen it but will look for it as I grew up with a lot of the music from the original and would be interested in watching it.

As I ponder on optimism after listening to the song, I’m also thinking of the major announcements that have been made this week by world leaders at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. I have been following some of these speeches and have a feeling that leaders are finally taking the climate emergency as something real that must be addressed, and with urgency. In a world that has seen so much chaos and suffering in the last twenty months, I am cautiously hopeful, like that feeling that comes when waking in the morning with a rested and a positive mindset.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Oliver YouTube topic channel:

Symphony No. 1, Op. 25, I: Allegro

The Soviet Russian pianist, composer and conductor Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) began writing his Symphony No. 1, Opus 25, also known as the Classical Symphony, in 1916, completing it in 1917. He wrote it in a classical style inspired by the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Joseph Haydn (1732-1809).

Last night, my sweety and I had a dinner delivered and watched a Vimeo live-broadcast concert of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Raiskin, as part of an autumn harvest fundraiser. The meal was delicious, and the music varied, with light and airy elements (like the opening movement of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony) and dark, bleak sounds of conflict (the Chamber Symphony by Dmitri Shostakovich, 1906-1975).

The concert opened with the Classical Symphony, a famous work among Profofiev’s repertoire. He composed the symphony while on vacation in the country, having left the violence of the city behind during the first of two revolutions that happened in Russia in 1917.

Thinking about the concert last night, I find the first movement (Allegro) of Prokofiev’s piece to be like a celebration of nature… I can visualize being in a meadow in the low golden light of autumn. That’s an important image as I think about COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, an important summit that began today. We are in a time when bold, decisive actions must be acted on immediately if the life and beauty on our planet is to survive the climate emergency.

Among the evidence and appeals that will be presented to conference delegates, I hope they take the time and space to witness a collaboration of music and visual art I mentioned in a post on Friday. Life in the modern world can be oppressive to the soul, and nothing can rebalance one’s sense of well-being and connectedness to the earth quite like time immersed in nature. That’s what I feel Prokofiev was aiming to create in his symphony, and what London England-based singer-songwriter Kate Ells and visual artist Geraldine van Heemstra evoke in their jointly-created Wonderland Project (please see Friday’s post for the song, “Wonderland”).

Yesterday, before my date night with Sweety, I savoured some refreshing solo time in nature, cycling a short-ish 40 km (25 miles) on a sunny, crisp and windy afternoon. I hadn’t ridden in about a week and was keenly aware that it might be one of my last outdoor rides of the season. It was a blissful day, and an evening warmed by each other’s company and a small fire in our new wood stove.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the Allegro from a recording by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine conducted by Theodore Kuchar, on the orchestra YouTube topic channel. (Serendipitously, as YouTube cued up the video, it played an ad for the YouTube Originals presentation Dear Earth, an “epic global celebration of our planet and what we need to do to reverse climate change…”)

The audio post is part of a playlist containing Prokofiev’s symphonies:

Also, when browsing for videos, I found an amateur video capturing a beautiful performance by Russia’s Mariinsky Ballet, featuring its first soloist Maria Khoreva, dancing to the Classical Symphony:

Wonderland

It’s always a pleasure to hear from My Song of the Day for Today readers, either through comments on posts or via emails to me through the Contact link on the website.

Yesterday morning, I received a lovely email from English writer, musician and entrepreneur Andy Hobsbawm, who shared a song by Louisiana, USA-born and London, England-based Americana singer-songwriter Kate Ellis. A walk in the beauty of a park inspired Ellis to write “Wonderland.” The song, for which Hobsbawm has a co-writing credit on the YouTube post of the official video, also inspired a collection of original watercolour paintings by Geraldine van Heemstra of the Wilderness Art Collective, London, UK.

This collaboration of visual art and music, the Wonderland Project, will be put into the hands of world leaders at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference which begins this Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland. The project’s goal is “to give a musical and artistic voice to the environmental rallying cry for urgent government action to protect our planet…” The sketchbook of charcoal drawings and paintings will contain a digital link to the song and a letter from Ellis and van Heemstra to world leaders.

About the song, Ellis says, “‘Wonderland’ is about how perceiving nature in a viscerally connected way gives us a deeper appreciation of it and a deeper sense of loss for what we’re putting at risk. Geraldine’s artwork is the perfect visual expression of the song.”

“My heart’s aching
Every inch of me is shaking
To see the beauty that we’re breaking
Our wonderland

A willow weeps into her cup
And sees her fields turn to dust
The trees that stalk me from all sides
With eyes of a hundred fireflies

A dead oak frozen like a lightning strike
Autumn colour like God’s own bonfire light
And a crown of leaves
Weighing down on me

My heart’s aching
Every inch of me is shaking
To see the beauty that we’re breaking
Our wonderland

I see the knot set in the bark
Like a bullet in its heart
Lava flowing down the trunk
And we’re all going up in smoke

A dead oak frozen like a lightning strike
Autumn colour like God’s own bonfire light
And a crown of leaves
Weighing down on me

My heart’s aching
Every inch of me is shaking
To see the beauty that we’re breaking
Our wonderland
Our wonderland”

(“Wonderland,” by Kate Ellis, Andy Hobsbawm.
Lyrics courtesy of Andy Hobsbawm.)

I am so grateful Hobsbawm invited me to share this song with you. He closes his email with thoughts about the artistic collaboration’s potential: “A lot of political activism is planned for COP26, but we hope that ‘Wonderland’ will communicate differently, in a complimentary way. Perhaps the double emotional punch of visual arts with an anthemic soundtrack can reach the parts that other climate campaigns cannot reach? Like the Washington Star’s famous 1967 ‘Flower Power’ photo of a carnation in the soldier’s gun barrel, you never know what will touch someone and inspire change.”

I was a child when the “Flower Power” photograph made its way around the world and, like so many momentous images in history, its message of peace still resonates with me to this day. May the heartfelt beauty of the Wonderland Project inspire similar levels of hope, commitment, determination and urgent action to save our planet.

To me, “Wonderland” is a love song to our living world and a tribute in hopes of its protection. I’m grateful to have been introduced to it. And I feel that the more of us who know about this song and art, the more people will be there in spirit, supporting wisdom, discernment and courage among the decision-makers at COP26.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy. If you like the song, please give the YouTube post a thumb’s up, buy it to support the artist and, most importantly, call on politicians to act now on climate change.

Here’s the official video from Kate Ellis’s YouTube channel:

You can buy the song on iTunes or through Kate Ellis’s Bandcamp page, where I picked it up.

Scale It Back

When I hear the term “DJ,” I still think of the person playing prerecorded music at the front of a hall for a social evening (please see my post on “Sunshine on Leith” or, more recently, “Just the Way You Are,” for the lowdown on that Manitoba phenomenon).

But my recent experiences have shown me there is far more to the two-letter title. A few years ago, a friend introduced me to his son, a Canadian DJ hosting an online show on the Twitch platform. DJ FunkyBeak broadcasts on the worldwide web most Fridays from 7:30 to 11:00 pm in the Pacific time zone. His Twitch page says he focuses on 70s, 80s, Disco, Funk, Synth-Pop, New Wave and more.

His is an enjoyable program to jump onto, with a chatbox for interaction with him and other listeners. I’ve sat in several times over the past year or so and enjoyed the show. If one likes the show and wants to support it, they can make comments, or even send tips through a couple of payment apps. Or just hang out and focus on the fun mix of music, though the conversations can be fun, too.

I honestly don’t know how FunkyBeak keeps up with monitoring the comment feeds and acknowledging people arriving or commenting or messaging him from other platforms, all the while mixing his music and dancing here and there. He does a fantastic job of what I’d call blending one song into the next, using “lossless” digital music formats, matching the beats of the two songs and fading one in and the other out. On a recent show, he indulged my request, playing an alternate mix of the song “Duel” by Propaganda, which I featured in a recent blog post. (Serendipitously, in that same post another DJ, Britain’s Anne Frankenstein, is mentioned as she spun the song while sitting in the morning show chair in place of regular BBC 6 Music host Chris Hawkins).

Another example of DJing that stretches my notions of the craft is American DJ, songwriter, hip hop producer DJ Shadow (aka Joshua Davis). I recently heard one of his songs on that mainstay of mine, Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC 6 Music, when I listened to the archive of his August 8, 2021 instalment, “Entrances and Exits.” (This episode had none of his usual weekly features like his historian sister The Beckapedia, poet laureate Simon Armitage, the On This Day segment, and others.)

A Wikipedia article on Shadow says he has a personal collection of 60,000 albums. Wow. Again speaking to my lack of knowledge about this genre of art, his instruments are not all exactly what I traditionally viewed as musical instruments: “turntable, sampler, keyboards, synthesizer, drums, percussion.”

On the archive of Garvey’s show, I heard Shadow’s collaboration with Swedish electronic music group Little Dragon, “Scale It Back.” The song has a quirky, sometimes jittery melody that’s playfully, jauntily brought along by crisp, skillfully loping drum and percussion work.

The official video, quirky itself, begins with a man telling how he memorizes a deck of cards by making up a story where each image represents a pair of cards, then ends the video by recounting all the images.

“I swear I’ll solve your life, my feet fall over you inside
And I thought I heard someone say
You’ll fly far away
And when you reach up the sky is there

This clueless, I wouldn’t know
We swam in the waves, and we let it go
Until I heard someone say
Over the horizon beyond
Oh, where you reached and knocked over stars

I dreamt I came from parking movements
Every moment I see with our clothes
Take me to places where we can stop
I dreamt I came from parking movements

Ooo, Ooo
Nothing can steal this treasure from us, babe
I’m still in love, now
Fighting the sounds
Take chances and come closer to me babe
I’m fallin’ out, now

I dreamt I came from parking movements
Every moment I see with our clothes
Take me to places where we can stop
I dreamt I came from parking movements

Now, Oooooo
Take chances and come closer to me babe
I’m fallin’ out”

(“Scale It Back,” by Joshua Davis, Yukimi Nagano,
Erik Bodin, Hakan Wirenstrand, Fredrik Wallin.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.)

I’m not sure I’ve entirely grasped the song’s meaning, though there’s a dreaminess and kind of hypnotic sense coming across. It’s as if in the chorus, the songwriters envision a couple in their fanciest going-out clothes, going out dancing; their unison movement is a metaphor for the discipline of one parallel parking a car. The light flashing off the cars conjures up the swishing of their clothing under cabaret lights, creating a kaleidoscope of colour. The short version is: the couple is seeking places to go so that, in getting there and parking, they can again capture how it really is for them: the slow magic of their sensual dance moves. And, of course, this doesn’t mesh with the video (other than maybe the fancy clothes on the woman and man at the chest freezer).

My confusion about its meaning aside, I love the vibe of this song. I’m glad I took note of the song title and artists when listening to the program over a month ago.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the music video for the song from DJ Shadow’s official YouTube channel:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor, Op. 23, TH. 55, I: Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito

If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall my post about ten days ago, “Introvert,” a rap song by Little Simz introduced to me by one of our lads.

I commented in that post about the symphonic sounds in the track. He and I discussed it a few days later as I was drawn to those sounds, and I wanted to find some classical music that featured such a strong horn section. He has had extensive education and experience in music, and suggested the music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) would be a good place to look. Yeah… they were totally in the same ballpark. I also wondered about the Russian Romantic classical composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893). I had a piece in mind, which I was trying to figure out the title/composer of; a bit of a challenge, with classical music, but I found it yesterday morning: the first movement (Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito) from Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor.

It’s a very grand piece, opening with the dramatic statement from the horn section, and less than 15 seconds later, the piano soloist leaps into the score. Wow!

Tchaikovsky wrote the concerto in late 1874/early 1875 though he revised it as late as 1888. It’s his best-known piano concerto and among the most popular across the genre. Equal to the piece’s drama is a conflict between Tchaikovsky and his friend, pianist, conductor and composer Nikolai Rubinstein (1835-1881). It’s believed Tchaikovsky may have initially dedicated the concerto to his friend, but they fell into conflict when Rubinstein criticized it sharply.

My lad and I chatted about the piece today. Our discussion inspired me to keep looking for more music like this.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio from a 1963 recording featuring Russian-Icelandic pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, soloist, playing with the London Symphony Orchestra directed by American violinist, conductor and composer Lorin Maazel (1930-2014). (Most of my family and our partners were fortunate to see Ashkenazy play a concert in the late 1980s in Winnipeg, Canada. It was a pretty big deal and I remember it well.) The video appears on the Vladimir Ashkenazy YouTube topic channel.

And it is always great to see a live performance; here is one (of the entire concerto) played in 1991 by pianist Daniel Barenboim (of Argentina, Israel, Palestine and Spain) with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Russian composer, musical theorist and teacher Sergiu Celibidache (1912-1996). (Barenboim has also conducted the piece, with soloists like Argentine-Swiss pianist Martha Argerich.)

Free to Decide

Sometimes in life, we get to a place of feeling absolute clarity about where we are, where we want to be, and the decisions — sometimes hard ones — that we need to make to get there.

I think that’s what Dolores O’Riordan (1971-2018) was writing about with “Free to Decide,” the fourth track from the Cranberries’ third studio alum, To the Faithful Departed (1996). The second part of the opening verse tells it all: “I’ll live as I choose, / Or I will not live at all.” I honestly don’t believe that’s a reference to giving up, or to thoughts of suicide. Instead, I believe she was trying to say that living under others’ expectations instead of one’s own truth means not fully living.

“It’s not worth anything,
More than this at all.
I’ll live as I choose,
Or I will not live at all.

So return to where you come from,
Return to where you dwell,
Because harassment’s not my forte,
But you do it very well.

I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all.
I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
At all, at all, at all.

You must have nothing,
More with your time to do.
There’s a war in Russia,
And Sarajevo too.

So to hell with what you’re thinking,
And to hell with your narrow mind,
You’re so distracted from the real thing,
You should leave your life behind, behind.

’Cause I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
At all, at all, at all.

I’m free to decide, I’m free to decide,
And I’m not so suicidal after all,
At all, at all, at all.”

(“Free to Decide,” by Dolores O’Riordan.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

O’Riodan’s words resonate with me, especially when I think of periods in my life where I didn’t feel free to decide. Some of those were times when I made personal and career decisions based on maintaining a status quo or doing what others expected of me, instead of doing the right thing for myself and — usually, in the end — everyone else, too).

The music video for “Free to Decide” begins with O’Riordan escaping a gauntlet of paparazzi, only to become a caged bird, then dancing freely and wandering in the desert. Part of the video is shot in what looks to be the same yellow, three-sided building that also appears on the album’s cover. At the end, the whole film goes to fast rewind. I suppose that’s a further commentary on how, even when we make our choices, they may not take us where we want them to. But we get up, dust the sand off ourselves off and keep heading forward, with intention.

A happy Friday, friends. What will you do this weekend? I hope you’re free to decide…

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Strangely, the video isn’t on the Cranberries’ official YouTube channel, though this unofficial version has properly-credited song rights listed.

PS: Love that cowbell. Life is always better with cowbell.

Ave verum corpus

After this past Wednesday’s post on a rap song by Little Simz, I started looking for classical music pieces in which the brass section came across as boldly as those in Simz’s song, “Introvert.” I haven’t found one yet, and I feel that speaks to my lack of knowledge of the genre. I’ll keep looking and learning. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I looked in my digital collection for something to share for “Classical Sunday.” A few pieces by Wolgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) came up. I sometimes associate Mozart with a kind of crazy-making busy-ness that some of his works seem to evoke for me. Yet his sacred music is almost unmatched in its ability to invoke and feed the spirit in such a blissful way. And this is what happened when I stumbled across his “Ave verum corpus.” A version of it happens to be on the same Kiri Te Kanawa album from which I featured a piece two weekends ago. Mozart’s “Ave verum corpus” is a beautifully meditative piece that is, historically, a chant related to the Christian sacrament of communion; feeding the body and soul, as it were.

Today has been a full day with a longer, early morning bike ride in the heavier, cold morning air (1° Celcius or 34°F), then some time at home with my sweety. In the sunny warmth of the mid-afternoon, we took our bikes out for a ride with friends to the outdoor patio of Barn Hammer Brewing, a local brewery and taproom. These friends were away for five weeks, and we had a fun and emotional time reconnecting and sharing. And soon after Sweety and I biked home in the low golden autumn sun, we had two long phone calls with loved ones, then some soup for dinner, and some Netflix (The Chair, though I didn’t really connect with it, despite having featured its preview music some weeks ago). 

And with that, I think I’ll just let the music speak for itself…

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio of Te Kanawa singing with the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir, London, England, accompanied by the English Chamber Orchestra with Barry Rose conducting, from the Choir’s YouTube topic channel:

Entangled

In 1975, the English singer, songwriter, producer and activist Peter Gabriel left Genesis, of which he had been a founding member in the 1960s. I was introduced to Genesis and Gabriel’s music by a school mate though, I didn’t follow Gabriel closely until his album Us (1992). (I posted about that friend in “Washing of the Water,” from that album.)

The year after Gabriel’s departure for a highly successful and well-regarded solo career, Genesis released A Trick of the Tail. I don’t know that album, though looking it up tonight, I read that it came soon after drummer/singer Phil Collins became the front person and lead singer for the group. The song I’ve heard from it is “Entangled,” which I first heard on an archive of Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, the August 1, 2021 episode, “Hypnotic Guitar Tunes — Welcome In.” And, by the way, Garvey is back to his BBC 6 Music Sunday show after several weeks’ absence. With pandemic lockdowns lifting, he was finally able to tour with his band, Elbow.

I found “Entangled” really took me back to the mood and vibe of the mid-1970s, and I feel it has a sound like the English progressive rock band, Yes.

Entanglement is a common term when referring to dysfunctional relationships. I’m not sure if Genesis’s writers Tony Banks and Steve Hackett had that concept in mind. Still, their song does seem to be about trickery and manipulation, two definite characteristics of unhealthy connections.

Either way, “Entangled” is a lovely song, with beautiful keyboard and acoustic guitar sounds supporting Collins’ rhythmic vocals.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio for the song from Genesis’s YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.

Introvert

To riff on the title of today’s selection for a moment, as many of us joked during the last year and a half, “there’s never been a better time to be an introvert.” At the same time, the often intense pandemic-related social isolation (other than hundreds of Zoom meetings and gatherings) has led to an even greater awkwardness and sometimes trepidation toward in-person social settings. The result of that is even more fatigue than might be expected for an introvert, even when in relatively small gatherings with close friends or family.

But it felt like that all shifted a bit this past weekend. As I mentioned in Sunday’s post, we were preparing for a family dinner to mark Canadian Thanksgiving as well as a recent and an upcoming family birthday. We had a delightful time, around a fabulous meal made by Sweety and, later, gifts for the birthdays. It was pretty tiring as she and I are out of practice with hosting, having held just three family dinners in the last thirteen months, and this one being the first fully indoor gathering. (Hard to believe we used to host annual dinner parties related to her work, with 30+ guests!) But it felt wonderful to be together, and a pretty cool thing happened…

It’s typical that when we sit at the table, Sweety asks me to say something to mark the occasion as a bit of an invocation or blessing. I thought I would like to make a land acknowledgement, something that — at least locally — has become a custom in public gatherings since Winnipeg’s first Indigenous mayor, Brian Bowman, took office and declared 2015 the Year of Reconciliation, before the concept took hold nationally. Anyway, earlier in the day, one of our lads was in touch to ask if he could make an acknowledgement before dinner. I said I had been thinking the same, so yes, that would be great if he wanted to. So, the torch has been handed to the next generation for bringing a significant, meaningful spoken spiritual component to open up the intimacy of family meals.

During the same evening, while I was playing music from my Song of the Day playlist over the computer speakers, the same son asked if he could play a YouTube video. He prefaced this by saying, “I know you mostly post stuff you like, so here’s a challenge…” He knows I’m not a fan of rap and wanted me to listen to a song. Trusting him and the moment, I watched the YouTube video with him and his partner once he called it up. I was struck by the drama created by the symphonic passages in the song and the quick edits of the video, the majority of which are shot in classical period spaces, juxtaposed with gritty, hazily-lit modern-day architecture. The music, choreographed movement and film edits create a bold, visually and aurally cacophonous palette in which British-Nigerian rapper, singer and actor Little Simz (the stage name of Simbiatu “Simbi” Abisola Abiola Ajikawo) expresses her message of struggle as a Black woman witnessing so much oppression and racist, systemic disadvantage.

As for the title, I’m not entirely sure of the intent, but it seems the song is a rallying cry to step out and claim one’s place in the world, and particularly women of colour, given the added layers of oppression on them as not only people of colour but also as women, in a world still dominated by old, rich, white men who control the systems of wealth and authority.

It’s a compelling video. I’m still not sure I’m a fan of rap, but I am glad to have been exposed to this music and video. It is a reminder of the comfort I live in, which is much different than what so many billions on our planet endure.

“Introvert” comes from Little Simz’s fourth studio album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, released last month.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video from Little Simz’s YouTube channel. You’ll find official lyrics among the notes beneath the video if clicking into YouTube.com to watch it.

Violin Concerto No. 2 in F, Op. 8/3, RV 293, “Autumn,” II: Adagio molto

Today in my country, it is Thanksgiving Sunday, during a long holiday weekend observed without question in the same way for many generations. In recent years, and particularly this year, it seems that is changing. As a nation, Canada has been forced to reckon with a story of colonialism and the devastating consequences of a greed-fueled movement that began in the fifteenth century and led to genocide. The stories are finally being heard.

When my family emigrated from England, they came here seeking opportunity. I doubt they had any inkling of their new home’s history of abuse against those who had been stewards of the land for thousands of years. The First Peoples warmly received European explorers and settlers. In my experience, Indigenous people remain a welcoming, gracious and hospitable people despite all they have suffered and continue to endure in the largely unaltered systems that have perpetuated poverty, disease, and the lack of both basic human rights and opportunities to thrive.

Today my sweety and I are hosting our first small, indoor family gathering in many months and will celebrate birthdays and a general feel of thanksgiving for all that a life of good fortune and privilege has blessed us with. Gratitude will sit next to acknowledgement and respect as we feast together.

As I write this, I’m watching the rain trickle down the window as the wind whips the few, wet leaves remaining on branches while autumn takes hold on a dark and dreary day, after the golden light and heat in “bonus weeks” of late summer. Anticipation of celebration and reflection on stories of the past mingle, and I found the second movement of “Autumn” from Antonio Vivaldi’s (1678-1741) Violin Concerto No. 2, The Four Seasons to be a good piece for this contemplative mood. Though short (this version lasts only two minutes and forty-eight seconds), the music captures the surroundings and feelings of the day. In my opinion, it is a beautiful composition, which I favour far more than the opening and closing movements of “Autumn.”

Just over a year ago, I featured “Summer” from The Four Seasons. The audio for today’s post comes from the same 1984 recording of German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter performing with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989).

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy, honour, remember, and give thanks.

Here’s the audio from Anne-Sophie Mutter’s official YouTube channel:

PS: My apologies to those who noticed the absence of a post this past Friday. It’s the first time since beginning the blog that I’ve missed making a scheduled entry here.

Green Eyes

I mention Coldplay’s song “Green Eyes” in my May 22, 2021 post on “The Scientist,” saying today’s selection is one of the better-known of the British band’s earlier songs.

But re-reading that post today, I’m not so sure that is an accurate statement after all. Coldplay never released “Green Eyes” as a single, and I’m really not sure what type of attention it received when the album A Rush of Blood to the Head came out in 2002 as I wasn’t a fan at the time. And anything I’ve read about the collection doesn’t shine a particular light on the song.

It’s a fabulous piece of music, though, so I must have just been projecting my own assessment of the song’s worthiness. The music, lyrics and singing in “Green Eyes” all carry a definite country music vibe I’ve never heard any commentary about. When I listen really hard, I feel like I can hear a pedal steel guitar in the last half of the song when it transitions from acoustic guitar and vocal to full band plus strings and vocal, but I think it’s just effects on the electric guitar. There does seem to be a country influence elsewhere on the album, too, and critics have noted the strummy electric guitar of “Warning Sign” to be country rock-inspired (and, again, if I listen really closely I’m sure I hear accordion on that one). In my opinion, the title track “A Rush of Blood to the Head” also keeps that country vibe going. It would be interesting to know if this is just my impression or if it was intentional on Coldplay’s part. I think it was the band experimenting with various styles of songwriting and performance, later complemented by the lavish, multi-layered production Brian Eno brought to Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008).

Hearing other tracks while reading up on the song tonight makes me think about sitting through the whole album many times when I discovered it a few years after its release. A Rush of Blood to the Head is an amazing album, probably one of Coldplay’s best, and to me, much more enjoyable than their more pop-oriented music of the last few years.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Coldplay’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available at AZLyrics.com.