Love Vigilantes

I find it intriguing to get a glimpse at what a songwriter has in mind when crafting a piece of music, especially when it’s a song I feel I know well.

In the case of the English band New Order’s “Love Vigilantes,” I had a rather rude awakening today when I did a little Internet research on the song to see if I’d discover anything new. A Wikipedia article quotes the band’s vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Bernard Sumner, from a 2012 interview with the British edition of GQ Magazine. Sumner tells of wanting to compose a “tongue-in-cheek” song about the Vietnam War. He explains that one can interpret the ending as either the soldier returning home to learn that a telegram advising of his death was incorrect, or it was true and it’s his ghost returning home. Sumner states that, either way, the man’s wife has died by suicide after receiving the telegram. Ohhhh.

I had always thought, perhaps in a Pollyanna kind of way, that the soldier arrives home to find his dear one in tears at the telegram, and his safe arrival makes everything good again, moments later.

Sumner’s subtle poke at war can unleash a sense of the utter tragedy of conflict and the many levels of loss it brings to the world.

Oh I’ve just come
From the land of the sun
From a war that must be won
In the name of truth
With our soldiers so brave
your freedom we will save
With our rifles and grenades
And some help from God
I want to see my family
My wife and child waiting for me
I’ve got to go home
I’ve been so alone, you see

You just can’t believe
The joy I did receive
When I finally got my leave
And I was going home
Oh I flew through the sky
my convictions could not lie
For my country I would die
And I will see it soon
I want to see my family
My wife and child waiting for me
I’ve got to go home
I’ve been so alone, you see

When I walked through the door
My wife she lay upon the floor
And with tears her eyes were sore
I did not know why
Then I looked into her hand
And I saw the telegram
That said that I was a brave, brave man
But that I was dead
I want to see my family
My wife and child waiting for me
I’ve got to go home
I’ve been so alone, you see

(“Love Vigilantes,” by Stephen Morris, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Gillian Gilbert. Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“Love Vigilantes” is the opening track on the 1985 album Low-Life.

I’ve previously posted two other songs by New Order: “Your Silent Face” and “Crystal.” (In the latter post — a “cracking” song by the way — I included a photo of the back cover of Low-Life; the thumbnail image in the YouTube video for today’s selection is the front cover.)

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 New Order’s official YouTube channel:

Passacaglia

Today’s selection is the final piece of the Rosary Sonatas, also known as the Mystery Sonatas or Copper-Engraving Sonatas, a set of 15 short sonatas for violin and continuo that ends with a passacaglia for solo violin.

Bohemian-Austrian violinist and composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704), known for his technically complex works, wrote the series sometime around 1676. But the collection’s existence had not been known until it was published in 1905; it then became one of Biber’s most famous compositions.

Today, browsing through several suggested videos and checking out the sidebar suggestions within those, I found a video of a performance of the Biber passacaglia, transcribed for a 13-course lute and played by Spanish musician Xavier Díaz-Latorre. It’s quite a remarkable piece.

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’s the video for the song from Xavier Díaz-Latorre’s YouTube channel:

Diamonds

The song “Diamonds” is one I heard many years ago, and it attracted me with its simple but effective guitar riff and drum beat. However, I never gave much more thought to it, never learned anything about the band — The Boxer Rebellion — and never thought to look for an official music video until today, when I decided I’d post the song. (It’s been on my notepad for a while…)

The song is the opening track from The Boxer Rebellion’s fourth studio album, Promises, released in 2013. My Apple Music app’s metadata tells me I added the song to my library from the iTunes Store in 2014. I probably heard it on CBC Radio 3, as that was one of my primary sources of new music at the time.

Of course, I looked them up and found they are made up of Brits from London and a fellow from Tennessee, USA.

I found the official video quite stunning when watching it tonight. The song seems to me to be about a man wrestling with regret over his part in a failed relationship. But the video took it further as the singer/main character, in his busy day, can’t look folks in the eye and hangs his head; he seems racked with guilt and shame. Those two, along with blame, form what a dear friend calls the “three amigos.” Things many of us men live with, and not very well, I might add. Not equipped to deal with them, and somehow not naturally open to exploring ways to learn to deal with them, we hide our feelings, bury them, diffuse, transfer. I think that’s what happens in the video as the man is wholly consumed by something that literally drowns him, in his office.

Pretty little thing did you feel something
Did you always want me to be something
To mend a broken a heart
From a Devil of shallow nonsense
Turned your world upside down

Whatever said that it’d mean something
Whatever said that it’d mean nothing
And did I look the part
When it’s all said and done
When it’s all said and done

I’m no good next to Diamonds
When I’m too close to start to fade
Are you angry with me now
Are you angry cause I’m to blame

I’m no good next to Diamonds
When I’m too close to start to fade
Are you angry with me now
Are you angry cause I’m to blame

Never wanna hide the truth from you
Just hang my head what I put you through
I wasn’t good enough
When what’s done is done love
When it’s all said and done

But I’m

No good next to Diamonds
When I’m too close to start to fade
Are you angry with me now
Are you angry cause I’m to blame

Cause I fall away
Further than I ever was
Further than I ever was
Further than I ever was
Further than I ever was
Further than I ever was

I’m no good next to Diamonds
When I’m too close to start to fade
Are you angry with me now
Are you angry cause I’m to blame

I’m no good next to Diamonds
When I’m too close to start to fade
Are you angry with me now
Are you angry cause I’m to blame

Cause I fall away
Further than I ever was
Further than I ever was
Further than I ever was
Further than I ever was
Further than I ever was
Further than I ever was

I have no words

(“Diamonds,” by Nathan Nicholson, Todd Howe, Adam Harrison, Piers Hewitt.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

No matter what our early (or later) lives have dealt us, there are ways out of the patterns, excuses, addictions and other dysfunctions that might limit our lives. If you’re a man and struggling, there is help. There are men’s groups, resources, courses, trainings, retreats, and they can and will make a difference in your life. They have for me and many men I know, of all ages and walks of life. Healthier men are good for themselves, their families, their communities. If you need help, find a therapist, then look up men’s organizations and groups in your area. You’re not alone. None of us is alone. Unless we choose to be. (And please, don’t do that.)

And, as an aside, the other day I was talking with one of my brothers, and as he often does, he brought up serendipity. He and I both marvel at its presence in our lives.

Thinking about serendipity and the concept of help, today, Sweety and I joined in celebrating (virtually) with a dear friend who lives in America and was being ordained into ecumenical ministry. He’s a remarkable man. We’ve never met in person, yet he and I are close, trusted confidantes for each other. He’s someone who I know will continue to help and guide many people on their journeys of healing and growing: men, women, all genders and identities. That is something that truly gives me hope for 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 video for the song from The Boxer Rebellion’s official YouTube channel:

What did you think of the song? If you liked it, please give the video a thumb’s up as that helps the band. If you liked my post, please give it a like or a comment, or follow me. And if you have a question, please contact me. I would love to hear from you.

It’s Just Another Morning Here

Yes, it’s just another morning here. It’s a Friday, though, so that means some of you will have few days off. And this weekend, pandemic restrictions are being lifted slightly here in Manitoba to allow gatherings of up to five people from two households, outside, on private property. It’s something, and I’m glad we’ll be able to see a few folks safely.

“It’s Just Another Morning Here” is a song that my sweety and I have listened to for many years, on Nanci Griffith’s 1993 compilation album, The MCA Years: A Retrospective. I’ve mentioned before, it’s an album we associate with a couple we met in 1998 and who we remained close friends with, although one in the couple died four years ago.

The song initially appeared on and is the opening track of Griffith’s 1991 release, Late Night Grande Hotel. The title track of that record is another longtime favourite and made its way onto our wedding CD. I’ve posted that and a few other Griffith songs on this blog; check out the links in my post on her cover of “From a Distance.”

To me, today’s selection seems to be about being stuck in fear of change; maybe new love has come, and the singer is afraid because of past relationships that didn’t work out? Or perhaps she’s stuck in a rut, or fearful of one. At the same time, I think the singer realizes every day is a chance to start fresh and is to be appreciated. Whatever it really means, it’s classic Nanci Griffith, singing in her charming way about life and its challenges, and hope.

The telephone is ringin’ in the middle of the night
I pull the bedclothes higher
Will it stop calling out if I turn out the light?
I’m afraid of these shadows here
’Cause my past is truly frightening
And I’m afraid of the warmth in the down
Of a feathered heart in flight

It’s just another morning here (it’s morning)
It’s just another morning here
It’s just another morning here (it’s morning)
And it’s a miracle what it comes around
Every day of the year

The neighbors scream and their baby cries
I’m hiding in the corner
I won’t be them, pray I won’t be them one day
Maybe it’s just the breath of August
So hot upon my shoulders
Or the open window for the winged heart
To fly away

(“It’s Just Another Morning Here,” by Nanci Griffith.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Whichever side of the bed you woke up on today, I hope it’s a good one for you. Happy Weekend!

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 Nanci Griffith YouTube topic channel:

Carry On

It has been a while since I’ve sat and listened to an episode of BBC 6 Music’s Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour. And I think I might have missed out on finishing one program I had started, as they only remain available on the BBC Sounds app for a month. Come to think of it, I haven’t listened recently to my other Internet radio mainstay, The Morning Show with John Richards on KEXP Seattle, either.

Life seems busy and full — in a good way — but with spending more time outdoors in the fantastic early summer weather, I’m falling behind on my listening and reading.

Anyway, I listened to a couple of Garvey’s programs over the last two days while doing computer work. (I usually try to listen to them undistracted but don’t want to lose any more instalments to “time’s arrow,” so I tried to catch myself up a bit.) The shows are always a delight; even the relative predictability of some of his segments is a joy as I know what might be coming but am never quite sure what it will be.

Checking out Garvey’s May 16 episode, “One For The Head on Slow Sunday” (“Slow Sunday” is an occasional BBC 6 Music-wide thing where all the presenters share laid-back sounds), I heard Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young play “Carry On.” It’s a familiar song, and hearing it for the first time in a long while, I was struck by how much the principal vocal harmony sounds exactly like Jon Anderson, the lead singer of the English progressive rock band, Yes. (I can’t recognize one particular solo voice that sounds that way; it seems to be a harmony. But if someone knows different, please comment… I’d love to know for sure!)

Crosby, Stills & Nash was a supergroup; its members all came from big-name acts: American singer-songwriter David Crosby had been a member of the Byrds; American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Stills had been part of Buffalo Springfield; and British-American singer, songwriter and musician Graham Nash was a former member of the Hollies. When Canadian-American singer, songwriter, musician and activist Neil Young (who also had been with Buffalo Springfield) would join the group, it would be Crosby, Stills Nash & Young, or CSNY for short.

“Carry On” is the first track on CSNY’s 1970 record, Déjà vu. The album, the second for the trio of Crosby, Stills and Nash and their first with Young, is a solid release. It includes “Helpless” (a Neil Young composition covered by many, including k.d. lang, whose version I posted in January 2021), “Teach Your Children,” and “Our House;” some truly delightful music. (And, Neil Young has been featured on the blog a few times, as you will see from links in my post on Annie Lennox’s cover of his “Don’t Let It Bring You Down.”) The album has been remastered and reissued this year as an expanded, 48-song deluxe edition to mark 2020 being its 50th anniversary.

CSNY’s music was classified as folk rock/country rock, but I find today’s selection has a little more than an edge of psychedelic rock, especially in the bridge at the middle of the song. There’s a dreaminess to it that seems to emerge from nowhere, then lingers subtly with the wah-wah pedal of the guitar.

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 the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young YouTube topic channel (be sure to tap on the settings gear wheel then click on 1080p for the highest quality playback):

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

The Thrill Is Gone

I mentioned the other day, I was looking for a blues song, though I ended up posting something entirely different.

Today that urge came again, and I thought of an old blues standard made famous by American Blues singer, songwriter, guitarist and record producer B.B. King (1925-2015), “The Thrill Is Gone.” Whenever I think of this song, I remember a conversation with a work superior of mine from years ago. He told how an employee a few levels down in the hierarchy had announced his retirement to him, saying the job “wasn’t fun anymore.” I don’t recall whether it was the employee’s or the superior’s embellishment, or perhaps my imagination that added, “The thrill is gone, baby.”

American blues singer, songwriter and pianist Roy Hawkins wrote “The Thrill Is Gone” in 1951 with a fellow named Rick Darnell (I couldn’t find details on him). King’s version, recorded in 1969, became a major hit, earning him a GRAMMY award in 1970 (Best R&B Male Vocal Performance), and would become one of his most famous songs. There are numerous videos of him performing it in concert, running for up to 12 minutes. And there are many studio and live audio recordings ranging from about three to eleven minutes.

King was known for his innovation in solo guitar playing, pioneering techniques like staccato picking, fluid string bending, and vibrato, and his style has influenced many blues electric guitarists. He performed right up until October 2014 and died in May 2015, aged 89.

“The Thrill Is Gone” comes from King’s 1969 record, Completely Well.

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 King’s performance at the 1993 Montreux Jazz Festival, held on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, from the Mercury Studios official YouTube channel.

If you click on “watch on YouTube,” you will see official lyrics in the notes section.

Iris

It has been a while since I posted something from Mixing Colours, last year’s ambient music collaboration between brothers Roger and Brian Eno. I appreciate the compilation and have shared several pieces from it, as you will note if you read one of my previous posts, the one on “Verdigris.”

At the end of a busy and full day of work, sunshine and play, it feels good to settle into a peaceful track like “Iris.” Seeing this video on a list reminded me that our irises are flowering in Sweety’s perennial garden. They’re such beautiful flowers, and I have to keep reminding myself to go by the far side of the house to look at them for the short time they are in bloom.

Irises from my sweety’s garden. Photo by Steve West

As part of their promotion of Mixing Colours, the record label Deutsche Grammophon and the Eno brothers hosted an international competition and invited the submission of videos to accompany the musical pieces. They received over 1,700 entries and posted them on a promotional website

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 Mirjam Klever of Scotland submitted for the track, “Iris.” The fluttering of the leaves is a relaxing, calming thing to accompany the soft piano sounds.

Heartbeat

The new wave band The Psychedelic Furs was formed in London, England, in 1977. They took a hiatus in the early 1990s, reformed in 2000 and are still active today. They are definitely up there on my top-thirty list of bands, and I often like to listen to their music. In fact, they were the first band I featured on this site, back on January 5, 2020, with “Heaven” from the 1984 album Mirror Moves. (It’s a song one of my brothers plays a lot and which always makes me think of him.) I later posted “No One,” a track from last year’s release, Made of Rain.

Today I’m sharing “Heartbeat,” which also comes from Mirror Moves. The record made it into the top 20 on the Canadian Albums Chart. And Toronto, Canada’s CFNY-FM, also known as 102.1 The Edge (where Canadian music historian and broadcaster Alan Cross spends some of his time) named it the number one album of 1984.

The song has a driving, almost urgent beat describing the heartbeat of all things; people, the street, traffic, the city, radio, even nightclubs when the music has ended for the night. Maybe it’s about wanting to keep the excitement up after all the day’s activities and nightlife have all faded.

Today, I took particular note of my heartbeat on my bike computer out on a 60-kilometre (37-mile) ride. While the temperature was quite pleasant on my way out, it spiked pretty quickly, and though it wasn’t that hot (25°C or 77°F), a lot of my route was away from the shade of trees, and the sun was quite intense, so the tarmac was probably a few degrees hotter and generously giving off that heat. I decided to abort the longer version of my planned journey. I also slowed down a bit for the last ten kilometres to keep my heart rate in a lower zone, especially when not in shaded areas. I was glad I did… I felt hot and a little depleted when I returned home. But, all hydrated again and relaxing in the sheltered coolness of the summer porch with my sweety.

She’s a heartbeat
Yeah, she’s a heartbeat
She’s a door at the end of a dead-end street
She’s a heartbeat
And footsteps
I hear her footsteps
Here comes rumours and lies
Here comes my life of crime
I hear footsteps

When the music goes down
And the traffic is stopped
And nobody talks at all
When they turn up the town
I hear a heartbeat

And I’ve shut all the shades
And the radio stops
And nobody moves at all
When the city’s asleep
I hear a heartbeat
I hear a heartbeat

In the shadows
Out in the shadows
It’s like walking on glass
It’s the end of the show
In the shadows
And sweet dreams
She sells you sweet dreams
It’s like movies and trash
Where there’s always a girl
And she’s sweet dreams

When the music goes down
And the traffic is stopped
And nobody talks at all
When they turn up the town
I hear a heartbeat

And I’ve shut all the shades
And the radio stops
And nobody moves at all
When the city’s asleep
I hear a heartbeat
I hear a heartbeat

She’s a heartbeat
Yeah, she’s a heartbeat
She’s a door at the end of a dead end street
She’s a heartbeat
And sweet dreams
She sells you sweet dreams
It’s like movies and trash
Where there’s always a girl
And she’s sweet dreams

When the music goes down
And the traffic is stopped
And nobody talks at all
When they turn up the town
I hear a heartbeat

And I’ve shut all the shades
And the radio stops
And nobody moves at all
When the city’s asleep
I hear a heartbeat

Heartbeat, I hear a heartbeat
When they turn up the town
I hear a heartbeat

Heartbeat, I hear a heartbeat
When the music goes down
I hear a heartbeat

Heartbeat

(“Heartbeat, by Richard Butler, John Ashton.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of 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’s the audio for the song from The Psychedelic Furs’ official YouTube channel:

Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C Major (Triple Concerto), Op. 56, II: Largo – attacca

After a short walk-run this morning, followed by a short bike ride, then lunch (and a very short but pleasant snooze), I started looking for a classical music video. None of YouTube’s suggestions sparked my imagination, so I went over to the always-reliable Deutsche Grammophon channel, where I was pleased to find today’s selection.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) composed the Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C Major, Opus 56, popularly known as the Triple Concerto, in 1803. It was published in 1804 but not premiered in public until 1808 where it was played at a summer concert in Vienna, Austria.

Today, I’m featuring the second movement (Largo – attacca). Three classical music greats⁠ — Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello) and Daniel Barenboim (piano and conductor) — perform it with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany, in 2019. DG released their recording the following year to mark two anniversaries: the 250th of Beethoven’s birth and the orchestra’s 20th.

It’s a beautiful piece of music, slow and lyrical, with a magnificent interplay among the three soloists. Cellist Ma says of the concerto, “It’s so celebratory, so positive.

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’s the video of the performance by Mutter, Ma and Barenboim from the official Deutsche Gammophone YouTube channel:

Crystalline Pools

A couple of months ago, I posted some music that had been shared with me, by Michigan, USA-based Seth Bernard. (Please see my post on “Sandman’s Dust” for more on him and his work and art.)

This week, Bernard released a new single and music video, “Crystalline Pools.” On the Bandcamp page for the song, he explains the inspiration for the music, which came to him while spending time at the Woody Guthrie Foundation. He based the song around the bedtime ritual for his daughter.

It’s a poignant song. The video beautifully portrays the father teaching his daughter about her lineage and life; all those lessons we wish to teach our children, so they will grow and thrive long after we are gone, with their ancestors always standing behind them.

Sitting here this afternoon in the summer porch, fed, watered and sheltered from the heat of the sun, with many birds chirping wildly and the enlightenment of Pluto Living (who is trying to unravel the secrets of the universe) coming from Sweety’s iPad, it’s a good day.

Now, if only we were allowed to gather with our family, make them some food, share stories and memories, witness their grown wisdom… and give them all the hugs missed over the past fifteen months.

Until then, there are the words Seth Bernard says to his daughter each night, “The strength of your heart will carry you through your whole life.”

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 Earthwork Music YouTube channel:  

“Crystalline Pools” is available for purchase from Seth Bernard’s Bandcamp song page:

Destination: Anywhere (from the film, The Commitments)

Happy Friday!

Destination: anywhere? These days, it’s more like destination: nowhere. But being at home isn’t so bad now that summer is here. And my oh my, is it ever here. It was only two weeks ago that gardeners in Winnipeg, Canada were covering their plants overnight to protect against frost. Today, the temperature reached 36.1°C (97°F) after being 30°C or higher all this week. This week my sweety and I have been spending hours lounging in our screened veranda, affectionately known as the summer porch.

I was looking for blues songs today but then ended up checking out the soundtrack to the 1991 Alan Parker musical-comedy-drama The Commitments. (Please see my post on “Dark End of the Street” for more on the movie.)

“Destination: Anywhere” is by the American husband and wife songwriting / recording / production duo Ashford and Simpson (Valerie Simpson, and Nickolas Ashford [1941-2011]). The Marvelettes, an American female singing group, released it as a single in 1968.

The soul band from The Commitments covers the song in the movie, featuring Niamh Kavanagh on lead vocal, with Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle and Bronagh Gallagher on backup vocals. Although the song is about a woman booking a train ticket to get away after a relationship breakup, it’s a lively, uptempo song with a kind of carefree beat that really evokes summer.

Ah, yes, summer. It’s great beach weather here, especially if you have shelter from the sun, such as an umbrella tent (one of our primary pieces of beach gear). But this weekend the beaches will be packed, so we’ll wait until next week when they’re not so crowded.

So, there are destinations, after all.

Wherever you go or don’t go, enjoy the weekend!

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 Commitments YouTube topic channel:

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of MetroLyrics.com.

Dreams

I wouldn’t say I listen to the Cranberries that much, but I do like a lot of their music, including “When You’re Gone.” (As I mention in a January 2020 post, that is one of the tracks on Sweety’s and my wedding CD because of memories associated with the song.)

Formed in 1989 in Limerick, Ireland, the band took a six-year hiatus starting in 2003. They reunited in 2009 and remained together until the death of their distinctive, mezzo-soprano lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan (1971-2018). They released their final album, In the End, in 2019 and formally disbanded.

The band’s official music videos continue to be viral on YouTube. For instance, in April 2020, the political protest song “Zombie” overtook a one-billion-view campaign and now sits at 1.1 billion. (It is a “banger” with an urgent beat and rhythm, scenes implying the military and paramilitary clashes from the 1960s to 1990s, and bold, mystical sequences representing religious aspects of the conflict.) “Linger” has 297 million views, while “Dreams” has been watched over 187 million times, and some other songs have about a hundred million views each. Not surprisingly, the Cranberries were one of the highest-selling alternative bands, with worldwide record sales of 50 million records up until 2019.

“Dreams” came up on my YouTube feed today, and I gave it a listen. It has a lightheartedness to it, which I think relates to the optimism and hope of new love. The video was shot cleverly to depict nighttime, infused with coexisting light and dark and the often disjointed elements of dreams.

Oh, my life
Is changing everyday
In every possible way

And oh, my dreams
It’s never quite as it seems
Never quite as it seems

I know I felt like this before
But now I’m feeling it even more
Because it came from you

Then I open up and see
The person falling here is me
A different way to be

Aaah, la-a-la-aaah
La la laaaa
La-a-la-aah
La-ah ah aaah

I want more
Impossible to ignore
Impossible to ignore

And they’ll come true
Impossible not to do
Impossible not to do

And now I tell you openly
You have my heart so don’t hurt me
You’re what I couldn’t find

A totally amazing mind
So understanding and so kind
You’re everything to me

Oh, my life
Is changing everyday
In every possible way

And oh, my dreams
It’s never quite as it seems
’Cause you’re a dream to me
Dream to me

(“Dreams,” by Dolores O’Riordan, Noel Hogan.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“Dreams” comes from the Cranberries’ 1993 album, Everybody Else’s Doing It, So Why Can’t We? It’s a song that stands up well, nearly thirty years after its release.

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 TheCranberriesTV, the band’s official YouTube channel:

Gimme Shelter

So, I have a confession to make. I’ve never been a follower of the Rolling Stones. Yeah, really.

It’s not a value judgment but, like pretty well no one else I know, I’ve just never been strongly drawn to them, for whatever reason.

It’s interesting, though: two years ago in February, I heard a local special event band play “Sympathy for the Devil.” The lead singer for the song, Ian Lodewyks of The Noble Thiefs and other bands, did an earth-shattering version of the vocal, and it along with the band’s instrumentation mesmerized me. For me since then, the original version just does not cut it. Edit: I’ve found a video I shot that night… unfortunately it doesn’t capture the whole song as my old phones storage was acting up on that of all nights

The band was drawn from a larger group of over 40 musicians assembled to play a benefit concert in honour of the birthday of a young Winnipeg musician, Alex Danyliuk (1991-2013). Tragically, Alex died at the age of 22 from a sudden cardiac event related to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. My lad Kieran, a close friend of Alex’s, was in the band that played “Sympathy for the Devil.” The group was conceived of one evening by a few people including Boris (the event organizer and father of Alex), Kieran, and Ian. Boris named it the Champagne All-Star Band as part of an event to celebrate and honour what would have been the young man’s 28th or champagne birthday. (Please see my February 28, 2020 post on the Dave Matthews Band’s “Grave Digger” for more on “Alex Dee.”)

In addition to my above, limited association with Rolling Stones music, on Saturday’s pizza and movie date night, my sweety and I watched the film 20 Feet from Stardom. It’s a 2013 documentary about backup singers and is directed by Morgan Neville. The movie features many backup singers, including Lisa Fischer, Merry Clayton, Táta Vega, Darlene Love and others, and goes well back in modern music history.

Fischer, who sings in the video I’m using today, spoke at length about being approached to perform the studio recording of “Gimme Shelter.” For that reason and her stunning performance, I chose a live version of the song with her singing backup.

Fischer has also backed up Tina Turner, Sting, Luther Vandross (1951-2005) and toured with the Rolling Stones from 1989 to 2015. In the documentary, Stones lead singer Mick Jagger speaks highly of Fischer as a collaborator and friend. She has also released her own solo work.

Back to the Rolling Stones… I took a look at the vinyl I own by them, and there’s a few: Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), Goats Head Soup (1973, which still has a price tag of CAD 4.69 from Autumn Stone, one of Winnipeg’s preeminent record stores of the 70s), It’s Only Rock ’n Roll (1974), Black and Blue (1976), and Emotional Rescue (1980). All but the last one came from a collection I bought from an older brother years ago.

I must take these LPs out of the covers and play them sometime soon and see what I’ve been missing all these years. I guess it’s a good thing there’s not much else we can do in the COVID-19-besieged Manitoba at the moment…

“Gimme Shelter” is the opening track from the Rolling Stones’ 1969 album Let It Bleed.

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 the Rolling Stones’ official YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Handshake the Gangster

Warning: this song contains a cuss-word!

I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen the Canadian band Hey Rosetta! perform live. But, I have probably seen almost every Winnipeg gig they played before they announced an indefinite hiatus in 2017.

My introduction to the group, formed in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in 2005, was through one of those hit-of-the-week cards that Starbucks used to give out a long time ago. The freebie was “Lions for Scottie,” from Plan Your Escape (2006), a super-high-energy song that I used to do fast intervals to when riding a stationary bike for exercise years ago. My older son, Kieran, also a musician, loved the song and convinced me to take him to a Hey Rosetta! concert soon after our discovery. I believe that show was downtown at the Garrick Centre (formerly the Garrick movie theatre).

The band has always been important to Kieran’s musical pursuits. He says bandleader and lead singer Tim Baker’s sound inspired him to be a singer, and I can hear Baker’s influence so clearly my lad’s vocals. Today’s selection is one of the best examples of that, and it’s been pretty wild to hear him singing along to the song when we’ve been listening to it together. And by the way, Kieran and his band are working on a new record right now. I cannot wait to hear the fruits of the writing, rehearsing, recording and production processes!

Another time we saw Hey Rosetta!, they were playing an event at what is now called Shaw Park, home of American League baseball team, the Winnipeg Goldeyes. Both my lads were at the show with me. We met the band and hung out with them for a while, which was pretty exciting. My sweety was with us for yet another HR! concert. I am not sure of the venue; it might have been The Pyramid Cabaret, but I do remember us having seats quite close to the stage.

A Hey Rosetta! live show is distinctive, with brass, violins and cello added to the traditional rock setup. Combined with their high energy, the instrumentation produces a rich, vibrant sound and a unique concert experience that makes the seven-piece group’s shows so appealing and thrilling to witness.

“Handshake the Gangster” comes from Into Your Lungs (2008), the band’s second album, produced by Canadian singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman. The album also contains “Red Heart,” which appears in a video essay by The Globe and Mail’s Stephen Brunt compiled for the CTV National News about the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Games were a moment of national pride, in stark contrast to current news about the legacy of the Residential Schools system; at the same time, a reminder of the goodness we can be when, collectively, we set and commit to genuine intentions for social justice.

In addition to Baker’s singing, songwriting and musicianship, he produced an EP for the Aley Waterman project GALA in 2013 (now known as galaa). One of EP’s tracks, “Little Fires,” is among the first songs I posted on this blog.

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 official Hey Rosetta! YouTube channel:

If you like the music, please give the video a thumb’s up, then head over and buy it, to support the artists who made it.

Official lyrics can be found on the Hey Rosetta! website.

I’m Going Home

I was horrified and deeply saddened by the news that the remains of 215 Indigenous children of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation had recently been discovered at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

My country, Canada, was built on the oppression of the First Peoples. That oppression extended to the tearing apart of families and placing children in what were officially called the Indian Residential Schools. This nationwide program ended only about thirty years ago and is a shameful stain on our history. Over the past several years, many stories of systematic abuse have emerged, as have the horrific discoveries of unmarked graves of those who died while held against their and the will of their families.

I can’t imagine what life would have been like in such places or the effects on the children, their parents, and each following generation. As a grown child of white privilege, a parent, and step-grandparent, it distresses me to my core to imagine such things being done deliberately, systematically and mercilessly to members of my family. It’s unthinkable. Except it’s real. It was done to many thousands of families.

I could write at length about how I feel my people and our ancestors, the settlers of this land, have harmed the Indigenous population, whether intentionally or unintentionally. And how our lifestyles, attitudes, and government perpetuate those harms. 

Instead, I’d like to focus on the generous, welcoming and abiding spirit that I’ve witnessed from Indigenous women, men and children I’ve encountered in my life. And while I disapprove of many of the Winnipeg mayor’s policies and practices, I believe he has worked to advance reconciliation with the Indigenous community in what is now Winnipeg. He was among the first to institute land acknowledgements in City meetings, and these and have since expanded to non-government and commercial organizations. It’s one step in the healing that many say will take seven generations.

When thinking of a song to share to represent the day, I immediately turned to Buffy Sainte-Marie, an Indigenous Canadian-American singer, songwriter, musician, composer, social activist, pacifist, and a former cast member of the American children’s TV program Sesame Street (where she turned the children’s programming world on its ear when she breastfed her son as part of the show, to show the beauty and nurturing of that literally lifegiving act).

In 1992 after taking 16 years away from the music industry to raise her son, Sainte-Marie released Coincidence and Likely Stories. It’s an incredible piece of work, and I’ve previously posted two songs from the album: “Starwalker” and “Goodnight.” (If you haven’t seen those posts, please click on the links and read them, and listen to the songs. They are remarkable.)

Today I was moved to share “I’m Going Home.” There’s something deeply spiritual about the music, beginning with the ethereal sound of synthesizers and other effects that lead into the supporting vocal line (which I believe might be Indigenous chanting or throat-singing, but I am not knowledgeable about it). The lyrics feel to me like they build to a call of empowerment and honouring of self and people, perhaps like how I interpreted those of “Starwalker.” It also feels like the words could be an invocation to call home the souls of those, like those 215 children whose lives, happiness and security were stolen from them in their earthly lives.

Heaven isn’t so far away as people say
I got a home high in my heart
Heaven is right where I come from
I never throw it away
I know the place and I’m goin’ home
I’m going home
See up there it’s not the same
they know your name
and I’m not ashamed to need it
I’m going home
You can keep a-knocking
but I’m not coming out of this state I’m in
I’m travelling right, I’m gonna get there soon
I’m standing up praying, I’m singing
saying Heyo ha ha heyo hey ya
I know the way and I’m going home
I’m going home
That’s where the heart can rest
The best is there
and only a fool would leave it
I’m going home
I’m going home
I been around I been to town
Hey, where you think I learned right from wrong?
I’m going home

(I’m Going Home, copyright by Buffy Sainte-Marie.
Originally written for the film, Where the Spirit Lives.
Official lyrics accessed from buffysainte-marie.com.)

Much harm has been done, and we can’t take that away. But we can work to reconcile the wounds inflicted in the past and build a more inclusive society that honours all lives. And I must search for my way to contribute to the healing.

I included this in my post on “Starwalker” but feel it bears repeating: When commenting about toasting our country, a beloved Canadian broadcaster, radio performer and author Stuart McLean (1948-2017) said such a declaration “should contain certain humility, acknowledgment of our stumbles and our quiet determination to try harder, to listen carefully, to be thoughtful of new ways, to be sure we are on the right side of history.”

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

Here’s the audio for the song, from YouTube. It’s not an official version but rather aggregated to the Buffy Sainte-Marie topic channel and is credited to the artist by YouTube.

Dido and Aeneas, Z. 626, Act III, “When I am laid in earth” (Dido’s Lament)

No one knows for sure when the English composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695) wrote his three-act Baroque opera Dido and Aeneas, though it is believed to have been completed sometime between 1683 and 1688. 

The work is one of Purcell’s best remembered theatrical compositions and his only true opera. He based the music on the play Brutus of Alba, or The Enchanted Lovers (1678), a tragedy by the Irish poet, lyricist and hymnist Nahum Tate (1652-1715).

“When I am laid in earth,” commonly known as “Dido’s Lament,” is the most famous aria in the play and comes near the end of Act III after Dido and Aeneas part ways forever.

Originally scored for four-part strings and continuo, French conductor, composer, arranger and violist Mathieu Herzog arranged the aria for cello and strings, as he did with Christoph Willibald Gluck’s (1714-1787) “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” (posted to the blog on June 28, 2020). Franco-Belgian cellist Camille Thomas plays both pieces on her 2020 album, Voice of Hope.

In the official video for her performance with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, Thomas plays in a gallery in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. I have a strong recollection of that place; I toured a small portion of it with my parents in the summer of 1973, and my sweety and I walked outside along the length of the massive building in October 2012. (We instead toured the smaller and more manageable but awe-inspiring Musée d’Orsay, where we delighted in works by Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh [1853-1890].)

“When I am laid in earth” is an emotive, tragic piece of music, its solemnity brought out beautifully by Thomas’s cello playing. I found this performance several weeks ago and noticed it today in my bookmarked videos.

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

Here’s the video from the official Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:  

High Fidelity

Well, I just can’t seem to leave the 1980s behind. Let’s have just one more from that decade, shall we?

Elvis Costello and the Attractions recorded the high-energy, uptempo “High Fidelity” in 1979 and released it on their 1980 record, Get Happy!! The song is familiar to me, but I have not heard it in many decades. I found it today searching through the 1980s tab on my Apple Music library (where it resides as part of 1986, 22-track compilation from the iTunes Store, Best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions).

The song is believed to be about an adulterous couple in which one partner still has hope for a future in the relationship. And, like so many songs, the upbeat nature of the tune contrasts with the mood of the narrative. Costello wrote the piece at a time of his life and career when he was feeling heightened pressure due to his growing fame and all the nastiness that can sometimes bring a person’s soul. I don’t envy famous people; they often pay a high personal price for their monetary wealth.

Costello is one of those artists I listened to with friends but never collected myself until I bought that quoted compilation ten years ago. I’ve posted two of his songs before: “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” and the sad but brilliant “Good Year for the Roses,” the latter of which often seems to play when my sweety and I are making Saturday night pizza together. She always says, “Oh, that’s so sad… play it again!

Costello makes some simple but catchy dance moves in the official video for the song. It’s also from 1980, so the sound quality isn’t the best, but the strong bass line still comes through pretty well.

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 Elvis Costello’s official YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

In a Big Country

Well, happy Friday, friends!

Another week has gone by so quickly… how does that happen when we are still so restricted and isolated? Surely, time should be dragging!

My province, Manitoba, continues to be subject to seemingly (or realistically) ever-widening restrictions, and it’s my opinion that this is primarily due to the arrogant, myopic leadership of our premier. He has stubbornly upheld his notion of “the economy” over most everything else, so much so that we currently have the highest COVID-19 infection rates in North America. And instead of compassion, he has chosen to shame those infected or sick in the hospital. And now, our temporarily-expanded hospital intensive care units are so overwhelmed, overloaded and understaffed by caring but exhausted people, we’re airlifting critically ill patients to other provinces.

Okay, wait… I’m sure you didn’t stop by to read a rant. Let’s begin again.

If you’ve been following along here in the last few weeks, you might have noticed I have a bit of a thing going on with the 1980s. In the last while, I’ve posted songs from the 80s by Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, John Lennon (1940-1980), Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Church. Today, it’s Big Country, with their breakout hit, “In a Big Country.”

I first heard the band’s music in 1983 or so and now automatically associate them with that one song. I never followed them and didn’t know much about their career, which started in Scotland in 1981. After a couple of breaks, they are still active. But today, “In a Big Country” popped into my head, and I decided I’d post it.

It’s been another busy day, much of the early part governed by Perry Como the inside cat’s morning routines, then meditation, some commitments for Sweety, and a super-windy bike ride for me. Later, we drove out to Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park, then off to a couple of garden centres on the western edge of the city. I could not go into the store with my dear as local restrictions limit shopping to one person per household. I sat in the car watching her delight in being among the plants while I enjoyed the day’s heat and, of course, some music from my Song of The Day playlist. With over 500 songs on that list, it’s always a surprise what will play next.

“In a Big Country” played in all the dance clubs I frequented in the 80s, so it recalls good times with my friends (that 80s mix of St. Norbert and St. Vital folks I refer to as friends 2.0, as explained in a much earlier post). The song has a catchy beat; maybe not a remarkable piece of music but on the upbeat side for a Friday. From reading the lyrics, I believe it’s about resilience and persistence; two things we all need more of these days.

Like I mentioned in my post on “Under the Milky Way” The Church used effects on guitars to reproduce bagpipe sounds. Big Country, classified as a Celtic rock/new wave/post-punk band, are known for similarly using effects on guitars to make sounds like fiddles and bagpipes in their music. I guess that was a thing, though it never occurred to me at the time.

Today’s selection comes from Big Country’s debut album, The Crossing (1983). While the album only made it to #18 on the American charts, it rose to #4 in Canada and #3 in the United Kingdom. Steve Lillywhite — who has worked with U2, Ultravox, Simple Minds and many others — produced the record.

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 Big Country’s YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Losing My Religion

It’s been a busy day of appointments plus a bike ride, a few phone calls and an online gathering before I took the time to sit down and complete today’s post.

During a free moment this afternoon, I thought I’d visit my YouTube feed for a song idea. Of course, several of Rick Beato’s What Makes This Song Great? videos came up, and I took a look at one, which led me to another, and on…

I enjoyed Beato’s take on the American band R.E.M.’s 1991 song, “Losing My Religion,” a fantastic piece that became perhaps an unlikely hit for the band, but a big one nonetheless. The song received a lot of airplay, and MTV (Music Television) heavily played the official music video. MTV pioneered the broadcasting of that new medium, the music video, in the early 1980s. VH1, another music video broadcaster that launched later in the 80s, also carried the video.

The song comes from Out of Time, R.E.M.’s seventh album. It is also the subject of an episode of Song Exploder ― but the Netflix series (2020), not the podcast, though both come from the creative genius of American musician, producer and composer Hrishikesh Hirway.

The band co-wrote “Losing My Religion,” basing it on a mandolin riff by guitarist Peter Buck. The song showcases the sound of a group that had developed its unique style over nine years and six other studio releases.

The online knowledge and entertainment aggregator Grunge tells of a 1991 New York Times interview in which Michael Stipe, the lead singer of R.E.M., reveals that the song title is an expression from the American south that means to be at the end of one’s rope. He goes on to say the song is a romantic expression related to unrequited love. I think it could also be about realizing that, even without intention, one has hurt their love. As if observing the situation from outside the couple, the one is desperate to bridge the gap and remove the lover’s pain, getting back to the essence of the relationship.

Oh life, it’s bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I’m choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt, lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

Consider this
Consider this, the hint of the century
Consider this, the slip
That brought me to my knees, failed
What if all these fantasies come
Flailing around
Now I’ve said too much

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
Try, cry, why try
That was just a dream
Just a dream
Just a dream, dream

(“Losing My Religion,” by Bill Berry, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Peter Buck.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

When Out of Time came out, I wasn’t actively following R.E.M. as I did early on in their career while hanging out with a longtime friend, but I remember hearing it played a lot on the radio. As Beato states, the song is written with a lot of “sad notes” but the tempo creates a contrast to this, creating a captivating and compelling 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’s the official music video from the R.E.M. YouTube account:

And, here’s Beato breaking down the song:

River Man

I first came to know of the music of English singer-songwriter Nick Drake (1948-1974) through the BBC 6 Music program Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour. As I’ve referred to so many times before, the host is the lead singer of the English band, Elbow, and I often find post-worthy songs on the show.

The first Nick Drake song I heard on the program was “‘Cello Song,” and I published a post about it on March 29, 2020. More recently, Garvey played “River Man,” and I took note of it as it captured my attention the same way “‘Cello Song” did. Drake had depth and a soulful, perhaps haunting quality to his voice. It’s saddening to think that such a beautifully talented human died so early in life and almost 47 years ago.

Some of Drake’s lyrics are believed to have been influenced by his depression, and I feel there’s something in today’s selection that registers that. I read and hear a mix of self-awareness and melancholy in some lines: “Going to see the river man / Going to tell him all I can / About the ban / On feeling free…” It’s like Drake knew his state and couldn’t escape its bonds, but was determined to talk about it.

Betty came by on her way
Said she had a word to say
About things today
And fallen leaves.

Said she hadn’t heard the news
Hadn’t had the time to choose
A way to lose
But she believes.

Going to see the river man
Going to tell him all I can
About the plan
For lilac time.

If he tells me all he knows
About the way his river flows
And all night shows
In summertime.

Betty said she prayed today
For the sky to blow away
Or maybe stay
She wasn’t sure.

For when she thought of summer rain
Calling for her mind again
She lost the pain
And stayed for more.

Going to see the river man
Going to tell him all I can
About the ban
On feeling free.

If he tells me all he knows
About the way his river flows
I don’t suppose
It’s meant for me.

Oh, how they come and go
Oh, how they come and go.

(“River Man,” by Nick Drake. Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“River Man” comes from Drake’s debut album, Five Leaves Left (1969).

Many prominent artists have named Drake as an influence on their music, including Beck, Kate Bush, the Black Crowes, Aimee Mann, and others.

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 the Nick Drake YouTube topic channel:

Heaven

I remember one night very clearly, after closing time, at the McDonald’s restaurant where I worked part-time during the mid- to late-1970s. The night-time cleaning crew had arrived; two grown men with long hair and beards, and plenty of attitude and bravado. They would work all night, cleaning the greasy kitchen and all areas of the building preparing it for the next day of business. We on the food and serving crews thought they were like gods because they took over the restaurant’s public address system and would play night-time radio, loudly. (It was probably CJUM, better known as UMFM, the station associated with the University of Manitoba, as it was far out on the FM spectrum, playing new, innovative and experimental music.)

That particular night, a catchy, rebellious track came on: “Psycho Killer / Qu’est-ce que c’est? / fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better / Run run run run run run run away…” That was my introduction to the American band Talking Heads, whose debut record, Talking Heads: 77, released in December 1977, took the world by storm.

I’ve always admired their work, through the band itself and its development over the years, plus members’ side projects, like bandleader and singer David Byrne’s solo work and collaborations with others like Brian Eno; and drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth’s Tom Tom Club.

Talking Heads albums usually had quirky names (not unlike the personality of Byrne) such as More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978), Remain in Light (1980, an album that was central to a visit to Vancouver that year), and Speaking in Tongues (1983), to name a few. Around the time of Little Creatures (1985), I began to lose interest as the edginess of their music had been obscured somewhat by more of a pop-rock focus.

Recently, I heard today’s selection on Internet radio and remembered how much I liked its sardonic yet hopeful style. Some say the track expresses sarcasm about religion and the idea of heaven as a reward for doing good deeds.

Everyone is trying to get to the bar
The name of the bar, the bar is called Heaven
The band in Heaven, they play my favorite song
They play it once again, they play it all night long

Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens
Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens

There is a party, everyone is there
Everyone will leave at exactly the same time
It’s hard to imagine that nothing at all
Could be so exciting, could be so much fun

Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens
Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens

When this kiss is over, it will start again
It will not be any different, it will be exactly the same
It’s hard to imagine, that nothing at all
could be so exciting, could be this much fun

Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens
Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens

(“Heaven,” by David Byrne, Jerry Harrison.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“Heaven,” an identically-named but different song by The Psychedelic Furs, is the first song I posted when I started my blog on January 5, 2020. After 505 more posts, I’m happy to offer another example of that place or belief.

Talking Heads’ “Heaven” comes from the band’s third album, Fear of Music (1979).

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 the Talking Heads YouTube topic channel:

Under the Milky Way

Sometime in the recent past, I heard a song on KEXP Seattle’s The Morning Show with John Richards. And like I do when I don’t know the song, I capture it with the Shazam app. (I swear, sometimes it seems to take only a fraction of a second… how do they do that!)

Anyway, on one of these occasions, Shazam told me the song was “Under the Milky Way” by the Australian alternative rock band The Church. What really surprised me was to learn the song came out in 1988!

I’m vaguely familiar with the band, formed in 1980, but I cannot remember if I ever heard the song back when they released it. It felt like I was hearing it for the first time when it was on KEXP recently.

Lead singer and bassist Steve Kilbey wrote the piece with his then-girlfriend, Swedish-born musician Karin Jansson who was with the band Curious (Yellow). If you listen closely during the first solo/bridge, you’ll hear a guitar recorded through a synthesizer and other effects, producing a sound like bagpipes.

The song appears on the soundtrack for the 2001 psychological thriller film Donnie Darko. It also was played by the band, along with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, during the opening ceremonies for the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

I’ve heard people say that no good music came out in the 1980s. I don’t see it this way. Some favourites in my collection are bands, records and songs from the ’80s (and I’ve featured some of them already). For some reason, I tend to associate the decade with the summer season, maybe because I was young and loved to go to the beach (still do). Or perhaps because summer infers that carefree sense of youth. Yeah.

The title of today’s selection also reminds me of laying under the stars on a summer night, like my sweety and I did last August during the Perseid meteor shower (please see my post on “Clear Desert Night” for more on that). We had a lovely time driving together to Birds Hill Provincial Park, watching a few meteorite trails, and stopping on the way back for an ice-cream cone to top off our date night. With COVID-19 restrictions that seem to have lasted forever, and so few opportunities to gather with others in the last 15 months, we’ve had a LOT of date nights… and all of them have been special.

So today, as Winnipeg, Canada returns to the sunny and hot weather club after a couple of days of much-needed rain, it feels like a good day to post another song evoking the 80s, youth, summer, and yes… date nights in the 2020s with Sweety. ❤️

“Under the Milky Way” comes from The Church’s fifth studio album, Starfish.

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 The Church’s official YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Lakmé, Act I, No. 2: Duo des fleurs / Sous le dôme épais

Occasionally I’ve listened to Colorado Public Radio’s online classical music stream lately, and have enjoyed their programming and insightful host commentary. That station was where I heard “Gather Round the Table” (posted here on May 10), and today I heard several bookmark-worthy pieces.

YouTube is another source of suggestions and is where I found a selection for today’s Classical Sunday post on the blog. 

“Duo des fleurs / Sous le dôme épais” (“Flower Duet”) is from the opera Lakmé, by French Romantic composer Léo Delibes (1836-1891). Film, TV and TV advertising have used the duet section of the piece extensively; it starts at 1:05 in the video below, and I’m sure you’ll recognize it. 

I remember the duet from a scene in the 1983 Tony Scott film, The Hunger, when gerontologist Dr. Sarah Roberts (played by American actor Susan Sarandon) visits Miriam Blaylock (French actor Catherine Deneuve), whose vampire husband John is played by David Bowie (1947-2016).

The “Duo des fleurs” is a beautiful piece of music, lovely and calming after considerable frustration last night and again today with the much-anticipated livestream event by Glastonbury Music Festival I talk about in yesterday’s post. A technical issue denied access to thousands of people during the British and European stream. Many angry people! I encountered the same problem when trying to access the North American stream: it would not show the first 90 or more minutes of the concert, the part I mainly wanted to see (Wolf Alice as the opener, followed by Michael Kiwanuka). After some searching today, I managed to find a customer service person with the event promoter, who insisted the North American stream worked but tried to help me watch today’s entire “encore presentation.” It didn’t work either. The person promised to send an access link to the archive for those who could not view the event yesterday or today. I have faith all shall be well.

In today’s video, France’s Les Siècles Orchestra, conducted by François-Xavier Roth, accompanies French vocalists Sabine Devieilhe, coloratura soprano and Marianne Crebassa, mezzo-soprano. The piece also appears on Devieilhe’s 2017 album Mirages (though it is listed there as “Viens, Mallika”).

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 Warner Classics official YouTube channel

The Scientist

One of the first songs I remember hearing by the British band Coldplay is “The Scientist,” from their second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002).

Today’s selection is the fourth song I’ve posted by a band I used to listen to almost incessantly once I came to know their music. Previously, I shared “Fix You” (from X&Y, 2005), “Life in Technicolor ii” (Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, 2008), and “Lovers in Japan (Osaka Sun Mix)” (also from Viva…, and a song that appears on Sweety’s and my wedding CD).

From the start, I found Coldplay’s mix of indie-pop music with creative instrumentation and experimental production by geniuses like Brian Eno to weave a very satisfying sound. However, Mylo Xyloto (2011) was when they lost some of my interest; it’s a good enough collection, with solid harmonies like on the lovely, reassuring and primarily acoustic “Us Against the World.” The album is well-produced but a bit on the formulaic side for me, compared to the more imaginative, sparser and more independent-sounding appeal of the earlier works. Like today’s track, for instance.

“The Scientist” is probably among the band’s best-known earlier songs, with other greats like “Yellow,” “Clocks,” and “Green Eyes.” American music producer and educator Rick Beato tells great stories and gives a superb analysis of the song’s writing, playing, singing, and production on episode 93 of his inimitable What Makes This Song Great? series. It’s definitely worth a watch.

I wanted to post a Coldplay song today since they will be one of the headline acts on Live at Worthy Farm, a five-hour, special livestream event from the Glastonbury Festival site in England. The North American stream for the show gets underway today at 6:00 pm CDT. A band I’m really excited to see is Wolf Alice, whose songs “Bros,” “Turn to Dust” and “Don’t Delete the Kisses” have appeared here before. (At the time of writing, I’m reading a media report of a problem with the UK livestream which must have been very disappointing the the home crowds there… hopefully the time lag will be on our side and our date night will be glitch-free!)

In my post on “Don’t Delete the Kisses,” I talk about choosing not to take a vacation side trip from London to Margate, a seaside town in southeast England, where Wolf Alice was playing, and have regretted that decision since then. But tonight, I finally get to see them perform from the comfort of our living room. And there will be pizza; since around the beginning of the pandemic, Saturday has taken over the role of pizza and movie night, a tradition we had on Fridays when my lads were little.

So, shall we wrap up today’s song, and talk about the video?

The official music video for “The Scientist” is quite an ambitious work. The entire piece follows lead singer, keyboardist and frontperson Chris Martin through excerpts of a day, night and next day but is filmed entirely in reverse motion. I won’t spoil the “beginning” if you haven’t seen it before. The video received a 2004 GRAMMY nomination for Best Short Form Music Video though the award went to the video for Johnny Cash’s (1932-2003) cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” (please see my post for a link to that piece).

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, trust science. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Get vaccinated, for others and yourself. And… wear your seatbelt.

Here’s the video from Coldplay’s official YouTube channel:  

And, here is the Beato video about the song:

Unofficial lyrics are available, courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

UPDATE: The Glastonbury folk didn’t have a banner day, from a technical perspective. The livestream didn’t work for the first hour and a half or so, so I missed Wolf Alice and Michael Kiwanuka, as did everyone in the EU/UK. Those are the two acts I was really looking forward to. Dang.

Lips Like Sugar

Hanging back in the 1980s for a bit, here…

I’ve mentioned before that a school friend of mine was in a local avant-garde/art-rock/new wave band, A New Man Celebration, in the early ’80s. I remember one of his favourite bands at the time was Echo & the Bunnymen, and I’m sure he put one of their songs on that elusive, arty mixtape I’ve been looking for, for a while. (I mention the friend’s band in my post on Philip Glass’s “The Poet Acts” and also talk of receiving an email through the Contact page on my website from the daughter of the NMC lead singer in my post on “Can’t Let Go.” The mixtape itself gets a mention in my post on “Long in the Tooth.”)

But, I digress, already…. back to today’s band.

Ian McCulloch is the instantly recognizable voice and frontperson of Echo & the Bunnymen, formed in Liverpool, England in 1978, just as the new wave movement was kicking off. Fast forward to the present, I’ve heard his vocal in one of their recent releases, “Bring on the Dancing Horses” from The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon (2018) numerous times on KEXP Seattle’s The Morning Show with John Richards. McCulloch’s voice has a unique, almost kind of haunting quality to it.

“Lips Like Sugar” is a terrific, upbeat song from the band’s eponymous 1987 album. The official video opens with a shot of the famous Royal Liver Building on St. George’s Pier Head in Liverpool. The top of the building is home to two statues of liver birds, a mythical creature and a symbol of the city and local football club. (It’s also the image on a tattoo one of our lads has to recognize his family history.)

One of the birds faces out to the River Mersey and Liverpool Bay, and the other faces into the city. One of my cousins there says one is watching over the sailors, and the other is checking to see if the pubs are open.

The video also features some campy, B-movie type footage and is pretty entertaining. It was a serendipitous discovery after an Internet rabbit hole took me there.

Wherever the day takes you, I hope it’s a great one. Happy Friday!

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. It’s on an unofficial but automatically-credited-to-the-artist version on YouTube:

(Just Like) Starting Over

I remember, in 1980, being excited about Double Fantasy, a new record by John Lennon (1940-1980) and Yoko Ono, after Lennon had pretty much disappeared from the music industry a few years earlier.

Back then, I was a 20-year-old with a few circles of friends, a great job, and several relationships with women that would start and end within the space of a few years. It was a very full time in my life, with lots of excitement.

Looking for a song about hope today, “(Just Like) Starting Over” perfectly fits. It is an incredibly well-written, played, sung and produced piece of music. It carries such an air of positivity and hope, though it does so rather ironically: the album’s release was less than two months before Lennon’s assassination in New York, New York, USA, in December 1980.

“(Just Like) Starting Over” would be the last single released during the former Beatles member’s lifetime. I recall it receiving a lot of radio airplay before and after his death. Afterward, hearing this serenade to love was deeply poignant when thinking of the sudden loss suffered by his wife Yoko and his children, friends, and colleagues.

Our life together is so precious together,
We have grown – we have grown,
Although our love is still special,
Let’s take our chance and fly away somewhere alone,

It’s been so long since we took the time,
No-one’s to blame,
I know time flies so quickly,
But when I see you darling,
It’s like we both are falling in love again,
It’ll be just like starting over – starting over,

Every day we used to make it love,
Why can’t we be making love nice and easy,
It’s time to spread our wings and fly,
Don’t let another day go by my love,
It’ll be just like starting over – starting over,

Why don’t we take off alone,
Take a trip somewhere far, far away,
We’ll be together all alone again,
Like we used to in the early days,
Well, well, darling,

It’s been so long since we took the time,
No-one’s to blame,
I know time flies so quickly,
But when I see you darling,
It’s like we both are falling in love again,
It’ll be just like starting over – starting over,

Our life together is so precious together,
We have grown – we have grown,
Although our love is still special,
Let’s take a chance and fly away somewhere alone.

(“(Just Like) Starting Over,” by John Lennon.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

The musicianship on the song is fabulous, particularly guitar work by Earl Slick and drumming by Andy Newmark. The two musicians collaborated with Lennon, David Bowie and Strange Advance (plus, Newmark also worked with Roxy Music).

On a day like today, when Manitoba recorded its highest-yet daily count of new cases of COVID-19, it’s essential to focus on positive, hopeful, life-giving moments. We’ll get through and thrive — with 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’s the video for the song from the official John Lennon YouTube channel:

Charlie Darwin

I’m not sure where I first heard the song “Charlie Darwin” by the band The Low Anthem, though it may have been on KEXP Seattle during The Morning Show with John Richards.

Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky formed the band, which is currently a foursome, in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, in 2006. They self-released their second studio album, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, in 2008. It was re-released in 2009 by Nonesuch Records (USA) and Bella Union (UK).

The lead track, “Charlie Darwin,” is solemn with beautiful vocal harmonies and is perfectly matched with a remarkably produced, stop-action short film created by Simon Taffe and Glenn Taunton of the London, England-based company End of The Road Films.

It is a piece of music that has been working in my mental notes for a while.

According to co-writer Knox Miller, the song is about “environmental decay and social de-evolution and the death of morality and all these very grand things.” And that statement was made over a decade ago, before the shadow side of social media metastasized into such a toxic cloud over the Internet, creating multiple, unregulated and mostly uncontrolled streams for the propagation of hate and misinformation. Fast forward to 2021, where addiction to the immediate gratification and mob mentality stoked by these platforms is so pervasive it has even bled into the shaming of loved ones online. “Oh my God…” indeed.

The song lyrics include some wise, though piercing, commentary on modern society: “The lords of war just profit from decay / And trade their children’s promise for the jingle / The way we trade our hard-earned time for pay…”

There’s a heartbreaking edge to the song, but I feel it needs to be heard. I believe the man in the video hears the cautioning voices of the past when he holds the prehistoric skull he finds while digging, but by then it is too late.

Set the sails I feel the winds a’stirring
Toward the bright horizon set the way
Cast your wreckless dreams upon our Mayflower
Haven from the world and her decay

And who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin
Fighting for a system built to fail
Spooning water from their broken vessels
As far as I can see there is no land

Oh my god, the water’s all around us
Oh my god, it’s all around

And who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin
The lords of war just profit from decay
And trade their children’s promise for the jingle
The way we trade our hard-earned time for pay

Oh my god, the water’s cold and shapeless
Oh my god, it’s all around
Oh my god, life is cold and formless
Oh my god, it’s all around

(“Charlie Darwin,” by Jocie Adams, Ben Knox Miller, Jeff Prystowsky.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

To paraphrase my dear friend in the mountains of Colorado, it’s the artists, the poets, who will save the planet.

Isn’t it time we stopped the “flaming” and started listening… and hearing them?

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 from The Low Anthem’s Vimeo site:

Speed Your Love to Me

Welcome to my 500th post on the My Song of the Day for Today blog! That’s 500 consecutive days of posting! Whew…

I had a busy day today, shortened by a rare sleep-in, then attending a virtual event followed by an online meeting, and later packing up and taking a mid-afternoon drive to Patricia Beach Provincial Park to sit on the beach. Yes, my friends, on May 18! Just two weeks after my sweety was out walking wearing a winter coat, today she and I were in swimsuits sweating on the beach under the glorious sun.

Patricia Beach in the afternoon. Photo by Steve West.

With all the activity of the day, I didn’t have a song in mind for this milestone, but serendipity helped me out on the way home tonight, as it often does. I was hoping for random inspiration from the shuffle play of my Bday Party playlist on CarPlay, but wouldn’t you know it: most of the songs that came on were ones I’ve already posted. Getting closer to home — or I should say a pit stop at VJ’s Drive Inn to pick up burgers and fries — Simple Minds’ “Speed Your Love to Me” played. It is one of my favourite songs, and I mention it briefly in my post on “Up on the Catwalk.”

Both songs come from Sparkle in the Rain (1984). I say in the earlier post how much I love Steve Lillywhite’s raw production of that record. The instruments are all bright and slightly hollow-sounding, especially the live-sounding drums; Mel Gaynor plays almost machine-gun speed as he also does on “Up on the Catwalk.” Jim Kerr’s powerful vocal is made almost ethereal by the subtle back-up vocal of guest singer Kirsty MacColl (1959-2000; she and Lillywhite were married from 1984-1994). And there are some funky keyboard sounds best picked up on headphones. It’s a great highway song… which begs the question: Why isn’t this song on my Car Tunes playlist?

I couldn’t sleep a wink last night
I’d love to hold on
Love to see the fires in motion
Love to feel a free world turn tonight

Run till we come, until we be
Speed your love to me
Run till we come, until we be
Speed your love

Run till we come, until we be
Speed your love to me
She would like to make a wish
Twenty-four cannot be this
He moved at the speed of light
Through the day and through the night
Fire from the flame of youth
Fire

Run till we come, until we be
Speed your love to me

Just my imagination, just my imagination
You go to my head, you go to my head
With the flames that go higher and higher
And higher and higher and higher and higher
Over and over to me, speeds your love

I couldn’t sleep a wink last night
I’d love to hold on
Love to see the fires in motion
I’d love to feel a free world turn tonight

Run till we come, until we be
Speed your love to me

Just my imagination, just my imagination
You go to my head, you go to my head
With the flames that go higher and higher
And higher and higher and higher and higher
Over to me, speed your love to me

Run till we come, until we be
Speed your love

You go to my head, you go to my head
You go to my head, over me
Higher, higher, higher
You go to my head, you go to my head
You go to my head, over me
Higher and higher, higher and higher
All across to me

(“Speed Your Love to Me,” by Charlie Burchill, Derek Forbes, Mick MacNeill, Jim Kerr, Mel Gaynor. Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com, with a few corrections by me.)

Now you know a little about why this is my 500th pick for My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for supporting this blog by joining me here, and please enjoy!

Here’s the audio for the song from Simple Minds’ official YouTube channel:

In Your Eyes

In 1993, Peter Gabriel was touring in support of his 1992 album Us. I’m not sure all the places that his Secret World tour played, but during two nights at the Palasport Nuovo in Modena, Italy, a crew filmed the concerts. The resulting film was Secret World Live, released in 1994 on VHS tape, then LaserDisc (does anyone remember those?!) and later on DVD.

I’ve previously posted two songs played during that show, the dramatic opening “Come Talk to Me,” and “Washing of the Water” (both are from Us).

Today’s selection, “In Your Eyes,” is the final track on the Secret World Live setlist. The song runs for about ten minutes and showcases Gabriel and the entire backing band on a circular stage (there were two stages, joined by a conveyor belt). They play, sing, make dance moves together, and just generally jam in what looks and feels like a celebratory ending to the concert. The excited audience flicks cigarette lighters on and off in unison, adding a beautiful ambiance to the venue.

The song initially appeared on Gabriel’s fifth studio album So (1986). Canadian musician (and frequent collaborator with Brian Eno) Daniel Lanois joined Gabriel in producing the record.

The song also appears in American director Cameron Crowe’s film Say Anything… (1989). In a famous scene, the underachieving student Lloyd (played by American actor, producer and activist John Cusack, whose roles often have him brilliantly playing hapless young men mired in mediocrity) holds a boombox on his shoulder in the early morning. The boombox belts out “their song” as his attempt to serenade and win back his girlfriend Diane (played by British-born American actor Ione Skye). Don’t worry; I won’t spoil the plot…

Love I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are

All my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat I see in your eyes

Love, I don’t like to see so much pain
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light,
The heat I see in your eyes
In your eyes in your eyes
In your eyes in your eyes
In your eyes in your eyes

(“In Your Eyes,” by Peter Gabriel.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

In addition, American educator Rick Beato features the song in episode 27 of his What Makes This Song Great? series. I haven’t watched it all yet, but I am sure it is up to Beato’s usual informative and entertaining style.

At a time when COVID-19 case counts and test-positivity are continuing at record highs in my province of Manitoba, Canada, and too-little-too-late restrictions remain, it’s vital to have hope. The lively performance of this song brings some joy, as does the weather on this sunny, hot day in Winnipeg as I sit in the recently set-up summer porch writing to 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 performance from Secret World Live on Peter Gabriel’s official YouTube channel:

If you prefer, the much-shorter, official music video for the studio version is also on Gabriel’s channel:

Locus iste

Last Sunday, I posted music from Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, which my sweety and I had heard during a virtual concert by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on a dinner and concert “date night out, at home.”

I explain in that post that four members of the WSO played the sacred motet, Locus iste (Latin for “this place”), by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) in memory of a staff member who recently died.

Locus iste is the generic title for a piece of music used in a church’s dedication, and Bruckner’s setting of this form is one of the most famous examples. He composed his version in 1869, for unaccompanied mixed choir, to celebrate the first completed section of a new cathedral in Linz, Austria. The WSO quartet last weekend played an arrangement for trombones.

I searched for the different arrangements and found a lovely choral version by the Tenebrae Choir conducted by Nigel Short, filmed at the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great, London, England. The other was a trombone quartet representing the WDR (or Westdeutscher Rundfunk) Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra of the West German Broadcasting Corporation at the WDR Funkhaus Wallrafplatz in Cologne, Germany.

Both versions are from early 2020; the choral performance is about two months before the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. The brass version is from spring 2020, perhaps after the implementation of lockdown, given the spacing of the musicians. Both performances are beautiful and contemplative; I find them both profoundly moving.

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 choral performance from the Tenebrae Choir’s official YouTube channel:

And, the arrangement for trombone quartet, from the official WDR Klassik YouTube channel:

Redemption Day

In 1995, American singer, songwriter and actress Sheryl Crow travelled to Bosnia to give a concert for military service people. What she witnessed there, along with the largely-unheeded genocide in Rwanda, inspired her to write “Redemption Day,” a song which she says has a Bob Dylan-inspired lyric.

The song is on her 1996 self-titled album. I have never followed Crow or particularly been enamoured with many of her hits like the pop number “Everyday Is a Winding Road.” But when I noticed this morning that she had participated in an instalment of American musician, composer and podcaster Hrishikesh Hirway’s Song Exploder, taking apart and telling the story of a song featuring the voice of Johnny Cash, I was interested and listened to the podcast episode from June 2019. (I highly recommend listening to it as well.)

Crow sang at the funeral of June Carter Cash (1929-2003), a frequent collaborator with her husband Johnny Cash (1932-2003). Soon after, Johnny called Crow, wanting to cover “Redemption Day” and had questions about some of the lyrics. His 2003 recording was released posthumously on American VI: Ain’t No Grave (2010).

When Crow recorded a new version of the song in 2019, she added vocals from the Cash cover.

In the podcast, Crow tells how she felt deeply emotional in the studio recording the song while hearing the voice of the late singer-songwriter.

I’ve wept for those who suffer long
But how I weep for those who’ve gone
Into rooms of grief and questioned wrong
But keep on killing
It’s in the soul to feel such things
But weak to watch without speaking
Oh what mercy sadness brings
If God be willing

There is a train that’s heading straight
To Heaven’s gate, to Heaven’s gate
And on the way, child and man
And woman wait, watch and wait
For redemption day

Fire rages in the streets
And swallows everything it meets
It’s just an image often seen
On television
Come leaders, come ye men of great
Let us hear you pontificate
Your many virtues laid to waste
And we aren’t listening

There is a train that’s heading straight
To Heaven’s gate, to Heaven’s gate
And on the way, child and man
And woman wait, watch and wait
For redemption day

What do you have for us today
Throw us a bone but save the plate
On why we waited ’til so late
Was there no oil to excavate?
No riches in trade for the fate
Of every person who died in hate
Throw us a bone, you men of great

There is a train that’s heading straight
To Heaven’s gate, to Heaven’s gate
And on the way, child and man
And woman wait, watch and wait
For redemption day

It’s buried in the countryside
It’s exploding in the shells at night
It’s everywhere a baby cries
Freedom
Freedom
Freedom
Freedom
Freedom

(“Redemption Day,” by Sheryl Crow. Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

The result is a remarkable piece of music, complemented by a dramatic and, at times, disturbing music video about some of humankind’s activities on the planet.

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 Sheryl Crow’s official YouTube channel:

The Road

The Matinée is a Canadian band from the west coast.

While categorized as alternative, the band has a southern kind of sound, with influences of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. I first heard them on CBC Radio 3 when I listened to that Internet station years ago, before they did away with live hosts/DJs.

My sweety and I and one of our boys went to see the band when they had a gig at Winnipeg, Canada’s Park Theatre. I’m not sure when this was, but it must have been not long after they put out their debut album, We Swore We’d See the Sunrise. That album produced a hit with its opening track, “Young & Lazy,” a song reminiscent of youth and summertime.

I remember talking with the band members after the Winnipeg show; a friendly bunch who put on an entertaining show. I think we even talked about putting them up at our place the next time they came back. I bought the album on vinyl, which they all signed.

“The Road” is an excellent example of the fun sound I associate with the band. And the music video… whoa, it is a great time! I don’t recall ever seeing it before.

It feels like a good song for a Friday, heading into the weekend.

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, I encourage you to give the video a thumb’s up.

Here’s the video for the song from The Matinée’s official VEVO/YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of MetroLyrics.com.

Skyway

The Replacements were a rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, in 1979. They disbanded in 1991 but reunited briefly from 2012-2015.

“Skyway” originally appeared on Pleased to Meet Me, the band’s fifth studio album, released in 1987. I came to know the song as it is featured on the soundtrack for the musical drama-comedy film Camp (2003) — a fantastic movie, by the way. I previously posted the breathtaking opening track from the soundtrack, “How Shall I See You Through My Tears,” one that marks one of the many emotive moments in the IFC Films company release about the experience of a summer camp in New York state for young performing artists. (My previous post tells a little more about the film. Check it out if you haven’t seen it; the song is really worth the trip.)

I’m so glad I bought a copy of the DVD as it is the kind of film I like to revisit. Many people might say, it has “all the feels” and explores many of the issues that confront youth, like belonging, sexuality, family, peer pressure, body shaming, and the angst and anxiety that comes from uncertainty about the future.

In singer, guitarist and band songwriter Paul Westerberg’s composition, I believe he is writing about being attracted to someone he thinks about but never seems to meet up with and is perhaps shy about approaching. When he’s walking on street level, the other person is on the skyway. Then, when he is up on the skyway, he sees the person down below, where he waits every day for his bus. From that standpoint, the lyrics remind me a little of “Ironic,” by Canadian singer, songwriter and musician Alanis Morissette.

You take the skyway, high above the busy little one-way
In my stupid hat and gloves, at night I lie awake
Wonderin’ if I’ll sleep
Wonderin’ if we’ll meet out in the street

But you take the skyway
It don’t move at all like a subway
It’s got bums when it’s cold like any other place
It’s warm up inside
Sittin’ down and waitin’ for a ride
Beneath the skyway

Oh, then one day, I saw you walkin’ down that little one-way
Where, the place I’d catch my ride most every day
There wasn’t a damn thing I could do or say
Up in the skyway

Skyway
Skyway (sky away)

(“Skyway,” by Paul Westerberg. Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Whatever it really means, it’s a lovely song.

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 the YouTube topic channel for The Replacements. If you like it, please give a thumbs-up on the video:

Harmony

Elton John released his seventh studio album, the double-record Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in 1973. That was a year of musical significance for me, as it was the year I saw David Bowie at the tail end of his Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars tour at the Liverpool Empire Theatre while on holiday in England and Paris, France, with my parents.

Bowie was big in my childhood home, after an older brother introduced us to his music. I think it may have been my sister who brought home Elton John’s music. Anyway, we all enjoyed him and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road played many times on our living room stereo.

I also remember, when driving in my car, I would occasionally play the opening medley “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” far too loudly on the cassette tape player.

“Harmony” is the closing track on the album, a short (2:46) but beautiful piece. The whole album is magnificent; many different song styles but consistently excellent writing, musicianship and production. I find the sound of the drums to be so full, crisp and clear, the bass line deep with a slight hollowness to it, and the distortion of the electric guitar to be just right. Then, of course, there is all of John’s outstanding keyboard work and vocals.

Hello, baby hello
Haven’t seen your face for a while
Have you quit doing time for me
Or are you still the same spoiled child

Hello, I said hello
Is this the only place you thought to go
Am I the only man you ever had
Or am I just the last surviving friend that you know

Harmony and me
We’re pretty good company
Looking for an island
In our boat upon the sea
Harmony, gee I really love you
And I want to love you forever
And dream of the never, never, never leaving harmony

Hello, baby hello
Open up your heart and let your feelings flow
You’re not unlucky knowing me
Keeping the speed real slow
In any case I set my own pace
By stealing the show, say hello, hello

(“Harmony,” by Elton John, Bernie Taupin. Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

I feel like the song might be the singer telling about his relationship with himself, getting through struggles and learning to care for himself and live in harmony with the world around him. John had challenges in his life with drugs and an eating disorder which lasted a few years beyond the time of the album’s release but publicly stated in 2019 that he had been clean and sober for 29 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 video for the song from Elton John’s official YouTube channel:

When Your Mind’s Made Up (from the film, Once)

One of the first songs that caught my attention when skimming over my digital collection this morning was “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” from the soundtrack of the Irish romantic musical drama Once (2007).

Most of the characters in the movie are referred to by their gender or occupation: Glen Hansard (who has a minor mention in my post on a song by The Commitments) plays “Guy,” a local musician and vacuum-cleaner repairer; Markéta Irglová plays the Czech “Girl;” then there are other characters named “Guy’s Dad,” “Ex-girlfriend,” and “Guy in Piano Shop,” for example. Guy and Girl meet up in a Dublin street where Guy is busking, and Girl, also a musician, sells flowers.

The two strike up a conversation and soon are hanging out, playing music together at a piano in a music shop. They decide to team up and record some songs after securing a bank loan to buy studio time and recruiting random street musicians to form a band. “When Your Mind’s Made Up” appears in the film when the group has finally hit its stride and is recording. It’s an exhilarating moment in the movie.

The song seems to be Guy addressing his former girlfriend who left him and moved to London, England.

So, if you ever want something
And you call, call
Then I’ll come running
To fight, and I’ll be at your door
When there’s nothing worth running for

When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There’s no point trying to change it
When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There’s no point trying to stop it

You see, you’re just like anyone
When the shit falls all you want to do is run, away
And hide all by yourself
There is no one, who is gonna run to help

When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There’s no point trying to change it
When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There’s no point even talking
When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There’s no point trying to fight it

So, if you ever want something
And you call, call
Then I’ll come running

(“When Your Mind’s Made Up,” by Glen Hansard.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

The film is fantastic. One of my sons has recalled it as a random movie dad arrived home with for pizza and movie night one Friday many years ago, and that it sparked his interest in performing music. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I highly recommend watching it if you haven’t seen it (or seeing it again even if you have!).

Glen Hansard wrote “When Your Mind’s Made Up” and recorded it in 2006 with his band The Frames on their sixth album, The Cost. The album track is very similar to the film version. The original recording has a string intro and features an electric guitar playing the rhythm instead of the acoustic guitar in the movie version. But both are fabulous.

Irglová and Hansard performed for several years as The Swell Season and recorded the music for the film soundtrack. “Falling Slowly” from the Once soundtrack won Best Original Song at the 80th Academy Awards in 2008, helping to increase the popularity of the folk duo.

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 soundtrack version of the song from Glen Hansard’s official YouTube channel:

And just for fun, here’s the audio from the 2006 album version (an unofficial but credited-to-the-artist video):

Gather Round the Table

Yesterday morning, I was listening to Colorado Public Radio’s classical music stream. It’s a station often recommended to me by a dear friend who lives there.

At one point, CPR Classical host David Ginder played a new piece by American pianist, composer, music scholar and author Bruce Adolphe, titled “Gather Round the Table.” Adolphe set to music a poem by Sri Lanka-born poet, editor and lecturer Pireeni Sundaralingam. A recording of it features two American performers, soprano Susanna Phillips and pianist Myra Hung.

I post a classical piece of music every Sunday, but today I’m making an exception and posting another because this one impressed me so much and I really wanted to share it with you. “Gather Round the Table” is a beautiful piece, described on Adolphe’s website as “a song of yearning during the pandemic.” Phillips’ singing of it is exquisite, as is Hung’s piano accompaniment.

Adolphe has composed music for Sylvia McNair, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and many other notable performers. I hope he makes today’s piece available for sale as I would love to buy a digital copy for my music collection. (If I discover it does become available, I’ll add an update to this post.)

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

To listen to the piece and read the poem, please visit the Featured Audio page on the Bruce Adolphe website.

Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, K. 364, II: Andante

Sweety and I got all dressed up and went to a concert last night! Well, sort of…

We attended a special livestreamed Mothers’ Day event held by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Masterworks with Mom, from the comfort of our living room. 

Conductor Daniel Raiskin was at the podium directing Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), followed by Serenade No. 2 in A Major, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). Another piece, not on the program, was the sacred motet Locus iste, by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896). The piece, written for four voices, was played, after the intermission, by a horn quartet in memory of a WSO staff member who recently died.

As part of the event, the symphony partnered with Peasant Cookery, a charming local restaurant, to provide a delicious, three-course meal of spinach and beet salad with raspberry vinaigrette, apples, pepitas and hemp seeds; tarte flambee with cork cheese, caramelized onions, wild mushrooms, swiss cheese; followed by rum baba, and dulce de leche for dessert. The delivered bag also contained a bottle of Italian red wine and a red carnation. Very classy.

It was the first time we’ve both gotten dressed up to do something in more than a year, and it felt like a touch of normalcy. The food and wine were delightful, and the music was lovely. Bravo, WSO and Peasant Cookery!

Mothers’ Day can be a complicated day for many. The name can feel excluding to step-moms, godmothers, adoptive and foster moms, or those of any gender who provide motherly nurture without having children, whether childlessness is a choice or not. Also, it doesn’t acknowledge the problematic relationships many have with their mothers, the challenge of grieving the loss of a mother, or a mother’s loss of a child. I like how some dear friends replace the Mothers’ Day and other similar salutations of “happy” with “gentle,” to honour the fact the day can bring many heavy emotions besides the happiness the commercialized side of the day commands (often creating unrealistic and unrealized expectations).

Thoughtful intentions and adjustments to our language needn’t diminish the celebratory nature of a day; in fact, a spirit of inclusiveness can do so much to build a culture of authentic, collective celebration that is like the sentiment of mothering spirit: nurturing to all.

Whatever your situation, I wish you peace and a gentle, nurtured day today.

Mozart wrote Sinfonia in 1779 at the age of 23. It’s an outstanding piece of music, though the second movement (Andante) is the most beautiful part, to me. The violin (played at last night’s concert by WSO concertmaster Gwen Hoebig) and viola (played by Daniel Scholz) danced with each other beautifully, surrounded by the modest fullness of the chamber orchestra. The WSO chose chamber pieces to keep the occupancy of the stage as low and spread out as possible and using physical distancing, with face coverings where possible and Plexiglas screens where not possible.

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

Here’s a video of a performance of the Andante by Susanna Yoko Henkel (violin), Maxim Rysanov (viola) and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra from the Zagreb KOM official YouTube channel, recorded at Zagreb KOM 5 (the fifth Zagreb International Chamber Music Festival) in October 2010:

Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)

I’m not sure how I feel about the use of sampling in music production; that is, the practice of taking a clip from a song and editing it into a new piece. Sometimes I think like it’s the equivalent of plagiarism, in other words, a ripoff, and indeed it’s been a source of lawsuits in the past, and no doubt will be in the future.

But this morning, that belief was challenged somewhat as I resumed listening to the April 25 episode of BBC 6 Music’s Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on the BBC Sounds app (I haven’t mentioned Guy in a while, now, have I?). Garvey’s sister Becky, known on the program as “the Beckapedia,” gave an enlightening and entertaining segment on sampling, which ended with Guy spinning “Are You My Woman (Tell Me So),” by the Chicago, Illinois, USA foursome the Chi-Lites.

Here’s an excerpt of her comments on the notion of sampling as a homage to past artists, as an opportunity to teach younger folk about music history:

(The Chi-Lites) peaked in their popularity in the early seventies with… and raucous R&B struts such as “Are you My Woman (Tell Me So).” It’s an amazing, infinitely sample-worthy track, full of wild percussion, outstanding vocals, and a brass riff that has since become the framework for one of the biggest tracks of the ‘noughties.’ Now I know the one I prefer, but whichever song gets you grooving, it has to be said that those horns are the stars of both tracks, and the sort of sample likely to draw younger fans back to the roots of music where there’s so much more to discover.”

As the song began, I immediately knew the big hit, from 2003, that the Beckapedia was talking about. Listen to today’s song, and let me know how long it takes you to recognize the sample and the song it was used in! (I will leave a note in the comments below, in case you are really stuck, but I am sure most of you will guess the song.)

“Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)” comes from the Chi-Lites’ 1970 album, I Like Your Lovin’ (Do You Like Mine?)

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 Chi-Lites YouTube topic channel:  

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Do You Feel Like We Do

While writing my May 5, 2021 post on Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” I watched a video by music educator and producer Rick Beato’s What Makes This Song Great? series in which he takes apart and explains the many elements in the piece.

So it’s no surprise that today my feed was flooded with Beato videos. Some great songs, but the one that really jumped out for me as a Friday song was “Do You Feel Like We Do,” the nearly-14-minute, closing track from side four of English singer, songwriter, musician and producer Peter Frampton’s 1976 double live record, Frampton Comes Alive! Most of the songs on the album come from recordings made one night at the Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, California, USA.

And, as with the Led Zeppelin vinyl, my copy of the Frampton record set comes from that record collection I bought from a brother and would have heard during his basement suite parties I talk about in that post.

I think there’s just such a calm yet excitedly celebratory tone to the song, and I can see why Beato chose it for the hundredth episode of his series. Beato goes all out, bringing Frampton in to talk about the music and even enlists friends and colleagues to play sections of the piece.

In one of the solo breaks in the song, Frampton plays the talk box, a device for distorting sounds from his guitar, using the mouth and voice. The effects of early versions of the tool (dating back to at least 1939) were referred to as “singing guitar.” It’s also remarkable that in many periods during the song there are gaps where the rhythm section is continuing, but the audience fills the voids with wild, jubilant applause.

And that, my friends, is a concert. Someday, we’ll be going to those big shows again. (Depending on where you live, maybe you are already. Not here.) In the meantime, 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 Peter Frampton’s official YouTube channel:

And here’s Beato’s video, which includes appearances by Frampton:

Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

The Man Comes Around

Checking out my digital library today, I happened upon the album American IV: The Man Comes Around by country music legend Johnny Cash (1932-2003). It’s a favourite.

The album was the fourth in Cash’s American series and the last to be released while he was still living. It’s an absolutely superb collection, mostly made of covers: Cash interprets a wide variety of eras, styles and artists, including Nine Inch Nails, Sting, Paul Simon, Ewan MacColl’s (1915-1989) “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” Depeche Mode, the Beatles, Tex Ritter (1905-1974), Eagles, as well as the World War II classic, “We’ll Meet Again” and an old folk composition, “Danny Boy.” (The last one is a song which always reminds me of emergency management training I took in Ottawa, Canada in 2001, just after the terror attacks of 9/11. One evening after a few rounds in the bar, a tall, massive firefighter from the East Coast started belting out the song in a most beautiful, gentle voice, and he left the somewhat tipsy crowd speechless with emotion.)

Cash recruited some stellar talent to help him with the album’s recording: Nick Cave and Fiona Apple (vocals), John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mike Campbell of Tom Petty’s (1950-2017) backing band the Heartbreakers, and Randy Scruggs (1953-2018) on guitars, and Don Henley of Eagles on drums, vocals, and keyboards, plus many other musicians.

I believe I first heard music from American IV: The Man Comes Around during a gathering at my oldest brother’s home, and then I bought the CD about ten years ago.

The title track from the album is also the opening song. It’s a lively piece Cash wrote and, listening to the track, it’s hard to imagine it was performed by a man who would die about a year later. The guitar and piano play off each other brilliantly, creating a powerful melody that I guarantee will have you tapping your toes!

And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder: one of the four beasts saying: “Come and see.” And I saw. And behold, a white horse...

There’s a man goin’ ’round takin’ names.
And he decides who to free and who to blame.
Everybody won’t be treated all the same.
There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down.
When the man comes around.

The hairs on your arm will stand up
At the terror in each sip and in each sup.
Will you partake of that last offered cup
Or disappear into the potter’s ground
When the man comes around?

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singin’.
Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin’, voices cryin’.
Some are born and some are dyin’.
It’s Alpha and Omega’s Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
The virgins are all trimming their wicks.
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

‘Til Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom.
Then the father hen will call his chickens home.
The wise men will bow down before the throne.
And at his feet they’ll cast their golden crowns
When the man comes around.

Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still.
Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still.
Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still.
Listen to the words long written down,
When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singin’.
Multitudes are marchin’ to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin’, voices cryin’.
Some are born and some are dyin’.
It’s Alpha and Omega’s Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
The virgins are all trimming their wicks.
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

In measured hundredweight and penny pound
When the man comes around.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts, and I looked and behold: a pale horse. And his name, that sat on him, was Death. And Hell followed with him.

(“The Man Comes Around,” by Johnny Cash.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

I previously posted Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.”

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 the official Johnny Cash YouTube channel:

Whole Lotta Love

As I opened YouTube today, I saw it offered up a few suggestions of videos by American record producer and educator Rick Beato, whose “What Makes This Song Great?” series I quote in several posts on this blog.

I watched episode 43, which profiles and breaks down today’s selection, “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. I don’t listen to this former London, English band much, though I have most of their studio albums: Led Zeppelin (1969), Led Zeppelin III (1970), an untitled record often referred to as Led Zeppelin IV (1971), Houses of the Holy (1973), Presence (1976) and In Through the Out Door (1979). The first four come from a collection I bought from an older brother, the last two I purchased on one of my weekly downtown record shopping trips. I’m pretty sure I also used to have Physical Graffiti (1975), but it’s not with my collection; I must have given it away. On the digital side, I have the 2007 compilation, Mothership.

My Led Zeppelin vinyl collection.

I have a lot of childhood memories of hanging out in my brother’s basement suite, hearing his (now my) Led Zeppelin and other rock records played when he had friends in to visit. Like I mentioned in my post on Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” they were a really friendly bunch. It always looked like they were enjoying each other’s company, the music, and bottles of Mateus wine. I also remember having a crush on the girlfriend of one of the friends; it always felt like she was genuinely interested in talking with the awkward, bespectacled and early-teenage me.

“Whole Lotta Love” comes from Led Zeppelin II, the only early album I don’t have. It also appears on Mothership.

When I watched Beato’s video, I was interested to hear his analysis of the bridge in the middle of the song. There is a sound I had always assumed was an electric guitar with effects on it but, turns out, it is the theremin, an unusual musical device that a person plays without actual physical contact with it. There’s an excellent article on this device in Wikipedia. I found some serendipity in learning this little factoid, as a variation of the instrument, the electro-theremin, is used in yesterday’s song choice, The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” (And, while I’m here, both songs are on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”)

Beato’s videos are always entertaining, insightful and educational. I recommend checking this one out… it’s posted beneath the official music video.

Led Zeppelin released “Whole Lotta Love” in 1969, and, at first, airplay was difficult as radio stations shied away from experimental/psychedelic sounds like the theremin-enriched bridge. The label released a shorter edit for radio. (I’m not too fond of those; hearing a favourite song on the radio, often there’s that moment of an audible edit, and I find I’m disoriented for a second or two, while my mind catches up and skips the edited-out part). The band’s guitarist, backing vocalist, and thereminist Jimmy Page produced the song and album, and all other Led Zeppelin albums.

In addition to the band, a writing credit for “Whole Lotta Love” went to American blues musician Willie Dixon (1915-1992) along with a payment, a result of Led Zep basing parts of their song on Dixon’s composition “You Need Love” (which American blues singer-songwriter Muddy Waters recorded in 1962).

After the death of drummer John Bonham (1948-1980), Led Zeppelin disbanded. Bonham’s son Jason, also a drummer, played with the surviving members of the group on some reunion shows. He also played here in Winnipeg, Canada, in June 2014 as part of a show with the Seattle, Washington band Heart. Sweety and I and two dear friends attended the concert and had a fabulous, rocking 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’s the video for the song from Led Zeppelin’s official YouTube channel:  

And, here’s the Beato breakdown:

Full, unofficial lyrics for the song are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Good Vibrations

Today I began listening to BBC 6 Music during morning rituals and routines. The always affable guest host Huw Stephens was in the chair on Shaun Keaveny’s show (13:00-16:00 GMT). After a news break, Stephens’ playlist resumed and “Good Vibrations” by the California, USA band, The Beach Boys was the first song I took note of while puttering around in the quiet of the early morning kitchen, with sunlight streaming in the east-facing windows.

I know I’ve written before about this, but it always amazes me how a song can help harness the beginnings of a good day and make it even better. That’s one of the things I love so much about music. Combined with the sun and the smell of coffee filtering into the cup, the music set a lovely tone for the day.

Released in 1966 as a single five years after the band formed, “Good Vibrations” was a massive hit. It is reported to be the most expensive-to-produce single at the time, with its complex structure and soundscapes. Singer-songwriter Brian Wilson also produced the track, using many hours of tape and session musicians to supplement the band’s instrumentation, adding others like the electro-theremin to create the layers of textured sound that span several phases in the piece. It’s quite a brilliant piece of studio work when one thinks of the technology available 55 years ago.

The song also led the way into experimentation in music that spawned genres like psychedelic and progressive rock.

I-I love the colorful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations (Oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (Good vibrations, oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations)

Close my eyes, she’s somehow closer now
Softly smile, I know she must be kind
When I look in her eyes
She goes with me to a blossom world

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations (Oom bop bop)
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations (Good vibrations, oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations)

(Ahh)
(Ah, my my, what elation)
I don’t know where but she sends me there
(Oh, my my, what a sensation)
(Oh, my my, what elation)
(Oh, my my, what)

Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’ with her
Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’ with her
Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’

(Ahh)

Good, good, good, good vibrations (Oom bop bop)
(I’m pickin’ up good vibrations) (Oom bop bop)
She’s giving me excitations (Excitations, oom bop bop)
Good, good, good, good vibrations

Na na na na na, na na na
Na na na na na, na na na (Bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)
Do do do do do, do do do (Bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)
Do do do do do, do do do (Bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)

(“Good Vibrations,” by Brian Wilson, Mike Love.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Wikipedia features an extensive article about “Good Vibrations,” and I recommend reading it if you want to learn more about the creation and development of the song.

The single also appeared as a track on the band’s 12th album, Smiley Smile (1967). Rolling Stone magazine lists “Good Vibrations” as number six in their “500 Greatest Songs of All 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’s the official music video from The Beach Boys’ official YouTube channel (click on the settings wheel and choose 1080p for the best sound):

Breakers Roar

The Kentucky, USA-born singer, songwriter and actor Sturgill Simpson has one of those voices that sounds like it carries deep, soulful wisdom and life experience beyond what a young man might possess. An “old soul,” as a dear Colorado friend would say.

Hearing Simpson’s voice makes me think again of the similarly-mature-sounding-at-a-young-age Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. For more on that thought, please see my post from a few days ago on his song “If You Could Read My Mind”.

A few years ago, I bought two Sturgill Simpson albums on the compelling recommendation of an American friend: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (2014) and A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (2016). I have to admit, I haven’t listened to them much, and I don’t know why. Simpson’s voice, songwriting, instrumentation and self-production of the album produce such a superb sound.

A Sailor’s Guide to Earth earned Simpson a GRAMMY award for Best Country Album in 2017. The album features raw, outlaw country tunes, bluesy numbers, plenty of slide guitar, horns and strings, and then there are softer, more contemplative tracks like today’s selection, “Breakers Roar.” In the song, Simpson advises opening one’s heart and experiencing life and love in fullness instead of being consumed by the darkness of heartache.

Oh, how the breakers roar
They keep pulling me farther from shore
Thoughts turn to a love so kind
Just to keep me from losing my mind
So enticing, deep dark seas
It’s so easy to drown in the dream

Oh, and everything is not what it seems
This life is but a dream
Shatter illusions that hold your spirit down
Open up your heart and you’ll find love all around
Breathing and moving are healing
And soothing away
All the pain in life holding you down

Bone break and heals
Oh, but heartaches can kill
From the inside, so it seems
Oh, I’m telling you it’s all a dream
It’s all a dream
It’s all a dream
It’s all a dream
It’s all a…
It’s all a dream

(“Breakers Roar,” by Sturgill Simpson.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

The line, “Breathing and moving are healing…” is a good reminder that those two elemental activities can often be all it takes to ease one’s pain and start to unburden the mind.

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 Sturgill Simpson’s official YouTube channel:

Moonlight

The first movement (Adagio sostenuto) of the Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Major, Opus 27, No. 2 (“Moonlight Sonata) by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), is a very well-known piece of solo piano music. Some might even say it’s overplayed. Not me.

Beethoven wrote the sonata in 1801 and dedicated it to a student of his. Years later, the influential German poet and music critic Ludwig Rellstab (1799-1860) remarked on the similarity between the piece and the effect of moonlight shimmering on a lake and, well, the name stuck.

One of my most memorable experiences of the Moonlight Sonata is from my early 20s: Friends and I travelled to British Columbia, Canada, for a skiing holiday in February 1983. (BC has always been a favourite destination of mine, and for my sweety and me, too, as I mention in my post on Spoons’ “Trade Winds.”) After flying to Vancouver, my friends and I stayed at the home of one of the gang’s parents in Tsawwassen, en route to Whistler/Blackcomb. This couple was so welcoming, kind and generous, making food for us to take up to our Whistler condo, lending us a car and, of course, putting us up at theirs.

When that same couple returned to visit Winnipeg, Manitoba, our group of friends hosted them for dinner. In addition to whatever part of the meal I contributed, I made a mixtape of classical music to create a warm, inviting ambiance. The Adagio from the Moonlight Sonata was one of the most popular pieces that evening.

As I returned to the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel for inspiration today, I was excited to find a “rethinking” of this piece of music and quickly decided this would be today’s selection. It’s an arrangement by Deutsche Grammophon’s Christian Badzura for solo violin, played by Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen, accompanied by an uncredited string orchestra and piano.

Deutsche Grammophon features Samuelsen’s comments in the notes section from the video post for “Moonlight”: “When listening to the ‘Moonlight Sonata’,” she explains, “I feel my soul getting detoxified. It’s like an internal cleansing of my emotional and mental system, a dream or a fantasy where you’re invited into a different world for some five minutes. I think it’s impossible to define if it’s dark or light. It gives me a feeling of hope and enlightenment, and of reflection and consciousness.”

Samuelsen is a talented artist who appears quite passionate about her playing. She performs on a number of alternate arrangements of classical pieces, as well as adaptations from other genres, like the Brian Eno/Hans-Joachim Roedelius/Dieter Moebius composition, “By This River.” That piece, by the way, is another arrangement for Samuelsen by Badzura. (If you haven’t yet seen my post on it, please check it out… it’s another marvellous song.)

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 the official Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:

Get Home

Yesterday, I featured a magnificent and beloved Canadian musician, Gordon Lightfoot. Today, it’s another one from my country, Sarah Slean.

I found the official music video for Slean’s song “Get Home,” which appears on her album The Baroness (2008). It’s produced in a visually pleasing film noir kind of way, like some of her other videos. I previously posted another piece from that album, “The Rose.” That post shares memories of listening to The Baroness in the car on weekend getaways with friends, plus includes a bit of a rant about people bashing public servants.

Both yesterday’s and today’s posts feature songs built around melancholy. I believe that love is the strongest feeling we can have as humans, and when it ends, it is a powerful thing to depict artfully. In the case of both “If You Could Read My Mind” and “Get Home,” the artists both do that with such authenticity and beauty, with strong emotional effect. “Sad songs” needn’t, in my view, be just about bringing you down… they are about exploring the full range of human emotion. At least, I think so, anyway.

In my post on Jann Arden’s “Good Mother,” I quoted from the Francis Weller book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief. One of my main learnings from the book is that we may not fully treasure the joys in our lives until grief breaks us open. I truly believe that, and I think that’s part of the reason I appreciate these types of songs so much.

Plus, they’re both so remarkably written, played and sung.

You can stay the night
You can look me in the eye
You can fake your way to the finish line
But don’t you dare profess to love me
When you’re lying to another
That’s not love that’s just wishing
Wish and love are not the same thing

Get home get home
Take a look at her
You know you know
That you love her

Mr. Masquerade
You’re getting good at this charade
Go on fool yourself with talk of poetry
But don’t you dare pretend you’re sorry
To me you’re just a tourist
You’ve got to stand next to the real ones
Because you know you’ll never be one

Get home get home
Nothing more to say
You know you know
That you’ll never change

You’ll never change
And I don’t play the game
With liars and cowards
Liars and cowards
Liars and cowards
Like you

(“Get Home,” by Sarah Slean. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.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’s the video from Sarah Slean’s official YouTube channel:

If You Could Read My Mind

There are many world-renowned musicians and bands that my country Canada has produced. One of them is singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, an incredibly talented balladeer of folk, folk-rock and country music who has an unmistakable sound. Even as a younger man, he had a depth and gentleness in his voice that belied the age at which he became famous.

Lightfoot has said that his divorce inspired the lyrics for “If You Could Read My Mind,” which is a beautifully melancholy piece of music. I usually try to post an uplifting song on Fridays, heading into the weekend, but this song came into my YouTube feed… actually, it was music producer and educator Rick Beato’s breakdown of the song in episode 94 of his What Makes This Song Great? series that my feed has featured for a few days, and watching it compelled me to share the song. There’s something remarkable about the lyrics, musicianship, singing and production that makes it so beautiful and captivating. (I also recommend watching the Beato video, which is posted beneath the audio for the song.)

At one point in his video, Beato tells how part of the rich, emotive soundscape is created in part by Lightfoot’s vocal and guitar in the left speaker, while the acoustic guitar fills by folk guitarist Laurice Milton “Red” Shea (1933-2008) play from the right speaker. (I hadn’t even noticed that before!) Of course, the strings add much to the depth of the song, too.

If you could read my mind, love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old-time movie
‘Bout a ghost from a wishin’ well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
You know that ghost is me
And I will never be set free
As long as I’m a ghost that you can’t see

If I could read your mind, love
What a tale your thoughts could tell
Just like a paperback novel
The kind the drugstores sell
When you reach the part where the heartaches come
The hero would be me
But heroes often fail
And you won’t read that book again
Because the ending’s just too hard to take

I’d walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three-way script
Enter number two
A movie queen to play the scene
Of bringing all the good things out in me
But for now love, let’s be real
I never thought I could act this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back

If you could read my mind, love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old-time movie
‘Bout a ghost from a wishin’ well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
But stories always end
And if you read between the lines
You’ll know that I’m just tryin’ to understand
The feelings that you lack
I never thought I could feel this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back

(“If You Could Read My Mind,” by Gordon Lightfoot.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

I am always caught by the emotion in this lovely song. Lightfoot was another family favourite in my childhood home, and hearing his music makes me think of that life, many years ago.

The song appears on Lightfoot’s 1970 album, Sit Down Young Stranger, later retitled as If You Could Read My Mind, due to the success of the song.

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 Gordon Lightfoot’s official YouTube channel:

And, here’s Rick Beato’s take on the song, telling the story of how his older brother taught him to hear the production elements in music.

Breathe Me

Today I took a look at my digital music collection to find something I hadn’t listened to in a long time.

I landed on “Breathe Me” by Australian singer, songwriter, vocal actor and director Sia (Sia Kate Isobelle Furler). I first heard it around ten years ago when my sweety and I watched the TV series Six Feet Under. The show centres on a family that runs a funeral home in Los Angeles, California, USA; it follows their lives and those of their friends and lovers. It is a brilliant drama.

In the closing scene of the last episode, “Breathe Me” played during a nearly seven-minute montage telling the future stories of the show’s remaining living characters. The series creator, American producer, director, and writer Alan Ball tells in a December 2013 interview with Vulture, the entertainment and culture website of New York magazine, how he wrote the scene to work specifically with the music.

The song, which runs four minutes, thirty-five seconds, was extended in an edited version to accompany the entire scene. The combination of the sound and the visuals is a compelling one that I remember clearly whenever I hear the track.

I recall that Sweety and I watched the five seasons of the show very quickly over our Christmas holidays. One day, we probably watched seven or eight episodes, as the series drew us in so deeply. (Neither of us can remember if we rented or borrowed the DVDs, or watched the show on Netflix.) At the end of that final episode, we just sat there, stunned, with the concluding scene and the song reverberating in our minds.

“Breathe Me” comes from Sia’s 2004 album, Colour the Small One. Of course, I ordered the CD right after watching the show.

Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And the worst part is there’s no one else to blame

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Ouch, I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah, I think that I might break
Lost myself again and I feel unsafe

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

(“Breathe Me,” by Sia Furler, Dan Carey. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of 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’s the audio for the song from Sia’s official YouTube channel:

No One Receiving

Cruising around my YouTube feed this morning, I stumbled upon a full album stream of Brian Eno’s 1977 record, Before and After Science. (It seems I can never go too long before posting another piece of music by this brilliant artist and creator. My latest was from his 2020 collaboration with his brother Roger, Mixing Colours.)

I’ve previously featured Before and After Science on this blog (with the classical rethink of Eno’s “By This River”). That’s likely why it came up in my YouTube feed since it is where I seek out video/audio to share in my posts.

The opening track on the album is “No One Receiving,” a jazzy number that has a lot of percussion guiding the song along:

  • Solo singer, musician, former Genesis member and Eno collaborator Phil Collins plays the drum kit,
  • Eno plays synthesized percussion, and
  • His co-producer and audio engineer on the record, Rhett Davies, plays live percussion instruments.

The three complement each other’s beats, rhythms and fills. I find all the percussive sounds quite captivating, creating a solid yet sometimes chaotic foundation for the similarly jazz-influenced bass line, synthesizer treatments, and guitars. All this surrounds and supports Eno’s effects-layered vocals (which, to follow a theme over the past few days, makes the lyrics ever-so-slightly hard to follow).

The song, and indeed the album, is a bit of an enigma when it comes to categorization. The record includes calming, pastoral pieces, energetic works (like today’s selection), and softly-rocking experimental electronic songs. At the same time, it leans toward the ambient musical style that has dominated his work since the 1977 album.

It struck me today that the title of the 44-year-old album seems meaningful as we live in an age of fake news, conspiracy theories, and rampant distrust and manipulation of fact. In many ways, we appear to be in the “After Science” phase. Further, the song title and perhaps even the lyrics seem to speak to wilful ignorance of science-based information.

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 Brian Eno’s official YouTube channel:  

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Radio Free Europe

I don’t know that I ever realized this before, but the sung lyrics in the R.E.M. hit “Radio Free Europe” are basically incomprehensible.

Apparently, this was deliberate, perhaps much like Adriano Celentano’s intention was with the mostly gibberish lines in his 1972 song I posted a few days ago, “Prisencolinensinainciusol.”

In my January 31, 2020 post on R.E.M.’s “Drive,” I tell the story of getting to know the band’s music through a friend, and having a vision of him rocking out to “Radio Free Europe” while sitting in the passenger seat of my car.

The song, released as a single in 1981, is high-energy and one of R.E.M.’s most popular early releases.

When the band signed to I.R.S. Records, the label asked them to re-record the song for their debut album, Murmur (1983). I had no idea the album version wasn’t the original!

In the liner notes of their greatest hits/compilation album Eponymous (1988), the band tells they prefer the original. While acknowledging the later version was more “pro,” they also felt it was more sedate. I’m not sure what I think… there are great elements to both versions.

I’m posting both the 1981 and 1983 recordings — please let me know which you prefer!

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 1983 version of song from R.E.M.’s official YouTube channel:

And, the original, 1981 single:

Full, unofficial lyrics (1983 version; the two are slightly different) are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Yesterday Once More

In one of my previous posts (Herb Alpert’s “This Guy’s in Love with You,” February 11, 2020), I tell a story about Saturday shopping trips with my parents and what felt at the time like an ordeal, following them around women’s clothing stores all day.

In that post, I mention that Alpert’s songs remind me of songs used in TV commercials for those downtown stores. And as I mention in my April 26, 2020 post on the American easy-listening duo the Carpenters’ “Top of the World,” today’s selection is one I definitely remember hearing as the background music to one such store’s commercials. It might have been Clifford’s or Dayton’s; I can almost picture it, but not quite. (Incidentally, it was Alpert who signed the Carpenters to his label, A&M Records, in 1969.)

“Yesterday Once More” comes from the Carpenters’ album Now & Then (1973). The song was a massive hit for them, peaking at number two on the Billboard 100, held back from the top spot by the ballad “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce (1943-1973).

Richard Carpenter wrote the song with American lyricist Richard Bettis (who also co-wrote “Top of the World”). “Yesterday Once More” reminisces about the music of the past and the feelings and memories evoked by favourite songs.

When I was young
I’d listen to the radio
Waitin’ for my favorite songs
When they played I’d sing along
It made me smile

Those were such happy times
And not so long ago
How I wondered where they’d gone
But they’re back again
Just like a long lost friend
All the songs I loved so well

Every Sha-la-la-la
Every Wo-o-wo-o
Still shines
Every shing-a-ling-a-ling
That they’re startin’ to sing’s
So fine

When they get to the part
Where he’s breakin’ her heart
It can really make me cry
Just like before
It’s yesterday once more

Lookin’ back on how it was
In years gone by
And the good times that I had
Makes today seem rather sad
So much has changed

It was songs of love that
I would sing to then
And I’d memorize each word
Those old melodies
Still sound so good to me
As they melt the years away

Every Sha-la-la-la
Every Wo-o-wo-o
Still shines
Every shing-a-ling-a-ling
That they’re startin’ to sing’s
So fine

All my best memories
Come back clearly to me
Some can even make me cry
Just like before
It’s yesterday once more

Every Sha-la-la-la
Every Wo-o-wo-o
Still shines
Every shing-a-ling-a-ling
That they’re startin’ to sing’s
So fine

Every Sha-la-la-la
Every Wo-o-wo-o
Still shines
Every shing-a-ling-a-ling
That they’re startin’ to sing’s
So fine

(“Yesterday Once More,” by Richard Carpenter, John Bettis.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

An article I read today reminded me that in addition to being the lead singer of the brother and sister duo, Karen Carpenter (1950-1983) was the group’s drummer which, strangely, still seems to be an unusual role for women.

The Carpenters had a heavy touring schedule in the 1970s, which put a lot of pressure on the pair. At the same time as Karen struggled with anorexia nervosa, Richard had a drug addiction after suffering depression, anxiety, and insomnia. He took a year off to recover and rest, but Karen’s condition would eventually claim her life.

Hearing the song reminds me of memories from childhood. It also reminds me of the tragedy of Karen Carpenter’s illness and death and the similar, serious struggles many people face, often silently and alone.

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 the Carpenters’ official YouTube channel:

Kinderszenen, Op. 15, No. 7 in F Major: Träumerei

Many recognize the German pianist, composer and music critic Robert Schumann (1810-1856) as one of the greatest composers of the classical romantic era. 

However, Schumann’s short life was one of considerable difficulty. He suffered from mental health issues that plagued him at times, as early as 1833. His love for pianist, composer and teacher Clara Wieck (1819-1896) was complicated by a lengthy legal battle with her father, who disapproved of the union. Finally, in 1840, three years after Schumann’s proposal, the two were finally married once she reached age 21, then the age of majority. 

In 1854, Schumann admitted himself to a sanatorium near Bonn, Germany and was diagnosed with psychotic melancholia. He died in the institution from pneumonia two years later. While Schumann’s friend Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was allowed to visit him regularly, Clara was not allowed until Robert was near death.

Schumann composed Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), 13 pieces of piano music, in 1838. Seventeen other movements written at the same time were published later, some of them after his death.

Today’s selection, the seventh movement of Kinderszenen, “Träumerei” (Daydreaming), is a well-known piece, one that most people will recognize from popular classical music. It appears on a 2004 album featuring live recordings of French-Cypriot pianist, teacher and composer Cyprien Katsaris.

It’s a calming and beautiful piece of music created by an often-tortured soul.

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 the Cyprien Katsaris YouTube topic channel:  

Ballrooms of Mars

I’ve been admiring my old vinyl records for a while and really should play them more. One of these is the 1972 album The Slider by the English rock band, T. Rex.

The band, initially called Tyrannosaurus Rex, was formed in 1969 by band leader, lead singer and sole songwriter Marc Bolan (1947-1977). After making four albums as a psychedelic folk act, Bolan transitioned the band to electric rock music. In 1970 he shorted the band name to T. Rex (and they’d later be known as Marc Bolan & T. Rex). Bolan died in a car crash in 1977, and the group disbanded after losing their only steady member and songwriter.

In their eight years of activity, the group produced an impressive discography: 12 studio records, seven live and 29 compilation albums, two EPs, 29 singles, and six boxed sets. (Of the many compilations, several were different song sets of The Slider.)

I remember hearing The Slider often in my childhood home. One of my older brothers had discovered the band in the same phase where he brought home David Bowie’s music; the two musicians shared a common producer in Tony Visconti. They both also occupied the glam rock scene, which was highly popular in the early 1970s. This was a music scene I had a first-hand view of in 1973 when, in England with my parents on holiday, we saw David Bowie perform a concert toward the end of his Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars persona and tour. I’ve written before how mesmerized I was by the avant-garde look of the musicians and fans at the Liverpool Empire Theatre.

Not long after they transitioned to electric rock, T. Rex declined in popularity though they rose again in 1977. Even after disbanding they remained influential in glam rock and then the punk movement, then post-punk, and its derivatives indie and alternative rock.

Today’s selection, “Ballrooms of Mars,” is, I believe, the quintessential T. Rex song with its slow, strong beat, wailing and distorted electric guitar, and Bolan’s steady vocal. Interestingly, it was not released as a single; the two singles released to promote the album were “Telegram Sam” and “Metal Guru.” “Ballrooms of Mars” was likely too “FM” for the largely AM-radio-focused pop charts at the time. I can still remember hearing it, cranked up very loud, on my brother’s stereo, with Bolan singing:

You gonna look fine
Be primed for dancing
You’re gonna trip and glide
All on the trembling plane
Your diamond hands
Will be stacked with roses
And wind and cars
And people of the past

I’ll call you thing
Just when the moon sings
And place your face in stone
Upon the hill of stars
And gripped in the arms
Of the changeless madman
We’ll dance our lives away
In the Ballrooms of Mars

You talk about day
I’m talking ’bout night time
When the monsters call out
The names of men
Bob Dylan knows
And I bet Alan Freed did
There are things in night
That are better not to behold

You dance
With your lizard leather boots on
And pull the strings
That change the faces of men
You diamond browed hag
You’re a glitter-gaunt gangster
John Lennon knows your name
And I’ve seen his

(“Ballrooms of Mars,” by Marc Bolan.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of 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’s the audio for the song from the official T. Rex YouTube channel:

Prisencolinensinainciusol

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m really into cycling. I poked around trails on a hybrid bike for years, but two years ago at age 59, I bought a road bike and have never looked back.

During the cold winters in my city of Winnipeg, Canada, I ride on a smart indoor trainer connected to the Internet and using the bicycle training program Zwift.com

Zwift is essentially the gamification of indoor training, and it is motivating, enjoyable and very effective in building cycling strength and fitness. The “smart” part means that when I encounter an incline on my route, the trainer automatically adds resistance, so I have to work harder to “climb” the hill (or mountain… some of those climbs are long!). Zwift also features group rides and races, and members can also create meet-ups with friends. The platform includes seven “worlds,” which are representations of real-life locations like London, Paris, New York and other places including some world-championship courses, plus the fictional land of Watopia, which has been expanded several times since Zwift’s inception. At a peak point earlier this year, over 46,000 people from around the globe were using the app at the same time, riding different courses among the three daily choices of Zwift worlds.

A member of a real-life, local riding club associated with my favourite and go-to bike shop Alter Ego Sports has created meet-ups all winter. I am fortunate to be on his invite list and rode in the majority of them, sometimes acting as a “sweep” (a rider at the back who uses their virtual slipstream to help pull slower riders back to the group if they fall off the back and can’t catch up on their own). There’s also text-based chat for banter; some groups even use Discord, a separate app that creates voice-chat channels people use for gaming or other Internet-connected activities. Many of the UK-based group rides on Zwift use Discord, and there are many active groups there with high attendance due to the extensive restrictions they’ve had against exercising outdoors during the pandemic.

Anyway, in his Facebook posts advertising the local Sunday group rides, our dedicated and humourous ride leader, Glen, has often posted today’s selection as motivation to his audience. It’s a very catchy tune, so I thought it was about time I shared it. It’s also a great Friday song, with its quick beat and fun melody and (apparently, according to an article on Wikipedia) nonsensical lyrics, other than a refrain of “all right.” 

Italian singer, songwriter, actor and filmmaker Adriano Celentano wrote “Prisencolinensinainciusol” and recorded it with his wife, actor, singer and TV producer Claudia Mori in 1972. There are several lower-resolution versions of the original video on the Internet, showing a delightful staging of the song with Celentano lecturing to a classroom of young women grooving to the beat with the backdrop of a studio audience. 

Celentano, who is now 83, re-released the video in 2012, the 40th anniversary of the song. That version, which I’m sharing here, has higher quality video and audio; however, it lasts for over 12 minutes with a long preamble, and the song itself is accompanied and followed by montages of film and other pop culture, plus cloud formations (more on that below). 

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 40th-anniversary video from Adriano Celentano’s official YouTube channel (I’ve cued up the video to start at the beginning of the song, but I am also providing the original link, so you can view the full video if you want (it’s fun… though after the extended song and montages finish at 9:23, it’s just videos of cloud formations… then a bit of Pope John Paul at the very end… slightly odd). I’m also providing a link to one of the lower-quality versions as it provides the shorter, original 1972 version, if you’re pressed for time.)

Papa Don’t Take No Mess

I think I need more funk and soul in my life!

Last evening while puttering with dinner — one of the few times I’ve made it lately (or rather, reheated it, if I’m honest!) — I was trying to find an online radio station to listen to. I landed on BBC 6 Music, and during the dinner hour here in Manitoba, Canada, it was late-evening host Gideon Coe’s show, from over in the United Kingdom.

Soon Coe spun a lively tune, and I immediately recognized the voice of American singer, songwriter, musician, bandleader, producer and dancer James Brown (1933-2006). But I was unfamiliar with the song, so I Shazamed it and found it was “Papa Don’t Take No Mess.” Reading up on it this evening, I learned Brown released the song as a two-part single in 1974. Part I runs for four minutes, thirty seconds and part II, five minutes. The track I heard was the full thirteen-minute, fifty-second version from the double album Hell (1974).

The song was Brown’s 17th and final number-one rhythm and blues hit. While the lyrics talk of some pretty questionable parenting practices, I liked the music’s vibe and would love to receive suggestions of your favourite funk, soul or R&B artists and songs. Please make a comment below, or contact me through the website email form.

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 James Brown YouTube channel:

Unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of Genius.com.

A Case of U

Noah Baerman, a friend who is a composer, musician and university educator in Connecticut, USA, reminded his people that today is the fifth anniversary of the death of the singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actor and dancer, Prince (1958-2016).

As Baerman often does, he accompanied his message with a top-ten list of favourite Prince tracks. I love reading his lists… they are illuminating, insightful, beautifully human and, often, amusing.

I can’t say I know Prince’s discography intimately, but I was surprised to learn he had recorded a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” from her 1971 album, Blue. Other artists and bands who’ve covered the song include Tori Amos, k.d. lang, Sloan, Diana Krall, Paula Cole, Brandi Carlile and many others (according to Wikipedia, there are 300 recordings of the song).

Prince’s stylized retitling of the song to “A Case of U” appears on his 2002 album, One Nite Alone (Solo Piano and Voice by Prince). As my friend states in his post, Prince was well known for his guitar work, but his piano playing on the piece is “exquisite.” And his high vocal treats the song’s poeticism beautifully.

I’ve featured Prince on this blog twice before: first with “Sometimes It Snows in April,” from the companion performance album One Nite Alone… Live! (Note: one year after that post, yes, it snowed again in April!). Later, I posted “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” another live recording in which Prince plays the most stunning guitar solo in a supergroup rendition of the Beatles hit composed by George Harrison (1943-2001). Check out both posts if you haven’t read them before; the songs are remarkable.

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 Prince’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of Genius.com.

Verdigris

Sometimes when you’re not at your best, overtired, or simply overwhelmed by the world, it’s good to have someone that you can trust and count on to speak for you.

Tonight I feel that way, and not because something terrible happened. Quite the contrary: I received my first dose of a vaccine today. It was the first vaccination I became eligible for, and I always said I’d follow the advice of medical science and get in line for what was first offered to me.

Receiving my shot has made me feel emotional, grateful and yet, I know nothing has really changed, not for the moment anyway. I must still be careful not to contract or spread the virus: mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand-washing, staying home as much as possible. But being vaccinated gives me hope that we are moving steadily towards overcoming COVID-19’s hold over us all.

My heart is full, my arm is sore, and I hope everyone I know will soon be offered this little shot of hope.

I don’t have any more wisdom to offer now, so I will rely on Roger and Brian Eno to articulate, with music, the calm emerging above the chaos of the past 14 months.

“Verdigris” is a track from the expanded version of the Eno brothers’ 2020 album Mixing Colours. I’ve posted several tracks from it already, including “Celeste” (in which I reference earlier posts on “Ultramarine” and “Blonde”), “Cinnabar,” “Vermillion,” and “Wintergreen” (a post in which I explain the international video competition that Deutsche Grammophon and the Eno brothers held to promote the 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.

And please, make an appointment and be vaccinated as soon as you can. You’ll be protecting yourself, those you love, and those you’ve never met. That’s a loving, wise and science-based thing to do.

Here’s the video Natalia Galán of the United States produced and which was chosen as the winner of the competition and named as the official music video to accompany the piece, as posted on the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:

Landslide

I browsed my digital collection today and came across today’s selection, a classic Fleetwood Mac song written by Stevie Nicks.

In an excerpt from an Oprah Winfrey interview posted to YouTube in 2013, Nicks tells how she wrote the song in 1974 about the challenges in her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham. Their band’s career was not going well, and a lack of money put a strain on the personal connection. Not long after this, they both joined Fleetwood Mac, and prosperity arrived almost overnight. In other, unofficial accounts, it’s believed that Nicks wrote the song while visiting Aspen, Colorado, saying she realized that all the snow on the mountain could come falling down on them, and there would be nothing they would be able to do about it.

Whether true or not, that latter description is meaningful for me today as I prepare to receive my first injection of the COVID-19 vaccine tomorrow. The more transmissible variants of concern are the majority of all new infections, yet governments keep pushing to open up more activity, which medical experts vehemently warn is a disastrous plan. At the same time, here in Canada and specifically Manitoba, a small percentage of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine (19% and 25% respectively). On top of that, there has been no commitment to vaccinating frontline workers like food and essential goods production and distribution workers, school staff, public transit drivers, and others facing danger every day while enabling the rest of us to live our lives. It’s a scary time, perhaps the most frightening yet in the pandemic.

The swift development of vaccines is miraculous; I just wish others without the choice to stay home most of the time could obtain theirs sooner.

That said, I feel like tomorrow is, for me, the culmination of over a year of my sweety and me isolating ourselves from almost everyone in our lives. It gives me hope that we all might be able to gather with loved ones in the coming months once the vaccination program ramps up in earnest (our province has a capacity of 20,000 doses per day, but supply and other issues have kept it below 6,000 for the most part). Hopefully, the pace will increase and stay ahead of new infections so that we don’t end up in a terrible state of health-care system overload and collapse — a landslide we don’t want.

I took my love, I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
‘Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too
Oh, I’m getting older too

Oh, take my love, take it down
Oh, climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Well the landslide will bring it down
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Well the landslide will bring it down, oh oh
The landslide will bring it down

(“Landslide,” by Stevie Nicks. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“Landslide” appears on the 1975 record Fleetwood Mac. Several artists have covered the song, including The Smashing Pumpkins, Tori Amos, and The Chicks.

For other songs by Fleetwood Mac, please see my posts on “Go Your Own Way,” “You Make Loving Fun” and “Second Hand News,” all three of which are from their 1977 album Rumours.

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 for the song from Fleetwood Mac’s YouTube channel, a live performance of Stevie Nicks singing, accompanied by Lindsey Buckingham on the acoustic guitar:

Les Enfants Terribles, VI: Terrible Interlude

That’s quite a title, isn’t it? I promise, the piece is far from terrible…

Today, I’m featuring a relatively new release I found today on the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel, played by the French piano duo Katia and Marielle Labèque.

“Terrible Interlude” comes from an 11-part suite for piano duet, Les Enfants Terribles. The work is adapted from a 20-scene, danced chamber opera of the same name, written in 1996 for three pianos and four voices by American composer and pianist Philip Glass.

The opera is based on the 1929 novel Les Enfants Terribles by Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), a French playwright, novelist, poet, critic and filmmaker. The story follows a pair of orphans in Paris, France, who share an illusionary, mysterious and, ultimately, fatal relationship.

Glass decided to have the opera arranged for a piano duet, specifically for the Labèque sisters. Michael Riesman, an American record producer, conductor, composer, keyboardist, and music director of the Philip Glass Ensemble, created the arrangement. (Riesman plays piano on Glass’s soundtrack for the film, The Hours, an album from which I posted a track some months back.)

Today’s selection is the sixth part of the suite and comes from the Labèque sisters’ 2020 album, Glass: Les Enfants Terribles. It is a slow and contemplative piece, beautifully played and filmed.

The Labèques have an extensive discography of nearly 50 releases as a duo or with collaborators from 1969 to 2020.

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 Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:

Flying

It’s been a while since I posted a song by the Beatles.

If you query for them on my Index of Songs/Search page, it’ll point you to posts on “Here Comes the Sun,” a supergroup cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Help,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “All You Need Is Love,” and, most recently, “Let It Be.”

Today I happened upon “Flying,” which comes from the same record as “All You Need Is Love,” the 1967 album Magical Mystery Tour.

The song is a rare instrumental piece from the band, and hearing it makes me think about being out on my road bike today. I haven’t ridden much in the past few weeks, but with the sun shining brightly today and the snow disappearing again, it was a beautiful day to be out. Many other people seemed to think so as well, as I encountered a lot of other cyclists.

During my 43-kilometre (26.7-mile) jaunt, I made a couple of stops: one at a brother’s to say hello, and the other on the edge of a golf course where I met up with a friend (the retired minister who married Sweety and me), who was out power-walking.

I’m grateful for the ability to be out there moving. I hope whatever you are doing this weekend gives you some pleasure and light feelings, maybe even the sense of flying…

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 Beatles’ official YouTube channel:

PS: If you go to the main page of the channel, you’ll see a pinned video from New Zealand film director Peter Jackson, introducing a montage from the upcoming documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, scheduled for release in the summer of 2021.

This Is Our Home (8:30 Newfoundland)

Happy Friday!

So, the country I live in, Canada, is a vast land that extends from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, to the North Pole and the border with the United States of America. It’s a big country, at 9.9 million square kilometres (3.82 million square miles).

We occupy six time zones (Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern, Atlantic and Newfoundland). A complicating factor is that the easternmost time zone, Newfoundland, is only half an hour later than the Atlantic time zone. I remember when I was growing up, the TV channels, most notably the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), were somehow able to delay the delivery of programs by an hour across the country’s time zones, but for the Newfoundland time zone, would announce the time of a show as “8:00 pm, 8:30 in Newfoundland.”

(Further complicating this time zone soup, the province to the west of mine is Saskatchewan, also in the Central time zone. However, most of that province does not follow the foolish and disruptive switch to and from Daylight Saving Time each year. Confused yet?)

A few years ago, my sweety and one of our lads accompanied us to see Canadian singer-songwriter Mike Plume perform. Continuing this mysterious relationship with time, I can’t honestly recall exactly when or where he played. It may have been the West End Cultural Centre or the Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club (which is shown in the official music video), but I couldn’t find show dates on the Internet. The only timing I have for sure is that I added his album 8:30 Newfoundland to my Apple Music library two days ago in April 2018.

Today’s selection is the opening and title track from that album, released in 2009. It is a wonderful and slightly quirky love note to the country we live in.

Plume was born in Moncton, New Brunswick. Many of the songs on 8:30 Newfoundland include what I have to assume is East Coast vernacular (“Stay where you’re to ’til I come where you’re at.”) He’s a charming and talented performer, and while the time issue is a haze in my mind, I do recall enjoying his show thoroughly.

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 2009 official video for the song from Mike Plume’s YouTube channel (Plume posted “new official” video for the song in 2012, a video compilation of school students’ crayon drawings):

Official lyrics are available on Plume’s website.

Chelsea Morning

I don’t remember when I first heard the music of Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Her music wasn’t a staple in my childhood home as far as I can recall, but I would have listened to her songs at some point as I grew up. I have enjoyed her music through my adulthood and received her CD Hits as a gift from one of our boys many years ago. (I later bought the companion CD compilation of lesser know songs, Misses).

Today, looking over the Apple Genius playlist for Teddy Thompson’s “In My Arms,” I found some great tunes, including “Chelsea Morning” by Mitchell. The song comes from her second album, Clouds, released in 1969. (It also is included on Hits.)

The song’s guitar introduction reminds me a little of Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” from Ladies of the Canyon (1970), which is one of three albums of hers I have on vinyl; the other two are Blue (1971) and Dog Eat Dog (1985). The two oldest records were among a collection I bought from one of my brothers a long time ago.

“Chelsea Morning” was inspired by an apartment where Mitchell lived in Chelsea, New York City, USA, and described the decor, including a mobile made of coloured glass that created the rainbow referred to in the lyrics. The song was a big hit for Mitchell. Numerous artists, including Judy Collins, Jennifer Warnes and Neil Diamond, have covered it. And it appears in Martin Scorsese’s quirky 1985 film After Hours (which has a large cast including Rosanna Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, and Griffin Dunne, who I recognized more recently playing the older version of Jack Pearson’s troubled brother Nicky in the TV series This Is Us).

I featured Mitchell previously on this blog, in a post on her collaboration with The Chieftains on her song, “The Magdalene Laundries.”

In a 2002 article/interview, Rolling Stone magazine calls Mitchell “one of the greatest songwriters ever.”

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 Joni Mitchell’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Rock Pools

Today I thought I’d look for another unknown (to me) artist or song in the hopes of finding something new and spring-like to enjoy, kind of like shopping for a new spring outfit.

You see, in my city of Winnipeg, Canada, on Monday and Tuesday, we were hit with a late winter storm that dropped a significant amount of snow. (Yeah, on my birthday of all days!) About eight inches of soft, wet, heavy snow accumulated, much more in some areas due to drifting, and I finally went out to shovel it today. I briefly debated hauling out the snowblower we share with neighbours, but the amount of snow didn’t seem to justify that. Anyway, it was a chance to get outside and get some fresh air and exercise after staying shuttered away inside for those two blustery days.

Browsing through YouTube suggestions, I found a catchy tune and lovely music video by English singer-songwriter Saint Saviour (born Rebecca Jones). But, after a few more of her songs played, I realized I’d already posted a piece of hers before (please see my post on “Let it Go”).

Jones began her solo career and the Saint Saviour persona around the same time as she was the touring lead singer for the English electronica duo Groove Armada from 2009 to 2012. (I’ve previously posted a piece of theirs, “At the River,” that pre-dates Jones’s time with the group.) Her voice has a lovely softness to it, and I found it to really complement the music video for today’s selection, “Rock Pools,” which features American singer-songwriter Willy Mason in a beautiful duet.

The video starts with a lone Black man dressed in white, skateboarding through a park in the autumn. After a while, he is joined by a creature with a computer-generated, furry sort of appearance who skateboards along with him, helps him up when he falls, and finally waves farewell and disappears over the sparkling river into the late-afternoon sun.

The man seems to have confidence about him that I find reassuring and inspiring in a time when tragedies of many kinds disproportionately affect people of colour. It almost seems like the creature is present even after he disappears, as if he symbolizes hope and protection. And the autumn light reminds me so much of the warm glow of colours that emerges in spring, a time of rebirth, renewal and re-creation.

So, along with the song’s hopeful sounds, the video provides respite from our now-too-long winter; and perhaps the changing of seasons also nurtures faith in moving beyond the crushing restrictions, isolation, health threats and other oppressions that many of our global neighbours feel.

I only dug the narrowest of paths through the snow on our sidewalks today. I’m trusting in Mother Nature that it will soon melt, nourishing the ground and coaxing the garden’s plants and insects out of their slumbers, bringing new life to the world again.

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 Saint Saviour’s official YouTube channel. Official lyrics are posted in the notes section beneath the video pane.

Quiet Air / Gioia

The Seattle, Washington, USA band Fleet Foxes formed in 2006 and took a four-year hiatus (2013-2016) while lead singer and songwriter Robin Pecknold pursued an undergraduate degree. After regrouping and producing Crack-Up in 2017, they released their fourth album, Shore, on the autumnal equinox, September 22, 2020.

Today I’ve been listening to several tracks from the album. I don’t know much about the band, but I have been intrigued by them and their sound since hearing Pecknold disassemble their song “Mearcstapa” a couple of years ago in an episode of the Song Exploder podcast.

The band’s music, categorized as folk-rock, has a mystical, mysterious quality that seems consistent across the years, or at least in anything I’ve sampled by them.

Shore is an extensive work made up of 18 songs, and each one has been posted as a YouTube lyric video within a playlist on the band’s official channel. Each video comes complete with a brief visual loop overlaid with the song title and a plant/flower name (plus the associated symbolic meaning) and, in the notes sections, full production credits and official lyrics. I was pretty impressed at the level of detail and creativity used to present these songs.

Many reviewers and commenters feel the album is a perfect one for the time we live in right now, with the continuous contrast of light and dark, joy and sorrow, confidence and fear.

I was drawn to the quick, catchy beat, melody, instrumentation and stunning production of the song “Quiet Air / Gioia” and decided to share that one with you here today. (The Internet tells me “gioia” is Italian for joy or gladness, though it’s unclear how this relates to the song; the lyrics are, like the band’s sound — mysterious.)

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:

What a Wonderful World

“And I think to myself / What a wonderful world…”

(from “What a Wonderful World,”
by Bob Thiele [aka George Douglas], George David Weiss)

Today’s my birthday. It’s my second pandemic birthday, and while last year I felt a slight tinge of sadness about not gathering with family and friends, this year my feelings of love, gratitude, hope and wonder outweigh everything.

I’m so grateful for the miraculous technology that enables us to be connected while apart (or “sacred technology” as my dear friend and soul guide from Colorado calls it; the same friend who believes a birthday should be celebrated for a week… I like his thinking!). Many of my people have used several means to get in touch with me yesterday and so far today: several phone calls, emails, Facebook posts, WhatsApp messages, text messages and a FaceTime call.

Today I awoke early and saw a couple of Facebook birthday messages left earlier by my cousin and her husband in Liverpool, England and an email from my sister. Next, I answered the loud demands of Perry Como the Inside Cat for morning play with him. Then I lit a candle in remembrance of a friend’s son who died too young at age 22, eight years ago today. I made a coffee and settled in to watch a replay of a professional cycling race, stage three of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2021. After my sweety was up, I had a phone call with a brother and Monday morning meditation with our friend Padma and group.

Today in Winnipeg, there has been snow and blowing snow, so an outdoor ride was out of the question. I joined an online cycling event on Zwift.com and rode my trainer for a short 23 kilometres (14 miles). A benefit of indoor cycling was that I could listen to music. I enjoyed a random mix of some great, motivating songs from my Car Tunes playlist, including “Go!” (the live version), “Heaven,” “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya,” “Sultans of Swing,” “The Pretender,” and others. Just as I was cooling down from the ride, I received a FaceTime call from our family in London, England, and a sweet “Happy Birthday” sung by the grandkids. A shower, lunch and a very quick snooze later, I sat down to write this post, and received calls from my two lads, then had a Zoom meeting with an American friend just before dinner time.

Earlier today I thought I would post the Rare Earth song, “I Just Want to Celebrate” (“I just want to celebrate another day / Oh, I just want to celebrate another day of livin’ / I just want to celebrate another day of life…”) and then remembered I’d already posted it before!

Then, Louis Armstrong’s famous 1967 hit came to mind, along with the lyric I used at the top of this page. To me, it sums up how I’m feeling today. Sure, it would be great to have a party, and hopefully, that will happen in the not-too-distant future. But, as we in Manitoba, Canada are now in the third wave of COVID-19, it’s just not safe to gather until cases begin to drop and more people get vaccinated.

There’s a pile of gifts from Sweety that are waiting on the couch, and we just enjoyed a steak dinner (plus, some kind of special dessert is coming later, I believe). With dinner, we had a fantastic wine (Quail’s Gate, Okanagan Valley Merlot) that we had once before on during a 2007 holiday in Vancouver, British Columbia. (After a day of wandering around Granville Island and English Bay/the West End, we found a charming little restaurant that a dear friend had recommended. The waiter — a David Hasselhoff doppelganger — recommended the bottle, and we enjoyed it thoroughly with a lovely meal of small plates while noticing a CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers and her friends were celebrating at the table next to us. Serendipitously, I recently discovered that it is still being made!)

Also this evening, a dear friend hosted a Facebook live talk with American author, speaker and researcher Brené Brown, and I highly recommend you follow the link and watch while it remains available over the next 30 days.

It’s been a full day already, and there is so much to be grateful for!

Louis Armstrong released “It’s a Wonderful World” as a single in 1967. Apparently, composer Weiss wrote it specifically for him due to the American singer, composer, trumpeter and actor’s ability to bring together people of different races. The song has become much-beloved worldwide and, as I said above, feels like such a fit for 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’s the video for the song from the official Louis Armstrong YouTube channel:

Edit: the mystery dessert was an amazing schmoo torte/tiramisu, my favourite (I’m not generally a dessert person). It was incredible. Sorry I didn’t take a photo.

PS: I’m ending the day like I started it… watching another stage of Volta Catalunya, and contemplating my many blessings…

Eugene Onegin, Op. 24, TH 5: “Kuda, kuda, kuda vi udalilis”

Today is the first time in a while that I’ve featured an operatic piece on a “Classical Sunday”; I thought it was about time!

I noticed an aria in my YouTube feed, “Kuda, kuda, kuda vi udalilis” (“Where, where, where did you go?”) from the opera Eugene Onegin, Op. 24 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).

Tchaikovsky completed the composition in 1878, and it premiered in 1879. It was first played in Hamburg, Germany, in 1892 under the direction of the Austro-Bohemian composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). Tchaikovsky was present for the premiere and received applause after every scene (which I was surprised to read is proper protocol in opera, in contrast to it being frowned upon between orchestral movements), and in several curtain calls at the end.

In the opera, the title character is a selfish fellow whose carless acts of rejecting a lover and challenging his best friend to a fatal duel bring him much regret. I don’t know much about opera at all, but the plot sounds like the high drama that would suit such a genre. The music is very dramatic though it has elements of hopefulness in it, too.

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 the aria performed in November 2019 by French tenor Benjamin Bernheim, with the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine of Bordeaux, France, conducted by Oleksandr Yankevych, from the official Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel:

All Mixed Up

Just over a year ago, when “lockdown” was still a new term, I wrote a blog post about the song “Good Times Roll,” from the 1978 debut album by the Boston, Massachusetts, USA band The Cars. (Months later I posted “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” another song from the same album.)

Today, I was out on my road bike for the first time in two weeks. It felt so great… the sun was shining, I managed to figure out the right clothing to wear for the rising temperature, and my newly-tuned-up bike was running beautifully. It was a reasonably short ride at 30 kilometres (20 miles) but thoroughly enjoyable. Lots of happy people were out walking, cycling, rollerblading, playing.

At one point, riding through a quiet neighbourhood that’s well off the beaten track in St. Vital, Winnipeg, I got to thinking about all the emotions that had come up yesterday when learning I had become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. As all those feelings were processing in me overnight, I realized this morning that there were several layers to them. And now, knowing there is a light at the end of the isolation tunnel, I recalled the many occasions we couldn’t gather with family and friends to mark important events and to support our people in troubled times. We will never get those lost experiences back, but I feel we are still fortunate. We’ve all been healthy, and while loneliness, work and financial challenges have been a reality for some, we are all here. That’s the main thing. It’s all that matters. And it’s not that way for all people, that’s for sure. We can look forward to creating new memories when we’re all able to gather again. But I do think it’s important to pause and honour the losses that occurred during that, as they were real. Hopefully, they will influence how we interact in the future; being more present, appreciative and caring, not just to those close to us but also to the strangers we encounter every day.

During the ride, that mishmash of emotions, thoughts and memories brought to mind the song “All Mixed Up,” the closing track from The Cars’ first album. It’s a powerful piece about the singer’s desperation over a troubled relationship that isn’t feeding his soul. The song starts in a transition from the previous track on the album, “Moving in Stereo.” The punctuation of its steady cymbal beat leads into crashes, then a crescendo toward the middle, a short bridge and then a key change that seems to signal a change for the song’s character, sung by the band’s bassist and alternating lead vocalist, Benjamin Orr (1947-2000). The song, for me, is one of those that I think of as the closing theme to a movie (like I mention in my post on Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing”), and I suppose that when it came out, I was still feeling the awkwardness of young adulthood so it would have spoken to some part of that.

At home this evening making our usual Saturday night pizza (with movie or Netflix series to follow), while writing this post after such a splendid afternoon outdoors, I’m grateful for the day and all the many blessings in my life, while remembering the past and feeling hopeful for the future.

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 Cars Official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Secondhand

Happy Friday, folks!

This afternoon, I went to Costco to do a big shop for my sweety and me and for a friend, and, while driving, Apple CarPlay was on a totally random play, picking from my entire music library. It was pretty cool… heard some things I hadn’t played in a long time!

Sweety had been trying to reach me around that time, but my phone was on silent for some reason, so I missed it. Standing in line to get into the store, I pulled out my phone. I saw that she had called and texted to tell me the government had just dropped the age for the miracle of COVID-19 vaccination, and I was suddenly eligible! Hands shaking, I urgently and awkwardly signed on to the vaccination site (and was so glad that I had created an account on it in advance!) and booked my appointment! I was flooded with a sense of emotion, gratitude, relief and hope, and it took me some time before I could get back into the present moment and actually do any shopping.

Interestingly, The Small Glories song “Secondhand” played in the car, in the lead-up to of all this.

In February 2020, an eternity ago, almost a month before the first lockdown was even dreamed of, I ordered tickets for us to see The Small Glories at Winnipeg’s West End Cultural Centre. We bought extra seats for some dear friends as thanks for their kindness to us, and we were all super excited about the show, all having heard the duo before.

But on March 30, the WECC emailed ticket holders to say they had postponed the event due to the developing health situation. The venue hoped to put the show on later, when safe to do so and updated me from time to time. But, finally, this March, they refunded the ticket purchase due to continued uncertainty about when they could hold such an event.

Who knows when big shows will resume. Today, I’m just so hopeful that we’re getting closer and closer to being protected, though I wish more of our frontline workers, including family and friends, would receive priority access for the vaccines. Really, they deserve it more than me. Hopefully, we will all have access before too long.

The Small Glories are Cara Luft and JD Edwards, a duo that accidentally came together for a show at, yes, the West End Cultural Centre. I knew of Edwards before, in his role as leader of the JD Edwards Band, but not Luft. They are an incredible pair who make magical music together. (Please see my earlier post on their song, ”Oh My Love.”)

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

“Secondhand” comes from The Small Glories’ 2019 album, Assiniboine & The Red. It tells of times to savour.

Here’s a video of the song, performed for the Folk Alley Sessions in Saranac Lake, New York, USA in July 2019 from the FolkAlleydotCom YouTube channel:

Suddenly Last Summer

Today I made a quick stop into our local Safeway grocery store, and while in line to check out, a familiar old song came on the store’s canned music channel.

The song was “Suddenly Last Summer,” one I remember well from a sometimes solitary period in my music enjoyment as I branched out from the music of my early adulthood. In this same period (1983-ish), I also encountered the influence of the new wave bands I heard through that mixed group of longtime friends from St. Norbert and cool new pals from St. Vital, otherwise known as “friends 2.0.” (An earlier post and the links in it will help explain that title and period a little.)

I savoured the music that I discovered on my own at the time, as that somehow felt like it helped me develop my individuality. Finding new music was often the result of various factors that involved serendipity: hearing new stuff in records stores, at nightclubs, or while listening to late-night radio (like CBC’s Brave New Waves and Night Lines programs), mostly at home as I don’t remember listening to FM radio much when out and about.

The Berkeley, California band The Motels formed in 1978 (though an earlier iteration of the group dates back to 1971). In 1982-1983 they achieved success with their singles “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer,” and as with so much music from that time, hearing the latter song today took me back to a kaleidoscope of memories as a young twenty-something trying to find my way in the world.

No one else I knew at the time seemed to pay attention to the band, though eventually, their singles brought them some prominence.

“Suddenly Last Summer” comes from Little Robbers (1983), The Motels’ fourth album. The record was the culmination of a few years filled with the chaos of an intra-band relationship, several personnel changes, their label’s rejection of a previous album, and a manager’s firing. The latest configuration of the band, now known as Martha Davis and the Motels, is still active.

I occasionally hear today’s selection played on KEXP Seattle, another of my favourite radio stations.

Hearing about personal tragedy affecting someone close to Sweety and me today, I was struck by the word “suddenly” in the song, while standing in the Safeway check-out line. That has influenced much of the rest of my day, reinforcing the knowledge that life is so fragile and can suddenly be changed irrevocably in a moment. I am that much more grateful for long phone conversations today with my lads, as always.

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 Motels’ official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Bloomsday

Well, at last, after the eternity of nearly two months without him, my BBC 6 Music mainstay Guy Garvey is back in the chair for his Sunday program, Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour. Frequent visitors to this blog will know I savour Garvey’s program with its banter, visitor segments and musical selections, as well as the Song-for-Guy recommendations he features.

An artist Garvey first featured over a year ago is singer-songwriter Samantha Crain of Oklahoma, USA. As I tell in my February 24, 2020 post on her stunningly brilliant song “An Echo,” Sweety and I witnessed Crain perform when a Winnipeg, Canada treasure Scott Nolan brought Crain to town. They shared the playbill for a staggeringly beautiful concert at The Park Theatre.

On Garvey’s triumphant return this past Sunday, he again featured Crain, this time with a new song of hers, “Bloomsday.” Serendipitously, this new piece popped up on my YouTube feed today. It is one of two tracks that are already available from her upcoming EP, I Guess We Live Here Now, which she’ll release on April 9.

At first, I wondered if the song title was a homage to Irish author James Joyce (1882-1941), though my knowledge of him is so sparse I coudn’t tell if there was any relevance in the lyrics. (Bloomsday, which falls on June 16, is the day in 1904 chronicled in Joyce’s novel Ulysses (1922) and named after the book’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom.)

Thankfully, Crain writes on the Bandcamp page for the track, “This song is an anthem of sorts about the possibility of each new, seemingly meandering and unimportant day. I use the reference to Bloomsday, born from James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” as a substitute for any day, just a normal, nothing special, any day. The song is meant to inspire the agency we have over our participation in any day. Although it feels like much of the time we are being pulled along in life, we have the instrumentality to find within us light and belief.”

With its use of the familiar refrain from the famous Gospel song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,” the song has a beautiful positivity about it, tempered with some light commentary on some of the shadow side of our society. Crain sings in a higher register and then drops low with wonderful effect. And the video, also directed by Crain, is lovely in depicting the mysterious unfolding of a twilight celebration.

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 if you like the song, please pre-purchase the EP from Crain’s Bandcamp album page from USD 4.00 and up. You will not be disappointed.

Here’s the video for the song from Samantha Crain’s official YouTube channel, where she posted official lyrics in the notes section of the video post:

Can’t Let Go

This week, former Roxy Music founding member and frontperson Bryan Ferry released a live solo album, Royal Albert Hall 2020. The collection was recorded in London, England during the a world tour that was to be cut short soon after the UK shows due to the global pandemic.

Today, an email blast advertised that the proceeds of Royal Albert Hall 2020 sales are being shared equally among Ferry’s backing band and crew to support them. The 18-track album, which is currently charting highly in the UK, is only CAD 6.99, so I encourage folks to buy it to keep its popularity and sales up.

Last year, Ferry released a live album recorded at the same venue in 1974.

I haven’t listened to very much of this week’s release yet, but a few songs played in the car while I was out on an errand to pick up my freshly tuned-up road bike. So far, I like the album… though it was also a reminder of missing a rare stop by Ferry in Winnipeg, Canada, a few years ago. Ouch… that still hurts!

Ferry is one of my favourite male singers, both in his Roxy Music and solo phases. I’ve posted music of his before (please see my February 2020 post on “Oh Yeah.”). (And you don’t have to look too far to see music by his former bandmate Brian Eno, whether solo or in collaboration with several other artists like his brother Roger Eno, Daniel Lanois, with both Roger and Lanois, Talking Heads, U2 and others.)

During their 1982 tour, Roxy Music recorded the four-track live EP, The High Road, which they released in 1983:

Side one:
“Can’t Let Go” (written by Ferry)
“My Only Love” (Ferry)

Side two:
“Like a Hurricane” (by Neil Young, who’s getting a lot of indirect attention the blog, recently!)
“Jealous Guy” (John Lennon)

In my post on “Oh Yeah,” I talk more about the live album and receiving a vinyl copy from one of my sons for my birthday a few years ago.

The YouTube video I’m using for today’s post is an unofficial but YouTube-credited-to-the-artist upload of the entire EP. So with a visit to one post today, you get three bonus songs! I highly recommend listening to it, up to 27:50 when the EP ends (the last half of the video seems to be a partial duplication while ripping the recording). Ferry’s voice is top-notch, as are the backup singers, the band sounds fantastic, saxophonist Andy Mackay plays excellent solos, and lead guitarist Phil Manzanera absolutely shreds some very serious solos on each song. Fully air-guitar worthy. (Unfortunately, as it’s a longer video, you’ll have to put up with some ads unless you’re on YouTube Premium.)

I really wish the label would release that album for online purchase/download as it would be a very popular stream. I’d love to have a digital copy… as I said in the above-referenced post on Roxy Music (“Oh Yeah”), I think it’s one of the best concert performance recordings I’ve heard.

(As an aside, in that same “Oh Yeah” post from 2020, I referenced a local avant-garde band that a friend was a member of in the early 1980s, called A New Man Celebration. Last month, I received an email through the Contact tab on my website from the daughter of that former band’s singer, telling me she thought her dad was going to be very excited to know that his band had been talked about in the year 2020. How cool was that for her to reach out! We had a good discussion by email.)

Hearing Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music live performances makes me miss the big touring concerts, and who knows when those will start up again. Locally, some partial-capacity gigs are starting to happen, so I guess it will only be a matter of time. We all just need to be careful and stay safe until more of us can get vaccinated and eventually can resume large gatherings.

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

Here’s the audio for the four songs (“Can’t Let Go” ends at 5:32, and the EP ends at about 27:50; ignore the remainder!):

Full, unofficial lyrics for “Can’t Let Go” are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Don’t Let It Bring You Down

The often-reliable suggestions feed on my YouTube account today offered up the Annie Lennox cover of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” a song which appears in the 1999 film American Beauty (though it isn’t included on the official soundtrack).

The song is an excellent one. While I like Canadian-American singer, songwriter and musician Neil Young’s original, I find the layering of synthesizers on Lennox’s adds a great degree of depth and character to it. By the way, I’ve posted other Young compositions on this blog; if you check out my post on “Helpless” you’ll see a few; an original and covers.

The song comes from Annie Lennox’s 1995 album Medusa. Most of the all-covers album pieces are attributed to her and Stephen Lipson, an English producer, musician and songwriter who played guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, and does keyboard programming. Plus, he co-produced the album.

The album received some pretty negative reviews; this perplexes me as I quite like the collection. I previously featured another track from it, The Blue Nile’s “Downtown Lights” (if you check out the post on that song, you’ll see links to a few other Lennox songs).

It’s interesting that in the first verse of today’s selection, Young uses the British English word “lorries” instead of the more common, North American “trucks,” but it works well when sung by the English contralto, don’t you think? The lyrics of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” tell of some discouraging things, but the chorus seems like a great mantra for our time:

“Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning
Find someone who’s turning
And you will come around”

(from “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” by Neil Young)

I interpret the words as saying, yeah, the world’s on fire and our societal systems don’t work anymore, but look for someone who’s heading in another direction and follow them; they’ve got a better way in mind, as it is time for change.

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 Annie Lennox’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11, II: Romanze-Larghetto

This week, my sweety and I finished watching a British detective program we’d started watching in mid-March. (And I promise, there are no spoiler alerts in this post, only information similar to what you’d find in the advert for the show.)

In the mini-series Collision (2009), Scottish actor Douglas Henshall plays the police detective-inspector leading a multiple-vehicle road collision. He’s someone we recognized (along with several other ITV and BBC series players in the show) from his detective role in Shetland (2013). In five episodes that feature flashbacks and flashes forward, Collision looks into the lives of a group of strangers involved in the crash.

It was nearly two weeks before we could watch the final episode, as I’d run out of free credits in my membership to Kanopy. It’s (yet another) video streaming service, but one that bills itself as “thoughtful entertainment.” Kanopy is available through many public libraries, colleges and universities (check to see if your library is a member!). There is a lot of terrific content in their digital collection, and one receives five free credits per month (some libraries offer up to ten). The downside is that if you find something outstanding that is a multiple-episode series, you’ll run into the same thing as us, as Kanopy doesn’t allow one to buy extra credits. I think that would be a worthwhile option.

During the closing scene of the final episode of Collision, a piano concerto played as the soundtrack. Sweety said to me, “Can you find out what that is? That’s got to be your song of the day this Sunday!” So I backed up the play and Shazamed it, learning it was the second movement from the Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Opus 11 by Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849). It is a perfect piece for the mood and context of the scene.

Chopin is a favourite. I’ve featured works by him before on this blog: a ballade, a larghetto (from his second piano concerto) and, last week for World Piano Day, a nocturne… please check out those linked posts; the pieces are beautiful, as is today’s selection.

The miracle of Shazam told me that Portuguese-Swiss pianist Maria João Pires performed the piece on her 1979 album, Chopin: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2. Searching for Pires on YouTube, I found the same version, in which the Orchestre National de l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo, conducted by Armin Jordan (1932-2006, of Switzerland), was her accompaniment.

And, as I sit here, I can hear birds chirping since the front door is open so that Perry Como the Inside Cat can go watch them from the safety of the screened porch after pursuing rabbits and squirrels from window to window all winter. So, I think I’ll leave it there for now and join him in enjoying this Easter Sunday afternoon. Have a wonderful day!

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 the Maria João Pires YouTube topic channel:

Disappearer

Recently, a friend shared on Facebook that she introduced her son to the music of the American post-punk, “no wave” band, Sonic Youth.

Guitarist and singer Thurston Moore formed the group in New York City, New York, USA, in 1980. Then, following the breakdown of his marriage with bassist and singer Kim Gordon, Sonic Youth played their final shows in 2011. While active, they compiled an impressive discography (according to Wikipedia): 15 studio albums, four compilations, six video albums, 46 music videos, 8 EPs, 21 singles, and they appeared on eight bootlegs and 16 soundtracks. Also, they released ten albums under Sonic Youth Recordings, a label they created to work with themselves and others.

The indie rock band was active during my younger adulthood, and while knowing of them, I never followed them. I don’t think I knew any of their songs. I consider myself eclectic in my music tastes, but there are so many bands I’ve never heard of, or just never listened to. Sometimes I think this might be a good reason for subscribing to a streaming service like Apple Music, as the service “learns” one’s taste and offers similar music by many different artists. So it would be a great way to discover, though as I’ve said many times on this blog, I’m concerned about the meagre payments-per-play from streaming services to musicians. That said, it’s also true that buying doesn’t always get a lot of money to the artists unless buying directly from them… it’s a conundrum. But I digress.

Back to the band, my friend posted the song she used to orient her son to Sonic Youth: the music video for “Disappearer,” which seemed an ideal place for me to start, so I checked out the video, and that’s what I’m sharing today. It’s kind of campy, like a B-movie, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s a catchy tune, and I’ll probably try to learn more about their music.

The song comes from their sixth album, Goo, released in 1990.

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 Sonic Youth’s official VEVO / YouTube channel (warning… there are a few short bits with strobe lights):

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Crazy Lowdown Ways

Happy Friday!

This afternoon, I was looking for a song with a Friday kind of beat. Then as I scrolled down my YouTube feed, it serendipitously served up the suggestion of the Birmingham, England band Ocean Colour Scene’s “Crazy Lowdown Ways.”

I’ve featured the group once before; please see my post on their song, “Up on the Downside.”

“Crazy Lowdown Ways,” released in 2001, did not appear on a studio album but appeared on the compilation Anthology (2003). Apparently, it was their worst-charting single, which has me shaking my head a little.

The song has a rollicking, exuberant beat and melody with a touch of psychedelia in the bridge, though the lyrics seem to tell the story of discord in a relationship. But life’s like that sometimes, isn’t it? We celebrate one thing, then in another part of our life, there’s a heavy burden, so we put on brave faces and push through, sometimes in silence or alone. It’s best if we can open up to family and friends in those times, but not everyone has connections like that. And that’s made things much harder for some folks during the pandemic.

I like that the song seems to end on a promising note and wish you all a happy, hopeful weekend without any crazy, lowdown ways to endure.

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 Ocean Colour Scene’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of Genius.com.

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

Some months back, I listened to an episode of Irish actor and music aficionado Cillian Murphy’s BBC 6 Music guest host program (“Volume 6: Music for After Dark,” from November 23, 2020).

Murphy has sat in on Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour when the Elbow frontperson has been away touring or recording, and I often enjoy Murphy’s eclectic musical choices and his stories about the songs, told in his strong Irish accent.

One such piece from that November playlist was “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,” the title track from the English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys’ sixth album, released in 2018.

Hobbled by writer’s block after the release of the band’s previous album, bandleader, multi-instrumentalist, singer and album songwriter/co-producer Alex Turner eventually took inspiration from science fiction and writer’s block references in the 1963 film, 12, by Italian director Federico Fellini (1920-1993).

In the official music video, Turner plays “Mark,” the hotel’s receptionist, and the song’s chorus is his telephone greeting. The video is bold and audacious, complementing themes of excess, technology, science fiction and consumerism, as well as the casino resort lifestyle. The album falls into several sub-genres, including glam rock, space pop, psychedelic pop and lounge pop, and has some jazz influences and references to the Apollo 11 landing site, Tranquility Base. The instrumentation and production are brilliant, well worth popping on headphones or earbuds to catch all the elements of the soundscape. The bass line is particularly good.

There is a lengthy, informative Wikipedia article about the album that I recommend reading if you’re interested in the band.

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 Official Arctic Monkeys YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Guttersnipe

So, what’s a guttersnipe?

That’s what I wondered the first time I heard this song on KEXP Seattle some time ago, before listening closely to the lyrics. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it (concisely) as a “street urchin,” and Merriam-Webster says it means “1: a homeless vagabond and especially an outcast boy or girl in the streets of a city (and) 2: a person of the lowest moral or economic station.”

Either way, it’s not an enviable position. The official music video for Bhi Bhiman’s song illustrates this starkly, with film footage of people and rudimentary housing adjacent to India’s railways, a scene played out in many places worldwide.

“Guttersnipe” was the lead single on American singer-songwriter Bhi Bhiman’s second album, BHIMAN, released in 2012.

The song tells a heartbreaking story from the perspective of a child living in homelessness; an existence too many of our world’s young people face. I find such a deep contrast to the joyful celebration of equality in the ancient festival of Holi, which I described in my post a couple of days ago on “The Course.” However, the video also shows people going about their daily lives, persevering and often in joyful companionship.

In a similar kind of balance, the child tells of the challenges of living in homelessness, expressing gratitude for some of the simple needs met in that reality. The second verse sums this up beautifully: “I’ve been to Juarez, I been to Houston, Baton Rouge / I got some good friends, some folks to really help me through / I’ve been all over, I spend my time just like I do / I stay out of trouble, but it’s got a way of finding you…

“Guttersnipe” has a rolling melody and simple beat (and a superb bass line), evocative of a slow railway journey. Some of the words express appreciation for experiencing the ride: “I’m just a vagabond, I live to see the light of dawn / The train beats a rhythm, and I love to sing along…”

The song reminds me of the many factors contributing to a comfortable life for me versus the grinding poverty endured by others. It also recalls the resilience I’ve observed encountering people bearing the harshness of life on the streets in my own city.

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

Here’s the video from Bhi Bhiman’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of Genius.com.

The Man Who Told Everything

One of the greatest honours in life is to be in a place where you feel welcome to speak your truth.

Sometimes that truth is what people want to hear, and sometimes not. Telling a difficult truth can shake things up, which can be hazardous when some are invested in keeping the status quo alive, especially in large organizations but really in any relationship, collective or community. Just the other day, I was thinking about this and, serendipitously while searching for a song to feature today, I landed on “The Man Who Told Everything,” by the Manchester, England band Doves, from their debut album, Lost Souls (2000).

Without speaking our truths, we are not authentic, and being inauthentic can eat away at one’s sense of self and of right and wrong. Today, I was in two meetings where authenticity was welcomed and encouraged. It is a refreshing place to be, after not always feeling free to experience life in that way.

Mind you, the risk in stepping out with a contrary view is not always welcome, and that can be scary when safety and security are priorities, especially if the group’s leaders are not virtuous.

In the song “The Man Who Told Everything,” the central character is preparing to tell a big story to the media. He knows it is the right thing to do as he infers harm has been done in the past.

“The Man Who Told Everything” has a somewhat melancholy tone to it, as though the character is aware that he will lose connections by doing the right thing. The repeated, closed high-hat cymbal drumming seems to mark the time toward the approaching event, and there are distorted sounds here and there like the haunting of self-doubt, right up to the end of the piece. (A one minute, forty-five second track, “Reprise,” revisits the song’s guitar riff and distortion later in the album; truth doesn’t go away.)

There is often a price to pay for taking the moral high ground, and the character knows it. But in moving ahead and embracing his true self, he is seeing blue skies, maybe for the first time. There’s a beauty in that.

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 Doves’ official YouTube channel, where the entire album is presented as a playlist:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

The Course

Today I’m sharing a folk song I heard during an online gathering over a month ago and which has stayed with me since.

“The Course” is a stirring, soulful anthem by Ayla Nereo, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, dancer and filmmaker from northeastern California, USA. The song evokes, for me, a sense of fellowship and the togetherness that comes from sharing joys, sorrows, tasks and burdens. It also reminds me of the mantra a wise old friend has often said about being part of a community: “chop wood, carry water.”

Who’ll fetch the water? 
will it be your great grand-daughter 
my darling 
who’ll fetch the water? 

What will be it’s course 
from the source how will it find us 
my darling 
what’ll be the course? 

and who will call the rain 
feel it fallin’ to our skin 
from a welling deep within 
who’ll call the rain? 

and who’ll strike the drum 
when our thundering heartbeat needs it 
when the feet gotta pray it down 
who’ll beat the ground? 

who will speak in truth 
and where will they walk it, show us 
how my darling 
who’ll sow the truth 

and where from will it bloom 
to the story as we shape it 
for each other, brother sister 
what we choose 

this breath we been given 
this life we are tending 
this garden we are seeding 
for the ones yet to come 

Oh who will fetch the water 
will it be your great grand-daughter 
my darling 
who’ll fetch the water? 

I’ll fetch the water 
And I will be the course 
and I will call the rain 
I will call the rain

(“The Course,” by Ayla Nereo)

I listened to the song after morning rituals of playing with and feeding Perry Como the cat (in answer to his loud, persistent calls to honour his morning routines!) and making a cup of coffee to savour while journaling. After the song, it was time for our three-times-a-week online practice with Padma Meditation, then right after that, a decision point about riding outdoors or on the indoor trainer. The temperature went unseasonably high today, +19°C (66°F) but the wind was 40 kilometres per hour (27 mph) gusting to 60 kph (37 mph) when I checked. Headwinds and crosswinds are not that appealing or safe on city roads that are still full of spring thaw potholes and sand that’s hazardous for sudden turns, and such winds are particularly tricky when being passed by those few drivers who don’t give much space for safety. So I rode inside, safely connected in the online Zwift.com community in an event with 2,779 other riders from around the world, many of whom were quite chatty, making the near-hour ride go by quickly. (By the way, the weather is making a massive turn as I write: howling winds, with possible rain and/or blowing snow overnight and a windchill of -17°C or 1°F. Yikes.)

Twice during my bike trainer ride, the Public Service Broadcasting piece “Go!” came on my iPhone on random play (once was the studio version, the second was a live recording; please see my post on the song). As the music approaches a crescendo when Commander Neil Armstrong declares, “Tranquility Base here; the Eagle has landed,” I feel a rush of emotion and inspiration at the incredible technology that, in 1969, took humans to the moon and brought them back safely. In that same moment in the music, I also recall what English musician Roger Eno has said about that time in history and the hope the moon landings raised for peace and harmony back here on Earth, which sadly did not come about (this is mentioned in a post on the Apollo 11- inspired “An Ending (Ascent).” Those hoped-for connections still elude our world because of the desperate grasping of the few, for power and riches, at the expense of so many others.

Later this afternoon, Sweety and I walked to The Forks National Site, where we sat and enjoyed a beer outdoors, just before the wind started picking up again. Then back home, I had a Zoom call with a friend. And interspersed among all the day’s events were several connections and interactions with dear ones near and far.

Throughout the day, I’ve marvelled at how we as a human race have developed so many tools and technologies for connecting with others when we cannot be physically near them. Through the pandemic, those have been literal lifelines and have helped nurture and maintain longstanding relationships, as well as encouraging new ones.

This week, many parts of the world pause from routines to connect in various ways to mark occasions like spring break or religious observances, including Christian Holy Week and Jewish Passover. And, as my sweety and I learned in our meditation session this morning, there is also Holi, a spring celebration observed mainly by Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist people, also known as the Festival of Love or Festival of Spring. A visible aspect of the celebration is a kind of free-for-all where coloured powders and water are splashed all over people. A philosophy behind this, as Padma explained today, is that the festival of colour makes everyone appear the same, whether rich or poor, powerful or not. It sounds like a messy delight, and our faithful and wise guide recommends wearing old clothes!

“Holi | Festival of Colors 2014” (at Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple, Spanish Fork, Utah, USA). Photo © 2014 Steven Gerner.
Used with gratitude under Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sgerner/13896645072/.

Whatever our traditions, rituals and ceremonies, our celebrations continue to be different during the pandemic as the world remains in varying degrees of lockdowns or restrictions on gathering. But as more people become vaccinated (a little over 60,000 people ahead of me now, in our province), the flame of hope is flickering a little brighter.

Despite all these celebrations, we haven’t yet arrived at world peace. But each of us can go “fetch the water” needed to sustain us and all that exists in our living world, and slowly build harmony. That’s something we can do for each other, and something we all do each time we reach out and make life-giving connections.

Who’ll fetch the water?

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

“The Course” is the closing track on Nereo’s 2016 album, The Code of the Flowers, which you can buy from her Bandcamp album page.

Here’s the audio from the Jumpsuit Records official YouTube channel:

Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23

Happy World Piano Day!

Today, I saw a post by the record label Deutsche Grammophon on their YouTube channel, celebrating the day. I’ve already featured a couple of their pianists, so I thought I would look for another soloist’s performance in the suggested videos sidebar.

I found one of Russian-German pianist Olga Scheps playing the magnificent Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Opus 23 by Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849). Chopin began composing the piece in sketches in 1831 and completed it in 1835.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that listening to music is life-giving for me. Watching people play musical instruments is a real joy, too, particularly the piano, as the performers’ complex movements across the keyboard look magical to me. Scheps’ playing is truly stunning in this piece, and the multi-angle shooting of the video provides excellent views of her handiwork.

The ballade is a central piece in the Roman Polanski film, The Pianist (2002) and is featured in several other movies. It is an incredible 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’s a video of the piece being performed during a 2015 recital at the Staatstheater Darmstadt, in Hesse, Germany, from Olga Scheps’ official YouTube channel:

Sandman’s Dust

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, my sweety and I have numerous friends in Colorado, USA. We all hold heavy hearts at the senseless killing of ten women and men at a grocery store in the city of Boulder on Monday.

Sweety and I spoke with some of our folk today and in the time together, all kinds of emotions arose while thinking of the people whose lives were taken; stolen from them and all those who knew and loved them.

Also, today, I was introduced to some music written and performed by a Michigan, USA singer-songwriter, educator, activist and cultural worker, Seth Bernard. His song “Sandman’s Dust” is the perfect accompaniment by which to think of the time with friends today, a time that ended with feelings of gratitude and hope.

In addition to his work as a musician, Bernard founded Earthwork Music, for “community healing through collective musicianship,” and Title Track, which engages “creative practice to build resilient social-ecological systems that support clean water, racial equity, and youth empowerment.” He is also involved in many other community projects.

Bernard is a man I’d like to get to know. I share his love for music, and admire his passion for making the world a better place; the planet and all that lives on it. I’m glad to have learned of his music and other work.

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 if you like the music, please buy it to support the artist who created it. Like Guy Garvey of Elbow will say when back to hosting his program Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC 6 Music, “… don’t stream it for a pittance… buy the recording so the musicians can make more!

“Sandman’s Dust” comes from Bernard’s 2020 album, Let Love Light the Way. You can purchase the song and album from his Bandcamp page, where he has several albums and singles for sale. His music can also be found on Apple Music and Spotify.

Here’s the music video for “Sandman’s Dust” from the Earthwork Music YouTube channel:

Official lyrics are available on the artist’s website.

Hope of a Lifetime

Some time ago during a visit to my family doctor, he and I talked about our mutual love for music. A group he highly recommended for me to listen to was The Milk Carton Kids, a folk duo out of Eagle Rock, California, USA.

Singer-songwriters and guitarists Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan came together at a time when their solo careers weren’t going anywhere, and they soon discovered how well they played off each other, their collaboration creating a sum greater than its parts. They’ve made eight albums I could identify (and a concert DVD accompaniment to one) plus several singles. It’s notable that they released their first two albums, Retrospect (as Pattengale and Ryan) and Prologue (as The Milk Carton Kids), both in 2011, without charge though the free downloads are no longer available on their website.

The Kids’ melodies are soft and pleasing, and their harmonies are beautiful. Their style has been compared to Simon & Garfunkel, the Jayhawks and the Everly Brothers. My sweety and I both think they sound similar to the former folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary.

“Hope of a Lifetime” was the opening song from a 2013 concert at the Lincoln Theatre in Columbus, Ohio, recorded live and released as the album Live From Lincoln Theatre (2014). The song showcases the exceptional talent of these two men.

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 the performance from the ANTI- Records official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com. They also appear as the first comment under the video post.

You can also view the whole concert on the same channel:

Home to You

The last live, in-person music show my sweety and I saw was just over a year ago: March 6, 2020. And it was a house concert… in our home!

Canadian alternative/indie singer-songwriter Danielle Dayton added our address to a tour of Saskatchewan and Manitoba promoting the release of her single, “Lady Luck.” The bluesy-styled artist is based in Edmonton, Alberta.

Our house show sold out, and everyone comfortably squeezed into our space had a fantastic time. Our lad Kieran played the opening set, then after a break, Dayton and her bassist Ryan Holmes played and sang for over an hour. Earlier in the day they toured the city, had dinner with us before the show, and were our guests overnight. After they left the next day to continue their tour, Sweety and I stayed in touch and watched one or two of Dayton’s pandemically-inspired couch concerts back in Edmonton.

We had some nurses in the house for the show, and I was all about impressing them with my “strong recommendations” for hand/cough/etc. hygiene around the snack table, half-joking that I didn’t want our home to be the epicentre of an outbreak. (It wasn’t.) But one week after the show, everything in Winnipeg locked down to prevent the spread of the virus. Manitoba fared very well in the first wave, having just over 300 coronavirus cases in total. But then, all hell broke loose in the fall.

Several days ago, I noticed Dayton released a new single, “Home to You.” While many of us have picked up new hobbies and activities to pass the time at home during the pandemic, it’s clear Dayton has been busy honing her songwriting and singing. There’s a real maturity in and depth to her voice in this song, and the piano really sets the mood of the piece, which her website describes as “a beautifully epic and heart-wrenching ballad that provides a moment of escape and reminds us to go a little easier on ourselves.”

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 Danielle Dayton’s YouTube channel:

While you’re there, check out her other singles on the channel.

And, this beautiful song is available for purchase from CAD 1.00 and up, from the Danielle Dayton Bandcamp page. I encourage you to buy it and add a few dollars to your price to support a talented Canadian musician; after all, it’s not like we can go out to a show, or a house concert (yet).

Monsters

Band of Horses is a group I just added to my shopping list the next Bandcamp Friday (April 2), along with First Aid Kit and Elephant Revival.

It is always more advantageous to artists if you buy music directly from them at shows or from their web stores. But the latter is not always practical, especially with shipping costs. In such cases I think I will buy more music from Bandcamp as, from what I have been able to discern, the site may pay more money to artists than other sellers. Bandcamp offers several download options (including lossless formats) and their files are easily added to the Apple Music app library. Plus, of course, Bandcamp Fridays, when all of a purchase, other than payment processing fees, goes to the publisher/artist.

But, back to Band of Horses. Lead singer and lyricist Ben Bridwell formed the indie rock group in Seattle, Washington, USA in 2004. Around 2007, Bridwell moved the touring band to Charleston, South Carolina to be near his family. While to date, I’ve only posted one of their songs, “On My Way Back Home,” from their 2010 album Infinite Arms, I’ve listened to much of their music and recently and really like the group’s sound and vibe. They have released five albums, the latest of which is Why Are You OK (2016).

After cruising around on YouTube looking for a song for today, I somehow landed on the audio for “Monsters” from their debut album, Everything All the Time (2006). It’s an intriguing song about the problems and challenges we tamp down or, as the song says, put up in a tree to hide them. But not dealing with our issues won’t make them go away; often, it makes them worse, and they can become like monsters, consuming us.

A tree for all these problems
They can’t find you for the moment
Then for all past efforts
They’re buried deep beneath
Your heart and somewhere in your stomach

And hatred for all others
When awful people, they surround you
Well, ain’t they just like monsters
They come to feed on me
Giant little animals to feed

Though to say we got much hope
If I am lost, it’s only for a little while, oh

A tree for all these problems
They can’t find us for the moment
Then for all past efforts
They’re buried deep beneath
Our hearts and somewhere in our stomachs

And hatred for all others
When awful people they surround you
Well ain’t they just like monsters
They come to feed on us
Giant little animals for us

Though to say we got much hope
If I am lost it’s only for a little while
Though to say we got much hope
If I am lost it’s only for a little while, oh

If I am lost, it’s only for a little while
If I am lost, it’s only for a little while

(“Monsters,” by Ben Bridwell, Mat Brooke, Chris Early, Tim Meinig.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of Genius.com.)

The song has a spirited, charming vocal by Bridwell and a beautifully layered guitar/banjo section. It’s delightful to listen to, as I’m finding with almost every piece of theirs I hear.

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 Everything All the Time album page on Bandcamp:

I Grieve

Late last evening, after a full and busy day that ran well into the evening, I was unaware of the shooting in Boulder, Colorado, USA, until a near-bedtime visit to Facebook told me a friend there had checked in as safe during a major public crisis.

No doubt that message, and all it meant, was a large part of what led to a restless night, which continued with deeply held concern this morning as more details of the killings became known, and it became more “real” to the world and me.

This morning I saw another one of my people “checked in” as safe. And later in the morning, seeing the list of names of the dead told me I knew none of those whose lives were taken in those moments. But I don’t yet know how many of my Colorado friends are affected; and, really, not knowing the people doesn’t make it any less tragic. It’s just incredibly and profoundly sad. So, to answer my own question, they are all affected. We are all affected. The mass shooting in Boulder is, I believe, a symptom of the hate and confusion that is so insidious in our world, and of the things that need brave, intentional action if we are to change the sad patterns of the past and present.

The event also reopens memories of the deep, life-altering experience of having close friends live the agony of their dear daughter being murdered in a similar, senseless act of mass violence, years ago.

In Peter Gabriel’s song “I Grieve,” there are several helpful lines for a time like this; they help articulate the feelings and point out that life does go on… very differently, of course, for those involved, affected, witnessing, experiencing…

“It was only one hour ago
It was all so different then
There’s nothing yet has really sunk in
Looks like it always did…”

* * *

“Life carries on
in the people I meet
In everyone that’s out on the street
In all the dogs and cats
In the flies and rats
In the rot and the rust
In the ashes and the dust
Life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on…”

(excerpts from “I Grieve,” by Peter Gabriel)

Last night and through today and this evening, I was grateful… grateful to have another day to connect with several of my Boulder-and-vicinity folk, to share our feelings about the tragedy, and to talk about what life moving on looks like.

“I Grieve” comes from Gabriel’s 13th album, Up, released in 2002. (I previously posted the song, “Growing Up” from the same album.)

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 of the song from Peter Gabriel’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

With love,

Steve

Always Returning

After a wonderful morning that began with a delicious cup of coffee and then went on to reading, journaling, meditation, some music and a moderate bike ride early this afternoon, I’m resting before meeting a friend at Canadian Blood Services. We are former colleagues and haven’t seen each other in a long time, so we booked our blood donation appointments next to each other’s to have a bit of time to catch up.

I started looking for a relaxing piece to share and landed on “Always Returning” from Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (the original 1983 release by Eno, his brother Roger, and Daniel Lanois).

“Always Returning,” the second-last track on the album, has a pleasing, uncomplicated melody. One of the synthesizer loops has a sound somewhat like a flute. The piece has a quality of floating to it, which for me recalls the romanticizing of space travel, as well as the incredible vistas astronauts witness and share from the International Space Station, flying 350 kilometres (220 miles) above the Earth’s surface.

It seems like there’s a current of hopefulness and contentment running in the music; feelings one gets when, after a long, tiring trip, approaching the familiar landmarks of home. As excited as space travellers would be, I’m sure they experience similar feelings, though there must also be feelings of not wanting such a spectacular journey to end.

The title also makes me think of where we often are in life… we venture out and return home; we experience loss but return to joy and gratitude after a time; we sometimes let each other down, but there can also be forgiveness and reconciliation.

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 Brian Eno’s official YouTube channel:

Trois Gymnopédies: No. 1, Lent et douloureux

I don’t know much about the music of French composer Erik Satie (1866-1925). But there’s one work of his I am quite familiar with, The Gymnopédies or Trois Gymnopédies, a set of three piano pieces he completed in 1888. 

Many of you may know the Gymnopédies: No. 1, and if you don’t think so, listen; you most likely will remember having heard it in a film, a restaurant, or someplace. The piece is dreamy and atmospheric, wonderfully calming and evocative of beauty. I found it online while working on a post earlier this week.

The title of the work comes from the Greek gymnopaedia, a yearly celebration where naked youths would perform war dances to demonstrate athletic prowess. The image of that doesn’t really mesh with the music, I’d have to say…

I’ve chosen two videos today; one is a lovely performance by French pianist Anne Queffélec. The other is an arrangement for chamber orchestra, violin, bassoon, and oboe, featuring English classical and jazz soloist Nigel Kennedy playing with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Paul Barritt.

In the late 1980s, I saw Kennedy perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; I believe it was early in his classical music career. His playing was outstanding, and he had such a stage presence, rather a bit like a rock star without going over the top. I remember him enthusiastically playing an encore with and making a friendly connection as he introduced one of the double bass players, Graeme Mudd, who is now with the Calgary Symphony Orchestra.

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 the piano version from the Anne Queffélec YouTube topic channel:  

And, the chamber orchestra arrangement from the Nigel Kennedy YouTube topic channel:

From a Distance

In my post on Snow Patrol’s song “Shut Your Eyes,” I discussed the Apple Music app’s Genius playlists that find pieces compatible with a single song choice.

It seems like the last few Saturdays, I’ve launched the playlist based on Teddy Thompson’s “In My Arms.” It’s a great collection of 25 songs (with the option to expand to 50, 75 or 100) by a wide variety of artists, and, yes, they’re all compatible.

One of the songs is “From a Distance,” a composition by American singer-songwriter Julie Gold. A friend of Gold’s introduced it to fellow American singer, songwriter and guitarist Nanci Griffith, whose version on the album The MCA Years: A Retrospective my sweety and I have listened to many times over the years, and still love.

There’s a line in the song, “From a distance, you look like my friend / Even though we are at war…” which always reminds me of a friend who, in the early 1990s, was treated unjustly by an employer. The song must have played during a visit, though I can’t recall who was singing it. (It wasn’t Griffith, as Sweety and I heard her cover many years later after we got together and she “discovered” Griffith.) I also don’t remember if the specific lyric was discussed at the time, but I think so. I do remember it was difficult for us as friends to see this person suffer a power imbalance that the employer took advantage of. Not the first time it’s happened to someone I know, and it probably won’t be the last; but still, so unnecessary and unfair.

Today’s selection is the fourth recording of Griffith’s I’ve featured. Others have been “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” (the song with which my sweety introduced me to Griffith’s music), “Late Night Grande Hotel” (which is on our wedding CD), and “Deadwood, South Dakota.” All fantastic songs by a gifted artist with a beautiful voice. She’s also one of those performers who sometimes spends several minutes introducing a piece, as she does in “Deadwood, South Dakota,” among many others.

“From a Distance” is full of hope and tells of many beautiful aspects in our world, though as mentioned, it brings in the shadow side, too. It’s wonderful, moving and authentic.

Other singers who have covered the song include Bette Midler and Cliff Richard.

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 the Nanci Griffith YouTube topic channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Emmylou

I first featured the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit and their song “Cedar Lane” during my initial week of posts on this website in early January 2020.

Since then, I’ve continued to hear the duo on numerous web radio stations and through random YouTube servings of suggested videos. I have grown to love their music, with such compositions as “Fireworks” and other originals, plus their covers of famous songs.

Today while I was looking at their YouTube channel, I found a live performance of the piece they wrote to honour the inspiration they, as young singer-songwriters, took from greats like Emmylou Harris. In the video, they perform the song at the 2015 Polaris Music Prize gala in Stockholm, Sweden. During their introduction of the song, Johanna Söderberg says the piece is about the joy and magic of singing with one you love; then Klara humbly declares they never expected they’d be singing it in the presence of award laureate Harris herself (whom I have featured in her trio performance with Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton, and linked to her trio with Daniel Lanois and Willie Nelson within a post on a song by Lanois).

Like all First Aid Kit’s work, today’s selection contains lovely harmonies and it is a pleasure to hear (and see) them perform 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 video for the song from First Aid Kit’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of the good folks at AZLyrics.com.

Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya

Last night as I lay in bed at 1:00 am, unable to get to sleep (the change to daylight savings time always messes me up), the song “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” randomly popped into my head. I have no idea why.

The song was the only major hit for New England, a group discovered by Bill Aucoin (1943-2010), the manager of the American band Kiss. New England’s 1979 debut album was recorded and produced by Kiss frontperson Paul Stanley and Mike Stone (who worked with Queen, Asia, Kiss, Foreigner and others).

Several of my schoolmates were big fans of Kiss, but I never really got into the band. We all enjoyed the New England album though I don’t think any of us followed their career.

I learned today that New England later worked with Todd Rundgren as producer, but the band could never replicate the success of “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya.” They were active from 1978 to 1982, then reunited in 2002 and have gotten together again several times for one-off shows and recordings.

In a 2014 interview in the online music publication Sound of Boston, the band described their sound as “power-melodic-orchestrated-song-oriented rock.” Indeed.

With its theme of the writer waiting for his love to drive home during a rainstorm, “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” evokes memories of adolescent insecurity and the accompanying helplessness and fear of loss symbolized in the song. With uncomplicated lyrics (only two main verses and a chorus that is multiple repeats of the title), there is poignancy in its simplicity. Plus, some pretty rocking guitar riffs supported by the keyboards and rhythm section.

You’re driving home in a downpour
Can’t wait for you to walk through the door
The rain is beating on my brain
As the look on my face stays the same

Don’t ever wanna lose ya (x3)

And when I hear a speedy siren
My heart gets so still just like dying
Do anything to get you home safe
Where could you be it’s getting so late

Don’t ever wanna lose ya (x3)

You’re driving home in a downpour
Can’t wait for you to walk through the door

Don’t ever wanna lose ya (repeats)

(“Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya,” by John Fannon)

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 the New England YouTube topic channel:

Long in the Tooth

Today I decided to cruise around the KEXP Seattle website, and looked through their Song of the Day feature. I clicked on October 1, 2020; I suppose drawn in by the name “Long in the Tooth,” a song chosen by DJ John Richards, host of The Morning Show with John Richards. The track title was a reminder I have a second COVID-19 birthday coming up next month. Another year older… that sure beats the alternative!

“Long in the Tooth” comes from the 2020 album of the same name by The Budos Band, an instrumental group from Staten Island, New York, USA. They describe themselves as a “doom rock Afro-soul big band with a ’70s touch.” Their biography on the online music database AllMusic says, “Their multivalent approach bridges musical universes from trippy psychedelia and Afro-funk to ’70s hard rock and late-’60s soul. Their choreographed stage show is at once intense, spontaneous, humorous, and geared toward audience participation.”

The Budos Band sounds like a fantastic act to see performing live. But for now, we’re limited to listening to music at home and occasionally finding and enjoying music videos that captured past live performances. Only now do we appreciate just how vital such concert archives are until we can gather again for live shows.

I don’t listen to many instrumental groups, but I was glad to discover this piece serendipitously. I believe I have heard other pieces of theirs on KEXP.

The track, particularly the saxophone part, reminds me of a piece on a mixtape a friend made up for me in the 1980s. I can’t recall the song name, but I will have to dig that tape out and figure out which one from it today’s selection brought to mind.

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 Daptone Records’ official YouTube channel:

Speaking of live performance videos, I didn’t find one for today’s selection, but here is The Budos Band playing four other pieces live on KEXP in 2019.

The Last Exit

The few songs I know by the British/American band Still Corners all have an aspect of long-distance driving… and apparently, that’s not by accident…

Such was the case for “The Trip” (from their 2013 album Strange Pleasures), the only other song of theirs that I’ve posted. I like hearing that song when I’m in the first few minutes of a long indoor bike trainer ride, and I smile at the line, “So many miles… Away…” as it feels like some gentle motivation.

Likewise, on the road trip front, the song “The Last Exit” (from the 2021 dream pop album of the same name) and its official music video depict a woman in a classic sports car on a remote stretch of highway in Joshua Tree National Park in California, USA. The band’s YouTube video notes section explains that this is the last song of their Road Trilogy, which, by coincidence, began with “The Trip,” something I hadn’t known when first getting to know that song and later posting it here on the blog.

“The Last Exit” seems to me to be about one who is returning from a journey of introspection, having gone through a period of feeling lost in darkness and probably carrying burdens from the past. The optimistic part of me thinks the ending is about coming home to a relationship that the woman left in the second part of the trilogy, “The Message” (from 2018’s Slow Air album, a song with a vibe that reminds me of the soundtrack from the 1980s Twin Peaks TV series). But maybe the woman is coming home to herself, the one she discovered in her soul work out on the open road. Either way, hopefully she is arriving at a better place.

I find “The Trip” to be the trilogy’s lighter song, though they all have Still Corners’ trademark dreamy sound. As does their label Sub Pop, the band does an outstanding job of their YouTube posts, providing all the relevant links to buy or stream the album/song, descriptions about the song/video, and even the official lyrics, which I like to include in my posts.

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 Still Corners’ YouTube channel. The band says in the notes that Australian director Peter Weir’s 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock inspired their video.

Vincent

The American singer-songwriter Don McLean is likely best known for his hit song “American Pie,” but one of his most remarkable compositions has to be “Vincent,” which came from the same album, American Pie (1971).

Often misidentified by its opening refrain, “Starry, starry night…” “Vincent” is a beautiful, poignant homage to the Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh, his art, and tortured state of mental health. Recently a family member forwarded a video that compiled many of Van Gogh’s paintings as backdrops for a presentation of the song’s lyrics. I find the simulated active typing of the lyrics to be a distraction, but other videos had similar pitfalls in either sound quality or getting overly creative with animation.

Both my sweety and I have been in contemplative moods after listening to the music today.

While looking for a link to the video presentation, I also found a cover version by Lianne La Havas (who I featured only a few days ago with her song, “Weird Fishes”). Her version was used in the soundtrack for the 2017 animated experimental film Loving Vincent. While a unique and likeable interpretation, I prefer the tempo, sound and the mood evoked by McLean’s original studio recording.

For me, the song is also a reminder of the cruelty that pervades society, often directed at people because of their social standings, abilities, illnesses or other visible (or invisible but identifiable) qualities. In the case of mental health, the lack of proper supports or even basic acceptance set some people apart instead of helping and integrating them into a caring and civil society. As I said in Saturday’s post, we all belong, in the coat of many colours that is this 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 audio for the song from Don McLean’s official YouTube channel:

Plus, a live version recorded in Austin, Texas, USA in 1999:

And the Lianne La Havas cover, from the Milan Records YouTube channel:

And, finally, the video compilation a relative shared with us.

If you would like to follow the lyrics but not the lyric video version, they are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Trio No. 2 in E-flat Major for Piano, Violin, and Violoncello, Op. 100, II: Andante con moto

Today I found a mix set of classical music videos on YouTube that contained several pieces I’ve already featured on my Classical Sunday posts.

Also on that list was a piece by Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828), the second movement (Andante con moto) from his Trio No. 2 in E-flat Major for Piano, Violin, and Violoncello. It’s not a piece I remembered by name, but as soon as I started the video, I recognized it as music that was prominent in the Stanley Kubrick period epic, Barry Lyndon (1975), with Marisa Berenson and Ryan O’Neal, and Tony Scott’s 1983 erotic horror film The Hunger, with Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon and David Bowie (1947-2016).

Schubert completed the trio in 1827, and it was published shortly before his death the following year. I think the piece’s dramatic theme works well in both the mid-1700s setting of Barry Lyndon and the modern timeframe of The Hunger, adding much to the sombre moods and visual landscapes of each film.

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 from the J. Hanck Production YouTube channel. It is a live performance in 2016 by members of Les Déconcertants, Paris, France: Julien Hanck, piano; Ambroise Aubrun, violin; and Maëlle Vilbert, cello, at Cathédrale Sainte-Croix des Arméniens, Paris.

Coat of Many Colors

American singer-songwriter, author, actor and philanthropist Dolly Parton has been in the news recently. She donated USD one million for research into COVID-19 vaccines and recently celebrated her vaccination. But true to her style, Parton deferred her own jab until others received it.

During her rise to popularity in the 1970s, I remember it was more Parton’s appearance and country charm that she first became known for. But over the years, she has earned a reputation for her depth of personality and as a kind, gracious and generous soul, in addition to being a brilliant and talented artist.

This morning, I stumbled upon an early recording of hers and as my sweety came downstairs while it played she murmured softly, “Mmmm, love Dolly Parton.” (The same reaction I witnessed some time back when posting a piece about Parton, along with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris covering Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush.”)

In “Coat of Many Colors,” Parton writes of her mother making a fall coat for her as a young girl, though the mother made it from many scraps of different-coloured cloth as the family lived in poverty. Parton sings with pride about her coat of many colours, which she loved and needed for cold weather. However, the other side of the narrative is how her peers cruelly shamed and ridiculed her for wearing it.

For me, that’s symbolic of a lot of what’s happening in the world nowadays. In a time when many traditionally marginalized or ostracized groups are rightly demanding freedom, fairness and inclusion in society, those in dark corners of the Internet see the rising up and celebration of such people as threats. These “keyboard warriors” propagate toxic untruths or make memes to poke fun. And don’t get me wrong… not all memes are bad. Some can be self-deprecating and clever, but others, crude and cruel, deliberately shaming and ridiculing those who take courageous stands against being mistreated for sexual and gender identities, racial, faith, socioeconomic and many other backgrounds and attributes, and labelling such people as “snowflakes” for calling out oppression.

Taken another way, a coat of many colours might symbolize one who professes to be fair and kind while at the same time fuelling hate and division by sharing and promoting ignorant and hurtful discourse in the world.

Could Parton have intended for the listener to draw a similar parallel in meanings? I’m not sure, but I am more inclined to believe her true intent was to illustrate a purer message: how the most precious gifts can be from castoffs — kind of like people.

We all belong, in the coat of many colours that is this 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.

“Coat of Many Colors” appears on the record of the same name, which Parton wrote and recorded fifty years ago. Here’s the audio from Dolly Parton’s official YouTube channel where the entire album Coat of Many Colors appears as a playlist:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Weird Fishes

Happy Friday!

On this bright, sunny day (and cool/windy… not like Monday’s “heatwave” day across Manitoba!) I’m sharing a song with dreamy and rocking aspects to it, “Weird Fishes,” by British singer-songwriter and producer Lianne La Havas.

I heard the song on BBC 6 Music’s Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, the February 7 episode, “Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy” (his last show for the time being, while he records an album with Elbow).

This morning when surveying my list of songs I’ve been interested in lately, this one’s title brought to mind a memory of being a kid growing up in a Catholic home. Fridays were days we would have fish for our evening meal. I can’t remember what kind of fish we usually had, though it wasn’t necessarily my favourite meal of the week. But like other repeated practices, it did, I suppose, add to my absorption of ritual and ceremony as an aspect of everyday life, something I am studying right now. (By the way, maybe I didn’t like it but I don’t remember eating any weird fish…)

La Havas covers the song, written by the members of the English band Radiohead, on her third and self-titled neo-soul album, released in 2020. An article on Wikipedia describes it as a concept album and a song cycle depicting “the stages of a relationship, from early romance to demise.” Placed just past midway through the album, I’m not sure where on the continuum between early romance and demise the song belongs, due to the strange lyrics. The keyboard that soon joins the drums gives a dreamy kind of sound that implies some level of contentment, as does the vocal about following another… so perhaps the song represents the maturing of the relationship. The primarily instrumental outro’s busyness seems to allude to the buildup of conflict or passion, though it too ends on a more peaceful note. What do you think?

I’m not familiar with the Radiohead version of the song and don’t know much of La Havas’s music, other than a few pieces YouTube offered up on autoplay while I wrote this post. I liked some of it, though not as much as “Weird Fishes.”

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 Lianne La Havas’s YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

New Amsterdam

Recently I wrote, in a post on Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News,” about my record-playing parties at my parents’ home where I’d often play only one song from a record, take it off, put on another, and so on.

A more modern take on that practice is to buy only one track from an album, and I’ve done that a lot. I remember our oldest lad said to me many years ago when iTunes was first a big thing; the advantage was I could buy the one good song from an album if that were the only piece I liked. I guess I’ve followed that advice for years.

“New Amsterdam” is a song by The Love Language, an indie group from North Carolina, USA. It comes from their 2018 album Baby Grand and, you guessed it, it’s the only song of theirs I own.

In a June 2018 interview with Under the Radar magazine, bandleader Stuart McLamb says, “‘New Amsterdam’ is ultimately about being stuck in a rut but having such a strong desire to break out of it, whether it’s a town you’ve lived in too long and need a change of scenery, or an on-again, off-again relationship. One of the lyrics was originally ‘wish I could forget everything,’ then a friend suggested I change it to ‘forgive’ and that pretty much changed the whole song for me in a great way.”

I am pretty sure I would have heard it on KEXP Seattle, as they featured it as their Song of the Day in July 2018. (Interestingly, they use the above quote from McLamb, though without attribution to the magazine.) The song is one of many on the playlist I use while on the indoor bike trainer and, serendipitously, it played today near the end of my ride.

Today I was reading from a book, Writing The Life Poetic, by Portland, Oregon, USA resident, author and strategic marketer Sage Cohen. It was a gift to a friend marking a milestone quite a few years ago, and the friend mysteriously returned to me, adding to my inscription, three years ago. The book is an engaging read, and I gladly found some pieces I would like to explore some more. One chapter talked about repetition, which made me think of the one-word repeat in the chorus of the poetry in “New Amsterdam.”

Optimistically, I like to think the last line of the song (“Come over this evening”) is an invitation, calling in a different path for the relationship sung about, and that the same passion the singer put into the music will be rewarded by better times in the connection with his love.

Likewise, as we mark one year since a world pandemic declaration, I’m starting to feel optimistic about receiving the miraculous vaccine soon and, maybe sometime this year, returning to activities previously taken for granted. It’s a lesson that anything good and essential in our lives is not to be simply presumed as ours indefinitely.

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 kaleidoscopically-treated official music video for the song from the publishing label Merge Records’ YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of Lyrics.com.

Birds and Stars

In November 2020, I shared with you a song by the American transcendental folk band Elephant Revival.

When active, the group based itself in Nederland, Colorado, a beautiful little town I spent time in with some friends in the summer of 2012. My sweety and I have come to know many people in the vicinity of Boulder and Denver, and I’m intrigued by the creativity that the area seems to nurture in music, poetry and spirituality. I want to go back there someday.

Since sharing “Hello You Who,” I’ve often thought of Elephant Revival’s unique sound and wanted to share another of these talented musicians’ songs with you.

The title and “Birds and Stars” attracted me as it mentions two things I love to gaze at. The song is a lovely piece with beautiful harmonies and features singer Bonnie Paine playing the washboard. The video performance of “Birds and Stars” comes from their fifth release, Sands of Now, a live CD-DVD set recorded at the Boulder Theater. (The song originally appeared on their 2013 studio album, These Changing Skies.)

Thinking of the song title and lyrics reminds me of a night last summer when Sweety and I drove out to Birds Hill Provincial Park to get away from the city lights hoping to see the Perseid meteor shower. We lay on the ground for so long just looking up at the vastness of the heavens… a blissful time of peaceful silence together, followed by an ice-cream cone during the drive home.

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 the live performance at the Boulder Theater, from Elephant Revival’s official YouTube channel:

Full official lyrics are available on the band website.

Thank You

It’s a year ago this week that things really started unravelling in my city of Winnipeg, Canada, with the COVID-19 pandemic.

By around Friday, March 13 of last year (and I am not sure I picked up on the significance of the date at the time…), most non-essential stores and venues were talking about closing. And I recall that day my sweety and I were in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights with her son and his family and had lunch there. When she and I arrived home, we saw an email that the museum was closing indefinitely at 5:00 pm that day due to the developing public health situation.

Yet after a year of being mostly locked down or significantly restricted, it is interesting to ponder those things we have been able to do all along.

One thing that’s helped me a lot has been connecting and meeting new friends in online gatherings with people I would likely not have met in a “normal” world but with whom I’ve developed some lasting bonds.

Today during a check-in with two men I recently met through a Zoom gathering, the common takeaway from what we three shared was gratitude.

“Thank You,” by English singer-songwriter Dido (born Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O’Malley Armstrong), is a song I remember hearing played at the home of dear friends who used to live next-door-but-one from us (I talk about them in my post on “La Lune”). We often got together as couples and enjoyed a lot of music together, and had loads of fun times including a road trip to see Sarah Brightman in concert in St. Paul, Minnesota, plus times spent at a lake Manitoba cottage that Sweety and I used to look after for owners who lived away.

Today’s song comes from Dido’s 1999 debut album, No Angel.

“Push the door, I’m home at last
And I’m soaking through and through
Then you handed me a towel
And all I see is you
And even if my house falls down now
I wouldn’t have a clue
Because you’re near me”

(from “Thank You,” by Dido, Paul Herman)

It’s hard to believe we’ve been living for a whole year under the restrictions brought about to control COVID-19. I’m thankful that the pandemic has been relatively easy on most of us, that we haven’t lost loved ones to it, and we have hopes of receiving scientifically-miraculous vaccines in the coming months.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the resilience, care, strength, creativity, nurturing and play practised by women. In the official music video for “Thank You,” Dido plays a woman who’s not having an enviable day, pushed around by capitalism and greed that are enabled by cold authoritarianism. Yet, she persisted, as the saying goes. And her message of gratitude is unshakable and uninterrupted in the face of it all.

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 Dido’s official VEVO/YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

Push + Pull

Today has been a great day!

In my city, Winnipeg, Canada, the temperature rose to an unseasonably high 14° Celcius (57° Fahrenheit), compared to the March monthly average high of 0°C/32°F.

I took advantage of the day by hauling my bicycle out of the city to ride it in Birds Hill Provincial Park. The roads there are raised, slightly crowned and typically clear much sooner than the city roads and bike paths, so it’s a much safer ride not having to navigate ice and sand, and puddles that can hide potholes.

It was so great to be on my road bike again, though I can’t complain too much as my latest ride last year was December 8. So there were only 81 days from then to now… the shortest gap I’ve ever experienced between fall and spring outdoor riding.

I rode three laps of the main roads, or just over 33 kilometres (20.5 miles). The wind was quite strong out of the southwest, so in the northeast, where there is a slight, gradual climb, I really had to stand on the pedals and dig in. It reminded me of indoor trainer rides where there’s significantly more elevation gain than that and, on those rides, I listen to my Car Tunes playlist for motivation. “Push + Pull” by the Canadian alternative rock band July Talk is one such song I listen to when literally pushing and pulling to get to the top of a virtual climb. I really like the song’s driving drum beat, the guitar riffs and distortion, and the sound effects on the female background vocal on “this push and pull…” in the post-chorus. Thinking of the feeling I get from motivational music today helped me slice through the warm spring air.

In my happy place!

This past winter, I did a lot more virtual rides with climbs, and today I could feel the added strength in my legs! It added to the feeling of exhilaration at being out in nature, on my bike, moving in the sun. And despite the wind, I maintained an average speed higher than I did on calm days at the beginning of last spring. Like I said, a great day!

“Push + Pull” was the first single from the July Talk’s second album, Touch (2016), which received the Juno Award for Best Alternative Album of the Year in 2017. The band has toured extensively, supporting acts like Spoon, Alabama Shakes, Billy Talent, Arkells, Weezer, among others.

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 July Talk’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

13 Minutes to the Moon (Theme Music)

On Friday, when sharing Cilla Black’s “Work Is a Four-Letter Word,” I told you a little about Amy Lamé’s program on BBC 6 Music.

After finishing her February 28 program installment, I started looking at other program subscriptions on the BBC Sounds app. There I saw links to 13 Minutes to the Moon, a podcast series from the BBC World Service. I recall enjoying season one of the podcast, which ran in 2019 to mark the 50th anniversary of America’s Apollo 11, the first human-crewed moon landing.

In 2020, the second season of the podcast focused on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13 and the efforts on the ground and in space to save the lives of the three astronauts (commander Jim Lovell; Jack Swigert, 1931-1982; and Fred Haise) after their spaceship’s service module suffered a catastrophic explosion which, among other things, crippled their life-support system. The barely-functioning spaceship still had to proceed to and go around the Moon to get back to the Earth. It was a harrowing six-day ordeal where survival seemed highly unlikely, though brilliant, hardworking NASA engineers and staff on Earth worked feverishly to invent ways to use equipment and materials in the command and lunar modules to extend the lunar module’s life support system limits from two to six days. (It was human achievement at its highest… if only we applied this to every challenge and problem facing humanity.) Miraculously, the crew splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean on April 17, 1970.

I haven’t listened to the Apollo 13 podcast yet. But seeing the reminders about recalled for me the time when it happened and, more recently, listening to season one, with the fantastic voice of English presenter/co-writer, physician, astrophysicist and aerospace engineer Kevin Fong, and the theme music by Hans Zimmer and Christian Lundberg.

In a podcast excerpt, German film score composer and record producer Zimmer, who co-wrote the score with Swedish composer and audio engineer Christian Lundberg, describes the music’s inspiration, saying it really started from nothing, as, of course, there is no sound in space. He began with the beeps that a crew would hear in their ship, adding piano — 600-year-old technology — to contrast the modern technology of human space flight, and cello, to add the feeling of humanity.

The season one theme music is stirring, inspiring and exciting. Season two’s theme is similar but not as gripping to me, personally.

The composition masterfully blends classical orchestral and electronic sounds for an incredible aural experience that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. So, maybe it is a stretch for Classical Sunday, but I figured it was a good direction to take today.

Though only nine years old at the time of the first moon landing, I was totally geeked out over it and followed the TV, newspaper and magazine coverage intently. Thinking of it today, when technology has landed several robotic crafts on Mars and a human landing seems within grasp, it’s like the past, present, and future are all one. The Moon and humandkind’s exploration of it were pivotal pieces of my imaginal mind as a youngster. I still am drawn to music, books, films and TV that portray the history, fiction, or alternate history of human space travel like the Apple TV series For All Mankind does so brilliantly (though I do feel they take the alternate history a bit far in terms of the effects on people living and dead whose life stories are extended, shortened and otherwise rewritten in the series). I’ve posted several songs that may allude to my preoccupation with the Moon. Search for them if you like; “Fly Me to the Moon” is just one example.

Thinking recently of exciting memories from the past, I also became mindful of many places where I could have done, and could do, better. Granted, my earlier self hadn’t grown as I have now, but I think it is good to face up to those times of weakness. Looking back also offers the opportunity to reconcile the past, make amends for past wrongs, and work to make the present and future better. And I’m thankful for that kind of opportunity whenever it arises.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here on Earth, and please enjoy. And while we’re here, let’s take better care of this lovely and fragile planet we’re living on?

Here’s the audio for the track from the YouTube channel of Bleeding Fingers Music, a collaboration in which both Zimmer and Lundberg are involved. (And as with several other songs I’ve posted, there’s a false ending about two-thirds of the way through today’s selection, so don’t be fooled like I almost was, even though I know the theme music! The gap is for the presenter to announce the podcast title after the exciting episode preamble).