I Know There’s an Answer

February 11, 2010

I usually listen to music as I do the bookkeeping at work, just to make things feel a little less monotonous. My favorite “at work” music is usually music from the 60s and 70s, with some current and fashionable indie-like bands thrown in there. Right now, I am listening to Brian Wilson cover songs. I think I like the covers better than the Beach Boys. The thing with covering the Beach Boys is that you can either go super professional sounding and make all the songs happy pop songs. And, since Wilson has awesome arrangement skills, it’s not hard to make the songs sound flawless.  Or, you can do what these artists have done and make the songs a little bit sad. I think I like them a little bit sad. I think they were supposed to be a little bit sad. My current favorite Beach Boy song is I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times. I’ve tried to play this song myself and it’s actually really difficult. The chords aren’t your standard I- IV- V. The lyrics may be a little teenage-sob-story, but I kind of like that. Wilson was a teen when he started writing these songs. The part that makes you realize how cool this song is, is when the lead vocal just sings “Sometimes, I feel very sad.” over and over. Well, ya, sometimes I do feel very sad. No flowery words, just straight to the point. And, it’s good.

I was watching Whip It last night and was so amused by Ellen Page wearing a Stryper t-shirt that I cannot even express my amusement to you. I am sure that I am one of seventeen people on the planet who will watch that movie and truly understand how random and hilarious that reference is. Seeing that shirt has lead me to investigate more of the Christian rock, pop, and metal bands that I listened to in the 80s and 90s. (Yes, I was five in the 80s. Yes, I listened to Stryper. That shows you what kind of family I have.)

The first thing I had to do was google “To Hell With the Devil”. Classic Stryper, and quite possibly the only popular (if it could be considered popular) Stryper song out there. I want to know what the members of Stryper have been doing since 1991. They disappeared, only to come back to music in 2003.  What did they do for those 12 years? They couldn’t have had any serious job without being mocked out of the building everyday. I know that I would certainly shout “To Hell With the Devil” was my morning greeting to them, if I’d been in the same office as them.

Stryper lead me to relive my first concert experience: Carmen, RIOT tour. Yes, yes I did. If you don’t know who he is, you just have to search YouTube for “Carmen No Monsters” and watch that video for yourself. Afterwards, read the comments, just for laughs. As a kid, I enjoyed listening to Carmen, but I think it had more to do with the actual instrumentation and rhythm than the lyrics. Because, as I sit here listening to “Satan! Bite the Dust”, I am surprisingly intrigued to realize that all of his music videos involve him casting demons out of random objects or characters. I knew as a kid that the videos were cheesy and just weird, but I don’t think I fully appreciated the oddity of teaching children to cast the demons out of their closets.

Then, there’s Terry Scott Taylor, Mike Roe,  and Derri Daughtry. They were in the Lost Dogs, 77s, Swirling Eddies, Daniel Amos, and about 75 million other bands that I can’t even think of. They were awesome. They covered everything from Bob Dylan to the Beatles and the Beachboys. And, they did it amazingly well. Just one glimer of musical hope that emerged from the Christian music scene in the 80s.

Indian Love Call

January 31, 2010

When I was a kid, my grandma used to rave about old Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald movies. She loved the Indian Love Call, a song in which two people in love sing back and forth, responding to each other in song.

So, in the car recently, I heard the song Watcha Say by Jason DeRulo. It’s a really catchy song. By the 7th or 8th time I heard the song, it started to remind me of the Indian Love Call. Two people in love singing back and forth in response to each other. The difference is the two people in this song have a lot of problems.

It’s interesting to me that the Indian Love Call was so well remembered by the people from it’s generation (written 1920s) as the iconic love song. It was probably in the “top 100” pop songs for its day. Now, this song was two people from a far distance calling to each other. They were confident that once together they’d be happy, they just had to travel to each other. The DeRulo song is also quickly becoming a memorable song for this decade. If it isn’t really memorable, then it’s certainly over played enough to be. This could be the song that this generation looks back on as an iconic pop love song. This makes the problem of cheating in the song such an interesting aspect of the song. In the 1920’s, people were confident that once married, they’d stay married. Cheating wasn’t prominently discussed and probably wasn’t as wide spread of an issue. Now, it just is, and, our love songs reflect that.

all we need is love?

January 29, 2010

I thought the best way to start a new blog out is by telling you why I’m qualified to write one. To be honest, I’m probably not. But, this blog is about music. It’s a blog for me to post my opinions about songs from various genres and time periods. I have some musical training, so I hope I’ll be offering more than just a simple opinion. I took music lessons for most of my childhood/teen years and have taken college level music theory classes as an adult. And, recently, I have completed my Master’s degree in Library Science. But, above all, I just like listening to music.

Since this is my first blog, I thought I’d write about a classic song, one we all know. How about the Beatles? Everyone’s heard “All We Need is Love”. If you haven’t, I’m sure you can turn on your tv and find it playing in some form or another on a commercial. It’s been the theme song for cell phones, food, clothing brands and more. But, I think it’s best known for being the song played during whimsically emotional moments or moments where you’re supposed to feel that love brings people together. Remember the ending to Imagine That with Eddie Murphy when his daughter sang this song for the school choir? And, you know you’ve heard it played on advertisements for charity organizations.

But, is the song really a bastion of peace and love that proclaims love as the answer to all life’s problems? Well, not really. The verses seem all well and fine, telling you there’s nothing you can’t do and that you shouldn’t give up hope. But, then we hit the problem. The chorus. “All you need is love…. wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.” What’s with the wah-wah’s? It actually sounds like the brass is mocking the lyrics. It’s kind of genius. This guy is singing about all the things you can do, and how all you need is love to do it. Then, in comes the instruments to add that tongue-in-cheek vibe. I think a lot of covers and remakes forget to add that expressive sound a lot of times. They quiet down the laughter that the brass adds and make it kind of cute.

So, what’s this mean? Maybe the brass is just a musical response to the melody line? Maybe the mocking tone has some socially philosophical meaning, like that it stands for people who mock the idea of love? My point isn’t to give it a meaning. My point is to notice that it’s there and then question why it was arranged that way. What do you think the music means? Listen to it again, and this time, find out what the music means, not just the lyrics.

Comment if you have an opinion!