There is a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In

2016 is FUCKING FIRED, I am telling you truly. But this week? Is pretty fucking close, too. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH.

This week has been sucktacular. Really. Seriously. I mean, you KNOW how bad this week has been.

I’ve been struggling with holding it together through this week’s events. Have you?

I will admit, it’s not been my finest hour. Continue reading

There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky

David Bowie died yesterday, and my 16-year-old heart broke.

I remember standing in front of the stage when Bowie played Exhibition Stadium in Toronto in 1983, and I was in awe. He was dazzling, he was electric, he was riveting. He was brilliant. I had been to The Police Picnic concert a few weeks earlier, and that summer cemented how important music was in my life. I just stood there, amazed, and realized it could not get any better than this.

There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
He told me:
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

That lyric is breaking me today. My heroes are slowly leaving me.

Music Monday: Workout Playlist

I’m tired. I’ve been tired for awhile. And do you know why?

EXERCISE. Specifically, JOGGING.

Yeah, that’s right. Me. I have lifted my expansive arse from my comfy chair where it’s all INTERNETS FOREVER!!11! and ramped up my comfortable but mostly dormant exercise routine. Because of health (if you’ll recall from my fat lazy liver and my near-explodey-blood-vessel-ridiculous-high blood pressure and also my diva ovaries — NO WAIT they’re off the hook on this one, what a surprise, but it’s okay… I can blame them for a shitload of other stuff). And, therefore, also SCIENCE.

But mostly vanity, truth be told.

The thing is, though? I HATE JOGGING. I hate running of any sport. There’s a reason I only did sports involving jumping and hitting and a minimum of running. Because OH YEAH FUCK YOU RUNNING THAT’S WHY. Also my knees and and my back and my other joints and my fat jiggly bits hate running.

But I am doing it. Not a lot, but I am doing it.

And because I am doing it, I need music to motivate me. Continue reading

Music Monday: From Telly

BDH and I decided about, what, eight? years ago that we no longer needed cable television. Him being a computer guy, and all interested in technology, we opted instead for watching things online.

A couple years later I finally gave up the ghost on commercial radio as well. I listened to satellite radio for awhile, but that was mostly in the car, and I am not there much.

So, this distance from commercial media found us somewhat disconnected to what was happening in new music. Because BDH works with Young People, and because he has more pop sensibilities, he was keeping a bit more up to date on what was popular in music than I was. But being at home with a toddler all the time, I didn’t get exposed to much new at all.

But then we started watching lots of British television programs on the interwebs. Continue reading

Music Monday: Pirate Radio, for Philip Seymour Hoffman

Although it happened yesterday, I still cannot brain that one of the greatest actors of our generation, Philip Seymour Hoffman, has died. I mean, I am genuinely floored.

So last night, BDH and I sat down to watch Pirate Radio, which is one of our favourites, and features a brilliant Hoffman, and also contains what I think is one of the most awesome intros ever.

Dude. THE COUNT, yo. Continue reading

Music Monday: Festive Arrangements and Flashmobs

Okay, we’ve gone into overdrive these past few days to get things ready for the impending holiday. And, rather than start with the traditional Christmas music thing, I decided to pull together a couple of festive videos.

These are what most people would know as “flash mobs” or something similar. They’re videos of groups of people springing a surprise in musical form on an unsuspecting venue, like an airport or a train station or a mall.

I’m not generally a fan of flash mobs. Done well, they can be fantastic. But done poorly, as all too many of them are, and I cringe in embarrassment for the performers.

But the ones I am posting below are examples of really good ones. In particular, they are great arrangements, fabulous vocals, and well-executed performances. And they’re really, really festive.

Enjoy!

And, not a flash mob, but still a festive bit of fun:

 

Music Monday: Winter Music

Winter has come. Cold wind, snow, cold wind, and also did I mention wind? It’s not terribly snowy yet, but there’s a bit happening.

I hate winter. And although we are well on our way to Christmas, I’m not feeling the Christmas songs just yet. But winter songs might be suitable.

There are not a lot of great popular songs about winter. Because — and I know this will come as a shock to you — SNOW AND COLD IS DEPRESSING. But there are a couple. Do I like most of them? No.

We can go with the 70s cheese of Foreigner, though:

OH DON’T YOU DARE MOCK MY LOVE OF FOREIGNER. LIKE YOU DON’T HAVE ANY DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS.

There are a few covers of wintery songs I don’t hate. As a child of the 80s, there’s always this poppy cover by The Bangles of a Simon and Garfunkel song:

Which is to say, sacrilege. Oh well. I make no excuses for the 80s.

Another cover less likely to offend delicate musical sensibilities is this one by Sarah McLachlan, which does a lovely justice to Gordon Lightfoot’s classic.

Quite pretty and makes me want to sit by the fire.

And as far as instrumentals go, you cannot beat the beautiful George Winston album “December”, of which this is one of several. Some are Christmas-y. This one, titled “Thanksgiving”, is obviously not.

And then, if you want full on rock out winter love, it’s got to be Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards of Winter”.

I refrained from one of the many videos which orchestrate Christmas lights displays with the song. Nobody needs a seizure at this time of year.

Anyone got any other favourites? Leave me a comment. Not Christmas stuff, mind — there’s plenty of time for that later.

Music Monday: 80s CanCon

Sorry I have been AFK (away from the keyboard) recently. Actually, I haven’t, but it’s been OMG 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF DOCTOR WHO and I have been going Doctor Who all day, every day, on all channels.

But the anniversary is over (note: IT WAS AWESOME) and now it is time to get back to the business of posting. Until something else comes up and distracts me, OBVS.

So last night, or maybe the night before, I was laying in bed trying to sleep, and had the ol’ iPod on shuffle, trying to find something to listen to, to help me doze off. And my iPod shuffled me to THE EIGHTIES. And not just the eighties — AS IF THAT WEREN’T AWESOME ENOUGH — but it was 80s CANCON.

Now, for the uninitiated, CanCon stands for Canadian Content. Canadian Content was (and maybe still is, I dunno) a policy mandated by the government wherein a certain percentage of all content played on Canadian radio had to be at least partly written, produced, presented, or otherwise contributed to by Canadians.

Now, this meant that, while some of it was awesome, and some of the artists that became popular here owe their success to this exposure, a fair bit of the music we were often subjected to was pretty awful. All you have to do is spend a week listening to any cottage country radio station to see what I mean.

It wasn’t all bad. And some of it really was, but I still have a fondness in my heart for the songs and artists from that time.

Like the Spoons, for instance. They played at my high school when I was in grade 11:

I loved them. And I still quite like the songs, although very dated.

Martha and the Muffins started off the 80s with a song that actually, I think, hit big internationally:

And then kind of went nowhere else. Ah well.

And then the Payola$. Yes, there’s a dollar sign in the name. Well, clearly they were not going to break big elsewhere with a name like that, were they? Too bad, too. They had some talent.

I listened to that song A LOT trying to cope with life in hell at a US university.

And then… OMG ZAPPACOSTA. Talk about your cheese.

God how I loved that bombastic vocal and the ridiculous lyrics. LOVED. IT. So bad it defies reason. And yet? I LOVED IT.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I mean, PLATINUM BLONDE, people! I’d still listen to this.

Okay, it’s also a little dated. But OMG GOOD SONG. ELEVENTEEN.

And The Box, a Quebecois band that had a couple pretty big hits in Anglophone Canada:

And there was some absolute brilliance in Canadian music, too. One of the great Canadian bands of all time, Blue Rodeo, broke in the 80s.

And although country is SO NOT MY THING, the beautiful vocals of Jim Cuddy on this song won me over.

And then there’s this. Men Without Hats.

Well. It’s not all progress, is it.

Music Monday: Procedure Music

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, in early November, I was in the midst of infertility treatments. I had, at the end of a depressing IVF cycle, an inauspicious egg retrieval and then an embryo transfer to undergo, and as part of the Feelings and woo woo positive energy la di da around the procedures, they recommended we create a playlist or CD of music.

This music was supposed to be played in the background to help relax you during what could be a stressful and uncomfortable procedure. And the relaxation was also supposed to help improve your chances of success.

As you may or may not recall, my procedure failed miserably.

Now, the impression I got from my transfer team was that most people went in to their procedures with some music with ocean waves and rain playing over some New Agey woo woo music by Enya, or some ballady Celine Dion shit. That kind of thing. Not me.

My whole attitude ran more to the “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around” end of the spectrum. Hey, if I’m going to spend a couple of hours with strangers traipsing around in my ladygarden and balancing my ovaries on the point of a pin, I was going to need to be happy and distracted.

I had some James:

And some Bjork:

There was The Clash:

And The Specials:

Some Depeche Mode:

And a little The The with some boogie woogie Jools Holland to really confuse the med students looking on:

As well as the usual suspects of The Cure and Neil Finn and whatnot that one has learned to expect with me.

So, not so much woo as WOOHOO!! And maybe that worked against me. But I think you have to start these things the way you intend to go on, and no way my potential children were going to start this life listening to some awful ballady Celine Dion crap. Possibly my potential children preferred ballady Celine Dion shit. Whoops.

Oh well. I have That Girl now, and she would have been ALL OVER the playlist I chose. I think, in retrospect, this just proves that some things are simply meant to be.

Music Monday: The Police

Today’s music is brought to you by my teen hormones, not to mention my burgeoning alternative music tastes.

The Police were, and still are, one of my favourite bands. From the first note of the first song I ever heard off the first album, Outlandos D’Amour, I was completely hooked. Five-ish albums later, and they were done the best part of their career together, but in those five albums put together a music catalog so brilliant that any band since would be hard pressed to match it. I mean five albums of almost completely solid songwriting and musicianship — the odd misstep from time to time, but generally speaking a truly great catalog.

Yeah, the music was great. But I was also all about the three gorgeous bottle blondes that were Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland. OH MY DOG. I had a giant poster of Sting on my wall that stayed with me long after the band fell apart. And getting to see them live at the Police Picnic in Toronto in 1983 — well, I felt the excitement rising in my chest to epic proportions, and I can honestly say I know now what it was like to be one of those girls screaming during the heights of Beatlemania. (No, I didn’t scream. But I sure felt like it.)

I don’t have a favourite song, necessarily — all the songs ebb and flow in and out of favour depending on my mood.

There’s Roxanne, the song that started it all, and that non-fans love to hate:

And the sweet, pop-py joyousness of Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (recorded in Montserrat, where my father dreamed of relocating my family — oh to have been able to visit Sir George Martin’s Air Studios, now all gone with Hurricane Hugo in ’89 and the volcano a few years after that):

There’s the silliness of De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, which for the quirky lyric is still a terrific tune:

And the darker, literary allusions woven through Don’t Stand So Close to Me:

I don’t know if it’s based in fact or urban legend, but it sure makes for a clever song.

There’s Message In A Bottle, another pure piece of songwriting brilliance, and one my daughter loves:

And then, for one that wasn’t such a big hit, side 2 of Ghost in the Machine has this little gem, Omegaman. I often listen to it when I am working out.

Nothing here from Synchronicity, which was a great album — but if you ever liked a Police song, chances are it was from this album, and was all over the radio, and you know it already.

Welcome back to the 80s. The 15-year-old in me is squeeing right now, singing loudly, and dancing frenetically around the room.

Music Monday: Improvise

It’s Monday but I am still feeling a bit off. This sinus infection thing has mostly gone, but I am tired and feeling like I have been kicked repeatedly in one spot in the back of the throat. (BDH says that he did it when I was sleeping. I am not ruling that out.)

Consequently, I am going to bed, and so I have nothing to post for you, musically, today. My fuzzy-headed tiredness makes it impossible to decide on any particular song or artist or genre today. And it hurts to sing much so my auditory entertainment today is mostly of the Doctor Who Audio Drama variety.

So I leave it to you, good people: Improvise. Go forth and listen to something that moves you, something that relaxes you, something that makes you happy. If you find something, recommend it.

But not until tomorrow, for I will be sleeping the sleep of the moderately medicated until then.

Music Monday: The Ones That Didn’t Make It

So, I’ve spent the last few weeks outlining my Desert Island Discs. It’s hard to make a list like that when you’re a big geek like me. How do you leave some discs behind?

Well, you just have to do it. You have to be with the eight songs you choose for a LONG time so they had better be meaningful or fun or special in some way. And that means, some get left off the list. Worthy songs, maybe, but they don’t quite make the cut.

So here are some of my also-rans. Some of my favourite songs, to be sure — so maybe on a different day, the choice would have been different.

There’s the incredible Four Tops’ “Same Old Song”, which I always said would be a great song to play at my funeral:

And, of course, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”, which brings back memories of one of the most fun concert experiences of my life when I was 16 or 17:

Some more southern hemisphere rock in the form of the brilliant Midnight Oil and “The Power and the Passion”. It was so hard to choose one song, but this one goes way back for me. DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE DANCING PETER GARRETT.

A little CanCon with Gregory Hoskins and the Stickpeople. “Dance of the Vulnerable” is a beautiful tune, and although they never made it big (not even big enough to make a proper video, it seems) they were one of the greatest bands to see in a club, I swear.

For singing your head off, there’s always James. I went with the lesser-known “Tomorrow” but there are so many:

And, when things get too much to bear, you can always defiantly dance away your troubles and “Shake It Out” with Florence and the Machine.

 

Music Monday: My DID Song #8

So, here we are at the end of my list. It was a hard list to narrow down, I can tell you — as it always is, I gather. Eight songs… how can one possibly choose?

I was pretty sure of my first few, a little sketchy there in the middle, and then lo and behold I had one left to choose. ONE.

Well, it had to be Johnny Clegg, didn’t it.

Johnny Clegg is one of those people who raised my musical consciousness, showing me the beauty of music beyond our borders — what we call, from our West-centric perspective, “World Music”. And in so doing, he raised my cultural consciousness as well.

Although the video I have is from 1987, I first heard an earlier incarnation of the song and saw the accompanying video maybe in 1982 or 1983, on one of the many late Saturday nights I was glued to the television watching the groundgreaking The New Music (another key part of my musical education). From the moment I heard it, I was hooked.

This song, with its talk of our common origins and its anthropological bent (Clegg being an anthropology scholar in South Africa as well as a great musician) got me dreaming of other places, other times, other belief systems — as a kid with dreams of archaeology and history and anthropology but with no scientific capabilities whatsoever, dreaming was the best I could do. But this man with his multiracial group from an intolerant and violent country also taught me about love and acceptance and courage and standing up for these things in the face of ugly politics.

Many came afterwards, but Johnny Clegg really made me think about the world and its possibilities, and, I think, started my interest in and fascination with so many things African: bioanthropology, ecology, cultures, languages…

I remember, sitting in a classroom in Indiana in 1988, listening to my bioanthropology prof talk about Olduvai and the Rift Valley and Lucy, and suddenly all I could hear in my head was this song. We are all scatterlings from beneath that copper sky long ago.

And 25 years later, it still resonates with me. And Johnny Clegg’s words and music still hold that magic for me. So, on my island, he will remind me of where I come from, where we all come from, and I can consider our origins and where we have yet to go, as I dance around and sing. Because, all larger philosophical questions aside: the man writes a song you can dance and sing along to, yes?

So that’s it. Eight songs. Perhaps next week I can post some of the also-rans, the maybes that did not make the cut. Or maybe not.

Music Monday: My DID Song #7

It’s been a busy week here at the House of Peevish. Not just because it was That Girl’s first week of school — and let me just add, SHE’S ALREADY OFF SICK WITH A COLD ::headdesk:: — but last week was BDH and my tenth wedding anniversary.

Ten years married, plus at least 5 years before that… it’s a long time to look the same person in the face, day after day, and still get along. And we do.

The other day, as we were reviewing my choices for my Desert Island Discs, BDH mentioned that he was kind of sad that there wasn’t a song that reminded me of him in my list. And although he SAID he was joking when he said it, I could tell he wasn’t.

But the thing is, there is a song that reminds me of him in the list. I told him there had to be a Michael Franti song on my island, but I didn’t tell him which one.

It’s “Life Is Better With You”. Because, well, it is. And the same sentiments Michael expresses for his partner Sara are pretty much the same ones I would express for life with BDH.

I can’t really say much more, and certainly not more sweetly, than it says in the song — it’s not always perfect, but even when it’s not, it’s way better than life would be without him around. (And Stinkerbelle too, obvs.)

We laugh together. We put up with each other’s moods. We watch out for each other. We try to help each other. We have fun. We have arguments. We keep each other company. We make each other crazy. We make each other happy.

And 10 official years in, it’s still true. My life IS better. Thanks to him.

(Of course I want something to remind me of you on my island BDH, you silly man. Happy anniversary.)