Loving the World

I had to watch this video a few times before I really got it.

It’s a short film, created The Climate Coaltion, a UK organization that fights climate change, that features Charles Dance, Miranda Richardson, Jason Isaacs, and David Gyasi dramatically reciting a poem by Anthony Anaxagorou about the wonders of nature and the threat posed, not just to people but to the world itself, by a changing climate and a civilization that grows too fast and moves too far for nature to cope.

I was alerted to the film’s existence by an email from Elbow, as beneath the poem and the imagery is an underscore derived from the band’s new song, “Magnificent (She Says).” (I wrote about the song here.)

I had to tune out the imagery — and, to some extent, the music — and focus on the words. And I could see, especially once I’d read the poem itself, I could see what it was trying to say and how it was saying it.

Each voice is a different mood. Charles Dance, with a voice whose timber sounds doom, speaks to what has been lost to climate change — habitats destroyed, species barely holding on or past the edge of extinction. Miranda Richardson voices what will be if we continue on our current path, the wonders of the world that will be lost. Jason Isaacs is the voice of hope; our path isn’t fixed, and we still have a chance to change our course. And finally, David Gyasi is the voice of wonder — there is still magic and beauty in the world when we stop to recognize it, and we must save it so our children and grandchildren can share in it.

But there’s still time to rescue the tranquility
the fragile space between parks, pitches and sea —
the cosmos in all its wonderment and us,
a blink in its starry eye.

Once I put it all together, I found the film quite moving.

I was going to find it moving anyway — “Magnificent (She Says)” hits my emotional buttons, and the images of nature in all its wonder were quite beautiful — yet it’s better knowing what it all means.

This is the only world we have. We owe it to ourselves and the future to leave it better than we found it.


Elbow’s video for their single “Magnificent (She Says)” makes me think of Gandalf’s final line in The Lord of the Rings: “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are evil.” (Page 1007 in my single-volume hardcover edition.) The song itself is gorgeous, and I have listened to it many times since its debut earlier in the month. The video created for the song, offering a look at life in Myanmar, with all of its mystery and wonder, as seen through the eyes of a little girl, I find poignant and quite moving.

I am not unaware of the political and human rights issues in Myanmar; the country is one of the world’s most repressive regimes, embroiled in civil wars for much of the last fifty years, and the ongoing suppression of the country’s Rohingya minority is a human right calamity. I admit, that makes me a little uncomfortable to share the song’s video because I know, just beyond the innocence of the narrative, there are darker and intractable issues afoot in the country. Yet, the video fills me with a sense of hope. I don’t overlook the darkness, but I can see the possibility of a better, kinder future.

The new Elbow album, Little Fictions, is out in February. I’m looking forward to it. :)

Fugitive Motel

I could count the number of times I’ve heard Elbow on the radio in the car on one hand. I’m talking actual music tracks, not interviews on NPR or somesuch.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I heard “Fugitive Motel” on the radio when I was leaving the grocery store this evening.

I was skipping through stations, and Elbow was there wherever the radio landed. (Google tells me it was Annapolis’ 103.1, WRNR. I must have been very close to the edge of its broadcast radius in Hunt Valley.)

I’ll blow you a kiss
It should reach you tomorrow (reach you tomorrow)
As it flies from the other side of the world
From my room in my fugitive motel
Somewhere in the dust bowl (somewhere in the dust bowl)
It flies from the other side of the world

A beloved song from the first Elbow album I bought, Cast of Thousands, in early 2004.

Years later, I found the album on eBay, autographed by Guy Garvey and Mark Potter. I paid over sixty dollars for it. It was worth it.

I can increase my total by one, but even then, I can still count the number of times I’ve heard an Elbow song on the radio on a single hand. :)

Link Round-Up: December 14

I am inaugurating a new blog feature — a mostly-daily link round-up of things I read and found interesting.

It’s primarily as much for my benefit as it is yours, the reader’s. I see something, I have thoughts, and then I forget about it or, worse, post a Tweet with the link and then never think about it again. The thing is, I’ll think six months later, “Hey, wait, I read some article way back when,” only then I can’t remember quite exactly what it was.

These link round-ups will be eclectic because I have eclectic interests. This one covers Robert Plant, China, and Christmas songs.

Some days I might have two or three links. Some days I might have ten or more. It’s a matter of what interests me that day.

I’m using a WordPress plugin for this. It’s one I’ve had for a while, as I liked the concept of it, but I’ve never used. I suspect it may need some coding work; it was released a few years ago, then abandoned, and I’ve noticed that something about it doesn’t quite work. That’s something I’ll need to look at.

For our inaugural round-up…

Party of Eight

This year I’ll be spending Thanksgiving by myself. I don’t have family nearby, and publishing doesn’t stop just because there’s a holiday; Friday I’ll be hip deep in getting January’s catalog out the door, long-distance travel to see family (only to have to turn around) simply doesn’t make sense.

Don’t worry about me. I have my Thanksgiving repast planned out. The menu has been written. Everything I need — with one exception — has been purchased. Time will be spent in the kitchen. All will be well!

But! For a moment, let’s imagine that I could have a Thanksgiving dinner party with, oh, six to eight people. Creative people! Any time, any place, living or dead! Who would I invite?

Set aside the obvious problem that there’s hardly room for eight people in my apartment. We will, for the moment, accept dimensional transcendentalism as a realistic possibility. And, of course, the problem that none of these people know me and would be unlikely to accept the invitation. We’ll just ignore all of that. :)

1) Guy Garvey

The lead singer of Elbow, Garvey just released his first solo album, Courting the Squall, which I’ve had in heavy rotation. I’ve said a time or three that I feel that Garvey writes music just for me.

For no particular reason, here’s the video to “The Blanket of Night,” a song from Elbow’s last album, The Take-Off and Landing of Everything, about the plight of refugees today. It’s sad and it’s powerful, and I’ve been listening to it recently, spurred on by the xenophobic reaction of so many Americans to Syrian refugees. Refugees need our help and our love, not our indifference and our fear.

http://elblogdesnoopy.wordpress.com2) Charles Schulz

The creator of Peanuts. Of course, he died in 2000 (see this post for something I wrote that day), so it’s unlikely he would be able to come. But if he could, I bet he would have a lot to say.

3) Fred Rogers

Who wouldn’t want to have Mr. Rogers come over for Thanksgiving dinner? Even though I’m an atheist, if Mr. Rogers wanted to say a few words before dinner, I would be okay with that.

4) Edgar Allan Poe

Another likely no-show, what with being dead and all, but I think Poe would have lively things to say on writing, literature, politics, and history.

5) Ringo Starr

Why Ringo instead of one of the other Beatles, living or dead? Ringo, by many accounts, is by far the smartest of the Fab Four. Also, he’s a master storyteller. I think he would be the life of the party.

6) Romola Garai

Partly, I would want Garai to autograph my DVDs of Expiation and The Hour. Mainly, though, I would want to ask her about Doctor Who, specifically if she’s at all interested in being the thirteenth or fourteenth Doctor, because I think she would be quite magnificent as the Doctor.

7) Julie Taymor

Taymor directed several films that I’ve enjoyed — Titus, Across the Universe, and The Tempest — and I think she could bring a lot to the conversation.

8) Helen Mirren

Mirren worked with Taymor on The Tempest; she played Prospero in Taymor’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. Does there have to be a reason for inviting Mirren to Thanksgiving dinner? Surely not!

There we have it, my imaginary dinner party — a couple of musicians, some actors, some writers, a cartoonist, and a director.

I think that works.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Topic taken from The Daily Post‘s “Seat Guru” prompt.

On the New Admiral Fallow Album

Admiral Fallow, a Scottish band, sees the release of their second album, Tree Bursts in Snow, next week.

I’ve been a Fallow fan since they called themselves “The Brother Louis Collective,” and I love their first album, Boots Met My Face. (The side-project album by The Moth & The Mirror, Honestly, This World, is excellent, too.)

The BBC’s review of Tree Bursts in Snow makes a favorable comparison to Elbow: “the Glaswegian quintet are the scene’s most thoughtful brand of emo-scaping, more concerned with simmering space and dynamics than outright brow-beating. The opening title(ish)-track surges and slow-burns like prime Elbow; Guy Garvey is a Fallow fan, and there’s indeed something Garvey-like about singer-guitarist Louis Abbott. But it’s still smaller-scale, tense, and all the better for its restraint.” Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about Elbow. :)

The whole of the new album can be heard here. And this is the video of “The Paper Trench”:

Good stuff, if, like me, you like Scottish indie. I’ve listened to the album’s stream a few times now, and I like it a great deal. It’s good stuff.

Naturally, I have the album on order. I can’t wait for it to arrive; I got the shipping notification this morning. Between that and the new Beach House album, this will be a great spring for music. :)

On Seeing Elbow in Washington, DC

Thursday I went to DC to see Elbow.

Elbow, as long-time Allynologists know, is the Mancunian band that I really groove to, and they’re a band that I push on all my friends. Despite being something of a big deal in the UK, the band has never broken the American market; they play festivals and 50,000 seat arenas in Europe, and here they toll for a week in SRO venues with a capacity of maybe 1,500. And on Thursday, they played the 9:30 Club in DC, the same venue where I saw Elbow live two years ago.

I took Thursday off entirely — I have the vacation time built up, I might as well use it — and I decided to do a day at the Smithsonian. The last few times I’ve been in DC I haven’t had the time to do the Smithsonian (yes, I foolishly thought that I’d have had the time to visit at least one museum before the Rally for Sanity), and I really felt the need for some museuming. I hit the Museum of American History first, then the National Gallery of Art, and then the Air & Space Museum. It’s funny, when I was younger I’d have wanted to only visit Air & Space, but as I’ve gotten older, maybe because my interests have changed, Air & Space just isn’t as vital to me. The past, though, and the way the past viewed itself are more present to me. In the National Gallery of Art you can really feel the weight of the past. I realized Thursday that in a few years my niece will be old enough for the Smithsonian, and I’m looking forward to the day that the two of us can go to the Museum of Art. That will be an awesome day.

Enough about the Smithsonian.

In addition to the Smithsonian museums, I also walked up to the Capitol building and the Library of Congress. I also think I walked past Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, one of the stupidest and most venal men to ever serve in Congress (and that’s saying a lot), and I felt physically ill from merely being in his presence and breathing the same air.

Other things I did. I went to a Starbucks because they had out a sign for the Pumpkin Spice Latte, only to discover that, despite the sign, they did not, in fact, have the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Curse you, Starbucks! Curse you! I also found the spot where I stood for the Rally for Sanity, to within about five feet; it’s funny how empty the National Mall looks without two hundred thousand people standing there. ;)

Speaking of rallies on the National Mall, in March there’s the Reason Rally, for atheists and the non-religious. I may have to go to this.

Eventually, I made my way up to the neighborhood where the 9:30 Club is, and I stopped at that Irish pub, Duffy’s, that I visited two years ago. Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything special. They didn’t even have anything interesting on the menu. I had a couple of Guinnesses, because Thursday was Arthur’s Day, a celebration of Arthur Guinness.

The doors at the 9:30 Club opened at 7 o’clock, and there was a decent crowd waiting to get into the venue. I met a fan in the line who had never been to see Elbow before, and I became her guide to all things Elbow. I explained who the five guys in the band were (she really only knew who Guy was), I talked a little bit about the history of the band, things like that.

The opening act, Glasser, took the stage at about 8:30. Her music was interesting (here’s some samples on MySpace), a bit like the sonic love child of Yoko Ono and Florence and the Machine. A little electronica, a little more rhythm tracks, a lot of driving percussion, and a whole lot of a wailing voice. I liked Glasser’s music, and not just because Cameron Mesirow was really hawt (seriously, that sleeveless dress she wore…). There was a lot of feeling to the music, and she was totally into it.

Elbow came on stage at 9:30. First came out the string section, Stella and Jute, and they took seats at the back of the stage. Then the five members of Elbow came out, and they launched into “The Birds,” the opening track from their newest album, Build a Rocket Boys!

And thus began two hours of Elbow goodness.

The setlist was weighted toward the last two albums, BARB! and the Mercury Prize-winning The Seldom Seen Kid. Indeed, after “The Birds” they launched into three songs from TSSK — “The Bones of You,” “Mirrorball,” and “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver” — before coming back to BARB! with “Neat Little Rows.” The band also pulled out three songs from Leaders of the Free world — “Puncture Repair” (prefaced with a story by Guy Garvey where he explained that he wrote the song about the band’s drummer, Richard Jupp), “Great Expectations,” and, later during the encore, “Station Approach.” As mentioned, the main songs were from the last two albums, including “Open Arms,” “Grounds for Divorce,” “Weather to Fly” (where Garvey thought about having the audience sing “Happy birthday” to the band, but then he said “Oh, fuck it,” probably because he realized that the audience had already sung “Happy birthday” once before), “Lippy Kids,” and “The River.” “Puncture Repair” and “The River” were especially lovely, because the stage cleared of everyone except Garvey and keyboardist Craig Potter, and Garvey huddled over Potter’s keyboards while performing the songs, lending both songs a touching, tender moment. Garvey’s introduction to “The Night Will Always Win,” as he explained that the song was about missing a dead friend, made me wonder if it might be another song about Bryan Glancy, the “seldom seen kid” and the subject of “Friend of Ours.” While I might have wished for an older cut — “Grace Under Pressure” or “Fugitive Motel” or “Scattered Blacks & Whites” — I wasn’t disappointed by their absence; I heard songs I wanted to hear, and I heard songs I didn’t know I wanted to hear until I heard them.

One thing that struck me was how well the songs from Build a Rocket Boys! worked live. When I first heard the album back in March, the songs didn’t seem to me to be live-friendly. Hell, they barely seemed single-friendly, and I’ve described Build a Rocket Boys! as an American-market-unfriendly album because I can’t imagine which songs would work on American radio. But then as Mark Potter launched into a sonic guitar attack on “The Birds,” my fears that Build a Rocket Boys! wasn’t live friendly faded away.

Guy Garvey interacted a great deal with the audience. During “The Birds” someone near the front held up an inflatable bird, and Garvey smiled and pointed at it. Midway through the show, someone managed to get Garvey’s attention and they had a conversation — it turned out that he had been to Elbow’s first show at the 9:30 Club ten years ago and Thursday was his birthday, so Garvey led the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to Ray. Garvey used a concert-goer’s name, Diana, to start the audience singing for “Grounds for Divorce,” though his attempt at writing an impromptu song with Diana’s name wasn’t entirely successful. Later he jumped off the stage to get closer to the fans, but he had some difficulty getting back onto the stage. Near the end of the show, he sent a message out to two audience members, that one really loved the other, and that was quite cool.

The band was also playful with each other on stage, and they really seemed to have a good time with each other. Garvey interacted with each of his bandmates during the set, giving brothers Mark and Craig Potter shoulder squeezes at various times, swiping bassist Pete Turner’s drink and carting it around the stage, engaging in a trumpet war with Turner during “Starlings” in the encore, and having a waist bump with Jupp.

The concert closed with “One Day Like This,” and Garvey seemed not to want to end it, letting the sold-out crowd, twelve hundred song, sing the chorus over and over. “We won’t be back for two years, Washington,” he said. “Make this one count.”

If the audience’s enthusiasm counted for anything, hopefully it will be to convince Guy Garvey and the rest of the band that Elbow needs to visit Washington, DC sooner than two years from now.

Lovely concert. Lovely set.

Elbow rules. :)

On Elbow’s St. Paul’s Cathedral Gig

A month ago Elbow performed an interesting concert for Absolute Radio — they did a live acoustic gig in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London which Absolute put live on their website for viewing or listening.

Doctor Who fans, of course, know St. Paul’s Cathedral for the iconic image of Cybermen marching around London from “The Invasion.” Military historians know St. Paul’s Cathedral for a stunning photo of the cathedral’s dome standing defiant against the Blitz. Alan Moore fans know St. Paul’s Cathedral for a long scene early in From Hell in which Sir William Gull lectures Netley on Sir Christopher Wren’s mystical architecture, embodied best by St. Paul’s.

And now St. Paul’s will be known for a concert in which Elbow played the cathedral’s burial crypt. :)

It’s a short set of an hour and fifteen minutes. Twelve songs in total, weighted mostly with songs from their latest album, Build a Rocket Boys!, but also reaching back to the first four albums — three songs from The Seldom Seen Kid, and a song each from Asleep in the Back, Cast of Thousands, and Leaders of the Free World.

It’s a strong performance overall by the band. They open, surprisingly, with “Mirrorball” (a gentle love song from The Seldom Seen Kid) and close with “Scattered Black and Whites” (a song about childhood memories from Asleep in the Back), and the gig sounds absolutely magical. The only duff moment comes early in the set — the version of “Open Arms” they attempt doesn’t quite come off. I love “Open Arms,” which I’ve mentioned before, but the acoustic version lacks the thing that makes me feel the song — the instrumental builds to the anthemic chorus. The lack of the build makes the emotional catharsis feel unearned, and the awkward melody that Guy Garvey attempts in the first verse (which sounds a bit like a fluffed vocal, actually) is distracting in its unfamiliarity.

Set that aside, though, and I have absolutely no complaints about the band’s St. Paul’s Cathedral gig. Their version of “Grounds for Divorce” is downright country-fied, which is really cool. Guy Garvey has a nice rapport with the audience; at times he talks about the uniqueness of the venue, at other times he talks about the quality and comfort of socks and Birks. He does a little intro for most of the songs, explaining their meanings — “Switching Off,” for instance, is about the last thought before death. (I’ve always loved this song, but I had absolutely no idea what it was about.) This is the band I love, at the top of their game.

Listening to the gig (as I did again today), makes me wish that there were a “proper” live Elbow album. I love The Seldom Seen Kid: Live at Abbey Road, but that’s an utterly atypical Elbow concert, with the band backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra. The iTunes Live From London EP is nice, but it’s an abbreviated acoustic set. Elbow can be a little more… raucous than that. I should know — I saw them two years ago, and I’ll be seeing them again in September. A “proper” Elbow live album would be fantastic. For the nonce, though, this set makes a nice addition to the “canon.”

(And no, I’ve not seen Elbow’s set from this year’s Glastonbury Festival. I’ll start hunting for it online tomorrow.)

If you’ve any interest in Elbow, check out the St. Paul’s Cathedral concert. The band is in great form, their selection of material is interesting, they produce some genuinely awesome music, and absolutely none of it has anything to do with Alan Moore. :h2g2:

On Completing the 30 Day Song Challenge

A little more than a month ago, I began posting to Facebook and Twitter responses to the 30 Day Song Challenge.

As I mentioned at the start of it, some friends of mine at work had been doing the challenge, one sent me the link to the “rules,” and I started answering the various questions. Most people would, I think, answer these on the spur of the moment, looking up the day’s question and then answering it. I, however, decided to answer all thirty and then start posting my answers to the various social media sites. On the one hand, it let me think through some of the answers. On the other hand, it gave me ready content throughout the month — and don’t underestimate the utility of ready content. ;)

Let’s review the answers. I’m going to link to YouTube videos rather than embedding thirty videos. And for some of the songs I may explicate or annotate.

Let It BeDay 1 — Your favorite song
The Beatles, “Let It Be

Little surprise to anyone, I think. I love the message of the song — “When all the broken hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer — Let it be.” I love the sound of the song, particularly the album version with it’s absolutely blistering George Harrison guitar solo. The version of the song I’ve linked to here is the version from the Let It Be film, which differs in some respects from the single and album versions of the song.

Day 2 — Your least favorite song
Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Ah, yes, “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” I’ve complained about this song before, and I won’t recapitulate most of my arguments. I hate this song so much! The song had a good intent, yet its message is reprehensible. “Tonight, thank god it’s them, instead of you,” indeed. Ugh!

Day 3 — A song that makes you happy
The Leisure Society, “Something

Confession time. I’m merely “meh” on The Beatles’ version of “Something.” It’s a well-written song, but I don’t think it’s George Harrison’s best Beatles song (that honor goes to either “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” or “Here Comes the Sun”), and I don’t think the band really handles the song right. Yet, for all my ambivalence about the Beatles version, I utterly adore The Leisure Society’s cover of it. I love the ukulele, I love the strings and the flute, I love everything about the song, and just listening to it makes me stupidly happy. Heresy to say this, I know, but this is a rare case where the cover transcends the original.

Day 4 — A song that makes you sad
Collective Soul, “Run

This song actually could have gone with day 5, “a song that reminds you of someone,” because this song does remind me of someone quite strongly. In particular, it reminds me of my best friend, who died a few years ago. He loved this song. Listening to it now hurts.

Day 5 — A song that reminds you of someone
Oasis, “Don’t Look Back in Anger

The interesting thing about doing the 30 Day Song Challenge was in discovering the music videos to all of these songs. No song surprised me with its video as much as this song. On a related note to this song and the first, last year I discovered a mash of the Beatles’ “Let It Be” and Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by DJ Y Alias JY — “Don’t Let It Be Anger.”

Day 6 — A song that reminds you of somewhere
Eisley, “Telescope Eyes

This song reminds me of where I first heard it — in the Barnes & Noble at Crabtree, in early February, about a week before Eisley’s first album, Room Noises, came out.

I had some alternate choices for this song, including Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life” and Liz Phair’s “Why Can’t I?

Day 7 — A song that reminds you of a certain event
Goo Goo Dolls, “Iris

Day 8 — A song that you know all the words to
Tom Petty, “Free Fallin’

One advantage to answering the 30 Day Challenge for myself before posting was that it let me figure out if a song fit better in a different category than I first thought. I might easily have used “Free Fallin'” as the answer to day 6, “a song that reminds you of somewhere,” because this song reminds me of my senior year in high school.

Day 9 — A song that you can dance to
New Order, “True Faith

Another option here was Information Society’s “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy),” which is the best New Wave song ever based on Star Trek.

Day 10 — A song that makes you fall asleep
Keane, “Somewhere Only We Know

I didn’t outright hate this song until I watched the video for it while researching this list. I thought the song was just sonically dull, but the video is so much worse than that.

Day 11 — A song from your favorite band
Elbow, “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver

For some explanation behind this song, check out my blog post on my top ten Elbow songs. As an alternate choice, I considered “Fugitive Motel,” because it was the song that made me notice the band, but it was “Tower Crane” that made me love The Seldom Seen Kid. Which I listened to at work this morning while writing, by the way.

Day 12 — A song from a band you hate
Franz Ferdinand, “Take Me Out

“Hate” is a bit strong. I don’t hate Franz Ferdinand. I just don’t get them. Friends have recommended them to me since their first album, especially those who know I’m into Scotpop. (The album I’m grooving to right now? Admiral Fallow‘s Boots Met My Face. Where are they from? Scotland. Another band I’m liking right now? Aerials Up. Where are they from? Scotland.) Franz Ferdinand just doesn’t connect with me. I don’t like the songs, I don’t like the sound. We don’t mix.

Day 13 — A song that is a guilty pleasure
Avril Lavigne, “My Happy Ending

I’ve mentioned my appreciation for Avril Lavigne before. I considered swapping this song and the next, except that many people do know that I like Lavinge’s music, but few people know I like the next singer’s music.

Day 14 — A song that no one would expect you to love
Kelly Clarkson, “Behind These Hazel Eyes

Other than a few of the Beatles nights over the past seasons, I’ve never watched American Idol, and I couldn’t tell you a damned thing about any of the previous winners. But when I worked at EB Games, some of Clarkson’s music played regularly on the store muzak, and I found her songs catchy and her voice strong.

Day 15 — A song that describes you
The Traveling Wilburys, “Handle With Care

Day 16 — A song that you used to love but now hate
Snow Patrol, “Chasing Cars

Had this question been “A song from a band you used to love but now hate,” I still would have answered with Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.”

I used to love Snow Patrol. I used to love this song. But then, in the autumn of 2006 this song was everywhere, and in the summer of 2007 I heard “Signal Fire,” the song Snow Patrol wrote for Spider-Man 3, and I realized that I was done with Snow Patrol. The band had descended into self-pastiche.

Day 17 — A song that you hear often on the radio
Alanis Morissette, “You Oughta Know

With the “fuck” backmasked, obviously. I think this is one of the songs Morissette wrote about Dave “Uncle Joey” Coulier, but I’m not entirely sure.

Day 18 — A song that you wish you heard on the radio
Sinead O’Connor, “Nothing Compares 2 U

I wish I heard Sinead O’Connor on the radio in general.

Day 19 — A song from your favorite album
The Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Linus and Lucy

Surely this song was going to turn up somewhere;)

Day 20 — A song that you listen to when you’re angry
John Williams, “The Imperial March

When I get angry, I give into power the Dark Side of the Force. :h2g2:

Day 21 — A song that you listen to when you’re happy
The Cure, “Friday I’m In Love

Another song whose video completely surprised me. I utterly love this song.

Day 22 — A song that you listen to when you’re sad
Roy Orbison, “Crying

Roy Orbison. Nothing more needs to be said.

I had an alternative choice for this song, which I’ll keep to myself. When I get sad, I tend to wallow in sad songs, and the alternate choice is utterly heartrending.

Day 23 — A song that you want to play at your wedding
John Lennon, “Grow Old With Me

Day 24 — A song that you want to play at your funeral
The Beatles, “In My Life

If you think about this song as a final message from me to my loved ones, this song makes perfect sense. I think. :)

Day 25 — A song that makes you laugh
Animaniacs, “The Presidents

There are funnier Animaniacs songs, true, but I just like this one more.

Day 26 — A song that you can play on an instrument
Requiem for a Tower

So, there I was, in Raleigh for Christmas, when it began to snow. And snow. And snow some more. It snowed so much that it knocked my sister’s satellite dish out five minutes before Doctor Who‘s “A Christmas Carol.” Stranded and unable to leave — which forced me to skip work for one day simply because I was several states away — I started playing with my niece’s toys, one of which was a Fisher-Price xylophone. I’m not sure why I experimented with it, but after about an hour, I’d learned to play the really memorable part of this on the xylophone.

Day 27 — A song that you wish you could play
Jake Shimabukuro, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps

This is the last Beatles-related song in my 30 Day Song Challenge, and it’s a ukulele cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that impresses me every time I hear it/watch it.

I’ve long been impressed with While My Guitar Gently Weeps. For some thoughts on this song and its relationship to the I Ching, because George Harrison was really into the I Ching when he wrote it, you might be interested in this blog post that I posted two years to the day before I answered Day 27.

No, George Harrison, the universe isn’t random. I couldn’t have planned synchronicity like that if I’d tried.

Day 28 — A song that makes you feel guilty
Chris Isaak, “Wicked Game

I mentioned on Facebook when I posted this that I’m not entirely sure why this song makes me feel guilty. There’s something about it that hits an emotional spot I don’t quite understand or even recognize.

Day 29 — A song from your childhood
Kermit the Frog, “The Rainbow Connection

There were two other options here. The Spider-Man animated series song or the song that goes with Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

Day 30 — your favorite song at this time last year
Beach House, “Zebra

Beach House‘s Teen Dream may be the best album I heard last year. It was certainly the song I listened to nigh obsessively in spring 2010. “Zebra” leads off the album. Victoria Legrand has an absolutely amazing voice, and Alex Scally instrumentation is seriously compelling.

That’s it. That’s my thirty songs.

Now to watch some Monty Python… :cheers:

On Pondering Elbow and Atheism

Here’s a question. Is Guy Garvey (or someone else from Elbow) an atheist?

I love Elbow, as long time readers of this blog know. (For previous posts on the subject, click here.) What brought this question to mind — what are the religious proclivities of the Mancunian five? — was my recent and ongoing search for Elbow promo CDs. After finding the “Not a Job” promo, I added two different “Open Arms” promos (the US version with the radio edit and the UK version with an instrumental version) to my collection thanks to eBay, and then I discovered a listing for a CD by a band named Long-View.

Long-View is a Mancunian shoegaze band, and in 2003 Elbow remixed one of their songs, “Further.” I found a Long-View promo CD on eBay with Elbow’s remix of “Further,” but then found it was much cheaper to buy a double-CD of the band’s debut album, Mercury, which had the Elbow remix (and several other remixes, including one by Mogwai) on the second disc.

But first, what was this song, “Further”? I’d never heard of it, though it was apparently played on the soundtrack of an episode of One Tree Hill. Fortunately, YouTube came in handy:

It’s a rather catchy song, isn’t it? While I don’t hold with the religious sentiment of the song’s emotional climax — “God’s love will save our light, and we’ll come shining bright. God’s love will save our sun, and thy will be done. God’s light will save us.” — I think the emotional catharsis there is what makes the song. It simply wouldn’t be the same song without it.

So, the Elbow remix of “Further” completely dispenses with the song’s emotional climax. It starts with a percussive beat and a cello riff that wouldn’t be out of place in a Collective Soul song, then layers stripped down verses over some keyboards and some feedbacky guitar, and then repeats the “Until we come. Further, further” phrase over and over and over, as if it’s building to something. Only then the song just stops. The build-up is all for naught. There’s no climax. There’s no catharsis. The remix feels unfinished.

My reaction was, “Really? Elbow did this? Really?” Imagine me crinkling my nose. Suffice it to say, it’s a lesser piece in the Elbow canon.

The song’s catharsis, as I mentioned above, is god, god, and more god. When remixing the song, could Elbow have dispensed with the song’s ending because it didn’t fit with one of the band’s personal beliefs?

Naturally, I began to ponder if, perhaps, Guy Garvey were an atheist.

I feel like I’ve read an interview with the Garv where he talked religion, but I’ll be damned if I can find it. So maybe I just imagined it, and Garvey is actually a staunch supporter of the Church of England.

The truth is, I don’t really know. But this song, it’s gone and lodged the idea in there, and I can’t dislodge it, that someone in Elbow is a godless heathen, much like myself.