Arimathea | Music
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Friday, May 29, A.D. 2009
Take It to the Limit

I grew up listening to the Eagles, and my favorite song of theirs has always been the rather melancholic, honky tonk-ish “Take It to the Limit.” Here is a live performance by Randy Meisner and the band from A.D. 1977:

All alone at the end of the evening,
And the bright lights have faded to blue,
I was thinking about a woman who might have loved me,
And I never knew.

You know I’ve always been a dreamer,
Spent my life running around,
And it’s so hard to change,
Can’t seem to settle down,
But the dreams I’ve seen lately,
Keep on turning out and burning out,
And turning out the same.

So put me on a highway,
And show me a sign,
And take it to the limit one more time.

You can spend all your time making money.
You can spend all your love making time.
If it all fell to pieces tomorrow,
Would you still be mine?

And when you’re looking for your freedom,
Nobody seems to care,
And you can’t find the door,
Can’t find it anywhere,
When there’s nothing to believe in,
Still you’re coming back,
You’re running back,
You’re coming back for more.

So put me on a highway,
And show me a sign,
And take it to the limit one more time.

Long before I understood the lyrics, I understood the mood. It is beautifully depressing.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, May 29, Anno Domini 2009
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Friday, May 22, A.D. 2009
Slavonic Dances

You may know that Antonín Dvořák is a god in my musical pantheon. When I visited the motherland, I knew that I had to pay my respects to his tomb in Vyšehrad. Memory eternal!

I love both sets of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, opera 46 and 72. Online videos do not do justice to them, of course, but below you may get a foretaste of their enchantment.

Here is perhaps my favorite one, Opus 46-7, performed by the Nino Rota Orchestra in Bari.

My second favorite is probably Opus 46-1, performed here by the Vienna Philharmonic.

For an optimistic jolt, try Opus 46-5, which is so cheerful.

I find Opus 46-6 very absorbing—almost erotically Dionysian.

Opus 46-4 reminds me of Mussorgsky for some reason.

Opus 46-8 reminds me of Holst’s Planets for some other reason.

Fantastic, eh? Well, Opus 72 will have to wait until another post in the future.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, May 22, Anno Domini 2009
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Wednesday, May 20, A.D. 2009
Won’t Get Fooled Again

Yesterday, I wrote about rock and roll. For people who developed their musical tastes before the age of rock, contemporary pop must seem like cacophonous noise. For the lovers of that noise, however, rock animates certain passions like no other music (and that is why Bloom and company criticize it).

I offer you The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” to exemplify this musical divide. It is either noise—or raw adolescent pathos in rebellion against the world.

Here they are live in The Kids Are Alright.

It’s not Chopin, but it does get your blood moving. I also like the song because of its honest assessment of social revolution: meet the new boss . . . the same as the old boss. It was for this reason that John J. Miller chose it as his # 1 “conservative rock song” on the National Review.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, May 20, Anno Domini 2009
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Tuesday, May 12, A.D. 2009
The Promise and Weird Imaginings

Before I address today’s topics, let me wish a happy birthday to my brother Aaron! Many years!

Pop culture may be filth, but I shamelessly enjoy it. The inner snob in my soul gets somewhat embarrassed, but I shall not deny my lowbrow proclivities. Besides, I can defend my music preferences as conservatives always defend their vices—by appealing to nostalgia.

This morning, I awoke from a dream in which my family was cleaning house. The radio was playing in the background, and as I was straightening towels in the linen closet, I heard “The Promise” by When in Rome come on. I walked over to the radio, turned it up, and returned to my job. Afterward, my mother, who never could stand tunes from the 1980’s, turned it practically off. I then woke up, annoyed that the song had been taken from me. Thanks to the endless joys of the internet, however, I may memorialize the one hit wonder here.

I should add a humorous observation. After I woke up, I tried to commit the song to memory, apparently worried that I would lose the tune if I allowed time to lapse. After I hear a song that I do not know well, I make a mental slot for it. Yet, the song that I had just heard came from my memory—I dreamt hearing it, but in the moments of half consciousness following sleep, I acted as if I had really perceived new information through my senses. The mind is bizarre.

As a closing to this exhibitionist display of my mind’s goofy workings, I admit that I have never given up the puerile practice of substituting the words of songs with bizarre, nonsensical, or even obscene lyrics. My imagination just plays with combinations of melodies and words when I am engaged in mindless activity such as showering or doing chores; I often do not even realize what I am singing.

As if an independent observer, I noticed in the shower today that I happened to be singing “Shai-Hulud” and similarly sounding gibberish to the tune of Amy Grant’s “El Shaddai.” If you are not a fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune series, you may not be familiar with the name for the giant spice producing worms worshiped by the Fremen on the planet Arrakis. Why my subconsciousness thought fit to mingle the god of futuristic Arabs with Amy Grant’s Protestant pop is an infathomable mystery. Perhaps the Semitic linguistic connection was enough of a resemblance for my mind to make the jump.

Always pretty, Grant has aged well.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, May 12, Anno Domini 2009
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