Arimathea | Music
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Popular Music
Thursday, July 2, A.D. 2009
The Scientist

My favorite Coldplay song is “The Scientist” from A.D. 2002. I love the piano and Martin’s mournful singing.

The video, like most music videos, is disturbing. If the video’s story line is not troubling enough, the reverse narrative combined with Martin’s lip synching jars my sensibilities. Furthermore, I do not think that the video accurately captures the song. Both are full of regret, but they are so in different ways. Nonetheless, it is interesting.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, July 2, Anno Domini 2009
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Monday, June 29, A.D. 2009
What’s Up?

My favorite lesbian pop song of all time is the angry, alternative dyke anthem, “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes.

The song’s Wikipedia article mentions that the song makes both “top one hit wonders” lists and “worst songs ever” lists. I like it. There are so few female created rock songs that are fully and unapologetically rock and roll, and 4 Non Blondes fills the vacuum a bit with their hit.

I also wonder why the early nineties had such a fascination with looking ugly and dirty. “Grunge” as a name and style infected the youth culture at large—a sort of average, lazy boy’s punk.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, June 29, Anno Domini 2009
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Friday, June 26, A.D. 2009
Friday I’m in Love

It may perplex some folks that a rightwing reactionary would fancy such transgressive pop filth as The Cure, but it is so. Robert Smith’s weird band has given us some good tuneage over the years. As it is Frigg’s day, here is the catchy “Friday I’m in Love” from Wish.

Bizarre, indeed, but fun and oddly but charmingly warm. It reminds me of younger days.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, June 26, Anno Domini 2009
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Saturday, June 20, A.D. 2009
Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity

I have read several articles that listed Gustav Holst as the grandfather of all movie soundtracks. This is certainly true of “space opera” films; before there was John Williams, there was Holst. The English composer’s Planets suite is the definitive composition for our neighbors in the solar system.

Here, you can listen to “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” from The Planets.

“Jupiter” is my favorite part of The Planets; the father of the gods deserves the best.

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, June 20, Anno Domini 2009
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Thursday, June 4, A.D. 2009
Foggy Mountain Breakdown

Enjoy some hillbilly gold today with “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs on the Grand Ole Opry:

I can’t help but like this song; I have Kentucky ancestors. Indeed, if it were not for the stylized vocals, I would love bluegrass more than I do. The singing does not accord well with me, which makes instrumental bluegrass like “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” ideal.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, June 4, Anno Domini 2009
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Monday, June 1, A.D. 2009
Come Monday Night

Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian has released a video for “Come Monday Night” from his God Help the Girl musical movie. I wrote about God Help the Girl in April, and now I’m glad to get a glimpse of it. Moreover, it is good to see and to hear more of Catherine Ireton.

In reviewing Murdoch’s new project, The Pop Cop perspicaciously notes:

Take a look at the cover artwork of Belle & Sebastian’s many releases and you would probably come to the conclusion that Stuart Murdoch has a thing for brunettes.

So perhaps that why he has taken this healthy fascination to its natural conclusion with GOD HELP THE GIRL, a project that sees an array of ladies on vocal duties with Belle & Seb playing the music.

The Scotsman has great taste.

As God Help the Girl will not be released until next year, I do not really know the plot. However, it seems that the character “James,” played by James Anthony Pearson, might be Murdoch’s self-projection.

Anyway, enjoy Ireton and the gals’ incarnation of Stuart Murdoch’s vision.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, June 1, Anno Domini 2009
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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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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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Tuesday, April 21, A.D. 2009
God Help the Girl

Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian has been working on a musical story named God Help the Girl. You can learn more about the project here, and you may wish to watch the following short clip:

As a side note, I believe that Alex Klobouk, appearing around 4:58, is the same girl from “Wrapped Up in Books” and from The Life Pursuit.

The soundtrack will be released in June, but you can currently get a free mp3 recording of “Come Monday Night” by signing up on the site’s mailing list. I have listened to the song dozens of times. Like almost all of Murdoch’s work, I instantly liked it. Moreover, I think that Catherine Ireton’s voice is incredibly sexy; I generally fall easily for Celtic songstresses. Ireton’s manner of singing has a delightful 1940’s quality to it—simultaneously simple, modest, and seductive.

With his new project and in his work with Belle & Sebastian, Murdoch has a peculiar appreciation of the female voice. From Isobel Campbell to the ladies in God Help the Girl, the female parts are markedly feminine. They are not operatic, and they do not perform vocal gymnastics. They appear recognizably ordinary—though transfigured into something elevated and beautiful.

As I wrote in a previous post, one of my favorite things about Belle & Sebastian is their ability to focus on the mundane without shame or irony and therein to see something of interest. More than anything else, it is this feature of Murdoch’s creativity that betrays his spiritual tendencies. For we are to see the divine in all things, from mud in Plato’s Parmenides to everyday pleasures in C.S. Lewis’ Letters to Malcolm.

Anyway, consider downloading “Come Monday Night” and enjoy.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, April 21, Anno Domini 2009
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