Hi all:) got another original song for you
Hope you like it:)
Hi all:) got another original song for you
Hope you like it:)
I like to predict trends in music. Sometimes I’m right, like when Elle King’s Ex’s and Ohs made it huge. Sometimes I’m wrong, like when I thought Imagine Dragons’ second album would turn out better than their first.
My next prediction is that Declan McKenna’s “Brazil” will be the next alternative/indie track to inexplicably get popular on the pop stations. Following in the lovely trend of bands like 21pilots becoming mainstream, I think this song is well on its way. It’s so catchy, with a smooth rhythm and great guitar line. The lyrics are wonderful, snippets get caught in my head all the time, but so many didn’t seem to make sense.
I rarely give up and look up the meaning of a song, but with this one I had to. I’m glad I did.
Obviously, all art is subjective, and none of this is fact, just interesting to think about. According to a few interpretations on genius.com (http://genius.com/8437744) , it’s about how Brazil treated its poor terribly while preparing for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It begins by chastising the ironic choice to cut down the Amazon Rainforest to (in the end) promote tourism, when the rainforest is what many tourists want to see. It goes on to spin several allegories about rich people treating the poor terribly, and about how people actually died to appease FIFA.
I get the lines, “It gets me down,” “He talks like an angel but he looks like me” and “Don’t you want to play the beautiful game down in Brazil” stuck in my head over and over, one after the other. Now, these phrases are injected with meaning. I love songs about difficult subjects. In a world full of fluffy songs, it’s nice to have one every now and then that makes you think.
It’s not a new development. After all, as one of my friends used to bring up quite a lot, “Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake your booty.” Not all songs are, nor should be, poetic and thinky, or music would be more work than is necessary.
It was the fun beat about “Brazil” that caught me first, then its well-written lyrics, and finally its deeper meaning. I love how digging can bring out such wonderful details.
This post is all over the place. But it’s been awhile since I’ve just rambled at you all. It’s nice. Ironically, a post about deeper meaning in songs results in a rather fluffy piece overall. Ah well:)
Anyway, please! Go check out “Brazil:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39r0QFD1oPM.
Declan McKenna is only 16, I just found out while searching for a photo of him. Wow, this song is fascinating.
This is the first in a new occasional feature called Conversation Starters, a lifeline for introverts who hate small talk. It will be a compilation of fun topics that will get others to share their own stories and take the heat off you. Hopefully you find this useful!:) Much love
Misheard lyrics are always a fun thing to talk about, especially when that certain song comes on the radio. It’s a go to for me, as an introvert. Conversation dies down, but the radio’s on? Perfect time to mention how you once thought “Burnin’ love” was actually “Monkey love.”
Sometimes, the misheard lyrics are better than the real ones! Some that I’ve heard and then was disappointed when I discovered they weren’t true:
“From head to toe-kyo. I’m so fancy. Can’t you taste this scone?”
“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. First of all, “Head to toe-kyo” is a great pun on Tokyo/head to toe, and I think it would have been a great, if slightly nonsensical addition to the song. On the other end of the spectrum, “Can’t you taste this scone?” makes more sense than “Taste this gold,” and is a nod to the fact that only fancy people eat scones.
“The happiest back-stabber in the world.”
“This Girl” by The Punch Brothers. It works better because “back-slider” is confusing and it’s much more interesting to imagine the speaker telling God he’s going to backstab him.
“Showin’ a funky, strong Michelle Pfieffer.”
“Beat It” by Michael Jackson. Hey, Michelle Pfieffer is funky and strong, I’d take her over a fighter anyday.
“I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your life, I’d tell you my sins, and you can sharpen your knife off of me. That debtless death, good God!”
“Take me to Church” by Hozier. This is so much more dramatic than the real lyrics! Shrine of your life instead of lies. Sharpening a knife off his sinning body to achieve debtless death…I love it!
The two best misheard terms come from my five year old cousin Anthony. They’re not lyrics, but they’re adorable.
First is the common “Lifesaver” rather than “lightsaber.” Hey, they save lives! I think it’s awesome.
The second takes a bit of explanation. It was Christmas, and we’re over our grandmother’s house, who we call Nonny. Anthony is explaining to me all the knick knacks in her room, from the ornaments on the tree to the snowflake decorations he made in preschool. We get to an Annalee doll of Santa making a list.
“You have to be nice,” Anthony tells me. “Or she’ll put you on her list.”
“He, you mean,” I say. “Santa.”
“No, Nonny will put you on her list.”
I paused for a minute. What? …then it hit me. The naught list. Nonny’s list.
I couldn’t help myself from bursting out laughing, so hard Anthony was confused and asked what was funny. The Nonny list!
It was so cute—of course he would assume our Boston accent-laden family was saying Nonny’s list, not naughty list. But then I wondered the implications that Anthony had in his head—did he think Nonny worked for Santa? Did he think she was the one who went around the world with coal for all the bad children on her list? What kind of monster did he think our grandmother was?!
Mishearings are an amazing conversation starter, as everyone has a story to share. Use it next time you need to small talk, or the next time you’re on a date. Who knows? You might find out he wasn’t singing “Ate my mom” after all.
It’s so easy to look at humanity and feel we are all wearing masks. Some are more obvious than others: Meghan Trainor instantly comes to mind. I’m convinced her songs are written by the same kind of people who wrote the “gnarly” show Rocket Power. She’s built to appeal to focus groups and the most basic of ideas—good, positive ideas, sure, but they’re not “Meghan Trainor” they’re “What’s Trending on Twitter.” Even though she sings about body positivity, feminism, and self love, all things I agree on, something about her feels so fake—maybe it’s that she’s fighting tooth and nail to appear genuine.
When she took down her video recently because she was photoshopped, didn’t it feel like she only did it because it’s the cool thing to do, or because one of her songs bashed photoshop and she would’ve been criticized otherwise? It felt like a group of advisers discussed the best course of action for her. Maybe they even photoshopped her on purpose, so they could make a big deal about undoing it later.
But, honestly, we normal people aren’t much better. We all put on a show, 24/7. Hell, that’s why I like being alone so much, so I can act like myself without being judged by others, so I don’t have to “act” at all anymore. When my sister pretends to trip over her own feet or sing overly badly to seem quirky in front of her friends, it seems almost like manipulation…but I’ve also lied about having seen The Shawshank Redemption so my film major friends didn’t think I was lame, so I’m no better. I think we’ve all lied about having done this or not liked that or so on and so forth.
Code-switching is interesting too—when people talk or act different based on who’s around them. This is fascinating, and familiar to any kid who ever had a rowdy friend over before you were allowed to swear around your parents.
I don’t really know what to think about this. I get annoyed at this sort of acting but everyone does it, including me. What do you guys think? Is introversion enhanced by how tiresome acting is? Do you believe Meghan Trainor’s punchy activism, or do you think it’s born of a focus group? Do you think this acting is useless, or a vital part of a functioning society? I’m curious, because I don’t know what to think. This is a big, difficult topic, but it’s one we can have a good conversation about.
“This time be my only girl/We could undress all the world.” —“Undress the World,” The Milk Carton Kids
If writing is the love of my life than music is my mistress. I suppose it makes sense that lyrics have always been the most important part of music for me. Of course, not just lyrics—that would be not much else but poetry—but the way the lyrics are sung, the crescendos and voice cracks, the harmonies and vibratos and emotions. Music is sound, which writing can never be.
When I am caught in the throes of a musical love affair I often only want to write the lyrics of already existing songs. I have notebooks full of songs already written, recorded word for word. I would rewind the song until I knew every syllable, until I transcribed it totally, and then would listen to it again, my eyes following the guide I had made. It was time filler, but made my soul feel light.
I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s an expression of obsession, or a desire to recreate what they have done. Perhaps it’s my own way of honoring their work.
Whenever I don’t know what to blog, writing lyrics comes to mind. For split seconds it always seems like a great idea, to share songs I love with the world, but then again, copyright laws, and then again, why would someone read the lyrics when they can hear the song in full with half a dozen keystrokes? I could do song reviews, I suppose, but who am I to say what lyrics mean to anyone but myself?
Lyrics alone do not do a song justice, anyhow. While I love them best, they lose their luster without a singer and a band.
Well, I’m a writer, after all. I shall write my own songs!…but how could I write something more perfect, more capturing of my situation than these songs that already exist? I would get more fulfillment from writing down what they sing, from hearing their cadence until it’s impressed on my mind. And even then, even if I were to write the lyrics of a song and comment on it, I would probably only gush about its greatness. Or, quite the opposite, I would ignore the rest of the song for my favorite line, the one that gets stuck in my head.
Perhaps this is partly why I like quotes so much. Snippets that capture a situation, an emotion, the song they are plucked from in so many words. If only there were a quote to sum up everything in the world. It would certainly make it easier to sing about:
“Witness what I listen. There’s a world here you’re missin’ to behold
A fiery night under the skies could warm your heart and hide away the cold
Venture out a little further and somehow you might find the courage to go
‘Cuz if you stand there long enough, you will realize you’re really on your own
Go on hold me
Go on hold me
Hold on, beautiful.”
I play cello. I haven’t picked it up in a long time, but I still consider myself a cellist. I didn’t lug that giant thing back and forth on the school bus for nothing, after all.
I played in the school orchestra from fourth grade until graduation—literally, we played the national anthem at graduation. I miss the people more, perhaps. The conductor was with us from our first clumsy notes to our final hurrah, and many of my closest friends are cellists or violinists (we had a string orchestra separate from the band), but I miss playing music, too. I miss being in time with fifty other people, I miss breathing in sync with them under hot lights.
Beyond nostalgia, I miss being a “cello.” That’s what we were called, “the cellos,” and we had our own little culture. Cellos were always the bassline, so we flew under the radar most of the time. Since we were low and had easy parts, we shone in the conductor’s eyes. No one could come close to our low, booming radiance. We led the orchestra from behind, we drove the high-pitched melody of the violins. We made the audience feel the music vibrate in their ribcages. We made the curtains flutter with sound.
Being a cellist had its downsides, too. Since we had easy parts, we didn’t learn as much. We didn’t look as nice, and I already mentioned lugging the giant thing everywhere.
Worst of all, we couldn’t wear skirts or heels. Being a cellist meant having your legs spread and your feet flat on the floor. No skirts, no heels. I was restricted from wearing skirts to school for nine years. I didn’t mind too much, but playing a cello did result in feeling less pretty.
Maybe it was this lack of daintiness that gave us our power. I felt confident when playing the cello. We were the hidden powerhouse. People watched the violins, but heard the cellos, pounding away with strong arms all swaying in sync. I was hidden behind such a gorgeous instrument people forgot I was the one playing—which made me play all the better.
I miss the community, the strength, the power, the camaraderie, the beauty, the sound, the feel of a cello. I miss feeling the strings simmer beneath my fingers, I miss feeling the edge buzz against my knees. I miss the rattle my earrings made when I played too loudly. I miss the ache in my bowing arm, I miss the cramps in my fingers.
I believe music is something inherently human. Though it seems harder to be blind than deaf, music is the one thing that would give me pause if I had to choose one over the other.
Anyway, I bring all this up because I went back and watched my high school orchestra, or what remains of it 2 years after graduation, play their spring concert Thursday, and they were not great. It made me wonder if we sounded so mediocre from the audience when we played. Maybe it doesn’t matter. From our seats in the bright lights, music filling our lungs, we sounded magic. That’s all that matters in the end.
A performance of 4’33”. If you haven’t heard it, give it a listen!:
4’33” by John Cage always brings up the question, “Is this music?” By definition, music means sound, right? How could four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence possibly count as music?
Let’s back up for a second. Before John Cage (1912-1992) was Charles Ives (1874-1954), an experimental musician who was one of the first American composers to achieve serious international renown—for a long time, American composers were not thought of as real musicians at all. Ives wrote pieces that pushed the boundaries of music, such as “The Concord Sonata” that requires tapping keys with a 14 ¾ inch block of wood to create tone clusters, and “The Unanswered Question” which features extremely long single notes. His pieces often sound like a bit of an unorganized mess, but as time went on he came to be recognized as a legitimate musician perhaps a bit ahead of his time.
If Charles Ives pushed the boundaries of music, John Cage smashed them with an iron rod, recorded said smashing, and sold it as a record. He composed by using charts, tossing coins, and using random geometric patterns. He would litter the strings of a piano with objects to change the sound. He would swish water around in a seashell. He wrote pieces called “A Collection of Rocks,” “Paragraphs of Fresh Air,” and “Water Music,” which was performed with a radio, bird whistles, and a deck of cards which the player would shuffle and then deal over the piano strings. His most famous piece, of course, is 4’33”, which is performed by a person sitting at a piano and making as little sound as possible for exactly 4’33”.
I’ve heard multiple interpretations of 4’33”. Some say that the music is the accidental sounds a room full of people make, such as coughing or dropping keys. Some say that it’s arguing that silence is music, just like scheduled rests and pregnant pauses in (to avoid the phrase “normal music”) musical pieces including sound. Some say John Cage was plain crazy, like all the other Andy Warhol’s and Yoko Ono’s that dare defy convention.
Is John Cage the “Emperor’s New Clothes” of music–something people pour meaning and relevance into when really there’s nothing there? Or is it taking the easy way out to wave experimental art off with a dismissive hand and call it pretentious?
My favorite theory—plausible, since John Cage was interested in Buddhism—is that 4’33” was a sort of surprise meditation. In concert, the audience is captivated by the performer. In an anticipation-riddled song like 4’33”, they are focused intently, waiting for something to “happen.” This singular focus, all in silence, makes the audience unknowingly meditate, in a way. Their mind is clear, they are focused, and they are silent. Perhaps John Cage felt we all needed a meditation break now and then, and what better way to ensure people were getting one than putting one right in the middle of his concert? Then again, this doesn’t explain his other experimental music, so who knows?
Of course, we’ll never know, and that’s a good thing. What’s the point of art if there’s nothing to interpret? Then again, with 4’33”, there is literally nothing to interpret except the concept itself: silence as music. Perhaps the question isn’t whether or not it “counts” as music, but the message of the song. The method in the madness. The sound of silence.
Today I conducted an interview from inside a church organ. The man who restored the 130+ year old organ with his father explained how the air flowed through the reservoir and into the pipes. We sat in a space below and behind these pipes, hidden from view, studying the enormous inner workings of the beautiful instrument. His father sat at the console, pressed the keys, and I was instantly surrounded by music.
Inside the womb of the organ, I could see the whole thing breathe as it created the sound that filled the church. The reservoir was like a lung, sucking in pressurized air and deflating as it exhaled into the pipes. The pipes—over a thousand of them—were like long metallic necks, stretching up like herons.
I could have stayed there forever. I probably would have gone deaf eventually, but honestly, I could have stayed there forever. I wrote notes leaning on the reservoir, and it was like my notebook was floating. The wall behind me vibrated with the lower pipes. The chimes, dangling from the opposite wall, sang along with the mingling chords. I could see it all happening. I could hear it all happening. It was alive, and so was I.
On the way home, singing to the radio, I thought about how my body was like an organ. I had lungs pushing air out my throat, making my vocal chords vibrate and sing. An organ is like a part of the body. Perhaps that’s why it’s called an “organ.”
Sometimes it’s good to spend the day horizontally. Often, during a Spring Break when the beach is not an option, it’s what people most like to do. However, after a few hours of Netflix your mind may feel the need to be productive—even if your body doesn’t want to. Thankfully, modern technology allows us to do amazing things…without moving an inch.
Here I present ten things to do to feel productive, all without lifting your head off the pillow. An internet-enabled device is necessary for some of these, but since you’re presumably reading this online, that shouldn’t be a problem.
I like old Maroon 5.
I don’t think I could write a more hipster sentence if I tried. It’s practically a cliché, now, to say that you only like “old” songs from a popular band…but it’s so often true!
Old Mumford and Sons, old Imagine Dragons, old Maroon 5, old old old.
It annoys me when people follow success over their passion, whether it’s musicians following fads to stay relevant or regular people following fads to seem cool and in the loop. However annoying it is, though, I understand where they’re coming from.
After all, convention often leads to success, right? Maroon 5 took off once they started making cookie cutter pop. I might like Songs About Jane, but if 99% of the world prefers V, they’ll keep making songs that match V.
I can’t help but wonder if Maroon 5 misses their old style. Do they feel passionless? Do they feel like their money is unearned?
Conversely, Mumford and Sons dropped the folksy music style because they felt like they were a rock band at heart. I didn’t like the switch, and reviews were pretty mixed, but hey, they’re following their passions. It’s not fair for me to be angry at Maroon 5 for following success over passion if I’m also angry at Mumford and Sons for following passion over success.
Which is the right path to follow? Passion or Success?
There’s no correct answer. The dream is to find a path that involves both, but often we find we must make sacrifices, one way or another. Either we keep our passions buried in our stomachs or we constantly battle failure.
Which fight are you prepared to take on?