Sunday, July 13, 2008

Songs That Might Otherwise Pass You By

**Podcast show notes are in an earlier post**

Elizabeth Harper, "Let Me Take You Out"

I'm going to try to close my eyes and type. I should be ablet o do it. I'm doing thiws because I'm watching the kaleidoscopic images that are bursting in front of my colosed eyes. I'm rememberinghow I felt when I first heeard The Coctaue Twins. The most wonderful sensation is sneaking up and around me. Oh--it's the guitar! It seems to be bouncingoff my nervous system and ricocheting inside my senses, like a pinball machine. I had to break the spell a little to ask my boyfriend what those old arcade games were called because I couldn't remember. Let me get back in the trance. Even the bass is sneaking under my skin. It' sone of those songs that become part of your consciousness and maybe sub-consciuslness. Her voice is the angelic overture to the other slightly, more grounded, tenser constituents of the song. I think her voice is altering my DNA. I remember this one time I took this herbal supplement for anti-anxiety and I felt like someone had infused my blood with peppermint. That's kind of how I feel now. I never found that supplement again. I'll just listen to her voice anytime I need to cdalm down.


Well, that's just a pretty picture of Elizabeth Harper. I love the sly look on her face.

Mark Northfield, "Zero" (Thanks to Fingertips to pointing me to the song)

Okay, I'm opening my eyes, but it doesn't mean the spell is any less broken. Much like the previous song, this song has a calming effect, making me want to shush anyone who dares speak while it's playing. If I saw him live, I would probably attempt to hush the entire audience. For a lesser musician, the term "composer" would seem pretentious and wishful. For Mark Northfield, though, it's truthful--he has created a beautiful interplay between his instruments. The piano and guitar gently guide the composition; they are the backbone of the song, the consistency. The violins sweep in, stealing the song momentarily, then swell to a tense crescendo. The song breaks and the violins dispell to an almost nothing, allowing the piano to reassert the calmer focus of the song. The singer's voice deftly navigates both these softer moments and the tenser, grander sections. He wraps his voice around the themes of the song with assured command, embodying the feeling of timelessness reflected in the lyrics. He has a detachment in his voice that isn't cold, but rather exhibits a distancing from emotion--emotion being a symptom of the awareness of time. The song is about the relativity of time: if you allow yourself to step away from the pressing concept of "now", you'll see that your misunderstood concept of "now" is only relative to your preconceptions. "Now" is actually many things. It is the future, it is many futures. "Now is almost, now is always, now is is high-time, now is high-tide". Now is not something that can be measured--it's everything. That is a wonderful concept for someone like me, who has to dream of a long-lost anti-anxiety supplement in order to bring on a sense of calm.

More audio files available on here.

Mark Northfield and cat: a study in contrasts

Jay Brannan, "At First Sight"

Awesome--a love song for the modern age. Boy meets other boy*, other boy teaches boy not to be psycho (always a welcome lesson), boy says other boy only wants the guy he knows through his iPod (it's tough when you meet your iDols), they break up, he realizes he's in love with him (his "text messages were like no-calorie food for [his] soul"), he thinks the other boy might feel the same way because he's "still answering [the singer's] Craigslist ad". This reminds me of the great James Figurine song "55566688833", about a couple who fight through text-messaging. I don't have a phone with Qwerty keyboard yet (oh Gods of employment, please smile upon me soon--I want an iPhone), so I hate text-messaging--perhaps my relationship is safe for the time-being. Or perhaps not--in the James Figurine song, he gets in trouble for not text-messaging quickly enough, and for taking short-cuts in the "love you" sign-off. "At First Sight" has a similar theme: love amongst the internet generation. Even in this age of a thousand Myspace friends and Facebooks applications-as-conversation, it's still heartbreaking when Jay Brennan says that he's perceptive enough to know that the boy he loves hates him. Someone text him a smiley face or a hug.

*As I've said before, I don't assume gender, but after watching a few of his videos, yeah... If that boy ain't gay then I don't know what gay is :)

Jay Brannan is a fellow Blogspot blogger

Jay Bannan and cat. I'm a sucker for cat pictures.

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