Thursday, December 26, 2019
This trio of South Korean ladies has really managed quite a feat here. It is a gigantic challenge to take a song that was just about perfect in its original version and cover it in a way that has meaning. Why would anyone try? How can you bring additional value to a truly great record? What can you add? It takes real talent even to attempt it, and it also requires the gall of a burglar.
The original, of course, is the Ronettes version, produced by Phil Spector at the height of his powers. That was the "Wall of Sound," with as many instruments as could be jammed into the studio, directed to play simple parts with great urgency. With the great Hal Blane on drums, the only one in the room given the freedom to play it his way, as long as his way was long on energy. The Ronettes were not technically great singers, but they sang this song with an enthusiastic naivete that was very sweet. Against that massive musical accompaniment, their simple crush sounds like a matter of great importance. Just listening to the song can be exhausting if the listener is not careful. How can you top that?
The answer, of course, is that you cannot. And the Barberettes do not try. Nor do they bore us with just another simple-minded presentation of the basic musical ideas present in the original. They also spare us another loving homage to the original. They are themselves very talented, and they obviously love this material. They had every right to produce a serious revisiting of the song, full permission to do it their way. This is especially true in light of the wonderful result.
Top marks, ladies! You nailed it.
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Here's another less-than-the-usual-sentimental-claptrap Christmas song. A lot like Christmas itself, in several ways. A poor, filthy thing that passes up a good opportunity to redeem itself.
Christmas, as it is practiced today, is such a bullshit story. The winter solstice has been the preeminent holiday for the entire world for at least 20,000 years. Those ancient ancestors of ours didn't know much, but they knew enough to pinpoint the four most important days of the year and mark them as they passed. The two solstices; the two equinoxes. Another year down the shit-hole, boys and girls! The winter solstice was the most important of the four. The days had been getting shorter for months, and those ignorant cave-men were such a superstitious lot that they were not yet certain, in any given year, that the sun wouldn't just keep on along it's merry way to elsewhere. Let's remind the sun of its duties! Let's make some noise, and a fire, and burn alive some miscreants and some captives, and let's coax the sun into not forgetting us. Please, great mystery of life, let the days start to get longer, as they always have, to give us at least a forlorn hope of surviving for another year.
By about 10,000 years ago there were holidays with religious overtones set on or about the winter solstice. Those were the ancient fertility cults that arose around the beginnings of agriculture and animal husbandry. Thereafter, it was common for any new religion to put their holiday around that date. A new God? Let's put his birthday here. The Christians, about a century since everyone had forgotten what month, or even what time of year, Joshua, if he ever really existed, was born, decided to put his birthday there as well. With his new name, Jesus, and his new title, Christ. So we're stuck with Christmas, whether we like it or not.
Ah, I'm just being cranky. I actually enjoy Christmas, although in a way that is entirely secular. I'll use the name, "Christmas," as a convenience, because that's what everyone recognizes. You can fill in the blanks however you wish, but for me it's about the tree that represents the "evergreen" friends, the one's who stick with you through thick and thin, and it's about expressing gratitude to that group of important family and friends who had your back last year, the team that helped you make it to another New Year.
Thanks team! You know who you are. (Although to my knowledge, no one on my team reads this blog.)
Monday, December 23, 2019
Saturday, December 21, 2019
Why I thought of this song today, I'll never know. Maybe because after the events of last week, well, dang me for a damn dimwit. Either way, it reminded me that this song has the weirdest hook of all time.
The hook is supposed to pull you into the song and keep the song in your head, and this hook certainly does both things. This is also one of the many songs that lead with the hook. This one leads with it, and then leans on it mercilessly for the duration. (Very much like "Let's Spend the Night Together" in both ways.)
Not a bad song, all in all. If you like it, don't hold it against yourself.
And you know what? The chic has a point! I should look up this poem. Sometimes I wonder if all of the answers didn't come into focus during and right after World War II, and maybe the rest of the world is taking its sweet time catching up.
Friday, December 20, 2019
Merry Christmas to all of you Santa fans out there, and Happy Holidays to anyone who celebrates any of the many festivals that coincide right about now. Enjoy yourselves, and may good fortune smile on you and your families.
I'm quite the little Humbug myself, but I have enjoyed many very nice Christmases in my life. There was a time when I could count on a good turnout of family and friends. Back when my children were small and the world was still looking forward to a bright future. I will have a small gathering again this year, and a tree, but for me and mine these are primarily times for nostalgia and the poignant exercise of duty.
Please accept my sincere wishes for a good time on Christmas and a healthy, happy 2020. Anyone who reads my offerings herein does me a great service, and I love you all.
Thursday, December 5, 2019
This is a poignant song about a break up in which both parties agree that some things aren't meant to be and good luck baby, thanks for everything. Even in 1971 that was an unusual choice of subject matter for a pop song.
We're all the way post-ironic these days, so it's likely that people today will listen to this song and wonder, "who has a hidden agenda?" or, "who's really driving this train?" Did we always see things so much in terms of winners and losers? Were we always so eager to examine every break up and assign fault? Things have changed, that's for sure. Last week a guy killed a girl he didn't even know because she didn't respond favorably to his cat calls.
In this song, a woman tells her boyfriend, look, you're a great guy, but I'm not feeling this, so I'm moving on. The man replies, it happens that way sometimes, thanks for everything, you take care of yourself.
Were people ever that mature?
Sunday, December 1, 2019
In another family, and anecdotal at that, but a conversation nonetheless. Maureen Dowd is a columnist for the fake news, failing New York Times. She published an interesting column on or about Thanksgiving day, in the voice of her brother Kevin, explaining his oft-repeated and firmly held reasons for loving Donald John Trump, Sr. I'm not 100% sure which one of them wrote it, but it was a wonderful illustration of the effect that constant exposure to Fox News during all of one's waking hours has on an impressionable mind.
We all have friends on social media who display the same delusional thinking. The identical agit-prop slogans are in twenty-four hour rotation all across the right-wing echo chamber, and people are listening. Obviously, it has a powerful effect on weak minds that are somewhat predisposed to be comforted by the certainty of the message.
Kevin loves Trump because:
- “Trump's” economy is the greatest in history;
- “Trump's” jobless rate is the lowest since, what, World War II or something;
- The stock market is at a record high due to Trump's extensive program of deregulation;
- Trump believes in unconditional support for our police;
- Trump is allowing us to sleep much more comfortably at night because of the great way that he is handling the situations in Iran and North Korea; and
- Most importantly of all, Kevin loves Trump because Trump saved the Supreme Court from Hillary Clinton.
No explanation was offered for that last one, so we are left to our imaginations. The others are self-explanatory, however untrue they may be.
Kevin also found space for throwing heavy shade at the mainstream media; all of the Democratic candidates; the D.N.C.; and “religiously unaffiliated Americans.”
The column included many Republican talking points that are quite familiar by now. Like, “Trump has done what he promised to do.” This, I suppose, is substantially true, and the result has been exactly what we expected: total chaos. He also promised to get rid of Isis and the deficit. Give him a chance; he's got a year left, if he's lucky.
“The impeachment inquiry is a farce.” This one doesn't really work anymore. There's been a lot of credible evidence for clearly impeachable offenses. And that's only within the narrow focus chosen by the House Democrats.
“The Ukraine didn't do the investigations, and the military aid was released.” We are not told what Kevin does for a living, but it's safe to say that he is not a lawyer. Any lawyer could tell you that this statement is in no way exculpatory.
“The witnesses (at the impeachment hearings) are all career bureaucrats who are disturbed and upset with Trump and brimming with second and third hand information.” No, there was a lot of first-hand testimony, and any facts regarding the attitudes of the witnesses were not in evidence. They had all served multiple presidents from both parties, and it is highly improbable that they loved all of them until Trump came along.
“Hillary was the worst candidate in history.” I also thought that Hillary was a terrible candidate, but this kind of hyperbole is uncalled for.
My personal dog in this race is that Kevin and me are about the same age. His kind of knee-jerk “sure, I'm on board with fascism as long as I'm making money on it” is what's turning a lot of younger folks against my entire age bracket. That's sad, and it's not exactly fair. It's true that many old-timers are Trump fans, even though they may be fully aware that he is an idiot, and that ninety percent of what he does is illegal, stupid, or immoral, or all three. There are many others in my demographic, such as me, who hate Trump and all his mess with a passion. The Trump lovers are in it up to their necks because of the racism, or the homophobia, or the xenophobia, or THE MONEY. Many, if not most, geezers don't buy into any of that. I'd be willing to bet that Kevin is making money on the tax cut, or at least that he's very comfortably prosperous in his old age, not like some of us.
Bottom line for you young people out there. When you think of us oldsters, please take a moment to find the love in your hearts. At least consider this: just like all of you Millenials are not identical clones, we geezers also come in more than one variety.