Search

learning love songs

est. 2008

Month

December 2012

12/17/12

“Cause I feel just like a map,
Without a single place to go of interest,
And I’m further North than South,
If I could shut my mouth she’d probably like this.
So buy a pretty dress,
And wear it out tonight,
For all the boys you think could out do me,
Or better still, be my winding wheel

~My Winding Wheel
Ryan Adams, Heartbreaker

12/16/13

Simon and Garfunkel’s “Live from New York City, 1967” continues to be the most enjoyable textbook.

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit.
Blessed is the lamb whose blood flows.
Blessed are the sat upon, Spat upon, Ratted on,
O Lord, Why have you forsaken me?
I got no place to go,
I’ve walked around Soho for the last night or so.
Ah, but it doesn’t matter, no.

Blessed is the land and the kingdom.
Blessed is the man whose soul belongs to.
Blessed are the meth drinkers, Pot sellers, Illusion dwellers.
O Lord, Why have you forsaken me?
My words trickle down, like a wound
That I have no intention to heal.

Blessed are the stained glass, window pane glass.
Blessed is the church service makes me nervous
Blessed are the penny rookers, Cheap hookers, Groovy lookers.
O Lord, Why have you forsaken me?
I have tended my own garden
Much too long.”

~Blessed 
Simon and Garfunkel, Live from New York City, 1967

From the off-kilter opening notes to the harmonies and dynamics, from the biblical undertones to the dirty city setting, this song perfectly captures aloneness. It’s dark and brooding from the instrumentation right off the bat, then, listening closely, you realize it’s critical, angry, not inward but outwardly. An aggressive emotional to voice so delicately, in a song that is ultimately patient.  

The transitions are really smooth, I like 60s folk for this reason. That’s all in structure. And how refreshing to hear acoustic dynamics, stripped down and unafraid to be extreme, after all the laptop-stuff we’re bombarded with.

I can’t help but feel like music with an intermediary, a laptop or record player or whatever, has less of a connection than an instrument. Don’t tell me “the laptop is the instrument,” because I’m pretty sure those samples sound – gasp! – like instruments that someone else could play. Or something too distorted to be on an actual instrument, and these sounds, I think, do not have the same emotional transcendental tendencies as an actual instrument.

(Here I am thinking of “Yellow Scream,” that guy who screams and paints. I feel like that guy sometimes. Did it make a difference in the end result, all that screaming? Maybe. Maybe not. Art.) 

I know I’m still totally harping on this record, but it is a perfect example of how performance, a concert, should tell a story, open up some doors into a time and place and cultural and mood. It’s clear in the reactions. I am sure this art is still practiced, I do not know how much it plays into our mainstream anymore (if it ever truly did?). What I do know is so much of our stories are already shared, via you, lovely Interwebz, that I don’t know how in-demand such in person experiences are. Maybe I just need to go to a Fleet Foxes show, they might have this aspect down.

Sing to me about burning churches, about citywide loneliness, give me something completely stripped down and unadorned except for the story, don’t decorate to distract, but only to enhance where enhancement deemed necessary.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyDJFMojIoA

“A church is burningThe flames rise higher
Like hands that are praying
They grow in the sky
Like hands that are praying
The fire ascends
You can burn down my churches
But I shall be free

Three hooded men through the back roads did creep
Torches in their hands while the village lies asleep
Down to the church where, just hours before
Voices were singing, and
Hands were meeting, and
Saying, “I won’t be a slave anymore”

A church is burning
The flames rise higher
Like hands that are praying
They glow in the sky

Like hands that are praying
The fire ascends
You can burn down my churches
But I shall be free

Three hooded men, their hands lit the spark
And they faded in the night, they vanished in the dark
And in the cold light of morning, there was nothing that remained
But the ashes of a Bible and a can of kerosene

A church is burning
The flames rise higher
Like hands that are praying
They glow in the sky
Like hands that are prayin’
The fire ascends
You can burn down my churches
But I shall be free

A church is more than just timber and stone
And freedom is a dark road when you’re walking it aloneBut the future is now, and it’s time to take a stand
So the lost bells of freedom can ring out in my land

A church is burning
The flames rise higher
Like hands that are praying
They glow in the sky
Like hands that are praying
The fire ascends
You can burn down my churches
But I shall be free”

~The Church is Burning
Simon and Garfunkel, Live from New York City, 1967


PS: In today’s branded-to-the-nines times, there is no escaping the trends. Just last night I played Passion Pit on those kind of awkward but awesome digital jukeboxes, and I think I interrupted someone else’s choices, because Bro immediately walked over and said “What’s this Apple commercial shit?” and I laughed and put on metric. This was useless aside. 

12/13/12

“Come gather ’round people wherever you roam/And admit that the waters around you have grown/And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone/If your time to you is worth savin’/So you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone /or the times, they are a-chang – in’/Come writers and critics who prophecies with your pen/And keep your eyes wide, the chance won’t come again/And don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin/And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’/For the times they are a-changin’/Come senators, congressmen please heed the call/Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall/For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled/The battle outside ragin’/Will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls/For the times they are a-changin’/Come mothers and fathers throughout the land/And don’t criticize what you don’t understand/Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command/Your old road is rapidly agin’/Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand/For the times they are a-changin’/The line it is drawn the curse it is cast/The slow one now will later be fast/As the present now will later be past The order is rapidly fadin’/And the first one now will later be last/For the times they are a-changin.'”

~The Times They are A-changin’

12/12/12

I swear, this album gives me super powers of concentration.  It’s uplifting, in that connect-to-the-music-of-the-spheres kind of way, but rooted in indie folk and alt-country.

Lots of strumming guitars, lots of ghostly harmonies, something very peaceful and pensive about it that makes you want to be in a forever-green forest, nothing but dirt and bark and leaves and rivers to see and touch and smell. See the title track for evidence of this theme.

Songs show a penchant for long and windy song structures that make for wonderful ballads no matter the speed, but the kind with several verse phrasings before the real chorus, an ambling melodic structure perfect for driving, campfires, unwinding.  Funny, then, that I’ve found such solace in listening to it so close to so many screens.

This song, “She Lit a Fire,” in particular has played on loop on my both my computers and in my head. It probably has the most single-appeal, potentially with the Fleet Foxes or Band of Horses fan bases.

While some could call out “Lonesome Dreams” for not showing the most variety, every track shows really rich, wonderful composition, in terms of layers. It’s not an album that plays through a host of emotions or themes, but it totally doesn’t need to, because there’s so much going on inside the emotions and themes it’s already introduced. There’s loneliness, there’s hopes, there’s nostalgia and romance. There’s flutes, claps and bells, there’s harmonicas, xylophones, a million kinds of shakers, even bird calls. It’s amazing, if it was all recorded live. If it was done through the magic of ProTools, well, it’s still quite a landscape to realize and I would understand it. All depends on how much gets put into the live performance, I guess.

The standout track that sold me was “Lullaby,” a song as classically sad and sweet as you’d ever want to hear that you don’t much expect to anymore (even though you still should).

“I’ve been through the desert
And I’ve been across the sea
I’ve been walking through the mountains
I’ve wandered through the trees
For her

I have been trying to find her
Want to give what I got
She lit a fire
But now she’s in my every thought


Where, could that girl have gone
Where, I’ve wandered far
Where, could that girl have gone
She left no trail but I cannot fail
I will find her

She lit a fire
But now she’s in my every thought
She lit a fire
But now she’s in my every thought

Where, could that girl have gone
Where, I’ve wandered far
Where, could that girl have gone
She left no trace but I know her face
I will find her

When last I saw her she was dancing all alone
Perhaps my chance was then, I’ll never know
I’ll search the world until there’s no place left to go
And if she leaves it, I will follow
Yes I will follow

She lit a fire
But now she’s in my every thought
She lit a fire
But now she’s in my every thought

I’ve been through the desert
And I’ve been across the sea
I’ve been walking through the mountains
I’ve wandered through the trees
For her

I have been trying to find her
Want to give what I got
She lit a fire
But now she’s in my every thought”

~She Lit a Fire
Lord Huron, Lonesome Dreams

12/7/12

“Everybody sing like it’s the last song you will ever sing…

Tell me, tell me, do you feel the pressure now?
Everybody live like it’s the last day you will ever see…
Tell me, tell me, do you feel the pressure now?”
~Born For This 
Paramore, Riot!

Yes, yes, I’ll get around to a “Best of 2012.” But before I get all nostalgic, I’m looking forward to the future (foroncemaybeeverorinareallylongtime).

Next we’re getting albums from *at least* two great bands – Jimmy Eat World and Paramore. I am very, very excited for both these albums. Been following JEW’s recording process via Facebook (which I’ll wax on about at some point, I’m sure) but just found out about Paramore today and I’m pretty stoked. For some reason, that was the news I needed to hear today (then I went home and learned “Turn it Off” acoustic).

“Brand New Eyes” was an amazing rock album and if you don’t agree, you and I don’t agree about what makes good rock music. I played the shit out of that record as a senior in college even if it was supposed to be for Hot Topic kids. The prowess of Hayley Williams is literally unparalleled from a female vocalist/lyricist in the last five years, in terms of technique, style, attitude, musicality and originality. She continually grows on me. The band, in the past, has been fucking solid as hell, incredible key changes and grunge-inspired riffs…they’ve definitely moved on from emo-land into a more polished sound over their LP catalog thus far….but, you see, half the band left after “Brand New Eyes.” I’m having a hard time figuring out how this will change their sound (Hayley and Josh wrote most of the songs, as far as I know, and he is now gone). But change can be good for bands, sometimes it brings out the best that was being held back, and they’ve got one hell of a drummer lined up, so I’m guessing this upcoming self-titled is going to be pretty luxe.

I love that it’s a self-titled despite the lineup change. To me, that says, “Hey, we’re here, haven’t failed yet, so why stop?” And, truly, Paramore songs are so redemptive, above almost anything else. After all that, I can hardly think they will fall flat because they have a new iteration. Bands do that all the time, really, and while it can result in low points (like that Asia record without Steve) it can be fruitful in terms of experimentation and/or audience expansion.

I do remember when I first heard “All We Know Is Falling” and was completely blown away. I think I was pretty jealous, actually, I was all “Why don’t I front a cool rock band?!?!” (probably because I’m not nearly as talented and am pretty much seem to be a career out of being a writerly chameleon rather than a traveling troubadour. Shit, you may even find traces of that on this blog, hell if I know). Beyond that, though, I related intimately to the songs, they resonated perfectly and harmoniously with my restless heart and wandering head, body parts aching to be somewhere else other than where they were even though that was all they knew. It soundtracked a couple pretty poignant moments, if I recall. I remember thinking “Yeah, this band is cool. I hope they’re successful. Sounds like they get it.”

Looking at their success today, I’d say yeah, I think they do.

This song, in particular, makes me realize how fast the last eight years or so have gone, and yet,  how many lifetimes have passed between them. Shit, I am feeling very old all of a sudden:

“And when we get home, I know we won’t be home at all
This place we live, it is not where we belong
And I miss who we were in the town that we could call our own
Going back to get away after everything has changed

Could you remind me of a time when we were so alive?
Do you remember that? Do you remember that?

Everything has changed…
Could you help me push aside all that I have left behind?
Everything has changed
Do you remember that? Do you remember that?”
~Franklin
Paramore, All We Know Is Falling
Given the pop/mainstream attention they’ve received, the 2013 iteration of Paramore will receive heavy attention from the usuals on the Interwebz in 2013 (and I’ll probably click lots, sure). I don’t want the band to turn into something that just supports Hayley Williams, because I like band dynamics more than solo act dynamics as a writer/listener/thinker, but honestly, I like her enough that I will continue to at least check out what she produces and see how it feels. My gut tells me it will feel great. There’s a strong chance this will be the best Paramore record yet, if you’re the type of person who believes change can set you free.

I’m really excited about music from 2012, but also for what will arrive in 2013. In the meantime, it is day-by-day, it is moment-by-moment, and it is as breathless, restless, contemplative and cutthroat as its always been.

Hey, I’m here, haven’t failed yet, so why stop?

“I settled down a twisted up frown
Disguised as a smile, well,
You would have never known.
I had it all,
But, not what I wanted,
’cause hope for me was a place uncharted and overgrown

You’d make your way in,
I’d resist you just like this.
You can’t tell me to feel,
The truth never set me free,
So, I did it myself…

You can’t be too careful anymore
When all that is waiting for you
Won’t come any closer…
You’ve got to reach out a little more…

Open your eyes
Like I opened mine
It’s only the real world,
A life you will never know.

Shifting your weight
To throw off the pain
Well you can ignore it but only for so long…

You look like I did,
You resist me just like this.

You can’t tell me to heal,
And it hurts remembering
How it felt to shut down.

You can’t be too careful anymore
When all that is waiting for you
Won’t come any closer…
You’ve got to reach out a little more…

The truth never set me free,
The truth never set me free,
The truth never set me free,
So, I’ll do it myself…”

~Careful
Paramore, Brand New Eyes

12/5/12

“Honey we came to dance with the girls with the stars in their eyes…”
~We Came to Dance
The Gaslight Anthem, Sink or Swim
I saw Gaslight Anthem last night in D.C. Well, two nights ago, technically, by the date, but just a little over 24 hours. It was everything I wanted and more. 
Venue, the 9:30 Club, got sweaty, but it was a pretty beautiful place, charming architecture with dirty floors. The audience was hip, and liked to mosh. Didn’t expect that but it thrilled me. There were action figures and red candles settled on the amps, kind of felt like what the set up must’ve been in their Jersey garage back when. The setlist was pretty impeccable, I could’ve heard “When We Were Young,” but they opened with “Mae” which broke my heart in just the right way. After that, a black scrim dropped down, showing a fierce bird/dragon emblem.  I really appreciate their song choices. “Handwritten” tracks sounded fresh, those guitar melodies just sliced the air and locked in a revelry as the album would have you believe. Truly impressed by the layers and precision, definitely got the feeling that touring over the last few years have given these guys a good handle on the kind of riffs that can just energize a crowd. Bass tones were solid, I couldn’t see Alex Levine play too much from where I was standing and its mix wasn’t too balanced from where I was standing unfortunately, but sounded good if not too intricate. Alex Rosamilia and Brian switching off on lead guitar melodies works well, they really have different feels and gear preferences that gives you a good blend of metal-inspired riffs (fastfingers!! I watched them as close as I could over the heads and iPhones) and sustained  chromatic notes that are all feel (goddamn those semi-hollows sound great, I would want one if I had money to burn and better shoulder muscles to show it off cause they’re damn heavy).
“There you go, turn the key and engine over 
Let her go, let somebody else lay at her feet…” 
~45
The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten
Dudes in the band seemed like lovable punks; think they’d make good friends if I happened to find myself friends with them. As lead vocalist and MC and de facto spokesman, Brian Fallon was not ashamed to be a jerk – calling himself a liar, and a bad friend, and yelling at some dude who said “Fuck You” after he had declared his New York Jets allegiance (“Isn’t my life terrible enough?” he shouted back). He told a cool story about Bon Jovi texting him (with a great line about filling 20,000+ capacity stadiums that to me revealed a certain ambitious insecurity I immediately recognized) that could’ve been seen as douchy if he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who didn’t care if you thought he was douchey. We all hear his songs, so we know he’s a sentimental old fool at the core. He didn’t talk too, too much, just enough, I think, to give you a feel of who he wanted to present himself to be that night. Guy seems existential as fuck, but if he read that he’d probabyl tell you that’s just my perception of him and I don’t really know. You could speculate, maybe, if The Gaslight Anthem will just be Brian Fallon someday —  I’ll bet his bandmates do, given the media attention he gets — but I do not predict that in the near future because this band gives you a show, a mood, a scene, and that generally can be more profitable in many ways including the obvious financial ones.I would like to see them stay around for awhile more. As for his singing – he did what I’ve seen him do with live footage, tinker with the higher melodies to make them more comfortable, cause night after night that can get pretty taxing I’d imagine given how raspy his voice is a lot of the time….however, a gift for melody and counterpoint seems to work in Fallon’s favor here, surprising his audience with more complex parts on even the most familiar of tunes.


“Well, I wonder which song they’re gonna play when we go. 
I hope it’s something quiet and minor and peaceful and slow.”

~The ’59 Sound
The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound
Older tracks, like a personal faves “We Came to Dance” and “Drive,” as well as an extended intro version of “Angry Johnny and the Radio” were rehearsed really well, obviously, to the point of reinvented solos and Brian turning his back to the audience to jam out with the long-haired bearded drummer, Benny. Benny did not seem like a super-master technician trick wise, but he was all feel, all dynamics and pocket and drive and push that really propels a lot of their song structure. “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” was so good to hear, so so so so so good to hear, even though they took a break before the last verse to give Brian a minute to talk about the ex-girlfriend in the third verse.  Following a one-song acoustic break with the opener that I had missed, there were some cuts from “American Slang,” including the title track that made me want to run away and do all kinds of things and see all kinds of things and have no cares in the world other than what the day might bring. Continuing that theme emotionally and musically, “Diamond Church Street Choir” was dead on with the backup vocals and all. Actually I was really impressed with how they used backup vocals overall, including those of the third guitarist, Ian. Really clear balance and really retro at times, especially in “Here Comes My Man.” Love seeing simple harmony backsup in a rock band…again, retro and quite pleasing sonic-wise.


“They’ll find me beat down out in the universe
Though I’ll never forget where I’m from…”

~The Diamond Church Street Choir
The Gaslight Anthem, American Slang

Overall, they presented a really cohesive catalog, and message, and feel. Condensing four LPs into an hour and half show isn’t the easiest task, but you can tell they’ve learned what tracks from past albums have real staying power and played a role in crafting their sound as it exists today. You can tell they’re proud, and still having fun. Still in some shock at their fan base. Personally, I was unbelievably happy to hear so many songs I loved, get a better feel for where these songs are coming from in terms of both inspiration and persperation. 
And of course, it just made me think about how different my life would be today if I follow different dreams, if I wound up at club after club and bar after bar night after night.  
“And the only thing we know is it’s getting dark and we better go
And the only thing we say are the despairs of the day, 

And if you’re too tired, go to sleep, my brothers,
And if you’re too tired, go to sleep, my brothers
I’m alright to drive”

~Drive 
The Gaslight Anthem, Sink or Swim
There is a lot more I could say, about these songs and how they made me feel, and how it seemed they were making a lot of other people feel — from the toe-tappers on the mezzanine in their glasses and vests … the youngish looking girl with a huge smile dancing her ass off to my left and the guy in front of me with the bald spot who kept turning around and looking at me out of the corner of his eye … to the big dude in the Menzigners shirt who kept crossing back and forth though where my friends and I were standing….and I could say a whole lot abot those people who stand so fucking still at concerts I have no idea why they’re even there….and what about those sweet amazing couples, hugging and swaying and kissing, so intimate admist all this ruckus? Quite interesting to me to the blonde girl sitting and nodding her head to the beat, (tour or venue crew?) so controlled and composed as she looked on from what I can best describe as a private fenced-off box stage right that I would’ve given a pinky toe to be sitting in. The romance, the lust, the draw, it was there in every corner no matter how disguised among the crowds of D.C.’s apparently varied population of music fans.


“Now do you blow it out come Friday night?
See if you wanna, you can find me on the hood under the moonlight
Radio, oh radio, do you believe there’s still some magic left
Somewhere inside our souls?”

~Howl
The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten

There is a lot more I could say, about these songs and how they make me feel, about how many years I’ve heard this band and how that cutthroat honesty, unafraid of drama or cliche, gets me every time..a lot more I could say, but I have a sleep debt and a long, long week to shine on through. Here goes nothing, again – if there was any other takeaway from last night, it’s that truly anything is possible, no matter how frightening or far-fetched.

“I’ve never felt so strange
Standing in the pounding rain
Thinking about what my mother once said
Maybe I should call me an ambulance”

~The Patient Ferris Wheel 
The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound

Sidenote: We’re going to see a lot of lists soon, it being December and all. I am a little too zonked right now (whatever that means) to process my top 10 albums of the year, but I will see that when I read quick briefs of album reviews of those I haven’t encountered, it’s really easy to make me not want to listen to the album, and that’s if you state the obvious. Lyric excerpts are too often used as crutches. Tell me why I need to listen to this and why it is better than anything else, don’t give me meeting minutes. Fuck if I know anything about music writing, though.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑