Since it is my birthday, I thought I’d highlight one of my all-time favorite albums. Tori Amos’ From the Choirgirl Hotel. Though I vacillate between four of her albums as being my absolute favorites, it’s this one that I come back to most often.
There will never be another Little Earthquakes, and the impact it had on me in 1992 is immeasurable, and Under the Pink is so connected to who I was in the mid-’90s that I will never lose my ties to it, and oh my stars, the gut-and-heart double-whammy punch of Boys For Pele, I may never be the same.
From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998) by Tori Amos
All that said, though, there is something about From the Choirgirl Hotel that gets me so deeply, at any time, and at any age. It may very well be my favorite Tori. It bypasses nostalgia, it drives over break-ups and memories, living somewhere forever under my skin, and fitting right into wherever I am in my life. From the start of “Spark”, From the Choirgirl Hotel’s got me.
“Spark” by Tori Amos
Are you sure where my Spark is?”
From the Choirgirl Hotel is Tori Amos’ fourth studio album (unless, of course, you count Y Kant Tori Read). When it was released, in 1998, the album was considered a departure from Tori’s previous works. This time around Tori had a full rock band sound, with heavier production than in the past when her sound was more of a minimalist, stripped-down piano sound. But, to me, it still had that rawness that had always been one of the things I love about her music.
Upon its release in May of 1998, the album debuted at #5 in the US and #6 in the UK. While falling short of the #2 debut for Tori’s previous release, Boys for Pele (1996), From the Choirgirl Hotel was Tori’s strongest debut in US sales, selling 153,000 copies in the first week of release.
Tori received two 1999 Grammy nominations, for Alternative Music Performance, and Female Rock Vocal Performance for the song “Raspberry Swirl”.
The lead single, “Spark” became a hit after its release in June 1998 and was followed by “Jackie’s Strength” in September 1998, and then “Cruel/Raspberry Swirl” in November 1998. (from Wikipedia)
“Jackie’s Strength” by Tori Amos
Beene’s got some pot,
you’re only popular with Anorexia.
So I turn myself inside out,
in hope someone will see,
Thematically and conceptually, the “Choirgirl Hotel” of the title refers to the fictional, imaginary place where the songs “live.” Amos pointed out that although the songs are recorded, they are also alive themselves – they can be re-modeled and reshaped in concert etc. Tori imagined the songs as living their own lives, all checking into the “Choirgirl Hotel”, but living separate lives outside the confines of the album.
In the album’s artwork, Tori included a hand-drawn map detailing the stomping ground of these songs.
From the Choirgirl Hotel’s artwork was created by the UK-based photographer, Katerina Jebb. The artwork features full-body color photocopies of Amos (in various couture outfits) as scanned by a human-sized photocopier. (from Wikipedia)
There are so many reasons why From the Choirgirl Hotel is “quintessential” to me, so many connections and emotions and memories are attached to this album, for me. Just listening to it this today, I find myself in tears.
Beyond the memories it evokes, I also feel the here and now when I hear these songs now. I still connect so much to “Northern Lad” (one of my forever favorite Tori songs), and “Playboy Mommy” (which I can’t hear without crying).
Tori has always had an impact on my life, her albums always coming around when I most needed them, or at least that is how it always felt with the first five. There is strength I’ve gathered from her songs, and things I have faced in my life because of entire albums, words I didn’t have to express that I could call to her lyrics to help explain. For me, I felt like her music got me, and I got the music right back.
And the magic of From the Choirgirl Hotel is the never going away kind. I’m always going to want to listen to these songs.
“Northern Lad” by Tori Amos
“Guess you go too far,
when pianos try to be guitars.”
“Northern Lad” hit me first listen. I felt like it described so painfully perfect the relationship I found myself in as the “nineties” came to a close. I would sit on the floor next to my stereo, hitting repeat over and over again, feeling every part of the song so completely. I’d listen to it while I filled pages and pages of handwritten journals, trying to write myself into a solution. I found it eventually, the song acting as a companion and confidante, and eventually as my strength to say “it’s over“.
I would garner that same kind of strength years later with “Jackie’s Strength”, a song that I’ve kept close to me, as a totem, of sorts, for my belief in love even after so many failed attempts at it.
“Playboy Mommy” by Tori Amos
“I’ll say it loud here by your grave,
those angels can’t ever take my place.”
“Spark” and “Playboy Mommy” would break me and piece me back together when I went through my own miscarriage. Both songs still bring me to tears, but sometimes we all need that. I know that I clung so tightly to both tracks when I was trying to face such a loss, finding the smallest solace in at least knowing that I wasn’t alone. They are both such beautiful songs, albeit so very heartbreaking (especially the latter).
The songs from Tori’s From the Choirgirl Hotel have stayed with me, and many of them remain on my life-list of all-time favorite songs. I still go back to them, revisit them, slip them into playlists and sometimes find new connections to them. The album, too, I often listen from start-to-finish, usually letting it play a few times through.
This is an album I’d really like to acquire on vinyl for my own collection someday.
(Girl Versus The F-Word is an older essay piece of mine that was due for a refresh, and revision. It is just as relevant today as it was when I first wrote it, if not more so)
Girl Versus The F-Word
Girl versus “the f-word” is a lifetime battle of wits and sanity that I have been a co-combatant in for nearly all my life. No, not that “f-word”, though I suppose I could write a separate, and equally passionate personal essay on that, as well, and my dealings with it. But, right now I mean a different “f-word”, one that may be more reviled than that other “f-word” ever could be.
Fat is by far more offensive to most people than the word fuck ever could be.
I grew up in a family where the word fat was spoken in whispers, or with wrinkled-up-nose disdain. The first time I remember really hearing it was in the form of a question. I was five years old, and I was with my mother in the early after-kindergarten afternoon. We were walking hand-in-hand in the Alpha Beta parking lot, heading towards the place where the shopping carts were stacked into each other. My mother pointed towards the carts, and specifically towards a woman who was grabbing one of herself. She leaned down towards me and half-whispered the f-word question:
“I’m not as fat as she is. Am I?”
My mother’s voice was shaky, her words sounding uneven and soft, a sharp contrast to her usual loud bellow. I knew even then what the right answer was, whether it be the truth or a lie. I could tell in the pit of my stomach. So, I shook my head back-and-forth and said “no mommy.” I had to repeat it three times, those words of confirmation from five-year-old me, before she seemed to take the words in, sighing louder than her question had been, her breathing beginning to slow.
Looking back at that snapshot memory I don’t even think I understood what “fat” meant, just that it was a bad something that other women had more of than my mother did.
My mother had grown up on a diet. Her mother used dieting as a way to earn anything of value, be it a new coat, a trip to the movies, or a visit from friends. My mother was put on amphetamines as a pre-adolescent to help with the diet regimes, making her jittery and causing her insomnia to worsen, but hey, at least her hunger went away.
The physical kind, at least.
In my house growing-up, there was a new cycle every week. A new game of dieting or binging, food as a constant comforter, or the enemy. I was expected to play along. Sometimes the game consisted of weeks and weeks of celery and assorted “diet” foods, other times it was bags of Lays’ potato chips and brightly colored M&M’s. My mother was my favorite person as a child, so I followed along, every step, every cycle, every new game, as I stared at my own reflection in mirrors and window panes, wondering if all the other girls were “fatter” than me.
At age ten, my mother bought me a Charlie’s Angels lunch box. I remember wanting to be just like them – Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) especially.
Every school day she filled the accompanying Thermos with cottage cheese and yogurt. It was warm and slightly sour by the time lunch would come around.
“Mom, please can you make me peanut butter and jelly?”
“Can I please have a Twinkie, like Alyssa gets?”
Her answer was always the same.
“You don’t want to be fat, do you?”
No was the right answer. I knew that.
So, I would stare at those Angels and think they weren’t fat so I wouldn’t be either.
When I was thirteen a friend of my mother came by, bringing with her a pair of Calvin Klein jeans.
“I’m so proud of you for losing all that baby fat, to celebrate I got these for you.”
We never had money for designer anything, and these were the biggest thing at the private school I attended on scholarship. They were what all the other girls wore. I excitedly squeezed myself into them, struggling, trying the technique of lying on my back to get the zipper up.
There was satisfaction in the effort, an accomplishment in fitting into a size, into a number. I felt anything but the “f-word”. I felt beautiful. It was short-lived though, lasting only about half-way into the next day, at school.
I was standing in front of my locker, treasured jeans hugging my “in the midst of puberty” body when two boys walked by.
“I didn’t know they made Calvin’s for fat girls.”
The words hit like a slap. They stuck in me like a deep knife wound. I felt a poisonous mix of humiliation and anxiety fill up my bloodstream. I wanted to disappear.
It was in the days immediately following that I started seeing how long I could go without eating. And, it was in those days that followed that I started to see myself as that “f-word” every day, and hating myself for it.
The word would get used again by “well-meaning girls” that called themselves friends. They would pinch and pull at their skinny frames, calling themselves the “f-word” then looking to me to do the same. I would try not to stare at their “perfect” bodies in the locker room after P.E. class, while at the same time hide my own body away so they couldn’t see me. There were two girls that were “fatter” than me which made it a little easier to breathe. I started asking myself that question my mother had asked me all those years before, always seeking out the “fatter” in the room to make herself, and now myself, better – ever dreading the day that the “fatter” one would be me.
Many things started to fall into place because of the “f-word”: feeling fat, whether I actually was at the time, or not. The word’s power was impenetrable and rife with self-destruction. I loathed my reflection. But, more than that, I hated who I was on the inside. I would go without eating until my hands shook and my head pounded until the world turned blurry. Only then would I give in, buying food with babysitting money, gorging on candy bars and slice after slice of pizza, then hating myself even more after.
I cut my skin in hidden places. I took the blame for the abuse that was happening to me at home, interpreting it as a sign of how bad I was.
I counted pills from the top shelf of the medicine cabinet, wondering silently how many it would take to make it all stop. To make me stop.
I let boys do whatever they wanted to me too, even if their touch made me feel sick. Even if I felt nothing from them, at all. Somewhere in my head I heard voices chanting:
“I didn’t know boys liked fat girls.”
At nineteen, the funny, white powder I found after my high school days were over made me forget who I was. It also helped me not want to eat much of anything. I smiled at the bones that protruded from my body, those angles were bliss to me, and their presence was as addictive as those chopped up lines of magic. Anyone who I let touch myself then I didn’t feel, couldn’t, not really.
I was miles away from my “finally thin” body.
At twenty-two, a foolish notion of love and the birth of my daughter helped me back into my body again. The boy and I were young, too young for family and parenthood, but there were some good years, years where I forgot about my body completely and just allowed myself to live. It didn’t last though.
It was after that love broke, and a passing stranger’s flippant comment that threw me back into “f-word” fear. This time I crashed into a full-blown eating disorder.
You name it I did it: binging and purging, laxatives by the fist full, obsessive exercising, days of eating nothing but “one bite” of something. Diet Coke was my best friend. The caffeine kept me going, and the carbonation made throwing up easier.
Sometimes, even now, the taste of it after a meal triggers the impulse to get rid of all of it.
Those days back then in the throes of it, I was a weakened shell of a girl. I was in my late twenties, but my body felt decades older. Some days I couldn’t get out of bed. I did though. I had a child to support, a job to go to and no one to help me. I was overwhelmed and over my head with the weight of responsibilities. Controlling my body’s weight was the only sense of control I had.
On a too hot Saturday afternoon, when my daughter was at a rare visit with her Dad, I collapsed in the middle of a grocery store. The woman who helped me drove me and my car home, helped me to my door, holding my hand and sitting with me on my porch, waiting until I could identify which key would unlock my front door.
I look at photos of me from back then and I can barely look at myself. The shadowy eyes, the pain that just reflects off every part of me, how fragile I look.
Only on the once in a while, on a really bad day, do I look at those pictures and wish I was that skinny still.
It was a hospital by the ocean and a remarkable therapist that saved my life (or helped me to save it0. He helped me want to live, while also helping to restore my creative side, and re-introduce me to my writer self.
Writing and music. They saved my life, too. Honestly, they’ve always been saving it.
It was a battle of epic proportions and the memories of it all, how much I had to turn myself inside out to heal, it still shatters me. I have fallen back a few times, but I’ve always gotten back up again. I’m better than I’ve ever been, but it’s still hard as hell. and chaos and crisis, anxiety, or something seemingly small can trigger it all. I still have it in me. I always will. But as of today, I haven’t gone back to full-throttle destruction of my body, and self.
Thing is though, I still have that “f-word” in my head. It still haunts me, taunts me, and makes me think twice about myself. I preach to everyone I know and love to know and love their bodies. I support positive body image, and I strive to change the world and all the body hatred with so much of what I do every day. I am a huge fan, and supporter of body positivity…yet I still struggle with that word.
I still feel judged for the body I reside in, I still feel less than because I’m not skinny, I still struggle to say that its okay for me to be fat because when I do I hear my mother’s voice in my head, and those boys mocking tones, and the countless women’s chorus of diet this and fat that. I still feel a failure for being fat, even though if you asked me to my face, right now, I’d smile and lie and say I love how I look.
I still wonder if I will ever make peace with the “f-word”, and if society ever will. Or is it a word whose power I will fight and fear forever (oh look, three more f-words).
“Beautiful Girl” by INXS
from the album, Welcome To Wherever You Are (1992)
Today’s re-launch/birthday Top 5 Music Obsessions feature a set of 5 songs that I’ve been obsessing over all month. The Top 5 starts out with Hatchie’s new track pre-released, and to be included on her upcoming album, Keepsake.
From there the Top 5 slides into another early track from an upcoming release, this time from The National, a favorite band of mine. “You Had Your Soul with You” took a little time to sink in with me, but once it did it moved into heavy “commute to work” rotation.
Phoebe Bridgers comes in next with one of my favorite tracks off of her 2017 album, Stranger in the Alps. Phoebe’s tune flows perfectly into “UFOF” by Big Thief, yet another pre-release from a “coming in 2019” album. I’ve been into Big Thief since I first heard “Shark Smile”, which led me to their 2017 album, Capacity.
And last, but definitely not least, how about we hear one more track/preview from an upcoming album? This time from The Dove and The Wolf, the French duo who I fell in love with back when I saw them open for Butch Walker. Paloma and Louise of The Dove and the Wolf have harmonies that will slay you dead – in the very best of ways. If you haven’t fallen in love with them yet, trust me…you will.
So, are you ready to give these five a listen?
Top 5 Music Obsessions – March 23, 2019
1. “Without a Blush” by Hatchie
from the album, Keepsake (coming in June of 2019)
“If I could kiss you one more time,
would it make everything alright,
or would it just make me a liar?”
Hatchie (Harriette Pilbeam) is an Australian singer-songwriter and musician who I discovered last year when I stumbled on her EP, Sugar and Spice. “Without a Blush” is one of my most played songs (so far) of March 2019. I included the track on a playlist I made for myself, as well as one I recently made for my best friend.
“Without a Blush” was the opening track for both playlists – as well as the opening track to today’s Top 5 Music Obsessions.
I love the dreamy vocals and indie-pop sensibilities of this track. It’s so catchy that I found myself singing-a-long after only a few listens. And before I knew it, I was waking up with it in my head, and seeking it out to play as I’d start my ride to work every morning.
2. “You Had Your Soul with You” by The National
from the album, I Am Easy to Find (coming in May of 2019)
“I had only one thing to do,
and I couldn’t do it yet.
I had only one thing left,
and I couldn’t see it yet.”
I was beyond excited when I saw that there was a new song from The National. I pressed play immediately and was immediately unsure. There was something about the opening sound that threw me off. A different sound then I expected. It was a bit jarring, at first. And, there was also something new about the vocal production that I wasn’t 100% signed on with. And then…and then…and then…after a few plays, and a few more, it got me, and I got it – we musically got each other.
The addition of Gail Ann Dorsey, who previously worked with David Bowie, is a brilliant choice. I hope we hear more of her on other tracks from their upcoming album. Once she started singing I knew I had to hear the song again. Her voice, with Matt Berninger’s, is some kind of magic.
If this song doesn’t hit you immediately, don’t give up on it. Honestly give it a few listens, one of them turned up loud, preferably in your car, at night, if you can. “You Had Your Soul with You” is a grower, but I bet it will get you/get to you quickly, too.
3. “Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers
from the album, Stranger in the Alps (2017)
“I hate you for what you did,
and I miss you like a little kid.
I faked it every time,
but that’s alright.
I can hardly feel anything.
I hardly feel anything at all.”
I like the concept of emotional motion sickness. I relate to the idea, and I’ve felt that way myself through the start of this year, and during a lot of the last. Sometimes I feel like my emotions have been turned up high, and thrown into a rinse and spin cycle. Or like I’ve been strapped to a never-ending carnival ride, the kind that goes up and down, and around in circles, all at once.
Meditation and mindfulness have helped some. If nothing else I’m becoming more aware of my emotional “Motion Sickness“. I’m trying hard to find, and maintain safety and stability, and master the ability to swim through my feelings. I’m working on my own personal form of Dramamine (motion sickness medicine).
4. “UFOF” by Big Thief
from the album, UFOF (coming in May of 2019)
“Just like a bad dream,
I stumbled on Big Thief, and the song “Shark Smile”, through a Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist. I obsessed over the track for a while, and then dove head first into their 2017’s Capacity. From there, I music-obsessed over so many Big Thief songs. When I heard recently they had a new track out I couldn’t wait to hear it.
The song, “UFOF”, did not disappoint. I love the intimacy of it. The quiet control, the dreamy-feel, the off-kilter sounds (some of them seeming and feeling alien), and the strong storytelling. Listen carefully to the lyrically told story of alien abduction. It sneaks up to you and sonically abducts you. No, I mean it.
As I listen now I find myself thinking of Agents Mulder and Scully, wondering if I could go back in time and insert this song into one of The X-Files episodes (maybe one involving Mulder’s daughter).
5. “Free Around You” by The Dove and The Wolf
from the album, Conversations (coming in May 2019)
“I feel free.
I feel free around you.”
The Dove and The Wolf’s music makes me sigh in dreamy delight. Their harmonies are angelic, and their overall sound is just so intimate and gorgeous. When I first saw them open for Butch Walker I could not get over how amazing they were (you can read my review here). I’m so glad they are making new music.
At times they remind me of Azure Ray, another duo I have big love for. At other times, its the harmonies of First Aid Kit that I’m reminded of. And then I think of some of the folk albums I used to listen as a young girl. The ones I borrowed from my Mother’s record collection. Albums from Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, The Mamas and the Papas, Peter Paul and Mary, and even Fleetwood Mac. There’s something in those albums and artists from the ’60s and ’70s that I recognize in “Free Around You”, and in The Dove and The Wolf’s music. Hypnotically beautiful stuff.
If you like this track I encourage you to seek out more from them. I will update the playlists weekly, for your listening obsessing pleasure.
Top 5 Music Obsessions – March 23, 2019
One of my all-time favorite movies is Reality Bites, a movie written by Helen Childress and directed by Ben Stiller. The film was released in 1994, my 25th year.
Today is my 50th year, and my love for this movie is still going strong.
Reality Bites (1994)
Written by Helen Childress
Directed by Ben Stiller
Movie of the Day
I loved Reality Bites from the first time I saw it in the theater (opening weekend). I have lost track of how many times I’ve seen Reality Bites. It is one of those movies that I often re-watch when I need to cheer up (i.e. “comfort food” movies), when I spend time with friends who love it like I do, or when I just have a Laney, Vickie, Sammy, and Troy Dyer craving.
1994. 25. My life had some look-a-like similarities to the characters in Reality Bites that year. I was renting a small apartment, smoking too much, drinking coffee way, way too late most nights, and rocking Laney’s (Winona Ryder) ’90s hair.
I was in flux at the time, halfway out of a relationship and halfway in one, in that on the cusp of getting back together “place” that I would find myself in, over and over again, during my twenties. I had a two-year-old daughter, and most days I had no idea what I was doing with my life.
I wrote a lot in journals, I worked at a record store, I faltered in relationships, and I had some amazing friends.
The halfway out of a relationship boy said I reminded him of Lelaina, especially in the scene in the gas station mini-mart, when Laney and her friends dance to “My Sharona”.
He told me he always felt held back, and that I was overwhelming to him. I had too much energy and enthusiasm, to an embarrassing degree. He’d go on to say I loved too big, too. That I did everything too big. I suppose I should have listened, that I should have realized that this was part of what I ended up despising, how cold and collected he seemed, how much of his emotions seemed in constant lockdown, and how much he despised any and all of my emotions.
I’ve definitely had my share of guys like Troy (Ethan Hawke). In the years that would follow Reality Bites, I would find myself falling for the intellectual slacker, the unmotivated musician, the underemployed (or unemployed), the boys who were irresponsible, often addicted, and hopelessly attractive to me. They were full of passion, good in bed, and were the kind of boys that you could have all-night conversations with, night after night after night.
“There’s no point to any of this. It’s all just a… a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know… a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter become a cackle… and I, I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights and I ride my own melt.” – Troy Dyer
They weren’t good at the real life shit though. They never had money for dinner, or for rent. They were afraid of commitment, or so into “us” so fast that they became unhealthily obsessed and jealous. Most of them were weak, not physically so, but emotionally, not one to stand by my side when things got rough or needed to be faced. They needed me to fix them, to be strong for them, and to take over all the things in life they didn’t want to do.
Most of them turned out to be nothing but nightmares and heartache.
And yet, even knowing that now, knowing what most Troy’s are like from first hand, and heart, and experience, I still sit here watching, at 50 now, knowing that if I was Laney I would fall for Troy, that I would choose Troy. Every single time.
I think about Lelaina now, today, on my birthday Saturday afternoon, and I still relate so much. Under skin that has lines now, and hair that grays quickly, I don’t feel all that grown-up, no, so much of me still feels like that 25-year-old who was confused all the time, who didn’t know what she wanted to be, or where. I look in the mirror half expecting to see a younger me, the me that still sneaks into so much of my thinking, feeling, and writing, but instead, I see this older woman who resembles my Mother, and my Grandmother.
“I was really going to be somebody by the time I was 23.” – Laney
I’m not afraid of aging, I’m not afraid of age, but I don’t feel much like this reflection that seems to be me. I think I thought I’d really be somebody by the age of 50, and 40, and 35, and 25, and maybe even 23.
Do we ever arrive at that “somebody” we think we’ll be?
Lelaina and Troy’s relationship stayed with me, and always will, as a defining kind of way to live and love. It became a flawed ideal of what I wanted out of love, and in some ways, I have found it at times, maybe not with all the elements of it, of their fictional love story, but definitely the sensibility of it. When I sit back and look at it, really take it in, I know I still want a “you and me and five bucks” kind of love. I don’t know how to not want it, no matter how naive it is, or doomed.
Maybe it’s part of why I like to say Troy Dyer ruined my heart.
Vickie (Janeane Garofalo) is more than just the stereotypical best friend character that we see all too often on film, especially in the romantic comedies and “coming-of-age” drama/dramedies. No, Vickie is more than that, she is complex, she has her own goals, her own struggles, her own insecurities, and is far more important to the story than just as a plot device to move Lelania’s story along.
I love her friendship with Lelania, and the moments we get to see this, like in the car, singing together, and at the diner, talking about life and death, and everything in-between. Their love and friendship are believable and beautiful, and at times reminds me very much of my closest friends and our friendships.
Watching it now it makes me miss having a best girlfriend close by, the kind you spend so much time with, live with, or might as well live with. I miss having that kind of confidante, someone to drive around with playing music loudly and singing-a-long to. A best friend to share my secrets with, go on adventures with, stay up late drinking coffee and making each other laugh.
Sometimes the worst part about growing up is growing apart from your friends, or being long distances away from them.
25 years is a long time, and not so long, as well. I still feel like Lelaina, but I also feel like I’m Laney with some years behind her. I’m still a mess, but I know myself more. I still have vulnerability and tenacity, I still want to create something and be something more than my “job”, and I still am full of flaws, but maybe those flaws are part of what makes me creative and make me, well…me.
And sometimes I just really want to dance around to My Sharona.
“My Sharona” by The Knack
Side note: Reality Bites is available to watch on Netflix (DVD only, US), Starz (cable and streaming), and to rent on Amazon and YouTube (US).
“Happy Birthday” is a 1981 single by Scottish New Wave band, Altered Images. It is the title track from the band’s debut album. The song peaked at #2 on the UK Singles Chart. It is my favorite “birthday” song.
“Happy Birthday” by Altered Images
from the album, Happy Birthday (1981)
Song of the Day
The track was produced by Martin Rushent, who also produced The Human League the same year, and went on to produce the band’s second album, Pinky Blue. “Happy Birthday” was the only song on their debut album that Rushent produced. (from Wikipedia)
My first initial music-memory this song elicits is the John Hughes’ film, Sixteen Candles, a movie I would first see while on vacation with my Grandmother on Catalina Island.
Those opening notes of “Happy Birthday” always remind me of the movie and my lifetime love of Molly Ringwald.
So, today is my birthday. My 50th. A big year, no doubt. As a present to myself, I’ve decided to relaunch Lyriquediscorde. I really did think it was over, but my obsessions with music and movies and books and TV, and writing about them – well that’s just never going to be over.
There will be some changes. It will no longer be music-focused, though music will always play a big part. There will be more personal posts, more memoir-type essays, as well as posts that focus on bigger themes. That said, I will still be sharing my songs of the day, as well as my Top 5 music obsessions of the day, along with movies of the day, Top 5 weekly lists, playlists, and some of the other special features that have been here since I started this space a little over eight years ago. I hope you stick around for the changes and participate by sharing your thoughts and reactions in the comments.
Altered Images were an early 80’s Scottish New Wave/Post-Punk band fronted by Clare Grogan. The band had six UK Top 40 hits during their career, between the years of 1981-1983. (from Wikipedia)
Their big hits included today’s Song of the Day – “Happy Birthday“, “I Could Be Happy” (my all-time favorite track of theirs), “See Those Eyes”, and “Don’t Talk To Me About Love”.
“Happy Birthday” (live, 1981) by Altered Images
If you like what you hear with “Happy Birthday“, and if this is your first Altered Images song, check-out the entire album Happy Birthday. Some of my favorite tracks (besides this one) are “A Days Wait”, “Faithless”, and “Midnight”.
Happy Birthday was Altered Images debut album. Released in 1981, it featured today’s Song of the Day – “Happy Birthday” – the band’s biggest ever hit. The album reached #26 in the UK Album Charts and was certified Silver by the BPI for sales in excess of 60,000 copies. (from Wikipedia)
I used to have the album on vinyl. I remember finding it in a bin at Music Market, one of my favorite record stores in the ’80s. They had an amazing “Import” section full of so much New Wave and Post-Punk music (my go-to/favorite music genre in my teen years). It was a few years after its release, in 1985, I believe, when I first found the album and made it my own.
The album was re-issued on 180-gram black vinyl LP with a bonus 7″ on red vinyl, in 2016, and then again in 2017, for Record Store Day, this time on 180-gram black vinyl with additional tracks. I’d love to get my hands on either of these re-releases or at least a copy of the original release that I once had.
I love how the album starts and ends with pieces of the song “Happy Birthday” (“Intro: Happy Birthday” and “Outro: Happy Birthday”). This makes Altered Images Happy Birthday one of the best choices of albums to listen to on my birthday today – thank you for that, Altered Images.
I wrote about today’s Song of the Day – “Happy Birthday” back in 2014, as well. You can go back in time and check it out here.
What is your favorite birthday song?