December is here and I’m ready to feel every minute of it. A few magical things have happened lately that have reminded me to breathe more, trust more, let go more. There’s too many things to explain what I mean, and some of it I want to keep for myself, but I’m grateful, all the same.
Early morning, pre-sun, blood orange hot tea, another blank page of a month to fill with music and wonderings. Come along with me, if you care to, and let’s listen together to today’s Give Me Five.
Give Me Five – December 1, 2022
listen on Spotify and YouTube
Song 1: “Christmas Song” by Phoebe Bridgers
“Christmas Song” by Phoebe Bridgers – from the single, “Christmas Song” (2018)
“You don’t have to be alone to be lonesome
It’s so easy to forget
And sadness comes crashing like a brick through the window
And it’s Christmas so no-one can fix it”
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, at least around here. No, I don’t mean the holiday isles at big box and grocery stores that start around late October. It’s the twinkle lights and decorated houses, the trimmed trees you can glimpse through windows, the slow unboxing of our own holiday decor that is starting to celebrate the house.
“Christmas Song”, by Phoebe Bridgers, was released in 2018. I adore Phoebe, and this song just fits to kick off the first day of December’s Give Me Five. Its melancholic, and snow drift stark, but it reminds me to reach out, to offer warmth, and to be grateful for those I love in my life, and those I love that have left my life.
I love the swell of voices that hit towards the close of the song – the warmth their sound brings. And the duet-voice in some of the verses is Jackson Browne, who heard Phoebe cover the song live and later told her how much he loved it.
“I played a show in L.A. around the holidays last year where I covered it for the first time. Jackson Browne was there, and he came up to me after the show to tell me how much he loved the song. A couple days later, Dan [McCarthy] got a Bandcamp notification on his desktop computer that someone paid 50 bucks for his record and wrote a nice note and signed it Jackson Browne. He thought someone was fucking with him. So when I decided to record a version of the song, I knew who I wanted to sing on it. Plus, I have wanted to make music with Jackson as long as I’ve wanted to make music.” – Phoebe Bridgers, from Pitchfork
For more Phoebe’s melancholic, beautiful songs, drift on over here.
Song 2: “doomsday” by Lizzy McAlpine
“doomsday” by Lizzy McAlpine – from the album, five seconds flat (2022)
“I’d like to plan out my part in this,
but you’re such a narcissist,
you’ll probably do it next week.
I don’t get a choice in it.
Why would I?
It’s only the death of me.”
According to Spotify Wrapped, for 2022, this was my most played song. I’m not surprised. The first time I heard it, I played it over and over and over, musically obsessing over it for months after. That first day I heard it, I featured it in a Give Me Five post (see here).
The music video is like a mini-movie, directed by Gus Black, script and song written by Lizzy. Music videos that tell a story, cinema-style, are my favorite kind. The song, “doomsday”, is about fatal heartbreak with a narcissist-lover (ever had one of those? I know I have), and has that soaring vocals in the background that I was raving about in Phoebe’s song above. Death and heartbreak, especially those first ones – I think we’ve all been there, felt that.
“In the song lyrics I use a lot of funeral imagery and metaphors because to me, heartbreak is like a small death, especially when it’s your first love. When he broke up with me I would actually feel like I was dying.” – Lizzy McAlpine, from Atwood Magazine
There’s something in the last lyrics, too, that hits a familiar pang. The juxtaposition of expectation and reality, especially when you realize you cared more than the person you were “in love” with. Oh, and that verse:
“Doomsday is close at hand,
I’ll book the marching band,
to play as you speak.
I’ll feel like throwing up,
you’ll sit and stare like,
a goddamn machine.”
That takes me back to an unexpected break-up in a parking lot. It came out of nowhere and hit like a string of bullets in my chest, while he sat calmly across from me, no emotion in his voice, his eyes lifeless and robotic. We felt like strangers. Worse than strangers. Break-ups and heartbreak can feel like small (or not so small) deaths.
Want to hear more from Lizzy? There’s a lot more to discover. You can start here.
Song 3: “Pink + White” by Frank Ocean
“Pink + Black” by Frank Ocean – from the album, Blonde (2016)
“Just the same way you showed me,
You showed me love.”
Most mornings, I go driving with my younger daughter, sometimes for a coffee, sometimes to run an early morning errand, and over the last few months, to teach her to drive. One of the things I look the most forward to, besides the stolen time for just us, is her car-DJ music playlists she shares with me. I have discovered, and re-discovered, so much music via her morning drive soundtracks.
Frank Ocean was a re-discover. I was way into his 2012 album, channel Orange, but had not dug as deeply into his 20165 album, Blonde. I think it is now my favorite release of his (so far/hopefully we get new Frank music someday). “Pink + White” feels early morning to me, especially this time of year in Southern California, when the sky looks like one giant cloud and the air is crisp and cool.
“Pink + White” was produced by Pharrell Williams. The video above was directed by Mikhail Mutskyi (such a gorgeous video). Beyonce (uncredited) added background vocals to the song that has been said to detail Frank’s memories of his youth and someone close to him who passed away. He remembers this person by recalling the lessons they taught him. (from Genius)
If you’d like to discover/re-discover Frank’s music, and follow along in the hoping he releases more music, join me here.
Song 4: “Where Does the Good Go” by Tegan and Sara
Tegan and Sara
“Where Does the Good Go” by Tegan and Sara – from the album, So Jealous (2004)
“It’s love that leaves and breaks,
the seal of always thinking you would be.
Real happy and healthy,
strong and calm –
Where does the good go?”
I’m so into Tegan and Sara lately. I’ve been falling hard for their new album, bingeing the series High School (based on Tegan and Sara’s memoir), and re-discovering all their earlier songs. “Where Does the Good Go” is part of what I call their Grey’s Anatomy era. Although it wasn’t the first place I heard their music (that was “Seventeen” on a mix CD from a crush long ago), it was where I heard more, and subsequently sought more of their music, and albums.
“Where Does the Good Go” was written by Tegan, and as mentioned above (i.e. Grey’s era), it was featured in Season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy. Tegan has said that the song is about coming down from a euphoric romantic high and being emotionally crushed after high school:
“In high school, you feel all on top of the world and then something like that happens in your life and you realize that you’re never gonna be the same. And now all of a sudden you have all these issues you have to deal with and it brings up all these issues from when you were a kid and things completely change, you know?” – Tegan Quin, from Genius
Check out the memoir and series, High School (mentioned above) here.
Check out more of Tegan and Sara, including their newly released album, here.
Song 5: “The Moon Will Sing” by The Crane Wives
“The Moon Will Sing” by The Crane Wives – from the album, Coyote Stories (2015)
“The moon will sing a song for me.
I loved you like the sun.
Bore the shadows that you made.
With no light of my own.
I shine only with the light you gave me.”
Today looks like we will have mostly clouds covering the sky, and blocking the sun. Once the night falls, will the moon be visible? Will she smile down? Will she sing?
The Crane Wives are a new discovery of mine, found today in a Winter themed playlist. The genre for their album Coyote Stories is listed as folk, rock, and children’s music. I listen to it on repeat, closing my eyes, and a part of me feels transported to when I was small. It reminds me of songs like “Puff the Magic Dragon” and “Me and My Arrow”.
If you’d like to hear more of The Crane Wives, and maybe see if their songs bring memories of your wee years, click here.