Rainy December 2nd, and even a little bit chilly. It does rain in Los Angeles, much to the sayings otherwise. I’ve been filling out holiday cards and cleaning house in-between work projects. Prepping the house for a tree to trim, and decorations to light up the rooms. And yes, I’ve included another Christmas song in today’s Give Me Five.
Give Me Five – December 2, 2022
Song 1: “Money Good” by Megan Thee Stallion
“Money Good” by Megan Thee Stallion – from the album, Fever (2019)
“Throw up where I’m from,
let ’em know I’m still hood.
I ain’t had to get nobody hit but I could.
Before I post a pic, should I flex?
Yeah, I should.
I ain’t gotta worry ’bout shit,
Though I really hate money, and all the stress and issues it brings, there is something nice about being in a place – even briefly – where “money’s good”. Or, if not “good”, at least okay. As a late diagnosed ADHD’er, I am realizing the connection between my issues with money, my unrealistic perceptions of money, and how its impacted my life. All that said though, I keep coming back to something a friend of the family once said to me. She said, money is just numbers. Do not give it so much power. It will come when you need it.
Now I know that what she said was from a place of privilege, and I recognize my privilege in repeating it. And that even if I’ve struggled most of my life, I still have tremendous privilege. I know, as well, that believing in the “things work out the way they are supposed to” is not true for everyone – and also comes from privilege. With all that said, and acknowledged, I am learning to both be better with money, while also letting go of it’s power over me.
That was long-winded, personal, and not really about the song – or maybe it is about the song, in the way I perceive and relate to it.
To hear more of Megan Thee Stallion, turn up the volume and head on over here.
Song 2: “Christmas Treat” by Julian Casablancas
“Christmas Treat” by Julian Casablancas – from the album, Phrazes For the Young (2009)
“I wish it was Christmas today,
All I know is that Santa Claus,
don’t care about breaking no flying laws.
I wish it was,
I wish it was.”
A Christmas remake, or cover, of the SNL skit “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”, which originally starred Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan, and Tracy Morgan.
Want to hear more of Julian, or of the band he fronts, The Strokes? If so, you don’t have to “wish”, you just have to click here and/or here.
Song 3: “Up the Junction” by Squeeze
“Up the Junction” by Squeeze – from the album, Cool For Cats (1979)
“I worked all through the winter,
the weather brass and bitter,
I put away a tenner,
to make her better.
And when the time was ready,
we had to sell the telly.
Late evenings by the fire,
with little kicks inside her.”
I’ve loved the line, “with little kicks inside her”, ever since I first listened to “Up the Junction”. The show not tell way it reflects the pregnant girl he’s trying to support, and make a family, despite it seeming that they are not ready for any of it.
An ex of mine told me this was one of his favorite songs, that it reflected and reminded him of a time in his life. I didn’t ask for more of the story. I think I just filled in the blanks myself in fear of what I’d find. Or maybe, because sometimes its more interesting to write it yourself.
The song itself is set in South London, and stands out as it does not have a chorus, but uses key changes to move the story along and mirror the dramatic art of it. (from Genius)
It’s interesting to hear them play “Up the Junction” at an older, middle-age, age. I feel like it resonates differently. Maybe in the way the ex of mine took the song in.
To hear more of Squeeze, skip on over here.
Song 4: “Shark Smile” by Big Thief
“Shark Smile” by Big Thief – from the album, Capacity (2017)
“She was a shark smile in a yellow van.
She came around and I stole a glance in my youth.
Evelyn shown quiet as roses sting.
It came over me at a bad time.
But who wouldn’t ride on a moonlit line?
Had her in my eye, 85 down the road of a dead end gleam.”
My second most listened to song, according to Spotify’s Unwrap for 2022. I’m pretty sure it has been somewhere on my most listened songs since 2017’s Unwrap. I love Big Thief, and this is the first song I ever heard of theirs. It was my gateway song, and my favorite of theirs (or at least, one of my favorites).
When the band recorded “Shark Smile,” a song about a doomed car ride, Lenker turned her guitar amp all the way up to 10 for the first time. She played with Krivchenia for a half-hour or more, and a 30-second sample of that moment kicks off “Shark Smile.” Her wild, chaotic playing sets the raw emotional tone for the story to come.
“That’s just kind of foreshadowing the turmoil that happens in the song,” Lenker says. “It’s a generally upbeat song, and it’s just giving it the tone.” (from npr)
To hear more from Big Thief, and see if they are touring in your area soon, swim on over here.
A live version of “Shark Smile” that I love. I dig the sped up feel to it.
Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief – photo by Taylor Hill
Song 5: “Smoke Signals” by Phoebe Bridgers
“Smoke Signals” by Phoebe Bridgers – from the album, Stranger in the Alps (2017)
“One of your eyes is always half-shut,
somethin’ happened when you were a kid.
I didn’t know you then,
and I’ll never understand,
why it feels like I did.
“How Soon Is Now” in an eighties sedan,
you slept inside of it because your dad,
lived in a campground in the back of a van –
You said that song’ll creep you out until you’re dead.”
I think this was my first favorite Phoebe Bridgers song, even before “Motion Sickness”. I saw a TikTok creator going over her top 10 Unwrapped Spotify songs, and this was one of them. She spoke about how it took so long for her to get through the album, Stranger in the Alps, because she would get stuck on a song, and want to listen to it, over and over again. That is exactly how I felt about this album, and this song – the opening track.
I am a sucker for a story-told song, and this is one of them. It feels like pages from a memoir set to music, and my mind immediately fills in the colors and the characters and the things left unsaid. Sometimes I hear the part of the song quoted above and my eyes fill with tears. Other times, I am reminded of someone I loved once who felt like I’d known them forever, way before we’d actually met. Sometimes that memory makes me feel warm, sometimes it gives me goosebumps like a ghost is in the room with me (maybe he is), and sometimes it just brings me to tears. No matter when or where I listen to the song, though, it makes me FEEL.
The start of this song, the opening notes, remind me of Twin Peaks. The Pacific Northwest feels a part of it, and like I mentioned before, there is a story here. One that is cinematic. One that maybe David Lynch could write and direct. Or Allison Anders, as it brings the movie Gas Food Lodging to my mind, too.
Want to learn and hear more Phoebe Bridgers? Travel with me over here.