“Say Something” :: James :: SOTD

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“Say Something” :: James :: SOTD
from the album, Laid (1993)

“Say something,
say something,
anything.
I’ve shown you everything.
Give me a sign.”

About the Song:

“Say Something” is the fifth song from James’ fifth studio album, Laid, released in 1993. The album was the first of several collaborations between the group, and Brian Eno, who produced all but one of the album’s tracks.

James are originally from Manchester, England. They formed in 1982 and were active in the 1980’s, but achieved success during the 1990’s. The band became inactive after singer, Tim Booth, left, in 2001. They did reunite in January, 2007, for a new album and international tour.

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My Thoughts:

“Say Something” was always one of my Top 3 favorite songs on James’ Laid album. The Laid album was my first discovery of James, the first album I had of theirs, and the first songs that I heard, and loved. The album, and all the songs, were a soundtrack for a certain Summer in 1994, and I cannot hear any of the songs without immediately thinking of that time in my life.

This song, to me, is about the falling apart of a relationship, bet it love or friendship, or even family. How it is in the silences that things often fall apart. Lyrics like “your silence is deafening” speaks volumes to me.

The lyrics “More than a drug is what I need/Need a change of scenery/Need a new life” really resonates with me. There have been times in my life, including that Summer of ’93, where there was nothing more true than that. That overwhelming need to go, to be somewhere else, to start over, I’ve felt those things enormously, at times in my life.

I bet you have, too.

“Say Something” (live) 

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“Ready to Start” :: Arcade Fire :: SOTD

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“Ready to Start” :: Arcade Fire
from the album, The Suburbs (2010)

“If I was scared,
I would.
And if I was bored,
you know I would.
And if I was yours,
well, I’m not.

About the Song:

“Ready to Start” is track two of Arcade Fire’s third studio album, The Suburbs. The album was released in August, of 2010. The album debuted at #1 on the Irish Albums Chart, the UK Albums Chart, the US Billboard 200 chart, and the Canadian Albums Chart.

The Suburbs won “Album of the Year” at the 2011 Grammy Awards, “Best International Album” at the 2011 BRIT Awards, “Album of the Year” at the 2011 Juno Awards, and the 2011 Polaris Music Prize for best Canadian album.

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“Ready to Start” was released as a single on October 3, 2010. The band performed the song as their second performance at the 53rd Grammy Awards, immediately following The Suburbs winning “Album of the Year”.

The band also performed the song at the Brit Awards days after the Grammy Awards.

The song peaked at #67 on the UK Singles Chart, the band’s highest placement since “Keep the Car Running”. “Ready to Start” also peaked at #16 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, in the U.S., the band’s highest ever placement on that chart.

Additionally, the single peaked at #25 on the Billboard Rock Songs chart, and in the band’s native Canada it reached #49.

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My Thoughts:

This song is chill-inducing to me. One of those songs that you turn up and let wash over you, emotions kicking in to overdrive, and sometimes it is my tears that accompany. There is a sense of revolt in the song, but there is also an undercurrent of insecurity, of loss, and of wanting more.

The dynamics of a break-up, of heartache, of losing someone are all present and accounted for. There is also that simmering strength that comes after a fall, if you allow it, if you grab a hard hold of it and survive.

“Ready to Start” (live) :: Arcade Fire

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“Jackie” :: Sinead O’Connor :: SOTD

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“Jackie” :: Sinead O’Connor
From the album, Lion & the Cobra (1987)

“And I’ve been waiting all this time,
for my man to come,
take his hand in mine,
and lead me away,
to unseen shores.”

About the Song:

“Jackie” is the opening track of Sinead O’Connor’s debut album, Lion and the Cobra. Sinead was twenty years old when the album was released, in 1987. She recorded the album while pregnant with her firstborn child.

The album featured well-known session musicians: John Reynolds on drums, Marco Pirroni on guitars (formerly of Adam & The Ants), Rob Dean on guitars (formerly of Japan) and Mike Clowes, from Friction Grooves, on keyboards.

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My Thoughts:

Something about this song always reminds me of Emily Brontë’s novel, Wuthering Heights. Something about it calls to mine Cathy and Heathcliff, and the Moors, and their brutal tragedy of a love story. The protagonist of the song feels like Heathcliff, waiting for Cathy, believing she will return.

The Lion and the Cobra was one of my favorite albums of 1987, my last year in high school. I played it, first-to-last song, over and over again. I loved the drama of “Jackie”, the way it opened the album emotionally. The sadness in this song, the passion and strength, comes back around with track four’s “Just Like U Said It Would B”, and track six’s “Troy”.

“Jackie” (live)

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“Take Me Home” :: Concrete Blonde :: SOTD

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“Take Me Home” :: Concrete Blonde
from the album, Group Therapy (2002)

“Things get better everyday you stay alive,
then I’m amazed,
every day,
that the sun decides to rise.
Every minute,
every hour,
is another chance to change.
Life is beautiful & terrible & strange.”

About the Song:

“Take Me Home” is the eighth track on Concrete Blonde’s sixth studio album, Group Therapy. The album came about after the band’s break-up and subsequent reform. The band had reunited (for the second time), in 2001. They recorded this song, and the album, in ten days, and included their original drummer, Harry Rushakoff, on it. He eventually was re-kicked out of the band for failing to show up to shows.

There is a country twang to this song, and an honesty that age, and life, provide. There is a pop aesthetic, as well, that shimmies across the surface of the song, light enough to give it that hook, but not take away from the emotions in the song.

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My Thoughts:

It was in Chicago, in that small, studio apartment, that I first heard this song, as well as the album. It was cold outside, but we still would go up on the roof sometimes, and walk so many places. This was before I’d moved back. This was when it was just the two of us, when things were new. Train platforms and cold hands, poetry and mix CD’s, and the promise of a future that would never quite be realized.

This song reminded me of home. It reminded me of Los Angeles. Of Hollywood. Of my “misspent” youth. Of the girl that used to be. Once I’d moved back to the city the snow had come, and the space seemed smaller. This song made me miss home then, made my bones ache, made me heartsick.

Now I hear hope in the lyrics. I hear a way of seeing life that I’ve always believed in, especially in the line “life is beautiful & terrible & strange”. It is. It really is. Mostly its beautiful though. At least from this vantage point of my life. At least to the woman I have now become.

But, then again, I am home now.

“Take Me Home” (live)

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“Sigur 4 (Untitled)” :: Sigur Rós :: SOTD

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“Sigur 4 (Untitled)” :: Sigur Rós
from the album Untitled or () (2002)

About the Song

“Sigur 4 (Untitled)” is the fourth track from Sigur Rós’ third album, also untitled. The band refers to the song as “Njósnavélin”, which translates to “The Spy Machine.”

The song’s lyrics are made up of what lead singer Jón Þór Birgisson (“Jónsi”)refers to as “Hopelandic”, a made-up language consisting of gibberish words.

The song, along with “Svefn-g-englar,” from Sigur Rós’ debut album, Ágætis byrjun was featured in the 2001 film “Vanilla Sky”, ten months before the album’s release.

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My Thoughts:

I woke with this song in my head, though I was unsure which of the tracks it was., or what album it was on. I remembered that it was in “Vanilla Sky”, and I also recalled that I’d started a playlist off with it once.

Though the song is in “Hopelandic”, I always felt that they were singing the word “desire”. I just read somewhere online that listeners are often stating words/lyrics they think they are hearing in the songs. One such listener wrote that they thought the repeated lyric, the one I often think is “desire”, is “you sail on”.

Perhaps this is a perception thing, filtered by what is a truth to the listener at the time of hearing, or re-hearing, the song.

What do you hear?

“Sigur 4 (Untitled)” (live)

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Everyone’s around right now and I’m still alone :: SOTD

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“I’m halfway to misery.
Some say when you go halfway,
there’s still plenty of time to return
.”

Dusty Trails” (live) :: Lucius
from the album, Good Grief

About the song:

“Dusty Trails” is the final track on Lucius’ second album, Good Grief, which was released in 2016. The album was recorded over the span of 2 years, while Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig were touring the group’s first album.

Lucius veered away from most of the sound of their first album, Wildewoman, and instead they focused their sound on “moody Eighties-synth melodies and raw lyrics about the hardships of marriage.”

“Everyone’s around right now and I’m still alone.”

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My Thoughts:

I heard about Lucius from a best friend who saw them play live at a festival. She told me that I would like them. In the same week, they were a musical guest on the too short lived Showtime series, Roadies. I ran looking for their music at the end of that week, and obsessed over the album for months, especially this track — “Dusty Trails”.

My love of the desert permeates this song, for me, and I am looking forward to putting it on a “desert playlist” to take with me on a desert road trip/writing trip I am planning. This is also a song that hits on some events, and very personal feelings, from the final few months of 2016. There is melancholy here, loneliness, but there is also this thread of hope that is lyrically weaved throughout.

This song is the go-to song that I send to people, or that I slide into playlists, when I want someone to listen, and discover, Lucius for the first time. I feel like it captures Jess and Holly’s voice impeccably. Vocally, they lilt and soar, especially in the live version above.

I have not gone off and away for long, but I left some significant parts of my life around the time this song came into mine. That opening lyric, “We been gone for such a long time that I’m almost afraid to go home.” is so relevant to me. Sometimes I sing-a-long and tears come, other times I breathe into the song, feeling comforted by the connection I feel to it.

There were days I was afraid to go home because it did not feel like home anymore. But, I found my way back, even if there were moments where I felt “halfway to misery”, and did not know how scathed I’d be when I finally sorted it all out.

I still don’t know.

I’m still sorting.

But, aren’t we all?

“Dusty Trails” (album version)

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You wrote about me on every new record :: SOTD

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“You could mess up my life in a poem,
have me divorced by the time of the chorus,
there’s no need to change any sentence,
when you always decide where I go next.”

Working Titles (live) :: Damien Jurado
from the album, Maraqopa (2012)

About the song:

“Working Titles” is the sixth track on the 2012 release from Damien Jurado entitled Maraqopa. It was the 10th studio album, and was produced by Richard Swift. The album was released in February, of 2012, on Secretly Canadian records.

It is a “theme” album, a story told in song that follows a man as he disappears from society. The man takes nothing with him except a couple hundred dollars. He winds up in a mysterious place called Maraqopa.

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My Thoughts:

The first time I listened to “Working Titles” it stopped me completely, the lyrics, like tiny daggers, reminding me immediately of the experience of loving a writer, and being a writer, as well. It stung in the way that loss does, in the way that feeling misunderstood does, and in the way that missing does.

It reminded me of being a muse once, of having poetry written about me (and/or us), of having songs on an album that contain pieces of someone’s perspective of me. It is a sentiment of art and beauty and love, but it can also feel hollow and lonely and like some gorgeously, melodically misunderstanding.

On later listens (there has been quite a few as I love this song), I saw myself in it; in the words, in the language, in the cruelty and the beauty of it. I have done it, I still do it, writing about past loves and lovers, taking my own artistic liberties, painting it all only in the palate of color that my memories, and skewed perspectives, allow.

There is so much going on, in this song, to me.

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She said please stay :: SOTD

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“Burning every bridge that I cross,
to find some beautiful place to get lost.”

Let’s Get Lost :: Elliott Smith
from the album, From a Basement on the Hill (2004)

About the song:

“Let’s Get Lost” appears on the posthumous album, From a Basement on the Hill. All songs, including this one, were recorded between 2002 and 2003.

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My Thoughts:

I have said for years and years that I possess a gypsy soul, one that I credit my grandfather with, an inherited trait, this love for the road. But sometimes I wonder if this wanderlust that rattles inside of me is just my gypsy soul at work, or if it is more than that. Is it a desire to get lost, to escape, to run when things get too hard for me, too much too handle, when I feel too exposed, vulnerable and afraid?

The lines in this song about burning bridges and seeking a “beautiful place to get lost” resonate with me. They rattle around inside me, pulling at the parts of me that are always looking for that place/places to get lost. Some days I want it so bad — that escape — that I have to fight the urge to just keep driving, to just keep going, to disappear.

Is this song about different escapes, too? Drugs, love, addiction, that urge to run? All of the above?

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It’s all too much :: SOTD

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“Kiss me.
Would you, would you,
kiss me.
Would you, would you,
kiss me,
lift me,
right out of this world.”

Come Together (Farley Mix) :: Primal Scream
from the album, Screamadelica (1991)

About the song:

“Come Together” (above) is from the album Screamdelica. The primary DJ’s of the album were Andrew Weatherall and Terry Farley. The Weatherall mix was released on the UK pressings of Screamadelica, but Farley’s version (above) was released on the US pressings.

(Note: This is the only version I ever remember hearing of the song).

“Come Together” is the longest track on the album. For the US version (above), the sample of the woman saying “That’s beautiful…that’s really beautiful…I like that” was taken from the film Sex, Lies and Videotape, and is spoken by Andie MacDowell.

The song’s chord progression is based on Tommy McCook and The Aggrovator’s 1975 song, “The Dub Station”.

My Thoughts:

As I was looking through old journal postings elsewhere, looking for a character inspiration for something I am writing, I came across this photograph of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. This song, “Come Together” was playing in my ears, as I’ve had Primal Scream’s Screamadelica playing most of my early morning. Something about the two, the song, and the photograph, feel connected. I had to stop what I was doing and listen to the song again, and then one more time after.

I am reminded of an apartment I once lived in. The cold that seeped in through windows that never seemed to close just right. A worn out mattress on the floor near said windows. We were always cold, and never cold, in that apartment, together. At least that is how I am remembering it this morning.

We never listened to this song together, though I can imagine we did. I think it was probably one we both liked, on our own, at some point. We probably spun around to it on dance floors, miles and state lines away from each other, chemicals buzzing just under our skin. Not “coming together” until years later.

I know I spun around to this song. I know I was spun to this song…once upon a music time ago.

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But it don’t snow here :: SOTD

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“I wish I had a river so long,
I would teach my feet to fly.
Oh, I wish I had a river,
I could skate away on.”

River :: Joni Mitchell
from the album, Blue (1971)

“River” is a folk song that has become somewhat of a Christmastime standard, written and performed by Joni Mitchell, from her 1971 album, Blue. Although the song was never released as a single, it has become one of Mitchell’s most famous song. It is also the second-most widely recorded song in Mitchell’s oeuvre (432 different recordings), frequently appearing on albums of Christmas music, covered by pop, folk and jazz artists.

For me, two things come to mind when instantly when I hear “River”. The first is Los Angeles and California. This is a Southern California song, there is no doubt about it, and it has the quintessential LA juxtaposition of bittersweet regret and sunshiny hope that permeates my most favorite takes on the city of angels (whether in song, film or book pages).

There is something familiar in the lyrics, in the feelings evoked, and in the sentiment of losing someone you shouldn’t have that hit deep between my surfaces when I listen. It is also one of those songs that inspires me to write, wanting to fill in the spaces we don’t see in the story, of this love lost, and this woman, in the midst of a big city life, wishing for some river somewhere to skate away on.

Don’t you wonder about her story, too?

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