How Soon Is Now?

There are plenty of great rock anthems out there, but there are only a handful of nearly perfect singles in this world, and this gem by The Smiths is one of those tracks.  I’m old school, so I come from the line of thought that, much like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, you have to choose either The Smiths or The Cure– it’s theoretically impossible to like both bands equally, so you have to pick one.  Well, I choose The Cure because when it comes to emo angst, I’ll take Robert Smith’s sincerity over Morrissey’s any day of the week.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now” as one of the most iconic songs of the 1980s and also one of the greatest recordings of the last thirty years.  With Johnny Fuckin’ Marr’s hypnotic reverb riff and Morrissey’s haunting vocals, this is a song that sticks its hand right into your chest and grabs hold of your beating, bleeding heart just long and tightly enough for you to fully comprehend the pain of loneliness.

“I am human and I need to be loved– just like everybody else does.” 

Yup.

I am the son
and the heir
of a shyness that is criminally vulgar.
I am the son and heir
of nothing in particular.

You shut your mouth–
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved,
just like everybody else does.

I am the son
and the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar.
I am the son and heir
of nothing in particular.

You shut your mouth–
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved,
just like everybody else does.

There’s a club if you’d like to go–
you could meet somebody who really loves you.
So you go and you stand on your own,
and you leave on your own,
and you go home and you cry
and you want to die.

When you say it’s gonna happen “now,”
well when exactly do you mean?
See I’ve already waited too long,
and all my hope is gone.

You shut your mouth–
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved,
just like everybody else does.

(apologies to The Smiths)

(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear

Feelin’ awfully melancholy and nostalgic tonight (Melanostalgic?) and stumbled upon this old tune by the venerable pop/punk band Blondie.  While the band will always be remembered foremost for “Heart of Glass” and “Rapture,” it was ethereal tracks like this one that made them my favorite band when I was a teen (helped in no small part by Clem Burke’s wicked drum fills which made it impossible to listen to Blondie without beating the hell out of everything in sight whilst air drumming).  And name me another rock band to use the word “theosophy” in a song, I dare you.

Was it destiny?  I don’t know yet.
Was it just by chance?  Could this be kismet?
Something in my consciousness told me you’d appear–
now I’m always touched by your presence, dear.

When we play at cards, you use an extra sense.
You can read my hand, I’ve got no defense.
When you send your messages, whispered loud and clear–
I am always touched by your presence, dear.

Floating past the evidence of possibility–
we could navigate, together, psychic frequencies.

Coming into contact with outer entities–
we could entertain each one with our theosophy.

Stay awake at night and catch your R.E.M.s
when you’re talking with your super friends.
Levitating lovers in the secret stratosphere–
I am still in touch with your presence, dear.

(apologies to Blondie)

Southern Accents

Had this song stuck in my head for a while the other day, and I just felt like sharing. “Southern Accents” is technically Tom Petty’s song, but as soon as Johnny Cash recorded it, it officially became his.

This is a wonderfully honest song with one of the most beautiful and haunting bridges ever sung.

“For just a minute there, I was dreaming…”

There’s a southern accent, where I come from–
the young ‘uns call it country, the yankees call it dumb.
I got my own way of talkin’, but everything is done
with a southern accent, where I come from.

Now that drunk tank in Atlanta, was just a motel room to me.
Think I might go work Orlando, if them orange groves don’t freeze.
I’ve got my own way of working, but everything is run
with a southern accent, where I come from.

For just a minute there, I was dreaming…
For just a minute, it was all so real…
For just a minute, she was standing there, with me…

There’s a dream I keep having, where my mama comes to me
and kneels down over by the window, and says a prayer for me.
I’ve got my own way of praying, and everything one’s begun
with a southern accent, where I come from.

We’ve got our own way of living, and everything is done
with a southern accent, where I come from.

(apologies to both Tom Petty and The Man in Black)

Do You Realize?

Listening to late night radio again and happened to hear a tune I hadn’t heard in a long, long time.  I’ve never really been a huge fan of The Flaming Lips, as they’re more or less a pyschedelic jam band (and I fucking hate psychedelic jam bands), but I can distinctly remember hearing this song for the very first time on the radio in 2002 and being so moved that I had to pull over my car to finish it.

So here’s a brutally honest and beautifully poignant song (both lyrically and musically) from an otherwise absurdist band.  The video’s a bit ridiculous, but the song sure as hell isn’t.

Do you realize… that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize… we’re floating in space?
Do you realize… that happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize… that everyone you know someday will die?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
let them know you realize that life goes fast–

it’s hard to make the good things last–
you realize the sun doesn’t go down–
it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

Do you realize? (oh, oh, oh)
Do you realize… that everyone you know someday will die?
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
let them know you realize that life goes fast–

it’s hard to make the good things last–
you realize the sun doesn’t go down–
it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.
Do you realize… that you have the most beautiful face?

Do you realize?

(apologies to The Flaming Lips)

The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

I’ve been a fan of The Postal Service since this album came out in 2003, but I never fully grasped this particular song until the last year or two, and I just felt like sharing.

Smeared black ink, your palms are sweaty
and I’m barely listening to last demands–
I’m staring at the asphalt wondering
what’s buried underneath…
(Where I am)

I’ll wear my badge– a vinyl sticker with big block letters
adherent to my chest that tells your new friends
I am a visitor here… I am not permanent.

And the only thing keeping me dry is… 
(Where I am)

You seem so out of context in this gaudy apartment complex,
a stranger with your door key explaining that I am just visiting,
and I am finally seeing why I was the one worth leaving…
why I was the one worth leaving…

D.C. sleeps alone tonight.

(Where I am)
You seem so out of context in this gaudy apartment complex,
a stranger with your door key explaining that I am just visiting–
I am finally seeing why I was the one worth leaving…
why I was the one worth leaving…

(Where I am)
The district sleeps alone tonight after the bars turn out their lights
and send the autos swerving into the loneliest evening–
and I am finally seeing why I was the one worth leaving…
why I was the one worth leaving…

(apologies to The Postal Service)

We Will Become Silhouettes

I’ve got a cupboard with cans of food,
filtered water and pictures of you,
and I’m not coming out until this is all over.

And I’m looking through the glass
where the light bends at the cracks,
and I’m screaming at the top of my lungs
pretending the echoes belong to someone–
someone I used to know.

And we become
silhouettes when our bodies finally go.

I wanted to walk through the empty streets
and feel something constant under my feet,
but all the news reports recommended that I stay indoors…

Because the air outside will make
our cells divide at an alarming rate
until our shells simply cannot hold
all our insides in, and that’s when we’ll explode–
and it won’t be a pretty sight.

And we’ll become
silhouettes when our bodies finally go.
And we’ll become (and we’ll become)
silhouettes when our bodies finally go.

(apologies to The Postal Service)

Things Can Only Get Better

I’ve been in need of a new set of songs for my commute lately, so I recently bought a CD of 1980s new wave tunes for shits and giggles and one of the tracks turned out to be a tune I probably haven’t heard SINCE the 1980s.  It’s Howard Jones and his 1985 neo-soul classic, “Things Can Only Get Better.”  This track is so good that when I listen to it, I’m almost tempted to believe it.  But as soon as the song’s over, the real world creeps in and I realize that this new wave anthem of youth and idealism was all just a beautiful dream.  (It’s too bad Howard’s hair couldn’t have also been a dream– that shit was for real.)

We’re not scared to lose it all,
security thrown through the wall–
future dreams we have to realize.
A thousand skeptic hands
won’t keep us from the things we plan,
unless we’re clinging to the things we prize.

And do you feel scared?  (I do.)
But I won’t stop and falter.
And if we threw it all away,
things can only get better.

Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh
(Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh)
Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh
(Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh)

Treating today as though it was
the last, the final show–
get to sixty and feel no regret.
It may take a little time– 
a lonely path, an uphill climb.
Success or failure will not alter it.

And do you feel scared? (I do.)
But I won’t stop and falter.
And if we threw it all away,
things can only get better.

Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh
(Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh)
Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh
(Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh)

And do you feel scared? (I do.)
But I won’t stop and falter.
And if we threw it all away,
things can only get better.

Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh
(Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh)
Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh
(Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh)

Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa oh-oh-oh-oh
(Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh)
Whoa whoa whoa-whoa oh-oh-oh
(Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh)
Whoa whoa whoa-oh-oh whoa-whoa whoa-oh-oh

(apologies to Howard Jones)

 

Bioluminescence & Baker Street

Fun fact:  on this day in 1978, Gerry Rafferty’s album City to City managed to knock off the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack from the top of the charts (it had been in the #1 spot for 24 straight weeks), and it was all due to this song.  “Baker Street” was one of my favorite jams when I was a teenager, and I remember wanting to learn how to play the saxophone just so that I could play the iconic sax solo from the track. (That inclination didn’t last very long–learning an instrument is hard fucking work.)  I can’t even begin to guess how many times I’ve listened to “Baker Street” (easily in the high hundreds, possibly in the thousands), but tonight was the first time I think I actually heard the lyrics.  I’ve noticed that the older I get, the better I become at understanding some things (or so it seems), but that understanding always seems to come too late, and this song is an exemplar of that.  We have a tendency to fool ourselves into optimism sometimes–often we find ourselves looking ahead to something better at the expense of the good things we currently have.  Complacency is underrated, as far as I’m concerned.

2015/07/img_9876-0.jpg

It’s funny cruel how life has a way of playing this particular trick on us–of not allowing us to see some things clearly until after the fact, when it’s too late to do anything about it.  We as humans like to assume things, and then we like to act on those assumptions.  It’s in our nature.  Sometimes we prefer to make choices based on what we want to believe rather than the facts because, well, life’s just more romantic that way.  We pride ourselves in being a rational bunch, but at the end of the day we’re ultimately creatures of faith–we prefer to believe there’s a certain certainty to the images we’ve painted in our subconscious, and we subscribe to those fantasies with whatever lies or bullshit logic we can come up with.  Once we buy into the bullshit, we’re compelled to live with the choices we make because we have no choice but to live with them.  (Well, actually, we do have a choice, but it’s admittedly not a very good one.)

I was thinking about this phenomenon at dusk tonight while I was watching a host of fireflies light up my back yard.  The “trick” life likes to play on us is a lot like the bioluminescence of lightning bugs in that it’s nearly impossible to register the initial flash of a firefly.  You hardly ever see a lightning bug just as it lights up.  You can keep your eyes peeled all evening hoping to spot one, but the fact of the matter is that when you see a flash, by the time your eyes are able to focus on the light it’s usually on it’s way out–just as we begin to see them clearly, they’re gone.  When the fireflies were done with their dance, I turned my eyes upward to catch the twinkling of the night sky and recognized that I was looking at stars that had burned out billions of years ago.

Sorry… got to rambling there.  Here’s the song and lyrics (apologies to Gerry Rafferty):

Winding your way down on Baker Street,
light in your head and dead on your feet,
well another crazy day, you’ll drink the night away
and forget about everything.

This city desert makes you feel so cold–
it’s got so many people, but it’s got no soul,
and it’s taken you so long to find out you were wrong
when you thought it held everything.

You used to think that it was so easy–
you used to say that it was so easy,
but you’re tryin’… you’re tryin’ now.
Another year and then you’d be happy–
just one more year and then you’d be happy,
but you’re cryin’… you’re cryin’ now.

Way down the street there’s a light in his place
he opens the door, he’s got that look on his face
and he asks you where you’ve been, you tell him who you’ve seen
and you talk about anything.

He’s got this dream about buyin’ some land–
he’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
and then he’ll settle down in some quiet little town
and forget about everything.

But you know he’ll always keep movin’–
you know he’s never gonna stop movin’,
’cause he’s rollin’… he’s the rollin’ stone.
When you wake up it’s a new mornin’–
the sun is shinin’, it’s a new mornin’,
you’re going… you’re going home.

Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

I haven’t posted anything in a while, but I’ve got an excuse:  I’ve been busy.

Yeah, I know it’s a lame excuse, but it’s a valid one.  I’ll explain why later, but until then, I encourage you to listen to one of the greatest songs ever recorded, written and sung by the King of Soul, Otis Redding.

Listen–

Sittin’ in the morning sun,
I’ll be sittin’ when the evening comes–
watching the ships roll in,
then I watch them roll away again.

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
watchin’ the tide roll away.
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
wastin’ time.

I left my home in Georgia,
headed for the Frisco Bay,
’cause I’ve had nothing to live for
and looks like nothing’s gonna come my way.

So, I’m just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
watchin’ the tide roll away.
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
wastin’ time.

Looks like nothing’s gonna change–
everything still remains the same.
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do,
so I guess I’ll remain the same.  Listen–

Sittin’ here resting my bones
and this loneliness won’t leave me alone.
Listen– two thousand miles I roamed
just to make this dock my home.

Now I’m just gonna sit at the dock of the bay,
watchin’ the tide roll away–
sittin’ on the dock of the bay,
wastin’ time.

(apologies to Mr. Otis Redding)

Dancing In The Dark

Listening to the radio late at night and just heard this little gem.  This is quite possibly the cheesiest music video ever made, and it’s certainly the “pop”-iest tune in Bruce Springsteen’s catalog, but if you can get past these things, it proves to be an extremely poignant song. Man, I’m just tired and bored with myself, too, Bruce.

I get up in the evening
and I ain’t got nothing to say.
I come home in the morning,
I go to bed feeling the same way.
I ain’t nothing but tired–
man, I’m just tired and bored with myself.
Hey there, baby, I could use just a little help.

You can’t start a fire–
you can’t start a fire without a spark.
This gun’s for hire–
even if we’re just dancing in the dark.

Messages keep getting clearer–
radio’s on and I’m moving ’round my place.
I check my look in the mirror–
I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face.
Man, I ain’t getting nowhere–
I’m just living in a dump like this.
There’s something happening somewhere,
baby, I just know that there is.

You can’t start a fire–
you can’t start a fire without a spark.
This gun’s for hire–
even if we’re just dancing in the dark.

You sit around getting older,
there’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me.
I’ll shake this world off my shoulders–
come on, baby, the laugh’s on me.

Stay on the streets of this town
and they’ll be carving you up, alright.
They say you gotta stay hungry–
hey, baby, I’m just about starving tonight.
I’m dying for some action–
I’m sick of sitting ’round here trying to write this book.
I need a love reaction–
come on now, baby, gimme just one look.

You can’t start a fire 
sitting ’round crying over a broken heart.
This gun’s for hire–
even if we’re just dancing in the dark.
You can’t start a fire
worrying about your little world falling apart.
This gun’s for hire–
even if we’re just dancing in the dark.

(apologies to The Boss)