Music postsSunday March 13, 2016
Hamilton: 'A Gateway to Obsession'
Mea kinda culpa.
Today's New York Times Magazine has a piece on “25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going,” which, yeah, sounds a little pretentious, maybe a little desperate, and it doesn't help that they begin with Justin Bieber. The Times telling you where music is going is like your dad telling you. But I'll probably check out some of the songs since I'm nearly granddad's age these days.
But I do know No. 2 on the list, “Say No to This,” from the Hamilton cast album, since I've been listening to that regularly since January 20. Patricia, in fact, laughed out loud when I read her the following this morning since it's so exactly me:
Back on Earth, there's the cast album: a 46-number souvenir for an experience most of us won't be experiencing. At less than $20 on iTunes, however, where it has been in and out of the Top 10 for months, this is a more-than-adequate substitute for the budget-conscious. It's a gateway to obsession. To know someone who has this album is to know someone who needs a restraining order.
I spread my arms wide. “I am legion,” I told her.
The writer for No. 2, Wesley Morris, adds that the album has so many great songs, never a great song, but he chose this one because it's the one he's listening to now. “Not only is this song funny,” he writes, “it's also kind of hot.” Yeah, I would lose that “kind of.” It's actually swirling-down sexy. The first time I listened to it I had to fan myself. It's a song that lets you know why Alexander Hamilton succumbs, and it does that. At the same time, I don't listen to it much, since, you know, it presages Alexander's political downfall. So I keep saying no to it.
I probably would've gone with the first song, “Alexander Hamilton,” or the showstopper, “The Room Where It Happens” (already a metaphor for the disenfranchised, which is most of us), or the one Lin-Manuel Miranda worked a year on, “My Shot,” which melds Hamilton and the colonies: “I'm just like my country/ I'm young scrappy and hungry/ And I'm not throwing away my shot.” It's tough to go wrong, really. The album is the best deal in town.
“You laugh! But it's true.” The beginning of “Hamilton,” back in 2009.
I Belieeeeeeeve! That One Day I'll See 'The Book of Mormon'
I'm obviously late to this party but I finally saw Andrew Rannells doing “I Believe” from “The Book of Mormon” on the Tony Awards in 2011. And wow:
- The lookaway he gives at “What's so scary bout that?”
- The little nudge he gives the warlord on “...Jesus has his own planet as well.”
- The testify dance at the end, where he's the only one testifying.
- “And I belieeeve ... that in 1978 God changed his mind about black people!”
- “And I belieeeve ... that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri!”
I also like that the clunkier beliefs are embedded in clunkier lines. And how joyous it still is.
P and I have tried to see “Mormon” a bunch of times but it's always sold out. But I believe that someday we'll have our own planet. Um, tickets.
15 Songs for the Super Blood Moon
In honor of tonight's super blood moon (three, three, three lunar events in one), a sampling of moon songs from my iTunes roster.
|1962||Moon River||Audrey Hepburn|
|1972||Pink Moon||Nick Drake|
|1973||Grapefruit Moon||Tom Waits|
|1989||Full Moon Full of Love||k.d. lang|
|1991||Blue Moon Waltz||Jimmie Day Gilmore|
|1992||Man on the Moon||R.E.M.|
|1993||Crescent Moon||Cowboy Junkies|
|1993||Why Look at the Moon||The Waterboys|
|1995||Smog Moon||Matthew Sweet|
|2002||I Wish I Was the Moon||Neko Case|
It's not a bad list but I thought there would be, I don't know, more songs, I guess. It is the moon, after all. It's the ultimate romantic heavenly body. In China, they even have a holiday for it.
The Shivaree song is really about wishing for the morning and fearing the night, but it's such a good song I had to include it.
Will I Wait a Lonely Lifetime? Um...
On the way home from a hike today (Snow Lake/Cascades), Patricia and I were listening to shuffle on the iPhone, and for some reason it was giving us a Beatles-heavy rotation, particularly The White Album, and including, eventually, Paul McCartney's lovely song “I Will”:
But these words stuck out for me in a way they hadn't before:
Will I wait a lonely lifetime?
If you want me to, I will
That's a bit much, isn't it? Or mooch? A lonely lifetime? Why would anyone want anyone who wants them to wait a lonely lifetime? Or even half a lonely lifetime? Or a couple of crappy months? That's like agreeing to wait for a sadist.
It's lines like these that make the opening of the Rutles' “With a Girl Like You” so perfect:
Shoot me down in flames if I should tell a lie
Cross my heart I promise that it's true...
Paul had a tendency to overdo it.
Only a Pawn in Their Game: Reprise
It's amazing how relevant it all still is. It shouldn't be. We've had massive progress on many fronts, yet Bob Dylan's words about the assassination of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Miss., on June 12, 1963, still ring true for the racially motivated church killings in Charleston, S.C. on June 17, 2015:
A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than the blacks, don't complain.
You're better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain.
And the Negro's name
Is used it is plain
For the politician's gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain't him to blame
He's only a pawn in their game
One of the best first lines of any song, btw.