erik lundegaard

Music posts

Thursday May 24, 2012

Prince Something Something

Two days ago I stood in line in that alcove around the corner from the SIFF Uptown theater that serves as both shelter and bathroom for some of the area's homeless, waiting to get into “Under African Skies,” a documentary about Paul Simon's “Graceland” album. (Review up tomorrow.) The two people immediately behind me were young folks, 20s, and had a mess of recently purchased CDs with them. Is buying CDs in the MP3 age the hipster thing to do? I wondered.

One of the CDs was Prince's “Purple Rain,” and the two, male and female (like Prince himself), talked about him in halting fashion. They knew him, knew he was good, but that was about it. I got the feeling they were discovering him.

Prince's "Purple Rain"“You know Prince is his real name?” the boy said. “It's Prince Something Something.”

“Rogers Nelson,” I said, butting in. I thought of the old Bryant Junior High School yearbook photo of Prince on the basketball team. Basketball's loss, music's gain.

The girl had seen “Purple Rain” and talked about having gone to Lake Minnetonka, which, she said, factors in the movie. She tried to explain the scene: How Prince takes this girl on his motorcyle to Lake Minnetonka and she jumps in.

“He tells her she has to purify herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka,” I said, butting in again, “so she strips and jumps in. But as she's jumping in, he says, 'That's not ... (splash) ... Lake Minnetonka.' It's a good bit.” To both: “It's a good movie.”

I know. Pain in the ass. I should have offered spoiler alerts.

Then I began to backdate. “Purple Rain” was nearly 30 years old. “Purple Rain” was as distant to these kids as “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” was to me at their age.

Walking into the theater, the girl complimented me on my Prince knowledge. She thought it amazing to find someone who knew so much about him.

“I was 20 when 'Purple Rain' came out,” I said. “We all knew it.”

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Posted at 10:04 AM on May 24, 2012 in category Music
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Tuesday May 08, 2012

Lyrics of the Day

Out above the rooftops
The moon is holding sway
A narrow eye low in the sky
Knowing what I'm knowing

I have left the table now
And this is just to say
Every song I've ever sung
Has been a song for going

--Joe Henry, from the song “Room at Arles,” from the album “Reverie”

Vincent Van Gogh, "Bedroom at Arles," 1888

Vincent Van Gogh, “Bedroom at Arles,” 1888

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Posted at 06:30 PM on May 08, 2012 in category Music
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Wednesday September 21, 2011

The Saddest Dusk I've Ever Seen: R.I.P. R.E.M.

This morning on Facebook I added my two cents to a thread started by Candice Michelle Dyer of Georgia. She asked: “What do you think is the saddest song in the world?” and offered “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones and “Waiting Up with Johnny” by Cabbagetown's Joyce Brookshire before letting us all loose. The thread currently has 103 responses, including Irma Thomas' “It's Raining,” Billie Holiday's “Strange Fruit,” Bob Dylan's “I Threw It All Away,” and “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen.

Somewhere in there is my answer: “Half a World Away” by R.E.M.

It was from their “Out of Time” album, which was released in 1991, just as the relationship that defined my twenties was ending and I was hurting. I was hurting so much I didn't want to be in the same hemisphere with her, so I returned to Taipei, Taiwan, where I'd lived in 1987-88, and taught, wrote, and swallowed more pollution. And listened to that R.E.M. album. Half a world away.

“Half a World Away” is kind of a cheat, isn't it, for saddest song, since it begins by talking about the saddest dusk:

This could be the saddest dusk
I've ever seen
Turn to the miracle of life
My mind is racing
As it always will
My hand is tired, my heart aches
Half a world away

At the same time what makes it truly sad is Michael Stipe's voice. Something about it, in my younger, more sensitive days, would make tears well up in my eyes.

Tears aren't welling up in my eyes this afternoon but I am sad for the news, heard a few hours after posting my answer to Candice's FB page, that R.E.M. is calling it quits after more than 30 years.

Here's the statement Michael Stipe posted to the band's website:

“A wise man once said, ‘The skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’ We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it. I hope our fans realize it wasn’t an easy decision, but all things must end.”

But I'm not sad for them—they had a great run, and made great music—nor for me, since I still have what they made and I assume each member will continue to make music in whatever form he desires. I'm just sad that it's been more than 30 years, and that that time is gone, and this is where we are now. That that could end. Something so central. So. central.

R.E.M. helped me get through the period when the other central thing ended, so I could be here, feeling only slightly sad, as the news hit. My  mind is racing.

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Posted at 01:09 PM on Sep 21, 2011 in category Music
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Tuesday July 19, 2011

Lyrics of the Day

Hey Little Hypocrite
"I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" by Steve EarleWhat you gonna say
When you wind up standin' naked
On the final Judgement Day
How you gonna justify it
Who you gonna call
What if it turns out that
God don't look like you at all

--“Little Emperor” by Steve Earle, from the album “I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive”

No tagsPosted at 03:05 PM on Jul 19, 2011 in category Music
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Monday May 30, 2011

Memorial Day After Tomorrow

I was driving home from Trader Joe's Saturday afternoon when I heard a Tom Waits song, “Day After Tomorrow,” sung by others on “Prairie Home Companion.” I'd never heard it before. I try to stay on top of things but of course things keep piling up. It was part of Waits' album, “Real Gone,” released in 2004, so the song must've been written in the middle of the Iraq War, yes? He also performed it on “The Daily Show” in 2006 but I missed that, too. It took seven years and Garrison Keillor before I heard it. Some part of me is incensed that it took so long for something so perfect to reach me.

Was Waits influenced by Terrence Malick's “The Thin Red Line”? His lines: “They fill us full of lies/ Everyone buys/ About what it means to be a soldier” recall Sean Penn's lines at the end of Malick's movie. “Everything a lie. ... They want you dead or in their lie.”

Tom Waits singing "Day After Tomorrow"

Here's a video of Waits playing it in concert. Here's a video of him playing it on “The Daily Show.”

Here are the lyrics. It's a beautiful song. How nice to find beauty on the way back from Trader Joe's on a Saturday afternoon.

I got your letter today
and I miss you all so much here
I can't wait to see you all
and I'm counting the days here
I still believe that there's gold
at the end of the world
And I'll come home to Illinois
on the day after tomorrow

It is so hard and it's cold here
and I'm tired of taking orders
And I miss old Rockford town
up by the Wisconsin border
What I miss, you won't believe
shoveling snow and raking leaves
And my plane will touch down
on the day after tomorrow

I close my eyes every nite
and I dream that I can hold you
They fill us full of lies, everyone buys
'bout what it means to be a soldier
I still don't know how I'm supposed to feel
'bout all the blood that's been spilled
Will god on this throne
get me back home
on the day after tomorrow

You can't deny, the other side
Don't want to die anymore then we do
What I'm trying to say is don't they pray
to the same god that we do?
And tell me how does god choose
whose prayers does he refuse?
Who turns the wheel
Who throws the dice
on the day after tomorrow

I'm not fighting, for justice
I am not fighting, for freedom
I am fighting, for my life
and another day in the world here
I just do what I've been told
We're just the gravel on the road
And only the lucky ones come home
on the day after tomorrow

And the summer, it too will fade
and with it brings the winter's frost dear
And I know we too are made
of all the things that we have lost here
I'll be 21 today
I been saving all my pay
And my plane will touch down
on the day after tomorrow
And my plane it will touch down
on the day after tomorrow

ADDENDUM: On the Tom Waits Library site, they include annotated lyrics, and, yes, he wrote it during the Iraq War but tried to make it about more than the Iraq War. Quote: “Yeah just a soldier writing home to his family. Tried to make it so it's not really about necessarily this war that we're in now, the Iraq war, but in fact about any war really. Because I guess the letters home are probably the same. I think most of the soldiers are really like the gravel on the road ... that the others are driving on, you know? Spent shell casings.”

No tagsPosted at 08:04 AM on May 30, 2011 in category Music
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