August 1, 2009

Songs of the Day (Bright Eyes - I Must Belong Somewhere, Carole King - It Might as Well Rain Until September) and Why Conor Oberst is Amazing

I'd like to share a couple songs with you today from Boston around 7pm over 80 F (around 27 C) (not great but much better than the record breaking hottest day ever recorded in Vancouver).

First off is It Might as Well Rain Until September by Carole King:

and second is I Must Belong Somewhere by Bright Eyes. Below I've included the lyrics because it occurred to me that Conor Oberst is probably one of the best songwriters of this decade. Then I thought "humm...maybe I'm not qualified to say something like that" I went to one of the most and so it wasn't very surprising to see that The Rolling Stones (which, despite putting the Jonas Brothers on their cover and selling out in numerous other ways is still probably the most influential rock magazine in the US) named him the Best Songwriter of 2008.

Here's the song, the lyrics, and the RS article:

Leave the bright blue door on the whitewashed wall
Leave the death ledger under city hall
Leave the joyful air in that rubber ball todayL

Leave the lilac print on the linen sheet
Leave the birds you killed at your father's feet
Let the sideways rain and the crooked street remain

Leave the whimpering dog in his cold kennel
Leave the dead star lit on her pedestal
Leave the acid kids in their green fishbowls today

Just leave the sad guitar in its hard-shelled case
Leave the worried look on your lover's face
Let the orange embers in the fireplace remain

Because everything, it must belong somewhere
A train off in the distance, bicycle chained to the stairs
Everything, it must belong somewhere
I know that now, that's why I'm staying here

Leave the ocean's roar in the turquoise shell
Leave the widower in his private hell
Leave the liberty in that broken bell today

Leave the epic poem on its yellow page
Leave the gray macaw in his covered cage
Let the travelin' band on the interstate remain

Because everything, it must belong somewhere
Soundstage in California, televisions in Times Square
Yeah everything, it must belong somewhere
I know that now, that's why I'm staying here

Leave the secret talks on the trundle bed
Leave the garden tools in the rusted shed
Leave those bad ideas in your troubled head today

Leave the restless ghost in his old hotel
Leave the homeless man out in that cardboard cell
Let the painted horse on the carousel remain

Because everything, it must belong somewhere
Just like the gold around her finger or the silver in his hair
Everything, it must belong somewhere
I know that now, that's why I'm staying here

In truth, the forest hears each sound
Each blade of grass as it lies down
The world requires no audience
No witnesses, no witnesses

Leave the old town drunk on his wooden stool
Leave the autumn leaves in the swimming pool
Leave the poor black child in his crumbling school today

Leave the novelist in his daydream tune
Leave the scientist in the Rubik's Cube
Let the true genius in the padded room remain

Leave the horse's hair on the slanted bow
Leave the slot machines on the river boat
Leave the cauliflower in the casserole today

Leave the hot, bright trash in the shopping malls
Leave the hawks of war in their capitol
Let the organs moan in the cathedral remain

Because everything, it must belong somewhere
They locked the devil in the basement, threw God up into the air
Everything, it must belong somewhere
And you know it's true, I wish you'd leave me here
You know it's true, why don't you leave me here

Best Songwriter: Conor Oberst

From Rolling Stone's Best of Rock 2008

Posted May 01, 2008 11:00 AM

Finishing a song is still my singular favorite feeling in the world," Conor Oberst says, "more than records or shows. The creation of a song is what drives me."Such passion shows throughout Oberst's songbook, which he began creating as a frail, spectral thirteen-year-old in Omaha, Nebraska. Visceral documents of self-unraveling like "Padraic My Prince," "We Are Nowhere and It's Now" and "Lover I Don't Have to Love" — the last featuring lyrics like "Love's an excuse to get hurt/And to hurt" — deliver an emotional wallop in part because they seem at once offhand and unbearably intense. In Oberst's vision, death, loneliness and social decay are themes at the heart of every day; he doesn't need to look far to find them — or to channel them. "Everything has been done by intuition and happenstance," he explains. "I still have no idea what I'm doing, or why I'm doing it. It just kind of keeps happening. For me, at this point, it's about accepting it all, letting it all go and moving forward."
As rendered by Bright Eyes, the name under which he records both solo and with a band of ever-shifting personnel, Oberst captures the sound of things falling apart — whether it's a love affair ("Lua"), the life of an itinerant musician ("Soul Singer in a Session Band") or the country at large ("Four Winds"). Sonically, he ranges far as well. On albums such as Lifted or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (2002), I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (2005) and last year's Cassadaga, he fashions a jittery, open-ended folk rock that admits strings, horns, electronica, country music and found sounds, all in the interest of immediacy and surprise. The free-for-all arrangements often communicate a giddy sense of hope, however dark the topic at hand might be.
"At one point, I lost interest in writing about personal things," Oberst says. "You can only write so many songs about feeling lost, which is the way I feel most of the time. But I don't think there's a very deep line in the sand between writing about myself and writing about other people." In "Bowl of Oranges," on Lifted,, he tosses off a lovely metaphor: "But if the world could remain within a frame like a painting on a wall/Then I think we would see the beauty." But he can also be fiercely direct, as in "When the President Talks to God," a song about President Bush's confusion of divine will and his own stubbornness. "Does he ever smell his own bullshit/When the president talks to God?" the song asks, before concluding, "I doubt it."
The quality and breadth of Oberst's songwriting have provoked comparisons to Bob Dylan — an IED of a compliment that exploded the careers of many promising artists before him. Oberst is flattered but not fazed. Now twenty-eight, he pauses for a full ten seconds when asked how his songwriting has changed since adolescence. "It's strange how similar it is," he says with a laugh. "It's still mysterious to me."

July 27, 2009

Summer: Too Hot or Way Too Hot?

Boston is hotter than Hell. Okay...maybe you say "'s only mid 80's I live in the deep south and it's much hotter"...then I might ask you "Why would you ever voluntarily stay in the deep south in the summer?"

I really don't quite understand why seemingly everybody but me is in love with summer. Maybe it was growing up in Quebec and outside Chicago and having real winters...but I don't see what the appeal of sunburn, insects, sweating, temperatures that make it hard to want to move or think. Amazingly I'm not alone so I'm going to share this article by someone who understands.

Reflections: Why I hate summer

by Mary Weir

I hate summer. I make no apologies for that, but over the years it has become clear that not only am I in the minority, but folks who embrace scorching temperatures accompanied by breathtaking humidity actually view me as some sort of enemy. It's as if they believe my adversity to heat will rob them of the summer season sooner than it would otherwise normally disappear.
Let me take this time to reassure you sun worshippers that for me, summer is an unwelcome guest that has no intention of leaving until it is darn good and ready, despite my complaints and visible discomfort in its presence. In fact, the more I object, the more it seems to intensify my discomfort by inspiring the mercury to climb to heights that would make a trapeze artist dizzy.
It is simply a matter of preference, really. I have friends I visit in the south who shudder when they ask how I can tolerate winters in Michigan. Absentmindedly, because I am more focused on detaching my sweat-soaked clothing from parts of my body screaming for air, I answer their question with a question of my own. I want to know how they can tolerate the mind numbing heat and humidity of their region. Their answer is the same as mine, that it's something to which they've become accustomed, so they don't really think about it. It's not that I embrace winter and dance around every snowflake that falls. However, I find that layering clothing to keep out the cold is easier than stripping down to what is barely publicly acceptable and still being hot enough to want to inhale Freon.
I don't begrudge anyone their love of summer. I have wonderful memories of it myself from when I was a child, and I confess to enjoying a little less structure when my kids are out of school. There are many resources available for my relief, not the least of which is the pool at my neighbor's house across the street. I have been known, however, to forego the refreshing swim in favor of being planted right inside my air conditioned abode, thereby avoiding that uncomfortable few moments in the sun to get to the pool in the first place.
As silly as this all seems, there are methods to my madness. First of all, I'm a pale Irish girl who burns easily, and I have given birth to at least one child who has that same talent. Sunscreen is expensive. Mosquito repellant, the kind that actually works, is also expensive. So not only am I avoiding the risk of skin cancer and West Nile Virus, I am relieving myself of the extra expense of products that cannot guarantee preventing either disease.
Then there are the bugs that emerge from their long hibernation in the crevices of my home to terrorize my children and me indoors. Trying to fall asleep to the hum of a yellow jacket in your room is quite the experience. Now whether or not yellow jackets actually hibernate or just become reborn in the warm temperatures to wriggle through the cracks of my safe haven is still not something I know for sure. I just know that summer brings them and all their little bee friends buzzing right into my comfort zone, and I don't like that. The carpenter ants definitely resent sharing their space, that's for sure. Those guys love to hang out in my bathroom, watching me do my hair and hoping I don't go after them with the hairspray again.
It would be easy to wonder at this point if there is anything at all I appreciate about the warm weather seasons. Of course there is. The trees and flowers in bloom are beautiful, even through the haze of my allergy medication I take to combat the pollen count. On days when it isn't too hot to breathe, I like to eat outdoors on the deck with my family. Then we all go inside and pick the ants out of our teeth. Seasonal traditions are wonderful.
For the most part, however, summer is something to be endured, tolerated to the best of my ability and accepted as something I cannot change. I simply do what I can to get through each scorching day as I embrace visions of autumn leaves dancing in my head. Fear not, however. Now that I've shared this little commentary, I have no doubt I'll be wearing a tank top to Thanksgiving dinner.
I was trying for quite a while to find a song about summer but not surprisingly almost everything I found was "oh isn't summer so great and amazing" or "oh no summer's about to end" but I did find two songs that I find are fittingly less than cheerful about things that may accompany consistently uncomfortable temperatures.

Cruel Summer was originally performed by Bananarama but I'm not going to torture you with British pop.
Here's the updated, Ace of Base cover:

and See You In September by the 1960s one hit wonder group The Happenings: