Category Archives: Music

It’s in the Lyrics, Man

Another rock musician of depressing, self-absorbed, snowflake melancholy lyrics has offed himself. Not to comment on the person because I don’t want to speak ill of the dead let alone one that flung a No at existence, or rejected God’s gift (interpret at your leisure). I was not a fan of their music and know nothing about them except what I have heard at work.

But I have to ask. Is this a surprise? I still remember how shocked and saddened people were when Kurt Cobain ate that shotgun. Really? Talk about a walking billboard of self destruction.

Now, if Katrina from Katrina and the Waves (I’m Walking on Sunshine – well – and don’t you feel good!) wraps a cord around her neck, then we can be surprised. A person can show in their product and general “public” persona upbeat happiness, even joy. To you. To the perceiver. And they can be one step from offing themselves at any moment.

But you don’t usually see the opposite. The person who shows utter despair and depression in product and persona but whistling Dixie and skipping down their sidewalk in private time.

Music in general and rock in particular has been in a depressing downward, angst driven spiral of suicidal death worship for about a generation now. And I think it started with grunge.

Of course depression starting in Seattle makes perfect sense if you have ever suffered their 9 to 10 month rain/drizzle/grey sky/drizzle/rain/grey/grey/rope around neck/rain season. It is enough to make Matthieu Ricard take a back flip off the Space Needle and create his own brain omelet on the sidewalk below.

Hey, I’m creating a little depression right here! Hoo Ha!

I don’t listen to any modern music especially youth music. For one I am no longer a youth and a lot of it simply doesn’t speak to me. Second I didn’t grow up at a time when youth thought like that. The depressing kids when I was growing up listened to REM or The Cure, but it was mostly a fad thing for them. A lot of them wore their despondency with the same shallowness that their mall bought goth accessories were attained.

Going further back generation-wise. My brother once called my mother on the telephone, my mother is 75, to talk about how depressed he was feeling. Her response – “Get over it.”

And that is about the crux of it right there.

But I like evidence so let’s take a look at a couple of representative lyrics here. The first is Numb by Linkin Park. This song is almost an archetype of the modern lyric. Note the focus (and the projection) on the expectations, perceived or real, of the other and the victim status of the focal person. This is pure victim music. It is almost a complete lack of self in these lyrics, the person’s existence is really just an extension of the oppressor’s domination which is achieved by the Victim’s supposed lack.

And it is depressing as shit. It is a song of failure. [In fact in looking over this band’s lyrics, I encountered the word failure at least a dozen times in different songs.]

I’m tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface
I don’t know what you’re expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow

I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
Become so tired, so much more aware
By becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

Can’t you see that you’re smothering me?
Holding too tightly, afraid to lose control
‘Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you
Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow
And every second I waste is more than I can take!

I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
Become so tired, so much more aware
By becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

And I know I may end up failing too
But I know you were just like me with someone disappointed in you

I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
Become so tired, so much more aware
By becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
I’m tired of being what you want me to be
I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there
I’m tired of being what you want me to be

Now, let’s take a look at 1980’s Back in Black which not only ushered in a decade but is pretty representative for the decade that followed. Note the complete lack of victimhood here. In fact one would have to wonder if the person here possesses victims himself, so over the top is the bravado. There is no depression to be found here, this is spit out a nail and get to work. Yes, I have a preference – I choose anything to despair. This song is the winning throw in the Super Bowl, the grand slam at Fenway Park – it is a maniacal boastful resurrection and winning. [I would have put the lyrics to Walking on Sunshine to contrast but I was trying to keep the genres similar.]

Back in black
I hit the sack
I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back
Yes, I’m let loose
From the noose
That’s kept me hanging about
I’ve been looking at the sky
‘Cause it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse ’cause I never die
I got nine lives
Cat’s eyes
Abusin’ every one of them and running wild

‘Cause I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well, I’m back in black
Yes, I’m back in black

Back in the back
Of a Cadillac
Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack
Yes, I’m in a bang
With a gang
They’ve got to catch me if they want me to hang
‘Cause I’m back on the track
And I’m beatin’ the flack
Nobody’s gonna get me on another rap
So look at me now
I’m just makin’ my play
Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way


Modern Christian Music

So I was at Alleluia Catholic Bookstore today in Kent. Beautiful little store, decent book selection, great art and trinkets and miscellany. Also enough Catholic paraphernalia to exorcize a whole legion (get it? nudge nudge) a whole legion of demons and decorate a large parish or small cathedral.

I got a copy of last week’s National Catholic Register (they had an article about Star Trek… don’t judge ME!). An essay collection called Why Humanae Vitae was Right. The more I look the more I agree with that assessment. Hell, in a couple of years I am going to divorce my wife and marry my dog – and who says I can’t? By what standard? Ha ha! And then I will take over the congress and appoint a horse as a member.

It was a horse was it not?

And lastly I got another Bible. I fear I may be one of the creepy class of people I never understood… THE COLLECTOR. I love Bibles (except the cheap paperback kind, you buy James Patterson in paperback (although preferably not at all (double parenthetic! (no, triple,(no….)))) and I didn’t have a little hand held one. It is the Saint Joseph edition of the NAB.

It is new. I have yet to find a nice old, old one. One thing I would also like is one that is just a Bible. I have, already, 10 Bibles that are all chock full of commentary and I have over 300 theological books in my library. I would like one that is purely Bible.

Anyway to the subject at hand. Oh, and the salesman there was the nicest of gentlemen, Luis, go visit him sometime if you are in the area, he works Mondays and Thursdays. Anyway the entire time I am browsing the store’s radio is on some modern Christian MOR pop station.

Arf. It just puts lead on the old saying, “the devil has the best music”. Because if what I was hearing in that store was God’s, His taste in music is AWFUL. All the songs sound like dreary, ineptly reconstituted lyrics from all the depressing parts of the Psalms done in a pancake flat watered down almost, kinda country sorta like sound.

SEGUE 

More like a merge with other lanes onto the same road. But here is a question: why can’t Christian music kick ass? No. NO!!! I am not talking Creed, you son of a bitch! And I am not talking about some Metallica sounding band grumbling “S-S-s Sanctifya!”

On that level why can’t these people be more like Lafferty’s Catholicism and not so much like Lewis’ Narnia. You might be engrossed in a Lafferty story and have to have someone else bring out the deeply theological theme for you (I know, I’ve needed it done for me) but even the dumbest James Patterson (if you’re offended, improve your reading tastes) reader doesn’t fail to grasp, and pretty easily, that Aslan is Christ.

You can argue, and you would be correct, that Narnia is for children, while Lafferty is clearly not. But this music is not for children either. It is for adults.

Think about it, there are kick ass writers, movies, art. But music? What is all this saltless water?

Years and years ago I was having a conversation with an Objectivist acquaintance of mine (we were both Randians) and he had a particular dislike of the rock band AC/DC, while I have been always quite fond of them on account that I’ve never been able to keep my knuckles off the ground when I walk. He considered them some sort of particular threat to society (at least that was the impression he gave) the nadir of civilization. He was opposed to the monotonous drum beat, the three chords, the loudness, the wail of the singer, and the banality of the lyrics, not to mention the crudity.

He did give them credit for being primitive enough to invent the single entendre.

Then he made the comment that this was in the nature of rock music, that it was intrinsically a lower level of music and a sign of cultural disintegration.

People laugh at Randians, but man do we come up with some nifty ideas!

After hotly detesting this, I took a wider, technological track outside the direct purview of music. Rock music was the direct effect of an advance in technology, namely, the electric guitar. No electric guitar, no rock.

Now I posited to him. Imagine that our society was Objectivist, Randian since 1820. Let’s posit that Ayn Rand was born a hundred and fifty years before she actually was. My buddy was talking to a science-fictioneer, ya know. And let’s say the world was instantly under her sway. Religion fell like the dinosaur, communism never could be, all people are the reason worshippers we all talk about. We are in a complete free market utopia, science rules the day, etc, etc, etc.

Still the electric guitar and amplified music in general will be born. Are you to tell me (and the band in discussion certainly were not the first) that a couple of shaggy 5-footers aren’t going to plug those things in, turn the amps up real high and bang and scream away. And that no one will like it? That we will all sit there with our tea and crumpets and turn up our noses and call the police down?

Would anything be different? Well a lot. Let’s not even do the whole Randian alternative future – that was merely the form I had the conversation in. Let’s say a Les Paul came up with the electric guitar in 1885 or even 1910. Yeah, it would be a lot different. We probably would have had a lot more years of Blueberry Hill and You Keep a Knockin’ before we got to Big Balls and Slide it In (that very tacky song, can you guess what it means? is courtesy of Zeppelin wannabes Whitesnake).

Assuming, of course, a downward trajectory of culture. I mean we are inarguably on that, but I was referring to my alternate timeline.

So, I repeat. Why is Christian music so terribly lame? It is not the subject matter. Most of the stuff I grew up listening to (I was a metal head in the 80’s) I couldn’t tell what the hell they were saying.

Just an idle thought. I never pursued “Objectivist” artists when I was an Objectivist, and, if I ever became Christian, I wouldn’t seek out Christian music either. The Christmas stuff (love the Rudolph song, ha ha) the choir stuff, a lot of it is great. But that modern radio stuff. Stuff it.


Cool Video/Song, Music Stuff, Misc, Etc – Post of Personal Opinions

Been on a music thing of late.

I have always been an avid, though picky, music lover. With the exception of non-Western (mostly, it depends), reggae, and rap/hip-hop (and 99.9999% of all current popular music) I have pretty wide tastes. From classical to opera, blues, rock, jazz, country (old country not that modern crap that is light rock sung with a southern twang) bluegrass, show tunes, (some) metal, funk, soul, R&B (the real R&B, not the modern bastardization) and probably some stuff I can’t think of right now. I can listen to Louie Armstrong and Gordon Lightfoot in the same hour and be happy for days after!

As for Gordon Lightfoot: how many times can I listen to The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald or If You Could Read My Mind before I get sick of it? Going on almost 40 years now, I’ll let you know.

Thing is, within each genre I probably like 5% of its output. The exception would be classical and blues. Of rock, my appreciation goes down as we approach current time to where I have taken my toys and gone home now.

Years ago there was this good bluegrass band, Hayseed Dixie, that came out with an album of AC/DC covers. I remember remarking jokingly to a friend of mine that it was a little embarrassing as a DC fan how easily their songs lent to a bluegrass interpretation. Check out their cover of You Shook Me All Night Long here for a sample. Although the singer is being almost mockingly hillbilly with the verse, the harmonies in the chorus are very good; the original song lends itself nicely to country anyway given its major chords and progression. Also you would think the lyrics to Back in Black were written by a hillbilly if you have only heard their rendition. That also has a good alternate chorus, and the ending mantra on the outro is hilarious.

Found today one of their songs, (Thunderstruck – if you’ve seen any sports over the last 20+ years, you’ve heard this song) lends itself to cello here. The cover is not recognizable till around the 1:20 mark.

I like that kind of cover. Never liked covers that sound like they are just attempting to duplicate the song. Live it’s alright, that’s expected (although there is no absolute reason to do it then either). And I detest the “metalization” of songs where they take a perfectly good song and gnash over-distorted guitars over it and scream bloody murder – ach, what ache.

Probably the best cover I have ever heard was the song, originally done by the Everly Brothers, Love Hurts, and Continue reading