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Dancing with my pride

“Still Here, Still Queer, Still Dancing!”

“Still Here, Still Queer, Still Dancing!” (click to embiggen)

I make a lot of playlists. I buy new music, I listen to it a few times, then I start picking out other songs from my library that I think go well with the new music for one reasons or another, and soon I have a playlist or three. Or I’ll be having a conversation with someone, and some turn of phrase someone uses will sound like it ought to be the name of an album or band or something, and the next thing I know I’m constructing a playlist of songs that fit the title. Not to mention the many playlists I put together to help with my writing. I have playlists for specific recurring characters in my stories, and playlists for particular stories, and more importantly playlists for particular plot/character arcs within a story.

And every year during May I start constructing a Pride playlist. It’ll be a mix of new songs and old. What they usually all have in common is that they are songs I like to dance to, and resonate in some way with the celebratory side of being out and proud but especially loud. Or, as Miss Coco Peru might said, a life lived out, proud, loud and just a little bit ridiculous.

Some years I feel like putting in songs that are a bit more dirty and flirty, while other years my include some ballads and either more serious or slightly darker in tone. I also throw in songs that are by artists I’ve been thinking about a lot this year. Which is at least part of the reason you’ll see both Prince and David Bowie make an appearance.

Not all of these songs will mean the same thing to you or even evoke the same feelings, of course. And you may see some familiar titles that make you ask, “How can he dance to that?” Don’t just look at the title, but try to find the exact remix by the same artist. You may find that the cover version of an old pop song you think you know has been transformed into something completely different in the particular track I’ve listed.

Anyway, this is my 2016 Pride Playlist:

  1. “Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)” – Prince & The Revolution
  2. “Feelin’ Free” – Sirpaul
  3. “Spectrum (feat. Jo Lampert & Gyasi Ross)” – Ryan Amador
  4. “Rebel Rebel” – David Bowie
  5. “Reach out for the Stars” – Yehonathan
  6. “Revolution (feat. Levi Kreis)” – Matthew David
  7. “What’s It Gonna Be?” – Shura
  8. “Genghis Khan” – Miike Snow
  9. “Get Your Sexy On” – Lovestarrs
  10. “I Wanna Boi” – PWR BTTM
  11. “The Boy Who Couldn’t Keep His Clothes On” – Pet Shop Boys
  12. “Just Stand Up!” – Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Fergie, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Natasha Bedingfield, Miley Cyrus, Leona Lewis, Carrie Underwood, Keyshia Cole, LeAnn Rimes, Ashanti, Ciara & Mariah Carey
  13. “How Deep Is Your Love” – Calvin Harris & Disciples
  14. “For You” – Quentin Elias
  15. “The Good, the Bad and the Dirty” – Panic! At the Disco
  16. “Desire” – Years & Years
  17. “We Don’t Have to Dance” – Andy Black
  18. “Feel So Good [Orignal Edit]” – Sean Ensign
  19. “Eddie Baez Donna Summer She Works Hard for the Money” – Eddie Baez Presents
  20. “Only Love Survives (Timothy Allan & Mark Loverush Remix)” – Ryan Dolan
  21. “You’re So Beautiful (White Party Version) [feat. Jussie Smollett]” – Empire Cast
  22. “Breathe Life” – Brian Kent
  23. “Try Everything” – Shakira
  24. “Halo (Gomi Club Remix)” – Beyoncé
  25. “You Are Unstoppable (7th Heaven Remix)” – Conchita Wurst

Whatever music you prefer, never forget: dance with joy, dance with abandon, dance without worrying what anyone thinks, because life is too short to waste time sitting still!

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Hang your stockings and say your prayers…

The original Saint Nicholas and his modern avatar.

The original Saint Nicholas and his modern avatar.

One of the weirder arguments I ever got into with a friend was over the song Here Comes Santa Claus. For context, this was back when I was still closeted, and I had met this friend while we were both members of an Evangelical touring teen choir. We got together one day to work on a gaming project, and I was playing Christmas music, which meant that every 40 minutes or so I would have to swap cassette tapes (because this was the stone ages, i.e., the early 1980s). About midway through Bing Crosby’s recording of Here Comes Santa Claus my friend stopped talking and got a weird frown. I asked him what was wrong, and he asked me to wait a minute, he was listening.

While Here Comes Santa Claus isn’t particularly my favorite Christmas song, it is fun to sing, and that particular recording has some fun orchestration, so I thought he was just appreciating the song. When it reached the end he said, “Disgusting!” and launched into a tirade about how secularism was destroying Christmas. Also, how could I listen to such blasphemous music?

The lyrics he objected to first were: “Santa knows that we’re God’s children, that makes everything right.” He felt it was telling children they weren’t going to hell just because Santa said so. Which I could understand where he was coming from, but it seemed more than a bit of a stretch. I pointed out that, first, it’s a children’s song, and second it wasn’t really that different than the sentiments expressed in a lot of hymns. Under the theology of the churches we both attended, if you were a born again Christian, then you were one of God’s children, et cetera.

His angry response was that most of the people who heard this song weren’t saved, though. And it would lead children astray. I quoted the lyrics of a few of his favorite christian songs, and pointed out that they weren’t all that different, but it didn’t mollify him. It just got him even more worked up.

He had other issues, such as the part of the song where it told children to pray to Santa. I pointed out it said no such thing, “Hang your stocking and say your prayers” meant to say your usual bedtime prayers, which lots of children in the sorts of churches we attend were expect to say every night.

Then he jumped to the part that pissed him off most: “Let’s give thanks to the lord above, ’cause Santa Claus comes tonight!” He was really upset about the notion of thanking god for Santa, and seemed to think that was the most blasphemous of all. I asked him how it was blasphemous to thank god for good things that happened, and his response was a rather confusing thing about myths and false gods. It just made no sense to me.

I had been thinking it was all pretty funny up until this point, but he was getting livid. And so I pushed back a bit harder than I probably ought. The girl he was dating (who eventually became his wife) was from a family that went to an even more fervent evangelical church than the one I attended. And they were one of those families who said, “Praise the Lord!” all the time. Any time that anything good happened, one would say, “Praise the Lord!” and the others would chime in with various affirmations.

And I do mean anything. Kid gets a decent grade at school? “Praise the Lord!” Bee buzzes around your head when you’re in the garden, but never stings you? “Praise the Lord!” Car starts (any car, one that is brand new and has never shown any signs of trouble)? “Praise the Lord!” Open a can of soda without it spraying all over everything? “Praise the Lord!” Successfully get the lid of the toothpaste back on the first try? “Praise the Lord!”

They were hardly the first family that did that, but it always had seemed a bit over the top. So, I mentioned them, and asked how it was any different than the song suggesting people thank god for the presents they were going to get on Christmas morning. I went further, and quoted Matthew 6:5, “And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.” I suggested that his girlfriend’s family—and anyone who was constantly repeating “Praise the Lord!” at every little thing—were being like that: doing it because they wanted people to see them and know how devout they were. So, if he wasn’t objecting to that, he could hardly be justified getting wound up about a children’s Christmas song.

I should point out that I didn’t believe his girlfriend was some egotistical hypocrite. As it happens, I’d known her longer than he had. I’d even dated her, once. She was one of the sweetest people I had ever met. Still is, actually. But he was just so angry at Here Comes Santa Claus that I couldn’t help it. And I did think he was being hypocritical.

The real problem was, I think, that afternoon may have been the first time in his entire life he had heard Here Comes Santa Claus. At least in a setting where he could actually hear all the lyrics. I’d learned some time before that until he joined the touring choir and we started rehearsing our annual Christmas concert that he hadn’t been familiar with really any Christmas songs. His family wasn’t the type to own Christmas albums, or sing carols around the tree, and so on.

Another part was his family had never been religious, at all. He had been raised in a pretty anti-church home, in fact. He’d been converted to Christianity in junior high, after some incidents where he’d gotten into somewhat serious trouble at school. He always seemed to be trying to make up for his supposedly misspent youth. Given that at the time this conversation happened, he was 19 years old, he wasn’t exactly an old man looking back on decades of debauchery, but he could get that crusader’s gleam in his eye sometimes.

I’m sure that he believes that one of the reasons I’m a queer bound for hell now is because I listened to songs such as Here Comes Santa Claus without being offended. Whereas I still can’t wrap my head around how, with all of the pain, suffering, inequality, hunger, and war going on in the world, the things that people like him get most revved up with righteous fury about are Christmas song lyrics or nativity scenes on public property or whether someone says “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays.”

As silly as it is, I really think this Christmas carol is a lot closer to the true meaning of Christmas than those war on Christmas screeds:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Ear worms

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I get songs stuck in my head all the time. Part of the reason is that I listen to music a lot. It’s background for when I’m working or writing, I listen to music when I’m driving and walking, and so on. Sometimes the ear worm is a song I was last listening to, and sometimes it’s a memory triggered by something else.

There have been a number of studies done on ear worms, how they form, why they persist, and means of getting rid of them. For years, thanks to a suggestion from my friend, Juli-sans-e, the way I have gotten rid of annoying ear worms is to think of the Bumblebee Tuna jingle that was used in commercials in the late 60s through mid-70s. I think this only works for those of us of an age to have heard the commercials a zillion times during formative years. I also know that for at least one other friend, while the Bumble Bee song succeeds in driving out the ear worm, it’s just substituting one annoying ear worm for another. I’m lucky in that the Bumble Bee song will only keep going in my head for a short time after I use it to drive out another. For some ear worms, the only way I can get them out is to actually sing the Bumble Bee song aloud a few times, just thinking about it isn’t enough…

Read More…

Making lists

Kitten listening to ipod.

I can quit any time I want.

When the first full trailer for the movie Guardians of the Galaxy was released back in February, I was really pleased at the use of the song, “Hooked On a Feeling,” especially since the trailer offered a hint at the explanation of why the one human character in this far-off interstellar adventure would be obsessed with music from the 70s (an old Sony Walkman and single cassette mix tape is the only connection he has to the homeworld he was snatched from as a kid). The trailer also made it clear that the movie was going to be a silly romp about a bunch of misfits, which I must admit was a big relief. When I first heard Marvel was going to adapt Guardians, I was confused as to how that would work as a movie, but then, I was most familiar with a much earlier version of the series which was very grim and featured almost entirely a different set of characters.

But the important thing was the music…

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Reverend Tutsia

"La, la, laaaaaaaaaaa!"

“La, la, laaaaaaaaaaa!”

I’ve always been a big fan of music, though throughout my teens and early twenties, I could seldom afford to buy all the music I wanted to own and listen to whenever I wanted. Streaming music didn’t exist back then, so if you didn’t own a particular record, you were dependent on the whims of local radio stations. So we came up with various ways to work around that. We might record a favorite track off the radio. Or we might borrow the album from a friend and “just until I can afford it,” make a tape of it (and we fully expected when a friend borrowed an album from us, they were doing the same thing).

That’s one reason I spent a rather large part of my late 30s buying CDs of old albums from previous decades. I really did want to own a legitimate copy, send a few royalties toward the musicians whose work I had loved so much. That’s also one reason, since going digital, that I regularly scroll through online music stores looking for re-releases of albums recorded 30 or more years ago.

One consequence of those can’t-afford-music years is that I often didn’t know or remember the titles of a lot of songs I listened to. I had a bad habit of not writing down the track names when I made a copy of a tape. My favorite tracks on a particular album I would know the titles, but several of the other songs I would wind up thinking of as “that song right after X” or I might pick a phrase that was repeated that might sound like a title.

And then, of course, there are the misheard lyrics… Read More…

Sing w/e/ me joyous

Kitten listening to ipod.

I can quit any time I want.

It is very nearly that time of year. It is nearly the time when I can start listening to Christmas music. I have been enforcing my rule for many years: I can’t start listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving.

Because of a comment by a friend on Twitter, I wound up in a discussion about my Christmas music, and because the person I was talking with is also a friend of my husband, he had to chime in with some comments about the size of my Christmas music collection. Which got more friends involved as we debated the timeless question: is there such a thing as too much Christmas music?

Read More…

A Halloween playlist

Sometimes I don’t know why I try.

So, I saw in iTunes radio a new station called Halloween Party, and I felt like listening to something different, so I clicked it. First song? Stevie Wonder singing “Superstition.” Nothing the slightest bit spooky or Halloween-like about the song. Oh, sure, the word “superstition” could be related to something Halloween-like, the actual lyrics? No.

Almost any time someone posts a so-called Halloween playlist, the songs are chosen because the titles of the song have some tenuous connection to sort of scary-ish concepts, regardless of the content of the song. If you’ve ever done such a thing, I have a news flash for you: the title of a song is not the song. There are some songs whose titles don’t even appear in the lyrics, so when I’m listening to the playlist, if I don’t happen to remember the title, the reason it has been included will be a complete mystery.

Now, you have the right to create a playlist anyway you want. If you want to collect songs together with altogether incorrect criteria and name said playlist a Halloween playlist, of course you can do that.

I happen to believe that a Halloween playlist should consist of tracks where the content of the track has some connection to ideas, moods, et cetera, that people associate with Halloween, trick or treating, monsters, and so forth. So, my 2013 Halloween playlist (yes, I make a new one each year) is:

1. “Theme from the Ghost and Mr. Chicken” – if you aren’t familiar with this comedy send up of various Hitchcock-esque movie tropes starring Don Knotts, you really need to Netflix it or something. And the organ music is suitably spooky and silly, at the same time.
2. “It’s alive!” From the Young Frankenstein soundtrack. This isn’t a song, it’s the dialog for one of the funniest secene in the movie, when Dr Frahnk-in-steen finds out that he put an abnormal brain in the body of his creation.
3. “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun” by Julie Brown. “Everybody run! The Homecoming Queen’s got a gun!” and “…it’s like the whole school was totally coked or something!”
4. “Over at the Frankenstein Place” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
5. “”Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” Yes, the theme song from the original cartoon series.
6. “Body Snatcher” by Billy Idol. With lyrics about demons, creeping shadows, and so forth, this is where the list segues from the strictly comedic.
7. “Double Trouble” from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Spooky.
8. “I Can’t Decide (whether you should live or die)” by Scissor Sisters. Includes lyrics like, ” I could bury you alive but you might crawl back with a knife and kill me” which is definitely creepy!
9. “I Can Make You a Man” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
10. “Dark Shadows” the original eerie, spooky, haunting theme song from the ’60s gothic horror soap opera.
11. “Rest in Peace” from Once More, With Feeling, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode. “Whisper in a dead man’s ear doesn’t make it real.”
12. “Funeral March of a Marionette” an orchestral piece which was used as the theme for the old Alfred Hitchcock show.

This year’s is silly and harkens to horror movies and horror-related TV shows. Last years was a bit different, with songs like “Zombies Ate Her Brain” by The Creepshow and “Zombie Jamboree” by the Kingston trio.

Many years my list includes “Monster Mash” or “Thriller.” Which are obvious choices, but sometimes obvious is good.

Watching music

The music video is an interesting art form. I have fallen in love with songs because of their video which I might not have listened to twice if I had only heard the song. On the other hand, sometimes when I watch a video of a song I already liked I find myself flabbergasted.

But never nonplussed.

None of these videos fall into the second category.

First, an Australian singer, Kim Smith, evokes an intriguing, cabaret-like atmosphere with his new single, “Jealous”:


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Apparently I’m in an international mood this week, because next we have Brazilian singer, Thiago Pethit’s “Pas de Deux”:


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I have several of Will Young’s songs on my iPod for a while. This video, “Losing Myself,” makes me want to buy more of his music.

Music Friday

I want to share some music again.

This first video is quite special to me. The lead singer of the bad, C.D. Woodbury, is a good friend of mine. In fact, a couple hours before I wrote this, he was sitting in my living room telling me about his week. So it’s a good friend and his band. They’re singing an original song they wrote based on a specialty of the house at this venue, which is a place I like to go. And the particular night that they premiered this song at that venue, my husband and I were there. It was the night before our wedding (where C.D. officiated), and we consider this night with good friends, great music, and wonderful food, our bachelor party. So, please enjoy this soon-to-be classic, the SauBall Blues:


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Since I opened with blues, how about a blues/bluegrass/rap fusion? I love the show this is the theme for, and this song’s awesome on its own:


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While we’re on the subject, this piece is quite fun:


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And of course I have to include a classic:


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And now we need some commentary (and more than just commentary) about a song from Stephen Colbert. Watch it all the way to the end, it’s definitely worth it!

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The thinks you will think…

We saw a musical last weekend.

Several years ago, when Michael and I had season tickets to one of the local theatres, we saw a national touring company of Suessical the Musical, with Cathy Rigby (former Olympic gymnast most famous since for playing Peter Pan in more than one revival on Broadway and numerous national tours) as the Cat in the Hat. It was fun.

This last weekend we saw the musical performed by a bunch of middle-school kids, one of whom happens to be my godson. It was also a lot of fun. And that isn’t just my prejudice as a doting godparent.

At least some of the fun is remembering what it was like being on stage around the age, and not feeling at all as fearless as these kids seemed to be. It was quite amazing to hear the voices on a few of those kids, who did not sound like “kids” at all.

It was also fun to remember all that Seuss. The musical takes elements from a bunch of Dr. Seuss books (most prominently Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches an Egg) and weaves them together to make one story.

It would be easy to be cynical and dismissive of the play, what with the themes of accepting yourself for who you are, loyalty, and respecting others. And since people usually accuse me of being the opposite of cynical, it should surprise no one that I’m not going to go there. In fact, what I found myself thinking about most during the drive home was how easy it was to fall into the imaginary world with very simple costumes and minimal props. You don’t need a lot of special effects to believe that a group of monkeys are trying to steal a clover with a dust spec from an elephant. Just a few hints and a bit of body language is all that’s required.

Which was a good thing to be reminded of while I’m slogging away on my novel, occasionally wondering how words on a screen can compete with animation and music.

It’s the story and the characters that matter. Everything else is window dressing.

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