If you noticed a hiatus here on the blog – or anything else awry with the universe, for that matter – I have a very good explanation: artistic temperament.
“Andy Warhol” – David Bowie
At the David Bowie Is exhibit, I learned that Andy Warhol didn’t think much of this song, but as far as I’m concerned it’s brilliant. Incidentally, Bowie’s portrayal of Warhol in Basquiat is spectacular too.
“Stage” – Live
They’re loud, they’re from the ’90s, they vehemently refuse to give up the stage. I can get behind that.
“Little Egypt” – The Coasters
You can tell this song is old because when the dude falls in love with the mindblowingly talented burlesque dancer, she has to give up her art for the priviledge of bearing him seven children. This wouldn’t happen now because women have made tremendous strides towards gender equality. She’d only have two kids, three tops.
“Do It With a Rockstar” – Amanda Palmer
Wait, needy lonely rockstars actually exist? Asking for a friend.
P.S. Awesome video, which I set to start 2 minutes in, where the song begins. Do watch the whole thing if you have time.
“Paperback Writer” – The Beatles
The only song about writers I could find is by a band I absolutely loathe, and the sad reality of this is not mitigated by the fact that the lyrics are actually pretty good.
“The Piano Has Been Drinking” – Tom Waits
And speaking of amazing lyrics…
Now I want a drink. Wait, that’s how the blog ended up on hiatus. Nevermind.
And you know that once the Interplanetary Internet gets going, people will be using it to illegally download music from the Planet of Sound. Pixies tried to get there using a fission drive, but they seem to have taken a wrong turn somewhere.
“Space Oddity” – David Bowie
Somebody else who got famously lost in space is Major Tom. Of course, if one was to compile a playlist of only the very best space songs, it would contain mostly Bowie. Having to choose just one of his, I’d say “Space Oddity” is the most intense and the creepiest. The lines “And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear / Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare” has much the same effect on me as that moment in horror movies when somebody says, “Look, there’s something moving in the forest, I’ll go and check.” You know that things are about to take a turn for the worse.
“Major Tom (Coming Home)” – Peter Schilling
From space horror to space-horror synth-pop, this German’s take on Bowie’s Major Tom story apparently topped the charts in 1983. I heard it for the first time yesterday – thanks to a tip from my husband, may his weird taste in music live long and prosper – and it is adorable.
“Spaceman” – Bif Naked
Bif Naked’s “Spaceman” was overplayed on MuchMusic in that sliver of the ’90s when I actually watched TV, but the reason this song will always have a special place in my heart is that Kat, my best friend in high school, would holler it at the top of her lungs while plugging her ears when she wanted to pointedly ignore whatever you were saying – in that way most people would yell “La La La, can’t hear you!” Not sure why. Fond memories.
“Astronaut (A Short History of Nothing)” – Amanda Palmer
Just think how much happier AFP’s relationship with the astronaut could have been if only the Interplanetary Internet was already in place. They could’ve kept in touch over Twitter and avoided the dismal lack of communication that got them into this twisted emotional head-space.
“In Space” – Ludo
Now imagine this is Amanda Palmer’s astronaut’s story from his point of view. Dramatic irony galore. Star-crossed lovers retold for the star-faring age. Juliet’s not really dead, only the letter where everything is explained never reaches Romeo. The astronaut is not emotionally distant at all, it’s just the lack of Interplanetary Internet.
I can’t promise to do this every Friday, so some Fridays will be more special than others.
This Friday’s playlist was inspired by the lyrics of the Tom Waits song ”After You Die,” which are composed entirely of similes. Similes and metaphors, as you know, are the basic literary trope much abused by poets and songwriters of all ages. So it’s pretty impressive that some of them are still managing to cram songs full of really good ones.
“After You Die” – Tom Waits
What is it like after you die? Pretty surreal, according to this bonus track on Tom Waits’ latest album, Bad as Me. A few great suggestions as to what the afterlife may be like include “Like a rich guy clapping” and “Like a wild-ass painting.” At least that’s how I always heard this line – “a wild-ass painting,” as in “a painting that blows your mind.” But I just saw this written on a lyrics site as “a wild ass painting,” as in “an undomesticated donkey creating a piece of visual art.” I think this interpretation rift may turn into a breakaway religious movement one day.
“Rain on the Midway” – Kevin Quain
A haunting love song from my favorite Toronto goth blues songwriter is a gripping answer to that age-old question once tackled in a Victorian sonnet – “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”: I love you like tornadoes in spring, Like old guitar strings, Like Nina Simone sings…
Listen to it on iTunes and see if it doesn’t send shivers up your spine.
“Turn Me On” – Nina Simone
As for how Nina Simone sings – here she is, waiting to be turned on “like a light bulb in a dark room.” Gorgeous, heartbreaking song pleading for the return of a lover who left, which ends – appropriately enough – with a request for some fresh ice-cubes in her drink.
“Wild is the Wind” – David Bowie
It was Nina Simone’s cover of “Wild is the Wind” that inspired David Bowie to record his own version of this song. It compares the intensity of his love to the wildness of wind, which is as romantic as the wildness of the painting ass we encountered earlier is not. Incidentally, did you know David Bowie’s new albumThe Next Day is coming out in a couple of weeks and that he recently released a new wild-ass video for it, starring Tilda Swinton?