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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Song(s) of the Week

Kyle's Pick-Lantern by Josh Ritter

I've probably heard this song dozens of times, usually in the background. It's got a catchy melody & hook, but I never gave a thought to pay attention to any of the lyrics that aren't "be the light of my lantern, be my light". After the first couple of listens this week, I had a preconceived notion of what I thought the song was about. I need a light in the dark world. It's a theme Josh Ritter's visited before, in one of my favorite turns of phrase from him, he says "save all of your light for those who can't sleep at night". I think the song is about the symbiotic need humans have for each other. They need what others give them, but maybe more importantly, they need to give something up to the other person to survive. Where we cock it up is when we care more about what we're getting than what we're giving, & the song gives lots of examples in nature when that happens.

"tell me what's the point of light that you have to strike a match to find?"

I think the point of that line, is that the light's no good when you create it for yourself, it's better to get it from someone else, "hold it high for you, I'll hold it high for me".

Andrew's Pick-Keep Eye on Other's Gain by Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Some songwriters have a distinct voice when it comes to their songs. I'm not talking about their physical voice, I'm talking about their persona as a songwriter. Great songwriters can take on their own voice as well as sing as another character. I think "Keep Eye on Other's Gain" takes on a character he doesn't like, or at least one he doesn't agree with. At first listen, it sounds like the words are coming from someone who may have a compassionate perspective on wealth & possessions.

"others don't have a bed like mine, they sleep out in the rain. others hearts are guarded from the blows of random pain."

Letting this one soak in a bit, though, it becomes clear that the singer sees that as being by design. The song is seen as advice, most likely to a son or daughter. The person who sleeps out in the rain didn't have the same advice that he's giving his child. The advice, ultimately, is to "stay ahead" of everyone else, especially the guy who sleeps out in the rain. He's not cruel enough to say, "tough luck" to the guy, but he's not going to help him either. The writer of the song ignores that symbiotic need for humans to help each other as explained in the first song. It's a cynical view of the song, I know, but in many ways I think Oldham is a cynical songwriter. The song ignores what I was always taught as a kid to not worry about what other people have, it says the opposite, to keep eye on what everybody else has. Otherwise, they might have something you don't.

That's it for this week, I like how if you look closely enough, you can find correlations between the two songs.

(sorry I couldn't find the original)

This week's song of the week: The Fairest of the Seasons by Nico. Enjoy.

now that its time
now that the hour hand has landed at the end
now that its real
now that the dreams have given all they had to lend
i want to know
do i stay or do i go
and maybe try another time
and do i really have a hand in my forgetting?

now that i've tried
now that i've finally found that this is not the way
now that i've turned
now that i feel its time to spend the night away
i want to know
do i stay or do i go
and maybe finally split the rhyme
and do i really understand the undernetting?

yes, and the morning has me
looking in your eyes
and seeing mine warning me
to read the signs carefully

now that it's light
now that candle's falling smaller in my mind
now that its here
now that i'm almost not so very far behind
i want to know
do i stay or do i go
and maybe follow another sign
and do i really have a song that i can ride on?

now that i can
now that its easy, ever easy all around
now that i'm here
now that i'm falling to the sunlights and a song
i want to know
do i stay or do i go
and do i have to do just one
and can i choose again if i should lose the reason?

yes, and the morning has me
looking in your eyes
and seeing mine warning me
to read the signs more carefully

now that i smile
now that i'm laughing even deeper inside
now that i see
now that i finally found the one thing i denied
its now i know
do i stay or do i go
and it is finally i decide
that i'll be leaving
in the fairest of the seasons

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Big Kick, Plain Scrap-Nick Lowe, Labour of Lust

Tryin' to Get to Heaven-Bob Dylan, Time Out of Mind

Five Hearts Breaking-Alejandro Escovedo

Drifter's Escape-Bob Dylan

Fairest of the Seasons-Nico

Happy Friday, friends...


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Grand Haven, Michigan
the sun shines on a dog's ass every now & then...