Why do we care about singers? Wherein lies the power of songs? Maybe it derives from the sheer strangeness of there being singing in the world. The note, the scale, the chord; melodies, harmonies, arrangements; symphonies, ragas, Chinese operas, jazz, the blues; that such things should exist, that we should have discovered the magical intervals and distances that yield the poor cluster of notes, all within the span of a human hand, from which we can build our cathedrals of sound, is as alchemical a mystery as mathematics, or wine, or love. Maybe the birds taught us. Maybe not. Maybe we are just creatures in search of exaltation. We don’t have much of it. Our lives are not what we deserve; they are, let us agree, in many painful ways deficient. Song turns them into something else. Song shows us a world that is worthy of our yearning, it shows us our selves as they might be, if we were worthy of the world.
At work last night, I got too close to a coworker while both of our music was playing from our little hip speakers and they became this haunting fucking mash-up. And so, my galleons, I ask that you give this a try.
First, hit play on this:
Leave that at full volume. Then proceed to play this at half volume:
It’s not perfect, but the Mass Effect score adds this unsettling, disturbing air to the indie pop nonsense.
For the record, this is my second favorite way to listen to “Hey There, Delilah”. The first, of course, is to not listen to this fucking song at all. But sometimes shit happens. And just this once, it was kind of beautiful.
And now, dear galleons, because it is Halloween (and I’m a lazy fucker and don’t want to write a real post), here are my three favorite songs about those perennial favorites: ZOMBIES.
Number Three: “Who Do You Voodoo Bitch?” Sam B
Number Two: “Re: Your Brains” Jonathan Coulton
Now in French!
Number One: “Zombie Apocalypse Blues” Peter Chiykowski
In one of those strange bits of coincidence, I seem to have developed slight addictions to two songs this week with very similar choruses.
Namely, their choruses are composed primarily of “la la la”-ing (Is there a technical term for that? If so, I don’t know it).
The first is by a band I recently rediscovered in the depths of my iTunes library, much to my glee. Die Toten Hosen, a fantastic German punk rock band. I haven’t listened to them in well over a year, and I have spent most of this week rectifying that grievous error. As a result, I have become hooked on their cover of The Passenger:
In my opinion, it far outstrips the original (Blasphemy? Maybe- doesn’t make me wrong).
The second song is by Jay Brannan and titled, aptly enough, La La La. I was going to put a vid up here for it, but while his live version is lovely, the album version is the one I’ve fallen in love with (and really think you should hear). Particularly once it gets to the second verse.
Also, gotta love him continuing his habit of including cheeky sexual lyrics (though most of the song is, like 99% of his songs, heartbreaking).
To be fair, beyond the “la la la”-ing, these songs don’t have anything in common. Still, I found the timing amusing.
Did you feel that? I’m certain you did. A thunderous quaking, a bone-shaking vibration that doesn’t-quite-register as sound. Perhaps it roused you from a your deep, late-Saturday-morning slumber. You sat upright in your bed, nerves still twitching in sympathy with the fading rumbles.
“What was that?” you asked to the suddenly still room. It flickers through your mind that it was all a dream, some shudder-and-shake nightmare your malicious subconscious tossed at you just to watch you pop awake, clawing at your sheets, fear and confusion warring in your sleep-riddled mind.
But it wasn’t a nightmare. Oh no, it happened. And if you feel an inexplicable bubble of contentment, of joy, sitting somewhere behind your breastbone now, that’s simply the result of the tremor.
Because this morning, an explosive shout, a joyful Thu’um, erupted from me and rocked the very fabric of space-time.
Karla1 and I have been reunited, my galleons. My heart is currently frolicking about my chest like the happiest animated deer in the magical forest.
Yes, the universe finally saw fit to gift me with the first (and heftiest) of my tax returns, which allowed me to correct the grievous wrong of the last five months and once again become the happy owner of an iPod.
This may mean little to you, but to me, this is the best thing that has happened all month. Things have been a bit rocky lately, but by all the science gods, I have my music again. No longer am I at the whims of the radio station witches, the top 40 lists, or that asshole Dan who turns the work radio to country when I’m not paying attention. No, it is my turn to subject them all to a terrible onslaught of my bizarre music tastes.
No longer shall my headphones sit sadly unused on my desk. No longer shall my walks between classes be full of the sounds of traffic and birds and inane prattling from the idiots I pass. No longer will I have to forgo reading during my lunch breaks because I can’t drown out the sounds of my coworkers.
My friend John once told me that he’d never met a person who listened to music as much as I did. He used to comment that my headphones must be stuck in my ears at least 12 hours of every day. To have that so unceremoniously ripped from me has left a void over the last few months that I have never stopped noticing.
Give me your music, world. I am once again your conduit, your prophet, your devoted servant.
1 In the same way that all my laptops have been called Ghiert, all of my iPods have been named Karla. It’s tradition.
…Posting this is actually pretty embarrassing, dear galleons. However, seeing as I tend to share my idiocy with others on a regular basis, I figure I might as well share this gem.
I actually think my constant self-deprecation is a function of my extreme narcissism. Because I even find my stupidity awesome.
Yesterday, Karla 3.0 died a spectacular death, if having what amounts to an epileptic seizure and then just giving the fuck up can be considered spectacular. After leaving the bar last night and climbing into my car, I plugged her in and tried to turn her on. She started quickly and violently flashing between a black screen and the regular start-up Apple screen. She would do nothing else.
Upon returning home, I plugged her in, hoping that would stop her from being a massive cunt. I noticed that Ghiert wasn’t registering Karla’s presence, but I had company all night and couldn’t spend the time cussing at my technology and trying to fix her.
In the end, there was nothing I could do for Karla, anyway. She had been giving me signs for weeks heralding her coming demise. I had just been hoping I’d have more time.
So, I find myself sans iPod. Which is a fucking travesty, to be sure.
And now we get to the moment of sheer, fuck-all amentia.
I wake up yesterday, still in mourning, sadly contemplating the coming silent drives to work and class. After a few seconds, I realize that I could burn a CD, seeing as (for once) I have blank CDs in my possession.
Thank god for my bizarre habit of making mix CDs, I think to myself. Wandering into the bedroom, I grab the stack…
Only to remember that my car is too old to have a CD player. And I don’t own a Discman or the adapter for the Borgia’s cassette player, so my CD plan was out.
Groaning, I trudge back to my couch to watch Doctor Who. I am dreading the drives in silence.
What am I going to do?
I am going to die, that’s what.
I start to get really emo.
There may have been tears.
I’m an amorphous blob of sadness, squelching my way to the bathroom and back.
Even the Doctor’s latest adventure is failing to cheer me up.
I become aware of how pathetic I am.
I don’t care.
I need my music.
And then it finally hits me:
My car has a fucking radio.
You don’t get more blonde than that.
It’s what you listen to when you’re in the gritty alley behind the bar, bent over in the shadows, grasping the edge of the dirty dumpster as someone pounds into you from behind. What you hear as you stand beneath a tree, rain pouring down, smoke curling upward from your cigarette as you watch the rest of the world scurry off toward their homes as the sunlight vanishes. When you’re standing in the window of a seedy motel, neon lights casting you in a jaundiced light as you stare at your naked reflection, the sound of gravel crunching under tires as he disappears into the night. When all you are is skin and sweat and obsession and sin.
I am in lust, dear galleons.
With Dane Poppin of A Static Lullaby:
He’s beautiful. He’s a musician. And he has a glorious beard.
I swear, my lady bits are all a-tingle right now.
R.J. introduced me to this song, and we listen to it all the time at work… but I just saw the video today. And there Mr. Poppin is, black leather jacket and all (I’m even digging the serious emo swoop he’s rockin’):
I love this. It never gets old.
So, while cleaning out my bookmarks on Ghiert 2.0 and selecting what to transfer over, I came across this video tucked away in a random folder. I’ve had it for quite some time.
Funny story, actually. I first heard this piece as a result of playing Mass Effect. The various star systems are named for all sorts of things. Greek gods, mythical creatures, ancient cities (and the planets within each system have names corresponding to their star’s). One of them was named Pamyat, and it was full of planets with Russian names, names of cosmonauts who died during spaceflight.
Searching for the meaning of “pamyat,” I stumbled across this. And adored it. Two words, but so full of emotion. Thank you, BioWare.