I recently rediscovered this song: “Trolley Wood” by Eisley. It’s insanely catchy, and I’ve recently found myself humming it to myself.
I’ve also puzzled over the lyrics. Is it a metaphor for an experience that’s impossible to replicate? Is there some kind of significance to the surreal concept of a wood with trolleys rolling around the hills, or is it just a cute but nonsensical term that rhymes with Hollywood? In any case, have a listen.
This is the song of the moment solely because it’s been stuck in my head this week. And it’s been stuck in my head mainly because of the first line: “It felt like springtime on this February morning.” And yeah…it’s like 71 degrees today. In Boston. In February.
I don’t want to write too much about the election just yet. I’m still too angry and upset. Maybe at a later date.
The first Saturday Night Live after the election had this opening that made me cry: the amazing Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton singing “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, who had just passed away.
(One of the minor tragedies of this election is that we won’t get to see Kate’s Hillary Clinton as much. She’s brilliant.)
“Hallelujah” is one of my favorite songs ever. It’s my go-to shower-singing song. But the Leonard Cohen song I’ve thought sums up the situation in our country the best right now is actually “Everybody Knows.”
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed Everybody knows that the war is over Everybody knows the good guys lost Everybody knows the fight was fixed The poor stay poor, the rich get rich That’s how it goes Everybody knows Everybody knows that the boat is leaking Everybody knows that the captain lied Everybody got this broken feeling Like their father or their dog just died
Sounds about right to me. This song has been covered a lot, and I remember this cover by Elizabeth and the Catapult was on Damages.
There are some musicals I’ve never seen but would love to, having listened to the music from them. The Secret Garden is one. Ragtime is another. And this is my favorite song from Ragtime: “Back to Before.” It’s so beautiful and has lyrics that apply to so many things besides the specific situation in the show. Back in college, it made my AIM away message quite frequently. Those days are over, but I sing it in the shower quite a bit.
A few weeks ago, I was looking at the list of movies expiring from Netflix in March and saw that one of them was Evita. I first saw this movie in middle school and used to listen to the soundtrack (on cassette tape!) all the time. So I decided to watch it while I still could.
It was pretty much exactly how I remembered it, although I’d forgotten how much I love Antonio Banderas’s voice. Dude can SING! But the song that really jumped out to me upon this rewatch was “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.” As I’ve mentioned before, I think most good musicals have one really underrated song, and this is Evita‘s.
I’ve never seen it on stage, but as written for it, this song is sung by Peron’s mistress after Peron leaves her for Eva. In the movie, this was changed so that it’s Eva singing it earlier, after the end of her affair with a singer, and there’s a very short reprise where the mistress sings just a few lines of it. (The mistress only has about two minutes of screen time in the movie.) But the fact that it can be used for two different scenarios is one reason why I like the song so much. The best show tunes are the ones that can stand on their own, ones you can understand without knowing the context into which it was written. It’s a breakup song that could really be sung by anyone feeling hurt by the end of a relationship.
Here it is in the movie, but I also found a YouTube clip of a version by the wonderful Samantha Barks, so I’ve included that, too.
Sometimes when I do these “Song of the Moment” posts, it’s a song that’s timely. Maybe it has to do with the time of year, or something going on in my life, or something in the news, or it reminds me of someone’s birthday.
This one is none of the above. It’s just a song I love and think you should know if you don’t know it already: Patty Griffin’s lovely “Nobody’s Crying.” Despite the title, the gentle but emotional way she sings it, like her heart is breaking, often makes me want to cry. It’s been covered a few times, but Patty’s original version is my favorite.
May you dream you are dreaming in a warm, soft bed And may the voices inside you that fill you with dread Make the sound of thousands of angels instead Tonight where you might be laying your head Darling, I wish you well On your way to the wishing well Swinging off of those gates of hell But I can tell how hard you’re trying I still have this secret hope Sometimes all I do is cope But somewhere on the steepest slope There’s an endless rope And nobody’s crying
I’ll get to my post about Europe in a second. I haven’t posted yet due to a busy week after I got back and then this past week, which I spent in Chicago for a business trip.
It was the second time I’d been to Chicago. The first time was also for work, back in 2009. I was thinking about how much has changed since then. I remember distinctly that when I went to Chicago four years ago, my anxiety was at its peak. I was getting panicky and teary over stupid little things, and I remember crying a lot in my hotel room over the things I was worried about.
That all seems so far away now. I’m really happy to say that I no longer have that kind of anxiety—like, at all. It’s kind of crazy how much it’s improved. In the last year, too, I feel like I’ve let go of caring about a lot of the things that used to cause me a lot of worry, and it’s incredibly freeing.
When I visit a city for the first time, I like to listen to a song about that city—like a song from this playlist. Four years ago when I was in Chicago, I was listening to the Sufjan Stevens song “Chicago,” and it couldn’t have been more appropriate. I was worried about mistakes I’d made, or thought I’d made, and there’s a repeated line in that song: “I made a lot of mistakes.” That line in Sufjan Stevens’ soft voice in the state of mind I was in became really comforting to me.
This time in Chicago, when I had some free time, I had some deep-dish pizza and went to the top of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and down to Navy Pier to ride the Ferris Wheel and some other rides. I got pictures like this:
Oh, yeah, and I also listened to the same song. I still love it, even when I’m in a calmer place.
I first heard this song by Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright a couple of months ago at a party, and it’s been haunting me since I started listening to it on Spotify this weekend. There’s something kind of hypnotic about it.
Certain lyrics from this song have taken up residence in my brain and won’t leave. But they’re interesting houseguests:
I hang my coat up in the first bar There is no peace that I’ve found so far The laughter penetrates my silence As drunken men find flaws in science
And after I have traveled so far We’d set the fire to the third bar We’d share each other like an island Until, exhausted, close our eyelids
If Wikipedia is to be believed, “setting the fire to the third bar” means turning the heat up, I assume metaphorically in this case. The lyrics are full of imagery about fire and warmth as opposed to cold, and although it’s now March and spring is supposedly on its way, it’s flurrying as I write this. So this seems like an appropriate song for this time of year.
Have a listen. I’m actually not crazy about this music video, though- it’s not how I picture the song in my head. Damn you for not reading my mind, music video director!
(Yeah, yeah, Les Mis again. For those of you reading this on Google Reader, pop over to my blog—I’ve actually started an “obsessing over Les Mis” tag.)
I think most popular musicals have one underrated song—the one that, when you first hear it, makes you wonder why you haven’t heard it before. For Wicked, it’s “The Wizard and I.” For Rent, it’s “Santa Fe.” And for Les Mis, it’s “Who Am I?”
This song comes at a point in the musical where Jean Valjean has learned that another man has been arrested and brought to court for his own crimes. In the song, he ponders what to do—should he say nothing, condemning an innocent man but also ensuring that the lives of the workers in the factory he oversees are not upset and that he will be able to care for Fantine’s daughter when she dies? Or should he go to court to set the man free, remembering the lesson he was taught years ago that set him on the path to reforming his life?
I love this song because it succinctly captures a moral dilemma without sacrificing the complexity of it. Valjean struggles with his identity—is he the mayor and factory owner responsible for the employment of many workers, or is he still the convict with the prison number 24601? Is he someone who can abandon those who depend on him? Is he someone who can let an innocent man suffer for his own crimes? Is he still the man he became after making the promise to the bishop years ago? Is he someone who can face the consequences of whatever decision he makes?
I wish I could find a good YouTube clip of the staging of this song. It starts out with Jean Valjean singing alone on a dark stage, and as it crecendos into the line, “Who am I? I’m Jean Valjean!” the courtroom where the innocent man is on trial appears behind him. When he gets to the last line, “Who am I? 2-4-6-0-1!”* he reveals his prison tattoo. But the brilliant Colm Wilkinson’s version here, at the 10th anniversary concert, is excellent.
Hurricane Sandy has come and gone. Here in Boston, most of us are relatively unscathed- my office was closed for two days, but I didn’t lose power and there wasn’t any major damage to the area where I live.
Sadly, not everyone can say the same. I’ve been looking at photos from parts of New York and New Jersey and they are just heartbreaking. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone dealing with the damage the storm has left.
My friend Carr, who’s a New Jersey native, posted this song on Facebook today. Bruce Springsteen is one of the best things ever to come out of New Jersey, and this is one of my favorite songs by him. The line from the song that’s always haunted me seems appropriate for the events of this week:
Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact But maybe everything that dies someday comes back