So I was minding my own business, reading my email, when I found a link to a great mini-essay on love by musician/novelist/essayist Daniel Handler (you may know him better as snarky kids' book writer Lemony Snicket) for the amazing Powell's Books in Portland. The first paragraph made me laugh self-consciously, then set me thinking.
What's love, again? No, seriously: what is it? Why are you quoting song lyrics? Do the lyrics of love songs actually cut to the heart of the matter, or are they simply so vague that it feels like they do? Why does one's own love feel as if it cuts to the heart of things, but other people's loves feel like vague amusements? Why are love songs we don't like so noxious? How can we love a song so dearly for a number of years and then suddenly find it embarrassing? Also, a person?I've been rising like a phoenix (or something) from the smoking rubble of My Hideous First "Adult" Relationship In Which I Acted Like A Child Most Of The Time And As A Bonus, Almost Got Married (tm) for nigh on 8 months now (tempus fugit, goddamn!), and I've bonded with a lot of albums full of moody love songs over the past few months that seem to correspond with the stages of recovery or something. There was my New Order fixation in the fall (um, I'd file that under "acceptance"); I found myself unable to resist the little voices in my head (yeah, yeah) telling me to buy a copy of Kate Bush's Hounds of Love on vinyl the other day, and I've been listening to it incessantly (hopefully this corresponds to some kind of "reconfiguring of identity" or something) ever since.
I'm sure I'm not the first person that's noticed that most pop songs are love songs, really (except, uh, the ones about dancin!). Do you know I exist? Why don't you know I exist? I want you. I really want you. OMG, go away, I so don't want you. Please don't come near me ever again, can't you see how miserable you've made me? Look at me, I am so fucking awesome without you in my life anymore. Et cetera.
That's the name of my lonely (thanks, Jonathan Carroll): My insistence I'm not worthy enough to feel big and beautiful and overwhelming love ever again.
To whit, sorry to re-quote Handler: "Do the lyrics of love songs actually cut to the heart of the matter, or are they simply so vague that it feels like they do?"
Well...? Do you know what I mean? (Thank you, Kate Bush) Some songs just get scratched into our souls...(Thank you, Craig Finn.)
Kate Bush -- The Hounds of Love
Kate Bush -- Running Up That Hill (12" Remix)
The Futureheads -- The Hounds of Love (Phones' Wolves at the Door Remix)
Chet Baker Sextet -- Stella By Starlight (sometimes a love song doesn't need words...)
Changing gears a little bit: The website for the Celia Cruz exhibit at the Smithsonian is amazing.
Goodhodgkins offers tracks from the original version of The Wrens' The Meadowlands, with commentary. "Such A Pretty Lie" would have been included in the tracks above -- but why be redundant? -- go get it from him. And, maybe today is, as he mentions, a wonderful day to revisit that album if you haven't lately. It's still brilliant, I promise. It always will be.
Wanna hear the worst cover ever? You've been warned -- it's Train's utterly bloodless cover of Sugar's "If I Can't Change Your Mind," off their new album, For Me It's You. I heard this during a fruitless shopping trip to Gap the other day, and I thought I'd officially gone mad.
Not to jump on the mp3 blogger bandwagon, or anything, but Beirut, people. This is what happens when the heavy influence of Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum is a good thing.
Another new track from Shearwater's Palo Santo is up at the Misra site: "White Waves." Also, the news that the Evangelicals are touring with Get Him Eat Him this summer makes me very, very happy indeed.
Perpetua's on a roll lately. Yet another Fluxblog find has snagged my attention: Persephone's Bees. Big, grandiose pop is always welcome, isn't it?