Phantom of the Cinema


This movie kind of stunk

Because they chose 

An opera phantom who

Sang through his nose

And though he could not reach 

Notes low nor high

Joel Schumacher cast him anyway

Oh why? Oh why?

Why am I picking on a 13 year old movie? Well, it hasn’t gotten any better with age, has it?

So THAT’S Where I Heard That Before!

​https://youtu.be/ykW4rtW2eu0

So I’ve been  listening to The Veronicas lately, mostly thanks to Youtube’s suggestions.

“Untouched” is my favorite song so far, but also the most annoying … because I was sure I had heard parts of it decades before, but couldn’t figure out where.

I thought I might have been thinking puff Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” but when I listened to it, I couldn’t quite place it. 

So I asked my wifie, a classically trained musician and educator, to listen to it.

The first thing she said was “Pachabel’s Canon,” which isn’t surprising.  That song has spread its musical DNA around so much that I don’t even have an analogy I can use in good taste. Oops. Never mind me.  Just listen to it. 


But she also said that a lot of 80’s songs had used similar progressions. She mentioned Molly Ringwald and The Breakfast Club, and I immediately thought of this song: 


And yes,  The progressions are there.

Finally, I played “Boys of Summer” for her, and she explained why I had been confused. The progressions in Boys of Summer basically mirror those in Untouched, and my untrained ears hust couldn’t quite make them match.

So, mystery solved. And now I can listen in peace. 

The Trouble with Covers

​https://youtu.be/MmduDP-JNLQ

So I was listening to what I think is a pretty good cover of The Eurhythmics’ “Here Comes the Rain Again,” and it hit me:

Original recordings of songs are usually about whatever the song’s actually about. The emotion of the song is usually the artist’s focus.

Cover songs are very often about paying homage to a song the artist loves, and about doing justice to the original, as in Joss Stone’s “Here Comes the Rain Again.”

Other times, they’re about giving a new singer a quick hit by having them do a poppy, gritless version of a respected, fierce song. It often succeds in the short term, but I can only think of one case where the singer actually had any type of career afterward:


The original,  for comparison:


Here’s one of the many who didn’t: 


The original for comparison: 


Of course there is one other kind of cover, a kind that’s amusing our clever at first but just gets shockingly smug after a few listens:  ironic covers.

I’m not talking Richard Cheese parodies, but smug white indies singing rap and r&b:



Postmodern Jukebox makes probably the least obnoxious and most interesting of this type of cover. I think it’s because they explore and preserve historical musical styles, and because they keep the racial smugness out.





They still all seem to lack the emotion and sincerity of the originals, though.

Ok, for those of you who’ve made it this far, I’ll leave you with the greatest cover of all time, when the greatest pop punk metal self proclaimed martial aets master ever crossed genres to cover Wyclef Jean’s part of his duet wit Shakira. It was truly magical, as you can plainly see:

Avalon Peacock

​https://youtu.be/TyrNo8XzRd8

I hadn’t thought about Avalon Peacock or Can You Duet? (a short-lived American Idol wannabe from CMT) in years. 

But something reminded me of her name Thursday, and a few clicks later I was listening to her tracks on Youtube, wondering why she isn’t as famous as Allison Krauss or Miranda Lambert.

I mean,  listen to this!


Some of her recent solo work is available on Soundcloud

I think it’s better than her duets. It is far less country, for what that’s worth. She sounds a bit like Kate Bush meetsMazzy Star, in my opinion. 

Well, I know what I’ll be listening to for the next few days. 

Lindsey Stirling: Because You Need Dubstep Violin

​https://youtu.be/sf6LD2B_kDQ

Lindsey Stirling first broke on YouTube doing covers of video game and movie themes, like this great Legend of Zelda medley:

 https://youtu.be/b3KUyPKbR7Q

Or this Lord of the Rings tribute: 


Since then,  she’s produced albums full of original material, some with guest vocalists (like Lzzy Hale on Shatter Me):


And now she’s even spreading on soundtracks of her own,  like the recent Pete’s Dragon remake:


So now you know. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite videos,  the live public performance of Master of Tides:

Who Wants to Live Forever? (Josh Ritter’s “The Curse”)

If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to watch the video for “The Curse.” It’s one of the most melancholy and beautiful love stories I’ve seen in years.

I saw this video (lyrics here), and was floored. I was moved, saddened, and heartened in a way that I really hadn’t felt since I first heard Kansas’s “Dust in the Wind”

or (perhaps the greatest of them all) Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever,” from one of my favorite movies of all time, the criminally underrated Highlander.

 

 

Beat Bugs Is My New Favorite Cartoon

​https://youtu.be/K_Ev_Es7onw

What do you get when you take a colorful, beautifully animated cartoon with an endearing cast of genuinely sweet characters, completely appropriate for preschoolers … where each episode is built around a Beatles song?

Best. Cartoon. Ever.

Seriously, if you have a “littlie”, this is totally worth getting Netflix for. 

Oh,  did I mention that “All You Need Is Love” is the theme song?

Love versus Fear: Lessons from The Boss and Frozen


 “On his right hand Billy tattooed the word love and on the left hand the word fear, and in which hand he held his fate was never very clear.” – Bruce Springsteen, Cautious Man.

Love and hate are enemies, true, but love has another,  much more insidious enemy: fear.

We’ve all felt it. We’ve all struggled to find the words our the strength to say them… The strength to say anything at all. 

One of the best popular illustrations of this is the movie Frozen. We watched it as a family tonight (my daughter’s first Disney feature), and I was struck with the battle between love and fear. 

Elsa is dominated by fear from the first incident in the film, when she accidentally strikes Anna in the head with her ice power. 

But it’s clear from their parents’ reactions that they’d been ruled by fear much longer,  probably since Elsa’s power first appeared. 

In all their family, Anna alone is ruled by love.  Granted,  her naive approach does get her into some trouble, but ultimately,  her selfless act of love:

  •  defeats Hans’s  devious,  power-hungry plan
  • saves her from the freezing curse Elsa accidentally placed on her
  • frees Elsa from her overwhelming fear and shows get how to break the curse of eternal winter
  • Reunites their family and heals the rift their parents created when they decided to isolate Elsa. 

    It’s a perfect illustration of what John wrote to the eally church almost 2,000 years ago: 

    “There is no fear in love.  For perfect love casts out fear…” 1 John 4:18

    And that’s how I want to live my life,  more an Anna than an Elsa.

    By temperament, I’m much more off an Elsa,  much more a cautious man. But I love, and am loved, and if I’m willing to let it,  that love can cast out my fear. 

     One more song about live and fear, one of my favorite tracks from Sarah McLachlan (if you want to hear “Let it Go,” you can YouTube it yourself 🙂