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. 

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:

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?

Rekindling the Creative Spark: An Experiment Upon Myself, Part 1: Stating the Problem


I have allowed the quotidian to conquer my mental landscape. 

I have let this happen because I won’t just pull the trigger and go the ¿#☆€ to sleep.

Although I work an enviable 8 to 4, Monday to Friday schedule, I feel like the narrator in R.E.M.’s song “Daysleeper.”

How did this happen? I let myself read too many scattered articles on the internet (I’m beginning to hate Facebook), and too few really good books … especially paper books (I love my kindle, but it’s just not the same).
I’ve let this happen by listening to too much disposable radio music and too much nostalgic 80’s music, and not enough music that’s actually poetic, with imagery and metaphor in the lyrics. 

I’ve lost touch with the music that fired my when I was younger and had imagination to spare. 

And heaven knows when I last read actual poetry.

To make a long story short, I  have let my creative gas tank run empty.

That’s fairly easy to fix. Ideas are cheap, and quick flashes of inspiration can be found almost every day. 

That isn’t the real problem. Grab a gas can, get a ride to the gas station, and fill up.

The real problem is that I have let the moving parts get dry. I haven’t done the deep, long-term maintenance to keep the engine in good running order.

So even when the tank has gas in it, and I try to write, it’s like grinding gears together. 

I went years without an oil change, and now I need a major tune-up.

This isn’t unfixable: creative engines have come back from much worse, and in worse conditions. 

But it does have to be fixed. Even if I didn’t want to write fiction again, I’d still need a fully-functioning imagination. 

Next time,  we’ll look at proposed methodology for fixing the problem.  I may even throw in a hypothesis or two. 🙂

And We Drown in the Wake of Our Power (Musical Monday)

I first heard this song in 1988, at age 13, and it fired my imagination like few songs had ever done.  The first verse talks of a people defeated and enslaved, but not broken.  Even as they suffer “for someone else’s selfish gain” they sing songs to their God.  The second is darker, more metaphorical, with its talk of “chambers made for sleeping forever.”  It was not until I was somewhat older than I understood what that meant (“waiting for the train labeled with the golden star” should have clued me in, but I was thirteen).

Though I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t get the historical references (the Jews’ enslavement by the Pharoahs of Egypt and the Holocaust, respectively) at first, the sentiment and imagery struck me to my heart.  This was the universal cry of outrage at human cruelty: “Man hurts man, time and time again, and we drown in the wake of our power. Somebody tell me why?”  But more than that, it was the hope that comes from faith.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the album, and especially the song, “Lead Me On” jump-started my dream of writing.  Though at thirteen, I was hardly writing prose, I began to compose narratives, imagine characters, and inhabit the themes.  I suppose I would be writing if I had never heard “Lead Me On,” but I think I would be a very different writer, a very different person.

I know that when I say “Amy Grant,” most people don’t think “imagery-rich brief musical histories of the persecution of the Jewish people, framed in hope and faith, crying out in outrage and empathy for their suffering, and those of others who have suffered persecution.”  But 1988’s Lead Me On was a unique album from Grant, far different than any that has come before or since.  She talks about loneliness (“If You Have to Go Away”), temptation to infidelity (“Faithless Heart,” “Shadows”), and outrage at hypocrisy and judgment, including her own (“What About the Love?”).

The album’s center is a sweet, melancholy cover of Jimmy Webb’s “If these Walls Could Speak,” a song that is as intimate as a solitary return to a childhood home. Grant returns to the subject of violence and oppression with “Wait for the Healing,” which is not as striking as “Lead Me On,” but still far more complex and raw than her other work.  She ends with “Say Once More,” a ballad that carries the listener out of the wilderness of doubt and pain into a place of rest in love.  But even that rest is not perfectly certain.  “Tell me that time won’t erase,” she sings, “the way that my heart sees your face.”