Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Underrated

I think that when it comes to sheer musical genius, They Might Be Giants is one of the most underrated bands of all time. Their music is often hilarious, sometimes educational, occasionally profound, and an earworm each one. Do you have a wee one. That music that plays at the beginning and ending of a certain show with a certain mouse and his gang? That's them, but they are so much more. They do educational kids' albums. They do semi-educational adult albums as well. And they are incredibly self deprecating and endearingly sarcastically hilarious at their shows. They have this way of playing songs that are unbelievably tragic but they're so damned cheerful about it that you don't realize that you should really not be happy.  Like, you kinda want to put your head through a wall (or, in the case of Don't Let's Start, someone else's head) and yet you're kinda looking forward to it. And they have an accordion. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I have a "thing" for accordion players.  I honestly did not know that until this blogging adventure. Ah, the things we learn. Anyhow, it seems only fitting that the most underrated musical geniuses have a song about one of the most underrated geniuses, Nikola Tesla. If you don't know anything about Tesla (or why you should have nothing but disdain for Edison), first of all, we can't be friends anymore. Secondly, click here (warning: Language).   Next, enjoy this bit by They Might be Giants. .. and I hope you do enjoy it because you'll be humming it for three days.

What's your favorite underrated band?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Tartanic, see it's a pun, 'cause, you know, kilts

I'm a Renn Rat.  I am an unabashed, unapologetic, Renaissance Faire Junkie.  I have totes and totes and hangers and hangers of garb.  I bring my own mug.  I know every song at the pub sing and most of the entertainers know me by name. . because I've bought all of their stuff.  I know what rows not to sit in in the mud show, and what the little mice you see peeking out of bodices mean. I have a pair of Son of San's .  You get it.  This group is a gem that I found sitting on a bale of straw on a day that no amount of stripey thigh socks filled with ice was gonna cool me down. I went to see their show because it was relatively shady over there. And I could sit, at least the knees splayed, leaning back kind of sitting that you do when steel boning meets heat exhaustion. At first, they were tuning and the belly dancers were warming up. and I was unimpressed. Then this had been going on for a while and the girls were apologizing and people were leaving. I didn't because I was still tired and my husband had brought me a Queen's Tea and I was just fine where I was thank you. And pretty soon this bandy-legged, broad as he is tall (not fat, broad), bearded dude shows up carrying a drum as tall as he was. And then all hell broke loose.  I've never heard anything like them.  I mean, I've heard music LIKE them, but nothing of this caliber. They were amazing.  Hard-hitting and intense and a whole lot of fun.  So, here below is one of their songs. Below THAT is their cover of Crazy Train, because if you haven't heard heavy metal on bagpipes you just haven't lived.

Doo doo DOO do DOO do

So, what theme or niche music do you enjoy?

S is for Smashing Pumpkins

Do you remember in elementary school when you would hit a tuning fork  and match it to a certain note. How when the notes were close but not exact it felt like a toothache in your brain but then when they were right......ahhhhhhhhh.   I refer to Smashing Pumpkins as a tuning fork for my soul. When I really upset, I can't do soothing. It's just too different, to far away from what I feel and it actually makes it worse.  (There's actually a book written about this in regards to parenting toddlers called "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" and while I don't agree with his views on evolution, his technique and theory has been indispensable with Beowulf - especially during the catastrophic twos).  Angry music is good. . for a while. There's nothing like a round or two of "I Hate Everyone" by Go, Set, Go to make you smile. . .a  little. But extended angry music just makes me. .. angry. Enter Smashing Pumpkins. They're angry and chaotic and Corgan has that nasally voice that I really dig. . and then, on the same album, they are unbelievably smooth.  It's a great way to meet me where I am and make me feel like everything is all right.  Energized but calm.  Yeah. It's a goodness. I still fall asleep to disc two of "Melancholy. . . " often and am beyond thrilled that they have a new album coming out. Beyond. Like. aokngoaingdsaoihn!!!!!!!  Annnnnnyhow, I am also a big Fleetwood Mac fan. My dad had custody of me as a child and he had a huge crush on Stevie Nicks and the women from Heart. And Laura Branigan. Go ahead, name any song, I can sing it.  I remember once driving down the road listening to Fleetwood Mac and singing at the top of my lungs.  My husband was looking at me, oddly.  "Yeah?" I asked, turning down the volume. "I've just never known such a huge Fleetwood Mac fan. . . our age." he said.  I tell you all of this because, to me, Smashing Pumpkins' cover of "Landslide" is about as close to perfection as we are apt to get.

Who is the tuning fork for you?

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rose Tattoo

There's nothing like hearing children singing, in their tiny, piping voices, the songs of their childhood.  Of course, here in DaVurLand, my stalkers-in-training do things, pretty much everything, a little differently.  Case in point: the most requested song in our house is currently Rose Tattoo by Dropkick Murphy's. It's a great song. It's a great beat. The cover art for this album is so popular that fans were getting it tattooed on their persons before the album was released. Yeah. They're awesome. In the song he walks the listener through the reasons for all of his tattoos. Here, just give it a listen, then we will catch back up.

So yeah. Awesome song, good hard beat. And it's Irish Rock. But to me, there's so much more than that going on.
One of the single most influential people in my life was my Great-Grandma. Her name was Leona, but I always called her Mammy Noon because when she would come in the door or I would go to her house, she would always exclaim "Good Afternoon." Mammy Noon was the best that my infant mouth could make of that. I spent countless hours with her, learning how to make mud pies, learning to crochet, designing my own recipes that she's always let me bake. She taught me how to cook and how to quilt. She and I would play gypsy, dragging her bag of jewels from room to room. She taught me about history and about God and about the joy of simple living. She is in so many ways responsible for who I am and how I live today. But she was more than that. She taught me unconditional love. No matter how badly I messed up, and believe me there was a decade there where I messed up plenty, I could go to her house and rest my head on her knee, or run the wrinkled, crepey skin of her hand and know that it was all okay. That I was loved.  She taught me about the black and white nature of life. even though she would love conditionally, there was no doubt that there was such thing an absolute truth, as moral standards. It didn't mean that we were "bad" or should be lectured if we didn't follow them, but they were there. She taught me about hospitality, true hospitality, and it's importance in the world. She was my Polaris, my guiding star and I have to admit now, a few years after her death, I'm still kinda lost without her. Mammy Noon had roses. She had these pink rosebushes that would bloom from March to October - IN MICHIGAN. Where it snows pretty much from October to April. More than once I saw her roses blooming in the snow. And so, I want my own rose tattoo. One to remind me of my Mammy Noon.  A Southern Gospel fan, I'm sure Mammy Noon would be a little horrified that this song reminds me of her.  But even in that, it would make her smile that twinkly-eyed smile of hers.

What song has powerful memories for you?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Nickelback - no,not really

Actually, it's worse. You see, back in the day, like a great deal of the world, I fell in obsession with a certain male quintet.  I had the blankets. I had the clothing. The earrings. The collectable trading cards. The dolls AND the stage.  I was, undoubtedly, a Blockhead.  My stepsisters and I each had our favorites; the Kid we knew we were going to marry, and we would sit there in our comforters emblazoned with their faces watching their videos over and over again. I knew all of the words to all of their songs, and the sad thing is, I still do. And I still listen to the New Kids on the Block. There. I said it.
In fact, when they began their reunion tour a little over five years ago, my husband bought tickets for me and my best friend.  We got there, got seated (I was six months pregnant, sitting was good) and watched the crowd gather.  I noticed there were two kids of people at the concert; those who were wearing their crimped hair in a ponytail on the side, acidwashed jeans, and the SAME T-shirts that they'd owned back in the day, though perhaps fitting a little differently. Then there were the girls who had the FaceTime passes on lanyards around their necks.  You see, for an extra $300 dollars, you can hang out with Danny, Donnie, Joe, Jon and Jordan before the show. Most of these girls had obviously heard about the shenanigans that occurred last time the Kids toured, you know, before their boobs came in, and were looking to cash in on what they viewed to be a missed opportunity.  They had on microminis, push up bras, and fishnets. They had that predatory look that sometimes girls get.  And sitting there, enormous already, my friend and I were cracking. up. I mean, we shouldnt've judged; we were there. We were giddy. But it was so. funny.
Then, something happened. You see, the show started and the partition blocking the back of the stage came up. Our seats were such that we could see both the stage AND backstage. Please understand.  I'm a grown woman.  I've been married for a while. I have children.  I have seen naked men before. And yet.  Man that music starts going and I'm up and screaming and nearly hysterical. I'm singing at the top of my lungs.  I'm dancing as well as I can with a tiny human gyroscope inside of my. And then, then they were changing their clothes backstage.  I saw them IN. THEIR. UNDERWEAR. and holy moe I died. It was a very strange and thankfully temporary mental illness. I remember looking at my best friend on our way home and saying something incredibly witty out of my scratchy throat. . "what the hell happened to us."  She just grinned.

So, today, here was the favorite of the videos I would watch with my sisters.

What about you? What's your guilty pleasure?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Playin' a 'Lil Catch-up

It's been a bad couple of days.  The kind of days that make you want to punch someone in the throat and, in lieu of that, pull out your hair and scream like a banshee.  I mean truly, what's the matter with people this days.  Undependable, irresponsible, immature. Argh.  So, I needed to laugh. Nothing makes me laugh like the Muppets.  The song Manah Manah has always been able to reduce me to screaming giggles.  It now has an extra layer of awesome because my husband taught our daughter that song while picking her up in China while I was home with our younger children.  So, her first words to me were "Hi Mommy - Me-nah, Me-nah!" Let me tell you, there's nothing in the world that beats that. So, today, I'm listening to Manah Manah and the Snowths.

What song always makes you giggle?

Also,  little catch up for the days I missed.

H is for Hey by the Pixies
J is for Justin Vernon and Bruised Orange
K is for Lily Kershaw and As it Seems
L is for Lies oh Lies by Piney Gir who I WILL find a way to talk about again, even if it means someone else gets the ax.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blogging A to Z - Iz

Every now and then a great TV show pairs an profound moment with an amazing song.  It combines for this great audio/visual semi-visceral experience. They wring the emotions outta ya. To me, the best example of this was when Dr. Mark Greene (who I'm sorry, but will always be Goose to me) died on E.R. It was a sweet, touching scene and in the background was playing a version of "What a Wonderful World/Somewhere Over the Rainbow"  that I had never heard. Those were already two of my favorite songs; this took them to a whole 'nother level. It stuck with me; enough so that years later, when Google had put all of the information and misinformation and kitten memes in all the world at our fingertips, I thought "I bet I could figure out what that song was." Sure enough, it was there. A couple of months later, for my birthday, my husband presented me with a CD by Israel Kamikawiwo'ole, otherwise known as Iz. He has become well known for the song that introduced me, but his entire collection of work is equally as good. It is, simultaneously, playful and sweet and melancholy and cheerful.  Soothing.  After yesterday, one of those bad days that reaches epic proportions, I could do with some soothing.  Today while I write I'm listening to Iz.

Are there any songs that were introduced to you by TV?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A to Z with Great Big Sea

Add Great Big Sea to the list of my favorite non-Irish, Irish bands. These guys are practically family. I listen to them when I write, we listen to them while we drive. I find myself dancing barefoot around the kitchen.  My five-year old sings "Charlie Horse" and "Captain Kidd" while he colors.  Hailing from Newfoundland, this trio of incredibly hot, shaggy haired, gravelly voiced guys holds up their reputation for holding the biggest kitchen party in the world.  I'm especially all giddy and drooling over the accordion player.  No, really. Like, the world's hottest accordion player. Ever. Anyhow, they sing quite a lot of traditional songs incredibly well.  I love their versions of Forget me Not, River Driver, and General Taylor. They lay it freaking out. They also have some fun original creations.  The Mermaid is the kind of playful, punny, silly nonsense that would be at home in any pub show in any Renaissance Faire anywhere. My eight year old can't understand why he liked the mermaid with the fish head and the lady legs more than the mermaid with the lady head and the fish tail. I'm gonna let him ponder that for a while. Twenty years maybe. My favorite, though, is Sea of No Cares. I hope you enjoy.  Tonight, I'm letting them sing me to sleep. Good night.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - F is for Four Chords

Someday I will have unlimited time and money. As opposed to now when I always seem to be running short of both.  Coffee helps, of course.  It doesn't really give me more time but, when drunk in appropriate quantities, alternating with perhaps something containing taurine, it does have the power to make the rest of the world move in slow motion, which is good enough for me.  I may keel over at 40, of course, but until then mama is going to Get. Things. Done. But I digress.  Someday this will not be an issue.  When that day comes, I'm going to fulfill three of my greatest dreams.
                      1. I'm going to move to Australia.  I so so desperately want to be an Aussie, if only in the way that a Yankee who moves south of the Mason-Dixon can be a Southerner which is, of course, in a manner that includes geography and veiled hostility.  I'm okay with that because. . .Australia.  The home of Platypi. The home also of many incredibly venomous snakes which is slightly worrisome because you see I went to Peru and was bitten by an Anaconda, went to Grand Cayman and was bitten by an eel and so you see the odds are not precisely in my favor.  Still. Someday I will live there.
                     2.  When I am done living in Australia I'm going to do all of the stupid things that people tell you not to do because if you do them you will get bitten by a shark.  I will go abalone hunting, while bleeding openly and thrashing.  When I see a shark I will not move calmly.  I will try to hug the darned thing.  Because I love them.  And really if you're gonna go, going while embracing 2 tons of sheer serrated death kinda wins cool points.
                     3. In between point one and point two I'm going to spend a great deal of time following Axis of Awesome.  Like, I'd like to think that we'd be buds, you know, exchanging witty repartee and talking about Pokemon and Game of Thrones and drinking beer and I will write their biography and they will write a song about me.  But, you know, they're really talented musical folks and I've learned that really talented musical folks kind of tend to be a little bit. . .arrogant. Or if not arrogant at least slightly overaware that they are talented and the rest of us are not.  So my dream of us being BFFs might not work.  In which case I will just go to their concerts and daydream happily and collect setlists and whatnot like any good fangirl. Which brings me, though meanderingly, to my point.  The Four Chords song.  This was my introduction to Axis of Awesome and my cheap way of getting the most bang for your buck because with one simple paid download you get not only the amazing, studly, cleverness and musical genius of AofA (are you reading this, guys?  Really, email me, I'll buy the first round) but you get, you know, a lot of other songs.  Please, don't stop there, though. The smartassery and fun with this crew just don't stop. Word.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Day 5 - E is for Eurydice's Song

Did you know that there is a folk opera that has been based on a Greek myth?  No, not that one.  A different one.  A much, much, much BETTER one. Underworlds better, in fact.  There are people whose music I adore the first time I hear it.  There are people whose voices I enjoy.  This album, though, is head and shoulders above most everything I've heard. In her album, Hadestown, Anais Mitchell retells the story of Eurydice and her trip through Hades.  It is so amazingly well done, original, clever, and there's something about Mitchell's, slightly nasally voice that I adore, especially when paired with the impeccable deep bass of Justin Vernon who someday I will convince to be my personal lullabyist.  One of my favorite songs is "Eurydice's Song (Flowers)."

Do you know of any other albums that tell a story. . . not as in "wow those lyrics tell a story" but literally tell a story?

Friday, April 4, 2014

A to Z Challenge Day 4- Damien Rice

Welcome to Day 4 of the A to Z blogging challenge, where I continue to expose you to Songs I Like.  Today it's the third rainy day in a row, the sky is gray and the daffodils are looking a little dejected.  In my novel, on which I've made a huge amount of progress this month, my protagonist is feeling a little dejected.  And, to be honest, I'm feeling just a wee bit dejected as well.  It's a good day for Damien Rice.
I was introduced to Damien Rice at a pretty rough time in my life by a friend who was, in turn, introduced to him when he was going through a rough time.  This is not a coincidence; Rice's music sits gently, it's a balm to the soul.  Unlike some other performers whose music is a level of hopelessness that makes me feel like leaping off of a tall building would be a good idea if it wasn't just so damned much work, this dude perfectly nails melancholy.  And he does it so incredibly smoothly. The lyrics, the voice, the guitar, man it all goes down like a nice bourbon, and you can apply them all as liberally as you like without any worries about how you'll feel the next morning. There's nothing that he sings that I don't like, and his performance of "Hallelujah" at the Leonard Cohen tribute is one of the best I've heard, but today I'm going to introduce you the same way that I was introduced.  With "Cannonball."

Oh and for a different take on music and the A to Z challenge,  visit newbie blogger Cassie Ray Clark.   In the meantime, who do you snuggle when you're a 'lil down?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

C's Abound on Day 3

It's Day Three of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and I have a plethora of them for your, a crowd of "c"s if you will, a cacophony of c.  You get the point.
        One day while babysitting, back in the woebegone days when there were still actual videos on MTV, a new song was released by a bunch of cool cats by the name of Aerosmith.  The song was "Cryin' and I was sold from the first harmonica riff.  I'm a sucker for some good harmonica.  Incidentally, that song is also on my playlist, and so I will include it below as part of my "song's I write to" alphabet blitz.  That song is not what this blog was about, but as I still love it we will pause for a minute to reminisce with an old friend.

Yup. Still good.  But anyway, so I went to my Mom's house that weekend and begged and pleaded until she took me to the mall where I bought the single.  For those of you who may not know, a "single" was like buying one song off of iTunes and getting another not as good song for free.  They were a little bulky, but fit conveniently in a fanny pack.  But I digress. Again. It's probably the rain.  "Mom" I said when we got home, "you've gotta hear this."  So I played it for her and she looked at me with this very strange look in her eye and went and got one of her old records from the garage.  This record had a woman wearing a red shirt and weird round sunglasses on the cover.  "If you like that, you might like this," she said.  And so I was introduced to Janis Joplin via her song "Cry, Baby."  To say that I was obsessed was a bit of an understatement.  As anyone who knew me in high school can attest, my bellbottom and tie dye collection soon reached epic proportions.  My first car was a yellow VW Bug.  I began to favor harmony balls on long leather strings and still prefer Tevas and platforms to any other kind of footwear.  And I still listen to Janis.  Granted, that scratchy, soulful voice doesn't appeal to my children as much as it does to me, and it tends to drive my husband out of the room which may or may not be a good thing, depending on the day, so i dont' get to listen to her as much as I'd like.  But man, when I do, I do.

I am such a fan of the Pearl that she is actually featured in my Champions Challenge (see, more c's) over at The Iron Writer.  The Iron Writer is a flash fiction challenge of which I've been a part for nearly a year now, in which challengers are given four elements and four days to write a 500 word story.  One of the elements this time was "your favorite karaoke song" and so I decided to do a literary retelling of another Janis song "Me and Bobby McGee."   This is the championship round,  a March Madness bracket style competition which I've made it to every time, but have never gotten past the first round.  Kinda like the Buckeyes this year.   If you get a minute, I'd sure appreciate your vote.  Simply click here and then vote for "Me and Bobby McGee" by K.A. DaVur.  This blog post may actually beat their server update, so if the stories aren't up please please please check back.  

In the meantime, tell me, what's your favorite song from the 60's?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blogging A to Z - April 2

Yawn. Stretch. Moving kinda slow this morning, how about you?  Feeling kinda melancholy.  Which I guess is fitting because of today's song.  Today on Blogging A to Z (where we have been joined by the amazing Dani J. Caile so go check out his alphabetical proweress when you get a chance) I will be introducing you to the second best break up song of all time: Both Hands by Ani Difranco (the living in clip version).  It perfectly expresses the pain when a relationship is ending, you know it's ending, you can't stop it, but you don't want it to. I once had a friend refer to her as "every man's worst enemy" because during a break up the male suddenly becomes, in the mind of the woman, every dude in every Ani Difranco song.  I don't know if I'd go that far,though she does, in my mind, hold the title for best break up song as well, with Untouchable Face (don't Google that if you're squeamish about profanity). But I digress.  I "met" Ani when I was driving around in my little 5 speed Escort Pony (named Mony) and rocking to a single of 32 Flavors by Alana Davis.  My friend says "you know this is a cover, right?"  I didn't.  I was woefully Top 40 at that point, but all of that was about to change. So I dropped her off and she said "wait a minute" and brought me a copy of Ani Difranco's "Dilate" and "Little Plastic Castle" to borrow.  It was love at first play.  I had several amazing times at Ani concerts after that, and some amazing-in-retrospect angsty teenage times angstily shouting the lyrics to various songs after  angsty, angsty, breakups.  We differ a little politically nowadays, though she is a homebirth devotee which as a former midwife makes me really happy.  Even so, her music never fails to make me happy.  I mean, where can you go wrong with someone who plays an acoustic guitar with acrylic nails taped to her fingers to get a grittier sound?
          There are several versions of Both Hands, but I love the Living in Clip version because here she is accompanied by an orchestra, which makes it just that more awesome.  What is your favorite break up song?

I do not own the rights to this song.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A to Z Blogging Challenge - April 1

It's April, which means it's time for the A to Z Blogging Challenge, which is boasting over 2300 participants this year including my dear friends Marian Allen  and my favorite steampunk warrior Jay Noel.  I've pondered long and hard about joining this challenge, mostly because I'm fairly notorious for starting a challenge and then petering out halfway through due to technical issues, birthing livestock, sick children, or just your average artist-inspired ADHD (look, something shiny!).  Also, I'm also doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month and really want to finish one if not both of my almost done novels.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, though, and someday I will see one of these through to the end.
After much pondering, I've decided to choose Songs I Like as my theme.  I figure as I'm going to be writing I'm going to be abusing my playlists and thought I'd share some of the gems within with all of you.

Today's Song I Like is As Cool as I Am by Dar Williams.  I learned about Dar at Van Buren Youth Camp, the gateway to most of my music obsessions even today.  I was able to meet Dar at her concert at the historic and gorgeous Kentucky Theatre, and she was amazingly gracious as I babbled in my best angstypoetreefangirl style. 20 years (erhem) after I first heard this song I still think it's a song every woman should hear.