The mesmerizing Vienna Teng, and the next is because she’s another person I discovered at the same time, Melissa McClelland. She has a song called Pretty Blue but I like this better. And its also piano based.
Blue. Though a few other colours have meanings beyond themselves, none is quite as fecund as blue. Not only do we have the blues but the many songs, and it is not the same thing at all, the many songs about feeling blue. And then you have being blue with cold, and the big blue sky, the blue ocean, and blue eyes.
Another one of the great 60s bands. Yes, overplayed like them all but I always think of them as the Replacements of their time (though really the Mats are the Who of theirs). Both wrote as members of the audience rather than from the stage and both tore that stage apart. I curse CSI for running a few of their tunes into the ground and thank God they are not the best ones. (I have a fond and strong memory of Who Are You first being used in Nicholas Roeg‘s Bad Timing, one of the best obvious soundtracks ever laid down). This particular video also shows off Daltrey’s never to be equalled mastery of the corded mike toss and catch.
And of course you have to jump from The Who to The Guess Who. Why? Couple of reasons. First of all, just as the Who reincarnates as Replacements, I think the Guess Who reincarnated as Screaming Trees. Its a bit of a stretch but it works. And because the first time you heard the name you thought ‘Not The Who ” and then you thought it was a radio contest to guess the name, and this was before The Band.
What annoyed (and to be frank caused our northern jaws to drop to the fucking ground) was Lenny Kravitz covering American Woman (I’ve linked to the original not the travesty). This had for some time been a Canadian protest song about steering clear of the ruinous impulses south of our border and to hear it turned into a pop song which seemed to be about babes, naughty perhaps, but babes nontheless, was not only sacriligeous but smacked of total idiocy. It was a song that only made sense sung from this side. It was no different than hearing protest songs being used for bank commercials.
Okay a change of pace to the West Coast jazz scene….I was reminded of this through Elvis Costello‘s Almost Blue and then why not go to the source…Chet Baker.
Kind of funny but I’ve fallen off of Elvis though I won’t ever entirely abandon him because he takes chances. The man starts off all punky and then does things like the Juliet Letters or the country or jazz forays. Though I didn’t like the Burt Bacharach phase I still admire the man for going there. If I had to pick one great album Imperial Bedroom.
Costello appeared with about a hundred other stars on the Orbison tribute which seems to play every other day on PBS but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t one of the most moving examples of that genre. You have the almost forgotten artist, who then soon dies, and you have this great weight of talent lining up to acknowledge not only the debt but also how unique this particular talent was. Orbison had not only that voice but a way of writing a song that has shown up in Arcade Fire’s Funeral cd in Crown of Love. Listen to it and think of how the Orbison structure just keeps climbing to a crescendo at the end, a desperate cry. It also has that Orbison ‘ti did ti did did did did’ punctuation. What I love about this horribly beautiful song is that it sounds like a love song when it is almost the opposite.
Someday I might write about seeing these folks….Bertold Brecht jamming with gypsies. A great show. I remember lying on the couch listening to Rebellion for the first time and not knowing if I could take it all in.
But here a little plug for our hometown girl (well home province girl to be precise) kd lang singing Orbison’s Cryin back from her cowpunk days when she’d show up in town in her rubber boots and blowing out the cliches out of both country and country gals. Ok, she might look like our other adopted child, Wayne Gretzky, but she does seem to carry a tune.
Another country girl gone strange but in a whole different way. Lucinda. And, yup, she has a song or two with blue in the title but I’ll go with this scorcher.
But let’s end a little low key with REM and Electron Blue: