One of the first movie soundtracks I ever loved, that wasn’t strictly pop music, was the soundtrack to Michael Mann’s Heat. Moby, U2, and Brian Eno do make appearances, but vocals are kept to a minimum. The music is mostly hauntingly beautiful, with occasional forays into tense discord. Rarely do film and music link up so well together. Mann’s film is full of shades of blue, modern and sleek. The music has the same sleekness, full of ambient soundscapes that recall a city in the wee hours of the morning. The music rarely tells you how to feel. It is instead full of wonder, opening the door to a higher emotional state. The same piece may be lonely, beautiful, or tense, depending on the mood that you listen to it in. Above is a Michael Brooks instrumental called Ultramarine. It is a good piece to listen to because it features several elements that appear elsewhere on the soundtrack. It has percussive textures like Brian Eno’s Force Marker, a beautiful theme like Moby’s God Moving Over the Face of the Waters, and an overall ambience to it like much of the soundtrack.
All of my hymns to depravity
Are really just odes to the Lord
He in his infinite wisdom
Sense of theater and the absurd
All of my psalms of violence
Are really just tributes to love
I’ve been scavaging like a vulture
Looking for the peace of the dove
You can’t pin me down
I will be a cloud of smoke
I will be a dream
I will be a crown of thorns
Up on Calvary
I will be a lover
In the throws of lust
I will be ashes
I will be dust
You can’t pin me down
Hence forth comes a mystery
In our darkest nights
In our deepest dreams
You can’t pin me down
– J. Brown
Paul Westerberg has always been one of my favorite songwriters. One thing that often gets lost in the mainstream press, who are much more content telling Replacements drinking stories, is how great of a melody writer he is. In fact I would put him up as one of America’s greatest melody writers since the beginning of rock n roll. I mean other than someone like Brian Wilson, there aren’t many people that have written as many great melodies as he has. But unlike a lot of people that can write great melodies, his songs also often have a grittiness to them. His songs aren’t antiseptic sounding, nor overly sweet. It is that contrast that makes him stand out. You often get one or the other, but rarely both. His songs feel lived in and true, while at the same time being highly memorable. Even his more polished major label recordings have Kenny Jones (Faces) like drums on them and Westerberg’s rumpled sandpaper vocals.
I remember one time in the Shinyribs van I put the above song on, Finally Here Once, and about 10 seconds into the song the van went completely silent. Afterwards everyone remarked on what a great song it was. It’s an extremely lo-fi recording, so people weren’t getting off on some kind of sonic deal. It’s just great writing.
Anyway, I saw that his website put the above 2004 interview on it, which I had read at the time, but found interesting going back to.
The new Neil Young + Promise of the Real album, The Monsanto Years, is out now. This is a protest album Neil recorded with Willie Nelson’s sons, among others. I haven’t heard the album yet, so I can’t comment on it. Neil’s Living With War is one of my favorite political albums of all time. I like political music in general. Even if I don’t agree with every point an artist makes, I like when people aren’t afraid to go out on a limb. There is some good fun to be had out there!
Another interesting article, this time a headline over at Huffpo. If you look at the widening wage gap between owners and workers, especially if you look at it over the course of history in the last hundred years, you will see that things have gotten completely out of whack. Don’t take my word for it, do the research. This looks to be a way that Obama is looking to help lessen the outrageous disparity that has arisen in this country between rich and poor.
An interesting article about a Supreme Court ruling that could be extremely important, but that has not gotten as much press as Obamacare and gay marriage. I’m just starting to read some articles on this, but it looks like it is worth learning about.
Here is the Shinyribs band playing the Sir Douglas Quintet’s She’s About A Mover with Doug Sahm’s son Shawn Sahm. Cheryl Sahm posted this on Facebook earlier today and it was actually the first time I have seen the footage. It was a great night of fun. Just thought I’d share it with all of you.