Tag Archive: music


Time is on my Side

Well, it hasn’t been, not lately at least. Otherwise I would have been able to pump out some blog postings earlier than the considerable gap that I’ve had between this and my last. Of course, I haven’t done much writing at all in that time, lot of factors to add in and contribute there, but mostly, I’m just being lazy. And I’ve really got to work on that.

Anyhow, for now I will once again delve into my thoughts for the day and what has struck me as being worth making a blog posting about. For those of you who didn’t catch the reference in the titles, “Time is on my Side” is a song by the Rolling Stones, who I seem to find myself listening to a lot more than usual lately. One of my favorite songs by them is the lovingly controversial “Sympathy for the Devil,” though I’m not sure if I prefer that or “Memory Motel.” More to the point, though, I always find it interesting to look into the meaning behind songs,  what inspired them and all that, especially when there is some real substance to a song. (Meaning that most songs that come out today that just seem to repeat lyrics about getting “dollas and bitches” don’t count as anything with meaning. Not that there’s anything wrong with that type of music; it’s just not something that I believe has a lot of intelligence behind it for the most part.)

Looking up “Sympathy for the Devil,” I was able to easily predict that there would be a lot of interpretations on it, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was easy to understand most of the historical references littered throughout the song without much difficulty, but hey, I love to look into these things and so I went to the eternally interesting songfacts.com and plugged in the title to pop up what I could and look into it. The interesting thing about songfacts is that they allow users to submit their facts, opinions, etc. about the song. And boy, it didn’t disappoint this time. I could probably go on and on about the posts I read there, but quoting it and tearing the bits and pieces there that struck me as simply senseless would be a waste of time and boring for you and I.

So, I’ll try to sum it up without any quoted or anything, just going into my opinions on the posts. One of  the ones that caught my attention right off the bat argued that the Stones were a tool of the devil, used to forward his own place in the world and a handful of others continued along a similar train of thought. Now I’m and Atheist, but I can respect religion. But seriously? I mean, come on, this is the twenty-first goddamn century. The logic that a song about the devil points towards the makers worshiping the devil and how it is a method for manipulation of the masses put forward by the devil is a thought that seems shockingly medieval in nature. I mean, it’s almost as good as the guy I heard on the BJ Shea Morning Experience who claimed that Mel Gibson was possessed by a demon when he made the calls to his ex-girlfriend and that the calls were not his own work. Haven’t we moved on from then? Rather than whining about this song, the ultra-religious churchgoers who insist on this opinion should instead work on weeding the pedophile priests out of their own church; I’d say that’s a lot more of an abomination against God.

To add onto the previous post, another piece of the comment connects the evil in the world with music and states that Lucifer was once the minister of music and had instruments attached to his body, according to Biblical sources. No. Not happening. I’ve yet to get around to Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” but with the random bits of information I bump into and pick up, I know of no connection between the Morning Star Lucifer and music. If there is a connection,  feel free to call me out, but as I know it to be, the name refers to “Morning Star” and “light-bearer.” Yes, there is irony in the latter. Don’t misinterpret my comments as me putting forth Satanism or anything of the sort; no, I simply believe that religious fascism and fanaticism shouldn’t be around so much, considering the enlightened nature of society today, or supposedly enlightened nature. And if you insist on being a dumbass about that sort of thing, at least get your facts straight.

Enough ranting by me, though! What do you think? What songs do you like that are considered controversial? Or, even better, are you one of the people who really believes that the Stones worship the devil and that this song was some sort of oath? I’m all ears, though I will take your comments with a shaker of salt.

PS-Before anyone points it out, yes, I have already heard the rumors that “Stairway to Heaven” is an oath to the devil selling the souls of Led Zeppelin, though you are of course still more than welcome to comment about it. For the record, though, no, I don’t buy that either. I listened to it when my friend was obsessed with it. I heard white noise, but he was insistent that he heard the lyrics. Only after a second listen with lyrics printed on the screen was I able to get even a remote sense of any second meaning behind it, and even then it was a definite stretch. I’m sure about every song backwards has sounds like that, you just have to take the time to twist them around and attribute words and meaning where there is none. All of these types of things are just unbelievable to me, but I guess it could be used for an interesting story idea… Always milking the story thoughts!

Ticking, ticking….

I’ll begin this by simply coming out and saying that the creative team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin is perhaps the greatest out there today. I don’t think much more evidence needs to be given than the extensive history of great hits that they have consistently put out. Now, if you’re one of those people who believes someone like Eminem or Fifty Cent is one of the greatest song writers of all time, leave now. There’s a nice little X button on your page to leave.

Actually, don’t leave, I could use the visits and perhaps comments as well; I like to feel like I’m reaching someone.

Back to  the point at hand, though, one of John’s songs strikes me beyond most of the others. Off  the album Caribou, a somewhat lackluster album, apparently, the song wasn’t even, to my knowledge, much of a hit when it was released. If for nothing besides its length, I can believe it was never a single. Have you guessed it yet? From the title, those of you who know Elton John probably have. “Ticking” is a song that tells the story of a young man who goes on a killing spree. Just a little bit macabre, right? But in spite of the gruesome story behind the  song, it has quite a few lines that strike me as quite interesting and thought-provoking, especially when sung in John’s astoundingly wonderful voice. (A gay teacher of mine who saw Elton John in concert with Billy Joel described the experience as “orgasmic.” What more needs to be said to prove his amazing talent?)

Similar in tone to “The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-1934),” the song is a slower number with a solemn tone throughout. Usually I imagine songs playing out as stories in my head, perhaps the reason this plays out so well; going by that literary-esque stylization of it, the narrative seems to flash back and forth between the current day events, namely, the shooting, and the past, his growing up. The title, “Ticking” and the lyrics which carry the same word, clearly refer to the ‘protagonist’ of the song as ticking, akin to a bomb, counting down awaiting the inevitable eruption and shooting. Similar to “In Cold Blood,” you begin to feel a certain amount of empathy towards the ‘protagonist.’

That isn’t the point of this, though. Back to the point I raised earlier about the striking lyrics which John sings throughout the song, probably written by Taupin, but I am not sure there and should not presume.

“‘Now you’ll never get to heaven,’mama said/remember mama said.” This occurs early on in the song and, in writing, it doesn’t appear to carry much meaning, making me begin to wonder if perhaps the wonderful talent and depth of the lyrics comes solely from John’s masterful way of spinning them. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that when sung by him they seem to bring up memories, to strike me and make  me think about the meaning, what deeper definition could be behind here. Or it just makes me realize how well written the song is and I’m just over analyzing.

“‘Don’t ever ride on the devil’s knee,’ mama said/remember mama said/ticking, ticking/’Pay your penance well, my child/Fear where angels tread.'” This is another line, and though it carries more of the original tone when written, it still does not compare to the magnificence that is carried when the words are crooned by John. Still, there are some deeper thoughts which can be attributed here, especially in the first line and the last as well. (Personally, the last line reminds me a little of “The Prophecy” with Christopher Walken, where the idea is proposed that it wouldn’t be too great to meet an angel; would you want to encounter a being that had spent several thousand years doing God’s dirty work?)

What do you think? If you have heard the song did you find it as touching and intriguing as I do or am I just off my rocker? Or if you have just decided to look it up and listen to it, what do you think, this being your first listen to it? Get at me!

Free As A Bird

Great song by the Beatles, just to start; lyrics are insanely haunting and it just really conjures up good feelings of freedom. Unlike Neil Gaiman who is quite possibly   the greatest living author around right now, I wouldn’t say, “Fat Charlie wasn’t sure he liked freedom… There was too much open air involved.” Now, applying this to myself, I wouldn’t quite agree with it; I can’t get enough of freedom, probably because of how irritatingly imposing I’ve always found everything in life. Can’t do one thing right without getting screamed at for doing another wrong and all that.

But I digress, as is quite usual for these sorts of things. Today, I got back the results for an AP test that I took at my school. For those of you who don’t know, AP stands for Advanced Placement and in essence is taking a college class in high school  and then participating in an end of the year test for potential college credit. As the first available AP course, I jumped on this one. Today,  after  waiting for a few months for the results, I, along with the others in my school who took the  test, received my results. Alright, I wasn’t waiting, I forgot about the test about two days after I took it, but no biggie.

These tests are scored on a scale of 1-5, 1 meaning ‘why did you bother to enroll yourself in this class?’ and 5 being ‘good work, now it’s time to stop studying and learn some social skills.’ I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had gotten a…. (Drum roll, please)….

2!

No, I’m just pulling your leg. It was actually 2 squared, for those of you who like a good math insert. For those of us who are more simple minded, I actually achieved a 4. On the scale, that would be somewhere around a, ‘you’re above average in intelligence, but chances are talking to you is social suicide.’ So, all in all a good call; I’m happy to say I have avoided the pitfall of being social suicide to be seen with, so not too bad. Especially considering that a 4 is above average and that I didn’t study.

Reflecting on the test, it’s actually a little shocking I did so well. The test is pretty simple: 60 minutes, I believe, for 70 multiple choice questions and then about 2 hours to write three different essays; one document based, one change over time and one comparing and contrasting. I might be a little wrong in terms of the time given, but I believe that’s it. Multiple choice questions are taken on what is essentially a scantron sheet and the essays are written in a nice little booklet. Anything written in the essays and crossed out is not graded.

Yes, that is bait for students like me.

Naturally, there are the classic AP yearly jokes; this years was a simple, “Yo AP test grader, Imma let you finish, but this is one of the best essays of all time. ALL TIME!’ All fine and dandy, I did this in my second essay, a change over time, to lighten the mood. Essay one was mostly serious, being about the mechanization of the cotton industry in Japan and India. I know nothing about this, and  you probably don’t either; it’s good it was the DBQ, which pretty much provides all the info you need. The second essay was about how religion in Sub-Saharan Africa has stayed the same and changed throughout time; pretty straightforward. And the third was comparing and contrasting the Roman Empire and Han China.

Essay three was where I went all out. In fact, when I saw the page I had to rough draft, it was all I could do to hold back laughing; all that I had done was drawn a penis. One ball had China written in it, the other Rome, and the rod had ‘Roman Orgies!’ like I had made some grant discovery. Sad part is that I can’t post  a picture; my history teacher hangs onto these packets for examples for next year’s students. Moving on to the test, I can’t remember all that I did do, but there was plenty I do remember; references galore to the classic “Plains, Trains and Plantains” (http://www.ubersite.com/m/56674). In another section I pointed out, quite off topic, the importance of Romans inventing orgies and other similar things, before stopping to realize, “Oh, wait, that was the Greeks… Sorry.” All, of course, single-line crossed out. As far as Han China goes, it was something along the lines of how important the imperial examination system was in “squinting contests, determining who could eat the most rice and who could say, ‘Herro, prease.'” Once again, this was, of course, single-line crossed out. No offense to Chinese or Asian readers in general meant by these comments.

In closing, I was proud of passing the AP test because of passing it, but also because of all those sly little jokes I slipped in as well. I hate to be sexist, but since most of the jokes were perverted guy humor, I have to wonder if a bit of the humor was lost on my grader, who was apparently a woman according to the slip I received; hopefully she didn’t think I was just some immature sophomore… Of course, that would be entirely true, but that’s besides the point. Actually, immature junior now, so not entirely true. Anyone else here ever taken an AP test? What was your experience with the difficulty level and how did you do on it?