Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
Country radio stations recently started spinning a song called “Way Out Here” by Josh Thompson.
At first listen, it’s a celebration of the nobility of the American small town. On the second listen, it’s a rallying cry supporting God and guns, criticizing government welfare, and boasting that people from small towns are more likely to serve in the military. “If it was up to me I’d love to see this country run like it used to be,” Thompson sings.
So it’s a Republican political song. That’s fair. At least, until the chorus comes around, which goes like this:
“We’re about John Wayne, Johnny Cash and John Deere, way out here.”
Oh no he didn’t!
I’m flying to Las Vegas today for a conference. It’s been 10 years since the last time I was there. I expect the experience to be much like this video:
Related: I found a post about Las Vegas from 2000, when I stopped there for one night with my friends Tim, Brian and Ryan on our cross-country road trip. During the trip, we were posting real-time, text-only updates on a web site using a little hand-held gizmo called a Philips Velo 1. The device had to plug into a phone line, which then e-mailed my PowerMac back at the university, which then posted our updates on a rudimentary web server I set up. This was pre-blogging. Rather than gambling and gallivanting, we went driving around Vegas looking for a Kinkos. Good times.
Here’s a video and a story. First, the video:
Now the story:
Earlier this month, my brother Gerritt and his wife Melanie hosted a party at their house. Gerritt made a playlist of party music, and I suggested we play a movie to serve as “visual noise” for people to talk about and smile at. I went on Netflix queued up the 1963 epic Jason and the Argonauts.
“Alice in Wonderland” has been recycled so many times in so many mediums that every living American probably has some childhood association with the story. Here’s mine: The 1985 music video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Here’s Tom Petty at his coolest:
If you’ve ever taken a writing class, you’ve probably been taught “show, don’t tell.” We’re supposed to communicate with revealing details instead of broad statements. Strunk and White tell us, “Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, the concrete to the abstract.”
But does being specific always serve us well? Is it possible to omit detail to reach some deeper truth—say, in a song or a poem (or an image caption)? I thought about this recently after listening to two songs, one with very strong lyrics and one very weak lyrics. The stronger song tells, the weaker song shows. Do we have this rule backwards? See what I mean…
I thought about posting a list of my top 10 songs of the decade, but I only feel like writing about one.
This particular song is the antidote to cynicism. It kicks gravel in the face of everyone who would cast scorn upon somebody else for trying too hard.
Twelve weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Winner of two Grammys and an Oscar. The most successful rap song of all time. A song that never wears out. (How many other songs from 2002 have 36 million plays on YouTube?)
Lonely Planet guides often begin with the author’s “top day” in a particular location. My brother was visiting this weekend, and I think on Saturday we achieved my personal top day in New York City.
Here’s what we did. I’m going to include Friday and Sunday, just for good measure.
August 12, Rio de Janeiro, on a vacation I felt I had earned.
A banged-up Volkswagen sedan picked me up at the hostel. As I climbed in the back, the driver apologized in part-English, part-Portuguese for the busted rear window, which was stuck open. We turned onto the road that parallels the beach. The air that blew through the car was warm and smelled like the sea.
We followed the coast and passed through tunnels cut into seaside cliffs. I was on my way to go hang gliding for the first time. This is a touristy thing to do, but the gliding conditions were good, and I felt excited.