Monday, December 3, 2012

"Tinsel and Lights" by Tracey Thorn - The Complete Package


I literally just banged my head on both sides because I just cannot believe what I am hearing. It is 12:10am and I am up trying to catch up on, well, everything. Email, bills, posting for my website, CDs I’ve purchased weeks ago but haven’t listened to yet. After getting my family holiday card safely ordered via Shutterfly (had to take advantage of that “40% off by Sunday” e-coupon!) I decided to get a jump on making the Holiday Music Mix for the inevitable Christmas gathering at Chez Hutcherson, since there were veiled rumblings about the quality and tenor of my “Thanksgiving Mix” just a mere 11 days ago.  So I clicked on iTunes and realized I hadn’t listened to Tracey Thorn’s (of Everything But The Girl fame) “Tinsel And Lights” yet, even though I made an effort to special order it - both the CD and the vinyl directly from her U.S. label, Merge Records, as she no longer records for a major anymore.

I should note now that there are some singers whose voices just do it for me (Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Karen Carpenter, to name a few) - Ms. Thorn is among them and has been ever since I sat in a restaurant on Larchmont Avenue having dinner with friends in the early 90s and heard “Protection” over the restaurant’s sound system. I don’t remember the restaurant’s name or even which friends, but oh, do I remember that song and that voice. Thorn’s ability to evoke simultaneously strength, courage and vulnerability with her voice (and let’s not forget to factor in that gorgeous range and timbre) made me feel like my chest had been cracked open and my heart made to beat outside of it. From that night, I bought as much Everything But The Girl I could find (some singles I found on Napster - this was the 90s, mind you - and spent whole days downloading just one or two rare songs). Although not every track from Thorn and partner Ben Watt was perfect (even though much of their dance music remains sublime to this day - though best known in the U.S. for the “Missing” remix from their “Amplified Heart” CD, the “Temperamental” CD is THE ONE. “Lullaby of Clubland” or “Hatfield 1980”? FORGET IT.), Thorn’s voice always captivated me, bathing me continually in astonishment and awe. “Why is this woman not the most popular singer in the world?” I often wondered. Is it because she’s a Brit and never got enough traction on the U.S. pop charts? But there are/were other Brits who had HUGE pop success stateside in the 80s and 90s, and I find myself buying Japanese imports of Swing Out Sister or Lisa Stansfield CDs to keep up with them… so maybe it’s an age thing? A chick thing?  I don’t know, but I am so glad I stick with singers I love and don’t care where or how I have to find their new music because it’s ALWAYS worth it.
Caution: I Can Sing Your Heart Out

Which brings me back to why I was BANGING MY HEAD ten minutes ago. I was listening to “Tinsel and Lights” and my mind was just exploding. Even though it’s a “holiday” CD, it’s easily one of the best CD’s I’ve heard this year, regardless of genre. I mean, it’s right up there with Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel…” masterpiece. (Yes, MASTERPIECE. Listen to “Hot Knife”, “Valentine,” “Werewolf” and then every other track and tell me I’m wrong. Hash arrests be damned, she backed that beauty up big time in concert, too.) Not only are the original Christmas songs gorgeously written and arranged, they sound traditional yet current at the same time. I’m too hyped up to even find the CD to see who produced it, but if it’s not her or Ben Watt, it’s some other musical genius. The first track, “Joy,” immediately takes you there - it feels cold, snowy, yet warm - like white lights seen through inclement weather. The simple piano and her voice blend so well it sounds like one instrument. The next track, “Hard Candy Christmas,” is equally amazing and already one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs. This tune manages to be delightfully sardonic, sad, hopeful and mischevious all at the same time. “Hard Candy” nails perfectly what it feels like to be single during the holidays - so much so it seemed like I stepped into a time machine because I felt every second of it, even though that’s not my life anymore. That’s how good and special this song is.  My favorite lyric? “Maybe I’ll sleep real late / maybe I’ll lose some weight / maybe I’ll clear my junk / maybe I’ll just get drunk on apple wine / Me? I’ll be just fine…” And it keeps going on like that. Awesome.

So okay, I’m two songs in and I’m grooving. Thinking I’ll find a way to include both on my mix for the fam, separate them with some Tony Bennett and Donny Hathaway, etc. but definitely get both of them in there. Only problem is, the CD just keeps GETTING BETTER. I could go on about every song, her vocals, the beauty, purity and warmth of approach, but it’s only getting later and the kids have school tomorrow, so I’ll just hit on my absolute favorites. “Maybe This Christmas” - country-style feel, mid-tempo - lyrics about reconnecting with loved ones - a stunner. And then there’s her cover of my all-time favorite popular Christmas song, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (as opposed to my all-time favorite traditional one, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”). Anyway, up until 40 minutes ago, my favorite version of "Have Yourself" was by Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. Tracey Thorn took it to the place Chrissie took it to (aching, melancholy, saturnine-yet-sanguine), paused for a second, dusted off her Jet Pack and then ROCKETED into the stratosphere with the song. And again, this is with a very simple-yet-creative arrangement of piano and strings that lets her subtle, plaintive, evocative vocals hang the shining star upon the highest bow. When she goes into the second verse, her emotional commitment to the lyrics and meaning of the song even cause her to choke up and drop a word.  Wisely, she uses this take and CRICK CRACK there goes my heart out of my chest again. And if you know the history of this song, you know the original lyrics are “Through the years, we will all be together/ if the fates allow / until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow” instead of the “less depressing” “Hang a shining star upon the highest bow” version that has supplanted the original in most remakes. Well, Thorn honors the song by singing the lyrics both ways, wisely placing the original ones last for maximum impact. I could keep going on about her version of this song, but I suppose I should move it along if I don’t want to go into a drop sleep behind the wheel of the mini-van tomorrow.

So, briefly - the other two pieces of EXCELLENCE on this incredibly cohesive, well-planned and sequenced CD of holiday music: Thorn’s immaculate, inventive cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” Joni Mitchell, another of my favorite musicians, (I mean, who can write a song like Joni?) KILLS “River” and kind of can’t be paralleled (even though Corinne Bailey Rae’s 2007 cover with Herbie Hancock is definitely on the right side of sublime) so what Thorn does is sing the whole thing backed by, like, French Horns. JUST French horns! And it’s GORGEOUS and it WORKS and it makes it its own thing totally. (*NOTE: I just looked at the liner notes to confirm what I thought I heard and actually, there’s tubas, cornets and trombones mixed in, too - but it is just brass she sings with. Which takes some BRASS.)

The last song I’ll palaver about - though penultimate track “Taking Down The Tree” featuring Green Gartside is the biznass, too - is my other favorite new classic, “Sister Winter.” Written by Sufjan Stevens, I’m not sure if it’s new for this CD or a cover, but regardless, it’s responsible for the HEAD BANGING I mentioned at the beginning of whatever you want to call this piece of writing is. There’s a lot more production on this track than most - very current-sounding, in the Goyte family of sonic experimentation, but so seamlessly employed on this Christmas song, I almost couldn’t take it. But I’m so glad I did. And if my family rags on me for having every other song on this year’s Xmas Mix be from “Tinsel And Lights,” I’ll happily take the shots, because I'll know I’m the one giving them the ultimate gift by sharing Ms. Thorn’s incomparable one.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pass The Plate Of "Happiness" Around: A Quick Review of "The Happiness Project"

The Happiness ProjectThe Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What's not to like about an upbeat, well-written and thoughtful book about the esoteric and practical ways one can make themselves more happy in their everyday life?  Not much is my answer.  Gretchen Rubin proves to be a wonderful guide through her year-long search for ways to be happier, without uprooting her whole life for some magical, spiritual quest to some faraway land, as she is married with two young kids.  "The Happiness Project" is chock-full of great tips, anecdotes, quotes, research and experiments gone right and wrong that ultimately lead to Rubin feeling and believing her life was improved by taking on the quotidian task of finding big and little ways to increase joy.  I only take one star off because about half-way through the book, unfortunately, one of Rubin's happiness resolutions ("start a blog") results in her sharing pages upon pages of replies she got from followers of her blog.  I hope Rubin sees it as a compliment that I wanted more of her words and less from her blog legion.  Other than that bit of tiresomeness, I enjoyed this book thoroughly, found myself immediately applying some of the easier happiness tips to my life ("sing in the morning," "smile," "cut people slack") and felt better for it.  A fast, accessible (and also exceedingly literate) read, and I do recommend it highly.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Try A Little Tenderness: Why I Had To Listen To Otis Redding Right After Reading "Lady Chatterley's Lover"

Lady Chatterley's LoverLady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm kind of mixed up about what I want to say about this novel, which is a good thing.  Of course it's best-known for being a scandalous, banned novel for its sex scenes, and I suppose for 1928, this was rather racy.  I read the modern restored version and by today's standards, some scenes and language are graphic, but not pornographic or even titillating, just sensual, and respectfully so. (And even quaintly goofy - Lady Chatterley's private parts are oft described as her "mound of Venus.")  Lawrence actually believes sex and sexual desire aren't purulent or shameful, but the highest expression of life and living.  He also is decidedly disgusted by technology (in 1928, coal mines, deforestation, the Industrial Revolution and its ramifications were his chief complaints) and people who chase money, status, success and celebrity.  In that way, the novel is both classic and contemporary.  Though there are parts of the book that can be repetitive - not with the love plot, but with Lawrence expounding his philosophies via the characters' thoughts or his descriptions of his characters - his way with words and phrases make the journey through it all worth it.  And once the love affair commences, it's all extremely engaging and absorbing, because you can't help but root for this impossible love affair to become possible - for real life to bloom and for the rest of the man-made madness and societal restrictions to fall away in the face of true tenderness between men and women (hence, the Otis Redding reference in the title).  And it's romantic because it's not sentimental - this book is hard and the characters are very aware of the realities they face and the sacrifices they'll have to make to even start to make a go of it.  The machine of civilization will go on but humanity will survive it if there is love.  Even though there are some racist bits in there that do date it (I could put these down to the characters instead of the author but I'm sure that would be charity on my part) I highly recommend it - because they don't mar the core thoughts and ideas expressed here.  All in all, good stuff.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lite Pop: Reviewing "Teen Classic" "Forever..."

ForeverForever by Judy Blume
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Even though I read and enjoyed many of Judy Blume's other books when I was a kid, I never read "Forever," so I thought I'd check it out and fill in that hole (no pun intended, but you see how I left it there anyway).  I'm glad I didn't read it as a teenager because I'd hate to think that I would have been influenced by it. I'd always heard what a mature book it was and how it was all about a girl's first time and was so explicit.  Okay, some of the sex descriptions are specific, but I wouldn't call them graphic or even titillating.  The girl and boy in question are so gosh gee that there is a lack of realism permeating on every page that portends to have some.  There is no plot to speak of, and all of the supporting characters are types - meant to have depth (the suicidal boy, the stroke victim grandpa, the know-it-all best friend, the gifted younger sister, etc.) - but don't.  When the lead girl takes a self-motivated trip to Planned Parenthood, the author's PSA is glaring.  I see on IMDB there was a TV movie made of it in 1978, and I suppose for that time, the subject matter itself was controversy enough to warrant adaptation.  But it's not a timeless story, and even as a story of its time, it suffers from banality on most accounts. I suppose it deserves some snaps for even tackling the subject at a time when a lot of youth fiction, especially by popular authors didn't... thus two stars instead of one.  Oh, and it was also upgraded by me for one memorable exchange between the main character Katherine and a random uncle at her high-school graduation that showed real depth and promise:

The uncle picked something out of his teeth, examined it, then flicked it off his finger. "So tell me," he said. "What do you want to do with your life?"
"Do?" I repeated.
"Yes... you've thought about it, haven't you?"
"I want to be happy," I told him.  "And make other people happy too."
"Very nice... but not enough."
"That's all I know right now." I turned and walked away from him.

If only the whole book had been as wry and observant as that!  But alas, it wasn't.  So I've got to find something better to hand my daughter when the time comes - I've just got to.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Revolution WAS Televised

As much as I love the Gil Scott-Heron song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," I'm glad to live in the era where he was proved wrong. At least I'm pretty sure he was, because I saw the Revolution this morning on my flat screen Sharp, along with hundreds of millions of other people who watched their TVs, their computers, their iPods and their cell phones, all across the globe.

(If you don't know the song you can get a taste of it on You Tube by clicking here:
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Ironically, the one way Scott-Heron got it right in the lyric -- "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised / The Revolution will be LIVE!" -- he could have never fully imagined in 1970. It was "live" all right -- live on every news channel and network, live on the internet via among others, live on chat pages, blogs, cell phones, landlines, texts, e-mails and oh yeah, live in person. This was not just a political, cultural and historical revolution, it was a revolution in communication.

I myself watched it on TV as I posted status updates on Facebook, and that was a wondrous way to share, get instant feedback (from friends as close as down the street to as far away as Ireland), and read what was other people's minds as it was all going down. For instance, I learned exactly where to look for my friend Dena's brother Jay in the melee -- bass trombonist for the Air Force Band, front row, third from the left (saw a lot of big brass, but alas, never saw him). My sister Lesa called from her cell and we chatted as I got emotional -- she was on her way to pick up our mom Joyce to go to an Obama party. As it got to oath time, I ran downstairs, interrupted my son Xavier's therapy and turned on the TV so me, my husband Warren, Xavier and his vision therapist Sandy could all watch THE MOMENT. I teared up -- Sandy got chills -- Warren held Xavier and smiled at his two year-old. His smile seemed to say, no matter what the challenges, anything is possible. Xavier cooed and drooled.

Then we listened to THE ADDRESS -- I can't remember it well now, other than the impression it left. It was quietly celebratory, intelligent yet accessible, encompassing and pointed ("Time to make hard decisions / not to compromise ideals for safety / restore science to its proper place," etc.), patriotic but expansive. Then Warren, Xavier and I drove to Xavier's speech therapy. I texted in the waiting room with my friend Stacy and learned that Obama (like me) is a lefty. Just when I didn't think my pride in this man and his accomplishments couldn't soar any higher, it found a new level. Sorry, but I'm a sucker for a southpaw.

When we got home, two e-mails were waiting for me: one from my friend Susan Shaffer in New York who e-mailed from her iPhone; another from my friend Vanessa inviting me to an impromptu Obama party that I obviously missed. Back on Facebook, lots more updates -- on CNN and, more footage, photos, updates. Even the reporters were in the crowd with Flip Videos, uploading "man on the street" bits to Twitter and Facebook, just like the man on the street was doing! The Revolution was most definitely televised -- because EVERYBODY had a way to televise it!

BUT, even more important than the technology and communication revolutions we took part in today, was the realization of the Revolution Martin Luther King, Jr. "dreamed" of forty-six years ago, a dream the majority of this nation helped turn into reality last November the old-fashioned way: by getting up, getting out and walking into voting booths all across the land. 

Not only did a "black man" become President of the most powerful nation in the world today, a young man became President, a biracial man became President, a son of an immigrant became President, an intelligent man became President, an inclusive man became President, a humble man became President, and a loving husband and father became President. This list, I'm sure, could go on and on, as it should, because there should never be anything finite about Revolution. After all, it changes everything. Especially when it's televised.

LLH out.

Deep Pop. We love it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Lite Pop: Squeeze That Lemon!

I don't know about everybody else, but as much as I look
forward to Tina Fey's Sarah Palin impressions on SNL, what I've really been waiting for finally came Thursday night -- the third Season Premiere of "30 Rock." From episode one this show has been a tantalizing mix of character comedy, industry parody and social commentary and episode 37 is no exception.

Tina Fey's intrepid alter ego Liz Lemon ranks in the top five, maybe even three female television characters of all time.  Not only is she funny and smart and persevering even when mightily challenged by the powers-that-be (in the forms of Alec Baldwin as her corporate boss and Tracy Morgan as her unpredictable, uncontrollable star), she is also selfish, self-destructive, corruptible and mean-spirited.  In other words, she's an actual human being.  And her love interest isn't ever really in the form of a guy -- it's in the form of her job, her friendships and her lame attempts to overcome (sometimes) her baser nature.

No need for me to gush when you can check it out for yourself (if you are new to this show, treat yourself and watch all of the episodes on, but how many shows have lines as loony as "She was wearing Dora the Explorer panties that were meant for an obese child" and as highbrow as "We're not the best people, but we're not the worst people. The worst people are graduate students" in the same episode?  Par for the course on "30 Rock," as are sight gags, cutaways, wordplay, political jabs and celebrity jokes.  It's a veritable comedy grab bag almost every episode and totally gets away with it.

Why?  Because Tina Fey, her writers, actors and directors are, I think, out for more than ratings or Emmys or even a good belly laugh (even though they've consistently gotten two of the three).  I think they are out to tell the truth of the people and the place they are presenting, no matter how wacky, ugly, venal or petty they get.  As Liz Lemon says (after tons of shenanigans and half-truths) to the woman who is evaluating her to become an adoptive mother: "Yes, this place is not ideal but these weirdos are family to me and so if this job is a deal breaker, you tear up my application and I will start someplace else."  Moments like these, and the undercutting ones that follow are why this show has heart as well as humor and why I think we all should squeeze that Lemon and keep her around for as many seasons as she'll give us.

LLH out.

Lite Pop.  We Like It.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The First Black Anybody

Everyone has "that one" in their life right now, right? That one friend or relative who sends you every article, video, blog or humor item that has anything to do with Obama, making your e-mail inbox swell from 10 to 100 messages on a near-daily basis? If you don't, you probably are "that one" and if you are, I salute your commitment to political spam... I mean, getting the word out. For me, "that one" is my Auntie Brenda, so whenever I see a have e-mail from blakin, I skip over it because I know it will be long and/or time-consuming. But I recently found a moment to hack through my blakin e-mails and read a piece by Frank Schaeffer of the Huffington Post entitled "Obama Will Be One of The Greatest (and Most Loved) American Presidents."

I don't know why, but of all of the Obama fodder in my box, this one made me more than a little "Yes, We Can" -- it actually made me weepy, emotional and (dare I say?) hopeful.  Not only because this self-described life-long Republican and Christian is so eloquent about the virtues of Obama, but because it's the first time the simplest argument to vote for Obama occurred to me.  He will absolutely be the best president this generation has ever seen - -because he HAS TO BE. 

The First Black Anybody, it hit me, is always superlative whenever he or she crosses lines that have not been crossed before.  Not only are they preternaturally gifted in their field of choice (Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe, Ralph Bunche, W.E.B. DuBois, Leontyne Price, to name a few), they also possess the demeanor, will power and acumen to earn the respect even of those most resistant to their presence in a heretofore homogeneous field.  The First Black Anybody knows everyone is watching him or her, some with fingers crossed, some with eyes askance, and if they "mess up," it becomes painfully unlikely that The Second Black Anybody will get their proverbial turn at bat.

Obama, put plainly, is a man without a net, so he must cross the high wire intact, or perish.  Does old boy McCain have that kind of pressure on him?  Um, not so much.  Of course, The First Black Anybody theory isn't the only reason I'm voting for Obama, but I must say, I do love that he's the guy who's playing "all in" because he does not have the luxury of hedging his bets. And that's the guy who for damn sure knows how to play his cards.  And since I have no other metaphors to mix, I will close by saying feel free to use this argument with any undecided friends of yours because even though there is a level of facetiousness and whimsy to it, it's really kinda true.

Deep Pop.  We Love It.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lite Pop: The (Old) Girl Can't Help It

This will be brief, because it is filled with shame. The shame of guilty pleasure. But I can no longer contain it -- I must share it and let it fly free, because perhaps then I can let it go. I watch "Dancing With The Stars" and have since season two (believe it or not, we are not at the shame part yet). But never have I enjoyed a season or contestant more than right now. In case you don't know, Cloris Leachman (of "The Last Picture Show," "Mary Tyler Moore" and "Phyllis" fame) is one of the celebrity dancers this year, and at 82, the oldest to ever compete on the show.

I never thought anything would top the embarrassing-but-real anticipation of one-legged Heather Mills' prosthetic popping off in Season 5 (it never did, but she did keel over once) but oh my, how it has been topped. (Insert aforementioned shame here.) Cloris Leachman is completely insane and her dances are beyond Billy Ray Cyrus horrible but THEY ARE SO ENTERTAINING! With her archangel of a partner Corky Ballas, Cloris is SHAKING HER TA TAS:



and this week in the middle of her "jive" to "The Girl Can't Help It" she even GETS HER WIG YANKED OFF AFTER SMELLING CORKY'S FARTS. Oh yes, you read right. Farts. Proof that I am not kidding? Click below:

Fortunately, Cloris is in on the joke (my conscience won't let me think otherwise), so even when she rambles semi-coherently to the judges and the camera, you can tell she is just doing her best to entertain. And because of said entertainment value (low-brow and wacky as it may be) it's the first time I've ever considered picking up the phone to vote. Click below if you need another taste of the shame/hilarity (this is after her first dance):


So, if you are looking for a jaw-dropping controlled car crash to watch next Monday, tune in to ABC at 8pm to check out the latest stylings of the incomparable Cloris. Phyllis Diller, gird your girdles -- there's a new octogenarian clown in town!

Lite Pop.  We Like It.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Sacred Institution Between Two Unwilling Teenagers

Y'all know what I'm referring to, right? The third in the most-awesome series of SNL political spoofs ever? You know -- the Joe Biden/Sarah Palin debate parody from Saturday night.  Tina Fey and gang were on fire and never did they shine more brightly than with the single line above.  If you want to catch the full context, watch the video above.  It will show you the whole segment but if you just want to hear the line (the whole sentence is actually "I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers") scroll about six minutes in.

The reason the above joke/sentiment made me laugh out loud and almost damn-near cheer my TV (it got the most live-audience applause, too) is because I can't stand that neither the republicans NOR DEMOCRATS will support gay marriage.  I'm not so sure about Palin or McCain, but I know Obama and Biden know better -- two men so knowledgeable about history and civil rights have to know how unfair it is to deny ANY citizen ANY right.  But they choose to pander because they feel they can't risk the political backlash in so close a race. Though I rarely start a sentence with the following because I feel it is reductive, I can't help it in this case. As a black person (that's the sentence starter right there), it is unconscionable to me to ever deny any law-abiding citizen the right to participate in any government-sanctioned activity.  I think about voting rights, property rights, housing rights, hell, even marriage rights (first for blacks -- the broom jump developed because it wasn't legal for slaves to marry -- and interracial marriages were illegal until 1967) and in every case, the people who wanted them were denied such rights because the majority perceived them as "less than."

So they can say all they want about tolerance and "a civil union is just the same" -- but it's not.  It is NOT the same.  Does 1896's Plessy vs. Ferguson "separate but equal" ring a bell for anyone?  Or that it had to be undone fifty-eight years later by Brown v. the Board of Ed? (I didn't even fact check the dates -- they have been seared in my brain since high school because they've always struck a deep chord with me.) Come on, people, let's spare ourselves the decades-long anguish over this and do the right thing now.  Does it make any sense to you that two "oops, we got pregnant" teenagers who don't even want it can get all the rights and legal protections of marriage?  That prisoners like Erik Menendez who murdered his parents can get married?  But good, loving people like my friends Ray Lancon and Sara Washington (I've been feeling your recent pain over this one, girl) can't? If that's not calling somebody "less than," I don't know what is.

California Voters -- No on Prop. 8. Voting any other way says you are against liberty and justice for all. This is not my opinion, this is fact. And it is also a fact that those against gay marriage will be proven wrong and one day gay marriage will be as commonplace as seeing a woman vote (an abomination in 1919) or a black person in a public swimming pool (cause for a lynching before the 60s). 

Okay, so... this is a screed as well as Deep Pop.  But we still love it.

April 7, 2009 UPDATE:  As everyone knows, Obama/Biden captured the White House on November 4, 2008, shattering a ceiling most felt would take several more generations to break through.  But even with that huge leap forward, California took a huge step back by passing Proposition 8.  The matter is still in the state Court of Appeals, and hopefully justice will prevail.  In happier news, Vermont and Iowa approved gay marriage this week, bringing the total of states that sanction same-sex matrimony to four (the other two are Connecticut and Massachusetts).  Four down, forty-six to go!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lite Pop: Seat Jumpin' Classic #1

*LITE POP ALERT*  Although this website/blog is dedicated to exploring the deeper meaning in popular culture, sometimes you can love something just because, well, it makes your eyes pop.  Or your ass move.  So every once in a while, we are going to write shorter pieces about such.  Hence, "Lite Pop."  Here's a piece originally posted on Facebook:

I don't know if this will become a regular, but I threw a #1 on the title just in case. In my never-ending effort to get rid of all of the crap and clutter I've accumulated since high school (left L.A. with four boxes, came back from college with thirty four and they've been making babies ever since), I'm paring down my super-sizeable record/CD/tape collection. Still on the CDs... going through those early mix-CDs made with .WAV files (remember those behemoths?), trying to see what I can trash. I'm not as sentimental about the CD mixes -- the tapes though, those are going to hurt. Maybe because they took so much planning and effort and you had one take to get it right. So when they came out well, they were like gold. But the CDs? Eh, just reshuffle your playlist and burn again while you drink a latte -- no real time, hours-long commitment.

Perhaps as a result of the ease of CD-mixing, a lot of my CD mixes aren't that good. So on my way home from Whole Foods, I was confident I could trash the one I was listening to. I had all the cuts on iTunes and I could definitely get some better sequencing going than the hodgepodge of Ashanti's "Foolish" (so of its time, the song bores me now) to the Blow Monkeys' "Digging Your Scene" (still love that 80s underplayed classic) to Blu Cantrell's "Hit Em Up Style" that so didn't work. A few more late 90s/early 00's cuts played (Ja Rule, you are off the hip hop map for good reason) but then -- BAM! The horns and drums from Kool Moe Dee's "I Go To Work" kicked in and I was literally jumping in my seat. I know most people love Moe Dee's "Wild Wild West" or "How You Like Me Now" but "I Go To Work" has never failed to make me want to move my body. But now it makes my mind explode too because the lyrics and phrasing are so intricate, propulsive and creative. In my opinion, it's probably his best rap ever. It's great conceptually, rhythmically, musically -- it hits on all cylinders and is a true hip-hop classic -- it would definitely be on my top 10 all-time hip hop song list. Hell, that song is so good it not only makes me want to boogie or write my own rhyme -- it makes me want to exercise! Trust me, that's GOOD.

Kool-Ass Kool Moe Dee

I'm still gonna trash the mix CD, but it was such a nice surprise and reminder of how good songs can be that you haven't heard in a while and how revisiting the past can make you appreciate certain things you may have missed the first time around. So even though the clutter and the crap absolutely have to hit the bricks, sometimes there are benefits to sifting through slowly. Perhaps I have found my anti-clutter theme song? I'll put it on next time I'm trashing things, see if it helps and let you know. 

LLH out.

Lite Pop. We Like It.