Archives For Music

Like many of you, I sing along when I’m listening to music.  It’s not pretty, but I do it anyway.

There are a lot of singers I can’t keep up with—their voices are either too high or too low for me.  Usually I get around it by going down or up an octave.  Or if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll harmonize.  But sometimes I feel stupidly ambitious and try to hit the actual notes.  The other day I tried to match Pat Benatar.  That was a mistake.  I sounded like I had my ovaries caught in a vise.

I don’t fare any better when I try to match someone with a really deep voice—Elvis Costello at his deepest, for instance.  I sound possessed, and it makes my vocal chords itch.

But there are some singers with vocal ranges that I can almost always match perfectly.  I call them Goldilocks Singers:  Not too high, not too low.  Juuuuust right.  For a chick, I have a relatively low-pitched voice; I’d most likely be a contralto if I were a legitimate singer (I have no problem singing comfortably well below middle C).  And for whatever reason, I find that I sing along best with Michael Hutchence from INXS (RIP, sir).  Most of my Goldilocks Singers are men but there are women on the list as well.  Sadly, the vast majority of my favorites aren’t Goldilocks (Geddy, honey, I’m so sorry but you often sing too high for me).

Here’s a partial list of my Goldilocks Singers:

Michael Hutchence
Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day
Peter Murphy (except when he hits those basement-level notes)
Elvis Costello (ditto)
Billy Joel
Richard Butler, Psychedelic Furs
Dave Gahan, Depeche Mode
Pink
Shirley Manson, Garbage
Fiona Apple
Chrissie Hynde
Stevie Nicks

Okay, I’ve showed you mine.  Now you show me yours.

Not really.  Well, maybe.

I’m doing a post soon to thank and acknowledge everyone who has bestowed awards upon me.  When other bloggers accept awards, I enjoy reading their “10 things about me” or “answers to 7 questions” usually associated with the awards.  I like knowing about people’s quirks, random likes and dislikes, answers to wacky questions, etc.  So I decided to write a bunch of stuff about myself in lieu of doing the awards ones.

So here it is, a bunch of random shit about me:

  • Whole portobello mushrooms scare me.  I’ll eat them, but not if they’re whole.  When they’re whole they look like little aliens and they creep me out.
  • I’m an only child.  People ask me, “What’s it like to be an only child?”  I never know how to answer because I have no other frame of reference.  All I can say is, it was good.  And no, I wasn’t a spoiled brat—my parents made sure of that.
  • For some reason I have a fascination with Victorian undergarments.  All those corsets and stays and petticoats and stuff.  Despite the fact that they were probably extremely uncomfortable.
  • I love pistachio ice cream, but I dislike pistachio nuts.
  • I detest honey (sorry, bees, I still love you).  Just the smell of it makes me queasy and hurts my teeth.
  • When I was a kid I played the piano.  I haven’t played in years, so it would take me ages to get my chops back.  But I’d love to learn how to play the harpsichord and the pipe organ.   I’d have to buy a really ornate candelabra for that, though.
  • Despite playing piano for many years, I utterly suck at reading music.  I literally still have to count the bars on the music to see which note it is:  “Okay, that’s one, two bars up, above the bar, so that’s an A.”  It’s brutal.  For me it’s much easier to play by ear.
  • Third and final music-related fact: I’ve composed a jazz tune, although I haven’t actually written it down or arranged it yet.  It mysteriously started composing itself in my head when I was about 8 or 9.  I have no idea why.  It’s nothing I’ve ever heard, and to my knowledge it isn’t a song that already exists.  It’s a ragtime-style piece, and over time it wrote itself, adding more passages every so often.  The song is finished now, and I can hear the whole thing in my head with all the instruments.
  • My elbows are double-jointed.  Mr. Weebles finds it alarming.  (And sadly, I am double-jointed in no other areas.)
  • My favorite curse word is “motherfucker.”
  • I cry whenever I watch movies or TV shows where animals are hurt.  Even if they’re computer-generated animals.  I sobbed my guts out at Godzilla, and I refuse to watch King Kong or Mighty Joe Young.
  • Even though I’ve seen every episode eleventeen million times, I still laugh out loud at I Love Lucy, Seinfeld, and The Golden Girls.
  • I really love practical jokes, as long as they’re not mean.  That’s the one thing I really miss about office life—playing pranks on my coworkers.

So there you have it—random info about Weebs.  It feels a little self-absorbed to do this but you know what?  It was fun.

But enough about me.  Let’s talk about you.  What do YOU want to know about me?

Welcome to my first music post.  Let’s dive right in, shall we?

You may have heard of the song “Gloomy Sunday,” which has the dubious distinction of also being known as “The Hungarian Suicide Song.”  It was said that the song was so depressing that it drove people to kill themselves.  Fortunately this is just another urban legend—I will not expose you to any dangerous music here.

I learned of this haunting song only recently, but I quickly became obsessed with it.  This is the original instrumental version.  Hungarian composer Rezső Seress wrote it in 1932.  If the melody alone didn’t evoke feelings of sadness, then the lyrics, added later, probably helped:

Sunday is gloomy, my hours are slumberless
Dearest, the shadows I live with are numberless
Little white flowers will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thoughts of ever returning you
Wouldn’t they be angry if I thought of joining you?
Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy is Sunday, with shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided to end it all
Soon there’ll be candles and prayers that are said I know
But let them not weep, let them know that I’m glad to go
Death is no dream, for in death I’m caressing you
With the last breath of my soul, I’ll be blessing you
Gloomy Sunday

Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep in the deep of my heart dear
Darling I hope that my dream never haunted you
My heart is telling you how much I wanted you
Gloomy Sunday

Right??  The only thing that would have made it more heartbreaking is if it had been written in D minor.  Because as we all know, D minor is the saddest of all keys.

This song has been covered by many, most notably the legendary Billie Holliday.  Bless her heart, Lady Day could have taken a TV jingle and turned it into a gin-soaked dirge of despair.

More recent entries include versions by Björk, Sinéad O’Connor, and Portishead.  I like all three.  I’m fascinated by the differences in musical arrangement and vocal interpretation.  (Sarah McLachlan recorded a version too but I’m not going to link to it; we all know her songs can make you miserable so let’s just move along.)

Then I saw that Elvis Costello also covered this song.  I have no idea how I missed that.  I love love love Elvis Costello.  Always have.  I lost count of how many times I saw him in concert.  I had a copy of the poster at left—it was with me through high school, college, grad school, and beyond.  Finally I retired it only because it got too torn and ratty looking.

So when I listened to his rendition, I expected to be blown away.  But I was underwhelmed.  It was nothing special.  It was perfunctory.  It could have been—and should have been—an emo masterpiece.  I thought it would sting and ache with the kind of emotion he packed into “I Want You” and “Riot Act.”  Alas, it did not.

My beloved Declan Patrick MacManus evidently didn’t quite grasp how he and this song were custom-made for each other.  And this was back when he was still AWESOME—before Diana Krall ruined him (you can go ahead and add Diana Krall to the list of Canadian Musicians Who Have Ruined the World, by the way).  I’m not sure how he managed such an epic fail.

So I was ecstatic to discover a cover that’s much better.  To me, it’s what Elvis Costello’s version should have been.  Massive props to Pat DiNizio and the Smithereens for nailing it.  I’ve played this so many times over the past several weeks that it will probably become a permanent soundtrack in my brain.

And without further ado, I present for your consideration this gloriously gloomy song:   The Smithereens – Gloomy Sunday

I got nothing today.  Something in my brain probably short-circuited from Sailor Malan’s hotness.

Anyway, the other day I spent some quality time on YouTube to watch some of my favorite Sesame Street clips.

This is one of my favorites—I love these little guys, they always make me laugh out loud.  I hope they make your day a little more fun.

I’ve got nothing meaningful to say today.  Plenty of stuff flying through my brain but none of it very profound.  It’s Sunday, and any deep thoughts I may have are out having a martini brunch.  So here’s all I got today:

The Funky Scale
I’m pissed that I forgot to add Kingsley Shacklebolt to my original Scale of Funky. Mr. Weebles and I were watching one of the Harry Potter movies when we realized that we should have put him on the list. Because Kingsley is definitely funky. He has a funky name and a funky look. And he’s a wizard. You just know he’s got to be one of the funkiest wizards at the Ministry of Magic, if not the funkiest.

Weebles
My goal is to have one of each of the original Weebles made during the 1970s. My collection is almost complete—I’m missing only about 6 of them. The inventor of Weebles, Ned Strongin, died just over a year ago at the age of 91. I have no idea how long it took him to perfect the Weeble, but I wonder what the protoypes looked like.  I’m thinking they looked something like this:

I can see why they probably wouldn’t have tested well in market research.

Also, I really want to make a Steampunk Weeble. But you’d be surprised at how difficult it is to find really tiny goggles.

The Weeblettes
These are the Weeblettes. Quite the little Rogues Gallery, aren’t they? They’re all girls, they’re all rescues, and they’re all wonderful. Adopt shelter pets!!

Cross-Stitching
I like to cross-stitch.  It gives me else something to do while I’m just sitting around watching television.  But I lose interest pretty quickly, so I keep switching between patterns.  Right now I have 3 or 4 unfinished cross-stitch patterns.  I’ll complete them eventually.  The first cross-stitch piece I ever did is this one, which is now proudly displayed in my office:

I need to buy a doily to put under it so I can make it look extra dainty.

The New York Yankees

Like all arrogant Yankee fans, I expect my boys to go 162-0.  Right now they have a disappointing 28-24 record.  Meh.  Fortunately, the season isn’t even half over yet they’re still ahead of the Red Sox.

Geddy Lee
Every few weeks or so I have dreams about him. I had another one last night. I’m not sure why or how these dreams started. Although I’ve always liked Rush, Geddy didn’t do it for me when he was younger. But apparently he does it for me now, big time. I just hadn’t realized it during my waking hours. Maybe the Universe wanted to make sure I was aware of how much he rocks. And I have to say I think he looks pretty smokin’ hot in this photo.

Recently Mr. Weebles and I were watching some TV show where they were talking about Bootsy Collins, who had once been James Brown’s bass player. Mr. Weebles said, “Could there be anyone on earth funkier than James Brown’s bass player?” And I said, “No, I don’t think that’s possible.”

I mean, being a bass player automatically confers a certain amount of funkyness upon a person. But James Brown’s bass player? That’s crazy funky. And Collins was later in Parliament-Funkadelic, which had “funk” right there in the name, for crying out loud. How much more funky could someone be? To paraphrase Nigel Tufnel, the answer is none. None more funky.

That’s what gave me the idea for the Scale of Funky. If Bootsy Collins is at the top of the funky scale, then Justin Bieber is at the bottom—the opposite of funky. And every person and thing can be graded according to this scale.

I’ve created a rudimentary scale for now. It’s subjective, but only to a certain degree; there can be no debate over the non-funkyness of Bieber, Ryan Seacrest, Clay Aiken, or the minivan. Everything else is open for discussion.