Posts from the ‘Music’ Category

What would life be…

without a song or a dance
what are we
so I say ‘Thank You for the music’
for giving it to me- Abba

The first Abba song I heard was ‘Dancing Queen’ on VH1. It was long ago- back when they played actual music videos. I loved  it! I was already a wretchedly uncool teenager, with my Star Wars fishing hat; white platform shoes; a Dr. Seuss Blue Fish t-shirt (that I purchased from Wal-Mart); and a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fascination that I fed by purchasing weekly TV Guides and reading the 2 sentence show synopsis. Adding an Abba obsession only served to reassure my few friends and peers that I would forever be a creature deserving of deep pity and sympathy.

Happily I grew up and remain a fan of all things mentioned above (except white platform shoes- nowadays it’s hot pink or black stilettos) without the goofy attire and TV Guide crutch. So it goes without saying that when I purchased ‘1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die’ by Tom Moon, I was thrilled to find out that Abba’s album Gold  was the first one in the book.

I used to explain my enjoyment of Abba with disclaimers that included my more eclectic tastes in music. Now I just don’t care if people look down on any of my musical preferences.  But it is slightly vindicating to have their (Abba’s) greatest hits album on a rather extensive and definitive list of recordings that you should hear before you die. Zone in on those words. Any of our clocks could stop ticking at any moment. This is one of those recordings that is worth carving out some of our precious time to experience.

Personally I think what captured me was the immediate accessibility of the music. The lyrics, while not particularly profound, are well-composed; the vocals are a notch or two above most pop music; and the sound is very polished and ‘actually moves through time’ (that is the only way I really know how to describe how the sound moves, changes and is in real time).

The music of Abba didn’t and will never change the world, but because they were one of the groups to do pop music best, they have managed to bring a lot of actual happiness and enjoyment to a lot of people. And in world where stress is a daily fiend to be battled, the reprieve provided by Abba is always worth the time you spend listening.

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Elemental

One of my favorite, if not my favorite, artists is Loreena McKennitt. I loved her music the first time I heard it.  I remember that I was listening to music in bed late one night. I was wearing headphones because 1) I was supposed to already be asleep and 2) we weren’t allowed to listen to secular music. I found her song, “The Mummers Dance” playing on some random radio station. I experienced an immediate visceral, almost spiritual reaction to the piece. 

I didn’t truly discover all she was about until a few years later, in college, but I consider her to be very influential in my appreciation and understanding of Celtic music beyond Lord of the Dance (although I love that too). I actually walked down the aisle at my wedding to “Come By The Hills”.

I received her first album, “Elemental”, for Christmas and it has gone to the top of my list of favorite albums. The sounds are very crisp, clean, acoustic, and simple. Her vocals are nothing less than perfect. The only ‘weak’ track is “Carrighfergus” on which she performs a duet with Cedric Smith. It actually served as a distraction from the overall sound and feel of the album instead of flavoring or enhancing it. I am as fixated on her voice as I am her musical arrangements, and I don’t need anything beyond that. My ears do not like the clutter a guest singer brings to her work.

This clip is a great rendition of  “Stolen Child”, one of my favorite tracks from the album. I don’t think the addition of the electric guitar was necessary but it doesn’t detract very much from the song.