Ray LaMontagne: “For The Summer” and “Beg, Steal or Borrow.”

Here are two songs that when I first heard them back in 2010, I could swear were old James Taylor or Crosby, Stills and Nash songs I had somehow never heard.

Both these ballads were written and sung by a musician named Ray LaMontagne, who was in fact hugely influenced by Stephen Stills and other singer songwriters of the late 1960s and early 1970s, even though he himself wasn’t born until 1973.

Both songs are featured on his 2010 studio album “God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise” and both received moderate airplay.   “Beg, Steal or Borrow” was nominated for a Grammy (2010 Song of the Year) but did not win.

I love these songs because they’re so calming.   I also find them both a bit melancholy and somehow nostalgic.   Love the lyrics too!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Stressed Out (Twenty-One Pilots): iconic anthem of the Millennials.

twenty-one-pilots-feature

Rock and pop music in recent decades (since the 1960s) have always had iconic songs and music styles that define the angst and existential concerns of generations that were coming of age when those songs and music styles were popular.   For the Boomers, it was  The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, or The Who’s “My Generation” or “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” For “Generation Jones” (my own age group) — those straddling the Boom and Gen-X (who were born approximately 1956-1966) — their iconic music was punk rock and the new wave of the early 1980s.   For Gen-X, it was Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or Alice in Chains’ “Man in a Box.”  For Gen-Y (those straddling Gen-X and Millennials), Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” or Blink 182’s music might be good examples.

What about Millennials? Since 2009 or so, rock music as we knew it seems to have died as a genre, at least on mainstream radio. It’s been usurped by EDM, hip hop influenced R&B, and pure pop.   But there are still a few mainstream bands that retain rock sensibilities (even if they’re not exactly rock) and produce music expressing this generation’s own unique sort of angst.    Twenty-One Pilots — a newish band that mixes elements of hip hop, rock, pop, and EDM — seems to get them best, and of course it doesn’t hurt the bandmembers are themselves Millennials.

I really enjoy the music of 21 Pilots, even though I’m way past Millennial age — in fact I have adult Millennial children.  Their 2015 rap-rocker, “Stressed Out,” I think captures Millennial angst best:  the feelings of pressure to succeed in a society that has made their entry into the adult world so incredibly difficult, coupled with a nostalgic longing to return to the childhood world of fantasy, when adults promised them they could be and do anything they wanted.   The bleak economic reality that faces them as they enter the adult years has proven everything they were promised they could achieve as children was a lie.    “Stressed Out” is an anthem that describes that frustrating experience that– to a lesser degree or another — affects my own kids and all of their friends.   It’s also just a great song, well-crafted, with extremely catchy hooks and very listenable.

Celebration (Kool and the Gang)

Time for a little 1970s nostalgia — even though this song was actually released in 1980, I still associate it with the ’70s.
I really needed to hear this!

Christmas music I like.

 

I don’t want to hear Jingle Bell Rock ,  The Little Drummer Boy, Jingle Bells, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, or Santa Baby (puke!).   If I hear these kinds of songs on the radio I will change the station immediately, but unfortunately, they’re EVERYWHERE.  Blargh.

I don’t hate all Christmas music though.  I love traditional, religious carols like these.  It has nothing to do with being religious.  Even when I was a near-atheist, I still preferred them to secular Christmas ditties.   They just seem more meaningful and reverent.

I particularly love the King’s College Choir’s “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”– I think these are two separate performances.   Check out the chubby little guy in the first  video, looking so joyful and happy to be singing.   The boys’ voices combined with the organs give me goosebumps.  They sound like angels.

I also really like Good King Wenceslas.   You don’t hear it a lot anymore.  It’s a traditional English carol about a good king who gives to the poor, so I think it’s definitely in the right spirit for the season.

 

Ride (Twenty One Pilots)

I heard this song several times today during my almost 700 mile ride home, and can’t get it out of my mind.  It’s incredibly addictive and I think it’s a perfect driving song too.

I think this is one of the best songs played on mainstream pop radio I’ve heard in a LONG time–both lyrically and musically it stands above most mainstream music today.   It sounds more like indie or alternative.  I’m not even sure how you’d classify this. Is it indie rock? Indie pop?  Hip hop? Reggae?  EDM?  1980s or 1990s retro?  Something else entirely?    I’m not sure but it seems to have elements of all those genres and probably a couple others too.  Somehow it manages not to sound chaotic and disjointed–all the various genres flow together well.

“Outside” (Staind)

I’ve been thinking about this song a lot today and have been listening to it tonight. I like the melancholy but introspective mood it evokes in me.

I might be wrong, but I feel like the lyrics are about a Borderline guy singing about a relationship with a Narcissist woman and the way he sees his inner emptiness reflected in her and they can’t stop hurting each other. Pretty deep and depressing stuff, if I’m right.

Everything about this song is intense.

And you
Can bring me to my knees
Again

All the times
That I could beg you please
In vain

All the times
That I felt insecure
For you

And I leave
My burdens at the door

But I’m on the outside
I’m looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
‘Cause inside you’re ugly
You’re ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you

All the times
That I felt like this won’t end
Was for you

And I taste
What I could never have
It’s from you

All those times
That I tried
My intentions
Full of pride
And I waste
More time than anyone

But I’m on the outside
I’m looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
‘Cause inside you’re ugly
You’re ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you

All the times
That I’ve cried
All that’s wasted
It’s all inside

But I feel
All this pain
Stuffed it down
It’s back again

And I lie
Here in bed
All alone
I can’t mend

And I feel
Tomorrow will be okay

But I’m on the outside
I’m looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
‘Cause inside you’re ugly
You’re ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you

Written by Aarron Lewis • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Monday Melody: Mr. Brightside (The Killers)

Another great post-1990s pop-rock tune, from 2004.   This is just a great song.   The lead singer is very easy on the eyes, too.

Hurt (Johnny Cash): depressing song about having BPD

Johnny Cash’s masterpiece “Hurt” is  actually a cover written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails,  and is probably the most depressing song ever about what seems to be Borderline Personality Disorder (probably with sociopathic tendencies).     The lyrics and Cash’s delivery capture the emptiness and deep despair that every Borderline feels deep inside.   When he recorded “Hurt,” he had already been given only 18 months left to live by his doctors (he suffered from a rare degenerative disease and diabetes).

This is another one of those songs that’s good for cathartic crying.   I posted the lyric video so you can read all the words (even though Johnny’s enunciation is perfectly understandable).

I was going to make this song this week’s Monday Melody, but I couldn’t wait to put it up now.

Monday Melody: Livin’ On a Prayer (Bon Jovi)

I’m a Jersey girl myself, so Jersey boys Bon Jovi bring back great memories of carefree summer days spent “down the shore.”   This popular 1986 hit about a young blue collar couple facing hard times is my favorite Bon Jovi song.  It never gets old.

Song for a beautiful Sunday!

This long-forgotten one-hit wonder from 1972 is a guilty pleasure, but it always makes me tap my feet and puts a big smile on my face.      Happy Sunday, everyone!