Monday Melody: If I Had a Million Dollars (Bare Naked Ladies)

I heard this this morning and I just can’t help smiling every time I hear it.  So cute and witty, even if it’s just stoner rock.

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Monday Melody: Careless Whisper (George Michael)

Since George Michael died today (f*ck you, 2016!) I thought I’d use one of his songs for this week’s Monday Melody.  Careless Whisper (released in 1984) is probably my favorite George Michael tune.   Now it’s touched with sadness for me, but is still a classic.

 

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.

Monday Melody: Won’t Get Fooled again (The Who)

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In my opinion, the best rock and roll song of all time. That’s all.

Monday Melody: Little Red Corvette (Prince)

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In memory of Prince, I want to feature a song of his as this week’s Monday Melody. He was and still is one of my favorite ’80’s pop artists. This is one of my favorite Prince songs. It was difficult finding much recorded Prince music on Youtube, because he was opposed to his music being made available on Youtube.

I hope he is resting in peace.

Due to Prince’s objection to his music being reproduced on Youtube, his songs can’t be found there. The original video I posted was deleted, so I found another source. Unfortunately, I can’t embed this video so you will need to click on the link.

http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhINumd0GjaBingOOb

Rated PG-13: I never realized how raunchy this song is, but it’s still great!

Monday Melody #2: Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum)

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While watching the video for this week’s Monday Melody, “All the Young Dudes,” Youtube directed me to this song (which in some ways is very similar, at least in sound). I played it of course, and couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I’m posting it as a second entry this week. For me, this song has a story attached to it.

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It’s a song that brings me back to one of my few happy childhood memories. It was the summer of 1967 (the Summer of Love to those of you about a decade or more older than I was). I was about 7. My parents and I were spending a couple of weeks living in a rented house on Cape Cod Bay (East Brewster, Mass.), where every day I’d be able to walk out about a mile onto the sandbars and collect shells and hermit crabs in a plastic bucket.  I wouldn’t return until the tide began to come back in (and it came in so quickly sometimes I had to run back!)   Before outracing the tide I’d set the hermit crabs free.  My 12 year old half-sister, who I idealized as some kind of goddess (she was everything I was not), had joined us for those two weeks (she was my mother’s daughter but she only lived with us for one year in 1971).

At the end of a busy and carefree day on the beach, I remember the two of us sitting out on the screened porch that overlooked the bay, our skin still hot to the touch with sunburn (and in my case, covered with mosquito bites), drinking Coke from tall frosted-plastic tumblers and eating potato chips.  A tinny transistor radio was tuned into the local Top 40 station. The water of the bay gleamed like molten bronze under the setting sun, and a Citronella candle burned on the metal mesh table. Mosquitoes bounced against the rusted screen that separated us from the salty sea air and occasionally fried themselves in the bug zapper that hung from the worn wooden rafters that had turned gray with salt and age. Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” emanated from the tinny radio. I was in heaven. To this day, whenever I hear this song, I’m taken back to that long ago summer. What a different world it was back then.

Monday Melody: All The Young Dudes (David Bowie/Mott the Hoople)

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The late David Bowie, who died early this year, was a musical visionary, way ahead of his time musically.  “All The Young Dudes” was recorded by Mott the Hoople and released in 1973 and became a radio hit that year. I can’t listen to it now without feeling a little sad that Bowie left this earth so soon.

This video includes both versions–Bowie’s original and the hit by Mott the Hoople. Mott the Hoople’s is the one I’m most familiar with.

Monday Melody: Pretty Pimpin’ (Kurt Vile)

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The Monday Melodies are intended to pay homage to songs I like from the past, but I’d like to make an exception this week and include a new song. Lately I’ve been hearing some good and interesting indie rock and pop on a local radio station that doesn’t play the usual Top 40 hits.

Kurt Vile‘s “Pretty Pimpin'” is musical crack. His style is like a cross between Tom Petty (who he names as one of his influences) and ’90’s alternative such as Beck. The video features Kurt, appearing disheveled and either confused, high, or severely dissociated, possibly in a fugue state. The lyrics describe what sounds like a very unpleasant dissociative experience, in which the protagonist looks in the mirror and doesn’t recognize himself. Yet Kurt’s delivery is oddly unemotional and disconnected, as if he’s describing the experience of someone else, which is exactly what dissociation feels like.

I’d like to include this comment from the lyrics page, which I think nails the meaning of the song:

The song’s narrator likely suffers from Depersonalization Disorder, a dissociative mental disorder in which one feels disconnected or estranged from one’s body, thoughts and emotion.

The song uses subtle changes in its repeating verses, progressing through different manifestations of this disorder. As the narrator interacts with himself in the mirror, he begins with the first person pronoun “I” and later moving toward more uses of the third-person “he.”

The upbeat song ends with a gradual fade-out, which you don’t hear much anymore in modern music.

I woke up this morning
Didn’t recognize the man in the mirror
Then I laughed and I said, “Oh silly me, that’s just me”
Then I proceeded to brush some stranger’s teeth
But they were my teeth, and I was weightless
Just quivering like some leaf come in the window of a restroom

I couldn’t tell you what the hell it was supposed to mean
But it was a Monday, no a Tuesday, no Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Then Saturday came around and I said “Who’s this stupid clown blocking the bathroom sink?”

All he ever wanted was to be someone in life that was just like
All I want is to just have fun
Live my life like a son of a gun
I could be one thousand miles away but still mean what I say

Then I woke up one morning
Didn’t recognize the man in the mirror
Then I laughed and I said, “Oh silly me, that’s just me”
Then I proceeded to not comb some stranger’s hair
Never was my style

But I couldn’t tell you what the hell it was supposed to mean
Because it was a Monday, no a Tuesday, no Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Then Saturday came around and I said “Who’s this stupid clown blocking the bathroom sink?”
But he was sporting all my clothes
I gotta say I’m pretty pimpin

All he ever wanted was to be a man
But he was always a little too cute to be admitted under “marbles lost”
He was always a thousand miles away while still standing in front of your face

Then he woke up this morning
Didn’t recognize the boy in the mirror
Then laughed and said, “Oh silly me, that’s just me”
Then I proceeded to brush some stranger’s teeth
But they were my teeth, and I was weightless
Just quivering like some leaf come in the window of a restroom

And I couldn’t tell you what the hell it was supposed to mean
Cause it was a Monday, no a Tuesday, no Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Then Saturday came around and I said, “Who’s this stupid clown blocking the bathroom sink?”
But he was sporting all my clothes
I gotta say pretty pimpin

I woke up this morning, didn’t recognize the boy in the mirror [x6]

Monday Melody: Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters (Elton John)

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I’ve always had a weak spot for Elton John tunes, especially ballads penned by his long-time partner and collaborator, Bernie Taupin. “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” is one such ballad from John’s 1972 album Honky Chateau. Why this moving and meaningful song never became a hit (and why the despicable, irritating “Crocodile Rock” did instead) I have no idea.

It’s also a song that makes me cry every single time I hear it.

I love the slow buildup, but it never overpowers you. The lyrics touch your heart without being too saccharine. It’s gritty like the big city it serenades but it’s tender at the same time. The simple message seems to be that at the end of the day, as Barbra Streisand sang, “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” No man is an island and all that.

Because it was never a hit (and I never owned a copy of “Honky Chateau”), the first time I heard “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” was in 2000, when I heard it in the movie “Almost Famous” (an incredibly good movie and if you haven’t seen it you must!)

I’m sorry about this being a day late.

Monday Melody: Year of the Cat (Al Stewart)

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There are some songs you just never grow tired of. I clearly remember the first time I heard Al Stewart‘s “Year of the Cat” because I heard it in a dream. There’s only one other song I first heard while I was asleep and became incorporated into my dream (Lifehouse’s “Halfway Gone,” 2009). There’s something magical about hearing a song in a dream that always remains with you and makes the song seem more special somehow. You almost feel like it came from inside you.

“Year of the Cat”‘s vivid imagery recalls outdoor markets in faraway Eastern places and exotic women in colorful silk dresses. In my dream, during the summer of 1977, I saw all this imagery while on some kind of safari and my male companion–a boy who I had a wild crush on–was serenading me with this song.

I woke up right at the end, during the long instrumental and couldn’t get the song out of my head. I had to have that record, so I rushed out to purchase the 45 RPM. For the next month I listened to it more times than I could count.

It’s a great song, with many layers of instrumentation–violins, piano, guitar,and saxophone, giving it a sensual, even sexy feel. The lyrics are pure poetry. You simply don’t hear lines like “she comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
like a watercolor in the rain” these days.

“Year of the Cat” has a timeless sound and doesn’t sound dated, even 40 years after its release. It could have been made yesterday.