Music Monday – No Valentines

No Love for Valentines

Everybody wants a box of chocolates
and a long stem rose.
Everybody knows.
–from “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen

It’s nearing Valentine’s Day.  No pressure on those in love, right?  Every Kiss Begins with Kay.  Diamonds are a girls best friend.  A dozen long-stemmed roses at two or three times the normal price.  If you love her, you’ll buy her a Lexus, or maybe that’s just at Christmas.  And these are just the examples of what commercialization dumps on those in love, and maybe lust, too.  Who knows what kinds of pressure the loved ones are really putting on each other.  But not everyone has someone at this time of year.  For those who’ve never found love or who’ve had it (once, twice, three times a…) and lost it, or even worse, lost a loved one, Valentine’s Day is a reminder that they (generally) are missing something.  The pressure the commercialization of this “holiday” puts on people, both in and out of love, can be daunting.  With this in mind, this year’s Valentine’s Day Music Monday is about/for those having trouble finding love.
No Valentines by Elton John
(released 1996 on the Love Songs album, not as a single)

But keep my Valentine
I’ll keep my bleeding heart
Just let me out of here
Before that sentimental music starts
And your regrets
Fall like empty lines
Like the lies we write on Valentines

Specifically written for his ‘Love songs’ album, it was never released as a single.  It probably wouldn’t have been a huge hit.  It’s not got the catchy chorus or uplifting message or chipper beat…but I like it…and it fits this post.

Mixed Emotions by The Rolling Stones
(released 1988; #1 US Mainstream Rock, #5 US Hot 100, #9 Netherlands, #20 Germany, #24 Switzerland, #25 Australia)

You’re not the only one
With mixed emotions
You’re not the only ship
Adrift on this ocean
You’re not the only one
That’s feeling lonesome
You’re not the only one
With mixed emotions

From their ‘Steel Wheels’ album, Mixed Emotions is certainly not their biggest hit, but it still has a good sound and it fits this weeks theme.  I almost titled this post “Mixed Emotions.”

Under Pressure by Queen
(released 1981; peaked #1 UK & Netherlands, #2 Ireland, #5 France, #6 Australia & New Zealand, #10 Austria & Switzerland)

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?..

‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure

One of my favorite Queen songs.  The video begins with Freddie doing a bit of call and response with the audience before moving into the song.  The album version with David Bowie is great.

Music Monday – Who Wants To Live Forever?

22 years ago yesterday, the world lost an amazing rock vocalist.  Freddie Mercury was just forty-five when he died in 1991.  This Music Monday features songs by Freddie and Queen.  Here’s a post I made a couple years ago about Freddie, one of my favorite songs, and persevering: The Show Must Go On.  This collection features a number of songs that weren’t huge hits for Queen, but are well done and fit well in this post.  The last video is interview footage of Brian May and Roger Taylor talking about Freddie’s last days.

Who Wants To Live ForeverQueen
(released 1986; peaked #5 France, #6 Netherlands, #15 Ireland, #24 UK)

But touch my tears with your lips
Touch my world with your fingertips
And we can have forever
And we can love forever
Forever is our today

From one of my favorite movies, Highlander, about immortals.
Living on my OwnFreddie Mercury
(released 1985; peaked #50 UK)
(re-released, remixed 1993; peaked #1 UK, France, Ireland, Sweden; #2 Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland)

Sometimes I feel I’m gonna break down and cry
Nowhere to go nothing to do with my time
I get lonely so lonely living on my own

Sometimes I feel I’m always walking too fast
And everything is coming down on me down on me
I go crazy, oh so crazy, living on my own

I catchy tune with more of that crazy be bop, improv stuff Freddie liked to throw into his songs to fill space.
Under Pressure by Queen
(released 1981; peaked #1 UK & Netherlands, #2 Ireland, #5 France, #6 New Zealand & Australia, #10 Austria & Switzerland, #29 US Hot 100 )

Keep coming up with love
but it’s so slashed and torn
Why – why – why ?
Love love love love love
Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance
Why can’t we give love that one more chance
Why can’t we give love give love give love give love
give love give love give love give love give love
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the Night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure

 Their first collaboration with another artist, Under Pressure was recorded with David Bowie.  This video is from the first time Queen performed it live, exactly ten years before Freddie died.  To see a performance of this song at Webley in England where Freddie works the crowd before the song starts, check out this video.
The Great PretenderFreddie Mercury
(released 1987; peaked #2 Ireland, #4 UK, #5 New Zealand, #11 Netherlands )
(released 1993; peaked #13 France, #15 Switzerland, #21 Netherlands )

Oh yes I’m the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Pretending I’m doing well (ooh ooh)
My need is such I pretend too much
I’m lonely but no one can tell

Oh yes I’m the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Adrift in a world of my own (ooh ooh)
I play the game but to my real shame
You’ve left me to dream all alone

I wonder if it’s just coincidence that so many of the songs I’ve picked for this post talk about loneliness or if it’s just really difficult to find songs of theirs that don’t talk about it.  The showman does a great job with this remake.
Don’t Stop Me NowQueen
(released 1979; peaked #9 UK, #10 Ireland, #16 Netherlands, #35 Germany, #86 US Hot 100)</span

I’m a rocket ship on my way to Mars
On a collision course
I am a satellite
I’m out of control
I’m a sex machine ready to reload
Like an atom bomb about to oh oh oh oh oh explode!
I’m burning through the sky, yeah
Two hundred degrees that’s why they call me Mr. Fahrenheit
I’m travelling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic woman of you

A fast-paced tune about being out of control.
Mother Love by Queen
(not released as a single )

Out in the city, in the cold world outside
I don’t want pity, just a safe place to hide
Mama please, let me back inside

I don’t want to make no waves
But you can give me all the love that I crave
I can’t take it if you see me cry
I long for peace before I die
All I want is to know that you’re there
You’re gonna give me all your sweet –
Mother Love, uh huh

Mother love

My body’s aching, but I can’t sleep
My dreams are all the company I keep
Got such a feeling as the sun goes down
I’m coming home to my sweet –
Mother Love

The last song recorded by Freddie…about a month or so before he died.
Interview snippets of Brian May and Roger Taylor on Freddie Mercury’s last days.

Music Monday – Dope and Dead Presidents

President’s Day, a United States federal holiday honoring all of our Presidents.  Today seems the perfect day for songs referencing presidents:  dead, ineffective, and great… here it goes.
New Jack Hustler by Ice-T

I care nothing ’bout you, and that’s evident.
All I love’s my dope and dead presidents.

Yep.  Dead Presidents.  Cash.  Some of the ‘dead presidents’ are still worth something.  A few aren’t good for much more than tipping waiters and strippers, unless you have a whole stack of them.
Russians by Sting

There’s no such thing as a winnable war
It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don’t subscribe to this point of view

A dead President.  On his debut solo album, Sting had this “No Nukes” song.  I like it.  Turns out, Mr. Reagan managed to protect us over the course of his presidency.  He showed the strength needed in that time of the Cold War, the strength to get the Soviet Union to come back to negotiate in limiting the spread of nuclear weapons, the strength to call on the Soviet General Secretary to free half of Germany, to allow the two Germanies to reunite when he said during his address at the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”  [Watch the video of this address, “Tear down this wall” at approx. 12 minute mark]
Too Much Time On My Hands by Styx

Now, I’m a jet-fuel genius
I can solve the world’s problems without even trying
I got dozens of friends, and the fun never ends
That is, as long as I’m buying
Is it any wonder I’m not the President?
Is it any wonder I’m null and void?

Null and Void. How far off are they really? Probably a lot closer there than with the solving the worlds problems line.
Smuggler’s Blues by Glenn Frey

It’s propping up the governments in Columbia and Peru
You ask any D.E.A. man, he’ll say there’s nothin’ we can do
From the office of the President
Right down to me and you, me and you

An ineffective President. Another of those great songs from Miami Vice.  And while a DEA man might say there’s nothing we can do, I think if the government really wanted to wage a “war on drugs”, we could be much more effective at it.
[Unfortunately, someone/group who owns the rights is preventing this video from being played.  It’s temporarily unavailable at VH1 and MTV, and the video on YouTube is missing the audio.]
Bicycle Race by Queen

You say coke I say caine
You say John I say Wayne
Hot dog I say cool it man
I don’t wanna be the President of America
You say smile I say cheese
Cartier I say please
Income tax I say Jesus
I don’t wanna be a candidate
For Vietnam or Watergate
Cos all I want to do is…

I guess Freddie and company thought all of these things sounded uniquely American.  I concur on not wanting to be President.

Music Monday – “Free at Last”

Unless you’re living in a cave, you’ve probably heard of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most well-known civil rights leaders in the United States…even if you aren’t from the U.S.  Today is the U.S. federal holiday in celebration of his birthday.  As such, today’s Music Monday will focus on songs about him and his cause.

I first saw this video for Miri Ben-Ari’s “Symphony of Brotherhood” a few years ago while helping out with a MLK Day program.  Great song and video.

Roger Taylor said “The original words were actually about Martin Luther King, Jr.“, but that they got changed a bit by the rest of the group, Queen.  If you listen to the song, though, you can still hear a lot of the lines as originally written by Taylor about MLK and his hope for the future.

“I had a dream
When I was young
A dream of sweet illusion
A glimpse of hope and unity
And visions of one sweet union”

While U2 may have had a factual error in their lyrics (MLK was not shot in the early morning), it shows the global recognition and impact of King’s struggle and his vision that a band big into making political statements with their music chose to reference him in this song, as well as MLK, a lullaby to King on the album An Unforgettable Fire.

“Free at last,
they took your life,
they could not take your pride”

Finally, we have Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five with “The King” from the album On The Strength, released in 1988.  The song begins with a sampling from King’s “I Have A Dream Speech.”

“Listen to the words, see if you understand
the trials and tribulations of one black man
For the man who lived and died for the struggle and cause
let’s have a moment, a second, a silence, a pause”

Music Monday – Don’t Try Suicide

If you are thinking about suicide, find someone you can trust and tell them you need their help or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7) at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).  Their is absolutely NO SHAME in asking for help!
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.  As such, the three selections today all deal with the subject of suicide.  The artists: Queen, Kix, and Mike Corrado.
While I generally find Queen’s lyrics to be witty or insightful, or thought-provoking, I’m really not sure about this one.  It first glance, it sounds straight forward: don’t try suicide.  Rather than going for the slower, heart-wrenching, depressing sound that most songs about suicide use, Queen went uptempo sound with a catchy sound.  A few lines seem a bit out there, but the ones I have a real problem with are in the chorus:  “Nobody cares” and “nobody gives a damn.”  I would say that, as a rule, that would be completely wrong.  There is always someone who cares…someone who gives a damn.  If you’re in the suicidal state of mind, you may not “see” them, but they are there.
For those of you who do care and give a damn, learn the warning signs of suicide.  Most people who attempt suicide exhibit certain behaviors, little “tells” that something isn’t right.  It’s our job, as the people who care, to try to notice these changes, however minor or insignificant they may seem, and provide help.  It can be as blunt as asking the person “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”  If you get anything other than a “no”…a solid “no”, don’t leave them.  Drag their butt to someone who’s a professional at dealing with people thinking about suicide.  They may tell you they don’t need it.  They may tell you that they will hate you or will never forgive you, but you know what?  They have to be alive to do that.
Check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) Warning Signs of Suicide.
“There’s no one there to hold you
No one hears your scream
You live life up and down now
Your nightmares are your dreams” -from Don’t Close Your Eyes by Kix
Kix’s Don’t Close Your Eyes has a hauntingly bleak sound to it, but it’s message is “You’re hurting and no one seems to be there for you, but as bad as it is, I am here for you…I’m praying for you.”
Patriot Day being tomorrow in the U.S. fits right into this post, as we are seeing way too many of our military brethren succumbing to suicide and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Mike Corrado, a Marine and a talented musician, wrote “Lucky One” in an effort to shed some light on the problem of PTSD, an all-too-often silent killer of our troops who were the one ‘lucky’ enough to survive their combat tours.  In Mike’s words, “It’s easy to see service members with physical scars but much more difficult to see the ‘scars that hide deep inside’ of those suffering with PTSD.”  “Lucky One” was also used as a Public Service Announcement for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) has a page of information to consider if you’re Thinking About Suicide…or if you simply want to read up on some good info in case you ever find yourself talking to a friend, or complete stranger, in need.

Musical Meanderings with My Girls

Tonight after dinner, I was driving around with my daughters, listening to a mixed CD I made.  Taylor Swift’s “You Belong to Me” came on…and I turned the volume up to close to the level I listen to it.  They sang along with it.  Usually, I get complaints from the younger one about the music being too loud…but not tonight, not for that song.  When it finished, I switched back to an earlier track and blared “Firework” by Katy Perry.  Again, no complaints, and the sing-a-long continued.  I skipped to Queen’s “The Show Must Go On” with Freddie Mercury’s haunting vocals, then to “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato.  I changed discs and we sang along to “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, then the acoustic version of Bon Jovi’s “Keep The Faith” from their This Left Feels Right album, followed by Demi Lovato’s “Don’t Forget“, Zac Efron’s “Bet On It“, and brought it, and us, home with Taylor Swift’s “Love Story“.

The girls knew the words to almost all of the songs from their generation.  I knew those, and the others.  The more important things, though, were that we all had a good time driving around singing along with the songs, that they are getting exposure to  good music, theirs and mine (and liking it all), and they are listening to songs with positive messages.

Here are a couple videos from the list of tunes we sang along with tonight:

The one that kicked it off…Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me”

My favorite band, Bon Jovi’s “Keep The Faith”  (this actually ends then follows into “Always”)

and Katy Perry’s “Firework”

“Never make me boring!” -a quote by Freddie Mercury

In his last days, Freddie is reported to have said to his manager, Jim Beach:

“Do anything you want with my music dear, but never make me boring!” – Freddie Mercury

While you may have been rather subdued in some of your interviews, Freddie, you will never be boring.  You live on as one of the most flamboyant, incredible rock vocalists ever!

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