Archive for the ‘getting personal’ Category

This song is one of my favorites. And it’s done well by both Feist (the original writer) and the later re-imagination sung by James Blake.

Feist’s has more involved lyrics and a more natural and carefree sound. I’m imagining her thinking ‘There’s a limit to your love, but everything is going to be A-okay!’ After all she loves (3x) “the trouble that you give me,” and fighting her way “upstream” even though there is a “limit to your care.” At the end we see that despite there being a “limit to your love” …”there is no limit to my love.” I can relate. Especially because of the first line “clouds part just to give us a little sun.” If there were no sun perhaps there would be a limit to her love.

James Blake’s lyrics are so simple (in contrast to the wordy, but thoughtful Feist). Typically male?  The structure, piano interspersed with heavy pedal use, rhythmic percussions, a little vocal layering and nuances of breath that stretch it into a sometimes meter-less song really makes it special, though. Blake never says there is ‘no limit to his love’ or that “only I can save me”. He’s just expressing thoughts about someone else. He knows it, he’s retelling it, and there is a mournful emotion in the way he is performing it, but he’s not outright telling you anything about himself as Feist does.  (again…typical male?) In fact Feist sings “I love I love I love” while Blake sings “Your love Your love Your love.”

PLUS I love how James Blake says “waterfall.” I’m sure you do, too. Could this be why Blake’s “Limit to Your Love” surpassed sales of Feist’s? I don’t mean just that he says “waterfall” like he does. He also has a cool video. And his version comes up first in searches.

Listen to both.

               James_Blake_-09473  JAMES BLAKE VS FEIST Feist-feist-1566158-2213-2560

This doesn’t really have anything to do with music. It has to do with being superstitious. Maybe they’re just coincidences, but ever since I was little, I was slightly superstitious. I think it’s because I’m an only child and when you grow up without siblings, you often times have to keep yourself entertained and you end up talking to yourself. Part of this talking was dealing with my hopes/desires/luck via superstitions. Not normal things like “don’t open an umbrella inside or walk under a ladder or watch out for black cats crossing your path.” I did all of those things with glee! I made up my own superstitions.

Present day: I take care of a woman who has been on this Earth for 94 years. She gave me an old tarot card deck and tonight, I decide to pull one out and see what the meaning of it is.

I get THE FOOL. Oh great, I think….The Fool. Only Fool’s Rush In, Fool on The Hill. (had to add some music)

Fool=Negative (in my mind)

BUT

It’s also April Fool’s Day, which is my birthday–April 1.

So, I look up what The Fool card actually means online…according to tarot card readers, and I was surprised:

“We begin with the Fool (0), a card of beginnings. The Fool stands for each of us as we begin our journey of life. He is a fool because only a simple soul has the innocent faith to undertake such a journey with all its hazards and pain.

[picture of Card 0]At the start of his trip, the Fool is a newborn – fresh, open and spontaneous. The figure on Card 0 has his arms flung wide, and his head held high. He is ready to embrace whatever comes his way, but he is also oblivious to the cliff edge he is about to cross. The Fool is unaware of the hardships he will face as he ventures out to learn the lessons of the world.

The Fool stands somewhat outside the rest of the major arcana. Zero is an unusual number. It rests in the exact middle of the number system – poised between the positive and negative. At birth, the Fool is set in the middle of his own individual universe. He is strangely empty (as is zero), but imbued with a desire to go forth and learn. This undertaking would seem to be folly, but is it?”

I was shocked.

I am The Fool. Maybe there is a reason I was born on April Fool’s Day. And I guess I’m okay with being The Fool.

Ever notice how people who are uncomfortable or can’t stand silence talk about the weather? It’s easy. You’re both living in it. It’s hard to go wrong. It’s hot, it’s cold, it’s snowing, it’s raining.

Tonight is windy. 

I live in Los Angeles, where the weather is as certain as the traffic. So when it deviates from the norm. it’s an easy topic to talk about. It can become more interesting when instead of the falling leaves of Autumn we get smacked in the head with a palm frond the size of a whale tail with shark-like razor ridges on the edges. Fun. Raking isn’t so easy. Jumping in the pile when you’re done? I wouldn’t advise small children to do it let alone adults.

Tonight I can hear the wind over my thoughts, which is good. I’m listening to Atoms for Peace latest album, Amok. I’ll be seeing them in concert here in October.

Tonight I’m on Default repeat. The beginning of it makes me go a little loopy and then I fall…drowsily…down…into the…words and the layering of beats. I’m pretty tired. The weather …can’t… interrupt….

It slipped my mind. And for a time. I felt completely free
Oh what a troubled Silent, poor boy. A pawn into a queen
I laugh now. But later is not so easy
I’ve gotta stop. The will is strong
But the flesh is weak.

I guess that’s it. I’ve made my bed. And I’m lying in it. 

I’m still hanging on. Bird upon the wires. I fall between the waves

I avoid your gaze. I turn out of phase. A pawn into a queen

I laugh now,
But later is not so easy
I’ve gotta stop
The will is strong
But the flesh is weak
I guess that’s it
I’ve made my bed
And I’m lying in it

But it’s eating me up
But it’s eating me up
It’s eating me up (If I could feel all the snakes on my heads)
It’s eating me up (If I could feel all my snails on my heads)
It’s eating me up (If I could feel all my snares on my head)

Today I’m going way back to 1977 with Fleetwood Mac’s song, “Dreams” from their album Rumours.

A little bit about this song:

Stevie Nicks wrote this song in about 10 minutes. Everyone in the group was going through a separation–Mick Fleetwood through a divorce, bassist John McVie and pianist Christine McVie were separating from their marriage and Lindsey Buckingham, the guitarist, was ending an 8 year relationship with Stevie Nicks. Holy moly. I can’t imagine working as a group when all of this is going on.

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A little bit about me:

Definitely feeling this song right now in every way possible. Also, it just occurred to me that I may have been given a Stevie Nicks haircut at one point. What do you think?

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I wrote this exactly a year ago today (and just happened to find it in my emails), but I wrote it for someone else to read in attempt to get them out of their own personal storm. Now, I’m finding a year later that I should re-read these words and apply them to my own life. Listen to my own philosophy. I based my writing off the last line of my thought process “The sun is gone but I have light,” which are the lyrics to Nirvana’s song “Dumb.”

This is what I wrote on Nov. 15th, 2011:

Human beings can find beauty in both periods of darkness and lightness. For without periods of darkness, the light would not be as welcoming. In a world full of pure light, we would surely be blinded from the truth. You might have heard “Let’s bring light upon this ‘ which refers to truth. ‘So how can light mask the truth’, you ask?   You, yourself, might say ‘I turn on the lights to find things I’ve lost– not turn them off’. We often think of darkness as the evil, a blanket over all verity. As children, we are scared of it and as adults we are unsure. But there is nothing dubious about the dark. It is what it is. Thrown into darkness without our consent creates panic and chaos within us. After the onset,  we learn to use our other senses–touch, sound, smell, taste; amidst it, we learn secrets, we remember, we forget, we remember again, we ask ‘why?’ ‘why not?’, we sort things in our minds until they’re stacked in neat little packages tied with brown string so we wont misplace them… until our eyes adjust, but at that moment we learn that we no longer need them. We have walked through the darkness just fine without them. Not only that, but we have become ourselves again.  We have gotten past the idiom: “Your eyes are playing tricks on you” because we have learned out of darkness grows our own inner light, and we are smarter than our eyes. When it comes time for the light to mix into the dark just enough to see what is around us, we must not lose that time we felt darkness for in that time we learned that darkness will not disable us. We must recognize when there is too much light. That is what’s blinding. Just look into the sun.

 
The sun is gone but I have light.
 
 

This morning, I ventured to Silverlake to satisfy my belly growls. I stopped at a corner cafe to excite my breakfast taste buds. I ended up with an almond croissant and a mysterious fruit salad. I say mysterious because I had to ask if they had it whereas the croissant was right in front of my eyes. The cashier told me “that’ll be $12.” I didn’t want to make a scene or inquire. I just hoped everything would be delicious to the max as I settled into the Xavier Pauchard cafe chair. Expensive chair. Expensive breakfast? The fruit salad was presented to me with a sprig of mint on top…like that was supposed to help the sad salad. It was more like a small canned fruit soup drowning in it’s own liquid. To say the most, it was promptly returned and my $8.50 was given back. You just can’t mess with fruit salad when you’re in LA. This is where the fruit salad was born!

A few storefronts down lies a coffee mecca–home of the “didn’t make your espresso drink perfectly, so I’ll throw it out 4 times till I get it right.” Also, home of the young, hip and well-dressed crowd who knows their Stilton from their Taleggio. I sat down once again (surprisingly, in another Pauchard French model A chair). This time, I specifically told myself I was going to order the cheapest thing. In any coffee shop, what is the cheapest drink? A coffee. A regular, standard good ‘ol cup o’ joe. This time my father waits in the long line to rattle off my demand. I’m outside with the dog–meanwhile, I notice Alexa Chung (fashion icon…if you don’t follow fashion closely, you won’t know who this Brit is) in a purple lace dress and gold shoes is sitting next to me. I contain my excitement, which is hard when she’s only a couple feet away–even harder yet because I know that 99% of the cafe doesn’t realize she’s here. 

Papa comes out with my coffee–half of a cup is full of coffee, the rest is in a small glass pitcher next to it. Okay…strange. Then he starts clamoring “Guess how much this coffee was?!” “How much?,” I reply without interest (still thinking of Alexa Chung). “5 dollars! I asked them how much and they said ‘5 dollars. Do you want to know why?’ and I said ‘ no, I don’t. ‘” My focus finally turned away from Alexa and towards the pricey cup of coffee.

Don’t get me wrong. It was good. Not bitter at all. But I’ve been satisfied by coffee that’s a few bucks cheaper. I briefly looked up why the coffee was so expensive, and I saw such words as they use “fiji water,” it comes from some “far away rain forest,” “hand picked,” “hand poured.” But $5…dayum.

A week ago, I got tickets with my mom and pop to see Grizzly Bear at The Greek Theater. Amazing show. They’re truly great artists with great live vocal harmonizations. The show didn’t disappoint. The seats were so far away, though! We snagged closer seats that were empty and much easier to see the crazy glowing “jellyfish” that moved with the music on stage. I can’t imagine what the people in the very front were paying. Sometimes, I wonder if the artists “feel more” for the people in the back or if they are just focused on the people in the very front because they coughed up the most money. Are they “rooting for the underdogs” in the nose-bleed seats or are they just thankful for the people in the pit? It would be nice is some of the starving artists/musicians in the back could have a row in the front…after all, the people on stage were probably in our seats at one time or another.

Anyway, they played songs from their new album, Shields, and it gave me a much bigger appreciation for it.

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**correct cafe names withheld**

Before I even begin, let me just say that this is not someone hacking into my account writing why music sucks. I know you’re probably wondering (if you have any quick thought capacity while reading): ‘Why would this chick who has a music blog say that music sucks?’ Well, my readers, keep on reading on.

These aren’t my thoughts on why the music of today sucks as many reputable music zines and sites have discussed. This isn’t an in depth analysis of why “they just don’t make ‘em like Bach anymore.” I actually quite like some of the music being produced today, thank you very much. Yes. I can even feel the appeal of much talked about Tyga’s Rack City.

Music sucks because it reminds you of people, places and things. Music is also brilliant and beautiful this way. It just depends how much you can control where the music takes you, so to speak.

Music
a) reminds you of a person, place or thing that is no longer a part of your life because
1) you used to listen to this said music with this person or at this place or
2) this is a brand new song, but the lyrics/emotions remind you how you feel about this person, place or thing

b) reminds you of a time in your life that
1) you feel strange going back to
2) because of this makes you feel the sense of time-lapse ever more strongly

c) can keep dragging you through emotions/pain that
1) could otherwise be avoided while not listening to the music
2) you use as a self-inflicting weapon

d) can feed into your current circumstances and
1) make you wonder why this is happening to more than just me (which could be positive to think about)
2) bring you down…usually due to the lyrics

There is an SNL spoof that is rather hilarious about Adele’s hit song, Someone Like You, that illustrates why music sucks. Adele’s song became a hit because of all of the above. Humans can be pretty masochistic. I think Someone Like You brought out that need to turn pain into pleasure. Why else would it, months later, be heard over and over again on the radio? Another current song that hit the masses in the same way is Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Love. People all over the world felt the same way about someone that they used to love—making it another depressing hit that makes you “addicted to a certain kind of sadness” (lyrics from the song). One of the most awkward moments is when the guy I was thinking about while this song was playing told me he had been listening to it all weekend and thinking of this other girl while listening to it. Haha. Now, it’s just funny.

Music isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. In actuality, most music sucks. It’s depressing. The song can even be about butterflies and rainbows for all I care, but it can still be depressing put into a context of someone’s mind. For example, I couldn’t listen to Etta James’ At Last, and overall happy song about finding someone you’ve always dreamed of because I listened to that song with an ex boyfriend, and at the time, I thought he was the bees knees. “My heart was wrapped up in clover” and then that all disappeared and I was crying hearing that song for a year. But it’s not the music’s fault. It’s our brain’s faults for bringing us back to that person, time or place. Music sucks because it sucks to be sad.

Note: I’ve been wanting to write a post on this topic for a while now. All beliefs as to who this is about or not about should be abandoned as this is just a general thought process that I have realized for quite some time now. I am not depressed while I write this. I am just writing for the sake of putting my thoughts out there into the world.

Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Phil Selway

If you are reading this, can you pretty please give me and my papa tickets to your show in Santa Barbara or San Jose and/or Coachella??

Pretty please…with sugar and an extra delicious red cherry on top

We’d really like to go.

Sincerely,
One of your biggest fans (and I know they all say that, but I really am!)
Stella

Live from NYC

Posted: January 25, 2012 in getting personal, Music, NYC
Tags: , , , ,

Music’s tie to memories is something that intrigues me. I was dating this guy once upon a time and the music we enjoyed together was never the same alone. I’m totally over this guy, but the song “Darlin'” by The Beatles still reminds me of him and the woods in North Carolina. “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman undoubtedly brings me back to a childhood memory of being in the passenger’s seat of my mom’s car while “Jumpin’ Jumpin'” by Destiny’s Child reminds me of my sweet 16th birthday, in which my friends and I performed a dance in my living room.. 

There’s no stopping music being tied to memories. I’ve gone a year without listening to whole albums because they were attached to memories I was trying to forget. The memories are still there and so is the music. Actually, there have been studies with Alzheimer’s patients or people with brain damage and memory loss who become transported in time through music. In an otherwise confusing world, through music these people become lucid within that memory. (The movie ‘The Music Never Stopped’ is a nice portrayal of this phenomenon. Warning: It’s a tear-jerker.)

I thought my last post while living in NYC discussing my own music and NYC memories would be fitting.

Empire State of Mind- Jay Z

Boy, was I lucky! I just moved to NYC and the biggest song on the radio was all about it. “Concrete jungle where dreams are made. There’s nothing you can’t do.” This song captured my exact mentality at the time. I was living in Harlem tutoring and mentoring underprivileged youth. It was their song. It was my song. I heard it pretty much every day–in the bodega, from a car blasting it through rolled down windows on 125th. It was inspiring and hopeful. Listening to it now takes me back to that sweaty summer in Harlem, to those kids I became close to, and to the idea that it’s all going to be okay.

Sir Luscious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty- Big Boi

My second summer in NYC, I had this album on repeat. I was proud to have discovered this release myself and to have shown it to a couple important/close people to me who ended up loving it. It’s really a great album. It’s rare that I find several songs on one album that I enjoy. It reminds me of being confident. I finally felt at ease in NYC–like I was a New Yorker. I was giving people directions, meeting new people, starting new jobs, and I felt on top of the world. On the contrary, this album reminds me of 2 people whom I don’t really speak to anymore. In that respect, the album has become tainted. 

 

Nevermind-Nirvana

Yeah, I know…a little late on this, but I only just started listening to Nirvana in NYC. I developed a minor crush on Kurt Cobain while in this city. Luckily, for me, that crush wont lead to anything dramatic like my obsession with Johnny Depp and the resulting Johnny Depp scrap book crafted by yours truly. RIP. Anyway, Kurt and Nirvana never fail to get me through my aggravated episodes where I’d like to jump on my bed like an angsty teen if my bed wasn’t abut to break just by sitting on it. (i.e bad day at work, upset with how my life is going, guy problems, friend problems, etc.)Image

 

 


If you want to see a beautiful female bass player “google image” Esperanza Spalding. If you want to hear a really great contemporary jazz bass player listen to Esperanza Spalding.

Last night, at the Village Vanguard, I saw the first truly inspiring famous bass player. I’ve heard many of the greats, but being that the bass is a male-dominated instrument, it was so refreshing to see and hear Esperanza Spalding, a female, play bass. Although, I play classical, it did not detract from seeing another female bassist who not only knew her way around the bass but looked so hip and cool doing it. Everyone stops me on the street with my bass and questions why such a “small girl” would pick such a “big instrument.” Hearing that over and over again gave me some sort of complex. Do people think I’m manly since I play this instrument? But Esperanza looked so feminine and beautiful playing her bass at the Vanguard last night, that I realized females playing the bass can be pretty cool and empowering.

My friend, who was squished in next to me in the crowded venue, can vouch for the fact that I excitedly said more than once “She makes me want to play bass right now.” [Side note: I named my bass Esperanza before I even knew about Esperanza Spalding!]

In 2011, she won a Grammy for Best New Artist. She has four solo albums out, but tours quite a bit. I highly recommend seeing her in person, as her stage presence is gushing with emotion and vivacity that can only be captured live.