Day #2 JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR – WHAT’S THE BUZZ/STRANGE THING MYSTIFYING
My parents were involved in local theatre productions when I was growing up, and there was often a musical being played and sung to either in the car or in the house – most notably ‘Man of La Mancha,’ ‘My Fair Lady,’ ‘Camelot,’ and those first two Anthony Newley gems. And then there came ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ rolling down the hill in a VW bus, weed smoke billowing from its windows like puffy angels with LOVE patches on the thighs of their frayed bell-bottomed jeans. This was not your parents’ musical (or perhaps it was, if your parents had a hippie streak in them).
One thing my dad liked to do (and really excelled at) was explain plots of musicals to you as you listened to them. One day, he and I had a long out-of-town drive together and we listened to this for probably the hundredth time with him offering insights into the plot and characters, and making little performances of his own, when – during one of Ian Gillan’s (as Jesus) wailing, emotional outbursts – he said, and I quote, “This guy playing Jesus has more control of his voice than anyone I’ve heard. Certainly more than any of those rock stars you listen to.” Oh, Dad.
But I chose this song in particular not only because the musical performance is so rockin’ and funky (it is…follow that bass and the often Robert Quine-like guitar!), or because of the way Yvonne Elliman comes slinking in and gets all sexy-tangled with Ian Gillan (she does). I chose it because the second part of this song (‘Strange Thing Mystifying’) opened my eyes to the beauty of lyrical phrasing and how not only can words have two meanings but the second meaning doesn’t even need to be logical to be evocative.
It happens when Murray Head as Judas sings, “It seems to me a strange thing / mystifying / that a man like you…”
Obviously, what he’s saying is “This is a strange thing to me. A mystifying thing,” but to my young ears his delivery sounded like he was implying that “There is a strange thing mystifying…a strange thing coming from or fading into the mist.” Of course that makes no sense, but the visions it created in my head were fantastic, and even now I have to stop myself to get the proper context. I don’t know or care if it was intentional or not…it just did it for me.
Ever since, I get giddy when I hear a lyric phrased in an odd manner that inspires illogical but beautiful thoughts or imagery.
I’ve been tagged on Facebook to do the 7 Songs That Changed My Life game. Each day I’ll post a song that influenced me in some profound way, particularly in forming my musical taste buds because otherwise it would take far too long. Let me know if you want to play, and I can tag you. This is tough, but here we go….
Day #1 THE MONKEES – TAKE A GIANT STEP
Oh sure, it should have been the non-pre-Fab Four, but I had the Monkees’ first album on 8-track tape and listened to it constantly when I was tiny. Being a little too young to understand the Beatles, I latched onto these guys like so many others my age did at the time. They were silly, charming, and inspiring. You hear so many stories of people becoming musicians after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, but it was seeing the Monkees on TV that prompted me to ask for a guitar one Christmas. In fact, I dreamed of naming my first band The Monkees, Jr. because I was that enamored (and that uncreative), and I recall plucking a Sears electric guitar unamplified in the store and thinking its twang sounded just like them. I’m all about that treble, ’bout that treble, after all.
Anyway, so many of their songs changed my life by sending me off on a journey of pop awareness, but I chose this one because the thought of taking a giant step outside your mind sounded like a really dangerous thing to do, yet a very necessary thing as well, and my young brain thought that was just swell (and I still do). Listening to it today, I get much the same feeling I did then, with its nearly nursery rhyme-ish melodies and far eastern-like arrangements providing a grounded trip just off-center of your usual bubblegum ditty. And that echoing rimshot thing and subsequent bass fart are pretty cool, too!
So I’ve started a new, hopefully on-going project: Instagrambient! Inspired by a Disquiet project called Instagr/am/bient: 25 Sonic Postcards – in which the participants created short ambient pieces to go along with various Instagram photos – I’m attempting to create quick musical and video pieces of an ambient or experimental nature within Instagram’s 15-second video framework, and then post them to my Instagram account.
The idea at present is to use only iOS devices and apps for the pieces, which at this time limits me to NanoStudio & Garageband for music, and iMovie, AvFX and Instagram on my iPhone. I’d love to get an iPad and play with other apps too, so hopefully that’ll be a development.
I’ve considered setting time constraints here for putting each piece together – probably no more than an hour from start to finish (which includes recording & editing both music and images), but since I’m just starting we’ll have to see how that goes and what adjustments I’ll make to everything.
Several months ago I rediscovered the benefits of falling asleep to soothing music. It had been a while since I’d done that, but a period of restless nights had prompted me to explore avenues that might offer help. Naturally everyone’s tastes and needs are different, but I found that what worked best for me was music that didn’t have much in the way of melody, and in fact maintained a prominent drone throughout. I’d experimented with different artists in the broad new age and ambient genres, and many in the field of binaural beats and isochronic tones, and enjoyed not only much of the music but also reading about the philosophies and sciences behind the creation of the pieces. (more…)