After Magritte

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Rain King

I almost named this blog Rain King. I like that song a lot.

That album was one of the last new albums I got into. And that was 13 years ago. I have never been huge into music. I was scarred in college with a roommate who listened to Belinda Carlisle and the other listened to one song on REM’s Green 100 times in a row.

Music is really powerful. It worms its way into your memory. I still remember how to take d/dx f(x)/g(x) from a little song we had to learn junior year in high school. Low-D-High Less Hi-D-Low draw the line then down below . . . , Music takes me to the place I was where that song was important. So if I hear Journey, I go back to a 7th grade dance. It is more powerful and visceral to hear the song than to try to remember or talk about those times. Rain King was a song from when I first moved out to SF and when life was nothing but new things and excitement. Youth.

I am kind of bummed that I was so into classic rock in high school and college. My memories are now tied to songs that are not even from the right time. It confuses things. As I have gotten older, there is no longer a soundtrack to my life. Rain King is the last song on the album. I don’t have these huge emotional moments that get tied to a song. Thank God. Could you imagine driving home from the hospital with your new baby and hearing Paris Hilton on the radio?

The other thing that killed music for me is Dog Train. This is a kid’s album by children’s author Sandra Boynton (she does cards too). Books are pretty good. She wrote a bunch of songs – most are pretty silly – and then got actual rock bands to make the album. It is pretty good. Much better than most kid’s CDs. But it is pretty good on its own. I like the song about the cows and the one about the depressed penguin.

This disturbs me. Music really works when you have an emotional connection. The artist captures your feelings better than you can. That can only happen when you can trust the artist. The feelings have to be real, not manufactured to make a few bucks. That is why Celine Dion blows. The songs on Dog Train sound like other rock songs. The singers sound vested, but the bands are clearly faking it. The words were written by the author of “Moo, Baa, La La La.” They are not cows on a space voyage. But the artists sound just like they do when they sing their stuff. It is like finding out your girlfriend fakes orgasms sometimes. I can't believe anything now.

The Killers are a hot band right now with a new album out. The reviewers are all confused by them. They are not sure if they are trying to be Bruce Springsteen doing Born to Run or mocking him. I am not sure that the Killers know either. How can I emotionally connect to a band who’s previous hit repeated “Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend that looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year” 100000000000 times in 3 minutes.

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