Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Last Kiss (Pearl Jam, covering a bunch of folks)

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I was reminded of this song tonight when I was watching an episode of the Sundance Channel's "Iconoclasts" series, (sponsored by Grey Goose Vodka - yum), which pairs two famous people to kind of riff off each other. This episode was about Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) and the surfer Laird Hamilton.
It's pretty cool, if a little self-serving for the subjects.

Pearl Jam did this song a few years ago. It has a lot of history. It was written, and originally recorded, in the year I was born - 1962. It wasn't very popular. From a totally personal standpoint it takes me back to my 11th year - 1973/74. A Canadian band called Wednesday covered it, and while Wikipedia says it only hit #34 on the Billboard charts in the US, my memory is that it was playing constantly on the radio in my hometown area in the South Bay Area. It was a great sing along song, and so sad. How could you not imagine the "screaming tires?" The "busting glass?"

As a girl in 6th grade at St. Clare's Catholic School in Santa Clara, the notion that the singer would "see my baby when I leave this world" was the ultimate in tragedy. Many tears ensued.

Eleven years old and already grieving.

Imagine my surprise when, exactly 30 years later, Pearl Jam covers the song and gets a hit out of it. Probably sold more records or downloads than Wednesday every dreamed of.

Regardless of which version, it's a song that elicits sadness, life taken away too early and youthful grief. And then we grow up.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Breathe Me (Sia)

It's a Sunday in the fall and I just want to say: I MISS SIX FEET UNDER

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Anyone who was a fan of Six Feet Under will recognize this song immediately. Most of us had never heard it until the final episode, but now it is indelibly branded into our we think of Claire driving away from Los Angeles as the fate of each of the key cast members is revealed to us. I know I was not alone in sitting on my couch with tears streaming down my face. Over a television show, no less. And not even one that had been on the air that long for god's sake!

What was it about Six Feet Under that was so riveting, compelling, emotion-generating? Well, other critics and bloggers before me have tackled that question. And if you think I'm going to put my unsophisticated thoughts up against those who analyzed every episode, every character, every frame of that final sequence you are wrong.

Six Feet Under was not alone in using great music to tell its story. In fact, aside from the series finale, I can't recall the use of music much at all. Not like the mastery of David Chase's use of music in The Sopranos (another post on that one day). But Breathe Me was a perfect choice...haunting and fresh, from a relative unknown artist named Sia.

So, rather than preaching or evaluating, let's just watch (notice she is driving a Prius) :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

If I Had Million Dollars (Barenaked Ladies)

Here's a fun song that always makes me smile:

Obviously very tongue in cheek, a la Barenaked Ladies' style. Some of the things they would buy "me" with a million dollars:
- A house
- Furniture for that house
- A K-car

Here are some things that are buyable for $1 million:
A Luvaglio London laptop
A Ferrari Enzo
A 19.15 carat diamond

Or, at GlobalGiving, you could:

Provide livestock to improve health and economic prosperity for 100 families still struggling after the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir
Build a school for 300 poor kids in India who will otherwise end up on the streets
Fund HIV education and sports programs for 5000 girls in Zambia
Protect 180,000 square feet of rainforest and plant 6,000 trees in Australia
Provide vaccinations to 5700 poor kids in China
Build a school for indigenous children in Guatemala
Teach 2,000 women refugees in Sudan about their rights
Provide 3,600 former boy-soldiers in Afghanistan with education
Support a year's worth of programming for Katrina kids at the Baton Rouge Boys & Girls Club


Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday Morning (Fleetwood Mac)

"Monday morning you sure look fine. Friday I got travelin' on my mind. First you love me, and then you fade away. You know, I can't go on believin' this way..."

These words open my favorite Fleetwood Mac song. Now, Fleetwood Mac is not a band that has made the classic rock playlists in a huge way. A couple of Stevie Nciks songs, maybe, but in general they are not in much rotation. And this song, from their eponymous 1975 album, almost never gets airtime. I know some old-school Fleetwood Mac fans don't like anything released after, oh, 1970, but this album was fabulous, and the opening song was, and is, totally engaging, with a good, head-bopping stutter beat.

And since I am starting my playlist on a Monday, it kept coming back to mind. So, what's the song about? It's about being at the mercy of someone who is fickle. It's about how quickly a perspective can change. It's about trying to bob and weave with the whims of others - or even with those of a world - where you have no control. Um, HELLO!

When I listen to this song I do think of personal relationships, but I also think of what's happening around us in DC. I think about the 2,000 additional folks who will soon lose their jobs at AOL. This is on the heels of so much previous carnage, so many changes, that former executives are shaking their heads and wondering what the heck happened to the culture of AOL. Well, that's an easy answer. Time Warner happened to AOL, at the request of AOL's founders and former leaders. What were they really expecting?

I also look at my alma mater, FannieMae. Don't get me wrong - I had a great ride at FannieMae, worked with some of the smartest, most talented and committed people I know. But in my day there, lots and lots of people were "lifers." Not so any more. Last week I had lunch with a friend and former colleague who had been informed the day before that after 20 years (she started right out of college), that her job had been "eliminated." And while I feel for her, and anyone else who gets that news, I have to scream out loud - "ARE YOU REALLY SURPRISED?" I mean, the company has been bleeding people, talent and, unfortunately, its mission, for a couple of years now.

So what? Many of my friends probably think that, given my somewhat liberal bent, I would be railing against these companies. Or against a lover changing his/her mind. Actually, not so. Karma is real, and those who have taken the more "evil" path will have their moment to atone. But getting dragged down into either side of these "he said, she said" arguments is just wasted energy. Or to quote Yao-Man, from last season's Survivor, "Love many, trust few, harm none."

I guess the point is this - at the end of the day, you have to own your life, assume nothing is a given, and be confident in your path.

"Got to get some peace in my mind."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Trying Again, This Time with a Theme

My last post in my now defunct old blog was entitled, "I don't get blogging." And to some degree I continue to feel that way. On one level the notion that anybody besides my mom really cares, much less would read, what I write about online seems the ultimate in self aggrandizement and narcissism. On the other hand, it is kinda fun to read other peoples' blogs when they are well written, have a unique angle or I learn something by reading them. And then there was the issue of my attention span - what would keep me interested enough to post regularly?

And on a flight home to DC from LA on Friday it hit me. Music. If there is anything that has consistently kept my interest for my conscious life it has been music. From singing in Oliver in 2nd grade, to pretending to be Laurie Partridge, playing organ on the back of my parents' couch, to locking the door and blasting Led Zeppelin, writing out the words to the Allman Brothers for my brother Chuck (all before the age of 18) listening to Pandora at work at GlobalGiving to making playlists for my Women's Foundation friends out of the 4,586 songs I currently have on my iPod. Music has been a constant, and joyful part of my life. Every day.

What struck me on that plane Friday? Why write? Why music? One reason was that Friday I had the total pleasure of meeting a woman who is a legend in American music - Carole Bayer Sager. When I was a teenager, her songs were the soundtrack to many of my days and nights - I must've listened to "Midnight Blue," sung by Melissa Manchester, about 200 times. And recently she was introduced to GlobalGiving and thinks what we are doing is great. So one of my colleagues and I visited with her over lunch at her home in LA. And over lunch among her platinum records, her guitars signed by Dylan, Springsteen and Sting, and her studio, I felt energized, alive, fired up.

And on the plane flying back, listening to a mix of music that spans my eclectic tastes, I decided that I could actually find something that would keep my attention - and maybe provide that frame for some musings that would be worth writing down. Who cares who reads them (other than mom), if it's a chance for me to think about, and reflect on, my favorite music.

Tomorrow, the first song in the playlist