Monday, June 30, 2008

A Musical Ride for Canada Day (no RCMP required)

In honour of Canada Day, a post completely unrelated to the occasion! But happy Canada Day, fellow Canucks. July 1 we commemorate the day we broke sort-of free from our British overlords by asking “please, can we form our own country?” Canadian history: so polite. (Except for all the other bloody, shameful stuff, of course.)

Anyway, I’ve got a couple more Banff posts in the works but DMc tagged me a while ago on the music meme that’s popping up here, there, and everywhere, and I felt the need for a good palate cleanse before I finish up that series. The idea is:

“List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now.”

Some of these are from the music I brought on my recent Alberta-Quesnel road trip, and others are what’s playing in my office lately, but all are what's on my mind at this moment:

1. “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. I could have picked almost any song on his latest album, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, but this is the first single and representative of his infectious boppiness. My officemate sort-of introduced me to the magic of Mraz, though I’d previously heard some of his tunes without connecting them together. I’m the de facto DJ of our shared office and early on, when I’d have random Internet radio playing, he’d occasionally ask “Who’s this?” I always had to check, and the answer always seemed to be “Jason Mraz.” It’s become a running joke, even when he knows damn well who this is.

“ I guess what I be saying is there ain't no better reason to rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons.

2. “Mercy” by Duffy. It’s the hit single off the altogether fine album Rockferry, so maybe it’s another too-obvious choice, but what can I say, it’s a worthy hit. The lyrics get to me as much as the musical hooks: maybe I know too many people who are in love with otherwise attached people, but this is a catchy lament for that predicament. Duffy is a young Welsh singer with an old-soul voice, and after listening to the album I always have to put this one on repeat until I get it out of my system.

“Now you think that I will be something on the side but you’ve got to understand that I need a man who can take my hand.”

3. “If You Want Me” by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. I’m still not over Once, the movie or the music. “Falling Slowly” won the Oscar with the sweetest acceptance speeches ever, plus one of the sweetest Oscar moments ever when host Jon Stewart brought Irglová back onstage to finish hers. But this is by far my favourite song from the soundtrack, from a scene in the movie that is equally sweet. Recently everyone in the office seems to have borrowed this CD from me because I can’t resist cranking it when “Falling Slowing” and “If You Want Me” come on.

“If you want me, satisfy me.”

4. “Galway Girl” by Steve Earle. It’s in my heavy rotation right now because Gerard Butler sings it to Hilary Swank in P.S. I Love You, which I saw not too long ago. Shut up, I know that makes me a sap.

“And I ask you, friend, what's a fella to do, 'cause her hair was black and her eyes were blue.”

5. “Cucurrucucu Paloma” by Caetano Veloso. This has been haunting me since my boss asked me to translate a bit of dialogue at the end of this video, from the movie Hable Con Ella which I saw long ago -- roughly speaking: “That Caetano, he gives me goosebumps.” And he sure does in this song of lost love.

“Juran que esa paloma no es otra cosa más que su alma.” (“They swear that this dove is nothing more than his soul.”)

6. (Antichrist Television Blues) by Arcade Fire. Again, I love the whole album, but this is the song I keep coming back to, both lyrically and musically. I have no idea if it’s based on anyone in particular, but it seems like an indictment of a Joe Simpson type (daddy of Jessica and Ashley). In New York. I dunno, but I like it, especially for its abrupt ending.

“I need you to get up on the stage for me, honey, show the men it's not about the money. Want to hold a mirror up to the world, so that they can see themselves inside my little girl.”

7. “Teardrop” by José González. Yes, I’m a parody of myself: one of my songs is House-related. But it’s also really good. It’s a cover of the theme song by Massive Attack, used during a musical montage in the heartbreaking finale, “Wilson’s Heart”. González is a Swedish singer – bet you weren’t expecting that – probably best known for his song “Crosses,” which is also really good. But did I mention this one is from House?

“Love, love is a verb. Love is a doing word.”

I’m going to cop out and not tag anyone but throw it open to anyone who hasn’t already participated. There must be a few of you out there.