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No, this is not going to be about some woman. The lover I mention in the title is Music. She’s the only constant companion that has kept me going through tough times and held my hand (stretching my metaphor? I agree.) during the good. Now you know what I’m talking about. 

My friend Art and I were talking about, what else, music the other day. He had mentioned how youtube now has all these videos of classic concerts and how in a particular Genesis concert video, Phil Collins’ rendition of a Peter Gabriel-sung song was so good that it moved him to tears. I’m paraphrasing but that was the gist of it. So I suggested the idea of writing dual-blog posts about songs that moved each of us so much that they would well up our eyes. So here’s the list of songs that come to my mind.

Luciano Pavorotti – Vesti La Giubba. Don’t laugh at me but I only recently (within the last 5 years) discovered this song. The first time I saw this video of his performance, it got pretty emotional up in here (in my crowded head I mean). To this day, I can’t bring myself to like any other Tenor. He made Opera bearable for me. No offense to Opera lovers – I’m just a rube when it comes to Opera.

Steve Vai – Hand On Heart. Any true guitar fan would worship at the altar of Steve Vai. I’m no different. The most profoundly moving song by Mr. Vai has got to be this one. It has all the makings of a perfectly paced and phrased instrumental. It doesn’t have the countless-notes-per-phrase riffage of someone like Alan Holdsworth…well at least not until 3:18 into the song. Gives the listener time to digest the nectar slowly. Check it out if you never heard this one. Heck, check it out even if you have heard it before.

Paul McCartney and Wings – Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey. Actually I only find the first part (the Uncle Albert part) of the song quite divinely depressing. In a good way. There’s so much that went into the arrangement/production to make it such a brooding and gloomy masterpiece – the loud and resounding bass, the rain and thunder sound effect not to forget McCartney’s own inimitable voice delivering a complex melody. 

Joe Satriani – Cryin’. Nobody but nobody delivers emotion on the electric guitar like Joe Satriani! No words are required. Just listen. I’m sobbing already listening to it. (You think I’m joking.)

Lionel Richie – Hello. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know. When I was a teenager, and I would lay on the bed just listening to music in a darkened room, this song would move me quite deeply. Specially when the soft guitar solo punctuated perfectly by those horn section punches kicked in, something would clutch my heart real tight. Not to mention, that I was quite smitten by that chick in the video at the time.  

OK, our agreement was to keep it down to 5 songs in this post and to do a follow-up post with more. So, I hope you enjoyed this part of the dual-blog. Now please check out Art’s blog post! Here’s the link – it opens in a new window. 

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For the longest time I’ve been meaning to create a list of the songs that have the best bass tracks for my taste. Some of these make me sit up straight and pay attention, while others will put me in a brooding trance, and some may actually well up my eyes (sorry! Too sensitive, aren’t we?). Before we go further, please remember to pause the music player to the right, on this page.

Carpenters For All We Know – This was definitely one of those that I mentioned before, which made me sit up and take notice right away. Joe Osborn (that’s right, it’s a link that opens in a new page) turned this sentimental ditty into a study in melancholy. 

Tears for Fears Closest Thing to Heaven – Back in 2004, I hadn’t known that Curt Smith was a superb bassist. So I went to see Tears for Fears in one amazing concert (still remains one of the most enjoyable) in Austin. When they played this song, I was, oh…10 feet from Mr. Smith with his bass guitar. As soon as the bass line on the chorus kicked in, I realized this must be the most pronounced bass line I could remember by Tears by Fears. Agree? If you think there are others, please do comment.

George Michael Hard Day – If there is a Bass God, this bass line must have slipped and fallen straight out of his hands to earth. I mean, what a thumping, funky, melodic, driving bass line! I won’t attempt to describe it – you have to experience it. Whoever arranged it – I heard that GM does most of it – was a genius!

Genesis I Know What I Like – Now, coming to the song that actually pushed me into finally posting this list, after having postponed it for ages. The bass line under this chorus, just makes me happy! If I’m stressed out, or down for the count, this is my nectar of life. 

Lenny Kravitz I Belong to You – Granted that this is just a very Pop-py, simplistic song  that typically appeals to the masses. But the first time I heard this song, all I heard was the bass line. It really makes the tune.

John Mellencamp & Me’Shell Ndegeocello Wild Night – OK, I actually had to look up her name since, let’s be honest, that’s a hard name to remember. This is such a catchy bass line, even though it gets repetitive. I remember this song from my teens, when I would gawk  at that girl in the video. Enough said.

Sting Let Your Soul Be Your PilotOnly Sting could come up with such a melodic and strictly defined bass line under the verses. Whenever I sing this song when I’m by my lonesome self, I take turns between the words and the bass line (yeah I sing the bass line, what of it?). Take a listen and you will know why.

I’m going to stop here since it’s a week night and I gotta get some sleep. I promise I will add another list here soon. Hope I reminded you of/introduced you to some superlative pieces of music.

Back in September last year, I had blogged about a list of songs that represent the best of their categories. All categories were, are and will be made up by me, since this is just a little peek into my tastes.

So now I’m back with the sequel to that list. If you want to look at the original list, please click here. It will open the original blog in a new page. Also, please stop the music auto-playing on that little playlist on the right side bar. On that note, on with the list!

Best Fun(ny) SongFlagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger. Oh what a fun song this is. The first time I heard the lyrics, “they cut off my legs, now I’m an amputee! God-damn you!”, I laughed for five whole minutes! This Post-Punk/Grunge mix is sure to make a great starting song for playlists to liven up a party! Remember I recommended it first :-p

Best Mellow SongAmber by 311. A very under-rated band. Sure, they don’t really rock out much. At least, from the songs I’ve heard by them. This song though – many an evening, I’ve gone to sleep listening to this song that really feels like an ocean breeze. Try it once at bedtime. Don’t forget the bass line – so simple but so effective.

Best Dance SongToo Funky by George Michael. I noticed that I didn’t have a single George Michael song in my original list even though I rate him higher than most. This one is such a sexy, seductive (redundant much?), sing-along kind of song. And one of the best used synth riffs ever heard in a Pop song (by me). It’s right after the “Too Funky for me” refrain. What great producer/arranger George Michael is! No surprise there.

Best Friendship SongYou’re My Best Friend by Queen. When I was back in college, I made two of my best friends. This song is dedicated to my friends Hymakar and Kishen. This one is such a perfect combination. Think about it – how many times would such a perfect voice like Freddie Mercury’s, meet with such sentimental lyrics,  such harmonies like only Queen can pull off, and such melody? 

Best Satanic SongGod of Emptiness by Morbid Angel. OK, all religious readers and friends. I don’t mean to offend you. So, please skip to the next category. OK. If Satan existed, and decided to choose a song of praise, this would be a contender. The composition itself would make it worthy of it. The performance of the song and the delivery of the lyrics seal the deal.

 

Best Leftist SongIgnoreland by R.E.M. When I first heard this song, I loved it immediately for its sheer power of performance – with Michael Stipe’s seemingly non-stop lines, driving drums, grungy guitars and heavy bass. I had no clue of what he was saying. All I could understand was “Ignoreland”. It was many years after this song became a favorite that I actually looked up the lyrics for it. I almost fell off my chair. This song is like a time capsule of the views of the political left in this country in the early 90’s, so amazingly and articulately written and fitted into a rocking song! He signs off by saying at the end “I know that this is vitriol. No solution, spleen venting. But I feel better having screamed. Don’t you?” I certainly have, for years.

Best Geeky SongShe Blinded Me With Science by Thomas Dolby. Who doesn’t remember this classic by Dolby? In fact, this was a strong contender for the Best Fun Song up there in the list, but since I couldn’t think of a more apt Geeky song, this one made it here. I know I don’t have to do any explaining about why I chose this one. Enjoy! 

Wait. You…have been playing the songs listed, correct? Because that was the point of me scouring the internets/”series of youtubes” and inserting them here.

Be sure to check back here for another list! Have a great week ahead!

R.I.P. Netflix

I’m unhappy. Not only has Netflix been disappointing me a lot recently, with their price raises and bad decisions, it seems that the wheels are actually beginning to come off. What else would explain this?

I logged in to my account and wanted to watch me some Sherlock Holmes – the Brit TV version with Jeremy Brett.

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes

Not only was the show not available to stream like it used to be, but Netflix seems to have finally decided it won’t give a f**k anymore. Imagine my shock when I see THIS picture of Ronald Howard instead of the late great Jeremy Brett!

Which show is this really? (Link opens in new page)

It made me so mad that I had to do a screen-grab immediately so I can show everyone how mad I am! I mean, look at the text under the photo. It still says Jeremy Brett and the title shows it as 1984-1994. The photo is from the 50’s. I only stayed with Netflix because they have a nice presentation of movies/shows on their website. Now that they’ve completely lost the plot, I’ll be looking to move on to another provider soon.

That’s all I had to get off my chest.

Merry Christmas everybody! 

Used to be that I would blog about movies I’d seen quite frequently. Lately no movie has moved me enough to blog about. I might have blogged about Ides of March, which impressed me by its intelligent plot details (at least it seemed intelligent and evolved to me) and its decent performances. Somehow I never got around to it.

A Serious Man

Last night I finally saw a movie I’d been wanting to watch for a while. A Serious Man had piqued my interest with its trailer before it first came out. I don’t remember why – I suspect it had something to do with the story being about an intellectual type dude caught in a stranglehold of circumstances. I don’t really know why I should be immediately drawn to a story like that. Actually I have an inkling but too scared to explore it.

Michael Stuhlbarg, whom I didn’t recognize from any other movies, was exceptional as the middle-aged version of a “You’re tearing..me…apart!!” angst. A performance that was seriously highlighted by the subtle and singular style of the Coen brothers. I had not known that this was a movie by these guys, but when I saw the credits at the end, it made perfect sense. One thing I learned from this movie definitely was how elaborate the Jewish religious traditions are. In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing the inside of a synagogue for such long scenes in any other movie. The movie also pokes fun at the keepers of organized religion, who seem to have no greater insight into modern life situations than the average family man, but seem to convey an image of omniscience.

If you get a chance, and if you ever find yourself in a chilled out mood on a Sunday, I highly recommend that you watch this one. It did have several scenes that made me laugh, as do most Coen brothers’ movies.

And now, to something that I’ve been wanting to do for a few weeks. I listen to a lot of NPR when I’m driving. That is National Public Radio to the unfamiliar. Lately I’ve been getting irritated by one movie reviewer who has the most uninteresting approach to reviews. This guy keeps giving away the plot and even details some of the more interesting scenes of the movies. This completely takes away the mystery and surprise when one actually watches the movie. First of all, this guy seems to think that you cannot spoil the movie if you’re spoiling the scenes, or if you’re giving away a surprising detail if that detail gets revealed way before the ending. I’d like to say to this guy, “Listen bozo! Just because something is revealed slowly to the audience within the first 30 minutes of the movie, it does not give you license to explain it away to people before they can watch it!” I really think this guys runs out of things to say about a movie within 2 minutes and to make his reviews last more than 5 minutes he starts including all these spoilers to fill up the time. Take a listen to a couple of his “reviews”. The links open in new windows for your convenience.

Review for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

Review of “The Descendants”

If you think I’m being unfair to this guy, I’d like to remind people of what a good review should be. Firstly, it shouldn’t give away too much of the plot – an outline is just fine. Secondly, it describes performances and not merely the characteristics of the characters of the story. An added bonus would be if you throw in a little humorous reference about the actors/director etc. Here’s a great example.

 Barry Norman was my favorite film critic for all these reasons. Plus, he’s got a way more engaging manner of presentation than the guy on NPR. I just realized that the speaking style of the guy on NPR is very similar to the hippie teacher from Beavis and Butthead. Remember this guy?

On that note, I hope you all are having an enjoyable weekend! Until next time!     

Ever made a joke about the Stella Liebeck case where some woman apparently drove a car with hot coffee between her legs, spilled it on herself (of course!) and then sued McDonald’s for millions of dollars? Yeah, me too. As I delve deeper into stuff like that, I find out why the Tonypandy Massacre effect needs to be considered before basing my worldview on soundbites, memes and worse – myths.

So, here are things that may surprise you about that McDonald’s frivolous lawsuit. She was not driving – the car was parked in the parking lot, with her in the passenger seat. Now ready for some more facts? She was trying to get the lid off to put in creamer and sugar in, like most of us seem to like doing, when the coffee spilled into her lap. She received 3rd Degree burns. If you have been on this planet for a long enough time to know what 3rd Degree burns mean, you’ll know the significance of it. Sorry for the gruesome photo, but sometimes a picture is worth…an eye-opening.


Now that I’ve got you thinking, I want you to think a little more. Imagine what a coffee hot enough to give 3rd degree burns to your thighs could do to your tongue! I’ve burnt my tongue before and I’m a grown man! Imagine that mistake causing me 3rd degree burns! That’s not all. All she asked McDonald’s was to pay for her costs beyond what her Medicare covered, and that McDonald’s make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else. But hey, we know better – she was just looking for a big payday at 79 years old! You know, so she could live out the rest of her life in luxury (sarcasm).

If I kept your attention this far down, I have something else that would keep your attention, or better yet, change your worldview. It’s this documentary. Since you’ve read this far, I’m assuming that you have at least a semi-open mind.    


Watch Hot Coffee online – download HotCoffee.
If you have an hour and a half to think, I strongly urge you to watch this documentary. I specially liked the case of the guy from Waco, who went, “But that was about frivolous lawsuits! Not for cases like mine”. I’m paraphrasing here. You’ll find this piece replete with such real-life stories. 

That’s all I have for now. Have a great weekend everyone!

 

The weekend is coming to an end, but I can’t be bothered by it, like I usually am. I just picked up my head from the floor after laughing it off. Yes, from a movie that I’d been putting off watching for a while.
Before I tell you about it, I must say that I’m beginning to like Mark Illsley, a director I had not imdb’ed until tonight, quite a bit. He directed the movie “Bookies”, which ranks among my top 100. But he also directed this one.

Happy, Texas. I’ll try not to give away too much of the plot. It’s basically about a couple of escaped convicts – Steve Zahn plays the uneducated small-time crook while Jeremy Northam plays the smarter and wiser thief. In their escapade, they end up falling into the hole in the wilderness of Texas called Happy. By happenstance, they get mistaken for a gay couple who manage pre-teen pageants.

Of course, there are multiple threads to the plot – what with the bank heist (you know I love those), a gay sheriff who yearns for a meaningful relationship in a small Texas town (William H. Macy is devastatingly good) and a pageant that never looks like it would get off the ground. I laughed so hard during some parts of the movie like the scene where (OK I know I promised I won’t give away too much but I should give you enough so it piques your interest, yes?) a distraught, broken-hearted and loudly tearful Sherrif (Macy) drives past a possible crime scene and makes a double-double-take in between his sobs. 

Here’s the Bottom line. This is the kind of movie you watch either with your family with the volume turned up (because you’re going to miss some lines while you all are laughing) or with a bunch of friends over a holiday afternoon. You’ll thank me later. I promise.

Have a great week, my dear friends.