Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fresh Starts (Just Like) Starting Over


 

John Lennon: (Just Like) Starting Over
D'ville: Starting Over

[purchase Lennon version]

I am one of many SMM contributors and vısıtors with progeny who have once agaın “started again” in a new school year. In actual fact, my child has moved on to the next step: looking for a job in the dismal US employment market, having graduated from university. However, as for me – myself – I continue as an educator/teacher, who, like a number of your contributors here, has just “started again”, as we do every year.

When I first acquired this song, it was on a cassette tape. That was nigh on 30 years ago. That media eventually passed away:  I no longer have a viable cassette player, and I suspect that if I did, the actual (physical) tape would be riddled with dropouts – holes in the plastic media itself. Lucky for me (and you), I liked the “album” so much that I re-purchased it as a CD (paying yet again for something I had already bought once!)

What to say about the man (John Lennon)? Time moves on. Would that he were still here with us (as he should have been). His presence and vision would undoubtedly have made the world a better place.

What to say about this song?

When I heard the topic of this week’s postings, I almost immediately called up this song –seemed like a no brainer: Fresh Starts = (Just Like) Starting Over. What remains to be seen as I post this is whether the powers that be will let you hear my posted song.

I am going to duplicate my efforts by posting both the JL original as well as a reasonably close facsimile from SoundCloud. One (if not both) should work for you. Visit SoundCloud for more from the alternate musician(s): D'Ville out of Atlanta (it seems).

As for the song itself: Starting Over … John Lennon was speaking of relationships, not the school year, when he penned this. For him, it was a period of turmoil in his personal relationships. However, the sentiments/issues cut across employment and emotions:

“let’s take a chance …:” Who knows where it will lead? So true of our education as well as our adult dealings with the world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fresh Starts: The Rising

Bruce Springsteen : The Rising

[purchase]

Today, on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th attack, it seems apropos to offer up Bruce Springsteen’s poignant title cut from his 2002 album, “The Rising.” The song can be interpreted in various ways, but I’m certain that the profound lyrics deal with optimism even in the worst of circumstances. Springsteen’s artistic sense of purpose and vision always demonstrate strong wordplay, character development and idealism. And, nearly three decades after his masterpiece “Born to Run” was released in 1975, “The Rising” was the great rocker’s contribution of emotion and sincerity to help the Nation heal. The Boss’ first collaboration with the E Street Band in 18 years was an expression of hope and enlightenment. Springsteen’s noble statement in the powerful title cut gives us a definitive call for a fresh start.

To start anew requires a climb of many levels. In “The Rising,” a fireman is climbing a tower, but his calling is also an ascent to Heaven. When the chorus joins with “Come on up, lay your hands in mine. Come on up for the rising,” it’s a beckoning call for unity and a welcome to the other souls rising too. It’s a type of unity that the entire World needs. When Springsteen sings “Li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li, li,” I do believe that he’s referring to another form of blessed life, one to be embraced rather than feared. He reinforces that message with the line about “a dream of life comes to me like a catfish dancin’ on the end of the line.”

Springsteen, the profound storyteller, takes a tragic event of infamy to make a triumphant statement about overcoming death and rising to life on another shore. It’s also a call for awareness of the chain that binds, the sixty-pound stone, and half mile of line that impede us. The song optimistically deals with redemption, sacrifice and courage. Despite all the sadness, tears, sorrow and fear that one may encounter, you should never lose focus of the “dream of life.” That, simply put, is what will result in a fresh start … not only for those directly impacted by tragedy but also for the entire Nation and World as peace, unity, understanding and compassion take hold on a global scale.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fresh Starts: Solsbury Hill



THE LINK TO THE SONG WAS DISABLED AND THIS POST WAS REMOVED DUE TO A COMPLAINT ABOUT MY POSTING THIS SONG.  I HAVE BEEN A FAN OF GABRIEL'S FOR YEARS, AND HAVE LONG SUPPORTED HIS MUSIC, BY ATTENDING CONCERTS, PLAYING HIS MUSIC ON THE RADIO, BUYING MUSIC AND, AS DEMONSTRATED BELOW, POSITIVELY REVIEWING HIS MUSIC.  AS INDICATED IN THE POST BELOW, "SOLSBURY HILL" IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SONGS.  BY INCLUDING A PURCHASE LINK, I HOPED THAT READERS OF THIS BLOG WOULD LISTEN TO THE TRACK I POSTED AND BUY THIS EXCELLENT ALBUM.  BUT NOW, READERS CAN'T EASILY LISTEN.

AS I NOTED IN THE POST, IT HAS BEEN TWO DECADES SINCE GABRIEL HAS RELEASED NEW MUSIC THAT I HAVE REALLY LIKED.  INSTEAD, HE IS FOCUSING ON REPACKAGING HIS OLD MUSIC OR DOING GENERALLY BAD COVERS.  NOTHING DONE HERE ON GABRIEL'S BEHALF WILL PREVENT ME FROM LIKING HIS (OLDER) WORK, BUT I WILL NOW CERTAINLY THINK TWICE BEFORE I SPEND A CENT ON ANYTHING THAT WOULD PUT MONEY IN HIS POCKET.  I KNOW THAT THIS IS NOTHING IN THE BIG PICTURE, BUT I'M ANNOYED.

I’ve never been able to really answer the questions “What is your favorite band/musician?” or “What is your favorite song?” There are too many of each for me to take a definitive position, but Peter Gabriel and “Solsbury Hill” always appear on my lists, even if it has been 20 (!) years since I have really liked anything that Gabriel has released.

Generally, this song is interpreted as relating to Gabriel’s departure from Genesis at what seemed to be the height of their popularity. That the band, without Gabriel, survived and became significantly more popular is an interesting phenomenon. I’m a fan who likes both versions of Genesis (I refuse to recognize the version with Ray Wilson on vocals), for different reasons. But when Gabriel left the band, there was a real question whether each would thrive.
“Solsbury Hill” appears on Gabriel’s first album, the first of 3 (or 4, for releases outside of the US) titled “Peter Gabriel” (supposedly modeled after magazines, which have the same title, but different covers and content). It describes his feelings of being in a rut, just “part of the scenery,” and his decision to cut his ties with the band and go off on his own and walk “right out of the machinery.” Many interpretations of the song ascribe his epiphany to seeing a Springsteen concert, but I’ve read an interview with Gabriel where he said that he didn’t think that was true. I’ve also seen interpretations that focus on some biblical/Jesus imagery, which may be real—Gabriel has never lacked for ego and seems interested in religious matters (See, for example, my prior posting about “Supper’s Ready.”)

I hear what some critics have said about the song’s odd 7/4 time signature and its sometimes clunky lyrics, but the song never fails to move me. I know that Gabriel isn’t alone in having felt trapped—in a job, a relationship, a situation—and longing for a way out. To his credit, he was able to do so, make a fresh start and forge a solo career of success and distinction. Most of us, though, do not have that luxury, because we have families that rely on us and bills that have to be paid. So his listeners can be inspired to think about making that leap, even if they never actually make it.

I’ve posted a live version of the song, which I have always really liked. It was released in 1983, before he hit it big with “Sledgehammer,” and the performances on the “Plays Live” album are incredible. His show at Asbury Park in 1980 is still one of my all-time favorite concerts.

Fresh Starts: Waiting For My Real Life To Begin



Colin Hay: Waiting For My Real Life To Begin

[purchase]


Colin Hay's fresh start began in 1987, with the release of his first solo album. Fifteen years later, after countless TV and movie soundtrack boosts, he fills minor-league folk clubs and hipster arenas - a true success story of the indie age.

But getting back on track after the huge international success of his first band - yes, he's the guy from Men At Work - took a while. For years, Hay toiled under the radar, on his own pocket label financed by the profits from his previous career. And for the better part of decade, it looked like nothing was going to happen. As he noted in a 2011 interview,

"Men at Work really didn't build a foundational audience. We came in as a pop band with enormous radio success; once that goes away and the band breaks up the audience tends to go away with it. You're left with what you want to make of it. When you start out doing those tours, you start again [and] you tend not to attract a very big number of people. I'd play to a hundred people or sometimes less."

In the middle of this slow burn, just before the curve ticked upwards, Hay released Man @ Work, an album calling back to his roots. The album is, frankly, one of the most beautiful I own, and a full half of the tracks are acoustic revisions of Men At Work songs, making the album a fresh start of its own: a sort of reclaiming of the old through the lens of the new, with stripped down guitar and that hoarse, yearning tenor working through the catalog, bringing regret, honesty, humility and tenderness to songs once heard as wild and raging.

But several of the songs on the album are originals. And in the midst of this hodgepodge of backwards and forwards, you can find Colin's ode to the complexities of starting from scratch, rich with the peace and stillness, the frustrations and quixotic futilities of a career going nowhere, a paean to the man on the shore, his dreams bigger than life, his friends' voices echoing in his ears like the surf, still waiting for his ship to come in.

He's already got a plan, you see. He can see it, just out of reach. It's just that it depends on the world to come to him.

And when, a year later, actor/director Zach Braff decided to champion his work on Scrubs and in the soundtrack to Garden State, it did. The Internet took hold of his songs, and started passing them around. Today, a new generation of fans know Colin Hay as a middle-aged folksinger of sorts, whose ability to put words and soulful sound to the eye of the storm of life is impeccable. He releases his albums on Compass, a label better known for Celtic and folk music. And he seems happy, and at peace.

Some of his younger fans don't even know he was that guy from Men At Work. And maybe that's the way it should be.