Friday, August 8, 2008

Cars: Motorcade

Danny Michel: Motorcade


This time, I would like to thank Fongolia of Fong Songs. Based in Vancouver, he presents cover songs with a Canadian accent. I have learned of many wonderful Canadian artists on Fong Songs who I never would have heard otherwise. One of these is Danny Michel.

Danny Michel's Myspace assigns him to the musical genre "folkrock/ experimental/ pop". If I hadn't heard his songs, I would have no idea what that means. He used to be in a band calling Starling, whose music is described as powerpop. So he is musically adventurous. He once recorded an entire album of David Bowie covers, called Loving the Alien.

"Motorcade" involves another kind of adventurousness. Michel was inspired to write the lyrics based on an account of a mugging of a Guatemalan couple. From there, I assume he did some research. One verse starts this way:

An effigy of Maximon
I've come to make my wish
A hole was drilled where his mouth was filled with wine and cigarettes

Maximon is the modern-day form of the pre-Colombian deity Mam. In modern practice, an effigy of Maximon resides in someone's house for a year; during Holy Week, there is a procession, and the effigy is moved to its new home for the next year. Perhaps this procession is the motorcade of the title? I'm not sure. As described in the lyrics, wine and cigarettes are believed to be Maximon's preferred offerings.

And then there's the music. If you are well versed in classical music, you might have recognized the melody. It's from the slow movement of Shubert's Second Piano Trio. Danny Michel was one of several Canadian artists who were commissioned to create a song based on this work by the Art of Time Ensemble, for one of their performances. The Art of Time Ensemble is a collective of classical and jazz musicians who have created an ongoing series of performances in collaboration with Canadian artists from the worlds of music, dance and theater.

As you can gather from all of this, there is quite a lively arts scene in Canada that most Americans no nothing about. Fong Songs has, in a small way, helped me do something about that.

Submitted by Darius

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