Out of Touch

It’s been a while.  Too long in fact. My working title for this entry was Forsaken, but it sounded far too serious and left me with visions of Clint Eastwood’s movie, Unforgiven.  While surfing tunes on YouTube, something lighthearted, corny, yet cool (or as cool as the 80s could be) inspired me otherwise.

In October of 1984, Out of Touch started its climb to become Billboard’s Hot 100 number one song.  MTV and Much Music were still in their infancy, and unlike today, in those days the stations actually played music videos.

This video amplifies the prevalent corniness of the mid 80s.  I love the video’s cigar chomping music executive, the shamelessly (and repeated) advertising plugs for Big Bam Boom (the Duo’s newest album), and Daryl Hall’s animal-print suit and slacks.  Didn’t Amy Grant wear the same leopardskin jacket only one year later on the cover of Unguarded?

Amy_Grant_Unguarded One could say, my blog and I have been “out of touch…not around.”  After nearly a year of neglect… I’m putting thoughts to fingers, and fingers to keys again.

So what’s changed since last July?  More than I like to admit.

While away, my dearly departed mother-in-law had a song written and performed as a tribute to her.

The Trifecta Writing Challenge site, where I labored and toiled over my few feable submissions, closed for good.  There’s no doubt in my mind that I was in way over my head with that crowd of writers, but it was fun to try.

And then one of the nicest folks I’ve read on WordPress, Rarasaur (the same that pointed me to Trifecta’s Writing Challenge), she ended up going to prison in California.  Yikes!  How did that happen?

All of this to say, a whole lot can surely happen in a year.  Looking back over the last 365 days, many personal disappointments lay scattered in my mind.  I’m looking to make the next 365 days different.

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” ~ James 4:13-15 NIV

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I don’t wanna wait in vain…

I rediscovered this Annie Lennox song while watching the movie, Serendipity.  Annie’s voice soars and the musical score behind her vocals build with a subtle charm–by the end of the song,  I can’t get the grin off my face.

I hardly remember the song from its release in 1995, and oblivious to me, I even own the very song on an Annie Lennox’s CD entitled Medusa.  Annie’s recording is actually a remake of an old Bob Marley song.  When comparing the recordings, except for similar lyrics , I am still shocked to learn they’re actually the same song.  Call me a child of the eighties, but I’ll take Annie’s electro-pop rendition over the reggae original any day, and twice on Sundays.

Bob Marley – Waiting In Vain (original)

Sampling the song on YouTube, I don’t ever recall viewing the Waiting In Vain music video, but I’m delighted to find it brewing with creativity and clever attention to detail.  At first, the whole mouse ears thing is a mystery to me (I wonder if anyone at Disney’s Mouse House sat up and took notice?), but a YouTube viewer’s comment indicates the mouse ears are actually a reference to Minnie Mouse, specifically how she always waits in vain for Mickey Mouse (to fall in love, I’m guessing).  In the video, Annie’s choreographed movements, especially with mouse ears, add a unique, dramatic, and  animated presence to it all.  When I try to imagine her without the mouse ears, my mind imagines it to be far less interesting, at lease from a visual perspective.

My favorite part of the video nears the end where twined images of Annie, sitting on the stove, kick their legs in sync while singing “I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna…” (the backing to the song’s finale/climactic end).

Videos like Annie’s Waiting In Vain make me miss that show Pop-Up Video.  I love how that show dissected the videos and the stories behind the scenes.

Brave

Brave

Sara Bareilles has an album releasing in the not too distant future.  It sounds like it will be titled The Blessed Unrest.  A new single entitled Brave releases to the world on April 23rd.  Hear it here…

It’s quickly growing on me.   Sara’s last EP, Once Upon A Time, really sparked my imagination, left me day-dreaming, and brought me many smiles.  I’m not a vocalist nor musician by any stretch of the imagination.  If I was, I’m left wondering  how I would name my albums.  Here’s a fun insight into Sara’s thought process for naming her next album:

I love the classic gas station “dinging” sound for each album name.  I’ll have to make something similar for my smart phone notifications.

I don’t really know anything about Martha Graham.  I gather she has something important to do with dance (or dance ideology).  I also dance very seldom  and infrequently in public (Elaine’s dance from Seinfeld immediately comes to mind), but I was intrigued by the quote Sara mentions in the video clip.  Martha Graham is quoted as saying…

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
~ As quoted in The Life and Work of Martha Graham (1991) by Agnes de Mille, p. 264, ISBN 0-394-55643-7.

At first glance, I’m sceptical.  What’s she really saying… a life force?  I agree, we all have a God-given soul, but I’m not sure if I’d call it a life force?  I’m reading the part about unique expression and equating to creativity (or creative spirit).  I agree.  I think God has enriched each person with unique talents and gifts, most of which too easily get dismissed or squandered away.  And it seems true, that when people suppress their gifts and talents (for whatever reason), people around them, their community, society as a whole, everyone loses out on that individual’s God-given abilities.

I would caution people to “keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”  I think I get her context, but certainly would NOT suggest that a person be open to urges that drive him to overeat or to drink in excess (or even worse things I’m now imagining as I type this).

“…No artist is pleased.”

This is such an understatement about perfectionism.  I wrestle with this in my work, my writing, my photography, my drawings, my painting, and almost every part of my life.  Just trying to write a blog just about kills me at times (maybe because I’m such a newbie).  I can relate to a consistent state of dissatisfaction with many things, creative things, and various parts of my life.  The unrest… it bugs me.   I’ve never thought of it as a blessed unrest, but it’s eerily familiar.

I find some inspiration and encouragement in the Brave song lyrics…

Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

STAGEIT… featuring Lenka

Sara Bareilles is the first performance I ever saw on StageIt.  The second, just last Sunday, was a concert hosted by the Australian pop singer, Lenka.  Never heard of her?  Neither had my wife, so consider yourself in good company.  If you’ve scene the Windows 8 commercial linked below, then you’ve definitely heard Lenka.  Not necessarily my favorite song from Lenka, but her music indeed.

The StageIt company hosts live concerts through their virtual venue online.  Typically, these concerts are smaller productions, intimate in nature, and stream live from the performer’s studio, kitchen, or living room.

Lenka’s music is something I accidentally discovered while searching Youtube for a specific scene from Inglourious Basterds, dubbed Chapter Five: Revenge of the Giant Face.   In the Quentin Tarantino film, Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), the pretty protagonist, finalizes her revenge plans upon the murderous Nazi oppressors.  Maybe it’s because I’m a part of that MTV generation, but I especially like how the film’s scenes play out to the tune of David Bowie’s Cat People (…putting out fires with gasoline).

The clip I was actually looking for was something like this…

The Lenka clip I ended up discovering along the way was this…

(As you can see above) I stumbled upon a well-edited music video where the creator uses clips of Inglourious Basterds set to Lenka’s song, Trouble is a Friend.  Technology has clearly blossomed  since the birth of early MTV; now just about anyone with a half decent computer can make their own music videos, and many of these home-brewed productions look really professional.  Lenka was new to me.  My curiosity lead me to investigate more of her music.  I end up watching her very creative offerings on YouTube (Trouble is a Friend and The Show).  I’m not what people might call a raving Lenka fan (nor anyone for that matter), but I do enjoy her music and have added it to my personal soundtrack (the ever-growing eclectic unofficial soundtrack for my life).

Like with so many of my online searches, I start surfing for one specific purpose.  Somewhere along the way I follow a link, click another, then another, and then many URLs (and hours) later I end up in a totally different place than what was planned.  It leaves me wondering, “Where does all the time go?”  This last week, I received an email invitation to see Jars of Clay at (or on) StageIt.  While investigating the concert date for Jars, I notice a banner advertising that Lenka’s backyard concert in a couple days.  It sounds cool and costs less than a latte; sign me up!

Concert Day:

Sunday is a typical spring day in Calgary–the kind that makes locals want to hibernate because of the relentless snow (more snow, and… yep, more snow).  My family and I gather round the TV to watch Lenka on StageIt’s live broadcast from sunny Sydney, Australia.  My kids watch for about five minutes before their attention spans fade.  Jana indicates that she’s not a really “into” Lenka’s voice.  I like to think her musical tastes are still developing.  Justin says, “Dad, I’m enjoying the show, but there’s video game missions that need to be completed before bedtime.”  Meanwhile, Lenka, her drummer,  a violinist, and another fellow playing the cello perform a handful of songs from her living room to our home.

During concerts, StageIt provides a way for viewers to text messages to the Performer (which are view-able by members of the audience, assuming they’re reading along instead of watching the concert).  Multitasking isn’t my forte, hence I opt to remain “textually” silent.  For a concert, the visual quality seems a bit rough around the edges, but the audio is far than I had expected, especially since its streaming from the far side of the globe.  Despite being light on production or polish, Lenka’s show totally makes up for it because of the intimate feel of the whole thing.  Before the performance, I knew of Lenka as a vocalist and musician.  It turns out she’s also an actress, a sculpturist,  a songwriter, and even an crafty artist who creates set decorations!  In highschool, if Lenka was my classmate, friends would have joked that she was becoming a real Renaissance Man (well actually a Renaissance Woman). Classmates and I stole the term Renaissance Man as a polite way of teasing someone who might be considered an overachiever.

Lenka

In between songs Lenka draws attention to this site called PledgeMusic.com.  I kind of understood it involved a charity and charities are mentioned on Pledge Music, but whatever the case…  a person can make pledges to finance artists’ projects.  So figuring I might enjoy her new album (available in June 2013), I investigate.  Much to my surprise, Lenka fans can pledge money for not just her new album, but also some pretty amazing creations handcrafted by Lenka herself… very personable.

Signed Posters, CDs, and even Vinyl — $28 to $93
Artistic Doodles on Handwritten Lyric Sheets — $63 — Great idea!
Baby Bibs — $38 — Sorry, not for me as my wife lovingly reminds me that she ONLY signed up for two kiddos *sigh*
Crafty Stuff — $48 to $138
Mystery Craft Stuff — $138 — Oooh!?  Sounds mysterious!
Crafty Fashion Stuff — $138 — Snazzy! Unfortunate for me it cost more than my whole wardrobe :-S
20 Minute Skype Chat — $100 — Intriguing!  It’s not everyday you get to speak face-to-face with a  Renaissance Woman!
Personalized Ring Tone or Greeting  — $150 – Cool! And practical too!  It’s a shame that no one ever calls me.

and the kicker…
A Personalized Lullaby — only $1,500 — Awesome! I wish I needed (or could enjoy) a lullaby, but I’m all lights out when my head hits the pillow.

jgh_LENKA_SHADOWS_cdsleevelayout_2I’m looking forward to hearing some new Lenka in June.  The Pledge Music profile describes her new album, Shadows, as “… a collection of lullabies for adults…Lenka style.”  Interesting.  Until then, I guess I’ll just sing myself to sleep.