Saturday, 3 November 2012

My Musical Diary XXXVI

Hola! Sorry about the lack of blog yesterday. My fingers had an encounter with super glue (which is in no way super, it's just useless shite). Here are my five songs of the past week - hope you'll enjoy them, as well as my blabbings.

Chavela Vargas - La Llorona

Featuring this song has been inspired by an episode of Grimm, a TV show I've grown fond of in the past year. The show's Halloween episode worked the Mexican tale of la Llorona into its narrative and it immediately reminded me of the soundtrack to one of my favourite films - Frida, a 10 year old biopic about the painter Frida Kahlo. The soundtrack features two versions of the Mexican folk song telling the tale of la Llorona, a Weeping Woman - essentially a ghost with whom Mexican parents scare kids into sleep. One of these versions is sung by Chavela Vargas, a Mexican singer who, after coming out at the age 81, claimed she had an affair with Frida herself. Vargas sadly passed away a few months ago but she was performing and recording well into her 90's.

I love Vargas's version of this song. It makes me understand the sad tale of la Lorona even though I don't understand Spanish. Padro Almódovar reportedly called Vargas "the rough voice of tenderness", which is the best description of her style. I'm fascinated by her singing and I hope I'll have the opportunity to hear more.

As for the Frida soundtrack...definitely a recommended listen. The instrumentals by Elliot Goldenthal are amazing, and mix with the Mexican songs used in the film so very well. One of my favourite soundtrack albums ever.

And example of one of the instrumental pieces: The Floating Bed

And the closing, sung, track Burn It Blue, performed by Caetano Veloso & Lila Downs

I haven't yet managed to watch Frida without being in tears by the end, and I suspect the above song has a lot do with that...

Willie Nelson - Blue Skies

Even though I don't listen to country much, my favourite version of this 1926 Irving Berlin song is Willie Nelson's. Yes, I like it even more than the one by Star Trek TNG's late Lt. Cmdr. Data (aka Brent Spiner). It's a great song and a great version, which made it here mostly thanks to weather, BUT if I thought about these things, I'd quite fancy this as my funeral song. There you go.

Elton John - Someone Saved My Life Tonight

I watched the Elton 60 DVD box set with mum last weekend and it was fun seeing Elton and his band age through the years (mum: "The less hair he had the bigger sunglasses he wore.") and once again I was struck by the amazing talent that Elton has. Underneath the costumes, wigs, tiaras and drama, he is an amazing songwriter as well as performer. No-one can sing his songs better. Seeing Elton play an acoustic version of Sorry and Someone in 1976 is unforgettable. No showing off, no vocal acrobatics and still no other version of these songs can surpass the simplicity and genius of these performances.

Someone is probably my favourite Elton song. If you put a gun to my head and told me I had 10 seconds to name my favourite Elton song, this one would be it. Autobiographical (the brilliant lyrics written by his main songwriting partner Bernie Taupin), a dramatic and sweeping tune, it's one of Elton's most complete songs and one that doesn't get overplayed and over-covered too much, thankfully.

And it's one more beer
And I don't hear you anymore
We've all gone crazy lately
My friends out there rolling round the basement floor


It's four o'clock in the morning
Damn it listen to me good
I'm sleeping with myself tonight*
Saved in time, thank God my music's still alive

*the recorded version has "with myself" but as far as I know Elton always performed it as "by myself", which is kind of more boring but also more bleak

Tubeway Army - Are 'Friends' Electric?

Last Sunday, while watching the latest X Factor UK performances on YouTube I realised, thanks to Jade Ellis's performance of Sugababes' Freak (which uses a sample of Friends) that I haven't listened to Gary Numan in ages. And Friends is definitely a great song. For me probably the best he ever wrote, but then I'm not familiar with most of Numan's solo discography. It's almost chilling how appropriate the song sounds nowadays.

You know I hate to ask
But, are `friends’ electric?
Mine’s broke down
And now I’ve no one to love

Is it a plane? Is it a bird? Is it a dildo? Is it a robot? Is it a friend on Facebook?

This is one bleak, lonely song.

Amelia Lily -Shut Up (And Give Me Whatever You Got)

After all of the seriousness of the above choices, let's have a bit of fresh poppy pop. Poppy pop can be good for the soul. Amelia Lily has just unveiled her second single. I quite like it. I live for the "oooooo dooooo"s. They are the best part of the single. They are brilliant.

Video bonus:

The Killers - Miss Atomic Bomb

The Killers released this video for their newest single yesterday. It's a sweet tour video. And it features about two seconds of a shirtless Brandon Flowers . Sadly we can only see his back. Ronnie shows us a bit more though...

Thanks for reading! Share or comment if you wish and till next week...

Love, Peace and Ringo! x

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