Category Archives: music

SOTW – Comfortably Numb

Here’s reviving a long lost category.

I watched Departed – again – last night and there’s this sequence where the song is playing in the background. Though I had heard the song many times before, it never quite had the same “impact” as yesterday – it’s been stuck in my head ever since and I have heard it n times already.

For those not familiar with the song, first the lyrics, via the imaginatively named Pink-Flyod-Lyrics.com:

Hello?
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
Come on, now,
I hear you’re feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again.
Relax.
I’ll need some information first.
Just the basic facts.
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying.
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain you would not understand
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

O.K.
Just a little pinprick.
There’ll be no more aaaaaaaaah!
But you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up?
I do believe it’s working, good.
That’ll keep you going through the show
Come on it’s time to go.

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying.
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

Standard disclaimer about lyrics copyright applies.

“Discovered” the last three lines a few minutes back – love them!

Perhaps you’d like to enjoy the song now.

SOTW – Why Go

Every once in a while, a song decides to home in your mind – you “just can’t get it out of your head”. Sometimes, it represents what you are feeling at that point in time – your general “mood” or stuff you can relate (perhaps) with specific incidents that may have happened recently or something along those lines – I’m sure you get the drift. On other occasions, there’s no specific reason – not one you are conciously aware of or can find, in any case.

Some songs attain that “status” the first time you hear them. Others, like the one I am about to talk about (surprise surprise – in case you hadn’t guessed this is what this post is about!), are songs you already “know”, songs you happen to “see in a new dimension” all of a sudden. Which brings us to the “Song Of The Week” (that’s SOTW for you slow folks).

Pearl Jam – Why Go
She scratches a letter into a wall made of stone
Maybe someday another child wont feel as alone as she does
Its been two years, and counting, since they put her in this place
She’s been diagnosed by some stupid fuck, and mommy agrees, yeah…
Why go home…

She seems to be stronger, but what they want her to be is weak
She could play pretend, she could join the game, boy
She could be another clone…

Why go home?
What you taught me…put me here…dont come visit…mother…

(Note: Copyrights of the lyrics reserved with Pearl Jam or their record company or whoever else owns them. Further, I have edited the lyrics to make them more readable.)

The song has been doing my head in for the past 3-4 days. I have no idea why.

It’s a typical Pearl Jam song whichever way you look at it. Powerful lyrics that Eddie belts out with little regard for the “beat” in the way only he can – I mean that in a good way, of course. Let me explain.

Typically, writing a song (and by that I mean lyrics) and coming up with the music for the same are closely related activities. You may first write the song and then try to put it to music. Or you may already have the instrumentals etc. all figured out and you try to “fit” (in a “creatively inspirational” sort of way, of course) a song onto that. Whichever way that pans out, as I guess one would expect, there’s a conscious effort by the band/ artist to have close correlation between the two activities. I’m not quite sure Pearl Jam work that way.

The way I see it, song-writing and everything else that goes into making a song are two distinct activities for these guys. You have Eddie, who’s involved in song writing, doing his stuff in one part of the world (maybe not literally) while the other guys are coming up with the music in another. They meet occasionally to exchange notes and get a “feel” for each other’s works – and “get a feel” is all they do. There’s no real attempt to “fit” the music to the songs or vice versa. Sure during the “exchanging notes” sessions, work done by one may inspire the others towards something, but I don’t think they consciously set out to do that. So at the end of all these creative sessions, they have a bunch of lyrics and a set of great instrumentals, which they then set out to match with one another. And by that I mean, they gang up and see what instrumental fits the mood of which song and once that is done, it’s over to Eddie to weave his magic with the vocals.

With the music playing in the background, he pours his heart and soul into the song with (seemingly) little regard for the music itself and, indeed, he seems to “lose the beat” many times, only to “catch up” later. I’m sure the rest of the band found him a nightmare to play with initially. While this can be off putting for the casual listener, Eddie more than makes up for it, because you know every word is coming from deep within – so much so that he (apparently) doesn’t even care about the music! You begin to appreciate that kind of honesty over time. That also makes the songs very unpredictable – I don’t think Eddie and the gang, could reproduce the studio version node for node, even if they tried their damnedest hard. I, personally, like that in a band – shows they are real people who play with passion and bring in something unique each and every time, not a bunch of robots going through the motions.

A couple of interviews I read of Vedder sometime back, loosely confirmed all this – or atleast that is what I remember/ my takeaway was. Of course, I could be completely wrong about all this (KB – look, I can’t even write as much as a blog entry these days without putting such a disclaimer, I hope you are happy, you bastard). Though I have “played music” and been part of a band so as to speak, I have never really “created” any music (not as part of a group anyways), so I can’t say I am speaking from experience. And since I am not on Eddie’s Christmas card list, I can’t really claim to have any inside knowledge either. End of disclaimer.

Cheer me up, Scotty

Going through a bit of a rough fortnight, but this managed to cheer me up a bit. Check it out, innovative and energetic to say the least.

[cliché] Another example of how YouTube/ Internet is changing the game. [/cliché]

Music lovers of the world unite

I have been playing around for the past couple of days with last.fm and it’s nothing like other online music/ radio services that I have used. It’s ad-free, features multi-platform clients and learns about your musical tastes as you go along.

It allows you to tune in to specific genres/ artists using tag based channels or listen to artists that sound similar to your favourite as categorized by other users. You can “love”, “hate”, recommend (to friends) tracks/ artists and/ or associate them with tags (think genres, mostly) for your own as well as the community’s benefit, all with a single click. It also offers the facility to “scrobble” tracks you’re listening locally (via, say, iTunes) onto your last.fm profile.

All this increases the probability of hearing the kind of music you’ll like, which makes it a great way of discovering new artists as well as getting your daily does of all time favourites. The last.fm catalogue contains both mainstream as well as other artists and isn’t restricted to English music – for hindi music, for example, try tags bollywood or ghazal.

If you like to shout from the rooftops about your musical tastes, point people to your last.fm homepage or use one of the many personalized RSS feeds. Check out the tools section for many other goodies.

There are many other features (like free music downloads) and since this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive review but an attempt to nudge you in the right direction, I’ll stop right here and allow you to explore. Get started by downloading the player for your OS and signing up at their website. The quality of the streams is second to none and, best of all, the service is free.

How can they afford it? Well so far they seem to be surviving thanks to a mix of VC funding, advertising revenue and affiliate income by pointing people interested in buying music to online retailers like Amazon.

You can see what I have been listening to lately at this page and perhaps add me as a friend once you’ve signed up so we can exchange recommendations – optional 😉

PS – I’ve recently learnt about Pandora, a similar site/ service. Maybe next week, I’ll review nudge you towards that once I’ve had a chance to play with it.