Ashes to ashes

“The son of a waitress and a nightclub owner, David Jones became David Bowie, who became Ziggy Stardust, who became Aladdin Sane, who became the Thin White Duke. All of them were fictitious. All of them became iconic. …” [Read more…]

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A final week of ’70s music at the Big Box

Restocking the shelves at the Big Box doesn’t fully occupy one’s mind, giving me plenty of time to meditate on the meaning of the songs being piped in on the store’s music service. Maybe too much time. Herein I ponder if there is any way to redeem the lyrics to the BeeGees’ “More Than a Woman” and attempt to identify the shifting antecedents in the Little River Band’s “Lonesome Loser.” [Read more…]

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Vanitas vanitatum …

Whether or not an album is a vanity project has less to do with its merits and more to do with marketing and motivation. If it seems like a cynical attempt to cash in on fame by repackaging a movie-star as a pop-star, that’s a vanity project. Ego plays a part, too, of course, hence that word “vanity.” [Read more…]

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Liberation and apocalypse in a country song

The piped-in music at the Big Box has been playing country music this week, leading to the following reflection on two distinct visions of liberation in the work of popular theologian Martina McBride. And, because I’ve read too many InterVarsity Press books over the years, I have included a list of questions for further discussion. [Read more…]

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Where you gonna run to? Tim LaHaye and Billy Graham vs. Peter Tosh and Nina Simone

Nina Simone learned the song “Sinner Man” from her mother, who was a revivalist Methodist preacher. White revivalist preachers sang that song too, but even though most of the words were the same, the meaning was very different. [Read more…]

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(I can’t) Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

Rupert Holmes ultra-’70s hit is like an inversion of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi,” but where Henry’s tale is about selfless love, Holmes’ is about loveless selfishness. This provides us with an excellent case study for all of those lit-crit questions about authorial intent. [Read more…]

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‘There’s a song yet to be sung’

I gave up on Pandora a while back because of the Death Cab for Cutie thing. No matter what artists I requested or what songs I liked, Pandora just kept recommending Death Cab for Cutie. I began to distrust their algorithm. I wondered if there was some kind of payola scheme. Or maybe if you picked too many pre-2000 artists, the algorithm just figured you were old and that old people probably all like Death Cab for Cutie. I dunno. [Read more…]

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Learn how to use my hands, not just my head

I’m just saying that if you’re a Big Box hardware chain and you’re playing a 4-hour loop of music in your stores that includes two Indigo Girls songs, then one of those songs really ought to be “Hammer and Nail.” That’s all. I mean, duh. [Read more…]

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