Tuesday, December 29, 2015

iTunes gift card purchases Christmas 2015

I got some iTunes gift cards for Christmas and so I just bought the following music:

The Frozen soundtrack

We've listened to it a ka-billion times on Youtube so I figured it was time to buy it. Now it will be more convienent to listen to, and we won't have to listen to commercials. It's mostly our little daughters who love the Frozen soundtrack, so I kind of got it for them, but I like it too. I love "Let it Go," and I like the show-tune quality of the whole soundtrack.

I've heard they're going to make a stage adaptation of the movie, and I can see how that can be pretty easy to do. They can keep all the music the same.

I really like Indina Menzel. I don't think I like her as a solo artist doing her own songs, but she has the perfect voice for Broadway. I've enjoyed listening to her sing "Defying Gravity" and the other songs from "Wicked" for many years. It's easy to see why "Frozen" was such a big hit. It's a great movie with great music.

Food in the Belly

I got the whole album by Xavier Rudd. Rudd is a hippie from Australia or New Zealand or something. I totally disagree with his politics. He's always groaning about British imperialism and the plight of indigenous people. LOL. But I love his music. I listened to "Food in the Belly" a lot on YouTube, so, I know what I'm getting, and it's great. There a ton of instruments on the album, even the exotic didgeridoo.

It's relaxing and meditative, and groovy. There's one weird part where a choir of children sing, which reminds me of the English kids featured on "The Wall" by Pink Floyd. Typically, I feel like kids should stick with singing kiddie songs like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." But I think I like the kids singing on "Food in the Belly."

Anyway, this is the first Xavier Rudd album I've ever bought. I found him on the Internet one day, I think he was just one of the people who were auto-suggested to me based on my music preferences and search history. Really I have no problem with Big Brother mining my personal data as long as Big Brother introduces me to artists like Xavier Rudd. LOL. He was in Phoenix a few months ago, but alas, I did not go.

OK, with this round of iTunes purchases, I did something against my principles. I bought single tracks, rather than whole albums. I normally don't like doing that. I still hold to the old-fashioned notion that albums should be listened to in their entirety. But every once in a while, it just makes sense to buy single tracks. For example, I remember when I was a teenager I really liked the song, "American Pie" by Don McLean, so I bought the album with that song on it, and it turns out that the only song on that album I liked was "American Pie." So I really should have just bought the single, but I don't think that option was available at the time. On the other hand, if you buy only a single, you may be closing yourself off to a lot of other good music... blah blah blah...

Follow the Sun

I got the single track, by Xavier Rudd from his album "Spirit Bird." I love that song. It might be my favorite Xavier Rudd song. But I didn't want to buy the rest of the songs on "Spirit Bird." How do I describe it? It's the ultimate uplifting, feel-good song. It'll make you want to quit your desk job, move to Hawaii, and just chill out.

Budapest

I got the single track by George Ezra. I first heard this song on the radio, regular old terrestrial radio, on 93.3 Alt AZ, and I immediately loved it. I found myself switching to that station a few times in hopes that the song would be on again. Have you heard this song? It's a big hit. It's a very catchy and beautiful love song. George Ezra is an up-and-comer who cites Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie as major influences, so you know he's gotta be good.

Madness

I got the single track by Muse. My little brother Luke Bird loves Muse. I don't love the band, but I do love this song "Madness". Like "Budapest," I discovered this song on the radio. I googled the lyrics and found out what song it was and listened to it now and then on YouTube. Tonight I bought it and now it's mine.

It's weird how these songs take me back to different times in my life, and I remember the times when I first heard songs, and then memories associated with songs come flooding back to me. For example, I associate the Meat Puppets with riding my bike in Flagstaff, and working at Camp Raymond Boy Scout Camp in the kitchen, in 2008.

I talk about these songs like they're mine, and that somehow when I pay a few bucks to download them or when I buy a CD, I possess the songs. But in a way, the songs belong to everyone. I realize that some songs are just as meaningful to you as they are to me. I'm sure you have wonderful thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories and so on that are associated with different songs.

How Can I Keep From Singing?

I got the whole album, by Erin Major and her Dad. I just discovered this album on iTunes a while back when I searching for a good version of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief," which is one of my favorite hymns. I wanted a version with all seven verses.

Most of the time that song is played, they cut out a few verses, so that it's three or four minutes long, which is a standard song length. But... the song tells a story in seven verses. It was originally written with seven verses. I feel like all seven verses should be sang, every time. Otherwise, you're disrespecting the author. Ha ha ha. I sound like a music snob, and really, it's better to sing one verse than no verse, so if a congregation only has time for one or two verses, I guess it can be shortened.

I like building up the "Sabbath day appropriate" section of my iPod so I have more music to choose from on Sundays. At our house we try to listen to only churchy music or spiritual music, or instrumental music, or classical music on Sundays. We do break that rule occasionally. Anyway, Erin Major sings heartfelt, straightforward versions of popular hymns. She doesn't bring a lot of frills or pop-music qualities to the songs, which I feel is the way church music ought to be sung. Erin Major gives such respect to the individual songs that she sings. She doesn't try to reinvent them or mess them up by making them fancier than they already are. What I'm trying to get at is what Bob Dylan was trying to get at when he was interviewed about his Christmas album "Christmas in the Heart" :

BILL FLANAGAN: Very often when contemporary artists do Christmas records, they look for a new angle. John Fahey did instrumental folk variations on holiday songs, Billy Idol did a rock and roll Christmas album, Phil Spector put the Wall of Sound around the Christmas tree and the Roches did kind of a kooky left-field collection. You played this right down the middle, doing classic holiday songs in traditional arrangements. Did you know going in you wanted to play it straight?

BOB DYLAN: Oh sure, there wasn’t any other way to play it. These songs are part of my life, just like folk songs. You have to play them straight too.

Like Bob Dylan, Erin Major recognizes that the hymns need to be played straight. I'm not against experimental rearrangements or new angles when it comes to the hymns... but... generally speaking... it's best to draw attention away from yourself and draw attention to the song. The hymns are beautiful in their simplicity. They don't need to be spiced up with electric guitars or pop-music qualities.

I really have no idea who Erin Major is. I doubt she'll make any other music. "How Can I Keep From Singing" is her only album on iTunes. She's pretty underground. LOL. Just from listening to the album, I imagine she's kind a normal Mormon Mom who has been blessed with extraordinary musical talents and sensibilities.

Maybe what's so special about her is that she isn't special. That sounds funny, but... there's been so many times at church when I listen to a musical number, a solo or a duet, or whatever, from ordinary friends and neighbors and church-goers, and I just love it. But their voices never get played on the radio. In a way, Erin Major's music is real folk music, as opposed to popular music. The "folk music" offered up by hipster bands like "The Oh Hellos" and "Laura and the Killed Men" these days are in fact a strange folk music/ traditional music hybrid. It's great music. Don't get me wrong. But Erin Major's music is the type of thing I would hear at church, or perhaps at an informal family gathering or something, so somehow is seems more real or natural or unpretentious or unassuming.

I Saw the Light

I got the album by Hank Williams. This is another album for my "Sabbath Day Appropriate" section of my iPod. It's a collection of gospel songs by Hank Williams Sr., who, by the way, is much much better than Hank Williams Jr. or Hank Williams III. Hank Williams was a genius with a tragic life. I'm just so grateful that he wrote such wonderful music, and I'm so grateful that through the wonders of technology, his recordings are available to me today.

I already have his greatest hits album, and I considered getting his complete recordings, but it's like 120 bucks, or maybe it was 200 bucks, and that seems excessive, especially when I fear that I might not like a lot of his stuff.

I recommend "How Can You Refuse Him Now" and "A House of Gold." If you want to hear a great cover of "A House of Gold," then listen to the one by the Secret Sisters. I love this album.

Well, it was fun being a music critic for an evening. If you've read this far, congratulations. LOL. I love all the music I got.

I wish I would have taken choir or band in school, but I never did, and now I'm too old and busy to learn how to play any musical instrument except for the stereo.

I like to say that I know nothing about music, except that I love it. Someday I'd like to put my daughters in piano lessons.